Friday, December 15, 2017

What Is Your Favorite Family Tradition?

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Season's Greetings to all!

This time of year is full of traditions, no matter what religion you are. For me, learning about other people's traditions and faith give me the opportunity to grow as a person. 

This can be a joyful time of year or a really tough time of year and it's important to recognize the differences for people who are struggling. So as you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season please remember to be kind to the grumpy man or lady that you run into on your joyful path. Sometimes just remembering to hold the door open for a stranger can brighten up their day.

Now for a few of my favorite traditions...

We put up our artificial Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We have an artificial tree because we needed to stop the annual "when are we going to get a tree" fight. LOL Now I can put the tree up as soon as I want and not worry about pine needles dropping everywhere. This year I found these pine scented sticks that you can hang in your tree. They actually do work. You can smell the pine when you walk in the house.

The first ornament that goes on the tree is my daughter's first Christmas. It gets a prime spot.

Then comes our beloved Macy ornament. For those of you who don't know we lost Macy in March. This will be our first Christmas without her in eleven years. Believe it or not, she loved Christmas. She could hardly wait (and sometimes didn't) to open her presents on Christmas morning.

I've always heard it's good luck to have a bird in your tree. My Secret Santa (nurse Lu) gave this one to me many many years ago. I now have quite a few birds in our tree...

Another tradition for us is Christmas Eve pajamas. Every year for as long as I can remember I've gotten a new pair of pajamas or a night dress. So when we had our daughter we continued the tradition.

On Christmas Eve we go to a late movie so it will be time to go to bed when we get home. Santa comes after everyone has gone to bed... and in the morning we discover what he has left us in out stockings.

One of my favorite traditions is that Santa always brings us a box of cereal. When I moved to America (age 8), I remember being shocked by the abundance of different cereals in the grocery store. In England we pretty much had two kinds of cereals...shredded wheat and weetabix. I don't know if that is how the tradition started but to this day, Santa leaves a box of sugary cereal for each of us.

The last tradition I'm going to share is Christmas Crackers.... If you don't know what they are, Google them. They are so much fun. We did them in England when I was little and in the past twenty years I have been able to find them here. We pop them open after our Christmas dinner. Then we tell the joke and wear the paper crowns.

So...What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Have a blessed Happy Christmas and Hanukkah. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Very Good Tremendous Wonderful Month!

If you read my last post you would know I've been waiting...

Well, I can cross one thing off the list of things I'm waiting for and I can now share my wonderful news.... (drum roll)

I signed a contract for one of my picture book manuscripts with Guardian Angel Publishing! Not only am I now going to have my very own stand alone book I'm going to be an author in the company of some of my favorite writing friends: Tracey M. Cox, Connie Arnold and Donna McDine.

I can't wait to see what comes after the contract is signed... I will keep you posted.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Anticipation...It's making me wait.

One of the hardest things in writing it the waiting...
Waiting to get your manuscript perfectly polished...
Waiting to make your query letter perfect...
Waiting to hear back from the houses or agents you queried...
Waiting to get the ever covenanted contract...
It's enough to drive a writer crazy!

So that's where I am today...waiting on more than one front.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sometimes When You Enter...You Win! SCBWI KSMO Rocks!

The Missouri Kansas SWCBI Regional Team has been hard at work putting all the pieces together for a fantastic 2017 Middle of the Map conference. A large part of that planning includes coordinating the contests for the Ellen Donal Mentorship award, the Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship and the Middle of the Map Illustration Contest. This year, we also added a Portfolio Mentorship for our illustration members.

A special thank you to all the coordinators and judges who helped to select these winners. Also, a huge thank you to the members who submitted to the contests. It was very exciting to see so much amazing work coming from our membership.

The competition was steep across all the contests and it took much time and deliberation for our amazing volunteer judges to narrow each of them down to one winner. However, those decisions have been made and we are pleased to announce the recipients for each contest below. We look forward to seeing the work that each of these members do this year!

Ellen Dolan Mentorship for Writers
We are so excited to announce the 2018 Ellen Dolan Mentorship winner, Sharon K. Mayhew. She will be working with the wonderful PB author, Ann Ingalls on her manuscript over the next year. She has also received a scholarship covering her registration cost to the Kansas/Missouri SCBWI conference in November.
Sharon, born just outside of London, began writing very young and continues to write today. She fulfilled her dream of becoming an elementary teacher in 1988, in Arkansas and taught for seventeen years. Her classrooms were always filled with books and writing activities. Her third and fourth graders became part of her life, not just for the year or two she had them, but many of them are still close to her and confide in her in both good times and bad. One of her most prized awards is the SEAM award. It was presented to her for her achievement in teaching children with all levels of needs, from special education students through the gifted ones.
 She began seriously writing in 2008 when she relocated to northern Iowa. The long winters gave her ample time to sit by the window in her office and write stories.
Sharon has been an active SCBWI member since 2007. In 2014, she joined an in-person critique group and in 2016 SCBWI leadership asked her to start another critique group for beginning writers. Teaching, reading and writing remain her passions today.

CSchmidt_headshot.jpg-1Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship
We are pleased to announce the 2017 Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship Winner, Christina Schmidt. SCBWI Kansas/Missouri offers this scholarship to our fall conference each year in honor of the 2011 Newbery winner and SCBWI Kansas member, Clare Vanderpool.  The scholarship includes conference registration and a one-on-one consultation with the faculty editor or agent of the recipient's choice. Christina was chosen for the honor based upon her manuscript submission for FADED, her second YA novel, which was selected by a committee of authors.
After eight years as a Research Biologist in the pharmaceutical industry, Christina left her job to become a full-time mom and finally pursue her lifelong passion for writing. During those whirlwind years of raising young children, she had parenting essays published in “American Baby” magazine and on, but novels were always her ultimate goal. She eventually found a home with SCBWI and started building her fiction-writing foundation. She’s been an active member for six years. Christina lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and their three boys. 

2018 Illustration Mentorship
We are very excited to announce our first Illustration Mentorship recipient Stephen Dallas. He will have the amazing opportunity to improve one of his illustrations with the support of mentor Stephen T. Johnson. He will also receive a scholarship covering registration cost to the Kansas/Missouri SCBWI conference in November.
Stephen Dallas is a pre-published illustrator living and working in Overland Park, Kansas. He loves the art of storytelling and would like to illustrate graphic novels for middle grades and young adults. Stephen is most inspired by rock and roll, indie board games, and Kung Fu films. He feels this opportunity is a great way to go back to fundamentals and better establish the root of the story being told. 

2017 Middle of the Map Illustration Contest
We are thrilled to announce the winner of the Middle of the Map Illustration Contest, Rob Peters. Rob’s artwork, which illustrates the theme “Middle of the Map” will be used on many of our 2017 conference promotions and materials. He has also received free tuition to the conference, a free portfolio review with the faculty of his choice, and a small booklet of his illustration and contact information will be distributed to all of our conference faculty.
Rob Peters has a degree in Visual Communications from Judson College in Elgin, IL. He worked as a cover designer and illustrator for Jostens Yearbooks for 7 years. Now he works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. He lives in Topeka with Janie, his wife, and family.


Congratulations to Chris, Rob and Stephen! I'm super excited about having the opportunity to work with Ann Ingalls. Ann has an amazing resume' and I can't wait to learn from her. If you want to check her out and all of her amazing books....

I hope you will enter your state SCBWI contests or other writing contests. Entering contests is a great way of practicing deadlines. Deadlines will come when you get that contract. Have you entered any contests lately?