2016 The Year in Review

 

I started 2016 with high hopes.  This was going to be the year I became a published author. I did accomplish that but not in the way I had originally thought I would.

In March, I accepted a Freelance Writing position with the local newspaper, writing a weekly column of events that were happening in my community.  It was not exciting but it was writing!

Over the summer, those happenings “dried up”.   I had nothing to write about.  I asked my editor if I could “write outside the box” so long as it started out with what there is to do in my little corner of the world.  He approved my idea and I came up with a piece I called “Summer of American History” which entailed the adventures my daughter and I had visiting local historical destinations, including Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Gettysburg Civil War Museum and Battlefield and the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park.  Our favorite destination ended up being the Ponies of Assateague.  We spent endless hours on the beach and watched the Ponies in their natural habitat from a boat in the bay.  I overloaded my phone with stunning pictures of the view from Chincoteague lighthouse and a myriad of birds fighting for scraps left by the tourists on the shoreline.

In addition to writing for the local paper I signed up for every writing group out there.  It didn’t take long to realize in my zest to publish a picture book story, I just may have over-extended myself.  Rather than excelling at two or three projects, I got very little of any projects done.  That filled me with more self-doubt than I thought possible.   What I should have accomplished, still hangs out there like an old sheet hanging on the line, held there by one crooked clothespin, flapping in the breeze, begging me to set it free.

But I persevered for three reasons.  My daughter believes in me.  My husband believed in me. And I invested a lot of time and money in becoming a published author.  It is amazing how you can forge on when you have paid for something you aren’t quite sure you are cut out to do. I must say, I almost, almost, gave up on writing picture books but the community I met over at 12 by 12 gave me the inspiration to keep going.  Many past members of 12 by 12 went on to be published picture book authors from a manuscript they first conceived as part of this phenomenal community!  I am amazed at their fortitude.  Their inspiration helped me to see I just needed to find the determination I knew I had and put my “I can do this!” card face up on the table.

And their inspiration had results!  I submitted a manuscript and got my first official written rejection.  In part, it said “It is a great manuscript and I wish you the best of luck with it.”.  The only thing better than this would be “Great manuscript lets publish it!”

So, for 2017, I have limited myself to just five big writing projects (and yes! 12 by 12 is at the top of the list!).  It will be a lot of work, grueling at times, but maybe, just maybe this time next year, I will be posting that my debut picture book will be coming out soon!

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Gabrielle

Our “Summer of American History”

Last year (2015) our Summer Adventure was of the Grand kind (we took a trip to the Grand Canyon).  This year, while we were just as adventurous, we opted to stay closer to home and explore in and around our West Carroll County, Maryland location.  And in September, after the start of the school year, we used our vacation to fulfill a class assignment by making a timeline of our adventures.

Last year (2015) our Summer Adventure was of the Grand kind (we took a trip to the Grand Canyon).  This year, while we were just as adventurous, we opted to stay closer to home and explore in and around our West Carroll County, Maryland location.  And in September, after the start of the school year, we used our vacation to fulfill a class assignment by making a timeline of our adventures.

We live in close proximity to several historical destinations including Philadelphia and historic Gettysburg, PA. We dubbed our 2016 adventure “The Summer of American History”.  In as much as this year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, our theme fit in perfectly.  A little over one month into the summer, we had already logged countless footsteps all over Maryland and Pennsylvania including Catoctin Mountain Park, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Gettysburg Military Park, and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA.

We spent a day driving part of the Gettysburg Military Park checking out the statues.  I found the Michigan statue to be of particular interest.  Many visitors are unaware that General George Armstrong Custer fought at Gettysburg.  The battle he took part in was not part of the main battle but was instrumental in “turning the tide” of the war.   We got out to get a closer look at the statue and listen to the breeze rustle through the corn crops.

Fort McHenry in Baltimore is considered to be “the birthplace of the American National Anthem”, after Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer born in Carroll County, MD, inspired by seeing the flag still flying after a night of “seeing rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air”, wrote a poem that was later put to the melody “To Anacreon in Heaven”.  That poem became our National Anthem.

Flight 93 Memorial stands as a testament to the courage and patriotism of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.   I found it to be a moving and emotional visit. The passengers and crew who, with very little time left, made the conscious decision to fight back, not to save themselves, but to save their fellow Americans.   In an area of over 1000 acres of meadow and wood near Shanksville, PA, the Memorial itself begs you to whisper when you speak.  It is an important destination to take the kids to so they can have a full understanding of the measure of freedom.

You would think after doing all this, we would be exhausted but it was only the first of August!  We were having too much fun to be exhausted!

We spent a few days exploring Shenandoah National Park.  We came close to an introduction to the wildlife of the park! img_3636

Our last stop for the summer was Assateague Island in Maryland and Chincoteague in Virginia.  Assateague is home of the wild ponies of Assateague Island.  The area was so beautiful we hated to leave!  By the time we got home, we had already decided our vacation destination next year would be a return trip to Assateague!