Howdy! Thanks a ton to my sis for fixing the issues with my website. Unfortunately it wiped out the last few blog posts, but I can’t complain since it’s functional again. Couldn’t live online without her!

So many exciting things have been happening lately! A few weeks ago, I attended the fantastic Indiana SCBWI Conference at McCormick’s Creek. It was overflowing with wisdom. Dynamic speakers, helpful tips, networking opportunities, and fabulous friends…I couldn’t ask for more! I even ran into an old high school friend that I haven’t seen for years, who is also now a writer! She writes for National Geographic, and has a chapter book about lions that just came out recently. I highly recommend it. I bought it for my three-year-old son and he LOVES looking through it. Lots of great stuff! I always find these workshops to be rejuvenating. If you’ve never attended, I highly recommend it!

I’m thrilled to share recent updates on my current projects. First, I have one manuscript out that was a revision request from a very prominent publisher. After implementing the changes, I believe the story is stronger than ever. I’m amazed at the insight of this particular editor, and thrilled at the outcome of my story because of it. Even if they don’t take it, I’m more confident in it now than ever. It will sell somewhere! But I’m waiting by the mailbox each day for his response. This part is the hardest! Second, my BoilerMAKER book is well on it’s way. My illustrator (also known as my website builder and sister) is furiously working on the pictures to hit her June 1st deadline. Now it’s deciding between hard and soft cover and signing the contract. If we stay on track, it will be out this fall. Can’t wait for that! Finally, I’m starting a new project that relates to my current job. This will be nonfiction, and from what I can tell, nothing like it has been done before. It’s too early to release too many details, but the idea is developing. It promises to be exciting! πŸ™‚

Time to put my little boy to bed. He doesn’t do so well when I’m clicking away on the keys, so it’s time to close the laptop.

Happy Monday!


Happy 2014!

Being snowed in for two days has proven to be very productive for me! I’ve gotten all my emails organized, and now I’m getting the updates done on my website. I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies.

I’m setting my goals for 2014, and I’m hoping by the end of the year when I look back at this I will have made some progress. So here we go:

1. Find groups to actively use the BoilerMAKER book and seek out publishers. If I can’t find one, I will look into self-publishing!

2. Continue to look for a publisher forΒ Crystal Clear. This is my most polished piece, and I’m sure there is a home for it somewhere!

3. Attend the SCBWI National Conference in LA in August. This is a pricey goal, but since my sister lives in LA now it might be attainable! This would be an amazing opportunity to network if I can find a way to make it work.

4. Produce new material! There’s no limit to this goal, and I really want to make progress this year. Hmmm…since I mostly focus on picture books, I’m going to set my goal at five new manuscripts produced by December 31, 2014. I may change this to a word count later if I decide to work on a chapter book. πŸ™‚

I think that’s all for now. I need to be realistic, and I know if I continue listing out things all the things I would love to accomplish, I’ll put myself over the top. What are your goals for 2014? What do YOU want to accomplish? Set yourself up for success by setting goals and use every day to take a step closer to getting what you want.

Stay active and NEVER GIVE UP! Happy writing πŸ™‚

Focus on Picture Books!

Wow! The summer flew by and now it feels as though fall is in full swing. Although this crazy fluctuation is weather is making me crazy! I guess that’s Indiana for ya. πŸ™‚

Last weekend I went to the Falling Into Picture Books workshop at Turkey Run. It was AMAZING! I was lucky enough to sit at the same table with an editor from Cartwheel Books and Scholastic Press. His insight into our discussions was fantastic. I love hearing it straight from the pros! Both editors in attendance are allowing submissions, so that’s an extra bonus. I’m almost finished putting together my packets. I had a hard time choosing what to turn in, but after researching each publishing group, I think I found a perfect fit. I hope at least! We’ll see.

I’m very excited about the fact that a new critique group emerged for me from this workshop. I found two authors that live relatively close to work with. First submission is October 15th, and I can’t wait! It’s way past time for me to get back on a deadline. I have a feeling this simple commitment is going to produce great things for all of us!

If you are a writer and you’ve never attended a conference, I cannot stress enough how important it is. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a variety of conferences over the last few years, and each one energizes me more and more. I’m also networking, and that is huge in the publishing world. Perseverance. Hang in there. It will happen! At least that is what I’m doing…I’ll never give up! Every rejection is a step closer to an acceptance. So keep writing!

That’s all for now. Have a wonderful week! The first day of fall is creeping closer as we speak. πŸ™‚

Every Writer’s Resource!

Well, my university is back in session! Today was a crazy day. I was overwhelmed with students, but in a good way. I didn’t realize how much I missed them! We have a great Β year ahead of us. But I am going to be busy! I hope I can keep up with posts on here. At least to give you a great resource every now and then. πŸ™‚

Which brings me to tonight’s topic…a fabulous website I came across called Every Writer’s Resource! If you’re a writer and you don’t know about this, you need to. Yes there are ads and ad space is sold, but there’s also a lot of great tips to learn. It is a wealth of information, but what I find to be most helpful is the list of publishers. If you’re like me and you are still trying to find that first contract, this is a great list to start with. They highlight all the smaller publishers that are looking for new talent (that’s you and me!) Check it out…you won’t be disappointed. πŸ™‚ Then come back and tell me what you think!


What’s New?

I can’t believe I haven’t posted for a month! Time gets away from me so quickly. We just got back from a wonderful vacation in Florida…exactly what I needed to relax and regroup! Spent every day at the pool with my family–that’s the way a vacation should be!

Before that, I went to my alumni retreat at Seton Hill and had a blast. It was so great to get back together with my classmates and talk writing. We don’t have near enough opportunities to do that! One lesson I learned: always go prepared! You never know who you will meet. I had two requests for my YA manuscript; one on an impromptu pitch and the other at a dinner. I didn’t expect either one and was beyond thrilled! Submissions are out, so we will see what happens. Fingers crossed! Also came up with a new story idea with my buddy Dave on the eight hour drive home. This is a non-fiction reference book that I think could be dynamite if it is done right. We have the same thoughts on voice, so that’s a start. I’m really excited to start working on this book. It’s a different area for me, but different is good! Have to keep most of that under wraps right now, but I’ll update on the project as I can.

I was able to get my thoughts organized while in PA, and that is a huge plus. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with everything that goes into being an author. I am going to work on writing the book with Dave, but selling my Purdue picture book. I am going to add a blurb about that soon on the work in progress tab. It’s super cute and should be a huge hit around here. My goal? Expand to other universities of course! But start here…baby steps.

That’s all for now. Had a window to blog since I’m dogsitting my neighbor’s awesome pups! I don’t think I will want to give these two back. They are the sweetest! πŸ™‚

As always, if you have book ideas, don’t hesitate to put in idea requests!

Office Space!

No, I’m not referring to the movie, I’m referring to my actual ‘office space’ in our new home! We’ve been here for a few months now, and yes, I’ve had a desk in here, but until tonight the place has been a disaster. Boxes and papers everywhere! Now it is only slightly off-balance. πŸ™‚ But that is the way an author’s office should be, I think! Okay, so there are a few more papers to organize, but for the most part, everything has its place.

I started with my book shelves. I was able to divide everything into genres as well as read vs. unread. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had read most everything I wanted on my shelves, and you know what that means? Time to visit B&N! That’s a given in the next week. πŸ™‚ My bulletin board is up, my next book is halfway plotted on it (there’s a gap of about five chapters in the middle), but overall I am pleased. I’ve fleshed out the main characters and now it’s time to do things the Shelley Bates way and liven them up in a manila folder! πŸ™‚ Not sure what I mean? Message me and I will send you details. My characters never truly come alive without this step.

My office is amateur, but I love it anyway. And I hope it will lead me to sophistication soon. What do you have in your office that you can’t live without? What organizational tips do you have that help you keep every project, chapter, character, etc. straight? I’m open to all suggestions!

Happy plotting. πŸ™‚

Freshman or freshmen?

So I want to talk about this today because it is driving me crazy. I work on a college campus, and I can’t count the number of times these words are misused! I see them in emails, PowerPoints, announcements, fliers, etc. You name it, I’ve seen a problem. So let’s review. ‘Freshman’ is singular, meaning one (1) person. ‘Freshmen’ is plural, meaning multiple people. It’s pretty simple!

Examples– Freshman (singular): Are you going to be a freshman next year? Freshmen (plural): Where are the freshmen lockers located?

I just do not understand why this is so difficult! (Breathe…) Okay, I feel better now that I got this off my chest. So let’s talk about writing! I’m so excited because I finally got myself in gear this weekend. I spent five hours at Barnes and Noble on Saturday night finalizing a few entries for a writing contest. As I was deciding what to enter, I was able to read through a lot of my previous work. When I see all the things I’ve written, I feel good about my work. I’m proud of myself. At the same time, I’m motivated to create something new. It’s time for a new story. A new idea to cultivate. So I’m pulling out my idea book, and I’m hoping to begin a framework soon. The hard part–which idea should I work on first? I’m thinking I need to continue working on the sequel to Crystal Clear,Β but at the same time I want a new picture book.

I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I need some advice. How do you work full time, continue producing new stuff, and try to sell what you already have?? Can anyone help me out with this one?

Until next time…

Do You Have an In-BeTWEEN-er?

I stumbled on a great website during my lunch hour today for the group we call ‘tweens’. Not really young children anymore, but not quite adults. It’s hosted by Simon and Schuster, and it has a lot of great recommendations for kids at this age! I’m going to add a few of the popular titles to my must-read list. I hope you enjoy your visit here as much as I did!