Erik Weibel

Erik wearing the BEST T-shirt ever!!

It’s time re-launch the Tuesday 12 x 12 series, where pre-published participants in the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge get a chance to tell us more about themselves, their writing journeys, and their experiences with 12 x 12. This is my way of shining the light on the great folks putting in the hours and the hard work it takes to get published today.

Many of these writers, you will discover, have fabulous blogs of their own where they generously share their knowledge, successes, and bumps along the road. I’ve learned so much from reading their blogs, and I know you will too.  After all, you don’t have to be traditionally published in order to have knowledge and experience worth sharing.

So let’s get this party started, with the FIRST Tuesday 12 x 12 of 2013!

AT LAST I get to host my FAVORITE 11 year-old boy in the whole wide world! Erik Weibel, of This Kid Reviews Books, has been following my blog for at least two years, and this year, he’s become a two-time participant of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge.

Erik writes fabulous book reviews on his blog, but he is also a terrific writer himself. I know because I’ve read some of his work. I was thrilled when Erik decided to join 12 x 12 again because he inspires me. When I think of how hard Erik works in school, how talented of a writer he is, how dedicated he is to passing on his love of reading to other kids, and how nice he is to his sister, it makes me want to be a better person and a better writer. I want to write books that kids like Erik love. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Erik to my blog today. (P.S. – Normally I don’t comment within participants’ posts, but Erik had such a great list I couldn’t resist! :-))

Thank you Ms. Hedlund for asking me to post about what I did in 12×12 last year!

I am so happy to be a 12×12-er again this year! 12×12 in 2012 was awesome! In November 2011, I participated in Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) (where you come up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November). That was a lot of fun (I did it in 2012 too) and I came up some really cool ideas… that I had no idea what to do with. I love to read, I never really thought about writing. I had heard about 12×12 because I subscribe to Ms. Hedlund’s blog. I was a bit scared to sign up for it because I didn’t think I could actually write a picture book. But, I thought it would be a good thing to try and I figured I would learn some things. I knew the goal of 12×12 was to write 12 picture books, but I set my personal goal at writing just one. I wanted one complete, pretty good, picture book. I am happy to say I passed my goal and I think I learned a huge amount! Here are my top ten thoughts about 12×12 from last year.

1. I wrote actual picture books and they were pretty good! In fact one of my drafts was an ABC book about Abraham Lincoln and I used it for a school project (it was also one of my PiBoIdMo ideas). I got an “A” and my teacher told my parents “Erik went above and beyond with this project!” I wrote a total of 3 picture book drafts. One is a rhyming PB that I am still working on (but I’ll get to that later). Three drafts for a kid who never really wrote anything is pretty good I think (and I got an “A”  )!

Not true Erik – remember last year I read and gave you comments on your wonderfully funny chapter book!

2. I hope my teachers are not reading this, but I learned more grammar and word usage than I have in school (well maybe we just didn’t get to it yet in school). I learned more about making drafts and the editing process. Learned about the importance of rewriting and edits and more rewriting. Picture books have to say a lot in just a few words. I had a hard time keeping my word count down.

Personally, I think writing is by far the best way to learn grammar. You realize, when you write something that “sounds” funny, it’s probably due to improper grammar. I think learning by doing is easier (and more fun) than doing exercises and studying rules (although that’s important too!).

3. I learned that you should always appreciate what people are telling you and listen carefully to them. Try what they suggest. I met so many nice people in 12×12 last year. They were all very supportive of me (and each other). At first I was kind of afraid of asking “stupid” questions (like what is a “pitch” or what is “meter”) but when I did ask, people were very nice and helpful.

Erik, you have never asked a stupid question and I must say, you are one of the most generous members of our group in terms of offering support and encouragement!

4. Writing my drafts for 12×12 sparked new ideas! I love it when that happens, don’t you?

Yes! I absolutely do! 🙂

5. I learned about the publishing process. Editors, agents, publishers, publicists, buyers, sellers, who knew all this? OK, maybe you did, but I was really excited to learn about all that it takes to get a book from an idea on your desk to an actual book!

You’ll be SO far ahead when you get to the publishing stage!

6. Writing picture books is NOT easy (maybe this should have been my #1 point…)! I can’t BELIEVE how hard it is to tell a story in so few words… and then make them rhyme?!? I remember Debbie Ohi’s post during PiBoIdMo last year with the cartoon of the guy saying he wanted to get into writing and he was going to start with something easy like picture books. Yeah, right.

It is so true, Erik! The fact that you know that makes you a true writer indeed.

7. Revising your draft isn’t the end of the world, even though it may seem like it is. The more you revise the better the story gets. I learned that it is also good to let your draft sit a while and then go back to it. That was really good advice I learned in 12×12.

I am going to remember this advice the next time I am feeling like sitting down for the next revision is the end of the world. Because I feel that way too. A lot. Great point!

8. I learned that rhyming really, really well (with good rhyme and meter) is a thing that certain very talented people can do, and I I am not one of them. It is weird because I like to write poetry and can do that pretty well, but trying to get a story to rhyme, have good meter and make sense is something that is very difficult for me. Of course, I can (and will) always TRY it. But, I am thinking I am the worst rhymer of the … Hmm… OK. I’m just a bad rhymer and I have no concept of rhythm. Carry on.

Good for you for being willing to try and learn, AND for realizing that it takes tons of practice to rhyme well. 

9. Critque buddies/groups are the BEST! Having a couple different people look at what you wrote is the best way to make it better. A lot of times they see things you missed or have really great suggestions on how to improve your story.

10. You won’t write a picture book if you don’t TRY! I am glad I tried. I am happy I am trying again (maybe someday I will get my story to rhyme well too). I have a lot of fun trying to write the drafts for 12×12. As a kid who reads a lot, I appreciate all the authors who are trying to write books for us kids. I hope that I get to read YOUR book when it comes out!

I have NO doubt you will achieve anything you set your mind to, Erik, including getting a book published one day!

Erik is an eleven-year-old fifth grader that loves to read. He started his blog, This Kid Reviews Books when he was nine. Erik writes a monthly book review column for his local free newspaper. He has a black belt in TaeKwon Do and in his spare time enjoys building things out of LEGOs. He hopes to be an inventor and a published author when he grows up. You can find Erik at his website  Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, Works in Progress, Writing



  1. Bravo, Erik. Your top ten thoughts are fantabulous! Thank you for sharing them with us all. 🙂

  2. This is really incredible to see a boy of eleven with such a good talent of writing. I am impressed. I myself have to learn hard to be able to write in English.

  3. Erik, you could teach a course on writing with all you have learnt! You are so right about learning by doing. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. So nice to meet Erik! Will be swinging by his blog too! What a great post!

  5. This is such a fantastic post! Erik, I’m so glad you’re part of 12×12 with us — and your learnings from last year are so insightful. They’ll be useful to you for so many things as you go through life. Yay, YOU!

  6. Great post and with so much good insight into what it takes to write.

  7. Erik – What a great post! I have a 10 year old daughter who loves to write but her maturity and knowledge about the subject is nowhere near yours. (Maybe I should sign her up for 12 x 12 in 2014!)

  8. Penny Klostermann

    Great post! As always, I enjoyed hearing more about your love for books…the reading of them and the writing of them. By the way…nice T-shirt!

  9. Erik, there is no such thing as a “stupid” question! How can we learn if we don’t ask those with more experience?I learned many of the same things you did through 12X12 last year, so much that my head felt stuffed sometimes! One of the best things in the world is when someone embraces and shares their passions and your enthusiasm for yours just shines. Thank you for sharing your passions with us!

  10. Great job, Erik!! You are certainly a huge inspiration, to me, and I’m sure to many writers, especially young writers! Keep up the great work!

  11. Oh Erik, you are such an inspiration! You have so much knowledge about publishing and writing, you are going to be legend :0)

  12. Yay Erik! Good on you! I have thoroughly LOVED getting to know you! (And # 7 ALWAYS send shivers up my spine) *waves to Erik*

    Robyn Campbell

  13. Loved your post, Erik, and wish you all the success in the world! I’ll bet we’ll see one of your picture books in print very soon. Thank you so much for the inspiration, and could you talk to MY 11 yr. old? I think you might share your hard work and dedication with her. 😉

  14. Eric, great points made in your post. Thanks for sharing. You know, you are envied by most of us in this 12 x 12 group, I’m guessing. For sure, I envy you and your early start on learning to write for kids. You have such a head start on what can be a wonderful career for you. Even if you decide to pursue something else by the time you’re in your twenties, this experience of learning to be a great writer will benefit you for your life time. I wish you all the best, and thanks for taking the 12 z 12 journey with all of us. — cwm

  15. Melanie Ellsworth

    Erik – Thanks for sharing all these wonderful points! It’s inspiring to have such a talented 12 x 12er in our midst. I know someone who published her first book in high school; maybe you’ll beat her to it and get published in middle school! I especially loved the 3rd point in your post. My critique group was just talking about how hard it is for many adults to accept constructive criticism and use it to improve their work, so you’re a step ahead of many people. I’m working on my rhyme too; a fun but hard task. I’m finding the rhymeweaver website really helpful for that purpose. I have bookmarked your Kid Reviews Books site and look forward to exploring it.

  16. Yay, Erik. If I’d have been half as wise as you when i was twice as old, I would have been in pretty good shape. These are lessons every author needs to learn and appreciate.

  17. Enjoyed your post, Erik. “You won’t write a picture book if you don’t try.” Truer words never written.

  18. Yay, Erik! Your #10 is my favorite.

  19. Erik seems like a wonderful young man and terrific budding writer! Can’t wait to see him published somewhere down the road!

  20. Erik, your insights are sensational. Thank you for your observations. My favorite was #9 about critique groups/buddies. I am in my first one for writing (I’ve been in art critiques before). And you’re right, sometimes we are so close to our stories we may forget to state the obvious. Your summary of 12×12 year was a good refresher for me too!! Keep writing–and btw, I love your poems.

  21. Wow … you’re a 5th grader?! So very impressive! Such a fun post to read. Well done, Erik … I have no doubt you will be a published author someday soon!

  22. Loved your interview, Erik! You are an amazing guy. I wasn’t half as productive or creative when I was your age. Keep up the good work!

  23. Whoot! Great inteview Erik The Great! I want to know what you’re doing in ten years. Then I’ll be able to ay I knew him when….:)

  24. Great choice, Julie! Erik is one of a kind, for sure! I am also traumatized when it comes time to revise my work, so it’s good to know its not the end of the world. It sure does feel like it is! Good job, Erik!

  25. Erik, you are not only an amazing achiever, wise beyond your years and super inspiring – you’re also hysterical! Your posts and comments (on who knows how many other blogs!) shine with your humor! I only wish I had collected some of your pun-niest stuff! Thank you for enriching my own life, let alone all the others!

  26. Hey Erik, fantastic list. You are truely an inspiration. Keep up the great work.

  27. I first met Erik when we were helping a fellow author do a Twitter promo for his MG book. In January, Erik reviewed my PB, LUCCI- The No Smoochie Poochie, and it was one of the most honest and helpful reviews I have received. This sharp-as-a-tack wunderkind pointed out a formatting error that had only come about with recent changes at Amazon, yet I probably wouldn’t have discovered the issue so quickly had Erik not pointed it out. It will certainly be nice to say we knew you when Erik! Keep up the terrific work! :0)

  28. Ms. Hedlund, – maybe I should have said that I never really wrote a PICTURE book before! 😀 I did write a chapter book and your comments on it did help make it better!! It is funny that writing a 9000 word chapter book was a lot easier than writing a 100 word picture book! Thank you VERY much for having me do this! 😀

  29. I have no doubt you’ll succeed, Erik. I know a ton of adult writers who could use a little of your insight. Um…I’m including myself in that group. 🙂 (Such a polite young man!)

  30. Erik, congrats on your blog and joining 12×12! What a fantastic post – what an inspiration to kids and adults alike!

  31. Great post, Erik! I enjoyed reading your top 10 list!

  32. You are so ahead of the game, Erik. We are all very proud of you. It’s so exciting to know you at this age and to follow your journey. I have no doubt you will meet your goals.

  33. I wish I had more students like you, Erik! Awesome post.

  34. What a great post! Very thought full. It has been a pleasure getting to know Erik over the last few months. A truly inspiring young man! yay Erik!!! 4 paws up for you!

  35. Hi Erik and Julie. This is a great post. Erik, I love that you are motivated to learn about the writing craft, and willing to take on writing challenges. You just never know where the writing path will take you. Enjoy your journey. You are an inspiration.

  36. You are truly an inspiration Erik.
    Excellent post.
    I’ll keep my eyes pealed for your published picture books.
    It will happen.
    Kindest regards

  37. You amaze me and I think that your great. You sound so mature for your age. Thanks for sharing.

  38. I’ve heard it said that a child will lead the way.:) What a stellar way to begin the new season of 12×12 participant guest posts with Erik the Great leading the way!

    I’m actually quite serious about the ‘Erik the Great’…Erik, I have been so honored to make your acquaintance vis Ms. Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and Ms. Hedlund’s 12×12. You are good and smart and kind and generous and talented…what a shining role model you are to other young people. I’d be proud to write alongside you any day.

    Great post…Erik you highlighted so many of the wonderful things that make 12×12 the amazing challenge that it is. I especially love how you point out that our command of the language improves the more we read and write.:)

  39. Yay for Erik! He is such a fabulous addition to 12×12.

  40. WE can all learn something from Erik! Great post.

  41. Erik! I cannot WAIT to see what you accomplish in life. You’ve already done so much! Love that you have found such passion for books. They are gifts that keep on giving! Congrats on your chapter book too!

  42. Great points Erik! You are quite a guy, I need to check your blog out. Happy writing!

  43. Awesome tips, Erik! It was great to meet you in December with your birthday adventure series and I’m glad you’re a part of the 12 x 12 family. You’ve got a great future ahead.

  44. Great article, Erik. It thrills me when I hear of young people so excited about reading and writing. Good luck with the rest of 12 x 12.

  45. Writer’s wisdom far beyond your years, Erik. Thanks for sharing that wisdom. Excellent reminders and tips. Glad to know you are back with 12 x 12 this year. Happy writing!

  46. Stacy S. Jensen

    I really love your #10 Erik. Good luck this year with all your goals.

  47. Great points, Erik! I wish I’d had something like 12 x 12 when I was your age. I loved to write back then, but never did anything with it until after university. I think with all this knowledge you’ve picked up so early, you are way ahead of the game. I look forward to seeing big things from you in the future!

  48. lynettemburrows

    Love your list, Erik. Boy did you get number 7 right! Good luck with this year’s 12 x 12!

  49. I’m so impressed by Erik and his intelligence and his ability to not only know what he wants but also to know how to chart the best path to achieve his dreams. He will go far in life!

  50. What an incredible young man you are, Erik! And what great insights!
    I have a question for you–where did you get that shirt? It’s awesome!

  51. Awesome post, Erik! I KNOW you’ll be published soon!

  52. Great interview, Erik and Julie – so inspiring to all of us! 🙂

  53. Fabulous, Erik! Keep writing, you are well on your way!

  54. Erik,
    your points are RIGHT ON! You’ve summed up the 12 x 12 experience (at least for me) very well, and like someone else said–you could teach a course with these insights.
    AND I really like the idea of having a Kid’s Category. As an old teacher, I love to see kids write.
    Keep on sharing as you do, and great things will bounce back to you.

  55. Great post, Erik! Your insights are fresh and insightful. I look forward to seeing your first book in print.

  56. Erik, you enrich the kidlit community with your talent, insights, and enthusiasm. Thanks to you and Julie for this terrific interview!

  57. Thanks, Erik and Juie. Erik it can’t be said enough that we all think “you are Great” and we all love knowing you. 🙂

  58. How did I miss this? Erik, I have no idea how you got so wise at such a young age (what are your parents putting in your Wheaties?), but you are an inspiration! I need to remember every point you made and follow your advice. Writing PBs is REALLY HARD — and I can’t wait to have yours on my shelf one day. 🙂

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