My 2020 Successes

This year I am participating in Julie Hedlund’s “12 Days of Christmas for Writers.” She has challenged us today to publicly post our successes for the year. When I first heard this I was sad, because all I could think about was the pandemic and all the challenges we have all been going through. Then I started taking inventory of all the work I’ve done this year in my pursuit of becoming a traditionally published author/illustrator. O-M-G. I can’t believe all that I did, especially under the circumstances. I feel that this is a testimony to the power of having a creative world to dive into when the “mud” hits the fan. If you have an idea of something I should pursue or investigate in 2021, please leave me a comment. So, without further ado, here is my list of SUCCESSES:

What was the escape hatch / magic portal you created for yourself during 2020?

  1. I’m here. I’m alive. I haven’t given up. I still have hope for the future. I believe that good things are coming.
  2. Change helps me grow. I have grown through many challenges this year and have learned a lot about myself and what is most important to me.
  3. I participated in 11 online writing workshops.
  4. I read over 100 books this year. (MG, GN, and PB).
  5. I wrote 20 new manuscripts this year. These are fully fleshed out stories, some of which I have begun illustrating. One of these was my first Nonfiction Picture Book and another was my first early reader Graphic Novel.
  6. I revised 5 older manuscripts.
  7. I created 10 other story ideas that I haven’t developed fully yet.
  8. I completed 15 picture book dummies. (This was a big OMG for me).
  9. I compiled 1 complete GN submission proposal including manuscript, first chapter, and art samples.
  10. I participated in The 100 Day Project and got to 60/100. Not too shabby.
  11. I participated in Folk Tale Week for the first time and illustrated a story based on the prompts. That’s 7 full color spreads in one week!
  12. I drew about 75 other vignettes, just for fun.
  13. I entered 6 competitive contests and received recognition in 2 of them.
  14. I won 3 professional critiques.
  15. I gave 150 critiques.
  16. I participated in 5 pitch events on Twitter. I received requests from 3 agents.
  17. I submitted work to 14 agents this year. This was a big step forward for me.
  18. I was interviewed by 2 publications and was requested to write my first book review.
  19. I’ve made a lot of writer and illustrator friends this year. ūüôā
  20. In my other realm of art facilitation, I held a workshop at the Discovery Children’s Museum, received funding for a youth project in 2021 from Clark County, and received two teaching artist grants to produce video lessons, also in 2021.

Whew! No wonder I’m exhausted. I think I’ll go take a nap now.

Sending love to you all and wishing you a safe and healthy New Year!

Bonnie

The Power Of Cuteness

We have a saying in my family:

She’s not as cute as she looks.

Everyone in my family is cute. Some are beyond cute. It’s part of a family legacy that spans back centuries. Even our old Scottish family crest reads: “Leisure With Dignity.” How cute is that? When I gaze at old sepia-toned family photos I see bright-eyed round, chubby-cheek faces twinkling back at me and I recognize those familiar elements of cuteness that reside in the faces of my parents, my sisters, my nephew, and my own children.

Exhibit “A” from my Hall(way) of Cuteness Fame: Me and my little sister holding our puppy, Smokey.

The other day, at the dinner table, where most deep family discussions take place, we discussed how cuteness can be a important survival skill. For example, our cat might swipe at someone, but then because of her extreme cuteness, all is forgiven, and she continues to live a pampered life in our home. This example can be extended to just about every member of my family. Like I mentioned before, we’re not always as cute as we look, but like the cat, we always seem to land on our feet.

So this week, in honor of cuteness, the less recognized superpower, I have been drawing something cute each day in my sketchbook. Of course, cuteness is subjective, but if you’d like to follow along, I have been posting them on Instagram. The greatest thing cuteness can offer these days is to, in some small way, lift a person’s spirits and maybe even help a person smile. If either of those things happen when you see my drawing, then mission accomplished.

Bonnie

The 10th Annual Halloweensie Contest

Today I’m celebrating a social-distanced Halloween by posting my uber-short (100 words) kidlit story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest. For some reason this year, I’m kind of obsessed with Frankenstein. What if Frankenstein was a kid? What would it be like to be so green? Could Frankenstein be solar-powered? Anyway, hope you enjoy the story!

Furley Frankenstein

Furley Frankenstein was tired of social distancing.

He’d been cooped up in the lab ever since he became undead.

“Pleeeeeease, Dad? Can’t I go out? It’s Halloween.

No one will care that my skin is green.”

“It’s just not safe,” said Dr. Frankenstein.

“Don’t you know, there’s a pandemic going on!”

The door locked when it slammed behind him.

Furley groaned!

Furley stomped!

Furley moaned.

Furley noticed something shiny on the counter.

His dad forgot the skeleton key!

He listened for his dad’s footsteps to fade.

Furley snatched a medical mask,

unlocked the door,

and crept out into the night.

Decide

Since the lock-down began, I’ve suddenly had a lot less time to work on my projects. The funny thing is… I’ve somehow managed to still find time to work on my projects! I’ve had to make a lot of tough choices in order to stay productive. It’s heart-breaking work to have to say ‘no’ to comfortable routines and people we care about, but it helps you to understand in your heart what you need to continue saying yes to, no matter what. The world is changing on micro and macro levels all at once. Even when things “go back to normal” we’re only kidding ourselves if we believe that anything will ever be like it was. I’ve been learning important things about myself during these past few months. Like the other day when a distracted driver almost ran me over in the crosswalk. I learned two things in that one moment. #1, I learned that my crisis response is to freeze, not fight or flight. #2, I learned that I had been taking for granted that a few lines drawn on the street could grant me safety. They don’t. In these times we have to be extra vigilant. We have to observe. We have to look both ways, again and again, even when the lights are green and the little walkie man is flashing. It’s okay to freeze, but at some point we need to start moving again. But when we do, we have to remember that the world has changed, that we have all changed. There will be some things we will miss. But there will be other things that we can rebuild to be better than they were. We have to decide to hold on to that hope.

Bonnie

©Bonnie Kelso and Creating Your Experience

For a limited time I have reduced the price of my coloring books to $7.99. Enjoy!

Check out this new 100 Day Project on Instagram: #TinyLifeLines2020

Stay Connected

Being on “lockdown” might not be all that bad for some people, like me. I’m used to spending long hours working alone, but for some people this is a fate worse than prison. As we all grapple with where this global situation leads us, it is essential we stay connected with others and with spirit.

We are all in this together and we are stronger than we realize. In a meditation I received this prayer which has become my mantra:

May our bodies be fortified with boosted immunity, may our minds be filled with positive thoughts, and may our hearts be overflowing with generosity and compassion as we courageously walk into the future with dignity.

Sending love and hoping you are well.

Bonnie


Start your own PLAYBOOK!

‚ÄúMy Playbook: A Daily Practice Of Recording My Divinely Guided Magical Life‚ÄĚ is one of my favorite secret weapons for living a creative life.

Now is a great time to start a creative project of your own. If you’re not sure where to start, try getting one of these playbooks. Each day you can write and draw in it until you figure out what you want to create. Once you’re into a project, you can use it to monitor your progress. I’ve been using one for three years and now I’d be lost without it. (read more…)

Sea Slug

An exploration in drawing cute monsters brought me to this sea slug.

Hoping we all find a little buoyancy this week.

With love,

Bonnie

A new 2020 cover for the Playbook!

‚ÄúMy Playbook: A Daily Practice Of Recording My Divinely Guided Magical Life‚ÄĚ is one of my favorite secret weapons for living a creative life.

As an empathic creative, I am constantly bombarded with ideas, inspirations and messages from spirit. I used to have a day planner, several spiral journals, a sketchbook, and about a million post it notes floating around my house and work space. It was maddening trying to keep everything straight. I had no single resource to turn to to really measure my progress and reflect on where I had come from and where I was going with an idea or project. One day, I decided to try… (read more…)

Wild & Free

This is what it feels like to finish cancer treatment! I did it. I survived. I am humbled and ultimately a better person because of it. And, yes, it sucked. I am still a little angry about the whole thing, actually, but just a little bit, deep down where I hardly notice it anymore.

Now is where the fun part begins. I get to live again. I might not be base jumping any time soon, but I’ve started moving my body fast enough to feel my heart-beat again. This is a quality of life improvement that I am ready to fully embrace.

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Thank You

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for caring. On this Thanksgiving I have a lot to be grateful for. Mostly, I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful to have the ability to think about putting sweaters on wild animals. I am thankful to have the time to wonder, who was the first animal to be drawn with a sweater on. Was it Winnie the Pooh? Goofy? What is Goofy, anyway? These are the questions I am grateful to be able to ask on a Thanksgiving morning, because I am still here. I am still alive, and I am hopeful that with each new day I will put a little more of my fears and insecurities behind me.

To see more pictures of animals in sweaters, if this interests you, click here.

I am thankful that I have time to draw this penguin in a sweater. That I can put aside everything else and simply indulge myself in an idea and put pencil to paper and create it. I don’t know why I wanted to do it, but I did it, and you know what? It made me feel happy. Sometimes I get so consumed by the challenges of each day, the work that needs to be done, the goals that are still to be met, that I forget what the point of it all is anyway. Everyone might have a different reason for living, but, for me, today, it is to create a little “penguin-in-a-sweater” happiness.

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