Vivian Kirkfield picA This post from today’s 12 x 12 author Vivian Kirkfield took my breath away! Look how much she has accomplished over the past year! I am both honored and humbled that 12 x 12 was among sparks that lit her creative bonfire. Vivian’s experience epitomizes everything I aim and hope for with 12 x 12 — that people find a safe place to learn, become part of a caring community and stretch themselves as writers. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did. Welcome Vivian!

I love books! As a young child, I was small in stature and people would stare at what looked like a walking stack of books when I left the library. This obsession love for books of any genre continued throughout my life. To be perfectly honest though, picture books had me from the first page turn.

As a kindergarten and Head Start teacher, I read picture books with my students. When I became a mom, my children might not have had all of the newest and most popular toys…but they ALWAYS had lots of picture books. And I enjoyed scribbling stories for them as we waited at the doctor’s office or sat in the car on long road trips. Sadly, most of those stories were lost during our many moves…and not one of those stories was ever submitted.

Fast forward to 2012…through a stroke of luck/karma/destiny…I connected with Julie Hedlund…discovered 12×12…and embarked on a year of sheer bliss and happiness. And 12×12 in 2013 is even more supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!

For me, there is a magical quality surrounding 12×12. Miraculous things occur:

  • DIRECTION AND GUIDANCE: I now know where I am headed (most of the time…and my husband might disagree). I write every day (picture book stories in addition to checks to pay the bills). This year, as a Golden Level Member, I’m able to submit to agents without the angst and anxiety of finding them myself…although now, because of 12×12, I know I can do that.
  • COMMUNITY AND RESOURCES: Being part of this group is like coming home…there is support and encouragement from other members. I can honestly say I’ve never been part of a more generous group of people. I even found my amazing online international critique group here (big wave to Hannah, Tina, Diane, Carrie and Allie). The 12×12 Facebook page is a treasure trove of information about query letters and agent submission and contests and everything writing picture books. If you have a question, ask it…someone will provide an answer. If you have a problem…post it…someone will offer a solution. And everyone really CARES…about each other…and everyone is genuinely happy when success comes knocking at someone’s door/mailbox. There is a sharing of knowledge, expertise and LOVE that shines through each comment.

In September of 2010, I published a book to help parents and teachers. I wanted to get it ‘out there’ in social media-land even though I always shrank (and being so small, I have no inches to spare) from technology. I set up an author website. I started a parenting blog. I got active on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest…and I’m still hobbling along learning every day.

In 2012, because of 12×12, I wrote twelve picture book drafts, entered several writing challenges and contests, did PiBoIdMo and won Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write For Kids online picture book writing course (thank you, Julie and Emma!). Best of all, I connected with amazing people and will be speaking at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore this May…because of one of those connections.

So, what does 12×12 have in store for me this year? I’ve already written two picture book drafts. I submitted my first-ever picture book query in January and clicked ‘send’ for my first-ever picture book manuscript submission in February. I also submitted a story for the Highlights Fiction Contest. I’m polishing up a new picture book story and will be submitting it to agent Tricia Lawrence later this month, as well as to the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant competition.

The best thing is that I am having so much fun. When I retired this past December, my younger son told me, “Mom, you are turning to the next page in the book of your life.”  12×12 is definitely a very important chapter in that book!

Vivian Kirkfield is an educator and mom. Her mission: help children become lovers of books and reading and empower parents with tools and tactics that make the difficult job of parenting a little easier and a lot more fun. She believes that one of the most important tasks of parenthood is to read with children. When she is not hiking and fly-fishing in the Colorado Rockies with her husband of 45 years, Vivian is reading, crafting and cooking with local kindergarten classes…and writing picture book stories, of course.

Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Books, Friendship, Guest Blogging, Parenting, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Hi Vivian and Julie. What a great post. You are both very inspiring. Vivian, I agree that 12×12 members are very supportive and helpful and what a wonderful community it is. You have achieved so much and I wish you every success. And I agree, 12x 12 Is a wonderful spark in helping children’s writers achieve their dreams.

    • Hi Helen! I love what you say about 12×12 being a spark in helping children’s writers achieve their dreams…and just think…because of that spark, kids will have many new books that will entertain and educate. Thank you for your good wishes…I’m so excited for what the future holds. 🙂

  2. Vivian – Thanks for this comprehensive, concise and upbeat post. It’s positively energizing!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Carol. To tell you the truth, when I make a list of what I am doing, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on in my life. But I know that each activity is ‘self-imposed’. And I’m having so much fun. 🙂

  3. You look so beautiful in that dress, Vivian! I’m so happy to know you and read your wonderful writing. Best wishes on getting a pb published!

    • Oh my…all the thanks for that dress and photo need to go to my daughter-in-law. When I was visiting there in the summer and asked if she could take some photos, she graciously fixed me up in a skirt she designed and made herself and then took a bunch of shots.
      I’m so happy to know you and feel fortunate to be part of your critique group. It is going to happen for all of us…never doubt that, Tina. 🙂

  4. Vivian, what a great post. I also love the 12 x 12 community, always there to give an answer or encouragement. I feel very much the same as you about this year’s 12 x 12!

    • Thank you, Sylvia…and, as I mentioned in the post, this is what is one of the greatest collateral benefits of 12×12…getting to ‘meet’ and interact with people like you.:)

  5. I love that quote from your son, Vivian. What a super post. I’m so happy for you, Vivian. And yes 12×12 is a blessing!

    • He’s a pretty special young man, Catherine! There are so many blessings in my life…he and his wife are expecting their first baby and I’ll be flying to Chicago in a couple of weeks to be there. Thank you so much for your sweet comment.:)

  6. Wonderful post, Vivian! You’re definitely on the road to success. Wow, you’ve done so much. Yay, you!

    • There have definitely been many challenges along the way. I’m loving this road I’m on right now…with companions like you, Beth, the journey is much-brightened. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.

  7. What a fabulous post, Vivian! You have accomplished an incredible amount. Your blog is spectacular and a needed source for parents and teachers. Congratulations on your upcoming speaking engagement!
    And…the picture is beautiful! What a smile!

    • Thank you…and thank you…and thank you again, Penny! I appreciate the lovely words about my blog…I think it needs an overhaul to make it easier to read…but I’m glad you feel the content is helpful for parents and teachers. And I’m totally psyched about the Singapore trip…what an unbelievable honor and opportunity.
      About the smile…people used to ask me what I was high on because I am almost always smiling…and I would tell them…I just love people.:)

  8. Vivian, you are definitely on your way to success…tho I’d say you are successful right now especially with your putting your book out there and blogging and posting social media….and yes, your life is a page turner. And I agree with your thoughts on the 12 X 12 group. A question never goes unanswered as everyone tries to help. So THANK YOU to Julie and all 12 X 12’ers!

    • Putting the parenting book out there was quite the learning curve…I thank my husband so much…he was 100% supportive and encouraging throughout the process. I’m having so much fun with 12×12, Patti! I hope the book of my life is a very thick one with lots and lots of pages to turn.:) You are right…a big THANK YOU to Julie and this 12×12 community!

  9. Hooray for you, Vivian! I know you will have lots of successes.

  10. Wonderful post, Vivian. I’m so thrilled 12 x 12 has opened so many doors for you. It’s nice to be part of such a wonderful group.

    • It’s hard to imagine embarking on this journey without the support and inspiration of these writers and illustrators. I am so grateful to everyone…I know there are many people I haven’t connected with yet…so every day is an adventure.:)

  11. You must be retiring early, Vivian, because you do NOT look old enough to be anywhere close to retirement age. 🙂 There are as many different routes that people take to writing for children as there are kid lit books, and your story is definitely an interesting and inspiring one. May you continue to have success in our career (and I can say, “I knew her back when…”…LOL!)!

    • Hahahaha…I love you, Teresa. 🙂 Maybe it was the pretty outfit my daughter-in-law dressed me in. 🙂 I’m definitely old enough to retire AND be on Medicare…YIKES!

      You are so correct…there are so many different roads that are leading us all towards the same goal…make beautiful books for young children to enjoy! Thanks for the lovely wishes.:)

  12. It’s so fun to read about 12 x 12. I’ve only just discovered it right now. Congrats on your huge progress and I look forward to reviewing your first picture book Vivian! Also enjoying seeing you and reading your stuff on Google + and other social media hangouts!!

    • I knew I recognized ‘Pragmatic Mom’ from somewhere else. 🙂 I have my finger in so many social media pies…I feel like ‘Little Jack Horner’. And I’ll be thrilled to have you review my first picture book…there’s nothing like a little optimism and positivity!!!

  13. Congratulations on a successful 2012 and may 2013 continue to bring you wonderful experiences. Good luck with your submissions, Vivian!

    • Thanks so much, Heather, for the good wishes. As I scroll down these comments and recognize names (like yours), I get such a wonderful feeling of community. Visiting websites like yours feels like going to have coffee with a friend.:)

  14. Congratulations! Your star is rising for sure. Loved your enthusiasm and I agree,12X12 is a great resource.

  15. Vivian, Thanks for the inspiration! And congratulations! I love the 12×12 challenge, and I’m looking forward to what exciting thing will happen next!!1

    • Yes…the anticipation is so much a part of the fun! I never know who will be issuing a writing challenge (as Susanna Leonard Hill did last week with her In Just Spring Contest), who will be sharing good news about signing with an agent or a publisher…and I never know what brilliant (hopefully) idea will pop into my head for a new picture book story.:)

  16. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Thanks for sharing. I left a reply and it wouldn’t post it. Anyway. I share your (obsession) love of picture books. I am a former teacher as well, and have an enormous pb collection. I am participating in 12 x 12 for the first time this year. Your success is amazing and inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    • So lovely to meet you, Sharalyn! Another picture book hoarder…hurray! Each time I buy another picture book, I wonder what I will have to get rid of to make room for it. (Not any of the other picture books, of that you can be sure!!!!) This 12×12 community offers so much..I know you will love it. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it certainly helps to have 12×12 to raise a picture book writer.:)

  17. I’m enjoying your company on this journey, Vivian. Oars in the water, full speed ahead.

    • Love this, Wendy…’oars in the water, full speed ahead’…so true! And thank you…with a traveling companion like you and the other 12x12ers, the journey is lighter and more enjoyable. 🙂

  18. Vivian, what a GORGEOUS picture of you in that dress! Just perfect. You might be small…but I know there are big things in store for you. You’re an inspiration!

    • Carrie, you are so sweet! If I ever was sad about my height, my grandmother would say, ‘Good things come in small packages’. I love being in your critique group, Carrie…you are an inspiration to me (and a HUGE help).:)

  19. You definitely are on your way Vivian. Good luck on your two submissions so far this year! Your post was very inspiring 🙂

    • Thanks, Jennifer! 12×12 is such a two-way street…each time I visit someone’s blog or read a post or interact on the 12×12 FB page, I can sense the energy and excitement and it feeds me.:)

  20. Hooray for this wonderful post. You look fabulous and you have achieved so much already! Your parenting blog and book are already proof of this and I am so happy that you will be speaking at the Asian festival of Children’s content in May. Brava and keep going!

    • Gratzie, Joanna! By the time I finish reading and responding to these comments, my head will have expanded to gargantuan size…so many lovely compliments.:)
      I’m so grateful for all of the good wishes, my dear…and for the opportunity to be part of 12×12.

  21. Lovely post. Best of luck, I like what your son said. 🙂 Enjoy the adventure.

  22. Congratulations, Vivian! How exciting to be embarking on a new journey! Your son has a wonderful role model. :o)

    • Thank you very much, Jilanne. He’s a pretty special guy…I went skydiving with him two years ago. 🙂 And, if he and his wife weren’t expecting their first baby in April, I know they would have joined me for the adventure in Singapore.

  23. What a lovely post! Your story is an inspiration. I love that dress btw 🙂

    • You are so kind, Yvonne! I’m glad if my story inspires others…as I have been inspired by many in the 12×12 community. I will definitely have to send this post’s link to my daughter-in-law so that she will know how many lovely comments her outfit got. 🙂

  24. This is a great post! That Vivian is a Wonder!!!

  25. Vivian, you are effervescent! Wishing you all kinds of success. Thanks for sharing your 12 x12 journey. Enthusiasm matched with a bit of energy is unstoppable. (And who wouldn’t love that black tutu skirt!)

    • Another vote for the black skirt.:) I so agree, Carmela…enthusiasm and energy are a great combination. I’m so fortunate because two of my strongest traits are determination (as in tenacity) and patience…although I’m always looking for the smoothest way to solve a dilemma…I will do what I have to and climb over boulders if necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. Thank you so much for the good wishes.:)

  26. Hi Vivian! Great post. You summed up the 12x community very well. It’s so nice to get to know you better through Julie’s featured writers segments. Love you photo, btw! You look stunning with that backdrop.

    • I, too, am enjoying getting to know the wonderful participants in 12×12. I thought that once I retired, I would have oodles of time to visit all the blogs and read and comment every day. I find that I am busier now than ever before.:)
      Thanks for the kind words about the photo, Romelle…my daughter-in-law took dozens and dozens of shots and sent me a couple of the best…it was she who did the background and posing…and designed and made the skirt.:)

  27. YAY Ms. Kirkfield! I LOVE this Tuesday! 😀

  28. Thank you Vivian for sharing your story and a BIG thanks to Julie for the whole experience. I echo all of the thoughts above, love the gorgeous photo [I wan’t your dress], congratulations on all of your successes. I am so pleased to be sharing the 12 x 12 journey with you.

    • I will tell my daughter-in-law that she needs to put out a line of those skirts…I think she has a winner here.:)
      Thanks so much, Jacque…I, too, am so very pleased to be traveling alongside you and the other 12x12ers.

  29. Hey Vivian! What a lovely, happy, smiley post. Thanks for being a part of our community. You’ve achieved so much already. I’m betting this year holds lots of happy surprises for you. I absolutely love what your son said. And it is so true! *waving and smiling*

    • Robyn…it’s been a joy to interact with you in 12×12…as well as in the Perfect Picture Book Friday link-up. I know there is so much positive energy being created in this amazing kid lit community…I truly believe we will all receive many wonderful surprises this year…we just have to keep on believing and writing. 😉

  30. What a wonderfully fun and uplifting post! Best of luck to Vivian!!

  31. Vivian,
    your story is exciting…what a wondrous adventure unfolding for your writing dream. You shared it well in words, but you are sharing it best with your work and action and generosity. Thanks and i too will be glad to say I knew about you ‘way back when.’

    • I’m sure we would all love to have fame and fortune, Damon…and I’m anxious to see one of my picture book manuscripts become a ‘real’ book and be out there to be enjoyed by parents and children.:) But you are spot on when you talk about the wondrous adventure…it’s all about the journey…to have true joy and great fellowship along the way is the real gift…and 12×12 provides that. 🙂

  32. It is a pleasure to find you on Julie’s blog. I love your photo. I’m so glad that you had that stroke of luck/karma/destiny to meet Julie, as it brought you to 12 x 12 where I have the opportunity to get to know you. Congratulations on your submissions and successfully turning to the next page in the book of your life. And congrats and best of luck with your speaking engagement at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

    • And I have had the opportunity to get to know you a little, Alayne…here in 12×12 and also in your stroke of genius, Sub Six. I love the Sub Six FB page with all the helpful posts…and the monthly doc where we list our submissions. Being held accountable (in the nicest of ways) is truly an important element when one wishes to reach a goal. Thanks for that…and for the good wishes. I’m honored to be part of this international conference of children’s content creators…and excited and a little nervous to be traveling half-way around the world. 🙂

  33. i LOVE 121×12 and ebryone in it! agree wholeheartedly with this post. good luck, what a great story!

    • Thanks, Kel! It is an amazing bunch of writers and illustrators who really care about each other…sharing and encouraging…a great community spirit is definitely alive and well here.:)

  34. Vivian you are so vivacious and full of verve and it comes through in your positive, energetic post! So glad you’ve gained so much from 12×12. I’m certainly glad to have met you through it! 🙂 Good luck with those submissions!!

    • Oh dear…my other fearless leader!!! Thank you, Susanna…the stars were definitely in alignment when Nancy Hatch steered me to your Perfect Picture Book Friday link-up…and I believe I came to Julie’s 12×12 through that. But whether you are the chicken or the egg, there are some delicious picture book omelets being prepared here…and I’m thrilled to be one of the cooks…now we can only hope that the customers (agents/editors/publishers) like what I’m putting on the menu. 🙂

  35. At the rate you’re grinding out the work toward those writing goals, there’s no doubt in my mind that you will reach them. Great story, Vivian!

    • I know you are right, Miranda…and this is why: because people like Julie (with 12×12), Susanna (with her contests, writing prompts and other writer-friendly blog features) and YOU, with Rate Your Story, generously share your expertise and knowledge and are willing to guide others in the right direction. Thank you so very much…I’m grateful for knowing you.:)

  36. What an awesome post, Vivian!! You are so right about the kid-lit community – I’ve never experienced anything like it! I’m so glad you submitted your first manuscript – the first is always the hardest. I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!!

  37. What a fabulous post–and a fanTAStic photo! Love them both. Keep up the good work, Vivian, you are already a success!

  38. Lita Van Wagenen

    Wonderful post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. Wow, Vivian, you are a ball of energy! Way to go.

    • My husband calls me the energizer bunny…I’ve always loved to be ‘doing’ something…and was a multi-tasker before the word was invented.:) Thanks, Wendy…I’m excited to be on such a fun journey!

  40. You SHINE, girl! So glad to be a part of 12×12 so that I could get to know you, Vivian! And I know we’ll be meeting ‘for reals’ in the near future!

  41. Vivian, such a wonderful post. I learned so much more about you! Can’t believe you have so much energy. I look forward to your attending the Asian Festival this spring and coming back to tell many stories. It’s a pretty amazing event.

    • I’ll need that energy for the flight to Singapore, Pat.:) But I’m excited about meeting all of the unbelievable content creators who will be there.Thanks for your kind words, Pat…you are one of the special ones I am so thrilled to have connected with…I love your blog and your mission.:)

  42. A great post. I’m looking forward to all the stories you will share from 12x in critique group. This year is definitely shaping up to be a unique chapter. Good luck at the festival!

    • I feel like I have a special connection with you, Stacy! You are the only one I’ve actually met face-to-face of Susanna’s PPBF and Julie’s 12x who comment. 🙂

      Just booked my flight last night…so I thank you for the good wishes! Hope to see you at critique on the 28th.:)

  43. Sounds like you’ve got a tiger by the tail, Vivien! Glad to meet you through 12 X 12. This is my first year and I am overwhelmed by the experience. Have a great time at the festival!

    • Lovely to connect with you, B.J.:)
      I can honestly say that, as I mentioned in the post, 12×12 has been a monumental help in giving me both direction and a sense of community. I know that you reap similar benefits…it is overwhelming…and hard to believe there are so many wonderful, generous and caring people out there, ready to lend a hand or offer guidance. Thank you for the lovely wishes.:)

  44. Hi Julie. I’m so glad to see Vivian popped up on your site.
    Vivian, keep inspiring me. I’m so proud of you for all you are doing and have accomplished. 🙂

    • This is definitely a mutual admiration society, Tracy…I’m so proud of YOU for all you are doing and have accomplished.:) I’m grateful to Julie for giving me a chance to shine in her spotlight. 🙂

  45. What an insightful comment from your son…it’s so true, Vivian!

  46. Vivian

    Such a wonderful post! As always, you are effervescent, inspiring and full of encouragement to everyone you connect with. It’s great to hear how you seize each day 🙂

    I look forward to welcoming you to Singapore and AFCC come what..May!

  47. Fantastic post, Vivian! You’re an inspiration. Stuart too!

  48. I am arriving late and everything I would have said has been said before. I don’t remember how we got connected but I sure am glad we did! And to have more connections through this wonderful kidlit community is almost too greaat for words. I love that you use “superfragilistickaladoshis” I think that may be the word for this whole experience.

    Vivian!Write on! and here’s to your success! 🙂

  49. It’s great to “meet” you, vivien, and I’m really excited about really meeting you at AFCC 🙂

  50. Oh my Vivian, just catching up and reading this. Like everyone else, I can’t believe the energy you have. I am so glad to 12×12 for bringing you to me. You are such a warm, friendly and generous person, and I love our critique group knowing you are there to support me. Thank you dear friend and all the best at your speaking engagement. (its true, the best things do come in small packages) 🙂

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