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

What Would Sue Do?

WWSUED cropMy dear friend and writer buddy (1) just gave me this shirt. Isn’t it a crack up? Jenn has called me her writing mentor and comes to me with questions. She’s my social media mentor and got me started on twitter. When I have twitter and tweetdeck questions, I go to her. We encourage each other in our writing as you can tell by this gift. Thanks again, Jenn!

What Would Maggie Do?
A former critique partner (2) recently gave me this testimonial: “I worked with her on a picture book draft that she suggested I make into a chapter book based on the voice and age of the character. When the manuscript was complete, she helped me with my query and final revisions. I just sent it out and I am already getting requests from agents!!” So we’ve joked, “You should listen to Sue.”

What Would Lorie Ann/Joan/Sue Do?
Years ago I was in a critique group with two great writers and friends (3). We met every three weeks and got each other’s voices in our heads. I remember once during a critique when one of us commented on a manuscript, the writer said, “I knew you were going to say that.” The gal spoken to responded, “If you knew I was going to say that, why didn’t you fix it.” We all laughed.

What Would Dan Do?
I hear a current critique partner (4) when I see sentences like this in my own or in my student’s writing: She heard the cat meow. Dan would say, “Don’t distance your reader.” From him I learned to write: The cat meowed. It’s more active and more immediate. One of his other sayings is, “What’s the purpose of this chapter?”

What Would Lisha Do?
Pursue her goals and learn the writing craft. I met Lisha (5) when she was a writing newbie. Not only had she come to our Kansas SCBWI workshop, but when she heard we were looking for volunteers, Lisha raised her hand. She has grown so much over the years by going to conferences and workshops, participating in two critique groups, researching agents, etc., etc. On top of that she’s a terrific hardworking volunteer doing the fabulous Sunflower Scoop, our region’s list serve.

What Would Donna Do?
When I first became a Regional Advisor for SCBWI in Washington state, I used the conference notebook my predecessor (6) provided and followed her advice on handling volunteers. Still used same info when I did a stint as RA in Kansas.

What Would NAME Do?
Sometimes my What Would NAME Do is something I learned from a speaker. One I recalled recently from 20 years ago was Peg Kehret, mystery author saying, “Give the kid the good lines.” Another of her recommendations that has stuck with me is to use the terms from whatever the main character’s hobby or interest. For example, a baseball fanatic not only will talk about baseball itself, but can use baseball terminology in other areas, too. That character might say something like “foul ball” when someone makes a mistake at school.

What Would Dorothy Do?
Most of us need support in our writing. We all need others in our lives in other areas, too. One of my life long heroes is my aunt (7). She sees something that needs to be done and quietly does it. She’s not afraid to tell you something you should do either.

What Would Kathy Do?
It was my sister (8) who got me started many many years ago on a laundry process that didn’t leave my family with baskets and baskets of clean clothes to fold. Now it’s a good habit–hang them up and fold them from dryer–but at first it was hard and I’d have to remind myself to do what she’d do.

So in life and writing who are your inspirations? Feel free to share about them in the comments, and/or tell them yourself how they’ve inspired you.
(1) Jenn Bailey
(2) Maggie Viles – on jacketflap
(3) Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub
(4) Dan Schwabauer
(5) Lisha Cauthen
(6) Donna Bergman – her books on Amazon
(7) Dorothy Uhlig, missionary to Thailand since 1951! (Facebook)
(8) Kathy Bender