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  • Writer's pictureTracy Smith Schmidt


Updated: Jun 10, 2020

I don’t quite know what to say about the last few months. Unprecedented really doesn’t seem to capture the feeling of worry and uncertainty. The world is changing, and it definitely MUST change, for many reasons. At the end of January, I had many goals. Some were achieved, and others fell by the wayside (such as monthly blog postings). I am happy that I have kept writing, revising, critiquing, reading, and learning. The KidLit community has been a source of comfort and motivation for me. In fact, it has been an essential source of connection as the world locked down.

In February, I attended the NYC SCBWI conference, when things like conferences were still normal. I had planned to attend the LA conference, and I am grateful for the SCBWI’s quick pivot to online. I registered for the SCBWI Summer Spectacular (which does indeed look fantastic). I sincerely hope that writing conferences will be possible in the near future.

I was fortunate to take a Writing Barn class with Rob Sanders (Picture Book 1) in February, right before the pandemic hit our country in full force. Rob is a terrific instructor, and I learned so much from him in six short weeks. I hope he offers his Picture Book Biography 1 class again. I would definitely take it.

I took two classes with Marcie Colleen through The Writing Barn during March and May (Chapter Books 1 and 2). I cannot say enough good things about these classes. I have been blown away by the talent and generosity of my fellow chapter book writers, and Marcie has been a wonderful teacher and guide. I now have a much clearer idea of how to write and pitch a chapter book series (and the draft of my first book is done!).

I participated in Marcie Colleen’s Study Hall for Picture Book Writers during April. Along with 6 other writers, I posted a new manuscript each week and critiqued the work of others. We motivated each other by posting daily goals on a Facebook page. I am not sure I would have felt like writing during April if I had not felt accountable. So, thank you Marcie and the April Kids in the Hall!

I took the Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books with Mira Reisberg and Allison Remcheck through the Children’s Book Academy. The daily lessons and weekly webinars helped me to write and revise some manuscripts. I was grateful that the lessons were self paced, which allowed me to postpone when life was difficult and catch up when things settled down.

I entered many contests, and I was grateful to have some good outcomes. I was a finalist in PBParty and received an Honorable Mention in Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords. I also submitted a picture book manuscript to the SCBWI Ann Whitford Paul-Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award and another to the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award. In addition, I just finished hitting submit on my applications for the #PBChat Mentorships. These contests have been useful motivators in a difficult time. So, even if I do not come out on top, I still feel like a winner for just showing up.

All of these conferences, classes, and contests have been rewarding, but the connections forged to other writers during the past few months have been the most fulfilling. Together, we are trying to make our work better, and in the process, we are lifting each other up.

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