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All to do in 22

Well, it’s been an interesting end of 2021 and a new beginning in a fun year word to say, 2022.

The day after Christmas, my life took a left turn. I fell and broke my arm. In my bathroom. Doing nothing other than walking across the floor to grab something. (honestly, I was going too fast and I did hit a slick spot, not wet, just slick from hairspray off spray). Seventy-two excruciatingly painful hours later, I had surgery to clean up the mess I made, install a plate and 10 screws, and to right the wrong to my right arm.

Still, I’m grateful- I didn’t hit my head or break a leg, I didn’t fall on Christmas Day, and bonus I’m left-handed. But I have had to learn a whole new way to function in the two weeks since surgery. I’m just now able to sit down and type with ten fingers without all the muscles in my right arm screaming in agony. (yes, it hurts a lot but I can handle it for the freedom to type again). I can’t drive or work for a while but I can sleep on my left side again, which is the only way I get any rest. Mostly, I’m happy that I have a great surgeon and an awesome family taking care of me. And I promise to slow down.

Picture Book Summit 2022

Well it’s been a week (or nearly) since Picture Book Summit 2022. It was my second experience with this one-day online summit where we spent nearly 10 hours listening to real time sessions with authors, editors, and others who love all things picture book. The highlight of the day, or the keynote, was Kate DiCamillo. What an amazing listen! My take-aways from the whole, intensive, mind-boggling day can be summed up in 1 word- continue.

This past year, I’ve decided to “continue” several times- after my critique groups have found flaws in every draft of stories I hold near to my heart, after rejection upon rejection, after I’ve spent hours away from my family holed up writing in my closet/laundry room/office, only to feel more discouraged than ever by the end of another day.

Than Kate spoke. And I’m continuing…

12 Day of Christmas for Writers

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2021:

I stuck with 12 x 12 all 12 months of 2021; I participated in JuNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo; I sold 3 short stories; I kept a monthly log of my writing achievements; I kept going when discouraged: I WROTE MORE PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPTS IN 2021 THAN IN ANY YEAR BEFORE! I’m pretty happy!

Five Days Until Christmas

It’s December 20th. The grass is still green, the leaves have been carted away by the city, and there is little to no chance of a white Christmas in Toledo. In five days, we will celebrate Christmas in my house as we always do, coming home from Mass late on Christmas Eve, sleeping in on Christmas morning, and opening gifts over coffee and Kolacky when the house is all awakened. I can usually slip in reading the paper and even a few chapters of a book before the kids get up. Now that they are grown, sleeping in is better than opening presents, I suppose. I still look forward to that magical moment when I arise and know it’s Christmas morning, that feeling that comes but once a year. Happy holidays everyone.

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

Here is my entry into Susanna Leonard Hill’s fabulous contest:

Go Green for Christmas

            “Due Monday- Go Green for Christmas contest entries,” said Mrs. Denton. “First place is fifty-dollars. Recycled materials only.”

            “Fifty bucks?” Jake shouted. “I’ll take it!” Everyone laughed.

            “Psst! Sam!” Jake whispered. He held a note.

             “Not now, Jake,” Sam said.

            Jake wasn’t the best listener: his note flew onto Sam’s desk.

            “My house. Tomorrow morning. To create the WINNER!”

             “I …work for my mom on Saturdays.”

             “I’ll be there!” Alex said.

            “Sam, breakfast!” Mom said.

            “Do I have to help you collect garbage today?”

            “Yes. Junking is how I get supplies.” 

            “Most artists buy supplies, Mom,” Sam said.

            “I’m not most artists. I’m The Junk Lady- ‘Making Garbage Artfully Useful.’”

             “Look at that!” Mom said fifteen minutes later. Her pick-up truck was soon filled with construction cones.

            Mom turned left. “Doesn’t Jake live on this street?”

Sam crouched down. Maybe Jake wouldn’t notice him.

             “There’s your friend now.”

            Alex stood in Jake’s driveway.

            Jake burst out of his house.

             “You made it!” Jake said.

             Alex snickered. “Your mom collects garbage?”

             “Uh…yeah,” Sam said.

             “Go ahead, Sam.” Mom said. “I’ll manage alone today.”

             Mom hit the gas. A cone fell off the truck and landed straight up. Jake threw the basketball to Alex.

            Alex missed.

            Sam ducked. The ball settled on the cone.

            “Wow!” Alex said.

            “It’s a…funky Christmas tree,” Sam said.

             Jake opened the recycling bin. “Just needs decorations.”   

            “Being The Junk Lady’s son is pretty great,” Sam said Monday, as the principal placed a blue ribbon on the tree.

Writers, To The Starting Line! Guidelines For The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest!!!

This will be a fun challenge!

Susanna Leonard Hill

I was tootling along, minding my own business, when suddenly I realized it’s November 22!

“Holy Flying Reindeer, Batman!” I said to Violet. “Do you understand the implications of this?”

Apparently she thought I was asking her to BE a flying reindeer and felt no urgency whatsoever regarding the situation!

I, on the other hand, understand the urgency all too well!

There are only TWO WEEKS until the opening of the Holiday Contest and you guys need your guidelines so you can put your thinking caps on and start writing!

I tried to get Violet to put HER thinking cap on but she was very uncooperative so I had to fake it. Clearly, she doesn’t like the fake one any more than the real one.

ANYWAY, the point is that somehow November has flown by and it’s time to tell you what you need to know to get started on…

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Heading into Autumn

Summer is quietly leaning into autumn in Northwest Ohio. Night falls quickly, no more lingering sunsets and light until 10 p.m. No more sitting on the front porch in shorts and t-shirts. The air is getting cooler and the sun is farther away. The grass is fading and the leaves are wilting. We can count on these things, can’t we?

My thoughts turn to planning. Planning for the rush of weeks until the holidays arrive. In my family, our holiday season begins with Hallowe’en and ends with the feast day of the Three Kings, January 6th. In between, we celebrate in ways that grow in meaning as the years pass. Sometimes, that means watching an old movie together, like Beetlejuice, or a new movie, like Coco. It means cooking and baking and looking forward to friends and family gathering. It means making music and making gifts. It means feeling grateful for all of the blessings that have come our way.

My writing changes, too. I plan for the dark, cold evenings that make dinnertime feel like we are eating at 9 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year, my second, during which I will be revising for the umpteenth time a coming of age manuscript that’s been floating around in my head for about 15 years. I am looking forward to Picture Book Summit for the first time this year, getting inspired, and meeting new aspiring pb writers. I think this autumn will be a good season!