Last week, I signed a new book contract, and I am thrilled. This book is really special and while I don’t have all the details to share right now, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating. Every book contract is cause for celebration, but this one is special. In many ways this story started when my oldest was in Kindergarten (he’s at college now and was there tonight on FaceTime!) It continued to grow in my heart for many years. Then, one phone call with my incredible agent Miranda Paul at EMLA changed everything. Writers, find an agent who sees the story you can tell. Miranda encouraged me to be brave and write this story and it’s found a home at a wonderful publisher!! I’ll have more news to share soon, but I’m so grateful for my family’s love and support, for my agent’s support and encouragement, and for every critique partner who gives so generously. Sometimes it’s hard to write stories that matter, but tonight I’m taking time to celebrate!! 🎉🎉🎉📕📕📕🎉🎉🎉
Here’s a fun video I shared on TikTok about the whole book contract signing experience that I hope you enjoy!
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Toys, pajamas, movies, chicken nuggets – dinosaurs are everywhere. When you’re ready to go beyond Jurassic Park and learn even more about dinosaurs, it’s worth checking out the nonfiction book The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth by Ian Lender. This book tells the story of how the idea of dinosaurs and extinction developed. It’s almost as – maybe more than? – incredible as dinosaurs themselves!
After reading the book, dive into two excellent board games that involve strategy and creativity.
Another great card game featuring dinosaurs is the quick but tricky Chomp! You only have 8 draws to score the most points, and sometimes that means letting your dinosaurs go extinct. It’s not easy to survive the prehistoric world. We got this game by supporting the Kickstarter, and we all agree it was worth it!
As always, if you want to learn how to play, I recommend checking out “Watch It Played” on YouTube. Also,BoardGameGeek offers a lot of great recommendations and Q&A.
Once you decide you want to buy a game, please look around for a local board game store!
For more book recommendations, I ALWAYS recommend visiting and buying from your local bookstore. One way you can buy online and support a local store is by shopping through Bookshop.org.
When you want to be a writer, the first step is to sit down and write. But then what? You can’t write a book all in one sitting. (Well, you can write a picture book in one sitting. But then you revise it for months, am I right?) It can be hard to get that positive feedback that people need working on your own day after day. How do you know if you’re making progress or doing a good job?
You need to set some benchmarks for yourself that are objective, achievable, and recognizable. The goals also need to be things you are in charge of completing. They can’t rely on other people.
I set goals for every week, every month, and every year. A few years ago, I thought about writing “get an agent” as a goal. But then I crossed that out. Because that is not a goal that I am in charge of achieving. It depends on someone else to like my work. What goal was I in charge of achieving?
Submitting to agents.
So, I set a goal that was like “submit to 10 agents every 3 months.” Another goal was “attend an event with submission opportunities.” I can be in charge of reaching those goals. And they were not too big, they were small steps that I could take within the time that I had.
So set reasonable goals. Then write them down AND write down the work you are doing to work toward your goals.
One classic goal that writers set is a certain number of words a day. Do you just have a mental note of your daily word count? Or do you use a word count tracker? I use a tracker because I love to see that evidence of my work. I look back over it when I need to remind myself that I have reached my goals in the past and I can reach my goals today.
You need to know when you reach your goals. Because when you hit those goals, you need to CELEBRATE those goals! You need to give yourself the pat on the back to keep going.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate? I love a piece of chocolate or a birding walk! Sometimes, I watch a favorite tv show or movie (that counts as professional development!) What do you do?
It’s great to be in a critique group, you can learn so much. But most writing you have to do on your own. And you can learn so much birding with others. But at some point, you have to learn to identify the birds on your own.
Sometimes you go in search of a story, seeking, pushing, striving. You’re plotting it out, asking what if questions, scratching out ideas, rewriting. And sometimes, you wake up from a nap and the story is sitting right there, ready and complete from start to finish, in your mind.
Most days I love to sit and bird in my backyard. I’m lucky. I have a lot of oak trees and lots of warblers and migrators pass through here spring and fall. I know the rhythms of my backyard birds very well. It’s reassuring, easy. Satisfying. Safe.
But other times I need to get away from safe. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and bird somewhere new. I need to walk, see new perspectives, hear new songs. I need to stretch my muscles and my mind and refresh my view of the world.
Birding is a lot like writing. Some days, you need to write what you know and love. Somedays, you need to learn more, learn something new, and broaden the circle of what you know and love so you can write even more.
Receive my author newsletter, and/or receive notifications when I post to the blog!