Yes. It’s the end of July (or near enough). Time to take a bit of a look at the accomplishments of the month, and a look ahead at what’s to come, both in writing and on this blog.

I’ll also take a look at my writing goals for 2012, and see where I am in terms of meeting them.

Conference: When I think of this July, topmost in my mind will always be my experience at Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference. I learned so much there, met some fabulous people and made some wonderful friends, and came back inspired and energized to write, write, and write some more.

12 x 12 in 2012: Although my focus for much of the month was middle grade, with the conference and all, I did manage to get a picture book draft written, using as a springboard into fiction a snippet of an experience I learned about at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum.

Blog: In June, as I neared the half-way mark in the first year of this blog (although I’ve had other blogs over the years) I decided it was time to make a few changes. The first six months of By Word of Beth turned out to be quite intense, with post-a-day challenges, and incredible interviews, etc. I enjoyed it all, but there were times when the blogging time overtook the writing time. Since my main objective at this stage of my life is to launch my writing career, I’m finding it necessary to pull back on the blogging a bit.

For the next five months (since most of July was a hiatus while I prepared for, then attended, the conference), I will be blogging twice a week, on Mondays with musings about “writing, reading, the arts and life” as my tagline suggests is the focus of my blog, and on Fridays with Perfect Picture Book Friday when it resumes on September 7th. During August, I’ll share some of my favorite middle grade novels on Fridays. The “Wednesday Worthies” posts will only make an appearance sporadically. I will still be open to posting about other things when I feel inspired. So — watch for a streamlined blog beginning today. I hope that you’ll still find things to enjoy and learn from in my words.

Writing Plans for August: I am working intensively on the middle grade novel I workshopped at the Children’s Lit Conference. I hope to have it ready to send for manuscript evaluation by the beginning of September. If time permits, I will also work on one of my chapter book projects and do some revisions on two picture books that have come back from evaluation. Plus, of course, coming up with a picture book draft for 12 x 12 in 2012! That should keep me out of mischief.

Now — to a quick sum-up of my progress on my 2012 Writing Goals:

1. Contacting groups to find listeners/readers for feedback has not happened. I’m still pondering how best to get feedback from kids.

2. Except while I was away at the Conference, I have done my best to post to the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group whenever I find valuable content. Sometimes that has meant posting links, questions, discussion topics more than once a day! Emma and I are delighted to have seen our group grow greatly since its beginning in early December 2011, and there are now 162 members. If any children’s writers, illustrators or editors are interested in joining our Facebook Group (it’s free!), I encourage you to request membership at the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group … for information on the full (subscription-based) Children’s Book Hub, please click Children’s Book Hub.

3. 12 x 12 in 2012 — I have kept to this goal, and I am 7 for 7 in my attempt to write one picture book draft manuscript each month. There are just over 400 writers and illustrators participating in this challenge, and another one is planned for 2013. To sign up to receive  information on next year’s challenge, check this link. To read blog posts from some of the participants, check Julie Hedlund’s blog.

4. Three chapter book drafts did not get written by June 2012. I *do* have three ideas for chapter books, and will be pursuing them in the very near future.

5. In the first six months of the year, I don’t think I missed a week for posting to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays. I’ve also promoted the concept in many different arenas.

6. I kept to the plan for Monday Musings, Wednesday Worthies, and Friday Perfect Picture Books throughout the first six months of the blog. You now know that I have revised that plan, to allow for more writing time. I haven’t kept to the plan to focus one post per month on literacy, although I have highlighted literacy fairly often. I did participate in the A to Z challenge in April (and several other challenges that month.)

7. My blog was critiqued by Laura B. Writer, and I have been able to incorporate many of her suggestions into the set-up and appearance of my blog.

8. I have created a list of agents to query. For now, my list focuses on agents who can handle multiple genres, and whose agency has the potential to also deal with my adult fiction.

9. Querying/submitting to agents has not yet begun. The game plan changed when I decided to work on a chapter book series related to my picture book series. I have been advised to have a few of each ready to go before I begin the querying process. Stay tuned!

10. I have done major revisions to my middle grade novel, based on workshopping it at the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference. That novel is my main focus at the moment, and I am excited and energized by the potential it holds.

11. As is evident from my last several blog posts, I did attend the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference, and benefited greatly from the experience. I hope to attend both parts of the Conference next year, all being well.

12. I’ve enjoyed several other opportunities to spread my wings in the blogging and the writing world, including participating in the “world tour” of Susanna Leonard Hill’s book April Fool Phyllis; being interviewed or doing guest posts on other writers’ blogs; interviewing writers, artists, dramatists, and others on my own blog; participating in a Platform Building Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer’s blog… who knows what the next few months will hold!

How has your year been thus far? What are your hopes and dreams for the next part of the year?

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