Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

I have been participating in Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas which changed my mindset of New Year's Resolutions.  We have studied and learned from last year's personal successes, discouragements, and self-reflections and are now making a concrete path for 2017.  I like how this has been contemplated rather than just grabbing resolutions from thin air, as I have always done.  I chose the above graphic from Google's public domain because I felt like it depicts the journey.

Next year, I plan to work towards these goals for my writing life.

1. Make a weekly focus list to make my writing plans more intentional.
2. Get my projects organized so that I can grab one to work on.
3. Participate in Tara Lazar's StoryStrom to get my creative juices flowing.
4. Sign-up and participate in Julie Hedlund's 2x12.
5. Work through The Artist's Way, a "creativity" book.
6. Find a critique group.
7. Go to a SCBWI local meeting - yikes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Day 3

Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.

I participated in a class that Julie was a part of (you will see below) and decided to join her for her 12 Days of Christmas.  I am enjoying it so far.  I'm not a big Facebooker, so maybe I'll go back and add day 2 here.

As I reflect on my year, I realize it has been a huge transition year for me.  I am a teacher/librarian and always will be.  But, this year my husband and I decided I would travel more with him which I couldn't do because of my schedule, of course.  I have dabbled in writing for years now.  I've even been published in some education magazines in the past.  During the summer of this year, I made the transition to working as a writer.  What will come of it?  I don't know, but I am loving it!  

So, focusing on my writing life, here is my list of successes since summer:

1. Started living my new dream...prioritized my writing.
2. Participated in Teachers Write ...with Kate Messner - thanks!
3. Participated in Slice of Life...need to do that more consistently.
4. Lots of reading...that is not a problem.
5. Submitted a poem to Chicken Soup...still waiting.
6. Participated in Picture Book was aMaZiNg!!!
7. Have a submission ready for Highlights Hello Magazine...working on the cover letter, trying to find editor's name.
8. Started Chapter Book super excited about what I've got going so far.
9. Signed up for StoryStorm for January...first timer, but love Tara Lazar's books.
10. Have a picture book biography started...research done (for now) and on to writing.
11. Joining in on the 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund...getting me hyped for 2017!

If I think of more, I'll add them here because I'm not going to change all my numbering :) !

12. Have a list started of picture book ideas...very rough ideas.
13. Have my "dream" journal by my bed...come on imagination, do your thing.
14. Have been listening to Institute for Writer's podcasts...and downloading cool tips.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Wolf Keepers

The Wolf Keepers
by Elise Broach
published by: Henry Holt & Co.
date: October 2016

Goodreads Summary: 
Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it's a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.

My Review:
I enjoyed this book very much.  So many topics that could be discussed with the use of this book.  It would make a great book club book!  First of all, what a great example of authentic writing in a journal which is a big part of the story.  Wow, living at the zoo, that will draw student readers in right away!  I love the insight we gain from the zoo setting. Students will also enjoy the wolves which are an animal frequently asked for at the library.  I like the historical aspect of John Muir and Yosemite National Park.  There are family dynamics and friendships that could be discussed.  Is it ever ok to keep a secret?  It seems that there are several secrets here that would lead to thoughtful discussions.  The con to this book is that my adult brain had to work hard to suspend belief over and over.  From the point that they took the 4 mile hike to Tenaya Creek and on, I couldn't find anything believable.  Having said that, I did have watery eyes in the end, and I would highly recommend this book to students.

I want to thank NetGalley, Henry Holt & Co., and Elise Broach for an electronic version of this book for preview.