March 2017 Contest Roundup

SIC Contest RoundupSpring is on its way! Isn’t it? I this it is. I’m shivering while I write this even though the heat is blasting. I skied out to my car this morning (In case you don’t know, I live on a mountain. This is normal.) But I am certain spring must be on its way. The sun is shining!

The promise of spring makes me think of all the new and glorious growth that is bound to happen when things start growing and showing their green shoots. Which makes me think of growing our writing opportunities and careers. I admit, just about everything makes me think about writing! I’ve been perusing the internet and have found some interesting and helpful contests coming up. Entering contests is a great way to grow your writing experience. I hope you’ll find some that appeal to you. Here’s to growth!

March:

3/6: #SonofaPitch – Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #SonofaPitch hashtag. Include your genre/age category in your tweet. You can tweet any number of manuscripts, but only once every hour each.

3/8: National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship – Open to fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Published writers. Grants of $25,000 are awarded.

3/15: Pass or PagesOpen to Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Entries open 3/13. Enter your first 250 words on query via form on website. Winning entries with be posted on the website with agent commentary. For more information see Contest Rules.

3/23: #Pitmad Open to all genres. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #Pitmad hashtag between 8am & 8pm EDT. Only pitch 3 times per project.

3/26: Picture Book Party – Open to the first 250 entries. Enter your title, word count, genre, query and 50 words via email. Illustrators may attach one illustration. Around 20 manuscripts will be chosen to move on to an agent round.

3/31: SCBWI Work In Progress Grants – Open to SCBWI Members. PB, CB, MG, YA fiction or nonfiction. Selected works will be presented to a hand-selected group of acquiring editors.

3/31: Don Freeman Illustrator Grant – Open to SCBWI Members. Submit you Picture Book dummy or portfolio for a chance to win a $1000 grant.

3/31: Karen & Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award – Open to unpublished SCBWI Members over age 50. Submit your work in progress for a chance to win $500 and free tuition to any SCBWI conference.

April:

4/1: Scholastic Graphix ContestOpen to Graphic Novels for kids. U.S. Residents only. Up to 5 winners will receive an offer to publish their work with Scholastic and a $15,000 advance.

4/1: Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest – Open to humorous poetry not to exceed 250 lines in length. One entry per person. First prize of $1,000, second prize $250, plus 10 Honorable Mentions receive $100 each and the top 12 entries will be published online. Entry via Submittable.

4/5: #KidPitOpen to Board Books, Picture Books, Easy Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction. Pitch your completed manuscript via Twitter using the #KidPit hashtag between 9am and 3pm CST.

4/5: #AdPit Open to Adult and New Adult Fiction and Nonfiction. Pitch your completed manuscript via Twitter using the #AdPit hashtag between 9am and 3pm CST.

4/7: #P2P17 – Entrants submit a query and 5 pages of their draft manuscript to freelance editors. Each editor will select an author to work with for 5 weeks of intensive manuscript development to prepare for an agent round.

4/25: #DVPitOpen to Children’s and Teen Fiction and Nonfiction pitches about and especially by marginalized voices. Pitch your completed manuscript via Twitter using the #DVPit hashtag between 8am and 8pm EST.

4/26: #DVPitOpen to Adult Fiction and Nonfiction pitches about and especially by marginalized voices. Pitch your completed manuscript via Twitter using the #DVPit hashtag between 8am and 8pm EST.

Upcoming:

6/8: #Pitmad Open to all genres. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #Pitmad hashtag between 8am & 8pm EDT. Only pitch 3 times per project.

6/22: #PBPitchOpen to picture books. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #PBPitch hashtag between 8am and 8pm EST.

6/28: #FaithPitchOpen to “completed Fiction that falls under the categories of inspirational, faith-based, biblical worldview, or Christian.” Picture book through Adult categories. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #FaithPitch hashtag between 8am and 8pm CST. See the contest page for a list of age category and genre hashtags.

Looking for more contests? Check out this post: 51 Writing Contests in March — No Entry Fees

Don’t forget, if you want help with your pitch for any contest you’re welcome to post it in our Sub It Club Submission Support Group anytime.

Know of any great contests I missed? Please link us up in the comments!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Plant the Tree.

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I love avocados.

When we first bought our house in the Central Valley of California, we considered planting an avocado tree in our backyard. The idea of it was so exciting. Can you imagine being able to walk into your backyard and pick a fresh avocado off your very own tree? Hmmm, what do I feel like eating for lunch today? Whatever it is, it will taste better with an avocado…an avocado from that tree that I can see out my kitchen window! A BLT with avocado. A caprese salad with avocado. Endless amounts of fresh guacamole! A dream come true.

Not really being a gardener type, I began to ask around about avocado trees. Are they easy to plant and take care of? Will they do well in our summer heat? Are they expensive? And in the midst of my research, a friend of mine said to me, “Well, you can plant a tree, but it will probably be seven years or more before it produces an avocado you can actually eat.” Wait…what? Seven years? A little more research confirmed that yes, indeed, it would probably take that long. Right then and there, my avocado tree dream died. In my mind, there was no way we would even still be in this house in seven years. SEVEN YEARS! Seven years seemed like an eternity, and while I wanted avocados, I wasn’t in the business of working for seven years to get them.

I really, really, liked the idea of having avocados in my backyard. And while the idea of them magically appearing there was somewhat appealing, I knew that there would be SOME work involved. But it wasn’t a process I was interested in starting if I couldn’t see the finish line in the distance. I needed to know that I was going to get that guacamole sometime before my son (who was then 2) had facial hair. So, we did not plant an avocado tree.

And you know what happened? Three more kids and TWELVE years later, we still live in the same house. Inconceivable! I often stare out into the spot in our yard where the tree might have gone, and think, “If only we had planted that avocado tree!” My son IS beginning to grow facial hair, and I still have to hop in the car and drive to the store every time I feel like that amazing guacamole because I NEVER PLANTED THAT TREE!

And for me, that avocado tree has become a bit of parable for my writing journey.

None of us can know for certain how long it will take to see the fruit of our publication pursuits. But for most of us, the process will be an avocado-tree-like wait. It will take YEARS of work. YEARS of growth. YEARS of patience. But what the avocado tree teaches me is that I cannot allow myself to get discouraged before I even start. This is how my internal monologue goes:

Do you know how many people want to write novels?

Plant the tree.

Getting the words on the page is only the beginning.

Plant the tree.

That daily word count is not nearly enough.

Plant the tree.

You could work on it for years and never get published!

Plant the tree.

There’s not much we can know for sure when it comes to the publishing industry. We could get an amazing email or phone call tomorrow making all of our dreams come true. Or, we could write and submit forever and never see the results we are hoping for.

But what we do know for sure is that if we don’t plant the tree, there will be no avocados.

So, don’t stare out the window wishing you had planted that tree.

PLANT THE TREE!

And then head back inside and enjoy some fresh guacamole.

Posted in Inspiration, Sub Tip | 14 Comments

The Postcard Post: Dana Carey

Today I am thrilled beyond thrilled to have Sub It Club’s Partner in Submission and Postcard Post creator Dana Carey here on The Postcard Post! I’m so glad that Dana has finally had the time to be the interviewee. I have been wanting her to do it for ages! You’ve probably noticed Dana’s fabulous illustrations that we use in various places as Sub It Club’s headers and logos. Today Dana is not only sharing her thoughts on postcards, you get to see some of her adorable picture book illustrations as well. Hooray!

Dana Carey is an author/illustrator. She earned a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design and later, she got a teaching certificate. Now she teaches English to adults and university students. Between classes, Dana dedicates as much time as possible to writing and illustrating picture books. She interviews illustrators for The Postcard Post for Sub It Club.* Based on a picture book dummy submission, she was accepted by the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature for attendance at the One-on-One-Plus conference in 2015. Dana is Assistant Regional Advisor of SCBWI France and International Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI.**
*And she does a great job of it!
** Did you guys realize how awesome she is?!

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?

I work on dummy books for the picture books I write so I often use a full-color image from the story I’m currently working on. Otherwise, I use an image that I think will be eye-catching and has a narrative I can carry over to the postcard back with another image of the same character.

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Postcard front: spread from a dummy book.

Do you prefer text on the front of the postcard with the image or do you prefer all text on the back of the postcard?

It depends. I’m not a purist when it comes to this. I think some images lend themselves well to text and others don’t. I started out as a graphic designer so I always enjoy working on the layout. I think there is a benefit to having text on the front (your name is readily associated with the work) but I’d like to think that anyone who likes your image will have the energy to flip the card over if need be.*
*If they don’t have enough energy for that I’d be wary!

Template Petit format

Postcard back: another page from the same dummy but a sketch this time.

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?

Not really. I usually work on something and then decide it would be good for a postcard. But it could be a good exercise to start that way and see what I come up with.

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?

I’ve never done a series of postcards. The closest I’ve come is making more than one postcard from the same dummy book or doing two postcards from a series of illustrations but without any intention of sending them out as a series. Again, could be a good exercise for me. Especially since it would make me plan postcard mailings in the long-term, over time.

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Postcard front: new characters.

How often do you send out postcards?

Since I’m usually the person asking this questions, I’ve read all kinds of responses to it. I don’t think anyone on The Postcard Post sends out the way I do (probably for good reason!). In order to get started with postcard mailings, I made a deal with myself to send out five each week. I just couldn’t get my brain around sending out a hundred or so at a time. Also, I was overwhelmed with the idea of compiling a list of art directors and editors. I researched everyone on my list, one by one, to see if my work fit at all with their publishing company so five a week with the research needed, was doable for me. Now that I’ve got a running list, I sometimes send out more each time but I’m actually comfortable doing it on a regular basis instead of tons of cards three or four times a year. And this way I spread out the postage costs as I’m in France and at 1 euro 25 cents per postcard, that adds up! I guess we’ll have to look at this as one of my interesting quirks.*
*We each need to find a way to submit that works for us. Yours sounds great!

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Postcard back: the story continues…

Who do you target with your mailings?
I’ve been sending my postcards to editors and art directors in children’s publishing including books and magazines. I have sent to a few agents here and there.*
*Adding in some magazines to your mailings is a great idea!

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?

Expanding on my answer from above, I compile my list slowly. I use SCBWI’s THE BOOK which has some great directories. I double check all the names and addresses by googling so I don’t get too many postcards returned to me. I keep my eyes peeled on twitter for agents and various publishing people who put a call out for postcards. They do sometimes!* And I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have an organized spreadsheet.** I’ve got a Pages doc that I add to as I go along; lots of cut and paste and notes to myself. It looks like a crazy quilt. Now that I’ve got a longer list, I’ve vowed to clean it up and organize it in some kind of spreadsheet. Wish me luck!
*Another great reason for illustrators to be on Twitter!
**Don’t be embarrassed Dana! A lot of people don’t even know how to use spreadsheets. Ahem.

danacarey-postcard-1-front-altsic

Postcard front: the same character’s story continues.

Do you have any tips on the production process?

I use the guidelines provided by the printer (usually in the form of a PDF or Photoshop doc) and put my design together in Photoshop. I was a graphic designer and worked in production so I’m familiar with the rules. Pay special attention to bleed (the area outside the trim), safety and crop (trim) lines. Everything within the safety lines will not be trimmed so keep your type in there. And if your image goes from edge to edge (full bleed), make sure you have enough image to fill the bleed area. If the machine doesn’t trim exactly where it’s supposed to, you won’t end up with blank spots at the edges. As far as type goes, I say keep it simple. It’s tempting to use all those fonts but you want the illustration to be the star without any distracting elements getting in the spotlight.*
*Yes, you definitely want your illustrations to be the star. Love this advice!

danacarey-postcard-1-back

Postcard back: the end!

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I’ve used moo.com which is nice but pricey. I’m on the mailing list so I know about sales: they offer 20- 25% off or no shipping at times which is totally worth the hassle of extra email. I really like pixartprinting.com. They are cheaper and they offer more sizes and are more flexible about quantities. The results so far have been good. They have sales and they don’t charge for delivery. (I use the French website but they are in other countries including the USA.)

Thank you so much Dana for sharing your wonderful insights and your adorable postcards! It is great to get to hear from The Postcard Post guru herself!

If you haven’t had enough Dana, there’s more Dana here:
Illustration portfolio:
http://danacarey.wixsite.com/dana-carey-art
twitter: @danaFR

If you’re joining us for the first time at The Postcard Post, you can catch up with a general article on postcard mailings for illustrators and previous featured illustrators in the archive (there’s a tab above too). And you can see recent posts by clicking on The Postcard Post under CATEGORIES on the right sidebar of this blog.
See you next month.

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Posted in Illustration, Postcards, The Postcard Post | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Wen Baragrey Shares her Query

img_7552-1Today I am thrilled to have Wen Baragrey join us here on the Sub It Club blog! Wen’s book, WHAT GOES UP, is scheduled to be released by Random House in 2018. But before Wen connected with her agent and sold that book she had, of course, done some querying of other projects.

Wen is sharing the pitch from her query on one of those previous projects. She says, “It didn’t land me an agent, but came so close, so many times. I had something like four or five R and Rs on it, a huge request rate, and I really thought it would get an agent. It might have if I’d persisted a bit longer, but I got the idea for the story that eventually DID get me an agent and was distracted :)” Seems like a good reason to me! The query Wen is sharing is for THE PHANTOMIME, which is now published at Storybird. Here is Wen’s query summary:

Thirteen-year-old Poppy Malone (daredevil and aspiring celebrity) is kicked out of drama club for failing math. But, it will take more than that to keep her off the stage, even if her only alternative is a derelict theater. She takes on her brother’s dare to sneak into the abandoned Majestic, where she discovers that for the first time in small-town Riverton’s history, a rumor is true. The theater really is haunted. Killed by an exploding lighting can, a troupe of actors have been stuck there, endphanto-coverlessly rehearsing the play they never got to perform. Now that Poppy has arrived and can see them, they finally have an audience–albeit a rather limited and highly opinionated one.

Unfortunately, a ghost-hunting TV crew plan to film their Halloween special in the Majestic, complete with bonus exorcism. If Poppy can find a way to make the ghosts visible, then they can perform their Phantomime for a real audience and R.I.P. before it’s too late. It’s the role of a lifetime that will make Poppy famous–either as the girl who proved ghosts exist, or for organizing a flop in which all the actors are invisible.

Sounds like a fun read, doesn’t it? I’m not surprised that Wen got so many requests!

Wen Baragrey is a New Zealand earthquake survivor who recently turned tail and ran to the other end of the country to live on a farm, only to find herself surrounded by volcanos, cantankerous livestock, and giant slugs. To keep her mind off it, she writes books for middle graders, an age group she’s never fully outgrown. It still comes as a complete surprise when someone expects her to make an adult decision or sign a check, and she hopes that never changes.

She has previously published three books with her writing partner, Natalie Bahm, on Storybird. Her latest book WHAT GOES UP is due out in 2018 from Random House. Wen is a keen supporter of #ownvoices

You can find Wen at her website www.wenbaragrey.com where you can read her blog and find out about her Read Diverse Books Project. You can also connect with Wen on Facebook and Twitter.
Wen is represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary

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February 2017 Contest Roundup

SIC Contest RoundupHey guys! Wanna hear some exciting news that has nothing to do with submitting your work? (Well, maybe it does a little because I am hoping to be putting your books on the shelves at the library where I work.) My library just got a remodel making the size of the space almost twice as big. We’re moving in books and furniture and organizing it to be a great place for readers. I’m really excited. But also a little tired. I’ve been moving heavy boxes of books around all day. So, I may have missed a contest or two. If you know of any please do link us up in the comments. I did find quite a few good ones coming up!

ETA: Please check the comments on this post for contests as well. A few wonderful Sub It Clubbers have added some great ones I missed!

January:

1/31: Nelson Algren Literary AwardsOpen to short fiction. Enter your story of no more than 8,000 words via Submittable. One grand prize winner to receive $3,500, four finalists awarded $1,000 each and five runners-up  to receive $500 each, plus all stories will be considered for publication in Printers Row, the Tribune’s digital literary journal.

February:

2/5: Carina Press First-Page Critiques – Open to Romance. Enter your first page via Submittable. One entrant will be randomly chosen to receive a editorial feedback from Carina Press editors. Note that the page and feedback will be posted online.

2/6: Association of Illustrators World Illustration AwardsThere is an entry fee for this listing: $33 per Single Entry; $60 per Multiple Entry. The awards are open to many categories of illustration including books, children’s books, and editorial. Winners to receive feature in an exhibition and publication, and special promotion.

valentinywriting-contest20172/14: Valentiny Writing Contest – Enter your Valentine story appropriate for children in which someone is confused. Story must not exceed 214 words. Story to be posted online, see contest rules for details. Prizes include: Picture book critiques from “Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson, literary agent Jodell Sadler, author Andria Rosenbaum, author Jodi McKay, our own Amy Dixon, author Jason Kirschner, a query letter critique from me, and signed books too!

2/15: Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry – Open to residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin. Enter your book length collection of poetry via submittable. Winner to be awarded $10,000.00 plus publication by Milkweed Editions.

2/20: Son of Pitch – Open to YA, NA, Adult. Enter your title, genre, word count, query, and 250 words. Top 20 chosen will go onto a publisher/editor round. There are feedback opportunities starting 2/13. Check the link for details.

2/20: Past-Year Memoir Contest – Enter your 16-word memoir that reflects on 2016. Winner to receive a free class of your choice from Gotham Writers. You must register at Gotham Writers to enter.

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2/23: #PBPitch – Open to picture book writers & writer/illustrators. Pitch your picture book via Twitter using the #PBPitch hashtag between 8am and 8pm EST. Participating agents include Cindy Uh of The Thompson Agency, Jennifer March Soloway of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency, Stephanie Fretwill-Hill of Red Fox Literary, and Vicki Selvaggio of Jennifer DeChiara Literary.

2/24: Pitch Madness – Submit a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of your completed manuscript. A team of readers choose the top 60 entries to move onto coaching and an agent round.

March:

3/6: #SonofaPitch – Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #SonofaPitch hashtag. Include your genre/age category in your tweet. You can tweet any number of manuscripts, but only once every hour each.

3/23: #Pitmad Open to all genres. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #Pitmad hashtag between 8am & 8pm EDT. Only pitch 3 times per project.

Upcoming:

4/1: Scholastic Graphix ContestOpen to Graphic Novels for kids. U.S. Residents only. Up to 5 winners will receive an offer to publish their work with Scholastic and a $15,000 advance.

4/1: Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest – Open to humorous poetry not to exceed 250 lines in length. One entry per person. First prize of $1,000, second prize $250, plus 10 Honorable Mentions receive $100 each and the top 12 entries will be published online. Entry via Submittable.

6/8: #Pitmad Open to all genres. Pitch your manuscript via Twitter using the #Pitmad hashtag between 8am & 8pm EDT. Only pitch 3 times per project.

Know of a great, no fee contest that I missed? Please link us up in the comments!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WANTED: SUB IT CLUB BLOGGERS & HELPERS!

When the New Year comes along it feels like a good time to assess and think things over. I tend to think about what I can do better. I’m not one to make resolutions but I couldn’t help but think about goals when 2017 rolled around. I even started a thread in our Sub It Club Submission Support Group so we could talk about our writing, illustrating, and submission goals for the year. Of course, since I started the thread I had to say some of my own goals — out loud. Nothing like putting things out there for people to see to get me motivated to do them!

Something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now is add more bloggers to Sub It Club. There are so many great people with experience in our Submission Support Group alone and I am certain there are more of you out there reading this blog that haven’t taken the plunge into our great Facebook group yet, so I want to post here on the blog as well.

What am I looking for? I think if we can add people to write about submitting and all that goes along with it in various genres it will be a great help to many Sub It Clubbers. Specifically Adult, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Nonfiction, and Magazines come to mind.

I’d very much like to find someone who is really into contests to take over the Contest Roundup. I do like rounding them up but I know there are people out there who are deep into the contest scene and can bring a fresh view on them.

If you don’t have ideas about what you’d blog about of aren’t a pro at submitting work yet but might like to blog for us, that’s okay! I’m also looking for writers to take on some features I’ve had in mind for a while now but don’t have enough time to do myself. I’d also like to find some assistants for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and WordPress. These can be people who are blogging or you can volunteer to solely help with one of these features. Either way you’ll be on our Partners page.

It’s a big job even thinking about adding bloggers. I keep coming up with questions I need to solve! I love this club. It’s a great place to learn, help others, and get to know people working in the industry. But I want the Club to be even better! So please, if you’re interested get in touch with me just as soon as you can. Email me at SubItClub@gmail.com answering the following:

  • What genre(s) do you work in?
  • How long have you been writing?
  • How much and what types experience do you have with submitting your work? Yes, I want to hear details!
  • What is your attitude toward submitting your work and the responses you get?
  • What are your views on the publishing industry and how it works?
  • How do you feel about collaboration? Are you good at working with others?
  • Are you able to stick to a deadline (i.e. a post date)?
  • Do you have ideas about what you would want to blog about or are you interested in a feature?
  • Please link all the web addresses to your online presence:
  • If none of your links include articles (such as blog posts) please attach a writing sample.

I will be reading all emails, but please be patient with me! I’ve been wanting to do this for some time but I’m also working on requested revisions, taking care of daily Sub It Club duties, writing new stuff, working two jobs (they’re part time, I’m not Super Woman), and living daily life. I do think if we can add some more bloggers in it will be a great thing for all of us so I’m happy to work on it and excited to find some great new people to be a part of the Sub It Club team!

Posted in About the Club | Leave a comment

The Power of Mindset

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My 10-year-old daughter, Gracie, is smart. She’s “I get 100% on standardized tests” kind-of-smart. And while these smarts are wonderful and amazing, they bring with them their own set of issues to be worked out. I’ll never forget her coming home in 2nd grade, sobbing. “What happened?” I asked, bracing myself for a skinned knee or a tale of schoolyard bullying. Instead, Gracie held out a test paper, now polka-dotted with her tears.

“I…I…” she could hardly get out the words, “I forgot a period!” Sure enough, she had missed a single punctuation mark on her weekly dictation test. And she was inconsolable. Her perfect record was forever marred.

My husband and I laugh about her perfectionistic tendencies (I have no idea where those might come from…*cough*cough*) and we reassure her teachers on a regular basis that we don’t actually lock her in a closet every time she comes home with less than 100%. If you know our family, you’ve probably heard me tell her to go get in some trouble. “Have a good day, make good choices…get some detention, maybe?” She’ll look at me like I’m crazy and know that I’m joking—sort of. Having battled my own intense fear of failure, I want so much for my kids to have a different experience. I want them to be more free to fail, to try things, to have fun and not be so concerned about doing it exactly right all the time. But trying to figure out how to develop this can be difficult. How do we encourage their pursuit of excellence while also helping them learn to be gentle with themselves when they encounter failure?

I was a lot like Gracie as a kid. Always feeling like any little failure meant I had to turn in my “smart” card. I didn’t want to try things because it was too great a risk. What if I wasn’t good at it? My identity was wrapped up in being good at things. Who would I be if I couldn’t do it perfectly? So becoming a writer was maybe not the most predictable choice for me. There is no perfection in writing. It’s not a math problem with a definitive answer. There will always be someone who thinks (in the words of one of my very own Amazon book reviews), “This book was okay. I got it from the library and don’t regret it. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.” Gee, thanks. Not the worst review ever, but certainly not a ringing endorsement. And there was a day that a comment like that would have made me quit. If I couldn’t be perfect, I didn’t want to do it.

It is only now, in my 40s, that I am finally starting to understand how these ever-present thoughts have shaped me. In a fabulous book called, MINDSET, psychologist Carol S. Dweck calls this type of thinking a “fixed mindset.” This is the underlying belief that human qualities are fixed. Either you’re smart or you’re not, and failing at something is proof that you’re not.  She says this type of mindset believes that “If you could arrange successes and avoid failures (at all costs), you could stay smart.” She contrasts the fixed mindset with a “growth mindset,” which posits that human qualities can be cultivated. This mindset believes that success is about learning, and failures are a necessary part of becoming what you strive to be. A person with a growth mindset values challenges. They pursue opportunities that stretch them. They risk failure. Growth mindset creates a love of learning and builds resilience. It’s pretty simple stuff, but I have found myself rejoicing that I finally have a vocabulary to talk about these thoughts that have been marinating in me for a long time. I was a fixed mindset kid. Gracie is a fixed mindset kid. Recognizing these mindsets in ourselves is such an important first step. Who doesn’t want to encourage a love of learning and resilience both in our kids and in ourselves? But how do we do it?

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Being a writer has definitely challenged my fixed mindset tendencies, even before I could name them. It has pushed me to be vulnerable in ways I never could have imagined as that kid who frantically tried to protect her “smart” card. Writing for publication means opening yourself up to critique from other writers, agents, editors, and eventually, if we achieve the things we’re working toward…the book-reading world. What kind of mindset do we have as we send our work out? Do we see the failures as opportunities to grow?  Do we seek to be challenged and stretched, even if it means we might be unsuccessful? My guess is that most of us here at Sub It Club do, at least to some degree. It is my suspicion that someone with a fixed mindset when it comes to writing wouldn’t last very long in the publishing world. There are far too many rejections. Too many setbacks. Too many NOs.

But if you are like Gracie and me, and have a tendency toward perfectionism, toward that fixed mindset, I think the first thing we do is call it out. We recognize it in ourselves. And then we work to change it. We tell ourselves that a rejection doesn’t disqualify us from writing. It doesn’t mean we stink. It doesn’t mean we should quit. We tell ourselves that this is how we learn. This is how we build resilience!

And eventually…hopefully…as we hold out that rejection, now polka-dotted with our tears, we start to embrace that one missed punctuation mark as an opportunity for growth.

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