Setting Goals for 2018

Can you believe it’s already 2018? 2017 flew by like a hawk after it’s prey. 

Most people look at the new year as a time for resolutions and goal setting. How many of us have failed or forgotten our New Year’s resolutions by the third week of January? 


Come on, I know I’m not alone!

98% of New Year’s resolutions are not kept.

80% of those who make resolutions fail by January 20 according to a recent poll.

Ya’ll, that means only 2% of New Year’s resolutions are kept!

Why? I’m sure there are many reasons, but for me, it’s planning.


Years ago, I decided that New Year’s resolutions were just a marketing scheme by gyms! I don’t make resolutions, I make PLANS!

Plans have a definite and reasonable goal; steps to make it happen, and a definite resolution with a deadline.

I sit down frequently to review and set new goals.


I found a free printable online created by blogger Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and her Blog.

She created this printable and wrote a great post on setting goals.  Go check her out.

Print out the worksheet, fill it out, and post it where you see it everyday. 

Come back next week and I will have a great list and links of writerly resources to help you attain your goals in 2018.





I’ve been extremely lucky lately.  I’ve won copies of  6 books from blog contests.  One of my most recent wins was a copy of Mara Gianferrari’s HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  

This book holds a very special place in my heart.  

Amazon’ s description of the story:

For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.

Hello, Moose!

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.
Goodbye, Moose.
But Moose can’t be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.
How many of us have been lucky enough to have the love and devotion of a dog like Moose?  I know that I’ve been lucky enough to have several special dogs in my life.  

I was lucky  enough to grow up in a neighborhood in which two sets of aunts & uncles lived on the corners of my street.  My Uncle Floyd lived on the corner I passed each morning on my way to school.  I hated having to walk alone the 10 minutes it took to get to Mark Twain Elementary.  Lucky for me, my uncle owned a German Pointer that loved me.  Every morning, that dog would jump the fence and walk with me to school.  Every afternoon, he would be waiting for me to walk me back home. Once we hit the corner, he’d just map the fence back into my uncles yard.  That dog never failed to be waiting for me. 

Zara & Moose have the same relationship.  Maria’s great choice of language and Patrice Bartons’s illustrations work together beautifully to show the relationship between girl & dog.  Zara’s disability is never mentioned in the text but the illustrations show her wheelchair as just another aspect of Zara’s life.  

Master Study Monday- Your Alien Returns

Happy Monday!

I thought today’s book would be perfect for Halloween!  Living within driving distance of Roswell, New Mexico, we embrace all things space alien!

WHEN YOUR ALIEN RETURNS is one of my favorite books. Of course, I love anything written by Tammi Sauer!  She has the ability to use humor in order to demonstrate the heart of a character.  your alien returns

I love the emotion that is conveyed in the illustrations and the caring that these two unlikely friends show for one another. If only life were a picture book!


I hope you find my MSM’s helpful.  They definitely help me dissect the heart of a story and my writing is getting better for it.

Here is my MS sheet for Your Alien Returns  and don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of a blank form here.

I’ll see you later this week with a review of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  I was lucky enough to win a copy and LOVE the story!


Monster’s Nightmare

Here is my second entry into Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie contest.

You can find my first entry, When Your Monster Has the Sneazles,  here.


Monster’s Nightmare

(91 words)


Monster crouched in the dark, listening for his quarry.


His hearts pounded in his chest.

Inch-by-inch, Monster crept through the Halloween shadows toward the door.

With sweaty paws, he reached out and turned the knob.


Easing the door open, he saw something sitting at the table.

Monster froze and watched, waiting for the right time to pounce.


Get ready…


Get set…



Monster sprang through the door.


“I caught you Mom! You’ve been eating the candy corn.”

Halloweensie 2017

*Those who got this yesterday, my apologies, I goofed and scheduled it for the wrong day.  I hope you will read it again as changes have been make and links added.

Yay!  It’s here!  Susanna Leonard Hill’s annual Halloweensie contest.

If you aren’t familiar with this writing contest you are missing out.  The contest is designed for children’s writers to really stretch their muscle, so to speak.  You are given three Halloween related words (this year they are monster, shadow and candy corn) that you MUST use in your story.  Your story can be rhyming, it can be a poem, really pretty much anything goes as long as it’s for young children, and the biggie, no more than 100 words.  100 words.  That is SO hard to do.

This year, I’ve written two stories.  One is a pays homage to author and contest hostess, Susanna Hill and her recently published book WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES.  I ADORE this book and it’s companion WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH. Making it’s debut in January 2018 is WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT.  Llama look SO cute!  I can’t wait to add it to my collection.  

When I saw this years three words, I knew exactly the story I had to tell.  It just flowed from my fingertips!  I hope that she likes it.  You can read my first entry below.


When Your Monster has the Sneazles

(91 words)

When your monster has the Sneazles, you must take care of him.

Sneazles can be quite serious. You don’t want him to burn the house down.

Put him to bed, even if he tells you he’s OK.

Make him comfy and bring him his favorite bug to snuggle.

Soon, he will get bored and want to make shadows on the wall.

Then, he will be hungry. Feed him candy corn – they’ll make him feel better.

When he feels better he’ll want to trick-or-treat the neighbor.

But watch out for…

Gr.  Gr.  Grazooo!

He’s allergic to the neighbor’s cat.



Click here to find my second entry, Monster’s Nightmare.

What a Week!

Ever since school has been back in session, life has been crazy.  I’ve had to start scheduling my day by the half-hour.  Between kids and their activities, spending time with the hubs, working some at the girls school, and volunteering I’ve pushed writing to the back of the list.

BUT…I changed that this month!  I put writing as my priority (once I got the kids and hubs out of the house!)

This month I’ve finished two nonfiction manuscripts, along with their author’s notes and bibliography, wrote 2 stories for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest(2016 entry), and am almost finished with a story that will be submitted to several children’s magazines.

I’d say I’ve had a productive month!

I owe it all to 2 things: 1. actually sitting down and writing out WHY I want to write, WHAT my goal was for my writing and the STEPS needed to achieve it; and 2. block scheduling.

Sitting down and really, REALLY thinking about my reasons for writing helped me clarify my goals.  Yes, of course I want to get published and win awards, but once I got over the prideful reasons, I looked at the HEART of why I write.

What is YOUR reason? Is it to make YOU happy?  Is it to make others happy? Is it to encourage the love of reading in children?  WHY?    Write it down somewhere and post it where you can see it while you write.

Next I had to set some goals. I pulled out my planner and wrote dates that I would accomplish things by.  I set deadlines. After all, this is my job and jobs have deadlines.

Then I wrote the steps to achieve my goals.  Do I need more education? Find a critique group? Put my butt in the chair and write (biggie for me!)?  Clarify what YOU need and in the words of Nike…Just Do It!

In order for me to actually get my butt in the chair, I had to plan my day.  I plan to the half-hour and even include travel time if I have to leave home.  This has helped me be so much more productive that I feel like wonder woman.  You can see my schedule from yesterday in the picture below.  And this wasn’t a busy day!

block schedule.jpgNow I need to just work on being consistent with blog posts! That is going on next month’s goals list.

Tomorrow is Susanna Leonard Hill’s annual Halloweensie contest.  This is one of my FAVORITE writing contests.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you have to write a story using three Halloween related words that she specifies.  Here’s the kicker…it can’t be more than 100 words!  Do you know how hard that is?!

Come back tomorrow and read my entries into the contest and leave me some feedback, I’d really appreciate some love!

Tomorrow is also #PBPitch!  PBPitch is a Twitter party where writers post a pitch for their manuscript in 140 characters or less.  Editors and agents read the pitches and like those they are interest in.  You can then query them for possible representation/ submission.  It’s really exciting and nerve-racking! I’ve already scheduled my pitches for two of my manuscripts.  Wish me luck!

don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my Halloweensie entry and to see my pitches!




A lemming is a small, cute, little rodent that is found on the tundra in the Arctic. So what does the lemming have to do with writing you ask?   Quite a bit, if you follow along with my crazy thread!

Please hear me out before you quit following my blog.

As writers, we may see a trend in what is being published. and it is natural to want to ride that trend.  For example, the very successful Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. When “the boy sorcerer” hit the shelves, it was an instant success.  What followed in the publishing industry?  Everyone was searching for their Harry Potter.  A gazillion other variations on the theme came to life.  Were any of these of the caliber of Rowling’s creation?  In my humble opinion, NO.  These authors (I’m sure they are fabulous writers) were overshadowed by Harry Potter. 


Isn’t he cute!

So what does this have to do with lemmings, Julie? 

We’ve all heard the stories of lemmings leaping off of the cliff as they blindly follow their migrating group. My point is, don’t be a lemming.  Do pick a trend and write to it.  Once your story gets out there, the trend will be over and something else will be on the top of the charts. 

As writers, we HAVE to be true to ourselves.  Write what you love.  Write what you know.  Your heart and passion will show through. If it’s good and you’ve put in the work necessary, it will show.

So, don’t follow the trend over the cliff like a lemming. 

(BTW, did you know that lemmings really DON’T leap off of cliffs and commit mass suicide?  It’s a total misconception that was faked in a documentary by Disney in the 1950’s!)

Here is a darling story featuring Lemmings. One lemming just doesn’t fit in and follow the crowd. This week’s Master Study is of LEAPING LEMMINGS by John Briggs and illustrated by Nicola Slater.

Leaping Lemmings

You can find a blank Master Study form here.

See you on the shelves!


Leaping Lemmings