12 x 12 WebinarTwo weeks ago, NYT Bestselling author, children’s literature professor and freelance editor Emma Walton Hamilton and I launched the 12 x 12 webinar series with a discussion on how to KNOW when your picture book is submission-ready.

Now we’re moving on to the submission itself. We have some exciting updates in the works to our product(s) on picture book submissions, but we need your help! So here’s the deal. If you click on this link and answer this ONE question, we’ll instantly send you a free video outlining the four essential elements of a picture book query.

The entire process (including watching the video) takes about five minutes.

Here’s the link again.

Oh, and this ONE time I have to ask you not to leave your question in the comments, but instead leave it in the survey at the link.

If you’ve already seen the Four Essential Elements of a Picture Book Query video, we’d love for you to leave feedback in the comments for others.

Please feel free to share this post with your picture book writing friends. The more responses we get, the better we’ll be able to help you with your submissions.

Thanks so much!

Categories: 12 x 12, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries · Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Author Illustrator Julie Rowan-ZochSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Can you hear me screaming all the way in Colorado? I’ve been looking forward to this post for two years (which is how long I’ve known Julie Rowan-Zoch‘s talent is extraordinary). I KNEW she would get an agent, and I waited patiently for the day to come. :-)

As you might guess from the tone of this introduction, Julie is a dear friend of mine and a model citizen of the kidlit community. Her talent speaks for itself (her Facebook feed is one I check every day because I’m addicted to her art), but she is also warm, funny and generous. She supports her author and illustrator friends without fail, and is always willing to help our community in any way she can. She may not be the best at backing out of a driveway in winter (sorry, Julie!), but she has excellent taste in beer, books, cheese, and friends. :-)

Please welcome Julie Rowan-Zoch, here to tell her “How I Got My Agent” story!

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I had but two drafts before joining the inceptive 12 x 12 in ’12 Challenge. That first year was an eye-opener to the hard-nut-to-crack world of the kid-lit industry as well as the warm and generous kid-lit community. Luckily I had a blind passion for picture books and enough naiveté to keep going! By the time 12×12 began offering the chance to submit to agents, I had one solid manuscript. Slowly but surely I rustled up the courage to start subbing, but I still had so much to learn about researching suitable agents.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

Julie Hedlund’s agent posts with all the links gave me a good start. I followed links, also read agent posts on Kathy

Julie originally made this for my assistant, Kelli, and me last year to celebrate 12 x 12. Yesterday, however, we were the two chickadees sharing champagne!

Julie originally made this for my assistant, Kelli, and me last year to celebrate 12 x 12. Yesterday, however, Julie and I were the two chickadees sharing champagne!

Temean’s blog, and googled the agents of author-illustrators whose work I admired. I joined Sub It Club, and another Agent/Editor discussion group online, both of which have been hugely helpful. Not methodical, but not bad either!

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

None of the agents I submitted to focuses solely on picture books, but all of them do represent children’s literature up to YA.

The dreaded questions: How many queries? How many rejections?

I know this makes me look careless, but because I didn’t sub to many agents, I never kept a detailed record (I should have!). I submitted to about 10 agents through 12×12, and 3 or 4 outside, mainly through SCBWI conference opportunities, and received an chance to sub by winning a design contest. Another invited me to submit through Facebook. That brings the total to about 16. I heard back from 8, received requests for more materials from 4. All was rather quiet when I got lucky, very lucky: my agent found me.

How did you know your agent was “the one?

Just before leaving town mid-December I got a surprising but delightful email from Marcia Wernick. I knew most of her agency’s clients (all of those focused on PBs!), but not much about the agency. I read every article I could find online, and asked around in the groups I mentioned above. One can determine a lot through correspondence, and Marcia’s graciousness and confidence shone through. We arranged for me to submit a package of manuscripts and illustrations, and made an appointment for a call early in the new year. After Marcia offered representation, I notified the other agents I was still in contact with. I received a total of three offers, and might have had a fourth, but before that call, I already knew. My best friend said, “You know already – you’re pitching her to me!” But the best advice I received in making that decision was to follow my gut as to which one I felt most comfortable with and genuinely liked my work.

What I did not anticipate, was difficulty in finding the right words to inform the agents I was turning down. Both of them had shown such generosity and kindness.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how?

I can promise you, I would not have found an agent without all I have benefitted from as a 12 x 12 participant. The support, encouragement and sharing of information: to write more, read more, start blogging, doodle every day, critique artwork, join a writer’s critique group for PBs, form a local critique group, go to conferences, keep learning, start submitting, keep going, chin up, chest out, breathe, read more, write more… And above all else? Keep laughing! This is how I found my tribe!!!

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

Can’t tell, it’s only been a week! But my enthusiasm moved up ten notches!

A toast with two Julies!

A toast with two Julies!

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Join 12 x 12, do all the things I mentioned two Q/As back, and join SCBWI. And when you are preparing for ‘the call’, and believe two pages worth of questions are enough, think again and double that!

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

I most certainly do! My agent found my blog, and I got illustration and design work through posting sketches on Facebook. To push my daily doodles, I started drawing birthday greetings: almost every day I drew something new for any friend on Facebook and posted it to their timeline. I believe, in this manner I made deeper connections within the kid-lit community, and I value that very highly.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point :-) )

Two things: I want to see a grand display of the Aurora Borealis, and to witness the arrival of migrating monarch butterflies in the forests of pine trees and fir in Michoacan/Mexico.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

Sketches for one polished manuscript, and, for the first time, I’m developing a dummy while I am constructing the narrative of a story.

Julie R-Z

Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Friendship, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

First 12 x 12 Webinar in the Can!

First 12 x 12 Webinar in the Can!

I spent the bulk of this week doing a task I hate above (almost) all others, and that is bookkeeping. HOWEVER, I am grateful that I am closing in on finishing off 2014 and will actually have some organization around taxes this year. As for the rest, read on!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.” — Martin E.P. Seligman

“Breath and life, and the opportunity to try. If you have nothing more, you always have that.” — Alicia Keys

“I’m grateful for anything that reminds me of what’s possible in this life.” — Jonathan Safran Foer

Gratitude list for the week ending 1/31

  1. Making it to the end of January! The first month of the year is always a huge challenge for me, so waking up on February 1st is a special joy.
  2. My assistant Kelli, without whom I never would have survived January!
  3. My bookkeeper, who spent yet another two hours meeting with me this week
  4. The fact that I have bookkeeping that needs to be done (I’m stretching here, but I really am trying to to find gratitude in that which makes me crazy :-))
  5. My mom, who brought me wine on a day I could not leave my desk (due to bookkeeping).
  6. Ending the month of January with 650+ members of 12 x 12! This year’s group is going gangbusters already!
  7. My new favorite, life-saving service – Taskrabbit. Very nice gentleman came to help my kids clean and organize their rooms and playrooms while I worked on bookkeeping.
  8. Hosting the first 12 x 12 webinar with my friend Emma Walton Hamilton. We filled the room and brought down the house. :-)
  9. Unexpected snowfall to pretty-up the world
  10. Have I mentioned that I am almost finished with my 2014 bookkeeping? LOL

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, Gratitude Sunday · Tags: , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 new badgeI haven’t yet announced over here that there is a BRAND NEW website for the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. If you are a picture book writer, make sure you head over there because registration for 2015 is now OPEN! All future news and announcements about 12 x 12 will be on the new website. Look forward to seeing you over there!

Categories: Uncategorized


htwIt’s once again been too long since I’ve posted a Gratitude Sunday. I’m going to TRY even harder to get this in every week.

Quotes on Gratitude

All three of this week’s quotes are from Anne Lamott’s book, HELP, THANKS, WOW, which I received for Christmas.

“…(L)ife can seem like an endless desert of of danger with scratchy sand in your shoes, and yet if we remember or are reminded to pay attention, we find so many sources of hidden water, in a weed or the gravel or a sunrise. There are so many ways to sweep the sand off your feet. So we say, ‘Oh My God. Thanks.”

“You say, Thank you for lifting this corner of the curtain so I can see the truth, maybe for just a moment, but in a way that might change my life forever.”

“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”

Gratitude list for the week ending January 10

  1. A real-live editor liked one of my stories that’s on submission and asked for some revisions!
  2. A friend who was willing to talk ad nauseam in my hyper-excited state.
  3. I MADE those revisions yesterday!
  4. I also re-wrote a picture book draft I’d lost after my iPad broke. I like it even better now.
  5. All of the wonderful folks who participated in my 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series. Inspiring way to begin this New Year!
  6. Finally seeing Mockingjay, which ROCKED!
  7. The weather warming up enough to melt the glacier that had become my driveway
  8. Launching 12 x 12 with an interview with Tara Lazar.
  9. Watching the first Indiana Jones movie with the kids
  10. Skyping with a local SCBWI schmooze group in LA

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, Gratitude Sunday, Movies, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


12 x 12 new banner

It’s time to giveaway December’s prize! December’s winner will get a picture book critique from our November 2014 Featured Author Marcie Colleen.

And the lucky winner is…


Congrats! Please contact me at JulieFHedlund (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.

Registration for 12 x 12 in 2015 begins soon! Little GOLDen Book Members will register January 5-8. Returning Shel SILVERstein and Margaret Wise BRONZE members can register beginning January 13, 2014. Please check your emails for more details and be sure to take a look at the brand new 12 x 12 site: www.12x12challenge.com. All future blog posts will be on the new site. See you there!

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Giveaway


12 x 12 new banner

OMG I JUST realized that today is the last day of 12 x 12 2014!!! Forgive me for allowing this to take me by surprise. I haven’t even had a chance to be sad yet! 

Seriously, the whole month of December has been like this. Christmas was over just as I fully realized it was upon us. Tonight is New Year’s Eve and I made dinner reservations last night. 

Perhaps it’s a form of rebellion against saying goodbye to another OUTSTANDING year of 12 x 12. Yet, I know it’s not truly goodbye. Many of you will come back in 2015. Some of you won’t. But no matter what, I cherish you all and the community we shared this year. I myself wrote 7 new drafts and revised 12. That is a personal best for me in terms of volume of writing, and I know it would never be possible without the support and motivation of this group.

I wish I had something more profound to say, but I always get a little verklempt at this time of year. So, allow me to wish you all a Happy, Safe, Joyous, Prosperous, CREATIVE, New Year!

Please visit our BRAND NEW 12 x 12 website if you are interested in joining next year. See you on the other side!

Now tell us about you. Did you get your draft or revision done this month? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Remember one lucky 12 x 12 member will win a picture book critique from our very own Marcie Colleen.

How did you do this year? If you completed 12 picture book drafts this year, send us a video or a headshot and tell us how many drafts you wrote and we’ll add you to the Winners Wall! Entries for the Winners Wall are due by midnight tonight!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a Picture Book Critique from Marcie Colleen:

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “Picture Book Critique from Marcie Colleen” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on the Featured Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on the featured blog post. Commenting on the featured post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in December. 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 December. 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 December. 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 January 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on January 2nd.

Keep on writing! We hope to see you back in 2015!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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


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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sign up for 12 Days of Writerly Gifts

Sign up for 12 Days of Writerly Gifts

I’ve been sharing my end-of-year program to thank my fellow writers – 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund – on social media, but figured I’d best blog about it too. Read on for all the details. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and an early Happy New Year to all.

Want to keep the holidays going even after the New Year begins? Want to start your writing year from a place of inspiration, illumination, and optimism?

Sign up for my 12 Days of Christmas email series and you’ll receive a gift from me each day. Short, sweet, inspirational, and no strings attached. Traditionally, the twelve days of Christmas begins on Christmas day, but we’ll start on December 26th and conclude on January 6th.

You’ll receive daily, bite-size surprises such as:

  • Exercises to evaluate and integrate your 2014 writing year so you are ready for 2015
  • Tools to illuminate successes in order to go even further in your writing
  • “Never-before-seen” content from me about the writing life
  • How to treat your writing as a business in 2015 and have FUN while doing so
  • How to keep the fun and whimsy in your life and your writing
  • Resources, Inspiration, Tips, and More!

What you will not find in this email series:

  • Browbeating
  • Lectures
  • Prescriptive programs
  • Sales pitches
  • Recycled content

So come join the fun! The series is open to everyone, everywhere. I hope it is obvious, but you do not have to celebrate Christmas to participate — I’m simply using the tradition of “12 days” to give you some writing gifts that will be more useful than seven swans-a-swimming. :-)

Subscribe to 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund

* indicates required

Categories: Writing · Tags: , , ,


12 x 12 new banner

It’s time to giveaway November’s prize! November’s winner gets to choose between two amazing courses: The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions or How Make Money as a Writer.

And the lucky winner is…


Congrats! Please contact me at JulieFHedlund (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.

Use one of your PiBoIdMo ideas and crank out that December draft! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for your chance to win December’s prize.

Categories: 12 x 12, Giveaway

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