Thursday, October 24, 2013


Well, folks, it looks like I'm now an "Official Participant" in PiBoIdMo. And just what is "PiBoIdMo"? Glad you asked. It stands for Picture Book Idea Month. Clever, eh?

So now I guess you want to know more about it? Yes? Great. Here's the scoop:

* This is a special opportunity set up with children's writers in mind. As creator Tara Lazar says: 'The challenge is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas and your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass.'

* Participants will have access to daily blog posts by authors, illustrators, editors and other professionals who specialize in children's literature, that will hopefully serve as inspiration for the creations of a new file of story ideas.

* This is the fifth year for PiBoIdMo. When it was started in 2008 Tara Lazar was the only participant. Then in 2009, she hosted it on her blog. 2012, over 750 writers participated. She is hoping for even more this year.

* The event will take place during the month of November 2013, but registration is open now and will continue through the first week of November. When the event concludes in early December, participants will be asked to "take the PiBoIdMo Pledge," which states you have completed the challenge. Don't worry, no one will check up on you; you will be on the honor system.

* If you register for the challenge, you will be eligible for some neat prizes:
  • Feedback from literary agents
  • Original sketches by picture book illustrators
  • Picture book critiques from published authors
  • Signed picture books
  • Jewelry
  • Other Cool Stuff
You can't win if you don't register. 

* Guest bloggers for the month include an impressive list of kid lit professionals including (but not limited to):
Peter Brown; James Burks; Dianne de Las Casas; Kelly DiPucchio; Julie Hedlund; Carter Higgins; Emma Ledbetter, Assistant Editor, Atheneum; Wendy Martin; Debbie Ridpath Ohi; and Corey Rosen Schwartz

(Click on the names to read their guest posts)

Join me, and lots of other writers, for this sure-to-be fun event. This is my first year of doing it, so if you're a "newbie" too, don't worry about it. We can have fun together!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Picture Book University

I have been reading and following along on the first lesson in Pam Calvert's online Picture Book University. For Week Number 1, we were given an assignment to go to our library and pick out at least 20-25 picture books, read them and analyze them in terms of genre. In doing so, I found two very delightful books.

The first is called LOOKING AT LINCOLN by Maria Kalman. A little girl visits the Lincoln Memorial and tells the reader a story about him as she goes along. It's a biography of Lincoln from a child's perspective. It was a fun book to read and it gave me an idea of what to do with a picture book biography I'm working on about Frank Lloyd Wright.

The second book is called JAZZMATAZZ. It was written by Stephanie Calmenson and illustrated by Bruce Degen. The text is written in rhyme, which is done very well (which, as many of you know is hard to do) and is truly a delight. The rhythm and the word play are fun to read and the illustrations just make it so much better.

There’s a note in the back of the book where the author explains the idea for the story. She was emailing the illustrator, discussing the cold weather. Bruce mentioned that the field mice were coming into the house to get warm. The previous night one had walked across his foot while he was washing the dishes and then it ran under the piano. Stephanie said, “Train the mouse to run on the piano – and play jazz!” That’s where the idea for the book came from. The story starts with a mouse coming into the house, walking across the peoples’ feet and then jumping onto the piano where it starts playing jazz.

Isn’t that a great way to be inspired to write a picture book?!?

BTW, if you want to learn how to write children’s picture books, Pam Calvert’s online Picture Book University is FREE! Yes, I said FREE! The course is eight weeks long and covers several aspects of writing such as the different genres for picture books, storyboarding, and character driven picture books. Check out her website! You’ll be glad you did!