Monday, January 30, 2012

A to Z challenges, pages and books oh my!

Who says you can't jump into a good book?
Today, I signed up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out began the challenge back in 2010.

The challenge — blog every day except Sundays for each letter in the alphabet. My plan is to write an A to Z memoir — short personal essays that focus on that day's letter. So, I'm using this challenge to hone my essay skills.

My topics chose themselves as I wrote down the letters. It seemed like a number of travel, life and thoughts raced through my head. By looking at my entire list, I have a general outline of what I want to write. I have drafts of A through F. Plus, this gives me time to find photos to represent those moments.

My A to Z posts will be written in advance, so I can manage my time better during the month. I will continue with Perfect Picture Book Friday posts, but will skip Thankful Thursday posts for April. I'll spend time getting to know new bloggers and will keep track of my regular friends too. Other writing projects include the ongoing 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book challenge and I'll attend the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference.

I hope to have a full draft of my memoir manuscript by April. I'm doing the vomit draft I talked about earlier this month — five pages, five days a week. When I sat down at my computer this morning, I had 103 pages or more than 29,000 words.

Trust me, it needs work. If I get stuck or am missing a detail, I type TK — to remind myself there's a hole — and move on. If I didn't do this, I might still be on page 5. While I'm fairly close to details, it's been a decade since some of these events happened. Was it a $10 or a $15 check I wrote for the procedure that triggered my late husband's catastrophic stroke? Do I need that detail? Maybe, if I'm illustrating the importance of health insurance coverage. I can research and/or delete these items in the revision phase.

I've found myself behind on blog reading and commenting, but I'm delighted in the forward motion with this manuscript.

And, about that picture above. Enzo began exploring some of the books I found at the library's weekend book sale. We stopped at 20 books.

So, how are your writing goals going?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Learning to Fly

Today, I've chosen Learning to Fly for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

Learning to Fly 
Written and Illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2006

Suitable for: I couldn't find an age range for this book. I think Ages 2 to 6 would be happy to read this.

Theme/Topic: Animals-Penguins, Determination

Opening: Last winter, I found a penguin.
He told me he'd been flying.
But ... penguins can't fly.

Brief Synopsis: A man meets a penguin who gives flying a try. Together, they work to find a way for the penguin to fly again. From the back cover — Penguins can't fly. Of course they can't. It's not possible. Or is it? A contemporary fable about believing in the impossible — and in yourself.

Link to Resources: Penguin Links and Mrs. Kilburn's Kiddos Penguins Post.

Why I chose this book: The illustrations add a fun touch of humor to the story. At first, I thought they were all black and white, but there is a dash of color on most pages. Just enough. I found a review of this book from January 2006, which mentions this story was first published in Germany.

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Opportunity

Photo by Tracy S. Williams

I received a rejection letter last week.

A person who gave me a reference suggested it was a conspiracy and I should "be on the lookout for a hitman for at least six months." I don't believe either point, so I immediately laughed.

Back to that rejection. I was one of 37 people, who applied to serve on a city committee about oil and gas development. I know I said in my goals that I had come to terms with the idea that I most likely can't attend many public meetings on a topic of hydraulic fracturing.

To refresh, goal No. 10:
Frack — I mentioned this issue of hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil and gas deposits last year. While I would like to get involved more at a local level, I've decided county and city meetings and my baby sitting budget (zero) don't go together. There are plenty of ways to stay involved, despite my inability to attend 10 a.m. meetings. I can watch meetings on TV/online; read city, county and state regulations proposals and offer comments; and stay informed on national issues. My frack blog is not a priority, but has been a good place to store articles on the topic. It's personal research really, but who knows — maybe I'll write a fiction piece on fracking in 2013.
Two days after I posted this, I saw a news article asking for committee volunteers. Hubby and I talked about it. I fretted. If we didn't try, how would we feel? While it would be expensive to find a babysitter and a significant investment of time, how could we not afford to do this? Would there be any regret?

Yes. I would have regretted not trying.

I plotted out different scenarios to make it happen. By talking to lots of moms, throwing out ideas about bartering a day of childcare and squeezing out dollars in the weekly budget, I felt comfortable to submit the requested two-page resumé, letter of interest and three short essays. I admitted I am not a fan of fracking and disclosed my blog commentary on the topic.

By the time I turned in the material, I had several babysitter options lined up and had mentally carved out time in my schedule for three-hour long meetings for 19 weeks plus homework assignments.

On Friday, after a nice dinner with my family, I saw an email that I wasn't selected to serve. The city selected seven strong candidates to work on the issue. While I won't be serving, I can continue to stay informed on the issues and speak my mind to our elected leaders.

This wasn't a futile exercise. Several fun things happened along the way to rejection:
  • I tried a new recipe for a breakfast pizza. Yummy.
  • I met a neighbor, who also liked the breakfast pizza, as we talked about babysiting. 
  • Instead of attending the oil and gas committee meeting today, I'm going to spend my morning writing. I scheduled a baby sitter to watch my son, just in case I was selected. I didn't change those plans. 
I was disappointed I wasn't selected, but I am grateful I had the opportunity to try. 

Have you had any opportunities fall in your lap recently?

Today, I'm also thankful for Mark Koopmans at Aloha, and Hi! from HI. He gave me the Versatile Blogger Award. He's a stay-at-home dad of three boys, homeschools his oldest and is co-writing a memoir. With everything going on, I wasn't able to participate in this cool "Follow Your Dreams Contest" he's hosting at his blog. You have until 11:59 p.m. EST, Friday, Jan. 27 to enter or just stop by to say Aloha.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kindle Fire meet iPad

My Kindle Fire meets the Gummy Bear video playing iPad
Our family grew in recent weeks. An iPad arrived on our doorstep courtesy of my Mom and Dad. It's really not for me or Hubby as the inscription on the back says:
Let's Facetime! Love Grandma and Grandpa
With no warranty available for damages, I've been hesitant to let Enzo "go crazy" with it.

I wrote about the Kindle Fire here. I continue to enjoy the ereader, especially the ability to highlight and type notes as I'm reading books. A key reason for getting the Fire is it offered iPad like options without the price.

We like our Apple products in this house, so iPad was welcomed with open arms. I've had to fight off Hubby and Enzo for time to test its capabilities. Enzo thinks the iPad should be playing the Barkside Ad  or the Gummy Bear videos. He gives a belly laugh no matter what language we choose from the You Tube app.

I've found several ways to use the iPad, while away from the Apple desktop.
  • Plaintext is an app that offers a clean writing environment. No bells or whistles. It's free. I can create different folders of files. I can get the word count of a current document. I can email it to myself. I can also put it in an off-site storage site and then open it on my iPhone or my desktop computer. It doesn't create a Word document, but with a few keystrokes on the desktop I have the material in a Word document.
  • As I wrote this post, I discovered I could put my iPhone apps on the iPad during the sync process. I use an app called BlogPress from my iPhone to draft blog posts. I'll have to see how it works with the iPad.
  •  Children's books are interactive on the iPad. I saw the review and interview with Bella Goes Bump in the Night authors Derek and Gina Roché on Children's Books Heal. What a fun experience with Enzo! We have the option to listen to the book, read the book or auto play. Plus, Enzo can color pages from the book on the screen. 
  • I organized the iPad with folders for different categories of apps. Apps are the software programs available from businesses, software developers, authors, etc. I have folders for writing reference apps, Social Media apps, Enzo/educational apps, Hubby apps, book apps, news apps, etc. 
The majority of apps I have on the iPad are either free or were downloaded from my iPhone. I've never paid more than $2.99 for an app. I studied reviews of several word processing apps for writers to use on the iPad. I seriously considered one for $9.99. 

After a little analysis of how I am able to use the iPad around Enzo, I decided to go with the basic writing environment of the free Plaintext app. It's sufficient at drafting longer notes and thoughts while Enzo is awake. If it's naptime, I'll go to the desktop to work on a software program I already own for more detailed work. If I begin using the iPad as more of a laptop, I might reconsider. 

Another great gift from my parents was the iPad Camera Connection Kit. This allows me to download photos from my SD card to the iPad. 
The SD card fits into the little connection device in the iPad
I can send photos via email to the grandparents more quickly with this device. Smart thinking grandparents! I typically use the iPhone camera for blog photos, because it eliminates a download step to the computer. This connector may make me rethink how I take my photos.

The kit also includes a connector to use with a camera cable. 
I could envision the iPad might make it easier to blog on the run. You would just need a WiFi connection. For those using WordPress, there are several WordPress apps too. 

Here's the iPad in use in the kitchen by Hubby to display a new recipe he tried on Saturday night. 
I think 2012 will be filled with lots of technology exploration at our house. We are grateful my parents gave us such a fun gift. 

If you have an iPad, how do use it? If you don't, do have a vision of how you would use it?

For the record, I haven't used the iPad to read a book yet. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: What Daddies Do Best

Today, I've chosen another Laura Numeroff book for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

What Daddies Do Best
Written by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998
Enzo has the First Simon & Schuster miniature edition, 2001

Suitable for:  Ages 1 and up — I also think this story makes a nice gift for new fathers or soon-to-be fathers.

Theme/Topic: parents, growing up

Opening: Daddies can teach you
how to ride a bicycle,
make a snowman with you,
and bake a delicious cake for your birthday.

Brief Synopsis: Illustrations and brief text describe all the things that daddies do for their children, most importantly giving lots of love. —From the book's summary.
Link to Resources: This site shares a list of books about families, including What Daddies Do Best. Activities include making a family shield, tree and puppets. This link has a number of activities. I learned at Laura Numeroff's site this book is part of a series. She has one for mommies, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas.

When Enzo and I read this, we add lines to the story about specific things Enzo's Daddy does for him.

Why I chose this book: It's one of the first books I read to Enzo. It's an easy read for a young child. I counted 111 words. Plus, Hubby (that's Enzo's dad) did another fun "What Daddies Do Best" activity this week. He helped Mommy. He took care of Enzo's night time routine one day, so I could attend a panel discussion on self-publishing. Hubby rocks!

To find more picture books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

I wake up on Friday's ready to read all the PPBF posts. Then, the day catches up with me and I find myself reading them on Saturday morning. It's fun to be introduced to new books any day of the week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Veronica's Nap

I'm reading this book Veronica's Nap. I'm resisting the temptation to return to my bookmarked page on the Kindle.This book has been in front of me for a long time, but I ignored it. What was I thinking?

The talented author Sharon Bially has a blog where she has been sharing installments of the book. I follow the blog. I don't like reading books on the desktop computer.

I missed out.

A wonderful story was in front of me and I looked away.

Safely in my Kindle, I plan to finish the novel as my end-of-week reward. I have a few more pages to write, a blog post or two and some networking. Then, I can return to Veronica's story.

It makes sense that I would like the novel, as I love Sharon's blog. It speaks to me as a writer and as a mom.
  • After I read this University of Life post, I shared it with a clerk at a craft store as she lamented she couldn't afford college right now. 
  • For those considering self-publication, she shared helpful hints this week in Leveraging the Power of Amazon. Veronica's Nap hit #1 in Kindle's Jewish fiction category.
  • In December, Sharon announced several Changes including launching herself as a book publicist and writing a new novel. 
  • Type in Motherhood in her blog's search bar and you'll find several posts about women, who are mothers and writers. I always find useful information in these posts. I found what appears to be my first comment on her site (oh, our Internet DNA lives forever) on the post Women Creating Success
  • She writes guest posts on Writer Unboxed. She wrote one called Invest in Yourself. She talks about factoring in publicity as part of your writing expenses like manuscript consultations, editing and design. Read the comment near the end from her client. I love this thought. I don't mean to be sneaky, but seriously — I think it's worth the read. Go here, please.
If you want, check out Veronica's Nap it's available on Kindle or paperback at Amazon or you can grab a paperback at Barnes & Noble.

I'm grateful Sharon put Veronica's Nap in Kindle format. I'm enjoying it.

I also want to thank Kelley at Between the Bookends. She's a YA writer. She participated this week in the Can You Hit a Perfect Pitch? She gave me both the Versatile Blogger Award and the Kreativ Blogger Award. 
I shared 10 things about myself here.
Thank you Kelley!

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Blogfest

I hope this video works. It's my favorite speech from Martin Luther King Jr. on serving.

Beverly Diehl of Writing in the Flow is hosting an MLK Blogfest to discuss racism and discrimination today. It's a holiday in the United States to remember the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who used non-violence as a way to eliminate poverty, racism and violence.

I grew up in the South long after the battles of the Civil Rights movement. These are a few thoughts that came to mind when I considered the MLK Blogfest.

In my hometown:
The KKK sometimes visited to hold a rally on the town square. I'm not sure why. The community was all-white, so I guessed they wanted to make sure it stayed that way. Now, the community is less white as it has a growing Hispanic population from Mexico and Central America. The agriculture community attracted migrant workers and many stayed.

Last fall, a KKK group held a rally on the square and many residents came out to say: We don't want you here.

At University:
In college, my sister and I shared a dorm room. Friends visited often. One friend, a black male, irked the frat, white boyfriends of  girls in the dorm. We discovered nasty and racist remarks scrawled on our door's message board. No one in our dorm knew what to do about the messages. We were two white girls. Was it an act of racism, if the remarks were directed at white girls?

When we had our winter break to observe Martin Luther King's birthday, I traveled with friends to visit The King Center in Atlanta, Ga. It was the only logical thing to do that year.

In Italy:
I studied Italian in a summer abroad program in Florence. The international school was filled with students from across Europe. One day, the civil classroom turned a bit angry as all the students criticized the United States for its history of slavery and segregation. I didn't defend the past, but thought the present looked pretty good in comparison.

The classroom discussion was different than my personal experience in Florence. I spoke to everyone in the piazza's. If someone said, "Ciao!" and wanted to talk — I did. A few times, I spoke to North African immigrants.

My Italian house mother was mortified when the subject of Africans came up. Later when an Italian friend was picking me up, she forbid him from coming to the door thinking he was African.

In 2005, when riots in France highlighted racial discrimination of African and Muslim immigrants, I thought about those students, who frowned on the United States as being intolerant. It still exists.

In South Africa:
While the apartheid system of racial segregation ended in 1994, you could see signs of racial discrimination in South Africa when I visited in 2006. In Johannesburg, I visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. The 12-year-old boy died in 1976 when South African police fired on students during a Soweto uprising.

After the museum, I visited a section of the slums. I wrote a little about the visit here.

In a Border Town: 
Years later, I moved to a Texas border town. Here, I was a minority — called an Anglo by some. The majority were either Mexicans or of Mexican descent. Some adults didn't know English. The first time I went to the post office. I had my "Dorothy moment." I wasn't in Kansas. I was in a different territory of the United States.

Here, I understood how one could live in the United States and not speak English. I took a Spanish class before we moved, but lost interest in learning the language after the third or fourth time a clerk speaking Spanish switched to English as I approached her.

A day with the U.S. Border Patrol gave me a new insight into how hard it is come into the United States illegally. I shared a little about the border here.

Stories of discrimination — past and present — break my heart. On days like today, I think about the victories to remove racial discrimination and hate from our society.

The Perfect Picture Book Fridays series has highlighted several picture books that focus on the civil rights movement. These interested me:

Whether today is a day of rest, reflection or service, I hope you have a wonderful Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Here's a snapshot of the "If You Give ..." series found around our house. 
This week, I've chosen If You Give a Pig a Pancake for Perfect Picture Book Fridays. 

If You Give a Pig a Pancake
Written by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
Harper Collins Publisher, 1998

Suitable for: Ages 3 and up

Theme/Topic: Cause and Effect, Friendship, Playtime 

If you give a pig a pancake, 
she'll want some syrup to got with it. 

You'll give her some of your favorite maple syrup.
She'll probably get all sticky, 
so she'll want to take a bath. 

Brief Synopsis: A young girl gives a pig a pancake. This leads to a series of events from bubble baths to mailing letters to building a treehouse. Dont' forget the decorations!

Link to resources: A Virtual Vine lesson plan for the If You Give a ... Mouse, Moose and Pig books. One fun activity is to create brown circles for pancakes and yellow squares for butter with rhyming word. Then children can match the pancake with its butter. 

Laura Numeroff has a link of story starters  and links for teachers at her website. 

There is also a website with games and character introductions. An interesting note from illustrator Felicia Bond from her bio on this site: "Time has really passed — the six books in the series were painted over a span of twenty-one years. Wow." 

I agree — wow.

Why I chose this book: While my son may not be able to think about cause and effect, the story seems familiar to us.  Let me think: If you give your kid a cookie, he wants milk to go with it. When he spills the milk, you grab a towel to clean it up ... Oh, I've lived this fun circle. 

Laura Numeroff has a list of 10 tips for writers. Her no. 10 is to write because you love it "and not because you are looking to make money!"

To find more books and resources, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. There is a page dedicated to Perfect Picture Books.

I struggled with how to label the theme/topic for this book. Suggestions? Have a great Friday the 13th!

Feb. 7, 2013 — Spambots are loving this post, so I'm closing the comments section. - ssj

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: 12x12 in 2012

The 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge is well under way. I know many of you are participating, but some may not be familiar with the picture book challenge.

Children's Book Author Julie F. Hedlund organized the event, so we write up our some of our 2011 Picture Book Idea Month Challenge ideas.

The challenge:  write one picture book draft each month in 2012.

Official sign up ends Jan. 29. This makes sure you are eligible for prizes.

Julie has all the information on her Write Up My Life blog.

Here are some links:

If you haven't visited Julie's site, it's not all picture books. I always find encouragement from Julie's posts — no matter what the topic. Her Gratitude Sunday posts are always a treat.

How am I doing in the challenge? Well, I've been "liking" all the other participants posts on Facebook saying "I'm done." I've been writing, but my draft is not complete.

Today is my self-imposed deadline for my picture book draft. As I wrote this late Wednesday, my manuscript is still in the draft-draft stage. I have the rest of the day to add, rearrange and delete the 250 words already on the page. I'll return to my Word document for another go or two at it. With a lot on our family plate this week, I'm not freaking out. I just plan to write. Plus, I have the support of hundreds of other writers, who are doing the challenge too. For this, I am thankful.

If you are participating in the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge, how are you doing? If not, how are your writing goals this week?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm creating vomit

Photo by Tracy S. Williams

Well, I'm creating the written variety.

Since Jan. 2, I've been getting up early, walking down the hall and sitting at my desk. How is this different than my Jan. 1 routine? I'm not reading news sites, commenting on blogs or checking the weather — out the window or on an app. I'm putting "butt in chair," opening a Word file and writing.

One of my 2012 goals is to write five pages a day, five days a week. 

I won't bore you with the details every week, but for my first week — it worked! I have 25 pages or around 6,500 words. 

I came up with this routine after reading Marion Roach Smith's The Memoir Project:  A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. I found this book through  Jeff Goins blog when he interviewed Smith. I checked out her website and purchased her book for the Kindle to read over Christmas. 

After extracting the Kindle from Hubby's Angry Birds-playing-hands, I finished reading Smith's book before New Year's Eve. She shares wonderful stories to illustrate her points on writing memoir whether it's a book for publication, an essay or a treasured family memory. 

Several points in Smith's book struck me as doable for my memoir-in-progress manuscript:
  • Start small
  • Write with intent
  • A punch list for a memoir project
Here's a video from Smith's website:

"The Memoir Project" from Marion Roach Smith on Vimeo.

Here are some recent posts on her site:
By the time I read Smith's book, I already decided this would be the year for a completed MIP draft. Her book gave me a nudge to make sure it happens in five pages a day. 

Are you trying a new writing method this year or want to share what works for you?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on The Bed

Here's my selection for the Perfect Picture Books series. Visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog to see other selections.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Written and illustrated by Eileen Christelow
Clarion Books, 1989. The cover ilustration for the board book has a 2004 copyright

Suitable for: Ages 3 to 6

Theme/Topic: Bedtime, Counting

Opening: It was bedtime. So five little monkeys took a bath.

Brief Synopsis: Five little monkeys get ready for bed followed by jumping and injuries. No one listens to mama or the doctor.

On the author's page about the story, she relates how she adapted "the old finger play and jump rope rhyme" Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed into this picture book. She also notes: "There are many rhymes and finger plays in the public domain that authors and illustrators adapt into picture books."

Link to resources: Author and Illustrator Eileen Christelow has a Classroom Connections page on her website. For the Five Little Monkeys series there are math, writing, compare and contrast,  repetition and prediction and more exercises. There is also a page with more details about the story —where the author got the idea and other information.

Why I chose this book: It's one of the many books Enzo received for Christmas. With so many to choose from, I decided to feature this one since Enzo fell while Facetiming (video chatting) with his grandparents and "bumped his head."He's fine and jumped in my lap with this book in his hands. This is a fun story with lively illustrations.

I could spend all day at her website, too. Among her many fiction and non-fiction titles are: What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do?

She also has an interactive feature on the website called How Do You Illustrate? It shows the tools and techniques used to illustrate her books.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Positive Parental Participation

This is why my blog's editorial calendar is fluid. I had another blog scheduled to mention today, but on Wednesday author Vivian Kirkfield gave me The Versatile Blogger Award

Vivian's blog  Positive Parental Participation is on my future calendar for a Thankful Thursday post. I guess you see where this is going — instead of sharing seven things about me, here are seven about Vivian and her blog. 

  1. Vivian and I met through the Colorado group at Bloggy Moms. I followed her blog and Twitter accounts. When she ran a special on her book, Show Me How! Build Your Child's Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking (Positive Parental Participation), I snagged a copy for my Kindle. 
  2. Several weeks later, we met across the table at a local SCWBI meeting several weeks later. I'd like to say there was an immediate recognition of our Twitter avatars, but that didn't happen. It was a gradual "Hey you are ... " moment. We exchanged picture book manuscripts and feedback. She was very helpful.
  3. Vivian's about page explains her background as a parent and educator. I really like this part: I formulated a unique program that utilized children’s picture books as a valuable tool, not only for entertainment and enjoyment, but also for helping children deal with the many issues they encounter in their early years. 
  4. Her Show Me How! book is an interesting collection of picture books paired with a craft or cooking experience. It has six chapters. Each is filled with 15 or more picture books. For each story, Vivian has written a summary, provided a Positive Parental Participation note, an arts and craft project and a cooking project. I haven't read the entire book, but have skipped around checking out picture book titles and crafts. 
  5. Her posts make me think about parenting issues — Will The View and The Chew Be Replaced in 2012
  6. She shares tips like her Make-A-Meal Mondays: Child-Friendly Traveling Trail Mix post or this one on How to Create More Free Time and Save Money
  7. Vivian is very positive. I enjoyed these memories in her post: Why I LOVED the start of school
I'm grateful Vivian thought about me for this award. 

Enzo and I read a lot of picture books, but we haven't ventured into the crafting and cooking arena together. I have Vivian's book when we are ready to embark on this journey together. 

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 2, 2012

12 goals for 2012

Happy 2012!
You may see these guys a lot in 2012. See goal No. 7.

I chose 12 items for my goal list this year:
  1. Deadline — I'm participating in the 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge created by Julie Hedlund at Write Up My Life. The goal:  Create 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. I'll be using ideas I jotted down during Picture Book Idea Month in November or anything that strikes my fancy. My goal is to have my new draft complete by the 12th of each month.
  2. Memoir — Write five pages a day, five days a week until I have the draft of my memoir-in-progress completed. 
  3. Harry Potter — When I finish the first draft, I'm going to read the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wrote about why I haven't read this book here. It's number seven on the link.
  4. Revise — After I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and maybe another book or two, I can return to my manuscript for edits and rewrites.
  5. Housekeeping — I will personalize my blog banner and streamline the subscription process with buttons. The banner is sketched out. To better organize myself, I've created an editorial calendar with ideas for blog posts and hope to utilize Hootsuite more for social media too.
  6. Baby book — I'm like a carpenter with an unfinished house. I'm a writer with an unfinished baby book. Now, I just need to gather up those notes and tidbits of information about his first years.
  7. Photos — I will use a photo with every blog post. I have a stockpile of my own photos and a handful of sites to find free ones. I can do this!
  8. Recipes — Once a month, I will use a new recipe for a family meal. 
  9. Submissions —  I anticipate at least six submissions this year. I will keep an open mind about submissions to contests and literary magazines, but don't want to distract myself from my manuscript goal. I must write, revise, revise again and then consider submission. 
  10. Frack — I mentioned this issue of hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil and gas deposits last year. While I would like to get involved more at a local level, I've decided county and city meetings and my baby sitting budget (zero) don't go together. There are plenty of ways to stay involved, despite my inability to attend 10 a.m. meetings. I can watch meetings on TV/online; read city, county and state regulations proposals and offer comments; and stay informed on national issues. My frack blog is not a priority, but has been a good place to store articles on the topic. It's personal research really, but who knows — maybe I'll write a fiction piece on fracking in 2013.
  11. Challenges —In addition to the 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge, I'm committing to a few others this year. For a blog challenge, I'm signing up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April. I'm going to do the National Picture Book Write Week or NaPiBoWriWee in May and do the Picture Book Idea Month in November.
  12. Read More — It's essential to improve my writing. My reading will include picture books, memoir, fiction and writing craft books. I have a pile of books on my bookshelf to be read and some bloggy friends have releases this year, so I'm not writing out a list. I'm keeping it fluid.
Update: Oh, I fixed the buttons on Jan. 1.

What are your goals for 2012?