July 2008

The NJCWG Founders’ Critique Group will be meeting this Wednesday from 7:30pm until 9:30pm at the Borders Bookstore Cafe, at 325 US Highway 202, Flemington, New Jersey. Anyone interested in joining one of our writing/critique groups is welcome to come at 6:30pm for an information session.  Membership in the Guild is free.

We hope to see you there!

~ Sheila Wright, co-founder

The New Jersey SCBWI will be holding a “First Page Session” at the Princeton Theological Seminary at Mackay Hall in Princeton, New Jersey on September 17, 2008 from 4:00 to 6:30pm.  Registration is required, and attendees should bring three copies of the first page from a single manuscript.  Editors and agents will be on hand to provide comments on submissions.

Your first page must meet the following criteria:

  • It needs to fit on a single sheet of paper.
  • It must be double spaced using a 12 point typeface.
  • It must have 1 inch margins on every side.

Do not put your name on the page - do include the genre!

There will also be an optional dinner with the featured editors and agents for those who wish to attend, from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

Speakers will include Alexandra Cooper (Simon & Schuster) and Connie Hsu (Little, Brown and Company).

John in Lambertville, ©Joshua B. WrightThe Writer’s Journey is a section of the NJCWG web site that will explore the challenges and rewards of endeavoring to be a professional, published writer. This column will feature thoughts from co-founders John and Sheila Wright as well as interviews with other writers and artists whose personal experiences will offer valuable insights to all who aspire to put pen to page. 

From the desk of John Wright:

As with many writers, my poems and stories spring to life from the rich memories and experiences of my past and from my patient engagement of the present.

Years ago, I began a song that I had written about the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon with the line “ Listen to the rush of wings upon the wind….”, and in many ways it is that same purposeful, careful and quiet listening that has become the fertile ground of my imagination. (more…)

This past Saturday, my husband I were privileged to have attended the artists’ reception on opening day of The Creativity Expo 2008 at Raritan Valley Community College.  Our friend, Pam, a victim of a car accident that left her with traumatic brain injury, had invited us.  Her poetry, along with the works of many other artists who live with this condition, was on exhibit in the Student Art Gallery. (more…)

Timeless themes and conflicts will forever remain a staple of children’s writing, but Highlights for Children contributor Andrew Gutelle reminds us that a savvy children’s writer also keeps her finger on the pulse of current events:

Content is king. For today’s kids this includes everything from old standbys like dinosaurs and horses to new passions like cell phones and iPods. Since publishing companies are eager to produce what kids want, it is critical that you stay current on the subject of reader interests.

Because they must attract and hold an audience every month, editors of children’s magazines are on the frontline when it comes to interpreting the likes and dislikes of kids. Be sure to check several different magazines regularly. Even general interest publications have a particular point of view, and you want to consider kids from different perspectives. Whichever ones you choose, pay close attention to letters to the editor, advice columns, and other departments where readers can openly express their thoughts in their own words.

Among other accomplishments, Andrew Gutelle ”is a writer, editor, and editorial consultant who has participated in the development of many publishing projects for children,” as well as a five-time Emmy nominee for his work on Reading Rainbow.

~ Joshua

Creativity 2008 Banner

The struggle with personal adversity has inspired some of our greatest works of literature, and the unique group of artists whose work comprises the 2008 Creativity Expo have transformed no less a challenge than brain injury into an opportunity for profound creative expression.  

Information about the event, which runs from July 12th to the 22nd, may be found at the Expo’s web site.

~ Joshua

Looking for a fun new way to spend the 4th?


For a “traditional” 4th of July celebration that’s anything but routine, readers within reach of eastern Pennsylvania need look no further than Bucks County’s own Fonthill Museum for their holiday festivities this weekend! From the museum’s own site:

Friday, July 4 

Noon-5 pm, Fonthill Museum

Experience “the good-old days” as Fonthill re-creates an early 20th century July Fourth Celebration. This year’s festivities include a decorated bike parade, watermelon eating contest, historic car exhibition, free old-time games and live music.  Food is available or you can bid on a picnic basket. Admission is $3 for adults ($2 BCHS members), $1 for children ages 6-17 and free for those under 6.  Parking is free.  Heavy rain cancels event.   For information call 215-348-9461, ext. 10.            

Attending the Fonthill celebration has become a tradition in our family, and I can’t think of a better place to spend the 4th of July!

~ Sheila Wright

(Photograph: Bucks County Historical Society)

Through a series of experiments started in the 1970s, psychologist James W. Pennebaker began to study the effects that writing might have on releasing emotional tension.

Participants in one of Pennebaker’s experiments were broken into two groups. The control group was asked to write about something trivial for 15 minutes per day for four days. The second group was given the same instructions, but with one difference – they were asked to write about the most traumatic event in their lives and to record their deepest thoughts and feelings about it.

The group that expressed their feelings about a traumatic event reported that they felt better, and follow up showed this group to have significantly fewer doctors’ visits and symptoms of illness for almost six months.

A similar experiment produced results showing that subjects who expressed their deepest feelings through writing also boosted their immunity system defenders (T cells) for six weeks following the experiment.

Journal writing also proved effective for relieving asthma and arthritis.

Pennebaker theorizes that writing allows pent up emotions to emerge, relieving stress that impacts blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate. All which affect our emotional and physical health.

Source: for more information, visit everydayhealth.com.

~ Sheila Wright

“Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with short steps.”
— Hans Christian Anderson