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12 X 12 December 2016 Check-In!

12 x 12 December 2016 Check-In!

I am going to be honest. I don’t want to use this post to talk about whether I wrote a new draft (I didn’t) or completed a revision (I did) this month. I am feeling slightly nauseous about this being the last day of the fifth year of the 12 x 12 challenge, and I want to tell you why.

I began this year full of hope and energy and optimism. It was the FIFTH YEAR of this, the greatest writing community on earth! I was determined to make it the best year yet, for both the challenge and myself personally. I spent last New Year’s at a mountain retreat, writing. I started the year with three new drafts. I had plans to throw a party in New York to celebrate with 12 x 12 members and contributors. 2015 had been a difficult year (although I can hardly remember why anymore), so I was ready for shiny and new.

Then, 2016 happened.

My energy and optimism lasted through February, and we did have one heck of a party in NYC.

Then I suffered a personal loss. I got sick. In March, I received many rejections on a book that was hugely important to me. And it went on from there, alternating between personal pain and that of being a world citizen. Here in the U.S. we endured the ugliest, most divisive election in history, and many of us fear what the future will bring. We suffered the tragedies in Charleston, Orlando, and more.  On the world stage, there were horrors in Paris, Nice, Syria. Brexit in the UK. We’ve lost some of the greatest writers, actors, musicians, athletes, thinkers and humanitarians of all time. All in one year.

And there were killer clowns. KILLER CLOWNS, People!

Okay, nobody was actually killed by a clown. But still…

Today I sit here wondering what happened to this year, to all of us. I don’t have many answers, but I do know this: it WAS the best year of 12 x 12 yet. We held a phenomenal series of webinars. We added incredible new benefits like the Critique Ninja program. We came together online and in person at events all over the world. We comforted each other during difficult times for us individually, and collectively in the aftermath of horrific world events. Thanks to Marcie Colleen, we danced to the music of the great talents we lost. We celebrated and mourned. We laughed and cried. Darkness and light. Together.

Day after day, the 12 x 12 community was my solace, my motivation, my reason to get up in the morning. And now? My resolve to create, to write, to have a VOICE is stronger than ever. Swearing aside, I think Chuck Wendig said it best in an essay he wrote after the U.S. election. “Make art. Art harder. Art the hardest you ever done arted, motherfuckers.”

That’s what I intend to do, and I hope you will too. I hope you will come back in 2017 and we can art the hardest we ever done arted — together. We are stronger together. We create more together. We persevere together.

I made you one final gift to close out our fifth year. A memoriam of some of the greats we lost this year. In the process of creating this video, I got thinking about the immense contributions these people left behind and how they each changed the world. Then I thought, “That’s what WE’RE doing!” We ARE changing the world. Published or pre-published, we are all doing important, life-changing work on behalf of the children of the world. What could be more important?

Happy New Year everyone. Or at a minimum, Happy End of THIS Year. Let us go forth into 2017 resolved to make the world a better place with our actions, our words, our work. We can do this!

Never, EVER give up!

 Now tell us your progress. Did you complete a draft and/or revision in December? Let us know in the Rafflecopter and in the comments. Our prize comes from this month’s Featured Author Debbie Ohi. The winner will receive a signed/doodled copy of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? sent to anyone in North America. (If someone outside of North America wins, we will substitute with a different prize.)

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win:

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “Free Webinars” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on Debbie Ohi’s post” button. Commenting on Debbie’s post is mandatory for this giveaway and you can enter the Rafflecopter even if you didn’t write a draft this month, but commenting on Debbie’s post. You can comment on the post here.  Click ENTER.
  3. Click on the “Wrote a PB Draft” button. This will ask if you completed a PB draft in December. If you did, click ENTER, if you did not, move on to the next step.
  4. Click on the last “Revised a PB Draft” button. This will ask if you revised a PB in December. If you did, click ENTER. If not, move on to the next step.
  5. That’s it! Rafflecopter will track your points.

You have until midnight Eastern on January 2nd to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on January 3rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Post Has 29 Comments
  1. Thanks so very very much Julie for running 12 x 12 and other features and webinars. These have kept me going and the people I have met and critiqued with and learned from are wonderful. It helps me believe that one day I, too, will publish something and succeed in this writing world. And that keeps me hoping and going and trying and telling others to do the same. Loved your video, too. Have to run it more than once to read all the inspiring quotes.

  2. Thank you, Julie for sharing your thoughts and for those you’ve captured on the video. So meaningful and such a great reminder that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. Keep writing, everyone! You never know how and who will be changed by your words.

  3. I am so glad I took the plunge and joined 12 x 12 this year, Julie. Thank you so much for hosting this wonderful community, and for all of the hard work you and your team have put into it this year. Happy New Year, and may 2107 bring you much JOY!

  4. Thank you, Julie, for keeping me focused and keeping my BIC. Your inspiration, wonderful webinars, and special guests spurred me on each month. I’m looking forward to 2017! Happy New Year to you, Kelli, and all the team members who work hard to help 12×12 members push forward with writing and illustration!

  5. Thank you for this heartfelt year-end message. It’s very powerful as is the truth that we must art harder going forward. Kids are watching us, and they need what we make. Let’s show them what we’ve got.

  6. Thank you so much for everything you do for the children’s writing community. and i love your message for the end of the year. We must “art harder” and do what we can to change the world for the better.

  7. You know, Julie, I think I would have given up this year if not for 12×12. I almost quit earlier this month but the 12×12 FaceBook group pulled me up and set me back on my feet. In fact, I feel better than before. I know you pour yourself into this effort, you care about us and about what we are trying to do. I want to thank you for the work and tears and love you put into 12×12 – all the posts, the webinars, the forum, the challenges and encouragement, and all you do that we don’t know about to make it happen. We ARE making the world a better place just by the fact of being in it and doing what we’re doing.
    Thanks, Julie. Power on.
    And thanks, Kelli, for helping hold it all together.
    Hugs to you both.
    Happy and productive 2017 to us all!

  8. What a beautiful gift you’ve given us with this video, Julie…I love each one of the quotes you picked. Yes, 2016 was a difficult year – a true challenge in many ways…but as with most challenges…we can emerge stronger and more focused on what we need to accomplish in 2017. I’m excited to be participating in your 12 Days of Christmas…and looking forward to Tara’s STORYSTORM and of course, 12×12 in 2017…oh my gosh…I remember so clearly when it was 12×12 in 2012 and Carrie Finison and Hannah Holt decided they wanted to start a critique group and were looking for who else was interested and my hand shot up.
    2017 is going to be a banner year…I’m stocking up on confetti and just hope I don’t run out. 😉

  9. Thanks for a great year! I will miss all of you, but circumstances are changing and I won’t be able to afford it anymore. Happy new year!

  10. What a great video Julie, thanks for being an inspiration to us all! I’m looking forward to another great year. I found the webinars to be extremely inspiring and often led to drafts within a day or so of watching them. I also look forward to increasing my participation in the forum and Facebook group. Thanks again!

  11. Even though I was still dealing with medical tests and Drs visits, I managed to add 2 new rough drafts to my list as well as revise 2 of my old picture book manuscripts. I am looking forward to Tara’s STORYSTORM, Becky’s Chapter Book Challenge, and, of course, 12×12 in 2017.

  12. Thank you for your thoughtful post and beautiful compilation, Julie! So many wonderful spirits and hope-filled words. I’ll carry this with me into the new year. And yes, let’s all make art harder! Thank you for all you do!

  13. Julie, thank you for the thoughtful post, the video, and all the amazing hard work you and Kelli have put in to 12×12 this year. You are absolutely right, we need to keep making good art. The quotes you collated reminded me of this one from Shawn Coyne, on the StoryGrid podcast (
    “There’s a reason why we tell stories to each other, and that is to keep the bedrock of humanity strong. There are moral principles that we all in our hearts believe in, truly. It doesn’t matter what religious affiliation you have. There is moral right and wrong, and stories reinforce those values and they keep the society strong.”

    As picture book authors we can play a role in embedding these values in our society’s children. I think it is important and meaningful work. Thank you for helping us to do a better job of it, year by year. Happy 2017!

  14. Thank you for a great writing year. It is such a privilege to be a part of this community. When I look back to last year, I am humbled by how much I learned from all of the amazing resources. I am looking forward to what 2017 will bring!

  15. You guys! Your comments have brought tears to my eyes – literally. I love you all and look forward to “arting harder” with you this year.

  16. Thank you, Julie, for another wonderful year in 12×12! I finally found the courage to submit more & the critique group I joined last year is just awesome. I truly could not continue on this journey without the support of my 12×12 family.

  17. Happy New Year, Julie! Sometimes I wonder if you realize the extent of your influence on all of us in 12X12. You are a beacon of light, drawing us all closer to our dreams. I appreciate your honesty about your frustrations with this challenging career. Knowing your thoughts, helps me persevere through times of doubt. So happy you are back on submission! Wishing you great success in the coming year.

  18. Thanks for all your amazing work Julie. I found an amazing critique group through 12×12 and enjoyed the webinars so much. I hope 2017 brings you the best year of writing yet!

  19. Great post, Julie. You really put your heart out there. We are so vulnerable alone, but together we are strong. Carole Calladine

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