How I Got Started Writing and Illustrating for Children

I didn’t plan on becoming an author and illustrator. But today, I’ve published more than 75 books for children!

Picture Books

Nonfiction Books 

How I Got Started

About a year after I finished college, I decided to take a course in children’s literature. The course would count towards renewing my teaching certificate. We read so many children’s books — from picture books to middle grade novels to young adult books. It was then I first thought, I can do this! It can’t be that hard to write and illustrate a children’s book.  

So — I gave it a try. I checked out books from the library on writing and illustrating for children (these were the pre-Internet days). And I started submitting my work. And I received lots (and lots) of rejections. Apparently, it was harder than I thought. 🙂

From all of my submissions, I had one positive response, but then the editor left the publishing house. So I took a break for a few years, jumping back into writing for children when a friend invited me to join her critique group.

SCBWI

I had heard of an organization called the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), but there’s a membership fee to join, and I didn’t want to spend the money. A couple more years passed and a lot more submissions were sent out. Finally, I bit the bullet and sent in my payment. It quickly turned out to be one of the best investments I’d made towards my writing and illustrating goals!

I began attending conferences and meeting other writers and illustrators. The instruction, support, and encouragement was just what I needed. Before long, I received my first acceptance letter!

Still Going!

That was about ten years ago. Since that time, my poems, short stories, and articles have been published in a number of magazines both online and in print. I began illustrating picture books, and finally started illustrating some of my own stories. I also write nonfiction covering a variety of topics.

Once in a while, I’ll pull out one of those early manuscripts , and I can’t believe I sent them to editors. They are just so rough. Writing, like any skill, takes time and practice to sharpen and improve.

These days, I’m working on a variety of projects. But in the process, I’m still practicing. And I’m still learning. And my critique partners say I’m still improving. 🙂

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