"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

1/2/17

My One Word: 2016 and 2017

Most who know me know I am a very goal-oriented person (in fact, I already shared my goal wrap-up for 2016 and my new ones for 2017 on this very blog). I work best with specific guidelines and benchmarks. I am good at details.

The problem, however, is I don't always see the big picture - how those little things connect into a single whole. And they do :) That, at least for me, is where One Word comes in.

For the past few years, I have chosen a single word to focus on for the year. It has helped me to take all those little pieces and discover how they connect - and how to keep my focus in all the little things on one big thing.

This past year, my word was Truth. I spent 2016 studying all the different references to this word in God's Word (217 of them to be exact!), and attempting to check each thing I saw, did, thought, and felt against what I learned. It was a good word for me - it kept me on the right path for the most part, and was a wonderful way to get myself BACK where I needed to be when I did stray.

So, when 2017 started approaching, I began to think about, and pray for, my 2017 word. And one thing that kept coming back to me was my struggle with entitlement and my desire for things to be my way. I don't like it - and I know my Heavenly Father dislikes it even more. And so, after prayer and contemplation, God gave me my word for this year.

And not just any servant. I want to be a giving, selfless, obedient, grateful servant (and to continue to teach my children the same). No more complaining about what I have to do. No more whining about my load. Make me a servant, Lord!
Each morning, I plan to read and meditate on three "servant verses" I have chosen (John 12:25-26, 1 Corinthians 9:19-20 and Luke 22:26-27), and have part of my quiet time with one of several servant-focused reading plans at YouVersion.

Because, you see, I have a way of kinda forgetting my focus if I don't put it in front of me every day. I get caught up in the day to day, and forget about the big picture. So hopefully, servanthood will permeate all of 2017.
Do you pick a word for the year? Make goals or resolutions? I'd love to hear about it!
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

12/31/16

Yes - I still exist :) Looking Back and Looking Forward

In case you are curious, I AM in fact aware that is has been A YEAR since I posted anything on this blog. It has been a busy time, and I just haven't focused (at all) on this aspect of my writing or platform. But, being the goal-focused person I am, I couldn't resist sharing how 2016 went goals-wise, not to mention my plans for 2017.

So, how was 2016? Let's see what my plans were - from my last post here nearly 365 days ago:

2016 Life/General Goals 
  • Eat healthier: drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets
  • Get house organized and sorted, concluding with a garage sale
Writing Goals 
  • Writing or editing my children's writing a minimum of an hour each week 
  • Read and take notes on at least 300 new to me, and published in 2011 or later, picture books
  • Participate in: ReviMo, ReFoReMo(?), Kidlit Summer School, PiBoIdMo, Debut PB Study Group, at least one class or additional challenge, and my in-person critique group
  • Use RateYourStory at least twice
  • Have at least one picture book manuscript ready for submission
And my review? I definitely improved my "healthiness." Water and fruit and veggie consumption were definitely up (most weeks, anyway), and sweets are a bit less of a temptation. I organized and sorted a good majority of my house (though not all) and DID have a garage sale. The house doesn't look like I did a thing, but I did - and that's what matters. Right? ;)

As far as writing, I did picture book work at least an hour a week more weeks than not. By my calculations, I spent approximately 48 hours this year writing, researching, or editing picture book manuscripts. I also read and took notes on 373 picture books that met my criteria, and participated in each of the challenges listed (other than PiBoIdMo, which changed its name to StoryStorm and was rescheduled for this January), as well as National Picture Book Writing Week. As far as the last two, I only did Rate Your Story once, since they changed their system and don't have many free days anymore, and while I AM closer to being ready to submit, I don't think I am QUITE there yet.

And there you have it.

But enough looking back - it's time to go boldly into 2017. And my goals? Check 'em out!
2017 Goals
General  
  • Increased liquid consumption (aim is 80 ounces a day - 10 cups - mostly water)
  • Organize/straighten the basement (which is quite big, ridiculously messy, and the one place I DIDN'T get to in my 2016 cleaning)
Writing
  • Submit at least two picture book manuscripts to agents or publishers
  • Read and take notes on 300 new to me, and published in 2012 or later, picture books
  • Spend an average of an hour a week editing, writing, and/or researching a picture book
  • Have a current, functioning website/blog by the end of the year
See that last one? Yup - planning to be here more often. Don't know what it will look like (and don't hold your breath), but the plan is to do SOMETHING around here on some sort of regular basis.

And the next thing? A post about my word for the year (both 2016 AND 2017). Watch for it in the next couple days.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

1/1/16

Welcome to a New Year: 2016 Word - and Goals

I am a goal person. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while (or know me) realize that. So, even though some folks like the idea of "just" picking a word for the year - it doesn't work for me.

This is my third year with a one word theme. I strongly recommend it. My 2015 word, "closer," definitely kept me moving this past year. And I am extremely excited to see what God does with my word for 2016. And what word would that be?

TRUTH 

There are 217 verses in God's Word with the word "truth" in them (NJV). In addition to trying to keep the word at the forefront, and keep my actions, thoughts, and emotions in line with God's many truths, I will spend 2016 reading, studying, and taking notes on each of those verses and attempting to apply them to my life. I can't wait to see what God does!

And now to goals for 2016. After reviewing my 2015 goals, I have come up with the following:

Life/General Goals 
  • Eat Healthier: drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets
  • Get house organized and sorted, concluding with a garage sale
Writing Goals 
  • Writing or editing my children's writing a minimum of an hour each week 
  • Read and take notes on at least 300 new to me, and published in 2011 or later, picture books
  • Participate in: ReviMo, ReFoReMo(?), Kidlit Summer School, PiBoIdMo, Debut PB Study Group, at least one class or additional challenge, and my in-person critique group
  • Use RateYourStory at least twice
  • Have at least one picture book manuscript ready for submission
So - there you have it! Happy New Year - and I'd LOVE to hear your plans for 2016!

DO YOU PICK A WORD FOR THE YEAR? WHAT IS IT? HOW ABOUT GOALS?

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

12/30/15

2015 - Looking Back

I know - I haven't blogged much this year. But it doesn't mean I haven't been pressing forward. And it's good to acknowledge progress, right? So - here I am, doing just that.

At the beginning of 2015, I set some goals - and picked a one word theme. And, as I generally do around this time of year, I am going to look at them and see how I did.

What were they, you ask? Well, here you go - straight from my first post of this year:
  • Complete at least twelve picture book rough drafts
  • Do substantial revisions on at least six picture book manuscripts
  • Do at least one specific, relatively substantial, thing to improve my children's writing craft each month (e.g. take a class, read a craft book, participate in a picture book-related challenge, get a substantial critique, etc.).
  •  Work on a picture book manuscript for five minutes or more at least five days a week the vast majority of weeks.
 And how did I do?
  • I did NOT complete twelve rough drafts. I would say I managed five or six - but my focus changed a bit later, so I am fine with that.
  • I definitely worked on revisions more this year - though I probably only did five substantial ones
  • January was ReviMo, February was creating and submitting a PB pitch to a blog for feedback, March was ReFoReMo, April RhyPiBoMo, May working through a good portion of a craft book, June I think I skipped, July and August were Kidlit Summer School, September I skipped, October was a one-day children's writer's conference, November was PiBoIdMo, and December I skipped (unless something substantial comes up in the next 48 hours or so :::r:::). So - nine out of twelve months. Not bad :)
  • I went through my little calendar just now (I put a "w" every time I wrote a PB, and a R when I revised) and I did one or the other five times a week 35 out of 52 weeks, with the VAST majority of the rest either four or five days. I am pleased, for the most part.
And - my one word last year was "Closer" - and I feel like it was "a success." It helped keep me focused on making progress in a lot of areas.

So - there it is :)

Watch for another post in the next few days on my word and goals for 2016.

How was YOUR 2015?


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

12/11/15

Precious Cargo - a 5th Annual Holiday Contest Entry

Yes - I know I have neglected my blog. This is my first post since April, but when I saw Susanna Hill's 5th Annual Holiday Contest, and checked out the topic, I got an idea immediately - and posting the entry on your blog is kinda part of the process. See the rules - and the other contributions - at her blog. But the basics? 350 words or less, holiday themed, and with a specific first several words (or variation)

So - I got the idea when I looked at the post Monday, but I didn't get it finished until (literally) just now. I hope you like it. (And just FYI: "Chaim" - the Hebrew word for "life," is basically pronounced "HI-yum" - but combined into one syllable)

Precious Cargo

by Joanne Sher

Grazing near the hitching post behind The Belthlehem Inn, Chaim the donkey searched in vain for a water trough. People? Everywhere. Hay? Plenty. But water? Nowhere.

Chaim stretched out his back, working the kinks out. Not only had he traveled all the way from Nazareth, but he'd had precious (and heavy) cargo on his back. His rider was going to have a baby, so he'd tried to walk smoothly and gently, but now his muscles ached.

Chaim dropped to the ground and scratched his back against the brush. “So much better. Now where can I get a drink?”

Fumbling as he attempted to rise, the donkey spotted a small building off in the distance. “Looks like a stable.”

Chaim strode toward it, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. He sped up as he heard rustling inside, but as he approached, his eyes widened. Human voices? A giggle?

Chaim's ears perked up. He knew those people. But why were they in the stable?

A high pitched wail rang through the stable walls, then ended. As Chaim walked in, he smiled at its source.

His former rider and her husband, standing over a water trough – and inside, a newborn baby wrapped in cloths. Chaim inspected the little one, rubbing up against him and sniffing his tiny fingers. The baby responded with a sigh, and his mother with a rub on Chaim's back. Chaim stuck his dry tongue out in the hopes of a few drops around the child in the trough. Again, nothing.

“You won't find any water here – just our precious baby.” Mary smiled and gazed down at the infant.

The donkey let out a dry cough. Joseph carried a small bucket and placed it under Chaim's nose. “For you, my donkey friend. I am afraid we have been busy since we left you.” He and Mary chuckled.

As he lapped up the water, he heard another strange sound.

“An angel told us to come here to see the Savior.”

Chaim gazed at the shepherds in awe. He had been carrying precious cargo.

**

Hope you enjoyed the story - be sure to stop by Susanna's post and see all the other amazing entries!

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009. Design expanded and personalized by PattyWysong.com 2011.

Back to TOP