Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Celebration of NOT Meeting Expectations

The year 2013 did not meet my expectations.

You may have read this New Year's Day blog post, in which I talked about how I didn't expect 2013 to be much different than 2012.

I was wrong. So many things that I have been working toward for years finally came to fruition in 2013. Signing that book contract, accepting an offer from an agent, winning NaNoWriMo for the first time. Lots of exciting things have happened in my life over the past 12 months!

And yet, life goes on as it always has. I am the same happy, content person that I was at the end of 2012. A little older, a little wiser, maybe a little more rounded (or is that rounder?).

It has been a good year, filled with mostly ordinary moments, but textured with milestones which make 2013 one of my most memorable. So far.

Thanks for journeying with me for the past twelve months! To celebrate the end of 2013, here is a little photographic glimpse into my life for the past year:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

To some
Christmas is
a time for shopping
and baking
and giving
and taking
and waiting for the guy 
in the bright red suit
to magically appear with
his sack full of presents.

A time to sing songs, 
and hang lights
and visit a shelter
or drop coins in a red kettle,
to be happy
and smile
at everyone around you,
to gladly shout "Happy Holidays"
or softly whisper "Merry Christmas"
or jokingly wish everyone 
a Happy Hanakwanzmas.

With the lights
and cookies
and presents
and cheer
Christmas can be a jolly time of year.

There are lots of reasons to
enjoy Christmas,
but there is only one reason
FOR Christmas,
and his name
as you probably know
is Jesus.
Jesus Christ,
who gave us the manger
so that he could give us
the cross.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 06, 2013

PiBoIdMo 2013: A Promising List

Picture Book Idea Month is over, and I am once again a "winner." I have filled the first few pages of my little pink notebook with more than 30 ideas and now have a promising list of potential projects to pursue!

But what makes a list of picture book ideas promising?

Maybe it's the ratio of original to overdone: A promising picture book idea list must have 5 original concepts for every overdone idea!

Maybe it's the number of fully-formed concepts versus vague titles: It should be at least 2/3 full of fully fleshed-out storylines!

Maybe variety is the key: It should contain ideas based on a variety of topics, age groups and formats, ranging from preschool ABC books to picture story books about friendship and death!

Truthfully, a promising picture book list may be none of those things (or it may be all of them). It all depends on what the author chooses to do with the ideas within those pages. Some of the ideas on my list are fun concepts, but I'm not sure how I will pursue them yet. Some are cute titles that desperately need a story to go with them. Some may end up being combined, others tossed out entirely, while very few are actually ready to become drafts.

But my list is promising because I have more than 30 ideas that I didn't have a month ago. My list is promising because it makes me want to write.

Did you participate in PiBoIdMo? How did your list turn out?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: The Race to the Finish Line

If I had to use one word to describe my experience with NaNoWriMo this year, I think it would be frenzied.

I have participated in National Novel Writing Month several times in the past. And every time I participated I had some measure of success, meaning I wrote. A lot. One of those projects became a finished novel-in-verse which is now in the hands of my lovely agent.

But I had never crossed that threshold of 50,000 words. Never even really came close.

This year, however, I had more time to dedicate to my writing. And, perhaps even more significant, I was determined.

I had a bit of a rocky start, with November beginning on a weekend, and that weekend being one filled with dinners with family and friends.

After that first weekend, I made fairly steady progress, writing furiously for hours at a time. Much like the art journal I began back in January, this year's NaNoWriMo project was an exercise in letting go. I let the words flow. I didn't question (much) what words came out. Whenever my internal editor crept up beside me, I slapped her silly and left her crying in a corner! If I felt stuck, I skipped ahead. Other times I would write some of my thoughts as dialogue between two characters while I tried to figure out what was going to happen next. Whatever. As long as I kept writing!

By November 20th I had two journals full of story! I had reached the "end," but I was far from finished. I still had at least 16,000 words worth of holes to fill in.

I slowed down a bit at this point, because filling in the holes in my novel required a little more thought than everything I had written before. I had relationships to develop, plot holes to fill in, and settings to enrich. Still, my word count was growing a little bit every day.

Then...Thanksgiving came. And I had an out of town guest. And my word count hovered in the neighborhood of 41,000 words for about three days.

When my out of town guest left on Saturday morning, November 30, the LAST DAY of November, my word count was at 41,736. I had a little over twelve hours to write a little over 8,000 words.

Wow. Holy buckets. Oh snap. Could I do this?

Of course I could. Like I said, I was determined!

I wrote and wrote and wrote. As Saturday evening came around, I felt like a racehorse, gradually gaining on all the other horses in the final stretch. I was closing in, and I was going to win by a nose!

And I did! At 11:45 p.m. on November 30, I crossed the finish line with 50,033 words.

And did my hubby even congratulate me? No, he said, "Thank God it's over!"

I can't blame him. As awesome as it was, I'm glad the NaNoWriMo frenzy is over too!

Monday, December 02, 2013

My Belated Thankful Post

Seriously. Who has time to plan Thanksgiving dinner, write a 50,000-word novel, brainstorm 30+ new picture book ideas AND write a Thanksgiving post during November? Not me! So here I am, sharing my thankfulness with you a few days late. Though, really, is it ever "late" when it comes to thankfulness?

In general:

  • At the top of my list is Jesus. My savior, my best friend, the reason for my every breath. I would not be who I am today, where I am today, if it were not for my faith in him. 
  • My family. I have the most loving supportive husband any girl could dream of, and three kids who amaze me every day (that list could get very long). I also have a large extended family that is as varied and flawed as any family could be, and I am thankful for each and every one of them.
  • I am thankful to live in the greatest country on Earth.
  • Friends. You know who you are. 
  • My church family.
  • Books, movies, music, and books.
  • Fellow writers.
  • My blog followers.
  • My two poodles, Chloe and Gimli, and my little parrotlet named Ferb. 
  • Technology.
  • Indoor plumbing.
  • Laughter.

Specific to 2013:

  • The sale of my first picture book, WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?
  • My agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.
  • Becoming a write-at-home-mom.
  • My art journal.
  • WriteOnCon.
  • Twitter.
  • NaNoWriMo.
  • PiBoIdMo.
What are you thankful for?