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juliehedlundSo, my fellow PiBoIdMo participants, by now you have a list of tantalizing picture book ideas practically bursting off the page (or screen if you keep them on a computer). What to do?

Here is a novel idea. How about if you select your favorite ideas and write some picture book drafts? Get some of those ideas out of your head so they can one day be out into the world.

It seems like it would be easy to write loads of PBs now that you have that list of ideas, but it isn’t—especially if you go it alone. I know because last year at this very time, I was looking at my list of ideas from the 2010 PiBoIdMo and realized I had only written one manuscript from that list in 2011. How could that be possible?

There were two things missing for me: motivation and accountability. The community (from PiBoIdMo) was there, but I feared we’d all disperse to the four winds after November. So I got this crazy idea to challenge myself to write one picture book draft a month for each month of the year in 2012 and decided to invite people to join me. Thus 12 x 12 in 2012 was born.

12 x 12 new banner

I had no idea then that 400+ picture book writers would come together in this common mission, nor that we would become the tight-knit community we are today. I expected to run it casually for one year and then move on.

But I can’t end 12 x 12 after one year.

Because 12 x 12 doesn’t belong to me—it’s for everyone who loves picture books, wants to write them, and needs a cheering section for both the good times and the bad times. It’s to give writers, who have burning questions in the middle of the day and need an answer RIGHT NOW, a place to turn and to learn. It’s become more than a writing challenge. It’s a global family of writers who have the pluck to write in what could be the most challenging genre on earth.

My friend and fellow 12 x 12’er Tim McCanna recently made this phenomenal video to promote the challenge. His opening lyrics are thus:

So you wanna be a picture book writer?
Then ya gotta write picture books. (Well, duh!)
And yer gonna need a bucket load o’ bright ideas
For titles, plots and hooks.

Thanks to Tara and PiBoIdMo, you’ve got your bucket load of bright ideas. Are you ready to try to write a draft every month in 2013? Registration won’t open until next week, but you can sign up for the 12 x 12 mailing list so you’ll be ready when it does. In 2013 there will be three participation levels to choose from, including one that will enable participants with completed, polished manuscripts to submit to an agent or editor each month.

So, did I write 12 picture book drafts this year? No, I didn’t, but I did write 6 so far and there are still 3 weeks left in December! I’m not very good at math, but already that’s 5 more than I wrote last year. Plus, I completed major revisions on existing manuscripts and even got a publishing contract for one of them. So I am very pleased with my results. If you read some of the testimonials from other participants, I think you’ll see that they’re happy with their results too.

I hope to welcome many of you who completed PiBoIdMo into 12 x 12 in 2013. We are a friendly bunch, and we’re all in this together!

Thanks again to Tara for being the inspiration, not just for PiBoIdMo, but also for 12 x 12. The picture book community continues to grow and thrive as a result of her generosity and hard work.

Julie is generously giving away a FREE “Little GOLDen Book Level” membership in 12×12 for 2013, which includes, among many other features and benefits, the chance to submit to an agent or editor each month and bypass the slush pile! A winner will be selected from those who have commented on this post *and* completed the challenge. The winner will be chosen next week. Good luck!

troopisagroupJulie Hedlund is a Picture Book author and Freelance Writer. Her first book, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, will be released as an interactive storybook app for the iPad in December 2012 by Little Bahalia Publishing. Julie is the founder and host of the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge, a monthly contributor on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast, and the creator of Julie Hedlund’s Template for Storybook App Proposals. Julie will fulfill a lifelong dream in 2013 by leading the first annual Writer’s Renaissance retreat in Florence, Italy.

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