1. Join SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). They have a lot of cool info and it’s so nice to be able to connect with other people who are in the same situation.
2. Join Writer’s Digest. They offer a lot of stuff, like writing courses, critiques, webinars, etc.
3. Join CBI Clubhouse. This may possibly be the most concise source of children’s writing information I have found. And they’re starting email critique groups (I don’t totally understand how that’s going to work yet, but I’ll keep you posted.)
4. Start a Twitter account. I don’t tweet much yet, but I follow tons of literary agents, publishers and other authors. It gives me a CLUE about what’s happening in the world of publishing and these professionals tweet links to fantastic articles about writing and querying all the time. But it’s even better than that- there are blog chats in which you can participate. And professionals will answer your questions…for free!! It’s almost too good to be true.
5. Join a critique group. I now belong to several. Once I got past the need to “defend” my work, I opened myself up to a zillion helpful suggestions. (Yes, that’s “zillion” with a “z”.) Stacy, Barb, Zenith and Sharon: your input on my work has been priceless!
6. Research. I started spending hours at the library and book store studying stories similar to mine. I’d look for one thing. Then I’d ask myself a different question and look through all the books again. The next time I go to Barnes and Noble, they’re probably going to make me buy something. (Usually I just buy those yummy Godiva chocolates at the check-out counter.)
7. Enter some writing contests. My first work didn’t fit neatly into one genre, so the experience was rather painful. Initially the negative comments will really hit home and the positive ones will repel off like water on scotch-guarded fabric. But later, you’ll be ready to believe the good stuff too.
One thing most people don't know about me is that I have something called spasmodic dysphonia. It's a voice disorder. I get botox injections in my larynx to help me keep a smooth speaking voice.