We hope that sharing the accomplishments of our writing students will help inspire other teachers and aspiring writers. Today I am honored to introduce you to Cathy Cronin.
Cathy was a student in a Continuing Education class I taught on Writing for Children and Young Adults at the College of DuPage in the summer of 2001. (One of her classmates, Laura Crawford, is another Student Success Story.) Cathy is a writer, poet, blogger, and a busy mother of three. Her poems have been published in a number of magazines for children. One of her poems also appears in the anthology, Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems (Cricket Books). Cathy is donating a copy of Ladybug, Ladybug for our giveaway today in honor of National Poetry Month. (If you haven't been following our own April Halprin Wayland's Poem-A-Day challenge, I encourage you to do so here.) Instructions for entering our drawing are at the end of this post.
Cathy, what inspired you to sign up for my class?
I have always loved writing and have done it since I was a child. But it wasn’t until after my second child was born that I started to consider writing for children. After reading so many books to them, I was reminded how much I loved children’s books and wanted to give it a try. I read several books on how to write for children and joined a critique group. When I heard about your class “Writing Fiction for Children and Young Adults” I knew it would be perfect. Your course covered all aspects of children’s writing and was taught by an experienced author. It was just the foundation I needed.
Do you recall any specific ways the class helped you?
This class was a wonderful experience. It covered everything from elements of fiction, manuscript preparation, revision, submitting and more. The group critiques in class were so helpful. My favorite part was studying other picture books. Analyzing them helped me to identify “why” I liked certain stories and helped me to make my stories better. I also left the class with solid “next steps” for submitting and a new focus for my writing journey.
Since taking my class, you have had success getting your poetry published in a number of children’s magazines. Do you have any particular strategy for deciding where to submit your work and/or tips for other writers trying to break into magazines?
The summer of your class (July 2001), I sold my first three poems to Ladybug magazine. What a great feeling! I couldn’t wait to see my work in print. But I soon learned how long the publishing process could take. So I developed a strategy to help me better handle all that waiting. I decided to use the time while my children were young to build a “children’s writing” resume. My plan was to take as many classes and conferences as I could, and submit work to many different magazines to build my portfolio. My hope was that by the time my third child was in school, I could spend my full days writing and would have some experience behind me. I feel fortunate that I have now sold 23 poems to several magazines, including Highlights High Five, Ladybug, Your Big Backyard, Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, Confetti, Wee Ones and McGraw-Hill Educational. I just found out that my poem “Bubbles” will be appearing in the May/June issue of Humpty Dumpty magazine.
Can you tell us how one of your poems came to be published in the anthology Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems?
The anthology Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems (2007) was such a wonderful surprise. My poem “Firefly” is the final poem in the collection. It is one of those first poems that I sold to Ladybug magazine the summer of your class. The editors at Ladybug pulled several of their favorite poems from the magazine and put them together in this beautiful hardcover anthology.
You’re the mother of three active children. How do you balance your busy personal life with your writing, marketing, blogging, etc.?
My youngest child is in first grade so I can now spend full days writing, which is wonderful. Balance is always a struggle but I really try to make my writing a priority during the day when they’re at school. That’s my best working time now. And if I’m working on a particular manuscript or project, I can always find extra time to fit more in. Ideas can pop up even while waiting for them in the line at school or at sports practice. I always try to have paper and pen handy.
Have you taken other classes or continued your writing education in other ways?
Absolutely. Each year I try to attend SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) sponsored conferences and classes. I have taken many classes on writing, illustrating, poetry, promotion, etc. I think it’s important to continue to learn new things, hone my skills, and keep in touch with what’s happening in the industry. I also learn so much from my critique group. Both the classes and writing groups help me to stay focused and motivated. I recently completed a poetry writing course at the Highlights Foundation in Pennsylvania, taught by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson. It was a great experience.
Carmela, thank you so much for this opportunity and for being such a wonderful teacher. I really appreciate all that you’ve taught me.
Well, I'm so proud to feature you, Cathy, as one of our "Student Success Stories." And thank YOU for donating a copy of Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems for our giveaway in honor of National Poetry Month.
Readers, I hope you've been inspired by Cathy's story. (By the way, if you happen to live in the Chicago area, I will again be teaching at the College of DuPage this summer. For details, see my Web site.)
Now here's the information about our giveaway. Before entering, be sure to first read our Giveaway Guidelines here.
If you'd like a chance to win an autographed copy of the anthology Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems, post a comment to today's blog post telling us why you'd like to win the book. Also, we'd love to know if you're doing anything special to celebrate National Poetry Month. And please, don't forget to provide your email address or a link to your own blog in your comment so that we can contact you. (U.S. residents only, please.) Entries must be posted by 11 p.m.(Central Standard Time) Wednesday, April 14, 2010. The winner will be announced on April 15.
We look forward to reading your comments. Good luck!
And, as always, happy writing!
PS: If you read the comments to Mary Ann's last post, you know she's a fan of Ron Koertge’s novels-in-verse, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and the new sequel, Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs. (Ron was kind enough to post a comment, too.) I just learned that, in honor of National Poetry Month, Candlewick Press is giving away copies of the books to five lucky librarians. For details, see this article in School Library Journal. And for all you writers out there, I just discovered that Ron is also a member of a group blog. You can read his posts at The Storyteller's Inkpot.