Ramblings · Writing Appearances

2019 Goals Update and Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Current Project

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I can’t believe we are already in May! How are you doing on your goals so far for this year?

2019 Goals Update

2019 Writing Goals Update

I have been making some progress on my writing goals for this year. I am still writing for Hands On As We Grow, writing at least two posts each month for my website’s blog, attending writer’s meetings, and serving as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa.

I have also researched, written a proposal, and submitted a children’s nonfiction project. I did write a rough draft to one children’s book manuscript that will probably not go anywhere beyond my kitchen table and started revising a different children’s book manuscript.

I also submitted an additional children’s book manuscript I had written last year to some literary agents and publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. For those of you who don’t know, unsolicited manuscripts are simply manuscripts that have not been requested by the publisher or represented by a literary agent. I haven’t been able to get either of the children’s books I submitted this year accepted by a publisher or literary agent (hopefully yet).

Although I have received quite a few rejection letters this year, I still have been able to have some of my works accepted. My proposals for course ideas were approved, and I have created two courses for SchoolhouseTeachers.com (only the one called Foods and Food Production has been published so far).

Foods and Food Production

I also wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse, which should be published sometime this year in a resource they are putting together for homeschool parents.

In addition to that, I received an email saying that a short true humorous writing I submitted to Reader’s Digest in September of 2017 should be published in an upcoming issue. I had forgotten about that writing and was surprised to hear something about it 20 months later, but I am excited to have it published!

So, the goals I have not completed yet include attending an SCBWI conference (which I hope to do in September), being accepted by a literary agent, working on a nonfiction project for adults (not sure if I am still wanting to pursue this idea), possibly joining Twitter, and doing at least one school visit or storytime.

I recently came up with a new idea that was not written as one of my goals for this year, which I have just started working on. I thought it would be fun to share a behind-the-scenes peek of this project with you.

Behind-The-Scenes Peek

Both of my daughters enjoy writing, and they have recently been reading quite a few books about writing and writing prompts.

Two of the books they have really enjoyed include:

The Creativity Project edited by Colby Sharp


Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine.

As they have been doing their own writing research and writing projects, I thought it would be fun to create a journal filled with 52 adventurous writing prompts for kids. I chose the number 52 so there is one writing prompt for each week of the year.

After deciding I wanted to create adventurous writing prompts, I did some research on Amazon looking at styles of other writing prompt journals for kids. The “look inside” feature has been so helpful!

Some questions I asked myself as I was looking at the other writing prompt journals for kids included:

  1. How many other writing prompt journals are there?
  2. How many reviews are there for each?
  3. What do the reviews say (both positive and negative)?
  4. How is the interior laid out?
  5. What is the size of the book?
  6. Who published the book?
  7. How can mine be different/better?
  8. What did the book description say?
  9. What is the cost?
  10. What are the recommended ages?

It appeared there were many positive reviews for the writing prompt journals that were available, so there seems to be a desire (possibly even a need) for them. I decided what I am wanting to create will be different in style and technique, so it wouldn’t appear I was merely copying someone else’s journal. I also noticed many of them were self-published, and they still had quite a few reviews.

I decided I would move forward with the idea of an adventurous writing prompt journal for kids. I had used Createspace (owned by Amazon) when I self-published Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and Jobs of a Preschooler, which I thought worked out quite well. Createspace; however, no longer publishes books, and my previously published books have been moved over to KDP Print (also owned by Amazon).

When books are traditionally published, authors don’t have to worry about all of the formatting, illustrations, and layout designs. Since this will be self-published, I will need to make sure I understand how to properly format it. So, I have been doing some research on how to use KDP Print and properly format books.

Here are two pages I printed from KDP Print’s instructions about formatting books.

I looked at other books and notebooks I have at home (along with the journals found on Amazon) and decided I would like the journal to be 9.25″x7.5″. Using a template found on KDP, I determined the paper size and the margins I need.

I want to include pictures within my journal, so I searched Pixabay for photos available for commercial use. I found quite a few that I am interested in and signed up for an account with Pixabay (which isn’t required).

Signing up for the account actually took longer than I was expecting because I had to create a username and password and click on pictures shown on one of those Captcha pages to make sure I wasn’t a robot (which I always seem to have issues with) only to be told the username had already been taken. I finally (after about twenty minutes) was able to use the sixth user name I chose.

I noticed many of the journals on Amazon were plain on top, and I want something that stands out a little more. I experimented with a few different designs using a compass (found on Pixabay) on the top, so that I can number the writing prompts.

I tried a plain compass with a number in the middle, a compass on a map with a number in the middle, and the plain compass with a number in the middle with a border around the entire page. Trying to get the number in the middle of the compass proved to be a little challenging for me, but I got it!

I personally like the border around the entire page, but I decided to ask my daughters what they thought individually.

They both agreed the border around the entire page with the simple compass looked the best, so that is what I am going to attempt to do. Hopefully, I can figure out how to format the border properly taking into account the margins, trim size, and gutter. I’m not very computer savvy, so it will be interesting.

Even though I will be numbering the writing prompts at the top of the page, I would really like to have a page number at the bottom of each of the pages. So, I experimented with that for a little bit, too.

I like the numbers that look like “-1-” better than just “1”, so I hope to do that on the pages that have the lines. Unfortunately, I am having difficulty figuring out how to put the page numbers on the bottoms of the pages when they have a border. I guess I will have to do some research to see if it is even possible with the program I have.

I then printed off a few variations of lines on pages to determine how far apart I wanted them. I noticed some of the negative reviews on journals were due to the fact that the lines were too close together making it a challenge to write.

I felt like Goldilocks: The first lines were too close together, the next lines were too far apart, but the third lines seemed just right until…my daughter looked at them and said the lines were too dark.

Hmmm. Something I hadn’t considered.

So, I played around with different fonts to make the lines less bold while still keeping them the same distance apart as the third set of lines (since we had all agreed that was the right distance).

My one daughter liked the less bold lines, but my other daughter disapproved. I guess that’s something else I will have to play around with a little more.

I had noticed some of the negative reviews on other writing journals stated there were not enough lines to write a full response to the writing prompt, so I want to make sure I have plenty of space for the writing prompts. I also really want to include pictures that correspond with the writing prompts since many positive reviews reflected on how much the pictures were appreciated.

The pictures are going to have to be printed grayscale within the journal because having color pictures throughout raises the cost of them considerably. I personally like the look of the grayscale pictures, and the other journals I saw that included pictures did use grayscale pictures, too.

I printed a page with a picture taking up only half a page with lines on top and another page with the same picture taking up the entire page. I definitely like the whole page picture better because it stands out so much more and because that allows me even more space for lines.

Next, I tried to determine whether the full page picture would be better right before the writing prompt or right after the page of lines for the writing prompt.

Both of my daughters and I ended up agreeing it would probably be better to have the full page picture immediately before the writing prompt.

Then, I had to choose which font looked best for the actual writing prompt portion. I was trying to find something that would fit with the adventurous theme yet still be easily legible.

It took some time, but my daughters and I finally all agreed on one font. For now at least. We’ll see if the final journal still has the same font.

I played around with single spacing and double spacing with the writing prompts and decided the single spacing looked much better.

I took quite a few notes on the pages I had printed so I can refer back to them later. This also reaffirmed that the line spacing we chose seems to be the best fit.

While previewing the other writing prompt journals, I noticed some of them start immediately with the writing prompts while others have a page for the owner to write his or her name.

I really liked the ones that had the additional name page, so I played around with a picture and created a name page.

This Journal Belongs to...

I put together a list of other possible additional pages such as title page, copyright page, a note to the writer (introduction), Table of Contents, and credits for pictures page. I’m not sure if I will include all of these pages, but it is something for me to consider.

Now that I have some of the nitty-gritty details figured out (which may end up being changed as I progress on this project), I should probably actually write the writing prompts using the list of 55 adventurous topics to include within the journal I created. I included a few extras in case some can’t be used for some reason.

Once I have all of the writing prompts completed, I will attempt to format all of the pages properly, decide on a title,  create a cover, choose a selling price, and upload the manuscript and cover to KDP Print. Hopefully, I will actually complete this journal within the next few months- my newest goal!

Do you have any suggestions for this adventurous writing prompt journal for kids?


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