It was a frigid January day when I met my writing buddy Joyce Shor Johnson in one of our favorite coffee shops to write. I hadn’t even taken off my coat when she said, “Spill it. You look like you’re about to burst.” And that’s when I shared my idea for this blog. She liked the concept and suggested we could have speakers come talk about craft and marketing. We immediately began brainstorming a name and when I suggested Kid Lit Universe, we never dreamed it would be available…but it was. We bought the domain name on the spot and secured the Twitter handle. Needless to say, not much writing got done that day on our works-in-progress.
Our free Author-To-Author speakers series, hosted by the Portsmouth Public Library, kicked off in April with author/literary agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. She told about her journey as a writer and gave insight into what she looks for in a submission when working as a senior agent at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. You can read about her talk here.
In May, our speaker was middle grade author/former lawyer Paul Durham. He told about how his writing career started with adult fiction, but he didn’t find publishing success until he wrote his middle grade trilogy, The Luck Uglies. Paul told us why authors need to “befriend the gatekeepers,” along with other marketing tips that have worked for him. Read about his talk here.
Rounding out our spring series was picture book author/illustrator Denise Ortakales. She showed us step-by-step how she creates her intricate paper sculptures and told us how her career took off when a legendary rock formation crumbled. Read about her talk here.
After a summer break, the series picked up in September with YA author/literary agent Rebecca Podos. She spoke about the challenges authors face like the feared “sophomore slump” and revealed her current manuscript wish list as an agent at Rees Literary Agency. You can read about her talk here.
To round out the 2016 Author-To-Author series was YA author Adi Rule in November. Adi led an informative workshop on critiquing and also spoke about what it was like to grow up in a “writing” house. You can read about her talk here.
On our blog’s Blast Off! page, we were pleased to feature new books by Paul Durham, Rebecca Podos, Chelsey Philpot, Adi Rule, Muon Van, and JoAnn Adinolfi. (If you have a book coming out in 2017 or one released within the last 12 months, read our guidelines here — we’d love to help you publicize it!)
On a personal note, I’ve had some writing success this year. My short story, “Kittery Killers Club,” will be featured in the anthology Murder Ink Volume 2 when it comes out from Plaidswede Publishing in February. (Big launch party in Boston coming up!) I also received an offer for my new book, Color of Betrayal, from Barking Rain Press, the publisher of my first novel, Dangerous Denial. I’m thrilled to be working with them again. I’ll post about my progress on Facebook and on my website.
Overall, we’re happy with our personal writing progress…and with the strides made with Kid Lit Universe this year. What started as an idea blown in on the north wind last January grew into a blog and a successful speakers series in a few short months. Many thanks to Portsmouth Public Library’s innovative program director, Laura Horwood-Benton, for helping to make the Author-To-Author Series a reality, to our wonderful speakers for sharing their stories and knowledge, to Tom Holbrook at RiverRun Bookstore for supplying our speakers’ books, to all who attended the sessions, and to those who have visited our blog.
Wishing all our readers a happy, productive, fruitful new year! We’re looking forward to finding out what the next chapter will hold.