Paid With Pride

I'm so excited to have the lovely Julie Musil on my blog today! Julie is someone I've respected and loved forever, and she pretty much has the best posts on craft and inspiration in the industry. Today she's going to talk about being paid with pride as writers. Here's Julie! 

Perhaps my hubby and I are in the minority, but we’ve never paid our kids for good grades. Instead, we tried to instill in them a sense of pride for working hard--no matter the outcome. I don’t judge other parents who do pay for As on spelling tests, because all parents have different styles.

When my 17-year-old son told a classmate, “I’d rather get an honest B than get an A by cheating,” I knew we were on the right path for us.

I’m glad my own parents were too poor to pay for As. I worked hard in class simply because good grades were my drug of choice. For a nerd like me, there was nothing sweeter than the high I got from my report cards. Pride became my payment.

We can implement this same attitude toward writing and publishing. How?

   Accept pride as payment for a completed body of work. Have you finished a short story? Have you typed “The End” on a full-length novel? These are major accomplishments. Whether or not your story ever earns money, you can be proud that you’ve created something unique.
   Accept pride as payment for a professional product. Have you polished a manuscript according to a publisher’s or agent’s guidelines? Have you studied grammar and plot structure, then applied what you’ve learned? If so, you can feel proud that you’ve created a professional product worthy of submission.
   Accept pride as payment for compliments from others. Have you received a positive critique? Or did you receive valid criticism and used that to make positive changes? Has an agent or editor offered words of kindness, even if they rejected your piece? If you’re traditionally or indie published, did a reader give your book a glowing review? If so, rejoice in what you’ve done right.
   Accept pride as payment for carving your own path. Have you taken the road less traveled? Have you ventured into unknown territory with fear? Have you tried one road, realized it wasn’t right for you, then switched? If so, you should be proud of your courage. We won’t know which path is right for us until we take that first step. But that first step can be difficult.
   Accept pride as payment for the example you’ve set for others. If you’re a parent, have your kids watched you work hard and persevere with a good attitude? Did they cheer you on as you took a major leap? Have you inspired other writers to be bold and pursue writing on their own? Have you encouraged another writer to keep on keepin’ on, despite setbacks? If so, you should be proud of your impact on the lives of others.

Notice that none of these measures involve real money. Cash is great, but for most writers, this journey is not about financial gain, but about honing a craft and sharing a piece of ourselves with others. There’s great peace in knowing that payment is rendered by ourselves--in pride.

Are you proud of all you’ve accomplished? Have you reached a major milestone lately? Have you taken a small step forward? Please share!

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Isn't Julie fabulous??? Do check out her work. She's so incredibly talented. (And The Summer of Crossing Lines is out TODAY!!! I just bought my copy!) I know that I'm definitely reaching some of my own milestones right now, and it feels good to continue to discover who I am as a writer. 

Thanks Julie, for gracing us with your presence today! <3 

Red. Head. Out. 

Demons. Fate. Remake.

As I’m rewriting the novel that holds my heart, I’ve had a lot of thoughts going through my head.  And one of the songs that’s been repeating in my mind as I’m rewriting, is Demons from Imagine Dragons. There’s a passage in the song that says, 

They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go

And while I definitely have my own personal opinions, I wanted to throw some thoughts out to you, wanting to know what YOU believe. Do you believe in fate? That you’re destined to do things? That there are things on this earth that only you are meant to accomplish? 

Or do you think the opposite? That everything we create and make of ourselves is determined only by us. That only we can pave our own paths. That there are such things as coincidences. Or is there a combination of both extremes? 

I don’t mean to get all deep on you. But I’m fascinated by the topic, and I really would be interested to know what you think. Would you share your thoughts? 

And if you don't feel like being open, you can just comment on how jealous you are that *I* have a copy of Ilima Todd’s REMAKE!!!!! I got a copy of her ARC yesterday and I’m FREAKING to read it! I'm going to start reading tonight!!! 

Cue: Cheesy picture: 

In other news, I just finished beta reading a FAB book by Kyra Lennon, so keep that on your radar--look for an announcement from her soon. And Jolene Perry also has a new book out under her Mia Joseph's pen name, called, Blurring The Lines, which is SO FABULOUS. And Julie Musil has a guest post coming next week that you will all love! 

Anything else worthy of report?

Red. Head. Out. :) 

#LA14SCBWI Conference!

I’m not sure what it is about the SCBWI LA conference, but each year I attend, I seem to find exactly what I’m looking for.

This is my fourth year going to the conference, and each time, I’ve been in a completely different place on this writing journey… whether with my emotional journey or my actual craft/ability/knowledge of the industry. And for some reason, the SCBWI has always been able to reach me—to know exactly what I need at the time and refuel my tank. I’m always able to find myself again. To find what it is I want and what I need and where I want to go.

As we all know, sometimes that "magic something” leaves us. We keep working without really remembering what it is that’s rooted inside of us—that reason why we’re writing in the first place. And I’ve been to conferences that focus only on craft or the industry or how to get from point A to point B. But the SCBWI is different. They seem to get it. They focus on the magic. The art. The heart. The reason why we pour our souls into our work and spent sleepless nights crying over whether we have the ability to really create.  They get that it’s not only about the change that takes place within ourselves, but it’s that books change people. (A concept I could go off forever about, but won’t) 

Recently, I’ve had to face some difficult decisions as far as writing goes, and it’s because of this 2014 LA conference that I’ve been able to block out all the different voices shouting at me and reaffirm my goals. I've found that no matter what you're looking for as a writer, the SCBWI has what you need. Including friends. 
With the ridiculously talented Liz Briggs

I’ve connected with dozens of writers who really have become my best friends. (Each one of them much more talented and cooler than I) ;)

And now for fun pics!

And with Karen Grencik, who will always be so special to me!

If you're a YA, MG, or picture book writer, I highly urge you to become a SCBWI member. It's changed my life, opened up opportunities I never dreamed, and helped me take the necessary steps toward this crazy journey called publication. 

Red. Head. Out. <3