Conspiring with the Universe

You know that feeling when you listen to your gut and let your intuition do its thing? Amazing, right? That’s how I feel every time I sit down to write a children’s story. I’m not saying that every second of every day feels amazing. In fact, revision and waiting and rejection feel a lot like agony, and sometimes the long, winding, seemingly endless path to publication seems a lot less cordial than the Yellow Brick Road.

Still! It’s all so worth it.

And you know when you’re doing something you love and it seems like good things start coming your way? I feel like that now. Since dedicating myself to kidlit in late 2015, I’ve discovered how incredible the children’s literature community is, both in real life and virtually. The support is immense. The array of information available is intense. The learning opportunities are infinite. I’ve made friends, taken classes, gone to workshops and conferences, read over 1000 books…

My dream of seeing my own books up on the shelf is still a long way off, but I’m every bit (if not more) inspired to continue down this path today. I’m at my best when I’m constantly expanding my curiosity, utilizing my creativity, experimenting with form, putting words on a page.

In the less glamorous moments of self-doubt, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a few twinkling little lights of encouragement help guide me in the dark. The latest glimmer is a mentorship I was awarded in January through a wonderful contest called Writing With The Stars.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Peter McCleery, whose debut picture book came out last month. BOB AND JOSS GET LOST! is sublime. You must check it out if you haven’t already discovered it. It was an instant new favorite in our household. (It had me at Scuttlebutt.)

Peter’s gentle yet firm way has helped steer me in a better direction and clue me in about the craft and real life of a working kidlit writer. He doesn’t hold back with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and have already learned so much. I am excited to see where Peter’s journey takes him. Thank you, Peter! And thank you, Universe! On to the next chapter I go…

Embracing the Kidlit Love!

I’ve held onto these children’s stories in my head for way too long. Now it’s time to write them up and share them with the world!

Confession:  I have loved something my whole life long and have never announced it publicly.

This infatuation began in preschool. It grew and grew and I heard it LOUDLY at first. Then it simmered quietly for years. Now it’s LOUD again and I refuse to quiet it.

I LOVE CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!

There, I said it. That feels better. I particularly love picture books but a special place in my heart exists for young adult and middle grade novels, too. I’ve rediscovered how fabulous children’s magazines are, too. And non-fiction textbooks and and…

Sure, having my own little preschooler in the house helps with this reacquainting. But it’s been a long time coming.

Cases in point:

-As a sick preschooler at the doctor’s office one day, I found several free “sign me up for a subscription” postcards in a copy of Highlights. I sent them all in. The company called my parents to make sure they really wanted something like twenty copies of the magazine.

-I taught myself to read at age 4 and haven’t stopped reading to my younger sister, my parents, my dog, or anyone else who would listen (or didn’t have a choice!) ever since. As a kid I even read newspapers, phone books, maps, and dictionaries aloud to my (very patient) family members.

-In my childhood room I built and organized my own library. It even had a card catalog, a kid-version of the Dewey decimal system, stamps, and library cards.

-My very favorite thing each year from elementary through high school was participating in our county-wide literary festival. I won several awards for my writing, which made me feel proud and accomplished. But my absolute favorite part of it was going to the writing workshops given by real authors and talking to them afterwards. I wanted, knew even, that one day I wanted to be like them.

-I became a teacher mainly to (don’t tell!) read books aloud and have an excuse to read children’s stories. (This became a little more difficult to keep secret when I was teaching older kids and adults. But I firmly believe a good picture book can be useful in classrooms of ANY age.)

I don’t just read these books anymore. Now I write them!

I’ve written for adults for a long time. I’ve taught kids and adults how to write for a long time. But in 2015 I shifted my focus finally and entirely to my first true love, children’s literature.

I finally joined the fantastic SCBWI and participated in PiBoIdMo (and now, StoryStorm). Since then things have taken off. I participated in the 12×12 Challenge, have attended numerous workshops and webinars, belong to two thriving critique groups, and am generally doing all I can to hone my craft and learn about this market. I even had a very unexpected and flattering offer of representation from an agent! It was tough to pass this up, but it was the right decision. I’ve got my wide-angled lenses on and know that the right match will come in time.

I am up to my ears in kidlit and I’m loving it!

This is an amazing and daunting journey. Please feel free to share tips, insights, resources, or ideas at any point along the way. I’m excited (and terrified) to embark on this new adventure. And I’m equally terrified (and excited) to shout this news to “the world” (or at least my family and friends and a tiny sliver of the blogosphere). Hi, world!

Writing Up A Storm

coal sun skyAfter teaching all spring and traveling most of the summer, I’m back to writing lots lately and here’s my proof. I’m a new contributor at Portland City Moms Blog. That has been a lot of fun and is inspiring me to resurrect my personal blog. I’m also working on some fun children’s writing that has been bursting to spill out of me for way too long. Keep checking back for updates! Oh, and even though I’m busy with those projects, I’m always up for more. Contact me anytime if you have any writing, editing, or proofreading needs!

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Here’s a link to my archives at Portland City Moms Blog:  http://portland.citymomsblog.com/author/mkresk/

Current Projects

jane'sbook5091930_origI’ve been away from this blog for way too long, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. Besides moving to a new state, teaching, parenting, and working on some creative writing, I’ve continued to write some feature articles for two regional magazines in Washington state. I’ve also recently edited a book that’s been released. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, check it out!

By The River

How do you morph a life-changing two week trip into 400 words or less?

The local newspaper in my town kindly gave me a prominent, regular column during my recent humanitarian trip with a medical team and Rotary group to Haiti. It was great exposure and I’m so glad people have shared that this perspective helped bring this far-off country alive to them. But friends and strangers alike were pretty clear that some of the edited versions in the paper were a little disjointed. I think it was tough for the publisher to whittle such a life-encompassing trip down to several hundred words. I’m glad he used what he could and believe me, I wish I’d had more time and restful brainpower while I was there to severely edit some of my own stream-of-consciousness wordflow that spewed through my fingers straight to the keyboard. But we both did what we could. Check out my blog if you’d like to read a fuller account of the shortened bits that were in the paper, or look here for longer accounts that the local paper has kept online.