First off, I'd like to thank the fabulous hosts, fellow librarian and kidlit Author Ciara O'Neal and Literary Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez for yet another amazing Kidlit opportunity to not only showcase our work but to just have fun with our community! This has been such a terrific way to make friends, build relationships, and overall branch out with other writers. I speak for myself and my critique group partners when I say, we are all so grateful for events like these that help make this line of work even more enjoyable. For most of us, writing can be very solitary work so fun events like these really add a breath of fresh air and get our creative juices flowing. If you're not familiar with what the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest is, no worries! I'll be sure to include all the rules and details below. So, what IS Spring Fling Kidlit? Your challenge, should you accept it, is simple. Find a gif and write a spring-inspired story. That's it! Here are the official rules from Ciara's website: 1. Your story should be geared towards kids ages 12 or under. 2. Choose a gif to inspire your story. be sure to share where you found your wonderful gif. (The website or if you created it yourself!) 3. All gifs should be child appropriate and in no way be derogatory towards any faith, race, etc. 4. Now for the dreaded word count! You have 150 words. That’s it! No more but less is always welcome. (Your title is not included in the word count.) 5. No illustration notes pretty please. 6. Your gif should be the only visual with your story. 7. The Spring Fling contest officially begins on Saturday April 1st and closes April 3rd, post your gif and story on your blog. 8. On April 1st, we will post a google form on this blog. (You can use the quicklink above titled "official rules" to get to the blog post.) Fill out the form, paste your blog website and story, and you my friend, will be entered! 9. Deadline for posting your story or the link to your story is April 3rd at 11:59pm CST. 10. Only one entry per contestant is permitted. ****If you don't have a blog, no worries, you can put your whole story on the google form. The form will open on April 1st. If you want others to read it too, feel free to post your story in the comments with the link to your gif.*** And that's it! Now... the moment we've been waiting for; my entry for this year's 2023 Spring Kidlit Contest. This year I wanted to write a story that incorporated not only spring but sharing it with a beloved friend and who better to splash in puddles with than your dog?! So, without further ado, I give you my entry: WAKE UP, WORLD! IT'S SPRING! Title: Wake up, World! It's Spring! Written by: Chelsea DiCicco Word Count: 121 Dewdrops dance on dainty petals. Tweets and twitters fill the air. This can only mean one thing… “WAKE UP, WORLD! IT’S SPRING!” Padding paws and racing feet. Hurry, scurry; we can’t wait! Nature’s calling- here we come! “WAKE UP, WORLD! IT’S SPRING!” Butterflies outstretch their wings. Bees are buzzing off to work. Mower’s roar, and flowers bloom. "WAKE UP, WORLD! IT'S SPRING!" Showers sprinkle in the sun. Puddles are for everyone! Happy slappy splashy feet. "WAKE UP, WORLD! IT'S SPRING!" Wagging tails and cheerful eyes. Dirty paws and sun-kissed skin. Shaking, quaking, laughs and barks. "WAKE UP, WORLD! IT'S SPRING!" Hoots and chatters fill the night. Evening stars pierce the sky. Look! There goes a firefly. "Rest up, world. It's Spring." This GIF was created by Chelsea DiCicco (me) on Canva for the purpose of being used for my 2023 entry for the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest.
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!
Storystorm 2023 Registration is OPEN!
Welcome to STORYSTORM 2023 Registration! Six years ago I changed the name and month of my annual writing challenge, from Picture Book Idea Month (…Storystorm 2023 Registration is OPEN!
#FallWritingFrenzy 2022 entry link: Buddy Bones Bubbleless Bath by Chelsea DiCicco
You’re looking at a #FallWritingFrenzy participant!
Hey writing pals!
Fall is finally here! Time to break out all the candles and cozy blankets. And you know what else it means? Fall Writing Frenzy is here!
This is my first year participating in the Fall Writing Frenzy, and I'm thrilled to share my entry for 2022: BUDDY BONES BUBBLELESS BATH.
But before we jump into the story, I'd like to thank our very gracious hosts Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis, as well as this year's guest judge, Alyssa Reynoso-Morris.
So far, I've had a blast reading other peoples stories and sharing in the fun on Instagram and Twitter. If this is your first time participating, the rules are very simple.
- Choose a picture.
- Write a kidlit story (anywhere from board book to YA, 200 words or less.)
- Post it on your blog and make sure to fill out the entry form.
- Share, share, share!
For further questions, please check out the official FallWritingFrenzy2022Rules.
Remember: the goal is "to create connections and help writers grow!" So, have fun!
Below you will find my entry.
Happy fall writing everyone!xo,Chelsea
My 2022 Fall Writing Frenzy Entry BUDDY BONES BUBBLELESS BATH (199 word count) A picture book by Chelsea DiCicco It was a dry, dusty day on the ranch, and Buddy Bones was getting ready to take a bath. “Nothing like a cool bubble bath on a hot day,” he said cheerfully. But, just as Buddy got into the tub… “Oh no! We’re out of bubbles!” A bubbleless bath? Pass! But the sun was blistering. So, Buddy stayed in the tub. But he wasn’t happy. A little while later, Buddy was still grumbling when a bird flew by. “Morning, neighbor.” “Morning,” Buddy mumbled. “What you up to this morning?” “I’m taking a bath,” said Buddy, hoping the bird would go away. But he didn’t. “I’ve just come from the store. Today is dishwashing day, and I was out of soap.” “Oh,” Buddy said understandingly. “I ran out of bubbles.” He pointed to the clear bathwater. “A bubbleless bath!” chirped the Bird. “Pass!” Buddy agreed. “I know!” said the bird suddenly. “What if we made bubbles?” Before Buddy could respond, the bird was already pouring a glob of blue liquid into the water. “Now, splash around.” Buddy splashed and thrashed… until- “Bubbles!” he cried. “Nothing like a cool bubble bath on a hot day,” Buddy said, sinking into the bathtub.
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!