Writing Goals: A Look Back on 2018

Last year I participated in children’s author Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series. She challenges participants to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions), believing the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I felt good about what all I accomplished last year so I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution again. It really helps for when someone kindly asks: “Anything new with the writing?” and I give a hesitant “no…”

January: I didn’t make it into the Writing with the Stars mentorship or Sun vs. Snow, but I did join an online picture book critique group with five fabulous writers, who have proven to be invaluable. I can’t imagine submitting something without their critiques. I was also featured on Sub It Club’s blog for winning their “Small Steps to Success” contest. And I came up with 30 picture book ideas in 31 days thanks to Tara Lazar’s STORYSTORM. Submissions: 1 MG ms, 5 subs; 1 PB ms, 3 subs

February: I joined the picture book debut group, Newin19, for Sassafras and have learned SO MUCH (and how much I still have left to learn, gulp!). I was also encouraged to create an Amazon Authors page which made me feel pretty legit. I wrote another Bean & Jilly entry for Susanna Hill’s ValenTINY contest, and while I didn’t place, I hope to one day expand it into a chapter book. Submissions: 1 article, 1 sub; 2 PBs, 4 subs



March: Fireflies & Fairy Dust published 2 poems and 1 flash fiction piece of mine, and our local Mobile Writers’ Guild published our first ever anthology which had one of my poems, and 2 of my short stories in it, one being a story I co-wrote. I manned a table at the Mobile Literary Festival which was exciting to be a part of. Also got an agent #PitMad request. Submissions: 2 articles, 2 subs; 1 MG, 1 sub; 1 YA, 1 sub; 3 PBs, 3 subs

April: Submissions: 2 MGs, 2 subs; 1 PB, 1 sub

May: My YA was a top 3 finalist in Southern Fried Karma’s 2018 Novel Contest. Submissions: 2 PBs, 8 subs; 2 MGs, 3 subs (1 garnered a full agent request!); 1 poem, 1 sub

June: I entered picture book manuscripts into SCBWI’s Southern Breeze contest and Rate Your Story’s Free Day and received super helpful feedback on both. Submissions: 2 articles, 2 subs; 2 MGs, 4 subs

July: I sent my resume to 2 educational publishers as a Writer-For-Hire. Submissions: 1 MG, 1 sub; 1 PB, 1 sub

August: I participated in Marcie Colleen’s August Study Hall with 4 PB mss which was intense and eye-opening. Also met some lovely writer-friends there. Submissions: 1 MG, 1 sub; 1 article, 1 sub

September: I spent this month revising the mss from Study Hall critiques, and received a full agent request on my MG magical realism. My picture book critique group and I launched our brand new blog, Wonder of Words!

October: I participated in my 1st ever twitter chat hosted by Matthew Winner with the Newin19 debut group, and did my 1st public reading at a local indie bookshop’s grand opening! Owl Hollow Press published my short story “Swamp Mallow” in their anthology and I really, really just love Halloween. The poem I submitted to Susanna Hill’s HalloWEENSIE contest didn’t place but I expanded it to a prose PB ms that I am absolutely in love with and hope to start querying in the new year. Submissions: 1 PB, 1 sub


SQUIRREL GIRL! & family Halloween

November: For my birthday, my super supportive parents gave me Callie Metler-Smith’s Writing Magic Lab so I can focus on one of my MGs. Submissions: 2 PBs, 2 subs

December: Pretty much shocked that this month is almost over. I read one of my Christmas poems at the Mobile Writers’ Guild Christmas party and was pleasantly surprised at the applause, lol. My picture book manuscript “Little Oak” won Honorable Mention in the Writing Magic Holiday contest. I decided to invest in myself and used Christmas money to enroll in the Children’s Book Academy workshop in the New Year. Super excited for that! Submissions: 1 poem, 1 sub

So maybe there is ‘something new’ with my writing. Laying out my accomplishments like this helps me see how my writing has grown this year. Maybe next time I won’t answer the question with a hesitant no.

I encourage you to do the same!

Writing Goals: A Look Back on 2017

Last December I wrote a post looking back on 2016 to see how far I had come despite the rejections (why are they always the easiest to recall???). The curious may find that post here. This year, I joined children’s author Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series. She challenged participants to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! 12-Days-of-Christmas-1-300x300

My personal challenge for 2017 was to submit specifically kidlit submissions at least twice a month. I’m happy to say I reached that goal for the year, so yippee for me 🙂

In January, I submitted one picture book manuscript and four poems to kidlit magazines, and was ecstatic when one was accepted by Highlights Hello. The personal essay that I was extremely hopeful for in 2016 was officially accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul!

February was mainly revisions and working on the adult manuscript I’m co-writing with two others so I didn’t submit much, just the bare minimum I had set for myself–one PB MS and one short story. But I did survive being the Girl Scout Cookie Chair for my daughter’s troop and feel that’s a huge accomplishment, lol.

I entered one of my middle grade manuscripts into a SCBWI contest and submitted a poem, one MG and two PB MSS in March and April. The big thing I did in April was have a book signing for my Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever which was SOOO COOL. Luckily, it was at my best friend’s shop in my hometown so it wasn’t as terrifying as it could have been (and there was wine which always gives courage. Not so much with helping spelling names correctly). And my little sister got married which was a lot of fun!

Three PB MSS submissions in May and my Mermaid Girl GRADUATED FROM KINDERGARTEN!!! We celebrated at PF Chang’s which is always a yum time 🙂

In June and July, I entered another manuscript into a different, regional SCBWI contest and it placed second, and had a dark flash fiction piece two light poems accepted into a fairytale anthology which was great for my confidence because I had been collecting passes like postage stamps for a bit. And Dinosaur Boy turned four which means he’s a big kid now. 20604615_10101620196879773_3007376234309447584_n

(My sister took him to Houston’s Museum of Natural Science for his birthday so you know he ATE THAT UP like a Longneck with a tree-star.)

In August, I had a picture book manuscript accepted, which obviously is a dream come true. More on that here. And in September, a short story cut from my Young Adult MS was a finalist in YA Review Network’s Halloween Contest. In October, I stumbled upon children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill‘s fun contests via Sub It Club which introduced me to SO MANY talented, helpful, and encouraging writers. Not to mention, inspired two pieces I later submitted to magazines.

November I gave myself a grace period on the submissions (and I sent in seven submissions in October to make up for it) when I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was such a great experience that I plan on doing it again in ’18. I didn’t “win” in the traditional sense, but I am the proud owner of 20k words I didn’t have before!

And now that we’re to this current month, I hope to hear good things for the two middle grade MSS and one magazine submission I sent out before the holidays! I want to participate in children’s authors BeckyTara Book’s Writing With the Stars PB mentor program in the months to come, and maybe take a few online workshops in the upcoming year.

So why don’t you try this? Write out any and all, big and little successes you’ve had this past year to set yourself up for an amazing 2018!