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Where do writers get their ideas? Everywhere. But the actual magic lies in making one idea real. – Cheryl Klein, THE MAGIC WORDS

One of my goals in 2018 is to write a middle grade novel.

When I mention that I’m working on a MG project, it sometimes surprises people. Which drives a little part of me crazy, I must admit, since I began as a writer. Middle grade has always been my sweet spot.

I’ve always loved to draw, but I never imagined that anyone would ever want to pay me for my art. Writing, however, was a different story. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember. I wrote my first chapter book when I was nine:

I signed on with Ginger Knowlton, my awesome agent at Curtis Brown, because of a middle grade manuscript (thanks to my writer friend Lee Wardlaw her help). That middle grade mss and the one after that never did find a publisher home, but the rejection letters got nicer and we did get close a few times. I wrote a third middle grade mss but never did send it even to Ginger because I could tell it wasn’t strong enough….and then I got distracted by the World Wide Web (which inspired a comic strip).

And then the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference jumpstarted my children’s book illustrator career, and I put my middle grade author aspirations on the back burner.

I love writing and illustrating picture books and will ALWAYS want to write and illustrate picture books, but I’ve really missed writing middle grade. My long form writing skills are rusty, but I’ve been doing freeform writing every morning as well as carving out more time for reading (thank you for your #BookADay challenge inspiration, Donalyn Miller!). Not surprisingly, the more I write, the easier the flow.

Something else I’ve started doing: reading a bit of poetry or writing craft inspiration every morning. Recently I’ve been revisiting Cheryl Klein’s excellent THE MAGIC WORDS:WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

It’s a wonderful book both for reading from start to finish but also dipping into here and there, depending on your current interest. Right now, I’m mainly interested in reviewing Bigger Picture fundamentals, to keep me for getting bogged down too early in detailstuff.

If any of you are serious about writing for young people, I highly recommend this book.

Side note about the photo at the top:

I used my beloved Desiderata Daedalus pen inked up with some Robert Oster shimmery Peppermint Candy. Giving this doodle away today on my Twitter feed.