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timothyyoungby Timothy Young

First, congratulations on completing PiBoIdMo, getting all 30 of your great ideas down on paper. Or, congratulations on attempting PiBoIdMo, but only finding the time to get about 20 picture book ideas down on paper. Or, good try, you only found the time to get 5 or so picture book ideas down on paper because you’re really busy this time of year (heck, don’t kid yourself, you’re busy all year-round) but you feel like you’ve got 2 or 3 really good ideas you want to pursue. I, as usual, fall into the last group. It’s not that I lack good ideas, I just can’t get organized to write them all down on a schedule. Plus I have the added excuse of spending this November finishing my next book.

So now it’s December 3rd, now it’s time to take those 2 or 3 good ideas and start turning them into books. So let’s sit down and start writing, as soon as you go pick out a tree and decorate the house for the holidays. OK, that’s out of the way, let’s start writing, as soon a you finish that job you started in mid-November and the deadline is fast approaching. OK, that’s done, now it’s getting close to Christmas and you’ve got so many functions and last minute shopping and then it’s New Year’s Eve and I promise I’ll get around to writing as soon as the new year starts. Well, right after I do my taxes, that is. What do you mean Happy Valentines Day?! Where is the time going!


So here’s the issue, I don’t know about you, but I’m really busy. I work for myself as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator. I have a number of clients who are very demanding (especially that one who always calls at 4:30 with some emergency that requires another 4 hours of work). Add to that family stuff and general household needs, who has time to write?


So here are some secrets to finding all the time you need to write:

  • Inherit loads of money so you don’t have to have a job. This also works if you win the lottery.
  • Marry someone who is really wealthy so that you can have servants to take care of all the small stuff like raising the kids. This frees up a lot time.
  • Become really famous for something else, like acting in movies or singing great songs, then publishers will pay you lots of money to write a book. Even becoming infamous can get you a book deal.


Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound hopeless, it’s not. We write because we have to, because we are passionate about it. Don’t ask me how I found the time to get 5 picture books out in 6 years, 4 of which are with a publisher so small they don’t pay an advance*, and I’m the illustrator as well, so I really have to work some late nights. Basically I’ve found that you just have to make the time. Find an hour here and an hour there. Get up a few hours early on the weekends and leave the dishes in the sink until later. If you are sitting in the car on a long trip, write in your head or speak it into your iPhone.

You found the time to do PiBoIdMo, you’ll find the time to write your books. You will, because you want to, you need to…because you have to do it, for you.

*Don’t get me wrong, I love Schiffer Publishing, they’re an independent, family-run publisher that has been around since the early seventies, they pay good royalties and they do an excellent job producing my books and distributing them.


Timothy Young has had a lot of fun jobs; he’s been an animator, puppet maker, toy designer, sculptor, art director, illustrator and graphic designer. Tim has designed for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, the Muppets, Disney, the Simpsons and Universal Studios. Now he is the author/illustrator of 5 published picture books including I Hate Picture Books! and his latest, The Angry Little Puffin. He lives with his family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.


Visit Tim’s website at creaturesandcharacters.comFriend him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @TimSYoung.


Tim is giving away two books–a signed copy of THE ANGRY LITTLE PUFFIN and a signed copy of I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes 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!



Before you click the back button, thinking you’ve arrived at the wrong blog, let me assure you…I DO NOT hate picture books.

And neither does Timothy Young, author-illustrator of the new picture book I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! It’s his main character with the picture book problemo.

I will let him explain…

timothyyoungIn November I was a guest blogger for PiBoIdMo and I told a brief version of how I had the idea for I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!. I was at the NJSCBWI 2011 summer conference where I was on the faculty. I taught a seminar about creating pop-up books and sat on a panel with some of the other authors in the KidLit Authors Club. I attended a couple of the other seminars while there, including “Finding The Funny Stuff” with Audrey Vernick and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. They were talking about parody (I love good parody) in children’s books and Olugbemisola made a very funny comment about Paddington Bear’s immigration status.

That’s where things got rolling. I’ve always loved good parody but I hadn’t really thought of doing a parody book. There have been some really good ones lately like Michael Rex’s THE RUNAWAY MUMMY and GOODNIGHT GOON. So sitting there I started thinking, if I were going to do a parody what would it be? Images of classic books started running through my head and I thought, there are too many to choose from. Could I do something that used a bunch of books instead of just one? Somewhere in my thoughts appeared this kid, this boy who misinterpreted what he was reading. He was angry about it and he yelled “I hate picture books!”.

I have to say I really liked that title. It had a great hook and I thought “there’s a title readers will notice”. It has to be a good story with a title like that. I thought of all of the books this boy would be angry at. I thought of the kind of trouble he would get into based on what he read. I was really enjoying the process.


I had the beginning of the book really fleshed out, I was even designing spreads in my head. Having the boy (he was eventually named Max) appear in the books he was talking about, and illustrating him in the style of classic illustrators really excited me.

I then came up with the idea of having lots and lots of books lying on the floor and I couldn’t wait to get home and start drawing some of the scenes I was working out in my head.

So this story pushed it’s way out of my head. Once I got home from the conference I began furiously drawing. I designed my boy and started drawing him onto the scenes I was developing. I went to my local library and checked out dozens of books. (I’ve dedicated this book to my mom and to Rosemary Morris, the children’s librarian at the Talbot County Library). I’ve had an ability to mimic other peoples styles which I’ve developed working in the toy industry with licensed product from Disney, Henson and other famous character brands. I knew I had to go the New York in August for 2 weeks so I gave myself a deadline to have a rough dummy ready for then.

I made my deadline and set up some meetings. I got a very good reaction from a number of people who’s opinion I really respect. I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! was sent out to a number of publishers by my then agent, and was turned down (nicely) by all of them. In November I was introduced to the good people at Schiffer Publishing. I submitted it along with SHADOWS ON MY WALL, THEY’RE COMING! and another book. They came back to me quickly saying they wanted all four. Since SHADOWS ON MY WALL and THEY’RE COMING! were almost ready to go they were put into the schedule right away. I then had 6 months to finish all of the illustrations for I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! and here it is coming out in a couple of weeks!


I’m having a book launch event at Books of Wonder in NYC on March 2nd (Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!) from 1 – 3 pm. If you can’t make it and want to get a signed copy, you can order one from my Kickstarter campaign until SundayFebruary 17th when the campaign ends. You can see a video there of me reading the first few pages of the book.

I’m also having a contest on my website, If you can recognize and name 40 books from the over 250 classic and modern picture books referenced in it you can enter to win over a dozen signed books that appear in my book. They are by authors and illustrators you’ve actually heard of.

Thanks, Timothy!

I definitely cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

How about you?

Actually, I love picture books, but I do have a new book coming out next year called I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!. I’m going to tell the story of how I had the idea for this book, but I want to back up a bit first.

Ever since I was a kid, I drew pictures and made clay sculptures of little guys and strange creatures. They always had stories of who they were and what they were doing, but that was in my head. I was an artist—not a writer—and I always figured that a writer would come along and look at my work and they would say “That looks good, let me write down the story of what you drew.” I don’t know what happened to that guy because he never showed up.

About 6 years ago, I finally realized I was going to have to write my story ideas myself. I wrote down a bunch of my ideas and worked them into stories that I thought were good and put together some sample pages of the illustrations and I felt I was ready to go. I had the good fortune of meeting an author who set up a meeting with Heidi Kilgras at Random House. I showed my ideas to her and although she said some nice things about the books I was showing her, what she really liked was my logo. It was on the bottom of every page and she kept saying how much she liked it and finally she said she wanted to do a book that looked like my logo.

So now I had a challenge. I knew the style of the book, now I needed to find the story and the illustrations that work in that style. On the long drive home from New York I had a million ideas running around in my head… what kind of characters do I like drawing? …aliens….robots…monsters. OK, monsters, now I have to look for a story about monsters and why they are in the book. Suddenly the title came to me…”I’m Looking For A Monster!” The young boy I pictured in my head started telling me his story of his search for the perfect monster. Two weeks later I sent a book dummy to Random House and they picked it up soon after. If you’d like to see the original dummy, check it out here.

Later that year I sent Heidi a dummy for “They’re Coming!” She liked it and showed it to her acquisitions team. She came back saying they liked it, but they don’t want to follow one monster book with another. They asked if I had anything with dragons or dinosaurs.

Another challenge! A short time later I sent her outlines for “I’m Looking For A Dinosaur”, “Shadows On My Wall” and another with dragons. She liked “Shadows”, but marketing liked “I’m Looking For A Dinosaur”, which they acquired. (Why it’s not out is a long story for another day.)

So now I find myself either challenging myself or finding external challenges to come up with creative ideas. Most of the books that I have put out or am working on are in answer to those challenges. I’ve never gone back to the ones I thought were good picture books (although I might at some point if only to grab some nuggets out of them).

An idea sketch for SHADOWS ON MY WALL.

And the final version.

I promised to tell how I came up with I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!. I was at the NJ-SCBWI summer conference two years ago. I was on the faculty with some of the other authors in the KidLit Authors Club. I attended a couple of the seminars while there, including “Finding The Funny Stuff” with Audrey Vernick and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. They were talking about parody (I love good parody) in children’s books and Olugbemisola made a very funny comment about Paddington Bear’s immigration status.

I started thinking about classic children’s books and this title popped into my head. I have to admit that I missed the rest of what they said in the seminar, because I was off…my character, a boy who is throwing away his books because he misinterprets them and then gets in trouble, was telling me his story. By the time I had driven home the next day I had the whole thing written in my head. I can’t wait until it comes out early in 2013. (Here’s a link to the publisher where you can pre-order it!)

Now I have to get back to the funny little bird who’s in the process of challenging me to tell his story.

Timothy Young is the Founder and Creative Director of Creatures & Characters LLC. He has designed toys, worked on animation projects, licensed characters, and produced picture books. Timothy is the author-illustrator of I’M LOOKING FOR A MONSTER, SHADOWS ON MY WALL, THEY’RE COMING, and I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!. Visit his creations at

Timothy is giving away a signed book of your choice and an original pencil sketch. Just leave a comment to enter (one per person, please). A winner will be selected next week. Good luck!

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