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SNOOZEFEST AUTHOR PHOTOby Samantha Berger

You never know WHEN inspiration will hit
So carry a pen, and be READY for it!

The story of Witch Spa I’m sharing with you,
was LIT-ER-ALLY a dream that came true.

One night, around 3, I sat up in bed
and the words “WITCH SPA” flew into my head.

I said them out loud, then laughed, and passed out
and asked the next day, “what was THAT all about?”

I started to answer myself in real time,
and somehow the words, they came out IN RHYME!

That’s never really happened before,
But when story comes knockin’, you answer the door.

“A Witch Spa is clearly a place witches go…
to recoup and regroup from October’s big show…”

And so it flowed forth, and I let it come out,
pushed PAUSE on my own editorial doubt:
(*which is CRITICAL, I’ll come back to this later)

“After all of the Halloween hullabaloo
With the tricking and treating a haunting to do
And plotting and planning and endless late nights
The cooking and cackling and long broomstick flights

a witch needs a break and a little vacation,
a witch needs a place for some REAL relaxation.
A witch must admit, though it may be bourgeois,
She’s booked herself into the faboo WITCH SPA!”

witch_spa_big

(*note, actual editor killed the word bourgeois)

But almost the rest of the first draft still stands,
from a dream in my head, to the book in my hands.

SO–
Everyone writes in their own writer-way
But here are a few things I think I can say:

1. (*my point from earlier)

Check your self-editor at the front door,
and leave yourself free to fully explore!
Your writing will be a BERGILLION times greater
If you blather it out, and edit it later.
To do both at once, leaves you quite agitated,
makes writing and progress both constipated.
(Fecchhh!)
So ramble and blurt, and fly your flag free,
and do not worry about who’s gonna see.

2. Have you ever witnessed a kid hard at play?
Fully engaged in a world far away?
Drawing or building or digging in sand?
Well, working and playing, they go hand in hand!
So get into play mode, and play for yourself
Don’t worry about how your book hits the shelf.
Go blow some bubbles, sing really loud!
Forget all the rules, and what’s not allowed.
Meow at the moon, run around nakiepants!
Put on a wig, do a Stanky Leg dance!
Go back and touch base with your child within
That’s always an inspirational place to begin.

3. If you are filled with picture book ambition

Challenge yourself with a daily tradition:
A warm-up doodle, a chapter, a page —
A little brain-juice for the mind to engage.
Hold yourself to it, don’t ever cop out–
That’s what PiBoIdMo is really about.

Blah blah blah, Sam.
Enough rhyming!
Write on, PiMoIdMo-thers!


Samantha Berger writes and writes and writes (she even wrote *this*). 

She has written picture books like CRANKENSTEIN! illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown, 2013), A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE (Little, Brown December, 2014), WITCH SPA illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Dial, August 2015), and SNOOZEFEST illustrated by Kristyna Litten (Dial, January 2015).

CRANKENSTEIN  CRANKVALENTINE Snoozefest

She also has written picture books like SANTA’S REINDEER GAMES illustrated by John Manders (Cartwheel, 2011), MARTHA DOESN’T SHARE, and MARTHA DOESN’T SAY SORRY illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Little, Brown 2010, 2009), which won a Parent’s Choice Award Honor. 

She has written cartoons and promos for Nickelodeon and other networks. She has written comic books and commercials. 
She has written movie trailers, theme songs, slogans, magazine articles, poems, TV-books, sticker books and professional books.

You name it, Sam writes it. 

And when she ISN’T WRITING…. She’s doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs. 

THEN… 
she writes about that, too! 

Samantha splits her time between New York City and sunny California. 

PrizeDetails (2)

Samantha is giving away one of her books! Ooh-la-la!

Leave a comment to enter. One comment per person, please.

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. 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 will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

Kid Chef Eliana and Mom Dianne de Las Casas July 2014by Dianne de Las Casas

I am the founder of Picture Book Month and it starts tomorrow, November 1. The website, PictureBookMonth.com, features essays from thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay is posted. This year’s Picture Book Month Champions are: Chris Barton, Aaron Becker, Kelly Bingham , Sophie Blackall, Arree Chung, Anna Dewdney, Johnette Downing, Ame Dyckman, Jill Esbaum, Carolyn Flores, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Robin Preiss Glasser, Deborah Heiligman, Marla Frazee, Stefan Jolet, Kathleen Krull, Rene Colato Lainez, Loreen Leedy, Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, Brian Lies, Kelly J. Light, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Alexis O’Neill, Sandra Markle, Ann Whitford Paul, Aaron Reynolds, Judy Schachner, Linda Joy Singleton, and David Schwartz. Please join the celebration!

PBMLOGO-COLOR_WEBRES

As you prepare for PiBoIdMo, think about the titles of your picture books. In a recent interview for California Kids! magazine, Patricia Newman asked me, “How do you come up with titles for your books?” This started me thinking in depth about picture book titles. What’s in a title? How important is a title to a book? Can a book be centered around its title?

As it turns out, titles are vital to a book’s success. Author Scott Westerfield says, “Titles name a book, and names are important. A good name can make or break you.”

Brandi Reissenweber of Gotham Writers “Ask the Writer” column says, “A title is a story’s first impression. People make a first impression with appearance, wardrobe, and body language. Stories do it with a title.”

Eric Ode says, “Dan, the Taxi Man began as nothing more than a title. And one of the books I have coming out next year began as a title.”

PiBoIdMo founder and picture book author Tara Lazar says, “Most of my books begin as titles. It’s just the way my mind works. I want a BAM! concept, something that really hits you, and I find that people get HIT best with a succinct, powerful title.”

Corey Rosen Schwartz says, “I have written several books around titles! Like Tara [Lazar], most of my books begin that way. Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears, for example, was just a title on my PiBoIdMo 2009 list.”

 

Character-Based Titles

Many picture books have character-driven titles. The character of the book IS the title. Do you have a book character that is so compelling that the character’s name should be the book’s title? Here are some examples:

  • Olivia by Ian Falconer
  • Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton
  • Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor

Robin Preiss Glasser book cover

 

Clever, Punny Titles

I am a big fan of clever, punny titles. In fact, several of my books have punny titles. Here are some examples that are just too clever for words… almost.

  • Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
  • The Monstore by Tara Lazar
  • Little Red Hot by Eric Kimmel
  • Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
  • Epossumondas by Colleen Salley

Crankenstein

 

Verbose Titles

I am generally a fan of the “less is more” title for a book but sometimes, a garrulous title is EXACTLY what the book calls for. Can you imagine these books with a short title?

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback (a folktale retelling)
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

ALEXANDER_TERRIBLE_HORRIBLE

 

Plot-Based Titles

Some titles beckon you to open the book. These titles are based around the book’s plot. Yes, as short as a picture book is, it can still have a plot. In fact, these picture book plots were so inspiring that they were turned into Hollywood blockbuster movies!

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • A Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story by Hudson Talbott
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

 

Single-Word Titles

A picture book title can also be short and succinct, even one-word. These acclaimed picture books prove that a word is worth a thousand pictures.

  • Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • Blackout by John Rocco
  • Ninja! by Arree Chung
  • Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds
  • Hug by Jez Alborough

Arree Chung cover

Aaron Zenz says, “Hiccupotamus started with the title. I really wouldn’t have had any desire to write a book about a bunch of jungle animals chasing around a disruptive hippo if not for the title. In my mind, the pun ‘Hiccupotamus’ is the most important thing about that particular book.”

As you create and engage your imagination this month, think about your picture book’s title. In what way can an engaging title enhance your picture book? How can you use the title to attract readers? Perhaps you can be the Author with the Terrific, Tremendous, Oh-So-Grand, Very Remarkable Title.

As you celebrate PiBoIdMo and Picture Book Month, read LOTS of picture books. Comment below and share with us your favorite picture book titles and why you think they are so splendiferous. Here’s to Picture Books! Read * Share * Celebrate!

guestbloggerbio2014

Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 24 books, Dianne is the International Reading Association LEADER 2014 Poet Laureate, and the 2014 recipient of the Ann Martin Book Mark award. Her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The Little “Read” Hen, The House That Santa Built, and Cinderellaphant. Visit her website at diannedelascasas.com. Visit Picture Book Month at PictureBookMonth.com. Twitter & Instagram: @AuthorDianneDLC Picture Book Month Twitter: @PictureBkMonth Facebook: fanofdianne and PictureBookMonth. Dianne is the proud mom of 14-year-old culinary celebrity, Kid Chef Eliana.

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.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019


illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 15, 2019

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

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
August 2020

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