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Thank you for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements. I intend to get to them prior to year’s end, so I hope you’ll stick around just a while longer. Here, have a cookie. If you can catch him, that is.

gingy

All grand prize winners plus Pre-PiBo and Post-PiBo winners have been notified via email. If you were a winner and did not receive an email, please contact me.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a gentle reminder (which you don’t really need, do you?) to give a book as a gift this holiday! Garrison Keillor said it best…

bookgift

And since it’s almost 2015, here are sneak peeks from my upcoming titles to be released in August, September and October (talk about bada-bing, bada-boom-boom-BOOM!). Funny how these books were each signed within one year of each other, but they’re being released within one month of each other!

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, August 2015)
illustrated by Benji Davies

bearyellowstone

NORMAL NORMAN (Sterling, September 2015)
illustrated by S.Britt

normandunebuggy

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House, October 2015)
illustrated by Troy Cummings

wolf (1)

Once again, thanks for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements.

And may you and your family have a joyful holiday season!

(I hope you receive some really cool writerly gift!)

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious does not even begin to describe the week I’ve been having! I know, I know, why should YOU care? Frankly, I don’t know. The fact that anyone other than my mother reads this blog blows my mind.

First, on Friday, my agent said she loves the 900-word picture book I just wrote. Who knew that many words was possible? I tend to stick to the 500-is-best rule, but this story was too librarious (made-up word) to fit in such a tiny space. So it’s busting out into the world and I hope it writes home soon. Au revoir, dahlink!

Next, I spoke at the RUCCL One-on-One Plus conference. And people thanked me for my speech! To know that I helped a few mentees feel less nervous that day—whoa! Mission accomplished.

And now, I have an announcement!

Drum roll please….

Oh, you’re an animal, Animal!

I have an illustrator for I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, 2014)!

And he is full of awesome sauce! (Although he’s from the UK, so that might be called “admirable gravy” across the pond, I dunno.)

Without further ado (and I do a lot of ado), it’s…

(No, that’s not Benji in the picture. Although I think that may be me on a non-showering day.)

Benji is the admirable gravy behind such books as WINSTON WAS WORRIEDDINO PARADE and HODGE THE HEDGEHOG (which I mistakenly thought was about John Hodgeman), plus the delightful interactive book app series from Nosy Crow, BIZZY BEAR.


So can you tell I’m absolutely tickled to have him working on my book?

This is one of the most exciting parts of being a picture book author—finding out who your illustrator will be and falling in book love. (Not to be confused with marriage love, as I am already taken by a dashing computer geek. And yes, you can use the words “dashing” and “computer geek” in the same sentence. Although to the computer geek, it may have a programming connotation.)

So check out Benji’s work, congratulate him, and also give him fair warning that he’s working with an absolute nut. He may require counseling after the book launch.

After all, I called him “admirable gravy”!

by Tara Lazar

I have a daughter who recently turned five and her favorite saying is “Why come?” (She mixes up “how come” and “why”.)

You may have children like this. They want to know about EVERYTHING, even the most mundane.

“Why come we have to take a bath?”

“Why come we sleep with pillows?”

“Why come we eat breakfast first?”

And the perennial favorite, “Why come we have feet and not wheels?”

I dunno, kid, I dunno. Sure would make life easier.

Kids are curious. They want to know WHY. Like WHY they can’t stay up past 8:30. And then WHY they can’t get up for school. WHY they can’t have a banana split for all three squares (“hey ma, it’s got FRUIT in it!”). And then WHY their stomach aches.

Just as Karma Wilson asks herself WHAT IF? as she writes picture books, I constantly ask myself WHY.

Every character reacts to a situation in their own unique, quirky way. If I create a store called THE MONSTORE where you can buy monsters, I have to ask myself WHY a kid would spend his hard-earned leaf-raking cash on one. There has to be a reason other than the monsters just being cool.

(Oh, and if you know a kid who actually rakes leaves for money these days, send them to my house, please. There are no fifth-grade entrepreneurs in this neighborhood.)

Kids cannot be fooled. If you don’t have a good reason behind a character’s actions, or even the entire story’s being, kids will see right through it. You don’t want “Why come?” to be the first thing they ask after closing the book. You haven’t succeeded if you haven’t immersed your reader in a fully believable set of events.

When I create a new picture book premise, I sit in a comfy chair with a notebook and scribble potential answers to WHY. I develop a long list of reasons for the character’s actions.

And my next secret? Those actions are usually tied to an EMOTION.

I can’t tell you how many picture book manuscripts I read which are devoid of emotion. A character MUST be emotionally changed. The way they start the story is not the way they finish the story. They have grown. They have learned. They have been emotionally altered.

It’s important to include an emotion that is universally understood by children.

What it FEELS LIKE to be picked last for the kickball team.

What it FEELS LIKE to have an annoying sibling.

What if FEELS LIKE to lose your favorite stuffed animal.

Heck, I’m an old lady and I still haven’t gotten over the 1979 disappearance of “Yellow Puff.” She was so yellow. So puffy. So stolen by my little brother if you ask me. (Hey, I got TWO emotions in there.)

So if your picture book manuscript doesn’t feel satisfying, ask yourself, “WHY COME?” It might just give you the answer.

Tara Lazar is the creator of PiBoIdMo, the picture book writer’s alternative to NaNoWriMo. Her first two picture books will be released by the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster. THE MONSTORE, illustrated by James Burks, opens in 2013 and I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK rolls into stores in 2014. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She prefers cheese over chocolate and chai over coffee. Visit her website for children’s book reviews, writing tips and other fun kidlit diversions. Oh wait, you’re already there!!!

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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 eXplore
August 2020

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