April Accountability Check-In

May 1, 2012

“Tra-la! It’s May!” (I promise I won’t sing the whole song for you. Not on my blog, anyway. I can guarantee I’ll be singing it at home though, because I am very glad it’s May.) (If you want to hear the song in its entirety, go to iTunes and download the original Broadway recording of Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May from the Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot. Accept no substitutes. It must be the original Broadway version.) Erik, this might not be the best song for you, not just yet.

And may I say Phew! April is over! I have now learned that it is not particularly wise to take on too many challenges in one month. I was quite successful in all of them but they were a bit much. (Yes, all FOUR of them. That is too many for one month. You may quote me on that.)

Let’s take a look at what I accomplished in April, and what lies ahead in May, shall we? Just click the magic words…

Looking back at my March Check-In post, it’s fairly obvious that I was biting off rather more than I should have tried to chew. But I bit it, I chewed it, and I didn’t choke.

First of all, 12 x 12 in 2012, the picture book manuscript a month challenge: I completed my draft for April, developing one of the ideas from PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month).

The April Reading Challenge got a little sidetracked. Not that I haven’t read a great deal in the month of April, but I ended up substituting a couple of titles for the ones I had planned, and I’m not quite finished reading one of them. (Not surprisingly, the ones I have finished were mainly picture books. The one I haven’t yet finished is an adult novel, a late addition to the list.) I read Andrea’s Fiddle by Blaine Klippenstein, as planned; I substituted Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad for the “P” book, and haven’t quite finished it yet; I read a play, The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse (I thought it was a novel until it arrived in the mail and I discovered it’s a stage musical adapted from a short film — a wordless film.); I read an interesting picture book with text in both Russian and English on each page (I just read the English, although I could sound out some of the Russian words, since the alphabet is very similar to the Greek alphabet), I See the Sun in Russia by Dedie King; and instead of London Calling (which I will still read at some point) I read a picture book, Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn. Since I haven’t quite finished one of the books, I haven’t read my bonus April and After. So this challenge was an “incomplete success.”

The My Name is Not Bob Platform Challenge was a good experience, partly because I realized that I am on the right track with a lot of the platform building I have already done. Several of the tasks were things I already do on a regular basis. I did have to push myself a bit, but there were a number of things that I could just tick off as “done,” which felt good. I didn’t do everything, but I did more than I expected to.

And now the biggie, and the one you all have been most aware of, the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Oh my, I am glad this one is over. I’m glad I did it, I learned a great deal — and not just about the terms I used in my theme. My major learning was that I don’t like to be completely regimented in my blogging. I had followed the counsel that it would be a good idea to have all posts written and scheduled prior to the beginning of the month, and I did (except for the Very Fairy Princess book, which I couldn’t review until it was released and I received my copy.) So, for a month, with only a couple of exceptions, I just watched my blog posts pop up each morning, and had no real blogging to do. By mid-month I was missing blogging very much. Although I like to prepare my posts on the weekend for the coming week, I have learned that it is stifling for me to have anything further than that “in the can” to continue the film terminology from April. I did find some interesting new blogs to follow, and I did meet some interesting new people. It was enlightening to see how others tackled the alphabet. Some people were very creative. It was an experiment on my part, and I will admit that it is an experiment I will not be repeating next year.

Other than all those challenges, I have been trying to work on a chapter book, and I’ve been finding that quite a challenge in itself. It is not flowing easily, although I know what I want to have happen in it, and I know the last couple of lines of the book. I hope for some sort of a breakthrough in May.

I’ve also been working on an outlining theory/method that grew out of my “B is for Blocking” post on April 2nd, and the comments on that post. I’m working through the chapter book as a trial run of this theory. I’ll blog more about the theory in June. Stay tuned!

I had a great time with Princess Week last week, and I thank you all for indulging me in this. I especially thank Emma Walton Hamilton for her part in the Very Fairy Princess interview on April 25. Emma, you are truly a gem!

And now, a look ahead to MAY! (Yes, I’m still singing.)

One of the learnings I took away from the A to Z Challenge is that too much preparation stifles my creativity. As I looked ahead at my already-set themes for every month from now until the end of the year, those themes became too much of a fence that wouldn’t allow for much spontaneity. (Cue Bob Nolan and The Sons of the Pioneers singing Don’t Fence Me In.) You may or may not have noticed that instead of the long list of monthly themes that used to be in the “Coming Soon” section of the sidebar, for July I have simply the words “A Change of Pace,” with nothing written in for the balance of the year. I already had interviews lined up for May and June, so I’ve kept those themes in place. We’ll see what happens as the year progresses.

So — in May we’ll be exploring Different Ways of Seeing. We’ll look at tactile art. We’ll look at kids’ art — including an interview with Erik of This Kid Reviews Books, and his sister, Josie. I’ll profile a friend of mine who does wonderfully imaginative things in many media. The spotlight in May will be trained on the imagination, and the role of the imagination in seeing the world around us. It should be an interesting month. I’m looking forward to it — I hope you’ll enjoy it, and learn something along the way.

Tra-la! It’s MAY! (Still singing…)

What do you have planned for May?

16 People reacted on this

  1. I really learned a lot from your A-to-Z posts. Your organization and consistent quality with your blog is inspiring. There was a point when I had enough photos and ideas to schedule posts a week in advance, and then at the end of the week I would schedule another set. If I did it monthly, I think I would forget what I was posting so my posts would come as a surprise to me.

    Whatever your Change of Pace brings, I am sure it will be delightful, just as everything else I read here is. 😀 *kemi-bear hugs*

    1. Thanks so much, Little M, for all your support and for your friendship. And yes, there were times when my posts came as a surprise to me in April!

      Hope the Sprockifier is doing better today. Thanks for the kemi-bear hugs! They’re the best kind! *hugs back at ya*

  2. Congrats on all your successes, even the incomplete ones – you did awesomely! 🙂 And now it’s May – when all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un…! 🙂 I want you to know you’re responsible for getting that song stuck in my head and now I will be singing it all day! I love that song. When my kids were little I sang “the lovely month of May” 🙂 For the first week, I’m trying to NaPiBoWriWee (and you can see how well I’m doing so far because I’m here commenting on your blog :)) After that, several school visits, and as much writing as I can pack in 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Susanna! I love the way you adapted the song for your kids. Perfect!

      Good luck with NaPiBoWriWee — even just writing that bit out is almost too much for me! And have a wonderful rest of May!

  3. Hi, Beth. Wow. You accomplished so much in April! Congratulations! I’m still figuring out what I’ll be doing on my blog in May. Sometimes I just wait for inspiration to hit! But I am trying to get an interview with another ballerina who wrote a picture book, and I’ll be highlighting The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a good book to use in dance class. Keep singing today, and I hope you have a wonderful month!

    1. Thanks so much Kerry. Oooh, I’m intrigued by the idea of using The Very Hungry Caterpillar in dance class. What a cool thought! Have a great month, yourself!

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed the A-Z Challenge, but I’m looking forward to getting back to normal, well, I say normal, I need to establish normal first lol

    Here’s to May being a great month! 😉


    1. Thanks, Vikki! Yes, sometimes “normal” is a challenge to establish. (eeek, another challenge!)

      Have a great month!

  5. You are truly amazing, Beth…I can’t believe you’ve accomplished what you set out to do in April. Whew! Great job…
    For May, I have a devotional to write for our church bulletin, and of course, May’s 12×12 Picture Book manuscript. Then I plan to take up a reading challenge…if I can find the link to it. Which reading challenge are you a part of? I also want to continue the blogging, but need to focus on my “brand”. I think I almost have it!
    Looking forward to following you, too, in May and beyond. Thanks, Beth!

    1. Thanks, Jarm. I’m feeling rather “Whew! I can’t believe I did it!” myself.

      The reading challenge I took part in was just an April challenge. There are several year-long challenges, but I decided to focus on other things this year. Last year I was part of a Picture Book Reading & Reviewing Challenge. That was a good exercise. Hope you find the one you’re looking for!

  6. You’ve been a busy lady, Beth! To say that I am impressed by your organizational skills, and your sticktuitiveness, (is that a real word) is an understatement. I really wished I had known about the reading challenge. I think I would have enjoyed that challenge. I am excited about your May activities. I am so glad I can see your posts on my wall, so I’ll know exactly when and where to come. I’m thinking you should give a webinar on being an organized blogger. Okay, enough! Going to go and listen to Julie!

    1. Thanks so much, Pam. If I can get the rest of my life organized the way my blogging is, that’s when I’ll feel as though I have organizational skills! I’m glad you’re going to be able to find my posts more easily now. And I’m very glad you are going to listen to Julie!

  7. Busy. Busy! I look forward to hearing the Blocking experiment. I enjoyed the A to Z, but felt like I got behind on everything from responding to comments and visiting other blogs. I think I averaged 3 a day instead of the recommended five a day. I still have lots of visiting to do. I also found lots of interesting blogs, but many I doubt I will visit on a regular basis. For me, it was more of a writing challenge than a building up new followers challenge.

    1. I found your posts for the A to Z so very good, although it must have been hard to put some of your story “out there” for the world to see. Your memoir is going to be an amazing and heart-wrenching read.

      May is going to be VERY different to April for me, I’ll tell you that right now.

  8. WOW! You did a lot!
    I didn’t get to the April Reading challenge bonus book either but read all my A.P.R.I.L. books. 🙂
    I really liked everything I learned from your A to Z challenge. It was very interesting because I don’t know a lot about how movies or the theater are put together.
    Happy May! 🙂

    1. Good for you for getting all your A.P.R.I.L books read, Erik! Yay you! I’m so glad you learned a lot from my A to Z posts — I did, too!

      Happy May to you, too! 🙂

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