NaNoWriMo mojo!

Logo for NaNoWriMo, showing an aqua blue with a shield showing writing utensils, topped with Viking horns, beside the words "National Novel Writing Month"

Well, wowee zowee and SHAZAM! I am AMAZED. Wanna know why? Because NaNoWriMo works, baby! It really, really works! I did it this year for the first time ever, and I am thrilled with the results.

In case you don’t know already, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s basically an impetus to get writers crackin’. The idea is to hunker down in November with a goal of putting 50-thousand words toward a new novel. The non-profit org that runs it has all sorts of tools and methods to help writers achieve that goal. But many writers come up with their own rules/methods to meet their liking.

For example, I didn’t start a new novel. I used the movement to work on an existing project that has been laaaaaanguishing. Oy, this project is a whole other story for another day. *hides face in shame* To be clear, I didn’t finish the novel nor reach the 50k word-count goal. An event mid-month killed my progress for, like, a week. But that’s not what matters. What matters is that I GOT BACK INTO THE WRITING HABIT.


The habit of writing creates the urge to write. Now, nine days into December, I’m still writing, and I’m nearly done with the novel. Importantly, it’s a far better story thanks in part to thinking about and actively working on it so intensely for so long. I’m really happy with it so far. What more could I ask for from an artificial deadline?

I’ll tell you what else. Community.

My good friend and fellow author Valerie Biel mentioned to me ahead of November that she was doing NaNoWriMo with another friend, author Mary Behan, and I told her I was going to do it as well. We joined forces. In this pact, we had accountability, camaraderie, and a sounding board. Keep reading because you’ll want to know what we did that worked out so great.

Photo shows author Valerie Biel and her book titled Circle of Nine Beltany. Valerie is white, blonde, and has her hair pulled back into a low ponytail.

Valerie Biel

Photo shows author Mary Behan and her book titled A Measured Thread. Mary is white, has short white hair, and wears round, brown glasses.

Mary Behan

Valerie, who is an organizational goddess and also provides author services (check out her website), set up our communications: a shared calendar where we could enter our daily word count (accountability); weekly Zooms to discuss progress and whatever else (camaraderie); and a Facebook chat group to share spur-of-the-moment thoughts and gripes (a sounding board). This kept us in constant communication but never demandingly so. Perfection. Copy this method.

And one of the odd things we talked about? We all noticed during this month-long immersion into creativity that our nighttime dreams became more frequent and vivid, and we could better remember them in the morning. Isn’t that fascinating?

I’m so grateful to these ladies for providing encouragement then and still. And, hey, I’m thankful we decided to turn a totally-not-real deadline into a real one for ourselves. It really worked to get us out of our malaise. I hope you’ll try it someday if you too need the kick to get crackin’.

Point of View with Asst. Editor Catherine Laudone of Simon & Schuster

Silvia Acevedo at SCBWI-WI Spring Luncheon 2018



Clarity and Joy come with every SCBWI Spring Luncheon. This year, though, the organizers pitched those benefits in the event title.  That’s a big promise, and I think the organizers did a great job delivering both.






The Spring Luncheon of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin is an annual half-day conference that always seems to come at the right time, when I’m starting to get a bit of the winter blahs and am happy to connect with other writers and illustrators. This year’s was held in Sturgeon Bay, which is still wintery, but features a beautiful bay.

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Catherine Laudone, Asst. Editor, Simon & Schuster


Assistant Editor Catherine Laudone of Simon & Schuster spoke about the pros and cons of the various forms of points of view in writing. You remember POV from middle school, right? First person uses “I.” Second person uses “you.” And then there’s third person with its options (limited, omniscient, etc.). Laudone spoke about how different POVs offer varying levels of emotional connection and descriptive opportunities. POV is important, and it was helpful to dive into the intricacies of the many types of narrative voice.


Miranda Paul, Author and SCBWI-WI Regional Advisor



The event also marked a transition for SCBWI-Wisconsin. Fearless leader Miranda Paul is stepping down after three years as co-Regional Advisor. She and Andrea Skyberg have done wonders highlighting our work to literary and educational leaders around the world. Southeast WI Area Rep Rochelle Groskruetz, who’s organized great events for years, steps in.




As usual, some of my favorite moments were catching up with fellow writers and illustrators, seasoned and newbies. If you’re aspiring to write or illustrate a book someday, come to this inspiring event! It’s great to hang around with creative people.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin 2018 Spring Luncheon





Deadline Looming for 2018 SCBWI-WI Mentorship

2018 SCBWI-WI Mentorships Flyer

Hurry, aspiring writers and illustrators! You have just 18 days to apply to SCBWI-Wisconsin’s 2018 mentorships.  The deadline is November 30, 2017, and this is an opportunity not to be missed. I am deeply honored to be among the six authors/illustrators who’ll be mentoring up-and-coming creators in 2018, along with Jamie Swenson, Jane Kelly, Pat Schmatz, Deb Gross, and Jeanne Styczinski. I’ll work with an author of middle grade or young adult work who’s interested in self-publishing.

First, here are the mentorship basics:

The 2018 SCBWI-Wisconsin Mentorship runs approximately six months, January to June. The amount of interaction between mentor and mentee will be decided between the pair.

Next, the rules:

You must be a current member of SCBWI and have attended at least one member event in the past year, unless applying for the Diversity Mentorship with Pat Schmatz.

You can only apply for one category of mentorship unless you qualify for the Diversity Mentorship, in which case you could apply to more but only win one.

You must yet to be traditionally published in your category.

Finally, the application details:

Follow the guidelines on this online application form and email the requested documents to by November 30th.


I’m really looking forward to this adventure. Please apply if you’re interested and spread the word to the creative people in your life who you feel might benefit. Thanks! 🙂