NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a great event for writers who love deadlines and external accountability. The challenge is to write a novel about 50,000 words long in one month.
I made some great friends through NaNoWriMo in the past. I’ve “won” the event, or reached 50,000 words, a few times. So I have fond memories of this month.
But I’m not doing it this year. This year I’m doing my own “NaNoRevMo” – or “National Novel Revision Month.” I have two novels, one fiction and one historical fiction. I am so lucky that people in my family will read my drafts and offer honest, helpful feedback.
Excellent feedback from my personal editor
Once I get through the suggested changes, I can’t wait to send these two projects to my wonderful agent.
If you are doing NaNoWriMo, I wish you luck! If you are doing a different project, I wish you luck, too! The goal is to write, create, and explore.
I’m headed to my first teacher and librarian conference this month. Here’s a list of the conferences I know about – do you know of any? Are they a great way to connect authors and illustrators with teachers and librarians?
Did you have any luck at the most recent #PitMad? I think a lot of people think that unless they get a book contract sent via DM that day, they failed. But I say you need a broad definition of success. Here’s how it worked for me, and why I think it’s worth it.
In June 2019 I tweeted this:
Then I tweeted it again in September 2019. An editor liked it. So I contacted the editor. She told me her publishing house didn’t do picture books. So she asked if I’d put together a middle grade proposal. I said YES!
So, I did. I sent in the proposal in January 2020!
But they said NO. Or at least, they said “not at this time.” Here’s the direct quote:
“While we aren’t ready to make an offer on this proposal right now, I’d be happy to follow up with you in a few months…”
So I took the proposal to SCBWI NY 2020. I pitched it at a pitch session there, and an agent asked to see it. In September 2020, she said “I don’t like it like this – would you rewrite it as a graphic novel?” The picture book that became a middle grade nonfiction is now a middle grade historical fiction graphic novel. After a lot of research and writing, I’m almost done the first full draft.
BUT. ALSO. The editor who first liked my tweet? I contacted her in August 2020 and asked if she had any projects that needed authors. She said YES. And after I sent in two proposals, then revised one, and revised it again…I got a contract for Animal Allies.
And as you can see, I signed with my wonderful agent, Miranda Paul.
In 2016, I was picking my kids up from art camp when I received a phone call from a New York phone number. Since this was the summer of 2016 (and the election had not yet happened) I was just still a naive, optimistic person. I answered the phone.
It turns out I had won a fellowship from Pen Parentis. It was an incredible feeling.
When I wrote my book The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the things that really captivated me was how Leonardo learned a lot from an early scholar and scientist, Alhazen. I’d never heard of Alhazen before, but he did a lot of exciting work.
It turns out Alhazen is the Latinized version of his real name, Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham. He’s was a polymath and studied optics. He was a leader during the Islamic Golden Age. There are some books about him, and he wrote books himself. But the world could always use more books and I hope someone writes a book for kids exploring how Hasan Ibn al-Haytham saw the world.
Take a look at this Wikipedia page about him and explore the primary and secondary sources at the bottom of the entry to find further reading!
I’ve attended so many excellent Highlights Foundation courses over the past several years. Each one has helped me uncover big and small ways to develop my creativity and productivity.
Now I’m so thrilled to be announce I’m working with the Highlights Foundation! I’m so honored to be helping an incredible faculty at the online summer workshop on writing nonfiction for kids. Check out this workshop and all of their other offerings and sign up today!