by Urania Smith

This past year was incredible. I won a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship and got the opportunity to work with the awesomely funny Tara Lazar. We polished three manuscripts, two that came out of last year’s Storystorm. I helped start a non-profit to assist writers of color with professional development. In our first year, KidLit Nation sent 10 diverse writers to SCBWI conferences around the country. And somewhere in there, I took a spontaneous vacation at a random B&B in Canada and ran into this guy.

Yes! That’s Jon Klassen ya’ll!

That smile was pasted on my face for weeks.

So, here I am at the start of a new year, kicking off Storystorm.

30 ideas in 30 days. Simple right?

Heck no!

I have more thoughts about not having ideas than thinking up new ones.

I worry. . .

  • What if I never have another idea in my life?
  • What if this is it?
  • What if I’m finished?
  • I’m all washed up, and I haven’t been published yet.
  • Ahhh!!!!!!!!!!!

If you’re like me, you’ve bitten your nails to nubs, and have begun to consider each new idea a fluke. When I’m suffering from Insecure Writer Syndrome, I have a temporary cure. . .


I remind myself it’s a bunny eat bunny world, and bunnies die everyday. I’ve been in the kidlit game fourteen years. I can’t stop now.

Then, I brush my shoulders off, bump some “Lose Yourself,” and I let the ideas flow.

So Storystormers, we’re about to get pumped to met this challenge.

First, I want you to slip on your favorite hoodie. Not cool enough to own one?

Rock that Christmas sweater you wore last week.

Next, look yourself in a mirror. A mirror in a grungy bathroom works best.

Now shadow box. Who knows why we’re doing this part. But trust me, we look good doing it.

Now, we’re ready. . .
To take on Storystorm as we channel Eminem.

If you had
One month
To win prizes
And write as many ideas
In as many days.
Would you capture that moment.
Or just let it slip?


We’re armed and steady,
pencil sharpened, minds are heavy.
There’s drool on our shirts already
coffee smells so heady,
We’re nervous, but on the surface we are calm and ready
To drop 30 book ideas,
But we keep on forgettin’
What we wrote out, critique peeps groan so loud.
“Page is full. . . but what’s this crap you just wrote down!”
We’re chokin’, how, everybodys jokin’ now
Months done, times up, over, blaow!
Snap back to reality
Oh, kidlit writers, we choked.
We’re so mad, but we won’t
Give up easily? No.
We will make it, we know
Just keep writing, we close.
We write books, and we dope
Even if we all broke.
We’re not stagnant, we grow.
We tow ourselves back to the chair alone,
And hit the pad again, yo
This whole writing things slow.
But we’ve learned, and we know,
We better capture this moment
And never let it go.

You better lose yourself in this month, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go.
You only got thirty days, for your ideas to flow.
Storystorm comes only once in a year
so you better.

When these 30 days are up, I want you to stand up from that chair.
Lean back and nod your head.
Because we did it. 30 ideas in 30 days.
Then, I want you to drop that pencil like a boss.

Yep, that’s right.
We out.

Urania Smith has a B.A. in English and has been writing for children for 14 years. She is the New Member Chairperson and a Diversity Committee Member for the Illinois chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Urania is the winner of the 2017 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship in the Picture Book category and is mentored by author Tara Lazar. Urania loves to cook, garden, decorate, and DIY projects. She is from Chicago and currently lives in the South Suburbs of Chicago with her family and the laziest shih tzu on the planet, Lucy. Follow her on Twitter @UraniaSmith.

Prize Details

In honor of Urania’s post and the completion of her WNDB mentorship, Tara Lazar is giving away a half-hour Skype consultation to talk about any aspect of kidlit.

Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!