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Welcome to our "Once Upon a Writer" issue!


"Once upon a..." are words that take us to magical places and stir the soul. And isn't that really what being a writer is all about?  Taking the reader somewhere new and different, touching their lives, sharing a part of ourselves with others.

For most of us, our love of writing started as a child with a love of reading.  In this issue of WOW!, we celebrate that child within us.  The child who believes in fairies, that the good guys always win and dreams really do come true. And we also celebrate those writers who take us to those far away lands.

The celebration starts with the announcement of our Summer Flash Fiction Contest winners. Congratulations to everyone. Even if you weren't an official winner, you still are a winner in our book.  You did something not everyone did. You gathered up your nerve and sent out a part of yourself for all of us to see. That takes courage. Thank you for sharing with us.

I want to encourage everyone to enter our new contest too.  It's an essay contest sponsored by skirt! books.  You can find more information here.  The deadline to enter is Nov. 30th so you have plenty of time.  Remember, you can't win if you don't enter.

And a special thanks to our Freelancers this month. Marina Kuperman, How 2; Kimberly Ripley, Freelancer's Corner; C. Hope Clark, Funds for Writers;  Susan Sundall, YA Voice; and Carol Smalley, Creating for Children. Extra special thanks to our Editor Sue Donckels for her Institute of Children's Literature Review and feature with Sharon Creech. We couldn't have done it without you.

As Editor, one of the things I really like doing is picking the month's "articles" feature. I want to encourage each of you to check out the articles of Melissa James.  Even though she is a romance writer, her workshop on "Emotional Depth" applies to all genres.

If you've ever considered submitting to Highlights for Children, then don't miss our 20 Questions column. I had the privilege of chatting with Highlights Editor, Kim Griswell. Highlights receives about 1,000 queries a month and Kim shared what it takes to make a submission stand out from the crowd and catch that editor's eye.

This month has been exciting for some of our staff. So, kudos to C. Hope Clark. On Aug. 30th, she was interviewed by Mary Rosenblum of Long Ridge Writer's Group. It was a very informative and fun two hours.  You can check out the transcript here.  

More kudos go out to our Chynna Laird, Contributing Editor. Her essay, "Kids Amaze Me" is now available in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can get to know Chynna and her amazing Jaimie in our Inspiration column.

Many of you know we are in the process of starting a WOW! Classroom. Here's just a few of the workshops we have lined up.  More information will be coming soon on the blog and in other issues.

The Trials and Triumphs of Teens by Ann Gonzalez

This workshop will cover the basic rules of writing for children and young adults, and of crafting great stories that will connect with the reader. The fundamentals of story structure: openings, setting, character, shape, imagery and dialogue will be covered. Also there will be discussion of the publishing process, agents, editors, handling rejection and a chat session with a published author. There will be short writing prompts and each participant will have the opportunity to workshop up to 3 stories over the 10 week course.

Breaking Into Magazines by Linda Formichelli

If you want to write for magazines but don't know how to get started — or if you need some motivation to get you going — this course is for you. In eight weekly lessons, I'll walk you through everything from coming up with a salable idea to getting your query out the door.

Each lesson includes an assignment. You can do much of the assignments after work, during your lunch break, on weekends — whenever YOU have the time. The best part is, you can use the lessons you learn in this course over and over again. The more queries you write and send, the better the chances that you'll get published!

The Grants Right Under Your Nose by C. Hope Clark

This class teaches you where grants are hidden for serious writers. It also teaches you how to envision your writing as part of a grant project rather than just spinning stories. In this six-week course, you will learn about arts commissions, school residencies, retreats, humanities councils, community foundations and conferences - as well as all the grants that go with them. Learn how to see your grant application through the eyes of the very judges who decide who gets grant money and who doesn't.

Savvy Self-Promotion for the Shy Writer by C. Hope Clark

Most writers despise standing before a group, speaking to a crowd or tooting their own horn. C. Hope Clark is world renowned for being The Shy Writer. She's learned how to perform behind-the-scenes tricks that can ease the pain of self-promotion. An ebook copy of her book The Shy Writer is included in the cost of the class. Learn in this six-week class how to sell your words without selling your soul. Discover a quiet assurance that can be yours while marketing your writing.

Introduction to Fiction by Nancy Cluts

What is creative writing? What compels you to write? How do you create a plot rather than listing a series of events in order? What does it mean to show rather than tell? This course is for people who have little or no experience in creative writing. During this six-week class students will understand the basic elements of prose narrative (plot, character development, plot, point of view, setting and using the active voice,) and learn how to employ these elements in their own writing.

The Ins and Outs of Writing Sex Scenes by Kathryn Jordan

Why do writers who produce perfectly good prose and realistic scenes suddenly find themselves fumbling through flat, caricatures of sex?

Learn the Why, When and How of writing good sex scenes that are not only realistic, but function on many levels.

Remember, these are only a sample of what we have in store for our readers.  And speaking of workshops…

NaNoMo

November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNo for short.  Each November, thousands of writers get together for a month of novel madness and fun. The goal...write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. If you've ever thought about writing a novel, I want to encourage you to check it out. 

Want to NaNo but don't know where to start?  Then I have just the workshop for you. "Plotting the NaNo Novel" will take you through character development, plotting, creating the story arc, and research just to name a few topics.  Plus, you will receive one on one critiquing of your draft to help get started on the road to revision.  Since we don't have our classroom software up and running this will be an email workshop. If you would like more information you can email me.

Thanks to Authors who contributed books to our Flash Fiction Winners!

Finally, I want to send out a very special thanks to all of the authors who donated autographed books for our contest winners.  C. Hope Clark, Brenda Hill, Barbara Shine, Wendy Tokunaga, Linda Formichelli, Gwendolen Gross, Barbara Holstein, Robin Jay, Vicki Taylor, Kim Baccellia, Lynn Voedisch and Deborah LeBlanc. We’d also like to send a super-huge cyber hug and thank you to our summer contest’s guest judge, Jennifer DeChiara. She not only came through for us with prompt and efficient judging finesse, but she will add more books to the autographed pile of loot for our winners. Thank you ladies, one and all!  Your support means so much.

 

THE EDITORS

   
“I was twelve years old when my mother passed away, and a friend gave me a journal to write in, as a substitute shrink. Although it was pond scum green with tired-looking brown horses on the cover, it came with a gold lock that only I owned the key to. That gave me the security to ‘lift my skirt up and fly’ and to never look back; except to edit, of course! Now, I just wonder which family member will be reading my crazy journals when I die, and if they’ll be auctioned off on Ebay.”

Angela owns a graphic design business in Orange County, is an award-winning artist and a published short fiction writer. She is currently working on a collection of intertwined short stories for a novel.

   

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Jean Lauzier has loved books for as long as she can remember. As a youth she spent her school days reading the latest Stephen King Novel behind whatever textbook was handy and most nights reading under the covers with a flashlight. After graduation she joined the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic where she met her soon to be husband. Together they traveled often, started a family and eventually settling down in the small, east Texas town of Tenaha.

Now, she is learning how to write the kinds of books she loves. Jean is a graduate and student of Long Ridge Writer's Group. She is also the co-founder of StoryCrafters. Her short stories have appeared in several places including Long Story Short, SilverMoon Magazine and in the Christmas crime anthology, By the Chimney with Care. Soon she will have stories at Mysterical-e and Mouth Full of Bullets.

Jean invites everyone to stop by her website at jeanlauzier.com and say hi. And be sure to check out StoryCrafters. We'd love to have you join us.

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Sue Donckels used to write for a living in an academic sense, as a composition and rhetoric instructor. Today, she lives to write fiction, non-fiction, and any style in between and beyond. “I've always walked along a writer's path, yet early on I veered off onto the wrong fork,” she says. “My master's thesis on feminist dialogic silences in three 18th century British novels serves as a 21st century dust collector on my bookshelf.”

Sue lives near the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with one husband, pairs of kids and dogs, and bowls of dark chocolate and sweets for regular jolts of joy.

   

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CEO 2 CEO: WOW! Talks to
Tracy Grand of JacketFlap.com

   
   

There are many reasons to start a website. Some do it to sell products or to promote themselves, while others do it because they want to provide a needed resource for a given market. Tracy Grand falls into this category. Her story is something that many writers have experienced, but Tracy took her frustrations and turned them into an invaluable resource for children’s writers: jacketflap.com.

Two years ago, Tracy wrote a series of children’s books with a niche focus. She found a directory of children’s book publishers and mailed out her queries and manuscripts without much success. Either the subject of her book was not consistent with the material the publisher was interested in at the moment, or the publisher had decided they weren’t taking on new authors. Even worse, the address and contact information from the directory was out-of-date, or the directory failed to mention that the publisher didn’t receive unagented submissions. This miscommunication and inaccuracy made it difficult to get her book into the right hands, at the right time. We’ve all experienced this at one point, haven’t we?

Tracy wondered if she was alone in her frustrations, so she discussed the topic at local meetings with other children’s book writers, and found they had been through the same thing. And like Tracy, they were desperate for a better solution.

Publishers and editors revealed a similar plight. Their specifications changed far too often—many of them going through periods where they weren’t accepting unsolicited materials or submissions from unpublished authors—and yet the calls, queries, and manuscripts kept piling up. As we know, these “slush piles” are the bane of every writer. But they’re also the bane of every publisher, editor, and staff member. This lack of efficiency is what can turn an enjoyable job into a real nightmare—and as an editor and publisher, I know! And I can personally say, turning down writers is not fun at all—it’s what I dislike most about the job. At times the pieces are super, but when there are so many and only a limited space to fill, it goes without saying that most will receive rejections. It seems the missing resource applies to both ends of the process.

Tracy Grand formed jacketflap.com to solve these problems. The site is a social networking community and database for children’s book authors, illustrators, and publishers. JacketFlap makes the submission process more productive on either side. Tracy says, “We can work together to make sure the next great children’s book doesn’t wind up in the slush pile.” Kudos to Tracy! I love her vision, so let’s chat with Tracy and find out more.

~~~

WOW:  Welcome, Tracy! Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your mission?

Tracy:  I am passionate about the Children’s/YA book industry, knowing that one great book can change a child’s life forever. I built JacketFlap because I know that there are thousands and thousands of writers and illustrators that hold that key to making a difference in a child’s life, if given the opportunity to have their work exposed and published.

From my interactions with many writers, illustrators, and others in the business, I learned that they often worked alone and felt disconnected. By sharing ideas, dreams, and works through JacketFlap, this community is intended to help all people in the children’s literature world spread their wings, and to ultimately reach one child’s heart and mind.

As a parent of 3 young kids, I look forward to their works making a difference in my children’s lives.

WOW:  I love your personal mission—what a wonderful gift to give your children! And your reason for starting JacketFlap is very similar to how WOW! was formed—I was working on a novel and wanted to meet editors, agents, and publishers in the industry, as well as provide jobs and resources to women writers. But after the site launched I found I barely had any time to write for myself, outside the publication. Is this the same for you? Or have you managed to juggle both writing and your business?

Tracy:  JacketFlap is a full-time gig for me. With my three girls, ages 4 months, 7, and 10 years old, 2 dogs, 1 gecko, 75 fish, and my amazing husband, something had to give, and that was my writing. My unofficial slogan for JacketFlap is, “those who can write do, those who cannot, create databases for those who can,” and that’s me!

WOW:  (laughs) Well, we have some things in common. I also have geckos, a cat, and an amazing hubby, but no children yet—even though he’s asking at the moment! Okay, let’s quickly change gears before I get myself into trouble... Before you started JacketFlap you had an internet PR company, which was later acquired. How did your internet know-how play a part in building your site? Did you actually build it yourself? It seems like such a monumental project!

Tracy:  My company, BJF (before JacketFlap), was called Word of Net, and it promoted many websites including some for Mattel, Sega, Universal, MGM, and even a casino. I started the company in 1995 when the majority of people were still confused about the meaning of “URL”. I began Word of Net because I noticed there were websites being built but no means of letting other people know about these sites. That was where Word of Net would take over, and it spread the word about these wonderful creations on the web.

In many ways, I feel my know-how from that internet PR experience is the same purpose I have for JacketFlap. That is, to help spread the word about the wonderful books and the writers & illustrators in the Children’s Literature community (both published and unpublished). There is a wonderful programming team that has helped me to develop the technology behind JacketFlap, and I supply much of the content.

WOW:  Wow, Tracy, you’re quite the entrepreneur! I admire your accomplishments as well as JacketFlap. One of the things I love most about your site is the blog-reader because it allows users to read all their favorite blogs in one place. It’s much like bloglines, but a lot more personable and geared toward children’s writers and illustrators. How did this idea come about?

Tracy:  Before we added the Blog Reader to JacketFlap, I used to visit 30 or more different blogs in a single day. It took me hours, and I often forgot to check in with some of the blogs for weeks at a time. I also often missed out on the conversations going on in the blogs' comments, which are often as interesting or more than the original blog posts. Using JacketFlap’s Blog Reader, I can now keep up with posts on hundreds of blogs and their latest comments in a few minutes time throughout the day with no trouble.

If you’re not a registered member, the blog reader displays the most recent posts from 500+ industry-related blogs. When you join JacketFlap as a member, you can customize the Blog Reader so that it contains only posts from the specific blogs that interest you most. It will also allow you to click a link to see only the new posts since your last visit to JacketFlap as well as those posts that have new comments since your last visit.

WOW:  That’s fascinating, and it’s one of my favorite tools of the site. Another thing I love is that you’re always adding various resources for the end-user. I’ve been a member for a while now, but I don’t think I’ve fully explored all the capabilities of the site! Can you tell our readers what resources you offer for children’s book writers?

Tracy:  I am constantly listening to feedback from our members.  If someone emails me and says they wish I had such and such feature on the JacketFlap, and I think it will be useful and interesting to others in the industry, I typically try to find a way to incorporate it into the site.

Whether you are in the business or are a Children's/YA book lover, you can find loads of information on JacketFlap about almost every Children's book that has ever been published and the people and companies that helped to create those books.

If you are looking to get published or are researching book publishers, you can try searching our database of more than 20,000 children's book publishers.

If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest news, reviews, and people in the Children's book business, then you'll love our Children's Publishing blog reader, which includes up-to-date postings from 500+ industry blogs.

If you're looking to connect with other people in the Children's publishing world, then try browsing through our People section. We have thousands of members and more than 800 of them have been published. You can also search through or browse our book credits database, which contains pages for 200,000+ people that have been involved in the creation of children’s books. It’s really fun because you can see how everyone in the children’s literature community is related to each other, similar to the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game.

If you're looking to see other books that people are reading and discuss books, please try our Books section. Among other features in the Books section, you can browse and search our database of 870,000+ books, and there is a page that lists books that have been newly published.

WOW:  That’s amazing Tracy, and almost overwhelming! And I love that concept of the Kevin Bacon game—how fun! I guess our readers should just take a test drive of JacketFlap to explore all the services and resources you offer. You’ve built such a great community, and I applaud you for all your efforts and success! So, what’s your favorite part of the job?

Tracy:  I love watching people make connections with other people and companies through JacketFlap that they might never have had a chance to make otherwise. And it’s always wonderful receiving an email from someone that says their book or illustrations are being published because of someone they met or found through JacketFlap.

WOW:  Oh, doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I love it when readers/subscribers succeed—it’s what makes the ‘job’ worthwhile. So, tell us, what are your big plans for this coming year?

Tracy:  I think JacketFlap has an opportunity to be one of the best ways available for people to achieve their goals of being published and also to promote the works of people that have already been published. We’re working on features now to help deliver on that opportunity!

WOW:  That’s a goal well worth striving for. Congratulations on all your success! And thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. I’m sure all of our readers will want to check out jacketflap.com and get involved! See you all over there!

Visit Tracy Grand’s profile: http://www.jacketflap.com/tracy

Sign Up as a Friend of WOW!:

http://www.jacketflap.com/register.asp?friend=WOW!


 

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