anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

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.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  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..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. 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.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now available everywhere books are sold!

Now available everywhere books are sold!

Well, despite being down with a cold and an eye infection, this has been a banner week! I celebrated the official print release of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, for starters. Read on for more!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude opens the door to… the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. Gratitude opens the door.” — Deepak Chopra

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” — Tony Robbins

“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” — Maya Angelou

Gratitude list for the week ending October 19

  1. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is now available at Amazon and all bookstores!
  2. I am an “official” author at Amazon! Check out my new author page.
  3. I have been making videos for various purposes all week and am once again grateful to Katie Davis for her Video Idiot
    I'm an Amazon Author!

    I’m an Amazon Author!

    Boot Camp class. Taught me everything I know!

  4. My housekeeper/life manager Laurie Mekelberg returned after a month of surgery recovery. She was SO missed and any illusion I might have had that I can get by without her is completely gone.
  5. Gorgeous fall weather and colors, plus the first snowfall!
  6. Cold enough for bubble bath season to begin
  7. Getting some legal issues taken care of. Not sexy, but necessary, and it’s a relief to be done.
  8. Visiting some of the cutest dogs and puppies known to humanity at the Humane Society. I wanted to take them ALL home!
  9. Writer’s Renaissance 2014 met its minimum number of participants, so I’ll be going to Florence again in April!
  10. Everything is in place for me to make a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about my next publishing project tomorrow!!! Stay tuned. All the details will be right here tomorrow. 🙂

What are you grateful for this week?


How can your spirits not be lifted when there are puppies in the world this cute?

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Dogs, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Those of you in the 12 x 12 “know” realize that this post is late because: 1) my scheduled July author had to cancel right before I went on a week-long Internet-less vacation, and 2) my hard drive crashed immediately upon my return from said Internet-less vacation. Luckily, files have been restored and I am back in action!

Normally I try not to repeat featured authors. After all, there is so much talent out there in the kidlit space, I want to provide a stage for as many as possible. But I was in a serious bind this month and as many of you know, Katie Davis is a close friend of mine, and she graciously offered to pinch hit for me. 

We brainstormed many possible topics for the post, as Katie is an expert in so many areas. 🙂 At last I realized what I really wanted was a post about how experimenting with video and making videos can benefit your picture book writing. As a graduate of Katie’s Video Idiot Boot Camp course, I have been so amazed and liberated by my newfound ability to think visually in a way I never was before. It has definitely helped me with my PB writing. Previously, whenever I would dummy a PB, it was always by breaking down the words. But learning to storyboard for videos changed all of that. I feel I’ll never write a PB the same way again.

When I started seeing other VIBC students making similar comments in the class Facebook Group, I knew we had a whopper of a post topic. And of course, Katie made it a video post. And as an added bonus, the video features three special guests, two of whom are beloved 12 x 12 members! So go ahead! Watch the video and find out why Katie is skiing in the summertime!! The read on to find out what you could win this month.

In addition to the fabulous prizes Katie is offering (see below – there will be THREE winners this month), she is also offering a special opportunity for any 12 x 12 members who want to take Video Idiot Boot Camp. The early-bird pricing expired three days ago, BUT 12 x 12 members will be able to get the early-bird rate through the month of July. That means if you decide you want to take the course, you’ll get a $50 discount.

Before I get to the details on that, let me tell you what Katie is offering this month’s winners. One lucky winner will get a FREE 30-minute consultation with Katie on ANY topic related to PB-writing or the business of writing. It could be about videos, social media, marketing, a critique – the choice will be YOURS, lucky winner. PLUS, two additional winners will receive a $10 coupon for any item in Katie’s store.

If you decide you want to take VIBC, follow this link or any of the links to VIBC in this post. Add VIBC to your cart, and when you get to checkout, enter the special code exclusive to 12 x 12 members.* Update the cart and then check out. Voila’! You’ll get the discount.

THANK YOU to Katie for creating such a unique lesson on PB writing on such short notice and for the generous giveaways. Write on everyone! 🙂

*The discount code will be available in the 12 x 12 Facebook Group documents and the 12 x 12 Membership Forum.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Creativity, Friendship, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Skiing, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My sweet girl looking so grown up as Hermia!

My sweet girl looking so grown up as Hermia!

Here’s this week’s Gratitude Sunday, capping off a fantastic spring week!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah… it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.” — Rumi

“Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly love from the soul, and know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation.” — Michael Jackson

“Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Gratitude List for the week ending May 19

  1. My lovely daughter knocked the role of Hermia in her class performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream out of the PARK – even with a broken toe!
  2. Speaking of broken toes, the doctor said hers is healing well and she’ll be able to get the pins out in two weeks.
  3. I visited Jay’s class to present A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. It was the first time I’ve shown the app to a large group of children, and it was so rewarding to see them bounce around to the song, jump up with eagerness to touch the animals and race themselves to the front to get their bookmarks!
  4. I finished my welcome video for my website! It’s been a work in progress ever since I agreed to be the poster-girl of vidiots for Katie Davis’ Video Idiot Boot Camp.
  5. Speaking of Katie Davis, Stacey Williams – who is my publisher at Little Bahalia – was on the Brain Burps About Books podcast talking about storybook apps, including TROOP and my upcoming A SHIVER OF SHARKS.
  6. Jay’s first grade teacher is retiring, and I was able to attend her retirement party and thank her for being such a fantastic teacher for both of my kids. I’m happy for her but sorry for all the younger kids who won’t get to have her for a teacher.
  7. Lovely evenings to do celebratory dinners outside with the kids.
  8. Fun happy hour with friends on Friday evening
  9. Waking up to the sound of birds chirping
  10. Giving myself time to write in my journal

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Brain Burps About Books, Digital Publishing, Family, Gratitude Sunday, Video Idiot Boot Camp · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Today I am ecstatic to bring you a different kind of “How I Got My Agent” story. This one is special because it is the first, of hopefully many, success stories of authors finding agents through 12 x 12. Once again I was moved to tears by a member’s expression of what 12 x 12 has done for her confidence, her writing and her career. I can honestly say the only time I’ve ever been more pleased to announce that someone signed with an agent is when it was me! Without further ado, congratulations to Pat Miller, who recently signed with Stephen Fraser of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency! May there be many more 12 x 12 participants who come after you! 🙂

I began my writing career out of green-eyed jealousy in 1994 with a magazine article. (That’s another story.) I mostly wrote for school librarians. I reconnected with children’s writing, thanks to Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month challenge, in November 2012. Tara mentioned Julie Hedlund’s upcoming 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. Perhaps it was the timing, perhaps the financial investment, but I decided to commit. Here’s how 12 x 12 has made 2013 my luckiest writing year.

ENCOURAGEMENT I began reading other people’s work and submitting my own in the 250 Words Forum. I had done more than six months of research on the sea captain who invented the hole in the doughnut. Now I felt encouraged to stop researching and start writing.

COMPANIONSHIP The 12 x 12 Facebook page peopled my writing space with amiable fellow writers. I was surrounded by their hopes and encouraged by their work. My difficulties were theirs–I wasn’t alone. I began showing up at my desk every morning at 7:00, feeling the invisible but warm company of kindred spirits.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS Is a particular conference worth the money? Which writing books are most helpful? How does one format a picture book? The 12×12 group reminds me of a trampoline—throw out a question and within hours, answers bounce up from all over! When I asked if anyone had experience with making book trailers, Julie connected me with Katie Davis. I’ll be joining her Video Idiot Boot Campin May.

RESOURCES Members often suggest sites, blogs, and resources that inspire and educate. Lori Degman told us about a site called Rate Your Story. Over the next couple of months, I submitted three stories. My Stone Soup variant rated a 7, The Hole Story of the Doughnut earned a 3, and Lone Star, Lone Star convinced someone to give it a 1. Encouraged, I sent Lone Star out to several regional publishers.

EXPERT HELP I committed to bringing my Hole Story to completion. I returned to Rate your Story to peruse their list of editors for hire. From a list of heavy hitters, I chose Jill Esbaum, author of 11 picture books and former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She helped me revise my story, and with high hopes, I submitted it to the Highlights Fiction Contest.

I had more than 200 pages of research on my doughnut inventor. In February I began to feel a book was necessary. But where to begin? What to include? What to leave out? On January 23, Elaine Kearns recommended Dear, where you send in questions to editor Deborah Halverson. Deborah’s answer to my questions appeared the next day. I began the book.

NEW DIRECTIONS In mid-January, Janie Reinart posted a site about building one’s author platform. Reading it convinced me I needed to learn about using social media to promote my work. In a marvelous coincidence, another member recommended marketing magician Rivka Kawano. On January 28, I took her three-hour online seminar called “Author Success in 2013”. It was so helpful that I signed for her twelve week course,  Author’s Marketing Class.

CRITIQUE GROUP In early February, Laura Carpenter posted on the forum’s Critique Connect that she wanted to form a group. Lickety-split, nine of us joined her from seven states and Canada—my first critique group! Soon the stories began to fly, as well as posts about our vacations, our discouragements, and our delight in the group.

SHARED SUCCESSES  We participated in the voting for Janie Reinart’s book, Love You More Than You Know, nominated for Best Cleveland Book of 2013. And she won! Tracey Cox shared news of the debut of her cleverly named Arachnabet: An Alphabet of Spiders. Cheryl Lawton Malone nearly won the March Madness Poetry Match with her poem, “Autocorrect”. The success of any of us gave us all hope.

ACCESS TO AGENTS In January, Emma Walton Hamilton taught us to write query letters and posted her analysis of 40 queries submitted by 12x12ers. In February, Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency became the first of 11 monthly agents willing to look at our work and make suggestions.

By mid-February, The Hole Story of the Doughnut had been through numerous revisions and shaped up as a picture book biography. I crafted my e-query based on Emma’s advice. I followed it with the manuscript that had been through my critique group, Rate Your Story, Jill Esbaum, and Kathi Appelt, the Newbery-honor winner whose critique I won at a local SCBWI auction. With a small prayer, I hit “send” and off went my manuscript to Stephen Fraser.

A REALIZED DREAM Julie sent out interview and biographic information on Stephen Fraser when he stepped up to be our first agent reader. He sounded experienced, passionate, and kind. Just the kind of agent I would like if I had one. He amazed all of us by turning our stories around in three days or less. And he liked my story. Could I make some changes and resubmit? The day after April Fool’s Day, Stephen called me and offered to represent The Hole Story. I tried not to squeal like a pre-teen at a Bieber concert. He patiently answered my questions and said his contract would be in the mail. HIS CONTRACT WOULD BE IN THE MAIL! I was fizzy with joy, thrilled to have an agent, and very aware of how much I owe to Julie Hedlund and  the writers of 12 x 12. Thanks to them, my nineteen-year career became an overnight success.

Pat Miller is the author of 20 professional books and more than 200 articles for school librarians. Her first children’s book, Substitute Groundhog, garnered 32 rejection letters before publication by Albert Whitman. It was named a Junior Library Guild selection. Find out more at

Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Creativity, Goals, Guest Blogging, How I Got My Agent, PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


First, let me tell you that I am a VERY recent convert to the notion that authors need videos. I went kicking and screaming into video for all the same reasons you might be objecting. No time, no money, for one. But also, I’m a writer. I’m not a visual person. I didn’t even like to WATCH videos much less create them.

Then I saw this quote from literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Technically the post was about Pinterest, but it applies to video too. “As a writer, you may be more attuned to words than visuals. You may not be a YouTube fan, and you prefer to read a written blog post rather than watch a vlog. But the rest of the world – your readers – isn’t like you. They enjoy pictures as well as words (or more than words).”

Lucky for me, just when I wanted to learn video, Katie Davis asked me to beta-test her latest online course, Video Idiot Boot Camp. I’m telling you, I went from knowing NOTHING to being able to create all different kinds of videos in a matter of weeks. And you know what? I’ve found I LOVE making videos! It’s a brand-new creative outlet for me, and I’ve discovered that making videos is just telling stories in a different medium.

Now the course is officially launched so YOU can learn to make videos too. I know firsthand that to get just one professional video created costs, at a minimum, $200, and more often $500+. So this course is a great deal. In fact, I’m now so passionate about what I learned I’m helping Katie promote the course.* What better way to do that then to share a video testimonial with you. I hope you enjoy it! If so, check out my YouTube channel too! 🙂

If you decide to sign up and use my link, I get a referral. So if you do, thanks!

Categories: Agents, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Creativity, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Brave Girl

My Brave Girl

Well the big drama this week was my 10 year-old daughter having surgery on a broken toe. But I was glad to be able to help calm and comfort her.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.” — Richard Wilkins

“Gratitude is an opener of locked-up blessings.” — Marianne Williamson

“He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have.” — Socrates

Gratitude list for the week ending May 4

  1. Em’s surgery on her broken toe went very well, so now she is on her way to healing!
  2. The fact that Em was couch-bound for a couple of days gave me a chance to catch up on some favorite movies with her, including The Princess Diaries 1 and 2 and Harry Potter 1 and 2.
  3. A snowy beginning of the week has given way yet again to spring.
  4. The melting snow has made the grass green. The contrast between the green down here and the mountains caked with snow in the distance is nothing short of breathtaking.
  5. I made a recipe I learned at the Writer’s Renaissance cooking class at Badia a Coltibuono — Fagioli all’ucelletto con salsiccia. Not only was it delicious but BOTH of my kids liked it. Now THAT is a miracle!
  6. Peace and quiet this weekend
  7. My mom’s generosity
  8. The ability to make a video testimonial to thank Katie Davis for all of the skills I have acquired by taking her Video Idiot Boot Camp course. I am truly grateful to be able to make videos as an additional creative outlet.
  9. To the folks who answered my plea to like my Facebook Author Page so I could get to 500 “Likes.” 🙂
  10. The iPhone app Viber, which allows free texts and calls internationally.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Cooking, Creativity, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Movies, Parenting, Recipes, Social Media, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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