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shelley b and wby Shelley Moore Thomas

Okay, so last year I did PiBoIdMo. At the same time, I was also trying to get 1,000 words a day finished on a middle grade novel. If you do the math, you can see that I’d have had 30,000 words on a novel and 30 ideas finished by the end of the month, were I to have been successful.

That would have been an AMAZING amount of writing.

But I was not successful. Not completely, anyway.

I logged about half of that amount of words on my novel—but that is still 15,000 more words than I would have had otherwise. So I felt pretty good about that.

But my picture book ideas. Ugh. I ended the month with 22 of them. Most were pretty crummy. I mean, I was trying to do the best that I could, but man, some of my ideas were really dumb/hideous/terrible/lame. What? You want an example? Okay, I’ll cut and paste some entries from my PiBoIdMo Journal, 2013:

November 3: (Came up with this one in my sleep) Baby Kangaroo Won’t Get Out of the Pouch  I kind of see lots and lots of animals getting invited over to Joey’s pouch, but he is too scared to come out. Not sure what is going to get him to come out.


Really? I read that idea now and all I can think is POOR MAMA KANGAROO!! And also yuck. I think yuck.

Hungry for another?

November 13: Dream Dinos (Little dinos that live in your head and help you sleep….hahaha)

This whole idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies. And nightmares. Ick.

The list continues on in a similarly awful manner. 18 completely un-writable ideas.

Notice I said 18, not 22. That is because 4 of the ideas I recorded last November were pretty darn good.  Actually, they were incredible. I am working on two of them right now, and will tackle the other two a time permits. (I wish I could tell you about them, but I can’t talk about picture book ideas when they are in progress. Ruins the magic of it.)

The truth of it is that I never would have come up with the 4 ideas that I really like if I hadn’t been willing to take a chance and just try and come up with one idea each day. (And each day, I did feel pretty satisfied with what my muse had given me. It was only upon later reading that I thought BLECH. But that is okay. From mounds of fertilizer sprout beautiful blossoms, right?)

So make your PiBoIdMo list. Let it sleep (or ferment, as the case may be) for a month, then see which ideas still smell sweet.


Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of the nine picture books (including the much heralded GOOD KNIGHT series) and one middle grade novel, THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET. Her upcoming tenth picture book, NO, NO, KITTEN! (Boyds Mills Press) hits shelves on March 3, 2015. In addition to being a writer, Shelley is also an elementary school teacher. So, no, she doesn’t really ever get to sleep.


twitter: @story_queen


Shelley is giving away a pre-order of her upcoming picture book with Lori Nichols, NO, NO, KITTEN!

no, no, kitten b and n

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!

by Shelley Moore Thomas

Okay, so I have my picture book idea for today. Yay! But I kind of feel the need to get another one in…to get ahead, you know?

And then I worry if I am following the rules or not. Am I even allowed to think of 30 ideas in ONE day, or is it a MUST that I pace myself and only create one idea per day? And what happens if I get a good idea that’s so amazingly HOT that I must write a draft NOW? Not next month. Not next week. Not tomorrow. NOW.


And then I realize that PiBoIdMo is not about rules.

Break the rules if you need to. Just break ’em.

PiBoIdMo is about getting on a first name, maybe even nick-name basis with your muse.

(And really, some of the best children’s books don’t really follow the rules, now do they?)

I mean, some books have amazing vocabulary for being an easy reader. (Uh-hum….mine for example.) I put in the word “Methinks” in my easy reader series, Good Night, Good Knight. And I got to keep it in! I also put in some words that may or may not be real words, but they sounded so nice together and were words that are fun when they dance on your tongue.

Really, there is only one rule when writing a book for kids. It’s got to encourage the reader to TURN THE PAGE. It’s got to engage the child in the story enough that they WANT to learn to read it themselves.

(Well, maybe there are two rules…*Get Kids to Turn the Page* and *Inspire Kids to Read.*)

Shelley Moore Thomas is also known as the StoryQueen. I know what you’re thinking…does she really wear a ridiculous crown, fake jewels and a velvet cape? Does she really play with puppets? Well, er um…yes…and yes. But wait! Don’t go! It’s not as strange as it sounds. She’s a writer for children and, well, we do weird things sometimes. Her latest book is A Cold Winter’s Good Night.

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illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 26, 2022

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