Picture Books

PiBoIdMo (almost) Halfway Report

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

PiBoIdMo (almost) Halfway Report

On Nov 6, I talked about participating in PiBoIdMo (the brainchild of author Tara Lazar) and I thought I’d let you know how it’s going so far. I’ve been able to come up with an idea every day, but it hasn’t always been easy. Which cracks me up because one of the first questions I usually get at school visits is “Where do you get your ideas?”and my answer has always been–from everywhere! Something I hear from a friend or family member, something I’ve read, something one of my kids has said or one of their friends… And that’s still true. But I realized that the ideas I usually get will just pop into my mind at odd intervals and I’d note them as I was going through my day. Now, when I want an idea to come, it’s not always so forthcoming. I’m learning to not be so hyper-focused on “getting an idea,” and letting them come like they usually do. It’s been interesting to see how determined I am to get a new idea each day, to be able to fill that white square. And I also did the following: Stalked the Internet, reading articles about toddlers and kindergartners–what they like, what the don’t like, what they think is funny, and so on. Talked to my sister who has a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old (both boys) about what their obsessions and/or interests are. Thought back to my own kindergarten days and the preschool and kindergarten days of my kids. The ideas came and I hope they keep coming. I’ve still got 17 days to go! What about you?   Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Picture Book Ideas–I’m Going For It!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

Picture Book Ideas–I’m Going For It!

Picture book author, Tara Lazar, started Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) in response to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The great thing is you just have to come up with one idea (not an entire story) per day. Of course, the plan is to have a few manuscripts result from these ideas, but we don’t have to flesh those out unless we’re inspired. I decided to do it this year and I’m excited so far. See that pic of my blank calendar below? I printed that on Friday. It has been filled in with five ideas–today’s idea isn’t on there yet, but it will be! I wanted a blank calendar in this post because when I print a blank calendar in connection with writing goals of some kind, I get itchin’ to fill it. I thought it might inspire you the same way. Why Did I Do It? I never seem to be without ideas, but I had a moment a couple of weeks ago, after I’d sent another version of a new PB to my agent, when I thought: What’s my next picture book?  The answer: I don’t know. That kind of freaked me out because with my novels, I always have three or four ideas waiting in the queue. But with the picture books, I’d been so focused on writing and revising the two that are currently out on submission that I hadn’t thought about what would come next. I immediately jumped on my computer–okay, not literally, because that would be bad–and sifted through my picture book folder. A sense of relief flooded me as one title caught my eye. I got excited, wrote and rewrote furiously, and sent it off to my online critique group. But then the question popped up again: What’s my next picture book?  Enter PiBoIdMo! Now, I will confess that I went back through my picture book folder again to see if there were any other ideas that grabbed me. There were three. So three of the five on my calendar are existing ideas. If you think that’s cheating, that’s okay . My goal is to get 30 mostly usable ideas on that baby and if an old idea fit, I wrote it down. If you’ve got viable old ideas, use them! If you’re a picture book writer and haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up (you have until tomorrow, Nov 7). In addition to the satisfaction of making it happen and getting inspired by the guest bloggers, there are cool prizes.  😉 Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Premature Sending: Give Your Story Time

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Picture Books | 4 comments

Premature Sending: Give Your Story Time

Last February when I was at the SCBWI New York Conference, I received an exciting e-mail from my agent saying that a publisher was interested in my toddler rhyming manuscript, but thought it would work better as a series and did I have any ideas for one? My answer: Of course not—but I’d come up with one! I noodled a bit on a few things and then, when I was going to bed, I asked my subconscious to please come up with a series idea by morning. It obliged and I developed an idea for the different things a toddler might experience throughout the day. We pitched the series idea to that publisher and two others—and they all passed. Disappointing, but not the end of the world. The feedback we got was very helpful so we went back to the proverbial drawing board. I played with turning it into a book about animal identification and doing other concept books, but feedback from the agency was that it needed a stronger narrative arc and a stronger theme tying the books together. Nix the concept idea and focus on a story, however loose. So I started stewing on it, did some brainstorming, and had a general theme. I woke up Monday, July 21 with a couple of lines running through my head and revised the manuscript. I was on a roll so I wrote a second manuscript based on my new theme. I thought they were both good and I was really excited about the theme I came up with. But I didn’t send it to my agent that day. I wanted to. Boy, did I want to. But I held off. Why? Because they were good but they weren’t great—and they needed to be. I knew from experience that (1) other, better ideas might come to me and (2)  I needed to let the rhyme sit and come back to it to make sure the scheme was solid and the rhymes I chose weren’t overused. So I printed them out, set them aside, and began working on another project. I know you’re wondering so I’ll tell you. I let those two manuscripts sit for five days, revised a bit more, and sent them off to my agent. I probably should have given it more time, but I’ve been working with this for so long, the time frame felt right (FADE AWAY sat for weeks after I got feedback from my group, and more weeks after I got feedback from my agent and even more weeks after we had our conversation :-)—see Feedback Feast). I’ll report on the progress of this project as things unfold. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Picture Book Revision Realities

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 8 comments

Picture Book Revision Realities

Just before the holidays I received an email with some wonderful, thought-provoking suggestions from my editor for a new picture book manuscript. Here’s a fun tidbit: The manuscript was 515 words. Her email? 769 words, not counting the salutation and closing :-). I point this out because a lot of times new writers believe that shorter means less work. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it isn’t. To be fair, even though her email was longer than my manuscript, her comments only pointed to a few things, with suggestions for how to approach it. She did a great job of providing examples to help guide me, but kept it pretty broad overall and covering two basic areas: amping up the humor in a few places and expanding my concept/theme. Like any good editor, she left the details up to me. My first attempt was okay, but felt lacking so I’m tackling it again. The moral of this short tale (223 words): Be prepared to revise once a manuscript is accepted. Be open to ideas, but if your vision is different, don’t be afraid to express it. It’s a collaboration, one designed to create the best possible story. With the help of my fabulous agent, I am now able to see what I might do to improve the story and can’t wait to get back to it. Onward! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Writer’s Studio: Finding the Emotional Resonance

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Picture Books, Writer Tips & Tools | 2 comments

Last weekend I had the pleasure and honor of presenting at our 2013 Fall Letters & Lines Conference. The session I gave was called “What’s Your Picture Book About? Developing Effective Story Summaries.” One of the most wonderful things about picture books is that there is such a variety of types; not every picture book is a traditional narrative story with a character, a conflict, and a resolution. However, for those that follow this model, I encouraged writers to go deeper and find and exploit the emotional resonance in their stories. Using Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I posed a series of questions to get us all looking at the story more deeply, beyond just the plot about a boy, Max, who is “naughty,” sent to bed without supper and enters the imaginary world of the wild things where he is in charge. Here are a few questions to get your creativity flowing: How do the circumstances change by the end of the story? How do the new circumstances affect my character?/How does my character change by the end of the story? What single image do you want the child who is reading/listening to the story to walk away with? This is not necessarily an illustration or scene you “see” from the book (though it could be), but an image that encapsulates what your book is truly about. Answering these questions not only will help you develop an effective summary that you can use to entice an editor or agent to want more, but also assist you in making your story one that will stay in the minds and hearts of readers for years to come. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Writing Picture Books: Inside an Illustrator’s Mind

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Picture Books, Writer Tips & Tools | 0 comments

Last month in my post Writing Picture Books: The Evolution of a Picture Book, I mentioned the lovely and talented artist & illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi. This week’s post is all about Debbie’s generosity in sharing her work and process. All of you who have been in this for awhile or have attended my classes, know how important it is to let go of the “movie” of your picture book playing in your head so that the illustrator can do his or her job with your text. In her post How I’m Bored Was Created, Debbie walks through the process of getting the manuscript and how she developed the character and the illustrations that would go with Michael Ian Black’s sparse text. It’s written with her audience in mind, but provides some key insights for those of us who aren’t illustratively inclined. As a writer, I was drawn (no pun intended, but now…pun intended <g>) to her sketchbook in Part I. How many versions she did of the girl and even the potato, in addition to each scene and how the spareness of the scenes left room for reader/listener imagination so they, of course, weren’t bored–BRILLIANT. I always knew illustrators did their own “revisions,” but this was so eye-opening–from how many different types of girls she drew, to where characters should be on the page, to complete overhauls of scenes! And I couldn’t help noticing all of the wonderful bonus stuff she has – activities, videos, and more to engage kids who go along with her on this journey. Read, experience, enjoy, and revel in this marvelous experience! Go to all four parts – it’s so much fun (and so is Debbie)! (Can’t wait for Debbie and Michael’s next collaboration – I’M NAKED!)   Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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