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. 🙂
  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

Holiday Helpers: Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest

I’m entering another contest! Why? Because I learn a lot when I step outside my writing comfort zone. For Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest we were given the theme of “Holiday Helpers” to work with in 250 words or less. I hope you enjoy my entry, inspired by the endless amounts of tinsel around my house this year. Ho-ho-ho, everyone! 🙂

Sparkle 3000

The holidays are here and there’s so much to do!

Just me and my mom, we’re too small a crew.

How will we manage to cook, clean, and shop,

when I still have school and her work doesn’t stop?

Then Sparkle 3000 arrives at our door.

Arms like an octopus, he rolls on the floor.

He gets straight to work and says, “Please, excuse me.”

His lights blink and flash like our new Christmas tree.

He shakes out the carpets and dusts every shelf,

flashing and humming like a big metal elf.

He straightens and sweeps, tosses trash in the bin.

This robot works hard! It makes my head spin!

“He did it! It’s done!” All is shiny and new.

But Sparkle keeps going, even when we’re through.

So tired from watching, we collapse in our beds,

as gingerbread dreams dance in our heads. 

When morning arrives, I creep out to see

that Christmas is gone! “How can this be?

You took down our tree because it’s not neat?”

The presents and turkey are piled on the street!

“I want to be helpful.” Sparkle turns blue.

“I’ll learn to do better, I can watch you.”

I say, “We must fix this!” Sparkle’s lights flash.

“I’ll teach you the difference. Treasure or trash?”

A few hours later, Mom wakes and comes out.

“A perfect holiday,” she says without doubt.

I wink at Sparkle. “No working today.”

He slumps in a chair with one word, “Okay.” 

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.

Professional Critiques

I am part of several critique groups and some of the members are published authors. I have learned so much from each critique partner and when I look back at my earlier drafts I realize that my work has improved dramatically over the years because of the help of fellow writers.

When I get really stuck with a manuscript, I’ll even pay for a professional critique. And sometimes, every now and then, I win a professional critique. BONUS!!!! That’s what I’m going for now. If you write for children and you want to enter as well there is still time. Here’s the link:

https://www.pbspotlight.com/pbcritiquefest

You’ll have to pick a manuscript ahead of time that you want critiqued, and even tougher, you’ll have to choose a few pros from the long list of authors, illustrators and agents who have generously donated their time to help lowly unpublished writers such as myself to get just a little closer to reaching their publishing dreams.

So, thanks to each and every one of you, because writing this post earned me 20 extra entries! Whoo-hoo!

Hope everyone is staying healthy and creative.

Lots of love,

Bonnie

Fall Writing Frenzy!

In celebration of the changing season, I decided to write an entry for the 2020 Fall Writing Frenzy hosted by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. Thanks to the entire Children’s Literature Community for your encouragement and support.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Autumn

by Bonnie Kelso

The path to Preston’s art studio

is a narrow ribbon of dirt weaving between

blackberry bushes and pine trees.

Wide-eyed cats stare

as curious neighborhood dogs

push wet noses into my empty hands.

Finally,

the crooked house by the creek.

I walk inside,

welcomed by the scent

of sawdust and paint.

On the pegboard hangs folded art paper,

printed leaves,

familiar,

but at the same time,

different.

In the corner is her name,

not mine.

Autumn

All these weeks,

I thought I was the only student.

I never realized how special it felt to be here,

until now.

Have I been replaced?

Who is Autumn?

Is she clever?

Pretty as a scarlet maple leaf? 

I feel like the dry crumpled one,

smothered and crushed

between sheets of fresh paper.

Tossed aside.

Forgotten.

“Hi, Summer!” Preston says cheerfully,

“Come meet my new student.”

It’s her!

She is vibrant and full of artistic promise.

Tears well up in my eyes.

As I turn to leave,

she grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze.

“Friends?” she asks.

I am pulled to the table next to her.

Our hands slide into the gooey golden paint

and I feel special again.

Safely Facilitating Art

This Sunday I will be facilitating an art class at the Discovery Children’s Museum. It will be my first time teaching since the coronavirus pandemic began. The museum has been open for several months now and I trust they are taking every precaution to provide a safe environment for their guests and staff. We will be socially-distanced and wearing our masks as we create art together as a community.

Like so many others, I’ve missed these moments of connection. There is something special that happens when you create art as a group and it’s hard to recreate online the synergy of a live face to face (or in this case, mask to mask) event. But the more we work together to find our way through the challenges of this pandemic, the more resilient we will become as a society. Trust and respect have taken on new importance, as we navigate the aisles of grocery stores, the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices, and the recreational activities we long to engage in.

I’ve always believed that the arts play an important role in our individual healing processes. Part of why I love being an artist is to be able to connect with others in unique and profound ways. So, I look forward to an afternoon of creating art in new and innovative ways. We are all pioneers of this new world reality.

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!

My Playbook: A Daily Practice Of Recording My Divinely Guided Magical Life” 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!

My Playbook: A Daily Practice Of Recording My Divinely Guided Magical Life” 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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