NaPiI am SO honored to be on Paula Yoo’s blog as a guest poster for the wrap-up of National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee). Although I could not participate as a writer this year, NaPiBoWriWee was the first writing challenge I ever participated in, and that is one reason it holds a special place in my heart.

The second reason is thus. During that first challenge, it was day six and I was writing a story with the clever title of “Thomas’s Promises.” In it, a boy named Thomas keeps promising his mother he’ll clean his room, do his homework, feed the dog… just as soon as he’s finished playing. Of course he doesn’t keep those promises, so one day his mother decides to turn the tables on him and boy does he learn a lesson!

It was in the midst of boring the pants off myself writing this story that I decided I couldn’t stand to work on it for one more minute. I decided instead to start over on a brand new draft I’d been wanting to write for a while based on another catchy title. I had the basic premise, but I had no idea how I would execute on that premise.

What happened next was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had as a writer. The story took over and brought me along on the adventure as it unfolded. When I reached the unexpected (to me) ending, I had tears in my eyes. Having one of my own stories make me cry had never happened before, nor has it happened since. But it was at that moment I knew my writing could trigger deep feelings in readers.

That story has gone through many revisions. It is as yet unpublished, but I know it will be someday. More importantly though, it stoked my confidence as a writer. For that, I am forever grateful to Paula and NaPiBoWriWee. I wanted to share the story with you to demonstrate the power of writing challenges and writing communities like the one Paula puts together every year.

Congratulations, Paula, on the 5th Anniversary of NaPiBoWriWee!!

P.S. Doesn’t this year’s logo match my website perfectly? ;-)

Categories: Authors, Creativity, Friendship, Goals, Guest Blogging, NaPiBoWriWee, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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TRcruiseFinally! A Tuesday 12 x 12 author who loves sleep as much as I do! I always thought I was the only one who was rabid about getting enough sleep. ;-) Meet Teresa Robeson, who has brought so much humor and heart to the 12 x 12 challenge (AND a recipe for vodka creamsicles!). Just read her bio at the end of this post and you’ll have a good sense of how lucky we 12 x 12 folks are to get to steep in her enthusiasm and energy every day. Please welcome Teresa! 

Once upon a time, a young girl loved writing and drawing so much that her mother urged her to take creative writing or fine arts at university. But like any cranky kid, she didn’t listen to her mom and tried to do a science degree instead.

Fast forward a few years – while panicking about turning 30, the girl decided to get serious about writing. So she took a writing-for-children course and wrote what she thought was a nice picture book based on autobiographical material. Turns out it was more of a short-story, and while Ladybug Magazine published it, the girl thought she was a failure as a picture book writer and moved on.

You might think this was the end of the story, but fast forward again a bunch more years, and this girl, now no longer young, had her interest in writing PBs renewed when she came across Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee. Sometime thereafter, she “met” Julie Hedlund at Write-On Con and Verla Kay, and the rest is 12×12 history! The end.

Kidding. Smile But I’ll stop talking about myself in the third person.

I joined 12×12 because it sounded like what I needed after doing NaPiBoWriWee. So far, 12×12 has exceeded my expectations. Through it, I have become a part of the most amazing critique group (love you ladies – Kristen, Elaine, Victoria, Yvonne, Renee, and Sylvia!), written 3 drafts and polished a couple of old ones, submitted to the three scheduled agents, and made friends with a bunch of supportive and talented writers.

I usually don’t feel qualified to give people advice, but you’re probably here to read some and not just to see me ramble on about myself. LOL! Three things have worked well for me in my so-called writing career. I want to share them with my fellow PB-Padawans:

1) Get thee to a critique group. I can’t believe I wrote (on and off) for 20 years without one. Now I have three and they are my guiding lights, my partners in crime, and my cheerleaders extraordinaire! I was invited to join these critique groups by invitation via a Gotham Writer’s Workshop class, the local SCBWI chapter, and the 12×12 Challenge. Whether you’re already part of one or need to start one yourself, I recommend the book “The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide” by Becky Levine to help guide you.

2) Don’t believe the lies and excuses you tell yourself about why you can’t spend more time writing. I love my sleep. I used to joke that the top three things I love most are my family, food, and sleep, not necessarily in that order. I claimed that I couldn’t give up sleep to write like professional writers urged us to do. This year, with the big Five-Oh breathing down my neck, I decided that it was time to stop making excuses. I started getting up 1.5 hours earlier than I used to and, holy cow, I got so much more writing in! It’s apparently decent writing too because I’ve won two contests since and was a finalist in a third.

3) Never stop learning. I’ve taken classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature, Gotham Writer’s Workshop, and Indiana University Continuing Education, and am currently taking Picture Book Academy and will be taking Making Picture Book Magic in June, taught by the fabulous and talented Mira Reisberg and Susanna Hill, respectively. And, of course, read voraciously about the craft and all books in general.

Teresa grew up in Hong Kong and Vancouver but, these days, find herself in the middle of nowhere Midwest as a homeschooling mom and a wannabe-homesteader. Baking is her preferred method of procrastination but she also enjoys knitting, sewing, crocheting, making cheese and yogurt, and will soon start spinning and weaving. She was raised by Star Trek and Chinese fairy tales, and writes speculative fiction for adults and YA in addition to picture books. She has a degree in Speech Science/Linguistics that she never uses, and still wants to be an astrophysicist or opera singer when she grows up. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about her at her webite, teresarobeson.com, or blog, Growing, Writing, and Creating.

 

 

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Goals, Guest Blogging, NaPiBoWriWee, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Important note: Due to a recent family emergency, I will not be drawing April winners until later this week, and possibly next week. Once I know when winners will be drawn, I will post that information here on the blog.The monthly check-in procedure AND the deadlines (commenting by midnight ET May 1) are the same.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Whew what a month! I can’t say I’m sorry to see this one go.  It’s now time for 12 x 12 in 2012 participants to check in.  Did you complete a picture book draft for April?

For the first time, I must admit I did not complete a draft.  What can I say? Life happened.  However, I am participating in National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) starting tomorrow, so I hope to make some good ground there.

Many thanks, once again, to our four featured authors for April-Palooza – Jennifer WardLinda Ravin LoddingSandy Asher, Susanna Leonard Hill!!!  If you left a comment on their April 1st post, you are automatically entered to win a critique from Jennifer, Linda or Susanna or a copy of Sandy’s book WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Perfect and Sell Their Stories, regardless of whether you completed a PB draft this month.

If you did complete a draft in April, let us know in the comments and that will get you another entry.  YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR NAME (FIRST AND LAST) IN YOUR COMMENT IF YOU WANT IT TO BE COUNTED AS AN ENTRY.   You have until midnight EST May 1st to leave a comment on this post and/or the April 1st post to be eligible for the drawing.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to meet our May authorl!!

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Giveaway, Goals, NaPiBoWriWee, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Smile, You’re on Katie Davis!*

That’s the way I feel today as I have the extreme honor of being Katie Davis’ first Brain Burps About Books podcast guest of 2012.  I am so excited I’ll be throwing the link around all over the place – in this post, on Facebook, on Twitter, email.  Want to make sure everyone in the world who wants to hear it gets a chance. :-)

Before I write another word, here’s the link to the podcast.  http://traffic.libsyn.com/brainburps/78_JulieHedlund.mp3.  You can listen to it on your computer just by clicking the link, or you can do the same by clicking the link from your smart phone or tablet and listen to it from there. Or you can listen from the link on Katie’s blog here: http://katiedavis.com/78/

On this podcast, in a fitting tribute to the new year (because Mayans or no Mayans, we’re going to do our best work!), Katie and I talk about anti-resolutions (based on this post) and the need to set goals from a positive place rather than beating ourselves up over (perceived) failures from the previous year. What struck me during our discussion was how we all face doubt and disappointment, regardless of how far along we are in our careers.  It’s easy to look at a successful, multi-published author and think, “Oh s/he’s made it.”  However, that author may very well be plagued by the same doubts and frustrations.  So Katie and I discuss how to overcome that, and how being an active part of the writing community helps.

We also discuss the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge and other opportunities for writers to get a head start in the new year.  I had so much fun recording this podcast with Katie, and I hope you enjoy listening to it just as much!  It’s a great “feel-good” way to hit the ground running in 2012, if I do say so myself.

If you have never listened to a Brain Burps About Books podcast, you can start with the one with ME in it!  Then, get thyself over to Katie’s website and download and listen to the rest.  I’ve been a subscriber for a year now, and I’ve learned so much.  Every show is great. It’s like having portable conference sessions that you can listen to at your convenience.  And they’re FREE!  Or you can do as I did and buy the app from the iTunes store for $1.99 and have all the episodes in one place.  People, it’s a bargain.  Katie is an exceptionally talented, multi-published author/illustrator, a whizz-bang marketing guru and a pioneer in using all forms of media in the children’s book arena.  She recently published an e-book entitled, How to Promote Your Children’s Book. Best of all, she has her bio written in both haiku and limerick form (among others).  Sounds like a lady you can learn a lot from, no?

What can you learn from these podcasts, you ask? Well, Brain Burps About Books is all about children’s literature and has held the #1 in the iTunes store in Children’s Publishing since it began almost two years ago.  It has been downloaded in 40% of the world’s countries. If it has to do with the children’s book business – whether it’s craft, creating a platform, developing eBooks and apps, or supporting a small business as a writer, it’s fair game. Interview subjects include authors, illustrators, librarians, editors, app creators… anyone in the field covering anything under the umbrella of children’s books. Regular features include a “Take 5 Marketing Tips” by Dianne de Las Casas and picture book and middle grade reviews by contributors Betsy Bird of SLJ’s Fuse #8 Production, “Mommy” blogger Julie Falatko, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, and YA reviews by Bookalicious Pam.

I happen to know that in this episode, you get a double-dose of Julie, as 12 x 12 challenger Julie Falatko provides a review at the end of the show.  That’s 2 Julies for the price of one! An offer you simply can’t refuse.

Thanks again to Katie for making the start of 2012 especially awesome by inviting me to come on the show.  In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this trailer of Katie’s book, Little Chicken’s Big Day.  Warning: it is off the cuteness meter!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2gN_8P9yts&lr=1&feature=mhum

*My weekly Wednesday Artist’s Way Check-in will be posted tomorrow.

Questions or comments about the podcast? Leave them here!

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Goals, Gratitude Sunday, Guest Blogging, NaPiBoWriWee, Perfect Picture Book Friday, PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Social Media, The Artist's Way, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Badge by Linda Silvestri

(ETA: THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR THE 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge is now passed.  If, after you read this post, you have more questions, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions post)

Twelve complete picture book drafts. Twelve months.  2012.  Are you with me?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write one picture book per month for each of the twelve months of 2012.  This means a first draft: beginning, middle, end.  NOT a submission-ready piece.  Sounds easy right?  It sounds easy to me, too.  But when I looked back on my writing output from 2011, I discovered that I only completed one draft from all 30 of the PiBoIdMo ideas I came up with in 2010.  I did draft, edit and revise other pieces I had in the works, but I am not content with my overall 2011 results. So I decided to challenge myself to write many more in 2012, and I figured, why not invite others to join me so we can support and encourage each other along the way?

I have been floored by the community that came together for PiBoIdMo this year – cheers to Tara Lazar!!  I only hope we can take your good work and keep the home fires burning at least until next November.

Just as with other challenges, like PiBoIdMo and NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week), so long as you are willing to do your best, you are welcome to join us.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have 12, 4 or even 1 PB drafted if you’ve gotten more accomplished by being in the group than by going it alone.  There will be a winner badge, of course, for those who make it to 12 or more, but the idea is that we support, encourage, and help each other throughout the year as we try to put flesh on the bones of those PB ideas.  My own personal goal is to draft 18 PBs between this challenge and NaPiBoWriWee, but I know it’s a tall task.  I also know it will be easier with others with me.

As an added incentive to join the challenge, I will be running guest posts on the blog from experts in the field along with a special giveaway each month.  My general plan is to run guest posts on the first of each month, and draw a winner of each month’s giveaway on the last day of the month.  However, I want to leave myself wiggle room in case I need to change some of the parameters.  Bear with me, as this is the first challenge of this type that I’ve run on my blog, so there’s a learning curve for sure.

I want to give a huge round of thanks to Linda Silvestri, the immensely talented illustrator who donated her talents to create our participant badge.

Now, what do you have to do to join, you ask?  First, you must sign your name in blood and send it to me at…  Just kidding! No, there are two mandatory steps and three optional, listed below:

DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR THE CHALLENGE = JANUARY 29, 2012

1. Follow this blog. (Mandatory) If you are a new follower, please specify how you follow in the comments (RSS, email, etc.)

2. Complete the following form indicating you are taking the 12 x 12 challenge (Mandatory)  SIGN-UP FOR THE 12 x 12 in 2012 IS NOW CLOSED.

3. Please paste the 12 x 12 badge (courtesy of Linda Silvestri) on your blog (if you have one) with a link back to this post.  (Optional) I would also love it if you would consider blogging about the challenge and again providing a link back to this post.

4. Join the 12 x 12 in 2012 Facebook Group (Optional) Please note you must be an official 12 x 12 in 2012 participant in order to be admitted into the Facebook group. (Optional)

5. Participate in Twitter discussions throughout the year using the hashtag #12x (Optional)

That’s all folks! I hope to see lots of you here! Can’t wait to get started!! If you have other questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below.

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Guest Blogging, NaPiBoWriWee, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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If last week’s theme was NaPiBoWriWee, and the week before that was Unclutter Your Life in One Week, then this week is preparation for the Big Sur in the Rockies conference this weekend.  I couldn’t resist attending because it takes place here in Boulder, and it will give me the chance to workshop two manuscripts in very small groups with the prominent agents, editors and authors on faculty.  I’ve put aside the new shiny pennies that I wrote last week, and now I’m revising a few manuscripts that are more polished and that I think have the most promise.  One of them is one that I had critiqued at the SCBWI New York conference in January, although the current iteration bears little resemblance to the version I took with me to New York.  I’ve made dozens of revisions since then, and it’s gotten a lot stronger.

Yet, when I opened it this morning and read it and the latest critiques I’ve gotten, I couldn’t help but get the first few lines of Shakespeare’s sonnet #130 in my head.  Because although I truly love and believe in this story, when I compare it to those of the masters, I can’t help but think:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, then black wires on her head.

(Although I won’t go so far as to say it has reeky breath!)

I am very nervous about this weekend.  I really, really want to get some positive feedback – some sense that I am headed in the right direction.  So I continue to labor over my love, and at the end of the week I’m going to slap some lipstick on that lady, get her some highlights and hope she passes muster!

Because:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Categories: Children's Books, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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In my experience, the minute you put a stake in the ground and say to the universe, “THIS is what I’m going to do,” the universe replies, “Oh yeah?  Well let’s just see about that…”

Last week was NaPiBoWriWee, or for the uninitiated, National Picture Book Writing Week, started by the fabulous Paula Yoo.  where participants are challenged to write one picture book a day for seven days.  In a previous post, I explained why I wanted to participate in this insane venture, and I pledged my goals.  So with a pure and hopeful heart, I set off to the library on the first day (Saturday, May 1) to tackle my most ambitious idea.  Six hours later, I emerged with a near-finished draft and a pile of research materials to enable me to finish that evening.  Super start!

The next day, Sunday, I again disappeared into a private writing cave to knock out my second story.  No problem.  Maybe this was going to be easier than I thought?  I was feeling supremely confident, now that the weekend was over.  It’s actually more difficult to find time to write on the weekends when I also have to coordinate around family time.  I figured it would be smooth sailing now that the work and school week was starting.  That assumption started off true enough since I’d “written” Monday’s story in my head in bed that night, so all I had to do was roll out of bed on Monday and write it down.

Then came Tuesday.  It was a warm, but exceptionally windy day.  Jay and I went straight from the house to the car and drove to his preschool.  I mulled over writing ideas for the day during the drive.  We got to the school, fought our way through the wind and past the door when I looked down at him.  That’s when I saw it.  “OH. MY. G-D!”  In the time I had taken us to drive the 15 minutes from home to school, his eyeball flesh had swollen out of his socket.  It looked like a hard-boiled egg.  How do you get swollen eyeball flesh?!?  He hadn’t cried or complained in the car, so I couldn’t imagine what happened.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to remain calm while the office staff helped me create a makeshift patch over his eye.  Then I raced him off to the doctor imagining the worst – eye infection, blindness, you name it.  Thankfully, the reality was much more benign.  Jay must have a seasonal allergy, and a fleck of pollen or something probably blew into his eye before getting into the car. Then he sat rubbing it in during the drive to school, creating the hard-boiled egg effect.  Ten minutes after receiving a dose of prescription eyedrops, he looked much better.  The next day, you could hardly even tell the eye was swollen.  Whew!  All’s well that ends well – except for the writing of course.  Instead of making up the time that evening as planned, I dealt with Em’s disaster for the day.  She had come home from school nearly hysterical over an incident with her best friend.  After an hour of soothing and comforting and wiping wet tears from her face, I brought her into bed with me so we could both fall asleep.

Wednesday, despite being nearly catatonic with fatigue, I wrote half of a new story before I realized I had to stop and go volunteer at Em’s school.  I also forgot that I had a meeting that evening.  After the meeting, I was forced against my will to go out and have a margarita in honor of Cinco de Mayo – okay, two margaritas!  Needless to say no more writing got done that day.

No problem.  I would make it up on Thursday.  Rocky was scheduled for surgery to have his dew claws removed, so I wouldn’t have to take time from writing to walk him or take him to the dog park.  I did have to volunteer at the school that morning, but I had the afternoon, so I thought.  Forgot, once again, that I had to pick Em up from school (usually she takes the bus).  (How did I survive before I had my iPhone beeping at me??)  Then I took her to ballet, and afterward we went together to pick Rocky up.  He’d done really well in surgery, and the vet gave us pretty simple instructions for the next 24 hours.

Vet: “No rigorous exercise.  Keep the bandages clean and don’t let him chew or lick them or they could get infected.  He’s been heavily medicated, so he’ll need lots of rest.  Again, only take him out to go the bathroom.  NO rigorous exercise!  Then bring him in tomorrow and we’ll remove the bandages.”

Me: “Yes sir.  I’m on it.  No rigorous exercise!”

Ever since Rocky came home from his doggie boot camp training, he’s been on an e-collar, which is how we are training him to come when called.  It was the last resort, but one we had to take because nothing else was working.  That’s probably one of the reasons why, when he bolted out the door within ten minutes of coming home from the vet, he was even more difficult to coax back than usual.  His manic joy at finding himself free plus the fact that he was doped up with morphine, Valium and some other pain killer made it nearly impossible to get him back.  We tried all the usual things: starting the car so he’d chase it, and then trying to lure him in with hot dogs.  Setting a “hot dog trail” up the driveway and through the door.  I even laid down in the street and played dead with hot dogs in each hand, but still he would not come.  After one hour of extremely vigorous exercise, I finally got him in the car.  His bandages were bloody, muddy and soaked.  Of course the vet’s office was now closed, so off we went to doggie ER.  Luckily he hadn’t damaged his stitches or re-opened the wound, so it was a simple matter of cleaning the incisions and re-bandaging his legs.  All to the tune of $125 – AFTER a $500 surgery.  Yeah, so I didn’t get any more writing done that day.  Instead I wished the vet had written me a prescription for Valium.

By Friday, the last day of NaPiBoWriWee, I had written 3 1/2 picture books.  Amazing how the week had imploded.  I had been keeping up with Paula and the other participants on her blog, so they all knew about my freakish week.  A kind and compassionate bunch, they would have understood if I had called it quits, and I was very, very tempted to quit.  After all, I wasn’t competing with anyone except myself.  And that’s when it hit me: it was certainly true that nobody else would care if I didn’t continue – but I would.  The fact is, when you are juggling 45 different roles in life, every week is going to be freakish in some way.  I tried to remember the last time I’d had a “normal” week, where the routine went forward as usual and nothing unexpected happened.  I couldn’t.  If I wanted to be a “real” writer, I reasoned, I would have to learn to use what scraps of time I was given instead of waiting for everything and everyone else to cut me a swath on a regular basis.

So I wrote.  I finished the story I’d started on Wednesday, and then I wrote another one – bringing my grand NaPiBoWriWee total to five picture books.  Which is, as a friend reminded me, five more than I started with at the beginning of the week.  I even got teary as I wrote the ending for the last one.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s horrible.  They all are.  That’s the purpose of first drafts.  But therein lies the beauty – now I get to work on them to create second and third drafts… and with each iteration the stories will, hopefully, be a little bit less horrible.

So, despite not reaching the original goal of writing 7 picture books, I put the NaPiBoWriWee “badge” on this post, and my coffee cup is on the way.  Because even though I didn’t “finish,” I did do my best.

Also, I’m glad I had that epiphany about fitting writing around life instead of the other way around, because this Saturday, instead of recovering from NaPi, I ended up taking Em to The Children’s Hospital for a neurological exam.  Thank goodness she’s fine, but it just proves the point once again: there is no such thing as normal – at least not in my life – but I can always strive to do my best with the abnormal.  Tell THAT to the Universe!

Categories: Children's Books, NaPiBoWriWee, Parenting, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,

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Yesterday, Day Three of the “Unclutter Your Life in One Week” process, I had to wave the white flag and cry “uncle.”  I couldn’t finish the set tasks for the day – not even close.  I knew that trying to do the kitchen, dining area and bedroom would be a particular challenge for me due to the size of my kitchen and the disorder in my bedroom, but I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t even completely finish the kitchen.

Lest you think I am a slacker, let me take a moment to explain the process.  As with the bathroom and reception area, the book’s instructions tell you to empty the contents of every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen, throw away or donate things you don’t use or need, group like items together and replace.  The one thing I had going for me in this process is that the contents of my cabinets and drawers and their locations make perfect sense: utensils by the stove, mugs and glasses over the dishwasher, etc.  I spend half my life in the kitchen, so I got the overall organization sorted long ago.  While there were plenty of items in each drawer or cabinet that I no longer used or needed, there was no need to do a major reorganization of where things are in general – thank goodness!  Having said that, if I were to empty the entire contents of my kitchen it would be the home equivalent of urban sprawl, spreading into all the other nearby rooms.  Instead I had to work by zones, or in some cases, cabinet by cabinet, drawer by drawer.  One suggestion in the book is to get rid of “unitaskers,” or things that can only be used for one purpose.  I refused to do that, however, because I use those things.  Don’t get between me and my grapefruit knife – especially when I’m this tired and cranky!!

Partial contents of Post-it Cabinets

So take a look now at the photos.  In the first one above, you see one wall of cabinets.  The green post-it notes indicate which cabinets have not yet been completed (I remove the Post-it once I’ve finished).  Now look down at the counter with all the stuff piled high.  That stuff represents maybe one-third of the contents from just the cabinets with the post-it notes.  The remaining two-thirds is shown in this next photo, with all of the stuff piled onto the dining room table.  You can’t see it from the pictures, but there are an equal number of cabinets, plus many drawers on the other side of the kitchen that have all been completed.  “No Your Honor, I did not finish the project, but I made a damn good start!”

So now what, now that I’m behind?  I will finish yesterday’s assignment today: the kitchen, dining room and bedroom.  In the book, Friday is set aside for work organization and productivity rather than physical clutter removing.  Instead, I’ll spend it doing what was supposed to get done today: living spaces.  The weekend is meant for reflection on longer-term goals like maintaining order, planning travel, social events, time for yourself, and so on.  I could really use to do that, but I won’t be able to since National Picture Book Writing Week starts on Saturday.  I’ll come back to all of the productivity and planning points in the book.  In the meantime, after this week, I’ll be very happy to turn my focus to creative pursuits.  After NaPiBoWriWee is over, my only plan so far is to spend one day reading and napping!

Now, to leave things on a positive note, here is the “after” photo of my main pantry.  This will be my inspiration to keep going…

P.S.  Tooth Fairy update:  She did come last night, and in penance, left Em a nice note and $5 instead of the usual $1.  Em was very pleased with both.  It turns out I was right – she was sick. :-)

Pantry "After"

Categories: Unclutter your life in a week · Tags: , , , , ,

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Perhaps you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month and pronounced “Nah-No-Ree-Moe.”  Participants sign up to write 50,000 words, or 175 pages, from November 1st – November 30th.  Research and outlining is permitted in advance, but no pre-writing.  The focus of the challenge is on quantity rather than quality.  Just get the 50,000 words out.  No need to edit, polish, or even have any intention for the thing to be any good (first drafts never are).  At the end of the challenge, you just provide proof you’ve written 50,000 words and you’re a “winner.”  The prize is the sense of accomplishment from writing so hard, fast and furiously with 50,000 words of output.

If I finish, I am getting myself one of these mugs (hopefully updated to 2010)

Then last year, children’s book author Paula Yoo* launched the first-ever NaPiBoWriWee, or National Picture Book Writing Week, in the same spirit.  The goal?  Write 7 picture books in 7 days.  I missed it last year because I was still working at my real job.  But this year, with butterflies the size of crows in my stomach, I am going to participate. From May 1st – May 7th, I will write 7 picture books – one a day.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no minimum word count in NaPiBoWriWee.  However, each story must have a distinct beginning, middle and end.  Writing 7 different versions of the same story is also not permitted.  Each book must be a stand-alone.

I know a lot of people think writing children’s books is easy, and I’ve addressed that here on the blog before.  Trust me when I tell you it’s not, so this is a very serious challenge.  I am afraid, and that’s what makes it so exciting.  I’ve already begun jotting down ideas which I hope to flesh out a little bit more before May 1st.  I’d like to have somewhere around 15-20 book ideas so I have plenty to choose from in case I get stuck.  In the meantime, here is my pledge for NaPiBoWriWee:

  1. I will write 7 picture books in 7 days from May 1st – May 7th.
  2. Each book will have a discrete beginning, middle and end.
  3. Each book will be distinct from one another because I will choose 7 very different subjects.
  4. I will accept that these 7 books will all be very stinky first drafts, and I pledge not to obsess about that during the week.
  5. I will do some research and a bit of outlining on my story ideas prior to May 1st, but I pledge not to write a single word of any of the stories until midnight on May 1st (and – who am I kidding – probably not until late morning that day).

Completing this challenge will be excellent training for the SCBWI Big Sur in the Rockies Children’s Writing Workshop, which I am attending mid-May.  I feel certain I will learn a great deal about writing in general and my own writing in particular.  I’ll be able to bring that experience to the workshop.

So, who’s with me?  Let me know so we can follow and support each other during NaPiBoWriWee and beyond!

*Paula Yoo is the author of the children’s non-fiction picture book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story (illustrated by Dom Lee), published by Lee & Low Books in 2003. It won the Lee & Low 2003 New Voices Award, received starred reviews from BookList and Kirkus Reviews, and was on the 2006 Texas BlueBonnet Masterlist and the IRA 2006 Notable Book list. Her second picture book, Shooting Star: The Anna May Wong Story, about legendary screen star Anna May Wong, was illustrated by Lin Wang and published in July 2009 by Lee & Low Books.

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, NaPiBoWriWee, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , ,

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