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Posts Tagged ‘Vivian Kirkfield’

Can you write a children’s story in 50 words? Would you like to try? Are you up for the challenge? If so, check out Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words challenge. The deadline is March 6, so get moving! Great prizes! Twenty-one winners – 21 prizes! Includes 50% off coupons for Art of Arc or for Art of Arc alumni 50% off coupons for a critique.

Here is my entry.

WINTER WALK

by Alayne Kay Christian  winter-walk-night-2

Cold air – warm sun
Feet crunch
in snow.

Fragrant pines.
Icy river groans.

Sun slips
behind pines.
Nightfall flaunts black-velvet skies
Evening star
Soft moon glow

Feet crunch
in snow.
Up steps
Through the door
Boots fall
to the floor.

Toasty fire – cozy quilt
Puffy pillow
Muscles hush

Pleasant dreams

 

 

 

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After many months of purging my house for major right sizing, we have sold the house and will soon be moving on to some exciting adventures. Now that I’ve caught my breath, it’s time to give my blog a little attention. I’ve decided to get back into blogging by sharing a little something that I have written for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST.

The challenge is to write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. I will share my submission, GONE FISHING, and then a second story that I decided is not quite as kid-friendly.

 

My 50 PRECIOUS WORDS ENTRY

FISHING

GONE FISHING

by Alayne Kay Christian © 2016

 

Fishing pole –

dragonfly perch,

flirting with the water.

 

Bobber floats

Bobber bobs

Ripple

Tug,

jerk, and reel!

 

“It’s a big one. . . .

No, it’s not.”

 

Tiny prize

Back in lake

Tail flips – flop-flop

Bubble-bubble-glub . . .

Gone from sight

 

Bobber floats

Pole flirts

Dragonfly perches

 

I wait.

 

MY SECOND 50-WORD STORY JUST FOR FUN

 

ONE MORE DAY

by Alayne Kay Christian © 2016

 

The last rose

swings and clings

to the bush.

She’s not in a rush

for winter.

 

Autumn winds propel

free-flowing dancers.

Maple and oak leaves

mingle into a fall-frenzied jitterbug.

 

Swirling, twirling red and gold

Flitting, falling, flirting

with their pink-petaled audience.

 

She sways and staysrose 2

for one more day.

 

art of arc extra

Click on the  above image to learn about Alayne’s picture book writing course.

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sub six series 2

 

A big thank you to Vivian Kirkfield for sharing her thoughts on manuscript submissions with us today.

 

 

TRYING BACK DOORS: A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT SUBMITTING TO

SMALL PRESS PUBLISHERS

by Vivian Kirkfield

 

Did you ever lock yourself out of your house? Back in 1996, we arrived at our new home in Colorado Springs, having driven 2000 miles from Connecticut. We climbed out of the car, walked up to the front door of our new house, and quickly realized we had packed the keys in one of the many boxes that were being transported by the moving company. They would not arrive for several days.

Fortunately, I was able to get in the back door. Well, sort of. There was a dog door at the back of the house. I’m pretty small, so I scrambled through the flap and ran around to unlock the front door for the rest of the family.

There are a couple of ‘back doors’ in the publishing world as well, and writers can sometimes find success using them. I’d like to share a couple of thoughts that might be helpful to all of you.

SMALL PRESSES

A small press publisher can be a good place to start your climb to the top of the publishing pile. There are thousands of small press publishers in North America alone. Of course, you still need to do your homework: check their reputation, check their submission guidelines, research their book list to target your submission, and only send your work when it is the best it can be.

What are the advantages of working with a small press publisher?

  1. You may get much more personal attention because a small-press editor works with fewer writers and can afford to take a personal interest in each book.
  2. Small presses are less numbers-driven and more interested in quality.
  3. Many small presses specialize in a niche market. Your queries can be focused much more precisely, and you can often find a publisher who is a perfect fit for your book.
  4. A small press may be able to afford to keep a relatively large backlist. Your book will stay in print longer, maybe even for years, providing a lot more time for word-of-mouth to take effect.

What are the disadvantages of working with a small press publisher?

  1. Small presses only publish a limited number of new titles each year, some only one or two.
  2. Small presses cannot afford to market your book the way a larger publisher can. They list it in their catalog, but tours, signings, and any other marketing will probably be up to you, the author. However, these days, even major publishing houses do not spend very much in marketing dollars for unknown authors. If you want your book out there, you will have to hustle it yourself.
  3. Small presses do not have the distribution capability of major houses. The large book wholesalers, like Baker and Taylor or Ingram, don’t carry many small press titles and the superstores usually only buy from these major distributors.
  4. Most small presses operate on very tight budgets and unforeseen problems can sometimes push a small press into bankruptcy. If you decide to sign with a small publisher, make sure you have a contract provision that allows you to reclaim the rights to your manuscript.

How to Approach a Small Press Publisher

I had an interesting experience with a small press this past year. One of my manuscripts seemed to be a good fit for a small niche publisher. I did some research and found them on Facebook and left a comment about how I was going to submit something to them. There was an immediate response and an invitation to submit, which I did. About two months later, I received a lovely email from the acquisitions editor, encouraging me to revise the story and resubmit it. Unfortunately, by the time I revised and resubmitted it, the editorial staff had been reorganized, my contact was no longer there, and they were no longer interested in the manuscript. But I’ve sent it on to several other places. I won’t cross my fingers because I am too busy writing and revising more manuscripts.

Here are a couple of submission tips for small presses and niche publishers:

  1. Know what they publish.  Don’t query a regional nature manuscript to a press that publishes stories about military families.
  2. Read and follow their submission guidelines to the letter and prepare your submission package carefully.
  3. Be patient. Be courteous. Be considerate.
  4. If you don’t have an agent to represent you, make sure you know what you are signing away and what you are getting.

And here are some online resources to get you started:

Fantastic article from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association for EVERY writer who is submitting to agents or to editors. It includes important links to check out both publishers and agents: http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/small/

Agent Query — http://www.agentquery.com/publishing_ip.aspx

Literary Market Place — http://www.literarymarketplace.com/lmp/us/index_us.asp (free registration required)

Bonus link from Alayne: From Writer’s Digest – THE PROS AND CONS OF PUBLISHING WITH A SMALL PUBLISHER by Brian Klems —  http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-pros-and-cons-of-publishing-with-a-small-publisher

 

I wish you all the best of luck with whatever submissions you bravely put out there this year.

I’d like to thank Alayne for the opportunity to participate in the ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS series.

 

About VivPicture 054 Bian

Vivian Kirkfield loves being surrounded by picture books and children. A former kindergarten teacher, she has a master’s in early childhood education…and when she isn’t scribbling stories, she is hiking and fly-fishing with her hubby, reading, crafting, cooking with kids, and sharing self-esteem and literacy tips with parents. Although she is not a fan of heights and was always a rather timid child, Vivian is constantly taking leaps of faith. In 2010, she self-published her award-winning parenting resource, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. Three years ago, she went skydiving with her son. In May of 2013, she flew half-way around the globe to speak at the 2013AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore, and she is amassing a respectable pile of picture book manuscript rejections. To learn more about her mission to help every child become a lover of books and reading, you can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook, like her Show Me How page on Facebook, visit her blog at Picture Books Help Kids Soar or contact her by email.

book pic from wordpress blog

 

 

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Summer SparksThis week my guest post CAUSE AND EFFECT is being featured in the Summer Sparks challenge hosted by Tracey Cox. There is some great information, so I hope you will give it a look.

Also, here is the link to the top viewed post on my blog this year. USING CHARACTER-DRIVEN PICTURE BOOKS AS MENTOR TEXTS TO IMPROVE YOUR OWN WRITING, by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I want to share that I have been taking an excellent course on chapter book writing. Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for  Middle Grade and Chapter Book Course is a 14 week experience that will help anyone turn their writing dream into a reality. Offering several worksheets per lesson and providing thorough information on each chapter book element, Emma methodically walks her students from the beginning of their book to the end. I highly recommend this course.

Finally, in case you missed it, I have started a picture book manuscript critique service.

Next week my ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS series will feature guest blogger Vivian Kirkfield. She will offer her thoughts on “getting in the backdoor” with your manuscript.

Happy writing!

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Vivian Kirkfield has asked me to participate in her “Goal-Busters” blog series by sharing some of my goals for 2014 along with how I plan to achieve my goals and how I will reward myself. I believe the post will go live on Monday, February 3. In the process of answering her “Goal-Busters” questions, I mentioned SMART goals, and I thought it might be helpful if I explain via my blog what a SMART goal is.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely or Time-based


 

Specific – Setting a specific goal increases ones chance of achievement. General goals are too broad in scope. There is no clear vision to focus on. Specific goals pinpoint exactly what you are going after. To determine your specific goal answer the following questions:

Who:      Will I do this alone or will other people help me achieve my goal?

What:     Exactly what do I want to achieve?

Where:    Where will I work toward this goal? (home, work, gym, school, library)

When:     What time frame will I commit to?

Which:    Exactly what is required (skills, money, materials, etc.) to succeed, and what limitations or constraints need to be put in place?

Why:      Exactly why do I want to achieve this goal? What is the purpose? What does it mean to me? What are the benefits? What will I gain by achieving this goal?

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “I will read more picture books.” A specific goal would be, “I will read 500 picture books and complete 24 mentor text studies in 2014. Every other week, I will borrow and read 21 picture books from the library, and each time, I will use at least one book as a mentor text to improve my pacing skills.


Measurable –Determine how you can measure your progress. It is not only important to measure your progress at the end of your goal. It is equally important to measure your progress as you work toward your goal. By doing this, you will know if you are on track to achieving what you set out to do, or if you need to adjust something to ensure your success.

Ask yourself: How much? How often? How many? How will I know when my goal has been reached?

EXAMPLE: In my ‘specific goal’ example above, I had a measurable end goal of 500 picture books read and 24 mentor text studies completed in 2014. I also had a smaller measurable goal of 21 picture books read and one mentor text study completed every other week. I could have also set it as a monthly measurable goal of 42 picture books read and two mentor text studies completed. I could of went smaller with – During my two week period, I will read two picture books a day, and complete my mentor text study during the remaining three days. Focusing on smaller goals will eventually add up to achieving the larger goal. The smaller goals seem more attainable, and with each success, the larger goal will seem more attainable as well.


Attainable – It is important to be sure that your goal is achievable. If the goal is too lofty, for example, read 500 picture books a week, it is most likely not an attainable goal. If you live in a rural area and the nearest public library is five hours away, going to the library twice a month, might be an unattainable goal.

When setting a SMART goal, you first need to believe that you can manage everything that you are setting out to do. If you set a goal that is unbelievable to you, you will most likely be unable to achieve that goal.

Your SMART goal also needs to be possible. If you set a goal to read 500 picture books and you have no affordable or obtainable access to picture books, no matter how much you would like to do it, your chances will be slim. Of course, you may find a way around it, so let’s try another example. If you set a goal to make 500 books magically appear by using your mind, you won’t achieve it no matter how hard you try. Okay, some people may believe that to be possible as well, but I think you get the picture by now.

My above examples of unbelievable goals are based on my belief system. When you consider whether your goal is possible or impossible, it is important to make your plans based on your own standards and understanding of your personal abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Do not let other people’s beliefs limit you or your own beliefs about what is achievable for you.


Realistic –  A realistic goal must be formed around an objective that you are willing and able to work toward. Setting a lofty goal can often be easier to achieve than a small/easily attainable goal because the challenge of a big goal can be a motivating force. But if the goal is so big that it is not realistic or it is unattainable, it might be time to rethink things.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe you can succeed. Another way to determine if you are setting a realistic goal is to ask yourself if you have ever achieved anything similar in the past. You might also go back to that “WHICH” question:  Exactly what is required to succeed, and what limitations or constraints need to be put in place? What conditions would have to exist for me to succeed? Are these requirements, constraints and conditions realistic?

It can sometimes be tempting to do something simply because it is easy, sounds like a good idea, or might be fun to try. This often results in finding that the action you have taken has no long-term importance to what you truly want to achieve. This is what I call distractions. Ask yourself: Is this goal important to, and in line with, my long-term vision/mission?

Some people who teach about SMART goals use the word relevant for the R word. They say that a goal must be relevant to what you want to achieve in the short term and the long term. Using Relavant as the R word encourages goal-setters to understand their personal vision, mission and purpose – see the whole picture – when setting a SMART goal, or any goal for that matter.


Timely or Time Based – A goal with no established time frame is far less motivating than a goal that is grounded within a time frame. Time frames provide a sense of urgency. If you simply stated that you want to read 500 picture books. You could still be working on (or thinking about) that goal in the year 2034, if you are still living. By knowing 21 books need to be checked out of the library this week and read within the next two weeks, your unconscious mind is set into motion, planning to begin working on that goal.

Considering a time frame overlaps with the SMART goal step “Specific.” It is emphasized as an individual step to drive home the importance of including this strong motivator in your goal plans. Having a deadline prevents procrastination. It has been said that a goal is a dream with a time frame. Dreaming it is not doing it. Doing it is meeting that deadline with a specific plan.

Some people who teach about SMART goals use Tangible for the T word. To me, tangible ties in with the question “WHY” because if the goal feels substantially real/material, the benefits are much easier to identify. A goal is tangible if it can be precisely identified or realized by the mind; if it can be appraised at an actual or approximate value; or when it can be perceived or experienced through one of the senses: taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

Tangible goals make it easier to make the goal measurable, and in the end, attainable.


If you are struggling to set a SMART goal, it could be because your future plans (mission/vision) are not clear enough. It would be a good idea to work at getting a clear vision of what you truly want and then go back to setting your SMART goals.

Taking time to identify goals that are most important to you will help you figure out ways to manifest your vision. Focusing on the steps of setting SMART goals can heighten your awareness of exactly what is required to realize your goals.

When you plan specific steps to your goal and establish a time frame for executing those steps, you can attain most any goal you set. It is my hope that taking the steps I have outlined above will expand your ability to reach goals that you may have thought previously unattainable. Stating goals clearly with specific steps will increase your confidence. You will realize that you are capable of achieving your dreams, you are worthy of that success, and you have what it takes to live your vision.

With every decision you make throughout your day, stop and ask yourself:

Does the action I am about to take move me closer to my goal, or further from my goal? If the answer is “closer to,” you are heading in the right direction. If the answer is “further from,” you have another decision to make.


How is your goal specific? What makes it specific? What makes it measurable? How will you measure your progress? Is it attainable? Why? Is it realistic? Why? Is it relevant? Why? Have you committed to a time frame? What is it? Is your goal tangible? How?

Once you have answered the above questions for your goals, write a vision statement for each goal. Read your vision statement daily, and track your progress through measurement.

EXAMPLE VISION STATEMENT: “I will read 500 picture books and complete 24 mentor text studies in 2014. Every other week, I will borrow and read 21 picture books from the library, and each time, I will use at least one book as a mentor text to improve my pacing skills.

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sub six series 2I am excited to announce the Sub Six Blog Series: ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS. We will launch the series tomorrow with guest blogger Sylvia Liu in a post titled CONTESTS AND OTHER SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOTH WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS. Sylvia will be sharing a list of writing contests and illustration contest. Her list also includes opportunities to apply for grants, mentorships, scholarships and so on.

Each month, the Sub Six Series will feature a different guest blogger who will share his/her thoughts and knowledge on various subjects (see list below). Some months, we will be offering some bonus posts. January is a bonus month with three posts instead of one.

Our titles are not quite worked out, but I can give a basic idea of what will be happening in the coming months.

January is a busy month. I hope you will bear with my many posts. And I hope you will find them beneficial.

We start the month on January 4 with Sylvia Liu’s list of contest and submission opportunities for both writers and illustrators.

Polishing a manuscript before submission is crucial because you want to submit your BEST work. On January 6, I will post a list of things to look for when revising or polishing a manuscript. This post will link to my interview about revising manuscripts on Meg Miller’s  blog for the ReviMo challenge.

Improving your craft is another way to submit your best work. At the end of January, guest blogger Marcie Flinchum Atkins will be showing you how using mentor texts can improve your picture book writing. She will even be offering some worksheets that you can print out and use.

February will spotlight Marcie Flinchum Atkins and her tips for submission organization.

March brings Elaine Kiely Kearns. Her topic will be about things such as, how to choose an agent, knowing when to nudge, and so on.

In April, Yvonne Mes will be helping us learn how to submit without feeling like throwing up. Can you relate?

May is another bonus month. On May 4, Kristen Fulton will share her secrets for submitting nonfiction works. Then later in the month, we will feature Jan Godown Annino who will cover the topic What Critique Pals and I Know about Submissions.

In June, Vivian Kirkfield will be sharing what she has learned about submitting to niche publishers, and she might share one interesting way to get your foot in the door.

July – I will be covering queries and cover letters.

Sylvia Liu  will be returning in August to share her knowledge and experience with submitting as an author/illustrator.

September – December, we will be answering questions that writers have asked about submissions. The questions will be answered by a group of writers who are experienced in submitting to agents and editors.

The Sub Six support group submitted hundreds of manuscripts in 2013. I will be posting the actual numbers in February. I would like to invite anyone that is ready to start submitting to join us in 2014.

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There are some weeks where it makes more sense to let other people do the blog writing.

I’ll start with Marcie Flinchum Atkins and her “We’re All in This Together” series. This month, the subject is motivation. Part One features stories and tips from Sue Heavenrich, Carol Munro, Vivian Kirkfield, and Marcie Flinchum Atkins. Part Two features the one and only ME. In this guest post, I offer ten common obstacles to staying motivated to write. I follow each one with suggestions for overcoming that obstacle.

Carol Munro continues the motivation theme in her guest post for Donna Martin’s “Writerly Wisdom” series. The title of the post is “Dealing with Deadlines.” Carol gives tips for keeping deadlines for both professional and personal writing commitments. These tips on meeting deadlines crossover to staying motivated to write.

Earlier this month, I mentioned Alison Kipnis Hertz and her “Doodle Day May” challenge. Today, I am excited to share that Alison will be continuing Doodle Day May in July. The challenge is to doodle every day in the month of July. Each day, Alison will post a doodling prompt, and all the doodlers in the group do their best to find time to doodle that day. The next day participants share doodles on the Doodle Day May Facebook page. This time around, Alison has asked for help coming up with prompts. I am happy to say that I will be contributing three prompts in July. At the end of this post, I have shared some of my favorite doodles from May. I tend to get carried away at times, so some drawings may seem like more than doodles. But the perfect thing about this group of doodlers is that there are no judgments, just lots of support and encouragement. This challenge was extra fun for me because my daughter and granddaughter did the challenge with me. Thanks to technology, we were able to share our doodles across the 900 miles that separate us. That reminds me, this challenge is open to all ages. It is the perfect thing for children who need something fun to do while out of school for the summer.

My last share of the day is Kristen Fulton’s “Nonfiction Picture Book Week” challenge. For one week, participants will be challenged to perfect, hone and produce great Non-Fiction Picture Books. This includes True Non-Fiction (Biographies and Historical events; How-To books and information or reference books); Faction (Facts presented in a fictitious way); and Historical Fiction (totally fictitious story based on real people, real events or real places). Kristen is offering some outstanding prizes to those who participate.

I posted this without sharing my doodles from Doodle Day May. If you would like to see them you can find them here.

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