Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Judyann Ackerman-Grant!
What is the name of your book? Who is the publisher?
Chicken Said ‘Cluck’! Published by HarperCollins
A Day at the Fair Published by Richard C. Owen
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
I originally wrote the chicken story for an ICL contest. My entry didn’t win but I liked the story and so I consulted my ICL Book Market until finding a publisher who was looking for manuscripts like the one I had written. I submitted it and the editor called two months later with an acceptance!
How long have you been writing?
Before I began putting words down on paper, I spun stories in my head while perched in my favorite childhood apple tree. Then I began writing in the ninth grade after my English teacher loved a Halloween story I had done for a class assignment. After graduation I worked at a small-town newspaper office doing everything from typesetting, to layout, to delivering newspapers and eventually to writing my own column. Once I left the newspaper to begin a family, I had time to take classes, attend conferences, and start a freelance writing career.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I am drawn to inspirational writing because God and church have been a part of my life since I was born. I also love to write for children. Writing for children helps keep me grounded in the simple joys and mysteries of life (our nine grandchildren also help do that too!)
What ICL courses have your taken?
I took the ICL fiction writing course.
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
The course helped greatly by motivating me to write, by offering helpful critiques, showing me how to improve my prose, and by prompting me to create deadlines for assignments. My instructor’s encouragement gave me confidence to pursue my goal of becoming a published author.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
Not directly. But I’m not one to waste anything so ideas I generated during the course have filtered into my writing from time to time over the years.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
My #1 is believe in yourself. If I had let the disappointment of not winning the ICL contest get to me, I never would have submitted my story to a publisher. I never would have won a Dr. Seuss Award and I never would have been flown to Chicago to receive the award at the ALA convention.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I would go back to my very first painful rejection (in 1983!) and tell myself to “hang in there! It takes practice. It takes submitting and getting rejected. It takes a thick skin. It takes perseverance. But your time will come and all the disappointment will melt away.”
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
I learned the value of working consistently on a project, setting deadlines and creating goals. As a writer, I tend to procrastinate; I need motivation and a reason to write. If ICL hadn’t sponsored the contest I never would have written the story that eventually became a book. I’m grateful to ICL for providing the motivation and direction I needed to come up with a winning story.
What’s the best job in the world?
Being a writer!
Judyann Ackerman-Grant has by-lines in numerous online and print publications for children and adults. She has written a monthly inspirational column for over thirty years that appears in two local and one national newspaper. Her work has also appeared in the magazine Highlights for Children. She has two children’s book in print and essays in a half dozen anthologies.