My friend Julie Hedlund of 12 x 12 recently shared her philosophy about new year's resolutions on her blog, and I'm with her -- resolutions frown down on us from their high and lofty thrones while building on our accomplishments from the previous year makes far more sense! So here are my successes from 2018 and how I intend to use them as a stepping stone for my 2019 goals.
1) After finding an amazing agent in 2017 (Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency!) we went on submission in 2018 with my picture book biography and sold it to a big five publisher. Hooray! As soon as it's officially announced, I will definitely blog about THAT!
2) I sold a poem to Carol Hinz at Lerner (through Miranda Paul's generous call at 12x12). I was so excited to have my sonnet included in Thanku: Poems About Gratitude! But I was very surprised to discover the other authors I would be published alongside of -- young people's poet laureate Margarita Engle, the fabulous Jane Yolen, the amazing Vanessa Brantley Newton, and so many more! I was shocked. But imagine my further surprise when I arrived at our biweekly critique group with the news only to discover that out of all the hundreds of people who sent in poems, two of my critique group members also were included. I could not have been more thrilled! ISBN: 978-1-5415-2363-0.
3) My friend Deborah Heiligman posted on her Facebook page that the Narrative Nonfiction Workshop at Highlights still had scholarship money available, so I quickly sent in my writing sample and they offered me a full scholarship! I was so excited. It had been a career-long dream of mine to attend a Highlights workshop, and here was the very one I needed to whip my next work in progress into shape! My mentor was Barb Kerley, author of What to Do About Alice and A Home for Mr. Emerson, among others. Deborah Heiligman, author of Charles and Emma and Vincent and Theo, was there, and I've been an admirer of hers for YEARS! And Betsy Partridge shared reams of information with us along with her casual charm and wry wit. When she read from her book, Boots on the Ground, we were all riveted. And it has since been chosen as a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence! What a truly gifted author she is! These are heavy hitters in the children's nonfiction world, ya'll! And I am forever grateful!
4) I took my middle grade mess of a novel to The Writing Barn to work with Phoebe Yeh and Lamar Giles and found just the support I needed -- in a laid back setting with deer grazing. It was hard to shift gears and dig in deep immediately after the Highlights workshop, but I did it! Thank you, Bethany Hegedus!
5) I won a prize in Vivian Kirkfield's 50 precious words contest and made a new friend, the author of Lizzie and Lou Seal -- Patricia Keeler! She sent me a copy of her book along with line art and post cards. What a treat!
6) I was asked to speak about lyrical writing at the SCBWI-Carolinas conference in September. Despite a cold and fever and a tiny case of nerves, I think it went pretty well! And I was contacted later by someone from SCBWI Nevada. They want me to speak there via Zoom in 2019!
7) I joined two new critique groups -- one for Jewish writers and one just for picture book biographies. I'm very excited! These are two targeted areas, and I'm proud to be learning and growing among such gifted authors.
8) I wrote five new picture books this past year, and three of them are viable, in my opinion. (The other two are a hot mess, but that's okay, too!) I will be revising the heck out of my top three in January, and I hope to get them on submission soon.
My goals for 2019 are to continue building relationships with other authors, with my agent and editor, somehow pay back the amazing mentors who have helped me along the way (talking about you, Miranda Paul, Stacy McAnulty, and Kim Norman!), to give that kind of support to others, to get those three picture books sold, and to finish my middle grade novel and revise it. I am also applying to Tent (for Jewish authors) again this year -- I was waitlisted for it last year, so maybe this will be my year to get in!
If these things happen, fabulous! If they do not, I will continue writing, developing new concepts, and sticking by my clan. Children's book authors are the best friends a girl could ever have.
I wasn't the only successful family member this past year. My daughter Hannah was featured as an opera-singing klingon at a Star Trek Convention in New York. My other daughter is graduating with honors this year and has already landed her dream job. My son got married (it was a Lord of the Rings themed wedding!) and is in high demand as a lead performer in Charleston's theater scene. And my other son continues to amaze us with his natural talent at creating games and apps! We are a quirky, eclectic bunch of creatives, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
Joyous new year to you all!
When Megan Hoyt first stepped into a tiny library in East Dallas and checked out The Fairy Doll, time stood still for one brief moment. A book! A lovely, magical book about a little girl, overshadowed and overlooked, the youngest of four, just like me! she thought. Rumer Godden gave way to Madeleine L’Engle and Frances Hodson Burnett. Soon, a sturdy, low-hanging backyard branch became a thoughtful spot where some rather large ideas began to take shape. If reading James Barrie can make a girl flap her arms and jump off a garden wall fully expecting to fly, books truly do pulse with life.