I’m a sucker for challenges – and Julie Hedlund put a new one together that I just could not resist.
The12 Days of Christmas – There is still a week left – and the previous days are archived so you can catch up easily!
Julie asked that we celebrate what we HAVE accomplished rather than dwell on what we haven’t.
She encouraged us to make a list of our successes and surprises, before thinking of any failures or disappointments.
And this makes sense…it’s the mindset I encouraged in my kindergarteners when I was teaching. It’s the parenting approach I followed with my own kids. Positive thinking does generate positive results!
So here is a rundown of how I spent the past year.
2014 might have been the Chinese Year of the Horse…but for me, it was the Year of Taking Picture Book Writing Classes. I took five major writing classes. I feel blessed that I was able to complete so many this year…I learned so much and connected with incredible mentors and talented writers.
- Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic (February)
- Kristen Fulton’s Non-Fiction Archaeology (June)
- Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab (August)
- Jodell Sadler’s Pacing Picture Books (October)
- Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Children’s Picture Books (November/December: this was pretty intimidating – most of the students were professional artists and/or published illustrators – but I drew thumbnails for my story, figured out how to post them in the Google doc and got critiqued by Mira and her co-teacher, Kristine Brogno, art director for Chronicle Books – YAY!)
I also took two coaching courses to help me conquer some of the marketing/promotion hurdles/fears I’ve been struggling with – taking these in tandem might seem like overkill, but I needed the PUSH and encouragement they gave me. I made a mini video clip, parts of which are now embedded in Julie’s 12×12 testimonial video…that’s a big deal for me because I’m not a fan of technical stuff. AND…after three years of blogging, I am finally signed up with MailChimp (still working at figuring out designing the templates) and I am building a list of email subscribers AND my first newsletter is scheduled to go out in a couple of days. (And you can subscribe right HERE: http://eepurl.com/8pglH)
- Julie Hedlund’s Author as Entrepreneur (on-going)
- Katie Davis’ How To Build an Author Platform (September/October, November/ December)
I participated in writing challenges and contests throughout the year and definitely put my work out there. I take my hat off to the organizers of each and every one! What I love most about these is that they encourage and inspire me…plus they hold me accountable. It’s too easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks like laundry and cooking…one can always wear the same outfit twice…and there’s always take-out pizza, right? And if you think this list is long, you should know that I left out several that I started but couldn’t complete because of time constraints.
- Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge (January – December at the Golden Book Membership Level – I wrote 14 drafts, polished those and a bunch of others, submitted to 10 agents through the program, got a request to see more of my work from one – YAY – that is definitely progress!)
- Shannon Abercrombie’s Start the Year Off Write (January)
- Meg Miller’s ReviMo (January)
- Doris Stone’s Fearless February (February)
- Susanna Hill’s March Madness Writing Contest (March – I got an Honorable Mention for my Singarella story and a Kindle copy of The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman)
- #PitMad (March Pitch writing challenge on Twitter – one of my pitches was favorited by an agent)
- Cynthia Liu’s Red Light Green Light (April – one of my stories made it past the first light)
- Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo (April)
- Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie Writing Contest (October – I got an Honorable Mention for A Night of Friendship for Miss Witch and a Kindle copy of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman)
- Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (November)
- Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest (December)
- Meg Miller’s Book by Book Facebook Group (on-going…read and discuss books on the craft of writing)
- Alayne Kay Christian’s Sub Six Facebook Group (on-going…encouragement and accountability regarding submitting manuscripts)
- Susanna Hill’s Would You Read It Wednesday (on-going…send her a pitch for your story and get feedback from all of her wonderful followers) – I got great feedback and pitch fixes for one or two of mine.
- I also submitted several stories to the Highlights Magazine Contest (new contest starts TODAY), and also to a couple of publishing houses and agents outside of 12×12. Like they say for the lottery – you can’t win if you don’t play…and you can’t get published if you don’t submit!
I also contributed and/or guest-posted on other blogs:
- Emily Lim’s Conversations from my High Chair (January)
- Doris K. Stone’s Fearless February (February)
- Marcie Atkins’ We’re All in this Together Series
- Kathy Temean’s Halloween Poems (October – my poem, The Witches of Fairy Top Hill, was published on her blog)
- Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty (October – my Zeno was published on her blog)
- Alayne Kay Christian’s Submission Tips Series (June)
I stretched my writing muscles in 2014.
- I wrote a middle grade story (1500 words – August) for Sally Odgers’ Crock of Charms Anthology – Grandy Pandy and the Bamboo Poachers
- I got a couple of professional critiques for some of my manuscripts (some I won and some I paid for: Susanna Hill, Pat Miller, Alayne Kay Christian, Jodell Sadler, Mira Reisberg, Kristen Fulton – all fantastic, caring, generous mentors – I recommend them all very highly!)
- I participated in Rate Your Story’s Pro membership which allowed me to get ratings and feedback for over 18 manuscripts (January – December: I got a couple of ‘2’s – very excited about that because it goes on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the best!)
- I’m involved in six critique groups that exchange manuscripts almost every month (and I also give feedback to others who aren’t in my critique groups) – that means some months I was reading and commenting on over two dozen stories – I am fortunate to be a part of the writing journey of so many incredibly talented people!
- My blog series, Will Write for Cookies, featured twelve amazing authors. A heartfelt thank you to Iza Trapani, Susanna Leonard Hill, Susanne Gervay, David Seow, Emily Lim, Emma Walton Hamilton, Christopher Cheng, Dianne de las Casas, Anne Marie Pace, Jane Yolen, Julie Hedlund, Tara Lazar, Sandra Beckwith, Laura Purdie Salas, and Katharine Holabird. If you missed any of the posts, I’ve linked the author’s names to them…hop over and get some insider info on their writing journeys…and the delicious recipes that each of them shared!
- I posted over forty picture book reviews with craft activities on my blog and linked them to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday page.
- I co-facilitated a parent/teacher training teleseminar (Using Picture Books to Help Build Self-Esteem) with Jill Vetstein, social worker and parenting coach (March)
- I attended my first SCBWI event – a writing retreat mentored by agents Heather Alexander and Brooks Sherman at Squam Lake in New Hampshire…WOW! Now I understand how special writing retreats and conferences are and why everyone who goes to them says they are an important part of one’s writing journey.
Last, but not least, there were surprises that were totally unexpected and quite delightful. A couple of weeks ago, I won a Fire HD 6 tablet in author Donna McDine’s Write What Inspires You blog giveaway…WOW! What a fantastic way to end the year! Thank you so much, Donna!
And author Lauri Fortino just nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award – Thank you so much, Lauri! Your Frog on a Blog is an incredible site…I appreciate your kind thoughts and will do a post about the award later this month.
So I’ve looked back on 2014 – and I’m ready to move forward into 2015 – writing, revising and submitting my children’s stories (I’m sending in a manuscript today to Rate Your Story for their FREE day, January 1 – my first submission of the new year…here is their link if you want to check them out: www.rateyourstory.blogspot.com), continuing to connect with fellow writers and others in the kid lit arena (just got an invitation to be interviewed on KidLit411 in April – whoo-hoo…that is an honor!), and reaching out to parents, teachers and librarians with my Show Me How book, blog and newsletter (I’ll be doing local school and library visits this spring – please contact me if you’d like me to do a presentation to a group of parents, teachers or children). Let’s join together to help every young child become a lover of books and reading!
And there’s one more thing…I promised to announce the winner of the copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking picked by Random.org from the people who subscribed to my newsletter by Dec. 31. (But if you didn’t, don’t worry…I’m going to do another giveaway for Valentine’s Day…so if you haven’t subscribed, please do and you will be entered in that one) The winner is…
STEPHANIE VAN HORN
CONGRATULATIONS, Stephanie, I’ll be emailing you privately to get your address so I can ship you the book. Thank you for subscribing…I hope you enjoy the book and the newsletter.
And now, Happy New Year, dear friends and readers! It’s been a beautiful year! I so appreciate your support and encouragement.