Friday, December 16, 2011

Inspired by books: Her own personal Narnia

My 10 year old has been reading this book called "Mandy" by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Yes, that's the same as the Mary Poppins actress) It's about an orphan that finds an abandoned cottage and works to fix it up as her own little get-away haven.

We are lucky to have my parents nearby. They only live about 15 minutes away so the kids get to see them often. They have this fabulous yard, the kind that beggs for kids to be as they really are; adventurers, warriors, race car drivers, wizards and creators.

They have this plant in the yard (as seen in the picture) I don't know what it's called but they look like cat tails on steroids.

Since my daughter has been reading MANDY she has been taking care of this patch of vegetation and making it her own "Narnia" as she calls it.

She has woven mats out of blades from the plant.

she has even made some chairs (held together by tape) Don't they look like something straight out of Fairytopia?

The best part is that there is an open circle inside the plant. This is what she has REALLY been working on. It's her own fort. The place where she will put her chairs, mats and other decorations. She has spent hours on it already and she's still going strong.

But this is just the beginning! There are so many great books she has yet to discover. I can't wait to see what she'll come up with next.

It takes me back to my childhood. I loved making my own forts, hiding places and other worldly places.

What about you? Did you have your own world or . . . how were you inspired by books as a kid (or heck, even now?)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Encouragement for Writers: An Agent Success Story With Kathleen M. Reilly

I'm happy to introduce yet another member of my critique group, Kathleen M. Reilly. who recently signed with Marcy Posner of Folio Literary Magangement.

Kate has graciously answered some of my questions about her journey to finding an agent.

But first, a little about Kate. She's one of the most dedicated, focused and hard-working writers that I know.

Kate's features appear in publications such as:
  • Parents
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Family Circle
  • American Baby
  • FamilyFun
  • Woman's Day
  • Ladies' Home Journal

She's also the author of eight books (two of which are those award-winners).

Prior to launching a successful freelance career, Kate edited telecommunications and veterinary medical newsletters, website copy, and technical documentation.

Kate develops, writes, edits, and designs a wide range of business materials, both in print and online, including brochures, newsletters, press releases, corporate identity pieces, marketing "give-aways," and website copy.

And now, (drum roll please) Kate's interview about how she found her agent:

What type of writing do you do and how long have you been writing?

I’m a freelancer, so most of my work is writing for magazines. I’ve been doing that for about nine years. A few years ago, I started writing non-fiction children’s books for Nomad Press, an indy publisher in Vermont. I’ve done about seven books for them now.

How long had you worked on the manuscript that landed your agent? How many revisions?
when did you seek an agent for the first time, and how/why did you know it was time to look for one?

At the beginning of 2011, I decided it was well past time for me to do what I’ve always wanted – write fiction! So, in January, I began tossing plot ideas around in my head. I started writing in earnest in February. I finished the first draft a couple months later (I write fast!), and I must have done about three major revisions. I started looking for an agent in August. I knew I was ready because I felt like I’d taken the revisions as far as I could go. I was ready for some input from someone who does fiction day in and day out – someone who really knew this side of the business well.

How did you find your agent and then come to the conclusion that she was “the one?”

I did a lot of research to find an agent. I ran searches on different “find an agent!” sites, putting in my key points – I needed someone who did middle grade, who was interested in “boy books,” and who took submissions via email! When this agent responded to my query, she was very polite, professional, and seemed genuinely excited about my manuscript. And when I found out we’d gone to the same university, I figured it was fate!

What encouragement given to you did you hold onto while you were searching for an agent?

As a freelancer, I’m used to rejection. It’s just part of the business. Nothing personal at all – there are so many variables that come into play. Do they already have something similar in the works? Does that particular editor just not like that particular spin on the idea? Is she just having a plain old bad day? Maybe they already ran a story too close to that topic. In any case, I didn’t take rejection hard when an agent said, “No, not for me.” I liked my story; I have a fantastic writing group who supported me; and I knew I’d eventually place it somewhere. Sometimes you just gotta kiss a lot of frogs!

What encouragement or advice do you have to give to those who are searching for an agent?

I regularly go mountain biking with my tween- and teen-aged sons. Trust me, you’ve gotta work hard to keep up with these guys! But it turns out, it’s actually pretty fun to really push myself. Same goes for the whole writing process and looking for an agent. Just like in mountain biking, you’ve got to expect some setbacks – and possibly even some wipeouts! Yeah, those pitfalls are more emotional than physical in the writing biz, but you’ve still got to pick yourself back up and keep pushing. Old advice, but it’s really the truth!

Thank you, Kate, for sharing your success story with us. You are an inspiration! All of a sudden I have the urge to go mountain biking. . . . .