Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Resolved …

In my observation, the vast majority of people claim not to make New Year’s resolutions. And yet, we keep talking about it. So there must be something to the sense of renewal and reassessment inherent in a new year. (Or it could be media hype.) Maybe we’re just making plans. Maybe we are hoping for something better. Maybe we really are making solid goals. One thing’s for sure, we should steer clear of things we have little to no control over. I’d like to resolve to win the lottery, but the universe probably won’t listen to me.

Part of the problem with such things is that they set us up for failure. It’s all in how you approach your plans, I guess. I love traveling, but at least half the fun for me is making the plans. Airlines, hotels, how we will get around, and what there is to see. But then I relax and roll with the punches. Because it’s usually the unexpected that makes a trip memorable. Like the tram passenger in Prague who fought with the driver to help an elderly woman. That was not on my list of events to witness.

So, here are some things in my plans. Can’t wait to see how the plans turn out. In January, I plan to participate in three different writing challenges. I will sign up again for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge ( I fizzled on this one in 2013, but I’m feeling much more organized this year. And I did learn a lot from the forums. Julie provides so much to participants that she charges for this opportunity, but I’ve decided it’s well worth the cost for me. I’m also planning to Start the Year Off Write with Shannon Abercrombie (, twenty-one days of writing challenges and sharing. Meg Miller helps picture book writers revise drafts during ReviMo (, a week of blogs.

All of these challenges have wonderful blogs with guest bloggers and great advice for writers. There are many other challenges out there. Sub Six, Alayne Kay Christian’s challenge, which encourages submitting picture book manuscripts to editors and agents, comes to mind.

Let me say these are not the end all and be all of my writing for January, but these are some of my plans. In fact, I’m hoping they will inspire me to keep working on the projects I already have going. I know the camaraderie, support, and tips are invaluable in such communities.  Sitting back and waiting for the unexpected.

In February, I will be in New York at the winter conference of SCBWI. I’ve been to this conference before but never as a regional advisor. We do work for our supper, but seeing such events from a different angle is always fascinating. I’m planning to be lucid enough to discuss my current projects with other attendees. What a challenge!

Of course, that’s just a few of the plans for 2014. Hope yours are shaping up too.

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Wish List

Cartoon SantaPlease, Santa, whether you be black, white, gay, straight, or made of fairy dust, bring me the following:

1)      Kindness: I feel a little like a Miss America contestant in listing what I want. What I really want is world peace, but since that is elusive, I’ll settle for a little kindness. A few random acts of kindness would do. I find it very sad that the news reports on random gestures get so much attention, because that means that, on some level, they are rare events. And I recognize that I’m as guilty as the next person. I read something on Facebook that really sets me off and forget to note the author is a human being and probably has supporters. I do my best to remain positive and kind on social media, but it’s so damn hard. So I guess my first wish is to receive kindness for kindness.

2)      Excellence: Or at least refusal to settle for mediocrity. I’d like to go an entire week without seeing “its” misused in an article by an educational institution. I’d like for people to understand that Common Core is a step in the right direction – an attempt to set standards for raising our children to new heights – NOT a communist to plot to test them to death. I’d like to see less of 50 Shades and more of 5000 Awesome Facts. And I’d like the excellence to rub off on me.

3)      Forgiveness: At the same time I’m seeking excellence, I recognize we are all human. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what can we laugh at? And remember that the boobs who really mess up are likely to get bit in the butt anyway. Most of us pay for our mistakes – eventually.

4)      Humor: See “forgiveness.” First, laugh at yourself.

5)      Compassion: Had to say it. I try to keep politics out of this blog, but in a world where our so-called leaders, millionaires who owe all their wealth to careers in Congress, suggest school children be issued brooms, I just have to shake my head.

6)     Selfawareness: I hope I can remember my own humanity and that these are all things I need to work on.



My Favorite? At the moment?

I cringe whenever anyone asks me for a favorite anything. Seriously, if I ever figure out what my favorite color is, I’ll be more surprised than anyone. When someone asks for my favorite book or favorite song, I anxiously try to make a decision.

I remember Mom reading me a lot of ABC books, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes when I was really little. I also remember telling Grandma that she’d skipped a page in her one ABC book. The only clue I have for which was my favorite, though, is that I can still recite some of the more obscure nursery rhymes. (Of course, as my husband will tell you, this is not much of a clue since I remember details forever.) “This is the house that Jack built” seems to be forming itself into a newer and more exciting picture book in my head as a direct result of Picture Book Idea Month. It’s become a bit of an earworm, actually.

BrightyI also remember an especially wonderful teacher, Mrs. Foster, reading us novels. She was my teacher in both third and fourth grades, so she holds a special place in my heart. And I know I was at her home at least once. I don’t remember all the books, but the two I do remember are Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry and Charlotte’s Web.  I loved Brighty so much that it surprised me when I found out that Marguerite Henry wrote all those Chincoteague books. Now, one of my best friends, Lois Szymanski, follows in her giant footsteps.

So, what was my favorite read-aloud book? Darned if I know. All I know for sure is that books have always been there. Books are important. Books are to be treasured because they stay with you your entire life.

In other news, challenges are good for the writer’s soul. January brings two new challenges for me. I’m going to hit the re-start button on Julie Hedlund’s year-long 12 x 12 challenge – writing 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months. Julie provides many brilliant items as part of the challenge, so she does need to charge for participation, but it’s well worth it.

I’m also planning to check out a challenge by Shannon Abercrombie, Start the Year off Write. It’s three weeks of daily challenges and looks very exciting.Banner_StartTheYearOffWrite

Two of my favorite challenges.

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