SCBWI Inspiration

Hi All,  I hope Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods.  It is lovely here in Sacramento, CA.  I’ve been out gardening and enjoying the lovely weather on hikes around the area. I’ve also been making some changes to The Jade Serpent. My protagonist is now a young writer.  He is documenting his adventures with his co-conspirator through his retelling of their escapades in writing.  I really like the idea of a young writer.  Maybe I’ll have him sketch along the way too!

Last Saturday I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring conference (#SCBWISPSP17).  It was my first writer conference and it was packed full of great advice.  I had the chance to speak with Kate Sullivan of Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House) and learn more about what an editor does.  I also went to two talks by Beth Phelan with the Bent Agency and Peter Knapp with Park Literary – both agents.  Everyone offered such great advice and were so nice.  I left not only excited to write, but also determined to submit The Jade Serpent to an agent this spring – yikes!

So of course I came straight home and started reworking the opening, and changed up parts of my protagonist.  So now Koen is a young writer (and illustrator perhaps).  His adventures with Titanus McDuff, the Keeper of the Treasure Chest are still forefront.  But I like the added dimension of his character.  Not only is he afraid of heights, he loves to write.  Here is a doodle I did thinking of Koen awhile back.

Happy Spring to you all!

~Gretchen

Draft Five

For some reason writing has taken a back seat in my life this year.  I teach an after-school writing class and I love creating new ways to engage my class in creative writing.  But when I get home I do not write much.  I go in spurts.  I spend six hours writing on a Saturday and then do not touch my work for weeks.  I’m not sure what my problem is.  Although there hasn’t been consistent writing, I am on draft five of The Jade Serpent.  Through SCBWI, I joined a critique carousel, only to come down with the flu right before and was unable to attend.  I am excited to be going to the SCBWI conference on April 1st and thus am determined to have the book fully edited and flushed out by then so that I can show it to agents if possible.

So my goal by April 1:

  1. Rework one more time
  2. Go through AutoCrit editing software one more time
  3. Complete 5 illustrations

I think it is doable.

How’s your writing coming along?

Gretchen

Adventures in Writing

Hi!  Lots has changed over the last month.  I’ve moved states, bought a house, started a new job, started coaching 3 volleyball teams, started teaching a youth creative writing class and…found a little sister – 2 months old/2 lbs – for my Oscar (cat) who lost his brother one month ago. PHEW!

So, needless to say, I have not been attending to my own writing.  My goal, once volleyball season is over, is to truly dive into editing book 2: The Jade Serpent.  Just writing this blog post is a start.  Teaching the kiddos in my creative writing class has brought my mind back to my own work as well.  So, my thoughts are churning and I am getting excited to get back to my book.

I hope you are happily writing.  I’d say don’t let life get in the way of your writing, but who am I to talk!

Have a great September!

Gretchen

Writing…Curriculum

This summer has not exactly gone as planned.  I thought I would have moved to Sacramento by July 1, settled in and be writing and editing The Jade Serpent all summer.  But it didn’t turn out that way.  Due to the whims of the universe, I have had to stay in Oregon for the summer.  Now, this has not been a hardship by any means.  I have had a wonderful place to stay and have been busy with family and friends.  The only negative is that it hasn’t been my choice or my schedule.  Poor me, I know.  But I am used to organizing myself and my time, so that has been a bit of a challenge mentally.

The last two weeks I have been developing my curriculum for the upcoming school year.  I have not taught 5th grade before, and my new school does not have a pre-created curriculum, so I have had the wonderful opportunity to shape and mold what I will be teaching.  I have the year outline done and the first week of lesson plans.  Now I am working on the second week – when we really start to get into the meat and start rolling.

I will only be teaching the humanities – thank goodness.  So our wonderful 44 kiddos will be split in two and each day they will switch back and forth across the hall.

I’ll also be coaching volleyball (5/6th grade) and teaching an after school class called Adventures in Writing – both of which I am very excited about.

So suffice to say, The Jade Serpent has been smoldering in the shadows.  I am now moving down to Sacramento at the end of next week – finally!  Just in time to start school the following week.  Once settled, writing will become a priority for me again – in the evenings 🙂  I can’t wait.

So, by the end of September I am hopeful to have an update on progress towards completing the editing.  Wish me luck!

Revamping to Make New

Hi All!

Summer is just gorgeous here in Oregon.  So gorgeous in fact that I am finding so many things to do that I have not been focusing on writing as much as I had planned.  But I have taken a few odd hours here and there to revisit some of my “old” stories.   Now that it has been a few years, I am reading them with new eyes and finding that I like, for the most part, their nuts, bolts and flow.  So I have started to revamp to make them fresh, with more twists, and more highs and lows.  I am also researching illustrators – as a couple of them are definitely picture books, via the website FIVERR, where I am finding some amazing artists.

But no worries – The Jade Serpent is still happening.  Apparently I need(ed) to work on something fresh for a bit.  I’ll return to fleshing out the parts that have me hung up once I have a couple other stories out on the market.

But as we move into July, I am determined to carve out a daily routine of writing.  And can you believe I am going to start by taking off on an adventure?  For eleven days I am going to be exploring two beautiful parts of Oregon, one in the mountains and the other at the edge of the Pacific ocean.  And to top it off, I will be with my mom and three cats! Ha! No, I’m not crazy.  I expect it will be full of hilarity more than anything.

First stop: Sisters, Oregon for the 4th of July (US Independence Day) weekend.  We will be hiking in the glorious Deschutes National Forest and wandering the adorable town of Sisters.

I’m expecting the winding rivers and tall trees to breathe creative, new story ideas into my head.  Deschutes National Forest

Then we head over to the coast for a a few days for long walks along the endless beach.  I’m thinking eleven days of fabulous hiking, writing, painting and relaxing.

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I can’t wait!

So, with determination as my companion, I will be writing to you next with when, where and how my next book(s?) will be heading out into the public.

Happy end-of-June to you all!

~ Gretchen

Clyde Rice – Artist Retreat

Hi All – just a quick shout-out to tell you about a beautiful place in Oregon where you can let all your creative juices over-flow.

Check out The Clyde Rice estate – it is a 10 acre, gorgeous place on the Clackamas River in Oregon – just 15 miles from Portland. Has three bedrooms and lots of space to be creative – and super cheap to rent.  Think workshop space, brainstorming sessions, private pondering, exquisite landscapes to paint and write about.  It is idyllic, serene and cozy.

Clackamas River

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To rent the place or learn more click here.

The Re-Write

I’m finally settled in gorgeous Oregon.  I have been having fun hanging out with my mom soaking in all the beauty here.  As of yesterday I started to work on the second draft of The Jade Serpent.  I am already feeling better about it and I’ve only worked on the first six paragraphs!  Its going to take awhile to get this second draft completed but I am loving how it is shaping up already.

I’m planning on working on the illustrations this summer as well.  I will be moving down to California at the end of the month so life will be a little chaotic again then.  But I am determined to get settled and right back to editing.

As a teaser – here is the first few lines of the very first paragraph of the 2nd draft – what do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The pounding of his heart was nearly audible. His breath was short and rapid as he crouched, ready to launch. Then, quick as a cobra striking its prey, Koen’s hand punched outward toward the flying dog. The mechanical wings veered, then flapped up and down just out of reach. But when the dog flew around again, Koen launched his whole body into the air, stretching both of his arms towards the beast.

So fun to tweak and tweak again.  Happy days to you all!

SCBWI Boot Camp Workshop

I am so excited to head to Oregon for the month of June.  My plan is to hang out with my mom, write, paint/draw and now… take a writer’s boot camp with the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The focus for this book camp is on novel writing.  As I have a semi-draft of a YA (young adult) novel in the making, I think this workshop will help me build the mystery, the adventure and suspense.  Plus the workshop only admits 20 participants, so a small group to bat ideas around with. Really excited.

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AutoCrit

Hi All,

I have just discovered an online software program that helps you edit your fiction manuscript before you send it to a human editor, saving you money.  I absolutely love it.  I just signed up for the free trial and I am already hooked.  I just wish I had found it before I published my first book.

So yes, I am shamelessly advertising AutoCrit, a great editor I just found and already believe in.

Check it out:

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