Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2021.
My writing successes in 2021!
First and foremost… I’m showing up! Whether thinking of ideas while homeschooling my children or taking them to the park, or writing during my 3 am magic writing hour.
1- I rejoined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge for the first time since 2013!
2- I wrote 21 picture book drafts in 2021 and “won” the 12×12 challenge.
3- Pitch event success progression. The first pitch event I participated in in Feb. 2021 resulted in 1 like. I continued revising my projects and pitches throughout the year, and by the Sept. 2021 pitmad event, my pitches received over 20 likes!
4- I enrolled in Children’s Book Academy’s Illustration and Children’s Book Course in Spring 2021. I had an eye-opening experience learning more about the illustration process of picture book writing.
6- After years of digging deep and self-reflection I’ve opened up enough to allow stories highlighting my mixed-heritage and childhood experiences to shine through. I’m look forward to finding the joy in sharing more of my own stories.
It’s official! I’ve signed up for the 12 x 12 Challenge hosted by Julie Hedlund! My first time doing so since 2013. I had started participating the previous year, in fact here is my original badge from 2012. I can hardly believe it’s been that long! So far I have 1 full draft, 2 partials & 2 revisions under my belt for 2021. 12×12 will be the extra boost needed to stay motivated this year! There’s still time to sign up if you’d like to join in on this fun picture book writing journey. Now-Feb. 28, 2021.
What is this challenge all about? The premise is simple. Write 12 full picture books (with a beginning, middle, and end) in 2021. It’s ok if they’re not submission-ready. The idea is just to put pen to page, while motivating yourself and other writers in the process. You can even earn prizes!! How about that?
Yesterday I visited my Mom in Pinon Hills, CA. We ate delicious organic plums from her local co-op and celebrated her soon-to-be born baby bull terrier puppies. We also rummaged around in old boxes and shared old memories. That’s when we found the picture book that started it all “Kimberly’s Time Machine”, written by 10 year old yours truly. This book single-handedly stirred up the creative-writing bug in me for years to come!
I did all the writing and illustrations. I even went through revisions with my editor (teacher). The story was about a young girl who built a time machine to visit the future, and all the mishaps that ensued.
I was a little obsessed with the name Kimberly. At least four of my stuffed animals and barbies shared that name. Oh and did you know that candy and money grow on trees in the future?
Kimberly met a friend in the future who gave her a walkman that played CD’s. Little did I realize the disc man would actually be released a few years later.
I did dabble in other genres of creative writing throughout the years including poetry, songwriting, and a few young adult novels. (Well as a teenager I thought they were novel length). But for me, my heart’s passion still remains in creating fabulous, fun, and poignant picture books, and always has.
Today I spent a relaxing Sunday in Del Mar, CA with my sister and her fiance. We had brunch at The beautiful Brigantine situated adjacent to the Del Mar Race Tracks. They are preparing for the first horse race of the season. I spent much of my youth in San Diego and not once have I headed out to the races. That is going on my bucket list for sure!
After brunch, we made our way to the Cedros District. And we could not help but try on all the gorgeous hats! We can’t show up to the races without fabulous hats after all.
Several wonderful picture books featuring hats have been published in recent years, such as This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen and If You Have a Hat by Gerald Hawksley. Even so, after today I may just be inspired to pen one of my own!
The return of summer means the return of library days for me. I always find them to be bustling with excitement.
On my way inside I observed this beautiful mosaic butterfly. The tiles reminded me of tiny replicas of the delicious books that awaited me inside.
Of course, I always make a beeline for the children’s section, specifically the picture book wall. I like to start by looking at the return cart. This way I can see what books fancy young readers. Today I picked five books from this cart to study.
Ah … I just love devouring new picture books. It helps me improve my craft and reminds me why I write in the first place. I hope to play a small part in passing my love of reading down to the next generation. I still get that ‘Christmas morning’ feeling every time I crack open a new picture book. And the likely reason is that I was exposed to them at a young age. They are that powerful. And I’m so happy to be writing them now!
It was such a delight interviewing Chieu Urban last week. She is such an amazing and creative women. Can you believe she designed this diaper cake?
The colors a vibrant, bright, and bold. A wonderful reflection of the colorful that awaits AWAY WE GO readers. I can just imagine mom-to-be’s face when she saw this display. Today’s winner is in for a delightful treat.
So without further adieu, I’d like to announce today’s giveaway recipient is …
I have recently discovered a wonderful resource for children’s books online called “We Give Books,” a relatively new digital initiative that allows anyone with internet access the ability to read a large, quality selection of children’s book titles. Check out there video below to find out more.
So far I have read and loved the following stories:
Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd – A witty, modern day parody of a classic picture book.
Start Saving, Henry by Nancy Carlson – A fun tale that illustrates the benefits of saving vs. spending.
Dog Wants to Play by Christine McDonnell – Sparse with words, but fun and slightly rhyming. Follows dog on a search for a ‘today’ playmate.
It’s a great way to help me research picture books to grow my writing skills as well as search for new, fun, or even classic titles that the children I work would enjoy.
Today, the hubby and I spent the day in Laguna Beach. A cozy breakfast at Heidelburg Cafe followed by a casual stroll and a breezy ride on the free shuttle. I took many deep breaths of salty, fresh-sea air. And then do you know where I wanted to go? The library, of course!
We both brought our laptops and found comfy chairs to lounge in. We had a lovely ocean view. The sunscreeny smell throughout constantly reminded me that the beach was only yards away. We stayed for hours.
I explored the children’s book section and found so many amazing picture books to read.
Like these ones.
All the new picture books were displayed here.
There was even a vacant orange couch for me to relax and savor each page. I love exploring libraries in different communities. 1 part research + 1 part writing + 1 part relaxation = One very happy writer.
When writing picture book texts have you ever heard the following advice?
‘You must leave room for the illustrations.’
I know I have. As a largely intuitive person, I have soaked in the knowledge from classes, conferences, workshops, and reading slowly over time. I can compare my picture book texts from two years ago to texts from today and see a difference — more room.
So how can you achieve this in your own writing? Here’s a few things that have worked for me.
1) Reading at least 30-40+ classic & new picture books.
I don’t just mean flip through the pages, get the general gist of the story, and the add it to your ‘read’ pile. I mean really read the story. Put yourselves in a child’s shoes. Read each page aloud, and then stop to enjoy the illustrations on each page. How are those illustrations adding to the story? Do they make you feel happy or sad? Do they make you laugh? Do they make you want to turn the page and find out what happens next?
2) Break your picture book text up into scenes, and create a storyboard.
I am not an Author//Illustrator, but I do like to break the story up into scenes and make a storyboard. Granted, these are things the Author may not have much control of during the publishing process, but at this point that is not really what it’s meant for. This process gives you the ability to know if what you have written works as a picture book. Are there at least 12-16 distinctly different scenes? Another added bonus is that it might help you envision changes in the text you may not have seen before. Perhaps you’ve written something that is too wordy or has too many descriptions. Or perhaps there may be an added emotional layer you didn’t see before.
What is this challenge all about? The premise is simple. Write 12 full picture books (with a beginning, middle, and end) in 2012. It’s ok if they’re not submission ready. The idea is just to put pen to page, while motivating yourself and other writers in the process. You can even earn prizes!! How about that?
I know, I know — writing 12 full length picture books sounds like a daunting task, but as long as you have the intention of completing them, it’s worthwhile to sign up! I have heard of so many writers’ success stories from their PiBoIdMo ideas, including its founder, Tara Lazar.
So far I have have completed one story in 2012 for the 12x12in12 Challenge, and two from the PiBoIdMo 2011 Challenge. Who knows? Maybe one of them may be my next published story…
Good luck to everyone, whatever your 2012 endeavors might be. Enjoy the process!