12 Days for Writers: Day 3

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.

5- I became a Storyteller Academy Member and as a result, enjoyed fantastic content!

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.

7- I’ve been accepted for a  3 Month ONLINE Picture Book Mentorship: Creating a Body of Work for Publication with Rosie J. Pova. I’m over the moon excited! What an excellent way to ring in the new year in 2022!

Writing and rain



I opened up the front door earlier this evening to check for packages on my doorstep, and while I was not blessed with a bundle of goodies, I did get to take in a deep breath of damp, cool air with a slight musty smell that only comes with new rain. Though it is hours later now, I can still close my eyes and re-create the serenity that washed over me during that moment. I carried my daughter outside to show her the wonder of evening rain. She delighted in it so much, she ran inside telling her Dad “it’s raining.” Later, when putting her to bed for the evening, the tranquility continued. It wasn’t a raging in storm, just a light, constant pitter-pattering. It made me want to write! So after she was sound asleep, and for the first time in what felt like ages, I let words flow from my fingertips.

YA Novels: Hooked in Five Sentences or Less

It’s late at night. You’ve just finished a book on your e-reader and are dying for something new to read. But how much time will you give a sample chapter to lure you in?

For me personally, I’ve found that new late-night reads need to hook me in five sentences or less, that way I can sink my teeth into them right away

I’ve chosen three excerpts from books I’ve loved that have ‘hooked me in five sentences or less‘. I’ll tell you why they appealed to me as a READERS and what we can take away as WRITERS.

From The Selection by Kiera Cass

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her plan brilliant plan was me.

AS A READER: I’m loving the title, and the fact that there is a mysterious letter. I love mail! I also immediately like this girl.

AS A WRITER: Right away we are hearing the MC’s voice and already know of a conflict brewing.

From Between Shade of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

They took me in my nightgown. Thinking back, the signs were there — family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work.

AS A READER: I can feel that this is a historical novel that sucks you into its time and place right away. I want to know what happens to this girl.

AS A WRITER: The MC’s voice, character, and family are introduced right away. You are also informed about into a huge conflict the MC faces.

From Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

“Wait — did you — You just yawned!” The vampire’s arms, raised over his head in the Classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips. “What, imminent death isn’t exciting enough for you?”

AS A READER: I can’t help it. I love paranormal. And I loved this because right away I knew it was different — it was funny!

AS A WRITER: The writer takes a normal subject and brings her own twist in a humorous way, enticing readers to read more and find out what her ‘different’ is all about.

What books have you read that have hooked you in five sentences or less?

11 Tips for Maintaining a Daily Writing Habit

This summer I’ve made a deal with myself — write something new every morning, Monday-Friday. I can’t move on (with submissions, revisions, etc.) until I’ve written something new. At first it was like scratching nails over a chalkboard. I’d talk myself out of it for at least a dozen different reasons. It’s been a few weeks now, and I’m on the daily writing train showing no signs of derailing. I decided to share 11 tips that have helped me so far:

1. Set a schedule and stick to it!

2. Make new writing the first thing you do in your writing time.
3. Avoid Social media and the Internet at all costs.
4. Ignore the little voice in your mind that says “Aw…can’t I do this later? Or tomorrow even?
5. Even if you don’t feel ready, go to your writing space and open your work in progress.
6. Having more than one work in progress or an idea file comes in handy, just in case you’re truly stuck on your main project.
7. If all else fails, write a journal entry.
8. Don’t stop until you’ve reached your allotted time or word count.
9. Reward yourself for a job well done! Some writers allow themselves one jellybean or skittle after every hundred words. Others enjoy a special cup of tea or coffee or a trip to Starbucks. Find out what works for you.
10. Keep a daily writing log to track your progress. Being able to see what you’ve completed in a week visually is a huge motivator. (A sneaky side note for highly visual folks: You can replace your daily writing desktop icon to one similar to the photo above. That way you know it’s a special writing only file.)
11. Sign up for a writing forum to discuss your progress with other writers. It helps knowing others out there have similar goals. Sometimes it’s the highlight of my day knowing I can share that I’ve made my daily writing goal with others.
I hope some of these tips help you maintain a daily writing habit. Happy Writing!

Creating a Writing Nook

Where do you complete your writing? Do you have a zen-like place with the sounds of a gentle trickling fountain nearby?  Perhaps there’s a vanilla scented candle burning and Enya playing in the background? I think that’s how I pictured it would be before I started writing seriously,  but in reality my writing corner has consisted of this…

A saggy spot in the corner of a 30+ year old couch.  I must say some of my brightest ideas were penned (actually typed) from this very corner.  While it is homey and comfortable it doesn’t exactly inspire me to write in a professional and focused manner.  So this summer I made it my mission to create a “Writer’s Nook.”  Here’s what I have so far:
A Writing desk — complete with Lap Top,’Works in Progress Files to the Left, photo of the hubby, and desk calendar to keep me on track.
My tiny personal library of children’s books and writing books.  I hope to keep my collection growing at all times!
A little cubby box for my library books.  I hope to get new books every week (or at least every two weeks.)
I think it so, so important for a writer to have his/her own writer’s nook.  It  serves as a constant reminder that our writing is important enough to deserve its own space in our lives.  Mine is very basic right now, but I look forward to jazzing it up more and more as I move forward.  My first goal is to use it every day! (Except maybe Sunday.)
Do you have a writing nook?  Where is your favorite place to write?  If anyone would like to send pictures and a quote I’d be happy to post it here at The Sunflower Scribe.  =)

Getting out of my bubble — My SDSU Writer’s Conference Experience

I love attending writer’s conferences, workshops, and critique groups with fellow children’s and young adult writers.  I get to spend time with like-minded, spirited individuals who love children’s books as much as I do.  And, I don’t get people looking at me funny for enjoying them either!

This past summer, I received a wonderful piece of advice while attending a Children’s Writers Schmooze — ‘Expand your horizons.  Don’t limit yourself to events just for children’s writers. Branch out! Explore events for other genres as well.’

I percolated over the idea for some time and finally decided to take the plunge.  I signed up for the SDSU Writer’s Conference in San Diego, and will be posting recaps of it very soon! Writers from all genres were present at this event — and I was very nervous to attend.  I am so happy I did! Most sessions didn’t address my genre specifically, but nonetheless I was able to pick out information relevant to me and soak it all in. I was also exposed to many ideas about the new digital and technological world of publishing (more on that soon too.)

One of my favorite sessions was put on by author, Angela Hunt, entitled Evoking Emotion.  It was wonderful!  She had a box of tissues on the counter for all of us — just in case.  I didn’t think I would need them, but oh how wrong I was about that!  She used various videos as discussion points in discovering how they evoked such a strong emotional response.  Take a look at the video below about Christian the Lion Cub and see what I mean.  (The singer featured in the video is the Late Whitney Houston.  May she rest in peace.  My heart goes out to her family and friends.)