November 15, 2015

Riding out Rejection

Usually, I have a pretty tough skin when it comes to rejection.  After all, it is part of the writing life. But one particular rejection shook my confidence.  It happened after going to a writers' conference. I pitched my novel to an agent and he requested a partial.  Several weeks later, I sent the first three chapters of my manuscript to him.  When a couple of months passed with no response, I sent a follow up letter.  I never heard a peep from the agent.  That crushed me and made me question my writing talent.

But shortly after feeling so rock-bottom low, the unexpected happened.  I got word that my picture book story (which had been entered in three writing contests prior to the conference) had won a prize from the Tennessee Mountain Writers and an award from the Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition.  Several weeks later, this same story also won First Place in the Juvenile Writing category presented by the Alabama Writers' Conclave.  This round of good news encouraged me, especially after reading a note from the AWC Contest Chair:  Congratulations on a nice piece.

If I've learned anything over the past twenty years, it's that being a writer has its highs and lows. When the writing life takes a dip and cruises downhill, hold on tight.  Ride out the low times—those times filled with self-doubt, those times brought on by rejection.
Try to stay positive.  Enter contests to build your confidence.  Submit your writing to magazines. Keep writing in spite of rejections. Quitting is not an option.  Know that in time, the downhill ride will soon climb to new heights.

November 1, 2015

Sources for Nonfiction

When I receive a nonfiction submission for Kid's Imagination Train, I take a glance at the resources before reading the piece.  Our guidelines suggest that writers have three sources, but I'd love to see at least five, reliable resources.

Most writers know that Wikipedia should not be included.  So, where can you find good sources?

  • Start with your library.  Check out books in the adult section, something published less than fifteen years ago.  Some children’s books may be acceptable if they have been written by an authority or a well-respected children’s writer. 

  • Use your library’s database.  If you are not sure how to use a database, ask a librarian.  In the database, you can search for your topic.  Look for newspaper stories and journal articles. 

  • Search the Internet for professional websites.  Reliable websites include university websites or scientific organizations.  

  • Hunt for primary sources.  This can include first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation created by witnesses who experienced the events or conditions being documented.  Primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later.  

  • Locate experts that have experience on your topic.  Read and study their research.  Interview the experts or have them answer a questionnaire.  

Most writers who have published in Kid's Imagination Train generally rely on library books or the Internet.  What impresses me is when writers dig a little deeper and find sources which reveal unique research.  When I see that writers have used outstanding sources, it puts in me the mood to read their work.