Thursday, April 30, 2009


You've heard of NaNoWriMo, the challenge to write one complete novel during the month of November. But what the heck is NaPiBoWriWee?

It's a funny acronynm for National Picture Book Writing Week-- duh!

Since Paula Yoo announced the challenge on her blog, writers of all skill levels have joined in. I'm one of them. Why? I have no idea. I have too much on my plate already. But I haven't been doing enough writing lately, so I figured why not?

Tonight I will spend some time coming up with 7 picture book ideas that I will flesh out into full picture books with a beginning, middle and end, during the next 7 days.

It sounds impossible to me; Picture books always take me months to write (they're hard little buggers!) but, hey, I'm up for a challenge.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I wish I had known about this earlier...

The MFA Weblog is a must-read for anyone considering an MFA program or already enrolled in one. This blog has information on everything from getting in to financial aid, to the best programs in particular genres. If you or someone you know is considering an MFA, check it out for some honest and helpful advice!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Don't forget:

Books have less fat than candy, aren't sugary like jellybeans, won't make you sick (don't belive the CPSIA!) and don't have any carbs.

Not to mention giving a kid a book helps him develop phoentic awareness and other skills he needs to succeed in school. A good book will be picked up again and again by an eager child and will never go out of style. When a child's toys are being tossed aside and his clothes are outgrown, a book will still sit on a shelf, be re-read and re-loved.

Give the gift of a book this Easter, because it will last longer than anything else you can pack into an Easter basket.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How Do You Tell Someone?

I recently had someone send me an e-mail about after seeing me mention that I dealt with them when I was a teenager. I had referred to it as a "scam" and they couldn't figure out why.

How do you bring up a topic like that to someone? is a scam in the sense that they are only out to get your money. Yes, they publish your poem in a book. No, you can't buy it at any bookstores anywhere. It's a giant book that will cost you way too much to purchase, and your poem will probably be small and insignificant in a stream of other poems. will publish anything. People have purposely submitted terrible poetry to them, and they got published!

To cap it all off, they tempt you with awards and honors, then expect you to pay to get them! For more information, see some of the complaints.

So, how do you tell someone so excited about writing that they are falling into a trap? I was just a teenager when they lured me in, but I know many adults who have fallen for it too. I still look at that "published" poem differently now, after I figured it out. I hate to break someone's heart, but part of me thinks that once they figure it out by themselves, they'll be much stronger for it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cool Link: Authonomy

Authonomy is a new website from Harper Collins with the goal of finding fresh, new writing talent.

From the website:

"authonomyTM is a brand new community site for writers, readers and publishers, conceived and developed by book editors at HarperCollins. We want to flush out the brightest, freshest new literature around - we’re glad you stopped by."

Users are asked to upload at least 10,000 words of their completed or in-progress novel. Authonomy is for serious writers, and the 10,000 word count is meant to weed out writers who will not finish their novels. Fellow writers/Authonomy users read and rate the novels, with the highest rated novels moving on to editors at Harper Collins for publication consideration!

Harper Collins does not promise to publish anyone who uploads their book. However, the prospect of getting their work seen by editors has intrigued the thousands of writers who have joined the site so far.

If Authonomy is any indication, the publishing community may be moving into a new, more creative area of submissions.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Children's Poet Laureate

In late 2006, the Poetry Foundation named Jack Prelutsky the first ever Children's Poet Laureate. The position was created to raise awareness of the importance of children's poetry as a means of getting children to love both poetry and reading.

In late 2008, poet Mary Ann Hoberman was named the new Children's Poet Laureate. Hoberman is the author of over 40 books for children, including A House is a House for Me, which won the National Book Award.

In addition to raising awareness about poetry for children, the position brings new hope to children's writers with a poetry background, like myself. I find it hard to write poetry for kids that doesn't sound condescending or too babyish. But by reading and studying poets like Prelutsky and Hoberman, I can learn more about perfecting the genre. There is definitely a market out there for children's poetry!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

There's No Such Thing as Writer's Block

Someone once told me there's no such thing as writer's block. Some days, I don't believe them. But most of the time, I am inclined to agree. Writer's block is in your head!

"Writer's block" can occur for a variety of reasons. Think of some of the times you haven't been able to write one word. Chances are, one of these things applied:

1) You were stressed or otherwise too preoccupied to think of ideas or concentrate enough to put them down on paper.
2) You were stressed or otherwise too preccupied with real life to have the time to put your ideas on paper.
3) You hadn't been living life enough and you didn't have a single thing to write about.

Many people will tell you that free-writing, brainstorming, or writing with prompts will get your writing juices flowing again. And that can be true, to an extent. But if your situation is anything like #1 or #2 listed above, you must learn to take care of things before you sit down to write. Always sit down to write with a clear mind, uncluttered of worries and responsibilities. Think "I love doing this and it will help me relax." If your writing must wait until your baby is asleep, your dog no longer smells like skunk, and your husband has been fed, then that's when you must do it.

If your situation is #3, walk away from your desk, go outside, meet some people, walk around the park, observe some children, get on the bus, watch the people come on and off and make up their life stories, go shopping for new sneakers, join a pick-up basketball game in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and THEN come home and tell me you have nothing to write about!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Poet in ME?

I sometimes refer to myself as an ex-poet. I've had some people, mostly poets, give me strange looks and say that's not possible. Once you become a poet, you start thinking like a poet, and you can never think differently.

And I guess that's true. I have never stopped looking at the world differently than the average person. I still see the beauty in everything. I guess the difference is, I'm directing those thoughts into different places now. Instead of writing a detailed, descriptive poem about a young boy and his grandma riding a city bus, I work it into a picture book. I tend to focus my attention more on children than adults. I also tend to focus on the outside world, not inside my own head. My poems tend to be self-reflective, but my picture books and novels examine the larger picture. Of course, I still use my own experiences when I write for kids, but they are mixed with things I've seen or heard kids do while out and about in the "real world."

I wonder sometimes if my lack of poetic moments lately is because I'm not living enough. I'm not out doing things and experiencing the world as much as I would like. I spend most of my time teaching or writing.

When I talk about why I pushed poetry aside, a few reasons keep creeping up:
  • The need to be someone other than "me" in my work. Persona poems couldn't do it. People still thought I was being me.
  • The inability to please myself and an audience at the same time. The audience at that point was mainly professors and other students.
  • The feeling of being confined in twelve or so lines. It's odd, I used to never be able to write poems longer than fifteen lines. Now, I can't seem to get away from writing whole novels worth of stuff. It's liberating.
  • The realization that I probably will never make money off of, or even publish, a book of poetry. Sad as it is, it's true. Publishing poetry is one of the hardest things to do, and if I couldn't do it "right" then I wasn't going to do it.
  • The feeling that I needed to fit a "mold." Poets are picky. As a poetry student, I was told to follow all kinds of unwritten, contradictory rules. It was frustrating, and it sucked creativity out of me. Writing for kids is much more freeing. Just think of all the areas you can experiment with: non-fiction, picture books, rebus stories, poetry, middle grade fiction, YA novels, chick lit, fantasy, povels, the list goes on and on.

So the fact that I haven't finished a poem in over year doesn't really scare me. That I'm moving beyond 6+ years of doing the same thing every day excites me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

More about Rebekah Redeemed

Read a thrilling excerpt from Rebekah Redeemed by Dianne Sagan:

Benjamin sized up the little girl. A flicker of recognition in the older man’s eyes quickly turned to ice. Stepping closer he reached down to the child and she pulled away. “Look at me, child,” he commanded with a little less animosity in his voice.

Rebekah lifted her chin and looked into her uncle’s brown, lined face. He pushed the shawl off her stringy brown hair, and for a moment the lines in his face softened and his eyes showed compassion. “You look like your mother,” he mumbled to himself. Then he stood back, cleared his throat and narrowed his eyes once more.

“You want me to take her in, is that it?”

“Yes. We have little and cannot take her as our own.”

“What is in it for my wife and me?”

“She is strong and a good worker. She is good with lambs. She can help with cooking and drawing water. I know she looks small, but she is strong and obedient. She could be a useful addition to your household. A daughter is not like having a son, but they can work.” Caleb tried to sell the idea to the shopkeeper.

“Well,” he sized up the child and scratched his bearded chin. “She could help my wife.” He stood in silence, strolled out into the street, and looked up and down at his friends and neighbors.
Then, turning on his heel, he walked back to Caleb and said without emotion, “You asked around the village for me? Others know of the child?”

“We asked people so we could find you.”

With one more glance up and down the street, Benjamin saw the rabbi walking toward them. “The Torah does say that we are to care for orphans and widows. She is my dead sister’s child, no matter what else happened between us. I will take her in, but not as a member of my family.”
“Shalom. May you...”

Benjamin reached for the girl. He interrupted Caleb, “I will not pay you for her. Go back where you came from. I take her because it is my duty under the Law of Moses.”

Caleb turned to go. Benjamin pushed Rebekah toward the back of the shop. She looked over her shoulder at her father’s friend for the last time.

“Come. You must meet your mistress. You have taken up enough time. I have a business to run and customers to serve.” He spoke as if he were an important man.

Rebekah stepped through the door into a small courtyard and into a new life. She prayed silently that it would get no worse.

Rebekah Redeemed, Dianne G Sagan © 2009 Dianne G Sagan

Purchase Rebekah Redeemed at or

Thursday, April 2, 2009

For the Poet in You!

Happy National Poetry Month! April was a big deal when I was an English major in college. We would have readings and get-togethers, even chalk the sidewalks with poetry.

Poetic Asides is hosting a month long challenge/competition for the poets out there. Write one poem every day all month, based on the given prompt. Your poem could end up in an e-book at the end of the month. But hey, even if it doesn't, you can still have the satisfaction of knowing that you wrote 30 poems in one month!

Reminds me of the NaNoWriMo challenge for novelists that happens every November. Only harder somehow. Don't think you'll be seeing this out of practice poet taking this challenge!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

About Dianne Sagan, author of Rebekah Redeemed

Dianne Sagan was raised in Texas and is now a full-time ghostwriter and author. Her credits include 35+ editorials for the Amarillo Globe News, a regional newspaper, in addition to short stories and articles published on the internet. Dianne’s works in progress include a flash fiction book with five other women writers, Women’s Bible studies, a series of suspense novels, and Christian fiction. Dianne is working on a line of ebooks. She is active in her church. Her activities there include teaching Women’s Bible studies, teaching Adult Sunday School, and choir. She served as a volunteer for five years with the Sharing Hope Ministry, a prison ministry to incarcerated women. She has also been a Small Group leader. Besides being a full-time writer, Dianne and her husband Greg own a business consulting firm, Sagan & Associates. She is a partner and seminar facilitator. She loves speaking to writer’s groups and women’s groups. Her background includes working in the private sector, small business, academia, non-profits, adult and youth training, and speaking. A member of Panhandle Professional Writers, she can be contacted through her website – Dianne Sagan, Writer –

Summary of Rebekah Redeemed:

Orphaned Rebekah becomes a servant in her uncle’s house in Bethany. Traded from relative to relative, she suffers neglect and abuse. When a Roman soldier assaults her, she flees in fear of her life and hides. Rebekah is discovered and Lazarus becomes her kinsman redeemer. Can Jesus redeem her soul? Can she forgive or break the chains of her past?

Rebekah Redeemed
Buoy Up Press
An imprint of AWOC.COM Publishing
P.O. Box 2819
Denton, TX 76202
Visit Diane Sagan at:
Stay tuned for more about Diane Sagan and Rebekah Redeemed!