2019 Goals Encouragement and Update

How are you doing on your goals for 2019?

Recently I read on Psychology Today that “71 percent of people who were successful in their resolutions slipped in the first month.” Do you feel like you have been slipping on your 2019 goals already? If so, I hope you find encouragement within the quote and continue to move forward – you can still succeed!

If you need some inspiration and ideas for freeing up some time throughout your week, you may be interested in a free e-book just released by Ultimate Bundles entitled Make More Margin: Free up 1-2 Hours a Week for the Things You Love with These 75 Productivity Tips. It’s only available until Monday, February 11th, so make sure to download it before then if you are interested in it.

You can download Make More Margin: Free up 1-2 Hours a Week for the Things You Love With These 75 Productivity Tips here (affiliate link).

Ultimate Bundles Free E-book

I downloaded it myself, and I was really leery when I saw it was 199 pages long. I was worried I would end up wasting time reading about how to save time, but I discovered it was a very quick read with quite a few useful tips. It was nice to know that I am not the only person who prefers a paper calendar and nontechy to-do lists!

The book provides answers from bloggers who were asked five different questions concerning time-saving tips, productivity tools, refreshing hobbies they have, how they use their small pockets of free time, and what to say to someone who feels guilty for not taking time for themselves. It can easily be read in small chunks of time since each page is simply a response from one of the bloggers to a particular question.

If you do download it, please let me know what you think of it. I might provide more of my own comments about it in a future post, but I am curious to hear what your thoughts are. The end of the book mentions an Ultimate Productivity Bundle that will be offered from February 20th-February 25th. I hope to include a link and more details in the near future for you just incase you are interested in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle.

We can all use some support, and I’d love to encourage you to continue reaching your goals.

Since I had previously mentioned my writing goals for this year, I have decided to give an update on how I am doing.

So, without further ado, here are my 2019 writing goals updates:

  • continue writing monthly for Hands On As We Grow
    • update: I’ve completed my monthly posts through the end of March, so my next post is due April 1.
  • continue writing at least two posts each month for my website
  • attend one SCBWI conference
    • update: There is a conference scheduled in September that I am looking forward to attending. Registration isn’t open yet, though.
  • be accepted by a literary agent to represent my works
    • update: After doing quite a bit of research, I submitted one picture book manuscript to a literary agent in December. Unfortunately, my manuscript wasn’t accepted by her, but I am very thankful I received a response. I also submitted picture book manuscripts to another literary agent this month.
    • Literary agents are flooded with manuscripts, and they can obviously only accept a limited number. I recently read on a literary agent’s website that she received 2,451 unsolicited queries or manuscripts (ones she did not request) last year within the six months she was open to receiving unsolicited works. The lowest month had over 200 submissions, and she had received 570 submissions during the highest month. That’s a lot of submissions to have to sort through! Out of those 2,451 submissions, she signed 10.
    • Needless to say, I will be super super excited if I am able to get a literary agent to represent me. With that being said, I don’t want to submit my manuscripts to just any literary agent. I have been doing research and being intentional about who receives manuscripts from me.
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for a children’s nonfiction project I have recently started
    • I have done a lot of research for this already.
    • I read a couple of books and online articles to learn how to write a proposal for nonfiction books. When writing fiction, you often have to submit the entire manuscript. With nonfiction; however, you can typically submit a proposal that provides an overview, the target audience, comparable titles and how the proposed nonfiction book is different (possibly better) without bashing the comparable titles, a biography of the author and the reason author is qualified to write the book, possible suggestions for publicizing the book, a table of contents of the proposed book, and sample chapters of the proposed book.
    • I don’t want to give away all the details of my book idea, but I am hoping to compile 50 separate biographies together in one children’s book similar to Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers and some other comparable books I have recently read.

Women Who Dared Book

    • I narrowed the list of people I would like to include within the book down to 60, so I have 50 plus 10 additional just incase I can’t use someone due to lack of information appropriate for a children’s book. I wrote a quick synopsis for all 60 people and did more research on four of the people, so that I could include four sample biographies within my proposal.
    • I submitted the proposal along with the four sample biographies to a member of my writer’s group who was gracious enough to read through it and critique it for me. I was really nervous what she was going to say, but I trust her judgment and knew she would tell me ways to improve my writing. I was very excited when I received her comments back stating that the biographies were awesome. She gave me some helpful suggestions on ways to improve the proposal itself, and she provided me with names of two literary agents to consider for this manuscript idea. I plan to continue doing some research and hopefully submit my proposal or query (whichever is preferred) to at least one literary agent in the near future.
    • Since this was an idea I came up with (not something a publisher has requested), my manuscript may not get accepted by anyone and may never become a book. I really hope it does, though! Reach High and move one step at a time
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for an adult nonfiction project I have an idea for
    • update: I haven’t even started this.
  • write at least one children’s book manuscript
    • update: I have lots of ideas, but I’ve been too busy working on other projects to start a new manuscript.
  • revise at least one of my current incomplete children’s book manuscripts
    • update: I completely rewrote one children’s book manuscript I have that I had brought to my writer’s group last year as an idea. My original rough draft had over 500 words in it, and it was very clunky. My current revision has less than 300 words and flows much better, but it still needs work.
  • do at least one school visit or story time (I didn’t do any this year, but I had so much fun doing them last year!)
    • update: I haven’t looked into this yet.
  •  submit at least one article to a magazine
    • update: I submitted a query for an article to a magazine and a children’s poem to two children’s magazines, but I haven’t heard any responses yet.
  • research some information about creating a course and possibly create a course (which will require even more research)
    • update: I did research information about creating a course for a homeschool website my daughters and I have been enjoying. I came up with three course ideas, which I submitted. Within a couple of days, I received an email approving all three course ideas, so I am now in the process of creating one of the three courses for the website. In time, I will be completing courses for all three of the ideas I submitted as long as everything goes as planned. I am really excited about this!
    • I plan to provide you with more information in the future on the current course I am working on.
  • decide what to do with a particular children’s book manuscript I’ve had set aside for a while
    • update: I haven’t thought about it much yet.
  • continue going to writer meetings
    • update: The January writer meeting was cancelled due to the weather, but hopefully we will be meeting again in February. We plan to talk about our writing goals, problems we are having with our writing, and what we need help with or want to know more information about at the upcoming meeting. It’s so nice to have a group to encourage me on my writing adventure.
  • continue as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa
    • update: I am still a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa. Each month, I organize the monthly writer group meetings, and I work with the other members to figure out what topics we would like to discuss at future meetings.
    • I also had the opportunity to interview two amazing women recently (Linda Skeers, author of 52 Women Who Dared, and Brooke Van Sickle) about websites they have created to help other writers with their writing journeys. I put the interviews together for a post I submitted to be published on the SCBWI Iowa website. If you are a children’s author, I highly recommend checking out their websites, Nonfiction Ninjas and Journey to Kidlit.
  • continue adding and creating pins (and possibly a few boards) to my Pinterest account
    • update: I have added more pins, and I created a board specifically for pins from my website.
  • maybe join Twitter
    • update: I haven’t yet.

I’d love to hear from you about how you are doing with your goals so far this year. Reach high and see what you can accomplish by moving one step at a time!


Crafts and Projects · Writing Appearances

Simple Valentine’s Day Craft

Can you believe we are already almost done with January?

Did you celebrate any holidays in January? There were so many to choose from! New Years Day (January 1), National Spaghetti Day (January 4), National Cuddle Up Day (January 6), National Popcorn Day (January 19), National Penguin Awareness Day (January 20), and National Compliment Day (January 24) are just some that you could have celebrated within the comfort of your home.

If you are looking to celebrate a national holiday this Februrary, you may enjoy National Wear Red Day (February 1st), National Groundhog’s Day (February 2nd), National Send a Card to a Friend Day (February 7th), Valentine’s Day (February 14th), National Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th), and President’s Day (February 18th).

Recently I had a post published on Hands On As We Grow that goes into detail about a simple stamped heart Valentine’s Day pipe cleaner craft, which my daughters and I had tried for the first time last year.

Create stamps using pipe cleaners

This simple craft doesn’t only need to be used for Valentine’s Day, though. It could be used on a card or letter for National Send a Card to a Friend Day or for National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Pipe Cleaner Heart Project

What will you celebrate in February?

Check out these posts for more National Holiday fun.

Birthday Party · Crafts and Projects · Themed Books · Writing Appearances

25+ Books About Owls

Whoooo loves owls?

My daughter does! She loves owls so much she decided to have an owl themed birthday party last year. Her love of owls and the need of a wintery type theme were my inspiration for my most recent post on Hands On As We Grow.

You can check out my compilation of 21 snowy owl crafts and snacks on Hands On As We Grow if you are interested.

We decided to use a few of the crafts and snacks from the list for my daughter’s owl themed birthday party. I have had a lot of fun planning my daughters’ themed birthday parties over the years!

We expanded on the Deviled Owl Egg Recipe found on The Rebel Chick by adding black olive wings and carrot noses to our owl deviled eggs.

owl deviled eggs

These treats reminded me a lot of our penguin snacks we created last year using round crackers, cream cheese, black olives, and carrots.

We used the Snowy Owl printable from Learn Create Love to create a few snowy owls. We decorated our snowy owls using q-tips, cotton balls, and black ink.

Here is a printable owl one of my daughters decorated. We tried to make it look like the owl was in a hole in a tree by putting black construction paper on the side of a kitchen cabinet (and green streamers across the ceiling attached to the top of the cabinet).

My daughter decided to add the (cats’ toy) mouse. I’m glad the cats didn’t try to steal it back!

snowy owl with mouse

Here is another printable owl my other daughter decorated. It ended up in a “tree” I created using brown paper on a column and green streamers across the ceiling.

snowy owl in tree

If you are thinking snowy owls probably wouldn’t be in a tree with green leaves, then you are thinking the same thing my daughter told me after I put this all together. Just pretend it’s an evergreen tree.

My daughters still thought the “trees” were neat, and they lasted in my house for quite a few days. It seemed like a waste to only leave them up for a few hours!

Here is the printable snowy owl I decorated. My daughter decided to add a tree limb (construction paper), nest (construction paper and pieces we had in our craft supplies), baby bird (purchased in a pack of 24 from Oriental Trading Company when I had a coupon code for free shipping on any order), and worm (pipe cleaner) to the wall.

snowy owl and baby owl on limb

I really liked the cute owl cupcakes from Hip Foodie Mom that were included on the craft and snack list. I decided to make cupcakes for each of the kids, but I had the kids decorate them during the party.

I gave each of the kids a cupcake, 2 cream filled cookies, a scoop of frosting on a paper plate, and a plastic spoon. I had two small bowls of M&Ms on the table for them to choose from.

All of the owl cupcakes turned out adorable. Here is one of my daughter’s decorated cupcake. They were almost too cute to eat!

owl cupcake

We had even more owl fun (handmade owl earrings, owl balloons, owl ornaments, etc.), but those were the creations we did that were included in the 21 snowy owl crafts and snacks recently published on Hands On As We Grow.

In addition to the snowy owl crafts and snacks, I have compiled a list of more than 25 books about owls (not just snowy owls) to read together.

Children's books about owls

These are all books I was able to check out from the library, but I have included links for your convenience if you would like to find more information about them.

These are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on them and make a purchase.

Children's books about owls

I was surprised by the number of books I found starring owls at the library. I had to stop looking because I may have ended up going home with even more books!

Children's books about owls

There are books about owls for all ages of children.

Owl Diaries books

I have divided the books into four different categories: board books, fiction picture books, nonfiction children’s books, and chapter books.


Board Books

Even little ones can enjoy books about owls with these owl board books.

Owl Come Out and Play! by Debbie Rivers-Moore

This rhyming owl boardbook has very simple text (about 50 words total) that describes an owl playing at night with friends and sleeping when the sun rises.

Night Owl by Toni Yuly 

This board book is about a baby owl in search of his mommy. He hears noises (woodpecker, train whistle, cricket, toad, and thunder) as he tries to find her. He finds “the nicest sound of all” when he finally finds his mommy.

Little Owl’s Day by Divya Srinivasan

This board book tells the story of Little Owl who ventures out in the daytime. She is quite surprised by all of the daytime sights she sees since she is normally awake only at night. She sees butterflies instead of moths, open flowers, dragonflies instead of bats, a rainbow, and more.

That’s Not My Owl

Children may enjoy feeling the different parts of an owl in this touchy-feely board book as they follow a mouse searching for a specific owl. Kids can find the mouse on each of the page spreads within this book.

Hoot: A Hide-and-Seek Book of Counting by Jonathan Litton

Children can practice counting and finding colors with this rhyming board book as they follow Blue Owl searching for his four friends. Finger holes are used in place of the owl eyes. The holes gradually get smaller and smaller as the book progresses.

Owl and Friends: What Am I? by Joyce Wan

Even though this board book has a picture of an owl and has the word owl in the title, it is actually more about a tree than the owl. This story is written in first person from the perspective of a tree. For example, one page says “…earthworms tickle my toes” along with an illustration of worms and roots underground. Children have to guess “what am I?” at the end of the book before opening a large flap to discover that the story had been about a tree all along.

Olivia Loves Owl by David McPhail

This board book shows the differences between a young girl named Olivia and an owl as they stay together throughout the day and into the evening.

Goodnight Owl (A Lift-the-Fap Bedtime Book) by Dwell Studio 

Children may enjoy repeating “whooo! whooo!” throughout this board book as they lift flaps to discover which animal creatures are sleeping behind, near, and in various places.

Little Owl Says Goodnight (A Slide-and-Seek Book) by Emma Parrish

Little Owl sees many animals as she prepares for bedtime one evening. Children may enjoy the pull out sections of this board book as they try to guess “whoo-who” each page is describing.

Fiction Picture Books

I noticed when I was attaching the links to these picture books that some of them are actually available as board books, too. I have included in the descriptions which ones appear to also be available as board books. I have them in the fiction picture book section simply because that is where I found them at the library.

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan

This book shows all of the sights Little Owl sees at night before going to sleep for the day. This book is written by the same author of Little Owl’s Day (mentioned in the board book section), Little Owl’s Colors, Little Owl’s 1-2-3, and Little Owl’s Snow. It appears this book is also available as a board book.

Little Owl’s Egg by Debi Gliori

Mommy Owl tells Little Owl there will be a new baby owl, but Little Owl doesn’t want that. He is the baby owl, and that is how he likes it. This leads to Mommy Owl and Little Owl thinking of different creatures that may be inside of the egg instead of a baby owl. At the end, the two of them agree a baby owl would be nice (as opposed to all of the other possibilities). Mommy Owl ensures Little Owl that she will always love him even when the new baby owl hatches. It appears this book is also available as a board book.

Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney

There are many things little owl loves, but his new itchy, long, orange scarf is not one of them. He tries many ways to “lose” his scarf, but his mom keeps finding it. Eventually, he really does lose his scarf. Mom Owl decides they will make Little Owl a new scarf, but this time Little Owl gets to pick out the softness, the size, and the color for his new scarf. He likes it so much better, and he ends of finding out who has his orange scarf. This book has very simple illustrations. It appears this book is also available as a board book.

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton 

Little Owl is rudely awakened when he falls off of his perch and discovers he is lost. A squirrel tries to help him find his mom using Little Owl’s descriptions, but she continuously leads him to other animals besides his mom such as a bear, a rabbit, and a frog (or toad?). Eventually, Mommy Owl and Little Owl are reunited. It appears this book is also available as a board book.

Wow! Said the Owl: A Book About Colors! by Tim Hopgood 

Owl stays awake all day long and is amazed at all of the beautiful colors she normally doesn’t see because she is sleeping. She discovers pink, yellow, white, blue, green, red, orange, gray, and the beautiful colors of a rainbow. At the end, she decides “the nighttime stars are the most beautiful of all”.

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher

Whobert Whover is on a case. He is determined to find out who has scared Perry the possum. He blames other creatures as he examines clues and finds eyewitnesses, but none of them are the culprits. Finally, Perry the possum declares that it was Whobert Whoever himself who had scared him. Unfortunately, Whobert Whover isn’t convinced and continues his case.

The Littlest Owl by Caroline Pitcher

There are four baby owls born in one nest, but there is one in particular that is the smallest. He doesn’t do anything as much or as well as the other owls, but he doesn’t let that stop him. The littlest owl must prove himself one stormy night, and he finally learns to fly so he can get to safety with his mom and siblings.

Owl Howl by Paul Friester

Little Owl keeps howling and none of the other animals can figure out how to get her to stop. She finally stops howling when she sees her mom. Her mom asks her why she had been howling all along, but she simply can’t remember.

Owl Howls Again! by Paul Friester

Little Owl must stay home all by herself while mom is away to get some food. Mommy Owl tells her to not let anyone in the house while she is away. Unfortunately for Mommy Owl, Little Owl won’t even let Mommy Owl in when Mommy Owl returns. This leads to other animal creatures helping Mommy Owl convince Little Owl that it truly is Mommy Owl who is wanting inside.

Hoot Owl Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor

Hoot Owl is hungry. He dresses in various costumes to try to catch some unsuspecting prey, but it doesn’t work. The rabbit, sheep, and pigeon all get away even though he has thought of some clever disguises. He finally finds a disguise that works and catches a tasty treat – pepperoni pizza.

Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and Rob Dunlavey

This book has four words maximum on each page that describe what is happening in the pictures. For example one page says “tree nest hop look”. Through the simple text and the illustrations, the reader can follow Owl as he leaves his nest, sees his reflection in water, and flies back home back to his family.

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli 

Owl is trying to sleep, but he keeps hearing a noise. He can’t figure out where the noise is coming from even after he tears apart his entire house piece by piece. Finally he discovers where the noise is coming from…a mouse who is seen throughout the entire book.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Sarah, Percy, and Bill are three owl babies waiting for their mom to return. Sarah and Percy try to figure out where mom has gone, how soon she will be back, what she will bring back, and what they should do while she is gone. Bill just wants his mommy back. Finally, their mom returns.

Owl Boy by Brian Schatell 

Al is obsessed with owls. He wants to be like an owl until he gets lost in the woods at camp and tries to eat like an owl. He learns being an owl isn’t as great as he thought it would be…mice taste disgusting! He decides he still likes owls, but there are other things in life besides owls.

Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

There are no words in this book, so it is fun to make up words for the story that takes place within the pictures. A bat family moves in on the same branch an owl family lives on. The baby owls and the baby bats are not allowed to talk to each other until a storm blows all of the babies away forcing the mom bat and the mom owl to work together to bring the babies back.

Click here for 8 books about bats.

Nonfiction Children’s Books

There are definitely more nonfiction owl books than what I have included here, but I was trying to find nonfiction owl books at my library that didn’t include a lot of text. Here are three I found.

Animals in my Backyard: Owls by Aaron Carr 

Simple text tell about characteristics of an owl. Pictures of different types of owls and their features are included throughout the book. The back includes owl facts with more details about the information included within the text.

Animals and Their Babies: Owls and Owlets by Howard Hughes 

Learn about owl eggs, how owlets are able to break open their eggs, what newborn owlets look like, what happens as they grow, what they eat, what pellets are, how owls hunt, and when owls are ready to leave the nest. A page at the end summarizes an owl’s life cycle with four pictures.

Owls by Gail Gibbons

Learn what a raptor is, the number of owl kinds in the world, the characteristics of an owl, how owls hear, what owls eat, how owls hunt, what a pellet is, the places owls can live, the noises owls make, the owl life cycle, how owls habitats have been destroyed, what reserves are, and more facts about owls.

Chapter Books

I was able to find four books of the Owl Diaries series at my local library. It appears there are 11 books in this series. The backs say they appeal to first through second graders and are written at a second grade reading level.

Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott 

Eva is an owl who loves her new diary. She writes about herself, her family, her pet bat, her best friend in the whole owliverse, and her new flap-tastic plan. She takes on more than she can handle on her own and learns about the importance of teamwork. Although the final result doesn’t go as she had planned, Eva’s diary writings end on a happy note. There are a few questions at the end of the book to discuss after reading.

Owl Diaries: Eva Sees a Ghost by Rebecca Elliott

Eva introduces herself at the beginning in diary format, so it does not appear to be an issue if you were to read these books out of order. Eva and her friend are planning an upcoming sleepover. Eva thinks she sees a ghost, but no one else believes her. She tries to prove it. Later, she and her classmates end go on a ghost hunt after they see two “ghostly white beasts” swoop past their classroom window. Eva and her classmates think they have finally captured the ghost, but instead Eva finds a new friend. Eva does nickname one classmate “Meany McMeanerson” because she is so mean, but she ends up surprising Eva by doing something nice. Eva also calls her brother and one other owl “squirrel heads” (she doesn’t like squirrels). Again, there are questions at the end of the book for further discussion.

Owl Diaries: A Woodland Wedding by Rebecca Elliott

Eva introduces herself, so the book does not have to be read in order; however, the friend she met in book number two is now shown as one of her classmates in this book. Eva’s teacher is getting married so Eva and her classmates work hard to make the wedding a success. Unfortunately, her teacher’s necklace is missing, so the classmates become detectives and search for clues. Eva and Sue, the owl Eva calls Meany McMeanson, work together to create a beautiful surprise for their teacher. That turns out to not be the only surprise in this book. Again, there are questions at the end of the book for further discussion.

Owl Diaries: Warm Hearts Day

Eva again introduces herself. Eva and her classmates prepare for Warm Heart Day, which is a reminder to be kind. Eva decides to call Sue Nicely McLovely instead of Meany McMeanerson for the week. Eva shows kindness to some other creatures and gets rewarded for her gratitude. Again, there are questions at the end of the book for further discussion.

Owl Diaries: Books #1-#5

Books one through five are available as a box set. The remaining books to the Owl Diaries series appear to be available individually at this time.

Are there any other owl books I haven’t mentioned that you enjoy?





Crafts and Projects · Ramblings · Writing Appearances

Winter Crafts and Activities Lead to Reflection in the New Year

I am a big baby when it comes to cold weather. I would much rather enjoy the beauty of the snow and outdoors through a window in a nice, warm house than brave the cold.

But snowflakes, snowmen, and snowballs don’t need to stay outside!

I have combined 21 winter crafts and activities to promote fine motor skills, which was recently published on Hands On As We Grow. Kids can practice counting, spelling, fine motor skills, and more with these fun indoor winter activities.

Check out the 21 winter crafts and activities to promote fine motor skills here.

Sometimes, though, it is nice to get outside and enjoy the beauty of creation. Last year I wrote some posts about taking nature walks to search for interesting creatures, find tracks, and see various nests.

Winter can be a great time to find tracks in snow and nests in bare trees (at least where I live).

nest in tree

I may not enjoy being out in the cold, but I really do enjoy the beauty that can be seen within each of the four seasons where I live.

I love how bright and blue the sky appears even on cold winter days.

Birch Trees and Blue Sky

If I hadn’t stepped out of my warm home, I would have missed out on some beautiful scenery and wonderful memories with my family.

Here is a view overlooking the Mississippi River.

Here is another view overlooking the Mississippi River.

We had to hike through some snow to get these beautiful views.

Here is another picture of a frozen waterfall.

I don’t like driving in the ice at all, but the ice does look pretty. Here are a couple of pictures of ice on our grass one morning a couple of years ago.

It was really crunchy when stepped on.

I could have missed all of that if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and explore the outdoors in the winter. It reminds me of how much my writing journey has required me to step out of my comfort zone.

Publishing books, doing presentations, being filmed live on TV, talking to people about my books, and more are things I wouldn’t have completed if I didn’t decide to step out of my comfort zone.

I have been having a lot of fun on my writing journey, and I hope to continue learning and writing. I am excited to see where this new year will lead me.

What are your favorite winter activities? When have you stepped out of your comfort zone?








2018 End Of Year Writing Goals Update

It’s already the end of 2018! Where does the time go?

Earlier this year, I posted some writing goals I had hoped to accomplish during 2018. I know my “goals” shouldn’t technically be considered goals since they weren’t very specific, but this is what I had written earlier this year as my writing goals along with updates for each.

  • continue writing posts periodically for this website
    • update: Including this one, I have published 48 posts this year on my website.
  • continue adding items periodically to my Pinterest page
    • update: I have added quite a few pins, which has generated some traffic to my website. I currently have over 380 pins for my Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles board and over 740 pins for my Jobs of a Preschooler board. I hope to continue adding more pins (and boards) in the upcoming year. I also learned how to use Canva earlier this year to create more eye-catching pins. My daughter really enjoys creating the Pinterest graphics, and she has actually created some of the images for my website and Pinterest account using Canva. Below is one she created for my thankful chain post.

Give Thanks This Thanksgiving

  • learn more about Goodreads
    • update: I did learn more, answered a couple of the “Ask the Author” questions, linked my website to my Goodreads account, reviewed some books, and I joined a group earlier this year. However, I realize as I am writing this (a few days before New Year’s Eve) that I haven’t been on Goodreads for quite some time. I should get on there and add a few reviews of books I recently read.
  • rewrite a story about a planetarium visit
    • update: I looked at it, rewrote some of it, but it still needs a lot of work. I originally wrote it as a rhyming story, but those who have critiqued it have encouraged me to remove the rhyming other than a few key rhyming phrases. This would definitely cut the word count, which would be a good thing. It has been set aside for a possible future project.
  • read at least 240 children’s books
    • I stopped recording the titles of the children’s books I read after reading 240, so I definitely read quite a bit more than 240 children’s books this year.
  • write at least two books for a series I hope to publish some day
    • update: I wrote one manuscript and had it critiqued by my writing group. I ended up spending quite a bit of time creating a character profile trying to figure out who my character is, what he would do in different situations, and why he does what he does. I rewrote my manuscript (again), but I decided to wait to write a second book manuscript. In the meantime, I have come up with many ideas and notes on future books with the same character.
  • write and submit at least 20 articles, stories, or poems to magazines or websites
    • update: I wrote and submitted 13 posts to Hands On As We Grow. Some of them have already been published, but others are scheduled to be published in the upcoming year. I wrote 2 articles that were published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine (1 online and 1 in print). I also had an article published on A Fine Parent. I did write and submit other articles and stories (so I did more than 20), but those have all either received a no as a response or no response.

TOS Magazine Cover

  • write a numbers and letters story
    • update: I looked at it, did some research, read some books to give me more inspiration, but I am still struggling with some of the writing. This one still requires a lot of work before I will even consider bringing it to my writing group to have it critiqued. I’m not sure if this is one that I will work on in the upcoming year, or if it will be put to the side for now.
  • finish and submit an alphabet book I’m currently working on
    • update: I finished and submitted it in January to one publishing company. I heard back from the publishing company in December, which was exciting for me. I am very grateful whenever I hear back from a publishing company even if the answer is a no (which was the response). I’m not sure if I will try to submit it elsewhere or if I will hold on to it for now.
  • submit a manuscript of at least one other book
    • update: I submitted three manuscripts to one publishing company that had an open submissions window.  I also submitted other manuscripts to a few very select places.
  • continue going to the author group meetings

grow picture book conference

New opportunities arose throughout the year that I hadn’t planned for when I had written this list of 2018 writing goals. I ended up doing a lot more research than I had anticipated, listened to a webinar about creating query letters, learned more about websites, attended the two SCBWI conferences, became a Network Chair, signed up for HARO, responded to some queries, was used as a source on a few online publications, wrote multiple manuscripts for various children’s books (even if they haven’t been accepted…hopefully yet), and more.

If only all of that work would actually lead to a book deal. Maybe next year!

So, I didn’t complete all of my writing goals I had written for 2018, but that’s okay. I’m thankful for the opportunities I did have, the time I spent with my family, the privilege to be able to stay home and homeschool my daughters, and other experiences I had throughout this past year. I don’t want to get so caught up in trying to complete my writing goals that I neglect those who matter most in my life.

Plan today and make it great!

With all that being said, I am looking forward to continuing my writing journey in 2019. I would love to get some manuscripts accepted and ready for future publication.

Although I don’t know what will happen in the upcoming year, my current writing goals for 2019 include:

  • continue writing monthly for Hands On As We Grow
  • continue writing at least two posts each month for my website
  • attend one SCBWI conference
  • be accepted by a literary agent to represent my works
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for a children’s nonfiction project I have recently started
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for an adult nonfiction project I have an idea for
  • write at least one children’s book manuscript
  • revise at least one of my current incomplete children’s book manuscripts
  • do at least one school visit or story time (I didn’t do any this year, but I had so much fun doing them last year!)
  •  submit at least one article to a magazine
  • research some information about creating a course and possibly create a course (which will require even more research)
  • decide what to do with a particular children’s book manuscript I’ve had set aside for a while
  • continue going to writer meetings
  • continue as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa
  • continue adding and creating pins (and possibly a few boards) to my Pinterest account
  • maybe join Twitter

Again, these are not necessarily very specific. I love lists, and I intend to break some of these goals down into detailed steps as I attempt to complete them.

I found it was beneficial for me to create detailed monthly goals (on a list) last year. These were written on a piece of paper and taped onto a wall for me to easily see. I checked off the goals as I completed them. This kept me focused on what needed to be completed first (items with an actual due date) and what I hoped to accomplish if I still had time. This also made me feel as though I was actually completing something as items were checked off.

I also have a habit of writing a daily list of things to do on a dry erase board when I’m home. I hope my daily to-do list will help me finish my monthly goals, which in turn will help me accomplish my goals for the year.

I’m as ready as I am going to be for 2019. Are you? What are your goals for the upcoming year? I’d love to hear from you. We can encourage one another to succeed!