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Meet Nutschell Anne Windsor of Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nutschell Anne Windsor.

Nutschell Anne, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always loved writing. And even as a young child, I had aspirations of becoming a published author. At age 6, I created “books” for my parents and little sister and gave it to them as Christmas presents. Written with crayons and complete with illustrations, the little books were essentially folded papers held together by staples. My parents found my Christmas gift amusing and chuckled as they read my story (even though I thought my tale was fairly serious). My sister, who was one at the time, promptly took my gift and stuffed it into her mouth.

Despite my family’s disappointing reaction to my debut books, I kept on writing. My summers growing up were spent handwriting stories in notebooks. In seventh grade, I discovered my aunt’s old typewriter; and finding no paper in the house, proceeded to write my first full-length novel on the backs of her students’ old term papers (she was a high school English teacher).

My love for story followed me all the way through college. I majored in Psychology, with the thought that it would lead me to a medical career. Even then, I found myself taking writing courses as electives while the rest of my class took math or science courses.

After graduating from the University of the Philippines, I taught English at my high school alma mater, Miriam College High School. There, I was fortunate to get a chance to share my love of literature with my students. Almost three years into teaching, my grandmother passed away, and I realized I needed to join the rest of my family in Los Angeles.

The first couple of years in L.A. were tough as I tried to figure out how to adjust my new life. I lived with my parents, had no friends, and was having trouble finding a job. I found solace in books and slowly rediscovered my love for writing. I eventually found work as an administrative assistant/bookkeeper at an oriental rug shop in Beverly Hills.

There was a lot of downtime in that job because my work depended on whether our salespeople sold rugs, and I often found myself daydreaming and writing journal entries. I thought I might write a memoir about my two years as an English teacher in the Philippines. I had a lot of fun anecdotes—perhaps enough to fill a book.

I spent the next two years “preparing” to write the memoir—I read books on writing, bought a new writing desk, made notes on what to write, but never wrote a single word of that memoir. Then in 2009, I had an epiphany—I realized that the reason I’d been putting off writing my memoir and finding every excuse not to write it, was because it was the wrong book. The past few months, a story about a young boy who discovers a portal in Stonehenge had been brewing in my head. This was the story I needed to write.

When I finally gave myself the permission to write that story, my well of creativity burst open and I couldn’t stop writing. I finished the draft that year and started looking into how to get it published. Everything changed in 2010 when I attended my first writing conference – The Big Sur Writing Workshop in March. There I had my first taste of the publishing landscape. I got to mingle with other children’s book writers, agents, and editors. They told me about SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and I joined as soon as I got back home.

I attended the monthly schmoozes (now called Litmingles) and met other writers and learned more new things about writing and the publishing industry. In May of that year, I started a blogwww.thewritingnut.com, as a way to chronicle my journey to publication. The following month, the SCBWI schmooze group was on hiatus, and I found myself missing the company of fellow writers.

Toni Morrison said: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I thought the same idea could be applied to anything. So, since I couldn’t find writing groups for children’s books writers close to my home, I decided to organize one, and the Torrance Children’s Books Writing Group was born.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Creating a writing organization from the ground up was challenging to say the least. I didn’t know anything about how to start groups and was surprised that there was a fee for organizing a group on meetup. Like many other founders, I later on discovered that running an organization also meant that I would have to shoulder many other expenses. It was a difficult task, especially as my job paid just a little above minimum wage. I survived on sheer will and stubbornness—and with a lot of help from family and friends.

I had nothing in my toolkit except for my passion for writing and my experience as a teacher, but somehow these seemed enough. I ran every workshop for a year, researching topics and creating all the materials needed for each meeting. We had creative writing sessions, critique group sessions, and workshops on writing and publishing. All the while, I continued to attend various SCBWI events and book signings and growing my writing community.

Eventually, I began inviting the various authors I met as guest speakers. Running the workshops alone and doing all the work by myself was exhausting, especially as I also had a full-time job, a blog, and my own writing to deal with. Thankfully, I found members who were willing to step up and become part of the board.

In 2011, we shortened the name Torrance Children’s Books Writing Group to Torrance Children’s Book Writers. And when our group reached 260 members in 2012, we realized we needed to expand our vision and turn our meetup group into a legitimate writing organization. We officially changed our name to Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles (CBW-LA) and filed for nonprofit status, and in August of 2012, we received exemption status with the IRS and the State of California.

In 2014, I landed my dream job as a Creative Writing and Events Representative at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and in 2011, I joined the board of the Los Angeles region of SCBWI. I’ve continued my work with these two amazing writing organizations.

Currently, I help organize and facilitate local writing events as the SCBWI-Los Angeles’s Co-Regional Advisor. Likewise, I’ve taken over the role of Program Manager at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. While promotions in these groups are amazing opportunities, they also mean that my time management skills are constantly tested and that I’m often spreading myself thin.

The biggest challenge of having a full-time job at UCLA, and heading two writing organizations (CBW-LA and SCBWI), is that I always set my own writing aside. I still struggle with this, but I like to think I’m getting better at finding time for own creative endeavors.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Since the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles was founded in 2010, we’ve become known for our highly-rated and organized workshops, creative writing classes, and critique group sessions. We’ve had some amazing guest speakers along the way such as author and story consultant Pamela Jaye Smith, former Disney Executive Kathie Fong Yoneda, and NY Times Bestselling Young Adult author Leigh Bardugo.

Our goal is to educate and inspire children’s book writers in varying stages of their careers. Writing events are designed to accommodate all members’ needs—whether they are beginning writers who want to know how to begin a novel, aspiring authors who wish to travel along the winding road to publication, or published authors who want to cross over from their current genre to children’s book writing.

What sets us apart from other writing organizations is that we give our members a chance to get valuable publishing experience through our annual Writing Day Anthology Workshops. This event was conceived in 2012 during a board meeting. We wanted to find a way to support our authors on their journey to publication and infuse the year with creative energy. We also had a goal of modest fundraising for our club. Since our organization was founded on the principles of support and education, we felt a full day focused on the craft of writing, with the promise of a published piece by the end, fit the bill exactly.

With that in mind, we found delight in the idea of compiling an anthology of raw, in-the-moment writing. Since our first Writing Day Anthology Workshop in 2013, we’ve turned many budding writers into published authors by publishing their pieces in two resource anthologies: Story Sprouts and Story Sprouts: Voice, and one collaborative middle-grade novel: Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost in the Stream.

We are currently working on several other anthology resources: Story Sprouts: Setting; Story Sprouts: Conflict; another middle-grade collaborative novel; and three short anthologies: Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, and Fables. Our anthology resources are unique as it features poetry and prose from published and aspiring authors, created in the moment during the Writing Day Anthology Workshop.

These resource anthologies also include all the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft. The books are invaluable resources for writers who want to learn about the craft, and teachers looking for new ways to connect with composition.

Likewise, Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost in the Stream is the first collaborative novel of its kind. It follows one character and one story, but each scene is written by 25 different authors. We’re very proud of this achievement. This novel speaks to our group’s purpose to educate, inspire, and empower writers to share their voices with the world. We are committed to the belief that every voice matters, regardless of age, nationality, ethnicity, religion or gender. We’re very happy to share that this book was the Grand Prize Winner of Story Monsters’ 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award.

What were you like growing up?
Since I learned to read, I spent much of my free time nose deep in books. My love for writing was a natural byproduct of this. I have a deep respect for knowledge and love for learning and experiencing new things. This means that I’m always discovering new interests. In Grade School, I learned to draw and discovered that I enjoyed sketching with pencils and charcoal. In High School, I expanded my learning into sports. I played “B-sports”: basketball, badminton, and billiards. In college, I discovered my love for photography when I took a Black and White Photography class. Back when I was teaching English, I immersed myself in music by singing with the faculty choir and playing guitar with the faculty band.

When I moved to Los Angeles, many other things opened up to me. I learned how to play the drums, uncovered a knack for baking, and discovered my love of travel. I also dove into martial arts—something I’ve wanted to do since I watched “Karate Kid” as a child. Now, thanks to years of training with the Los Angeles Doce Pares group, I hold a black belt in the Filipino Martial Art of Eskrima.

Pricing:

  • With a one-year membership of $45, you’ll get the following benefits: • CBW-LA Welcome Letter & ID • CBW-LA Pen • CBW-LA Button • $10 Discount on Workshops and Panels • $25 Discount on annual Story Sprouts Writing Day Marathon (includes publication) • FREE critique sessions (save $10 per critique) • EXCLUSIVE Author Bio Page and Listing on CBW–LA Published Authors Page • Online access to select workshop handouts/worksheets
  • Our two-year membership costs $80 and includes the following benefits: • One-Year Membership Benefits listed above, plus … • CBW-LA Tote Bag • Additional $10 Savings on Two Years of Membership Fee

Contact Info:

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