New Year’s Resolutions from Authors and Illustrators

It’s a new year, and many of us are reflecting on how we want to approach it in our personal lives, our creative lives, and the intersection between the two. I won’t provide a Venn diagram here, but as you make your own resolutions, consider an accompanying graphic. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll find inspiration in this collection of resolutions from some old friends and some new ones in the kidlit community. Wishing a happy, healthy 2017 to all of you. Drink more water (author Erica Perl says she makes this resolution every year). Write hard. Find joy. And if you have a resolution to share, we’d love to hear it in the comments.

Gigi Amateau, COME AUGUST, COME FREEDOM: There’s a river book I’ve been wanting to write for a while now, and hope to write over the next 30 years, because I want to live with the experience of writing this book for a long time. So in 2017 I aim to hike to the headwaters of the James and learn to kayak.

Tom Angleberger, ORIGAMI YODA series, FUZZY: Make plot decisions and stick to them! (You can always change them later.)

Cece Bellflytrap, EL DEAFO, INSPECTOR FLYTRAP: I think my resolution is to have no resolution. Just make stuff, give more stuff away, maybe dip a toe into poetry. I’m taking a sabbatical in 2017 — no deadlines, no school visits, no Skype visits, no nuttin’. The last couple of years were amazing but now the well is dry and needs some major refilling. It’s gonna be a funky-weird year in my studio, and I’m looking forward to it!

Molly Burnham, the TEDDY MARS series: My resolution is to listen to other people with openness and less judgment. And to articulate my own thoughts the same way.

Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY: I resolve to keep a notebook and pen nearby and to spend some time every day writing by hand. Typing on my laptop has become my go-to, but I find I think differently when I write longhand. I’m more likely to allow myself to wander and write something that might surprise me.

Lulu Delacre, ¡OLINGUITO, DE LA A LA Z: I’d like to create a picture book for very young girls about how thinking creatively empowers you. And I’d like to illustrate this book in a minimalist graphic way pushing the boundaries of what you can do with the white of the paper. We’ll see!

Moira dogbikeRose Donohue, DOG ON A BIKE and THE INVASION OF NORMANDY (forthcoming): I resolve to use strong action verbs, in both my writing and in my response to any person who tries to bully or harm another person just because he or she is different.

Pintip Dunn, FORGET TOMORROW: This year, I want to read 100 books. I’d like to break new ground with my writing and take my skill set and craft to a higher level. I want to try something radically different, whether it’s a new genre or a new target audience. Ultimately, I’d like to find a harmonious balance so that my writing is characterized more by joy than by stress.

margaritaMargarita Engle, LION ISLAND and DRUMDREAM GIRL: I resolve to keep writing poetry about peaceful heroes, no matter how many politicians promote hatred and violence.

Marty Rhodes Figley, THE TRUE STORY OF JIM THE WONDER DOG: This year I want to wake up each morning and take a moment to feel gratitude for all that I have.

Josh Funk, LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (sequel forthcoming): In 2017, I resolve to take more classes and attend more workshops to learn as much as I can to improve my craft. I want to educate myself as much as possible so everything I write in the future is better than what I wrote before.

Laura Gepeephl, PEEP AND EGG: In 2016, the books I most admired were not just funny and clever but overflowed with heart.  So my resolution for 2017 is to take hold of the roller coaster that is my daily life and try to pour all of those raw emotions into my writing.

Leah Henderson, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL (forthcoming): Remembershadow to try and let go of my fears and worry and embrace all the twists and turns, ups and downs, and sour and sweet moments of my debut year. Continue to learn and hopefully grow both as a writer and as a person. And never forget to smile, laugh, and be grateful because I am having a truly blessed life.

Jacqueline Jules, ZAPATO POWER series and SOFIA MARTINEZ series: To be less distracted by social media. To write more poetry. To be more present in each moment. And to remember always that I feel most alive when I am writing.

aminaHena Khan, AMINA’S VOICE (forthcoming): 2017 is the first year I will be devoting myself entirely to writing full-time, which both exhilarates and terrifies me. My resolutions are to finally cure myself of imposter syndrome somehow (any suggestions?) and to develop more discipline and a routine around writing, exercising, and managing social media and other author-ly activities. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have absolutely none right now!

Rashin Kheiriyeh, TWO PARROTS and THE SAFFRON ICE CREAM (forthcoming): Definitely, I will eat more ice cream, and I am going to share with kids the joy of my favorite flavor of ice cream, saffron ice cream. I will also spend more time playing with colors and find more inspiration from nature. Hopefully I will find my imaginary, playful cat between my stories.

Renémamathealien Colato Laínez, MAMA THE ALIEN/MAMA LA EXRATERRESTRE: For my nuevo año resolutions, I plan to keep writing at least two pages a day and read more picture, middle grade and young adult books. Also I plan to visit my native country El Salvador and promote children’s literature everywhere I go. I plan to have fun, too. Cheers, felicidades for  2017!

C.B. Lee, NOT YOUR SIDEKICK: In 2017 I resolve to write stories that not only will move the landscape of fiction towards more representation, especially for LGBTQ youth, but are fun and inspiring. I also resolve to read and discover more books from #ownvoices authors.

Sylvia Liu, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA: I promise to ENJOY the creative journey and to minimize distractions. I will focus on my writing, illustrating, and the kid lit resource website I co-run, Kidlit411. I will continue to speak up about things I care about, particularly the environment.

Natalie Dias Lorenzi, A LONG PITCH HOME: Write for 15 minutes a day. I’m actually going to set a timer, and if I want to write more, all the better! Since I moved from being an elementary to a secondary school librarian, I’ve really struggled with finding time to write.

Kelly Starling Lyons, ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR and JADA JONES: ROCK STAR (forthcoming): Somdinoetimes the biggest writing obstacles come from within. My 2017 resolution is to walk in faith, not fear. I will banish doubt by writing from the heart, focusing on the children I serve and pushing for stories that center the lives of kids who are too often unheard.

Ellen Oh, PROPHECY series and FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES (ed.):My resolution is to raise my voice even louder and to try and inspire a new generation of young teen activists to raise their voices louder than our own. To teach them to never stay quiet when faced with racism, prejudice, hate. To demand accountability from those who do wrong. To keep having uncomfortable conversations about race and discrimination and politics. To never quit no matter how tough it might get. No matter how depressed or hopeless we might feel. No matter how bad the harassment might get. And I will be right there with them every step. Because we must unite together and raise each other up in order to fight for our future.

Lisa Papademetriou, HIGHLY UNUSUAL MAGIC and APARTMENT 1986 (forthcoming): This year, I resolve to slow down to a sloth-like pace. I am a pathological multi-tasker, often juggling multiple projects, ideas, novels, etc., but I think my work will benefit from slow consideration and deliberateness. If I can handle it!

Erica Perl, CAPYBARA CONSPIRACY and FEROCIOUS FLUFFITY: Draw every day. I think it capybarais one of the most awesome ways to get creative juices flowing. Also: Wake up and fight. That’s actually a Woody Guthrie resolution, but 2017 strikes me as a good year to adopt it. I’m actually pretty conflict-adverse, but I think by “fight” he meant: speak up for what matters to you. For me it’s kids, books, equality, human rights, kindness, humor and celebration of differences.

Lori Richmond, PAX AND BLUE: My resolution for 2017 is to better incorporate ideation time into my day. I get so caught up in all of the “now” illustration work and deadlines, that sometimes there is little time left over for developing my own ideas. It’s time for more ME TIME.

Madelyn Rosenberg, NANNY X and HOW TO BEHAVE series: The Hamilton soundtrack’s still getting a lot of play at my house, so I’m finding resolutions in the lyrics: Look around. Rise up. Write like you’re running out of time. My other resolution is to be a maker, whether it’s books or music or little creatures out of salt dough.

Tammar Stein, THE SIX-DAY HERO: I will accept the non-linear way that writing progresses. Two steps forwards and one-and-a-half step back is still forward motion, even if it doesn’t feel like it!

Theodore Taylor III, WHEN THE BEAT WAS BORN and the LITTLE SHAQ series: My resolution isn’t much different than it was last year. I need to draw more regularly and consistently, improve my craft and get all of my projects done in a timely fashion.

Erin Teaganfriendship, THE FRIENDSHIP EXPERIMENT: This year my goal is to continue to grow as a writer by trying new things and taking on different kinds of projects as well as making more of an effort to connect with readers by doing more events and school visits.


Ruta Sesaltpetys, SALT TO THE SEA: My resolution is to read more short stories. As a novelist, I struggle to capture a story in 350 pages. I am in awe of writers who capture an entire journey in ten to twenty pages. In 2017, I’d like to read several short stories per week as a literary vitamin and lesson in form.

Wendy Wan-Long Shang, THE WAY HOME LOOKS NOW: Last year, I wrote something about protecting my daily writing time.  What I’ve found upon my return to work is that protection mode is kicking in full blast, because while I love my social justice work, I also need to have my creative writing to feel like a complete person.  There are trade-offs.  The house is messier.  The kids are learning to love laundry, and I’m realizing that any day that feels like I’m top of it means that I forgot to make dinner.  No matter.  The writing will stay, even if it takes the most precarious, ferocious balancing act I can achieve.

Nanci Turner Steveson, SWING SIDEWAYS: My resolution is to dig deeper inside than ever before, to listen to people more fully, to write with passion and offer literature that helps kids feel safe in an often rocky world. In doing so, I resolve to work toward freeing myself from the fear of failure, and to keep my writing notes in a much more organized manner so I’m not always scrambling to find them.

Thanks so much to all of the authors and illustrators who shared their resolutions this year. To check out creative resolutions from previous years, click here and here. And please note: I tried to list one representative book for each author but many of them have written much, much more. Explore their websites to learn more about them!
















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One Response to New Year’s Resolutions from Authors and Illustrators

  1. Thanks for collecting these thoughts and prompting us to think ahead. Fun to read!

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