Three years ago I challenged myself during NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) to write not a 50,000-word novel, but a poem each day. By the end of November I had written or found in my piles of old writings enough material for three or four children’s books. (I ended up starting with a poetry collection. That next month I ended up finding a wonderfully supportive, spunky, talented group of other children’s book writers.
Betsy Etchart is one of these amazing friends from my SCBWI Arizona KidLit Mingle critique group. It has been a joy to cheer each other on in our successes, laugh at our quirky rhymes, oooh and aaah at the art and cleverness, and commiserate through our publishing challenges and self doubt. Betsy and I had a great time together one year when we shared a ride to the big regional convention across town. I adore her. ❤
Our monthly critique group is still meeting only on Zoom. While that is certainly better than nothing, I’m eager to get back to in-person gatherings. Last month Betsy and our prolific writer buddy Jill were working on an excellent video storybook project called Mask-a-rade together and invited me along to help on filming day. They could tell I was feeling isolated and could use a boost. It was just what I needed. Check out the story–It turned out SO GOOD!
It’s hard to believe that all this time, Betsy hasn’t considered illustrating books. She is enormously gifted in her poetry and storytelling, and wow, now we see that her art is professional level as well! I’m not sure why that surprised me, though… She actually teaches art classes in the schools through her business ColorWheels Mobile Art Room. And which came first, her artsy last name or her artsy career??
Covid shutdowns have been tough on her business, but it did give her time to illustrate Mask-a-rade! I’m also ecstatic for her other latest (HUGE) accomplishment… Several of her fabulous, hilarious poems about Galapagos creatures were just published by Cricket Magazine in a beautiful, photo-illustrated, THREE-PAGE spread! It won’t be long until a publisher discovers her and gets going on that amazing Gala Galapagos book. I can’t wait to own a copy one day!
Betsy drove over to my house after this morning’s KidLit meeting so we could take our walk. I got to introduce her to the kids and pets… and my VERY well lived-in home. 😃
We headed to a nearby dry riverbed trail and ended up on a brisk 3.8-mile walk in 72-degree perfect weather. Betsy said she’s been wanting an exercise buddy, and likes to hike mountain trails. I guess I might have more of a challenge keeping up next time! Blissfully, I had zero aches or pains today.
I felt extra strong and energetic today after this walk. I’m looking forward to losing this extra Covid pudge. I once knew a gal who lost 90 pounds in one year after having a baby… She walked after every meal, several miles everyday. There’s a retired military guy who I see often, out walking at all times of day. I always wonder what his story is. Is he walking to keep off a bunch of weight? Maybe to stay strong and mobile as he ages? Or is it too loud and chaotic at home, ha ha? I can relate to all of those.
Betsy, you are a treasure and I’m happy to call you friend. Thank you for the walk today. I’m looking forward to many more in the future!