Category Archives: SCBWI New York

how to “rung” in the new year


From "Frog and Toad"  by Arnold Lobel

From “Frog and Toad”
by Arnold Lobel


When you’re up high, let’s say on a 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 struggle to climb rung by 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 and turn. Look back down that ladder. You started at the bottom, maybe this year or maybe years ago. Now, see how far you’ve come!

Today, before you uncork some bubbly or sing that silly “Auld Lang Syne,” make a list–not a mental list, 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 2013!)

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!

My “rungs” for 2013 include:

January – Attending the annual SCBWI winter conference in New York City. Amazing!
February – Seeing my non-fiction article “Sculpting Lincoln” in Highlights for Children magazine.
March – Participating in a writers workshop at Vermont College of Fine Arts and receiving encouragement from incredible YA authors Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lauren Myracle and Candlewick editor Andrea Tompa.
July – Celebrating with my dear friend Kelly Barson on her debut novel “45 Pounds More or Less”–and being honored to be included in her acknowledgements page–a first for me!
November – Being selected to be part of the SCBWI – Eastern New York Falling Leaves master class workshop in Silver Bay, New York, and meeting five amazing edtiors, along with more than 30 encouraging writers.
– Enjoying another year of mutual support and feedback from my wonderful critique group (aka, Church of the Word!).
– Toasting the first anniversary of “Frog on a Dime.” I started with zero followers and now have 1,043. (Not record shattering, but hey, it’s progress.)
– Finishing through Lesson 8 of 9 in my Institute of Children’s Literature writing class. My second middle grade novel is almost done.
– Gathering ideas and details for my third middle grade novel that’s bubbling to the surface (Finally! Phew.) Exciting!

I’m wishing I could say my second novel is completely done. I’d like to say I have an agent and a two-book deal a publishing house. But those rungs are just ahead of me (fingers and toes crossed). I’ll be delighted to put those on my 2014 rung list.

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, but you’re now ready to narrow your search and target new houses for submission in the new year. That’s great. Rung it up!

Happy New Year! Let’s “rung” it in together. Umquam porro. Ever forward, my 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

visiting grand central station “library”


Inside Grand Central Station

Inside Grand Central Station

Outside Grand Central Station

Outside Grand Central Station

When I arrived in NYC earlier this month, Grand Central Station was kicking off its golden anniversary celebration. After seeing it for myself, there’s no doubt, it’s a marvel worth celebrating.
Yes, it’s an iconic New York landmark that happens to be an architectural beauty (hey, it’s even the world’s number six most visited tourist attraction), but it’s more just another pretty facade.

My hotel was situated over Grand Central, so it was simple to slip down there whenever I got the chance. The writer and storyteller in me was attracted to Grand Central because it’s like a bookless library. Okay, okay, I know that sounds silly. Let me try to explain. Grand Central houses a century full of stories–maybe not the kind recorded in bound volumes–but a million unspoken stories. I think of the people who have met there, cried tears of joy there and some who were left waiting there. I imagine the stories of loved ones who were reunited there and some who have even wed there. If only those beautiful blue ceilings could talk.

What about the “Grand Central Station” in your life? Do you have a favorite people-watching spot? Let the lives passing by you spark new ideas and quirky, authentic details for the stories you write.

I have always loved to sit in ferry and railroad stations and watch the people, to walk on crowded streets, just walk along among the people, and see their faces, to be among people on street cars and trains and boats. – Ella R. Bloor

my NYC pooh-grimage


NY Public LibraryNY trip #3NY trip #2NY trip #4NY trip #6NY trip#5After the SCBWI winter conference wrapped up, I still had a wee bit of time before I had to leave for the airport. How could I fill my last hour in the Big Apple? I know! I’ll go on a treasure hunt. Why not?

I headed out the door of the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street, strolled by Grand Central Station (more about her later–she’s a beauty) and a few New York minutes later I hung a left on 5th Avenue. And there it was. The Treasure Keeper, also known as the New York Public Library. Guarded by two regal, yet amiable lions, I made my way up the stairs, through the revolving door and across the tiled floor. I was a tourist on a mission. I made a honey bee line to the nearest security guard: “Where is the Children’s Section?” I was directed downstairs. A right turn, then a left, and I was in. And there, in its own special glass enclosure were the objects of my desire–the real Winnie the Pooh and his dear little friends Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Tigger. How serene and content they seemed, just the way you’d want beloved toys to be. And at nearly 92 years old, they looked as if they still had a little play left in them. Piglet surprised me most. He was so tiny. A true charmer.

I learned that these “real” residents of the Hundred Acre Wood were given as a first-birthday present to Christopher Robin Milne in 1921. Purchased at Harrods in London, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Tigger soon joined Pooh as Christopher’s playmates. The dear friends served as the inspiration for the children’s classics written by his father, A.A. Milne, and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. The faithful five journeyed to the United States in 1947, and remained with the American publisher E.P. Dutton until 1987 when they were donated to The New York Public Library.

After spending a weekend immersed in the world of children’s publishing, visiting Pooh was a sweet and fitting way to end my New York visit.