Monday, October 30, 2017

ENJOY THE JOURNEY by Jenna Grodzicki

When I first decided to venture into the world of writing for children, I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it would be magical. The words would flow out of my head and onto the computer screen and in no time at all, I would have a published book. Well, almost three years later, I now know differently. There are certain things about writing and publishing that are magical, but they can also be frustrating, disappointing, and, at times, soul crushing.

You have a polished manuscript, and you start submitting to agents. Or maybe you already have an agent, and your manuscript is being sent to editors. Then you wait. Several months go by. If you’re lucky, you receive a rejection, so you know to move on. But more often than not, you hear crickets. Rejections are hard and the wait can be unbearable. So how can you stay positive and confident? By celebrating the small accomplishments.

Put a positive spin on those rejections.
Each rejection means you are one step closer to that yes. I use a Hundreds Chart (why yes, I used to be a teacher) to keep track of my rejections. Coloring in a square actually makes me feel better. It’s a visual representation of hard work and persistence and reminds me how much closer I’m getting. Other writers play Rejection Bingo. Or, use the rejection as an excuse to treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Whatever you choose to do, rewarding yourself in some small way will lessen the sting.

Take time to look back at your earlier work.
When I look at my earliest manuscripts, I inwardly cringe. But it makes me appreciate how much I’ve improved. When I compare a manuscript I’ve revised and revised with its first draft, I feel accomplished. As writers, we are always striving to improve our craft. Taking the time to see how far you’ve come is worth recognizing.  

Celebrate every word.
Completing a first draft or a round of revisions is certainly a cause for celebration. But don’t overlook those tiny moments. When you’ve added a sentence that has a powerful impact on your manuscript or you’ve found just the right word after its eluded you for days, applaud yourself. Don’t take each improvement you make for granted.

Celebrate the critiques.
Receiving a positive critique can help boost your confidence. Hold onto that feeling. Receiving a negative critique may not feel so great, but use it as fuel to push yourself forward. And recognize that every critique you give to other writers helps improve their work. That is a powerful feeling.

Embrace your tribe.
When I first started writing, I never could have imagined all the wonderful people I’d meet in the kidlit community. My critique groups, members of both SCBWI and 12x12, and fellow Clear Fork Publishing authors have become my support system. I value these friendships and am thankful for them every day. Reach out to other writers and keep those relationships close. They’ll make you feel less alone and lift you up when you’re down.

The path to publication is a long one. But each small accomplishment leads you further down that road. If you focus all your time and energy on the disappointments and rejections, you’ll miss all the successes along the way. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

About the Author: 

Jenna lives in Connecticut with her husband, two crazy awesome kids, a cat named Pixie, and a dog named Ozzy. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Boston College and a Master’s in Education from the University of New England. Her first book, PIXIE’S ADVENTURE, was awarded two Honorable Mentions in the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. She recently traded in her librarian hat to become a full time writer. At all hours of the day (and night) she can be found at her desk, drinking iced coffee and working on her next story. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Jenna LOVES to read! She also enjoys skiing and cheering for the best team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Truth Above All in Young Adult Novels
By: Nancy Stewart

Many of us are painfully aware that truth, one of the ultimate values that makes us human, is being eroded in this day of fake news and stories reworked to suit a particular audience. But does it matter?  Certainly, a resounding yes is the answer. One pivotal place where truth should be extolled is within the pages of a Young Adult novel.

Since the 1990’s, when this category of novel came of age (having begun in the early 1960’s), the subject matter of this novel type has steadily become edgier, more thought-provoking, more prone to take risks. Young Adult literature today reflects the developmental needs of is audience. If authors tell these stories with truth and candor, more young people will read the books, and more will be touched and influenced in the best possible ways. Without the authenticity provided in the pages of such novels, the young reader may find it more difficult to think critically or begin to deal with realities they will face in adulthood.

In my new Young Adult novel, Beulah Land, published by Interlude Press, November 16, 2017, the protagonist Violette Sinclair, is persecuted by a sociopathic bully in the Missouri Ozarks, where they both live. She also must deal with her mother to discover truths that are painful, and dangerous, and too important to ignore. Vi has to reach deep within herself to find an abiding truth which she hopes will sustain her in her struggle with her tormentor, Dale.  

When we, as authors, provide our young readers a framework in which truth lives, we give them role models who will help them make sense of their own personal world. In Vi’s case, her best friend is Junior, the star linebacker in their little town’s high school. It is he who literally runs interference for Vi and saves her life.  She returns the favor and saves his as well. Together, they discover truth; what is right, and what is wrong, and the ability to know the difference.

Only when a Young Adult novel, or any novel for that matter, is built on veracity and integrity, is the author able to find comfort in a story well told; a story brimming with interest, and fulsomeness, and abundance of spirit, and that most basic of human values, truth. One lives in hope that the very same comfort will occur within the reader.

For more about Nancy Stewart, and her new novel, visit her website at