Picture book manuscripts galore! Picture book manuscripts as far as the eye can see.

When I signed up for 12×12 in 2012, hoping to write 12 picture book first drafts in 12 months, I really had no idea if I’d be able to do it. It seemed unbelievable to write that many unique drafts, while trying to keep up with revising other manuscripts, blogging, and all the things one does in one’s “other” life.

I did it. (I will have at least 14 picture book drafts by the end of December.) WE did it. Some of our 400 cohorts did just a few, some did more than the suggested 12, ALL are successes for doing what they could. So today we’re celebrating. (Click on the image above left to learn more.)

There’s a blog party going on all around the globe! When I thought about what I wanted to do on my blog to celebrate this wonderful first year of 12×12, and to express at least some of my gratitude to Julie Hedlund, “the founder of the feast,” in Dickens’ words, I decided that the best thing to do would be to write a story. And so I have done so. In keeping with the tenets of 12×12, it is a first draft. (And as a word of both explanation and celebration, Julie’s picture book app, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, will be released for iPad very soon. You’ll understand why it’s important to know that when you read my story.)

Julie’s Brilliant Idea

Ideas kept popping into Julie’s head like popcorn in the big glass case at the movies. She thought her head might explode! She needed to make stories with her ideas — FAST! (A group of ideas is called a BRAINWAVE.)

When she went to her room to write her stories, her little brother made airplanes with her story papers. When she sat on the porch, the wind blew the papers away. She couldn’t sit on the swing and write at the same time. She needed a special story-writing place.

There was a huge box in the garage. Julie dragged it into the backyard, and Dad helped her cut a door and two windows. It was perfect! Almost.

Sitting in the middle of her huge writing place was lonely. Julie ran and asked Becky to come over. Becky asked Susanna. Susanna asked Beth. Three more Julies showed up. Pretty soon there were twelve kids in that big writing place, and there were ideas bouncing off the walls!

Then more kids wanted to come in with their ideas, but there was no room. Julie wanted them to write their stories, too, but where could they sit? Erik, Marcie and Genevieve (with help from Cupcake) found another box and slid it up right beside the first box. They cut a door between the boxes, so everyone could talk to each other.

More and more kids came. More and more boxes got added, each with twelve kids inside, all thinking up stories as fast as their thinkers could go. (A group of writing friends is called a JOY.)

At first, when Julie wanted to talk to someone in one of the other boxes, she just had to go outside and call the kid’s name, but soon there were so many boxes side by side or end to end, that she couldn’t even see the end of the line.

“I know!” said Tina, who was in one of the far, far away boxes. “We can send messages back and forth in notes. Everyone can read them and add what they want to say.” (A group of messages is called a KINSHIP.)

One day, there was a thump, thump, thump on the side of Julie’s box. There was one more box being put into place. The line had gone all around the world and back again! Twelve times twelve times twelve times twelve, all around the world. Ideas galore! Stories everywhere! Friends all over the place! (A group of twelves is called a BRILLIANCE!)

All because Julie had an idea.

*   *   *

Thank you, Julie, and thank you, all the wonderful people in 12×12 who have become my friends and colleagues through this amazing year. Here’s to you all! Here’s to us! And three cheers for JULIE!

P.S. I so wish I could have mentioned every one of your names in my story — please forgive me for not doing so!


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