Dear Blog,

I’ve been neglectful these last months, I know. But during my absence, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve dusted off old ambitions and made some new ones. Books and stories that have been tucked away in the cobwebby corners of my doc files have resurfaced to see a new light of day. The plots are still solid, and the characters sweet and soulful, but now, the old stories are new again. They have been repurposed to fit current trends.

The last you heard from me, I was preparing to send my revised MG manuscript to my agent. It took several more weeks of betas and tweaking, but I finally pushed SEND, and the waiting began. So since I’m not one for twiddling my thumbs, I rolled up my sleeves and dusted off old projects. It’s been exciting. Here’s what I have going:

My old fantasy chapter book, well, it had lots of dust. Sitting for years in the shadows, between several drafts and versions of its former self, it shouted from the doc file, Help me! See, Blog, you’re not the only one in need of attention. So I registered for a chapter book webinar with KidLit College, an hour and a half of great advice, tips, and ideas about how to structure, plot, and develop characters by Jenne Abramowitz and Jill Corcoran. It was fantastic!

Afterwards, I also signed up for an online Mentoring Critique workshop hosted by agent, Jodell Sadler (KidLit College). It included two online sessions where participants (there were about seven of us) submitted a PB manuscript, or in my case, the first chapter of my chapter book, and as the pages are displayed on the screen for all to see, we would read our work out loud. Thereafter, Jo would comment on ways to improve the story. Not only did I learn how to improve my own work, but gleaned so much by listening to her comment on other writer’s books.

What was really helpful, was how we had the opportunity to meet two weeks later with our newly polished stories. Did they improve? Since I had to delete the entire first chapter and start on the second chapter, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I was determined to take her suggestions because although I couldn’t envision it right away, I knew she was right.

Two weeks later, we met online with our new stories, ready to share. I had deleted the first chapter (just like Jo said) and started on chapter two, rewriting the exposition to be sure the characters were introduced and the story still had a beginning. But in the interim, my characters all blended, and their personalities went flat. Plus, she said my dialogue tags were distracting, and some other comments.

Well, Blog, the workshop ended about eight p.m., and I felt tired. So, I sat in my favorite blue-striped chair and numbed out on television. But a few hours later, I started thinking about what Jo said, and how I could fix these issues. So I worked on my chapter book until 2 a.m., and it metamorphosed into this beautiful first chapter that I love. Yes, it was an old dusty manuscript, that is now a clean, new chapter book. Over the weeks, I rewrote and rewrote, and I must say, it’s much better, and I like it a lot!

I did similar workshops with my other books, too. They’re all shiny and dust-free. So, I’m sorry to have been so neglectful, but it was for a good cause. From now on, I will be more mindful of you. I promise. But today is my wedding anniversary, and I have a chocolate-chip-mint ice cream cake waiting for me!

Your Author,