Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome the awesome author Carrie S. Fannin. I met her during the #FallWritingFrenzy competition I co-host with literary agent Kaitlyn Sanchez. And if you participated in the competition yourself, feel free to comment below and share with us.
Here’s Carrie’s success story, in her words:
One of the things I love about kidlit writing contests is how they push me to grow as a creator. Fall Writing Frenzy’s beautiful and intriguing array of photo prompts each year makes me reach a deeper place than usual to find the story.
But the process of writing ‘Once a House’ for the 2021 contest pushed me even further. It helped me take a leap that led to an entirely new role in the writing world.
While ‘Once a House’ didn’t win any prizes in the Fall Frenzy, I found myself with this piece that felt like my writer’s voice was coming through in a new way, that the poem was saying a true thing. Maybe it was working from a photo, which was a new thing for me, that helped me find my next gear.
A few months later, I saw a call from Little Thoughts Press magazine for kidlit poems and stories with a nature theme. I sent in my Fall Frenzy piece and was thrilled when I received an email from the editor Claire Taylor a few weeks later that the poem would be published—my first publication credit!
But the success story doesn’t end there.
I’d gained confidence from the struggle to find and write this story from a picture prompt. Another bit came along with its acceptance for publication. Then a little bit more confidence in the magazine accepting more pieces. And so, with the wind at my back, I took a leap and did something a little out of character for me—I asked if I could come onto the magazine as a submissions reader.
It was an experience I’d always wanted, and I’m delighted to report Claire said, “yes.”
I’m just finished reading the submissions for the upcoming “Autumnatopoeia” themed issue, a delightful mashup of the fall season and onomatopoeia as an inspiration. (More about the magazine and current submission opportunities here.)
From writing a story to publishing it to becoming a submission reader–all are successes that sprang from the fabulous Fall Writing Frenzy contest. And that from a story that didn’t win a prize!) If anyone is on the fence about whether to give entering the contest a shot, I say, “go for it!” You don’t know where it might lead.
(See more below about the entry, etc.)
Time of Contest – October, 2021
The prompt I chose:
(Photo credit: Julia Solonina / Unsplash)
A reverse search on this image reveals the building is the chapel at Berg Eltz, an 850+ year old castle in Germany. The age of the property and location were two of the sparks for my poem.
Read more about the castle’s fascinating history here: https://burg-eltz.de/en/eltz-castle-the-attractions/castle-tour.html
Once a House
by Carrie Karnes-Fannin (177 words)
She’d once been a house,
but that was long ago. She remembered
what it was like.
piled like cordwood ahead of winter snows
For at her heart
were the trees.
people called them,
turning the black forest
into boards and rafters
those they’ve sheltered.
Chicks under the eaves
with broken shells clinging
to their damp heads.
Mice and their hidden highways
between golden paneled walls.
A girl’s laughter ringing in the hall,
and through the years.
she’d loved them all
the wood reclaimed her
as its own,
time dripped down
leafy crowns bathed by crystal rains
fed the tender roots
that coursed through cracks
twisting turning tasting
and drank deep from her well
A thousand dappled suns
kissed her ruined walls,
among the saplings.
she loved them still
under a frosty blanket,
her bones slept
yellow orange red
drifting falling dreaming
once-and-future girl climbed,
who used to be a home,
and would always
My interview with Little Thoughts Press magazine with more about writing the piece:
Announcement from LTP about my joining them as a reader:
What would you say to other authors struggling in the querying trenches?
If I could give one piece of advice to a creative who is querying, it would be to quit.
Quit querying? Not at all. But the words we choose to tell a story matter, and that includes the stories we tell ourselves. We often talk about struggling in the trenches—it’s as if we’re at war to get a book deal. It may feel like it! However, can you control how many “likes” you get in a pitch event? If agents respond to a query? The number of full requests you receive? No. Many of us (myself included) struggle because we’re trying to control the uncontrollable. And that’s exhausting.
So, my advice is to quit spending spoons on what you can’t control, send out those queries, and get back to creating the fantastic work only you can make.
How do you deal with rejection?
I’m going to be honest and admit that receiving passes can be super hard. Some hit harder than others. One of my coping methods is having many potential wins in the making. Don’t hang your hat on one project or one agent. In addition to querying, I enter a ton of contests (like the Fall Writing Frenzy!), apply for mentorships, submit directly to publishers, etc. That way, there’s always potential for good news just around the corner.
Who are some of your mentors when it comes to kidlit authors?
I received a formal picture book mentorship in 2020 in Justin Colon’s PB Chat program with author Elisa Boxer. And even now, I closely observe how she approaches the business side of our industry. In that way she continues to mentor me.
Though she might be surprised to hear this, Sara Fajardo has also been a great mentor. I’ve learned so much seeing how she navigated signing with an agent, her first book deal, etc., and from reading her gorgeous writing. When confronted with a thorny story problem, I ask myself, “What would Sara do?”
And just for fun, if you had to be an animal, what would you be and why?
I’d love to be a sea turtle. They are beautiful, serene creatures who travel the world and lead such mysterious lives.
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