Monthly Archives: July 2008

One Path to Achieving GOALS

Here’s a short guide to reaching our GOALS:

G—Get Organized.  Collect all the notes, ideas, research, etc. for each  project you are working on and put them in separate folders.  Then, when you are ready to work, you won’t have to hunt all over for them. 

O—Onward!  Try to work on your project every day, if possible.  One hour or one page is a good rule of thumb.

A—Always edit, edit, edit.  Someone once said that “writing is re-writing,” and this very true.  The more you edit and refine, the better your piece will read.  10 drafts is not unusual.

L—Let it sit.  Allow enough time to let your project “cool off” a day or more between edits.  It’s surprising the mistakes, changes, and new ideas that will jump out at you.

S—Send it out.  Another truism is that “nothing ever sold in a desk drawer.”   Your manuscript needs to be out there, and if you’ve done the necessary research on what specific publishers and editors are looking for, you can target your submissions more successfully.

Following these short guidelines has helped me achieve my on-going goal of being published.

Contributed by Marjorie Flathers


In Search of Goals: 3

I promised to share some thoughts about “Journaling” and “Images” for your Goal Notebooks. So here they are:


Journaling is journeying . . . traveling through introspective space . . . a trip without reservations. A blank page provides me with that instinctive need to fill it with words — my words. I have an entire bookshelf filled with journals: some have pages filled with words, sentences, paragraphs; others are partially filled; still others have yet to be opened. The unopened ones have such beautiful covers, such velvety pages, that it takes courage to open one up and write the first word. But I eventually do reach for one and write a few sentences in it, quickly, before I can change my mind.

I carry a journal with me everywhere I go for two reasons: (1) to have paper handy when an idea blooms and (2) to force myself to begin to develop that idea. I am not, by nature, a courageous person, and I would rather record an idea and let it go at that. The developing part takes courage. The journal makes me a more courageous person.

Where does the Goal Notebook fit into all this? As soon as a journal idea is developed — even a little bit developed — it is on its way to the Goal Notebook section labeled Journaling Ideas.  I copy it here, work on it, embellish it, edit it, until finally it is ready to be moved to either the section on Long- Term or Short-Term Goals.


This portion of my Goal Notebook is the least tidy. I collect images of two varieties: (1) things that are printed, snapped, or sketched. These include postcards, pieces of paper torn from newspapers and magazines, and snapshots. I staple or paste these onto the notebook pages.  The subject must always be something that encourages a strong feeling. For example, my notebook contains snapshots and sketches of several houses that (metaphorically) opened their doors and invited me in. It also contains faces, flowers, birds, brick paths, and a small printed card that commands me: “Just do it!” These are all visual images that have been recorded in printed form.

(2) I include images that are seen or heard and that I can describe with my pen. For example: “The dust motes fell slowly, softly, like snow on a winter night.” Or, “The sparrow tree is a giant aviary, a gymnasium.” Or, “The clouds are frothy bubbles on a glass of milk.” These images can be from my own imagination or from quotations (with sources noted).

Such images seem important to me when I record them in my journal, but I’m seldom sure why. By the time they get to my  Goal Notebook, it always surprises me to find that so many of them seem to fit into something I am currently writing. I believe in serendipity, don’t you?

If you haven’t already created your own Goal Notebook, I encourage you to get started. You won’t be sorry!

A Writing Formula

Math was a fun subject for me most of the time. I liked solving equations because math made sense. One number plus another number always equaled something solid and concrete. My mind thinks logically like that, so it’s no wonder that as I was trying to come up with another post on the topic of goals, I naturally gravitated towards an equation that added up:


Goals + Work = Rewards           



In order for our writing to prosper, we must have goals. We need to start with a vision of what we want to do and how we want to say it. Once we have that idea either roughly or firmly established, we need to work. We must invest time and energy into putting our thoughts onto paper, weaving plot, theme, character development, and climax into whatever direction our story leads.


It takes a lot to make our idea become a reality, but eventually it will lead to rewards. Will the prize always be publication? No, but we can have the satisfaction of successfully finishing our story, which in many ways is a reward in itself. Publication, of course, is icing on the cake.


Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio

Step two: Get your artwork out there!

I’m a member of the Wordsmiths, and I’m also an illustrator. Here is my perspective as a children’s book illustrator.

In my last post, I mentioned how putting together a portfolio is one of the first steps to take towards getting published. Well, the second step is getting your artwork out there. Showing it to art directors, editors and other art buyers is the name of the game. Showing it to other artists is helpful or anyone who is interested, because you never know if they know somebody who knows somebody. This advice probably seems obvious, but it’s a skill that takes practice. I started showing my artwork at SCBWI workshops, schmoozes and the conference.


Last summer, I attended the conference sponsored by SCBWI and entered my portfolio in the illustration exhibition. It was all great fun, and I was pleased that all my business cards and postcards were picked up. But, I really didn’t expect anything to happen. There were a sea of portfolios! Many were just knock over beautiful. Well, eight months had past, then one day, out of the blue, I received an e-mail about an illustration project! The publisher had seen my portfolio at the conference and picked mine from the hundred that were there! I was so excited to get this unexpected break.


I’m definitely still at the “getting my artwork out there” stage. It’s helpful for me to have a few sentences prepared to describe each piece in my portfolio. It’s also helpful for me to be able to describe my style succinctly. I’m not a free-flowing confabulator like some people, so being prepared with something to say helps me to get over my shyness.


See you out there!


contributed by Veronica Walsh, Illustrator




Inspirational Quotes

Here are some quotes I thought you might enjoy.


The ability to convert ideas to things is the secret to outward success.
Henry Ward Beecher

The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business–or almost anywhere else for that matter.
Lee Iacocca

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.
Leon J. Suenes

First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.


Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
Author Unknown

Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark.
David Ogilvy

Inspiration: Goals

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

-contributed by Shirley Shibley

3, 2, 1, Contact!

About a year ago, I made it my goal to contact at least one editor or publisher from every issue of the Children’s Writer that came each month. My goal was simple:

1. Find an article in the issue that I felt I could try to write (even if I wasn’t that interested in it).

2. Make a note of one editor’s name who was interviewed in that article and write down what she said about the manuscripts she liked to receive.

3. Study that publisher’s website and look for a potential new topic that would fit in with their existing product line.

4. Send a query to that editor and ask if she’d like to see a proposal for a manuscript about that new topic.

Each month as my issues came in, I dutifully fulfilled my goal and contacted at least one editor from each issue. If they didn’t include an e-mail address in their interview, I dug around on their website until I found one. Some e-mail addresses were just the company’s generic e-mail.

I was able to send e-mail queries to every single publisher I wanted to contact. Some never got back to me, but most editors did. In the e-mail, I simply stated that I read their interview in the Children’s Writer, I saw that they were interested in receiving manuscripts about topic X, and I studied their website. Then I asked if would they like to receive a proposal to write a book that would fit into their product line. I listed 2-3 ideas I had for suggested manuscripts.

Soon I had to quit following my goal. Why? I started landing so many book contracts I couldn’t keep up with the writing!

In so many writing circles, they tell us to make it our goal to submit our finished manuscripts on a steady basis. That never produces results for me. But when I made it my goal to contact at least one editor each month who was interviewed in the Children’s Writer and ask them about writing a brand new manuscript tailored to fit their product list, that’s when I started landing so many book contracts that I knew I had found a secret to success.

-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders