anti-resolutionThree years ago I wrote a blog post that garnered quite a bit of attention. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. I skipped 2013, but got back on track in 2014. I’m bringing this tradition with me into 2015, and I’ve asked participants in my 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program to do the same.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

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…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

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… 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

It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Because I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself, I’ve invited 12 Days of Christmas for Writers participants to post their successes on their blogs and websites too. Feel free to share links to your posts in the comments here!

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2014. 

  1. I wrote 7 new picture book drafts and revised 12. Plus I wrote a book proposal. That’s a personal best for me in terms of volume of writing!!
  2. Launched the third year of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge with a spruced up Membership Forum. Grew to 750 members!
  3. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS storybook app won the Independent Book Publisher’s Association Benjamin Franklin Digital Gold Award.
  4. A SHIVER OF SHARKS storybook app won a 2014 Digital Book Award.
  5. Attended the first-ever Picture Book Boot Camp with THE Jane Yolen at her home in Massachusetts.
  6. My agent, Erzsi Deak, took my one of my books out on submission (still awaiting responses).
  7. Ran the second annual Writer’s Renaissance retreat in Florence Italy to great success.
  8. Launched a brand new website for Writer’s Renaissance.Me with MLFY
  9. Filed my first tax return as a single, self-employed person.
  10. Launched a comprehensive online course – How to Make Money as a Writer.
  11. Launched The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions (with my friend and colleague Emma Walton Hamilton).
  12. Participated as a speaker in the SCBWI-MI webinar series on the topic of being an Author Entrepreneur.
  13. Met with all Denver-area bookstores to plan events for the launch of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN and to get them to carry the print version of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS.
  14. Learned, once and for all, to use Scrivener. I have to credit Joe Michael’s excellent course,* which I keep open every time I write in the program.
  15. Presented at the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction conference on the topic of changes in the publishing industry, storybook apps, and connecting with your audience.
  16. Presented at the New Jersey SCBWI conference on the topics of author-entrepreneurship and crowdfunding.
  17. Attended the LA-SCBWI Annual Summer conference and was interviewed by Lee Wind for the Official SCBWI Blog.
  18. MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN released on September 9th!
  19. My first radio show interview took place the day before my book launch party.
  20. Held hugely successful book launch at Saturn Booksellers in my hometown of Gaylord, MI. (psst… Saturn still has signed copies of the book in their store…)
  21. Visited all three elementary schools, for free, in my hometown during my launch week.
  22. Presented at the SCBWI-MI conference on the subject of 21st century publishing.
  23. Presented at my first-ever book festival – The Southern Festival of Books – with MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN illustrator Susan Eaddy.
  24. Conducted school visits and several bookstore signings with Susan Eaddy, including Parnassus Books, The Tattered Cover, The Book Bar, The Bookies, and Boulder Bookstore. (As a public service announcement, ALL of these stores have signed copies of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN)
  25. Fulfilled all the rewards for Kickstarter backers of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN.
  26. MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN was nominated for the 2014 CYBILS awards in the picture book category.
  27. Spent a week in London doing research for my picture book biography.
  28. Launched a brand new website for the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge
  29. Participated in PiBoIdMo and came up with 28 new picture book ideas, one of which is already drafted.
  30. Hired a bookkeeper and have begun to get my business finances in order, not just for tax season but also for planning and forecasting.
  31. Continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast.

I’m quite happy with this list. 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list! Share in the comments if you’d like. 🙂

*I love Joe’s course so much I became an affiliate. That means if you use my link and make a purchase, I get a small commission. As always, I NEVER recommend anything I don’t love and use myself. But it is important to do your own due diligence before making any purchase to determine whether it will work for you and/or meet your needs. 🙂

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Brain Burps About Books, Creativity, Crowdfunding, Holidays, Italy, My Love For You Is The Sun, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, SCBWI, Storybook Apps, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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TroopPNGThanks to everyone who entered the sweepstakes to help me celebrate A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS winning the Independent Book Publisher’s Association Digital Gold Award a couple of weeks ago.

Winners were selected randomly via Rafflecopter, but I must say it tickled my fancy that the grand prize winner had sent us a picture of himself reading the print version of TROOP to his granddaughter. HERE are all of the winners:

 

Winner Damon reading print version of TROOP with his granddaughter

Winner Damon reading print version of TROOP with his granddaughter

Winner of the GRAND PRIZE of a $100 Gift Card to Amazon OR the iTunes store is…

Damon Dean!!

The Two Winners of 1 set (each) of download codes for the app versions of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and A SHIVER OF SHARKS are…

Sara Lynn Eastler and Gandamu Baka!!

Winner of an adorable stuffed monkey and a bag of TROOP and SHIVER customized M & M’s is…

Jackie Gove Bryla!!

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who joined in the fun.

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Giveaway, Picture Books, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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troop ibpaBFDA_Awards_Seals_GOLD_highresWhen I found out late last week that A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS was an Independent Publisher’s Association Benjamin Franklin Award Gold winner, needless to say I went a little bananas! I wrote all about it in this post, also published today.

Having to wait the whole weekend before sharing was excruciating, but now I am CELEBRATING with a sweepstakes for YOU. That’s right, these fabulous prizes are yours for the taking. Instructions for entering the Rafflecopter and the rules are below.

  1. GRAND PRIZE = $100 gift card to EITHER the Apple iTunes store OR Amazon.com
  2. 8 x 10 print of your choice of TROOP or SHIVER illustration, signed by illustrator Pamela Baron
  3. FREE download codes (one each) for both TROOP and SHIVER – there will be two winners drawn for this prize
  4. An adorable stuffed monkey + a bag of TROOP and SHIVER customized M & Ms

    Stuffed monkey prize similar to this one if not exactly the same.

    Stuffed monkey prize similar to this one if not exactly the same.

Although purchasing (or owning) a print version of TROOP is one of the ways to win, there are MANY others – something for everyone. These are all listed on the Rafflecopter below, but here is a bit more information on each.

UPDATE! The sweepstakes will now be open until Friday, May 9th to give people who purchase the print version of TROOP an opportunity to write reviews and increase their chances of winning.

  1. Purchase a copy of the print version of TROOP (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound – if you live in the Denver/Boulder corridor, TROOP is stocked at the Boulder Pearl Street, Thornton Creek, Westminster, and 16th Street Mall B&N locations). Then email your receipt per the instructions in the R/C. OR, if you already own a copy, snap a shot of yourself with your book and email using the same instructions.
  2. Write an honest review of TROOP on Amazon (It counts if you’ve already left one – just enter the link according to the instructions). Note that is IS acceptable to copy and paste reviews from one site to another. 🙂
  3. Write an honest review of TROOP on Barnes & Noble
  4. Write an honest review of TROOP on Goodreads
  5. Once per day, you may tweet about the giveaway. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is Benjamin Franklin Digital Award Winner! Celebrate with #giveaway of $100 #giftcard. http://wp.me/p2 (Click to tweet this)
  6. Once per day, you may share the giveaway on Facebook. The kids’ storybook app A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is a Benjamin Franklin Digital Award Winner! Author @JulieFHedlund is celebrating with a great sweepstakes. http://wp.me/p2pGqV-3h8
  7. If you haven’t already, you can like my Author Page on Facebook.

Rules

Must be a resident of the United States (SO sorry to my international friends, but trying to comply with sweepstakes rules/laws in multiple countries proved too much for me!). No purchase necessary. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 12th 2014. Prizes will be shipped no later than May 23rd, 2014. Winners will be required to provide an email and/or mailing address in order to receive prizes. Prizes must be claimed within three business days of the winners being announced or alternate winners will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Giveaway, Picture Books, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Rocky coming home after 4 days in intensive care!

Rocky coming home after 4 days in intensive care!

As I said in this week’s Gratitude Sunday post, I am beyond grateful for EVERYONE who helped with Rocky’s care and recovery in the aftermath of his shooting. I am still overwhelmed by all of the love and support received from every corner of our lives.

One thing I didn’t mention is that many people offered to donate funds toward Rocky’s care and/or set up a website to take donations. Taking these kind people up on their offers was tempting because his expenses were, as you can imagine, significant and unplanned. Paying those expenses are, without a doubt, a hardship for us, but the truth is I DO have savings and I DO have a loving and supportive family to help me. Many others have neither. So once the dust settles and I get caught up a bit, I am going to do a fundraiser in support of the emergency funds at both Rocky’s family veterinary hospital and the emergency hospital where he spent most of his time following the shooting. These funds are used to care for animals when the owners truly cannot pay and/or stray animals are found suffering and brought in for care.

In the meantime, there IS a way you can help me and my family, and that is by supporting my work, as the financial impact of this tragedy goes beyond the veterinary costs and into lost income.

The month of January is when I earn the bulk of my income for the calendar year because registration for the 12 x 12 picture 12 x 12 new badgebook writing challenge is open and the greatest number of people sign up. I lost a full week of work during what should have been the busiest week of registration. So if you are a current member of 12 x 12 or a fellow writer who believes the challenge is worthwhile, sharing the news that registration is open and/or how much you are enjoying 12 x 12 on Facebook, Twitter, etc. would be fantastic. Here are several “Click to Tweets” that can be used on Twitter or cut and pasted into Facebook.

Calling all #picturebook writers! Join 500+ of your peers in the #12x challenge. Write, revise, critique, submit. http://ow.ly/t5BIy (Click to Tweet this)

So glad I joined @JulieFHedlund’s #12x challenge for #picturebook writers. Amazing community and resources! http://ow.ly/t5BIy #kidlit (Click to Tweet this)

Want to submit #picturebook mss to an #agent each month? Join #12x at the GOLD level. http://ow.ly/t5Cdf #publishing #kidlit (Click to Tweet this)

For Facebook: January 2014 is drawing to a close. If you haven’t joined the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge yet, you’ll need to act quickly if you want to submit to an agent in February. Three different membership levels provide something for everyone. Soon registration will be closed until 2015. Hope to see you there! http://www.juliehedlund.com/registration-for-2014/

Available in bookstores everywhere!

Available in bookstores everywhere!

Another way you can support my work, if you have children in your lives who enjoy books, is by purchasing a copy of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. If you have an iPad, you can get the interactive versions of the two apps featured in the book, TROOP and A SHIVER OF SHARKS (2014 Digital Book Award Winner!).

Another way to help is by leaving honest reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads if you already own a hard copy of TROOP. The book has very few ratings and reviews at the moment, both of which are needed to make it appear higher in searches.

Lastly, I am running a giveaway of TROOP on Goodreads right now to help spread the word about the book AND build an audience before my next book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN comes out in the fall. Simply sharing the giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook would be appreciated.

Thank you all so much! If none of these options work for you, simply sending positive thoughts goes a long, long way. 🙂

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Charity, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Dogs, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Social Media, Volunteer/Community, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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skisHas it really been six weeks since I’ve done a Gratitude Sunday post? If that ever happens again, somebody please call me out on it (somebody OTHER than my mother that is :-))!

Well, let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Quotes on Gratitude

“One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'” — Rachel Carson

“I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it–I believe life loves the liver of it.” –Maya Angelou

“Don’t wait for other people to be loving, giving, compassionate, grateful, forgiving, generous, or friendly… lead the way!” -Steve Maraboli

Gratitude list for the week ending January 18

  1. Two weeks into registration for the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge and we have more than 400 members already. The forum is abuzz with activity and picture book passion!
  2. Kelli Panique, the world’s most amazing assistant, without whom I would not have survived the past two weeks. She’s worked so hard and so long and solved problems I didn’t even see coming.
  3. A SHIVER OF SHARKS won a 2013 Digital Book Award!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. My little girl turned 11 and got her ears pierced. Watching her grow up is a little bittersweet, but it’s such a joy and privilege to be her mom.
  5. First time skiing this season, on a perfect Colorado Bluebird day. Sometimes, what the heart and soul really needs a full day outdoors.
  6. Watching How to Train Your Dragon with the kids.
  7. Getting TWO picture books revised this week. Thanks to Meg Miller and all the folks who kept the fires burning for ReViMo!!
  8. I’ve started reading the first Harry Potter book to Jay. And so the journey begins again…
  9. Watching the Golden Globes – guilty pleasure.
  10. Friends who forgive you for being self-absorbed

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, Apps, Birthdays, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Winter, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

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…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

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..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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09. December 2013 · Comments Off on A “Slew” of Announcements

I can’t ever get very far away from collective nouns. 🙂 I have a number of things to share today, so let’s dive right in.

1.  The lovely and talented Elizabeth Dulemba interviewed Susan Eaddy and me about our venture to crowdfund MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN on Kickstarter. Please join us over there to get “twofer” answers on Elizabeth’s great questions AND to win a copy of the book when it releases next fall. Thanks to Elizabeth for hosting us!!

My Love for You is the Sun - Illustration

My Love for You is the Sun – Illustration

2.  There are just THREE days left in our Kickstarter campaign. Although we have reached our funding goal, publishing a book is just the first step. Then comes finding an audience and promoting. All extra $ we raise will go toward providing free school visits to underfunded schools and PR/Marketing for the book. No pledge is too small. Spreading the word also helps immensely! Here are some “click to tweets” to make it easy for you if you are on twitter.

Go to @dulemba for a chance to WIN a #picturebook funded on #kickstarter! http://ow.ly/rB5fH + meet author & illustrator #giveaway (Click to tweet this)

Final days of #kickstarter campaign for lovely #picturebook. Extra $ go to school visits + audience-building. http://kck.st/1aCWc9p (Click to tweet this)

I backed this beautiful #picturebook on #Kickstarter. Have you? Just 3 days left – check it out! http://kck.st/1aCWc9p (Click to tweet this)

This #picturebook was funded in record time on #Kickstarter. You’ll see why if you visit the campaign. Just 3 days left! http://kck.st/1aCWc9p (Click to tweet this)

3 days left to back @JulieFHedlund effort to not only pub #picturebook but share with many kiddos. http://kck.st/1aCWc9p #kickstarter (Click to tweet this)

3.  Information on registration for 12 x 12 in 2014, including membership levels and fees, has been posted. HOWEVER, there12 x 12 new badge are no payment links yet because registration does not open until January 6, 2014. The information is there for you to determine which membership level is right for you and to budget. If you were not a member in 2013, the best way to be kept informed on registration openings, program features, etc. is to sign up for the 12 x 12 mailing list to make sure you receive the most up-to-date information. Existing members do not need to sign up for this list – I know where you are. 🙂

4.  I have NOT FORGOTTEN about the December featured author post for 12 x 12. It’s coming! I think the holidays have been  a bit killer for everyone with December coming two days after Thanksgiving. So stay tuned my friends.

It's a Jungle in Here!

It’s a Jungle in Here!

5.  On a personal note, I hosted my first-ever book release party yesterday for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. What a thrill! I’m looking forward to doing many more events in schools, libraries and bookstores in 2014. There’s no adrenaline rush quite like signing books, I’ve discovered. 🙂

That’s all for now folks! For everyone who, in thousands of different ways, have supported my writing journey and my books – THANK YOU!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, Entertaining, Giveaway, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Kickstarter Campaign Page at the time of this posting!

Kickstarter Campaign Page at the time of this posting!

The big event for me this week was achieving full funding for our Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN!! I am grateful for each and every person who supported us, and not just the backers, but everyone who blogged, tweeted, shared and otherwise spread the word and/or offered moral support. It’s not over yet – we still have 2+ weeks to go – but it’s such a blessing to know we have funding for the book and to turn our focus to building our audience.

Quotes on Gratitude

“I have noticed that the Universe loves Gratitude. The more Grateful you are, the more goodies you get.” — Louise L. Hay

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” — Marianne Williamson

“Let’s trade in all our judging for appreciating. Let’s lay down our righteousness and just be together.” — Ram Dass

Gratitude list for the week ending 11/22

  1. MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN is funded! It will be published!
  2. The look on my kids’ faces when I told them we got our funding
  3. Celebratory dinner with my mom and kids

    Mid-swing with the Kettle Bell at Crossfit

    Mid-swing with the Kettle Bell at Crossfit

  4. The outpouring of congratulations and cheer from our community of supporters
  5. My copies of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS have arrived! If you pre-ordered from me, you’ll be getting your book very soon!
  6. My new Crossfit classes. They are almost unendurably painful, but I feel so fantastic when I’m finished! It feels good to be getting back into shape.
  7. Winter weather – I’m ready for ski season!
  8. Popcorn, hot chocolate and a movie with the kids on a cold night
  9. The movie in question – The Wizard of Oz
  10. Falling in love with and finishing a book that gripped me like no other has in quite some time.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Authors, Books, Cooking, Crowdfunding, Family, Friendship, Goals, Gratitude Sunday, Movies, Picture Books, Publishing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Armory of Aardvarks, courtesy of SydneyPadua.com

Armory of Aardvarks, courtesy of SydneyPadua.com

This is going to be a slightly different kind of Gratitude Sunday post. In fact, I’m going to share something that is going to sound decidedly UN-grateful (at first).

Yesterday I woke up and had a bit of a panic attack. If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I am in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for my next picture book. Self-promotion, especially the kind that involves emailing people to ask them for money (even while offering rewards in exchange), is my least favorite part of this job. I do it because I have to. And I try to reciprocate as often as I can when my writing friends are doing the same. Still. Promotion is not within my direct comfort zone, so it is exhausting and completely somewhat excruciating.

In addition, I’ve got to gear up my marketing efforts for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and the two apps for the holidays. I’m planning a launch party, trying to squeeze in a couple more school visits, calling local bookstores and libraries to inquire about events. Again, not at the top of my list of favorite activities.

That’s when it hit me. I had two thoughts in rapid succession:

  1. The business of writing for children is SO. HARD.
  2. It’s NEVER going to get easier. Not EVER. Every book, every project will require this level of effort and anxiety.

So I asked myself, “WHY am I doing this?” I’m an intelligent, educated, still-fairly-young *cough* woman with many transferable skills. I could make more money (a LOT more) with far less work. So I had a visceral moment of “doubt and shame.”

The pat answer is, of course, because I love writing for children. Because it’s my passion. But honestly, those answers oversimplify.

I got the true answer a little later in the day when I opened an email from one of my writing friends, Alison Stevens. She purchased a print copy of TROOP at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference to donate to her kids’ school library. This is what she wrote:

“The librarian was thrilled. Seriously, she looked it over, loved the plural nouns, fawned over the alliteration (which 3rd grade is learning right now), and hugged it.”

Wait just a darn minute! You mean there is another person in the world who loved my book enough to hug it??? 

Not to sound like Oprah, but that’s when I remembered that the reason I write for children is because nothing else I’ve ever done has made me feel like my life is in alignment with my purpose. Writing for children does.

To top that off, now that 300+ children in the community have seen me in a school visit, everywhere I go these days I seem to have a child waving, smiling, telling me they liked my books. In fact, at my son’s basketball practice the other day, there were two boys on the sidelines whispering with each other and looking over at me. Finally, after what seemed like quite a long debate, they approached me. Here’s how the conversation went:

BOY #1: ASK her!

BOY #2: After your presentation, one of the other kids told me that you know every animal group name.

ME: I don’t know if I know every single one, but I know a lot of them.

BOY #2: Do you know what a group of aardvarks is called?

Clearly these hooligans were trying to trip my up by picking one of the more obscure animals.

ME: Indeed I do. A group of aardvarks is called an “armory.”

BOY #1: WOW!

BOY #2: That is SO COOL!

Now, as a little girl I never daydreamed about becoming an expert on collective nouns for animal groups. But I DID dream about being able to make a difference in the world. Every time somebody loves what I write, I’ve reached them in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. So THAT is also why I do what I do.

The reason this whole post at first seemed ungrateful to me is because, as I wrote it, my Kickstarter campaign was almost 80% funded! So many people have pledged their support for a book that is near and dear to my heart. How lucky am I?

So I was able to come full circle — from fear, doubt, and anxiety all the way back to extreme gratitude.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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First completed illustration for My Love for You is the Sun

First completed illustration for My Love for You is the Sun

The highlight of this week was doing an all-day visit at my kids’ elementary school. I shared the print version of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and both apps. I’ve never had so much concentrated interaction with readers before, nor so much feedback on the books from their actual audience. What a blast! Plus, after spending a full day in the library, my appreciation for and awe of librarians and teachers has increased exponentially. So this week’s gratitude quotes are dedicated to them.

Quotes on Gratitude

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” — Carl Jung

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” — Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”  — Thurgood Marshall

Gratitude list for the week ending November 9

  1. Receiving Susan Eaddy’s first completed illustration for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. So beautiful it took my breath away!
  2. Doing an all-day school visit on Wednesday. There is nothing quite like watching children enjoy your books!
  3. Running into a little girl two days later who ran up to me and said, “You’re an author. You came to my school this week! I loved your books!”
  4. My Kickstarter campaign to fund MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN was approved! We launch (UPDATE: NOW LAUNCHED!) on Tuesday at 2:00 EDT!
  5. My “Crowdfunding Crew,” who put lots of time in this week to give me feedback on the campaign page and video. Plus for keeping me sane!
  6. My whole extended family – for providing the “source” for MLFY is the SUN.
  7. Plumbers, Heating & Cooling Techs, Cable Guys and all the other hard-working people who help keep my home running smoothly. 🙂
  8. My in-person critique partners, who talked me out of my terror during our meeting on Friday 🙂

    Writer's Renaissance alumni Esther Hershenhorn, Margit Liesche & Carolyn Crimi meet in Chicago to help launch Triptych

    Writer’s Renaissance alumni Esther Hershenhorn, Margit Liesche & Carolyn Crimi meet in Chicago

  9. Three of my Writer’s Renaissance 2013 alumni met up in Chicago for as part of a book tour for one of their books — TRIPTYCH by Margit Liesche. They celebrated book publications (TXTNG MAMA, TXTNG BABY for Esther Hershenhorn) and a book sale for children’s author Carolyn Crimi. They sent me a photo and a lovely note. It makes me so happy to know that the friendships forged in Florence last April are not only alive and well, but thriving.
  10. Chicken noodle soup

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Books, Crowdfunding, Family, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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