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12 X 12 February 2018 Featured Author – Jeanette Bradley

12 x 12 February 2018 Featured Author – Jeanette Bradley

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 392 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?!

  84. ” My critique groups have helped me improve my craft, pushed me to try new challenges, and helped me muddle through revisions.” Jeanette, I would be lost without my critique partners and this incredible writing community. Congratulations! Your book is heart magic 🙂

  85. I connected with a fellow 12x12er in person! I couldn’t believe I was the only one doing this in my large-ish town. Turns out, I’m not! Having this great community really makes a difference.

  86. Thanks for this inspiring post. This is my first month in 12×12, and though I’ve been a writer all my life in some form or fashion, it is the first time my adult life that I’m joining a community of writers. It’s a little scary and intimidating. But I love your advice and am taking it as a challenge…

    “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.”

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  87. Thank you for the encouraging post! It always helps to hear published authors talk about trusting the process of creating and connecting, one little bit at a time!

  88. Jeanette, your cover of your book and your words are so lovely! I can’t wait to get my hands on your book. I am finally tapping into this community of writers. What a marvelous tribe!
    Keep spreading your magic!

  89. Thank you Jeanette for the shot of inspiration and encouragement. Yesterday, I forgot about the magic, but today is a new day and your words are lifting me up to keep on writing!

  90. Love this, Jeanette. I love the “connecting over space and time” through writing. Beautiful. And YES–community is everything. Such a good reminder. Congratulations on your debut picture book! Can’t wait to read it.

  91. You are so right about the importance of critique groups. I have revised and improved many of my manuscripts and illustrations based on the feedback of critique groups, including those in 12×12!

    Congratulations on your new book! Love, Mama looks like a wonderful touching story. It is so important for kids to learn about love. Love will help all of us stay strong despite the negativity in this world.

  92. Great advice, Jeanette. I have had an in person crit group for many years, and they are gold for feedback…when we don’t get sidetracked into talking about kids and art and other people’s books. So I think of them now as more of a support group (because they really understand the highs and lows of this work) and a crit group on demand. My newly formed 12×12 group on the other hand, is all business, and already (in just 6 weeks or so) they have been SO helpful keeping me moving forward writing and revising my work.

  93. Congratulations on your book! I love your focus on relationships. I believe people come into our lives for a reason. That is definitely the case with my critique group. I am so blessed to have them in my writing life! Thanks for the article!

  94. Yes, critique partners and critique groups are so very important. Everything can and sometimes does lead to other things and people in this business of writing, with little nuggets of gold along the journey.

  95. I have a critique partner outside of 12×12 and now hope to join a critique group in 12 x 12. I cannot wait to see who else will be a part of my writing journey. Thanks for the hopeful post!

  96. This really resonated with me: “Craft is important. It is worth every moment that you invest in learning more about narrative structure, pacing, and character arcs.” Yes! The more I learn, the more I want to learn. Not just because having the knowledge and skills improves my writing, but because the practice of learning and thinking about my craft makes me a better writer.

  97. Thank you Jeanette, for this beautiful reminder. Writing is fulfilling, but the connection with others in the wonderful community is the best part. Happy Valentine’s Day (belatedly).

  98. I definitely had a “writing is magic” moment this week when another writer on the forum had the exact expertise I needed to move a manuscript forward. It indeed felt magical.

  99. Hi Jeanette,
    Thank you for your inspiring words. It’s easy to fall into a hole when you work alone. Before you know it, self doubt can crawl in and keep you company at you don’t even realize it. Thank you for sharing your own adventure. I too studied art, but learned the art of writing by reading other authors. I never thought I would fall in love with the power of words. Its nice to know there are all kinds of ways to reach your dreams. “Love Mama” is just beautiful. Congratulations!!!!

  100. Thanks, Jeanette! This is my first year as a PB writer, and I am in much need of critique groups and feedback. You have inspired me to continue to refine my writing and to seek critique. In my ‘other life’ I am a chemist and have always collaborated on research. I look forward to collaborating in my ‘new life’ as a PB writer.

  101. Thank you for the reminder to step out and connect with other writers, artists, and creatives. It is easy to become lost in our own worlds as we create and forget to encourage one another (and ourselves). Looking forward to reading “Love, Mama”. Congratulations on this beautiful debut book!!

  102. Connections are so important! I’m soon making a cross country move, and I’m very focused on maintaining the relationships I have and developing new ones. In terms of writing, I’ve maintained connections to two writing groups. They have helped me so much in my writing and in other parts of my life. And I hope to join a writing community in my new city. Thank you for your inspirational post, and congratulations on your debut picture book!

  103. Thought I commented earlier, but can’t seem to find it. Thanks, Jeanette, for your beautiful book and the reminder about connecting. Yes, I’d be lost without my critique groups!

  104. Thank you and congratulations on Love, Mama! I am a member of two critique groups (in person and online) and they are both wonderful. Couldn’t do it without them!

  105. Jeanette – Thank you for reminding me that relationships with other writers is so important. Joining a critique group is the right thing to do!

  106. Thanks for your post. I need this push to connect with others, I can be very shy. But, whenever I do reach out, I am always happen to have done so. Thanks for the reminder!

  107. The importance of connecting with other writers is something I’ve been learning over the last year or so. It really does make a difference!

  108. I have joined two critique groups since joining 12 X 12 and they have been invaluable! I have so much to learn and a fresh pair of eyes certainly helps!

  109. Your journey is very inspiring and your book looks very sweet. I’m trying my best to connect with others. Like you say, if you have someone helping you to see your flaws, this road can be smother.
    I’m putting your book in my wishing list.

  110. I joined 12×12 with the goal of connecting with other writers, so Jeanette’s post resonated deeply with me. Thanks for the magical words!

  111. Thanks for the inspiring post, Jeanette. Writing IS magical, and being in 12×12 with so many other writers is magical as well!

  112. This was such an inspirational post, Jeanette! One of the best things about writing it connecting with others who will not only eventually read the finished product (fingers crossed), but exchanging ideas with our critique partners to make the story better than when we first started.

  113. Thank you, Jeanette, for the motivation and reminder that I don’t need a college degree to be a published writer. You are very right about the importance of other writers in this field!

  114. Thank you for the inspirational post, Jeanette! Always great to connect with kidlit people and sharing ideas and wisdom.

  115. I needed to hear what you shared, Jeannette. Thank you for that reminder to avoid working in too much isolation. Much appreciated.

  116. I believe in the magic of writing. I also realize I need a critique partner(s). I will look for the best ways to share my work.

  117. I loved the idea of connection, Jeannette, and the reminder that we can connect through simple acts—we don’t need to make it too complicated! Thank for the encouragement, and congratulations on your beautiful book!

  118. It seems miraculous how many support structures and social media outlets exist now to connect with other writers and artist for picture books. When I started out it was a lonely place, and I had no clue how to connect with others out of school. Even when I found an SCBWI, I was then primarily working on my art and no illustration support existed then. I felt pretty stranded, especially when I was a single parent and having to work full-time to barely get by. It is so good to see now how creatives have and continue to come together, cheer one another on, help remove the isolation, and give actual feedback to help one another grow. So glad I returned to this world, and much higher hopes now to have a breakthrough.

  119. You couldn’t be more right! I have learned so much from my critique groups and I’m connecting with more and more writers every day. It’s such a wonderful community!

  120. I love how motivating it is to know the featured authors are all 12×12 members! Whoop Whoop! I feel so honored to be part of this PB writing community!

  121. I can’t believe I missed this post at the beginning of the month! Jeanette, your book is lovely, and this post is so true. Making those connections to other book people is something I need to commit to in 2018. Thank you!

  122. One of my earliest memories was watching my dad reading and thinking to myself about how amazing it was. How can mere marks on a page invoke such intensity, interest, imagination, and inspiration? That was before I even knew how to read. That was the moment I knew I wanted to learn how to make those marks, myself. I wanted to learn as much as I could about writing. I opened books and scribbled on them, imagining I was actually adding to the interest of the book (ha! my poor parents). And I remember looking nside the books with no pictures (again, before I could read), and wondering what the structure meant. Why were there GROUPS of words? What did all those dots, tadpole shapes (quotes and commas) and dashes mean?
    Hmm – OKAY. This is turning into a story in itself! Wow.

  123. I joined not one, but two critique groups through 12×12 and I am so EXCITED to be part of a community who are so passionate about kidlit and improving and perfecting their craft!
    Thank you for the inspirational and encouraging words, Jeanette!

  124. great post! – and it’s so true, I had no idea how much a critique group would improve my writing AND keep me motivated. It’s been wonderful. Also, we love your book in my house 🙂

  125. I am so shy. Thank you, Jeannette, for the reminder to reach out and coonect.
    i know how important it is. Thank you for your words. You book looks fabulous!

  126. Hi Jeannette, thanks for this LOVELY post! Your writing (even about something as simple as remembering to stay connected) is so lyrical that I can’t wait to read Love, Mama. Thanks again!

  127. You are so right about the importance of connections. I meet up monthly with a critique group that has one of your critique partners in it. (Paula) She brought your debut book to the meeting. It’s so lovely. I ordered it right away as a mentor text, but will be passing it on soon as a gift to my newly born grandson.

  128. It’s funny how you write about how words can connect us and about critique groups. My closest friend in the kidlit world lives on the other side of the country, and we have never actually met in person, yet she is such an important person in my world. Thank you for the lovely post.

  129. Jeanette, I usually read the post at the beginning and the end of the month. For some reason, I find it helpful to read it before I have written for the month and then after I have written for the month. Thanks for the inspiration!

  130. So inspiring and true, Jeanette! Thanks for your post and the reminder to stay connected. The kidlit community is certainly an amazing group to be part of, and it helps me to keep going. Congrats on your success. I “love” Love, Mama!

  131. Yes! One can’t do it alone. Having great people around you, to push, and support, that is right on. I love the poem up top. Beautiful!

  132. Great reminder Jeanette! Thank you for sharing what really matters – staying connected. Congratulations on the success of your book!

  133. It’s so true. I’ve always said I can’t do this alone. So grateful for others who are on the same journey and willing to participate together.

  134. Great post Jeannette! You are so true! Words have the power of freedom and connect people around the globe. I don’t remember whose this quote is, through reading we can bring life to characters in our imaginations. Congratulations on “Love Mama!”. 🙂

  135. Yes, the magic is real, and more often than not, I feel it when engaged in my critique groups. They give such honest and care-FULL advice, and it’s a safe place to be yourself. Thank you, my magical writing comrades!

  136. Connection is everything for surviving as an artist/writer. While it’s a sole endeavor for much of the time, connections keep up going. I can’t wait to read this sweet book, and Roaring Brook always has beautiful productions! And, a curator on a train—dream!

  137. Congratulations, Jeanette, on your book. Thank you for the encouraging words for all of us. I always love hearing what my critique group has to say. It’s good to learn whether what you “think” you are conveying is actually getting across to others. Thanks, too, for the advice to read. I’ve been reading/studying a few books each week. There’s a lot of amazing talent out there.

  138. Such lovely words of inspiration! I agree, reading the words of other always helps me evaluate and critique my own writing!

  139. Your illustrations are like a warm bear hug, so special! Last night i finished a story for the ICL kid inventor contest. The feedback received from my first live critique group was invaluable. They helped me see my story so much better!

  140. Congratulations on your beautiful book, Jeanette! And you are so right about the people who help us on this strange writing journey. I think I might have given up last year if it wasn’t for my amazing critique partners.

  141. You are absolutely correct that relationships with other writers help us find the heart in our work. Thanks for your post!

  142. You’re so right about making connections. I love my SCBWI critique group, and having them makes the conferences less lonely, too. I’m working on both writing and illustrating, and honest constructive criticism is essential for improvement. Congratulations on producing such a beautiful book!

  143. Thank you for this post, and hello from a fellow Rhode Islander (born and raised, though I don’t live there now). We’re a special breed 🙂

  144. Love the suggestions of things to do—reaching out to others and building connections. That’s at the heart of this work, and of life.

  145. I love the title picture! I am taking to heart your recommendations that we don’t write alone .. I really need to find a critique group. How did you go about finding your partner and group?

  146. Great post, Jeanette! Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone in our writing life, but are part of a large community where “writing is magic.” I totally agree with you that critique groups are essential. I was the moderator of 3 online critique groups before I had to disband them as they had grown way too large and my body had decided to call it quits…

    I can’t wait to read, Love Mama.

  147. I love your cover page picture! I really need to take your comments to heart that we don’t really write alone… that we need a critique partner and or group. How did you go about finding yours?

  148. I love your cover page picture. I really need to take your recommendations to heart that we don’t write alone…that we need a critique partner and or group. How did you go about finding yours?

  149. Your book looks lovely. I enjoyed your post and the encouragement to connect with other writers. That is actually my goal this year to build more connections in the picture book writing community. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  150. Thanks Jeannette for the reminder of the importance of putting in the work and of the necessity of critique groups. I am not an educated English or journalism major, but I am definitely getting an eduction through 12×12, SCBWI and more.

  151. A great reminder that writing isn’t always a solitary process and the more we reach out the more connected we’ll feel. Thank you!

  152. Finding my tribe has been one of the most important things. It has kept me going. Loved hearing about your success!

  153. Such a good reminder. It’s easy to get lost in the solitary act of writing, but connecting with our fellow writers and illustrators is good for the soul and helps improve our craft. Thank you!

  154. Joining a local writer’s guild and a local critique group supported by the guild has made a tremendous difference in my approach while developing each new story/draft. Initially, it took a bit of courage to join a critique group, but once I stepped out of my own way, the feedback received from others remains priceless!

  155. Thanks for the reminder that the desire to connect is the heart and seed of the need, the impulse to write.

  156. Not enough can ever be said about how important a writer’s community can be. Thanks for the reminder!

  157. Jeanette, I just loved what you wrote, “Writing is magic. Art is magic. You are magic. Don’t forget that.” Thank you for writing such inspirational words! It filled me with hope. 🙂

  158. I promise to reach out even more! This community is amazing and so welcoming. Thank you for reminding us to keep pulling in new people!

  159. What a perfect February post! It reminded me of a writing class I took years ago or my teacher kept emphasizing that every story exists in an interstitial space between the writer and the reader, I can never be owned by either side . I suppose this holds true for all creative arts! We always need that other half to exist – In this case in the form of a critique partner or ms submission- in order for our work to come to life.

  160. Great advice. Thanks for the inspiring post.

    Also, the lines from your book are beautiful. I can’t wait to read Love, Mama.

  161. Thanks for the inspiration. Critique groups and conferences have been helpful
    in my growth as a writer.

  162. Wonderful to hear. Congratulations. The emotive connections you speak of resonates deeply with me. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to getting my copy of ‘Love Mamá’.

  163. This is a fabulous post! I agree that we learn the most from studying others’ work, and also that we need that support from the community. I love the concept of your book and can’t wait to pick it up. I’m so very intrigued by your unique path to writing… art museum on a train?!! I want to read that book too! Best of luck.

  164. Finding my critique group on 12 x 12 has been one of the most valuable parts of the experience. I’ve really appreciated building my connections to other writers. And thank you for sharing your insight!

  165. I am so grateful for my critique partners and have seen my writing benefit so much from their thoughtful advice. Thanks for this lovely reminder to connect and help one another.

  166. I have been doing this for five years, and for most of my journey, I’ve felt bad about not being “qualified” in any way. In every literary circle I’ve found myself in, I’m the only person with a science/corporate background. But today, I have an online critique group, I have a local group I meet weekly, I have 12×12, I have SCBWI and I have a local library. Those things have helped me grow in ways I never imagined.

    Loved reading this post. Thank you.

  167. Thank you so much for your post. It reminded me of a message I heard at a recent SCBWI conference about literary citizenship. We aren’t in competition with each other–when one person succeeds, we should celebrate. We should look to lift each other up. February has been my 1st month in 12×12 and the community is amazing. I love how you emphasize how words and writing can connect us all.

  168. I love this! I know I couldn’t keep going if it weren’t for my writing tribe. And yes, it is all complicated, stressful, messy, and wonderful! I need to remember that. Thanks!

  169. So glad to hear your advice. I was talking to a college freshman today who has now decided to switch colleges and degrees. I told him it was nice he was able to discover what he didn’t want. Knowing what I do now, I would’ve majored in history, English or teaching. Life is funny though, and all my trails have brought me to where I am now. Thanks and good luck on an author’s future!

  170. It is absolutely true about the importance of belonging to a writing community. As I live outside the US I am already a member of a local group as well as having American critique partners. Both are invaluable.

  171. Connecting with other writers has really helped me to improve my writing – when other people see your work, their fresh eyes catch things that you miss, and those different perspectives are invaluable! Thanks for reminding us all that it’s other people who really make the difference to our story making!

  172. Congratulations Jeanette, you make so many critical points . When I plan out my writing week on Sundays around my daughters dance schedule , I make sure her Friday class time I drive over to Barnes and Noble and just read PBs. This has helped me tremendously in just recognizing different structures and voices . I have one night just for revising and one for writing . I am a teacher and have the opportunity to share so many wonderful books with my students . Will add Mama to my planner ! 12×12 has truly brought me the momentum I needed , I make progress each week!

  173. Thank you for your encouraging post. There have been so many writers along this journey who have answered questions, given critiques, helped in various ways. We’re definitely not alone.

  174. Finding a critique partner or group is not easy but I think you are so right about how important it can be to the writing. Thank you.

  175. I know what it feels like to want to get everything just right. Sometimes, it holds me back. It helps to hear from authors ,like yourself, that have seen it all the way through.

  176. I just had my first collaborative writing experience this month, and it was extraordinary. You’re right; writing is so much more enjoyable when we don’t try to do it all alone!

  177. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts–and your lovely book, too. I feel so lucky/blessed to have wonderful, supportive people and groups of people in my life–especially my writing/illustrating life!

  178. Thank you for your insight. I joined this group to have critique buddies that are veterans to PB writing as well as newbies like me. I have been writing the same book for 2 years, even had friend’s kids read them and critique but I just can’t get it finished. Thanks for your inspiration; I will get this book done…an 11 more.

  179. Thanks Jeanette for focusing on writers connecting with other writers. I certainly could never do this journey alone. I’m very thankful for my writer friends.

  180. My experience so far with the kid lit community has been wonderful and supportive. I look forward to making more connections. Thank you for your post on love and connections.

  181. I meet with my critique group monthly and I agree, we have nudged one another to move forward and keep writing. Writing is so challenging and I cannot imagine attempting it without SCWBI and the 12 X 12 community.

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