Hi, my name is Barbara Ehrentreu and I am a new author. I am proud to say my young adult (YA) novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is going to be published in September, 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing. I loved to write back in elementary school where I wrote a poem in third grade that was published in the district's newsletter. As things turned out, I hid my love of writing and became a teacher. During that time I wrote poetry for my own benefit and took a few workshops just for fun. It wasn't until later when I started my Masters degree and took a writing workshop that I realized how much I loved to write prose and began to write a fantasy story I had made up to put my little brother to sleep. It had become a story to put my own children to sleep and after I wrote it I wound up revising it later and sending it out to various publishers. I knew nothing about publishing at that point and it was rejected a number of times. So I put it away and decided I needed to learn more about the business. I joined SCBWI, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators where I learned about the kind of writing editors and publishers wanted. One summer I was lucky enough to be part of a children's writing workshop, headed by Paula Danziger, at my school, Manhattanville College. The school hosted a Writer's Week every year and this was part of it. I needed to write a few chapters to be admitted to the workshop and the characters from my novel popped into my head.
One thing you should know about me is I'll write in any genre that my story dictates. In this case it was the POV of a fourteen year old girl. It wasn't in the form it is today, though. Paula Danziger used our writing pieces for the class and she told me to cut much of it. She showed me what worked and when we learned how to develop our characters I was able to flesh out the story a little more. With only a few chapters written I joined an online critique group, YA-authors and started to sub my chapters to the group. Their reaction was good enough for me to keep going, but at a certain point I was stuck in my story. I had no ending and no idea where my secondary character's plot was going. Since she was very important to the story I stopped writing. Then I found out about Laura Backes and The Children's Authors Bootcamp. For two days I attended the Bootcamp and at the end of this intensive workshop in children's writing from A-Z, I not only had a plot for my secondary character, but I had an ending for my story and it flowed easily. Now excited that my story was finished I continued subbing to my critique group and they told me how much I needed to change. I put away their comments and when it came time to revise I took them out and as I reread I saw how their comments worked. By sending my writing to the critique group I learned to become more objective about it and eventually I had revised it several times. I decided to send it to editors I had met at SCBWI Conferences and each time it was rejected. Each time I got a rejection, though, I put it away in a special folder both on the computer and hard copy and revised the story again. I sent it to another writer friend and we exchanged chapters one summer. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor has been revised over nineteen times and the first chapter has been revised at least five times that amount. The first paragraph of that chapter has been revised at least twenty times. It took me five years of sending it out to various publishers where I received seven rejections until it was accepted.
After the last rejection I almost put it away and decided it would never be published, but I attended The Muse Online Writer's Conference and joined Margot Finke's workshop on the Forum. Thinking Margot might have some tips for me I posted my first page. Margot loved it and I had new hope for the story.
Over the years I have met so many wonderful writers who have helped me and who have inspired me. Some of them have become good friends. The community of writers is one of the most supportive I have ever met. I have also found writers are a lot of fun too!!!
My favorite genre is probably YA, but I also write middle grade or MG. My story, "The Trouble with Follow the Leader" is on Story Station and I have an adult story, "Out on a Ledge" on Moondance.org. Two years ago for NaNoWriMo I wrote a romance/suspense/action story and I am subbing that to a critique group now. If I ever publish it I will use my pen name, Trudy Joyce, since it is probably suited for the MuseItHot group here.:) In addition, I have a few flash stories in newsletters and I continue to write poetry. For me, the story dictates the genre in which I write. As you can see, I'm a seat of the pants writer and rarely use an outline. The only time I will use one is if I get stuck and need a guide for my scene. Also I write non-fiction for Examiner.com. As long as I can write something each day I am happy. You could say, writing is my life! I have probably gone on too long, but if you are interested in learning more about me you can come and read my blog, Barbara's Meanderings. Thank you, Lea for letting me put a few of my meanderings on here.:)