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It’s NOVEMBER ALREADY?
Well, almost. October will whip by in a sugar-induced haze. Especially because a) I’ll buy candy way too early and eat it all; and b) my kids will change their minds about their Halloween costumes umpteen times. “I wanna be Frankie Stein! No, Draculaura! No, a zombie mermaid! Ooh, I know, a picture book author! I can trick-or-treat in my jammies with a story stuck to my forehead! You’re sorta like a zombie, right, Mommy?”
October is NOT the month of jack-o-lanterns, candy corn (BLECH!) and costumes. It’s the month of PiBoIdMo-eve!
Our 5th anniversary logo, banners and badges have been designed by the kawaii-cutie, author-illustrator Joyce Wan.
Joyce knows my penchant for hot-air balloons. (My husband almost proposed on one. But I think he was afraid I’d drop the ring.)
So this year’s theme is IDEAS TAKING FLIGHT!
WAIT A MINUTE! DID THE BANNER UP TOP SAY 5TH ANNIVERSARY?!
Yep, it sure did. Which means I’ll have to come up with something super-snazzy for this year. So how ’bout JANE YOLEN?
Besides the legendary Ms. Yolen, here are some of the authors and illustrators who’ll be blogging all November long, helping you to fill your idea notebook with 30 picture book concepts:
- Drew Daywalt
- Michael Garland
- Melissa Guion
- Leeza Hernandez
- Lenore & Daniel Jennewein
- Renee Kurilla
- Mike Allegra
- Elizabeth Rose Stanton
- Bitsy Kemper
- Julie Falatko
- Adam Lehrhaupt
- Wendy Martin
- The McQueen Brothers
- Pat Miller
- Pat Zietlow Miller
- Anne Marie Pace
- Betsy Devany
- Paul Schmid
- Annette Simon
- Tammi Sauer
- Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
- Kami Kinard
- Dianne de las Casas
- Dorina Lazo Gilmore
- James Proimos
- Marcie Colleen
- Karen Henry Clark
- Maria Gianferrari
- Laurie Keller
- Katie Davis
- Ryan Sias
- Zachariah Ohora
- Kelly Light
- Steve Barr
- Greg Pizzoli
And even more to be announced…
Official registration will begin on this blog on OCTOBER 24th and run through NOVEMBER 4th. Watch for it! (It’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy if you just follow this blog. See left column.) Only officially registered participants will be eligible for PRIZES, like a consultation with a picture book agent!
But you can grab the “Official Participant” Badge NOW and proudly slap it on your blog or social network site. Kindly link it back to taralazar.com/piboidmo so folks know where to join the challenge. You can also grab the “Ideas Taking Flight!” slogan above.
And here’s some adorbs lightbulb balloons! Use them when you’re blogging about PiBoIdMo to express yourself!
The only thing that’s missing is the PiBoIdMo 2013 merchandise to benefit RIF—like your official idea notebook—so I’ll be announcing that soon.
In the meantime, let us know how YOU’RE gearing up for PiBoIdMo. Blog about it or leave a comment below. What are you looking forward to this November?
Me? Tonight I’m hosting one of NJ-SCBWI’s PiBoIdMo kick-off parties at the Manville Public Library. Maybe I’ll see some of you there? I promise I won’t be a zombie.
by guest blogger Julie Falatko
In 2011, after several months of taking picture book writing seriously, I heard about PiBoIdMo and thought, “Sure, why not?”
If I’d realized how much Picture Book Idea Month would change everything, I might not have been so glib about it. But at the time I didn’t realize that the work done during PiBoIdMo would get me an agent and a book deal.
That year, I came up with 48 ideas, one of which was good. I didn’t realize that at the time. At the time I thought they were all good. But as I wrote them up, I learned that sometimes what seems like a good picture book idea…maybe isn’t. Or at least not for me. I thought a story about a stalk of depressed broccoli would be great (spoiler: it wasn’t). A girl who puts on ridiculous clothes every morning? Snore. How about a kid who wants to be a writer? How about I bonk the reader on the head with boring bricks?
But PiBoIdMo 2011 took a wrench to an Idea Faucet that was rusted shut in my head, loosened it up, and oiled it with a big can of Pay Attention.
After that November, the ideas kept coming—drip, drip, drip—slowly, and, in most cases, terribly. But I like my brain. And I trust it enough to listen to it. So when it told me an idea, no matter how ridiculous, I wrote it down.
On November 1, 2012, I started my second year of PiBoIdMo. What I didn’t know was that my brain had gotten a much bigger wrench for the occasion. And instead of opening up the Idea Faucet a little more, my brain clean knocked the whole faucet off—THWACK!—and let the ideas spurt up like a fountain at the park.
November 2012 I got 30 ideas. Four were good. One I wrote up immediately and it was better than anything I’d written before. Something was happening.
And then one night in late November I was making dinner, thinking about how I like books that let kids know we trust them and think they’re smart. And FWOOSH there it was, an idea, but more than an idea, the entire story, not just the plot, but the words, dumped into my head.
I ran. Bolted from the kitchen, so afraid of losing the sentences swimming in my head. I yelled to my husband that he had to finish dinner, and typed up my story as fast as I could. It was exhilarating and maybe a little scary.
When I was done, I had SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK). Snappsy was the story I sent to Danielle Smith at Foreword Literary. She liked it and asked for more—I sent her the story from the one good idea from PiBoIdMo 2011 and the other good one I’d written during PiBoIdMo 2012. She became my agent. And SNAPPSY was my first book deal, on July 16. It’ll be published by Viking Children’s in the summer of 2015.
Since November, the ideas have kept coming. None have come out as quickly as SNAPPSY, but some have been close. I keep notebooks and pencils everywhere. And I still write down everything my brain tells me to in my PiBoIdMo notebook. Because while some may seem like a random string of words (“accidental octopus/Georgie, oh Georgie”), or just my brain having fun (what am I supposed to so with “Mr. Codfish is quite pleased with his new trousers,” exactly?) those ideas pave the way for the ones that become good stories.
Writing is practice. Preparing for writing takes practice too. PiBoIdMo forces you to play. Thirty ideas is a lot of ideas. Not all of them are going to be brilliant or fully formed. Probably very few of them will be. But you write down what you can, and you teach yourself to look for ideas in the world around you and to listen to your brain when it whispers in your ear. PiBoIdMo is fast, but writing well can take time. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Take yourself seriously, and trust in the process.
Thanks for sharing your success, Julie, and congratulations on SNAPPSY, which I cannot wait to read!
I hope many of you will join us for the 5th Anniversary of PiBoIdMo this November!
Julie Falatko lives in Maine, where she works tirelessly trying to bribe her four children into doing housework so she can spend more time writing. In the end, they just bake cookies and call it a day. She blogs at worldofjulie.com, tweets @JulieFalatko, and reviews picture books for Katie Davis’s Brain Burps About Books podcast. She can often be found transcribing her brain’s random word association games into her PiBoIdMo notebook.
Ya know Tammi, right? She’s the most prolific picture book author this side of the Atlantic! (And that side, too.)
An annual contributor to Picture Book Idea Month, Tammi has dispensed invaluable picture book pointers about story structure, celebrating the weird stuff in life, and putting a twist on the familiar. She’s also a regular PiBoIdMo participant, and NUGGET AND FANG is her success story from the November 2009 event!
So the unlikely underwater duo are here today to chomp away! (Don’t worry, Tammi’s here, too. Fang didn’t gobble her up.)
Tammi, what about unlikely friendship stories makes them so fun to write?
If two characters are at odds in some big way, that immediately builds in tension and offers real deal conflict. This can provide great opportunities for humor, too. That’s fun stuff! Some unlikely friendships deal with issues such as neatness versus messiness or quiet versus loud. The quandary that my characters face is clear–sharks and minnows aren’t supposed to be friends because everybody knows sharks EAT minnows.
Sharks are popular characters these days! What makes FANG stand out in the world of storybook selachimorpha? (Yes, that is a real word. I looked it up. Honest.)
I love that I have a contender in storybook selachimorpha. It sounds super sophisticated. As for Fang, he stands out among regular sharks because he has a huge heart. Yes, he’s toothy, but, holy mackerel, my guy is irresistible. If I were a minnow, I’d be honored to be his friend.
What are some of your favorite unlikely friendship stories/books?
My Favorite Unlikely Friendship Story of 2012 was BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. That book is brilliant in 2,465 different ways. Plus, Ame has blue hair. (Tara’s note: sometimes it’s pink or purple, or even rainbow leopard.)
A fun and endearing unlikely friendship story that just came out this past February is WOOBY AND PEEP written by my oh-so-fabulous critique partner Cynthea Liu, illustrated by Mary Peterson. (Hey, WOOBY AND PEEP are coming soon to a blog near you. Umm, this one.)
If NUGGET and FANG could endorse their book personally, what do you think they would say?
Nugget: Holy mackerel! Get your fins on this book. It’s FANG-tastic!
Fang: Sink your teeth into our book. It’s a total NUGGET of awesomeness!
Well, I’ve got a nugget of awesomeness for you, dear blog readers: a “NUGGET AND FAN” (not a typo–you’re a fan already, right?) prize pack, including a signed first edition, a teacher’s poster, and adorable tattoos you can slap on any fin (or bicep). Just leave a comment or question for Tammi to enter and a winner will be chomped up later this month! In the meantime, go visit these seaworthy sidekicks!
Last November this blog hosted “Picture Book Idea Month,” a daily exercise for picture book writers. The object was to create one new picture book idea a day. (As an added benefit, it kept us from having NaNoWriMo envy.)
When I tried PiBoIdMo on my own the year prior, I came up with the concept for THE MONSTORE, which became my first book to be purchased. It’s set for release with Simon & Schuster in 2012. And, this week, my editor is meeting with the art director to talk about illustrators. Oh yeah, it’s a fun time.
Then this week I got word that Diana Murray won the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant with one of her PiBoIdMo 2009 ideas! Wow! So I asked her to tell the story…take it away, Diana!
When Tara announced PiBoIdMo on the blueboards, I was thrilled. One idea per day was something I could handle time-wise and I was looking forward to an excuse to ramp up my picture book writing. It was more challenging than I expected, but the best part was, it helped me figure out my main problem: I’m a compulsive writer. As soon as I think of an idea, I run for my laptop and I can’t stop writing until I get the whole story out of me. I literally find myself waking in the middle of the night to jot things down. In other words, I’m completely nuts. In many ways, this can be a good thing. Motivation has never been an issue for me. But participating in Piboidmo forced me to delay my compulsion to write about anything that popped into my head, and for me, that ended up being more efficient.
I came up with most of my ideas during little “holes” in time throughout the day, like while pushing the stroller or putting my kids to sleep. Some of these ideas were pretty awful, like: “Tabby Moves to Dogtown” and “Mabel’s Amazing Hat,” about a do-everything hat with a remote control. Ha! That one still cracks me up. Some of the ideas were worth investigating and I kept getting tempted to drop everything and start writing. But I held back in the interest of coming up with at least one new idea each day. I knew that if I started writing, I wouldn’t be able to stop and move on to thinking of other ideas. I held off as long as I could.
Finally, on idea #23, I couldn’t take it anymore. The idea of a stubborn, messy witch who keeps losing things resonated with me (Gee, I wonder why?). It’s a very personal experience, of course. An idea that works for one person may not appeal to somebody else. But for me, it just clicked. For a few days, I thought about it and planned it out in my head. Actually, idea #23 had been brewing since idea #1 (to borrow a metaphor from my MC, Grimelda). That’s the good thing about ideas: even the bad ones can ultimately lead to something that inspires you. By the time I started writing, I was overflowing with creative juices and the whole manuscript just poured out.
So, long story short, I’m a PiBoIdMo loser! My compulsion got the best of me, and I didn’t get past idea #23. But the good news is, I won the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant and learned something in the process.
For the record, I announced my participation on the blueboards but not on Tara’s blog. Let’s just say I was a little new to the concept of blogs at the time. Luckily, I was able to read all the inspiring posts after the event.
Congraulations, Diana! I hope you’ll let us know when your manuscript gets purchased!
Do you have a PiBoIdMo success story to share?
This is the second art gallery by illustrators who participated in November’s 30-picture-book-ideas-in-30-days PiBoIdMo challenge. You can see ideas taking shape–in the form of characters. (If you didn’t already know, editors are keen on character-driven picture books these days.) And just think, once these stories are published, you can say “I knew them when…”
“This is a sketch from my story about going to Nana’s house. I’m entitling it ‘Two Kids in a Sandbox’ until I evolve the story more. I sketch, then I ink using a light table. I scan the piece into Photoshop where I color with a Wacom Tablet.”
“I have not taken lessons as an illustrator. I am a ‘wannabe’ and this is the first year I started adding drawings to my story ideas. So as simple as they are, I am showing them to you. I am, you could say, ‘A work in progress.’”
“Regarding the first sketch, this is how I brainstorm sometimes and I figured I’d try it for PiBoIdMo. As you can tell, um, my sketches are VERY rough.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of cute and scary. The monster guy in the second drawing was inspired by Little Nightmares, which I’d eventually like to include in a picture book. The girl is a character I came up with for my Snarkface cards and she demanded to be included in the drawing as well.
“The third sketch looks drawn on paper, but I actually did it in Corel Painter. I find that experimenting with different virtual media is fun, plus I enjoy trying out different styles. I did this sketch to accompany a text picture book idea. One of the reasons I enjoyed PiBoIdMo so much was because it not only inspired me as a writer but also as an illustrator.”
One more gallery to come, kidlit fans! Stop back soon for more insight into the illustrative process.
Drawings and sketches and art, oh my! Several children’s illustrators participated in November’s PiBoIdMo challenge by moleskining their way through the month. Below you can see what makes an artist’s brush tick…err, I mean flick.
And…this is just Gallery #1 in a series of 3. More illustrators and galleries to come!
“I’ve had these ideas bouncing around in my head for a while now, thanks to PiBoldMo, they are now on paper where they hope to grow into picture book dummies one day.”
“Attached is a sketch of the two main characters I got from this little sketch session: Warm & Toasty. Warm is a sweet cup of hot cocoa, and Toasty is her buttery wheat bread buddy. The VERY rough idea is that they’re used to being served up together on cold winter days, but the problem they’re having is that neither wants the other to shine too brightly. A friendship dealing with a little jealousy I guess. I also included my entire sketchbook page from that day as well, complete with scribbles and misspellings, just to give insight into the different ways illustrators work.”
“The working title is “Robot Rodeo,” made up this summer while illustrating the bookshelf of the main character in Heather Burnell’s picture book, Bedtime Monster. It popped back into my head when I was trying to come up with an idea for day three of the PiBoIdMo challenge. The title was about all I had until I started sketching, and then the robot steer with his knobs and levers began to take on a sort of gentle steampunkish look, which gave me a bit more of a hook for the story. I’ve got a very rough first draft down, featuring a showdown between one of the battered old cowboy robots, Piston Pete, and the ‘shiny stranger,’ who’s, um, not from around here.”
More galleries to come, kidlit fans! Stay tuned…
Thanks to illustrator Bonnie Adamson, everyone who completed the 30 ideas in 30 days PiBoIdMo challenge has a winner badge to proudly display on their blog or website. Pick it up here!
If you’d like, link the badge back to the first PiBoIdMo post, so curious visitors will know what it is. This isn’t a requirement, just a suggestion.
Onto the Naoko Stoop print winners.
The winners of the prints were not drawn by random. Rather, I chose two people who were, in my opinion, the two most enthusiastic PiBoIdMo supporters. They commented frequently during the month and they both ended the event with nearly twice the number of ideas they were supposed to create.
Congratulations KELLY FINEMAN and JEWEL SAMPLE! You’ll receive an email to arrange delivery of your prizes.
The random winner of the signed Karma Wilson book Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip is BETH COULTON! You’ll receive an email asking for an address.
The random winner of the signed Jennifer Swanson Penny and Rio book is LORI DEGMAN! An email’s coming your way, too.
Congratulations again to all the winners! You all deserve thanks for making PiBoIdMo a success!
And…stay tuned for a PiBoIdMo Art Gallery, brought to you by the many talented illustrators who sketched their way through November.
Without further ado (I know you’ve been waiting all day), here are the PiBoIdMo Grand Prize winners! With the help of Random.org, winners were selected from the eligible pool of 51 picture book writers who signed the PiBoIdMo pledge.
Grand Prize Winner #1:
AUNTIE FLAMINGO! You have been assigned to agent Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency Inc.
Grand Prize Winner #2:
AMBER ALVAREZ! You have been assigned to agent Lauren E. MacLeod of Strothman Agency.
Grand Prize Winner #3:
LONI EDWARDS! You have been assigned to agent Elana Roth of Caren Johnson Literary Agency.
Congratulations to the three winners! You’ll receive an email soon with instructions asking you to contact your assigned agent by December 7th. So start picking out your 5 best ideas!
Congratulations to everyone else who completed the month with 30 ideas. It was quite a challenge and YOU DID IT! Please come back next week! There will be a winner badge for your blog and more prizes: the Karma Wilson signed book, Jennifer Swanson signed book, and the Naoko Stoop prints.
Thanks again to everyone for making PiBoIdMo a success! See you next year! (Um, well, I hope I see you before that! Lots more kidlit goodies to come!)
OK, time’s up! Do you have 30 new picture book ideas? You do? Excellent! Time to take the PiBoIdMo pledge to qualify for one of our keeno-Yaccarino prizes. (Sorry, there are no Dan Yaccarino books to give away. I just like that phrase.)
I do solemnly swear that I have faithfully executed
the PiBoIdMo challenge, and will to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into picture books from the list of 30 I have created.
Now I’m not saying all 30 ideas have to be good. Some may just be titles, some may be character quirks. Some may be problems and some may create problems when you sit down to write. Some may be high-concept and some barely a concept. But…they’re yours, all yours. Small seeds that may sprout into a story.
You have until December 3rd at 11:59:59PM EST to sign the pledge. Remember, this is an honor system pledge. Those who sign will be entered into the random grand prize drawing: review of your best 5 ideas by a literary agent. There are three grand prizes! Thanks to Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency, Inc., Lauren E. MacLeod of Strothman Agency, and Elana Roth of Caren Johnson Literary Agency for volunteering their time and expertise to PiBoIdMo.
In addition, I have two adorable kidlit prints by illustrator Naoko Stoop to give away–something to keep you inspired throughout the year.
Winners will be drawn and alerted on December 4th. Grand prize winners must contact their assigned agent no later than December 7th. Winners will be given full instructions…when they win!
If you’re an illustrator who participated and want to display your artwork, when you sign the pledge, please let me know that I should contact you to collect images. I’ll create a special PiBoIdMo art gallery to showcase your sketches.
Illustrator Ryan Hipp, who so generously created the PiBoIdMo logo and participator badge, is busy making you an “I did it!” badge to proudly display on your blog. Everyone’s a winner, so it will be posted when the grand prize winners are announced.
Finally, a ginormous THANK YOU to everyone who participated in PiBoIdMo, from the guest bloggers to the aspiring writers and illustrators to the authors and agents. This has been a inspiring month full of creativity and imagination and, not to sound corny, but I couldn’t have done it without your support and enthusiasm!
So enough of the sappy stuff, go sign the pledge. When you leave a comment, be sure to put your email address in the email field so I know how to contact you. You do not have to put your email address in the comment itself. And, you do not have to submit your 30 ideas–they are yours. Treasure them. Just your name and “I did it!” will suffice. Let everyone see your virtual John Hancock. Or maybe that should be a virtual Jon Scieszka?