12x12x12 Picture Book Writing Challenge Completed!

At the beginning of the year I wrote about a writing challenge I had decided to join: Participant Badge for 12 x 12 in 2012. Then half way through the year I wrote about it again to mark a milestone: Halfway through the 12 x 12 writing challenge. Now we have come to the end of the year and it is time to write the final update about the challenge and how I went with it.

I am glad to say I did it, I managed to write 12 manuscript drafts for picture books and I am now looking forward to rereading them again in the new year. I look forward to editing and rewriting the manuscripts until they are polished and ready to be submitted to the big wide world of publishing houses. During the journey I learnt many tips on writing:

  • On the very first page start with a strong sentence – let the reader know who the story is about, where they are, when the story is happening and what the problem may be
  • Try to show the story in the words you are using, rather than tell the obvious in story (something which the illustrator will do for you)
  • Make sure your character grows in the journey of trying to achieve their goal
  • Use fresh language that will be a pleasure to listen to
  • resolve your story with a satisfying end!

I’d like to ‘Thank’ Julie Hedlund for creating the writing challenge and if you have also completed the challenge, well done!


Halfway through the 12 x 12 writing challenge!

I woke up to a party going on in my writing blog world. It is official, we are half way through the 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 writing challenge. I have previously written about it here in my New Year – New Goals  post.

The 12 x 12 writing challenge was the brain child of Julie Hedlund, visit her and join in her party too! While you’re at it, why don’t you click here and visit all the other 12 x 12 party goers too!

So, have I managed to write a picture book manuscript each month so far? Thankfully the answer to that is yes! And the very reason that I can keep coming up with new ideas each month is what is actually keeping me going. Because sometimes you do start to doubt yourself (am I wasting my time, am I actually any good at this, what if I run out of ideas, blah, blah, blah) But I do keep coming up with new ideas and this is what keeps me going. Here are some of the story ideas I have written about so far:

January – A young boy is looking for clean undies…

February – Florence loves the library but…

March – Farley the fox has trouble doing something that all foxes should be able to do.

April – A little penguin is determined to be able to fly just like his friends.

May – A caterpillar and a tadpole are the best of friends and help each other when something very strange happens to them!

June – Letters go back and forth between a father and his daughter in 1929.


A selection of the manuscripts written this year so far. Plus my PiBoIdMo 2011 notebook that I use for my ideas.

Happy writing and thanks for stopping by!


New note:

Due to a lot of discussion on our 12 x 12 Facebook page  I have cut my story pitches back. This is because posting whole stories or pitch ideas may be copied by others or make them invalid for publishing as they have already been seen. This may mean that some of your lovely comments below might not make as much sense, sorry!

Guest post on Alison K Hertz’ blog

One of my rough sketches – inspired by a character I am writing about.

This week I appear as a guest on the blog of Alison K Hertz. A fellow writer and illustrator.  I met Alison virtually on the 12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge organised by Julie Foster Hedlund. This challenge has become a huge community of aspiring and successful children’s writers/authors who are all giving each other support and great tips along the way.

On Alison’s blog I talk about my journey as a writer and my hopes and dreams of one day being published. The post also focuses on my artwork and the processes I go through to achieve my images. I felt quite privileged to be a guest as this is not something I have done before.

I also talk about the things I have done to proactively get my work out there, like entering competitions. Which reminds me to remind you that the closing date for  CBCA Frustrated Writers Mentorship Program is on Friday 1st June 2012.

I thoroughly believe that:

“You’ve got to be in it to win it!” 

I also feel that:

“This writing business is not a straight and easy Roman road, it’s more of a bumpy country lane!”

Liebster Blog Award

This week I received The Liebster Blog Award by Alison Hertz a fellow 12 Picture Books in 12 months in 2012 Writing Challenge participant. So, firstly, a big Thank You’ Alison!

I had not heard the term ‘Liebster’ before and therefore googled the meaning. According to a german to english dictionary translation on Dict.cc it can mean:

  • beloved
  • darling
  • sweetheart.
The award is designed to celebrate bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. By highlighting other fantastic blogs, more people will become aware of the world of knowledge, creativity and communityship (forgive me for making up this word but it just felt the right way to say it) that there is out there, I am hoping that you go check them out. So I pass on this award to the following Liebster Masters:

When you receive this award you are supposed to write five things about yourself…

  1. I love to research my family tree and started at the unusual age of 17 years old.
  2. I am a trained primary teacher.
  3. I went to the Eiffel Tower on a school trip as a kid and kept my eyes closed the whole time I was up there – I get dreadful vertigo!
  4. I can roll my tongue – something you cannot learn to do and I hate sand on my feet.
  5. I used to  paint to Leonard Cohen at College – I just found his music and poetry relaxing (and not in the slightest bit depressing as many believe). I watched him in concert in Sydney 2 years ago, and for a chap in his 70’s he was brilliantly entertaining and incredibly charming!
If you want to learn more about the 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge to discover all more talented author/illustrators) go to Julie Hedlund’s Blog.

Rate Your Story

Get a free critique rating on your manuscript

A while back I discovered this blog called Rate Your Story and have recently submitted two different manuscripts to their services. It is a brilliant free way of getting someone from their panel of judges to read your picture book manuscript and give a rating from 1 – 10 (1 = the best mark) and  a bonus extra little bit of feedback. Most of all it gives you some kind of indication of wether or not you are on the right track.

Many of my fellow participants of Julie Hedlunds writing challenge 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 have also submitted their work and it is great to see all their  feedback and delight at how their work is developing.

I know I must be improving because I have sent two manuscripts so far. Last weeks story about a zoo, had a rating of 7, so it either needs a lot more work on it or maybe needs to be put at the bottom of the pile for now, so I can focus on others that read better.

The second manuscript about a tooth fairy had a rating of 5. An improvement, even if it is a small one! Do I feel a sudden need to give in and decide that maybe this isn’t for me? Not a chance, I feel more determined than ever to see those ratings get closer to number 1!

The closing date for the latest lot of submissions is 7th Febraury 2012, so you have got to be quick to get in by tomorrow if you are interested.

Of course this is not the only thing I do to give me an indication of the standard of my work. I also send my manuscripts to professional editors and assessors, my critique group, publishing houses and writing competitions. I have written about this before in my post about the importance of Participating. Having some kind of deadline is good for you, it stops you procrastinating and wasting valuable writing time!

Anyway Good luck with your work, wherever you submit it!

New Year – New Goals

My new note book!

This year I am going to really go for it and work my hardest to make my dream come true. To achieve this, there were a few things I had to do. The list below includes some of the things I have already put into action:


  • Join SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators)
  • Participate in e-mail critiques as well as face-to-face ones with my critique group (which I recommend to anyone embarking on a similar journey)
  • Buy/borrow ‘Writing Picture Books’ by Ann Whitford Paul (coming in the post any day now)


And I am sure there will be more that I will think of as the year progresses. Goodluck with your writing goals too!