Challenges Can Be Good by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Here’s a little article I wrote as a Picture Book Idea Month (now STORYSTORM) success story.

Challenges Can Be Good

I don’t like NaNoWriMo. There. I said it. National Novel Writing Month is not for me. It did, however, lead me to the perfect challenges.

Discouraged after failing NaNoWriMo—miserably—twice, I came to the realization that the stress of cranking out 50,000 words during one of the busiest months of the year sours me on writing. It’s as torturous as dragging sandpaper across your sunburned belly.

In October 2010, many of my writing friends were brainstorming over their upcoming NaNoWriMo projects. Feeling left out, I decided to explore other options. That’s how I stumbled upon Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Creating 30 picture book ideas over the 30 days of November seemed daunting, but I gave it a shot and I made it. Now, what was I going to do with those 30 ideas?

Thankfully, there is National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee), an annual event the first week of May where you endeavor to write 7 picture books in 7 days. When I participated in May 2011, I developed an idea from PiBoIdMo that would become my third published book, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving (Guardian Angel Publishing, Nov 2016).

Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving shows ten-year-old Macy using quick thinking and ingenuity to save dinner when the dog swipes the turkey off the table. Without PiBoIdMo, this book may never have existed. It’s not the warm, message-driven story that I usually write. There is a set of fighting twins, a frazzled mom, and a turkey-stealing dog. Not so sweet. Pushing my boundaries to win this challenge allowed me to explore a fun and zany side I don’t often indulge.

Satisfied with my first dabble into PiBoIdMo, I participated again in 2012. Guardian Angel Publishing has Amos Faces His Bully under contract. This story was my first idea for PiBoIdMo in 2012. I can’t wait to see it published.

Just like you need to find a good writing spot and develop a writing routine, finding the right challenge for you can lead to greater success. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself. The rewards can be great.

 

 

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com

2016 Goal Review & 2017 Writing Goals

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Oh me, oh my. I blinked my eyes and 2016 was done. I set myself three goals for this year and achieved only one: I attended writing group fairly consistently, missing only a few. I’m long past the point of being disappointed when I don’t hit a writing goal. What did bum me out is that I wasn’t disciplined enough to review my goals more than once since December. It’s important to review goals at least once a quarter to stay focused.

Enough whining, because good stuff happened in 2016. Here’s what I accomplished:

Book Release

This November, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving was released by Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP). This was totally unexpected, so I had to make time to promote the book once it came out. I still have a few copies available for review if anyone is interested. You can email me at ccmal(at)charter(dot)net. Please put “Mac and Cheese” in the subject line.

Amelia’s Mission

One of my goals was to finish this middle grade novel by the end of the year. That didn’t happen, but I am now in the middle of Chapter 16, so there’s progress.

Writers Conference and Agent Meeting

I sat on the planning committee for WriteAngles again this year. We ended up having an agent slot open, so I snagged it. I’ve met enough agents at this point that it is no longer intimidating and practice is always good. I pitched Amelia’s Mission and she helped me polish my query letter.

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That leaves my edits for The Sisterhood as a totally untouched goal from 2016. This is the first full-length novel I completed. It needs a lot of editing, which I didn’t get to this year. I’m going to hold off on it for now. It’s too large of a project for me to commit to tackle in 2017. I truly want to get Amelia’s Mission finished first anyway.

Searching for Popularity is an incomplete manuscript that I changed from memoir to young adult novel. It probably won’t garner much of my attention until Amelia’s Mission is done.

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The following completed books are searching for a home:

A New Home (chapter book) – Romeo, Juliet, and Peter are three abandoned kittens searching for a new home.

Crabby Cathy (picture book) – Cathy is a mean girl who shoves people around in the schoolyard and takes things that aren’t hers. But when Amy and Chloe decide to befriend this bully, they see a side to Cathy they didn’t know existed.

Everybody’s Home for Christmas (chapter book) – Rachel is sad that her military father isn’t around for Christmas like the other dads. With some encouragement from her mom, she spends the days putting together a care package to send to him in Afghanistan, and before she goes to bed each night she prays for his safe return. Will Rachel experience a Christmas miracle?

The Real Cinderella Story (picture book) – A snarky story of Cinderella told by one of her sisters.

 

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Amos Faces His Bully is under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. Wouldn’t it be great if an illustrator took on that project and it released in 2017? That is my hope.

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GOALS FOR 2017

Considering my real estate work schedule and my family commitments, I am keeping it simple again this year.

  1. Participate in Picture Book Idea Month in January. I’ve participated in this endeavor twice, which resulted in Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving being published, Amos Faces His Bully being under contract, and four other picture books written. I’m game to do it again.
  2. Submit two short stories this year.
  3. Contribute to Guardian Angel Kids e-zine once this year.
  4. Seek out guest blogging opportunities once a quarter.
  5. Write four chapters of Amelia’s Mission by June.
  6. Attend writing group monthly.

Are you setting your goals for 2017 yet? Want to share any of them?

PiBoIdMo 2013 Registration is OPEN!

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Well, it’s that time of year again. Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) is almost here. Tara Lazar has another great lineup of guest bloggers and prizes again this year. To make this a more manageable project for me this year, I am only going to blog about my progress on a weekly basis. so here is my promise:

I do solemnly swear
that I will faithfully execute
the PiBoIdMo 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into
picture book manuscripts
throughout the year.

This has been successful for me the past couple of years, so I hope I’m up to the challenge again this year.

Picture Book Idea Month Winner!

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I’m a winner! I’m a winner! Here is the beautiful badge to go along with the 30 ideas I came up with during Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Congratulations to all who participated. Even if you didn’t end up with 30 ideas, any new idea will bring you closer to a new picture book manuscript. Thanks goes out to Tara Lazar and all the authors and illustrators who provided inspiration and encouragement along the way. Now I’m looking forward to 12 x 12 in 2013. Can I write 12 picture books next year? I don’t know. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Picture Book Idea Month – Day 30 (The End!)

piboidmo12participantIt is the last day of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Coordinated by Tara Lazar, this annual event asks writers to set a goal of coming up with 30 picture book ideas during the 30 days of November. Phew! I made it again this year. Now, I have 12 x 12 in 2013 to look forward. This event asks writers to set a goal of writing 12 picture books over the 12 months of 2013. I’m game.

PICTURE BOOK IDEA #30: And my final idea for PiBoIdMo 2012 is the story of a cat’s adventures flying to his new home in Massachusetts. I figure he might meet some other interesting animals along the way. He would also be thrilled to meet his new family.

Picture Book Idea Month – Day 29

One more day left! It’s Day 29 of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Coordinated by Tara Lazar, this annual event asks writers to set a goal of coming up with 30 picture book ideas during the 30 days of November. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it this year, but it looks like I will be able to declare myself a winner tomorrow.

PICTURE BOOK IDEA #29: Everybody’s Home for Christmas is the story of a young boy who misses his father who is stationed overseas. The little boy prays for his father’s safe return, which happens with his surprise visit on Christmas Eve. I thought this would be nice since so many of our military are away from their families for the holidays.

Picture Book Idea Month – Day 28

We’re almost done. It’s Day 28 of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Coordinated by Tara Lazar, this annual event asks writers to set a goal of coming up with 30 picture book ideas during the 30 days of November. Since I missed posting yesterday’s idea, I have two for you.

PICTURE BOOK IDEA #27:  I’m stuck on alliteration today. Why? I don’t know. How about a book titled Pushy Penelope. Penelope is the type of kid who pushes herself into any game, any conversation, any situation. I figure it would be good to have her be in kindergarten. Since some kids don’t attend preschool, kindergarten could be children’s first exposure to different personalities on a regular basis. How would Penelope’s classmates react to her? How would she treat them?

PICTURE BOOK IDEA #28: How about Crabby Cathy? Cathy is a total crab. No matter what is going on around her, she’s a grump. What if a classmate plotted to change Cathy’s attitude?