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Stacy McAnulty – 12 X 12 Featured Author May 2015

Stacy McAnulty – 12 x 12 Featured Author May 2015

Author Stacy McAnulty

True story of how this post came to be: I knew Stacy McAnulty, of course, since she is in her 3rd year of 12 x 12 AND we own Dear Santasaurus. But over the past couple of months, she had been making so many motivational and “spot-on” comments on the 12 x 12 Facebook Group that I went to her website to learn more about her.

And I was blown away.

I begged her to come and tell her story as a featured author for 12 x 12, and she graciously agreed. Speaking of gracious (and generous), Stacy is offering TWO picture book critiques as a prize at the end of this month!! Extra motivation to get those drafts done.

I don’t want to spoil even a single part of her story so you will experience the impact of unfolding it for yourself. Read on my friends, and get ready for your outlook on writing picture books to be changed. Please welcome, Stacy!

I Was Ready to Quit

By all accounts, I probably shouldn’t be a writer. I have a B.S. in mechanical engineering, I only took one English class in college, and I hated reading as a kid. We didn’t have many books in the house—I can remember one Golden Book: The Pokey Little Puppy, and an illustrated Bible (which strangely had a unicorn in the art). And, even now, if I were to take the SATs for fun (as if!) I’d do much better on the math portion than on the reading or the essay.

So how did this math-girl end up as a children’s book author? I love stories! I began writing after college. I completed two novels, found an agent, and sold…nothing. Life moved forward. I married. I had kids. That’s when I fell in love with children’s literature, which was all new to me.

Like most new kidlit writers, I made the terrible mistake of thinking writing for children—especially picture books—would be far easier than writing novels for adults. Picture books are short. They contain an essential message like: clean your room, eat your vegetables, tell the truth. They feature cute, fluffy animals. (Obviously, I was wrong on a few things.)  How hard could it be?

Fast forward to today, because now I know the answer. It’s incredibly hard—which is why I nearly quit. (Glad I didn’t. Turns out I was only a few months from my “big break.”) In December 2012, I went to a big-name conference/workshop in California.  I live in North Carolina, so this was at a sizable cost. At this event, an agent leading a roundtable critique slammed my manuscript. I sat there and nodded quietly while, on the inside, I was wishing for a glass of wine and the ability to shoot lasers from my eyes. It was not a good day. On the long flight home, I wrote myself an essay, essentially begging myself to quit writing. Who was I kidding? I’d already spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours trying to make it work. It was time to return to engineering, earn a paycheck, save for retirement, etc. etc.

Here’s some of that harsh, hateful essay to myself.

You don’t know what you are doing. You are wasting your life and will never be any good at the thing you really, really want. Life is short. Is it worth chasing a dream at the sacrifice of everything else? You’ve shown no sign of improvement….  (much swearing in this section)…  I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. I wish I could give you the last five years over again. I wish you could do it all differently.… (more whining and name calling)…  You aren’t ready and probably never will be. You need to quit already!

Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnultyBut I didn’t quit. I took off the rest of December and in January did the resolution thing, where I promised myself to try for one more year. And, thank goodness, because what a year it was!

In January 2013, I joined 12×12 — one of the best decisions I’ve made. I met my awesome critique group and I would still be sending out flawed queries without them. I worked on a slew of new manuscripts. And while it pains me to admit this, that publishing pro from the December workshop… may have helped me. Her downright nasty critique (ok, I may not be over it to this day!) pushed me to shelve that manuscript, freeing me to work on new stuff. It wasn’t instant success—spoiler alert: it never is!  In the spring, I won a contest and a major agent asked to see more of my work. I sent it off and was promptly rejected a few weeks later. I cried. And I may have had a glass of wine or three. I also prayed and made public declarations on Facebook that I was done with writing. The next day I sent out eight new queries. Turns out I’m bad at quitting. Unless it’s a diet. I’m excellent at quitting diets.

On June 14, 2013, one of those eight queries struck gold. Lori Kilkelly of Rodeen Literary Management offered to represent me. Full disclosure, I’d actually queried Paul Rodeen because Lori wasn’t yet named in the usual sources. She was just beginning to slowly build her client list—I was her second client signed. We just clicked. Over the next 20 months, Lori would go on to sell 11 books for me; eight picture books and three chapter books. She’ll kill me if I don’t note that this is rather unusual and not the pace we expect to maintain going forward. All but one of those PBs I wrote after joining 12×12. Trust me, there have still been plenty of rejections. The toughest was a YA novel that’s deeply personal about a Marine dying in Afghanistan. But over time I’ve learned, rejections and self-doubt are part of this process. (Still don’t like those parts!)

Dino Files by Stacy McAnultyThis can all best be summed up in a line I heard at church last weekend. It’s not a Bible quote. It’s just the truth about life and applies to writing, sports, love, careers, everything. The things you want often come through the things you don’t. (Click to tweet this

None of us want rejections. We don’t like cruel critiques. We don’t want to wait five years for a yes. But when it finally comes, I swear you will say it was worth it. You’ll say, “I’d do it again.” I know I would.

Everyone’s path will be different. But at some point, most of you will have at least a moment where quitting is an option. Hell, it probably feels like the smart option. Don’t do it. Don’t quit.

In the meantime, a bit of advice on getting through the tough times. It’s not a magic formula, and perhaps you’ve heard it all before, but for what it’s worth…

  1. Don’t quit. (I’m repeating myself because this is important, people!) If you feel like quitting, purge the thought by penning your Authorial Resignation Letter. It will get the ugly out of your head and you can reread with self-satisfaction just before signing your first book contract.
  2. Write a lot more than you’re writing now. I’ve met too many authors that have one picture book manuscript. They’ve been rewriting the same darn thing for a year. Taking it to conferences. Putting it through their critique group. Tweaking the opening sentence. You need three awesome manuscripts and at least five that are embarrassing and awful (never be tempted to share these five with an agent or editor. They will ask you for more. Tell them the three awesome ones are all you have.) If you don’t have these eight manuscripts, you are still in the gestation period.
  3. Make writer friends. You need people who are going through this or who have been through it. Not your spouse. Not your golf buddies. Not your mom. They have no idea. My number-one, go-to writer pal is Laura. (I’m not giving you her last name because I don’t want to share her.) Thank God for Laura. I literally write her a whiny email three times a week. I complain. I share my frustration. I ask her advice. Without her, I’d be lost. She picks me up and either hugs me or slaps me. Both work in different situations. And I do the same for her.
  4. Make good karma. Read picture books. Buy picture books. Tweet about awesome picture books. You will learn something. And it feels good to be a part of the picture book community.
  5. Don’t set a deadline. Sure, you can have a deadline like, “finish the manuscript by the 30th.” But don’t say, “get published by the end of the year.” Too much is out of your control. You can only write an awesome manuscript. That’s your job. And if you work hard enough on your craft, I feel certain you can pull this off. But only the fates can determine when the right agent or editor finds your gem. So focus on what you can control.
  6. Fire back at rejections. I do NOT mean you should argue with the person who sent you the ‘pass.’ When you get one rejection, go out with two more query letters. As a math person, I know there are not an infinite number of agents and editors. You will eventually run out. But then you can start over with a new set of (even better!) manuscripts. This is hard and time consuming. The cycle can take years. But remember…The things you want often come through the things you don’t.
  7. Celebrate! Of course when you get an agent or a deal, you’ll celebrate. But don’t forget to celebrate the journey, the things you CAN control. Finishing a manuscript you’re proud of warrants a mocha-cookie-crumble latte from Starbucks. You did it! You wrote a great picture book! Now then, put down the latte and go write another.

Stacy McAnulty writes for children and teens. Her chapter book series, The Dino Files (Random House Kids), will hit shelves in January 2016. Her picture book, Dear Santasaurus (Boyds Mills Press), is available now. She has eight picture books releasing in 2016 and 2017 including Excellent Ed (Knopf, March 2016) and Beautiful (Running Press Kids, fall 2016). When not writing, Stacy spends her time “researching” on the internet, listening to NPR, baking brownies (followed immediately by eating brownies), sleeping, and reading. She lives in North Carolina with her three kids, two dogs, one husband, and zero dinosaurs.

Stacy blogs about picture books at

This Post Has 214 Comments
  1. Stacy, thanks for an awesome post! I met you last summer at the WOW retreat and I LOVED your engineering approach to the writing process! (Reminded me of my husband who has spreadsheet for everything.) Two weeks ago I almost emailed I QUIT to my critique group after a disappointing critique at a workshop. But, I know I can’t quit either. It’s in my blood. Thanks again!

    1. Deb, you cannot quit our critique group – we’d miss you too much! Though I agree on the other part – great post Stacy on reminding us all to keep on trying and to not give up. It’s a wild journey we’ve embarked on:)

  2. Thanks for the inspirational shout-out. Loved your message. Don’t quit. Control what you can, like finishing that manuscript. Keep submitting. Looking forward to reading your books.

  3. Wonderful post Stacy! And just what we need when the ‘quit’ word pops in our heads. I’m in for the long haul, but it was still helpful to read. Thanks!

  4. So inspiring, Stacy! I can’t tell you how many years I’ve been “trying.” But reading your story shows me how puny my efforts are. Not in the writing department. I’ve got mss stacked higher than Spinosaurus’s remote-controlled flying pterodactyl could soar before its wing broke. And I’ve revised a bunch of them, some many times. But the query business, and especially the rejections — the few I get; most queries disappear into that black hole of no reply — is where I shirk. OK, onward and, hopefully, upward!

  5. Thank you, Stacy. I needed to read this, today of all days. I think I am going to print this out and stick it in my writer’s journal to re-read when I’m beating myself up over not writing enough or not having any ideas or…well the list goes on and on. PS — I’m really good at quitting diets too!

  6. What you say is soooo true. You have to write. You have to put yourself out there. You have to be willing to fail. Wine helps.

    I love my SCBWI goal-setting/critique group. We’re all trying to slay the giant. Everyone needs a cheerleader or cheering section (or maybe I should call them a “don’t feel sorry for yourself” section) when attempting feats that are so difficult and so subjective. My group meets in a café that serves wine, gelato, and pastries. That’s not to say we spend all our time eating and drinking. Oh, no. We give progress reports and set goals for the next month. Increases my productivity tremendously.

    Your productivity (and subsequent success rate) is astounding. It would be difficult to keep up that pace, but it doesn’t hurt to try, does it?

  7. Stacy, I can’t begin to tell you how timely this post is for me. Thank you so much for the inspiration to spend time writing and not quit. Perhaps the best, most enlightening advice for me was:

    “You need three awesome manuscripts and at least five that are embarrassing and awful (never be tempted to share these five with an agent or editor. They will ask you for more. Tell them the three awesome ones are all you have.) If you don’t have these eight manuscripts, you are still in the gestation period.”

    Thanks for sharing your story and being real! And thanks, Julie, for inviting Stacy this month!

  8. Great post. It’s always interesting to see how other people have struggled but managed to keep going. It’s not all down to luck- it’s a lot of perseverance and determination! (And glasses of wine!)

  9. Wow, what an amazing story! Thanks for inspiring all of us not to give up. (Oh, and I have DEAR SANTASAURUS too. Love that book!)

  10. Wonderful post, Stacy! It’s been awesome watching you bloom and getting these book deals. I’m glad you never quit! Thanks for all these great tips!

  11. Yeah, I think this might be a “print out and hang on the wall” kind of post. And I suspect I’m not alone in that. I feel like I just attended a picture book pep rally. Thanks, Stacy!

  12. Wonderful post! Love your story, love your humor. So inspiring and just what I needed to hear. Congratulations to you on your success! May it be ongoing.

  13. Turns out I’m bad at quitting. Unless it’s a diet. I’m excellent at quitting diets.

    Lol, hilarious! Thanks so much for this wonderful post, Stacy. I needed that laugh and I also needed to remember that we all have setbacks. Thanks for helping me (us) see that we’re not alone!

  14. Stacy,
    Fantastic advice, cleverly done and oh-so-true. I particularly appreciate #2. I had a favorite ms that really was darling. I tweaked it this way, that way…and still had one ms. It’s so hard to give up that one you love…but I believe doing so opens you up to more, and better, work. “Write a lot more than you’re writing now” really resonates. It might be my new mantra. Thanks so much!

  15. We have so much in common, I hope your successes are contagious and I “catch” some! I have not always wanted to be a writer and I am a slow reader, so I went through a long period of time when I only read what was required in school (which, in turn, often turned me off to reading for pleasure). Although I did, and probably still would, do better on the math section of the SATs, I did not pursue a math field (psych/child development/social work). I’m not from North Carolina, but my husband is! I have had a closeted dream of being a children’s book writer for some time, but have only gradually been coming out of the closet over the last few years. I have not had the urge to quit yet (though I have days when things don’t seem to be going the way I want), but I, like you, decided to REALLY commit to this dream over the last 1-2 years. In the past year I have attended two local conferences (I had only attended one before) and was brave enough to submit for a critique for the first time. I will be attending another tomorrow (and will receive another critique). I found and joined a local critique group which has been wonderful! I have read even more picture books than I had before (and I thought I had already read a lot) and have learned new ways to look at them as mentor texts; I have completed PiBoIdMo, ReviMo, and ReFoReMo; I joined 12×12 and have so far stayed on track (a new draft and revision per month); and I have discovered so many resources from this supportive community (online blogs, facebook groups, challenges, etc). So, it looks like I’m already on track for your steps #1-5. I haven’t submitted anything yet to an agent to receive a rejection or have cause for celebration for a deal, but I hope that will come in time. In the meantime, I am having a lot of fun, learning a ton, and hopefully this will be reflected in my work. Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and congratulations on your successes. I wish you many more!

  16. Hi Stacy,
    Congratulations on your success. Thanks for the Book of Wisdom quote. And, most of all, thanks for putting your path in STEPS.
    I’ve quit – not intentionally. I had to check the Forum to see if I did, in fact, post a new story in April because it had been so long since I participated.
    An older sister in another state is very ill. When something canceled, I saw an op to fly out to visit. The airline changed my take off. At 1 a.m. it sent a text to change my return. I would have missed my connection. Just by chance, I saw, later, that a better changed had been made, but that interfered with transportation to the airport. I selected a different transportation. I got home, but someone interfered with my credit card. And on and on the days went, until I picked up my pen and wrote, participated in my critique group, found my friends on FB. Today, I took Communion to the elderly and bought food for a child’s First Communion on Sunday.
    Back on track, but I hadn’t purchased a picture book recently. Just added DEAR SANTASAURUS to my cart because you have renewed my hopefulness.

  17. Really great advice and wisdom in this post. Like the idea of writing a resignation lettter which you can read when you sign your book deal! That’s a positive twist.

  18. Stacy, Thank you for sharing the story of your journey to success. We need “DON’T QUIT” messages. Congratulations!

  19. Oh my goodness…I can not tell you how many times I have had the conversation with myself lately about wanting to give up. This post came at just the right time. Your words blew me away. Thank you for taking the time to share about your journey. It was so interesting and inspiring to read. And, thank you 12×12 for keeping me on task and continually posting things that motivate me to continue onward.

  20. Wow, Stacey! What a terrific and honest post. It’s one a lot of us can relate to. Congratulations on your persistence and success!

  21. Wow! Great post. And congrats on the HUGE early successes.

    No wonder “Don’t quit.” is number one. I think this every day. Every. Single. Day. Maybe I should write in a different genre. Maybe I should just open a critique business. Maybe I should take that job at the town hall. But then I read my PiBoIdMo list and write a new PB ms or revise an old one or read a phenomenal post like this. Thanks, Stacy.

  22. Stacy, you have SO encouraged me through your post! I am where you were, wondering where I should go from here. Because of your honesty, I will ‘keep on keeping on’ in my journey through children’s PB writing. It was good to meet you last year at the WOW Retreat outside Atlanta, too!

  23. I loved this post! Even if I don’t understand her quote, I love thinking that I can keep moving past old manuscripts and still create better ones. I thought it was taking too long to succeed. I need to keep trying. This post makes me think I would be giving up without putting the manuscripts out there and submitting to editors or agents. I spend too much time writing, rewriting, trying something new. I need to stop being overwhelmed with platforms and web presence issues and just write. Thanks Stacy for the list of reasons to stick to it. I am saving this author post to re-read.

  24. Such a fantastic story! *Things you want often come through things you don’t.* It kind of reminds me of the “If you pray for rain be prepared to deal with mud.” Thanks for your share and also I love the 32zoo & thanks for your recent follow on twitter! 🙂

  25. Great stuff, Stacy! Since we share an awesome agent, I know about your books — so many! — releasing in 2016 and 2017. But I didn’t know your publishing “back story” until I read this 12×12 piece. I love hearing the different journeys writers on the road to publication. Thanks for sharing your story! (P.S. I also love NPR, baking, eating the results of the baking, sleeping, and reading. : – ) )

  26. Wow – to sell so many stories in the course of a year is truly amazing!! Your story is inspiring, Stacy. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Thank you! Good advice and timely for me. Congratulations on all of your successes. Such an inspiration for all of us.

  28. You are truly an inspiration, Stacy, especially because of your honesty about the frustrations along the way to publication success. Thanks for these insights and your reminder that it will be worth it.

  29. Wow! I really needed to read this today. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I am on a mission and need to move forward. You have just given me the extra push I needed.

  30. Your post is very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. I have several entries in my writing journal about giving up and how terrible my writing is. I will just leave them there and move on with writing another story, because in my heart, I know that’s what I desperately want to and need to do. It’s so comforting to hear that other people have been in the same place and made it through!

  31. WOW! Tremendous post. Thank you SO much for sharing your story. Can’t wait to read your upcoming books!

  32. Loved meeting you at WOW last year, Stacy! This business is hard and I thank you for sharing your honest journey, making other writers feel they aren’t alone in these moments of self doubt.

  33. Wow! What an encouragement, Stacy! Thanks for the words of advice, too. Your testimony demonstrates your determination, as well as the benefit of 12×12, time, patience, and the refusal to quit. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Well … this hit close to home! 🙂 Wonderful post … and timely, since – on about a daily basis – I’m thinking ‘hmmmm, maybe it’s time to drop this dream of being a children’s book author, and return to the corporate world’. Congrats on your amazing successes … looking forward to reading your books.

  35. Wow! This is a fantastic post. Thank you for talking about the reality, dreams, hopes, wishes, and heartbreak associated with this work. You are so right: “The things you want often come through the things you don’t.” At the end of the day, the privilege to read, read, and read some more, AND write, write, write brighten even the most challenging writing moments. It is so wonderful to have the 12×12 community with whom to share all of those moments. Thanks for taking the time to write such a helpful and inspiring post!

  36. Thank you, Stacy, for the inspiration. I met you at WOW last year and enjoyed your presentation-delightful! I’ll be thinking of your phrase, “The things you want often come through the things you don’t.” I look forward to your new releases-CONGRATS!

  37. Stacy,
    Your post is so inspiring. It is also how so many of us feel. Thank you for the encouragement and sharing your unbelievable story. It was nice to meet you in Chapel Hill. I hope to see you in Los Angeles. Remember Saturday morning breakfast in restaurant.

  38. By all accounts, I probably shouldn’t be a writer either! What a fabulous interview, and thanks for proving that anyone with heart, soul and perseverance can do it!

  39. Fantastic post! Love the “fire back” attitude. 🙂 *lights the torches* Thank you for sharing your inspirational journey with us. Hugs and continued success! 🙂

  40. I was told in college by a Teaching Assistant that I couldn’t write, but I kept writing. Thanks for the pick-me-up on this writing rollercoaster!

  41. Stacy, thank you for your positive and helpful words. 12X12 has been a game changer for me…a life changer in terms of having more than just a few manuscripts to submit. You are so right! Thank you!!

  42. Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your journey. What a gift you have given all of us who are desperately trying to hang in there and keep writing! I’m not going to quit (repeat to self, repeat to self…). 🙂

  43. I must be doing something right, because I feel like quitting all the time. Lol Thanks for the encouragement.

  44. Love reading about someone with a math background emerging as a writer… We should never fall into false dichotomies of left brain versus right brain. Good to read

  45. Loved meeting you last year at the WOW Retreat in Ga and sharing s’mores. Love this post and love your success story! Many congratulations!

  46. Thank you for this lovely post. It is good to read that perseverance pays off! It gives us all a little bit more hope. 🙂

  47. Wow! Stacy, this is such an inspiring story of success. I’m still waiting for that first ‘acceptance’ and often times feel like I’m wasting my time. But I’ll take your advice and ‘not give up.’ Thank you so much for your words and congratulations on your cinderella career so far!

  48. I think everyone has doubts but I’m glad you had the courage/perseverance/stubbornness to keep at it! What a great example to those of us still in the trenches!

  49. Thanks for sharing your amazing story, Stacy. By the end of yesterday I wondered what the heck I was doing, years of writing, trying to be better at my craft, submitting, waiting for word from publishers, feeling like I didn’t have a clue. I will not give up.

  50. I have recently been thinking I should just quit, be reasonable, do something that I’m better at, etc, etc. Thank you for your encouraging post!

  51. My Mantra is “keep on writing, keep on writing,” that helps me aim for my goals. I’m happy to see that if I preserve it will pay off! Thanks for your encouragement!

  52. The writer who never gets rejections is the writer who never submits. Rejections mean you’re getting your work out there.That’s the only path to success! We all face the swift-moving river of rejections–all it takes is one bridge to cross over. Keep submitting!

  53. What a cheerleader you are, Stacey! Your “can do” attitude makes me want to open up those abandoned Word docs and pay a visit to my dear abandoned characters. One of the most difficult things about writing for me is when nine people tell me my idea is a winner, then that one, that one person throws water all over the pages. Unfortunately, agent trumps critique groups, librarians, etc… so off to the Island of Discarded Manuscripts the pages go. I need to fight for my creations (in a realistic way, of course)!

    Thanks for sharing!

  54. So glad you shared your terrific story with us, Stacy. Reading it, I felt I had a had a friend out there who understood. Thanks for your encouragement!

  55. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Stacy. Even when I know my writing sucks and agents reject a manuscript after reading the full I can honestly say that I’ve never wanted to quite… either to stubborn or a glutton for punishment I’m not sure which. I loved your line, “Turns out I’m bad at quitting. Unless it’s a diet. I’m excellent at quitting diets”

  56. Stacy, I’m sorry I left it ’til the last of the month to read this, but I’m glad I finally did. It’s so encouraging to read about someone else’s journey, and I think your advice is spot-on. Thanks for sharing. I plan to not quit!

  57. I quit yesterday. And again today for real. And then I read your story. You certainly got me through today, and if I reread your story I might get through tomorrow too! My BFF writing pal has gone to England for the summer. I understand the need to have a support BFF! I sure wish I would have had your dino stories when I was teaching second grade and had kids so into dinosaurs that we ate, slept, and read about dinosaurs together for weeks! But I will certainly pass on the stories to the teachers I worked with! Thank you for sharing your story, you are an inspiration to many (mainly ME!). We need more of your kind of person in the children’s writing field!

  58. Stacy- thank you for sharing your experience. I wonder why I am on this path to be a writer when English was always my weakest subject, second to history in school. If I quit I will never know the reason. You just gave me some more motivation to stay on track and keep going forward.

  59. She hugs you or slaps you…I LOVE that, Stacy. And I love your tenacity…it’s the stuff successful authors, successful illustrators and successful anybodies are made of. 😉
    Thank you for sharing your quote…what an inspiring mantra that is.
    Thank you also for sharing about your agent and how you were her second client…that is helpful to those of us who are still searching. 😉
    And congratulations on your many book deals…12×12 ROCKS and you do, too!!!!

  60. Excellent wisdom doled out here. Nice to know others sometimes hit the rejection wall and send out more queries, just to defy the odds. Thanks for your suggestions.

  61. Thank you for sharing Stacy.
    “…celebrate the journey” (from your point #7) speaks to me “write” now as I sure think this is all a lot of fun…the writing, writer friends, honing the craft…

  62. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. There are times I wonder if I will ever get anything published but now it will be more difficult to quit!

  63. I loved your advice – especially the give good karma one. I haven’t seen that before and like to think that I was doing it anyway! Love it!

  64. Thank you for sharing your path to publication and for the encouraging words and advice. Very inspiring!

  65. Wonderful advice. Thank you Stacey. I am guilty of working on one manuscript, to the point of ruining it (I think…) Will get to work on re-vising my other drafts and look forward to reading your blog. J

  66. THANK YOU! What a delightful post! Perfect advice as we head into the SIXTH month of 2015! (Wow…almost halfway through the year…how is that even possible?)

  67. Stacy, your post struck a chord with me and I couldn’t help bringing up your encouraging words in several conversations I had with writer friends this month. Your encouragement was especially timely because I attended a big-name writing workshop myself just last weekend, and thanks to you I think I was really prepared to learn from WHATEVER came at me while I was there–and there was definitely some challenging stuff to work through! Congratulations on not giving up and on all the good that has come from your struggles!

  68. How inspiring your post has been. Your words of encouragement are just what I need to hear. Thank you.

  69. Thank you for this awesomely personal and inspurational post! I am motivated
    to count my mss’s and see if I have at least 3 fabulous ones and 5 awfuls sitting around. Then I am gonna reconnect with the group and find a critique partner or two for queries, etc. Quit on that. See, you’re making a difference out here. All the best!

  70. Stacy, I am so glad you are bad at quitting. I can relate to all that you said. I am too stubborn to quit, but the doldrums sure take up residence!! Thinking i need to keep more wine on hand!!
    Your honesty is encouraging and your success is commendable. Congratulations!

  71. Thank you, thank you, thank you for these words of affirmation and encouragement. Life has recently thrown me some real curve balls and has forced me to put my writing on the very last burner. It can be so tempting to say, “Oh well, if I can’t give it my all, why do it at all?” But I think it’s really about holding on. No matter how short the rope has become, don’t let go. Writing is too much a part of the way God put me together. Having a supportive community like 12 x 12 makes it so much more manageable to hold on when the easy thing is to let go. How many beatiful stories would we be missing in the world if those authors gave up too soon? How many are we missing now because they did?

  72. Stacey: What a journey! Thanks so much for letting us know that critiques can actually HELP….and I bought your book Dear Santasaurus and love the snarky voice. You nailed it!

  73. Congratulations on your work ethic and success. You have included many helpful, truthful tidbits in the content of your story. Thank you for sharing. I have to admit that I have been guilty of putting many eggs in one basket with one particular manuscript, and I realize that I have to take more steps to move forward.

  74. I think I already commented but if not – thank you, thank you, thank you for the encouragement. It helps me keep putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard, etc.

  75. Thank you for the inspiration. I’ve always been very goal oriented and I’ve been getting down on myself lately. I will be revising my “Get a book under contract by the end of the year” goal to something I can control. I also will not give up!

  76. When I first started to pursue writing I wrote a letter to myself convincing me that I could do this. I read it often.
    The things you want often come through the things you don’t. So True. Thank you for your post.

  77. That was an awesome post! I will have to save this one for when that moment comes. Thank you for sharing your almost quitting story. And yeah to a fellow engineer!

  78. So only five of our manuscripts are supposed to be so bad we don’t show anyone? I surpassed that number in High School. I think I need to revisit some of those old “crap” HS manuscripts and polish them. They have to be not junk!

  79. I like the advice to write a lot more than you do now. I was reflecting today on the PIBOIDMO ideas I had yet to turn into full blown stories and I was thinking about the rule of 10’s … 10 ideas would yield one completed manuscript and 10 manuscripts would yield one good submission and 10 submissions would yield one offer so I better get writing!

  80. This is the second time I’ve read this post from Stacy McAnulty and I think I need it printed on a poster to hang beside me while I write. So many wonderful nuggets of advice and encouragement!

  81. Such a great interview. Great encouragement. Especially love the verse “The things you want often come through the things you don’t.” Helps us all to keep writing!

  82. Wonderful advice and thanks for the pick-me-up! I especially love the idea of doubling-down on rejections – spurring new queries and submissions. Thanks so much for sharing your story and offering critiques!

  83. I agree with you about having several MS ready before you start sending them out, and only showing your best work.

  84. Great post, Stacy! I suffer with the idea that my kids’ books might not be good enough, but I keep plugging away at it. I also know that I suck at writing queries, which hasn’t helped. lol!
    I have a couple of kids who I think will adore you dino series! 🙂

  85. So many of us have probably written that letter (perhaps only in our heads) because we haven’t figured out what needs to happen to make it all come together for us. You gave some excellent advice. Thanks for sharing and congrats. You hung in there, worked hard and it happened! Go Stacy!

  86. Thank you, Stacy, and congratulations on your success. Your advice comes at a very good time. I received a rejection recently but I’m still not sending out enough queries. Your idea to send out two for every rejection will move my query count up considerably. I also appreciated your tip regarding deadlines. I have now removed “Get published by the end of the year” and replaced it with “Finish current manuscript by end of XXXXX.” Best wishes.

  87. I am going to truly take to heart your advice about ‘writing a lot more than you’re writing now.’ I need to bump up my productivity and not put all my eggs in one basket! I’m also going to experiment with different genres (personal essay, non-fiction) and see where I can learn and incorporate different ways of thinking! And I will persevere! Thanks Stacy!!!

  88. You have inspired me to be more methodical about my submissions, Stacy. Thanks for sharing your story!

  89. This reminds me of SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE …they are ‘this’ close to the diamond when they give up going in the right direction. I love especially that you sent 8 queries the day after you ‘quit.’ Even through your frustration, you believed in yourself. A great lesson. Thanks for sharing.

  90. Thanks for reminding us to keep writing and building up our body of work! I appreciate your telling us about your journey.

  91. I think that quitting may be much harder when it is the important stuff you’re trying to (or not to) quit — so on some level you must have had a sense that you were SUPPOSED to be writing! Thanks for sharing your story — and congrats on all the successes!

  92. Thank you, Stacy, for this fantastic, inspiring post! I have recently had some “who am I kidding” moments, so this post comes at the perfect time for me. And it was a pleasure meeting you on Saturday at Booklandia!

  93. This came just at the right time for me. Down-sized last year, my road for the last year has been to get “the Real Job” to pay the bills. Writing took the back burner, along with my Art, 12 x 12, How to Make Money as a Writer and The Ultimate Guide to Submissions. I was ready to give it up, but my real inner self will not let me quit. I am now ready to push forward again and need to get to LA.

  94. Thank you, Stacey, for the GREAT advice! The goal of 3 (great) + 5 (rough) manuscripts gives me such a clear idea of where I’m at in the process. I think I’ll write myself two letters–one form the place of the deepest down, and also a letter of encouragement. Both may come in handy.

  95. Thanks for an inspiring post! I’m an ex-software engineer – left brained like you, and made many of the same erroneous assumptions. Still foolishly hopeful of publication, I keep banging my head against the wall. But one day I’ll get that break through – either figuratively or literally.

  96. Thanks, Stacy, for sharing your story. As many others have said, I can certainly identify with your tales of working on manuscripts, diving into critique groups, attending myriad conferences, and papering the walls with rejections. It’s great to hear success stories coupled with “Don’t give up.” I won’t!

  97. Great post – thank you for reminding us never to give up on our dreams. Sometimes its the success of others that gives us the little push we need to continue. Thanks again for the encouragement!

  98. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I also sometimes wonder if my brain even qualifies me to be a writer, as I’m a weird mix of left-brained and right-brained – a web programmer & 3D animator who read books as a child only if the pictures were really pretty. This is my first year in the 12×12 and I’m loving it and your post is one of the many reasons why. Thank you again and congratulations on your success.

  99. A very uplifting post! I can relate to wanting to quit but being unable to. I am so addicted to writing. Good days, bad days, I have to write. Thank you for inspiring us to continue.

  100. This was just right day to read this… thank you. No procrastinating today (although kitchen dishes are really calling me). No, they can wait… it is a new story kinda day!

  101. Thanks for a great post, Stacy! It’s always good to hear about another writer who DIDN’T listen to the inner voice telling them to quit.


  102. Thanks, Stacy! Love the quote “the things you want often come through the things you don’t”. Great reminder to surround yourself with other writers – unnecessary words and unwieldy sentences look brilliant in a vacuum.

  103. It feels re-assuring to have read your post as I . Best words ever: “wasn’t instant success—spoiler alert: it never is!” Thank you.

  104. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you Stacy for being so honest about the tough parts of your journey as well as the fun parts. I loved your essay to yourself! And your tips are very helpful too.

  105. Thanks for your inspiring post. I think we all think about quitting, it’s a challenging, frustrating profession. But when words are clicking, it sure is a lot of fun! So happy it all worked out for you. Good luck!

  106. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your story — this is inspiring! And congratulations on your success (after all that!).

  107. Stacy, I am right where you were before. Congratulations on all the great success. Thank you for the pep talk.

  108. Quitting hasn’t come to mind, yet…just the lack of motivation, wanting the ‘Yes’ from an agent, wanting to ‘want’ to write and edit. This helps, though, Stacy. Thanks 🙂

  109. Glad I haven’t quit & made it to the end of May & took the time to read this post! Thank you for sharing your story & advice, Stacy.

  110. Bummed it took me the whole month to get over here to read this, but so glad for the check-in reminding me to do so! Great post.

  111. This was such a great sharing. Very encouraging and I find the advice of having a number of manuscripts going at one time to be helpful. It is too darn easy to get obsessed with the one or two that keep haunting me and going back over and over to them, and not working on fresh ideas, trusting that the others will come back into the light at the right time. Thank you, Ms. McAnulty for your ideas and wisdom.

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