After celebrating my 2nd Blogiversary, I now have to report a blog fail: I completely forgot to post the results of the contest on Thanksgiving, as I had promised.  Between meal preparation, blogfests and traveling yesterday, it completely slipped my mind.  So note to self: don’t plan to announce contests on holidays.

So, without further adieu, here are the lucky winners:

  1. Lori Mozdzierz
  2. Jarm Del Boccio

Both of you requested a critique rather than the gift card, and I would be happy to provide a critique for each of you.  Email me your manuscripts (full picture book or first 10 pages) when you are ready to jhedlund33 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thank you again to everyone who left comments and participated in the contest.  I truly appreciate your support of the blog and look forward to many more years of Write Up My Life!!

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

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

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

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

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

1.  Are you blogging about your passion?

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

2.  Do you know your audience?

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

3.  Are you building a community?

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

4.  Are you solving your reader’s problems?

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

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

Top Posts (post with greatest number of hits)

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

Top Five Personal Favorites

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

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

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

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

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Cheers! Pop open that butterbeer

Thanks to everyone for celebrating my blogiversary with me and for entering the giveaway of the six Harry Potter movies!  This was an especially fun contest because of the anticipation of the Deathly Hallows release.  Without further adieu, the winner is…

ELLEN

Ellen, please email me at jhedlund33 (at) yahoo (dot) com for instructions on claiming your prize.

I didn’t want to leave everyone else empty-mugged though, so here is a link to the Top 10 Butterbeer recipes to warm and cheer you over the weekend.  Bottoms up everyone!

Categories: Children's Books, Giveaway, Movies, Recipes · Tags: , , , , ,

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Well, it’s finally here.  One year of putting words to screen and hoping they would reach out and touch someone (but not in a gross way).  As with any milestone, the blogiversary has prompted reflection on my part.  How do I feel about what I’ve done so far?  What do I want to achieve in the future?  Lucky for me, synchronicity was at work this week when Daily Blog Tips posted 8 Critical Questions You Should Ask Yourself as a Blogger.  Half of them don’t apply to me because I do not intend to monetize this blog.  Write Up My Life is a creative outlet, a community (I hope), and honestly, a joy.  Trying to do anything with it monetarily would ruin that for me, and probably for readers, so that’s off the table.

Four of the questions seemed more appropriate to ask YOU, if you are willing to provide your input.  I think to some extent all bloggers start a blog to serve some purpose for themselves, but somewhere along the way, it becomes more about the people who come to visit you on the blog (or at least it should, IMHO) than about that initial self-purpose.  So in order to gear up for the next year of blogging, I’d like to hear more about you and what you would like to see on this blog (and blogs in general).

1.  Are you blogging about your passion?

This is an easy yes for me.  I am passionate about writing, certainly, but I am also passionate about my family, my dog, nature, reading, cooking, traveling, etc.  I try to balance posts about writing and posts about my life, although sometimes a particular post works as both.  I would quickly get bored if I wrote only about writing or only about my life. I’m sure you’d get pretty bored if I only wrote about my life too!  BUT, I would like to know if you think the my passion comes through in my blog posts, regardless of the subject du jour.  Should I be putting more personality/passion in the posts or I am I already at risk of revealing TMI? Inquiring minds want to know!

2.  Do you know your audience?

Some of the sub-questions here ask whether you know what your readers want and don’t want and whether they find your posts useful.  What I know about my readers/followers is that many of them are writers, but many of them are not.  That is why I try to strike a balance on the blog between strictly professional and more personal posts.  So I ask you, if you are a writer, do you still enjoy the more personal posts?   If you are not a writer, do your eyes glaze over when you read the writing posts, or do I manage to make them interesting to you?

3.  Are you building a community?

I think so.  I try to ask thought-provoking questions at the end of most posts to get people excited to engage in a conversation.  I joined the Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade and visit the crusaders’ blogs as often as I can.  I’m on other Twitter and Facebook.  I do giveaways here and there. (Like the Blogiversary Harry Potter movie giveaway).  Are there other things I could do to “up” the community quotient of the blog?

4.  Are you solving your reader’s problems?

Let me be frank.  I can barely figure out how to solve my own problems, so I doubt if I will be able to solve yours.  If I had all the answers, I’d probably be a multi-published author bringing money in hand over fist right now instead of blogging.  If I had all the answers, my kids would be behave perfectly at all times, my cakes would never sag in the middle, I’d weigh about 20 lbs less and my house would be featured in Architectural Digest.  As soon as all of that happens, I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, I hope that as I flounder, learn, flounder some more, and then learn some more, that my posts about that process are helpful to you too.  It’s not so much “misery loves company” as “company alleviates misery,” so let’s go through it together.

So, what say you dear readers?  I would be eternally grateful if you could weigh in on some of those questions so I can provide you with the best blog I can.

Many Thanks!

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Given my blogiversary tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to check the stats to see which were the most popular posts and remember some old favorites, plus share some of the funniest and odd “search terms” that have led people to this humble blog.  Without further adieu:

Top Five Posts (Posts with the most hits)

  1. Jane Yolen’s 20 Rules of Writing
  2. 100 Random Things (About me)
  3. Tori Spelling Picture Book – What Next? (The one time I let loose and really ranted. This post gets hits almost every day. I guess negativity does sell, although I intend to try to restrain myself in the future)
  4. Picture Book Dummies
  5. Dream Number 29

Five of my personal favorites

  1. Julie: An American Girl
  2. The Magic of Mackinac
  3. She Loved that Baby Up
  4. Barnes and Noblesse Oblige
  5. M Go Bust

Another of my favorite posts, The Presents of Christmas Past, has also gotten hits resulting from strange and funny search terms.  For example, I’ve gotten several hits on the post from people looking for variations of “wire hanger yarn poodle” because of this picture:

Who knew making poodles from yarn and wire hangers was still such a popular activity?  I’ve also gotten hits on the same post from variations of “life-size plastic doll,” which honestly, is just disturbing.  They find the post because I wrote about getting this doll for Christmas one year:

Although I had never heard of it before I made it, apparently lots of people like Frito Pie.  I still get lots of hits on the post I wrote about making it for a party, including the recipe.

I’ve also gotten people coming to the blog seemingly for information on pterodactyls, pterodactyl boyfriends and, yes, unicorn erotica as a result of this post.  (Thanks Libba Bray! :-))  I would so love to know what they are hoping to find when they click on that post…

Anyway, thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me.  Looking forward to another great year of blogging and conversation!

Categories: Authors, Books, Children's Books, College Football, Cooking, Family, Holidays, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Travel, Winter, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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It is almost impossible to believe, but this coming Thursday, November 18th, is the one-year anniversary of this blog.  I started with humble beginnings and hopes that the blog would help me grow more accustomed to sharing my writing with others.  It was also a huge step for me to announce to the world that I was a writer.

I have gotten so much more from writing this blog than I could have ever imagined: friendship, encouragement, education, and even confidence.  It seems as though every time I get a little down in the dumps about where I am in life or in writing, someone leaves a thoughtful comment on one of my posts, and I once-again feel inspired and optimistic.

I’ll be writing more this week about the blog itself and my plans for its future, but first, I want to toast each and every one of you who has come by the blog this year.  It is only because of you all that blogging has been so rewarding for me.  For that reason, I am offering what I hope is a fantastic prize that any of you would enjoy – writer, friend, family member or all of the above.

Drum roll…

What are the chances that my blogiversary would land on the very day that Harry Potter Deathly Hallows #1 hits theaters?  Or that I would be right in the middle of re-reading the series in anticipation? (I’m on The Half Blood Prince as we speak, but I understand I only have to read through DH chapter 24 in order to go see the movie).  Whatever the chances, it seems only appropriate to have a Harry Potter-themed giveaway, so here it is: a boxed set of all six of the previous Harry Potter movies.  What’s more, the winner can choose DVD or Blu-Ray format.

You don’t have to be a follower to win, but if you like what you see on the blog, please consider coming back and joining the discussion.  Everyone who wants to enter needs to answer the following in the comments:

Which is your favorite Harry Potter Book?  Which is your favorite movie?  If the two are not the same, why not?

OR

If you haven’t read the books, do you plan to? (No is an acceptable answer :-))

You can get an extra entry for tweeting the contest, and 2 extra entries for blogging about the contest and providing a link back to this post.  Just put the links to the tweet/blog post in the comments to ensure they get counted.

Contest ends at – when else? – 12:01 Eastern Time on Thursday the 18th (I know it’s really Friday, but the release date says Thursday, so…).  Good luck!

Oh, and if you want more fun, check out my Harry Potter wishlist and add yours!  Finally, if you blogged about Harry this week, feel free to include a link to your post(s) in the comments.  I’d love to check them out.

P.S. I’ve edited this to add my own answer to the question! My favorite book was The Prisoner of Azkaban.  It retained some of the innocence and wonder of the first two books, but included major foreshadowing of the darkness to come.  The plot ramped up several notches, and I LOVED the introduction of the dementors and the Patronus charm.  I also liked the movie version, but I think my favorite movie was The Goblet of Fire.  They did a great job portraying the Yule Ball and the Triwizard tournament.

Sorcerer's Stone

Chamber of Secrets

Prisoner of Azkaban

RPatz may have died as Cedric in Goblet of Fire, but he was reborn as eternal hottie Edward Cullen soon enough...

Order of the Phoenix

Half Blood Prince

Categories: Books, Movies, Writing · Tags: , , , , ,

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