Punxsutawney Phyllis #TeamSPRING

Punxsutawney Phyllis #TeamSPRING

In honor of Punxsutawney Phyllis’ 10th birthday, Author Susanna Leonard Hill announced a Phyllicelebration!

Folks were asked to write a poem or create a video to celebrate the occasion. I chose a video and quilled a #TeamWINTER and #TeamSPRING scene. You must forgive my quilling, as I’m still new and have never created a landscape scene before.

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

Happy 10th Phyllis.

We love you.


To join the celebration in honor of Phyllis, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

12x Party!

12x Party!

I love picture books. 

I love reading them.

I love writing them.

I love watching my son eat them, sleep with them and look at them.

I even love it when he demands “more books!” Of course, we’re working on the demands, but he’s 2.5.

I’m so very grateful for the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge and more grateful it will continue in 2013.

I’m struggling with my December manuscript. I had hoped to finish it before this post, but no such luck. Don’t worry. I’ll write one before we see 2013, because I’m a seasoned picture book writer. I have 18 drafts already completed this year.

This challenge has kept me motivated, connected and inspired. Thank you Julie Hedlund — even before your awesome video. Thank you also to the inspiring writers in the 12x group. I appreciate your support, expertise and spirit. You all make this writing thing feel easy, even though it’s not.

I look forward to 2013 for this challenge and many more opportunities to learn and to write.

Winning! A break

Winning! A break

Nope. That’s not a fun title for a Perfect Picture Book Friday post.
I’m going to be realistic and call “Break!” right now. You know that’s like calling “Shotgun!” or “Last piece.” Well, maybe not. See, I’m not making sense. “Break!”
I’m in the middle of final projects — two complete websites — at this very minute. When I was testing a link, I realized I hadn’t posted my Perfect Picture Book Friday. 
Instead, I’ll just share this:

Yep. I’m a winner!

I wrote 97 picture book ideas in November. This badge is a great prize, plus all those ideas.

Once my projects are complete, I will write my 12x draft, write a little holiday contest story, and write my goals for 2013. If all goes well with my final projects, I’ll have a real website and can mark that off my list. Of course, I’ll enjoy Christmas (we visit Santa on Saturday), family, and holiday treats.

Have a wonderful December and holiday season!

Thankful Thursday: 12 x 12 in '12 Blog Party

Thankful Thursday: 12 x 12 in '12 Blog Party

Blog badge by Linda Silvestri

I can’t believe we’re at the halfway point for the 12 x 12 in ’12 Challenge. When the topic of a party bubbled up on the Facebook group, I offered a treat. 

A Peppermit Patty Brownie Cup
If you visit the link, you’ll notice my brownie cup looks very much like the professional’s brownie cup. They were yummy. The second time I made the recipe wasn’t so photo worthy. 
Some of my 12 x 12 in ’12 picture book drafts have had a similar fate. One month my draft turned out great (at least in my head). The next month, I’m not feeling it. 
Either way, I’m writing and on track with the challenge. I’ve written one or more drafts each month — eight in May as I participated in the National Picture Book Writing Week.  Thank you Julie Hedlund for organizing the 12 x 12 in ’12 challenge.
My goal for the next half of the year is to not only write a monthly draft, but also revise one manuscript.  It’s not a lofty goal, but it’s a big one for me. I feel out of the submission loop, but I’ve also been busy with other things. 
My 2012 goals did not include being elected to my neighborhood’s metro district board or enrolling in web and graphic design classes at the community college. Both have taken away some of my writing time, but also offer a bit of rejuvenation and challenge. As I learn new software programs and figure out how to survive a watercolor landscape drawing, I want to stay on track with class assignments, writing challenges and life in general. 
Many of you know I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last Saturday, a fire began in Waldo Canyon. My family is safe. My neighborhood is on the east side of town more than 15 miles away. Here’s a view as I mistakenly walked the dog on Monday. The air quality is horrible.
The fire’s smoke cloud. 
Tuesday afternoon we were engulfed in a smoke cloud as thousands were evacuated as the wildfire — well, got wild. No injuries have been reported, which is a miracle, but more than 100 homes (some say up to 300) have been destroyed. Some area writers lost their homes or have been evacuated. 
Author Beth Vogt mentions her evacuation and so does Debbie Maxwell Allen. These two ladies (and many others) have occupied many of my thoughts in recent days. Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote about the fire. Her husband is one of the hundreds of firefighters working in difficult conditions to contain the blaze.
As writers, we are supposed to have words, but this fire has left me speechless. 
Words are slowly coming back to the city and its residents. 
We’ll rebuild.
Let us help.
We’ll return.
We’re safe.
Thank you.
The End

The End

A sample of some of my source material for my MIP — Memoir in Progress.

I hope to type The End on my vomit draft of my memoir this week. Those two words don’t mean I’m finished.

After reading Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, I set a goal to write five pages, five days a week. My new focus gave me a fresh hour to write. Most days, I managed to write my pages, make notes on where I should begin the next day and comment on a few blogs before Enzo woke up. I completed five pages every day but one.

I did a lot of the legwork for the memoir several years ago. I received several “send its” at a conference and a request for the full book proposal and chapters. Nothing happened, but my proposal helped me during this draft phase.

I wrote most of the vomit draft fresh. I scrapped more than 125 pages of already written, critiqued material in the process. I deleted a couple of chapters. I added new ones. I saved 21 pages.

By mid-week, I hope to type The End and move on to goal No. 3 for the year — read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve explained the why here in No. 7.

Once I finish the Harry Potter series, I’ll revise the vomit draft. It’s going to be fun to fact check my own work. I inserted notes as I typed to remind me to check a source for specific details.

What sources you might ask? Well, my late husband communicated primarily with an auditory scanning system, so I had to write down each letter as he spelled out his words. This old post explains how we communicated one letter at a time.

I have a box of notebooks with many of our conversations, my journal, his journal, newspaper articles and my newspaper columns on the topic of those four years after his stroke and before his death. Had I stopped to check these sources during my vomit draft, well, I might still be writing the first chapter.

As I enter the editing phase, it makes me wonder if I can begin a new project or whether I should just focus on my revisions. Do you write and revise at the same time or focus on just one manuscript?

Thankful Thursday: Picture Book Idea Month

Thankful Thursday: Picture Book Idea Month

I survived the Picture Book Idea Month challenge in November. 

Last week, I used this post to give a shout out to PiBoIdMo mama Tara Lazar.

Today, I wanted to share what I did over the 30-day challenge.

My stats: 
  • On index cards, I scribbled 55 ideas.
  • On my iPhone, I tapped out 153 ideas onto the yellow-looking notepad app.
  • In a random spiral notebook, four ideas are outlined.

Before anyone freaks out, let me explain. I wrote down every idea. 

  • If it popped into my head, I wrote down my thoughts. 
  • If I began writing and thought it could be a repeat idea, I ignored the thought. 
  • If I continued to write, I added a new angle or details. 

My love of six-word stories shows through in a few ideas as that’s all I have. For others, I wrote until no more words fit on my index card. 

Some common themes involve dogs, family and rules — well, a child breaking rules mostly. The presence of several flag ideas indicates that November was a windy month. 

While I managed to meet my idea goal, I failed to finish reading and work my way through Ann Whitford Paul’s book Writing Picture Books:  A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to PublicationA few excuses are involved with this one — the baby ate my homework. Well not exactly, but I’m sure Enzo would eat the book if given the opportunity. Several nonfiction titles I had on hold at the library arrived and I needed to read them, so I could pass them on to the next reader.

I also:

  • dabbled in some goal setting for 2012
  • wrote a first draft of a personal essay 
  • wrote a devotional for my church’s Advent devotion book (My first one! Yikes!)

I was honored to have these wonderful ladies share their time and talent here. I’m grateful they wrote guest posts on picture books:

I still have a lot of work to do with my ideas — sorting, deleting, writing, thinking, deleting again, etc. I have to stay focused, because Julie Hedlund at Write Up My Life has a 12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge  — an effort to spur us on to write those ideas (or at least 12) into manuscripts. 

See I really need to read Ann Whitford Paul’s book! 

Thanks again to Tara Lazar for organizing the challenge. If you missed a post during the challenge or need another dose of inspiration, visit her blog Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). I’m so thankful I participated in the challenge this year. 

So, how did your November writing challenge go or just with your writing in general?