Tag Archives: 12 x 12 in 2012

12 x 12 in ’12 Blog Party!

12x12 blog partyWhat better day to celebrate the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge coming to a close than a blog party on the 12/12/2012?

By mere coincidence I’ve been penning my December draft today without realising the date. It was only when I got the reminder on Julie’s blog that today was the blog party I realised. How fitting I should write my final draft for 12 x 12 in 2012 on today’s date.

12 x 12 has been a fantastic journey and I really urge any PB writers out there to have a go at 12 x 12 next year. It’s great motivation to build up a folder of PB drafts to work on and the community that comes along with the challenge is invaluable. Next year looks as though it promises to be even better with a new forum opening up and opportunities to pitch to agents (check out all the details here).

A huge thank you to Julie Hedlund for being the brains and driving force behind 12 x 12, she’s has done an amazing job and put so much into the challenge to make it a success. And thank you to my fellow 12 x 12ers for all the support, sharing and friendship throughout the year.

So how did I progress during 12 x 12 this year? Here’s a bit of a timeline…

JANUARY

I started the year full of motivation and was inspired early on in the month. Heavily pregnant and battling a sweltering Australian summer, I wondered how I would be able to pull an idea from my melting brain, but it was the heat that ended up being the inspiration behind my very first draft. It’s been revamped and overhauled several times already and still needs a bit of work. It’s a keeper, though.

FEBRUARY

After having a story published in Australian Women Online’s Bedtime Stories collection back in November 2011, I thought I might look to their upcoming themes to gain inspiration for my February draft. The upcoming theme for March was ‘Green’. I wrote the draft, revised it, put it through my critique group and revised it some more. (I also had a baby in there somewhere!) Despite it only being a month old (the story, not the baby), I thought it was a a strong story and I was really happy with it. I submitted it literally at the eleventh hour. The next day I got an email saying it had been accepted! I couldn’t believe it! You can read ‘Green Nadine’¬†here.

MARCH

St. Patrick’s Day was the inspiration behind my March draft. I’m really in love with this one. I entered it into CYA later in the year and although it didn’t place, I got some feedback on it, which will hopefully help me shape it up a bit more.

APRIL

I started a PB draft about a boy who thinks he lives next door to a wizard, but I quickly discovered it just wasn’t working for me. I got a rushed draft about a duck scrawled in my notebook at the very end of the month. Not sure if I’ll do anything with that one, though I adore the name of the duck.

MAY

NaPiBoWriWee!! The aim was to do 7 drafts in 7 days. With a new baby, who had been in and out of hospital the last couple of months, I think I was probably a bit crazy to think I could even attempt this. But I got a few drafts done ūüėÄ

– An Australian fairytale based on a play I wrote for kids while studying teaching at university.

– A story about a young chef, which I never finished.

– A house-hunting mouse (this is also based on a story idea I had years ago).

– A country child visiting the big city inspired by a trip to Melbourne with my kids (I believe this was on the first day of NaPiBoWriWee–I was writing the story in my head the whole trip there).

– A family of grumpy monsters, which started as a silly name I made up and just grew from there.

– A simple board book text about fruit.

– The last was more a poem than a story and was written for a magazine (and unfortunately didn’t get accepted–it probably could have done with more rest time and revision, but I was rushing for the deadline).

JUNE

I started a story about a principal with a silly premise, but it didn’t get far. Luckily I ended up with another two completed stories this month; it was a good month for inspiration. The first was based on a rollicking first line I kept singing in my head, with my three children inspiring the three characters in the story. It turned out as an interactive story and if I don’t end up submitting it to publishers, I think I will just make it into a book for my children. The other is really quite a sad story. I guess I had been feeling a bit down, thinking about the baby I lost (and would have been celebrating his/her first birthday this month), and that poured into a story about a boy whose brother dies.

JULY

I wrote my favourite, most favourite story this month. I had been bouncing my baby on my knee singing these silly nonsense words to her, when BAM! Lightbulb! The silly words became the opening line to a rhyming story about a baby echidna. I’ve been revising and rewriting this story like mad, because I really love it and want to submit it. It’s been through my critique group several times, had peer critique at Write on Con and got a great in depth critique from Rate Your Story. As it’s a rhyming PB it needs to be completely perfect in meter and rhyme before I’ll submit it. I hope I can get it there!

AUGUST

I couldn’t find any stories dated from August on my computer, but I do have some handwritten drafts scrawled in my notebook that I haven’t dated and I know I completed a draft in August. I also lost a couple of stories when my laptop crashed that couldn’t be recovered, so I don’t know if there was an August one there. I think the scrawled story about a pirate crew (inspired by my son’s birthday pirate theme party I had been planning) may be an August draft, though it is unfinished.

SEPTEMBER

My son is self-teaching himself the times tables at the moment and my inspiration for my draft this month was a story based on the 3 times tables. Not sure if it works well, however. :/

OCTOBER

Another scrawled, unfinished draft in my note book that I think may have been an October draft. My son got invited to a birthday party and I knew his friend loved cooking, so I set out to find a children’s cookbook for his gift. I found none (except for one on cakes, but their family isn’t really into sweets). So I decided to write a PB about kids cooking, with the intention of including some simple recipes for kids in the appendix. (Note: I’ve noticed in the lead up to Christmas there are actually quite a few kids’ cookbooks around now.) I didn’t actually finish this one as it is going to be a longer PB, but I have a skeleton plot written out.

NOVEMBER

Zip! Zilch! Zero! No drafts this month. Simply too busy, unfortunately. Though I did attempt PiBoIdMo for the first time, since I was forgoing NaNoWriMo this month. I came up with 24 ideas. So even though I don’t have a draft for November, I have a nice little idea bank to dig into.

DECEMBER

I’m halfway through a Christmas/fairytale crossover story that I started today. I believe I will have it done by the end of the month (I already have the whole story planned out).

FINAL STATS:

PBs Complete: 14!

PBs started, but not finished: 6

Lost stories (from the computer crash): ??

PiBoIdMo ideas to get me started next year: 24

What a year!

Tuesday 12 x 12

If you pop over to Julie Hedlund’s blog, I’ve done a guest post on why I decided to join 12 x 12 in 2012 and what I’ve got out of it so far. Julie Hedlund is the super-awesome founder of 12 x 12 in 2012 and it was a pleasure guest posting in her 12 x 12 series.
Speaking of guest posting, I have a new guest post lined up to post in the coming days on why writers should blog. You’ll notice things have been a bit slow around here lately. I was having some issues with my blog (all resolved now) and my family got hit by an extremely nasty ‘flu (all better now fingers crossed).

The Halfway Mark for 12 x 12!

As of the end of June the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge will have reached the halfway mark. To celebrate, 12 x 12 creator, Julie Hedlund, is hosting a blog party where participants can share their progress so far and either celebrate or commiserate.

Here’s my little update…

PB manuscripts finished so far: 11! (thanks to NaPiBoWriWee in May I have a few extra)

PB manuscripts started, but not finished: 4

Successes: My February PB was published in an online magazine. (You can read it here.)

Submissions: Apart from the one I submitted to the online magazine, I currently have a couple submitted to some PB competitions, but it’s too early to have heard anything from them yet. I’m yet to submit any of them to publishers (most of them still need a lot of work and revision and I¬† have more polished work that I’ll be submitting before my 12 x 12 MSs).

I’m really enjoying the challenge so far, not just because I’m building a great folder of PBs to work on, but because the support and friendship within the 12 x 12 group has been invaluable. I hope everyone else participating is getting something out of it, whether it’s new PBs or great friends. If you’re not participating, it’s not too late to join in; we still have six months left to go!

NaPiBoWriWee is Just Around the Corner

The first week of May is National Picture Book Writing Week. The aim: to write a picture book a day for seven days. The picture book manuscripts¬†do not have to be perfect;¬†they’re just drafts. The point of NaPiBoWriWee (as it is affectionately known) is to get motivated to write. As always, it is hosted by Paula Yoo, who has some great things planned for the week, including Q & As with published authors/illustrators and giveaways!

Fingers crossed I will be attempting it again this year (it will be my third NaPiBoWriWee). ¬†Whereas the 12 x 12 challenge is pushing me to write a picture book a month, NaPiBoWriWee will be an even bigger challenge, since I will only have one day to write each draft instead of a whole month. This year will be even more challenging since I have one¬†more child than I did last year and since she’s just 2 months old, and still feeding through the night, my writing time is rather sparse at the moment!

While some of my PB drafts from previous NaPiBoWriWees are sitting in folders and will probably never see the light of day again, I really love some of the other PBs that have come out of this challenge. In fact, I already saw some success with one of my NaPiBoWriWee PBs when it won second place at CYA last year. Who knows what this year will bring!

Worried you’ll be stuck for ideas? Alison Hertz (who participated in NaPiBoWriWee last year) has a great exercise on her blog to help prepare for NaPiBoWriWee.

Will you be attempting NaPiBoWriWee this year? Have you attempted it in the past? Any tips for new NaPiBoWriWee-ers?

Green Nadine

Some exciting news to share today…

Back at the beginning of February I was trying to get an idea for a story for the 12 x 12 challenge. I decided to go look at the Bedtime Stories section of Australian Women Online to¬†find out¬†their upcoming theme. The theme for March would be ‘Green’. An idea started to form in my head about a green snake in a pet shop and the story grew from there. I was quite pleased to have my February draft done so early in the month and, after revising it, I submitted it to my critique group with the idea I might get it polished enough to submit to Australian Women Online before the deadline.

I’d got it fairly polished in the couple of weeks before I went into hospital to have bubs, and then I forgot all about it once the new baby arrived. I remembered it on the last day of February–the last day I could submit it for consideration. I gave it some more revision and I believe I e-mailed it off with only a few hours to midnight. Thank goodness it was a leap year or I’d have been a day too late!

The very next day I had an e-mail in my inbox telling me it had been chosen as one of their March stories. How exciting!

You can read it here (completely free):

Green Nadine

Australian Women Online are running Bedtime Stories in support of The National Year of Reading.

Can’t Wait to Meet You

With less than two weeks until I’m due to give birth and less than two weeks until my eldest child starts school, my mind has been thinking of little else than getting organised for both these momentous events. It is little wonder I have been unable to think of something to blog about this week!

Thanks to the wonderful support and suggestions of the 12 x 12 challenge Facebook group, I’ve decided to allow myself a little creative time today to write a poem to share. As a teenager I used to write poetry all the time to get out my feelings onto paper; sadly, it’s something I don’t really do anymore. I’ve written this poem as a set of haikus.

 

Can’t Wait to Meet You

Every time I hear

Your heartbeat I’m filled with joy

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Knowing you’re growing

Preparing to greet the world

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

God has plans for you

You were always meant to be

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Next week (providing I’m not in hospital with a new arrival) I will post my monthly helpful writing posts round-up and after that I have a few guest posts lined up to help me through those early weeks with a newborn, but if my blog is a bit quieter over the next few months, you’ll know why. For now, I’m off to contact school books and label uniforms.

Writing Picture Books – 4 Ways to Get Inspired

As I mentioned in my last post, this year I’m taking part in the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge. Some of the participants are using ideas they came up with during PiBoIdMo in November, which gives them a great starting point. I didn’t do PiBoIdMo since I was busy entrenched in NaNoWriMo at the time. This means I’m going into 12 x 12 without a stockpile of ideas to pick and choose from. I was lucky enough this past week to have been inspired by a particularly hot day (actually it was about three hot days in a row). Sometimes inspiration can just strike like that, other times it doesn’t. I’ve still got eleven months of ideas to find (not to mention an extra six during NaPiBoWriWee if I do that too).

So how does one go about finding picture book inspiration?

These are some of my favourite ways to get inspired:

– Observing children at play. I’m lucky enough to have two little muses running around my house and they provide fantastic inspiration. It’s hard not to find story ideas when watching children play as they have such vivid imaginations themselves. You find yourself immersed in their world and you’re brought down to their level. If you don’t have children of your own and you’re not a teacher or childcare worker, seek out places where you can watch children play: a local park; the McDonald’s playground; friends/family with children. Don’t forget to take a notepad!

– Sitting outside. I’ve always found sitting outside and just absorbing the world around me to be a great way to get inspired. Take a notepad or laptop and find a nice spot in the garden/at the park/at the beach/by the river to sit and let your senses take over. What can you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? Try to see the world from a child’s point-of-view. Is that a fairy hiding in the roses? Is that a pirate ship out at sea? It doesn’t all have to be fantasy, of course. A game of soccer could be the starting point for a story about being left out/trying your best/trying something new. If the weather is bad, try sitting and staring out the window.

– Draw on your world (aka Write what you know). I live on a farm and I draw on those farm experiences to find inspiration. A mouse in the hayshed? What if he was trying to find a new home for his family? Think about where you live and how you can draw on it. Perhaps you live in the city or by the beach or in a small neighbourhood; what unique experiences can you use in a story? Look at your world from a child’s perspective; what would they see? What about an animal?

– Go places. Go to the zoo and watch the lions/meercats/penguins. Go to the museum and imagine stories behind the exhibits (Who flew that plane and where did they fly it? Was that dinosaur shy or boisterous?) Go to the beach and observe the people/families/animals. What are their stories?

As you become inspired, just keep one important point in mind: Picture books are written for children, so when crafting your character (whether human, animal, monster or alien) make sure your character has a child’s perspective. Children should be able to relate to the character and the character’s situation.

How do you get inspired? I’d love to hear where you find inspiration when writing picture books.

Picture: omar franc via stock.xchng

12 x 12 in 2012

Over on Julie Hedlund’s blog she has set a challenge: write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months–a picture book a month for every month of 2012. I thought this sounded like a great challenge as I love writing picture books and am often inspired with picture book ideas, so I joined up.

Julie has done a fabulous job of organising this challenge. There are monthly prizes for participants, guest posts from those in the picture book industry (the first guest post from picture book author and founder of Picture Book Idea Month, Tara Lazaar, went up yesterday) and a great community of fellow participants in the Facebook group Julie has set up for the challenge. You can also follow the #12x12in2012 hashtag on Twitter. (Edited to update: the new Twitter hashtag is #12x)

For anyone who is interested in writing picture books this challenge is a great opportunity to learn, grow and connect, so I would encourage you to join up. You can join at any time throughout the year, but to be eligible for prizes you need to have signed up by the 29th January 2012 (you still have nearly a month to sign up). You can find details on signing up here (it’s super easy and completely free).

With a baby due in a month, I hope I can stick to the challenge. Like Julie, I also intend to do NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) again this year. Am I up to the challenge? I guess we shall see.