12 x 12 Member K Callard

You can bet I was honored when I read this post from K Callard, today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author. Anytime we make commitments, especially financial ones, to our writing it’s critical to take them seriously. One of my goals with 12 x 12 is to make sure everyone gets MORE than the expect from the challenge so they feel their resources have been put to good use. So I did a little Snoopy dance after reading this post. Please welcome K Callard. I’m so glad YOU made the choice to join us!

I was one of the last people to join 12×12 this year. I signed up on February 27th (which, due to my fabulous calendar-reading skills, I actually thought was the 28th). Why so late? Well, I could only pick one writing workshop/conference/learning experience to attend this spring, and I wanted to make sure I picked the right one.

Even though I laid out the pros and cons on my blog (you can read them here), there still wasn’t an obvious winner – so it came down to a personal choice.

Choosing 12×12 was a turning point for me. A decision to take picture book writing seriously. Up until I made the commitment to join 12×12, I thought of myself as a Middle Grade writer – who also wrote picture books for fun, and wouldn’t it be nice if one day I could get one published? (Seriously, I think those are the exact words I used at my local SCBWI conference last year when someone asked me what I wrote.)

Why so wishy-washy? Well, because picture book writing is hard. Not only is the actual writing hard, but there aren’t that many agents who rep PBs (compared to, say, YA) and the competition is really stiff. I figured it would be easier to get an agent with an MG ms, and then add PBs later.

Yet, when I made my list of agents to query with my MG, I only included those who also repped PBs.

And when I scribbled down story ideas, most of them were for PBs.

Then there were those query-ready PB mss gathering virtual dust on my hard drive.

Hmmm…maybe I needed to start taking this whole PB-thing more seriously, after all.

Hence the 12×12 membership.

Will I miss travelling this spring? Getting away from the chaos that is three kids under five? Maybe a bit. But in the last three weeks I’ve drafted three PBs and already made some revisions on all three drafts. Plus I’ve come up with ideas for another three or four PBs. 12×12 has been the spur I needed to really focus on the craft of PB writing. And the crits and advice I’ve received have both helped me grow as a writer, and given me the encouragement I need (maybe I can do this after all).

Joining 12×12 may have been a tough decision for me, but it was definitely the right one.

K Callard lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband, three kids, and a life-sized polar bear. Somewhere in that chaos she manages to write Middle Grade and Picture Books, and query agents. When not writing or taking care of her family, she decorates cakes, reads, and tries not to embarrass herself (or others) with her geekiness. She blogs about her writing journey at kcallard.wordpress.com and tweets about just about anything at @k_callard.


Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Guest Blogging, Queries, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Uovo di Pasqua - beautifully decorated Easter eggs all over Florence

Uovo di Pasqua – beautifully decorated Easter eggs all over Florence

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

It is hard to believe just one week ago I was writing this post from my hotel room in Florence, having wrapped up the second Writer’s Renaissance, while watching the sun sink into the Arno. I’ve spent all week being grateful for the simple existence of Florence. I “retreat” there in my mind and heart when I seek inspiration and it never, ever disappoints.

Nonetheless, my week at home was also full of riches!

Quotes on Gratitude

“An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities.” — one of my Yogi tea tags this week!

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” — Kak Sri

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins

Gratitude list for the week ending April 19

  1. Seeing, hugging, kissing and talking with my kids. Missed them so much!
  2. For Nancy, who stayed here until Thursday, helping me with the kids while I recovered from jet lag.

    Oh The Thinks You Can Think!

    Oh The Thinks You Can Think!

  3. Finding out, very much by surprise, that I’d been upgraded to FIRST CLASS on my Paris-JFK leg on the flight home.
  4. Watching Jay sing with so much enthusiasm at his second grade Seussical show
  5. Reading Jennifer Reid’s story in this week’s Tuesday 12 x 12 post
  6. Coloring eggs with the kids
  7. Watching the 5th Harry Potter movie with Em
  8. Spring has sprung in Colorado! Green grass, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths!
  9. The chocolate eggs I brought home for my kids (ha!) from Scudieri in Florence.
  10. I wrote a poem in my head last night and REMEMBERED it when I woke up this morning so I could write it down.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Creativity, Family, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Holidays, Italy, Poetry, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 Member Jennifer Reid This is a special Tuesday 12 x 12 post, and NOT because it’s being posted on Wednesday (result of jet lag).

No, today’s post from author Jennifer Reid is special because it reminded me of everything that is important in life while also underscoring why we need to give ourselves permission (TODAY) to create. We must OWN the fact that we are writers, illustrators, poets, artists, creators. Even better if we can support each other along the way. I won’t say anything more so as to allow this post to unfold for you in the way it did for me. Please welcome Jennifer. 

A Wonderful Journey

“Don’t worry, it’s not cancer.”

The famous last words of the doctor as I left her office for an ultrasound back in May 2009…a routine test that would soon turn my world upside down.

The sonographer’s face as she moved over my right breast said it all. She stared at the unusual black circle in my breast on her screen, then her eyes moved to another black shape under my right arm. Something was clearly wrong.

I pushed the panic back down, long enough to keep impossibly still as my breasts were painfully jammed between two cold metal plates. Who would have thought breasts could be squashed as thin as pancakes? It was my very first mammogram.

Then a needle was jabbed through my breast, directly into the centre of that black shape discovered earlier. Why had I never heard of a core needle biopsy? What the heck is inside that black thing? Am I going to die?
The voice in my head shouted, this can’t be happening to me. I don’t drink or smoke. I only eat junk food every now and then. I’m only 39 years old.

But I had breast cancer.

They cut out the lump and ripped out all my lymph nodes. My body was scanned, poked, prodded and interrogated, but the cancer may have spread its ugliness elsewhere. It could be quietly clever and sneakily invisible, lurking somewhere waiting to pounce. So doctors weren’t taking any chances. Guilty cells, along with the innocent, had to be stopped. Chemotherapy was the answer – chemical warfare.

Before the first drop of poison was pumped into my body, I sat holding my husband’s hand tight, tears streaming down my face. The nurse asked for my name and date of birth to match the right poison with the right person. I nudged, “You tell her”. But she insisted, “No, you have to tell me.”

My heart thudded. No one else could do this for me. My body, my life, my fight.

On 28th July 2010, after I’d successfully done some of the necessary fighting against this enemy called cancer, I embarked on another epic journey. It was on this day I wrote my very first blog post, reigniting my long lost passion for writing. It became my therapy, giving me the courage to move on from the trauma of cancer and take back the life I was meant to live.

Writing got me out of my comfort zone, so much so, that I decided to do a marathon, and in Paris, no less! I’ve heard only 1% of the world’s population have ever run a marathon. I wonder what the statistics are relating to writers becoming published authors? I never thought I could do a marathon, but now have the medal to prove I did! And I never thought I was a writer either, up until that day I allowed myself to write again.

That first blog post opened the floodgate to my creative soul. I am a writer and illustrator, (and I’m not afraid to say it!)

I have embraced my creative soul, and am committed to ‘creating’ and not apologising for it. I had always tried to hide my creative pursuits, but not anymore. Becoming part of the amazingly talented 12×12 community has brought it all out in the open. I feel like I’ve finally ‘put it out there’ to the universe…I am a writer and illustrator (and I’m not afraid to say it!)

Mrs. T's Cranky PantsThank God for the generous and most talented Julie Hedlund, who could have kept her success to herself, but didn’t. Being part of 12×12 is like training for my next marathon, but this time with a team of elite athletes. I’m so grateful to be part of such a talented team of artists and am confident that no matter where this ‘writing race’ takes us, it’s going to be a wonderful journey!

In addition to being a writer and illustrator, Jennifer Reid is a doting wife, mum of two cherubs, primary school teacher, National Breast Cancer Foundation Ambassador and day-dreamer. Since she believes in living life to the full, her creative work focuses on positivity and ‘looking for the good’ in every situation. In her previous life, Jennifer worked in radio, banking and the health & beauty industry. Nowadays, when she’s not writing or drawing, she can usually be found dreaming of her next travel adventure. But family always comes first, so Jennifer is very good at squeezing her creative pursuits into every spare nook and cranny of her day. After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2009, Jennifer quickly decided that life was too short not to pursue her true creative passions. She is currently writing a historical fiction novel based on the life of a family who migrated to Australia after World War II. She has her first children’s picture book, based on her cancer experience, due to be published in 2014…so be sure to ‘watch this space’          

Websites: jenniferreid.com.au, fantangledesigns.com

Email: info@jenniferreid.com.au

Facebook Page

Twitter @_JenniferReid

Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Creativity, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

I am watching a sorbet sun sink into the Arno directly from the bed of my hotel room in Florence, having successfully completed the the second annual Writer’s Renaissance. Made new lifelong friends and connected with old ones (as in time, not age :-)), so it is impossible to feel anything but deep gratitude, albeit with just a touch of sadness that it has to come to an end. But every ending is also a beginning, and I look forward to greeting spring back in Boulder.

I have only one gratitude quote for you today, which sums up the week perfectly.

“The world is made up of five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and the Florentines.” — Pope Alexander VI

“A vero,” as the Italians say. “It’s true.”

Gratitude list for the week ending April 12

  1. Enzo and Maria Ferrara, for bringing me once again into the Porcellino family and feeding me so exquisitely (and so often)!
  2. Jackie, Suzanne, Teri, Mary, and Jane – my Renaissance writers of 2014. Buona fortuna mi amici e ci vediamo a presto

    "Last Supper" in Florence. Ciao Bellas!

    “Last Supper” in Florence. Ciao Bellas!. It was a great pleasure to share “my” Florence with you, and I was honored to write with you and to hear your stories. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep living. KEEP IN TOUCH!!

  3. Mary Hoffman, for returning once again to share her intimate knowledge of Florence and its history and her writerly wisdom. AND for putting up with a bit of tardiness from yours truly.
  4. Sarah Towle, for bringing us nose to nose with the Florence of the Medicis and “turning history on” for us.
  5. To Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Brunelleschi, and Fra Filippo Lippi for sending your ghosts to the gazebo in the form of a very
    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    unique play.

  6. Gelato, gelato, gelato! Nocciola, Pistachio, Bacio, Noce, Mandorla, etc. etc.
  7. To Riccardo for making me my own piece of Florentine paper and for always making such gorgeous notebooks
  8. Andrea Gagnesi for once again teaching a cooking course that was unforgettable in every way
  9. To my family, for tolerating my absence and supporting me while I run this event, which I’m sure most people think is crazy at best.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Authors, Cooking, Creativity, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 Member Cecilia ClarkToday I am delighted to begin the 2014 “Tuesday 12 x 12″ series, where we feature one pre-published author who shares his or her writing journey (so far) for the edification and inspiration of us all. We often hear from published authors after they’ve achieved some level of success, but I think it is just as important and absolutely as inspiring to learn from those in the deepest part of the trenches. The ones who’ve made the brave decision to make their creative lives a priority.

So it seems fitting to begin with Cecilia Clark, who has taken the writing challenge world by storm in the one year since she made the commitment to herself to follow her dream. Like me, she took the risk of leaving her day job and its familiarity behind her. I recognize the mix of terror and elation she describes here, but given all she has accomplished already, I have no doubt her dream is well within reach. Please welcome Cecilia!

Prior to February 2013 my only writing was 25 word or less competition entries and the occasional desultory blog post once a year and once upon a long time ago I wrote a novel that was rejected three times. At the start of last year I was exhausted and burnt out and facing the first of three surgeries and I was thinking I had lost my chance at ever achieving the dreams I had had since I was a child. Finally, I took a deep breath and made the risky decision to quit my day job. Life had taken some convoluted twists and turns but I was determined that I would somehow turn my life around.

January 2014 I joined 12 x 12 as an investment in my future. I had been hearing of it ever since I made the decision in February 2013 to pursue a writing career. From the moment of that decision I joined every challenge I could find and started networking with many of the people I encountered. First I went for campNaNoWriMo last April and wrote 57,000 words of a novel. Then I stumbled across the chapter book challenge(ChaBooCha) and missed it by the nth degree but I did submit stories and art to an anthology Becky Fyfe was coordinating. I joined organisations and began to look at what they offered in supporting me to my goals such as SCBWI and RWA as well as National writing organisations. I began submitting work to anthologies everywhere I could find them.

To date I have not made one red cent from my writing. Most of the anthologies fund the next year’s edition, several had funds directed to charity, one funded a film and key speaker, one sent the stories to soldiers in a war zone and one is funding a library. I submitted to online flash fiction opportunities and entered flash fiction competitions. I did NaNoWriMo and the Romance Writers of Australia 50k challenge and PiBoIdMo and SkaDaMo, all in November. I gained swollen ankles, fuzzy eyesight, neck strain, 104,000 words, 32 illustrations, 45 PB ideas and a huge bubble of excitement inside me. I went on to the HohoDooDa and the Holiday writing Competition in December and in January missed out on membership of RYS by the skin of my teeth and budgeting tightly in my newly unemployed state I  joined 12 x 12.  I have completed one novel from the crazy November and sent my first ever query to an agent in March. I have three PB drafts so far this year and another 28 ideas from February’s PB marathon and learning how to blog PB reviews in 14:14.. Now ChaBooCha, art every week to the 52 week challenge on FB. I revise with ReviMo and Started the Year Off Write and know I have so much more to learn. 12 x 12 is giving me an anchor or a hub to connect me into all the other things I can try and do. I am meeting new people, joined two critique groups, I have peers to bounce ideas off and to support and encourage. I have goals and I am crazy enough to be a writer. 12 x 12 represents for me the wonderful, generous, kind and caring community that is the kidlit world. For the first time in my life I feel like I belong and for the first time in my life I am introducing myself as a writer and illustrator. My past history which includes 23 years as a foster parent is now relegated to the basket marked – fodder for writing ideas.

My youngest son noticed I was grumpy the other day and he said “Mum have you done any writing today?”

It was a risk worth taking.

Cecilia is a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FWA), Romance Writer’s Australia(RWA) and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Australia and New Zealand.

Cecilia can be followed on any given day rambling along on her blog sharing her art and writing journey  http://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au

Cecilia can be found on her Goodreads author profile https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7245110.Cecilia_Clark

Her Amazon author profile http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00FUXSGWG

Facebook      https://www.facebook.com/cecilia.clark.336

Twitter         https://twitter.com/cc_lark

email            ceciliaAclark@gmail.com


Categories: 12 x 12, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 new bannerWe’ve got a prize to give out – no foolin’! Our fantastic March Featured Author Deborah Underwood is graciously awarding one 12×12 member signed copies of Here Comes the Easter Cat and Bad Bye, Good Bye! And the lucky winner is….

Carrie Finison!

Congrats! Please contact Kelli at kelli (at) juliehedlund (dot) com to claim your prize.

Didn’t win? No worries. We’re just getting started!

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Books, Children's Books, Giveaway, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , ,


Laura Purdie Salas on www.juliehedlund.com

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I thought who better to be our featured author than the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor winner for picture book text in 2013? That’s right! Today we welcome Laura Purdie Salas, award-winning author of A LEAF CAN BE and (get this) more than 100 other books for children!  

If you look at the photo of Laura, you’ll probably think she looks sweet and kind. And she is — unless somebody treads on one of her peeps! Last year at the SCBWI-LA conference, I was lucky enough to have Laura take me under her wing as it was my first time on faculty. Whenever anybody gave me smack talk (yes it did happen) or was monopolizing my time, there was Laura to my rescue! I told her I want to pack her into my suitcase for all of my speaking engagements!

Laura is a phenomenal writer, a huge supporter of fellow writers, a mentor, and an amazing friend. What more could you ask for? A post about poetry you ask? Well, she did that too! Please welcome Laura!

10 Thoughts About Poetry
Hi, 12×12-ers! It’s great to visit this super energetic community! I miss everyone’s enthusiasm:>) I’m honored to be the April Guest Author, and, since my true love is poetry, I’m sharing some thoughts/tips on the writing, marketing, and sharing or poetry. I hope you like it.

The Difficult Truth
1. It’s hard to sell a poetry collection to an editor. This is not good news. But poetry books tend not to make much money (see #2), and even editors who love poetry often aren’t free to acquire it. I have at least four poetry collections that my agent has submitted around that I think are stronger than any of my published collections. No sale.

2. Even once you sell to an editor, it’s hard to sell to the public. My first trade poetry book (meaning a book I wrote and sold to a publisher, rather than writing on assignment from a publisher) sold, at last count, fewer than 2,000 copies. It just went out of print. It was a Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award and got another couple of nice honors, but they didn’t translate into nearly enough sales to keep the book in print.
So, what can you do? Make your work the best it can be!

Immerse Yourself in Poetry
3. Join the Poetry Friday gang. The best way to improve your poems is to read a ton of them. And there’s no better company to do that in than with the Poetry Friday blogosphere celebration every week. It’s easy. You go to Mary Lee Hahn’s blog, A YEAR OF READING, and look at the Poetry Friday schedule in the right sidebar. Click on the link for this week’s host. Then go visit their Poetry Friday Roundup, in which they will post links to all of the participating bloggers. You’ll see lots of single poem posts (people post their own poems as well as poems by others) and reviews of poetry books and interviews with poets. Lots of the poetry is for kids; some is for adults. If you go through the posts each week, reading the ones that seem appealing, you will start to get a picture of children’s poetry. Read. Enjoy. Learn. Comment. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can start to build relationships as the weeks go on. I have made some wonderful poetry friends through this community, and I have also been invited to participate in several anthologies by folks I met online this way. And to speak at conventions and such. Plus, we’re generally just a really nice, cool group of people! You will have lots of fun while absorbing a lot about what works and what doesn’t work, and what you like and don’t like. Water Can Be...by Laura Purdie Salas

4. Write for the fun of it. Knowing and accepting that the majority of my poetry will never be shared in book form is a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because…well, that’s pretty obvious, right? But it’s a blessing because it means I write it because I love it. I can’t help writing poetry–it’s the most fun writing I get to do. And if you want to write poetry for kids, I hope the same is true for you! I’m generally very goal-oriented, so I don’t, for instance, sit and write nonfiction pieces that I know will very likely never be published or even seen by other people. But there’s a freedom that comes with knowing I’m doing something totally inefficient and ineffective as a career strategy. It brings a sense of wild freedom that is wonderful. So write lots of poetry to stretch yourself. Most of it will stink. And that’s good! It means you’re reaching past your abilities. Keep doing that, over and over, and eventually your abilities will improve. And you’ll discover what kinds of poems you’re really good at!

5. Read a TON of poetry! In addition to the Poetry Friday posts, you want to be reading all the poetry books being published in your specific poetry genre (picture books, novels in verse, upper elementary collections, etc.). And you need to read what is being published NOW, not what was hot when you were a kid. Sylvia Vardell, anthologist, teacher educator, children’s poetry fanatic, and blogger, publishes a sneak peek of upcoming poetry books at the start of each year. Here are links for the past couple of years to get you started on your reading.

6. Share your work online. A lot of people are hesitant to share their work online, but it’s the best way to make connections—of the heart, not of the business kind (though that is a benefit as well). For me, I have found that an attitude of abundance helps me. There will always be another poem. That’s my mantra. I don’t share poems that I write specifically with publication in mind, but I do share occasional poems that I think MIGHT be publishable. I also share a super rough first draft every Thursday on my 15 Words or Less Poems post, where I post a photo and share a very short poem draft inspired by it. Then other people join in and share their first drafts based on the same photo. It’s amazing to see the variety! (There are other poetry prompts out there, too, of course.) And for National Poetry Month, I’m posting a riddle-ku (a riddle haiku) every day. It can be very lonely to be writing lots of poems and not getting published. Even though publishing is my overall goal, I enjoy sharing my work and connecting with other poets on a regular basis. I’d encourage you to think about how you can share your work online. Don’t blog? Maybe you’re on Facebook or Twitter, both awesome for sharing poems. Or if you don’t do any of those, you might just share your poems on other peoples’ blogs in response to poetry prompts they post. Hoarding your poems, in my experience, just doesn’t lead anywhere. Yes, every once in a while, I’ve seen a call for poems and wished I hadn’t shared a certain poem online (because many journals and book markets do consider a poem published if it has appeared online). But those twinges of regret have been far and few between and have been greatly outweighed by being an active member of an encouraging, rowdy poetry crowd.

BookspeakImprove Your Craft
7. Learn meter and rhyme. This is the number one weakness I see in poems and rhyming picture books that I critique. There are some good websites and books on this topic, and you should use them. Poor meter is THE number one problem I see in beginners’ poetry. But the ability to use meter well CAN be learned. It’s just that it’s hard and time-consuming. But it’s worth it. One book I recommend is poet Mary Oliver’s Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. A few more resources are:
• Lane Fredrickson’s Rhyme Weaver website
Interactive scanning tool at For Better or Verse, from the University of Virginia
“Have You Got Rhythm?” by Jan Fields at the ICL site
“Rhymer’s Workshop” (a chat transcript) with Shelly Becker at the ICL site
• Examples of good rhyming books on my Pinterest Boards: Rhyming Nonfiction Picture Books and Fun Rhyming Picture Books

8. For rhyming picture books, make sure you have a story. With a plot. Stories in verse can be lots of fun, but lots of writers forget that story is a crucial element. Often, writers get so caught up in the fun of the rhyme and the wordplay that they leave small elements like conflict and obstacles and resolution out. A great way to test your rhyming story is to write it out in prose. Does it have a beginning and an end? A conflict? Events that cause other events? An ending that feels satisfying? If it’s missing any of those elements, you don’t have enough there for a story, rhyming or not. I’ve been there. It hurts. But it’s better to figure that out now than to have an editor point it out to you:>) (Concept rhyming books and nonfiction rhyming books have other important elements instead of or in addition to a plot.)

9. Create a collection with a super special hook in either topic or form. Or both. I can’t count the number of times an editor has said, “I love this collection of state poems. But there’s already a book of state poetry.” And there is. One. Published 10-15 years ago. I have heard this response on other topics too. Because poetry doesn’t sell well, editors hate it when there’s already a competing book. Most libraries with dwindling budgets will not buy another bug (for example) poetry collection if they already have one. So that means you have to be extra imaginative! Think outside the box. Your topic or poetic form (or both) should be something not already done a lot. Take a peek at Marilyn Singer’s Mirror Mirror and Follow Follow and Bob Raczka’s Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word for examples of unique forms. For unique topics, look at Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems (J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian), Cowboys (David Harrison), Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole (Bob Raczka again), and This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (Joyce Sidman). For most writers and most large mainstream publishers, an animal poetry collection is much too general. But Joyce has a poetry book coming out all about how animals survive very cold temps. So, one thing you can do is take the topic you’re interested in and narrow it down, give it a twist, approach it from a different direction. Do something that hasn’t been seen before. That is your best chance of actually hooking an editor.

10. Read my Poetic Pursuits:>) From 2007 to 2009, I wrote a series of monthly (sorta) columns for my website on all different parts of writing poetry for kids, from getting ideas to scanning meter to writing in different forms. They’re all on my site and are just as relevant today as when I wrote them. The only difference is that my examples are 6-7 years old. If you’re interested in writing poems for kids, though, I think/hope you’ll find a lot of good info there to inspire you!

Bonus! Two exercises for you to try:
As an 8th-grade English teacher, one class project we did was work in small groups to create ballads by taking the lyrics to a t.v. theme song (like Gilligan’s Island) and telling a myth or a history story by doing a song parody. Same meter, same rhyme scheme as the original theme song, but a totally different topic. I still do this kind of thing today to stretch myself beyond my comfortable poetry forms and meters. So I challenge you to do the same thing! You can see a blog post I wrote about this where I shared my own imitation of a Rebecca Kai Dotlich poem here.

And if you’re interested in giving rhyming nonfiction a try, I’ll lead you through a quick exercise here.
I know this was lots of information, but I figured some of you might be brand new to poetry and thinking about giving it a try. Others of you might be further along in working in poetry and be looking for a few more advanced tips. So…I tried to give a variety. I hope you found something useful here, and I hope you’ll give poetry a try! Happy National Poetry Month!

Laura is giving away a prize to one lucky 12 x 12 participant. Take your pick between these two items:
Choice 1: A selection of five of Laura’s poetry and/or rhyming nonfiction books, personalized.
Choice 2: A one-hour on-the-spot poetry critique session with Mentors for Rent via Skype.

Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 120 books for kids and teens, including the brand new WATER CAN BE… (starred reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly—holy cow! , A LEAF CAN BE… (Bank Street Best Books, IRA Teachers’ Choice, Riverby Award for Nature Books for Young Readers, and more), and BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Book, Eureka! Gold Medal, and more). Poetry is her very favorite thing to write! See more about Laura and her work at www.laurasalas.com. Laura and her Mentors for Rent partner Lisa Bullard do hourly coaching and critiquing for kids’ writers.


Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Giveaway, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 new banner

I am having a difficult time believing it’s spring since there was snow in my yard just two days ago. But I CAN report some good news from March. I revised like ca-razy — major revisions on at least three different manuscripts. And I did write a new draft, albeit not one that will be suitable for future publication because it’s already been published on my blog. It’s a little ditty I created in honor of Jane Yolen after spending a magnificent weekend at her master picture book writing boot camp. How Does Jane Yolen Say Goodnight? I’m counting it because it would be a book if Jane had written it, and not every draft will be one that ends up on bookstore shelves. This draft came straight from the heart too. If only all my manuscripts would! :-)

How about you my 12 x 12 friends? Are your manuscripts roaring like a lion? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Also, thank you once again to the wonderful Deborah Underwood, March’s featured author, who showed up how to succeed in difficult genres. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to meet our April author!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win signed copies of Here Comes the Easter Cat and Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood:

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “Signed copies of Here Comes the Easter Cat and Bad Bye, Good Bye” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on Deborah’s Blog Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on Deborah’s blog post. Commenting on Deborah’s post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in March. If you haven’t yet commented, click here to do so. Then you click ENTER on that option in Rafflecopter, which will then open the next two options.
  3. Click on the “Wrote a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you completed a PB draft in March. If you did, click ENTER, if you did not, move on to the next step.
  4. Click on the last “Revised a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you revised a PB in March. If you did, click ENTER. If not, move on to the next step.
  5. Submit your entry. Rafflecopter will track your points.

You have until midnight Eastern on April 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on April 2nd.

Three months down, nine to go!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


This year 12 x 12 Little GOLDen Book members will be able to choose one of two agents to submit their manuscript to each month. John Cusick from Greenhouse Literary will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 Gold members April 1-15. Ginger Harris from Liza Royce Agency will be accepting picture book submissions from 12×12 Gold members April 16-30. John’s profile appears first, followed by Ginger’s. Please read BOTH and then decide who would be the best fit for your work.



John was a featured agent in 2013. You can find our extensive profile post on him here. More recent interviews and resources appear at the end of this profile update.

I’m so delighted to have John back for his second 12 x 12 “tour of duty.” He is so enthusiastic about the program and a real sport for taking this on immediately after the Bologna Book Fair. I sang his praises in last year’s post, so definitely give that a read too.

The most up-to-date interviews with John:



I had the pleasure of meeting Ginger at the NJ-SCBWI conference, both to pitch to her and to sit with her at lunch. I was impressed by her knowledge of and passion for picture books. She gave me phenomenal feedback on my pitches and I learned more in that one lunch than I could have done in a month of reading blog posts on writing picture books! The fact that she and her partner Liza BOTH wanted to participate in 12 x 12 (Liza as one of March’s agents) speaks volumes about their love of picture books specifically and children’s literature in general. Many thanks to Ginger for joining us this year!!

Ginger Harris and Liza Fleissig

Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris from the Liza Royce Agency

“Ginger Harris-Dontzin, with her partner Liza Fleissig, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A graduate of Boston University with a BA 1984 and Nova Southeaster University, Shepard Broad Law Center Law School with a JD, Ginger brings 20 years of litigation and negotiating experience to the field.

On the children’s side of publishing, being a mother to a preschooler boy, she is interested in everything from picture books, to middle grade and young adult. LRA also has a large adult based clientele from both established authors to writers in the earlier stages of their development. Although they lean towards suspense/thriller, commercial woman’s fiction and comedy, they are open to anything that speaks to them, in the past to include historical fiction, true crime and memoirs.”

Ginger works closely with her partner Liza Fleissig, who was one of March’s featured authors, so we recommend you read her profile post too.

Articles featuring Ginger Harris:

Full submission guidelines for John and Ginger are posted in the Membership Forum. Please note Little GOLDen Book Members may only submit to ONE of these agents. Please choose the agent who is the best fit for you and your manuscript.

Submissions will only be accepted for John Cusick from April 1st – April 15th at 6pm EST/3pm PST.

Submissions will only be accepted for Ginger Harris from April 16th – April 30th at 6pm EST/3pm PST.

Good Luck!
Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Author Entrepreneur FB BannerI know. I know. The topic of authors (and illustrators) as entrepreneurs doesn’t sound sexy. It sounds like WORK. Not nearly as exciting as how to get an agent or a book published.

But it IS just as important if you eventually want to earn a living from your writing and writing-related activities. We are lucky because today, authors have more ways than ever to build audiences for their work. AND, the business side of writing does NOT need to be a horrible, sleazy, back-breaking, time-sucking black hole that will prevent you from ever writing another book again. I promise.

I am speaking on this very topic at an upcoming webinar sponsored by SCBWI-MI, and they have very generously offered to give away one free registration for the webinar (or refund your fee if you’ve already signed up). To enter, just share about the webinar in any of the ways provided in the Rafflecopter below by 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 28th. While the Facebook and blog shares are one-time, you can earn a point each day with a tweet!

Good luck and hope to see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Site Software