I wish I could give you all a chocolate covered doughnut. Heck, I wish I could give myself one!

So. As of today I’ve been blogging for 2 years. Thank you all for putting up with me hanging out with me and making this blog a pure joy to write.  I could write all day about what this blog has meant to me, but I’d rather make it a celebration of YOU – the reader.  So let’s start with a giveaway, shall we?

There are two items up for grabs (get it? The repetition of the “2” theme??).  First is a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  I figure as the holiday season rushes in, everyone could make use of this.  Second is a critique from yours truly – either a picture book manuscript or the first 10 pages of a work in any other genre.  For both I will provide a “big picture” analysis of what is working well in your manuscript and areas that need attention.  I will also provide line by line comments.  You should come away with some concrete steps you can take to improve your work.

So how do you win?  First, you must be a follower of the blog. If you are a new follower, please tell me how you follow – email, RSS, Networked Blogs, etc.  Second (see how we’re still on the “2” theme?), I have asked four questions in this post (Four being 2 x 2).  To enter the contest, you must you leave a comment and answer at least one of the questions.  For each question you answer, you will receive one point.  For those of you who are keeping track, that means you can earn a maximum of four points.  (I know, I know.  You’re all saying to yourselves: “Wow, she can write AND do advanced math!!!).  Please also tell me which of the two items you’d like.  I’d appreciate tweets but unfortunately I’m not going to count them as points this time because it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m trying to keep things simple for both you and me.  You have until next Wednesday, November 23rd to enter.  I’ll announce the winners on Thanksgiving Day! Now that’s something to be thankful for…

Last year, I asked four questions that came from a post entitled, 8 Critical Questions You Should Ask Yourself as a Blogger.  I only got 7 responses, so it didn’t give me much of a sense of what my blog readers really think.  Since my number of followers has grown quite a bit this year (woo hoo!), and the questions are still very relevant and important to me, I figured I’d try again. In order to gear up for the next year of blogging, I’d like to hear more about you and what you would like to see on this blog (and blogs in general).  So here goes:

1.  Are you blogging about your passion?

This is an easy yes for me.  I am passionate about writing, certainly, but I am also passionate about my family, my dog, nature, reading, cooking, traveling, etc.  I try to balance posts about writing and posts about my life.  This year, for example, I chronicled my family’s stay in Italy this summer as well as launching a series for writers – How I Got My Agent.  I enjoy writing about a range of topics and fear I’d get bored (and the blog would suffer) if I limited myself to writing.  BUT, I would like to know if you think the my passion comes through in my blog posts, regardless of the subject du jour.  Should I be putting more personality/passion in the posts or I am I already at risk of revealing TMI?

2.  Do you know your audience?

Some of the sub-questions here ask whether you know what your readers want and don’t want and whether they find your posts useful.  I believe my most active readers/followers are fellow writers, but I also know that I have quite a few non-writer followers who don’t comment as often but read most of the posts.  I try to serve both audiences without being schizophrenic.  So I ask you, if you are a writer, do you still enjoy the more personal posts?   If you are not a writer, do your eyes glaze over when you read the writing posts, or do I manage to make them interesting to you?

3.  Are you building a community?

I think so.  I try to ask thought-provoking questions at the end of most posts to get people excited to engage in a conversation.  I joined the third Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign, participated in a few blogfests and attended Kristen Lamb’s blogging course.  I’m on Twitter and Facebook.  I do giveaways here and there.  Are there other things I could do to “up” the community quotient of the blog?

4.  Are you solving your reader’s problems?

Let me be frank.  I can barely solve my own problems, so I doubt if I will be able to solve yours.  If I had all the answers, I’d probably be a multi-published author bringing money in hand over fist right now.  If I had all the answers, my kids would behave perfectly at all times, my cakes would never sag in the middle, I’d weigh about 20 lbs less and my house would be featured in Architectural Digest. In the meantime, I hope that as I flounder, learn, flounder some more, and then learn some more, that my posts about that process are helpful to you too.  It’s not so much “misery loves company” as “company alleviates misery,” so let’s stick together.  Do my posts provide help or inspiration to you, and what do you think would make them more helpful?

Now for some totally useless statistics.  Last year I posted my top five most-visited posts and my top five favorites and thought it would be fun to do it again.  It’s interesting how in both years there was no overlap between the two.

Top Posts (post with greatest number of hits)

  1. 100 Random Things – every day I get at least one “random things to write about” search reference that brings someone to the blog.
  2. Osama bin Laden’s Death – No surprise here.  I got more than 800 hits the day the post went live.  Controversy sells.
  3. How I Got My Agent: Corey Schwartz – Go Corey! Not only is she a terrific writer, but she was the first brave soul to participate in this series.
  4. How to Write a Winning Query
  5. How I Got My Agent: Tara Lazar – Go Tara! Our own PiBoIdMo organizer and another fantastic writer.

Top Five Personal Favorites

  1. On Impermanence
  2. Here Piggy, Piggy
  3. Adam Rex Rocks the House
  4. Yes, I Do Believe in Miracles
  5. The Long and Winding Road

Last, but not least, I have a public service announcement.  Fellow picture book author Susanna Leonard Hill has started a wonderful new Friday feature called, Perfect Picture Book Friday.  In the same vein as Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, folks passionate about picture books will choose one and provide a short synopsis and a note on what they like about the book.  So go visit her to find some amazing picture books.  I will be participating myself starting next Friday.

Whether you comment on this post or not, THANKS FOR READING!  I appreciate each and every one of you.

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Social Media, Travel, Writer's Platform-Building Campaign, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. I’m not a writer, but I enjoy reading your posts anyway.

  2. Great post today. Thanks for sharing it.

    If you enjoy writing then we want you to write for us. Have a great day.

    Writing Jobs Available – Writer’s Needed

  3. Hello Julie – I am not an habitue, I actually dropped in because when searching Italy I saw your blog for 2 years and thought I would say congrats and help you celebrate by dreaming about the chocolate covered doughnut! However after reading today’s blog, I will make it a point of checking in more frequently…that way maybe next year I can answer some of your questions (at least 3 of them… in honor of your 3rd year)
    I invite you to visit my blog http://www.pierotucci.wordpress.com

    • Hey! I’m going to be in Florence in March, and I just happen to be in the market for some leather. LOVE the faux fur handbag. Tell me where your shop is. I’d love to stop by and say hello!

  4. Happy Blogiversary! I think you’re doing everything right 🙂 Your passion comes through in the right amount. Although I’m a writer and definitely NOT a traveler, I really enjoy your posts on other topics, especially your gratitude lists which I find inspirational as per question 4. And though I have a hard time judging, it feels like you have a nice community here. Thanks so much for the PSA 🙂 I’m really looking forward to having you join in on Perfect Picture Book Fridays next week – I know your choice will be great 🙂

  5. Happy Anniversary! I’ll have some of that chocolate doughnut!
    My answers are
    1) YES – I like to read your posts 🙂
    2) I think it is good to talk about something different – like a current event or special day.
    3) How about talking to more teachers and students? Get kids interested in books and writing!
    4) I think you do a great job with information about what it is like to be a writer and information people need for being a writer. It is interesting. I would like to read more of that. I learn a lot from it.
    If I win I would like the book critique 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I love your blog too, and I think it’s fantastic that you want the book critique. You’re a kid inspiration!!

  6. Congratulations, Julie. I do enjoy your blog. I am a blogger and a writer. I am shopping my middle grade novel right now, but only a little. I have an idea for change in it that I will work on after the holidays and then shop it some more. I really enjoyed your series of how you got your agent. In general though, I just enjoy your blog and your style of writing. Keep it up. Being pressed for time right now, I can’t answer the questions in detail, but I do think you are doing a great job – keep it up.

  7. Congratulations on the blogiversary. I enjoy reading following your blog (and often hop over right when I get the notice in my inbox), because I like your voice/personality. You are helpful and friendly. I love your sense of adventure and travel. Let’s see if I can get your questions: 1 – I think your passion does shine and I don’t think it’s TMI. I think you have a great balance to share writing and personal moments and thoughts. I love the gratitude list. Gives me a moment to pause to think about my own. 2-I think your know your audience and by the comments you attract a mix of writers and non-writers. Your writing attracts us. 3-I think you are doing all the regulars for building a community. I think you’ve “written it” – now they will come. 4 – Your description here made me laugh. Is there a “Martha Stewart” of picture books? Life is a little messy, so I appreciate the realness of your efforts to be published. I have found many nuggets in your posts about your personal experience or the agent series or info about craft you pass along after conference. These are great questions for us all to consider for our blogs.

    • Stacy, thanks so much for the thoughtful answers to the questions. I really appreciate the time you took. I’m glad you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy yours!!

  8. Hi, I just found your blog and subscribed to it by email. I have looked around at some of your previous posts. I am a writer, mainly for children. As far as the first question, I think your passion does show through. On #2 I enjoy both types of posting, there is more to life than writing and I think we should share both to our bloggers. I post about every day life and writing, although sometimes I only post about writing on Wednesdays. I have followers that are not writers. I look forward to reading future posts by you. I would like to win the critique. But, if everyone wants the critique, I would also enjoy the gift card.

  9. Hi, Julie! I can see YOUR passion in your posts. This is the first time I have visited your site, but have signed up to receive your posts via email. I’m not sure if I am to answer the questions about my blog or yours, but, since I am a newcomer, I will answer the questions about me.
    I have a travel blog, and yes, it is my passion! Our family takes a yearly educational trip overseas, and I blog about our experiences.
    Although I have not opened it up to everyone yet, it would attract those who love to travel, want to travel, love history, or, just like looking at unique family photos.
    I’m still trying to figure out how to build community on my blog…maybe ask questions? The blog is a unique one, so I haven’t ferreted that out yet.
    And lastly, am I solving reader’s problems? If someone has always wanted to travel overseas, but couldn’t, reading my blog could solve that problem (in a way). Also, I talk about how I see God’s handiwork in the places we visit, which is an encouragement to others.
    Thanks for your post, and the opportunity to examine my blog in a different light. If I win, I would love to take advantage of your offer for a critique…
    Happy Thanksgiving, Julie!

    • Asking questions is a good way to get responses and getting community going. It shows interest in your readers’ perspectives. Your travel blog sounds fabulous though. Definitely up my alley!

  10. Congratulations on 2 years of blogging success! Quite and accomplishment, for sure!

  11. Hi Juie,
    Congrats on 2 years of blogging. I just heard about your site through Tara’s PiBoIdMo FB page. You have a lovely writing style. I just added you to my RSS feed. I am a beginning writer so I would be most interested in posts related to writing and your personal writing journey. I am also a first-year blogger doing book reviews of PB through Chapter Books. http://www.flowering-minds.com

    1. Yes I think your passion comes across quite well.
    2. Post on the writing craft or your personal writing journey posts.
    3. Sorry don’t enough yet. I am a first-year blogger, and am trying to figure this out as well.
    4. Yes, I think you are. Which is why I am a subscriber now. 🙂

    I look forward to see what you post about this year.
    If I should win, I pick the PB critique.

  12. Happy Year #2 To “WUML”! I appreciate your expertise because, as you know, you’ve been a great resource for me to get links and widgets etc. to work on my own fledgling blog! I came because of your posts at WriteOnCon. I liked your writing style and your succinct, apt questions. I learned a lot! And so I found your blog and have spent oodles of time clicking through your blogroll and old posts. OK, here are my answers:
    1. Your passions are clear and balanced. The variety keeps me interested. No danger of TMI.
    2. I like the personal posts – no eye glazing here. The post about Rocky and the flashlight still fills me with terror!
    3. I think your community is growing through the actions you have taken. How many blog readers are ‘enough’? Susanna’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a great new connection!
    4. Yes – you are solving my problems – help, hope and inspiration! Reflected in those stats about most visited posts.
    I’ve gone on too long…if my name is drawn from the hat I’ll squeal with delight to win a critique! Enjoy your candled doughnut!

    • Thanks so much Cathy! You’ve been a great addition to the community here. I look forward to reading and learning more from you on your blog too!

  13. Happy 2nd Anniversary, Julie!! I truly enjoy your blog 😀

    (1.) Your passion shines brightly.
    (2.) Absolutely enjoy the personal posts.
    (3.) You’ve more than done what is in your power. Word of mouth will help this wonderful blog following to grow ;D
    (4) Inspiration and help abounds! One happy subscriber!!

    May prize of choice would be a pb critique 😀

  14. What an achievement Julie! Congratulations!

    Well since I’ve only known you for a couple of months, I would have to say that:

    1) You enjoy what you do.
    2) That’s always a tough one isn’t it? But I sense that you do, or your stats would show otherwise.
    3) Yes I would have to say you are bring people together through your posts.
    4) Soving everyone’s problems. Who can do that unless your God. LOL!

    Great post Julie! And thank you so much for Your support!

  15. Happy Blogiversary Julie. You are great a blogging, it’s a joy to come round here. 🙂

    1) You blog very passionately.
    2) Love your personal posts
    3) You have a strong sense of community building
    4) You make us feel good, I think that is all you need.

    I’d love a critique from you Julie, not being in your critique group.

  16. Congratulations on your blog anniversary, Julie. I began following just before Italy, in part because of that. I share many of your interests and so felt an immediate connection
    1 I think your passion does shine and I don’t think it’s TMI. think you have a great balance

    2 I love the more personal stuff mixed in with the advice. Your Sunday post always makes me reflect on the good things that week.

    3 It’s hard to measure community. I do feel that with the Write Campaign and PiBoIdMo we are starting to build a great PB community and I think your warmth here on your blog helps that tremendously and so I believe a lovely community is forming.

    4 I don’t come for solutions but inspiration and fun and that I receive!

    You are doing a great job here, Julie 🙂

  17. Happy Blogiversary!

    I enjoy reading your posts. They are well written, light-hearted, uplifting and inspiring. You never “tug on the corners of my smile” or bring me “down.” You share just enough . . . and not too much.

    Write on!

  18. Happy Blogiversary, Julie! Two years sure goes by fast, doesn’t it? 🙂

    1) I haven’t been here very long, but I can tell you love blogging. And TMI? Not at all. We’re still getting to know each other. LOL!
    2) I enjoy both your personal posts and your writing posts … but then, I’m both a writer and a person.
    3) It looks to me like you’ve got a nice community here. I have no advice but I’m sure happy to be a part of your community now.
    4) A definite yes to whether or not I find you and your posts inspiring!

    • Sheila I love your answer to #2. It’s funny that we sometimes think of ourselves as writers first and people second, but we are all both after all.

  19. Congratulations, Julie! I just found your site today through PiBoIdMo, and am already enjoying delving through your old posts. They are terrific! Will you come declutter my life? I’ve signed up to receive your feeds by email. The whole world of blogging is new to me. PiBoIdMo was my first toe dip into it. Of the posts I’ve read so far, your passion definitely shows through. I love the posts on writing and on personal things. I already feel a sense of community with you because of two things… 1. I had posters of Scott Baio on my wall growing up, and 2. my high school yearbook was set up to look like the Official Preppy Handbook. 😉 Can’t wait to get your posts by email! Oh, and I would love to have a PB critique. Rock on!

    • Jan, perhaps you can come declutter my house after you’re done with yours? Mine needs a major touch-up – lol!

      Seriously though, welcome to the community here. I appreciate your comments and it’s always great to meet a fellow Scott Baio fan. 🙂

  20. Happy Blogiversary! I’m glad I came across your blog. You passion shows through. Congratulations!

  21. Happy 2-year anniversary! I just started blogging 3 months ago, so I’ll answer question 1.

    I’m blogging about writing my first children’s book, plus whatever relevant news and tips I pick up. I also throw in some of my adventures (and usually how they relate to writing). This is definitely my passion – I spend 8-10 hours at coffee shops over the weekend working on my book VOLUNTARILY!

    Thanks for you post, and tips as well. I follow you via RSS, and am looking forward to hearing more from you. Following fellow kidlit writers has been a terrific learning experience.


  22. Hi Julie…I’m doing the Happy Blogiversary dance in your honor! Here’s to my comments:

    1. Yes I think your passion comes through and is reflected in your stories/comments that you post. They certainly capture my attention.

    2. I am part of your audience and I find your blogs to be informative (whether personal or professional comments) which is just what I like to read about…

    3. I am presuming you already do this, but I would make sure that I am always telling my audience every conceivable way to keep in touch with me…on your website, on Facebook, on Twitter, whenever guest blogging, at book signings, etc…you get the idea…

    4. As a returning writer after a 20 year hiatus, EVERYTHING out there is new to me…lol…which is why I love reading your blogs. Not only does it give me a peek into the sometimes everyday life of a published author, it also gives me tips and tricks which hopefully will help me to strengthen my own writing…

    Here’s to another two years and more!!

    Take care,

    Donna Martin

    • Welcome back to writing (although part of me thinks you probably never really left it behind)! I look forward to getting to know you better.

  23. Congratulations on your two anniversary! 🙂

  24. Cool, love your blog. Didn’t realise that I hadn’t ticked the email subscription, I have now!
    Happy Anniversary for the two years of Blogging, I only hope i am as successful as you have been with your blogging.
    1. Your passion shines here in your blog, there is no doubt about that.
    2. I always love a bit of personal in blogs, it helps us get to know you more.
    3. Wow! This is hard, but I think with so many people around you, one can feel warm, safe and encouraged, you have that!
    4. Yep, this is a very interesting and informative blog, I love that I can find some inspiration here, you have a very lovely blog.

    Good luck for the next two years.

  25. Oh, I love your blog. I am new in all of this. In fact, I have finished a writing class with Mira Reisberg. She’s fabulous. I tried soaking in all the tips from everyone and hope that someday, I will get my story out there.

    Please continue on with many years of blogging. I am trying to organize myself with a web page first. Blogging may be several years down the road. I am new to all this stuff.

    • You WILL get your story out there, and a web page. Take your time and do what you are comfortable with and everything will fall into place. Thanks for commenting!

  26. Wow two years! It really passes us by! I’m proud of all your progress and glad the your blog has grown into something so special! It is really something to celebrate.It is quite difficult to stick to it and blog every week–even I find it difficult. Some bloggers make it to a year and never go beyond that one year, So kudos to you! Two years is a milestone! It really is! We are blessed to have such a great community of bloggers to support and surround us with encouragement. You rock! Keep up the good work.

    Thanks for the comments on my blog!

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