Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Surprises, Successes and Disappointments

Our surprise addition to our menagerie. Her favorite place to sit is on me while I type.
What an amazing month or two. Busy yes, who isn't, but we managed to travel home and spend much needed time with family. We had my entire extended family (except one niece who's currently overseas) in one room at one time. Watching my kids connect and reconnect with cousins and second cousins was magical. 

Once all the dust resettled, I did manage to sign up for Julie Hedlund's 12 days of Christmas program--12 days of inspirational exercises for writers. 

Day two's exercise included writing our surprises for the last year. On day three, we wrote about our successes, with the added prompt to blog about them--a thought I loved. So, here are my surprises and successes for 2015:


  • Had three separate agents express interest in pitches and queries
  • Had an agent ask me to write an article for a blog she's involved with
  • Realized how much I like the agents I meet and want to be friends with them all
  • Understood an entire conversation in basic Spanish
  • Received an honorable mention for my Halloweensie story
  • Realized I really like writing for older children as well
  • Adopted a kitten my husband found in the gutter


  • Narrowed down three strong picture book manuscripts
  • Wrestled my historical-fiction middle grade novel into a revisable edition
  • Wrote a picture book draft every month
  • Revised picture book drafts every month
  • Jotted down an idea for a new middle grade fantasy novel

Then came day four: Write your disappointments for 2015 (max at five), then make a big inner critic judgement about them, followed by a sound judgement. Whew, here are my five:


  • Twitter pitch got favorited, but MS rejected: I can write a pitch but not a story: If I can write an interesting pitch, I can write an interesting story.
  • Manuscript requested based on query, but MS ultimately rejected: This story is never going to work: If I can write a query, I can find a way to rewrite my MS.
  • Haven't found the right fix for the middle section of my middle grade novel: I just can't write: I have a good beginning and an interesting ending, which means I will find a middle.
  • Wasted too much time on social media: I have no discipline: I made valuable connections, which helped me learn more about the craft of writing.
  • Had too many days where I wondered why I was still writing when so many better writers are out there: I just don't have what it takes: Who cares, I am writing the stories only I can write.
There you have it. Perhaps if any of you are stuck in a similar place, these exercise might help. Give it a shot and good luck. And a very Happy New Year to all.

P.S. An excellent video to start off your new year: 


  1. Sounds like you had a very productive 2015. Cheers to an exciting New year filled with many writing successes!

  2. That's an amazing year Johnell, and you must write what only you can write ... there is no other Johnell :) Your kitten is adorable. May she be your little muse.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. She is. As you said before, she is my mews. :)

  3. These ^ exercises are good, and you have done them perfectly. When I feel overwhelmed I make a list of everything that could possibly be causing this feeling, and talk back to every one of those things on the list. Maybe the discipline of limiting they 'Oy-veys' to five is the best idea yet...

  4. I see a lot of positives here. Celebrate those!

  5. Stay positive in the New Year, writing is always a LITTLE BUGGER!!! ;)