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Colby author photoby 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…

Hi Res Delia waving wand

…first to cats and dogs,

Hi Res cats and dogs

…and later to bats and frogs.

Hi Res 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!)

HI RES BATS & FROGS cover

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!

Good luck!

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.

More PiBoIdMo success stories! Many thanks to Mindy Alyse Weiss for pulling these stories together.

I hope when YOU have a success to share, you’ll contact me. I love to hear how your ideas went from pencil-scribble to published! And I don’t define “success” just as being pubbed. Win a grant, a contest, secure an agent–anything goes. So here goes…

1. Amy Dixon

Being married to a relentless distance runner means that every November, there is a marathon on the schedule. Lucky for me, November is also Picture Book Idea Month, and I had long been lamenting the lack of picture books about running. Looking back at my spreadsheet for 2010, the entry for November 5th says, “Marathon Mouse. Story of a mouse who lives in NYC right under the start line (Verrazano bridge)  and decides that it is his life’s dream to particpate in the NYC marathon.” That’s it. The beginnings of a story. Flash forward to August 2011, where I received one of the best e-mails of my life. A lovely editor at Sky Pony Press likes Marathon Mouse and wants to publish it! The story could end there, and would still be a dream-come-true. But I decided to contact an agent I had recently queried with a different story and tell her of my offer. After a flurry of e-mails and phone calls, I signed with Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. In the course of one day, I had gone from struggling picture book writer, to agented and soon-to-be-published! So keep your eyes peeled in Fall 2012 for a picture book titled, MARATHON MOUSE. It’s by me. And it happened in part because I took on the challenge of coming up with 30 ideas in 30 days!

I also have a longer version of the story on my blog, but it doesn’t mention PiBoIdMo:

http://writingamillion.tumblr.com/post/10441985218/on-editors-agents-and-contracts-oh-my

2. Diana Murray

Diana Murray was thrilled to receive the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for her rhyming picture book manuscript about a witch. She came up with a few different versions of the idea during the first PiBoIdMo. You can read more about her experience here:https://taralazar.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/piboidmo-success-story/. Diana will always be grateful to Tara for starting an event that helped her streamline her writing process. And now, she’s ready for another month of fun and inspiration!

Diana’s website: http://www.dianamurray.com

3. Rebecca Colby

This year, Rebecca participated in her third PiBoIdMo. Following a picture book workshop last year that challenged her to alter a well-known fairytale, she decided to generate a few ideas for fractured fairy tales. She found the inspiration she needed from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s guest post on Day 29 that recommended participants do just that–transform “something old into something new.”

The result was an idea for a Cinderella story with monsters entitled MONSTERELLA.

Rebecca says, “I fell in love with the idea of a fairy godmonster who magics a spider into a monster truck.” Rebecca wrote the manuscript soon after and it went on to win the 2011 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant.

Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected pantyhose,worked for a Russian comedian, taught English in Taiwan, and traveled the world as a tour director. She currently works as a librarian. Born in America, Rebecca now lives in England with her husband and two daughters. More information about Rebecca and her writing can be found at her website: www.rebeccacolbybooks.com.

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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COMING SOON:


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Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019

THE UPPER CASE:
TROUBLE IN CAPITAL CITY
illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 1, 2019

THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
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HarperCollins
Spring 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
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Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
August 2020

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