Starting the Year Off Write

Badge_StartTheYearOffWriteIt’s one thing to set a bunch of goals for yourself.

It’s a whole other thing to set up an action plan to lead you into achieving those goals.

I’m good at the former. For example, my writing goals this year are to publish a picture-book, complete (and publish?) one of my two novels, and get an agent.

But really… I’ve had those goals for the last couple of years.

I even invest in achieving them each year, by attending conferences and workshops and staying connected with critique groups.

But this year, I’m Starting the Year Off Write.

That’s write.

I mean, right.

I’ve jumped into a challenge to kick-start 2014.

What’s the challenge?

Each day an established author will provide a writing exercise for you to complete.  If you complete the exercise and comment on that day’s blog post you will earn an entry toward the prize drawings.

Today is day two.

And they’ve already been two very productive days… days in which I’ve further improved my craft of writing. I’ve already written a basic draft to a new story, and tightened up an already polished one. HELLO?! Imagine what the other 19 days are going to do for my writing this year!

I’m excited.

And I’m inviting you to join! It’s not too late! You can even win prizes! Though, the ultimate prize is the 21 days of writing prompts that will have driven you and I forward in our goal-achievement.

But I’m not done there.

I need to sustain the momentum beyond January.

SOOOOooooo I’ve also joined:

12-x-12-new-badge12 x 12 2014. This challenge follows me for the next 12 months. “If you join, you will be encouraged and supported as you attempt to write one picture book draft a month, AND to revise one and submit one manuscript as additional, optional goals.”

Yes, please! This is exactly what I need to keep me writing a new manuscript each month, and submitting each month. You can join this one too! Registration ends on Friday, February 28th. With it, you get an entire year of support, encouragement, and resources.

I’ve also added Rate Your Story to my list of supports for achieving my writing goals this year.

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Rate Your Story is something I’ve used in the past to gauge the quality of my work. The service has improved and offers way more resources. I’m excited to get constant professional opinions of my work all year long.

And, as a reward to a writing contest I won this past year, I’m also in the process of completing the Writing Character-Driven Picture Books. At the conclusion of my class, I will get professional feedback on one of my stories from Marsha Diane Arnold.

I think it’s going to be a good year!!! I’ve gotten such great feedback from critique partners… now it’s about fine-tuning this skill and finding the agent and editors who will love my stories.

Are you in? What is your plan for achieving your goals this year? I hope you’ll join me at Start the New Year Write, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 2014, Rate Your Story, or Writing Character-Driven Picture Books!

 

****UPDATE****

ReviMoButton-Logo3Just because I didn’t have enough on my plate (HA!) I went ahead and joined ReviMo as well… it’s only one week long (Jan 12-18) but the challenge is to do some substancial revising EACH day. I just couldn’t pass it up. And already, day one, finished off one of my manuscripts! Off to subbing I go! It’s too late to join for prizes, but you can still follow the great posts and revise!

Bully-Beating Thoughts

You can do many things with your mind. With your thoughts. It would take a whole book, I’m sure, to sum up the many nuances of our brain and how it can affect our reality.

I was confronted with the power of thoughts again today- in a very empowering and perhaps even miraculous way.

Here’s a little back story.

My oldest son has lived with us for 4 years. His adoption was finalized a year and a half ago. Previous to that, he was our foster son. He missed 8 very important years of quality education, stability in his home, and the brain-training that occurs in those first five years. This, along with his personality, has made school very difficult. We have had him tested for learning disabilities, attended therapy sessions, tried home schooling, independent study, after school tutoring, after school programs… you name it, if it was offered we tried it. He came to us performing at two grade levels behind his actual grade. In those four years he has progressed considerably. In some subjects he is performing at the lowest level of his actual grade. In other subjects, he’s performing at the higher end of the grade below him.

We finally came to the conclusion, along with his school’s administration, that repeating his sixth grade year would be in his best interest.

This was not an easy decision.

But we believe it was the right one.

We shared this whole process with him. He agreed that having an extra year to really catch up would be beneficial in the long wrong. Did he like the idea? No. Who does? But he “bought in” and was willing to own it and give it a go. This, we all hope, will give him the chance to catch up educationally as well as emotionally and in maturity.

End of backstory.

Today is his second day of his second year in sixth grade.

As I drove him to school I asked about yesterday. Day one.

“How was your day?” I asked

“It was good!” he said, sounding very genuine.

“Did anyone say anything about you being back?”

“Yeah,” he said, “there’s a boy who teased me quite a bit about it. He’s in my class and he kept making surprised faces at me. He also kept telling the other kids in class that I was held back- as if they couldn’t tell.”

“Wow. I thought you said you had a good day. How was it good with all that going on?” I wondered aloud to him.

He went on to tell me about a book that we are very familiar with. It is called “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. It is one of our many (many) children’s books.

Here is the Amazon synopsis:

“Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.

In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.”

When Punchinello meets his creator, Eli the woodcarver, and comes to see himself as special and unique… the stickers he has acquired begin to fall off. When the other wood people try to stick more on him… they don’t stick! Punchinello isn’t swayed by popular opinion of himself- he knows who he is! A creation with purpose.

This is the story my son reminded me of this morning.

“Our teacher read it to us in class. And it’s true. The things that mean kid says don’t matter to me. They just roll off.” (Thanks Mrs. Platt!!!!)

This was especially beautiful in light of our last couple of weeks with this child… which have been challenging to say the least. He has so many amazing qualities and gifts and talents- and it’s easy to forget just how great he is when I’m only focussed on all the dots.

And I’ve been known to be a giver of dots and stars.

And I’ve been known to wear dots and stars around- in pride and in shame.

But not today. My son has reminded me that when we choose to believe and know that we are someone special- that God has made us for purposes far greater than any human can label for us- then nothing anyone says matters. Our Creator longs to share with us the many reasons we are who we are- and how we can be used to better our world, ourselves, and His Kingdom.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. — Psalm 139: 1-16

Will you let the opinions of others stick to YOU today?