Hey guys, So, we've just started March, and so far, 2023 has been a busy year; full of activities in the writing community, like the amazing #PBPARTY *which I participated in* and the Twitter #PBPITCH event for picture book writers seeking representation, *which I also participated in.* Since the #PBPARTY entries take a few weeks to get results, I've been trying my best to stay busy. Because waiting is hard! Ways I've stayed busy include: gardening, playing with my pets, doing research on writing projects, reading books, trying to write new stories *and finding my inspiration outdoors* -it's almost SPRING! Curling up in my hammock and getting sunshine. And of course, my library work. Planning new programs and events, working on new activities for my Homeschool Group and Crafternoon and family Nature Walks behind the library. One of the things I've also done to stay busy is to participate in OTHER events, which brings me to my purpose for posting today. This year, I participated in Vivian Kirkfield's Picture Book Contest, 50 precious words. This is my first year - hooray! And my wonderful critique partner is also participating with me. Another hooray! I found out about this awesome event back toward the ending of last year, (2022) while watching a YouTube interview with Literary Agent, Kaitlyn Sanchez, hosted by Maria Dismondy, of Cardinal Rule Press. After the interview, I visited her website where I found a whole list of great resources for writers. You can find it under her "RESOURCE" tab and click "CONTESTS." Or you can just click this link here and it will take you directly to her page. So, without further ado, here is my entry for the 50 Precious Words Contest. I hope you enjoy this little sweet treat. Monday Morning Cupcakes By Chelsea DiCicco IG @chelseasworldofbooks 50 words I smell them from the kitchen. Sweet, SUGARY goodness. A treat for each hand. There they are. A perfect baker’s dozen! Oodles of sprinkles and colors. Frosting for days. Yum! A magical Monday miracle. “CUPCAKES!” Pack them, stack them, steal a taste. Safe in my lunch box. I can’t wait! If you'd like to view the original post on Vivian's Website, you can follow this link here.
Category: Am Writing Posts
Sharing tips, experiences, and everything in between, from my writing journey.
Storystorm 2023 Day 7: Laura Zarrin Tricks Herself | Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
by Laura Zarrin When I started participating in Storystorm in 2012, I was completely convinced that I was not a writer. I was an illustrator and storytelling was not in my wheelhouse. Color me surprised when I managed to come up with 30 ideas that year and every year since. Where had they come from?…
— Read on taralazar.com/2023/01/07/storystorm-2023-day-7/
A summary of my writing year in 2022
Wow, wow, wow. What a year! I made a few posts on my social media accounts, but I wanted to share them here on my blog for anyone who may have missed the updates. Here goes...
Whew. So that was my "sappy and a little cheesy" post. At the beginning of 2022, I decided I wanted to make a collage to help remember the journey. I think sometimes as writers we can feel a little bogged down or lost at times. Rejections can be disheartening. Waiting can be difficult. And let's face it, we all feel discouraged sometimes. So, I wanted to make sure that this year I wrote down all my accomplishments and saved them. That way, whenever I was having a day that I was dealing with imposter syndrome, I could go and look at my list of happy moments and achievements. Every step counts! So, if you are a writer, pre-published or currently published, I encourage you to do the same! This made me feel so good and I wanted to share it with you. Also, if you have done something like this or have a positive comment or achievement you reached this year, I would love to hear about it in the comments below! Feel free to link your website or social media as well so that others can take a peek. I think the one thing that has truly benefited me more than anything this entire year is finding my writing community and fully emersing myself in it. It makes such a difference to have friends who can encourage you and understand what you're going through on this journey. We all learn and grow from eachother, so please please share anything you'd like below! I would love to hear from you. P.S. Another thing I did this year that I heard from another writer in a conference, and I loved the idea so much, was I got myself a jar and labeled it "positive comments" and every time someone told me something positive about my writing, I wrote it down and placed it in the jar. That helped pick me up and motivate me so much throughout the year! If you can, I suggest doing this too! And now, without further ado, *drum rolllllllll* Chelsea's 2022 stats and inspirational photo collage of tiny victories! My 2022 stats: Groups joined: 6 Conferences/workshops/webinars attended: 9 Events participated in: 21 Books written: 28 Revisions made: 63 Critiques given: 64 Submissions/queries sent: 55 Wonderful connections made: too many to count! #writingcommunity #2022 #progress #endofyear
Moral of the story: "It's not the destination, it's the journey." Enjoy your journey! Celebrate every small victory! Learn from every small setback. And KEEP. ON. WRITING!
ARE YOU NEW TO WRITING?
If you are new to writing and looking for some great places to start making connections and building your craft, here is a list of just a *few* groups & events I recommend looking into. Events & Contests Zidlit Zombie Week Fall Writing Frenzy Storystorm KidLitPit Kidlit411 Groups & Community Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Challenge (membership fee) SCBWI (membership fee) IBPA (membership fee) Storyteller Academy (membership fee) Children's Book Academy (membership fee) Remember, you don't have to join every group and participating doesn't always cost money. You can be a writer on a budget. Just make sure you stay active and find your community! Personally, my favorite group has been Julie Hedlund's 12x12 group. It's PACKED with resources, webinars, videoes, links to upcoming events *many contests that are free* and it's a great community! And it's where I met my amazing critique partners, who have been invaluable to my growth! By the way... one of my amazing critique partners, Terri Clemmons, has her debut picture book coming out in Spring of 2024, Mara Hears in Style. You can find out more on her website. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this helpful! Don't forget to share your positive achievements below. Or, just some goals you might have for 2023!
How to Write Picture Books – AND STAY SANE!
Going from this
I think there’s a lot that can be said for people who are on the picture book path and have been for a while. Navigating the picture book world is like travelling down a road of potholes, and signs pointing in every direction. There are a million different routes your can take. And it can be intimidating, overwhelming, scary, and tiring. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in endless options and crippling self-doubt! Fortunately, we aren’t quitters!
How do I know this? Because the hurdles upon hurdles, the always-changing pace, the fickle as a pickle market, and the unpredictability of times haven’t deterred us from continuing down this road. Some say madness. I prefer passionate. And really, to be successful in the ways that count, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. What do I mean by successful in ways that count? Well, that really depends on how you view success. What does success mean to you? Money? Power? Freedom? Recognition? Whatever it is, you must have passion to reach it. And I’m convinced there isn’t a single picture book writer out there, who has been at this for years, that doesn’t have that passion. And guess what. Good news! Passion is KEY!
But, passion with no outlets can be exhausting. So, I ask you, how do you write picture books and stay sane? I think it’s imperative that when doing something that you love, at your full 100%, you must also be able to balance that with time to unwind. Because going at 100% nonstop, can be draining. Eventually, you will overload. And when that time comes, you must be willing to walk away. Because, just like a car’s engine needs to be parked and rested, so does your engine. But, what if you refuse to stop? Well… you might just end up like this car. Overheated!
But hopefully you won’t let things get this far. So, how can you avoid the overheating point? Well, a few things I find that help are setting boundaries and knowing my personal limits. These are both CRUCIAL for maintaining sanity- and avoiding overheating! (Oh, and caffeine. Did I mention that already?) But, seriously. Boundaries and limits!
So, my writing boundaries. Firstly, I have a writing office. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you write in a basement, during free time at work, on lunch breaks. Maybe you write when your kids are asleep, when you’re husband is working, when your roommate is out of the house. Or maybe you write from a hammock. If you do, props to you; it sounds like you’re living your best life! Whatever the situation, having a space that is yours, and yours only, is a good boundary to have. If you don’t have a designated spot- find one. It could be a closet, outside under a tree, on a speedboat with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron- it doesn’t matter- but find one.
Having a space to your own is not to say that you can’t write elsewhere. What it does, however, is give you a designated area to create. Which can be increasingly helpful to your sanity. And next, making sure that you know your limits.
What are your limits? What does that even mean? I’m not talking about speed limits. Although sometimes speed comes into play. But that’s a different topic. I’m talking about knowing yourself. If you’re pushing yourself to a point that you are no longer enjoying your work- that’s not working within your limits. Writing should never be a place of confined, mandatory restriction. It should be a happy place of creative freedom. If you are demanding too much out of yourself and pushing your limits to a point of frustration, not only are you going to be unhappy but guess what- your writing will suffer. Yeah. You heard me right. Your writing will suffer! There’s a scene in Toy Story 2 where Woody is getting fixed up by Geri, an antique cleaner. And if you haven’t already seen this and aren’t interested in watching the full movie, I highly recommend watching it HERE because it is just *chef’s kiss* GOLD.
Geri is taking his time, situating himself with his tools that he’s about to use to clean and fix Woody.
Al says to Geri, “So, uh, how long is this going take?”
And Geri says, with a wag of the finger, “You can’t rush art!”
There’s a lot of truth in this statement. When you push yourself to write in an unnatural or uncomfortable state, the work is never your best. So, remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the time and space you need to find your creative rhythm. And once your mojo kicks in, write, write, write!
But, what if you can’t write? You feel zero inspiration. You’re tired. You’re staring at the page, and nothing is coming to you. CHANGE THE SCENERY. Taking a walk, doing some light exercise, or getting lost in a favorite binge tv-show can help give your brain a break. Again- forcing yourself to be creative isn’t how it works. Creativity is a natural thing that comes at its own pace. But how can you encourage creativity?
Read, read, read. Reading stimulates our natural curiosity and encourages creative brain flow! Read books in your genre that are new in the market. Go to the library. Bring a notebook with you! Jot down ideas you like. Ask yourself, “Why do I like this? What about it stands out?” And brainstorm how you could implement things into your own writing. Ideas are contagious. When we let others in, it inspires our own.
So, what am I rambling about anyway? Well, this morning, I read a fellow writer’s new blog post and walked away saying, “Ah, that was encouraging.” And do you know what my next thought was? “I want to encourage someone!” IDEAS ARE CONTAGIOUS- INSPIRATION FOLLOWS. And that’s really what it’s all about.
Now, encouragement. Why do writer’s need encouragement? Well, everyone needs encouragement from time to time. It’s healthy and natural to both give and receive encouragement. But, why might a writer need encouragement more than some? Well, being in the writing business, unlike other jobs in an office where you’re surrounded by co-workers and smiling faces, for a writer, it can often be a solitary affair. So, encouragement comes in handy. Having your writing community in your corner, your supporters, your critique partners, your friends, your family, your “fans” can help you get by and make it to that next milestone.
Speaking of milestones, here we go.
What are your goals?
What milestones do you hope to achieve?
And have you been able to?
If so, congratulations! If not, don’t fret. Just continue down the road until you get there, and sooner or later, I have faith you will. I believe in you- you should too! And sometimes, it can be tough. The waiting. The pushing. The hope. The letdowns. When I find myself losing courage, I like to think of Jane Eyre.
“Renewing then my courage, and gathering my feeble remains of strength, I pushed on.” -Charlotte Bronte
“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” – Albert Einstein
And another one of my favorites…
“You never fail until you stop trying.”
Cliché, perhaps. But that doesn’t make the statements any less true! There is, after all, a reason that clichés exist! So, this is my brief cheerleader speech for today. If you’re writing picture books, or NOT pictures books- it could be anything- DON’T GIVE UP!
So, in conclusion to my ramble, I just want to remind you that you are loved, and awesome, and incredible, and most likely a total 10, the whole shebang, the greatest thing since sliced bread, the apple of someone’s eye, all that and a bag of chips. Remember, to stay sane in the writing world, 1. Give yourself boundaries. And 2. Know your limits!
Love you all!