signedink.org is now live! For those that don’t know, for years I’ve been searching for D/deaf/hard of hearing writers and illustrators to join me on an amazing mission. After lots of searching I created the group Signed Ink. This is our group mission statement:
We are D/deaf/hard of hearing creatives, authors and illustrators who write and/or illustrate books for children, teens, and adult audiences. We champion imagination and support all diverse forms of deaf-gain. We believe that there is no wrong way to be D/deaf or hard of hearing (HOH). Each individual has a unique and colorful journey and we champion each one. We believe it is a D/deaf person’s right to choose which tools they use to communicate with the world—be it a signed-language (like ASL), hearing aids, cochlear implants (CI’s), Signed English, or their voice(s) in written or oral form, etc. We advocate the importance of providing D/deaf children with a full language that is accessible to them, one that prevents language deprivation, encourages literacy, and provides equal access to language and communication. We champion diverse D/deaf/HOH voices and culture(s) in literature and strive to educate the hearing and KidLit community about D/deaf/HOH experiences across the deaf gain spectrum. Through storytelling (words, illustrations, and signs) and advocacy, we stand to unite the gap between the hearing and the D/deaf and aim to provide resources for parents, librarians, and educators who aid in helping others understand the D/deaf experiences and promote D/deaf literacy and learning. We wholeheartedly believe that D/deaf children deserve to see themselves in the pages of books—reinforcing how much they matter—that they are valuable, and that they are understood.
The School Library Journal (SLJ) published an article I wrote introducing our author’s and illustator’s. You can find it here! I’m extremely proud of this article as it showcases D/deaf and hard of hearing authors and illustrators with a conversation about imagination and creativity. If you are a D/deaf or hard of hearing author or illustrator wishing to join us, please contact us at: info (at) signedink (dot) org. A logo,Twitter account, Facebook page (and possibly and Instagram account) are in the works so keep your eyes peeled for more, including regular website posts that support our mission statement in relation to deaf representation in books.
Oh my, 2021 is nearly over! It has been another wild ride. I used my WNDB Walter grant money to purchase a new computer, which helped so much! I took on another job after moving to NC which of course took a bite out of my writing time and I’ve had to FOCUS tremendously to carve out time for finishing my novel. I’ve done writing sprints, for 10-20 minutes at a time. I’ve come home from work and crash landed at my computer just so I didn’t lose that busy bee momentum, and kept typing until dinner or bed. Then there have been days where admittedly I did not write at all because I was far too exhausted, but I assure you my brain was thinking up thoughts, ways to add to the story some clever colorful detail, no matter how delectable, or dull the thought might have been, I thunk it! Through it all, I finally finished my MG historical fantasy novel. I revised it MANY times, and wrote my query letter and synopsis. I researched literary agents, and at long last, I have queried. My book is out there . . . in the hands of agents! As I type this, two agents who requested the full manuscript are ACTUALLY READING MY NOVEL!
Last night, after telling my family that an agent requested the full manuscript, my son came to me and drew a bit of love on my paper, a four leaf clover with a dog named Walter who is a bit of a local celebrity around here, if you know where to look. Now if you know my son, you know that dogs are his happy place, he adores dogs, they are sacred to him. They are floofy and fluffy, and can do no wrong. So to see that drawn by him, well, that made me feel all the happy feels a mama can feel. My daughter shared a big hug with me, and I know the hubs was also super proud of this milestone of mine. They have all been a huge support. So, no matter what happens next I have my familia by my side, to join me in the next adventure, the next book, the next challenge. In between all these writing moments are moments of fun, moments shared with familia, and those are the moments that get me from one writing goal to the next, time and time again.
If anyone is needing a bit of luck, here’s Walter with his four leaf clover and contagious smile, which I hope you all catch:
Sometimes magic is found in the most unlikely places. For me a dash of that magic was found sprinkled throughout 2020. While 2020 was a bit of a challenge to many, including myself (face masks and being deaf don’t go well together), I’m happy to say it has also felt like I’ve been working with a bit of magic as well. It has truly been memorable and I’m grateful for the growth I’ve experienced. I was the recipient of the 2020 SCBWI IPOC Scholarship that allowed me to attend my first full SCBWI conference in which I also received feedback on my MG historical fantasy novel from a literary agent. I, of course, was thrilled with the constructive feedback.
I also applied for a mentorship with Las Musas and ended up being matched with author Jennifer Torres! This mentorship has been so valuable. I’ve been inspired throughout and the mentorship isn’t even finished yet. I’ve been able to focus and push forward with my novel in ways I never expected. It’s extraordinary how an outside perspective can be so helpful. Writing can be a lonely profession but the KidLit community is so kind, helpful, and generous that you can’t help but be ecstatic to be a part of it, and I hope to pay it forward some day.
Lots of great things happened in 2020 for me. On top of purchasing a beautiful home in NC, I also discovered the ending to my novel and I’m still getting it down on paper. It is wonderful how it has come together. If it hadn’t been for my years in FL, and my local critique group there who encouraged me to write MG I never would have ventured down that path. I would still be writing picture books and nothing more. To top off the year, I was able to apply for the WNDB Walter Grant and am still hoping I have a chance at it since I’ve not received a response turning me down. One can hope. Now, life in 2020 hasn’t all been roses and I’ve actually experienced a lot of physical pain this year, but my point, my friends is that I’ve chosen to focus on the good, the positive, the things that brought me joy and it made 2020 magical. I’ve felt like someone from above is sprinkling pixie dust on me and all I needed to do to let my talents soar was to think happy thoughts, so I did. What were some magical experiences from your 2020 year?
The year was so busy I felt like a bumbling bee bumping into everything but the flowers I intended to encounter. The year was long and much of it went by in a blur, but not without some good lessons. I moved from NC to The FL Space Coast which was rough. I walked the beach a lot, almost every day after our move to FL because it is one of my anchors in times of lots of change. It truly calms me. After adjusting from the move I found this amazing writing critique group and we meet in person each week. I’ve learned so much from them. I found a job as a media assistant at an arts elementary school and love it! That put me in overdrive, but I’m still loving it because I’m curious beyond infinity (yes, I know realistically that doesn’t make sense but it’s fun saying it). I learned I shouldn’t let anyone dull my sparkle, and how to pace myself in my writing. With that said, my word for 2019 is PAUSE. I will:
Pause to enjoy the things I love, curious things, and mi familia.
Pause when I make mistakes to ponder on what I learned and to plan for improvement.
Pause when I’m being my worst critic so that I have time to make a U-turn and switch to positivity and constructive things instead.
Pause when I’m not brimful of happiness, or balance so I can regain my wits and fill my lamp with light and love to edify others.
So with that, I leave you a token from one of my many beach adventures:
I was told I can enter a photo for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Illustrator Contest with the illustration prompt “discovery.” I love that she has added this fun contest for illustrators, very exciting stuff! Well, since I had a crazy amount of fun painting this piece I wanted to post it here for those of you who are not on other social media and may not see it. If you click on the image it enlarges it. 🙂
A pen in never land (noun): a children's book author and aficionado of sorts who is dutifully dedicated to zany wit, splendidly ticklish words, whimsical over-the-top fun, imagination, downright wonderful kidlit, and exceptional illustrations and art.Come along--"second star (I should probably say book) to the right and straight on til' morning," but don't be surprised if you never grow up!