Meet Vivian Kirkfield in just five words – Writer for children, reader forever. Five great words, and I’m thrilled they apply to me too.
Vivian is a retired Kindergarten teacher and now a published author. From February 2019 till January 2020, she published her first four books. That is an incredible achievement!
Along the way she also started a writing contest in 2016. If you’d like to take a look, click on this link. You’ll see how it all started, as well as this year’s prizes. If you keep scrolling, you’ll see the 2020 entries and the comments made about them.
In 2016 Vivian hoped for a few entries. She got 128! That first winner found an agent and a board book series, but it all started with 50 precious words.
This year Vivian is up to 390 entries. They received over 5000 comments. If you’d like to read a few, click on her link, and start scrolling. Happy reading!
This is my first try at 50 Precious Words. Where did it come from? An idea I played with since my granddaughter was born. I love telling stories, and I thought about the ones I want to tell her, just like the grandma in the picture.
I pooled my ideas into an outline about rocking her to sleep with a story about her dad as a little boy. It was too long and needed more heart so I shifted the focus to the night she was born.
After a dozen drafts, maybe more, here’s my story . . .
Baby, can’t sleep?
Here’s a story -
You were tucked in your mama’s belly.
You twisted and turned.
“It’s time, baby!”
But hours passed,
Then a day. Was it two?
You twisted, tried turning.
“Need a little more room?”
You nodded and decided it was time to be born.
Before I wrote NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, I’d never seen how illustrations come together for a book. It’s a process! I found a great illustrator in Cole Roberts, but I also found myself with no experience evaluating his art. YIKES!
The first set of sketches came in red. I don’t know why, but they did. I worked with them, but I printed them in black so they’re clearer for you. In this first set, I looked them over to make sure I understood what’s there. The first two images are clearer than the others because Cole wanted a firm idea on how the book would start.
Chapter 1 – I wanted an illustration of how Neil got rid of his extra planes as a kid. He threw them out the window and watch them crash. Why? He wanted to build better airplanes.
Chapter 2 – It was about gathering the materials together. Cole wanted to show them in a notebook. It fit, by middle school Neil had lots of notebooks full of wind tunnel notes.
Chapter 3 - It was about building the tunnel so Cole suggested putting the materials together on a table with Neil trying to figure out how to put them together.
Chapter 4 – Neil's tunnel wasn’t working. This was the only chapter I asked for a change. I thought kids would think it looked like a geometric design. It’s a plane hanging inside the tunnel.
Chapter 5 – The tunnel was done, and it was time to show Mom. Neil’s wind tunnel blew off her housecoat and threw his plane smash-crash through a window.
Chapter 6 – Neil, age 16, told Mom he was going to Purdue. She was thrilled, till Neil said he’d be flying fighter jets by the time he turned 18. That’s when she dropped a jam jar on her foot. OUCH!
Take a quick look back and forth between Set 1 and 2. The first 2 chapters look the same. So do the last two. The biggest difference is in the middle. The setting for Chapter 3 is coming into focus. Neil’s in the basement looking at his materials. This is one of the biggest mistakes I made. I didn’t notice all that wood! I wish I had. Wood was never on Neil’s supply list.
Chapter 4 is so much better! You can see the plane. It’s clearly in the middle of the tunnel where it’s supposed to be, but I asked for one small change. I wanted the rod to run across the tunnel from side to side. In Set 2 it went from front to back. I didn’t think the real wind tunnel worked that way. Part of the problem was trying to imagine how Neil built the real wind tunnel. He didn’t leave detailed instructions!
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 look pretty much the same in Set 3. It’s interesting to look back at Chapter 3 now – I can see the wood. In my head I thought the supplies from Chapter 2 would be there, but I was wrong. Hindsight is always 20/20! It’s such a pity, but, you can’t know what you don’t yet know.
On Chapter 4, I love, love, LOVE the plane and how it sits in the tunnel! It’s perfect, and that’s what I told Cole. Every time he sent a new set of thumbnails, it was my job to look them over, then send an answer to him either the same day or the next one.
If we agreed, it was easy! Cole moved ahead to the next set of thumbnails. If we didn’t, we had a conversation via email about how to proceed. At this point, it was easy. Chapter 4 was the only place I needed corrections, and Cole understood what I was asking for in both Sets 1 and 2.
BTW – I sent him a copy of the book after we both signed the contract. I also sent him another copy, autographed, after it was published.
Next up, Set 4! Stay tuned to see what’s up next with his illustrations!
Set 4 is where the wood hit the fan. Not literally, but it felt like it!
This time I saw wood in Chapter 3, then again in Chapter 5. We were near the end of the thumbnail process, but I had to ask Cole to make a change. The reason – wood was never on the supply list, and I spent hours researching it. I came up with the four supplies show in chapter 2 – stovepipe, electric motor, rheostat, and fan blades.
BTW – Neil needed a rheostat so he could set the speed to high, medium, or low on the fan blades.
Fun fact #1 – The fan blades aren’t from a fan. They came from an airplane. Really!
Fun Fact #2 – The wind tunnel you see in Chapter 5 was based on the research notes I sent Cole. Did you know that Neil Armstrong modeled his wind tunnel on the one the Wright Brothers built in 1901? Without that wind tunnel, their plane wouldn’t have got off the ground.
Cole understood, and I appreciated it. When you’re this far into the process, it can be hard to back up the train. Cole did! As for the other chapters, they looked great! Until – I discovered something new. YIKES!
When I started writing about Set 5, I thought it was the first set of ‘tight lines,’ but now I think Set 4 is too. Either way, I’d never heard of tight lines before. If you compare the first 3 sets of illustrations to the last 2, the lines look way different. The first 3 are sketchy. The last 2 look tighter, more like the lines you see in a coloring book. At least that’s how I understand tight lines.
Look at Chapter 3, 4, and 5. HOORAY! No Wood! The illustrations match my research and my words. In Chapter 3, Cole used the supplies I wrote about, plusa few common tools like screwdrivers. I forgot there was wood in Chapter 4, but Cole changed the focus in both chapters to show only the tunnel. Brilliant! It was an easy fix, and I was grateful for it!
In Chapter 6 I discovered a new problem. I wanted the illustration to show Mom dropping a jar on her foot. I thought the scene took place in the kitchen. It didn’t! While Cole was working on Set 5, I double checked my research, and I discovered a mistake. The scene really took place in the basement. YIKES!
I was so embarrassed ! I apologized to Cole and asked if he could switch the setting. Cole took it in stride. All the way through it looked like the kitchen sink. With a few small changes Cole turned the sink into a cabinet. I was so grateful! The hard work was all done. The final sketches were approved. All that remained was shading in the images.
Chapters 2 and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
This is a copy of the last set of images I got from Cole. I lost the original file. I submitted them in my manuscript, and IngramSparks rejected them. My error message told me to convert the illustrations to grayscale and to 300 dpi.
I didn’t know what to do. I emailed Cole, but he doesn’t work with the interior files. Thank goodness one of my critique partners did. Rick is a tech guru! He solved both problems.
DPI’s are Dots Per Inch, and 300 dots per inch makes great pictures. Grayscale is a series of shades between black and white. There are 256 different shades. I can believe it, looking at the images above.
Rick emailed the changes, and I pasted them into my manuscript. I resubmitted them to Ingram, and they were accepted. Hooray!
Cole’s final illustration is below, the cover art. It went through the same basic process as the black and white ones did, but it went much faster with only one image. Here’s a screenshot of the final cover.
This is me with Merrill Rainey at the Marvelous Midwest SCBWI conference last May. I asked Merrill in 2018 about finding an illustrator for my debut book NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM. He loved the idea, gave me great advice, but couldn’t do the illustrations himself. His story – his agent would have had a fit! I believe it . . . I can’t afford Merrill’s prices!
But at the conference I got this illustration of me . . . FOR FREE! On Saturday night, the conference set up a carnival midway with games, and prizes, and charicatures. Guess who did mine!
I still have it. I just gave it a frame, and a home at my lake house.
I found the perfect frame. It’s a dark hunter green. I put Merrill’s caricature inside and closed it up.
Now it’s easier to read the words, ‘It’s THE POOP DECK!’ There’s a story behind them. While Merrill was busy drawing me, I was telling him about the darn ducks at the lake. They think the boat dock is their personal poop deck.
NOT! It’s THE boat dock. I’d love those ducks if they would just stay in the lake. They don’t, and when they land on the dock – they POOP! Someone has to clean it up, and sometimes it’s me.YUCK!
So that’s why Merrill added in the caption, but I edited his words because it’s NOT the poop deck!
Here’s the display I promised you in the title. I took the first photo a few months ago when I added Merrill’s caricature. The ducks and the giant wine bottle were already there.
I got the idea when those darn ducks decided my dock was their poop deck. I added Merrill’s caricature third. I never see possibilities right away, but as soon as I did, I framed his work. It belongs at the lake with those ducks!
Last week I had another great idea. I thought about the hidden compartment and how fun it would be to put something inside. I looked around our lake house and found these two characters. One is a doll made with buttons from my favorite antique shop. The owl came from a critique partner’s store. He’s so cute he didn’t even have to give a hoot to come home with me!
There’s room in the bottom for two wine glasses. I thought about putting them in, but glass breaks so I didn’t. Also I have a new granddaughter. I’d rather put in things that she can play with. How fun would it be for her to open the bottle and find treasures inside, just for her!
Didn't get enough of President's Day on Monday?
Try this blast from the past! It's my three-part Presidential Trivia Challenge from 2017.
Answers below each challenge. Good luck!
Challenge #1 - Can you match a president's name to his picture?
#2 - Can you put a few presidents into historical order?
#3 - Presidential trivia: I'll give you a clue. Can you identify the president?
These are images from an interview I did with Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez on December 19, 2019. Her article focused on how I wrote and self-published my debut book. She finished up with a very nice book review for NEIL ARMSTRONG'S WIND TUNNEL DREAM.
Click on this link, and you can read our December interview:
I was thrilled to be part of READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC’S 2nd birthday. It’s June McCrary Jacob’s website. She picked her top 5 posts from last year, and I was honored to be NUMBER 4!
June asked me two questions: 1.) What lessons did I learn from writing and publishing my debut book? 2.) What is my next project? My answer included the first illustration from my new book coming out in May, LAKE FUN FOR YOU AND ME.
Click on the link below and scroll down to NUMBER 4 for my interview. https://authorjunemccraryjacobs.blogspot.com/2020/02/mmgm-2nd-blog-birthdaycelebration.html? fbclid=IwAR0_TFw9MTH2f4C_q8HEEVFta3_BZyEBh6eAzzQtljzUrALYTj3OLweVZnY
Thanks to my critique friend Karen O’Leary, you can listen to the first chapter of my book for free. She recorded it on her website, Time Out With Bear. The price - 7 minutes and 21 seconds to listen to the recording.
Two confessions - first I finally listened to Karen’s recording tonight, and I loved it! It came out around Thanksgiving, and I’m sad to say I didn’t make time to listen back then. Karen even added in sound effects! My favorite . . . my words made her giggle, and she didn’t mean to. Making someone laugh is a great thing!
My second confession – I like hearing Karen read my words better than hearing myself do it. I don’t know why. I listened to the computer read them millions of times before I finally published them. My best guess is the writer in me is listening for mistakes on the first page or two. After that I can relax and enjoy reading aloud to kids. When I hear Karen read, I just feel the joy of listening to my words read back to me. It’s lovely!
Here’s Karen’s link. I hope you also take a little time to check out her other read alouds. Karen has some GREAT titles!
When I was a kid, I loved magnetic letters on the refrigerator. I loved moving them around, making new words, and taking them apart. It was one of my earliest reading and writing experiences. Now that I’m an adult, guess what’s on my refrigerator!
It starts with the name of my favorite place, Norris Lake. Below it are the names of the people I love most, my family. My husband and I are there, our parents, our three kids, and two spouses, so far. It’s like a crossword family tree. But in December, suddenly someone was missing, the newest member of our family.
Everyone was there, till December 21st. That’s when GG was born, and I needed more magnets, matching ones. I messaged my magnet guru, Rochelle from Rovals. She sent me the letters to spell GG’s name, plus a little surprise. When I opened her package, there were my favorite two letters – GG – for grandgirl!
Look at the picture below. It’s GG’s name on the refrigerator. I connected it to her mom because their names both end in ‘N.’ The second picture is a crossword of their brand new family – my son, his wife, and my GG!
Someday GG will play with all those names on the refrigerator. She’ll move them around, make new words, and take them apart. My refrigerator will be full of mismatched names, but that’s how it should be. They’re meant to be used, to help a child’s brain come to life. Best of all, I’ll be there to watch, and play with GG too.
My original idea for the alphabet post started with two questions for quizclub.com. They asked how many letters were in the English and German alphabets.
I was curious so I asked a search engine, DuckDuckGo. My source said about a thousand, but they were based on a hundred alphabets that could be boiled down to nine. After writing about each one, I never got back to the two original questions. Tonight I tried again, but the post grew once more. I found eleven languages. Here’s that world map to help you locate each one. They include:
English, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Italian, French, Greek, and German
My Source: https://wordcounter.net/blog/2015/11/24/10950_how-many-letters-alphabet.html
Do you recognize the English alphabet, and do you know the importance of this phrase?
It uses all 26 letters.
Did you know two hundred years ago there were 27? The dropped letter is still used today. Curious? It’s &!
Phrase Source: By No machine-readable author provided. Moyogo assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=701210
Can you read this? Me neither! It’s a sample from the Arabic alphabet.
عندما يريد العالم أن يتكلّم ، فهو يتحدّث بلغة يونيكود. تسجّل
It has 28 letters, but, they’re all consonants. Arabic has vowels, but you add them with a mark beside the consonant, like this – ‘a.
You read and write Arabic from right to left, and it’s all done in cursive. English is the exact opposite. It’s printed from left to right.
Arabic has contextual letterforms. That means a letter is shaped by its position within a word, depending on if it’s first, in the middle or last. If it stands alone, it may have yet another shape.
I’ll stick with English, but I love how Arabic flows across a page!
OH NO! There’s something harder than Arabic – Chinese! It doesn’t have a letter alphabet representing sounds. They use ideas and pictures, i.e. ideograms or pictograms.
I read that if you want to have functional literacy, you need to know three to four thousand characters. Would you believe there are TENS of THOUSANDS of Chinese characters? Thank goodness for English!
Ancient Chinese was even harder. It ran in columns from top to bottom, like that green sign with orange letters. It also ran from right to left, like Arabic.
Today it’s a little more like English, running across the page from left to right. It still goes from top to bottom. The Bus Stop sign reads 2E 6C 6F. Then 41 45.
If you’d like to try reading a little Chinese, click on this link, I picked up a teeny tiny bit! https://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2013/04/25/learn-to-read-chinese-in-eight-minutes/#56ff63a2179
Picture Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_Chinese
By Maloongkai - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8004756
4. The next alphabet is a little easier than Chinese, and it also comes from Asia. Do you recognize it? It’s Japanese. I know – it looks a lot like Chinese, or Korean. That’s probably because they come from the same part of the globe. To read basic Japanese, you need to recognize about 2000 symbols from three different alphabets.
The first is called Kanji, and it’s based on those Chinese pictograms. The other two alphabets are phonetic. Both hiragana and katakana have 46 letters each, 92 total. Only 1908 more Kanji symbols to learn. Easy Peasy!
Long ago you read Japanese from top to bottom in columns. It was called vertical writing. You started on page right and moved left.
Today there’s horizontal writing. It moves from left to right. It’s more like how we read English. There’s still one big difference. Japanese book spines are on the right. The book cover is on the back, and the back cover is on the front. To read Japanese, you start at the back and read to the front.
5. This could be Chinese or Japanese, but supposedly it’s easier to read than the other two. Did you recognize it as Korean? South Korea uses Hangul, and the North uses Chosan’gul. Modern Hangul has 14 consonants and 11 vowels, 24 total. Chosan’gul has 19 consonants and 21 vowels, 40 total.
The hardest part of reading or writing Korean is that it’s written in syllable blocks. I see 2 symbols to the left, then 3 and 3. I might be right, but there might be more symbols that I don’t see.
Korean was once written vertically, but now it’s horizontal, going from left to right. Looking at that red sign again, I’m not sure if there are three syllables or three words because Korean has space between its syllables, and its words, if I read correctly. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangul
6. Drive down this highway, and you’ll need to read, write, and speak Russian, but you can keep going. Explore Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the rest of the former Soviet Union too.
The Russian alphabet is based on Cyrillic. Modern Russian has 21 consonants, 10 vowels, and 2 extra symbols, or 33 total. It’s phonetic so you can learn the letters and sounds at the same time. Best of all you can still read from left to right, from top to bottom.
7. This alphabet is golden! It’s Greek to me, but it’s one of the oldest alphabets still in use. Did you know the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets came from Ancient Greece? They only had capital letters. It was the Romans who later developed lower case letters for the Latin alphabet.
The Greek alphabet has grown and changed over the centuries. Now it has 24 letters that match up with English. No Greek J’s or V’s.
If you want to learn Greek, you’ll have to learn to write in syllables. Start with 1, 2, or 3. Then you can move into longer words with more syllables. Greeks like to make l-o-n-g words!
Today the Greek alphabet is still used in technical symbols and labels. If you go into some fields, you must master Greek.
8. Can you read the sign? I can, but it’s not in English. It’s Spanish. I’d mangle every single word on those signs except for Valencia. That’s because there’s one in California. The Valencia below is near Madrid, in Spain.
Spanish doesn’t belong to just Spain. Thanks to the conquistadors, it’s the official language for most of Central and South America, who are also called Latin America.
My original source said there are 29 letters in Spanish, but if they have 4 extra letters (ch, ll, ñ and rr) shouldn’t there be 30?
The letters look like our English ones, except they have accent marks. (papá or güero) Those marks change the pronunciation, even the meaning. Letters in Spanish sound different. For example, their “h” is always silent. In our English word ‘house,’ it’s voiced, but not in ‘hour.’
9. Here are more signs that look English, but they’re actually Italian. My only clue, Roma. Americans always write it as ‘Rome.’ If you want to see and hear Italian, take a trip to Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, Slovenia, and Croatia.
Yay! The Italian alphabet has 21 letters, only 21! It matches up to our alphabet, but it uses foreign letters like ‘j, k, w, x, and y’ for foreign words with those sounds. The Italian alphabet has 3 different kinds of accent marks. You can see them in Métro, pescà, or genî.
10. This sign looks like it’s from a farmers’ market – in France. It uses the French alphabet, and it’s spoken/written in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Switzerland.
You’ll also find it used in former French colonies in Africa, Asia, North/South America, and Oceania. I didn’t recognize Oceania so I googled. It’s made up of Micronesia, Polynesia, Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and the islands around them), and Melanesia (the islands from New Guinea to Tonga).
The French alphabet has 26 letters, including all 20 of our consonants. It also has all 5 of our vowels (aeiou) – plus y. Y is only a vowel in French, never a consonant. W and K’s are mostly used in foreign words.
French, like the other European languages, uses accents on its vowels. Examples: à, é, î, ü. They also combine them – æ and œ. And C’s look like this: ç.
11. I can’t begin to read this sign, but I see double dots on the last word. That’s German! The sign says stay off the ice. Deutschland or Germany is where 78% of German is spoken.
You’ll also find it in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and South Tyrol, Italy. Three of those countries also speak French. My guess is that German’s spoken in the north, and French in the south. It’s also spoken in the former German colonies and in the Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite communities in North America. I googled again – the Hutterites are found in the Great Plains and in Western Canada.
The German alphabet has the same 26 letters as our English alphabet, but the pronunciation of some of them doesn’t exist in English. The G, CH, and the R are pronounced from the back of the throat. I can’t imagine how!
They also have a few letters with double dots, plus a fancy B – ä, ö, ü and are ß. BTW, if you’re curious, the sign says stay off the ice. I knew it was important . . . there are 2 exclamation marks. Sources: https://www.thoughtco.com/where-is-german-spoken-1444314
How many alphabets are being used around the world? 100 9 1000
Depending on how you define alphabet, it could be all three. I found each answer from a source below. The top one from Quora made sense to me. It said if you look at pure alphabets that have a letter for every sound, there’s about 100, and they boil down to these nine:
Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Braille, and Georgian
Tomorrow, I’ll look for pictures of each one. I’m curious to see how they’re alike and different.
Here’s a world map so you can find each of these nine alphabets.
1. This is the Latin alphabet. It’s everywhere, North and South America, Europe, India, Australia, and most of Africa. Click on the source link to see the ground it covers. The Latin alphabet looks a lot like ours. Did you notice anything missing, like the letters J, U, and W?
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet Photo by Joannes Arnoldus Bergellus -
http://wally.rit.edu/cary/cc_db/16th_century/9.htmlhttp://www.bl.uk/collections/early/1540.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4409965
2. The letters on this piece of pottery are from the Greek Alphabet. It only reached the land around the country of Greece. If you’d like to see the map, the pottery, or learn more about the Greek alphabet, click on this link:
3. This is the Cyrillic alphabet. It spread – across the entire former Soviet Union, all of it!
Do you recognize this writing? It’s from the book of Matthew. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrillic_alphabets
Unknown - Герранъ мія̈нъ. Шондю-руохтынанъ святой іôванг̧ели матвѣйста, Карьяланъ кїӗлѣлля, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15401241
4. This is the Armenian alphabet, from Armenia, of course. Where is Armenia? It was once part of the Soviet Union. Now it’s its own country. It shares borders with Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia so it’s north of the Middle East, and it was in the southern part of the former Soviet Union. ( I looked it up!)
5. This is the Korean alphabet, and it’s found on the Korean Peninsula, of course. Did you know it has two names? In South Korea, it’s called Hangul. In North Korea, it’s called Chosŏn'gŭl. (I had to paste that in. I’m missing three important keys.)
Photo by Kbarends - cropped from en:Image:Hunminjeongeumhaerye.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4210804
6. This isn’t my computer keyboard, and it probably isn’t yours either. It was designed for people who use the Hebrew alphabet. If you’re Jewish, or live in the country of Israel, this might be your keyboard.
7. Here’s another keyboard. I bet you recognize half the letters, but not the other half. That’s because they’re from the Arabic Alphabet. You’d find this keyboard in the Middle East and in northern Africa.
Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_alphabet
Keyboard By Mohsen Madi - Intellaren Inc., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14688041
8. Do you see two books? One looks like a real book, in German. The other is a notebook of bumpy paper. That’s a braille book.
Braille is an alphabet made up of bumps. Its letters match up with other alphabets from around the world, like English or German. My source listed 104 alphabets that have been translated into braille.
If you’re blind, you can’t see so you read with your fingers. You can read paper books or special computer screens. You can write with a slate and stylus or with special computers and printers. Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braille
9. Can you read the letters on the car? Me neither! It’s a police car, but police is written in Georgian, the country, not one of our 50 states.
The country of Georgia was once part of the Soviet Union. It’s bordered by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
There are three different ways to write Georgian. The most common is Mkhedruli. That’s what you see on the car. The other two, Asomtavruli and Nuskhuri, are only used by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
I started to share my cover story last night, but I didn’t like how the images fit together on my web site so I’ll try, try again tonight.
This is my final product from the Twelve Days class. It was supposed to be a book cover for the writing I did during class, but I’d rather have it as a poster because it’s my 2020 road map for where I want to go as a writer this year.
My title for the last three years has been ‘Use Your Word Power, Rinda Beach.’ We constantly tell young children to use their words, but it’s exactly what I do every day as a writer. You probably use yours daily in whatever job you do. Words ARE important!
KEEP US GOING
These are the things that I’ve been doing for a year or more successfully. I want to keep them going.
REVISE AND SUBMIT US
These stories are sitting in my computer, waiting. Waiting for me to polish them till I believe they’re submission ready.
WRITE SOMETHING NEW
The first one is as new as my grandgirl, but the others have been around for a while. The last one was my first story. It’s time to re-imagine it.
Try Something New
These ideas are all new. I don’t know if they’ll work, but if they don’t, I’ll learn from the experience.
Thank You to Julie Hedlund and the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers
I won’t share everything I wrote this year for my class with Julie Hedlund – it’s too long! Instead I’m sharing the parts I posted in our private Facebook Group. It all started with surprises. I had 20, but these are my top 4. SURPRISES:
1. I discovered a month before self-publishing that Neil Armstrong's name and image are trademarked. OOPS!
2. Within a day or two I had a few friends who helped me figure out what to do. It took a month, but 17 days after my original book birthday, Neil was published
3. The best 2-fer ever - The day I watched my daughter get married. That night I saw the sonogram of my first grandchild
4. Best of all, here's one of first photo ops. Look at all that hair!
It’s great to look back at 2019. I had 34 successes, more than 2018, but I’m only sharing the Fab Five.
1. I self-published my debut chapter book, NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM.
2. Neil was ranked #4 on Amazon over Christmas. He’s #8 today, but he’s still on page one in those all-important search results. ‘I am over the moon!’
3. I'm on track to self-publish my debut picture book, LAKE FUN FOR YOU AND ME in May.
4. I have a debut group and a May 20th interview already scheduled for the lake book.
5. Best of all, I've been a grandma for almost a month! 2019 was a very good year!
Disappointments, Judgements, The Truth, Learning, and Action Plan
I wasn’t going to share this with the private group, but confession is good for the soul, so I did, and I’ll share them with you too. I wrote five, the number Julie recommended. This disappointment encompasses elements of the five I put down.
DISAPPOINTMENT - I’m not getting enough done – writing, marketing, using my blog, etc.
MY BIG FAT JUDGEMENT - I don’t push myself hard enough or use my time well enough. URGH! There’s always more to do – no matter how hard I work.
MY HEART KNOWS/THE TRUTH - I’m learning as I go. I do as much in a day as possible. There is no more than my best.
LEARNING - In 2019 I learned how to target an area and stick with it. In 2020 I need to extend this to the business side of writing.
MY ACTION PLAN - Each Sunday I’ll target one piece to write during the week, one place/thing to market, and one way to grow my blog. The next Sunday will find me reviewing, re-targeting, re-engaging, and repeating,
I wrote last about disappointments, but this section is a real morale booster. Every year it makes me realize how blessed I am.
I found 23 things to be grateful for last year, more than 2018. They’re mostly people, ranging from my family and friends to the writing community. They also include you, the people who read my blog or bought my book. I’m grateful to all of you.
Last year I picked “Know When to . . .” from Kenny Rogers’ song, “The Gambler.” This year my word is balance. Sorry, no song, but balance is something I’ve always struggled with.
I tend to put more time into work than anything else, especially when I was teaching. My father was a principal, and I was a daddy’s girl so I put my heart and soul into teaching. It got trickier when I married and had a family. Now as a writer, I want to balance work with family and fun. Here’s to this year’s adventure with balance.
Writing Prompt for this Year: During a visit to the library, a book flies off a shelf and bonks you in the head. What book is it, and what happens next?
I searched the shelves for the new book about Elizabeth I.
Thud! Thud! Thud! I turned and stared. Three books encircled my feet. I’d read two – The Royal Diaries Elizabeth, Tangled in Time, and the new one, The Heretic Heir. (YA title)
Tangled opened and whispered, “You’ve been reading about our girl since you were little. Now, write about her.”
My head spun. I stumbled, sat on the floor and held my head in my hands. “Me? I’d love to, but which one? The toddler who lost her mother. The girl who watched her stepmothers disappear. The imprisoned princess. Which!”
The book answered, “Read us again. Open your imagination, and you’ll find your story.”
I nodded, picked up the books, and checked them out.
I already have a chapter book idea, for Elizabeth. It came to me like magic!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!