Each year, the Wisconsin State Reading Association’s Children’s Literature Committee selects books published during the previous year to recommend as “the most interesting and valuable books for educators and children to read.” The committee evaluates titles based on “the quality of the literature, the appeal for students, and the value for classroom use.”
TOP SIXTEEN WRITER SUPPORT GROUPS THAT SHOULD EXIST…BUT DON’T
Hi everyone, my name is “Writer”, and I’m messed up. And there’s no one out there to help me with my problem, no special group to back me up as I struggle with…well, check out what I struggle with, in our Top Sixteen List below!
1) Query Letters Anonymous: If you have ever binge-queried more than 500 times for a single work, our group can help. Sessions include having your manuscript pried from your cold, dead fingers by caring peers.
2) Twitter-Free and Proud: For friends and family of authors who are tweeting themselves into the small gilded cage of addiction. Our understanding, gentle group leaders may not be able to actually help, but at least there are no cell phones allowed at meetings.
3) Haven’t Interacted with Another Human Being in Over a Week Group: It’s time to step away from your computer or notebook for at least a couple of hours and speak to some real-life people. No, Netflix and your characters don’t count. Don’t worry – we won’t ask how your novel is going. Promise.
4) Butt In Chair Exercise Group: Classes available online, of course, so you don’t have to move out of your chair while you are completing your first, second, third…millionth drafts. All exercises performed with B.I.C as well (such Finger Pushups, Wrist Rotations, Toe Crunches, and the grueling Thigh-Minator Presses.) Our motto is “Stay in Shape While You Punctuate!”
5) Contention Deficit Disorder of America Group: Writers! Do agents reject your manuscripts with the comment, “There’s no conflict in this story?” Do your protagonists lead stress-free, boring lives? Yawn no more! At Contention Deficit Disorder of America’s cheerful six-week-long retreats, we will help you insert conflict by withholding Cheetos, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate of all kinds until you crack and agree to do whatever we tell you.
6) Finish Line Race Team: Do you find yourself revving your writing engine only to stall out half way around the track? Do faster, shinier writing ideas zoom past you and keep you from staying on course? Have no fear dear writer, Finish Line is here to take your project from starting block to checkered flag no matter what speed you like to drive. Seatbelts optional.
7) Book Baby Weight Buddies: If you’ve used savory meals and deliciously decadent desserts to celebrate every small success along the way, you might need BBWB. (Wrote 100 words! Finished Revising! Partial request! Full request! Agent offer! Sale!) Join the Book Baby Weight Buddies for getting back into healthier eating habits and exercising. We’ll do our best not to celebrate every successful spin class with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s latest flavor.
8) Google Hands Anonymous: Are your hands constantly Googling or in Google position–even when doing other activities like arguing with your teenager or watching Netflix? Oopsies, you have Google Hands. Don’t be ashamed. We all have it. We can’t stop googling our names. Anything good? Anything bad? Is that ugly picture of you and your ex at that stupid gala from 2008 still showing up? Damn you Google! This group has a $5.00 fee that includes a pair of comfy gloves to soothe your Google Hands.
9) Hip Replacement Group: Have you grown a full beard and mustache and taken to writing only upon a portable manual typewriter, which you lug around with you on your vintage bicycle, in hopes that this will make you a “real” writer? Meet our bunch of clean-shaven guys with laptops, who will fight you bare-fisted until you give up clinging to this delusion.
10) Writing Forum Addicts Anonymous: You wanted somewhere to discuss the trials and tribulations of the writing life. So you joined a forum or two, or three, or five. For a while, you had it under control. Then suddenly, you found yourself spending hours daily lurking on your forums, following other people’s complaints about querying like soaps. You read thousand-page archived threads stretching all the way back to the snail-mail era. You started needing to check your favorite threads before you could sleep at night. In this group, we force you to make face-to-face conversation with people who think a “WIP” is something you might use for kinky sex and an “MC” is generally found in dance clubs.
11) Weekly YMCA Shower Check-In: during which all writers arrive ready to bathe themselves for the first time, possibly, in a week. The only problem is that those who most need to be there forget to show up.
12) Procrasticleaning and Procrasticooking Maid Services: Put those hours spent avoiding your manuscript by scrubbing toilets and baking complicated dinners to good use! Team up with other writers and maybe earn some cold hard cash for every junk drawer you suddenly decide *has* to be organized NOW, or that new recipe for a cake with a million layers.
13) The Herb Brooks Support Group: Are you constantly comparing yourself to other writers, particularly those who are more disciplined, more productive, more polished, more creative, and all-in-all more successful than you? Join our group, named for the immortal Team USA hockey coach Herb Brooks, who famously told his “Miracle on Ice” team captain: “You worry about your own game. Plenty there to keep you busy.”
14) Review-Me-Not Group: Stop reading those reviews. No, we mean it: stop. NOW! This group ties you to the nearest chair, table, bed or heavy object and blindfolds you, while singing “Kumbaya” and “Happy”, to keep you from seeing your book torn to shreds. Not to be confused with the Fifty Shades of Grey withdrawal group.
15) The ‘How to Cope with the Death of Your Favorite Lines’ Group: Celebrate and share your best literary, heart-wrenching, eye- tearing line that you know is Pulitzer-worthy, but alas, your editor does not.
16) Email-Refreshers Anonymous: You’ve queried ten agents and you’re waiting for news. You’re on submission, and your agent expects an email any second. You’re waiting for edits from your editor. Whatever the cause, do you find yourself compulsively checking your email every other second as you wait for that anticipated email? Do you stare at your phone and hit refresh . . . refresh . . . refresh? Then this is the group for you. Email-Refreshers anonymous will talk you through the basics of life with less e-mail. And you WILL be okay. We promise.
BONUS! 17) Author Improv Group: Even before you signed your book deal, you suspected that you were the only person in the world who didn’t know what you were doing, and now you’re sure of it. Every other author you meet is so confident. They talk about editors and agents and marketing until your head spins. Line edits, copyedits, first pass proof pages, second pass proof pages… you can’t take any more! We can let you into a secret – we’re all making this stuff up as we go along. You need the Author Improv Group to teach you the vital skill of sounding as if you know what you’re doing.
—This month’s Top Sixteen List brought to you by the following authors: Ami Allen-Vath, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Victoria Coe, Lindsay Eagar, Claire Fayers, M. Garcia, Margot Harrison, Emily Henry, Bridget Hodder, Janet Sumner Johnson, Scarlett Kol, Cynthia Reeg
Pitched as HOLES meets THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET, Lindsay’s debut middle grade novel, HOUR OF THE BEES (Candlewick Press, Spring 2016), is the story of Carol, whose feelings about her aged, rambling grandfather are overturned when his tales of a healing tree, a beautiful lake, and the imminent return of bees to the desert of New Mexico start to come true.
- Favorite book growing up: THE 500 HATS OF BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS by Dr. Seuss
- Childhood aspiration: She’s always wanted to be an author, but she was also certain she’d be a marine biologist, studying sharks. She made fake business cards to hand out at school, and on the back they said, “Save Our Sharks! Conserve, Preserve, Protect!” She was maybe a nerd.
- Favorite time of day/place to write: She’s a single mother, so she takes whatever time she can get–five minutes here at the park, an hour there while preschool is in session, after bedtime… She’s trained herself to write anywhere, anytime. She just needs her manuscript (which she writes by hand, on paper with blue ink), music, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
- Book currently reading/most recently read: HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah Maas. This was her reward between edits!
- Favorite things to do (other than reading): Running, cooking, making music, and schooling her daughter on important things like Disney, David Bowie, and Neil Gaiman
- Favorite sports teams: She’s not a sports girl… But Diana Nyad is her favorite athlete.
- Surprising personal fact: She’s never had the chicken pox. She was exposed to it many times as a kid, and never had a vaccination, but it hasn’t hit her yet!
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: The amazing company! 2016 is going to be a killer year for MG and YA!
Where to find her: