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Thank you for patience! Every year after Storystorm, I vow that I will get to the prizes right away, but every year I take a loooong break.

Many thanks to Urania Smith for helping me with this. She got her part done long ago but I’ve been dragging my feet. And away we go…

Two of the Grand Prize Winners, Melissa Koch and R.G. Spaulding, already have agents, so they are passing on their prizes to two others. I allowed them to choose any daily prize they wanted instead, and they chose a signed ABSURD WORDS and a critique from me, so those daily prizes are now off the table. (Can I use any more clichés in this post???)

The two alternate Grand Prize Winners are:

Dawn Prochovnic: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Stephanie D. Jones: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency

Congratulations! Be on the lookout for an email from me!

And here are the rest of the daily winners!

Day 2: Mirka Hokkanen–MOSSY AND TWEED plus a picture book critique
Winner: Cait Darfler

Day 3: Monica Acker–Non-rhyming picture book critique under 600 words
Winner: Ashley Chance

Winner: Abby Mumford

Winner: Maria Bostian

Day 6: Picture Book Junction

David McMullin–PB critique
Winner: Colleen Owen Murphy

Lisa Varchol Perron–Poetry bundle (3 children’s poetry anthologies: Things We Eat, Things We Feel, Imperfect II: Poems About Perspective)
Winner: Pat Haap

Ana Siqueira–PB critique (fiction and non-rhyming) or Zoom “Ask Me Anything”
Winner: Sharon Langley

Suzy Levinson–Children’s Poem critique (rhyming)
Winner: Sandy Belford

Aimee Isaac–picture book critique
Winner: Amanda Zeigler

Marie Boyd–PB critique
Winner: Teresa Robeson

A.J. Irving–Fiction PB critique in prose
Winner: Sarah Skolfield

Carrie Kruck–”Ask Me Anything” Storystorm edition! 30-minute Zoom
Winner: Kelly Vavala

Gabriela Orozco Belt–PB critique
Winner: Srividhya Venkat

Astrid Kamalyan–30-minute Zoom “Ask Me Anything” focusing on the process of creating PBs
Winner: Delia Ruiz

Sarah Hovorka–“Anything Goes!” 30-minute Zoom talk and/or critique of PB, query, first five pages of CB or MG, or outlines/prep work
Winner: Charles Trevino

Jack Wong–Publisher/agent query critique
Winner: René Bartos

Winner: Diane Mittler

Day 8: Kathleen Doherty picture book critique, fiction, up to 650 words
Winner: Colleen Owen Murphy 

Winner: Linda Kulp Trout

Day 10: Justin Colon–The Kidlit Hive webinars, as well as a 30-minute AMA session to discuss querying, submission, ideas, etc.
Winner: Rosemary Basham (Supermario6) 

Day 11: Lydia Lukidis–DEEP, DEEP DOWN
Winner: Joy Wieder 

Day 12: Jewish Board Books Group

Vivian Kirkfield–PB Critique OR Copy of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE
Winner: Mona861 

Nancy Churnin–copy of COUNTING ON SHABBAT
Winner: Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Sarah Aroeste–MAZAL BUENO
Winner: Sara Ackerman

Ann Koffsky–15-minute Zoom Critique
Winner: Jennifer Vose

Varda Livney–CHALLAH!
Winner: Jilanne Hoffmann

Day 13: Dianna Murray–PB critique
Winner: Sophie Furman

Day 14: Hillary Homzie–IF YOU WERE A PRINCESS
Winner: Claire Bobrow

30-minute Zoom critique of your picture book manuscript or the first five pages of your novel
Winner:  Sue Macartney

Day 15: Rebecca Gardyn Levington–BRAINSTORM! (US)
Winner: Reed Hilton-Eddy

Winner: Bethanny Parker

30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Session!
Winner: Jennifer Jahn

Day 16: Karen Henry Clark–LIBRARY GIRL and Nancy Pearl librarian action figure
Winner: Rozanark Rozana Rajkumari

Day 17: Patricia Tanumihardja–RAMEN FOR EVERYONE
Winner: Suzanne Lewis

Winners: Lauren Barbieri and Amanda Backof

Day 19: Kidlit in Color Group

Valerie Bolling–15-minute AMA
Winner: Jennifer Blanck

Kaitlyn Wells–15-minute AMA or picture book manuscript critique
Winner: Janie Reinart

Alyssa Reynoso-Morris–30-minute AMA or a picture book manuscript critique
Winner: Bonnie Lambourn

Natasha Khan Kazi–15-minute AMA or a PB non-rhyming fiction manuscript critique
Winner: Johanna Peyton

Aya Khalil–15-minute AMA or a PB non-rhyming fiction manuscript critique
Winner: Ana Kelly

Alliah L. Agostini–15-minute AMA or a copy of Big Tune or The Juneteenth Story
Winner: Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow–15-minute AMA
Winner: Kirsten Bock

Day 20: Jill Davis–signed ABSURD WORDS
Winner: (Kidlitgail) Gail Handler

Day 21: M.O. Yuksel–ONE WISH: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University
Winner: Judy Abelove Shemtob

Day 22: Jackie Azúa Kramer and Jonah Kramer–MANOLO AND THE UNICORN
Winners: Deb Adamson and Kathleen Clark

Day 23: Lauren H. Kerstein–30-minute video-call consultation
Winner: David McMullin

Day 24: Louise M. Aamodt–picture book critique
Winner: Shyrelle

Agent, Emily S. Keyes of Keyes Agency LLC–feedback on a picture book manuscript plus its accompanying query
Winner: Jennifer Cowan

Day 25: Marzieh Abbas–picture book critique (under 650-word fiction and non-rhyming manuscript)
Winner: Beth Pollock

Day 26: CK Malone
Ask Me Anything Session with myself and my agent Dan, founder of Page Turner Literary (30 minutes)
Winner: Carlisle Malon

Critique of a Fiction PB up to 2,000 words with multiple revisions (just me)
Winners: Sylvia Mary Grech and Melissa Kay Valente

CHARLY Signed Prize bundle of book and LGBTQ+ Items + A surprise book not by me: 3 winners
Winners: Carol Gwin Nelson, brennajeanneret, and Natalie Lynn Tanner

Day 27: Ebony Lynn Mudd–scholarship to her upcoming course: How to Find the Right Picture Book Structure to Save Your Story
Winner: Pamela Harrison

Day 28: Kirsten Pendreigh–picture book critique, or a virtual classroom visit to read LUNA’S GREEN PET Winner: Stacey Gustafson

Day 29: Laura Lavoie–30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat
Winner: Karin Larson

Day 30: Corey Finkle–YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Winner: Hilary Mankovsky

Manuscript review and/or Zoom career consultation
Winner: Danya Vasquez David

Phew! That’s alotta prizes!

Please be on the lookout for an email from me within the next week!

Congratulations to all AND SEE YOU for STORYSTORM 2024!

It’s that time, finally!

Here are the Grand Prize winners and the agents with whom they’ve been paired:

  • Anne C. Bromley: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Debbie Meyer: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency
  • R.G. Spaulding: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
  • Melissa Koch: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency
  • Mikadventures (Mikki): Jennifer March Soloway, Andrea Brown Literary Agency
  • Nicole Loos Miller: Stacey Glick, Vice President, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC


I will be emailing to connect you with your agent, to whom you’ll be able to send five of your best ideas. You’ll receive feedback in return so you know which ideas are the best to pursue (and which may need tweaking). This is a fabulous opportunity to put your best page forward!

Thank you to Urania Smith for assisting with prize distribution.

Next up, the daily prizes! Stay tuned!

JENA BENTON has won the Grand Prize “Ask Me Anything” Session with agent Miranda Paul of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Congratulations, Jena! Expect an email from me shortly.

More Grand Prizes to come soon!


First, gather ’round your ideas.

Once you have ideas that you like, start fleshing them out. If you’re a Grand Prize winner, you’ll have the opportunity to share your BEST FIVE IDEAS with a kidlit agent. They’ll respond with feedback recommending which ideas may be best to pursue as manuscripts. (Saves time writing stories that won’t be marketable!) To present your ideas in the best light, I recommend writing them out like jacket flap…you know, that marketing copy on the inside cover of a picture book. Here’s jacket flap for my September 2023 release, FLAT CAT:


Flat Cat was born flat. He wasn’t squashed by an out-of-control ice cream truck, or smushed in a waffle iron. He was just flat. This slick, sly cat could stray and roam anywhere he pleased, keen and unseen. And wouldn’t you know it, Flat Cat liked it just like that.

That is until one day, when Flat Cat accidentally fell splish-splosh right in the wash. And when he emerged from the dryer, Flat Cat wasn’t flat at all. He was adorably puffy and downright fluffy!

From Tara Lazar and brought to life by New York Times bestselling illustrator Pete Oswald, this is a hilariously quirky and irreverent story that is sure to appeal to fans of Pete the Cat!


Go to your local library and read as many jacket flaps as you can to get a feel for them. Then start writing your own for your upcoming masterpieces!

Grand Prize Winners will be chosen next week, to be paired with these amazing kidlit agents:

Plus there’s one more special prize from Miranda Paul of Erin Murphy Literary Agency: an “Ask Me Anything” video call to occur before the end of February.

So spend this weekend getting ready! Prize distribution will begin next week!

And remember…

The STORYSTORM PLEDGE is now closed.


If you’ve been participating in Storystorm all month, you’ve been generating oodles of ideas!

Luckily you don’t need oodles to “win” the Storystorm challenge. You just need 30 of them!

I wanted this GIF to be “oodles of Doodles” but I could only find oodles of Corgis.

When you have 30 ideas, you can qualify to win one of the AMAZING Storystorm Grand Prizes—feedback on your best 5 picture book ideas from a kidlit agent! (List to be announced.) This year there will be at least 5 grand prizes, and hopefully more!

In order to qualify for a Grand Prize, your name must be on the registration post AND the pledge below.

If you have 30 ideas, put your right hand on a picture book and repeat after me:

I do solemnly swear that I have faithfully executed
the Storystorm 30-ideas-in-January challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into picture book manuscripts.

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!

You have until February 7th at 11:59:59PM EST to sign the pledge by leaving a comment on this post.


The name you left on the registration post and the name you leave on this winner’s pledge SHOULD MATCH. However, when you comment, WordPress also logs info that allows me to recognize you, so don’t worry if they’re not exact.

Again, please COMMENT ONLY ONCE. If you make a mistake, contact me instead of leaving a second comment.

Remember, this is an honor system pledge. You don’t have to send in your ideas to prove you’ve got 30 of them. If you say so, I’ll believe you! Honestly, it’s that simple. (Wouldn’t it be nice if real life were that straightforward.)

Before you sign, you can also pick up your Winner’s Badge!

There are winner’s mugs, T-shirts and tote bags you can purchase at (always visit via this link/URL…if you search the main site instead, we don’t receive the full proceeds). All proceeds ($4 per item) go to Save the Children Ukraine Fund. If there’s other SWAG you want, I can add it to the shop…just ask!

Now…are you ready to sign?

Then GO FOR IT! Let’s see your name below!


The Storystorm Pledge will posted later today for you to sign!

Use this time to ensure that you have your 30 ideas!

by Tammi Sauer

What is my favorite part about January?

The cold? Nope.

The snow? Nope.

A month-long storm?! ABSOLUTELY.

Storystorm is just the push I need to generate a pile of picture book ideas. Most of my ideas will be terrible, but THAT’S OKAY. If I manage to come up with even one Really Good Idea, I call that a success.

One way to come up with a potentially Really Good Idea is to start with a character.

A character can be just about anything. A child. A toaster. A yeti named Bob.

Once you have a character in mind, gently ask that character The Question:

“Hey, pal. What’s bothering you?”

Many of my books star characters who are bothered by something. I think kids like these books and the characters in them because being bothered by something is a pretty relatable experience.

KNOCK KNOCK Cover: Sidesplitting Story Fun! Bear in pajamas, sleeping cap and eye mask looking startled awake.

In KNOCK KNOCK, illustrated by Guy Francis, a bear named Harry is bothered by the fact his friends keep interrupting his attempt at hibernation.

NO BUNNIES HERE Cover: full of bunnies in a field/wood, popping out everywhere, from behind letters, in trees, in holes, EVERYWHERE!

In NO BUNNIES HERE!, illustrated by Ross Burach, the main bunny is bothered by the worry a wolf wants to gobble him and his bunny friends all up.

MAKING A FRIEND Cover: Beaver in plaid coat and scarf rolling a large snowball.

In MAKING A FRIEND, illustrated by Alison Friend, Beaver is bothered by the fact he has difficulty making a friend.

NOT NOW COW Cover - a winter scene with a chicken and falling snow with Cow in summer attire and sunglasses

In NOT NOW, COW, illustrated by Troy Cummings, Rooster is bothered by the fact Cow cannot get on board with the seasons.

***Keep in mind that not all main characters will have a problem or a want, but many do.***

Now, since January and Storystorm are coming to a close, you might already have a ridiculously big pile of ideas. Gold star for you! Even so, I want to challenge you to add just a few more to the mix. Maybe one of these will end up being a Really Good Idea.


  • Jot down a list of three characters.
  • Ask each of these characters The Question.

Extra Credit:

Grab a fresh batch of books from the bookstore or library. Pay attention to the main character. Are any of these main characters dealing with a problem or wanting something? Jot down that problem or want. Maybe someone wants a pet squash. Maybe someone is a zombie who’s looking for love. Maybe someone is an avocado having an existential crisis. Keep in mind that reading—and analyzing!—other people’s books are two great ways to inspire you to write books of your own.


Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has 35 published picture books, including her two latest, MARY HAD A LITTLE PLAN and THE UNDERPANTS. Tammi’s books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been developed into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi and Instagram at @tammisauer.

Tammi is offering THREE things! She’s so nice!

THE UNDERPANTS Cover - many animals tucked into one large pair of white briefs MARY HAD A LITTLE PLAN Cover - Mary is black with dark pigtails, holding a broom and with a barrel filled with gardening items, standing between two trees

  • Thing 1: a copy of THE UNDERPANTS (Scholastic Press), illustrated by Joren Cull
  • Thing 2: a copy of MARY HAD A LITTLE PLAN (Union Square Kids), illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • Thing 3: a picture book critique

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.


* Tara has invited Tammi to post every year because Tammi was the first author to say “yes” to guest posting when PiBoIdMo/Storystorm began a dozen years ago (when Tara was unpublished and many people did not return her emails then). Tara owes Tammi BIG TIME.

by Corey Finkle

I wrote my first PB manuscript in 1999, and got my first publishing deal a mere twenty years later. I spent those two decades writing, attending critique groups, going to conferences, the whole shebang. And every time I interacted with a published author, I looked on them with a kind of awe. Somehow, these people were able to rise above it all. Were they better than I was, or did they know a secret to getting published that I hadn’t figured out yet?

Now that I’m on the other side, I can report that the answer to the above question is yes, there IS a secret to getting published. In fact, there’s an entire checklist of things you can absolutely do, right now, to propel yourself forward on the path to publication. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, at some point along that path, you need to get a lucky break. There’s no two ways about it.

Literally every author you know or have ever heard of, from Doctor Seuss to Mo Willems, had a moment in their lives when someone looked on their work in the right way, at the right time. I’m no exception. Here’s mine:

In 2015, I was having a great year. By July, I had five agents and a publisher considering my work, which had gotten into their hands through querying, paid critiques at writers’ conferences, and even a Twitter event. But by Thanksgiving, every single one of them had passed. I was so despondent by this that I vowed to take six months off querying so I could focus on my writing full-time. That led me to sign up for the Whispering Pines writers retreat, where at the first dinner I sat (entirely by accident) next to one of the VIP speakers. He was a senior editor for a major publishing house, and we soon discovered that we had also graduated from the same college one year apart, and had over thirty friends in common, despite having never met ourselves. At his request, after the event I sent him a manuscript (that I had developed from a Storystorm idea), and one week after he read it, I had three offers of representation (though my first sale wouldn’t come for another three years after that). Pretty lucky, right?

I am 100% positive that every published writer has a story like this, even if they don’t know it. They might not have recognized their lucky break when it happened (or shook hands with it like in my case), but at some point in their past, someone took a chance on them when they didn’t have to. It’s not as romantic as “meant to be,” but it’s the truth.

But here’s the trick: “getting lucky” is not entirely about luck.

Park View Middle School sign: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"

Years ago, I got a job offer out of the blue. When I told my aunt (a career counselor with her own published book!) about it, I marveled about how lucky this had been. She pushed back that, instead of luck, I should think of it as “planned happenstance.” In other words, meeting the man who offered me that job was luck, for sure, but I had been READY for that moment, due to my education and experience to that point.

My having personal ties to a publisher was absolutely a singular moment that propelled my writing career forward, but consider this: I had been writing picture books for over fifteen years, participating in critique groups, attending conferences, getting professional assessments of my work, even being part of events like #PBPitch, 12×12, and Storystorm. If I had met that publisher even a year before, it might have been just another setback to add to the list. Instead, I was ready, and good things happened.

Getting published is a journey, and for most of us, it can be brutal and disheartening at times (it’s the only field I’ve ever heard of where we celebrate when our rejections are worded nicely). But please PLEASE take my word for this: if you’re reading this right now, you are absolutely doing exactly what you need to be doing on your writing journey. You’re generating ideas, finding a tribe of supporters (this is also the only field I’ve ever heard of where we all truly celebrate one another’s success at every step), participating in events, and above all, you’re writing. Even if it feels impossibly long sometimes, I promise you that this is the path you need to follow, and by embracing it, you’re further along than you realize.

Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, and learn from every triumph and mistake. If you do, then one day when that lucky break does occur, whatever happens next will have nothing whatsoever to do with luck. Or, to put it another way:


Corey Finkle wrote his first picture book manuscript as a senior project in college, spent ten years tinkering with and pitching it, and finally put it aside after realizing it wasn’t actually very good at all. He got his lucky break selling his first book, YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT, almost 20 years to the day after completing that senior project. His second published book, POP’S PERFECT PRESENT, comes out this May. When not working on his next manuscript, Corey spends his time writing business-y words for companies, playing board games, spending time with his wife and two kids, or collecting t-shirts from unusual or lesser-known sports teams. Visit him at and follow him on Twitter @cefinkle.

Corey Finkle is giving away two prizes to two people: one copy of YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT, and one manuscript review and/or Zoom career consultation.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

by Laura Lavoie

Before we dive into this post, let’s all take a moment to give a round of applause for Tara. How about a round of applause for YOU, because if you’ve made it this far, you’re almost to the end!

Storystorm has given me a gazillion ideas over the years. In fact, the ideas for my first two picture books both came from Storystorm 2019. I got the idea for my debut, VAMPIRE VACATION (illustrated by Micah Player), from a post about inherent conflict. That post made me think, What would happen if a vampire wanted to visit a sunshine-y beach?

From there, a story about a little vampire named Fang who dreams of sunshine, sandcastles, and surfing was born. Coincidentally, did you know that the last day of Storystorm is also National Plan Your Vacation Day? What a perfect time—as you wrap up the hard work of brainstorming 30 ideas—to make a plan to intentionally rest and recharge!

My second book, MONSTER BAKER, illustrated by Vanessa Morales, will dash to shelves this August. The brilliant blogger who wrote the post that gave me the idea for this story suggested pairing things that are scary with things that are not scary. Here, you can see lists I made of scary characters and not-so-scary hobbies.

MONSTER BAKER is about a little monster who thinks her grandmonster’s baked goods are the best. Together, they watch their favorite French pastry chef, Pierre du Monstère, on TV. Does this bring back Julia Child memories for anyone else?

I wish I could say that every Storystorm idea I’ve had is fated to become a book someday. (Don’t we all?!) The truth is, some ideas just don’t cut the mustard. Including a story I wrote about mustard, which sadly died on sub.

That doesn’t mean, though, that these ideas are all destined for the Island of Bad Ideas, which I imagine to be something like the Island of Misfit Toys. In reality, it’s more like my stack of old idea notebooks, which are brimming with titles, characters, and story sparks that have never seen the light of day.

Sometimes, the original idea might not be a winner, but I encourage you to consider: where could it lead you? What I’ve discovered is that I don’t need hundreds of unique ideas. Characters, concepts, titles, and more can be recycled. (Upcycled? Repurposed? Something like that.) Here’s what I mean…

Many years back, I brainstormed a title that I thought was genius. I Googled it extensively. It hadn’t been done. Bingo! I must write it.

Ultimately, though, I didn’t like how the manuscript turned out. After several revisions, the title was still great, but the story was decidedly meh. I wound up scrapping it and moving on.

Despite not vibing with that manuscript, I loved the spunky, brave best friend I had cast for my main character. I found myself recasting her as the best pal in a few subsequent stories. Finally, it clicked: this best bud needed a tale of her own. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? It was like an idea bubble had popped up above my head; much like my little amateur chef, Tillie, realizing that she could bake a cake on her own, without Grandmonster’s help.

The manuscript that resulted from this aha! moment is now in the lineup of sub-ready stories my agent sends to editors. Hopefully, (maybe, fingers crossed) you’ll see it on shelves someday.

So that’s the story of how I recycled a minor character into a starring role. But what about recycling a concept Well…

A yet-to-be-announced book I have coming out is a very, very heavily revised version of a manuscript that sprung from my Storystorm 2017 idea list. In this case, I had come up with an idea for a character after scrolling through pictures on my phone’s camera roll, stumbling upon a picture of my dad, and suddenly thinking of a particular animal. (Sorry, Dad. All good things, I promise!) In the version you’ll see on shelves, I recycled the basic concept but changed pretty much everything else–including that initial character, who ultimately got the ax. (Sorry, Dad. Again.)

For your brainstorming task today, I encourage you to go back to your old Storystorm journals, to your misfit manuscripts, to those ideas you cast aside as unworkable, and see if something sparks. Time and fresh perspective can do wonders for the creative mind. Maybe it’s just a title that strikes you, or a minor character, or a teeny tiny seed you planted in a draft, thinking it wasn’t super significant. Let your mind wander, and see where those old ideas take you.


Laura Lavoie writes humorous, pun-filled picture books. She is the author of Vampire Vacation, published by Viking in 2022, as well as the forthcoming titles Monster Baker (Roaring Brook Press, 2023), Duck, Duck, Taco Truck (Doubleday, 2024), and more on the way! When she’s not writing or reading books, she can be found in the kitchen, cooking up something delicious, or playing outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening, or hanging around in trees. You can visit her at, or find her on Twitter and Instagram @llavoieauthor.

Laura is giving away a 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat to talk about picture book craft, querying, promo groups, the best types of cheese… anything you’d like!

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

by Ebony Lynn Mudd

We’re in the home stretch, Storystorm friends!! Look at us, go!!

Maybe you’ve been here getting inspiration all month. Maybe you’ve popped in and out, or maybe this is the first post you’ve seen since this challenge began. Wherever you fall on the Storystorm participation spectrum, I’m so glad you are here investing in YOU. You deserve it. Your work is worth it. Now, let’s figure out some new book ideas!

Anybody else get their best book ideas when you’re one deep breathe away from dozing off to sleep? Or in the shower when there is no paper or pen around? SAME.

But do you know what other “lazy” task has brought me some FIRE book ideas?

Mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Yep. You heard me right…

Keep. Scrolling.

I mean, listen, if we’re going to scroll on our phones all day anyway, why not scroll for stories? If we’re going to struggle to fight our social media addictions, then why not lean in and make it work for us?

According to, the average adult checks their phone 96 times per day. That’s WILD. But if this is you, (*Raises hand* because it is me) then let’s get you some book ideas out of it. With those stats, if you could find ONE book idea for every 20 times you checked your phone, you could have 4-5 book ideas per day. Can’t be mad about that!

As a former professional dancer and founder of a tuition-free dance company, I used to scroll through lots of dance accounts on Instagram for inspiration (and so I could dance along with them from my side of the screen)!

One day, I scrolled my way to this…

The @blackboysdancetoo Instagram account slashes gender norms through art, beauty, and inspirational post after inspirational post.

So, I scrolled. And then, I wrote this…

I always knew that I would write a dance book, but when I saw that account, the idea for JUNIOR TAKES A LEAP was set in stone! I was always an advocate for boys who dance through my own dance company, but scrolling through that account sparked something in me that allowed me to take it to the page.

“So, Ebony, you just want me to doomscroll all day?”

No, friend. But during the moments when you ARE on your phone, I want to help you intentionally scroll all day (haha)!

So let’s do it. Here are some of my go-to accounts when I’m scrolling for stories:


What is it: The world’s happiest and healthiest daily news—when you need it the most.

Why I love it: Aside from being the serotonin boost you need each day, this account is great for inspiring non-fiction ideas and unique biography ideas. But fiction ideas can be born from here as well!

Who knew that Chicken Tikka Masala was a pretty new dish? If this is a food you grew up eating with your family, and you feel like this is your story to tell, how AMAZING to get this inspiration as you are scrolling through social media! First of all, I will immediately buy any picture book about food. Full stop. But, this… I want to know about the history. The how. The why. The who. I want to know it all. So many ideas could be born from this.

Bios that get into the nooks and crannies of someone’s life in a way that you wouldn’t expect? Sign me up! That’s how I felt when I saw this Usain Bolt post. You’d expect a story about Usain Bolt to be about a few things: his speed, his track journey, or his culture. But his acts of kindness throughout the journey? I love this angle.

And then this last one…ummm I’m not sure if I want to curl up in a ball and cry, read a picture book about it, or both. Either way, a 100-year-old who volunteers to read at elementary schools is a picture book screaming to happen. GIVE ME THIS 32-PAGER RIGHT NOW!!! Immediate preorder from me!

I found those three great posts while scrolling…they would be great to write about as is, but also, what fictional ideas can you think of that could come from them?


What is it: Content about sustainable living and good news you may not have heard about.

Why I love it: Sam lists all of his sources on his good news videos. And every single video features a topic I’ve never heard about that I want kids everywhere to know about! There are so many nonfiction and fiction ideas that could come from his videos if you dig deep!

Did you know goats are helping prevent wildfires in California? You can’t make this stuff up. But you can write about it! Goats are taking the place of traditional mowers by fitting in areas that are hard to reach and by clearing out long grass and weeds. I LOVE THIS AS IS. But also if you fictionalized this: a goat that saves lives/the world/the environment by eating? I’m jealous, because stuffing my face has never saved anyone’s life! And also, I would read that!

Other inspiring ideas from scrolling through @sambentley’s videos include:

  • Robot dolphins that were invented to help end animal captivity by providing a cruelty-free way for people to interact with marine life.
  • Kenyan farmers who dug tens of thousands of these holes called bunds to save their land from drought. Any Kenyans in the house ready to write this one?!
  • And don’t even get me started about this underwater forest! I’ll leave it at that.

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite account to scroll for stories is…


What is it: NYC teacher Alyssa Cowit,was so fascinated by the questions and comments from her students that she started to chronicle them online.

Why I love it: Because kids….


I mean….do we even need to discuss this one or should you just start writing this story right this second?! THE NICEST MEAN TEACHER. What a title! And it could be so many things!

I laughed for an hour about this! SLOW KARATE! I want to know everything about the type of kid who would say this and all the things they think might be EASY because it’s just [write the book and fill in the blank here].

Sometimes these posts can inspire characters and then ideas flow from there.

And these…I’m just going to leave these here…

But the last and sweetest one goes to…

This would warm even the coldest of hearts!! I want to marry Grandma! Write that book. What does that spark in you about your own grandma or grandparent figure?

So there you have it. And look, I know most people tell you to get off of social media and to get off of your screens, and you definitely should sometimes. But since we are here now…why not go scroll for stories!

If you find a story idea from scrolling after this, tweet me at @ebonylynnmudd and let me know!

And remember,

Your art is the prize.


Ebony Lynn Mudd writes picture books and novels for underrepresented kids who don’t see themselves portrayed positively in the media. Her upcoming picture book, JUNIOR TAKES A LEAP, will be illustrated by Pure Belpré and Coretta Scott King Honor artist C.G. Esperanza and published by Scholastic. She is also the co-founder of the PB Rising Stars Mentorship program and the creator of picture book writing courses through The Voice Roadmap. Ebony is represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Ebony is giving away a scholarship to her upcoming course: How to Find the Right Picture Book Structure to Save Your Story! It starts March 23!

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

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