2017 Successes

I haven’t written on here in ages. Call it what you will: a move, a new job (2 years ago, I know) my kids’ lives are getting busier and busier, and lots of writing happening. I have spent less time updating the blog and more time in focused writing.

Each year, I love to reflect on all the things that I’ve done. For the past several years, I have participated in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program. It’s a great way to reflect on the year that has passed. Each year we make a list of SUCCESSES instead of resolutions. To see previous posts from years past, click on the year.

2016–I skipped this year.

2015

2014

2013

2012

1. I read a LOT. There are still a few days left in 2017 and I’m mostly done with several more books, so these numbers are likely to go up this weekend. But…

  • 492 picture books
  • 119 middle grade novels
  • 9 young adult novels
  • 29 adult fiction
  • 10 adult nonfiction
  • 3 craft (writing, that is)

2. Anyone that knows my writing really well knows that my writing is all over the map. I write fiction picture books, nonfiction picture books, middle grade, YA, and poetry. I sent out 76 submissions. This includes submissions from all of my writing, and it includes things like conference critiques as well.

3. I received 34 rejections. The good news is that many of these have been very specific rejections. Some have even been “revise and resubmit” requests or “send me something else, but I’m not buying this” notes.

4. I revised a middle grade novel. Or I actually rewrote it completely from the ground up. While it didn’t feel like a first draft because I finally know these characters, it still needs a LOT of work. More revising to do.

5. I drafted a historical fiction novel-in-verse. The draft is one. A lot more work remains in revision.

6. I continue to participate in a picture book critique group.

7. I continue to participate in a middle grade critique group.

8. I meet with a friend for a “write-in” at least once a month (sometimes more, depending on our schedules).

9. I text an accountability partner/friend every day to talk about what we are writing. This was a new thing for 2017, and it was a fabulous addition.

10.  I’ve been invited to speak in 2018 at a education conference on writing, and I’m so excited and honored!

11. I did a presentation at Virginia Association for School Librarians along with Moira Rose Donohue about helping kids write nonfiction.

12. My co-director, Meighan and I, completed our 4th year as directors of Hollinsummer, a writing camp for teenage girls.

13. I attended 14 conferences/workshops, both big and small this year including a yearly writing retreat, a poetry workshop with Carole Boston Weatherford, nErDcamp MI, Long Road from Brown (NEH weeklong workshop), Mid-Atlantic SCBWI annual conference, and events at the National Archives.

14. I took 15 research trips to various museums and sites to help with my ongoing projects. Most of them were close by, but I have learned a TON this year.

15. I have some freelance work coming up that I’m excited about.

16. I went to numerous book launch parties and children’s book events in the DC metro area. There is a vibrant group of writers here, and I love being a part of the community.

17. I have a consistent daily writing routine.

 

There are always a lot of stumbling blocks in the writing life, but like I say at the end of every year. I am a better writing now than I was on January 1.

 

Celebrating 2015

For the past several years (2012, 2013, 2014), I have kept track of the accomplishments for the year. Last year I kept a monthly celebration page, which I called my “Book of Stars” (I originally posted about that here). This year was particularly challenging for me, which I wrote about yesterday, so I’m particularly excited to look back on all I did accomplish. I didn’t meet every goal, but I know I’m a better writer on December 31, 2015 than I was on January 1, 2015, so that is something that I can be excited about.

Personally

Bookish Things

  • 1st book published—Ancient China (ABDO, 2015)

ABDO Cover

  • As a result of that, I got to sign my first books, see my book in a public library, and speak at a literacy conference.

2015-04-23 15.29.24

  • Mentor Text E-book published and up for sale on my website

Mentor Texts for Writers Book 1 Cover

Challenges

  • Writing Marathon–February
  • ReFoReMo—March
  • Poem a Day—April, I completed 30 poems alongside Linda. Many thanks to Renee for teaming us up!
  • PiBoIdMo—I was not a winner, but I did work on getting ideas down in November.
  • Write Daily 30—December, I worked on revising a middle grade in 45 minute sessions each day. Thanks to Linda Urban for organizing this!
  • 12×12—All year. I wrote 6 new PBs and did 25+ revisions.

Guest Posts

Reading

  • Read 423 picture books (this does NOT include the books I read for my job at my job, just the ones I read at home for personal writing growth)
  • Read 47 longer works—novels and adult NF

Writing Workshops

  • Luray retreat with Candace Ransom
  • SCBWI MD/DE/WV Conference
  • WOW Conference
  • SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Conference

Book Events I Attended

2015-03-19 20.48.00

  • Kate DiCamillo at Virginia Festival for the Book
  • Cece Bell (at Hollins)
  • Maggie Steifvater (at Hollins)
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Politics and Prose Picture Book Panel
  • National Book Festival—so many authors
  • Margarita Engle
  • Duncan Tunatiuh
  • Natalie Lorenzi

Middle Grade Novel Writing

  • Revision in progress since November

Other Writing

  • Got back into the submission game again after a hiatus
  • Received several helpful critiques from agents and editors at various events

Keeping track of the things I DID accomplish definitely does make me pumped to do more writing. So here’s to 2016!

What are you most proud of from 2015?