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Oh boy, I didn’t realize how far behind I was in picking winners to various giveaways. I would say “my bad” but I don’t like that phrase.”My laziness” is more like it!
Well, things have been BUSY, though. I’ve got three–soon to be four–manuscripts under submission. And I’ve been editing others on their way to the printer. NORMAL NORMAN, out next March, just got a cover! Isn’t he (and his junior scientist pal) adorable???
There’s supposed to be a giveaway for LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD on Goodreads, but it hit some snafu and I’m trying to get it snafuless. Un-snafued? And don’t even get me started on Facebook ads! I’ve been getting emails “Your ad has been approved” and then ten minutes later, “Your ad has been disapproved” and then “That was a mistake, you are approved” in an endless loop.
Finally, I’ve been firming up the schedule for this year’s PiBoIdMo. I’m almost ready to go with the guest blogging calendar, agent-prizes, 2015 logo and participant badges (all by Troy Cummings). You’ll definitely want to meet our new friend “Bulby”! Please be sure to join our PiBoIdMo Facebook discussion group for all the latest/greatest.
I’m also making PDF hand-outs for PiBoIdMo Kick-Off parties if your SCBWI chapter wants to host a picture book schmooze-fest in late October or early November. I’m available to Skype into your party, too. As usual, I’ll be in my pajamas.
Just email me at tarakidlit at gmail for details. (And dance moves.)
Anyway, here are all the WINNAHS from recent (and not-so-recent) contests. I’ll be emailing y’all shortly! Congratulations!
FIRST GRADE DROPOUT Winner:
IT’S RAINING BATS & FROGS Winner:
THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON Winner:
FRACTURED FAIRY TALE SKYPE Winners:
Hmmm…I need a clever ending to this post. I always do a clever ending!
Oh, I got nuthin’. Kermit, take over for me, will ya?
by guest blogger Rebecca Colby
I like to think of myself as Tara’s biggest fan. Although we’ve never met, she unwittingly got me through a very rough time. She’s also gotten me into the habit of generating ideas every day, and I credit her with three picture book success stories.
The year 2009 was a very bad year for me. By the time I discovered Tara and her month-long picture book idea challenge, I’d spent five months sick in bed. I needed something to take my mind off my misery and PiBoIdMo did the trick. While none of the ideas I generated that first year amounted to much, the challenge helped keep me sane.
The following year I couldn’t wait for November to arrive. Tara lined up another month of non-stop inspiration from published picture book authors and illustrators, and by acting on guest blogger Sudipta Barden-Quallen’s advice, I came up with a few ideas for fractured fairy tales. A story I wrote from one of those ideas went on to win the SCBWI 2011 Barbara Karlin grant. (The details of this PiBoIdMo success story can be found here.)
Then PiBoIdMo 2011 rolled around. I was absolutely giddy with excitement. Tara wasn’t yet a published rock star picture book author but I still worshiped the cyberspace she typed on, and she now had a fan for life. But instead of setting up a fan club (which I’m still considering doing), I decided the best way to show my appreciation would be to share word of her motivational challenge with anyone and everyone who I thought might be even remotely interested. So that’s what I did, and then I got busy generating more ideas.
Going into the 2011 challenge, I knew I wanted to write a story about a witch, but I couldn’t come up with any story ideas for my character. So I did what I often do when I need to solve a problem—I went for a walk. Now I live in England, and November in England is rainy. In fact, most months in England are rainy, but November is guaranteed to be one of the rainiest and while I was out walking, it started to pour down that heavy kind of rain when people say “it’s raining cats and dogs”. But I was trying to think of a story idea for a witch. That’s when the title came to me: “It’s Raining Bats & Frogs”. As I thought more about this idea, another saying came to me, “It’s raining on my parade.” Because I enjoy the use of juxtaposition in my writing—in this case ‘witches’ and ‘a parade’–I knew I had the rest of my idea. I’d write about a witch parade that was being rained on and how the rain made the witches miserable.
I had a lot of fun developing the idea, but it took me a good ten months to write and revise the story. It was nearly time for PiBoIdMo 2012 before I started submitting it, and despite it being Halloween season, no one wanted it. Soon I was in the midst of an intense teacher training course and put further submissions on hold. Then a few months later, one of my critique partners shared a tweet with me from agent, Kathleen Rushall. Kathleen was looking for picture books with little witches. I immediately sent her It’s Raining Bats & Frogs. Within 24 hours, she offered me representation, and within a week she sold the book. I was over the moon! And I’m over the moon again today because that very book has finally released and Tara has generously allowed me to share some highlights from the book on her blog. So here goes:
The main character, Delia, looks forward all year to flying in the annual Witch Parade, but parade day brings heavy rain. Using her best magic, she changes the rain…
…first to cats and dogs,
…and later to bats and frogs.
But neither of these changes work too well, and each new type of rain brings a new set of problems.
I won’t spoil the story for you but suffice it to say that Delia does eventually find a spell to save the day.
And my PiBoIdMo success stories (and consequently my fan girl adoration) don’t end there. Since contacting Tara about this post, idea #43 from 2014 has sold. But that’s a story for another day–and a story that wouldn’t have been made possible without Tara and Picture Book Idea Month. Thanks for having me today, Tara, and roll on November!
Thank you, Rebecca! This is a phenomenal story and I wish even more success stories for you, PiBoIdMo or not!
To show her gratitude, Rebecca is giving away a signed copy of IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS, which releases TODAY! (It is a Tuesday, remember!)
Leave a comment below to enter. If you share via social media, leave one comment per share on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
A winner will be randomly selected in about two weeks!
Rebecca is a picture book author and poet. Her books include: It’s Raining Bats & Frogs (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2015) and There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie (Floris Picture Kelpies, 2014).
Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected pantyhose, taught English in Taiwan, worked for a Russian comedian and traveled the world as a tour director. Learn more about Rebecca at www.rebeccacolbybooks.com or follow her on Twitter at @amscribbler.
SORRY FOR THE DELAY!
Geesh, I am full of apologies lately. I’m so far behind in everything, which might not surprise you if you read my Emu’s Debuts post about “balance” being overrated. Being a mother, an author, managing my book launch and Multiple Sclerosis…phew. Wanna be an intern? Inquire within. Better terms and conditions than Kramerica Industries!
First I’d like to THANK YOU for backing my friend Ryan Hipp’s Kickstarter project, LITTLE STEPS. Ryan has exceeded his goal with more than a week to go. HIPP HIPP HOORAY!
Next, here are the winners from the past two giveaways! (Selected with the help of Random.org.)
WATCH YOUR TONGUE, CECILY BEASLEY by Lane Fredrickson:
Tina M. Cho!
NUGGET AND FANG PRIZE PACK from Tammi Sauer:
CONGRATULATIONS! Watch for an email from me.
And that’s all folks. But stay tuned—lots of book reviews coming soon, including a rare “poisonous” foray into YA fiction! I’ll also be walking you through what it takes to plan a book launch, which today includes getting quotes for COOKIES. Sweet!
Thanks to everyone who visited Salina Yoon’s post about her newest and most challenging novelty book, KALEIDOSCOPE. The winner of the signed copy is:
Congratulations, Donna! Be on the lookout for an email from me…
Didn’t win? No worries. There’s more giveaways coming in the next two weeks. Yes, it’s a busy Spring over here! Here’s a sneaky peekie (what my five-year-old calls it):
Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino’s BOY + BOT
Sarah Frances Hardy’s PUZZLED BY PINK
Carolyn Crimi and Stephanie Buscema’s PUGS IN A BUG
Ammi-Joan Paquette & Marie Letourneau’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS
It’s a Picture Book Palooza!
Plus, don’t forget, if you’re not already subscribed to my blog via email, join today to be entered into a SEPARATE “new follower” three-picture-book-prize-pack giveaway on April 1st (EXTRA YARN, BOY + BOT, ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT). I’m not foolin’! Just enter your email address in the left column.
Me announce winner of ME WANT PET contest.
But first, if you a parent/caregiver/teacher with picture book kids, subscribe to blog (see left column). Me have more book contest soon. Comment on this post if you new subscriber and you can win THREE PICTURE BOOK PRIZE PACK (BOY + BOT, EXTRA YARN, ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT)! Me pick winner APRIL 1. THIS NO APRIL FOOL’S!
Now ME WANT PET winner.
It be Anna, age 9! ConBATulations!
Now me show you more great pets!
Isaac, age 6:
This Kid Erik, age 10:
Josie, age 8:
Jordan, age 6:
Renn, age 5:
Me and Tammi Sauer thank all kids who draw pets!
Maybe Tammi write SEQUEL!
by James Burks
It’s day 18 of PiBoIdMo and I’m here to give you inspiration or at least a small push towards the finish line. I’m sure that, at some point in your life, most of you have put together a puzzle. It could have been a small puzzle with only a hundred pieces, or a ginormous puzzle with a bazillion pieces. Regardless of the size, if you can put together a puzzle then you can put together a story. So let’s get started.
To put together a story puzzle, the first things you need are the pieces. That’s where your ideas come in. Every single idea you come up with is a piece of the story puzzle. This includes characters, settings, or lines of dialogue; you name it, they are all pieces of the puzzle. And here’s the best part: there are no wrong pieces. If a piece doesn’t seem to fit into the puzzle you’re working on, you can set it aside to use later.
Here’s an example of a recent story puzzle that I put together:
About a year ago, I sat down and tried to come up with my next great idea. I had just sold my first two stories to different publishers and was trying to come up with a third story that my agent could send out. I had the first piece of my story puzzle: a squirrel. I spent the next few days creating more pieces. I gave the squirrel a name (another puzzle piece), and I came up with a bunch of stuff that he loved to do (more puzzle pieces). After a few days I took all the pieces and arranged them into a simple story, drew some rough drawings (for illustrators, these are more pieces), and sent it off to my agent. My agent thought it needed something more, though, and at the time I didn’t know what that was. So I set the entire puzzle aside and went off to work on another project.
After about a month, my agent called and asked if I had come up with any new ideas. I hadn’t. Or at least that’s what I thought. After hanging up the phone I started running through a bunch of random ideas while surfing the internet. I remember contemplating Amelia Earhart (I think the biopic was coming out or had just came out), went from there to Penguins, then to the South Pole, and from there to a bird migrating south for the winter. (It’s always a good idea to let your brain off its leash once in a while and let it run free. You never know what it might bring back.) Something about a bird flying south for the winter ended up sticking with me.
I didn’t know it just yet but I had just found another piece to my story puzzle.
From there, everything seemed to magically fall into place. I took the bird migrating south for the winter and stuck him with the squirrel from my earlier story. A small part of my story puzzle took shape.
Then I started to ask myself a series of questions to fill in the rest:
Why do they have to migrate south together for the winter? There had to be a reason and it had to be big. I asked myself what would happen if Squirrel was forced to go along after he unintentionally sacrificed his entire winter stash of food to save Bird from an attacking cat. He would have no other choice; if he didn’t go with Bird then he’d starve.
But, where was the conflict? What was going to make my story interesting? Maybe they were like the odd couple. I imagined Bird as a total free spirit who just wanted to have fun, while Squirrel was a bit neurotic and was all about responsibility. Squirrel can’t stand Bird, but they’re stuck together. A natural conflict of personality that would provide for some humorous scenes.
This left one last question. How would the two characters change by the end of the story? What would their character arc be? In the case of this story, I decided to have Bird learn to be a little more responsible and Squirrel learn to have a little more fun. The story, at its heart, would be about finding a balance between having fun and being responsible. And by the time the journey ended, they might even become friends.
At that point I could pretty much see the overall structure of my puzzle. The edges were complete and all the major parts were coming together. All I had to do was fill in the missing pieces in the middle, which solidified as I wrote the outline and got to know the characters better. Two weeks later I sent it off to my agent, we made some minor tweaks, and eventually sold it to a major publisher. (Deal announcement pending; I’m drawing and writing the book for release sometime in 2012.)
I hope you find inspiration in my recent experience and are able to put together some great story puzzles of your own. Just remember that there are no wrong pieces. You may not use every idea or piece you think of right now, but every piece (used or not) helps you build your puzzle. Now go forth and conquer the book world!
James Burks has spent the last 15 years working in the animation industry on various movies and television shows, including The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis, Treasure Planet, Home on the Range, Space Jam, The Iron Giant, Wow Wow Wubbzy, and most recently on Fan Boy and Chum Chum. His first graphic novel for kids, GABBY AND GATOR, was published by Yen Press in September 2010 and is a Junior Library Guild selection. James is currently working on a picture book with Lerner/Carolrhoda entitled BEEP AND BAH (2012), and the graphic novel mentioned above.
James is giving away a signed copy of GABBY & GATOR! Leave a comment to enter. A winner will be randomly selected one week from today.
Thanks to James for the PiBoIdMo 2010 logo and badges!
Today’s inspiration from author-illustrator Adam F. Watkins is purely visual. You figure out the story—and you can also win this signed illustration. Just leave a comment! A winner will be randomly selected one week from today.Adam lives in southern Ohio with his wife Amy and daughter Lucy. He graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2004, where he majored in illustration. He studied under C.F. Payne his junior and senior years. He worked for an advertising agency in Cincinnati after graduation and is now a full-time freelancer. He loves children’s books and the outdoors. Adam hopes to one day share his illustrations and stories with kids all over the world.
Some awards he has acquired along the way:
2003 – Society of Illustrators student show
2004 – Best in Show, Art of Illustration Show
2006 – Gold Addy Award
It’s not always about the cute bunnies.
I’ve been drawing a lot of bunnies lately. Well, actually one bunny in particular.
He is very persistent and keeps showing up when I’m doodling, waiting for his chance to star in a story. He is not what I am supposed to be drawing right now. I am supposed to be drawing chickens and mice and Christmas trees as well as coming up with a brilliant picture book idea everyday, none of which have had anything to do with bunnies so far. But he keeps showing up, begging for attention like a puppy who wants to go for a walk.
I have nothing against him, I think he is kind of cute. It’s just that I have no time right now for cute little bunnies. I really need to be working on these other things, before I can pay any attention to him.
So I am just trying to ignore him. And the more that I try to ignore him, the more I find myself thinking about him. Where did he COME from? Why does he keep BOTHERING me? What does he WANT? What does he NEED? WHO is this BUNNY?
Ideas are funny things. Sometimes it seems that you will never have another good idea again no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you need to wheedle an idea out of a germ of a thought. And sometimes they just burst through the door and kick you in the head. Who knows which ideas will grow into a full fledged story and which ones will just fizzle away. The best that you can do is listen to them, push them if they need it and give them a chance to shine.
I don’t know yet who this bunny is or if he will ever grow into his own story. All I know is that he’s been bugging me and pretty soon I am going to have to do something about it. The other characters are starting to complain.
You can win Sarah’s signed illustration of Bunny and Mouse above! Leave a comment to enter. (One entry per person.) A winner will be randomly selected one week from today. Good luck!
Those of us you who were children once upon a time will surely remember how frustrating it was suddenly to have been plunked down in a world where everyone knew more than you did—about everything. Children spend a great deal of time trying to figure things out: where does snow come from? Why can’t dogs talk? What happens next? Or, as we say in our family: “Who ordered the veal cutlet?”*
Kids develop their own little GPS-like subroutines, constantly recalculating to keep themselves on track—but sometimes, inevitably, they get it wrong. Misperceptions and missed information lead to misunderstandings . . . and—I won’t sugar-coat this—little misunderstandings often lead to:
(Yeah, I was grown before I figured that one out.)
Thank goodness for picture books!
In a picture book, you can check out your own real-live dinosaur any time from the Storybook Lending Zoo.
You can have the queen invite the golfer with the highest score to the palace for tea, and meet the prince, who is even worse at Goony Golf than you are.
You can become a super-hero in training, and rid the world of evil, baby-eating furniture.
How cool is that? As children’s book writers and illustrators, we get to do this all the time. So, having aired three of my own neuroses . . . er, picture book ideas . . . here is a tip for today: think back to those times in your childhood when things were not quite what you expected them to be—and imagine what it would take to discover a new, old friend . . . or have the last laugh . . . or fly to the rescue.
And then, for the love of heaven, explain to the little person in your life that dinosaurs are really extinct; that, as silly as it sounds, low score wins at Goony Golf; and that, yes, if necessary, a very tiny baby can sleep safely in a dresser drawer . . . but only if you take the drawer OUT of the dresser first!
*A line from Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie . . . um, maybe you had to be there.
Bonnie Adamson’s latest illustration project is BEDTIME MONSTER (¡A dormir, pequeño monstruo!) by Heather Ayris Burnell, released in September by Raven Tree Press.
Visit Bonnie’s soon-to-be-completely-overhauled website at www.bonnieadamson.net, or hang out with her on Twitter, where she co-hosts #kidlitchat on Tuesday nights and #kidlitart (for children’s book illustrators and friends) every Thursday.
Bonnie then, practicing her skeptical glare; and now—-an older and wiser children’s book illustrator.
Prize Alert! Leave a comment to enter. One randomly-selected winner will choose one of the three picture-book-inspired sketches above for Bonnie to paint in watercolor (Dinosaur, Royalty, Superhero). One entry per person! Winner will be selected one week from today. Good luck!