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:
Facebook Illustration Page: http://www.facebook.com/Tanja.Bauerle.Illustration