Today is a special edition of Gratitude Sunday, not only because it’s been a while since I’ve posted one, but because it also falls on New Year’s Day. AND it coincides with an assignment I gave to the folks participating in the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program to make a list of everything they were grateful for in their writing lives in 2016. So I am going to do the same. The list will thus be far more than 10 items this time. I hope everyone takes inspiration from how much we can find to be thankful for, even if we are experiencing difficult times.

First, how about a few inspirational quotes on gratitude from a few of the talented geniuses who we left behind in 2016.

“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” — Prince

“For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.” — Elie Wiesel

“When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That’s about all you can do.” — Leonard Cohen

“I like writing books. I’d rather be at home with my wife. I can write, take a break, come out, have a glass of tea, give my wife a kiss, and go back in and write some more. It’s not so bad. I am really lucky.” — Gene Wilder

Gratitude list for my writing life in 2016

  1. Kelli Panique, my trusty assistant, right-hand woman, and without whom nothing would be possible.
  2. My agent, Erzsi Deak, who keeps me (mostly) sane and centered, and who inspires me to do better and better work.
  3. ALL of the 800+ members of 12 x 12 in 2016. I think I say this every year, but this year’s group was special. We become more and more of a family with each passing year.
  4. Linda Silvestri, who created our beautiful 5-year anniversary banner, which was featured on a celebratory cake.
  5. Speaking of cake, many thanks to Julie Gribble and all the folks at KidlitTV for helping me plan and host an extraordinary anniversary party in NYC this past February. SUCH an amazing night!
  6. I am also grateful for having the chance to record an episode of Storymakers with KidlitTV, and thanks to Susan Eaddy for providing the brilliance behind the activity.
  7. To all of the 12 x 12 in 2016 webinar speakers: Tara Lazar, Deborah Warren and Erin Dealey, Sudipta Bardhank-Quallen, Michelle Cusolito, Erzsi Deak, Miranda Paul, Matthew Winner, Peter H. Reynolds, Martha Brockenbrough, Whitney Stewart and Don Tate. I learned so much from you all, but mostly I’m grateful for the inspiration.
  8. Katie Davis and Emma Walton Hamilton – two friends I can safely say I could not live without.
  9. Darshana Khiani, for being my accountability partner this year.
  10. Marcie Colleen, for the dance parties and everything else.
  11. Members of the Intense, A$$-kicking critique group: Julie Rowan-Zoch, Stacy Jensen, Carol Munro, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, and Heather Preusser. Thank you for helping me turn two of my manuscripts around in a very short time.
  12. I’m grateful to all the agents who dedicate their time to receiving submissions from 12 x 12 members. There were 20 of them in 2016, so I am not going to list them all, but please know how much the opportunity means to our members.
  13. I’m grateful to SCBWI, and especially for the 2 conferences I attended this year in NYC and Denver. Lin Oliver is not only one of the most generous human beings alive, but her presentation on how to write humor at the RMC-SCBWI conferences was one of the BEST sessions I’ve ever attended, hands down. Also to our local Schmooze group, especially Kim and Jeri who run it so well.
  14. I am grateful to all the editors who considered my manuscripts this year, even as they were turned down. Each provided me with useful feedback to help me take my writing to the next level.
  15. I am grateful that this writing life gives me the flexibility and freedom to design my own schedule and be active in my children’s lives.
  16. To the entire Picture Book Summit team, for throwing another epic online conference. I had so much fun creating my “Verse Curse” presentation, and learning from the other speakers and my esteemed colleagues. We ALL work hard all year long to make that conference happen. So here’s to Jon Bard & Laura Backes, Emma Walton Hamilton, Katie Davis, Kristin Ammerman, Kelli Panique and Aaron Brown.
  17. Having the inspiration to write 6 new manuscripts in 2016. Thanks at least in part to Tara Lazar and PiBoIdMo (now Storystorm).
  18. Getting one manuscript out on submission before the end of the year (thanks again, Erzsi!)
  19. Sarah Towle for sharing an apartment with me in Bologna and all of the ongoing love and inspiration.
  20. To Susan Eaddy, again, for her stunning work. Every time I open MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN it makes me catch my breath to see those illustrations.
  21. My bookkeeper, for helping me keep my financial head on straight.
  22. I”m grateful for Facebook, which enables me to keep in touch with my writing peeps every day.
  23. Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, for treating me like family, coming to my party in Feb, and for all they do for fellow writers every day.
  24. Seriously, so many friends there are too many to name. Know that I am grateful for ALL of you.
  25. I will end the list on this one. I am truly, honestly, intensely grateful for the entire kidlit community. We are so fortunate to work in an industry where everyone wants and celebrates success for everyone. Where we share our time and talent with each other, and we take a stand on making the world a better place in myriad ways. I truly don’t know how I got so lucky to be surrounded by such brilliance, creativity, and kindness day in and day out. I am at the point now where I can’t imagine doing anything else. Thank you.

What are you grateful for with respect to your writing life in 2016?

Categories: 12 x 12, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, My Love For You Is The Sun, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Rhyming, SCBWI, Writing



  1. I love your gratitude list, Julie…and I love you!

  2. Beautiful list Julie! I feel so grateful for having found 12×12 years ago and have it be an integral part of my journey in kidlit.

  3. Thanks for not only sharing your list, but also your heart with your writing family. You have inspired me from first introductory video last January and throughout this whole year. Trust that 2017 will be an awesome year for you!

  4. I’m so proud of you Julie. It’s been wonderful watching your journey. Thanks for the work you do and who you are.

  5. carol calladine

    I am grateful to be able to write every day, even if it is for ten minutes instead of two hours. I am grateful for my 3 critique groups. You are my tribe and I feel fortunate to be one of you. May 2017 be blessed with creativity.

  6. I’m grateful for you on many levels! A happy and productive new year to you!

  7. Congratulations on all your accomplishments! I like your gratitude posts. Happy New Year!

  8. Tiffany Dickinson

    Beautiful. Gratitude makes everything better. Glad I found you!

  9. Thanks for all this exciting news. Great, happy, positive post I needed to start my creative dreams going for the new year.

  10. That’s a great list! Happy New Year! 😀

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