Guest Blog Posts

You may notice that my debut novel pub date is different in some of these. That's because it originally was scheduled to be published Sept. 1. Then, the date was bumped to Oct. 18, and now it's Nov. 22, 2022. It's the curse of the evil supply chain pixies!

Nevertheless, She (Also) Persisted

A bit about my long, looooooong journey to publication and tips and encouragement to others slogging toward their dreams. This ran on the Middle Grade Book Village blog Oct. 10, 2022. Sneek peek: I couldn't keep creating if I felt like a failure every day. Read it here.

2022 Debut Middle Grade Novels: A Gaggle of "Onlies" 

Ava, the main character in my novel, is an only child, and has plenty of company among other debut protagonists. I talked to eleven 2022 debut authors about why they wrote about only children and also debunked some stereotypes. Sneek peek: “Sometimes we write from our own experiences, sometimes what fascinates us most are the lives we never got to lead,” says Refe Tuma, who grew up with four siblings, has four kids, and wrote about an only child in Frances and the Monster. My post ran Oct. 11, 2022, on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog. Read it here.

Sarah Aronson's Monday Motivation Newsletter

I was thrilled to write "How to Play" for author (and my dear friend) Sarah Aronson's newsletter. It ran Aug. 1, 2022.

Hi Writers! Please welcome my friend, former roomie, and debut author, Kellye Crocker! I am so excited for you to read her debut novel, Dad's Girlfriend and Other Anxieties, which will release next month! (It's full of heart and humor--just like Kellye! I LOVED it!!!) 
Head on over to Goodreads for a chance to win a copy!

 

Or share this newsletter on Twitter, and I might send you one, too!  And now: here's Kellye!!!!

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”—Diane Ackerman
 
Dear Writers,
 
The only thing I knew about Colorado when I moved here in early 2015 was that my husband had a job in Denver. After living in Iowa for 26 years, the change was exciting. It also triggered my anxiety, which had been controlled for years. It didn’t help that I also was in a rough place with my writing.
 
Since earning my MFA (with Sarah!) in 2006, I’d written fiction for young people steadily and seriously. But I wasn’t published. I didn’t have an agent. I felt sorry for myself. Sarah suggested: What if you took a less-serious approach?
 
Unless you’re new here (and, if so, welcome!), you know Sarah is all about the power of play. Then, though, she was just beginning to explore these ideas. 
 
We’re born with the impulse to play already hardwired into an ancient part of our brains, according to the National Institute for Play. More than 30 years’ of research shows play isn’t just for kids. For adults, play boosts optimism, social-emotional skills and productivity, keeps brains flexible, and fights depression.
 
After talking to Sarah, I started a story about Ava, an Iowa girl with a newly diagnosed anxiety disorder who doesn’t want to visit Colorado to meet her dad’s girlfriend and her daughter. Here are some ways I played:

 

  1. As best I could (that is, imperfectly), I let go of perfectionism, fear, and worries about product and publication.

 

 2. I paid attention to what delighted, bewildered and scared me in Colorado.

 

 3. I journaled, journaled, journaled. (Another thing Sarah and I have in common.)

 

 4. I made writing as pleasant as possible. I moved my desk to a wide, sunny window and     bought some interesting incense. I experimented with POV, voice, scenes, and alternate ways to tell the story—without pressure or expectation, just to see what happened. (Pages from Ava’s journal appear in the book). When the Inner Critic inevitably popped in, I gave her a hug and a nice cup of tea.

 

 5. When Sarah worked through John Hendrix’s Drawing Is Magic, I bought it, too. I hadn’t drawn since a junior high art teacher let me know I had no talent. Doodling in the book unexpectedly led me to painting and collage, iPad art, online classes and communities—and even an in-person retreat in Phoenix last April.

 
I felt a bit guilty. Who was I to be giving my time, money, and attention to something merely because I wanted to? Because it gave me pleasure? But, of course, this was the point. Making art—expressing myself without words, with zero expectation that it would look good or become a side hustle—opened something inside me that improved my writing and life.
 
All of this helped me realize that writing from a joyful place (even about sad things) leads to stronger writing. When my middle grade debut, Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties, publishes one month from today, it will be a lifelong dream come true. #latebloomer #thankyouSarah!

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Are you ready to stretch? Reach? Groan? Embrace the power of play?

How and when do you play? How could you get more play into your life, including your writing? 
 
Playing with words can be a great writing warm-up that gets ideas flowing. I’ve used this Name Game with writers from elementary through high school, and we’ve always ended up laughing.

 

  1. Write your full name.

  2. Write the letters of your name in alphabetical order. (This helps with #3.)

  3. Make words! (You can only use the letters that appear in your name, but you CAN use letters more than once, even if they don’t appear in your name more than once.)

  4. Make sentences!

  5. Can you make a poem or a little story?

 
For this, I use ALL my names: Kellye Susanne Carter Crocker (A, C, E, K, L, N, O, R, S, T, U, Y). I came up with this:
 
Rosy sun on a lake.
Lonely slacker eats your cake.
Not your kale.
 
Uncle Loser snarls at son.
You retreat, cry, run.
Stress takes a toll.
 
Are you lost? Are you stuck?
Try to look at all your luck.
Say yes, okay?
 
At least call us on your cell,
Tell a story only you can tell.
You are not alone.

 

 

Thank you, Kellye! Play is the way! I'm going to do this prompt right now!

Have a great writing week!

Sarah

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