12-by-12-Tuesday - Tanja-Bauerle - www.juliehedlund.com

Today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, Tanja Bauerle, gives us a different spin on the challenge from an illustrator searching for her writing voice. I find it impressive how hard Tanja has worked toward achieving her dream! It takes a great deal of courage to step outside your comfort zone and try your hand at something new. And don’t worry Tanja, I’m willing to bet 90% of us, when we first started, thought an agent or editor was going to love our work the minute after we wrote it. It’s part of the process and now that you’re past it, you’re ready to soar! How many others want to fess up to that while welcoming Tanya?? 🙂

Children’s books are my playground! My own collection is off limits to my girls, who may only check books out under close supervision. I have illustrated several books and have been always been an artist, but my dream has always been to write and illustrate my own stories. To create, both in writing and visually, a world that kids (and grownups) can get lost in. I am a step closer to fulfilling this dream and Julie Hedlund’s 12 by 12 has played a huge factor in this.

It began in November of last year, when I participated for the first time in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). I came up with over 40 new picture book ideas in thirty days and got very excited about developing these further. Even though I had been writing for a few years, my focus had always been illustration. When I stumbled across a post about the 12 x 12 challenge, I was intrigued. What a great opportunity to work on my new story ideas! Therefore, I signed up.

I opted for the Gold Level Membership, which allowed me to submit to the guest agent each month. Perfect! I’ll submit to an agent, and they will immediately fall in love with my work and sign me on as a client, right? Silly little ol’ me! Here is what really happened over the past nine months:

Once the forum opened, I started posting the first 250 words of manuscripts and discovered something I was not expecting. Here was an incredible community with a full spectrum of novice to seasoned writers, who were ready to give feedback and share their expertise with a relative newbie like myself. I was hooked. The feedback and critiques where so helpful and helped push my writing towards where it needed to be.

The 12 x 12 Facebook group became a favorite cyber hang out for me. It was an incredible community where like-minded individuals share, support, and encourage each other. The expertise of the other participants was amazing. Connecting with other illustrators and writers around the world was the sanctuary I was looking for, even if I did not realize it at the time. I found many new friends. This forum, filled with answers and resources, was simply priceless.

The group provided resources and tools designed to hone your craft. The many posts of the other participants provided such a concise writing education that I was not able to gain in the years that I had been fiddling with my writing on my own. Every day someone posted something about another tool, web link, or article that helped guide me in honing my craft.

I have birthed seven manuscripts this year. Alas, I did not complete the twelve I was aiming for, but it is a solid start. As I Iearned about writing and the submission process, I came to a realization. I needed to perfect my existing manuscripts instead of writing as many as possible. I now have two, which are almost “submission ready”.

The greatest impact that participating in the 12 by 12 challenge has had on my writing, and me, is that I discovered Picture Book Academy and the amazing Mira Reisberg, also known as the picture book whisperer. I am taking my second class with PBA, The Hero’s Art Journey, and I feel that both classes have forever changed me. Thank you, Julie Hedlund, for your incredible forum because the resources that participants have access to are unparalleled.

The 12 by 12 challenge helped me discover that I love writing as much as illustrating. I love the process. Who knew that slashing your word count and massaging your voice into lyrical language could provide such a euphoric feeling? The evolution my writing has gone through has been astounding and I have the 12 by 12 challenge to thank for that.

Tanja Bauerle is an award-winning illustrator who escaped from many years in the corporate arena of design to pursue her love for children’s book illustration. She has illustrated several books, but is currently focusing on developing her own stories.
Born in Germany, Tanja moved to Australia at age 11 and now lives near Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, Kevin, her daughters, Isabelle and Zoe, her menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, a horse and two alpacas. Her backyard exudes happiness and inspiration. She is a longtime member of the SCBWI and is always working to improve her craft. In her free time, Tanja loves to go kayaking and camping with her family and continues to volunteer at a local horse rescue.
You can connect with Tanja through:
Website: http://www.tanjabauerle.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tanjabauerle
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tanja.bauerle
Facebook Illustration Page: http://www.facebook.com/Tanja.Bauerle.Illustration

Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Goals, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Queries, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Seven seems like a perfect number to me. 🙂 I am like you. I have my own collection and when I get an author to sign those they are “to Mommy” so kiddo knows it’s mine. Best of luck with all your future writing and illustrating work.

  2. Thank you Stacy. It has been a wonderful year and I am so excited about the future. Happy creating to you. T.

  3. Sounds like you are well on your way to being that author/illustrator of your OWN stories. I agree with you. The 12 x 12 connections are just the bomb! I wish you tons of success. Somehow, I know I’ll see your books with your art in them soon!

  4. Oh, thank you for saying that, Robyn. So true about 12 x 12’s being da bomb. 🙂 Such a wonderful community. Good luck to you as well. T.

  5. I’m sure you’ll land your own picture book soon! Glad to read more about you here.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your journey, Tanja, and totally agree with you – the 12×12 is a wonderful community!

  7. Thanks for the great post, Tanja! The 12×12 forum has definitely made me a more informed and better writer!

  8. This is a great post, Tanja! We don’t always get what we want (12 perfect manuscripts!), but we’re all on the writing journey, learning together as we go.

    • Thank you, Wendy. That is how I feel too. I am fine with not having reached my goal of 12 because the journey and the knowledge I gained have been priceless. Happy creating to you. T.

  9. I was so happy to see you featured, Tanja! It was because of you that I joined 12×12. You are an inspiration!

  10. Wonderful post, Tanja! I, too, thought my work would be embraced immediately by every editor/agent I shared it with… “silly little ol’ me” too! You are well on your way to huge success as an author/illustrator. And it was nice to meet you last year at the Tucson Festival of Books. Will you be attending this year?

  11. Hi Bridget, It was so nice to meet you in person at the festival. I most definitely will be there again next year. I love going down there to see all the authors and illustrators. Funny how we have evolved this year, don’t you think? Hugs to you and I’ll see you down in Tucson next year. T.

  12. Thanks for a great post, Tanja. I’m with you…I thought for sure there would be a bidding war among all the major publishing houses for my manuscripts…LOL! Luckily, I learned quickly from critique feedback that the only bidding war would be from a paper recycling company or a barnyard of goats unless I did a LOT of hard work 🙂
    Good luck on your journey!

    • LOL, I’m right there with you, Penny. I think one main thing I learned is to let go and let the story go where it needs to. I am still in awe of the wonderful support and feedback I have found through 12 x 12. Hugs. T.

  13. Yay, Tanja! Two healthy ‘darlings’ – what more could you ask for? Keep it up!

  14. Yay! Two strong little ones. The really neat thing is, that I now know how to nurture my other embryos into healthy babes as well. 🙂 Hugs to you Julie. T.

  15. Sounds like you’re doing everything right–I hope 2014 is the year you get to announce the birth of your first picture book baby!

    • Thank you. I hope you are right. I’m looking forward to being able to post an announcement about the birth of one of my picture books. 🙂 Happy creating to you. T.

  16. Excellent post. And, it was a different spin for those of us who wish we were illustrators. Seven manuscripts is amazing the first year. So many agents want authors/illustrators. I wish you a very eventful year in 2014!

    • Thank you Patricia. I’m looking forward to the coming year and love the 12 x 12 community that has helped me so tremendously on my journey. Happy creating. T.

  17. You are snch a talented artist, Tanja! I love that you challenged yourself to become a great writer too. You summed up 12×12 very well. It is such a fabulous community. Glad to have met you here.

  18. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you, Tanja! What a wonderful and varied background you have both in your regular life and creative life. I wish you much success in your writing/illustrating career next year and beyond!

    • Thank you so much, Teresa. I too have enjoyed getting to know you as well. I am very excited to see what the new year will bring. Wishing you much success as well. T.

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