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Here are the rest of the prize winners! I’ll be contacting you via email, so watch those inboxes!

All winners were selected randomly via and “independently audited” by Lori Degman (thanks, Lori). They were announced live on the Facebook group on Sunday morning.

Please see the full prize list here—and if you haven’t won but like what you see, please consider patronizing these wonderful vendors this holiday season! Many donated their prizes to an event they had never heard of. Let’s show them how worthwhile their support was!


Amanda Jaros, Bethany Telles, Rick Starkey, and Colleen Jensen


Betsy Devany


Donna J. Shepherd


Tammi Truax


Christine Poreba


Julie Falatko and Suzie F.


Melissa Kelley and Mona Pease


Heather Jackson


Kathy May


Pat Haapaniemi
Cathy Mealey
Debra Elliott
Kirk Livingston
Amanda Kastner
Diandra Mae
Erin Pearson
Chitra Soundar
Susan Harrison
Michelle D Evans
Julie Dillemuth

Congratulations to all the winners!

Here are the three PiBoIdMo GRAND PRIZE winners, chosen with help from and “independent auditors” Brook Gideon and Julie Falatko:





Congratulations, writers! You will each be assigned to a picture book agent who will review your best five ideas and suggest which ones might be the best to pursue as manuscripts.

You’ll receive further details via email from me soon. In the meantime, start writing up your best five ideas as pitches!

Tomorrow (really later today) I’ll pick more WINNERS for all of the stupendous prizes—picture book critiques, original art, jewelry, journals, books…

In the meantime, please give Beth, Sophie and Peg hearty congratulations!

Today is the last day of pre-, post- and all things PiBoIdMo. It certainly has been an amazing event this year and I have all of you to thank. Thanks to the guest bloggers, authors, illustrators and agents who offer prizes. And thanks to all the participants because your enthusiasm for creating stories for children is what makes November my favorite and most productive month of the year!

Here are some fun stats from PiBoIdMo:

  • Over 570 registered participators
  • 29,633 web hits for November (did not include pre- or post-PiBo, which puts the number around 40,000)
  • Average 988 daily web hits
  • The most active time of day for comments was 1:00pm
  • The illustrator posts were, on average, more popular than author posts (sorry authors!)
  • The most active day was November 1st with 1995 web hits
  • 310 PiBoIdMo WINNERS completed the challenge (a 54% success rate!)
  • PiBoIdMo was ranked as high as #8 out of 15,601 book blogs on
  • PiBoIdMo participants created AT LEAST 9,300 new picture book ideas

Wow! That’s a lot of potential new stories to get into the hands of children…who will potentially find their new MOST FAVORITEST book in the bunch. Time to get writing!

Speaking of writing, PiBoIdMo inspired a new challenge from Julie Hedlund: the 12 in 12 Challenge. Picture book writers are encouraged to write 12 manuscripts in 12 months. Truth be told, this is my goal every year but I have yet to make it. Spurred on by the 12×12 community, I think this is totally doable!

Also, don’t forget to bring your idea journal over to Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee in May! Write seven first drafts in seven days.

I’d like to remind everyone that the PiBoIdMo Cafe Press shop will remain open year-round. Every purchase earns $3 for RIF and the Mount Prospect Elementary School Library. So far we’ve only raised $75. We can do much better! Get your mug, tote or tee today! (Please be aware that neither logo designer Bonnie Adamson nor I make any money from the CafePress shop. All proceeds are donated.)

Finally, I’d LOVE to hear your FEEDBACK about the event.

Who would you like to see guest blog next year?

What could be done better next year?

The PiBoIdMo Facebook group was Mindy Alyse Weiss’s idea and it is a warm, encouraging community that will remain open year-round.

What other ideas do you have for PiBoIdMo as it rolls into its fourth year?

And once again, thank you, thank you. You’ve truly made PiBoIdMo 2011 an event to remember!

More PiBoIdMo success stories! Many thanks to Mindy Alyse Weiss for pulling these stories together.

I hope when YOU have a success to share, you’ll contact me. I love to hear how your ideas went from pencil-scribble to published! And I don’t define “success” just as being pubbed. Win a grant, a contest, secure an agent–anything goes. So here goes…

1. Amy Dixon

Being married to a relentless distance runner means that every November, there is a marathon on the schedule. Lucky for me, November is also Picture Book Idea Month, and I had long been lamenting the lack of picture books about running. Looking back at my spreadsheet for 2010, the entry for November 5th says, “Marathon Mouse. Story of a mouse who lives in NYC right under the start line (Verrazano bridge)  and decides that it is his life’s dream to particpate in the NYC marathon.” That’s it. The beginnings of a story. Flash forward to August 2011, where I received one of the best e-mails of my life. A lovely editor at Sky Pony Press likes Marathon Mouse and wants to publish it! The story could end there, and would still be a dream-come-true. But I decided to contact an agent I had recently queried with a different story and tell her of my offer. After a flurry of e-mails and phone calls, I signed with Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. In the course of one day, I had gone from struggling picture book writer, to agented and soon-to-be-published! So keep your eyes peeled in Fall 2012 for a picture book titled, MARATHON MOUSE. It’s by me. And it happened in part because I took on the challenge of coming up with 30 ideas in 30 days!

I also have a longer version of the story on my blog, but it doesn’t mention PiBoIdMo:

2. Diana Murray

Diana Murray was thrilled to receive the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for her rhyming picture book manuscript about a witch. She came up with a few different versions of the idea during the first PiBoIdMo. You can read more about her experience here: Diana will always be grateful to Tara for starting an event that helped her streamline her writing process. And now, she’s ready for another month of fun and inspiration!

Diana’s website:

3. Rebecca Colby

This year, Rebecca participated in her third PiBoIdMo. Following a picture book workshop last year that challenged her to alter a well-known fairytale, she decided to generate a few ideas for fractured fairy tales. She found the inspiration she needed from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s guest post on Day 29 that recommended participants do just that–transform “something old into something new.”

The result was an idea for a Cinderella story with monsters entitled MONSTERELLA.

Rebecca says, “I fell in love with the idea of a fairy godmonster who magics a spider into a monster truck.” Rebecca wrote the manuscript soon after and it went on to win the 2011 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant.

Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected pantyhose,worked for a Russian comedian, taught English in Taiwan, and traveled the world as a tour director. She currently works as a librarian. Born in America, Rebecca now lives in England with her husband and two daughters. More information about Rebecca and her writing can be found at her website:

Erin Murphy (l.) and Liz Garton Scanlon at the 2010 Newbery-Caldecott Award Banquet, where Marla Frazee, illustrator of Liz's All the World (Beach Lane/S&S), was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

by Erin Murphy

So, you’ve got 30 picture book ideas. Now what do you do?

Keep them. All of them. Do you have an idea file of some kind? You should. It’s obvious that you might turn to the idea file when you’re casting about for something new to write, but it also can do wonders for unlocking writers block. You never know when some seemingly unrelated idea will be just the thing to add the missing layer to another piece. Sometimes it’s less direct than that; just reading through ideas is a way of getting you out of a stuck place, much like taking a walk or strolling through a gallery can knock you out of a creative rut.

Sort through them to find the most promising ideas to spend more time with. Laura Purdie Salas had some great suggestions about how to evaluate your ideas last week.

Budget time to work on each of those most promising ideas. Not just once, but two or three times per idea before you decide if they’re worth pursuing further. Even if you schedule 20 minutes of writing time a day, you can spend 10 on a new idea, 10 on an idea you’ve already worked on some, and by the new year, you’ll most likely have a couple of solid ideas that are coming together into a real picture book manuscript.

Some ideas seem to have promise, but they resist any time and attention you give them. This is a sign that they need to sit in your subconscious for awhile. They will most likely kick and scream when they’re ready.

After a concentrated creative period like PiBoIdMo, you’ve got a great opportunity to take stock of where and when you do your most creative thinking. Did you get your best ideas in the car while waiting for your kid to come out of her piano lesson? Well then, perhaps a copy of your promising idea list needs to stay in the car so you can keep using that time for best results.

I’m not talking about evaluating the idea; you’ve already done that. I’m talking about general trends. Try putting all 30 ideas into categories (character-driven, concept-driven, voice-driven, plot-driven; lyrical, funny, quiet; spontaneous-feeling or intellectual…). Are you heavily weighted towards one type of story? Is that your strength? (Or, conversely, are you limiting yourself unnecessarily?) What research can you do about that type of story to help you grow in your picture book writing craft?

Don’t forget to go back to that full list of ideas now and then. Who knows what discarded idea ends up turning out to have legs! Kathy Duval’s I Think I See a UFO, forthcoming from Disney-Hyperion, to be illustrated by the wonderful Adam McCauley, was a nearly discarded idea that found a home at the first publisher we sent it to!

Erin Murphy was born and raised in Arizona, and founded EMLA in Flagstaff in 1999. She works with publishers of all sizes all over the U.S., and has placed clients’ books with every major children’s house in New York and Boston, but she cut her teeth in regional publishing. She began her career at Northland Publishing/Rising Moon Books for Young Readers (a beloved decades-old Flagstaff company that was bought out in 2007), eventually becoming editor-in-chief, and was a member of the board of directors of PubWest, a professional development organization for small and mid-sized publishers in the West.

Erin represents writers and writer-illustrators of picture books, novels for middle-graders and young adults, and select nonfiction. She is especially drawn to strong characters and heart-centered stories. In her spare time she loves walking, baking, kayaking, knitting, traveling, reading (often audiobooks), and powering through her Netflix queue. You can read more about Erin’s tastes and background in interviews here and here. She now blogs at and tweets @AgentErinMurphy.

by Janee Trasler

Generating ideas comes easily for me. I am participating in my own private PiBoIdMo every day of the year. I jot down ideas on napkins; I write them on my hand; I email them to myself; I leave myself idea voice mails. I’ve got no problem with ideas.

It’s getting those ideas out of my head and onto paper I struggle with.

You’ve probably met people who get an idea on Monday and by Wednesday, have a polished, publishable, picture book manuscript ready to send, right? I’m in a critique group with those people.

I am not one of them.

My process looks something like this.

  1. Get brilliant idea.
  2. Decide that I am a genius.
  3. Jot down a few notes.
  4. Let idea brew.
  5. Critique way too early in process.
  6. Decide that I am not a genius.
  7. Decide, in fact, that I suck.
  8. Stuff notes in deepest, darkest corner of drawer.
  9. Get sudden inspiration while washing dishes.
  10. Pull notes out of drawer.
  11. Reread notes.
  12. Decide that I am genius after all.
  13. Jot down new inspiration.
  14. Let brew.
  15. Make storyboard.
  16. Revise storyboard 42 times.
  17. Write first draft.
  18. Send to critique group.
  19. Wait for them to confirm genius.
  20. Get feedback from critique group.
  21. Decide that critique group doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
  22. Stew.
  23. Decide that critique group is genius after all.
  24. Revise.
  25. Send to agent.
  26. Wait for her to confirm genius.

I could probably trim a lot of self bashing and praising from my process, but the other parts, the brewing, story boarding, and revising are really important for me. I get an idea and actively brainstorm it for a bit, but then I need to put it away and let my subconscious work on it.

It gives my idea time to grow. It allows me to make connections I might not have otherwise made.

I used to think of this as a bad thing. I compared myself to the idea-on-Monday-polished-draft-on-Wednesday people and felt lesser, but then realized it’s just the way I work. The time I spend brewing my idea, they often spend looking for one.

The other part of my process that I’d be loath to lose is the storyboarding phase. I get a lot of the kinks worked out here before it ever goes to draft form. I number a piece of paper 1 through 15 to represent picture book spreads. I tentatively write the exposition on the first line and the resolution on line 14. I pace out the major plot points on lines 2 through 13 and the wrap up on line 15.

As I’m playing with the storyboard, I know I’ve got the half-title spread to steal if I really need an extra spread to complete my arc.

I find it so much easier to revise the storyboard than a draft, that I will try things here that I might not try if I went straight from notes to writing. There’s a lot less risk to trying something at this stage.

I congratulate you all for participating in PiBoIdMo, and whether it’s ready next Wednesday or three years from now, I look forward to adding your picture books to my collection!

Janee Trasler has illustrated 19 books and written/illustrated four of her own. Her latest book, CAVEMAN, A B.C. STORY (which by the way, sat in a drawer for six months “brewing”) was published August, 2011 by Sterling. You can catch the book trailer here:

and see Janee’s illustration portfolio on her website

by Kat Yeh

I have just finished my second year of PiBoIdMo and I can’t stop thinking about how much I love what I do. I love the blank page that is suddenly no longer blank. I love that for a living, I get to be a picture book author. Because when you write picture books, you get to Make Things Up. You get to take something that never existed in real life and make it real. And if you’re lucky, one day it becomes a book you can hold in your hands.

In 2003, I took a class at Columbia’s Teachers College. Let me clarify. I took an amazing class entirely devoted to the Art of the Picture Book. Taught by Professor Barbara Kiefer, former chair of the Caldecott Committee. The previous years between 1999 and 2003 had been a blur. In a short span of time, my first child was getting ready to go to school, I had a second child, and my father passed away. I had always wanted to write children’s books and had a pretty big stack of manuscripts and scribbled ideas piled up in my office. In the midst of everything that was going on, I somehow decided that it was time to take a chance.

The class was wonderful. We held a Mock Caldecott Award and pitched our personal nominees. We experimented with making hand-bound books. We were given lists of museums and galleries to visit for inspiration. And one day, the list included an exhibition of Chinese Calligraphy.

I went early one morning. I remember how still the rooms were. I remember standing alone before a wall of parchment paper and stunning brushwork and being overwhelmed with memories of my father. How he loved spending time with my daughter. How he shouted with joy when he heard I was pregnant with my son. How along with his many artistic pursuits, he loved working with his brush and ink. That day, I began to write the story of how my father introduced my children to the art of Chinese Calligraphy.

Flash forward 5 years. The kids were a little older. There was a little more breathing room. I now had a somewhat daunting stack of manuscripts and scribbled ideas and I decided it was time to take another chance and actually try to get published.

My first picture book, YOU’RE LOVABLE TO ME (Random House, December, 2009) came out shortly after that. Through the SCBWI, I was introduced to the amazing New Jersey chapter, run by Kathy Temean. One of my first events was a Mentor Workshop with the opportunity to have a manuscript critique. I brushed off my Chinese calligraphy story. Looked at it with fresh eyes and made changes. Then took a deep breath and brought it to my meeting with editor Stacy Cantor from Walker Books.

It was a good meeting.

Stacy teamed me up with illustrator Huy Voun Lee and two years later, THE MAGIC BRUSH: A story of love, family, and Chinese characters (Walker Books, January, 2011) was on the shelves.

I will never forget the first time I sat with my children to read it. How my daughter looked at the pages showing the first Chinese characters my father ever taught her. How my son reached out to touch the opening spread—a beautiful illustration of him and his sister, laughing with my father in a garden. How they listened to the story of that special time they were lucky enough to share with my father.

Time that only ever existed in that book.

Because only few weeks after I had told my father that I was expecting another child, he had a stroke. He lay in a coma when my son was born and never opened his eyes again. He never got the chance to meet my son or teach my daughter calligraphy or laugh with the three of them together in the garden.

But when you write picture books, you get to Make Thing Up. You get to take something that never existed in real life and make it real. If you’re lucky, one day it becomes a book you can hold in your hands. And that is real enough for me.

Kat Yeh lives on Long Island, NY where she can see water everyday and explore all the bay and harbor beaches with her family. She is the author of YOU’RE LOVABLE TO ME, Random House Books for Young Readers (2009) and THE MAGIC BRUSH: A STORY OF LOVE, FAMILY, AND CHINESE CHARACTERS, Walker Books for Young Readers (2011). One of these days, her website will be up.

by Tara Lazar

I have a daughter who recently turned five and her favorite saying is “Why come?” (She mixes up “how come” and “why”.)

You may have children like this. They want to know about EVERYTHING, even the most mundane.

“Why come we have to take a bath?”

“Why come we sleep with pillows?”

“Why come we eat breakfast first?”

And the perennial favorite, “Why come we have feet and not wheels?”

I dunno, kid, I dunno. Sure would make life easier.

Kids are curious. They want to know WHY. Like WHY they can’t stay up past 8:30. And then WHY they can’t get up for school. WHY they can’t have a banana split for all three squares (“hey ma, it’s got FRUIT in it!”). And then WHY their stomach aches.

Just as Karma Wilson asks herself WHAT IF? as she writes picture books, I constantly ask myself WHY.

Every character reacts to a situation in their own unique, quirky way. If I create a store called THE MONSTORE where you can buy monsters, I have to ask myself WHY a kid would spend his hard-earned leaf-raking cash on one. There has to be a reason other than the monsters just being cool.

(Oh, and if you know a kid who actually rakes leaves for money these days, send them to my house, please. There are no fifth-grade entrepreneurs in this neighborhood.)

Kids cannot be fooled. If you don’t have a good reason behind a character’s actions, or even the entire story’s being, kids will see right through it. You don’t want “Why come?” to be the first thing they ask after closing the book. You haven’t succeeded if you haven’t immersed your reader in a fully believable set of events.

When I create a new picture book premise, I sit in a comfy chair with a notebook and scribble potential answers to WHY. I develop a long list of reasons for the character’s actions.

And my next secret? Those actions are usually tied to an EMOTION.

I can’t tell you how many picture book manuscripts I read which are devoid of emotion. A character MUST be emotionally changed. The way they start the story is not the way they finish the story. They have grown. They have learned. They have been emotionally altered.

It’s important to include an emotion that is universally understood by children.

What it FEELS LIKE to be picked last for the kickball team.

What it FEELS LIKE to have an annoying sibling.

What if FEELS LIKE to lose your favorite stuffed animal.

Heck, I’m an old lady and I still haven’t gotten over the 1979 disappearance of “Yellow Puff.” She was so yellow. So puffy. So stolen by my little brother if you ask me. (Hey, I got TWO emotions in there.)

So if your picture book manuscript doesn’t feel satisfying, ask yourself, “WHY COME?” It might just give you the answer.

Tara Lazar is the creator of PiBoIdMo, the picture book writer’s alternative to NaNoWriMo. Her first two picture books will be released by the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster. THE MONSTORE, illustrated by James Burks, opens in 2013 and I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK rolls into stores in 2014. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She prefers cheese over chocolate and chai over coffee. Visit her website for children’s book reviews, writing tips and other fun kidlit diversions. Oh wait, you’re already there!!!

by Tammi Sauer

When Tara asked me to contribute a post to PiBoIdMo 2009 I was honored. And, truth be told, scared. For me, getting a Really Good Idea is hard. Crazy hard. How could I possibly offer idea-getting strategies to others when I felt this was the toughest of all the writing challenges?

Well, that November I wrote the blog post. I also pushed myself to come up with 30 ideas. Whew. Wasn’t easy. It took me every bit of that entire month to get those 30 possibilities on paper. Most of those ideas were tiny snippits. A character. A title. A phrase.

One of those snippits, however, seemed as if it might have potential. Nugget and Fang. I thought the unlikely best friendship between a minnow and a shark might have the makings for a story. I brainstormed. I jotted down a first draft. And a second draft. And a third draft. With each draft the story got a little tighter, the word choice got a little better, and the humor got a little stronger. But I never really got that YES feeling from the manuscript. So…I put it away for a few months. Then I wrote a fourth draft. And a fifth draft. And I put it away for a year.

Then, in March 2011, my week to submit something to my critique group came around. I had recently finished my latest manuscript and I needed SOMETHING to send the oh-so-awesome PBJeebies. So I dug through my files. And found two old friends. Nugget and Fang. I read the most recent version. Then I revised. And revised. And revised some more. I started to get excited.

I sent the manuscript to the PBJeebies, and they pushed me to revise the manuscript a little more. That YES feeling came around. I shared the manuscript with my agent.

These are my favorite three sentences from her response:

“I absolutely love this manuscript! It’s hilarious, original, and wonderfully paced—with totally fun illustration possibilities. Yay!”

Oh, happiness! Oh, time-to-print-out-that-message-and-tape-it-to-my-computer!

The manuscript went Out There.

Months went by. Then I got the call. And I got ANOTHER call.

Two fabulous houses were interested.

After much careful consideration, I decided Nugget and Fang belonged at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Nugget and Fang is scheduled for a Summer 2013 release. I’m hoping it makes a really big splash.

Tammi Sauer, who owes an ocean-sized thanks to Tara Lazar.

Tara’s Note: Aww, shucks. I owe big thanks to you for being such a great role model!

by Erik A.K.A. This Kid Reviews Books

Hi there! My name is Erik. I am nine years old (but this month I will be the big 10)! I have a blog ( where I review books, talk about reading and other book-related things. First of all, I’d like to thank Ms. Lazar for inviting me to be a guest blogger (she said she wanted a kid’s perspective, so HERE I AM) for PiBoIdMo 2011 and to write what I have learned this month by reading the posts each day. It has been a great month, hasn’t it? I have learned so much from not just the awesome guest bloggers but also by reading the comments of everyone that left one!

I don’t think I will ever see a picture book the same way! Picture books look like they are easy to write, but I now can see how much work and time it takes to put just ONE idea together into a book. One of the coolest things I learned was that adult writers really want to think like kids and want to know how kids see the world. I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids? I actually think a lot of adults still think like kids but won’t admit it!

I like how the guest bloggers say how they get inspirations from the world around them. Things as simple as listening to kids talk (PiBoIdMo Day 23: Laura Murray Goes for the Giggle) or seeing things like kids see them (PiBoIdMo Day 15: Liz Garton Scanlon Sees Things Differently). I really liked the quote Wendy Martin used in the Day 19 post -“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” ~ Orson Scott Card

The quote really made me think. When my mom was driving me home from school today I looked out my window looking for what might be a good idea for a book and I think I noticed things that maybe I wouldn’t have before; like the kids riding skateboards on the sidewalk, a family going into a pizza place or a mom driving a mini-van full of kids. Have you noticed something in the world around you that you haven’t before this month?

I really liked the posts by illustrators that appeared this month too! It was really neat to see how illustrators get inspired by something like a doodle (PiBoIdMo Day 7: Doodle with Abandon Like Debbie Ridpath Ohi) or a kids drawing (PiBoIdMo Day 28: Aaron Zenz and “Friends”) for examples.

It’s really cool how all the authors participating in PiBoIdMo really work with each other, support each other and help each other discover new ideas or new ways of looking at things. My September 27th, 2011 post on my blog was titled “Children’s Book Authors are the Nicest People on Earth (and maybe other planets too)!” I really think that. I could tell that everyone here is super nice!

I really learned a lot about the “business” of writing books. Agents, marketing, editors, publishers, submissions, rejections…I’ve heard these words before but I never really knew how they fit into writing a book. It seems like a very complicated process!

I did come up with 30 ideas this month but I don’t think that all of them are really great—like my idea of “The Friendly Tornado” where a tornado helps people build houses rather than knock them down but my mom pointed out to me that small children won’t see tornados as so friendly and will probably be terrified of it. I see now that she has a point ☺.

I do think I came up with some good ideas too. Like “When the Lights Go Out.” It will be a story of how a family starts to talk, play games and read with each other when the lights go out in a storm and they can’t watch TV or go on the computer (this actually happened to us, HEY I WAS INSIPRED).

I really learned a lot this month and I thank all of you for letting me be part of this. Mostly I am really thankful that all you authors and illustrators that take your time and hard work and try to make books for kids like me. I love stories. I will always read the stories you tell and I hope to read your book when it is published!

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