Posted in Craft, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Turning Ideas Into Stories – Workshop

Writers-RetreatI was asked to do an online workshop on “Turning Ideas Into Stories” through the Writers Retreat area of the Institute of Children’s Literature website. Here’s what was advertised: “The journey from really good idea to really good story can be challenging. How do you make your story live up to the great idea? How do you turn ideas that come from the news, your experience, or your imagination into a really great story? Let Sue help.” The workshop lasted three days and those signed in to the forum could ask me questions. And they asked good ones! I answered off and on through all three days.
It was challenging at times, because so often we don’t think about our process. But to answer questions, I had to think about how to explain what I do. I also shared what has worked for me and what hasn’t. We discussed short stories and novels both.
I got to share some favorite quotes, mention some writers I’ve learned from along the way, and talk about my experience with ideas, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It was fun also meeting new people working their way along the writing path.
After the workshop was over, Jan Fields, Web Editor, took the transcripts from the question threads and condensed questions and organized questions and answers in a logical order in one place. (UPDATE: Unfortunately the transcript is no longer posted on the website.)
These workshops are put on once a month. Last month was about “Short Stories Teens Want to Read” with Editor Deborah Vetter and next month will be “Motivating Your Villains” with Ellen Jackson. I’m honored to be in such great company.

Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, You Are Not Alone

Organizations and Groups

Writing is such a solitary event that it can feel as if you’re all alone. But you don’t have to be. There are writer groups for a variety of genres. Organizations may have instructional events, guest speakers, workshops, retreats, conferences. They’re a good place to learn AND to network with others who “get” what you’re doing. For me the best thing I did for my writing was being involved with some groups, and along the way I’ve made great friends, too.
Here is a sampling of groups and organizations, with some focus on Kansas, since that’s where I currently live. I strongly believe every children’s writer should check out the first one!
SCBWI-logo smSociety for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – an international organization that offers conferences world-wide, publications, discussion boards, grants.
logo_icl.gifInstitute of Children’s Literature – a school that offers correspondence courses with published authors as instructors, plus they have chats, web articles, a great enewsletter, and a podcast.
Christian Children’s Writers List – an online group where you can meet others writing for the Christian children’s market.
Heartland Writers for Kids and Teens – a local Kansas City group with a renowned Wednesday critique group.
Heart of America Christian Writers Network – a local Christian group who offers monthly meetings and an annual conference.
Kansas Author’s Club – welcomes creative, technical, academic and journalistic writers.
The Kansas City Writers Group – a local group that meets in Shawnee, Kansas and offers workshops and critique groups.
Missouri Writer’s Guild – a statewide group that offers annual conferences.
The Writer’s Place
– a local Kansas City group who offers workshops, speakers, and does art displays.
Association of Authors’ Representatives – has information on questions to ask an agent, a member’s list, and more.
The Author’s Guild – a national organization open to published authors writing for adults and children.
The Children’s Book Council – a trade association for children’s publishers. They create a lot of useful publications. Also, includes meet the author/illustrator pieces.