My First Year Writing (A 2012 Recap)

After creating my 2013 Action Plan, I briskly walked into the kitchen, grabbed a brown paper bag, and took many deep breaths.  I seemed busy in 2012, but apparently I wasn't doing anything because I had a million things ahead of me in 2013.  A hundred deep breaths and two marshmallow snowmen later I decided to look at my 2012 activities for perspective.
By Maxime Perron Caissy via

If you can you bare with a little self-indulgent recap, here's what kept me busy in 2012.  (Thanks to my friend Romelle Broas for providing a great format, which I copy here with shameless abandon.)


  • Said "I think I'll write a picture book." 
  • Said "I think I'll submit this book somewhere," realized I didn't know how to do that, stressed over font and paper and envelopes and formats, and finally submitted a couple manuscripts (which weren't ready of course because I didn't know what I was doing. Whoopsy.)
  • Joined SCBWI after emailing with the NJ Region Advisor Kathy who basically told me I had to.  She was right.
  • Started my blog, even though I didn't really understand what one did with a blog.  
  • Learned about blogging with Robert Lee Brewer's Platform-A-Day Challenge.  Created a social media web: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook Page, Linkedin, Google+, Goodreads, RedRoom, even though I didn't see why they were important.  (amazingly these are all like second nature to me now!)
  • Received my first blog award, the Liebster Award.  Also received the Very Inspring Blogger Award and the Versatile Blogger Award throughout the year. 
  • Wrote a picture book (draft) a day for seven days with Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week), nearly causing me a nervous breakdown.
  • Jumped up and down for 4 ½ minutes upon learning I was accepted into the Yellow Brick Road critique group. 

  • Joined the writers from the April Platform-a-Day Challenge in founding Wordsmith Studio, complete with Facebook Page, Website and #wschat twitter chats.   

  • My piece "Copernica" was selected for critique by Agent Sean McCarthey on Kathy Temean's blog Writing & Illustrating.

  • Hit a lot of red lights in Cynthea Liu's Red Light Green Light (RLGL) contest, but received very helpful feedback and supported needy puppies in the process.
  • My piece "The Wheel" was selected for a critique from Sarah Cloots on Kathy Temean's blog Writing & Illustrating 
  • Enjoyed the critiques and community during the WriteonCon online conference. 
  • Found inspiration in Susanna Hill's Short & Sweets and was a finalist in the Summer Send-Off Contest. 

  • Attended Brooklyn Book Festival and introduced myself as "sort of a writer type person who is trying to write children's books" even though I had rehearsed "I am a writer" all morning.
  • Two local critique groups started - one at the library (but at a bad time for me) and one at a coffee shop which serves sick coffee creations which you have to substitute for a meal.  I'm still in the later.
  • Won Christie Wright Wild's Summer Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest. 

  • Sent a manuscript to Rate Your Story - an awesome free service which gives your manuscript a rating and a brief critique. 
  • Found inspiration in Susanna Hill's Short & Sweets and received an Honorable Mention in her Halloween Contest. 
  • Participated in my 1st PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) and got to meet the host Tara Lazar at my first conference - the NJ SCBWI Fall Craft Weekend (and met many other amazing writers.) 
  • Ended the year with 58 blog followers and more email followers who comment and bring so much joy to my writing life.  
Throughout the year I read eight books on writing for children, read a wheelbarrow full of picture books, wrote many PB drafts, and amassed a respectable collection of rejection letters.  I learned the writing community is amazing and supportive, with a special thanks to each of you for how much you have taught me this year in your comments and blogs!  

Hopefully some new writers will stumble upon this post and have a few ideas of where to start their journey.  


  1. I'm working on my goals for the year and will be posting them in a couple of days. It looks like you were busy last year!

    I look forward to a busy year, for me that is! I plan to join 12 X 12 this year and will be working on my ideas from PiBoIdMo. Plus, I still have my YA and Adult novels AND I plan to try out MG this summer.

    Best wishes for you in 2013!

    1. Great! I can't wait to see your goals. Sounds like you'll be ending 2013 with double digit manuscripts ready!

  2. I love the picture book community too! What a great year you had... I'm sure you'll do great in 2013 too.

    1. What if I just do all the same things again? Oh no. Must. Suppress. Fear! I am a new follower on your blog, so hopefully I find some inspiration to do new things there!

  3. Great recap, Lauri! I am so impressed by how much you've grown as a writer in a such period of time. And FYI, I got a lot of red lights too from RLGL. At least it shows your persistence! So glad to have met you this year, dear friend!

    1. I never would have included RLGL if you hadn't, so I had to swallow hard and just admit defeat at the hands of RLGL! Though I treasure each of those nuggets of feedback Cynthea gave - felt similar to getting an editor's initial reaction from a ms.

  4. Love the format and love all that you have accomplished in 2012!

    It also amuses me that your two excerpts critiqued on Kathy Temean's blog were the two picture prompts that absolutely stumped me! I don't always submit my work for critique, but I enjoy using the picture prompts to draft something and read what everyone else contributes. Love it!

    1. Ha! We probably just figured out how I got selected then - because you weren't in! I hope Kathy continues with the picture prompts because I was stumped (scared?) by the work in progress approach.
      I am looking forward to a 2013 full of Cathy's rhymes!

  5. What a year!! Congrats!

    1. It was a good year! When you're after a big goal like being published, you really have to stop and appreciate the little wins along the way.

  6. Lauri, you have had an amazing year! I had no idea- even after sharing all of those delish coffee concoctions with you! I also sent in a first page for Kathy's ferris wheel illustration in August, and am honored to know someone who made it to the critique round. You will have an amazing 2013, filled with lots of writing and many tasty coffee/critique/creative sessions with our little group!

    1. Well, we've only been critiquing for a few months - I think you've only seen one piece and it was a crazy murder mystery :) WE will have an amazing 2013, I'm sure of it.

  7. We've got to get the books page up at Wordsmith Studio so folks know how to buy your books...yes, with an s on the end. I know you have much more success coming in 2013!

    1. I love surrounding myself with optimistic people like you! Here's to success for all of us in 2013!

  8. Congrats on a great year! Happy we get to be a part of each other's journeys. :) Here's to a happy,healthy, successful 2013!!

    1. Thanks Coleen! I know 2013 will be fantabulous. Except 13 is an unlucky number. So it may be full of rejection letters, typos, and manuscripts full of too many adjectives. Let's hope for fantabulous instead!

  9. What a busy year! (And, my, how organized you are!)

    So, come on, out with it. How many rejections? Are you on track to beating my record?

    1. Ugh, is this some sort of training to toughen me up Drill Sergeant Allegra? 11 officially, but there are 5 outstanding submissions which have aged over a few months which may be the dreaded no response rejection (but I like to hold out hope they could also turn into the "yes" response). Not bad for year 1.


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