Friday, October 23, 2015

Welcomed into the Kid Lit Community with Open Arms by Christina Fecher

Maybe I’m just cynical, fueled by a career as an inquisitive journalist. Or perhaps it’s just because the writing industry overall – newspapers, magazines, books, you name it – is incredibly competitive.

Regardless of the reason, I’m completely amazed – and admittedly a little overwhelmed – at just how welcome the kid lit community has made me feel so far.

I guess I really shouldn’t be too surprised. I mean, we are a group of individuals striving to inspire, encourage, educate and entertain children. Not to mention foster an early appreciation for reading.

But still …

As a newcomer to the community, I’m so appreciative of how much I’ve been helped by people I’ve only just met at the SCBWI-MI Fall Conference!

My experiences have helped me believe that maybe, just maybe, I can make it as a children’s book author after all. To name a few:

The Michigan Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a great resource that I recommend others check out. There’s a mentorship program, webinars and free monthly meet ups to help you further develop your writing. They also have a blog, The Mitten, that I’ve submitted posts to on occasion. They encouraged members to submit a post, so I reached out to Kristin Lenz and her response was both quick and encouraging. That right there spoke volumes because it made me feel as though what I had to say was relevant. It was great meeting her in person earlier this month.

Every writer needs an editor, and I’m so lucky I found Louise Knott Ahern, a former journalist like myself. Maybe found isn’t the correct term since we’ve been Facebook friends for years but have never actually met. Anyway, she took on my manuscript project and helped embolden my voice. Louise smoothed areas in need of TLC, but also highlighted my strengths. She truly made it better, made me stronger. But it was more than that … her feedback built my confidence, declaring me “well-suited to writing children’s books.” And since then, she’s passed along tips and tidbits to help get me noticed.

Christina with Deborah Diesen at the fall conference.
If you have young children, then you’ve certainly read The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen time and again. In fact, it’s a favorite in our household! Well, after much consideration, I decided to reach out and email Ms. Diesen to introduce myself earlier this summer before the SCBWI-MI Fall Conference. I had never emailed a New York Times Best Selling Author before, and the interaction was nothing like I expected. First and foremost, I never even expected a response. Let alone a same-day response congratulating me on my leap into the children’s picture book world and offering insight into her publishing journey. After a few emails – and the opportunity to meet her in person at the conference – I’m definitely taking her advice to heart.

I’ve only scratched the surface into the encouragement and kindness within the kid lit community, but I already feel a confidence that I didn’t have 6 months ago. And I sincerely thank those who’ve given me a moment to say hello. It’s these simple acts of kindness that set this genre apart.

So I think I’ll go ahead and stow my skepticism, because you’ve all proven I don’t need it anymore!

Christina Fecher is a former reporter at The Detroit News, who now handles corporate communications and public relations in West Michigan where she lives with her husband and their two children. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Coming up on the Mitten blog: Adding Mystery to Your Writing, Planning a Critique Group Retreat, more Kiddie Litter cartoons, and another Member Spotlight. See you next Friday!


  1. This post warms my heart on a cold UP day. So happy that you've found a welcoming and supportive community with SCBWI-MI, Christina.

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie! I love the community, and can't wait to learn more and get better acquainted with everyone!

  2. I think this post will resonate with many of us: joining SCBWI was one of the best things I did as a writer--not only did I meet many wonderful, encouraging writers but it also gave me the encouragement to keep moving forward despite rejections. Even though I rarely make it to events/conferences, I still read all the materials/blogs and consider SCBWI (both national and Michigan) to be an excellent resource.

  3. I love the children's literature community and especially SCBWI. They share resources freely. They celebrate and commiserate my ups and downs. They are my tribe, my group, my peers, and I would never want to go back to my old life of writing and illustrating without them.

    1. I just joined an online critique group, and look forward to growing with my peers!