Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picture Book Hesitancy

After re-writing my way through a couple manuscripts now, I'm finding that the third time is not the charm.

When I sat down to write my first one, I hammered it out in like 30 minutes and figured I rocked that puppy.  Then I started reading this fabulous book "Writing Picture Books" by Ann Whitford Paul.  And with each chapter I re-wrote, re-imagined, and re-focused my manuscript.  Then I went through the whole thing another two times and revamped it each time.  And then I let some folks critique it.  And wrote it again.  And then I finally submitted it.  And now I wait for an editor to hopefully love it enough to send me more revision notes!

My second manuscript is still in the revision process.  And while I haven't had to rewrite it as much as the first, it is still on version 7.0 or something like that. 

So, as I have this fabulous idea in my head for my third manuscript, I'm hesitant to start.  Not because I'm afraid of revision, but I'm clogging my brain so much with what I've learned, I'm having a hard time writing anything.  I would start a sentence and think, "Oh, but I should use stronger words there."  Or, "I shouldn't introduce a character like that."  I finally just made myself sputter the idea out on a page so I have a starting place.  I'm finding that trying to coordinate all of that knowledge about character, form, plot, pacing, word choice, strong beginnings, satisfying endings, showing instead of telling, etc. is just impossible to get down all at once.  Revisions are the key to getting all that in.  Hopefully more than one point can be addressed in each revision, but if not, so be it.  I must be patient with myself as I learn!  My blissful ignorance sure did make that first version of the first manuscript much easier to get down.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Every book day is like Christmas day

Yesterday was my father's birthday and, naturally, we went to a bookstore to find him a present.  This is a terrible idea!  Me and my husband and our three boys in a bookstore is a recipe for financial disaster.  We could easily have to get a second mortgage if we aren't careful in there.

Now, my eldest son had made a deal with me that he could spend some of his piggy bank money on some books he was wanting.  Okay, no big deal.  But then the two younger ones see the oldest with books in his hand (when my usual mantra in the bookstore is, "no books today").  Oh the injustice!  The misery!  Sadly, we can not afford to buy a lot of books in the bookstore.  We are library/garage-sale/second-hand-store book people.  I want to support my fellow writers by buying their books retail, but it just isn't always possible.  So, I had to convince the "not fair" chorus that we would buy them books at a second hand store later this week.

In the end though, I couldn't help but think what a wonderful problem this is to have.  My husband and I have actually had to devise a strategy because our children want books so badly.  How awesome!  I remember the same desire when I was a kid too.  Every once in a while I'd get to order books from the book order forms that came home.   And when they arrived...JOY!  And for a while we belonged to several book-by-mail clubs.  Some of those books are still my favorite today.  Not necessarily because they are the best books, but getting them produced such happiness, it has carried with me all these years.

How fantastically awesome would it be to be the writer of a book that brought a child that much joy?  That's one reason I write.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Stop screaming!" I yelled

Do you ever have a moment as an adult where you think, "What in the world is wrong with me?"  I have those moments a lot as a parent.  I often find myself wondering what my children must think of their slightly deranged mother.  I mean, really.  Who has fits over eating one bite of broccoli (not just the bushy tree part, but the WHOLE thing)?  What kind of person goes nuts because there are puzzle pieces in seven different rooms in the house?  I do.  That's who.

Occasionally I have these moments of very un-mom-like clarity when I think, "this is why kids think grown-ups are nuts."  And such is the stuff of picture book legend!  So often in picture books the adult is either absent, part of the problem to overcome, or a baffling enigma to the child.  And rightly so.  It is important for the grown-ups to be characterized this way, I think.  We force our adult world on to them too often in too many ways as it is.  And besides, it is how children genuinely see most adults (with some obvious exceptions).  And who can blame them when I do things like restrict candy intake, wash faces with spit-moistened napkins, and look at them like they've lost their heads when they turn chairs upside-down to sit on them?  I routinely hear myself say things that I would have thought ridiculous as a child.  Tapping into that part of myself is essential as an author...and as a parent.  Maybe I should stop giving fuel to my children's perceptions...


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend Recommendation #3

Howdy folks!  I've been on a blog-induced high this weekend seeing all the visitors to my blog from "The Great Blogging Experiment"!  I hope some folks check back in occasionally.  Or think of my blog fondly at random intervals..."Gee, that Megan Bickel had a nice blog.  Now where did I put my soup spoon?  Is the square root of pi really a useful number?"  That sort of thing.

Any-whoozle.  On to my weekend recommendation.  Remember, I'm no book reviewer.  I just like to pass on a title each weekend that I've enjoyed.  And then when you are at the library or bookstore you can think, "What should I get?  What did that lovely Megan Bickel recommend?  Where did I put my soup spoon?"

This week, I'm going to sing the praises of another book written and illustrated by the same person and, while this is a picture book, I'm going to recommend it for adults and older kids (my eight year old found it spectacular but my little ones didn't get it and lost interest).  It is Mimi's Dada Catifesto by Shelley Jackson.

I will admit that it took me a little bit to get into this book because it actually does deal with dadaism and I wasn't fully prepared for such a topic when I picked up a picture book.  But it is worth the effort!  Humorous, informative, crazy and dadaist to the max.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Write Compelling Characters

Today I'm taking part in the "The Great Blogging Experiment" started by YA author, Elana Johnson.  She suggested we all write on the topic above and just see how many different kinds of posts we get.  Over 150 people signed up to participate!  So check out Elana's blog here and check out the vast list of participants (including Elana herself).

On to the topic!  How to write compelling characters.  This is a very interesting subject to me in terms of picture books.  Most of the advice I've read on this is geared toward YA or middle grade authors.  All of the advice-givers say that it can apply to picture books as well, but I think there are some different things at play for the picture book audience.

First, your character has to be illustratable!  There is a very fine balance in picture books between revealing your character's attributes in the writing, and letting the illustrator be a creative force as well.  I find that I always over-describe in my first few drafts of a story.  Then I have to start deleting.  I these initial description overkills are necessary for me to get the character solidly in my head, but they do eventually have to be taken out for the sake of the audience and the illustrator.

Second, characters don't have to be human, but the audience still has to relate to them.  I realize there are some YA and MG exceptions to the human rule, but it is obviously much more common in picture books to find non-human characters.  Personally, I haven't written any "talking animal" stories yet.  I read great ones everyday and my children love them, but I have trouble writing them.  I am a very strong believer that a picture book's main character has to be totally relatable to a child and I'm just not able to write relatable animals (or leaves, creatures, fruit, whatever) yet.  I hope to experiment with it soon, but until I feel I can get it right, I'll leave it to the experts. 

Finally, I have been asking myself all week what makes a character compelling to a three year old.  Looking at my own three year old, he seems to go for characters that exude the same kinds of helplessness that he has in his life.  The brilliance of a good PB writer shines when they are capturing the vulnerabilities of a child while not making the child-reader feel threatened or adrift in a big scary world.  That is such a fine line for the picture book to walk.  Using the above mentioned non-human characters is one way to do this (think Clifford and Curious George), but what are some other ways?  That is the question I am wrestling with right now in my writing.  I'd love to hear your ideas (if any of you fellow bloggers touched on this in your post today, leave the link!).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When research makes me dizzy

Monday I talked about how researching picture books is a lot of fun.  But book research is only half the battle when you are interested in being published.  You also have to research those people who may publish your work and/or represent you.  In other words, publishing houses (and magazines, in my case) and agents. 

For me, magazines came first.  With the help of my sister-in-law, Sue, I found the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  She has been published in a few magazines and told me SCBWI is the place to start.  She was very right.  SCBWI is a wealth of information and support.  Part of what they provide is a listing of children's magazines, their websites, guidelines, etc.  So, with that in hand, I've been able to find how to submit and who to submit to and get an education on the kinds of things they put in their issues.  Not too bad.

Then came picture book publishers.  Again, SCBWI has a handy listing of publishers and what they publish, how to submit to them, if they take manuscripts from unagented writers, if they accept manuscripts sent to more than one publisher at a time, and so on.  This is where is starts to get complicated though.  Because just looking at this list is not enough.  You have to put in the time to research the exact kinds of books each publisher wants.  This involves lengthy trips to their websites, libraries and bookstores.  It is also hard to keep track of all the rules of each publisher.  I'm a very organized person when it comes to this endeavor, but I still get lost and confused from time to time.  To add to my information overload here, I also purchased a copy of the 2011 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, which contains another listing of publishers and their particulars.

Then comes the agent question.  There are quite a few publishers that won't look at unagented materials, including a lot of the "big" houses.  This is quite understandable, but it adds to the research tornado.  Do I want an agent?  Is it worth trying to find one?  Then I could just write and have my agent submit things to publishers.  But, it is difficult to find one (especially for picture book writers) and if I want one, it is time to start a whole new level of research!  There are hundreds of agents looking for different things, with different submission or query requirements, with different personalities and work style.

Oy.  So, in the end, I'm researching on many levels.  I'm not currently going to try to find an agent, but I still keep my ears and eyes open about them because I may pursue that down the road.  This path to publication is not for the faint of heart, or the research-phobic!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dance a little happy dance

Yesterday was one of my days I got to go to the library all by my little lonesome to do a little work.  I was very happy to have a couple hours to just write, as this seems to happen about once a week at this point.  Full of optimism and enthusiasm, I sat down in my cubbie and opened my notebook.  And then I checked my e-mail on my phone.  And then I checked Twitter.  And then I read some of my book on picture book writing.  And then I flipped through my listing of publishers.  And then I stared at the blank page again.  One hour down and no writing on the page.

So I started brainstorming.  Painfully.  Slow.  Brainstorming.

Then I surfed the web.  Then I checked my e-mail.  Then I sat and stared at the stacks around me.  Augh!  I e-mailed my husband and he (very wisely) said, "You need a break."  I was annoyed with myself since I so rarely get writing time and I couldn't write.  But, when the muse isn't there, the muse isn't there.  So, I took my husband's advice and packed it in.  I got in my car and put on some very loud music and drove to pick up my son from pre-school.  Right in the middle of my off-tune shout/singing of "Bad Romance" the idea I had been trying to coax out, hit me.  Luckily I had just pulled into a parking spot at the school because this warranted some serious dancing.  And thank goodness I was early and the other parents weren't around yet, as my dancing is libel to be mistaken for a medical emergency.  But I danced for a good five minutes at the joy of breakthrough.

Now I just have to wait until next week's two hour window to actually write it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Writers Platform Building Crusade!

I'm going to take today's post to talk for a minute about why I'm doing this blog.  Quite simply, I am trying to establish an online presence.  One of the things that is mentioned frequently by agents and publishers is that they would like their authors to be online in some form.  The reasons for this are many.  There is an obvious sales advantage to having an author who already has a following.  Also, it allows readers to make a personal connection to the author (and therefore, the book).  Another item in the "plus" column is that editors and agents can get a quick lesson in this person that they may be putting their time and money into. 

An added bonus I have found though, isn't often mentioned in books/conferences/other websites.  It is the connection within the writing community.  Getting to know my fellow travelers on this journey has been a joy and a surprise.  And we are all trying to get our names out there and establish our presence.  So, one of these fellow writers, the wonderful Rachael Harrie, devised an idea.  She is getting a bunch of us to join together to get our names and sites out to more folks.  We are all "signing up" to basically promote one another and ourselves at the same time. 

So, I'd encourage you to sign up if you are a fellow writer-type person looking to get yourself out there more.  And if you are just a reader of my blog, I want to urge you to visit and follow some of my peers (if I can presume to call them such).  Click here to visit Rachael's site and find out more about it.  She'll be posting lists of the participant's websites soon.

And as a part of this, I've added a "follower" button on the right hand side of my page now.  So, please sign up to "follow" me!  : )

Monday, September 20, 2010

When research is fun!

Is there ever a time research is fun?  I've always wanted to be Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel researching hotels and quaint European towns.  I think that would be way fun.  But I have also discovered that researching pictures books is also super fun (and doesn't involve living out of a suitcase).

For the past few months I've been reading just about every picture book I can get my hands on.  I'm pulling books off the library shelves by handful and just jumping into them.  I plant myself at the bookstore and reach up to play picture book eenie-meanie-miney-moe.  I'm re-reading books that have been buried under piles in the kids bedrooms.  And I'm reading them all with new eyes.

In some books I thought I didn't like, I'm now seeing new value.  For example, for some reason I had never been a huge fan of "Where The Wild Things Are."  I know, this is sacrilege.  I think I was always kind of scared of Max.  I'm a very non-confrontational person and Max just lets it all out.  But, of course, this book has always been on my bookshelf and my sons love it.  When I started learning more about story structure and construction, I found that this book is often held up as THE best example of picture book writing.  Now when I pick it up, I have a new found respect and admiration for it and I am learning something more from it each time.  Max still makes me a little nervous, but I can love him more these days.

I've also found there are some books that I love that don't follow the definition of good picture book writing.  I find that when I read them I'm searching for what makes me love them in spite of this.  Is is the character?  Is it a situation I personally relate to?  Is it just funny?

The best part of this research is the endless nature of it all.  I could read picture books until the cows come home and I'll still find more.  What about non-fiction picture books?  How about those picture books based on TV or movie characters that are churned out constantly?  Picture books dealing with serious issues?  Picture books with no words (as a writer I'm fervently opposed to this kind - ha!)?  The shelves at the library and bookstore just go on and on and on.

Lucky me!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Recommendation

My recommended picture book this weekend is "The Quiet Book" by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska.  I love the pictures in this book.  They match the tone perfectly and are just adorable.  Check this one out as a great bedtime book!

Click here to go to Amazon to see the book.

Note just for Carin:  Don't go looking too closely at this one.  Elizabeth may already be crossed off my Christmas list.  *Wink, wink*

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'd rather be with the kids

Last week I had two whole hours all to myself when all three of my kids were in school.  This is a rare treat.  Time for me!  I was kind of at a loss for what to do with myself.  I didn't want to go home and do chores.  This was special time.  I can grumble and moan about the dishes and the bathroom floor while the kids are with me.

So, I decided to grab my notebook and head to the library to find a quiet spot to just write.  Imagine the luxury!  I would be able to complete thoughts, write whole sentences and maybe even brainstorm some new ideas.  I practically skipped through the front doors.

Then I did something entirely foreign to me.  I turned left into the grown-up part of the library instead of turning right into the children's room!  It was a whole new world!  Mind you, I've been going to this library at least once a week for the past three years, but I discovered two whole rooms I didn't know where there!  I've run briefly into the grown-up stacks to grab a mystery novel occasionally, but I had never explored this part of the library.  So, I wandered around for a bit just admiring the books, tables, computers, and such.  Then I found a cozy cubbyhole for myself and got settled.

I started writing.  Oh the joy!  The peace!  The...snorting and sniffling of the people next to me.  Gross!  There were two people hacking all over the place.  It was so disgusting I had to move.  I circled around the room looking for a place far enough away from the germ-fest, but ours is a small library.  So, I went back to the front of the library and headed for the children's room.  Back where I belong.  I found a desk spot and cheerfully listened to kids playing as I wrote.  The children's librarian was baffled to see me without my normal hip attachments, but I explained that I tried being a grown-up, but couldn't.  I'd rather be with the kids.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun contest!

One of the talented writers from my critique group, Christie Wright Wild, is having a fun contest on her blog right now!  So zip on over and check it out (and explore the rest of her site while you're there)!  She is asking people to list their three favorite words and you could win Children's Writers's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner!  I'd love to see your favorite words.  Can you guess mine?  They are in the comment section of her blog.

Click here to visit Christie's contest

The happily rejected

About a month after I sent out my first batch of magazine submissions I got my first rejection letter.  You would think the normal response would be to feel upset or discouraged.  I, however, had the opposite reaction.  I was joyful!


Because if I'm getting rejected, that means I'm trying.  I'm writing.  I'm submitting.  I'm out there.  I did a little dance when my husband handed me my self addressed stamped envelope.  Someone out there had read my work!  Yes, they rejected it.  But they did so nicely.  It was a form rejection letter, but I thought it was a very pleasant one.  Ironically we had received our copy of this particular magazine in the mail the day before and I saw an article that was VERY similar to the one I had submitted, so I was expecting a rejection anyway.  But one overwhelming theme of the children's writing world is kindness.  Yes, it is business, but it is also a fantastic community of writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, teachers, agents, and everyone in between.  But I digress...

Since that first rejection, I've gotten several more in the mail.  I have to admit that the last one bummed me out a little, but that was the first one that did.  I let myself pout for about an hour and then got out my notebook and started brainstorming new ideas for the magazine that I had sent the latest rejection.  Keep learning and writing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

But my son loved it!

Apparently the above line (or a variation there of) is something that is heard a lot by the folks in the publishing industry.  Aspiring writers everywhere give their precious manuscripts to their friends/parents/children to read and are heaped with praise and figure it is ready to go to print.

I give my writing to these people too and I get the heaps of praise too.  But I don't think that their seal of approval means it is book-ready.  I know that I need objective opinions of other writers and I've started to seek those out (thank you new critique group!).  However, I would like to say that the gushing of family and friends is very important to the writer.

By it's nature, writing is an exercise in rejection.  So, having some people say, "This is fantastic!" is good for the soul and ego.  And I have to tell you, I discovered the best praise yesterday.  I have a story that I'm submitting to a magazine that I based on my oldest son, William.  It is a modified story about when he got his "real" tool box.  William has been very interested in this idea of me writing stories and he asked to read it.  He started laughing so hard he was turning pink.  Now, I know that this laugh came from the fact that it was based on him as well as his mother's humor (because let's face it...I formed his sense of humor!).  But then he asked me to print it out and he took it downstairs to read to his brother, Henry.

Even if that story never sees the pages of a magazine, hearing William giggle as he read it to Henry made the writing totally worth it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Narrow focus

What to write...what to write...what to write?  I asked myself this question over and over again when I decided to jump into this writing thing.  I quickly realized I wanted to try to write for children's magazines.  I mean, who hasn't loved Highlights all their life?  Was there anything better than finding an unmarked-up copy of Highlights in the dentist office?  Actually, that is still the best part of going to the dentist office.  And magazines often reach large numbers of children in ways that books may not.  Plus it involves getting mail.  I still do the happy mail dance each day when it arrives and my kids run to me and ask, "are there any magazines for me?"  What could be better than being a part of that joy?

So, that decision was easy.  The hard part was deciding to focus on just picture books.  As soon as I started looking into "kidlit" I found out that it encompasses board books, picture books, early readers, middle grade and young adult.  Frankly, I have ideas for all these genres.  But it became apparent that each genre has its own style, rules, challenges, and learning curve.  I figured I needed to focus on one.  That way I could educate myself as much as possible on that one style and take a stab at it.

I chose picture books.  Not because they seemed easier.  In fact, the mere idea of trying to create a memorable story that can touch children's hearts and imaginations in less than 500 words is terrifying.  When your standards are Maurice Sendak and Dr. Suess, the bar is WAY high.

No, I chose picture books because I love them.  I love finding a good one.  I love reading them out loud.  I love reading them to myself.  I could flip through picture books all day.  And I believe a good picture book can define parts of your childhood.  Some of my favorite memories involve reading "Go Dog, Go" to my kindergarten class and Frank Asch's "Popcorn" over and over in my room.

Picture books are precious in so many ways.  And I cherish the opportunity to try to create one!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writing in the dark

The biggest challenge to writing while being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) is finding the time.  But I have developed a two part strategy!

Now there is rarely a time when I have more than 30 consecutive seconds of free time.  In fact, in writing the last three sentences, I've gotten up twice.  Once to get apple juice and once to tell Jack to stop throwing the blanket over the kitty.  So, part one of my strategy is idea retention.  This is simply being able to remember what I was doing when I got interrupted.  Perhaps you think this is no big deal?  Then you must not be a mother.  A mother's brain is a whirlwind of information that can not always be counted on to produce the right bit of information on demand.  So, I have become queen of the one-word memory trigger.  Let's say I'm working on a story and just had a fabulous idea and then I get hollered at to find a piece of a toy that no one has seen in four months.  Before I leap up from my chair, I jot one or two words quickly in the margin.  I can  come back from my victorious toy hunt and can pick right back up where I left off.  The only time this does not necessarily work is when the fabulous idea I had was so off in left field that the reminder word makes no sense (what did I mean with 'shoelace parachute'?).

My second way of tackling this problem is writing everywhere and whenever I can.  Two minutes waiting in the parking lot for school to end?  Write in the notebook I carry in my purse.  45 seconds before the soccer game starts?  Jot a note in the memo section on my phone.  10 minutes sitting upstairs in the boy's bedroom waiting for one of them to fall asleep?  Write in the pitch black on a scrap piece of paper I found on the floor.  When I look at it in the light, it may look like it was written by a drunk serial killer, but my ideas are there!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Praise for Bridget's Beret

I thought a nice weekend feature would be to just mention a picture book that I have read recently that I would recommend to folks (because I'm reading a LOT of picture books trying to learn more about them).  I checked "Bridget's Beret" out from the library last week and I can't stop thinking about it.  It is written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  This book is so totally charming, I can't get over it.  It is funny, the illustrations add so much to the story, it is educational (both in styles of hats and art), and it is a sweet story about a little girl that isn't so sweet it puts you into a diabetic coma.

I enjoyed this book so much, I'm adding it to my shopping list and I even looked up Mr. Lichtenheld on-line.  His blog is here.

As a side note, I also got "Shark vs. Train" on that same library run.  Tom Lichtenheld illustrated that book as well and it is also totally worth the read.  My boys loved it!  It was written by Chris Barton and is clever and funny and a perfect book for an afternoon story time.  Mr. Barton's blog is here.

P.S.  I'm not planning on reviewing books at this time.   I just wanted to offer some recommendations in case you are looking for a good book to pick up for your kids.  Just a friendly word-of-mouth (or word-of-blog, I suppose) sort of thing.  : )

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chasing a Dream

Really?  This is what I've chosen to do in those precious few moments I'm not cleaning up spilled juice, heading off Bickel-War IV, or trying to figure out how the cat managed to puke on just the top stair to the basement?


I dream big.   I'm still semi-sure I'm going to win the lottery someday.  I practice my Oscar acceptance speech each year.  And I'm certain I'll be plucked from the crowd at an IndyCar race to drive for Team Penske.  But, the fact of the matter is, I can't control any of those dreams at the moment.  This dream of seeing my picture book on the shelf or seeing my article in a magazine, I can.

I'm actually a little surprised at my own resolve on this one.  But when I started to just tinker around with writing, I felt like my brain suddenly woke up.  I literally had trouble sleeping the first two weeks because my brain wouldn't turn off.  I feel like I have a whole new sense of self.  Like I just stumbled upon what I've been missing all along.  I don't mean to overstate it, but I have a whole music-break-in-the-movies sequence thing in my head of "Megan - The Writer" with KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" playing loudly.

I honestly didn't want to tell many folks I was doing this until I was relatively sure I was going to stick with it.  But the feeling I have just from TRYING to write is so great, I can't see giving it up, even if I never get published.  I'm enjoying the process too much.  And in the end, I'll either have published works to share with the world, or a nice little treasury of stories just to share with my kids.  Sounds like a win-win dream to me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kick Off!

Tonight the NFL season kicks off, so I figured it was a good time to kick off my blog as well.

I recently had an epiphany, you see.  I find that most of my mom friends kind of just go into this mom-shell for a while.  Sometimes it is just until they are able to sleep more than 2 hours at a time.  Sometimes they are in it until their baby goes to college.  Mine lasted almost exactly eight years.

Not that I suddenly have less to do as a parent, mind you, but I feel like I've kind of hit a groove.  I have my oldest two in school all day and my littlest man is pretty easy-going.  I've hit a stride with my job (which I do from home) and have it under control.  Our other activities are second nature at this point (soccer, parish council, etc.).  So I had time to take a breath and think about me.

And here is what I thought..."I need a creative outlet!"  Back in high school,  I was in speech and I was a theater major in college.  Theater is just not an option at this point.  We have too much going on to try to throw a rehearsal schedule in there.  So, I did some brainstorming and came to a conclusion that is, apparently, not all that unusual.  I wanted to write for children.

I started to do some research and realized that a lot of stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) also have this aspiration.  It is a logical fit.  I'm around kids all day.  I love reading them books.  In fact, I love books in general.  I'm always thinking, "I could write that!"  I'm a decent writer.

But then I did more research and quickly realized this is much more complicated than just deciding I want to write for children.  I need some background, information, education, drive, connections, luck, time and skill.  But that hasn't scared me away.

I've joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  I'm going to my first conference in a month.  I'm checking out every book I can about writing (I even purchased a few!).  I'm making friends in the writing world and reading blogs and websites of writers/editors/agents.  I've recently joined a critique group.  I'm writing and re-writing and re-writing stuff.  I'm submitting things to magazines and editors.  And I'm starting this blog to document the journey!