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12 X 12 Featured Author October 2019 – Katrina Moore

12 x 12 Featured Author October 2019 – Katrina Moore

Katrina Moore 200x300WHEN TO OPEN (AND CLOSE) THE DOOR

“OPEN THE DOOR . . . ”

That’s what I willed myself to do as my hand clasped around the doorknob, rebelling—held down by the weight of a thousand “what ifs” before attending my first writing conference in March 2015.

“What if I’m the only one who came alone?”

“What if they think I can’t write?”

“What if I don’t belong here?”

And then, finally . . .

“What if I open the door, and try anyway?”

So I did open the door, welcomed by a whoosh of warm air. I decided right then and there, that I was here to learn. To grow in my craft. To connect with others who shared the same passion. I was nervous, but I was going to do this.

I was the first person to enter the ballroom where the keynote was about to take place. The second person to come into the room was E.B. Lewis, who was about to deliver the keynote speech. Since we were the only two in the room, we had a chance to chat. To be honest, I was surprised that someone as accomplished as he was so humble, kind, and encouraging. He spoke to me like I *was* a writer—an equal (something I certainly did not feel like going into the conference). I would later discover that this humbleness, kindness, and encouragement is plentiful in the kidlit community (a wonderful surprise!).

I walked into the conference not knowing a single person—doubting myself. I walked out of the conference full of fuel—inspired, encouraged, and ready to dig deeper into my craft. A manuscript critique from that conference led to a requested revision from an acquiring editor. That revision that I completed led me to sign with my wonderful first agent. And that led to many, many more doors opening in my writing career.

Well, that requested manuscript didn’t end up getting acquired. And, eventually, I amicably parted ways with that agent. Because sometimes, doors close, too. They thud on your heart and your confidenceeven when its not “personal”, even when you are the one who closed the door.

But I kept growing. I kept learning. That same year I joined 12 x 12. I was no longer doing this alone, but with a community of creators who were also on this crazy creative journey. I attended more conferences. I formed critique partners and groups with other writers (through 12 x 12 and elsewhere). I received more requested submissions. I signed with another awesome agent. Doors were closing, and others were opening. Thud. Thud. Whoosh. Whoosh.

At the New England SCBWI conference in 2017, there was an event that I thought would be fun—a “Pitch-A-Palooza,” where attendees would randomly be selected to pitch their manuscript to a panel of industry professionals in front of the entire audience and receive live feedback. There was so much to gain from this! I wrote my name down and tossed it into the “hat”. And then, gah, the “what ifs” came clouding in.

“What if they think the pitch is terrible?”

“What if I forget everything I want to say?”

“What if I’m supposed to memorize it?!”

And then, relief . . .

“What if I don’t get called? Out of 700 attendees, what are my chances, anyway?”

So I relaxed. Except, my name did get called. FIRST.

As I “bravely” walked up the aisle past 700 attendees onto the stage, I still worried . . .

“What if they think the pitch is terrible?”

 “What if I forget everything I want to say?”

“What if everyone can see how much I am sweating?!”

And then . . .

“What if I try, anyway?”

So I gave my pitch. I remembered most of what I wanted to say. The feedback was surprising. One panel member said, “I think this book is going to be on the shelves very soon.” And he was right.

One Hug by Katrina Moore 12-10-19The book I pitched was ONE HUG, my debut picture book, which sold to HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books four months after the conference (to an editor who was not at the conference). It publishes December 10, 2019, four years after I first opened the door for myself.

It continues to be a journey of doors opening and doors closing. Another picture book sold. Whoosh. I parted ways with my agent. Thud. But I stayed the course—my course. I continued to learn, to grow, to connect. I took chances. I believed in myself. I remained curious,

“What if I open the door, and try anyway?”

Here’s what I’ve learned about doors (and the publishing industry):

  • Don’t wait for someone to open the door for you. As a mother who’s pushed a double wide stroller through a single wide door when the automatic door button doesn’t work knows, you have to go after what you want.
  • If one door’s locked, find another. There’s no one right way or path to success. If someone thinks you can’t write, prove them wrong. Keep learning. Keep growing. Believe in yourself and be open to surprises and detours.
  • Open the door for someone else. Be kind, encouraging, and helpful. So many others have helped me along the way. I started a writing blog and began presenting at conferences, but I’m learning as much as I’m teaching—forever growing. You are not alone, but someone else might feel like they don’t belong. Welcome them. You never know when your “small” gesture goes a long way for someone else.

Now, I’ve signed with my third amazing agent, who is the perfect professional fit for me. And we’ve got exciting projects that we’re sending into the world. Sometimes it takes opening and closing doors to know which one is right for you—at least that’s how it was for me.

None of my “successes” were direct results from conferences or 12 x 12 connections, but all of them are because of the doors that being a part of these supportive communities opened for me. I don’t know what doors stand before me, but I remain open and curious.

I hope when you’re feeling stalled, staring a door . . . you’ll open it, and try anyway.

Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore 04-07-20Katrina Moore writes and teaches in New Jersey.  Her mission is to create books that children will hug for ages. Her debut picture book, ONE HUG, is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Dec. 10, 2019.  Her second picture book, GRANDPA GRUMPS, will publish April 7, 2020 from Little Bee Books. More to-be-announced books are on the way! When she is not teaching elementary kids or writing, she is cooking without a recipe, painting outside the lines, or snuggling up with her puppies, one husband, two kids, and of course, many cozy books.  Connect with her on twitter @kmoorebooks or at


This Post Has 163 Comments
  1. I so appreciate hearing your story, Katrina. It’s encouraging to see how someone who clearly writes well and has had some success, still struggles with closing doors. And you’ve once and for all busted my myth that getting an agent is the end of that part of the journey; there obviously can be more doors leading beyond that room, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! I love how you framed your writing journey in terms of doors opening and closing. So apt! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Katrina! And congrats on your fabulous books!

  3. What an incredible journey! Your story is just what I need. It encourages me to keep at it, close and open as many doors as needed, and try new and scary things. Thank you so much for sharing, Katrina! And congratulations on your new books.

  4. What a wonderful post. So much resonated with me – especially the ‘what if’ questions. I have to have a conversation with myself every time I attend a workshop or put my hand up to pitch.
    And – you’re absolutely right about the KidLit community … almost every author I know, from emerging to prolific, is so humble and encouraging and … full of thanks when you ask them to sign their latest book. It’s a wonderful community to belong to. Thank you for this post Katrina.

  5. What a touching story, and great advice. Thank you. That makes so much sense about opening another door if one closes. It will be fun to read your books.

  6. Congrats on your book coming out in December, and thanks for this inspiring tale of your writing journey through many doors! I love your thoughts on what if’s, ending each series with the one that carries you forward – what if I just do it?!

  7. You go, Katrina! So excited for you and I can’t wait to read your books when they come out. Hope to see you in person again sometime soon!

  8. This was a great post, Katrina. I felt the same way when I attended my first SCBWI conference, but I decided to open the door and open up myself to a learning opportunity. I wanted to absorb all that I could, & I left feeling that I belonged; that I was surrounded by “my people.” I am so glad I decided to open that door & I’ve been opening more ever since (some have closed, yes, but I’m learning to unlock others). It was great to hear about all the doors that opened & closed for you & I wish you many more open doors in your future.

  9. Katrina, This post really hit home – you framed the writer’s journey beautifully. The need for optimism, determination, perseverance, open-ness to possibilities, and the willingness to let go. And the community – we are so lucky to have such a generous, caring community to lean on. So yes, I take away this – open doors for yourself and others, and never let a door closing stop you from moving forward on your journey, or from helping others. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  10. Thanks so much for this great post, Katrina! I had a critique with you at NJSCBWI and you made me feel so at ease. Thanks for your encouragement and gentle nudges. Your analogies to doors opening and shutting is so true!

  11. What a lovely post! I just attended my first conferences this year and have loved every minute of them! I have to sign up for a live critique, but I will next go round!

  12. It does take courage to walk through those doors. This analogy really struck home for me.
    I also found it interesting to hear how you have moved from one agent to another as your writing has progressed. So often it’s hard to make those changes; again, courage is called for, along with believing in your own writing.
    Your final suggestion, to open a door for someone else, is spot on.
    I really enjoyed this post and look forward to reading your upcoming books. Congrats!

  13. Fantastic post, Katrina! Your examples of the ups and downs of this creative life resonated — it’s just the way it is. Kudos to you for your bravery and persistence!

  14. Thanks for sharing your journey of overcoming doubts and fears. It’s a process we all experience at sometime. Congrats on your new book…coming on my birthday!

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story, Katrina! A well-deserved “Congratulations!” as your combination of persistence and talent is paying off! I remember sitting next to you at “Pitch-A-Palooza” and the shock when you were called first… as well as the courage you showed in walking up onto that stage!

  16. I have been that mother with the double wide stroller. Thank for the reminder to open the door and the knowledge that doors will also close. There would be no growth if I stay standing in the middle of the room.

  17. I’m going to have to take that step to go to a conference alone someday – something that is un-fun for me, and this is so helpful and encouraging to read. I’m glad you’ve found the right agent and am looking forward to reading your books!

  18. Thank you for your inspiring post! Maybe one of these days I will open a door to a conference to hear you deliver a keynote speech.

  19. Wow! I have to say this was truly inspiring. I’ve felt so nervous and insecure going to conferences and putting myself out there. You are right, the writing community is filled with people who don’t look down their noses at you. They offer a hand, a smile and friendship.

  20. I too have felt the exact same emotions (although I’ve not –yet–been lucky enough to stand in front of 700 writers & illustrators to pitch a story!). Your post is spot on & one I’ll reread several times this month. Thanks for taking the time to share your story

  21. Great post, Katrina! Thank you for giving us a peek at your publishing journey and for sharing your insights on how important it is to persist in opening doors!!

  22. Katrina, there’s so much optimism in your post! I can fully relate to the feelings you described, as you tip toed into your first conference, and left feeling so full of enthusiasm for our industry and the creators in it. Thanks so much for building up that spirit of community among us, and for encouraging those of us at all stages on this journey!

  23. Thanks Katrina! Your perseverance is inspirational. And with such a giving kidlit community, an open door is often just around the corner.

  24. Such encouragement — and great 3-part reminder to open our own doors, find the unlocked one, and then open a door for someone else. Thanks for the inspiration, Katrina!

  25. Thank you for sharing your story and your energy–I could feel it in the piece! Here’s to more open doors for everyone, and congratulations on your success–now and in the future!

  26. Love your inspiring post. So glad you took the chance and opened the door. I too have felt very scared at my first big SCBWI conference in LA back in 2011. It can be intimidating and life changing at the same time. All the best for future successes.

  27. So much to love about this post but my favorite part was each time you pushed past all the fearful second-guessing and said what if I do this anyway. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

  28. This was exactly what I needed to read this morning! Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your journey.

  29. Katrina, I love your determination and encouragement. You are really willing to throw all to the wind and keep going. I like that you believe in what you write and that there is a place for your books today. Keep up and going, girl, you are an inspiration.

  30. Katrina, what a fabulous, inspirational post! Thank you! Thank you!
    Keep spreading your magic,
    P.S. You got your “just right agent” with our writing rule of threes! Meant to be!

  31. Katrina, thank you for this post! I can relate to so much of it, and its a wonderful reminder to keep opening and walking through all the doors (And maybe even climb through a few windows? I’ve done it and it can work too! LOL.) Wishing you HUGE success with your upcoming books!

  32. Just the Inspiration I needed this morning after receiving a rejection from Cricket Magazine. I will keep plugging away and honing my craft.

    1. Katrina,
      Brave, persistent, open-minded, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone all attributes of children’s writers. Thanks so much for the post.

  33. Katrina, How I LOVE Grandpa Grumps! Your words carry real heart and humor along with the story’s endearing message for children. And “yes,” the jarring “thud” of closed-door rejection letters and the echoing “weeee” of open-doors to conferences, submissions “above the slush pile,” and online critique groups (such as 12 x12) and writing courses (such as “Making Picture Book Magic”) create a ocean-rolling effect while riding the waves of writing for children. I’m grateful that you kept believing in yourself and didn’t give in to that nagging voice of doubts! When I became an active participant in the Kidlit Writing Community in 2017, I realized how incredibly supportive everyone was and is. Highly-successful published authors help hopeful “someday-soon-to-be” published authors starting out. We are truly cheerleaders for one another. Thank you for being candid and encouraging. Sending you inspiration and good thoughts for your continued success and joy along your writing path…

  34. Thanks so much for reminding us to be brave, confident and just to open the door and walk through. We all need that encouragement today

  35. This was inspiring and heartening for those of us who have worked at the craft a long time and taken a few leaps without much success but continue on hoping for validation at some point. You have had three agents and you know how to meet and impress them with your work, which is huge. Good luck with your future books.

  36. This is such an encouraging post! I realize, now, how many of us on this journey, published or not, face the same apprehension. Your journey is truly an inspiration to be brave and open those doors! Wow, three agents! Good for you for staying the course. Congratulations on your upcoming books. I look forward to reading both of them. I wish you many more successes in your future.

  37. Thank you for this wonderful post about opening doors even in the wake of doors that closed. This is so true: “I would later discover that this humbleness, kindness, and encouragement is plentiful in the kidlit community (a wonderful surprise!).” I am so excited for your books to come out!

  38. Wow! what a great story about your experience at your first conference. And thanks for the reminders about doors – and not letting them stop us.

  39. I saw your pitch at “Pitch-A-Palooza.” What an awesome feat! You really have made your own luck.


  40. Thank you for the inspiration and for reminding me that I have the courage and strength to do this thing called writing.

  41. Very inspiring! I’m a big believer in ‘being brave’ and trying to make a path!
    Congrats on your book and thanks for sharing!

  42. I loved reading about your journey. Thank you for modeling how to be brave, and all of your wisdom about “doors”!

  43. You’ve sure had your share of doors opening and closing but you just kept going. We can all be inspired by you and by these words:

    I continued to learn, to grow, to connect. I took chances. I believed in myself. I remained curious, “What if I open the door, and try anyway?”

    Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly. And congrats on your book sales. One Hug looks adorable. I can’t wait to read it in when it comes out in December.

  44. Katrina, I love that you kept opening doors once others were closed. I’ll keep in this mind as recently as this week, three doors closed for me, but I’m looking forward to opening some new ones.

    1. Katrina,
      I loved reading your personal story. I was so able to relate to it. You put in words my own feelings and experiences during my early career as a writer.

  45. Katrina, thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I loved your doors analogy and the advice to open doors for others. Your positive outlook is important to remember when doors close on us. Others will surely open if we keep trying!

  46. Thank you for the inspiring post, Katrina! I also find going to conferences quite beneficial. I meet so many other interesting authors there and the feedback I receive is quite valuable, and helps me improve my work.

  47. Awesome post. A good reminder to ask yourself, “Really, what’s the worst that could happen?” So excited to see your books in print!

  48. I’m so behind in 12×12 at the moment that I’m only just getting to this great post – it’s really encouraged me to keep going – couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

  49. Great cover! Also, thanks for the encouragement to keep knocking on doors. I’m keep writing and querying, and hopefully I’ll unlock one soon.

  50. You’re an amazing writer and teacher, Katrina. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. I look forward to getting ONE HUG!

  51. Katrina –

    A few days ago I found out that a good friend of mine spent his whole life on a certain goal but finally had to come to the realization that he was no longer going to be able to achieve it. I learned that maybe we can not always achieve our dream goals in life but then have to change course and choose new goals….Thank you for sharing your successes!

  52. Great post! We in this community are never too full of encouragement! Congrats on ONE HUG–it’ll be out before you know it!

  53. Great message! I was feeling like closing all my doors about a month ago when magically, I wrote another mss and pulled out a dummy book I’d worked on years ago and said, “hmm, I can do this…” Thanks for your inspiration!

  54. Congratulations Katrina! I was there at my first conference and heard your pitch! Love your post. Yes, doors will open and doors will close. I finally just closed a very big door recently that was sapping all my creative energy and it opened me up to write my first story. And to get my first poem accepted for publication! Am so looking forward to reading the first of many of your books!

  55. I could relate so much to this post.
    I have a sign on my desk that says: When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed dooor that we do not see the one which has opened for us. Helen Keller
    Thanks for sharing! I needed this!

  56. Congratulations that you have two picture books which will debut in the next few months. I’m excited for you!
    As many have mentioned, I appreciated how you shared your writing journey. Your description of the persistence of a mother with a double-wide stroller, who was determined to get through a door, really spoke to me about the necessity to have perseverance and determination as a writer. Thank you for sharing words of encouragement.

  57. This is so inspiring and shows both persistence and sincerity on your part. A beautiful insight into a successful journey. Thanks for sharing it in such an accessible and encouraging way!

  58. Thank you for sharing your inspirational journey, and showing how perseverance is the only road. Congrats on your adorable picture books!

  59. I appreciated reading about your persistence and positive perspective on this writing journey. Thank you for cheering us all on and encouraging us with your insights and experiences along the way too!

  60. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us Joy, as we persevere with our writing. Congratulations on your picture books!

  61. Thank you for your encouraging words and inspiration as we persevere with our writing. I really enjoyed reading about your path to publication. Congratulations on your picture books!

  62. Thank you Katrina! I recently attended my first regional SCBWI conference and was terrified to walk in the room. I should have known better as the kid lit writing community is one of the most generous groups I know! I appreciated hearing your journey. Best of luck in the future.

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