CMA is Publishing a Book! Wrapping up the Writers Group and Meeting the Authors (Part 1)

Remember that book CMA started writing (and editing) a year ago that we kept promising to update you on? Well, it’s almost here! For starters, we have a cover (thanks to that contest you entered)! And a title! Here it is:


We’re changing “Diary” to “Journal” but still! Cover! Title!

Better still, we have input from the writers themselves. If you ever wanted to know what writing a book with 20 people was like, they’ll happily tell you. In their own words.

Here’s Part 1 of our Q&A with the writers chosen for the “Dear Journal You’re Freaking Me Out Project” (with Part 2 coming soon at the book’s publication):

How do you feel co-writing supports the writing community?

Professionals can always learn from each other and should take every opportunity to do so. Writing together strengthens us individually as well as communally. It’s great practice. —Jen Hill. Chapter: Lorna Larson (1936)

It’s been so neat to co-write with this amazing group of authors! I am so lucky to have such a great supportive group to work with on this book! Seeing as we are writing a story set in the same place (that gets more and more decomposed over time), having a number of authors discuss this setting through different time periods ensures that we have a really solid base to draw from. While I can think quite creatively about the extent of our fictional world, when that thinking is combined with a number of creative writers that world gets so much bigger- and so much richer! — Kristen McGregor. Chapter: Carissa McDonough (1996)

As writers support and collaborate with each other, we certainly learn more about writing, about technique, about compelling storytelling, about how to best reach an audience of children. I think co writing can also spark great creativity—giving us more to work with than just our own individual ideas and histories –Andie Levinger. Chapter: Pearl Miller (2000)


How often do you write for personal versus professional work?

I write everyday. I am compelled by work and by passion. I go through highs and lows with my writing. I can have a lot of work and other times I get to go to yoga everyday. I can be really inspired and forget to shower, eat or pee for days, and then other times I loathe my clock which ticks just to remind me that my deadline is fastly approaching, and doom awaits. Well maybe not doom, just midnight crunching on my laptop and then morning bliss as I send my work off.  Yes I write everyday because I am compelled by work and passion –Courtney Eickman. Chapter: Frances Lefore (1966)

What inspires you to write for children?

As a life long educator and lover of reading, I’ve always wanted to write for children. I’ve had the pleasure of reading my own work and the work of others to children. Seeing the gleam in their eyes as I once had as a child, has been inspirational.  It will be a great treat to share my chapter and our book with my great nieces and nephews, and the children I know of tween age. — Terry Solowey. Chapter: Sam Silberstone (2013)

Three reasons, really: 1) to pay kids back for immersing me — and occasionally pummeling me — with their imaginations and innocence, 2) to share kids’ experiences with OTHER kids who are NOT like them so that both groups begin to understand and care for each other, and 3) kids are the only ones who really appreciate a good fart joke. –Robert Rogers. Chapter: Crispus Jefferson (1968)

That’s easy!  My children inspire me to want to write for children.  I love sharing books with them and have from the day they arrived to now, nearly thirteen years later.  I loved watching them gum their favorite board books as babies; adhere themselves to picture books with sticky toddler fingers; pour through “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Dork Diaries” or adventures starring that boy wizard and his best buds at Hogwarts.  Now, I love seeing their taller-than-mom bodies curled around Kindles, all eyes on books of their choosing by authors. I sometimes don’t know.  I long to be a writer that inspires my children, my grandkids, my great-grandkids, my great-great grandkids, your kids, that guy’s kids, butt loads of other kids… ad infinitum… — Cindy McCraw Dircks. Chapter: Mustafa Shalaby (1983)

What drew you to the Dear Journal You’re Freaking Me Out Project?

I was looking to explore writing in a media new for me like an ebook, and to address it to a new age group I had never written for, 10-11 year old children. — Marta Marcos. Chapter: Isabella Schiller (2014)


What was your greatest reward from working on this project? Greatest challenge?

Both my greatest reward and my greatest challenge came from working on the editing team.  Putting together so many chapters with so many voices into one (semi) cohesive story was draining, frustrating, nerve-wracking and, ultimately, my favorite part of being on this project.  I learned a tremendous amount and met some fantastic people. — Danny Friedman. Chapter: Patty (1959)

The most challenging part was learning 20 different people’s individual writing processes and tailoring editorial feedback in the way they could best use. I never wanted to just give notes; I wanted to help each writer grow. That said, I did get a kickass boyfriend out of this, so that’s pretty sweet.– Laurie-Anne Vázquez. Chapter: Omar Jenkins (1991)

Would you want to be involved in another co-writing project?

Absolutely. Writing can feel like a very solitary process. Yet when you’re part of a group like this one where you are exchanging ideas  and collaborating to create something out of nothing that formally solitary endeavor becomes something truly magical. It becomes a place of inspired creativity where all things are possible. The opportunity also helps you grow as a writer in that that you’re not just hearing your own thoughts and ideas but you’re gaining valuable perspective and inspiration from others and in the end it makes you a better writer.The stronger writer you become the better stories you have to tell and in the end you create better books for readers which in turn may help to inspire them to create or do something special in this world. It’s the circle of the writing life. And co-writing projects such as this one only enhance and enrich that circle. So yes I would definitely be part of a co writing project such as this one again. — Cristina Spataro. Chapter: Charlotte “Charly” Valente (1987)