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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

 

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Kelli here. Beat me with a wet noodle for not posting this earlier! I’m so sorry, but prizes are better late than never right?! Our October Featured Author, Laura Gehl, is giving away a picture book critique to one lucky 12 x 12 member.

And the lucky winner is…

DEBBIE AUSTIN

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

Alright, show your thanks for all the picture book ideas in your head and write at least one of them down this month! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for your chance to win November’s prize.

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There’s a good reason this post is a little late today, and that’s because I spent this morning finishing my October draft! So while I didn’t revise any manuscripts this month, I did write a new one – woo hoo! In fact, my plan for the remaining two months of the year (Two months? Now THAT’S Spooky!), I plan to spend NOT writing new manuscripts but revising the dickens out of several that I already have.

How about you? Did you get your draft or revision done this month? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Special thanks to our featured author Laura Gehl for teaching us how to hook readers with our books. Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a special November treat! Oh, and Happy Halloween!!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a Picture Book Pitch Critique with Laura:

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

Keep on writing!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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12 x 12 Member Laura GehlI realize our October featured author post for 12 x 12 is a little late, but boy is it worth the wait! I’m so happy to introduce you to our OWN Laura Gehl. Laura is a 12 x 12 member who found her agent (who is also my agent and our featured author from last month!) through her membership in 12 x 12. If that wasn’t enough to already have in common, our most recent picture books released on the SAME DAY this year – September 9th. I bought Laura’s book, ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR, right away (did you know I try to buy all books published by 12 x 12 members?). Anyway, I didn’t have a chance to read it until after I returned from my own book launch, but once I did, I realized how brilliant it was and I asked her to be the featured author for October so she could ‘splain to me us how she did it. One lucky winner this month will win a picture book critique from her too. Please welcome Laura!

When Julie asked me to write a post about “having multiple hooks in a picture book,” I realized I should start out with a related question: what the heck is a “hook” anyway?

Sometimes, the term “hook” is used to mean anything that gets a potential buyer to pick up a book. For example, I grabbed “No Fits, Nilson” off the shelf because my 4-year-old spends about half of her time having fits (and the other half asking for ice cream). I’m pretty sure I am not the only one in this situation. The word “fits” alone is enough to draw parents to a book. That’s a hook. When a parent or teacher searches for a book about sharing, bullying, sibling rivalry, positive self-image, gratitude, creativity, or tolerance, those are hooks too. (I call these hooks “emotional hooks”—more on that later!)What is a picture book hook?

Other times, the term “hook” is used to mean a premise that is out of the ordinary or takes a risk. Not just another book about counting, sharing, blah blah blah. Some premises that immediately hook the reader with their originality: A bunch of crayons airing their complaints. A baby with a mustache. A boy who eats books.

In yet another meaning of the word, “hook” can be used to mean a popular theme or character type that all children love. Any book about princesses, dinosaurs, or trains will sell, right? (Right! Except when editor after editor looks at your story and says “Sorry, we have too many princess/dinosaur/train books on our list already.”)

And then we have the “commercial hook,” also known as the “sales hook” or “marketing hook.” Can a bookstore feature your book prominently in December because it is about a snowstorm? Or in late August because the story takes place at school? Those are commercial hooks. Excuses for a bookseller to trot your book out to the front of the store.

Okay…I’m now going to move on to multiple hooks, which is, after all, what Julie asked me to write about. In order to address this topic, I have created a simple rule.

ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Laura Gehl
Laura’s Simple Rule of Multiple Hooks:

Your Picture Book Needs (at least) One Emotional Hook and (at least) One “Other” Hook.

Julie pointed out that my debut picture book, “One Big Pair of Underwear,” has both sharing (hook #1) and counting (hook #2). Here, sharing is the emotional hook. The animals learn that they can have more fun by sharing. Note the word “learn.” The emotional hook should involve characters learning or growing or changing in some way (which in turn means the child might possibly learn/grow/change by reading the book). But of course, this learning/growing/changing needs to happen in a subtle…usually humorous…way, and not be shoved down the child’s throat.

In “One Big Pair of Underwear,” counting is the “other” hook (although, lucky for me, having the word “Underwear” in the title of a book turns out to be a hook in and of itself). In your picture book manuscript, the “other” hook could be any of the types of hooks I mentioned above. It could be a basic concept such as alphabet, shapes, or colors. It could be a popular character type or theme such as princesses, dinosaurs, or trains. Or it could be an unusual premise, such as a baby with a mustache (sadly, that one is already taken).
How many hooks should a book have?

Okay, now I’m going to pick a few books at random and see whether they follow my rule. Since I just made up the rule five minutes ago, it has not yet been fully tested.

1. Uni the Unicorn. Hook #1 (emotional): believing in the impossible; Hook #2 (popular character type): unicorns
2. Z is for Moose. Hook #1 (emotional): wanting to be special; Hook #2 (concept): alphabet
3. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. Hook #1 (emotional): bedtime*; Hook #2 (popular theme): construction vehicles

*I count bedtime as an emotional hook because bedtime is a hard time for kids (and parents!). Good bedtime books soothe the anxiety/fear/grumpiness associated with bedtime, both for the books’ main characters, and for the children reading the books.

Wow, those three books follow my rule beautifully, don’t they? No wonder they are bestsellers and award winners! And, I swear, those really were the first three books that popped into my head.

Of course, I am sure there are gazillions of wonderful books that don’t follow my rule. But if you go through your favorite picture books, I bet most of them will. So when you are revising your own picture book drafts, ask yourself, “Does my book have only one hook?” If the answer is yes…throw in a few princesses (preferably sleepy princesses who are heading to bed wearing dinosaur pajamas), the Easter Bunny (preferably teaming up with Santa Claus and eating latkes), or a subtle-and-humorous lesson about standing up to bullies (while counting to 10 and singing the alphabet song). Maybe all of the above.

Laura Gehl is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which released last month. Laura is also the author of several upcoming picture books: Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel, And Then Another Sheep Turned Up, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching, and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating. Laura has not checked to see whether her upcoming picture books follow Laura’s Simple Rule of Multiple Hooks, because she is afraid they might not, and it is a little bit late to do anything about that now! You can visit Laura at www.lauragehl.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraGehl.

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12 x 12 new bannerIt’s prize time! Our August Featured Author, Melissa Stewart, is giving away a 30 minute Skype critique or consultation.

And the lucky winner is…

KATHY BERMAN!!

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

It’s a brand new month and a brand new chance to win! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for your chance to win September’s prize.

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As you can probably tell from the lateness of this post today, I kind of forgot it was the last day of August. That said, August was a great month for me in that it started with the SCBWI-LA conference (and I was even interviewed for the “Official” SCBWI blog!) and proceeded with a great deal of revision (albeit no new drafts).

How about you? Did you get your draft or revision done this month? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Special thanks to our featured author Melissa Stewart for showing us the ins and outs of writing non-fiction picture books. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to meet our September author! (Yes, September! Can you believe it?)

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a 30 minute Skype critique or consultation with Melissa:

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “30 Minute Skype Consultation” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on Melissa’s Blog Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on Melissa’s blog post. Commenting on Melissa’s post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in August. 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 August. 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 August. 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 September 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on September 2nd.

Keep on writing!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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12 x 12 new bannerIt’s prize time! Our July Featured Author, Sue Fliess, is giving one lucky 12×12 member picture book critique.

And the lucky winner is….

MICHELLE HACKEL!!

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

It’s a brand new month and a brand new chance to win! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for you chance to win August’s prize.

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Well here we are at the end of another month. Check in time! July was blissfully slow and productive for me after a whirlwind June. Although I didn’t write a brand new draft, I revised several. One of them will soon go to an editor who requested it at the NJ-SCBWI conference. Meanwhile, MUCH work to do on a couple of new projects in the next month.

How about you? Has Summer inspired your newest manuscript and revisions? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Special thanks to our featured author Sue Fliess for teaching about writing for our youngest readers. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to meet our August author!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a picture book critique from Sue:

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

Keep on writing!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Finally got to meet Emma!

Finally got to meet Emma!

Wow! I’ve been so busy half the summer has gone by without a Gratitude Sunday post. So today I’ll be catching up on all the “big” things I’ve had to be grateful for the past six weeks (and there are many).

One of the events that transpired during this time was the passing of Walter Dean Myers, a national treasure in the realm of children’s literature and poetry in the U.S. In addition to authoring more than 100 books, many award-winners, most featuring people of color and the hardships they face, Myers served as the second National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Today’s quotes are all from Myers, in honor of his illustrious career and his service to the youth of this country and his unwavering commitment to literacy.

Quotes from Walter Dean Myers

“Once I began to read, I began to exist.”

“Children who don’t read are, in the main, destined for lesser lives. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to change this.”

“We need to tell young people that America was built by men and women of all colors and that the future of this country is dependent upon the participation of all our citizens.”

“We need to tell kids flat out: reading is not optional.”

“I’ll never live to write all the stories in my head.”

Gratitude List for the summer so far

  1. Our cruise to Alaska – otherwordly, beautiful, and devastating (because so much of the wilderness is at risk) all
    On Meade glacier

    On Meade glacier

    at the same time

  2. Walking on a glacier – one of the most profound experiences of my life
  3. Being able to attend the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction conference as a speaker, while I also learned a huge amount about this burgeoning area of children’s books.
  4. Meeting Emma Walton Hamilton for the first time after 2+ years of friendship. And getting to stay in their lovely guest cottage, which I have dubbed the HamiltINN.
  5. Seeing so many wonderful friends old and new throughout my 10-day sojourn through NY and NJ. Here too, I have to shout out to 12 x 12 members. Because of them, there’s nary a place in the world I could go and not find a friend. 🙂
  6. Spending the 4th of July on Boulder creek with my kids, my mom, and Rocky
  7. FIREWORKS
  8. My new camera, which is so beautifully capturing all of these events I’m grateful for.
  9. Good old-fashioned summer fun. Everyone knows I love traveling. But I’ve had these past two weeks at home with the kids eating ice cream, going to outdoor concerts and swimming pools, having movie nights and staying up late. Sometimes it’s just good to be home.
  10. Planning for the launch of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. I am so excited to release this book of my heart. P.S. There is also a Goodreads Giveaway for a signed copy right now.

What are you grateful for this week?

Firework

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MLFY_coverI am so thrilled to announce that not only is MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN now available for pre-order, but we have two copies to give away on Goodreads!!

Make haste to enter to WIN a signed copy, and please share the giveaway with your Goodreads friends who you think might like the book. Here, too, is a Click to Tweet if you want to share with your tweeps.

Goodreads giveaway for beautiful #picturebook – My Love For You Is The Sun http://bit.ly/1xV5TP6 (Click to Tweet)

I am also answering questions on Goodreads as part of their “Ask an Author” program. If you have a question for me about this book or writing in general, just go to my Author Page and fire away!

Finally, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet (and I KNOW I’ve overshared this), here it is. Just in case. 🙂 Thanks everyone!

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