About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Falling Back Into It

It has been a full and rich last couple of weeks. My son turned ten and officially entered the double digits.

My Little Dude

Right before that big event I went to a writing conference. That was almost as exciting on a professional level as the birthday celebrations. Almost. ;)

Before I get into that however, let just say thank you to everyone who contributed name suggestions for my villain. Here are a few of the names suggested on sites other than my blog:

1. Otto
2. Jasper
3. Mortimer
4. Vincente
5. Vladimir
6. Nigel
8. Alexander
9. Victor
10. Ivan

It was fun to see the enthusiasm from all of you who took time to offer up names. I'm really liking Jasper as a suggestion. I might run it by my critique group when I meet with them in a week.

This is my first official week to be back into my full time writing schedule. As I mentioned back in August, I did have a temporary, part-time job for the past six weeks. It made the transition of my kids and husband going back to school and work less lonely this year. It also made the back to school sticker shock far less painful for my checkbook, as we tackled the extra expenses having the kids back in school entails. So I appreciated having a job outside of my writing and mommy duties for those six weeks. It did curtail my writing time, though. I just didn't have much motivation to work on my writing at all, which troubled me and made me question my chosen path. Then despite my misgivings about the extra money it would cost, I attended the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Fall MidSouth Conference.

My folder for the conference

It was my second year attending and I wasn't really sure I would get much out of it. Boy, was I ever glad to be wrong. Not only was the faculty this year stellar, but I submitted a story I'd felt was my strongest yet for a paid face-to-face critique as well as the First Pages event offered. First Pages, is an opportunity for the participating writers to submit up to 200 words of the opening of their story anonymously in one of three genre categories, young adult, middle grade, or picture books. In the course of an hour's time a prearranged conference volunteer draws pages from the submission pile and reads them aloud before all the writers in the room and the editor or agent who agrees to listen and give feedback on each submission. There is a separate room for the writers of each category to gather in to listen to the submission readings and hear the impression of the faculty member for each First Page. I was fortunate to have two faculty members sit in on the middle grade category that I submitted a First Page for, Kelly Delaney, an Assistant Editor at Alfred A. Knopf books, and Lauren MacLeod a literary agent with The Strothman Agency. As I sat and listened to the readings the minutes ticked by. I began to feel that time would run out before my submission was drawn. I kept watching the pages, looking or the one with two corners folded. Finally, only a few minutes before time was up I saw my page. I watched the two faculty members' faces as it was read. My heart didn't pound quite so much this time as it did last year. I knew nobody else knew those 200 words were mine. Then wonder of wonders the reading was done and BOTH listeners looked at my page and said they'd definitely read more. I don't know if any of you realize how little 200 words actually is, but it isn't much more than a full sized paragraph in length. This was high praise for my story indeed. It made the ultimate 'but' that followed much less discouraging. Ms. Delaney said that she wasn't sure my story was starting in the right place. This was something I already suspected myself based on feedback from an online critique group I'd been working on the story with. I was euphoric. I followed that up with my face-to-face critique which I ended up having with the keynote speaker of this year's conference, bestselling author Gennifer Choldenko (author of books such as Notes from a Liar and Her Dog and Al Capone Does My Shirts). Ms. Choldenko loved my story and said my writing was very strong, my idea marketable, and my premise very interesting. She told me that I write creepy very well. Since, my story is a mystery and is supposed to be suspenseful this was a good compliment.

I'm so glad I attended this conference. Being a member of SCBWI has helped me along my career path as a writer already in so many ways. It helped me find my critique group I meet with once a month in person. The society provides wonderful information for writers and illustrators on everything you could want to know about the children's writing market and the professionals involved in the business. And with this regional conference I've attended the last couple of years I've been reinvigorated both times about my writing and where I want to go with it. This year was the best because it affirmed for me that I haven't been doing this all in vain and I am on the right path. Something that made it joyful and easier to fall back into it now that I'm back in my home office full time. Now if you'll excuse me I really must get back to work.

Conference Faculty left to right: Jennifer Rofe'(agent), Kelly Delaney (editor),
Lauren MacLeod (agent), Rosemary Stimola (agent), Lucy Cummins (art director
for Simon & Schuster), Stacey Barney (Sr. Editor for Penguin/Putnam Books),
Daniel Nayeri (author and director of children's publishing at Workman Publishing Co.)


  1. Great write-up on a great conference. Congrats on your well-deserved positive feedback, Ann. It was so much fun seeing you again there this year. Keep pen in hand!

  2. Ann: How exciting--first to your birthday boy and then about the conference. What a great faculty they had there! I love Gennifer's AL Capone books. Keep writing your projects. Don't get discouraged .. .

  3. Thanks to both of you for your encouragement. Both of you have helped with this novel now and patiently read and re-read varying incarnations of it. Without this kind of help and belief in my stories they wouldn't be nearly as strongly written as they are. Sometimes it takes a village to revise a manuscript into a novel. :)