Friday, July 15, 2016


An evil rooster lives on my road. His owners take free-range to a whole new level as this cocky fellow roams in and out of yards, leading his speckled lady-friends astray. My daily walks are like running the gauntlet, as I keep a keen eye out for this neighborhood bully.

This summer, I found myself going from wary to downright fearful, as attempts to pass my nemesis unscathed became more and more of a challenge.

I nearly stopped walking altogether. I almost allowed my fears to control me and take away one of my joys.

How often does this happen in our writing life? We stop writing because we feel we aren't good enough. We stop submitting because we fear rejection. We stop trying because we fear failure. We let the "evil rooster" stop our journey.

Rather than end my daily walks, I've learned a few tricks to keep that foul fowl at bay:

1. Walk with others. The evil rooster is outnumbered and backs off. Your writing journey need not be a lonely one. Writer friends, critique groups, SCBWI, and Mich-Kids are available to you as you forge your path. It helps to have friends walking along the same road who support and believe in you.

2. Take your dogs. They are well-trained so the evil rooster heads in the other direction. As you travel, you are learning and growing. You are training yourself to be the best writer you can be. Feed your dogs well! Take classes. Read how-to books. Get professional critiques. Go to conferences. With the pooches of pedagogy on your leash, you will walk confidently past that dumb-cluck!

3. Carry a big stick! I can't control my free-range foe and I can't control rejection. But I can control my reaction. There was a time when rejection stopped me in my tracks. The little voice in my head  told me to stop! Don't pass go! Give up! But if I had obeyed that evil rooster, I would've never known the joy of having a career that I love. Your stick should be inked with words like Determination, Talent, Hard work, Education, and Practice, Practice, Practice.  When you're armed with a big stick that paltry poultry gets the message: Back Off! 

I still have days when that evil rooster appears. He jumps out unexpectedly and stops me in my tracks. But then I remember, he's not the boss of me! I hold my head up, stand tall, and crow, sending him scurrying into the shrubbery.

After all, he's nothing but a big chicken.

Lisa Wheeler writes in her head as she takes daily walks in rural Addison, MI. She's been fighting that rooster for a few decades. Her newest books, Dino-Racing (Lerner) and The Christmas Boot (Dial) are her 36th and 37th titles. Read more about Lisa and her books at

One of Lisa's beloved books just received a wonderful honor. BUBBLE GUM, BUBBLE GUM, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, was chosen for the Michigan Reads! March 2017 One Book One State Children's Book program by the Michigan Library Association. 

Lisa will be teaching her popular Boot Camp for writers on July 23rd. Learn more here.

Kudos, Lisa!

Coming up on the Mitten blog: MFA Week (yes, I know I've been saying it's coming for months now, but it's a group effort with many contributors, so it's been a bit of a wrangle!), the Sophomore Experience: Your Second Book and More, The Making of a Book Cover, Writing Non-Fiction, another Indie Bookstore Interview, and a new Writer Spotlight - it could be you!

Don't miss out on the SCBWI-MI events happening around the state over the next few months, including Shop Talks, a free Scrivener Workshop, and the Fall Retreat in Harbor Springs, MI.

Congrats to Lindsay K. Moore, the winner of the Fall Retreat Logo Competition! See the logo below and learn more about Lindsay and her art career at her website.

Have a great weekend, and see you next Friday!
Kristin Lenz


  1. Great post! We all need our people to help fend off the evil roosters in our lives.

  2. Great advice, clever post! Conquer your inner evil rooster :)