Natalie Fischer. (Scroll all the way down for that, if you don't want to read the touch-feely-we-love-you-all stuff that's about to come.)
A very little less than a year ago, Marissa and I had barely heard of blogging. I couldn't have explained a Tweet if someoned threatened to have a bird poop on my head. Then the two of us grabbed our Starbucks and made an early-morning trudge out to Middle-of-nowhere, Maryland for a regional SCBWI conference. After a lot of great craft stuff, we listened to Mark McVeigh talk about how important it is for writers to blog. He made it sound so easy. Just write something (right, like we had anything to say!), comment on a couple of other blogs, and next thing you know....
It's the Community, Stupid
I don't even remember how we found the first blogs to read. I know Casey McCormick's Literary Rambles was one of the first we followed. But the magical thing we discovered is that blogging isn't about what you have to say. It's about plugging into a community, sharing thoughts, learning together, and growing together.
Over the past year, Marissa and I have cheered when writers we've come to love and respect finished projects, found agents, got contracts, or hit the bookshelves. We've commiserated with those that are out there struggling (um, yeah, we're not alone). We've watched ideas being born, met new critique partners, made friends we will have for the rest of our lives.... We've been humbled (and daunted) by the sheer amount of talent out there that we are competing against. Thing is, it doesn't feel like a competition. The YA and Kidlit world is incredible that way. Instead of tearing writers down or feeling closed-off and elitist, the world of children's publishing is generous, welcoming, and dedicated to genuinely developing the best writers and books to put in the hands of our kids and young adults.
Marissa and I didn't start ACP to share what we know (which isn't near enough). Like so many others, we're here to share what we're learning and reading. The best part of starting to blog was discovering all the amazing blogs that are already out there for writers.
The blogosphere is a free MFA program. Heck, there are so many great posts every day, we've had to stop visiting them individually and resorted to Google Reader to keep up with our favorites.
Even then the blog has grown beyond us. Marissa is kept hopping connecting with all the authors who are kind enough to provide interviews and giveaways for the In Stores This Week Feature. Cambria Dillon has come in to help with the Tuesday craft posts. We've learned so much from all the debut and seasoned writers who join us on WOW Wednesdays to tell us about what they've learned on their road to publication, and Clara Kensie is really digging in to the Google Reading to help us scout the best posts for the Friday This Week for Writers round-up.
Staring this Saturday, we will begin a monthly workshop going over the first five pages of the first five manuscripts submitted. The brilliant Lisa Gail Green will be joining us to help with that.
And Now, Natalie Fischer!
In the past year, Marissa and I have discovered that blogging in the world of children's writing and publishing is about sharing and giving back. So that's what we want to do. And we're very lucky to be able to give back to one of the generous people who have supported us by giving them an opportunity to get a step closer to publication.
Wonderful agent, Natalie Fischer, formerly at Sandra Dijkstra and now at the Laura Bradford Agency, has very generously agreed to donate a first-chapter critique. The rules will be simple. We'll put up a post on the 10th, which is our actual anniversary. Then we'll pick the winner from among our followers who comment on that post.
A Shameless Plug
We are so grateful to all of you who follow us via Google blogs, Networked Blogs, Feedburner, email, and Twitter. We're blessed, astonished, and awed by how many that is. We'd love to hit nice round numbers like 1000 blog followers and 2000 Twitter followersby our anniversary so we could celebrate everything all at once. If you know anyone who might enjoy what we do here, please spread the word.
Thank you to all of you who have been with us on every step of our journey. We'll have a special thanks coming on the 10th for all your reading, commenting, retweeting, cheerleading, and just plain hanging with us. But since we can't possibly say it enough--thank you, thank you, and thank you.
With much love and appreciation,
Martina and Marissa