It's been a great summer. My health has been on the upswing and I've had two books come out. "Wild Colt" was released in March and "Chincoteague Ponies: Untold Tails" came out in July. Add to that a contract for another book and a contract to do Chincoteague Pony Trading cards, and the summer couldn't be much better. On Monday, I hit my deadline to deliver the text for the first 75 herd members!
Pony Penning on Chincoteague during the last full week in July was so busy it almost took my breath away. I wrote the newsletter for the Chincoteague Pony Association, did a talk at the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge (followed by a signing), helped tag the wild colts, had two wonderful book signings at The Kite Koop, worked at a Feather Fund Fundraiser, helped our Feather Fund kids get their foals on auction day, took pictures and recorded every foal auctioned for the CPA and hosted a picnic for 62 Feather Fund friends at the house we rented! Whew!
After Pony Penning week I had two days to catch my breath before heading off to Los Angeles, CA for the International SCBWI conference. It was the best conference I've ever attended. Usually, I come away inspired but not learning a whole lot of new stuff. This one was different. Jay Asher's workshop, "No Bookmarks" showed me some cool ways to build suspense in the mystery I am currently rewriting. Gary Schmidt's keynote brought me to tears and numerous other workshops had me taking notes and hatching new ideas.
I'm working on rewrites on the YA murder mystery and have started a new Chincoteague Pony story for MG.
I hope summer has brought all your goals to fruition!
Spring is the start of so many new things, new manuscripts, new foals to see on Chincoteague Island, new books to read, book signings, and new life all around!
This spring I am excited about the picture book I have under contract with Schiffer Books. The illustrator, Linda Kantjas has been sharing her developing art work and it is truly amazing! Her ponies are based on the actual herds that live on the island and her clean, realistic style blows me away!
The picture book is called "Wild Colt". It's written in cryptic rhyme. That means the story comes in bursts of rhyming information, not necessarily full sentences. It shows the life of a wild colt born in the wetlands of Assateague and depicts the wetlands creatures he meets, the storms that come, and the dark of night as he grows tall in summer haze. The book takes the reader into Pony Penning and the day the colt is sold at auction.
Spring also means numerous book signings at reading days, strawberry festivals and summer library events. As I promote the latest book, "The True Story of Sea Feather," I have lined up some events where the real Sea Feather will join me, meeting the public as I sign his book. Look for those on the schedule of events for June and July!
Perhaps the most rewarding thing about spring is reading all the Feather Fund (www.featherfund.org) applications and choosing our pony award winners. I'm a member of the board of directors for this not for profit organization that helps children purchase Chincoteague Ponies annually on Chincoteague Island. The charity was created in memory of my friend, Carollynn Suplee, who bought a pony for a child almost every year she survived cancer, eight years! When she passed, we decided to keep her work alive. She was an angel in life and now she guides us, the angel behind the scenes. http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Feather-Fund/110785658270?ref=ts
Hope you are finding new books, new life and new adventures in your spring!
It's been a great week. On Wednesday I received my advance copy of "The True Story of Sea Feather" and a bottle of wine from my publisher. On Friday, I took the wine with me to the MD/DE/WV SCBWI Winter Retreat at Blue Mountain Retreat Center (http://bluemountainretreat.org) across the river from Harper's Ferry, WV in Knoxville, MD.
The retreat was amazing. I met other talented authors and we spent a weekend of writing, discussion, workshops and readings. We were honored to have among us Jane Conly, Newbery Honor Book award recipient. Everyone read or shared from their work and every single reading was amazing. Two illustrators shared what they were working on, both writing and illustration. The retreat was limited to 13 attendees which kept it from being overwhelming.
The retreat center brought in amazing food and we consumed wine brought by attendees. If anyone went hungry it was their own fault. So much food. When we gathered at the big tables for lunch and dinner the conversation was stimulating.
There's nothing like working alongside other accomplished writers. The fireplace blazed, snowflakes swirled outside the windows and fingers all around me tapped keys furiously. I completed three and a half chapters of my work and edited over 100 pages. Will I attend another retreat? You bet I will!
I do it every year. I plan, I organize. I accomplish necessary tasks early and set aside time to make my pledge to NaNoWrMo successful. But something always gets in the way. Grandbabies get sick and I need to babysit. My editor at the newspaper assigns extra features. My husband gets grumpy and I have to clean house. There's always something. Now, only two chapters into my new book on November 12, I realize it has happened again.
All that said, I still believe in NaNoWrMo. It jump starts me into new projects. Last year I was able to write seven chapters in the book I started for NaNoWrMo. By then I was so into the book I couldn't stop writing and that book, a YA murder mystery about a girl on the road with her trucker mom has been one of the best pieces I've written. It's still not sold but I believe in it and I am happy to have written it. And when it is accepted, (I pray) I will shout from the rooftops, "This book sprang out of NaNoWrMo!"
So, even if you don't think you can succeed, even if you know you can't complete a book in a month give it a shot. Get started. Get writing, and see where it takes you.
On Saturday I will be signing books at the Carroll County Historical Society on Main Street in Westminster, MD from 2 to 4 p.m. If you need a book or just want to say hello, pop by! The Historical Society has just moved into the newly renovated Cockey's Tavern building and their new shop is amazing, with lots of great gift ideas. I'd love to see them get lots of support on Saturday. They have worked so hard!