The End—Almost

Weighing in a just over 35,000 words, the first draft of my newest middle grade novel is now complete.

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Calm down cute, fluffy, puppy. Complete is a misleading word as there are still many miles to go before it is actually finished.

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No, no. Don’t be a sad panda. Now I’ll set the draft aside to marinade, pickle, steep, sleep (Oh, sorry. That’s what I should be doing now since it is past midnight…). Normally, I’d let it rest for two weeks to a month, but I’d love to get it off my desk by the new year (resolutions and all), so I may speed up the process. Next comes a revision, then beta readers, more revisions, and a thorough edit after that.

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I think so too!

SCBWI WIP Grant- Tips from 2011 Winner Skila Brown

I'm thrilled to have with me today writer and VCFA MFA Candidate Skila Brown. Skila was the 2011 winner of the SCBWI WIP Grant. Google Skila and you'll see that she has plenty of freelance credits for articles on parenting and adoption. I know her as a writer of snappy picture books, a talented poet and an amazingly loving, intelligent and hardworking person.

What can you do with an SCBWI WIP Grant?

  • Purchase of necessary materials
  • Travel for research
  • Conferences, courses and/or workshops in advanced writing techniques
  • Child care
  • Rental of work space
  • Supplemental basic support
  • Other items deemed necessary to complete the project.

If you are like me, you've researched grants and found them just as the deadline approaches. For the SCBWI 2012 WIP Grants- completed application and accompanying materials must be postmarked no earlier than February 15th and must be RECEIVED BY March 15th. The Grants are available to both full and associate members of the SCBWI. They are not available for projects on which there are already contracts.

With what project will the WIP grant help you?
My middle grade novel, Caminar. It is the story of a boy who, after surviving the massacre of his village, journeys up the side of a mountain, and must decide what being a man during a time of war really means. Caminar is a coming-of-age novel told in verse and set in Guatemala during the year 1981.

For what types of expenses will the grant money be used?
I will travel to Guatemala this winter to revise the story while I'm there, enhance the setting, and hopefully find survivors who are willing to read and vet my manuscript.

What do you think keeps people from applying for grants/awards?
A grant application sounds so intimidating, doesn't it? I mean, there are people who write them professionally for a living! There's also that kind of hopeless feeling of "there are so many people applying…I will never get picked…why bother…" I also think some people wait until the last minute, look at what is required in the application packet, and then realize they don't have the time or energy to spend on it.

You are a mom and a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In what ways did this make the application process more challenging? Did your studies or family help the process at all?
Honestly, being very busy and juggling many things forces me to think and plan ahead. I am not a procrastinator. In this regard, it really made the application process easier for me. I read the application instructions months in advance and allowed myself plenty of time to get it right.

This was not my first time applying for an SCBWI grant. I applied once before for a different grant, with a different manuscript. That story wasn't as solid or unique, but also – I waited until right before the deadline, rushed through the application, and didn't put as much thought into it as I could have. All mistakes I knew not to repeat.

When you dropped the materials into the mailbox, did you feel confident? Why or why not?
I felt confident that I had done the best job I could do on the application packet, but certainly had no expectation that I would win! A teeny hopeful part of me was longing for a runner-up position. When I got the call from SCBWI this summer and was told I was the winner, I absolutely could not believe it.

Are there any tips or hints that you would give to other SCBWI members who are interested in completing the application materials?
Start early. Allow yourself plenty of time to review the materials. Craft a thoughtful and deliberate synopsis. Have someone read over your materials for the sake of clarity. Be specific in why you are requesting funding and how you would use the money. Then put it out of your head and get back to writing!

Fabulous advice, Skila! Fair winds and following seas on your Guatemalan journey. Thank you for sharing your grant writing wisdom.