Happy New Year: Looking Back and Moving Forward

me Stu and Jeremy

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.

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic (February)
  2. Kristen Fulton’s Non-Fiction Archaeology (June)
  3. Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab (August)
  4. Jodell Sadler’s Pacing Picture Books (October)
  5. 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)


  1. Julie Hedlund’s Author as Entrepreneur (on-going)
  2. 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.

  1. 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!)
  2. Shannon Abercrombie’s Start the Year Off Write (January)
  3. Meg Miller’s ReviMo (January)
  4. Doris Stone’s Fearless February (February)
  5. 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)
  6. #PitMad (March Pitch writing challenge on Twitter – one of my pitches was favorited by an agent)
  7. Cynthia Liu’s Red Light Green Light (April – one of my stories made it past the first light)
  8. Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo (April)
  9. 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)
  10. Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (November)
  11. Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest (December)
  12. Meg Miller’s Book by Book Facebook Group (on-going…read and discuss books on the craft of writing)
  13. Alayne Kay Christian’s Sub Six Facebook Group (on-going…encouragement and accountability regarding submitting manuscripts)
  14. 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.
  15. 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:

  1. Emily Lim’s Conversations from my High Chair (January)
  2. Doris K. Stone’s Fearless February (February)
  3. Marcie Atkins’ We’re All in this Together Series
  4. Kathy Temean’s Halloween Poems (October – my poem, The Witches of Fairy Top Hill, was published on her blog)
  5. Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty (October – my Zeno was published on her blog)
  6. Alayne Kay Christian’s Submission Tips Series (June)


I stretched my writing muscles in 2014.


  1. I wrote a middle grade story (1500 words – August) for Sally Odgers’ Crock of Charms Anthology – Grandy Pandy and the Bamboo Poachers
  2. 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!)
  3. 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!)
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. 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…



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.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on January 1, 2015, in End of Year recap, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Wow, Vivian! You put me to shame. Congratulations on all your successes! I look forward to hearing publishing news from you soon!


    • Tina…you are a great role model for me…you have done SO much this year and had so many breakthroughs and successes…I am only following your lead. 🙂 Looking forward to another wonderful year of critique with you!


  2. What a year, looks like you had an amazing year of creativity, hard work and learning! You are an inspiration!


    • It’s definitely been a challenge, Yvonne…and also sheer bliss, connecting with so many incredible people and feeling the beautiful energy that is present in this kid lit community. Thank you for all that you do. 🙂


  3. Wow, Vivian, I cannot imagine how you accomplished so much in a year! Bravo and may this year continue to be fruitful in your writing and other endeavors 🙂


    • Emily…you are yet another inspiring writer for me! You’ve had an amazing year of writing and book success…I know you would have found your way to 12×12 without me…but I’m so happy that it was our connection that lead you there. I know 2015 will be another stellar year for you…do you hear me cheering? 🙂


  4. What an excellent list. Way to go! 🙂


    • Thank you, Christie! The lists I’ve read from the participants of Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas helped me to look carefully at my 2014 day planner…I kept finding things I had done that I had forgotten about. 🙂 🙂 Best wishes for a brilliant year of writing success in 2015!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an incredible year! Well done, Vivian! (Despite the evidence in your wonderful family photo, I suspect you don’t sleep — otherwise, how could you accomplish all this?) What a great celebration to begin what is sure to be another year of wonder. All the best to you as you continue your writing journey!


    • You are very kind, Beth! I had not been to your site in a while…WOW…you have had an incredible year and I am in awe of what YOU have accomplished. LOVE your new website design and your new business endeavors…it has all come together and I couldn’t be happier for you! Here’s to continued success for you in 2015. 🙂


  6. Wow! What a successful year, Vivian! And thanks for sharing that adorable photo 😀


    • Thanks, Penny! It’s been a wild ride this year, juggling all of the commitments I made…but I would be hard put to say which I would have given up in order to have made it easier. 🙂 Your support and encouragement is so much appreciated! And I wish for you continued success with your writing and books that are coming out soon. Glad you enjoyed the photo…my daughter had purchased matching pjs for the whole family…8 people scurrying around on Christmas morning looking like escapees from Whoville. 🙂 🙂 🙂 It was great fun and I’m so glad she did it…it made a great memory!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Vivian, congrats on all the successes and hard work. You have certainly succeeded. BRAVO and I look forward to really meeting you in July. Now go rest for a day!!!!


    • Hahaha…I will, I promise, Kathy! Hubby and I have a movie recommended by our son in our Netflix queue…a French film called ‘The Chef’…as soon as I post my story to Rate Your Story and then answer these comments. And I am so excited that I will be spending a week of writing with you and so many other incredible people in this kid lit community. during the WOW Retreat. 🙂


  8. WOW Vivian!! People ask me how I do it all, but now I’m going to have to ask YOU! You’ve had an outstanding year. What a foundation you’ve set for 2015! Plus you win the award for the most adorable holiday pajama photo ever! 🙂 Thank you for being such a wonderfully supportive part of 12 x 12 and other writing communities. Your presence never fails to lift my spirits! Happy New Year.


    • And with all that you are doing, Julie, you still find time to come and leave a heartfelt comment on my post! Is it too corny to say that the year is already a success for me as I read all the loving and supportive comments here? Plus, I just clicked SEND on my first submission of the year…to Rate Your Story on their Free Submission day of this month…a much revised version of a story I wrote in Kristen Fulton’s Non-fiction Archaeology class.YAY!


  9. 2014 really WAS your year! I’m so glad that I got to hang out with you (well, virtually, at least) as you navigated some choppy waters with such ease. I am super impressed! Wishing you only the best in 2015!


    • And wishing you the same, dear Ellen! Who knew that the critique group set up by Angie Karcher for her RhyPiBoMo last year would still be going strong? Goodnight Moon is a classic pb…and the Goodnight Moons are a classy bunch of crit buddies…so happy we are going to continue holding each others hands in 2015. 🙂


  10. Stacy S. Jensen

    A wonderful list! You ARE ready for 2015! Looking forward to sharing work in critique group.


    • Yes, Stacy…I am looking forward to that also. 🙂 You are an amazing critique partner…you’ve helped me so much and I’m excited to see all of your wonderful stories take shape in 2015. 🙂


  11. Love the PJs! Wow, you are so organized and prepared for the coming year. You have much to be proud for last year.


    • Thank you so much, Pat! I don’t know about organized…that’s one of the areas in my life that needs lots of work…but I’m trying. 😉 The pjs were the perfect touch on Christmas morning…and every time I wear them, I’ll remember those precious moments. Happy New Year, dear Pat…I’ll see you in #PPBF and around kid lit land. 🙂


  12. You’ve had an amazing year, Vivian — hope 2015 is even more amazing! Also, totally love the photo.


    • You are so sweet, Marlaina…we had a ball…and the little ones were thrilled to see the adults clad in the same pjs as they had. I’m so happy to be surrounded by all these dedicated kid liters…all the best to you in 2015…abundant success in your writing and happiness in your life. 🙂


  13. WOW! What a year, Vivian. No wondered you are stepping into such success. Happy New Year.


    • I was definitely busy, Pam…and surrounded with enthusiasm and lots of talent on the part of my classmates in each course. I’m looking forward to putting the lessons learned to good use. 😉 Happy New Year to you as well!


  14. Vivian, I am exhausted after reading your incredible post! But I am inspired too! No more excuses for me; I am jumping into my picture book writing with both feet this year! Much success to you in 2015 and beyond. And thanks for the Frog on a Blog mention, much appreciated! 🙂


    • I took a big leap last year also, Lauri! We will cheer each other on…the support from this incredible kid lit community has been invaluable to me. 🙂 I plan to do a post on the blog award in the next couple of weeks. 🙂 Thank you so much for your good wishes…ditto for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow! You have been one busy, creative lady!! Good Girl!! 🙂


  16. Holy smoke, Vivian! What an impressive year! I feel like a total slacker! 🙂 Good for you! And all best wishes for even more successes in 2015! 🙂


  17. That sounds like a marvelous year! 😀


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