3 Ways to Improve Your Writing Life

 “Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.” –David Brooks
On New Year’s Eve, my 6th grade daughter discovered she didn’t get a part in the middle school play.  We prepared her for this possibility.  After all, her older siblings didn’t get in  as 6th graders either.  But Syd’s disappointment didn’t stop her from reaching her goal.  On New Year’s Day, she let her feelings fuel a song that she wrote for the drama teacher.
Sydney’s words and music had the desired effect.  She is now a cast member in her middle school play.  And I’m flummoxed.  Although I’ve always believed in the power of words, I never thought a child of mine would have the gumption to test it.  This new year,  Sydney inspired me to rethink my reaction to rejection, think outside the box, and approach my goals in a new way.
  1. Reframe rejection.  Rejection hurts! But if we reframe our rejection as a success, and not a failure, then everything changes.  Every rejection reminds me that I’m submitting and creating–and that’s an achievement!  What if my rejections fueled energy for more submissions and research into better places for my work?  What if I celebrated after my 100th rejection this year? What if I took what I learned from my rejections, like Sydney did, and turned them into something beautiful, regardless of the outcome?
  2. Think outside the box.  Writing for kids is all about creativity and original thought.   The best ideas always come from connecting two unrelated ideas.  Syd’s idea to write a song for another chance, was way outside the box.  It may not have worked.  She’s lucky that it did. But either way, she created something beautiful.  Probably writing a song to an editor to plead the case for my manuscript isn’t the answer, but then again…
  3. Approach goals differently. Many of my goals exist just so I can mark them off my list.  Don’t get me wrong–I want to do them, but there’s no excitement behind them.  Sydney’s passion for musical theater helped her make a goal to be in the middle school play, and it helped her reach for that goal even after rejection.  As a writer, I must do the same.  I need to make writing goals that I’m passionate about and reach for my goal–even after rejection.  And if I choose a goal that makes me feel like singing?  All the better.
What have you done to improve your writing life?
This was originally posted on Writer's Rumpus, here.

The 12 Days of Christmas, by Greg Pizzoli

The 12 Days of Christmas, by Greg Pizzoli, I adore Christmas books!  And this one is even more fun because I love singing songs/books to my children! The text for this book is familiar to everyone since it's the traditional 12 Days of Christmas Song. 

But the pictures make this story unique. Mama elephant's reaction to the baby elephant's gifts are hilarious and tell a great story about materialism and how too much stuff can clutter your life. The illustrations are filled with expression, color, and surprises on every page. 

This is a delightful whimsical Christmas book that I will continue to sing to my children every year!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Groundhug Day, by Anne Marie Pace and Christopher Denise

Groundhug Day is a delightful story of friendship. Moose wants to have a Valentine's Day party, but he knows his friend, groundhog will not be able to attend if he sees his shadow. The animals work together to come up with a solution. They first think of ways to keep groundhog from seeing his shadow. When they discover that shadows frighten Groundhog, they work together to show him all the ways that shadows are fun. Kids will love all the animal's activities and may want to try shadow puppets and drawing silhouettes at home! 

The story touches on 4 holidays; Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter so it's great for classrooms discussions on holidays. The lovely illustrations and heartwarming text make it a great read aloud. 

But my favorite part of this book is the emphasis on working together. The difference between bickering and working together is an important and essential part of this story; one I think every person can benefit from. I love that the friends discover the benefits of cooperating and thinking about how their friends feel. This story will evoke discussion about what it means to be a friend, and how to discover solutions together.

*I received a copy of this book from Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.  

Cookiesaurus Rex, a book sprinkled with humor!

T Rex's and cookies will never be the same for me! This creative story combines them both in an engaging story that takes the reader and the cookie decorator by surprise. Told from the point of view of a T-Rex cookie who is reacting to his cookie decorator, this story is sure to elicit laughs and discussion. The first person, all dialogue text is a unique metafiction format for picture books. The main character (t-rex dinosaur cookie) demands different decorations. His lack of control and his jealousy for the other cookies is hilariously shown when he is decorated like a baby and then acts like a baby: 

"No! No! No! No! I want sprinkles! I want gumdrops! I want chocolate chips!" 

The illustration on the next page gives him chocolate chips in a way that most kids will find hilarious! Sprinkled with word play and engaging and emotional illustrations, this story is beautifully crafted and fun to read aloud. 

I received a review copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.