Monday, February 27, 2012

Words From the Wise #2-- Julie Hedlund, Write Up My Life





For this week's edition of Words From the Wise, I have had the honor of interviewing Julie Hedlund.   I hope that you enjoy reading her thoughts as much as I have.  



Recently you have become quite active in the world of children's writing. How are you handling your new found fame?

Well, I certainly don’t consider it “fame,” but I do hope my activity is well received in the kidlit community.  Honestly after more than two years of blogging, attending conferences, participating in Twitter chats, etc., it’s nice to finally feel like I have a sense of the landscape – the “who’s who” of kidlit.  The best part is getting to know so many amazing authors and illustrators, many of whom I’ve met only recently through the 12 x 12 challenge.  And I will admit it’s a thrill when an author I’ve loved for ages “recognizes” my name.  Authors are, and always have been, celebrities to me!


Can you describe your personal writing process, and what is your favorite part?

Hmm.  This question makes me think I should have a better process!

For picture books, I typically write my first draft in one sitting.  I can do this because I mull stories around in my mind for ages before I ever write a word.  I usually think that first draft is SO GOOD. 

Then I let the draft sit for a while and come back to revise.  By then I think the draft is NOT SO GOOD.  It’s usually about 2-3 revisions later before I feel it’s ready to be shared with my critique partners.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess.  I have one PB that I’ve probably revised 100 times and my CPs have seen it at least half a dozen times.  One of my more recent ones only required a couple of critique group go-rounds.  Hopefully that means I’m getting better at drafting!

My favorite part of the process is writing the first draft and then the first couple of revisions.  I love it when the story is still all mine and nobody has seen it yet.  It’s like my little secret. J

You are excellent at marketing yourself. What are some of the key elements for a new writer in getting themselves noticed? How can a newly published author really get the word out about their work?

Well, for full disclosure, I don’t (yet) have a book I’ve marketed, but I have worked hard to build an online presence so that when I do have something to promote, the network will be there.  This strategy worked very well when it came time to promote the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge, for example.

So, establish a presence as soon as you know you want to be or will be published, because what you are doing is building relationships more than marketing.  If you want those relationships to be authentic, they need to grow organically and that takes some time.

There is so much information available on how to promote well.  Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can before making huge decisions about which promotion activities you are going to take on.  For children’s book authors, Katie Davis recently published an ebook called How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a Bestseller.  This is the perfect place to start.

Who are some of your favorite picture book authors, and what draws you to their work?

My all-time favorite picture book author is Jane Yolen.  I love her because she can write anything, and everything she writes is amazing.  I dare you to look at her range of work and not be inspired.  Plus, she uses the most gorgeous language in her picture books and does not “write down” to kids.  Rather, she asks them to “rise up” to meet her stories.   

I won’t even try to list any others because once I start I won’t be able to stop!

What goals have you set for yourself with your writing? Do you have a plan on how to accomplish those goals?

It’s funny you ask that because this is the first year I’ve set concrete, measurable goals for my writing.  Writing at least 12 picture books in 2012 is one of them, but I have also established specific goals for querying and publishing in other venues.  For example, I want to publish magazine articles in both the children and adult market, and I plan to publish a storybook app.  I also have a nonfiction ebook for writers up my sleeve that I plan to publish before June. 

Julie Hedlund is a Picture Book author and Freelance Writer. She is the creator and host of the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge.  You can connect with Julie on her blog, Write Up My Life, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


74 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me today Sandi! It's an honor.

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    1. You are very welcome Julie! The honor is all mine.

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  2. Great interview with Julie. I loved how you said in the first draft or two of revision, the story is your little secret.... that's how I feel...lol. Thankyou Sandi.

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    1. You are welcome! I am glad that you enjoyed it.

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    2. Diane - I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves that feeling!

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  3. Sandi, thank you for posting this interview with Julie Hedlund. I'm a big fan of her and her blog. She's a real role model of how a talented and hard-working writer can build an online profile in anticipation of that first, inevitable, published book.

    Patrick

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    1. She is extremely hard working, and one day all of that work is going to turn into a series of wonderful books from her and for the children of the world.

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    2. Patrick, you are making me tear up! :-) Thank you for such kind words.

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  4. I can totally relate to that feeling that the first draft is pure excellence, only to revisit it later - or worse, let your critique group have at it - and find you 'have a good start' but are by no means done!

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    1. It can be very frustrating, but personally, I enjoy the revising process more than the first draft.

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  5. Thank you so much, Sandi and Julie, for this interview! It's good to get even more insights into Julie's thoughts and way of working. I love to see other people's writing processes, for example.

    Julie -- the fact that you are doing so much for/with 12 x 12 and still have time and energy to work toward your other goals is inspiring. All the best to you!

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    1. I think that she must be a relative of the Energizer Bunny! She keeps going, and going, and going. . .

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    2. Funny! Not related to the Energizer Bunny. It makes it lot easier to work hard when you love what you are doing, and the people you are working with!

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  6. Julie, it's good to keep to know you on a deeper level in this interview. I, too, hold my manuscripts dear before sending them out into the world to be critiqued. But, as with grown children, I need to let go so they can soar.
    I agree with Jane Yolan...kids need to rise up to challenging vocabulary. Otherwise, how do they grow in language skills?
    Sure do appreciate all you are doing, Julie, for those of us on the Writer's path to publication!

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    1. Julie has been a true inspiration to all of us trying to break into children's writing.

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    2. I could not agree more, Jarm! Let them learn the vocabulary sitting on their parents' laps being read to!

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  7. Hey Julie and Sandi! Super interview! I love Jane Yolen too. Her writing makes me want to write as beautifully as she does. I loved reading how you love writing those first couple of drafts. They are my favorite too. It's a fresh new world that only I can explore if for only a little while.

    Thanks for having Julie here, Sandi. *waving*

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    1. You are very welcome! Come back next week for another interview!

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    2. "If only for a little while..." Then we have to send them off into the world. But it's great when they're just "ours." :-)

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  8. Hi Sandi & Julie! Great interview and advice. Thanks for sharing :)

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  9. Great interview Sandi & Julie. I really like your comment about your draft being a secret. I look forward to seeing your storybook app & ebook.

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    1. Thank you Stacy. I look forward to seeing them too.

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    2. Thanks Stacy! I'm counting on you guys to be my "first responders" in terms of feedback. :-)

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  10. Great interview Julie and Sandi - I really enjoyed reading it. Julie, I love your process - much like mine! - and I agree - I love that feeling that I've written a story before I've shared it with anyone :) I'm VERY interested in your storybook app. Can we hear more about that? How are you going about it? Who is illustrating it? How will you bring it to market? Please share!!! :)

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    1. Hopefully she'll share all of the details with us soon.. .

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    2. Hi Susanna,

      I will definitely share more information about the storybook app process. I'm also going to share LOTS of information from the ToC Bologna conference, primarily on my Facebook Page. So definitely lots more to come!! Glad there is so much interest.

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  11. Great interview feature Sandi!

    I remain convinced that Julie must consume gallons of Red Bull or the like in order to remain so continuously cutting-edge and productive!

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    1. I'm glad that you like it Cathy. I will have a different interview each Monday. Be sure to check back next week.

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    2. On the contrary, I only have one Red Bull in my fridge at the moment. But I do confess to having at least three cups of black tea before noon every day! :-)

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  12. Wow, Julie, you have big plans! I hope you meet all your goals for the year. And thanks, as always, for inspiring so many of us to come along with you. Sandi, thanks for the lovely interview!

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    1. You are welcome! I think that people who set big goals have great drive, and are bound for success!

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    2. You are welcome, and thanks for your comment Kristen.

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  13. Great interview! It made me smile. : )

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  14. Great interview Sandi and Julie!

    Julie -- Your writing process is very similar to mine, except I can't wait to read it so someone! I can't imagine keeping it a secret!

    I love your choice on favorite author -- Jane Yolen is great! I love Owl Moon and Elsie's Bird.

    Looking forward to the possible ebook! Good Luck!

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    2. Thanks Eric! I love Jane Yolen. I think that she is someone that we can all learn from.

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  15. Thank you, Sandi, for providing us with a great guest poster who is generous with her knowledge and expertise. I don't think I've ever been to your blog...it's nice to meet you. :)

    Julie...you definitely are doing it the "right" way...building that platform and presence before you put a book out there. I really appreciate that you shared your writing process...the first draft does look amazing, doesn't it? :) I love the way you put it aside for a bit and then go back to it with a fresh eye and ear.

    Your 12 x 12 was the perfect challenge for me...I am in your debt!

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    1. Nice to meet you too Vivian! I hope that you stop by again soon. I have a new interview each Monday.

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    2. Vivian, you are too sweet! I'm so glad you're taking the journy with us.

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  16. Thanks for the interview, Sandi and Julie! It was nice learning more about you. I, too, have to mull the story over in my head before I can get it on paper. I've enjoyed being part of this 12x12 community!

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    1. You are welcome. I am enjoying 12 x 12 as well. Looking forward to March!

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  17. Excellent points on building a community from the ground up. Keeping up with that community takes work and dedication too, but everyone seems quite supportive. Great insights Julie.
    A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

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    1. I have found a wonderful community within all of these writers. Even though most of us have never met in person, I feel as if I have known many of you for a life time.

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    2. Tracy,

      Don't I know that keeping up with the community is quite a time commitment! But I find it has so many rewards that more than pay back that time. And I agree with what Sandi said. It really does seem like we're getting to know each other well!

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  18. Great interview Sandi and Julie! My stories have to "cure" in my head before I put them down on paper -- just like yours, Julie. I admire how you've built the wonderful 12x12 community -- it's been invaluable to connect with others who are just as passionate as picture books as I am! Thanks!

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    1. I agree with you Margaret. 12 x 12 has been invaluable. With all of the conferences around, wouldn't it be fun to have a 12 x 12 conference . . . Julie?

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  19. Grat interview! My favorite piece was when Julie mentioned building authentic relationships through your online presence. So true!

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  20. For some reason my comment yesterday didn't take. Great interview, ladies.

    Julie, it was lovely to read of all your non 12x12 writing goals for 2012. I don't think I have read anything of Jane Yolen that I haven't been wowed by! I think I am strange because I actually like revising, this is probably because my first drafts suck sooo badly!

    Isn't it great to be part of this community!

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    1. Sorry about that Joanna, not sure why your comment didn't work. Glad that you came back again. You are not strange at all! Revising is my favorite part of the writing process. Maybe that makes us both strange.

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  21. Thanks Sandi and Julie for a great interview. Thanks Julie for sharing your writing process and your thoughts.

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  22. Great interview Ms. Hedlund and Ms. Hershenson! I liked learning about your writing process Ms. Hedlund!

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    1. Thank you Erik. Glad that you stopped by for a visit.

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  23. Great interview. I agree with you about building a presence as soon as you know that you want to be a writer. It's not about numbers. Relationships are what's important. Love it. And thanks so much for providing an opportunity for others to join into a community and build those relationships.

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    1. You are absolutely right Jackie. Relationships in this field are so important, and this community does a fantastic job of helping all of us develop those relationships.

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  24. GREAT interview! Thanks for sharing, Julie! Great to visit your blog, Sandi!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathy. I hope that you will visit again, I have a new interview each Monday.

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  25. Great questions, Sandi! Lovely interview, Julie! What a team...;0)

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    1. Thanks Donna. Hey Julie, maybe we should work together more often!

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  26. Hi Sandy and Julie! What an inspiring interview! Julie, I have so much respect for you! You keep plugging away and you are no doubt going to be successful! Thank you. :)

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    1. I think that her day should be right around the corner!

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  27. Thanks for the wise words, Julie. And thanks for sharing this, Sandi! Jane Yolen is also one of my favorites. Julie, I think you've done an excellent job building an online presence. You're famous as far as I'm concerned. :)

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    1. You are welcome Hannah. Thank you for your comments.

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  28. Julie is totally awesome! She is full of great information for writers, and she always passes along encouragement. Great interview, ladies!

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    1. Thanks Julie, I agree- she is totally awesome! It is so nice that she shares with all of us.

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  29. Thanks for the interview, Sandi. Julie, you have me very curious about the storybook app. I love apps! I have more kid apps than any reasonable adult should have.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  30. Jane Yolen is an excellent example of a writer who has mastered the art of children's book writing! Great interview.

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