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ame dyckmanby Ame Dyckman

There they are! Your PiBoIdMo ideas! Staring at you with perky eyebrows and expectant smiles and wiggling like puppies.

Now, whatddya DO with ’em?!

Your 30 ideas all have potential for something. (Except that 11:59 PM idea about the talking toilet. Let that one go.)

Your 29 ideas all have potential for something. But no matter how rockin’ each of them may be, you really can’t develop more than a few of them into picture book manuscripts at the same time. And you don’t know to choose just two or three to focus on now.

So you try my patented Idea Herding Method® and bang your head on the table*, causing most of your PiBoIdMo ideas to run and dive into various folders in your brain:

  • Possible Future Manuscript Ideas
  • Possible Tweet/Post/Social-Media-of-Your-Choice Ideas
  • Possibly Too Weird To Share With Anyone Else Ideas

*You agree that Ame shall not be held responsible for damage to your forehead—or table—and acknowledge that suing Ame would be pointless as she spends all her money on books and candy.

These hiding-in-folders ideas aren’t gone gone. They’ll probably peek out to say, “Howdy!” from time to time. (And the ideas in the last folder are bound to pop out and create Very Embarrassing Moments at parties. Nuthin’ you can do.)

But a few of your PiBoIdMo ideas don’t run away. They rush over and give your poor sore head a reassuring pat.

’Cause they really like you.

And you realize you really like them, too.

So be a good host and offer your Special Ideas a little something. Like opening lines.


No, not “Hey, baby. Come ’round my brain often?” I mean opening lines for the stories your Special Ideas want to tell.

Genius opening lines, ones that set up worlds where each of your Special Ideas can hang out and grow.

Got ’em? Awesome! Looks like you and your Special Ideas are bonding.

Write each Special Idea’s opening line (and title, if you’re feelin’ it) on its own piece of paper.

Now fetch a roll of tape. And this is the Really Important Part…

Tape your nose like a pig.

Yeah, it has absolutely nothing to do with writing. But it’s FUN! And having fun is Really Important!

Right. Back to writing.

Use the tape that’s not on your nose to tape each of your Special Ideas’ opening line pages to a door in your home.

Yeah, I’m being serious. (What? It happens occasionally.)

You don’t get to make any excuses for not doing this. ’Cause I’ve already made them—and countered them—for you:

  • “I don’t want people to see my ideas.”
    Your signings are gonna be interesting.
  • “I might scuff my door.”
    So repaint it when you’re done. Purple would be nice.
  • “I don’t have a door.”
    Really? I will be right over to investigate your freaky slide-in-the-windows-General-Lee-style home. And then I will find something in your home to tape your opening lines to:
  • Your fridge.
  • Your TV.
  • Your pet. (Sorry, Fluffy!)

Because this is the Really Important Writing Part: when you feel your Special Ideas can stand up to the Blood (paper cuts, yo), Sweat, and Revisions necessary to try to bring them forward, then they’re worth keeping them where you can see them—and sharing with the Special Folks that supported your participation in PiBoIdMo in the first place:

  • Your family.
  • Your friends.
  • The delivery guy with the sideburns that look like Peru. (Okay, maybe not him. But definitely your family and friends.)

And with your continued work and your Special Folks’ continued encouragement, your Truly Special Idea has the potential to become an Amazing Manuscript—and hopefully, more.

So, get to taping! Then say it loud, say it proud:

“This is the Future Published Picture Book I’m writing. And here’s how it starts…”

GOOD LUCK, GUYS! I can’t wait to see ’em on the shelves!


TEA PARTY RULES COVER FOR TARAAme Dyckman is the author of BOY + BOT (Knopf; 2012); TEA PARTY RULES (Viking; 2013); WOLFIE THE BUNNY (Little, Brown; 2015); and HORRIBLE BEAR (Little, Brown; 2016). Her Super Agent Guy is about to sub her latest manuscript, previously taped to a purple door in Ame’s house. (The manuscript. Not her agent.) Find Ame sitting on the floor of her local library, or on Twitter: @AmeDyckman.


Ame is giving away a signed copy of TEA PARTY RULES (brilliantly illustrated by K.G. Campbell), and a TEA PARTY RULES prize pack: bookmark, sticker, button, and squeeze cookie. (If you win, do not attempt to eat the squeeze cookie. Ame says they taste gross.) This prize pack will be given away at the conclusion of Post-PiBo.


You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You have signed the PiBoIdMo Winner’s Pledge.)

Good luck, everyone!

I’m lucky to be good friends with several very important book reviewers.

Like my neighbor, Ashley.

At 3:47 PM each Monday through Friday, as we wait at the bus stop for the big kids to come home, six-year-old Ashley recounts the books read aloud in her first grade classroom that day.

Don’t let the pigtails fool you. You thought Kirkus was tough? You haven’t heard Ashley.

But last month, Ashley bestowed her first starred review:


“And it was really, really good!”

My mouth hung open.

I knew that book.

I loved that book—back when I had pigtails.

Thumbs clumsy with excitement, I fumbled my way through an Alibris search on my phone.

“That’s it!” said Ashley. “Order it!”

I did. And the waiting (and whining) began.

For days, cries of “But why isn’t it here yet?” echoed around our neighborhood.

“Be patient,” said Ashley.

“No,” I pouted.

But finally, the package arrived.

I ran to the bus stop.

I tore open the padded mailer.

And there it was:

MORE SPAGHETTI, I SAY! by Rita Golden Gelman, illustrated by Jack Kent (Scholastic, 1977).

“Read!” commanded Ashley.

We plunked down on the curb. I opened the cover—and two wires in my brain connected.

It had been *mumble mumble mumble* years since I’d held a copy of this book, but suddenly, I remembered the words before I read them.

I remembered the pictures before I saw them.

And I remembered how they worked together.

Humor. Friendship. Rhythm. Repetition. Brevity. The power of the page turn. The fun satisfaction of a mirror story.

All the elements I try to use in my own writing.

And this was one of the places I’d learned it first.

“Wow,” I whispered.

I couldn’t wait to write that night.

Ashley smiled. “Told you it was good,” she said.

So, awesome writers, as you seek inspiration this month while creating the books of the future, don’t forget to revisit the books of your past, too!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get a little writing done before making dinner.

We’re having spaghetti.

Ame Dyckman LOVES picture books. Sometimes she’ll even put them down long enough to write one of her own: BOY + BOT, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf; 2012); TEA PARTY RULES, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Viking; Fall, 2013), WOLFIE AND DOT (working title), illustrator TBD (Little, Brown; TBD).

Ame lives in New Jersey with her family, pets (including a demanding-but-adorable squirrel named Willie) and book collection. Visit Ame at, or on Twitter @AmeDyckman, where she Tweets “PB book reviews and random goofy thoughts.”

Ame is giving away a signed copy of BOY + BOT plus SWAG—bookmark, sticker, “Affirmative!” bracelet and mini Frisbee! Comment on this post AND complete the challenge to be entered (you’ll be asked to take the “PiBo Pledge” on December 1st to verify you have 30 ideas). A winner will be randomly selected in early December. Good luck!

You’ve been patiently waiting…so here is the winner of the BOY + BOT AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME PRIZE PACK which includes the BOT clip, stickers, bookmarks, and a copy of the book!


And these folks win a copy of BOY + BOT:


Now, onto our PUZZLED BY PINK winner!


(Maria, your email bounced so please get in touch with me at tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com.)

I’ll be emailing everyone shortly to collect your postal addresses.

Stay tuned because I’ll be picking our PUGS IN A BUG winner tomorrow! (You’ve still got until the end of today to enter.)

I am so absolutely thrilled that BOY + BOT releases today because I’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time.

It’s the debut picture book by my good friend, Ame Dyckman—and get this—it’s illustrated by the hugely talented Dan Yaccarino! I mean, this has got to be the best picture book EVER with an author-illustrator team just as lovable as Boy and Bot themselves.

And for this very special day, I’ve got prizes to give away! One AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack including BOY + BOT, stickers, bookmarks, and an *exclusive* BOT keychain clip made by author-zoologist-educator-sculptor Jess Keating!

So let’s get on with the fun!

TL: Ame, you and I have been friends for a few years now, after meeting at NJ-SCBWI first page sessions. (I knew I had to get to know you, with your spiky pink hair and Lego bracelet.) Is that how you began your kidlit career, attending SCBWI events?

AD: *laughing* Was my hair pink back then? I don’t remember my hair color at the time (it’s blue, now), but I remember thinking, “Wow! This Tara person is funny and nice and she really knows her kidlit! I like her!” BAM! Friends!

And yes, attending SCBWI events–YAY, NJ-SCBWI!–started everything for me! When I first joined, I knew I wanted to write picture books, but I didn’t know how. My first manuscripts were REALLY bad, but nobody made fun of me. Everybody was helpful. (YOU taught me how to page a PB, remember? I still have your diagram!) I went to as many events as I could—First Page Sessions, Mentoring Workshops, Networking Dinners, Annual Conferences, etc. I learned tons—still do!—and met lots of amazing industry professionals and made lots of wonderful friends. At the 2009 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference, I pitched BOY + BOT to Super Agent Scott Treimel, and he said, “I love it! Let’s work together!”

TL: I distinctly remember the 2009 conference and a certain editor making goo-goo eyes at you during lunch…but he had read your manuscript and was bonkers over BOY + BOT. I thought to myself, GO AME! You could feel the buzz about that manuscript at the event. You were in deep conversation with several agents.

So we want to know—how did this beep-worthy book idea come about?

AD: The short answer: I love robots! (I used to doodle robots instead of doing my math homework. Even in college!) The long answer: I love robots and unusual friendship stories and mirror stories always make me laugh, so I hoped mine would make other people laugh, too.

TL: So BOY + BOT is your debut and it has something like 347 starred industry reviews! Are you thrilled or what?

AD: I’m SO happy, and really grateful for all the reviewer love. Here’s hoping the little Boys (and Girls!) and Bots that Dan and I made the book for love it, too!

TL: We’re chatting on the eve of your book’s release. Will you be able to sleep tonight? It’s a little like Christmas Eve, isn’t it?

AD: It feels like Christmas Eve and Birthday Eve and Leaving-for-Disney-World-Tomorrow Eve all smooshed together! I was up until 3:45 this morning because I was so excited already! (But, I think I’d better try to nap later today—I just searched the fridge and then the entire house looking for the bag of baby carrots, only to find I’d put them in the clothes dryer!)

TL: How awesome was it to see Dan Yaccarino’s vision of your characters? Were they anything like you imagined?

AD: Seeing Dan’s first sketches was the greatest! My family gathered around, we clicked “Open,” and then we all shouted, “Look! Bot’s… BIG! That’s BRILLIANT!” (Up until then, we’d envisioned Boy and Bot being the same small size! I dunno why!) But a small Boy and a big Bot is GENIUS! We could already see all the wonderful humor and affection Dan was putting into the characters, and knew his final artwork would be amazing. When it came in, I loved it SO MUCH, I hugged my computer!

TL: *insert clever segue to Dan here*

Howdy Dan, Mr. Keeno Yaccarino! Tell me, when you read Ame’s manuscript, it was love at first sight, right? Kind of like BOY + BOT themselves, right? RIGHT?! (Say “affirmative,” Dan.)


TL: Ame said said when the illustrations came in, she was surprised to see BOT was a big bot and not a small one, like Boy. Why did you make the friends different sizes?

DY: Hmmm. I’m not sure. I guess it was the vision that formed in my mind when I read the manuscript.

There is rarely a logical reason why I do things visually. I listen to my impulse and trust my vision. If it feels right and is right for the book, then I do it.

Then perhaps I’ll rationalize it later.

TL: OK, would you care to rationalize why the inventor is bald?

DY: All inventors should be bald!

TL: *spittake* You’ve got a point there. Plus he reminds me of a lightbulb, so that’s very clever.

And here’s something else that’s clever—our contest to win the AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack (book, Bot clip, stickers & bookmarks) PLUS there’s also TWO MORE copies of BOY + BOT to give away!


Enter by telling us what you think Boy’s real name is. Ame says she’s always wondered about it. So let her know!

You get one entry for commenting and then one entry for every share on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Just mention it when you comment!

Have fun and good luck! Comments will close the end of April 20 and winners will be announced on April 21.

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