Some days, writing stories is like ice cream, the hard kind you scoop out of a container and it is still so frozen it bends your spoon. It can be a lot of work to get that story out. Usually it’s amazing after you’re done. You feel like you earned it.
Other days, writing stories is like ice cream, the soft serve kind. You pull down the handle and it just flows out, like you’ve hit the jackpot on a slot machine. Nothing is stopping the words from spiraling out onto the page. It’s so easy. And it tastes great, too.
It’s been a good year for 2019 writing projects. Most of my writing is for children and young readers and right now, most is non-fiction. I thought it would be good to do a review of what I’ve completed.
When I think back to where I started, well, it feels pretty good.
But at the start of the year, I completed two editing projects for adult readers. One book was about a non-profit. The other book was for a Human Resources professional.
Then I jumped into hosting my first ever after school writing club for kids in grades 3-6. We met once a week, worked on stories, and at the end of the club we produced a printed book with the collected stories. We even had a book launch!
I’m excited because writing club gave me a chance to develop some wonderful writing activities for kids who love to tell stories.
Next, I received my first textbook chapter writing project with SocialStudies.com. The original email from the editor went into my junk folder, so I was very nervous all the available chapters were assigned. Luckily I was able to get the last chapter of an American history textbook. The audience was fifth graders.
After the textbook chapter, I was able to secure two non-fiction book projects with Captsone. One was about gadgets and inventions, the other was about medical history. The target audience here was third and fourth graders.
I heard back from an editor at Muse. My pitch about the Great Backyard Bird Count was accepted. I submitted my article to that magazine.
Two of my fiction stories were also published in the spring. They were published in magazines that were new for me.
In addition to these publications, I also sold a fiction story that I’ve been pitching for years to a new magazine!
Also in May, I had a chance to host two workshops on the Rainbow Plate for first graders.
Writing Summer Camp
When we returned from vacation, I hosted my first ever writing summer camp. I had to make some major modifications to my lesson plan once I spent the first two hours with the kids. But I think I now have a nice collection of creative writing and storytelling activities for pre-literate kids.
Throughout the first six months of 2019, I continued to do writing coaching with a young writer in Pittsburgh. I was so proud to see him complete his first official story submissions ever. It did feel like a big rush of projects arrived in the spring. I wanted to get them all done before school ended and we left on vacation. It felt great to work hard and complete these tasks.
In addition to the work for hire projects, I’ve also been bringing my novel to critique group and preparing to tackle a big revision. And add on the work I’ve done as Regional Advisor of SCBWI for PA West. It’s been a busy year! And it’s only halfway done.
I’m excited to share that my new creative kids’ activity is now published in Highlights for Children! Check out the July 2019 issue and look in the crafts section. There you will find the instructions to make your very own Questing Stone!
(Read to the end to find out why this isn’t just for kids.)
The Questing Stone activity is a perfect summer activity for kids. It’s something I would have made as a kid.
It’s a combination of some of my favorite things. I love going on imaginary adventures. I love anything with a hint of magic. As a writer, I love traveling and going on journeys. Stories – whether I am writing them or reading them – combine all of those things.
I really enjoy all of the non-fiction writing I do, but it’s so fun to let go and jump into a fiction tale with both feet.
Here’s the part about why this stone isn’t just for kids.
You Need a Questing Stone
Grown-ups, it’s time to be brave.
We get so caught up in managing our days, getting our tasks done, doing what we have to do, instead of what we want to do. Wouldn’t it be nice just once to let fate decide? To discover your destiny instead of following the same old path?
Go somewhere new.
Writers, illustrators, artists, dreamers, this is your chance. Make your Questing Stone. Start your journey. When you come to a fork in the road, a moment of choice, let the stone guide you. Let the possibilities awake. Don’t limit yourself to what should be. It’s time to find what could be.
See what unexpected adventures await.
When you stop trying to be in charge then a different part of your brain emerges. Stories bloom in new ways. Images shift their orientation. Perhaps a shy character from the background shows you their heart. Maybe a hero turns to a villain. And a new twist makes you catch your breath.
Discover the unexpected, the surprising, the wonder waiting inside you.
There’s nothing like the rush of getting stories published. I have lots of magazine publications and now several educational publications. Every time I hear that a magazine or publisher wants to use my writing, I celebrate.
Making it Happen
I was able to share that feeling with the kids in Ross Writing Club. We just finished the first ever Ross Writing Club at our elementary school. We met after school on Mondays for an hour for six weeks. Kids wrote all kinds of stories. We talked about plot, character, endings and word choice. They revised their own stories. They critiqued each other’s writing.
Then we published a collection of their stories. We had 31 writers and this book is 64 pages long!
We had a book launch to celebrate their hard work and creativity. At the book launch, some of the writers sat at a table and were interviewed about their work. It was so memorable and fulfilling for me. I truly hope the kids felt the same. I’m especially proud of these two writers.
The book is also available in the local authors section of our library! I know the kids were especially excited about that. I knew just how they felt.
Finding the Right Place
Writers of any age love getting stories published. But it’s never easy.
In addition to writing club, I’m also a writing coach for a young man. His goal is to be a horror writer. That’s not easy for a young person. One of his first obstacles, like a writer of any age, was finishing his stories. He worked on that. Now he has several completed stories. The next step is getting published stories. He wants to submit them to magazines or journals. But it’s tough finding the right fit for your work.
One of his first choices is closed right now. His second choice doesn’t accept work that includes cannibals. Since his story includes cannibalism, we crossed that off his list.
I finally found a publisher for a story I wrote back in 2013. It only took six years. I’m persistent.
It’s not easy finding a place to publish your work. What are your strategies for finding the right publication?
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