Archive for the ‘NaPiBoWriWee’ Category

Important note: Due to a recent family emergency, I will not be drawing April winners until later this week, and possibly next week. Once I know when winners will be drawn, I will post that information here on the blog.The monthly check-in procedure AND the deadlines (commenting by midnight ET May 1) are the same.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Whew what a month! I can’t say I’m sorry to see this one go.  It’s now time for 12 x 12 in 2012 participants to check in.  Did you complete a picture book draft for April?

For the first time, I must admit I did not complete a draft.  What can I say? Life happened.  However, I am participating in National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) starting tomorrow, so I hope to make some good ground there.

Many thanks, once again, to our four featured authors for April-Palooza – Jennifer WardLinda Ravin LoddingSandy Asher, Susanna Leonard Hill!!!  If you left a comment on their April 1st post, you are automatically entered to win a critique from Jennifer, Linda or Susanna or a copy of Sandy’s book WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Perfect and Sell Their Stories, regardless of whether you completed a PB draft this month.

If you did complete a draft in April, let us know in the comments and that will get you another entry.  YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR NAME (FIRST AND LAST) IN YOUR COMMENT IF YOU WANT IT TO BE COUNTED AS AN ENTRY.   You have until midnight EST May 1st to leave a comment on this post and/or the April 1st post to be eligible for the drawing.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to meet our May authorl!!

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Smile, You’re on Katie Davis!*

That’s the way I feel today as I have the extreme honor of being Katie Davis’ first Brain Burps About Books podcast guest of 2012.  I am so excited I’ll be throwing the link around all over the place – in this post, on Facebook, on Twitter, email.  Want to make sure everyone in the world who wants to hear it gets a chance. 🙂

Before I write another word, here’s the link to the podcast.  http://traffic.libsyn.com/brainburps/78_JulieHedlund.mp3.  You can listen to it on your computer just by clicking the link, or you can do the same by clicking the link from your smart phone or tablet and listen to it from there. Or you can listen from the link on Katie’s blog here: http://katiedavis.com/78/

On this podcast, in a fitting tribute to the new year (because Mayans or no Mayans, we’re going to do our best work!), Katie and I talk about anti-resolutions (based on this post) and the need to set goals from a positive place rather than beating ourselves up over (perceived) failures from the previous year. What struck me during our discussion was how we all face doubt and disappointment, regardless of how far along we are in our careers.  It’s easy to look at a successful, multi-published author and think, “Oh s/he’s made it.”  However, that author may very well be plagued by the same doubts and frustrations.  So Katie and I discuss how to overcome that, and how being an active part of the writing community helps.

We also discuss the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge and other opportunities for writers to get a head start in the new year.  I had so much fun recording this podcast with Katie, and I hope you enjoy listening to it just as much!  It’s a great “feel-good” way to hit the ground running in 2012, if I do say so myself.

If you have never listened to a Brain Burps About Books podcast, you can start with the one with ME in it!  Then, get thyself over to Katie’s website and download and listen to the rest.  I’ve been a subscriber for a year now, and I’ve learned so much.  Every show is great. It’s like having portable conference sessions that you can listen to at your convenience.  And they’re FREE!  Or you can do as I did and buy the app from the iTunes store for $1.99 and have all the episodes in one place.  People, it’s a bargain.  Katie is an exceptionally talented, multi-published author/illustrator, a whizz-bang marketing guru and a pioneer in using all forms of media in the children’s book arena.  She recently published an e-book entitled, How to Promote Your Children’s Book. Best of all, she has her bio written in both haiku and limerick form (among others).  Sounds like a lady you can learn a lot from, no?

What can you learn from these podcasts, you ask? Well, Brain Burps About Books is all about children’s literature and has held the #1 in the iTunes store in Children’s Publishing since it began almost two years ago.  It has been downloaded in 40% of the world’s countries. If it has to do with the children’s book business – whether it’s craft, creating a platform, developing eBooks and apps, or supporting a small business as a writer, it’s fair game. Interview subjects include authors, illustrators, librarians, editors, app creators… anyone in the field covering anything under the umbrella of children’s books. Regular features include a “Take 5 Marketing Tips” by Dianne de Las Casas and picture book and middle grade reviews by contributors Betsy Bird of SLJ’s Fuse #8 Production, “Mommy” blogger Julie Falatko, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, and YA reviews by Bookalicious Pam.

I happen to know that in this episode, you get a double-dose of Julie, as 12 x 12 challenger Julie Falatko provides a review at the end of the show.  That’s 2 Julies for the price of one! An offer you simply can’t refuse.

Thanks again to Katie for making the start of 2012 especially awesome by inviting me to come on the show.  In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this trailer of Katie’s book, Little Chicken’s Big Day.  Warning: it is off the cuteness meter!

*My weekly Wednesday Artist’s Way Check-in will be posted tomorrow.

Questions or comments about the podcast? Leave them here!

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Badge by Linda Silvestri

(ETA: THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR THE 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge is now passed.  If, after you read this post, you have more questions, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions post)

Twelve complete picture book drafts. Twelve months.  2012.  Are you with me?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write one picture book per month for each of the twelve months of 2012.  This means a first draft: beginning, middle, end.  NOT a submission-ready piece.  Sounds easy right?  It sounds easy to me, too.  But when I looked back on my writing output from 2011, I discovered that I only completed one draft from all 30 of the PiBoIdMo ideas I came up with in 2010.  I did draft, edit and revise other pieces I had in the works, but I am not content with my overall 2011 results. So I decided to challenge myself to write many more in 2012, and I figured, why not invite others to join me so we can support and encourage each other along the way?

I have been floored by the community that came together for PiBoIdMo this year – cheers to Tara Lazar!!  I only hope we can take your good work and keep the home fires burning at least until next November.

Just as with other challenges, like PiBoIdMo and NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week), so long as you are willing to do your best, you are welcome to join us.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have 12, 4 or even 1 PB drafted if you’ve gotten more accomplished by being in the group than by going it alone.  There will be a winner badge, of course, for those who make it to 12 or more, but the idea is that we support, encourage, and help each other throughout the year as we try to put flesh on the bones of those PB ideas.  My own personal goal is to draft 18 PBs between this challenge and NaPiBoWriWee, but I know it’s a tall task.  I also know it will be easier with others with me.

As an added incentive to join the challenge, I will be running guest posts on the blog from experts in the field along with a special giveaway each month.  My general plan is to run guest posts on the first of each month, and draw a winner of each month’s giveaway on the last day of the month.  However, I want to leave myself wiggle room in case I need to change some of the parameters.  Bear with me, as this is the first challenge of this type that I’ve run on my blog, so there’s a learning curve for sure.

I want to give a huge round of thanks to Linda Silvestri, the immensely talented illustrator who donated her talents to create our participant badge.

Now, what do you have to do to join, you ask?  First, you must sign your name in blood and send it to me at…  Just kidding! No, there are two mandatory steps and three optional, listed below:


1. Follow this blog. (Mandatory) If you are a new follower, please specify how you follow in the comments (RSS, email, etc.)

2. Complete the following form indicating you are taking the 12 x 12 challenge (Mandatory)  SIGN-UP FOR THE 12 x 12 in 2012 IS NOW CLOSED.

3. Please paste the 12 x 12 badge (courtesy of Linda Silvestri) on your blog (if you have one) with a link back to this post.  (Optional) I would also love it if you would consider blogging about the challenge and again providing a link back to this post.

4. Join the 12 x 12 in 2012 Facebook Group (Optional) Please note you must be an official 12 x 12 in 2012 participant in order to be admitted into the Facebook group. (Optional)

5. Participate in Twitter discussions throughout the year using the hashtag #12x (Optional)

That’s all folks! I hope to see lots of you here! Can’t wait to get started!! If you have other questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below.

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A little more than a year ago, The New York Times wrote an article making the erroneous claim that picture books were “dead.”  I’m not even going to link the article because I don’t want to give it credence.  Many authors, illustrators, agents, editors and others in the kidlit industry responded swiftly and decisively, myself included, to say, “It ain’t so!”

That’s why I was thrilled to see some of the best authors in the business pronounce November 2011 as the first annual international Picture Book Month.  I love what the founders say about the inspiration for Picture Book Month: “We are doing this because in this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.”  And that is so true.  Picture books that create a perfect marriage between the words and the illustrations are nothing short of magic.  To support the effort, I’ve become an Ambassador of PB Month per the badge on my blog’s sidebar.  You can too.  Just go to the website and you’ll find many ways to celebrate and spread the word.

Picture Book Month coincides so well with Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) which is now officially underway – woo hoo!  I’m glad to stir the cauldron of ideas swirling around in my head in order to scoop some out.  Don’t forget that after PiBoIdMo, I’ll make an official announcement of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge to take one PB idea per month and write a complete draft.  Sign-up will begin in December.

In the spirit of the month, I’ll mention three picture books that my kids have been enjoying in the lead-up to Halloween: ROOM ON THE BROOM, by Julia Donaldson, ALIENS LOVE UNDERPANTS, by Claire Freedman, and THE THREE LITTLE ALIENS AND THE BIG BAD ROBOT, by Margarent McNamara.

Which picture books have you enjoyed reading lately?  If you haven’t read any recently, what is one of your favorites?

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Lynda Shoup is one of the nicest virtual friends I’ve had the pleasure to “meet” this past year.  We got to know each other last year during NaPiBoWriWee and caught up again last week for the 2011 version.  She recently bestowed upon me this award:

It came at a pretty ironic time because I have a terrible cold and am currently sporting sweatpants and a sweatshirt with my hair pulled back in a scrunchie.  Ordinarily I stay away from blogger awards just because I never have the time to “pass them on,” and I feel bad that by listing some, I skip over others that I also love.  However, this time the award really did boost my spirits so I figured it was time to join in.  The rules are to reveal 7 things about yourself that readers might not know and then to pass the award on to up to 15 bloggers whose blogs you enjoy.  So here goes.

7 Things You Might Not Know About Me (and that aren’t already listed on my 100 Random Things)

  1. I wish I would meditate every day.  I don’t know why I don’t.
  2. I will turn 40 later this month
  3. Surprisingly, I’m not upset about #2
  4. I’ve always fantasized about being an actress or a dancer (I have no talent at either)
  5. I once thought my car had been stolen, but really I had just forgotten where I parked it.
  6. I experience all five senses in my dreams – weird but true.
  7. I loved Charlotte’s Web so much as a child that I had a stuffed pig named Wilbur.  My mother sold it in a garage sale.  I’ve just barely forgiven her…

And now, onto some great blogs I think you will enjoy:

First up are three of my awesome critique partners who blog regularly.  Their blogs all have tons of great information!

  1. Alison Stevens
  2. Megan Bickel at The Write at Home Mom
  3. Christie Wild at Write Wild

Other virtual friends:

  1. Cheryl Reifsnyder at The Rich Writer
  2. Jean Reidy at A Totally Random Romp
  3. Ingrid Sundberg at Ingrid’s Notes
  4. Corey Schwartz at Thing 1 and Thing 2
  5. Julie Musil
  6. Catherine Johnson
  7. Katie Davis
  8. Nancy Hatch at Spirit Lights the Way

Eleven is probably enough for now, but I encourage you to check my blogroll for more ideas.  I read each and every one that is listed and enjoy them all.  Thanks again Linda!

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In my experience, the minute you put a stake in the ground and say to the universe, “THIS is what I’m going to do,” the universe replies, “Oh yeah?  Well let’s just see about that…”

Last week was NaPiBoWriWee, or for the uninitiated, National Picture Book Writing Week, started by the fabulous Paula Yoo.  where participants are challenged to write one picture book a day for seven days.  In a previous post, I explained why I wanted to participate in this insane venture, and I pledged my goals.  So with a pure and hopeful heart, I set off to the library on the first day (Saturday, May 1) to tackle my most ambitious idea.  Six hours later, I emerged with a near-finished draft and a pile of research materials to enable me to finish that evening.  Super start!

The next day, Sunday, I again disappeared into a private writing cave to knock out my second story.  No problem.  Maybe this was going to be easier than I thought?  I was feeling supremely confident, now that the weekend was over.  It’s actually more difficult to find time to write on the weekends when I also have to coordinate around family time.  I figured it would be smooth sailing now that the work and school week was starting.  That assumption started off true enough since I’d “written” Monday’s story in my head in bed that night, so all I had to do was roll out of bed on Monday and write it down.

Then came Tuesday.  It was a warm, but exceptionally windy day.  Jay and I went straight from the house to the car and drove to his preschool.  I mulled over writing ideas for the day during the drive.  We got to the school, fought our way through the wind and past the door when I looked down at him.  That’s when I saw it.  “OH. MY. G-D!”  In the time I had taken us to drive the 15 minutes from home to school, his eyeball flesh had swollen out of his socket.  It looked like a hard-boiled egg.  How do you get swollen eyeball flesh?!?  He hadn’t cried or complained in the car, so I couldn’t imagine what happened.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to remain calm while the office staff helped me create a makeshift patch over his eye.  Then I raced him off to the doctor imagining the worst – eye infection, blindness, you name it.  Thankfully, the reality was much more benign.  Jay must have a seasonal allergy, and a fleck of pollen or something probably blew into his eye before getting into the car. Then he sat rubbing it in during the drive to school, creating the hard-boiled egg effect.  Ten minutes after receiving a dose of prescription eyedrops, he looked much better.  The next day, you could hardly even tell the eye was swollen.  Whew!  All’s well that ends well – except for the writing of course.  Instead of making up the time that evening as planned, I dealt with Em’s disaster for the day.  She had come home from school nearly hysterical over an incident with her best friend.  After an hour of soothing and comforting and wiping wet tears from her face, I brought her into bed with me so we could both fall asleep.

Wednesday, despite being nearly catatonic with fatigue, I wrote half of a new story before I realized I had to stop and go volunteer at Em’s school.  I also forgot that I had a meeting that evening.  After the meeting, I was forced against my will to go out and have a margarita in honor of Cinco de Mayo – okay, two margaritas!  Needless to say no more writing got done that day.

No problem.  I would make it up on Thursday.  Rocky was scheduled for surgery to have his dew claws removed, so I wouldn’t have to take time from writing to walk him or take him to the dog park.  I did have to volunteer at the school that morning, but I had the afternoon, so I thought.  Forgot, once again, that I had to pick Em up from school (usually she takes the bus).  (How did I survive before I had my iPhone beeping at me??)  Then I took her to ballet, and afterward we went together to pick Rocky up.  He’d done really well in surgery, and the vet gave us pretty simple instructions for the next 24 hours.

Vet: “No rigorous exercise.  Keep the bandages clean and don’t let him chew or lick them or they could get infected.  He’s been heavily medicated, so he’ll need lots of rest.  Again, only take him out to go the bathroom.  NO rigorous exercise!  Then bring him in tomorrow and we’ll remove the bandages.”

Me: “Yes sir.  I’m on it.  No rigorous exercise!”

Ever since Rocky came home from his doggie boot camp training, he’s been on an e-collar, which is how we are training him to come when called.  It was the last resort, but one we had to take because nothing else was working.  That’s probably one of the reasons why, when he bolted out the door within ten minutes of coming home from the vet, he was even more difficult to coax back than usual.  His manic joy at finding himself free plus the fact that he was doped up with morphine, Valium and some other pain killer made it nearly impossible to get him back.  We tried all the usual things: starting the car so he’d chase it, and then trying to lure him in with hot dogs.  Setting a “hot dog trail” up the driveway and through the door.  I even laid down in the street and played dead with hot dogs in each hand, but still he would not come.  After one hour of extremely vigorous exercise, I finally got him in the car.  His bandages were bloody, muddy and soaked.  Of course the vet’s office was now closed, so off we went to doggie ER.  Luckily he hadn’t damaged his stitches or re-opened the wound, so it was a simple matter of cleaning the incisions and re-bandaging his legs.  All to the tune of $125 – AFTER a $500 surgery.  Yeah, so I didn’t get any more writing done that day.  Instead I wished the vet had written me a prescription for Valium.

By Friday, the last day of NaPiBoWriWee, I had written 3 1/2 picture books.  Amazing how the week had imploded.  I had been keeping up with Paula and the other participants on her blog, so they all knew about my freakish week.  A kind and compassionate bunch, they would have understood if I had called it quits, and I was very, very tempted to quit.  After all, I wasn’t competing with anyone except myself.  And that’s when it hit me: it was certainly true that nobody else would care if I didn’t continue – but I would.  The fact is, when you are juggling 45 different roles in life, every week is going to be freakish in some way.  I tried to remember the last time I’d had a “normal” week, where the routine went forward as usual and nothing unexpected happened.  I couldn’t.  If I wanted to be a “real” writer, I reasoned, I would have to learn to use what scraps of time I was given instead of waiting for everything and everyone else to cut me a swath on a regular basis.

So I wrote.  I finished the story I’d started on Wednesday, and then I wrote another one – bringing my grand NaPiBoWriWee total to five picture books.  Which is, as a friend reminded me, five more than I started with at the beginning of the week.  I even got teary as I wrote the ending for the last one.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s horrible.  They all are.  That’s the purpose of first drafts.  But therein lies the beauty – now I get to work on them to create second and third drafts… and with each iteration the stories will, hopefully, be a little bit less horrible.

So, despite not reaching the original goal of writing 7 picture books, I put the NaPiBoWriWee “badge” on this post, and my coffee cup is on the way.  Because even though I didn’t “finish,” I did do my best.

Also, I’m glad I had that epiphany about fitting writing around life instead of the other way around, because this Saturday, instead of recovering from NaPi, I ended up taking Em to The Children’s Hospital for a neurological exam.  Thank goodness she’s fine, but it just proves the point once again: there is no such thing as normal – at least not in my life – but I can always strive to do my best with the abnormal.  Tell THAT to the Universe!

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Perhaps you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month and pronounced “Nah-No-Ree-Moe.”  Participants sign up to write 50,000 words, or 175 pages, from November 1st – November 30th.  Research and outlining is permitted in advance, but no pre-writing.  The focus of the challenge is on quantity rather than quality.  Just get the 50,000 words out.  No need to edit, polish, or even have any intention for the thing to be any good (first drafts never are).  At the end of the challenge, you just provide proof you’ve written 50,000 words and you’re a “winner.”  The prize is the sense of accomplishment from writing so hard, fast and furiously with 50,000 words of output.

If I finish, I am getting myself one of these mugs (hopefully updated to 2010)

Then last year, children’s book author Paula Yoo* launched the first-ever NaPiBoWriWee, or National Picture Book Writing Week, in the same spirit.  The goal?  Write 7 picture books in 7 days.  I missed it last year because I was still working at my real job.  But this year, with butterflies the size of crows in my stomach, I am going to participate. From May 1st – May 7th, I will write 7 picture books – one a day.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no minimum word count in NaPiBoWriWee.  However, each story must have a distinct beginning, middle and end.  Writing 7 different versions of the same story is also not permitted.  Each book must be a stand-alone.

I know a lot of people think writing children’s books is easy, and I’ve addressed that here on the blog before.  Trust me when I tell you it’s not, so this is a very serious challenge.  I am afraid, and that’s what makes it so exciting.  I’ve already begun jotting down ideas which I hope to flesh out a little bit more before May 1st.  I’d like to have somewhere around 15-20 book ideas so I have plenty to choose from in case I get stuck.  In the meantime, here is my pledge for NaPiBoWriWee:

  1. I will write 7 picture books in 7 days from May 1st – May 7th.
  2. Each book will have a discrete beginning, middle and end.
  3. Each book will be distinct from one another because I will choose 7 very different subjects.
  4. I will accept that these 7 books will all be very stinky first drafts, and I pledge not to obsess about that during the week.
  5. I will do some research and a bit of outlining on my story ideas prior to May 1st, but I pledge not to write a single word of any of the stories until midnight on May 1st (and – who am I kidding – probably not until late morning that day).

Completing this challenge will be excellent training for the SCBWI Big Sur in the Rockies Children’s Writing Workshop, which I am attending mid-May.  I feel certain I will learn a great deal about writing in general and my own writing in particular.  I’ll be able to bring that experience to the workshop.

So, who’s with me?  Let me know so we can follow and support each other during NaPiBoWriWee and beyond!

*Paula Yoo is the author of the children’s non-fiction picture book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story (illustrated by Dom Lee), published by Lee & Low Books in 2003. It won the Lee & Low 2003 New Voices Award, received starred reviews from BookList and Kirkus Reviews, and was on the 2006 Texas BlueBonnet Masterlist and the IRA 2006 Notable Book list. Her second picture book, Shooting Star: The Anna May Wong Story, about legendary screen star Anna May Wong, was illustrated by Lin Wang and published in July 2009 by Lee & Low Books.

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