“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?

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