Saturday 31 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Well it has been one year since I actively started blogging so I thought my first post of 2015 should be a review of 2014 and establish some New Year Resolutions.  In my very first post I stated that my aims were to document my quest of becoming a picture book Author and Illustrator, I still haven’t made it as an Author and Illustrator yet as it requires a lot of hard work, so this blog will continue along those lines again this year.

So what did I achieve last year? 

  • I completed Dr Mira Reisberg's Children's Book Academy course on writing children's picture books where I came out with my best manuscript so far and an illustration for its first spread which went on to be selected for the 2014 SCBWI BI Illustration Showcase.  This was a goal I set for myself here
  • I took part in Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 challenge to write twelve picture book drafts in one year, one per month.  I didn’t quite manage twelve, more like six which is better than nothing.  It was really worthwhile doing it, the community there is great and they share their knowledge.  I’ve enrolled again this year too, at Gold level, eek!
  • I successfully completed PiBoIdMo, Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month which runs in November where the challenge is to come up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November.  So I have 30 more ideas in the bank than I did before.
  • The most daring thing I have done this year was submit a manuscript to two agents.  One via a pitching webinar and the other via #PITMAD on Twitter.  Both came back as rejections, one with feedback too.  I’m not as discouraged about it as I thought I would be and I am looking forward to making more submissions soon.
  • I’m still a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, and I attend my supportive SCBWI crit group once a month at Seven Stories.  Once of the group was taken on by an agent so I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
  • I released a free Picture Book Template for Scrivener and an accompanying video on YouTube which have been well-received and they have certainly raised the profile of my online platform.
  • I was a member of the CBI, the Children's Book Insider, a paid subscription website and Facebook group all about writing children's books.  I didn’t renew my membership this year, if I am honest their website was a bit of a let down for me as I found that lots of their pages were randomly offline and the Facebook group was mainly full of members’ self promotion.
  • New web adventures have included a few of my blog posts being featured in the SCBWI British Isles online magazine Words and Pictures.  And I loved getting my weekly email from Kidlit411, it’s so full of useful information to children’s authors and illustrators as is KidLitTV (I had the honour of naming their programme “Storymakers”).
  • Regarding learning and working on my craft I have been using Craftsy,, Skillshare and Udemy videos and the brilliant Path to Publishing with The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson and Agent, Jill Corcoran.
  • Oh I went to the hottest ticket gig of the century when I went to see Kate Bush at her residency at the Hammersmith Apollo.  It was so amazing and inspiring, words don't do it justice, I'm still thinking about it!

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn - Claire O'Brien
Kate Bush - Before The Dawn - 2014

My New Year’s resolutions are to:

  • Improve my portfolio via my critical findings
  • Write more manuscripts and improve my writing craft
  • Increase the frequency of my blogging, post at least 18 posts this year.
  • Submit to agents with an aim of representation
  • Produce more videos and develop my YouTube channel 
  • Read more picture books
I wish you all the best with your own resolutions and I hope to see you back here soon.


  1. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for sharing your year and the websites/tools which have helped you. I wish you the best for 2015 - keep blogging! :)

    1. Thanks Zoe! And thanks for commenting! All the best to you too.

  2. That was a good year that was!
    Very enjoyed reading your 2014 achievement, Claire.
    Trying hard not to sound patronising:) but really Well Done!

    1. Gosh, thanks Jan, you know I wasn't even thinking about the year in terms of quality, I just tried to list what I had done, I didn't think anyone would even read this blog post, so that is nice of you to say! Thanks again : )