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News and Updates

SCBWI Conference

This month I was able to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators annual conference in Los Angeles. It was a bit of a challenge as I recently had surgery to repair an injury on my foot, so I am not walking yet. Still, I went to some excellent sessions and heard some amazing speakers. Best of all, I conncected with some other writers who I plan to stay in touch with.  Despite it being a challenge, I'm really glad I went and my manuscripts have improved because of it!

Halfway Through 12 x 12

In January, I started the 12 x 12 Writing Challenge Program - pushing myself to create 12 new picture books in 12 months. I'm pleased to report, that now that we are halfway through, I'm on track! The challenge is to draft one picture book a month as well as edit one picture book a month while interacting with the other participants through an online forum. The program also offers webinars and information on writing and publishing. I've added a personal goal of querying two agents per month to this effort. The writing journey is can be a hard one - often full of rejection and feelings of self-doubt, but I have found that setting these small goals and achieving them keeps me moving forward. To learn more about 12 x 12 please visit their website.

Katie Pens Guest Blog

I was honored to be asked to guest blog about writing for children by the Writer's Workout--one of my favorite writing organizations.  You can check out the blog here.

2017 Successes

Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers  series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this  year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made  come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in  the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year  that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I  challenged myself to come up with 30 successes! Here is my list for  2017:


1. I went to my first SCBWI conference

2. I was asked to guest blog on a writer’s site about writing for children (I'll post a link as soon as it's published)

3. I participated in the Writer’s Games and placed

4. I participated in the Team Writer’s Games and placed

5. I saw my name in print for the first time (in fiction) in the Writer’s Game Anthology

6. I won Nanowrimo

7. I spent a lot of time talking to agents 

8. I met at least three editors in person

9. I wrote two new picture book manuscripts and started on a third

10. I got involved with Writer Moms Inc.

11. I made many new contacts on Twitter

12. I started my own writer website

13. I had business cards printed that say "Author" on them

14. I shared lots of my work with beta readers

15. Kids told me they loved my work

16. I told my friends and family about my writing

17. I participated in Twitter pitch parties and got some interest in my pitches

18. An agent asked me for ALL of my work for review

19. I engaged a lot with the Manuscript Academy

20. I learned about the 12 x 12 challenge

21. I took lot of classes on writing

22. I read some wonderful books on writing

23. I read some wonderful books (in general)

24. I found new resources that I want to use in 2018

25. I took a class on querying

26. An agent told me that while my MS wasn’t for her, she loved it

27. I started carrying a notebook everywhere I go to write down story ideas

28. I found ways to involve my 9 year old son in my writing journey

29. I laughed out loud at my own work

30. I made this list...helping to ensure that 2018 is my best writing year yet!

Katie Completes NaNoWriMo

This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo after learning about it on Twitter.  What an experience! It was so great to feel like a part of the community as we worked through this challenge together and I am pleased to report that I won!  

My NaNoWriMo project is called AUNT CLAIRE'S PET CARE. It is a middle grade novel about two sisters, Maya and Isabel, who live with their veterinarian Aunt after their parents are killed in an accident. But Aunt Claire is no ordinary vet. Claire is doing secret research for the government on genetic modification in order to make medicines and help train service animals. Unfortunately, another researcher wants to use her information to build weapons. When the bad guys kidnap Aunt Claire, Maya and Isabel have to overcome their sibling rivalry to save her, the animals and the research. 

After NaNoWriMo, with the first draft written, I'm giving myself something of a break. I plan to start revising in January.

Katie to Attend SCBWI Editor's Day

I am so pleased to announce that I will be attending my first SCBWI Regional Event. I live in the Southern California Region which is hosting Editor's Day on October 7, 2017 at California State University, Fullerton. Some of the speakers I'm looking forward to are:  

  • Talia Benamy, Assistant Editor, Philomel Books
  • Stacey Friedberg, Associate Editor, Dial Books for Young Readers 
  • Jessica Anderson, Assistant Editor Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Company ~ an imprint of Macmillan Children's Group 

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to improve my craft.

Please check back soon for an update on how the event goes!