This week we have a special guest blogger. Denise Harbison is a fellow writer-mama and San Diego SCBWI member. She is the author of “Solving the Violin Mystery” (Highlights Magazine) and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Hamline University. Thanks Denise.
We began with a song—an Irish song—because that’s the way it’s done at a big family gathering, according to author Alexis O’Neill. It seemed a fitting opening for the San Diego SCBWI meeting held closest to St. Patrick’s Day.
Singing with Alexis made me feel like part of a big family of children’s writers. Everyone in the room wanted to learn to be a better writer, or at least increase their chances of publication. But is it safe to assume we were also all there to connect with other writers? After all, why bother to get together at all when information can be found in books and on the internet? We get together to associate.
- To connect in thought, feeling, or memory.
- To unite; combine.
- To join together as partners, companions, or colleagues.
[Random House Webster’s Dictionary]
Sounds a bit like extended family to me. And Alexis was more than generous in offering some good family-like advice on manuscript submissions, such as:
- Hone your skills for finding an agent because that’s the future.
- Look at the Library of Congress’s one-line descriptions as a guide for learning to succinctly summarize your manuscript in one line.
- Give editors tools to work with in their presentation of your manuscript at acquisitions meetings, such as a compelling one-line synopsis.
- A one-page synopsis should demonstrate your ability to develop plot and character, told in a way that reflects tone and voice.
And here’s where our writing family comes in:
**Bring your synopsis and query letter to your critique group!**
Critique group, support group, professional association, family . . .
One message I walked away with from Alexis’s talk —spoken between the lines of helpful advice—was the benefit of supporting each other. Her story of being a sixth grader who had to write a report on Ireland ends with her teacher making her read it aloud. “My classmates laughed in all the right spots.” Writing became fun. We can help each other that way—listen, respond, encourage.
A wee bit more of O’Neill advice, if you want to be a writer, “Read, write, paint, perform, and sing every chance you get—and spend lots of time with others who love to do these things, too!”
Thanks, Alexis, for starting things off on a good note.
At the end, I wanted to dance a jig.
Writing on the Sidewalk