Jeanette Bradley – Featured Author February 2018

It’s already our second month of the year! For many of you this is just the beginning of your 12 x 12 journey. We are pleased to announce that, for the second year in a row, all of our Featured Authors will be published 12 x 12 members! We love celebrating the success of our members and watching 12 x 12 drafts bloom into picture books to be read by children everywhere. We couldn’t think of a better book to kick this month of love than Jeanette Bradley’s LOVE, MAMA. Please welcome Jeanette.

It’s February, and I’ve got a book about love transcending distance, so consider this my Valentine to you, my fellow writers and illustrators.


My love for you stretches across the wide ocean, 
through day and night, 
from earth to sky 
and back again.

 —— from LOVE, MAMA, by Jeanette Bradley 

We are separated by time and space, and we have probably never met. Yet we can connect through these words that you are reading on your screen, wherever you are. That is magical. Writing is magic.

Craft is important. It is worth every moment that you invest in learning more about narrative structure, pacing, and character arcs. It’s worth it to replay your writing to yourself over and over to listen to the sounds of each word. It’s worth it to re-draw that sketch for the tenth time to get the perspective right. Technical skills matter. Grammar matters. But it is not enough.

I went to art school, and spent years studying the technical skills of art-making. But I learned how to write picture books from other writers. Reading other people’s work taught me so much about my own. My critique groups have helped me improve my craft, pushed me to try new challenges, and helped me muddle through revisions. I am living proof that it is possible to become a published author without a degree in English or Creative Writing. But I didn’t do it alone.

No one ever publishes a book alone. Critique partners are essential to creating well-crafted, submission-ready work. Once a manuscript sells, there are even more people involved in reading and revising your work. It’s complicated, messy, stressful, and wonderful.

We spend a lot of time alone with our screens and sketchpads. But, our relationships with other writers and readers are what help us to find the heart in our work and  make our stories come alive. We need to connect with other creators in order to connect with our own creative magic. Thats why we seek out the 12 x 12 Friday dance parties on Facebook and go to conferences.

Find another writer or artist to connect with this month. Join a critique group. Send someone a message in the forum. Invite a friend out for coffee. Do something as simple as commenting on someone’s Instagram post about what moves you in their work. Use your words or your images to just connect, and then watch what grows in your creative life.

Writing is magic. Art is magic. You are magic. Don’t forget that.

Jeanette Bradley has been an urban planner, an apprentice pastry chef, and the artist-in-residence for a traveling art museum on a train. Her debut picture book LOVE, MAMA was published by Roaring Brook Press. It contains no cities, pastries, or trains, but was made with lots of love. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her wife and kids. ​Jeanette is represented by Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt.

Jeanette is offering a manuscript or query critique to one lucky 12 x 12 member at the February check-in. Get those drafts written and revised for more chances to win! 

Have you join 12 x 12 yet? If not, there’s still time! Registration is open until February 28, 2018. Let this be the year you write more than you ever have before. JOIN HERE.

This Post Has 157 Comments

  1. We often say writing is a lonely act, yet you remind us that we really don’t do it alone, nor could we. Thank you for your post.

  2. It’s really true I leaned so much by reading other people’s work. I have a critique partner, but never joined a group. This post encouraged me to try again. Thank you Jeanette!

  3. Wow! I was directed toward your book a couple of days ago when I visited my local children’s bookstore and asked for picture book recommendations! It’s such a sweet story and I love the illustrations. You are absolutely right about the impact of connecting with others on one’s own creativity. Thanks for your post.

  4. Thank you for the reminder to use our words and images for connection Jeanette. And those 2 images on this post! Oh my goodness how sweet. I’m gonna have to send this to my son in college. 😉

  5. I belong to several critique groups. It’s important to have many eyes and ears on your work, but not too many. I’m glad to know you didn’t major in English or creative writing, too. I often wondered if that would hold me back.

  6. I loved reading your post. My critique groups have not only given me an opportunity to receive valuable feedback on my work, they have given me many wonderful friend who share a love of writing.

  7. “Writing is Magic.” Wow! It’s important to remember that the magic we create communicates many important messages to our readers.

  8. Thank you Jeanette for your inspiring post! I love the idea of how we are separated by time and space but can connect through words. Words are so powerful – and definitely- magical. Congratulations on Love, Mama! It looks adorable. I wish you much continued success!

  9. I love all of this post, but especially “writing is magic, art is magic.” This warmed my heart tonight.☺️ I also love your suggestion to connect with others who are on this crazy mission with us! We definitely need our tribe! Thanks for the great post and I can’t wait to read “Love , Mama.” It looks delightful.

  10. Thanks for the reminder about the importance of connecting with others along this writing journey. Congratulations on your debut!

  11. I have learned so much from reading others’ work and critiques. I love that writing is a shared experience and we can all gain something from our various roles in the process

  12. Thank you, Jeanette! I am going to take you message to heart this month and make a point of connecting with other writers and artists, rather than just reading about them. Your words are the push I needed to hear.

  13. Congratulations on being the February’s featured author for 12 x 12 challenge. I can’t wait to read your book Love, Mama. It has a beautiful cover for Valentines Day too. Thanks for your lovely post about connecting with our words is magic. I agree!

  14. Jeannette,
    I agree the connections and work with critique partners and groups at conferences and workshops all help us get there. Some get there sooner than others. Congratulations on your new book. I am sure you worked hard to create it the way you wanted and to find an agent and editor to help. I am looking forward to reading it.

  15. Jeannette,
    I agree the connections and work with critique partners and groups at conferences and workshops all help us get there. Some get there sooner than others. Congratulations on your new book. I am sure you worked hard to create it the way you wanted and to find an agent and editor to help.

  16. Thanks for an inspiring and encouraging message, Jeanette. I agree that everyone in this community is magic, and I look forward to forging lots of new connections this year. Love, Mama looks wonderful – congratulations on a beautiful book!

  17. Congratulations Jeannette! Thank you for your inspirational words and for reminding us how magical our writing can be! I look forward to continuing my creative journey and hope to, one day, inspire others with my magic.

  18. I really enjoyed reading your post! It was very inspirational and a good reminder to let others in to the personal space of my writing world. Thank you!

  19. Thank you for reminding us the importance of cultivating our relationships with our tribe. I know I owe so much to mine.

  20. What a lovely post. Writing is so much better with the support of friends, and our writing is so much better with the help of our critique groups.

  21. Down with screens and up with books like Love, Mama! Thank you for an inspiring and spot on post, Jeanette! Our tribe….they support us and encourage us…I’d be lost without mine kid lit family!

  22. Wonderful post, Jeanette! I’m grateful for our friendship and for your eyes on my manuscripts. And I’m so excited for LOVE, MAMA! Wishing you all the best!

  23. Jeanette,
    I couldn’t agree more that success in the publishing world takes a community. I have found the children’s writing community so welcoming to new members and celebrates every person’s success. Wishing magic for all.

  24. Your book sounds lovely. Congratulations! Writers do need each other for encouragement and honest feedback. Great post, Jeanette.

  25. Congratulations Jeannette! Hugs to you and that adorable penguin! I needed your reminder to connect with other amazing writers and artists. That’s a weak spot that I will work to make stronger in 2018. Great post.

  26. Love that you reminded us that we are magic. This is my first year as a 12×12. I have found a local critique group. I’m learning to put my heart into the stories. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  27. Hi Jeanette, I can’t wait to read your lovely book. I agree about how essential it is for our craft to interact with others, to belong to a critique group, and to have the support that only those taking the same journey can give. Thanks for the reminder!

  28. Congratulations on LOVE, MAMA! And thank you for this heart-warming message. Our community is so generous, but can also feel overwhelming. Thank you for reminding us to use our words and magic to connect.

  29. How true about writing is “magic” — and magic that is stronger and more effective and certainly more fun with other writers. Thanks, Jeanette.

  30. Your post is encouraging to those of us who are new to critique groups and writer forums. Thank you and congratulations on your new book.

  31. I cannot agree more. My critique group has probably been the 2nd best thing for me in terms of advancing my writing (2nd only to joining SCBWI, for, without doing that, I would not have found my critique group!).

  32. What a beautiful post! I am magic…. Going to be sure I use that today because my plot for Feb’s draft…isn’t so magical. 🙂 Can’t wait to read your book! Loved reading your inspirational journey. Thank you. and best of luck!

  33. Thank you for the great reminder about connecting and support….and the magic! Looking forward to reading Love, Mama!

  34. Hi Jeanette. So very true. Every published work is a collaboration of many creative individuals and much time and effort. Without these, we wouldn’t have the wonderful stories that spark our imaginations and touch upon emotional chords. Thank you for reminding us to make connections/enhance our skills and as Nike says, “Just do it.”

  35. Thanks, Jeanette, for a reminder of just how important it is to connect with others. Just in the year I’ve been with 12×12, I’ve seen my writing improve tremendously thanks to those who have taken the time to critique my work.

  36. Jeanette,
    You wrote those words and I read them. We are connected through words. You are right! Isn’t that magical? Writing truly transcends space and time. Thanks for your post.

  37. I joined my first critique group in January this year and it is wonderful to be part of this group. Even though we are miles apart we are connecting through our writing. Thank you for reminding me about the importance of connections, Jeanette.

  38. I’m so grateful for my critique partners! They point out things I need to think about, they are honest and helpful, and they are fellow PB writers. It’s all about community!

  39. I’m glad to hear that not having a formal background in writing didn’t hold you back from getting a manuscript published. That’s encouraging for me, personally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  40. I’m glad to hear that not having a formal background in writing didn’t hold you back from getting a manuscript published. That’s encouraging for me, personally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    And I agree that a critique group is extremely valuable. I appreciate mine very much.

  41. Being part of a ceitique geoup has helped me grow so much. Getting feedback, and giving feedback, is really important to making stories magical.

    Congrats on Love, Mama! Hope to read it this Valentines.

  42. “But I learned how to write picture books from other writers. Reading other people’s work taught me so much about my own. ”

    So fitting, as I sit in the library on this Saturday morning, commenting on my critique partners’ drafts! Thank you, Jeannette, and congratulations on LOVE, MAMA!

  43. When I started writing, I never realized how many people are actually involved in writing your story. So important to connect with our fellow writers! Congratulations on Love, Mama, Jeanette!

  44. Hi Jeannette. Thank you for underlining the importance of having a writing community. I also want to add that I was struck by how the softness of your illustrations match your words. Congratulations on a beautiful story.

  45. Thank you for reminding us that even though we feel alone, we aren’t. And we can’t do this by ourselves. I needed the pick-me-up. Great post.

  46. I cannot WAIT to read this book! Thank you for sharing this post and inspiration, Jeanette. Newest Post-It on my laptop screen: “Writing is magic.”

  47. I’m constantly amazed by the number of connections I’ve made in the kidlit world. Just through a pitching contest, or a conference, or an online webinar, and through the amazing 12×12. I feel lucky to be part of it. I love your comment about writing and how it transcends time and distance. Perfect.

  48. Thanks Jeanette ! And congratulations on LOVE, MAMA. I too would be lost without my critique partners. They are the best.

  49. My 12×12 critique group has made all the difference in my writing life. Community is so important. Congratulations on LOVE, MAMA.

  50. Loved reading about all your interesting life experiences. And love that your 12×12 connection was instrumental in your being published. Congratulations!!

  51. The kidlit community is unlike any business community I’ve ever seen. Almost without exception, kidlit writers are unconditionally supportive, sympathetic, and loving. I adore this post because it resonates so strongly with me. My stories have improved drastically because of my critique partners, but perhaps more importantly, I believe I’ve grown as a person. So I agree – this whole world is magical!

  52. Your words are so true. Writing alongside other writers makes the journey so much better. Congratulations on Love, Mama. I know a few new mamas to give this to.

  53. Lovely messages Jeanette. Looking forward to reading your book. So many things you have said resonate with me Very best wishes for your writing in the future 😊

  54. Thank you, Jeanette, for your encouragement. Writing is a solo project at first, but then a creative team lends support. Putting yourself up for critiquing can be daunting and humbling, but definitely a way to grow and improve.

  55. Your book sounds gorgeous, Jeanette, and I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post too – a good reminder to keep seeking out assistance and support, and to give back in return.

  56. Thank you for your encouraging post. I’ve recently moved to a new place and will be joining the local SCBWI group this month. Excited but also a little nervous.

  57. Thank you for your encouraging post. I’ve recently moved to a new place and will be joining the local SCBWI group this month. Excited but also a little nervous.

  58. Support from you fellow writers and illustrators is so important. I’m glad you’re book has made it out into the world.

  59. Thank you Jeanette. Congratulations on your new book – I think it looks like a great Valentine’s gift for my boys.

  60. Connections makes me a better writer. A shout out to my very appreciated critique group. I’m sharing my submission package today!

  61. “I am living proof that it is possible to become a published author without a degree in English or Creative Writing.” — I wish I could express how much wind this sentence put in my sails. Thank you very much for your encouraging, mentoring post. So helpful!

  62. Thank you for this loving post. My critique groups are dear to me. They guide me and challenge me.
    Love the cover of your book. I will look for it. Again, thank you.

  63. Thanks, Jeanette. I’ll make it a point to remember that connecting with other writers and creative individuals will help bring heart to my work!

  64. Hi Jeanette,
    Thank you for the world of information you shared. Your style of illustrations bring such a happy upbeat feeling. The characters are adorable. I look forward in purchasing your “Love, Mama” book and sharing it with my grandchildren.
    I thank you for those encouragements to connect and I’m taking that as a challenge and hope to do them all.
    I just went to my second SCWI meeting in Vancouver, WA and it’s great to be part of that community as well.
    May you have a happy and healthy 2018!

  65. Jeanette – really enjoyed you StoryStorm blog post and as we navigate the many peaks and troughs of bringing a story to life – thank you for this timely reminder to reach out to others!

  66. Perfect post for February. It’s so important to connect with other writers, share our frustrations and successes. That’s often what keeps us going when the going gets tough.

  67. “Critique partners are essential to creating well-crafted, submission-ready work.”
    Yes! Creating, connecting, and nurturing our village is so important! Thank you for this thoughtful post!

  68. Congratulations on a sweet and lovely book! Thanks for reminding me about the need to seek help from others. That is not my go to and needs improvement.

  69. Thank you, Jeanette, for reminding us that writing magic doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need the support of the members of our writing communities, and with luck, friends and family as well, to create works that live and breathe.

  70. Congratulations! Clearly you are an artist through and through! Thank you for such an inspirational post! I would love some insight into how to find the right critique group for you (through 12×12)? Any advice would be great!

  71. Thank you for the reminder about the magic and the love! It is too easy to get stuck overthinking, and this is the perfect reminder to work from the heart. 🙂

  72. As a self-proclaimed introvert and wallflower, it can be difficult for me to connect with other writers. Thank you for this reminder of the value of community. I sometimes feel like an island; I don’t have to act like one. Can’t wait to read Love, Mama. I’m expecting my first baby in June so this sounds like the perfect read for me this Valentine’s Day.

    Love, Rebecca 🙂

  73. I’m finding that connection and critique are just as important as doing the work. As with most things in life, there is value in the experiences and perspectives of others. Thank you!

  74. What’s magical is that we are not walking alone in this creative path, and that as fellow travelers we help each other reach the next milestone…

    And it was also magical getting to meet you in person at the NY conference! 🙂

  75. Love this! The funny thing is, I checked into my notifications on the forum (just before checking the blog), and a new 12×12 member had asked me what my favorite part of 12×12 was, during my first year. Without hesitating, I shouted out the merits and perpetually-beneficial connection of my amazing critique group! They nurture my mind, help me grow my craft, and keep my thoughts open on ways to utilize the principle of PB writing in the ways that best serve my work. I couldn’t hope to be where I am today, without them!

  76. Great choice of book for February. Your reminder of others that are included in the process makes the solo act of writing bearable. Yea for all the invisible collaborators, 12by12, agents, critique groups, illustrators, etc.

  77. Thanks, Jeanette! I couldn’t agree more. I had isolated myself as a writer for a few years, and started reaching back out last year. The new energy has been amazing, especially around 12×12. We are magic together!

  78. Jeanette,

    You are so right – fellow writers help us in so many ways. I’m blessed to have two wonderful critique groups, my 12×12 family, writer friends, and other creative spirits to keep me focused. I’m going to draw from their energy this year to make 2018 great!

  79. Jeannette–Your writing is beautiful and lyrical. I love your illustration style. You are absolutely right–critique groups are so helpful. While I’ve been in several over the years, being in an online 12 X 12 one last year made me both a better critiquer and a better writer. Great advice. Thanks! Susan Swan

  80. You hit many nails on the head, Jeanette–it’s not enough to have raw talent or a dream, one must learn, study and practice their craft. And having a support group like this is invaluable! Best of love with your debut book 🙂

  81. What a lovely post! It’s so true that we need to connect with our writing tribe. And how true that writing is magic. Scrolling through the names of those who’ve already commented on this post even makes me smile and reminds me of how connected we can be virtually to folks with similar passions and pursuits. How lucky that is! Thanks for these reminders and I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  82. The cover of your book is lovely, Jeanette. I look forward to reading it. Thanks also for reminding us how important it is to reach out to other writers. I couldn’t do this without my tribe!

  83. Thank you, @Jeanette Bradley, now I really get it, the importance of relationship even in a solo endeavor. Is magic really magic if no one is there to witness it?!

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