Category Archives: Encouragement

17 Things I Want to Remember Not to Forget After I’m Published

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signsClinging to the assumption I will one day be published, I am proactively compiling a list of things I want to remember not to forget once the dream toggles to reality. For safekeeping and future reference, I am storing my self-reminder stockpile here.

And sure, you can read them, if you want, my little twice-baked potato.

Vicky, when you become published . . .

  1. Remember not to complain about advances or book signings and other such publishing blah-dee-blah in front of writers who are pre-published. Reflect on what it was like being left out of the conversation or feeling resentful hearing those complaints. For the love of F&Gs, do not be a Diva McWhinypants.
  2. Remember to remain thankful when parts of the publishing process fail to measure up to what you thought they would be. Behind every delicious meal there’s a messy kitchen. You need to embrace both.
  3. Remember writers write. Just because you’re published now doesn’t mean you get to slack off.
  4. Remember to say thank you humbly without pushing away the compliment (should you be so lucky to receive one). You don’t want the person praising you to feel stupid for liking your work.
  5. Remember you are not the first person on the planet to get published. Other important things are going on in the world that have absolutely nothing to do with you or your book.
  6. Remember to give back – to your local SCBWI chapter, to your local library and to your beloved cheering section.
  7. Remember to be sensitive to those who will find your good news bittersweet. You know how hard it was to act all mature and supportive when your insides were turning to macaroni salad over someone else’s big break. Do not apologize for your success, but aim to keep your relationships balanced—it’s not all about you. Even if your friend is trying to pretend like she’s cool with you talking about every interaction with your new editor, give her some air. She can be genuinely happy for you and still hate your guts for a while. Remember how that felt? Your friend is smart and she will process this and you two will be okay. Just don’t push for it to happen. Be cool.
  8. Remember “your” book was a total team effort. Remember to acknowledge the epic efforts of your agent, editor, art director, copy editor, publisher and marketing team who went all in to make your book real.
  9. Remember to let it really soak in. Being a debut author is a big deal and while you hope to publish many more books, this is the one that changed everything and will probably be the most celebrated, so don’t save the party for the future.
  10. Remember not to hover over Amazon ratings and Goodreads reviews. Do you hear me?
  11. Remember no one is obligated to like, much less buy, your book. Do you like everything that’s in print? Okay then.
  12. Remember not to be shocked or disappointed when your launch day comes and the world looks pretty much like it did the day before. Your book will probably not be the first thing people think of when they roll over and hit the snooze button. Crazy, right?
  13. Remember you are still going to deal with rejection, the emotional roller coaster and disappointment.
  14. Remember once you have an ISBN, people will tend to give more weight to your “wisdom,” but don’t let that buckle your common sense. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let’s say on a panel discussion, it’s okay to say I’m still learning and defer to someone with more knowledge.
  15. Remember what people told you about second books and how it can make you freeze up out of fear it won’t measure up to your first book. That’s normal. Thaw out already.
  16. Remember it’s okay to say no. You don’t have to talk to every school group or travel to the far-reaches of Arewethereyet to speak to a five-person book club. You still need to protect time for writing, friending and other -ings.
  17. Remember to set your sights on a new dream. Your first book is not a finish line, it’s the starter pistol.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. ~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Come on in! Summer Open House Presents Kelly DiPucchio & Super Manny! Giveaway

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My little sparklers, the first time I met Kelly DiPucchio we were at an SCBWI – Michigan conference many years ago. Kelly was wearing a feather boa (not exactly standard issue for children’s writers!) and I thought, “Who is this amazing person?” There are many ways to answer that question–Kelly is a prolific New York Times bestselling picture book author. She is a creative, thoughtful and kindhearted woman. And best of all, Kelly is my friend. I could not be more delighted to have her join us for Summer Open House 2017.

Today, July 4, is the birthday of Kelly’s newest picture book is SUPER MANNY STANDS UP!

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Atheneum Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)

“This charming story marries the mania for superheroes with a potent anti-bullying message, making it an apt tale for present times. Super Manny, an imaginative raccoon child…declares out loud to the world his own fearlessness and strength in words that children will want to echo…. With great read-aloud potential, this story could be used by both parents and teachers to introduce concepts of courage and standing up to bullies from the youngest preschoolers up.” (Kirkus Reviews, May 2017)

Watch this super SUPER MANNY trailer!

You can enter for a chance to win your very own copy of SUPER MANNY to enjoy yourself or share with a beloved child in your life.

  • All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of this post!
    • Leave a favorite quote to add to the new “Worth Repeating” page, and you’ll get two chances.
    • AND if you become a new follower of Frog on a Dime, you’ll get three chances to win!

Drawing takes place Saturday, July 8 at Noon. 

Lemon sliceSince Kelly was kind enough to stop by for the Summer Open House, how could I resist offering her a seat on the Frog on a Dime porch swing for some lemonade and conversation?

What role has mindfulness and/or intuition played in your writing career?

Mindfulness has played a tremendous role in my writing career and life. I could tell you many stories about how different meditation practices have inspired new book ideas and even completed manuscripts in one sitting. I’ve come to learn over the years that meditation doesn’t mean you have to be in a lotus position on the floor with sandalwood incense and white candles burning. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and I, myself, enjoy creating those sacred spaces occasionally before I write but I can also create mindfulness by taking walks in nature or sitting in the sun or even folding clean laundry (definitely my least favorite).

What is your favorite day of the week–and yes, why?

Okay, probably only writers and artists will understand this but MONDAY. Mondays mean I’m getting back to my routine and there’s something very empowering and hopeful about having the full week ahead of me so I can get things done. Usually, by Friday, I’m lamenting about how much more I should have gotten done that week!

I know this is rather personal, but what is under your bed?

A few wayward socks (see Question #10), an empty suitcase, stray dryer sheets, a peaceful colony of dust bunnies, a flashlight and copies of A Course in Miracles and Autobiography of a Yogi (for good energy).

Who makes you laugh the most?

A few years ago, I definitely would have answered, “My husband!” However, now I’d have to say my son is closing in on a tie for first place. My husband and I take pride in the fact that we’ve birthed and raised some very funny people.

If you were a cheese, what kind would you be? Why?

I’d probably be Swiss because I’m pale and holy.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My kids. I know that sounds incredibly hokey and cliché but nothing else in my life can even come close.

Kelly, now be honest, kind of music feels like torture to you?

Heavy metal. That answer should not come as a big surprise to anyone who knows me because I will openly admit to loving Barry Manilow.

What is your inner adult/inner child ratio?

50% Adult. 25% Child. 25% Dog.

If you could make a guest appearance on a sit com, which one would it be–and why?

Probably Modern Family because I love the cast and the show.

Describe your sock drawer in three words or less.

Messy. Mismatched. Merry.

If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you be?

A totally different person.

Your favorite punctuation mark: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Favorite food or drink while writing: Coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fantasy road trip destination:

Well, you can’t get there by road but my inner compass keeps pointing me in the direction of Ireland. Cross my pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers I will get there one day!

Kelly, thank you so much for stopping by. I think you’re super!

And best o’ luck with Ireland!

Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind. ~ Roy Bennett

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Summer Open House Is Coming!

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Summer is here, my little gooey s’mores. Tis the season for bare feet, blue skies, blazing sunsets and bon fires.

And you  know what else?

It’s almost time for Frog on a Dime’s 2nd Annual Summer OpenFrog 3 House featuring . . .

  • phenomenal New York Times bestselling author (guess who!)
  • Drawings for giggle-inducing giveaways you will love
  • Special opps for new followers
  • And MORE! [insert “oooo” here!]

I can hardly wait!

Okay, I’ve nearly exceeded my exclamation point allowance, so let me simply encourage you to hop on by the first week of July. My little sparklers, you will not want to miss this! (Oops. There I go again! Again!)

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
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For the love of critiques, line edits and proofreading, what’s the difference? I mean, seriously, what is the difference?

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Quick–what’s the difference between developmental editing and line editing? What can you expect from a critique? Is line editing the same as copy editing?

Not sure?

Don’t cry, my little rose bud! Help is on the way.

These explanations may give you some clarity and clear up those tears.

Manuscript critique – a critique consists of a compilation of feedback in the form of a letter (typically) regarding  pacing, flow of narrative, transitions, voice, structure and other essential elements of stylish prose. This will provide a subjective view of the strengths and current weaknesses of your manuscript. You typically do not receive comments on the manuscript itself, as with a line edit.

Developmental editing – this extensive type of editing allows you to take a birdie’s eye view of your whole manuscript. With this type of editing, you may receive feedback in the form a of lengthy, detailed letter focusing on “opportunities for improvement,” regarding issues such as pacing, flow, transitions, voice, plot, structure, dialogue, character development and more. You may also receive positive observations and suggestions too. Developmental editing does not include the nitty-gritty elements of a line edit.

Line editing – what you have here is the big enchilada of edits, aka “comprehensive editing.” This level of editing, which can vary from heavy to “light” (don’t think fluffy here), consists of a careful combing of your manuscript regarding all of the important elements of fine writing, such as voice, pacing, rhythm, dialogue, character and structure.  Think of it as someone cleaning out the crumbs in your silverware drawer, only in this case, the toaster tidbits pertain to issues like transitions, voice, word choice and character development. You can expect many comments on the manuscript itself.

Not sure about the difference between line editing and copy editing? Check out this helpful article.

Proofreading – the main objective here is to ensure your manuscript is as clean as it can be–free of typographical errors, grammatical gaffs, style inconsistencies or other mishaps that will distract or confuse your reader. This article gives you a helpful rundown on what to expect.

Eventually, every manuscript will need all of these interventions, but for now, take a look at your manuscript and ask yourself what would help you take it to the next level, get you unstuck or unravel a plot knot for you. If you’re a visual learner like me, this chart from Yellow Bird Editors may also help you decide.

[Insert thought bubble here–“Sheesh. Isn’t she going to tell us where to find help?”]

So, my little summer strawberries, where can you get help with your manuscript? (I just had a hunch you’d like to know. ) Sources for critiques and editing are often offered in connection to writing workshops, and are also available via SCBWI, professional services like Yellow Bird Editors or even among your own circle of writing friends or critique group. (And about that last one–if you seek the help of an author/friend–unless you are able to reciprocate in kind–offer to pay them, okay?)

My very best shimmery, summery wishes to you, my talented friends! You can do this.

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. ~ Jack Kerouac

 

You May Need Professional Help, Part I

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It’s not a fun thing to admit:

I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Novel writing, I mean.  (See there? I can’t even form a complete sentence.)

No, no. I’m not looking for consolation. I’m simply being transparent about what’s what.

Given that time is lapping me like an Olympian, something must be done now if I’m ever going to achieve my dream.

Somethings I’ve tried, include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending writing-focused workshops, retreats and conferences
  • Completing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature and the UCLA Writing Extension
  • Reading books on writing (if you’d like recommendations, please ask)
  • Paying for critiques from editors and authors
  • Studying novels written by award-winning authors in my genre
  • Participating in a critique group
  • Seeking one-on-one advice from a trusted fellow writer
  • Eating a library’s weight in cookies

To be crystal, I am not saying I’ve tried all of these somethings and they were a waste. Not. At. All. I value these experiences and will return to them again going forward (particularly the last one).

But now, this is the time to try a shiny, new something.

But what?

I made of list of everything from reading a new self-help book to applying to grad school and nothing seemed quite right–either not personalized or too pricey or impractical given my day job.

That’s when a friend suggested I get some professional help.

Now, that’s a true friend!

My friend suggested I contact an editorial service–a business that provides copy edits, developmental editing and coaching.

Eureka! (Time for a celebratory cookie!)

I investigated the particular service she recommended and loved what I learned. So much so that I spoke with the owner, sent in a writing sample, picked my editor, signed on the dotted line, attached my manuscript and mailed my check this week. In about three weeks, I will receive my detailed editorial letter.

Be aware, my little apricot tarts, quality editorial services are not cheap. Nor should they be. But when I compare the cost of a full-manuscript edit to a fly-away weekend workshop, much less graduate level courses, the price is much more manageable. Plus, I will be learning transferable skills I can apply to past and future manuscripts. I also anticipate having this level of personalized help will speed along the process a bit rather than meandering without aim through a writers’ wilderness (aka per usual).

Is there some wink-wink magic hidden door wink-wink connected to such services? In other words, if you use an editorial service, will your work somehow become cover to cover catnip to publishers because the service itself will help you on your way? Mmm. No. It’s still about you and your writing. But because your writing will be stronger, there’s hope your chances for publication are stronger too.

Next time, I’ll tell you what it was like to get the letter and a bit about what I learned and how I’ll use the editor’s input to shape my work in progress.

For now, I feel excited, empowered and energized. And that’s mighty fine by me.

If you think you could use some professional help, let’s connect on my contact page. I’ll be glad to share more with you.

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. ~ Napoleon Hill

 

 

Where’s Your Scary?

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The road is longclouds

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

Do these lyrics remind you of your journey toward publication?

How about words like wandering, wilderness, what-if-it-never-materializes, wondering what’s next?

I hear you.

More important, I feel you.

This journey is tough. At least it is for me. And it’s so much longer than I ever imagined it would be.

You too?

Lately, I’ve recognized one of the things that is making it feel even longer–I’ve tripped into a rut.

Trudging.

Trudging.

Trudging.

Now my journey is as dry as winter elbows.

Know what’s missing?

Scary.

For me, Scary equates to doing something new, putting myself out there for an unpredictable payback and feeling my heart stampede.

Now I’m on the hunt for the right kind of Scary.

You too?

These ideas to inject an element of Scary back into our Writing Life–

  • Enroll in a writing course
  • Apply to an MFA program or another form of formal education
  • Register for a workshop, retreat or conference
  • Send three chapters to a willing beta reader
  • Enter a contest
  • Read at an open mic

I’m going for it. Look out Scary. Here I come.

You comin’?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~ Helen Keller

Lyrics by Bob Russell and Bobby Scott

“Rung” in the New Year

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From “Frog and Toad” by Arnold Lobel

When you’re up high, let’s say on a tall ladder, people always tell you–Don’t look down! But do me a favor, will you? Take a minute to glance over your shoulder. That’s right, look down the ladder the today. Here’s why . . .

When your sole focus is looking up the publishing ladder as you clutch each rung, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never reach the top. But let me encourage you to hold the rung a second.

Pause.

Even for a moment.

Stop craning your neck upward.

Look back down that ladder.

You began at the bottom.

Now, see how far you’ve come!

Today, before you uncork some bubbly or sing that silly “Auld Lang Syne,” make a list. Nope, not a mental list. Compile a REAL list on paper or screen–of all you’ve accomplished this year toward your writing goals. You have so much to be proud of. (I know, I should have said, You have so much of which to be proud, but that sounds kind of snooty for my purposes, and using proper grammar wasn’t one of my goals for 2016 anyway.)

Sure, there’s a lot more you want to do (same here), but treat yourself to a moment to appreciate how high you’ve already climbed. Take a deep breath. Enjoy the view!

What’s that? You say you submitted your work this year, but only have a stack of rejection letters to show for it? Well, that’s VERY rung-list worthy. (Honest. I’m not just saying that to give you something to put on your list.) You submitted your work. (It’s virtually impossible to receive a letter of rejection otherwise.) You wrote, revised, researched publishers and took the leap to share your work for consideration. Okay, so you didn’t get the desired response–this time–but you’re now ready to narrow your search and target other houses for submission in the new year. That’s great. Rung it up!

Happy New Year, my little sticky buns! Let’s “rung” it in together.

Umquam porro. Ever forward, Friends. Ever forward. Rung by rung.

A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin. ~ Edmond de Goncourt