2018 was a rough year at our house, but it had a lot of bright spots. While you're on the roller coaster, the heights can be as scary as the depths. But looking back, it's easier to see the good.
In January, we dropped Robyn off in another state to attend her first semester of college.
Near the end of the month, I helped with out regional SCBWI conference in Las Vegas. That was both more rewarding and more exhausting than I expected it to be. Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary critiqued one of my picture book manuscripts through that conference, although she wasn't able to attend. Karen asked if she could send the manuscript to some editors without signing me as a client, and I agreed. She doesn't represent fantasy, which I write a lot of, so we agreed that we weren't a great long-term fit. I have really enjoyed working with her, though. She doesn't seem to procrastinate anything. I never felt neglected or ignored.
In February, the Poets' Garage accepted my application for membership. This lovely group of people definitely created some bright spots. I'd never had a poetry critique partner before, and suddenly I had a whole group of published children's poets offering advice and encouragement. I wrote A LOT more poetry in 2018. Through the Poet's Garage, I learned about the Madness! Poetry Tournament that happens annually in March, and I applied.
I also developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in February. Not so fun. I was two or three weeks into a drawing class that I'd really been excited about. On the bright side, it's an online class through Storyteller Academy, and I can retake it anytime. On the dark side, I now have a history of fear and suffering associated with drawing.
In March, I made it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the Madness! Poetry Tournament. If anyone reading this voted for my poems, THANK YOU!
The first weekend in April, we spent a weekend up at Ben's parents. Robyn caught a ride to Salt Lake, so we all hung out for a couple of days before she had to go back. And then she came down for Spring Break between her two semesters. This is probably the first year that we've missed the Clark County Fair since we've lived in Nevada.
By the end of May, my carpal tunnel had healed and I'd been released as primary president (heavy burden lifted). I visited Nellis Airforce Base with a bunch of fifth graders.
We attended Gwenyth's last May Day Dance.
In June, we visited the elephant seals and zebras in San Simeon, CA. Hearst Castle is incredible. I highly recommend the area as a vacation spot. That trip made me realize that I need to visit the ocean more often.
Robyn finished her second semester in July, so the kids and I went on a grand road trip through six states. We picked up Robyn, visited Yellowstone, and spent some time with their grandparents. I also recommend Yellowstone.
I started off August by quitting the part-time job I've had with Clark County Parks and Recreation for the last eight years.
I attended a SCBWI picture book critique group in Las Vegas for the first time. Our Illustrator Coordinator, Ken Lamug, runs the group, and he always invites me. It was a great experience. They gave me excellent feedback, and it was really fun to see everyone. I edit/coordinate the newsletter for SCBWI Nevada, so I already knew most of the group from email interaction.
I also read some of my children's poems (by invitation) in a big community event, and I started taking a 12-week in-person business class. Both were outside my comfort zone. Both proved rewarding.
I started reading self-help books in September, which led to using affirmations and ended up being more helpful than I expected. The friend (Annie Leavitt) who recommended the books started a local self-help book club, which I joined. I'm hoping to figure out meditation in 2019.
Also in September, I started moderating workshops and taking on various other jobs for Arree Chung at Storyteller Academy. He gave me the green light to start posting on the blog again. Working for Arree and immersing myself in Storyteller Academy again turned out to be just what I needed.
At the beginning of October, my friend Annie challenged me to set a date to query agents with my YA fantasy, so I wrapped up that revision by the end of the month and started personalizing queries.
November brought the completion of my business class, Arree's Black Friday Bootcamp, and his launch of Makers. If you want to (or already do) write and/or illustrate picture books, and you haven't checked out Makers, you absolutely should. And no, I don't get paid any kind of commission. I have a high opinion of the instructors and curriculum.
Aside from giving me a double dose of the flu, December had some encouraging moments. If any of them lead to something I can tangibly call success, I'll let you know in 2019.
How was your 2018?