Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Laura Purdie Salas: Writer in Progress

Instead of posting a ditty today, I'd like to share a terrific resource for children's writers—for aspiring writers who are trying to decide if this is the career for them, and for writers like myself who are a little further along in the journey, but still trying to navigate and explore the waters. It's an online course:

Laura, with her latest book from Millbrook Press.
Read a couple of nice reviews HERE and HERE.

I've learned a lot from Laura over the years, not only from her books (poetry, nonfiction, books for writers) and her mentoring service with Lisa Bullard, Mentors for Rent, but also through blog osmosis and social media, soaking in who she is and how she behaves as a writer. Laura is super creative, yes, but she's also sensible and practical—invaluable traits for those who want to manage a career, not just a hobby.

While there are many lovely and generous souls in the kidlitosphere, Laura stands out in that arena. She has the heart and manner of a caring teacher, making it her personal mission to share what she knows with children, and aspiring children's writers, too. Who wouldn't appreciate an honest and transparent "tell it like it is" article like her annual "How Much Money Does a Writer Make?"? There's more writerly advice where that came from—just follow the Mentors for Rent blog.

Writer in Progress takes that honest, straightforward approach to a whole new level. This 30-day course isn't some romanticized version of what it's like to be a children's writer. It's a collection of short daily journals—half written, half videotaped—detailing what one working writer (stress on working) does day in and day out for a one-month period.

"Asleep at the computer" by Kevin Severud

A steal at only $25, you're not paying for polish and perfection, you're paying to hear what it's really like to be a children's writer. You're not paying for hype or a step-by-step guide, you're paying to quietly peek over Laura's shoulder, to find out how she handles her time, writing projects, administrative tasks, and other activities.

Hers is not the only way children's writers manage their workload, of course (alas, we can't all be as organized as Laura is), but for many of us, this is a huge problem. Managing our time and priorities, I mean. If you're anything like me, finding out how others succeed at the juggling act is always helpful, if only to pick up a tip here or an idea there. But for the new writer? Priceless.

Another benefit for me, was that it gave me a peek at where I'm headed. I haven't yet attended a large conference like NCTE, ALA, or ILA. I haven't done many school visits either... at least not ones I've actually been paid for. But these things are on the not-so-distant horizon, and I'm chugga-chugging in that direction. I think I can. I think I can.

Dietmar Rabich

Here are just a few of the writing or writing-related tasks you'll see Laura work on:

    •    declining a speaking invitation
    •    preparing for a school visit
    •    revising a picture book
    •    checking on contract terms for a work-for-hire project
    •    pitching picture book ideas to an editor
    •    researching a nonfiction picture book project
    •    speaking at a conference for educators
    •    getting her first author's copy of her newest picture book
    •    struggling with wardrobe issues for a signing

I also appreciated the "universal truths" for children's writers she shares at the end.

If you're interested, I would encourage you to read Laura's own description of Writer in Progress HERE and also preview the first two sessions. You can explore her other online classes for writers HERE.

After that, maybe you want to try writing a water-themed cinquain (Laura's May 2014 challenge) for this month's Ditty Potluck!

Post your poem on our April 2017 padlet.


  1. Thank you, Michelle! I'm honored that you felt the class was worthy of sharing--and I'm blushing at all your kind words. Thanks for making my day!

  2. I'm a Laura fan! This sounds terrific. She is all you say and more! I may just sign up and absorb her wisdom.
    Janet F.

  3. I didn't know about this class, will look further. I've enjoyed Laura's posts in a variety of forms, and certainly love her books. Thanks, Michelle, and Laura, too!

  4. Laura is so generous in the way she shares her writing journey. She originally inspired my interest in children's poetry through an online course--glad you highlighted this one, Michelle.

  5. This looks terrific! I would love this class.

  6. Laura's light beams brightly & far across the writing world, Michelle.
    I am so eager to follow all these links. It's wonderful to have this post.
    And the water cinquain prompt.

    Happy Poetry Month!