I was so honored when I read today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 post from author Joanna Marple, and saw that she considered me a “kindred kidlit” writer. I feel exactly the same way about Joanna, as she and I have been on this journey for about the same amount of time and discovered each other just as we needed to reach out and expand our communities. In addition to our mutual love of travel, we are both passionate about helping imperiled animals around the world. We’ve been able to cheer each other on in the digital publishing space, too, as Joanna’s adorable e-picture book SNOW GAMES was released earlier this year. Please welcome Joanna!
I have always considered myself a storyteller, but writer? No! While writing has always been a pleasure (letters, newsletters, songs, journaling) I felt writing was for the pros. – those who had studied creative writing or poetry at college, whose grade 2 teacher had told them never to stop writing!
Alongside my storytelling, I have also always travelled, leading a very nomadic life as an adult. I have lived and worked on four continents over the past 25 years, the past 13 being spent in Southern France. I am now in a time of transition once again. This time it is my writing that is spearheading my move. In all my travels, around fifty nations at the last count, I have noted certain things that humanity has in common, whatever the culture. Two of these commonalities are a desire for community, and the sharing of stories to consolidate the continuity and that sense of belonging to communities.
My passion for oral storytelling took on a new emphasis when I became head librarian and actually set up a bilingual library in an international school. Reading stories in French and English to our K-5 students rekindled my passion for children’s books and my own storytelling seed began to grow. I stumbled upon Emma Walton Hamilton’s “Just Write for Kids” online picture book course at just the right moment two years ago, when I sensed my life was taking a new direction. The course, The Children’s Book Hub and the LA SCBWI conference in 2011 all began to meet needs I felt to be growing in my storytelling craft and to build a supportive writing community/network, but I was missing a third element – challenge.
My first challenge came in signing up for PIBOIDMO 2011, and boy this kicked my butt into gear (thank you Tara Lazar). Now, when I started blogging early last year, I was on the look out for fellow kidlit blogs to follow and came across Julie Hedlund and her planned summer in Italy, just down the coast from where I was living. I started following her blog because of the Italian connection and because of her focus on the importance of thankfulness in our lives. I felt I had found a kindred kidlit writer and so when PIBOIDMO was coming to an end and Julie asked if any folks wanted to join her 12x12in12 challenge, I was one of the first to sign up, thinking it would be fun to be part of a small ongoing group challenge….. Whoa! One of the most exciting things about this year has been watching the growth, support and favor of the 12×12 group and many individual successes of participants. The children’s book-writing community, and especially the 12×12 group, has given me a tremendous sense of homecoming and belonging. We share our successes and heartaches, not only in our writing, but also in our personal lives. We share craft, agenting and publishing questions and tips and contribute to one another’s blogs. The level of mutual support is extraordinary, regardless of where one lives or whether published or unpublished. I think 12x12in12 has been a tremendous initiative, which will continue to develop because it meets three key needs we writers have:
I am honored to be a part of this wonderful community and I sure hope I will be able to testify to a published 12×12 manuscript in the near future!
Author Bio: Joanna grew up surrounded by the architecture and awe of the city of Cambridge, UK, and immersed in the books and the landscapes of the Brontes, Tolkein and Beatrix Potter. Her tall tales were not always appreciated as a young child, but her passion for storytelling remained unfettered and was fuelled by the marvelous people and animals she encountered during her humanitarian work across the continents. More recently her years as school librarian in Southern France relit her passion for children’s books. Her stories focus on her love of the natural world and the richness of the cultures she has encountered in her travels. Her first picture book, SNOW GAMES, was published on the eBook platform, uTales, in May 2012. She can be followed on her blog, Miss Marple’s Musings and on Face Book and twitter @JoannaMarple.