Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grants for Writers, from the SCBWI!

Are you a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators? If you're not, and you're writing for children or teens, I highly recommend joining! The SCBWI is the international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children's fiction and nonfiction. They advocate for us professionally, connect us with other writers for help and commeraderie, and even offer links to help you join writer's/illustrators group health insurance. The SCBWI offers professional writers/illustrators' conferences all over the U.S. and the world each year. These are great for both professional writers and newby's. The first person to join SCBWI over 40 years ago was the late, great Sue Alexander. The second was the amazing Jane Yolen. Droves of other great names in writing and art have followed after that.
The SCBWI also offers Grants for Writers and Illustrators --tidbits of financial support so that we can keep doing what we're doing. But of course, you have to apply.
There are quite a few. Here's info. on several of them:

1.) The Jane Yolen Grant for Mid-list Authors - helps an author raise awareness about their current work in progress. (Nominations Due Sept 1st.)
2.) The Martha Weston Grant - is for published book authors who want to work in a new genre. (Applications due between May 1st and June 1st).

3.) The Don Freeman Grant
- is for illustrators (*Applications must be received no later than March 15th).
4.) The Amber Brown Grant - helps a school to bring an author to visit and speak. (Applications due by April 1st).
5.) The Work in Progress Grants - are for new, unpublished authors in various genres. (Applications due by March 15th).
And the Barbara Karlin Grant - supports a picture book author. (Applications due by March 15th.)
So, if you're a member of the SCBWI don't forget that Spring is the time to apply for many of these grants. And if you're not a member, check out the website, and consider joining.
Best of luck to all the applicants this year. May wonderful books, authors, and illustrators "win."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When the Good News isn't for You.

"Call me!" the email said. "I've got good news!"
It was from my critique buddy -- one of my really close, truly bonded,
seriously professional writing friends. We've been in a active critique
group together for over five years. We go to all the conferences together -
every year. We share each other's lives, the good and the bad, the ups and
downs with kids and husbands, the query letters, the rejections. We've critiqued
each other's manuscripts - all 170+ pages of each version, through multiple
revisions. We've shared our writing dreams - since the beginning, when we knew
nothing - about the profession. :)
We've each had our little successes along the way on our writing journey - a contest win here, a nod from an agent there, some publications of shorter works...little candles to light our way.
But the published novel on the bookstore shelf which we are both sure will be our first novel of many -- well, neither of us has quite achieved that goal yet. But we're close! We're darn close! We know it! We can taste it! This is our time! We're each other's biggest champions, urging each other on. We're "running neck and neck" on this journey to publication.
Or we were
Until five minutes ago.
When she finished talking to
that agent, or that editor.
And now... I ... am behind.
Doggone it!
So I pick up the phone to call her
-- so excited. I want to hear all about it! It's what we've dreamed of.
Forward motion!
Yes.... right.
Well, no, not exactly.
It was supposed to be "us" -- US together!
Signing those first books. Toasting our success as novelists.
And now I'm playing catch up. Grrrr.
She's standing on the podium and I'm
still a few laps back in the pool.
But I'm still so happy for her.

And she's excited I'm about to call
her. Right? I mean, why wouldn't she be?
She emailed ME, to talk to ME.
She just can't wait for that phone
to ring. She wants to tell me everything.
She's glad she's on the podium. I'm sure she is.
Why wouldn't she be?


Have you had an experience similar to this one yet in your writing career? If not, you will. : )
It happens to all of us.
Once you've been in a critique group long enough someone, or even multiple someones,
will start having more or less "success" than you for a period of time. Someone will get an agent before or after you, or their first book contract, or their 17th, or that coveted award that every children's writer you know was vying for. And then what happens? The dynamics in your critique group can go from great to a little bit tricky about two seconds after the news is announced. Perhaps some of those who didn't "win" that award or contract feel jealous. After-all, you were all neck and neck until then, right? It was just luck, really, that she or he got that contract before you did. Right?

The person on the “podium” can feel nervous that others in the group will be jealous. Others in the group can feel hurt, and sad, left out of the limelight. We’ll all be on one side or another of this imbalance of success at one point or another during our careers.

But what should we remember?
We’re all still who we were before that imbalance occurred.
And if we all keep writing and critiquing and submitting, that imbalance is going to change repeatedly. She may be "ahead of you" now, you may be "ahead" of her later, it’s a process. But it’s not about “ahead or behind.” It’s a journey that we’re all on together. We’re all on the same road, helping each other along. We’re still crit buddies, helping each other, attending each other’s book signings, calling to congratulate each other when those calls of good news do come in, picking up our buddies who may have fallen into a writing funk, being honest with each other, moving each other’s writing forward, moving as a group -- onward, toward each of our next levels of success. And
as a group we a strong. It’s not about him or her or me or you - alone.
We help each other. This buddy's agent may later want a submission of my manuscript; That Buddy's editor may be looking for a writer with just your skills, and he, your crit buddy, can recommend you.

If someone in your group has success, celebrate it!
Success for one opens doors for the others!
Success for one reminds the rest of us that we’re close, darn close, doggone it! Because we’re writing on parr with him or her as well, no doubt. Our time is coming!
Success for one reminds the rest of us to put “butt in chair” and get that book finished, or those revisions done, or those query letters sent – because there ain’t no success without a finished book and submissions being made, my friends! Butt in chair, I say, my mateys!
But success for one is success for all of us!

Congrats to those who’ve had “success” this year, and congrats to the rest who will soon have success of their ownl! For all the critique groups around the world -- Go team!