Instant Karma has been a labor of love spanning eight years. My oldest was in 6th grade when I began. He is now 21. In its evolution, the manuscript has taken expected and unexpected twists and turns and I am proud of the work I have produced. In a previous incarnation (before children) I wrote for the South Florida Business Journal. It was adrenaline-charged (yes, business writing can be exciting!) and rewarding. But writing for children gets my creative juices flowing. When I look at the boxes of re-writes and revisions in my basement that fill at least four thumb drives, I swell with pride and a sense of accomplishment. It’s a legacy of sorts. A journey. I want to complete that journey and be published.
My confidence wavers from time to time. Perhaps it’s because I’m a little late coming to this party at age 52. I have a good story and have told it well, and that keeps my hands steady when my confidence falters. The writing process doesn’t scare me. I enjoy challenges and welcome them. I do my best work under the pressure of deadlines and I attribute that to my career in journalism. I can take a hard knocking in critique groups and catapult that into productive days of writing.
I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 2015. Late by any standards for an aspiring writer of children’s books. I didn’t feel I had earned the right to be a part of something this grand when I didn’t have a published book. I waited until I had written my novel before I became a member.
After I attended my first conference, I realized how wrong I was. I got maximum mileage out of my day, attending every session possible, talking to other writers, meeting editors and picking the brains of just about anyone who was willing to share the highs and lows of their journeys. My confidence got a decent dusting. I began revisions on my manuscript armed with an arsenal of solid, commonsense advice from fellow attendees.
Weeks later, I work-shopped my manuscript for the first time at a writer’s retreat in New Jersey. Two things became clear.
- The threads of my story needed a tighter weave.
- I needed guidance to make the weave seamless.
At the SCBWI RMC conference in Golden, CO, I learned about a mentor program. I was struck by our chapter’s largesse in supporting its members. Right away I knew that I wanted to be a part of that experience. I applied for the program and was accepted. I learned more from my mentor, Anna Maria Crum, than I could have from a semester in college.
When Anna-Maria and I had our initial face-to-face, she looked me in the eye and said, “You’re looking at a complete re-write.”
Why? I had at least two stories in the manuscript I’d submitted. There were four ways I could go with the re-write. Among my choices, were
I chose the historical YA option. The challenge was too enticing to ignore. We settled on a brutal schedule; two chapters a week and a phone conversation every two weeks to discuss the chapters.
Worked like a charm.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge SCBWI Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Michelle Begley Mentorship Program and Anna-Maria Crum for getting me this far.