“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

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

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

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...