Young Kids, Short Attention Span, Short Writing Time

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on February 20, 2018 in Anecdote, Creativity, Elixir Saved, Family, Parenting, Picture Book, WIP, Writing, Young Adult |

Babies and young children have short attention spans, but the title of this post doesn’t refer to my kids’ attention spans; it refers to mine. I once read a quote about a mother’s attention span is only as long as that of her youngest child (I tried looking it up to cite it but couldn’t find it and, honestly, didn’t look that long ūüėČ ). My youngest is 7 months old, so that tells you about how long I can concentrate on any one thing. The shiny hot mess that is social media doesn’t help either!


Hence why I’ve been focusing a lot of my writing time on picture books. Not easier to write than novels, but easier to feel like I’m actually making some progress on it in the shorter work sessions that fit into my current life. I’ve also been reading a ton of picture books with the kids, so I’m naturally inspired by that form.

Yet that old perpetual WIP (work-in-progress) Elixir Saved is weighing on me. I’m at the point where not working on it is always in the back of my mind. It’s different than when I’ve consciously taken a break from it because I needed to. This time I kind of feel like I’m just avoiding it. I’m in the meaty middle of the draft. I know where the story needs to go and I have a solid idea of how to get it there, but it’s gonna take a lot of work. So, yeah, I should probably make it a priority to work on it, instead of finding new things to work on.

Not that I’m going to stop working on my picture books. I just think I need a better balance. Isn’t is that what it always comes down to in pretty much everything in life: finding the right balance.

One last thing. I’m also in the market for a picture book critique partner. I’ve got plenty of writing buddies to exchange novels with, but not so much when it comes to picture books. I’d like someone with a little bit of experience in the area, but you you certainly don’t have to be an expert. Send me a message if you’re interested in seeing if we’re a good match!

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Where Do I Find The Time To Write?

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on February 5, 2018 in Anecdote, Books, Creativity, Family, Parenting, WIP, Writing |

I often get asked the question of how I find the time to write. The short answer to this–and every single writer you know will also have this answer–is that I make the time to write. It’s important to me; it’s part of who I am and how I navigate the world. So no matter how busy I am, I make sure there is time for writing.

I’m lucky to have help from relatives a couple days of weeks with the kiddos. I have a husband who financially supports me, so I don’t have to work for money. Do I have as much time as I’d like to write? Nope. Do I find myself distracted when I do have writing time? You betcha (I’m looking at you, social media!). Is it hard to write when the country feels like a pile of garbage? It sure is. Do I sometimes have to put the writing aside to deal with the business of being a writer? Of course (there’s submitting to do, marketing to plan, chasing people down to get paid, and lots of other stuff that’s not actually writing). Do I write every day? Nope, not even close.

But I do it. With help. I recognize the privilege I have. I think it’s important to point out my privilege because it’s not something writers always talk about. It’s easier to be a writer when you have support. That’s not to say I don’t have my own struggles. I have trouble balancing writing time and taking care of the kids (which is my primary responsibility in life right now). I worry about money, my retirement, and how to pay for the kids to go to college. Now that the boys are growing, I worry about having to go out and get a job just to feed those growing little bodies. Yet, I still make the time to write.

Here’s the thing, I know writers who work full time, have kids, and don’t have the kind of help I have. They make time to write. They do it because it’s important to them. They find a way to create, even when it’s hard, even when it’s done in the wee hours of the night when it feels like everyone else is asleep. They do it even though they’re bone tired. They do it because it’s important to them.

I find the time to write because it’s important to me. So when people ask me about how I find the time to write. I usually say something like, “Oh, I have help with the kids a couple of days a week.” Though the real answer feels far more complicated than that. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it all comes back to the short answer. I find the time to write because I make the time to write. I’m a writer. I don’t know how not to be one…so I write (but not every day!).

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Announcing a School Visit Special

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on January 29, 2018 in Books, Events, News, School visits |

I’m offering a school visit special for the first time ever! If your school or organization purchases 30 or more of my books directly from me (at $10.00 each, either ELIXIR BOUND or PIRATE ISLAND), I’ll do a free writing workshop or assembly. Some of workshop topics include writing fantasy, revision, and generating ideas. I’m also open to working a specific writing topic to fit your needs.

This is for school’s I’d be able to visit without an overnight stay. So that means pretty much anywhere in Connecticut and extending out into parts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and possibly New York. If you’re not sure, just contact me at KatieLCarroll (at) yahoo (dot) com, and I’ll do my best to work something out.

Check out my School Visit Brochure here or my Author Visits page for testimonials. And here is the free Pirate Island Curriculum Guide that includes reader questions, a writing prompt, a nature lesson and activity, and a history of Captain Kidd and activity.

This offer is good for what’s left of the 2017/18 school year, though if I get interest for the fall as well, I might be able to accommodate you. If you know any educators who might be interested in this, please feel free to share my info with them.

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Cheating On My Novels With Picture Books

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on January 23, 2018 in Anecdote, Creativity, Language, Picture Book, Writing |

I’ve so not been in the mood to blog lately. I have lots of things I could write about (both on the blog and in my own writing) but nothing that’s really sparking for me. So I’d rather spend my limited words on my actual writing than here.

So I’m just popping in to say that the one aspect of writing that I’m excited about is picture books. I think the short form is fitting with my attention span right now. Plus, I’ve been reading so many picture books with the boys, it’s hard not to get inspired in that area.

Writing picture books is a fun break from novel writing, which has felt like so much work lately. I’m slogging trough the long sentences and paragraphs in the novels. But my picture book is coming to me in fun little spurts. The scenes are snapshots that I have to interpret into words. Then I have to piece those snapshots together for a whole…but a short whole!

Not to say that shorter = easier. That is certainly not the case. But picture books are different than novels, and a change must be what I need. It’s almost like I’m cheating on the longer form with the shorter stuff. For me, there is less baggage when it comes to picture books. I feel a lot of pressure to get things right with this novel I’m working on, but there’s none of that with my picture books.

So I’m going with it…riding this burst of picture book creativity for now.

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2017 Reading Wrap-up: Favorites and Rec’s

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on January 15, 2018 in Books, Fantasy, Young Adult |

If you use Goodreads, they do a nice end-of-year summary of the all the books you read in a given year (see my 2017 summary on Goodreads). They provide some fun¬† stats on the books and your reading habits, including how many pages (15,327 for me) and books (50 for me, which was my goal–woohoo!) you read. These numbers don’t reflect the many, many, many picture books I read to the boys. I don’t keep track of that; it would be way too onerous.¬†

That’s close to my 2016 numbers (48 books) and a little lower than my highest reading years. Having kids definitely takes away from my reading time, though nursing the baby have proven to be a bit of an equalizer because it gives me quiet time to read (I have both the Kindle and Nook apps on my phone, which is how I do most of my nursing reading).

If you set a yearly reading goal, Goodreads also let you know throughout the year how well you’re keeping up. It was consistently about 2 books behind schedule. I think that’s because I tend to read several books at one time (a book or two on my phone, perhaps one on another device, and print book). I finished up a couple of reads right at the end of the year to reach my goal.

Now for some notable reads (novels only, but I’m thinking about doing a picture book one as well…stay tuned). Let’s start with YA contemporary. The highly-acclaimed THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas lived up to the hype. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s a brilliant read that is timely and classic at the same time. For me, though, it was the characters that put it over the top. It felt like they were real people. I also loved Karen M. McManus’s ONE OF US IS LYING. Pitched as THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets PRETTY LITTLE LIARS with four unreliable narrators, what else do you need to know to want to read this one? For a super sweet romance, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI¬†by¬†Sandhya Menon hit all the right notes for me.

Of course I read some great fantasy this year as well. SIX OF CROWS and its follow-up CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo were brilliant heist novels set in a dark fantasy world that is super fun to read about but maybe wouldn’t be so fun to live in. JULIA VANISHES by Catherine Egan was another rich fantasy world full of persecuted witches. For an urban, paranormal fantasy, I really enjoyed HEART BLADE by Juliana Spink Mills. This one takes place in a world like ours but with demons and angels, and definitely had crossover appeal to the adult market.

In the historical fiction category, SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys was beautiful and heartbreaking. It follows the tragedy of the refugees fleeing East Prussia at the of WWII and the sinking of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. 

For what might be considered a surprise pick for my favorite read of the year, I chose a non-fiction book: VINCENT AND THEO: THE VAN GOGH BROTHERS by¬†Deborah Heiligman! Okay, maybe this shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s about my favorite painter and the relationship he had with his brother…I’m a sucker for stories about siblings.

What were your favorite reads of the year?


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