Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Connecting the Dots

My journey to become an author began with an idea, that grew into a proposal, was nurtured into a first draft manuscript, and has blossomed into a personal truth: I can write and I am creative. So what?

     The first few steps were easy, personal, and pure. I could write with wreckless abandon because the act of writing is of a solitary nature. But at some point, after writing, and revising, and researching, and revising again, I would have to give my manuscript wings and let it fly. It must be exposed to the world, naked in plain view for all to love, hate, or ignore.
     This is a pivotal point for a writer turned aspiring author. How you proceed is critical. The good news is, there's help. When I emerged from my writing euphoria, I knew that I could not travel this road alone if I ever wanted to be published. I turned to my tried and true friend Google and found the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
     On my first visit to the site, I spent two hours and became a member. This professional resource connected me with like-minded spirits in my region. It offered conferences, classes, and connectivity. It opened my eyes to the possibility of writing for children as a profession, and introduced me to a flourishing industry committed to challenging a child's imagination. In this place, I knew I was no longer alone. It gave me the confidence to share my work; not for self-fulfillment, but to become a better writer for children. I was inspired by the illustrations, and vividly saw my characters come to life.
     Since that time, I've connected to a world of authors, agents, writers, publishers, editors, and illustrators. I joined the magnificent world of Twitter, built a website, launched this blog, follow at least a dozen other blogs, have written more stories, found an editor, and am going to my first conference in October--to include a manuscript review by children's book author Mary Quattlebaum.
     Am I afraid? Certainly! Writing your first book is monumental. You love it, nurture it, cradle and caress it, and then send it off into the world hopeful that you've given it the best that you've got. It's a leap of faith. I am thankful for SCBWI for giving me a forum, guidance, and comrades. I am desperate to know if my writing needs polishing.... if my plot is lack-luster...if my main character falls I can become a better writer.
     Connecting and networking is key in this industry. There's so much to learn and so many options. The act of writing is only the first step.
     A decade ago, an aspiring author didn't have Twitter, Facebook, or the proliferation of blogs. Just out of curiosity, I consulted the 1995 edition of a Webster's dictionary for the definition of blog; it was non-existent. Now in 2010, blog is not only in the dictionary, but blogs have become a force, challenging traditional journalism and demanding a place at the table. This is a world where aspiring authors have found a voice. It is a connection.
     I am still connecting the dots, but not on my own. The SCBWI, Victoria Mixon, Mary Quattlebaum, Marissa Graff, Martina Boone, Jennifer Laughran, Mary Kole, Cornell DeVille, and many more have helped me on this journey. I don't know if the world of children's publishing is different by nature, but it has already given me more than I could ever give back.

Always, Athena

From SCBWI...
10 FAQs About Children's Book Publishing
New to publishing for young readers? Here are the questions most frequently asked, helpfully answered by a group of professionals in the field. 
From Keyboard to Printed Page
Here are the basics on how to format your writing for submission to agents and editors.
Types of Publishers
This handy guide gives you a quick summary of the different types of publishers and book packagers who may be interested in your work, as a well as a short, general overview of how they work.
From the Editor's DeskEver wish you could pick an editor's brain about what she's looking for, or what she might suggest? You're in luck. Beverly Horowitz, VP & Publisher at Bantam Delacorte Dell Books for Young Readers answers your questions.

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