You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘But the Bear Came Back’ tag.

Disclaimer: These are not Tammi’s abs.

by Tammi Sauer

People go to the gym for various reasons. Some want to stay fit. Some want to lose weight. Some want to fulfill the dream of getting a six-pack.

But that six-pack doesn’t just happen. It requires a lot. I can think of at least six things that need to go into the mix:

  1. fuel,
  2. a personal trainer,
  3. consistency,
  4. stretching,
  5. a workout buddy, and
  6. some rest and recovery.

This is my 2018 six-pack:

    

    

Wordy Birdy  (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)

“Sauer’s fun-to-read text and Mottram’s detailed and hilarious illustrations seamlessly meld into a cohesive whole.”—School Library Journal

But the Bear Came Back (Sterling)

“There is plenty of humor in the details of the colorful, fine-lined art, but this is largely a poignant story, one that could add a nice variety of flavor to storytime.”—Booklist

Go Fish!  (HarperCollins)

“A fun summertime romp—hook, line, and sinker.”—Kirkus

Knock Knock  (Scholastic Press)

”Saturated colors, animated characters, and silly jokes will ensure repeated readers. An appealing read aloud choice on hibernation and friendship.”—School Library Journal

Quiet Wyatt (Clarion)

“A humorous friendship story with a little bit of an ironic twist.” —Kirkus

Making a Friend (HarperCollins)

“A sure recipe for making a friend…real or snow.” —Kirkus

While I didn’t set out to have six books published in one year (that would be bananas), those same six things—fuel, a personal trainer, consistency, stretching, a workout buddy, and some rest and recovery—played a big role in making this six-pack happen.

Fuel:

Your body needs water and the proper foods to reach its potential. To write a picture book, you must have fuel, too. You need to feed your muse and writing ability. But how? Read and analyze(!!!) other picture books! Go to the bookstore or the library, grab a pile of books (mostly ones published in recent years), and STUDY them. Break them apart and figure out what makes them work. And once you finish that? Well, grab another pile.

Personal Trainer:

Getting guidance from an expert in the field can prove beneficial in achieving this fitness goal. As a writer, you can gain valuable insight from others as well. Attend conferences. Take a class. Watch a webinar. Find a mentor. Study resources on how to write picture books—my personal favorite is Linda Ashman’s The Nuts & Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books.

Consistency:

Acquiring that toned set of muscles requires regular effort. When I first decided to try writing picture books, I’d write for a couple of month, take a break for a few weeks, write for a few days, take a break for half a year…. This didn’t help me to improve as a writer. It was only when I made writing a priority that I acquired noticeable gains. You need to show up to the page (even when you don’t feel like it—maybe especially when you don’t feel like it) and be willing to put in the work.

Stretch:

Some pre-workout stretching can help you to avoid muscle strains and cramping. Stretch as a writer, too. Instead of writing the same sort of story over and over again, attempt new approaches. Try different points of view. Try different structures. Try to tell a story entirely in dialogue or a story that’s told almost completely through the art or one that is (gasp!) a rhymer.

Workout Buddy:

A workout buddy joins you at the gym and knows firsthand what you’re going through because he or she is going through it, too. This person can motivate you to keep at it and get better. As a writer, critique partners and critique groups not only cheer you on as you do the work, but, even more importantly, they push you to improve your craft.

Rest and Recovery:

You can’t go to the gym every minute—your body needs time for rest and recovery. Writers need these times, too. Go for a walk. Meet a friend for lunch. Visit the beach or a museum or your great aunt Mildred. Take time to experience life and refill the well.

This six-pack of writing tips has served me well over the years. In the words of Hans and Franz, I hope they PUMP YOU UP.

Tammi wants to share her six-pack with you.

For a chance to win one of these books, leave a comment on this post. (One comment per person, please.)

SIX WINNERS will be randomly selected in two weeks.

Good luck!


Tammi Sauer is a full-time author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has 25 published picture books with major publishing houses including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Scholastic Press, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling. In addition to winning awards, Tammi’s books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical and is currently on a national tour, Wordy Birdy was named a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month, and Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was recently released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. Visit her at tammisauer.com.

by Tammi Sauer

Over the Storystorm years, I have shared many of my idea-getting strategies.

This time around, I want to focus on using a familiar song, nursery rhyme, or chant as a starting point.

While I had heard of this writing exercise many times before, it wasn’t until I saw it presented in Linda Ashman’s (super amazing!!!) resource, THE NUTS AND BOLTS GUIDE TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS, that an idea popped into my head.

This is what I saw in Linda’s book:

Rework a song or chant. Try rewriting a familiar song, chant, nursery or jump rope rhyme. Here are a few suggestions, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes
  • I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • You Are My Sunshine
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat

And this was my idea: Mary Had a Little Glam.

I knew I had to write that story. And, once I felt brave enough to tackle rhyme, I did. Lucky for me, Vanessa Brantley-Newton agreed to illustrate the book.

There are many great examples of books that have sprung from this approach. These are just a few of my favorites:

  • HUSH, LITTLE DRAGON by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
  • I AIN’T GONNA PAINT NO MORE! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow
  • THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle
  • TEN ON THE SLED by Kim Norman, illustrated by Liza Woodruff
  • THIS OLD VAN by Kim Norman, illustrated by Carolyn Conahan

In February, the adorable TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE CAR written by Kate Dopirak and illustrated by Mary Peterson will zoom onto the scene. (And both ladies will be guest blogging for Storystorm later this month.)

In March, MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Petros Bouloubasis will prove quite inventive.

While these books follow the same basic rhythm and rhyme scheme as the song, nursery rhyme, or chant they were based on, keep in mind that you don’t have to marry yourself to this approach. You can use one of those things to simply trigger the basic idea for a story as well.

My upcoming book with Dan Taylor, BUT THE BEAR CAME BACK, for example, got its start when I was listening to NPR. They played the old song “But the Cat Came Back.”

Right away, I thought about what it would be like if a rather large and completely unexpected animal would show up at a kid’s house and decide to make himself at home.

While I didn’t mirror the actual song in my book, I used its title as a stepping stone.

BUT THE BEAR CAME BACK debuts this April from Sterling.

So give it a try. Think about those familiar childhood songs, nursery rhymes, and chants then brainstorm a few picture book title possibilities of your own.


Tammi Sauer is a full time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has sold 30 picture books to major publishing houses including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling. Her book WORDY BIRDY, illustrated by Dave Mottram, debuts on February 6. This book got its start in StoryStorm. It was idea number 19 on her 2014 list.

You can learn more about Tammi at tammisauer.com, read her posts at picturebookbuilders.com, and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.

Tammi is giving away a copy of the soon-to-be-released WORDY BIRDY to one lucky duck commenter.

Tammi is also giving away a picture book critique. Ooh.

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!

 

7ate9
Winner of the 2018 Irma S. Black Award and the SCBWI Crystal Kite!
black kite

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways via email. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 10,701 other followers

My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

YOUR FIRST DAY OF CIRCUS SCHOOL
illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
2019

THE UPPER CASE:
TROUBLE IN CAPITAL CITY
illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
Fall 2019

FOUR WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
Spring 2020

Blog Topics

Archives

Twitter Updates