Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Student Success Story and Book Giveaway with Cathy Cronin

I am again thrilled to feature one of my former students as a TeachingAuthors  "Student Success Story"!
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.  


Noelle Bender said...

I went to high school with Cathy and I'm so excited to see what she has been able to accomplish. When I read her poetry, it makes me wish I were a kid again. She does such a great job of relating the the mind of a child. I'd love to have a copy of her book to share with my 3 kiddos! Way to go Cathy!

Beth Coulton said...

What an inspiration she is! She is living my dream life.... I currently work in an elementary school library and would love to get a copy of the book to donate to the library here for the students. I just finished setting up a National Poetry month bulletin board and table this morning - we will be celebrating it all month long here in school. Thanks for this wonderful post - very encouraging to plot out AND live your dream.

Beth Coulton

Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes said...

I'd love to win a copy of Cathy's book. Who wouldn't? Today on my blog I have a Beetle Bop Salad which could easily be made into a Ladybug Salad by judicious application of the dots. In fact, I'll mention Cathy's book and a recipe variation on To Think About Thursday. BTW: Every Monday, my blog features books and for this month there will be poetry books galore! The fun part, as you will see if you visit by clicking on my name, is creating a Wednesday Recipe to go along with one of the books or week's theme.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

What an awesome story. Way to go, Cathy -- and congratulations to you teachers, too, for doing such a good job.

No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

elsie said...

I provide PD to teachers on balanced literacy. I am always looking for new books to introduce as mentor texts for reading as well as writing. This would be a great source for me to use. Please enter me into the drawing. I have used poetry this month to teach voice in writing. (my email is

Laura said...

Congrats, Cathy, on all of your success!

I volunteered to coordinate the listings of National Poetry Month for the Kidlitsophere Central group. And I've been collecting other people's activities to list, too. See:

Since I just started blogging in January, I was not prepared for more than that. However, I've already started preparing for next year which will include a free giveaway.

I'd love to win this book because I just love poetry!

Laura Evans
all things poetry

Bridget R. Wilson said...

I would love to win a copy of Ladybug, Ladybug and Other Favorite Poems. Sounds ilke a great collection for spring. I'm an avid poetry reader and a poet when I have the time. I admire Cathy's dedication to her poetry. I wish I could make her plan work for me. Congrats Cathy on all you've accomplished.


Katrina said...

I would love to win the book because it looks super cute and as a librarian in training with a small child I just love to read everything to her. I have started reading her a little poetry to get her interested.

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

Brimful Curiosities said...

My preschool-aged daughter is just starting to appreciate poetry. For National Poetry month she is working on a "My Poetry Book." Every day she picks out a new poem and draws her own illustration. Thanks for introducing us to another poet.

Here's a poem my daughter just made up for you...

A ladybug, a ladybug
If you want to be a ladybug
you put on your ladybug clothes
then put on your hat
and that's what a ladybug wears.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for entering our contest, everyone, and for sharing all the great Poetry Month activities. Janelle @ Brimful Curiosities, I LOVE your daughter's Ladybug poem. If this wasn't a random drawing, I think I'd have to pick her/you as our winner! But I have to leave it to the randomizer to decide, and to keep the contest open through Wednesday. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to win this book of poetry to share with my preschool classroom. For National Poetry month we are reading poems by many authors!

Mozi Esme said...

My daughter loves ladybugs, so I think just the cover alone would get her excited about poetry... :)

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Annette W. said...

We love the stories and poems in High Five, so I suspect we'd thoroughly enjoy this book. Thank you for the chance to win it and sharing a great success story!

derekannette at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win this book to give to my DIL's niece. I think books are the best gifts you can give a child.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book. I have always read childrens poetry books to my son, and now my nephew.My son is on the autism spectrum and would always laugh and enjoy them.

apple blossom said...

I love children's books. This looks like it would be a fun one. I'd love to win. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Margo Dill said...

I love these type of success stories! I would love to share this book at the preschool where I sub sometimes. Children LOVE this kind of poetry! I don't have any specific way that I'm celebrating National Poetry Month, but I did do a bunch of posts in March on ideas for poetry in the classroom from K-12. :)

Thanks for the opportunity,
Margo Dill
margodll (at)

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

I love the ladybug theme of this thread! My daughter just turned five, and she does not miss an opportunity to tell me that ladybugs bring good luck.

Janelle, your daughter's poem is such a delight. Congrats to your budding author.

Cathy Cronin said...

Wow! Thanks so much to everyone for all of the wonderful comments so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by. Happy Poetry Month!

Cathy Cronin

Heidi Bee Roemer said...

Cathy, your poems are amazing! I'm so happy that your talent is being recognized. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to share this book with my son. I don't have anything planned to celebrate Poetry Month, but think I might try to find the poetry books we do have and read them with my kids.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Sarah @ said...

I'd love to read this to my daughter. She's still so young that we are HUGE fans of poetry - if only because I can usually sing it. I sing pretty much every book we read =)

We aren't really planning anything for Poetry Month, honestly. My husband and I try to buy two or three books of poetry a year, so maybe I'll try to read (or sing!) a few of them to Charlotte, who knows?

Judylynn said...

I'd love to win this book to give to my daughter, whose nickname is Ladybug!