Monday, February 27, 2017

The "Ten Years of Writing" Blog Post

<insert trumpet fanfare here>
It's my ten-year writing anniversary.  Ten years since I sat down at my computer, wrote my heart out, and started pursuing this crazy dream of publication.  
That's 1-0.  A decade.  a.k.a., A LONG, LONG TIME.
I'm actually feeling okay about the occasion.  Perhaps even a little bit proud?  I always hear that it takes most authors "ten years to become published," so my first contract must be just around the corner, right?  ;)  
In reality, I think of it more as "ten years of not giving up."  I've earned my proverbial stripes and am prepared to keep moving on, even though that final destination is still a big, fat question mark.
I know, I know.  This is when non-writers and illustrators would say WHY?  Why, oh why, do you continue to do this to yourself day after day, year after year, with no end in sight?  Are you nuts?!
It takes a certain type of insanity to battle the odds and keep chasing the publishing dream.  It's not for the faint of heart or sound of mind.  Or for people who despise rewriting their manuscript's opening sentence at least forty six times. Consider yourself warned. 
I wasn't sure how I wanted to mark this occasion.  I thought about doing a cake recipe blog post.  One of those, "Stir in ample dedication.  Add a cup of tears and a dash of bitterness.  Top with lots of chocolate--you'll need it."  
Instead, I ate some celebratory s'mores cheesecake.
Treat yo self.
I don't feel like being cutesy or clever, so I'll just be honest.  When I started my first novel, The Beast of Bannock, I didn't think it would take ten years to become published.  I didn't think I would go on to write several more books and still not be published. (My hopeful five-year writing anniversary post now makes me cringe.  Poor, naive 2012 Kathryn!)   
The journey to publication really is like climbing up a mountain.  A thrilling, dangerous, dizzying Mount Everest.  The adventure has been wonderful.  It's been ugly.  There have been times I thought I was sooooo close to the summit only to find out I still had a long, long, looooong way to go. 
Parts of this decade-long endeavor have been better than others.  Years 1-4 were full of optimism and confidence.  I soaked up everything I could and thought publication was just around the corner. 
Year 5, that confidence started wavering.  
Years 6-8 were rough.  The rejections piled on; promising connections didn't pan out the way I thought they would.  I was bummed out and burned out.  I frequently wanted to throw in the towel.  I even declared I was throwing in the towel on more than one occasion!  But something always called me back, and I kept at it despite my protestations.
Year 9, I felt the stirrings of my early passion and a twinge of hope again.
And now--at Year 10--I'm overall quite zen about the whole thing.  Maybe I'll get published; maybe I won't.  All I can do is give it my best.  Just keep swimming and all that. 
I may not be where I thought I would be at this milestone, but I'm not doing too bad.  I've got some books under my belt and more in my head.  I've learned a thing or two.  I've been blessed with so many, many wonderful writing and illustrating friends and family members who support me.  (You know who you are.  You're probably reading this.  I love you all and would be tumbling down the mountain if I didn't have you.)  
I also know that if (when?) I get published some day, more challenges will always come my way.  But I'll save that for another decade.

More than anything, this occasion has made me nostalgic.  I'm not as devoted to my first novel anymore--the one about about a boy named Ellis who turns into a horse.  (He also has green scars.  I still think that's kind of cool.)  But I'll always love it to pieces.  So to celebrate this anniversary, I'll share some of my other firsts: my first writing notebook; my first rejection; my first (horrific) equine character sketches; my first stab at drawing a map of my fantasy world; and my first professional critique.  (If you can read that tiny print, the agent bluntly wrote, "There isn't enough character development up front for me to care about, and root for, Ellis."  She was 100% correct.)
And lastly, thank YOU for staying with me for all of these years.  If you're one of my readers who is also climbing the mountain, I can't wait until we meet at the summit someday.

Friday, February 10, 2017

COSCBWI Meetings: Welcoming 2017!

It's a new year, which means it’s time for new COSCBWI meetings!

As you may have read in my "About Me" section of this blog, I'm the Illustrator Coordinator for the Central and Southern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (or SCBWI for short).  I’ve been involved with the organization for many years and love planning events and projects for our members.  A few years ago, I started posting summaries of the monthly meetings on my blog for any local folk who missed attending, as well as for my readers spread far and wide who are interested in children's literature topics.  I plan to continue this in 2017, so I hope you will enjoy these COSCBWI posts!

We had two meetings to kick off the new year—an overview of our chapter and critique meeting for all members at the end of January, and an illustrator meet-and-greet at the beginning of February.  (Hence this delayed post!)  The Central/Southern Ohio chapter covers a large portion of Ohio including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.  To help better serve this big region, Jody Casella fills the roll of our Regional Advisor in Columbus, and Andrea Pelleschi is the Assistant Regional Advisor down in Cincinnati.  And for the illustrators, we just launched a brand new Facebook group so our members can stay connected wherever they may live!  Unless otherwise noted, the monthly meeting in Columbus is held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Upper Arlington Library, and the monthly meeting in Cincinnati is held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Sharonville Library.

It's always a good idea to make sure everyone has the most up-to-date info at the start of each year, so here is where you can find COSCBWI online:

Twitter: @CSOhioSCBWI
Facebook: Central Southern Ohio SCBWI
Facebook Illustrator Group: Cen/South Ohio SCBWI Illustrators

After introductions and group overviews, both meetings ended with member critiques of manuscripts and portfolios.  Group critiques are a wonderful way to get feedback on your work, as well as share your writing and illustrating expertise with other members.  COSCBWI keeps the atmosphere informal and encouraging for group critiques, so don't be afraid to share your work when opportunities come up throughout the year!

There are already several fun events on the agenda for 2017, including a Social Media Fair on February 18, and a workshop with authors Mindy McGinnis and Kelly Barson on March 4.  (For more information and registration, be sure to check out the website:  For illustrators, there will also be a return of the annual notecard contest later this year!  Other exciting plans are in the works, so keep your eye on that website for more information.

This is shaping up to be a great year for COSCBWI!  I hope to see you at a meeting or event soon!