mädchen lernt für die schuleJust a few days left in this year — it’s hard to believe. I’m about to embark on Alayne Kay Christian’s Writer’s Whole Life Perspective life-coaching challenges, and will be starting with her challenge to list 31 achievements of 2012. Don’t worry, I won’t list all thirty-one here! I do want to take a look at the past year, though, and see where it has led.

To do that, I’m going to focus on three categories — my involvement in online communities, my blogging, and my writing.

Here we go…

Online Communities — There are several online communities that have come to mean a great deal to me over the past year or so.

The Children’s Book Hub and the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group are certainly at the forefront of those communities for me. I learn so much from Emma’s Expert Interviews and Question and Answer sessions each month. This year we’ve heard Emma interview authors from varying genres within kidlit, we’ve heard from publishers and agents, and recently heard from a man who is an actor, director and theatre professor about how acting practices can inform our writing and our presentations. Needless to say, that one was right up my alley. The Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group is particularly dear to me. I so appreciate the way many of the 197 members make the effort to share posts and participate in discussions. As regular readers of my blog will know, Emma Walton Hamilton is the founder of and driving force behind the Children’s Book Hub. She graciously granted me an interview in June.

12×12 in 2012 and the 12×12 Facebook Group have also been key in both my development as a writer, and my general enjoyment of life this year. The 12×12 link I shared is to guest blog posts by 12×12 members on leader Julie Hedlund’s blog. Reading even a few of those will give you a good idea of how much 12×12 means to the participants. If you want to read my guest post, click here. I have made good friends through this group, I have learned much about writing, and to my amazement and delight, I have written 14 picture book drafts. Some of them are better than others, of course. A couple of them are well on their way to being polished manuscripts. As I mentioned, Julie Hedlund is the founder and leader of the 12×12 group. I enjoyed interviewing Julie in June.

The other online community I want to particularly mention is the Perfect Picture Book Friday group. If you’ve been around my blog very much at all, you’ll know that nearly every Friday I post a review and activities for a picture book. There is a whole community of bloggers who do this faithfully — there are usually about 20 picture books posted on any given Friday. This has become an amazing resource, with about 800 (and counting) picture books listed in the master list. We have promotional bookmarks (I took some to a library today, and the library staff I talked to were delighted with them and want more!), and we hope parents, teachers and librarians will find this a useful way to find good books to share with their kids. I was delighted to interview the founder of PPBF, Susanna Leonard Hill, in November.

Blogging — This blog will soon be one year old, although I have been blogging for several years on other platforms. My first post here on By Word of Beth was on January 4, when I set forth my writing goals for 2012. Since then I’ve added 256 other posts, I’ve participated in comment challenges and posting challenges, I’ve met and interacted with some wonderful people, and I’ve explored topics that mean a great deal to me. Through the “Wednesday Worthy” series that ran for the first half of the year, I discovered I enjoy doing interviews, and to date have posted 20 interviews here with interviewees as diverse as a picture book character, two young creative kids (scroll down past the birthday story), an Alexander Technique instructor, a symphony conductor, and a theatre director. You can find links to all the interviews in the sidebar to the right. I’d like to express my gratitude to all those who agreed to interviews. I’d also like to express my deep gratitude to my readers — your presence and your comments mean so much to me! Thank you.

Writing — I began the year expecting to be ready to start submitting manuscripts to agents early in the year. That has not happened, as I realized my manuscripts weren’t ready for that step. I have worked on my writing skills over the year, I have had critiques and evaluations, I’ve learned immensely from the class with Kate McMullan that I participated in at the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference, and I know my writing is stronger for all this.

Besides the 14 picture book first drafts I mentioned writing as my response to the 12×12 challenge of writing 12 drafts in 12 months, I have revised and polished other picture books, I have a middle grade novel that will soon be ready for submission, I have a few chapter books that I’m mulling over, and my adult novel is progressing. I had hoped to participate in a writers’ mentorship program with my adult novel, but that didn’t work out. That is life in the writing world. I’ve entered a couple of writing contests that I am waiting to hear about — whether or not I am successful in those, doing the writing and actually submitting were valuable in themselves. I’m also greatly enjoying a collaborative writing project with my friend, Jan. That is a treat we both look forward to nearly every Friday.

It’s been quite a year. On Monday, as the old year ends and we look forward to the new year beginning, I’ll look at my hopes and dreams for the coming year.

If you didn’t click through to Alayne’s blog post “Just Say No to New Year’s Resolutions” that I linked to at the beginning of this post, I urge you to do so at some point. In the spirit of that post,

what are some things that you want to celebrate as you look back over the past year?

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