Happy, risky New Year!

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. “

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

2012 was one of the most tumultuous years of my adult life. Challenge and change have become my travel companions once again, and I am staying open to adapt and evolve in order to progress towards my life goals. The reality is I am still very much adrift, the shore is not yet in sight, and and it’s a darn good thing I don’t get sea sick. The nomadism and solitariness are not completely unfamiliar to me, and certainly are providing some raw writerly material! New experiences are important for an author. On the other hand, the restlessness and transience of my surroundings, and things I have had to let go have, at times, made it hard to focus!

I want to encourage you to become comfortable with taking risks in 2013. Your comfort zone is comfortable because it’s where you know what to expect. Going out on a limb can be scary because you might fail. You might lose something. But you might also gain something, huh?

When you decide to do something, do it for its own sake, not so that you can get a particular result. Let go of your attachment to a certain outcome; instead, focus on the joy of doing whatever you’re doing. Live in the moment.

Acceptance. When things don’t go your way, and they won’t always, let it go and learn, where you can, from your mistakes. If you’re clinging to your comfort zone, you’re hanging on to an idea that the world is supposed to be a safe, predictable place, and that’s an illusion. You’re setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Open your eyes. The world is a dynamic place where things go right and wrong. That’s just the way it is! No regrets!

I am forging into 2013 with some highlights of 2012, two keyword – looking back and forward, and some goals/dreams. I have always made annual goals and not resolutions!


Highlights of 2012

  • Publishing SNOW GAMES on uTales in May and the subsequent blog tour.
  • Going to my best friend’s wedding in Wales in September.
  • “Meeting” many illustrators through my blog interviews.
  • Actively participating in some awesome writer/blogger groups: 12x12in12, Perfect Picture Book Friday and PiBoIdMo.
  • Spending three months in New York/Brooklyn (including 4 Broadway shows) – I’m under the spell!
  • Being selected for the SCBWI Nevada Mentor Program – those cowboys are crackin’ authors/mentors!
  • Writing 11 picture book drafts, one chapter book, an adult short story and several poems.
  • Continuing to learn from and work with editor extraordinaire, Emma Dryden of drydenbks, on several manuscripts.
  • New friends, some of whom I have been able to visit around the US.
  • Having the courage to step into an unknown future and test out new waters.
  • Being selected as a round 2 CYBILS judge. I have six weeks of fun ahead of me for this!
  • Being interviewed on several different writers’ blogs this year.
  • Miss Marple’s Musings had over 50,000 views in 2012. Not spectacular but growing.

My WORD for 2012 is:   RISK!


Writerly Goals for 2013:
  • Start submitting, and find a kindred agent. (okay so this is a goal AND a dream!)
  • PLOT and write a YA novel.
  • Write fearlessly.
  • Complete 12×12 in 2013 (12 more picture book manuscripts). Looking forward to being one of the moderators of this group in 2013.
  • Complete the March chapter book challenge again.
  • Go to LASCBWI13.
  • Write at least a poem a month.
  • Once I know where I am living, become involved in an in-person critique group and local SCBWI chapter.
  • Attend at least one craft workshop/course for novel-length work.
  • Write daily, even if some of that is just journaling!
I had so much fun with this last year, so please let me know in the comments, the one word that sums up 2012 for you. And if you want to share your guiding word for the new year, go ahead! Mine is CENTERED as I felt too scattered in 2012.


I wish you all big dreams, new discoveries and some risk-taking in 2013!
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82 Responses to Happy, risky New Year!

  1. You have had an incredible year Joanna and I have been in total awe by what you have accomplished. When you make a decision you stick by it and there is no stopping you. I can imagine you will succeed in much in 2013 and I look forward to following your progress and enjoying your successes. A beautifully written post, I loved your lead up to your highlights of 2012, so very you. Dedication is my word for 2013, working toward my goals, hard work and dedication will get me there. Happy New Year my friend.

  2. So inspiring, Thanks for sharing! My word would be LEARNING. 2012 was a very educational year to say the least… I read that one of your goals was to go to SCBWILA, will you be in NY this February also? Best of luck to you with all of your adventures in 2013!

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks so much, Kelli. I shall, I suspect, not have the finances to attend the winter conference. But I WILL be in New York and plan on hanging out before, between and after sessions, with as many peeps as possible. Are you going?

  3. This was such an inspiring message for me, Joanna. I had quite a whirlwind 2012, replete with RISK! Thank you for reminding me of something by which I once lived – to FOCUS ON THE JOY with resolve. And I believe to stay so FOCUSED will enable me to be completely CENTERED. Happy New Year to you!

  4. I see 2013 being good to you!

  5. Candilynn says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing, Joanna. Those are some fabulous goals for 2013. Wishing you all the best of the New Year. 🙂

    2012 was a difficult year for our family. We had a lot of loss. 4 to be exact. It was tough. There was a lot to get over. A lot of healing, some more difficult than others. I’m so ready for the new year. Writing wise, I simply can’t wait. I think good things are in store.

    I love your concept of reflection and goal setting. It helps put things in perspective. My word for 2013 is (since you granted me permission to hyphenate!)


  6. Joanna says:

    Candilyn, mine was also a year of losses, so I truly empathize with the pain. Let us trust for continued healing and hope for 2013. Your excitement about your writing is contagious. Thank you.

  7. Lori Degman says:

    I loved your post, Joanna! You’ve had quite an accomplished year – you were definitely true to your 2012 word!! I’m so glad one of your goals is to attend the LA conference – you’ll love it! Plus, I’ll get to see you there 🙂

    My word for last year was balance and I think it was my most balanced year yet! My word for 2013 is follow-through.

    Happy New Year!!

  8. Joanna says:

    I am so excited about finally meeting you, Lori! I sure need some of your follow-through, too!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Krista says:

    What a beautiful post, Joanna.
    My word for 2012–acceptance. As for 2013… at first I thought gratitude then balance but I think I feel those when I focus on joy. So my word for 2013 is joy.
    Happy New Year!

  10. Joanna says:

    Having followed you and your blog this year, Krista, these two words make perfect sense!

    Happy New Year!

  11. What a great post, Joanna. I love the jar idea and will go get one right now. I loved meeting you in VC and I could listen to you read for hours and hours. Loved your camel story and lots of images flooded my thoughts when you read.

    My word for 2012 was EMERGE-to become visible or apparent. I stepped out and made more contacts and just took my shoes off. Thank you so much for interviewing me! It made me think about what I was doing.

    My word for 2013 is EVOLVE-to unfold; develop gradually. I have a tendency to fall down rabbit holes and wander having Multiple Muse Disorder, but I have a path I’m finding through those diversions and will be tip toeing along it. I’ll fall, but usually the falls are not fatal and just add to my creative life.

    Maybe I’ll see you in LA??

  12. What an inspiring post! I believe safety can only be found within, because our lives and the world are always going through dynamic changes, both positive and negative. If we remain calm and appreciate the moment, we can weather the storms. You’ve had an incredible year and I know 2013 will be a good year for you. Wishing you a very Happy New Year and safe travel. Love, Pat

  13. Happy New Year, Joanna.
    I love the jar idea, too. I may just do that! Meanwhile, congratulations for all the wonderful things you accomplished in 2012. Obviously, taking risks paid off.
    I guess my word for 2012 would be “Wowie!” (I got an agent for my latest book.) My word for 2013 is “Focus”, as I have a lot more writing to do this year a sequel and some articles.
    Hope all your goals for 2013 come true.

  14. Joanna says:

    Elizabeth, Yahoo for the agent! Wowie indeed! Good luck with writing the sequel and all your other projects this year!

  15. clarbojahn says:

    Happy New Year! Joanna!
    Thanks for an awesome post. You really put it in perspective. I’m going to get a jar, too. I forget to celebrate my accomplishments. I got published too this past year and worked with an incredible wonderful illustrator. And my husband never failed in his support going so far as to work with my publisher so she could get the print version out.

    My word for 2012 is gratitude and my word for 2013 is going to be Dedication because I am going to dedicate it to writing, starting with an online course in it.Yes, I’m borrowing others words and am working as I go. This writing community gives me so much. Like I said the old word is gratitude but it won’t stop there. I’m sure I’ll have much to thank in the coming year. For one I’m so glad I *met* you. And look forward to seeing more of you. 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      Clar, I can understand why Thankful heads 2012 for you. What a wonderful year it was for you.

      I am so grateful for our writerly contact too, and look forward to seeing what 2013 brings you.

  16. Sylvia Liu says:

    I love this post. Congratulations on all your accomplishments – and I hope 2013 brings you what you want and need. My word for 2013: BREATHE, as in relax and remain in the moment as much as possible.

  17. Great post – thanks for the inspiration. And for sharing your goals. And for the link to Chapter book month – I think I have a chapter book… will see as I explore it.

  18. Here’s to another successful year, Joanne…you deserve it!

    Donna L Martin

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you so much, Donna. I will be following your writerly progress with great anticipation in 2013, I can assure you.

  19. It seems you have had quite a year, Joanna. Congratulations on making it through with all those wonderful achievements. I have no doubt you will achieve your 2013 goals and dreams. I love your words RISK and CENTERED. My word is actually two words – PEACEFUL UNFOLDING. This is similar to CENTERED, as it means I will practice staying centered/peaceful as life unfolds naturally – trying to stay in the moment – not fighting the flow of the river, so to speak. Happy New Year!

  20. Michelle says:

    Your post was inspiring. I agree that we regret what we have not done, more than what we have accomplished. My word is. STEWARDSHIP.

  21. Joanna says:

    Thank you, Michelle. YES – use all those gifts and time well in 2013!

  22. This is such an excellent post, Joanna. You have indeed had a year of challenge and risk. I hope that 2013 proves to be a year when you are able to drop anchor for a while. Your accomplishments have been great despite the uncertainty — may you achieve your goals and more than you can even dream of, in the coming year.

    I have been contemplating my two words. It is not easy to encapsulate a whole year, or a wish for a year, in one word. (Especially for someone as prone to wordiness as I!) I have felt so uplifted, encouraged, accepted in circles I wouldn’t have expected to be, in the past year that I have chosen as my 2012 word, AFFIRMATION.

    As I look toward 2013, I will strive to make it a DYNAMIC year. Dictionary.com gives this as the first definition of that word: “pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action.” Dynamic, effective action will help me achieve my goals.

    Here’s to the new year!

    • Joanna says:

      Beth one of the fun things of getting to know some of my writing friends so well, is being able to give a knowing nod to such comments. I so understand why you have chosen these two words. Like you, I went to the dictionary to check that my word truly encapsulated what I wanted. Dynamic! So be it!

  23. Centered is a lovely word for 2013, Joanna! I hope that this year brings you many wonderful opportunities, connections with people dear to you and an abundance of creativity.

  24. Rebecca Fyfe says:

    Joanna – You inspired me to think up my own word for 2013, and I wrote my blog post based on it. You have achieved so much in 2012! good luck in reaching all of your goals for 2013!

  25. Dana Carey says:

    You’ve had a great year, Joanna and that is due to you and your dedication and enthusiasm– these things shine through in even your shortest facebook status update. I wish you all the best in 2013 and hope your travels bring you all kinds of adventures and surprises.
    Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog– I had a wonderful time over here!
    Meilleurs voeux, Joanna!

  26. Congrats on your achievements, Joanna! I love your goals. What a pleasure to have Emma as a mentor! Happy new year! I hope to see you in LA thi summer. That is one of my goals this year.

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, Romelle, and I encourage you to check out the drydenbks site for Emma’s services. She is an amazing editor/advisor.

  27. Glad to read these comments, and to see you really will be ‘all right’! And that some comments on your recent fb status post may also help you achieve your word for 2013! I will be taking some more yoga classes soon for that express purpose. For 2013 I will BELIEVE – can’t say why, just feels good when I think of it!

    Happy New Year and all the very best to you!

  28. Sarah Towle says:

    Risk. You’re on! Now, I’m off to find the perfect jar…

    Happy New Year Joanna! And may love and luck be with us both!

  29. What a great post, Joanna! I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. I am so happy that I have gotten to know you. You really have made my life richer. You are a very positive person and I love that!

    Words??? Oh my goodness! I’m going with ACHIEVEMENT. Due to the online challenges and my dedication to my writing dream, I achieved way more that I thought possible in 2012. For 2013, I’m going with SERENITY. My reason…I want to feel serene and not overly anxious as I put myself out there in my journey toward publication. It is a long journey and I think serenity will help me to focus and not become discouraged or rushed. Plus, I love The Serenity Prayer:
    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Very best wishes for achieving your writerly goals in 2013.

    • Joanna says:

      Penny, I am also so glad for our writerly and rhyming connection! Well done for all those 2012 achievements and I can say an Amen to that prayer, indeed!

      Happy New Year!

  30. Happy New Year! On forward we go, to battle within ourselves, to conquer, to triumph, to risk! 🙂

  31. Darshana says:

    You have had a wonderful year congrats! It has been wonderful getting to know you. I love the jar idea, still need to find one and put it into action. FYI- the single most busiest day on my blog was the day I posted your interview on uTales. Thanks! Wishing you all the best for 2013.

  32. Tina Cho says:

    Happy New Year, Joanna! Wow, you already have your goals laid out for 2013. Congratulations on all your accomplishments from 2012. I envy that you get to meet all these cool kidlit people. I hope your goals come true and that you’re able to settle somewhere soon. May God bless your new year!

  33. Joanna says:

    Tina, I know so well how isolated as a writer one can feel living in non-anglophone nations, so the chance to meet up with other writers and illustrators during my time in the US has been very precious indeed!.

    Happy New Year.

  34. Cathy Mealey says:

    My word for 2013 is GIVE. I have received so much in the way of help, advice, encouragement, education, connections, feedback and support on this writing journey through 12 x 12, PiBoIdMo, Childrens Book Hub, etc. I’m resolving to do my best to give support to those also en route, to give thanks to those paving the path ahead of me and opening doors for me, and to give myself time to write, think and reflect.

    Best wishes for your dreams, discoveries and risks in 2013!

  35. Joanna says:

    Cathy, I love the heart in your thoughts and your word, GIVE, is a beautiful guiding sentiment for 2013. We have received so much and need to keep paying it forward.

    Happy New Year and good luck with all your goals.

  36. Hannah Holt says:

    What a great idea! I love you lists (and your words). I think “write fearlessly” is my favorite item. Happy New Year! I’m sure you’ll be checking items off your list for the New Year in no time. 🙂

  37. What a nice post, Joanna. I wish you the best of luck with your goals for 2013. If I had to pick one word to describe 2012, it would be PROGRESS. I may not have written everything I wanted to, but I did get farther along and have much to look forward to in 2013!

  38. Joanna says:

    Jennifer, PROGRESS is always good. Happy New Year!

  39. Wow! I feel so inspired after reading your post! Happy New Year!

  40. Joanna, all I will say here is YES! YES! YES! Your wings are holding you up; you can count on that! YES!

  41. Nathalie says:

    Your writing goals are inspiring. Thank you for yet another thoughtful post.

  42. Lee Wind says:

    I do love the idea of a single guiding word for the year. will give mine thought – thanks for the inspiration!
    (And for being right with us on the Comment Challenge!)

  43. I’m certain 2013 holds wonderful things for you, Joanna. So glad to have met you virtually via last year’s comment challenge. I look forward to meeting you in person some day.

  44. Joanna says:

    Michelle, exactly, our contact is proof of the value of the comment challenge!

  45. I think you’ll meet your 2013 writing goals easily, you got a lot of writing done in 2012! You’re already fearless!

  46. Hi, Joanna. I found your blog through the G+ Writers’ Blog group. I love how your list is a combination of writing and networking/career-building goals. You call it risky, but I call it smart. Wishing you a great 2013.

  47. Katrina says:

    I found your blog through the “Comment Challenge” and I’m so glad I did! What a wonderful post! Somewhere on facebook I’d seen the idea of filling up a jar with all of the good things, blessings, accomplishments, etc that happen throughout the year. Your post reminded me that I did want to try that this year. I love the idea of a word to guide the year–I’m going to have to think about what word would be best, but I may have to borrow yours. Centered could be quite a powerful word for me this year!

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Katrina and feel free to go for CENTERED! I have been consciously focusing on this the past two weeks!

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