Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s’

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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The first Gratitude Sunday post of 2012. Happy New Year everyone!  This week I was especially grateful that my family gave me two full days by myself at the Breckenridge rental to organize for the year.  I worked from the moment I got up until I collapsed into bed, only taking breaks to walk the dog and take my nightly soak in the jet tub.  I loved every minute of it, and I feel so ready for 2012!

Quotes on Gratitude

“A new year is unfolding – like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.” — Unknown

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” — Ralph Marston

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty… a picture which was never seen before and shall never be seen again.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude list for the week ending January 7

  1. Author Katie Davis gave me an amazing New Year’s gift by asking me to come on her Brain Burps About Books kidlit podcast.  I’ll be her first guest of 2012, and the interview goes live this Wednesday (so you’ll be hearing more soon :-))  What an honor and what a way to start the year!!
  2. I set four-year goals, which drove my annual goals (including 2012), which drove my monthly goals for 2012.  First time I’ve ever planned this strategically (and tactically), and it feels great!  Goals, not resolutions.
  3. Michigan won the Sugar Bowl!!  Bonus video of the song that’s been going through my head all week at the end of the post!  Hint: Def Leppard, 1980s…
  4. Laid down my first tracks of the season skiing at Breckenridge
  5. Six inches of snowfall on Saturday night
  6. The aforementioned deep-soaking jet tub at the Breckenridge rental.  It is heaven on earth.
  7. Jay catching snowflakes on his tongue on the chairlift
  8. Watching Rocky’s pure, unadulterated joy at running through fresh snow
  9. Bright pink mountains in the morning at sunrise, and deep red mountains in the evening at sunset.
  10. The astonishing response to the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge, the support and camaraderie of the group, and the whimsical, phenomenal badge Linda Silvestri made for us.  I’m also grateful for Tara Lazar who kicked us off on Sunday.  I started the 12 x 12 group to inspire other picture book writers, but the participants in the group are inspiring me far more!

What are you grateful for this week?

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This year, I’m signing up for the anti-resolution revolution.  It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one.  Lose weight = I weigh too much.  Save money = I spend too much.  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Spend more time with my kids = I’m not doing enough for my kids.  Write more often = I don’t write enough.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know I am all about self-improvement, especially improvement that puts us on a path to self-actualization.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done.  Being zen about it, probably everything got done that was supposed to.

Here is my list of what I consider to be my major professional accomplishments this year

  • Completed two picture books.  Both are now on submission.
  • Was accepted into, and completed, the Rocky Mountain SCBWI mentorship program.
  • Drafted a third picture book which is at least halfway to submission-ready
  • Completed PiBoIdMo and ended up with 30+ picture book ideas
  • Sent 20+ queries over the course of the year
  • From those queries, sold one poem and got contracts to write three articles (coming in 2012)
  • Entered a picture book in the MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge and made it to #16 out of 400+ entries
  • Learned a TON about online marketing and promotion from the contest.
  • Completed four months of group coaching to launch a new project.  I am now about halfway through drafting the business plan for that project (more news on that in 2012)
  • Formed a LLC to support my writing business and other projects I launch
  • Took a two-month course on blogging to build an author platform.  I have now gone from a high of 2000 hits per month on my blog to a high of nearly 6000 per month.
  • Guest posted on several blogs
  • Set up an in-person picture book critique group in Boulder
  • Attended a digital publishing conference and the Rocky Mountain SCBWI regional conference
  • Last, but not least, launched the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge to write 12 picture books in 12 months.  This is, obviously, one of my major goals for the coming year.

In addition to work accomplishments, three other achievements deserve mention.  One is that I ran a personal best in the Bolder Boulder 10K this year and felt great.  The race also happened to take place right after I turned 40, which felt even better.

Second, I planned, from start to finish, and then took a six-week trip to Italy with my family for the summer.  This trip was the fulfillment of a major dream and life-changing in every possible way.  Although my kids are still young, I think it will turn out to be life-changing for them to have had such an experience.

One of the things the trip to Italy inspired me to do is the third achievement I want to mention.  I wrote a Bucket List.  I saw how rewarding it was to realize even one dream, so I thought I would capture as many more as I could in the hopes of realizing them all.  I am trying not be afraid of dreaming big.  So perhaps a motto for 2012 is Dream Big or Go Home.

For your further contemplation, here are a few other posts with an alternate take on New Year’s Resolutions

Lynnette Burrows doesn’t let Mrs. Darkside win.

Hayley Lavik is not going to change anything next year.

Prudence MacLeod is going to read books by live authors.

Emma Burcart is going to be kind – to herself.

Jennifer Lewis Oliver has never made a New Year’s Resolution.

Myndi Shafer does have a short list of resolutions, which she made in the Nick of Time.

What is your stance on New Year’s Resolutions?  Good thing, bad thing or in-between?

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Note to self: Perhaps next year hanging a Johnny Depp calendar will help keep spirits up. 🙂

Don’t let the door smack you in the a$$ on the way out.

So, January is not my best month.  Never has been.  Some of my darkest days have been January days.  I’m not entirely sure what comes over me, but it’s been compounded by the fact that both of my kids have their birthdays are in January.  I wrote about this last year too.  I love my kids with the intensity of a thousand suns.  I want to love celebrating their birthdays.  But the truth is, I am always in survival mode.  I do what I need to do to get through the festivities with a plastic smile on my face before collapsing into a stupor of relief afterwards.

Another part of the problem is that the world takes off in earnest in January.  My Google reader filled to bursting with posts about resolutions, goals and plans for the new year.  People seem to head back to their work, their lives with new gusto while I struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  My January doldrums were not improved this year by a head injury I’d sustained in late December, or by the family of mice that took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and took a week to do away with.  We also went to New York and spent two weekends skiing in Keystone, which added a huge element of fun and excitement to the month, but also served to push me further and further behind in my attempts to get back into the saddle of life (pun intended).

Supposedly, Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  After years of enduring bad Januarys, I finally had an epiphany: January won’t change, but I can.  In this spirit, I have created my own 5 commandments of January as follows:

  1. Treat January as an extension of the holidays. With two kids celebrating birthdays in January, this is really true.  Parties, presents, planning.  I cannot expect to re-enter the normal flow of life with two seminal events to celebrate in the same month.
  2. Do not take on any new or extra commitments. Because everybody else seems revved up with new goals and new energy, opportunities for new challenges and experiences abound.  Many of them are extremely worthwhile and hugely tempting.  The lovely Kat Apel, for example, hosted the Month of Poetry in January.  I participated for five days and then fell off the face of the earth.  Then I felt terrible, both for reneging on a commitment and for failing to support a friend.  From now on, no matter how tempting, I just need to say no to putting more on myself this month, even if it’s something fun.
  3. The New Year begins February 1st. No more New Year’s resolutions/goals for January (see #1).  The real new year will begin for me on February 1.
  4. Focus on family. It’s not my kids’ fault that they were both born in January, with birthdays ten days apart.  Even though the birthdays come right after Christmas, they are still a huge deal to them – rightly so.  My fatigue, seasonal depression, eagerness to get back into a routine, does not change the fact that they need and deserve to be celebrated this month.  I’ve always managed to pull off their parties and festivities, but this year I made a couple of decisions in the name of expediency/making it easier for myself that ended up disappointing my daughter, even though she put on a brave face.  This leads to my last commandment, which speaks to making sure I have the energy reserves to support these four, which is:
  5. Be kind to myself. I need to give myself permission to keep things at a slower pace.  Read books, take naps and hot baths.  Cook nourishing food.  Drink tea.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Write.  If I nourish myself, hopefully I will be able to provide birthday celebrations for my kids that I enjoy too.

Do you have months that are historically difficult for you?  If so, what are your strategies for surviving and thriving?

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We-ell, ya know… we all want to have a plan.

But now I am going to admit something that might make you think I’m the Scrooge of New Year’s:  I find reading other people’s New Year’s Resolutions boring.  Why?  Because they have no bearing on my life whatsoever.  They’re kind of interesting in a voyeuristic sense and/or if they give you ideas, but really, after reading post after post of them, my eyeballs are hanging out of my sockets by springs and there’s a pile of drool collecting on my desk.

There.  I said it.

HOWEVER, while I don’t love reading others’ resolutions, I realize that many people do.  I also believe in the power of not just setting goals, but writing them down, sharing them, and creating a plan to hold oneself accountable.  So it is in this spirit that I embrace my inner hypocrite and present you with my resolutions for two areas of my life (I wouldn’t think of subjecting you to the ones about my finances, my house and my family).  Those areas are…. drumroll…. Writing and Health and Wellness.  Posting them here is my way of holding myself accountable because at some point, I’ll feel obligated to come back and tell you all how I measured up.  So here goes:


1. Land an agent. I know, I know! I can hear you all screaming about S.M.A.R.T. goals, claiming this one isn’t Specific, Measurable, Achievable (at least independently), Realistic or Time-based.  Yeah, I worked in the corporate world too.  Yet, I would feel remiss if I didn’t put this on the list because this is the biggest next step toward reaching my future publication goals.  SO – I have created sub-goals that are SMART.  If I achieve those but still don’t get an agent, I’ll mark it as success.  I just want to make sure I’ve done everything within my control to work toward this goal.

  • Get primary WiP (call it WiP #1) submission-ready (again!) by end of January
  • Have a list of 8 agents to query for that WiP ready by end of January
  • Begin querying WiP #1 to those 8 agents beginning of February
  • Get WiP #2 submission-ready by end of March
  • Have a list of 8 additional agents to the ones queried for Wip #1 ready by end of March
  • Begin querying WiP #2 beginning of April (assuming no response/progress on WiP #1)
  • Write a first draft of BRAND NEW SUPER SHINY IDEA by end of February
  • Have BRAND NEW SUPER SHINY IDEA submission-ready by end of June

That’s as far as I can reasonably plan, I think, so I commit to setting new goals in June to keep this on track.

2. Write every weekday. Here writing is defined exclusively as new writing or revising a WiP.

  • Schedule a minimum of one hour of uninterrupted writing time each weekday.

3. Writing-related work every weekday. Writing-related work can be reading, research, writing pitches or query letters, blogging, social media, etc.

  • Must complete a minimum of one hour of writing-related work each day.  Does not need to be consecutive or uninterrupted.

4. Study craft and market for Travel Writing and Personal Essays. After picture books, these are other areas of writing that have great appeal to me, especially because they can also support research for the children’s writing (international research, anyone?).  So this year I just want to make inroads into understanding the markets for this type of writing and to begin working and studying the craft and how it differs from what I am doing now.

  • One hour of writing-related work per week must be dedicated to either travel or personal essay writing


So it turns out I have a big birthday coming up.  Although I always have health/wellness related resolutions and goals, they are more important than ever this year.

1. Be in great shape by 40th birthday. Again, I realize this violates all of the tenets of SMART goals, so again I broke it down.

  • Lose 15 pounds by:
  • Counting daily calories consumed beginning Jan. 10th. This is really a bummer because I hate doing this, but I know it’s the only way to be honest with myself about how much I am actually eating/drinking.
  • Exercise 5-7 days each week unless sick
  • 2 of the 5 sessions must be strength/yoga/pilates
  • 1 of the 2 strength sessions must be a full-body strength workout
  • Wine on weekends only unless special occasion.  This is also a bummer. I love my red wine at the end of the day.  Honestly, sometimes I’d like it as an IV drip.  But truth be told, it not only accumulates on my waistline, but it *gasp* impacts my productivity the next day if I’ve indulged in a couple of drinks the night before.  So in the spirit of keeping all the resolutions intact, I will limit wine to weekends outside of special weekday occasions.  Special occasions include things like: book club, dinners with friends, date nights, etc.  Special occasions do not include “because I deserve it” after a long day or because the kids are pushing every single button I have.

2. Run at least one race of 10K or greater distance

3. Learn to ski moguls with confidence. I can ski them, but not well.  This is the year I change that.

4. Craniosacral therapy once a month

5. Yoga at least once a month

6. Five-minute morning meditation first thing – before kids get up

So there you have it.  I know it’s an ambitious list, but at the start of a squeaky-clean year, I feel ready to tackle it!

What about you? Do you like reading other people’s resolutions? Do you think resolutions actually work?

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Okay so there are no hand grenades in this story, but it makes a good title, no?

First of all, Happy New Year!  I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season so far.  Although I’d said I would be a bit absentee from the blog over the holidays, I didn’t mean to disappear altogether.  But fate decided to make an appearance.

On the night of the solstice, December 21st, I had a friend and her young son over to celebrate with dinner, a fire, lots of candles, a few glasses of wine (for the grownups) and general merriment.  She stayed with the kids while I took Rocky for a walk in an open field near our house.  I took a flashlight.  Flashlights make Rocky manic, so I try not to use it too often, but I did that night.  I must have been looking for him in the dark, and I assume he ran into me head-on.

I remember almost nothing of the following six hours, including the walk home, a trip to the ER, a CT scan and the fact that my husband, after talking to me, flew home from a business trip in Phoenix a day early.  Even when I did, “come to,” I asked many of the same questions over and over again, not remembering either the answer or the fact that I’d just asked the same question.  At about 3:00 in the morning, I asked my husband, “If I can’t remember anything, why did the hospital send me home?”  My husband responded, “Because you were asking too many questions.”  At last, a laugh!

I spent the entire next day in bed, confused, disoriented and scared.  Luckily, also mostly asleep.  I ached everywhere and found I had sprained my knee and twisted my shoulder somehow.  My chest and ribs hurt.  My brain felt too big for my skull.  Basically, it felt like the aftermath of a high-intensity workout and a terrible hangover combined.

Long story short, after a trip to a neurologist and a craniosacral therapist, I was on the road to recovery.  I am feeling much better now, if not 100 percent.  What took the longest to come back was the ability to read and write, which I’m sure you can imagine, was terrifying for me.  My life’s bread, butter and chocolate – not only gone but also not even appealing.  (If I normally comment on your blog and you haven’t heard from me in a while, now you know why.) Writing these words today feels like the best possible way to celebrate the new year.

I have missed a couple of Gratitude Sundays, so let me just say I’m grateful that my injuries were not worse and that I can expect to fully recover. I am grateful for my friend who took care of me, called my mother, wrote up a timeline of events (which turned out to be immensely helpful) and spent the night at my house so my mom could take me to the hospital.  I am beyond grateful for my incredible family and their support, not just during this time but at all times.  I am grateful for the peaceful and joyous Christmas we celebrated, and that my stepmother was able to join us for the first time.  I am grateful for the fabulous food we’ve eaten over the holidays and that we finally, FINALLY got some snow.  I am grateful for all of my friends, both real-life and virtual.  I am grateful that I get to look forward to another year of doing what I love.

Happiest and healthiest of New Years’ to you and yours!

What of the dog, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure he was trying to protect me from the evil “flashlight-from-the-devil.”  He would never, ever hurt anyone by choice.  Besides, how could you stay mad at a face like this?

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After my previous bummer-esque post about why I don’t like New Year’s Eve, I figured I’d do a 180 and wish everyone a Happy 2010.  It turns out that a change of scenery was just what I needed to wring out the old year.  We spent the night in downtown Denver last night.  We kicked off the evening with a horse and carriage ride around LoDo, had burgers and milkshakes at Sam 3’s diner and capped the night off with the 9:00 family-friendly fireworks on the 16th Street Mall.

I watched the fireworks again at midnight from the windowsill of our hotel room while everyone else slept.  I have to admit it was a little magical.

After a buffet breakfast and a swim in the outdoor semi-heated pool (it can only be so heated when it’s below freezing outside), we came home to a big warm dog to hug.  I feel rejuvenated and thus inspired to list ten things I’m looking forward to in 2010.  These are in no particular order:

  1. Not having a real job anymore.  It will be nice to have more flexibility in my schedule.
  2. Writing this blog.  Perhaps sounds a bit self-serving, but I’m having so much fun I can’t wait to do more with it this year.
  3. Writing in general.  Given that focusing on my writing was my #1 reason for leaving the real job, I so hope that in one year from now I’ll be reflecting on how wonderful it was to have been published by someone – anyone.  Anyone???  I am especially hopeful about my children’s books, although I hope to publish some articles this year too.
  4. Family vacations.  Probably repeats of last year: skiing, Michigan, Rainbow Trout Ranch – but all good.
  5. Summer with the Kids.  Last year was so crazy trying to manage child-care, work, vacations.  I’m looking forward to having some good old-fashioned summer fun with the kids this year.  Please remind me I said this at the beginning of August when I’m at the end of my rope!!
  6. Running.  I want to get back into it this year.  I’ve continued the recreational runs, but I want to get fired up and do a few road races this year – the Bolder Boulder in particular.
  7. Having a DOG!!! Rocky is a fixture in the family already, and I can’t believe how happy it makes me to have a dog warming the hearth.
  8. Book Club.  I finally get to be in a book club!  I’ve tried multiple times to start one or join one, but the people I’ve invited have either already been in a club or the ones I’ve wanted to join were already full (or I’m just unpopular, which is also a distinct possibility).  This year, however, a good friend of mine is starting a new one and I get to join!  I know some of the women, but not all, and I can’t wait to meet everyone and get started!  Our first book is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  This leads me to…
  9. Reading.  No matter how many books I’ve read the previous year, I love the open canvas of a new year and all-new books to read.  Last year, the first book I read turned out to be my favorite for the whole year – The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.
  10. Volunteering.  If I have any traditional resolutions this year, one is to get more involved in the community.  Now that I have a dog, the only other big hole is feeling like I’m making a direct difference in the lives of others.  I’ve never been huge on volunteering, mostly due to time constraints but also because for some reason it makes me self-conscious.  I hope to overcome both obstacles this year and get my kids involved too.

That’s all for now, folks.  Happy New Year!

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I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s.  I always feel more sad than optimistic.  When I was younger, I think it was mostly because Christmas was over and school was starting soon.  Where I went to school, there were none of these Professional Development Days after the New Year that gave us the whole first week of January off school.  If January 1st was on a Monday, we were back at school on Tuesday.

As a young adult, my New Year’s melancholy was usually due to lack of plans, lack of date, or lack of reality matching expectations.  Sure, I had some fun years partying with friends or having that “dream date” on the “dream night.”  Usually though, I was out somewhere feeling like I should be having a much better time for the money I’d spent and the emotional investment I’d put into the evening.

Also, I’m an underdog person.  While everyone else cheers wildly in anticipation of the New Year, I’m feeling sorry for the old one.  Whether the previous year has been good or not so good, the devil that you know… as they say.  In my view, everyone is too eager to move the clock hands.  Unfortunately for me, this most obvious symbol of the passage of time generates a golf ball sized lump in my throat.  The years go by too fast now.  It doesn’t help that both of my kids are January babies, so no sooner do we ring in the New Year than my children get one year closer to leaving home.  Perhaps that’s melodramatic.  January has always been my worst month mood-wise, so it’s no surprise to me that the Gods would deliver both of my children in January so I could stew even more about time.  When I was little, my dad always used to say, “I wish you could have just stayed five years old.”  I always thought he was joking.  Now I realize he was at least half serious.

Am I a complete weirdo about this?  Does anyone else feel at all sad at New Year’s?  If you’re the opposite, what is it that makes you feel happy/hopeful at the New Year?

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