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Credit: Roxyanne Young

Photo Credit: Roxyanne Young

by Marcie Wessels

Time to confess.

I am probably the worst person Tara could have picked to talk about inspiration.

Why? Because blank pages terrify me.

For me, the most difficult part of writing is coming up with a good idea.

I have a lot of ideas, don’t get me wrong. But good ones? Those are rare.

But is that really true?

Go back and look at that fourth sentence again.

Notice the adjective modifying idea. I said I have difficulty coming up with a GOOD idea.

That’s my inner critic at work. She’s already qualifying, judging, and editing the idea before it’s even written.

Perhaps that’s just one of my neuroses. But I wonder if it might be true for you, too.

It’s DAY 4 of PiBoIdMo. Perhaps you have already generated 20 ideas. Good for you.

But if you’re like me, you may not have jotted anything down yet because your inner critic is at work.

My inner critic always seems to come out when I feel pressure.

Pressure to produce, to perform, to be perfect.

Consider the story of how I came up with my debut picture book, PIRATE’S LULLABY: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers.

Pirate's Lullaby COVER

At the end of May 2012, we had a flood in our townhouse. My family and I ended up moving out of our house and living in a hotel for two months during the repairs.



I was enrolled in a picture book writing class at the time and I had to come up with a story idea for our first assignment. The weekend before it was due, my husband took the kids to the park and left me behind in the hotel to write. I sat down in front of the computer and, yup, you guessed it – I drew a blank. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a good idea. I spent several unproductive hours spinning my wheels and then my family returned. My writing time was over and I went to bed that night no closer to having a story than when I started.

But our minds work in mysterious ways.

The next morning, I woke up and the first line of Pirate’s Lullaby popped into my head.

“Yo, ho, ho! Me lad, heave ho! It’s time to go to bed”

And what a wonderful first line it turned out to be! Not only did it give me the characters for my story (pirates) but it also provided the theme (bedtime).


Do you think that it’s a coincidence that my subconscious offered up that first line?

No, it makes perfect sense! Floods and pirates have water in common.

But I wasn’t able to come up with the idea when I was stressed out about coming up with an idea.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the ideas will come.

It’s okay if they aren’t perfect.

Relax. Slow down. Open yourself up to inspiration. It’s all around you. Let it in.

But take a step back, too. Give your imagination the time and the space and the room to create.

Give yourself permission to play. Have fun!

And that inner critic?

Invite her back when you have a first draft and it’s time to revise.

Marcie Wessels received a B.A. in English and Spanish from John Carroll University, an M.A. in Spanish from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Tulane University. Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers, is her first children’s picture book. She lives with her husband and their two children in San Diego, California.

Visit Marcie online at, on Twitter @MarcieDWessels and on Facebook.

PrizeDetails (2)

Marcie is giving away a copy of PIRATE’S LULLABY to a lucky winner!

Leave a comment below to enter. One comment per person, please.

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!

Before Michelle Kwan, before the whole Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal, there was a figure skater who exhibited that perfect balance of power and grace: Kristi Yamaguchi. She had the high jumps and fast spins, but she also had a style and effortless elegance no one else could match.

OK, so why am I gushing? I used to be a competitive figure skater, but no where near the level of Kristi Yamaguchi. She was a role model to me. So today I’m very pleased to share with you her new picture book, IT’S A BIG WORLD, LITTLE PIG! And yes, it’s about figure skating!

First, let me introduce the main character, Poppy. Isn’t she cute? In her first book, she had the courage to DREAM BIG and chase after her goals.

Now, in the sequel, Poppy receives an invitation to Paris to compete in the International Games. She musters up her porcine prowess to travel far from home–with encouragement from her friends and family, of course.

When Poppy arrives in Paris, she’s overwhelmed. She doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t know where to go. But Poppy is great at making friends. She bumps into Li, a panda snowboarder. And Poppy finds out that even though they are from different countries, they “both smile in the same language.”

According to John Sellers, children’s reviews editor for Publishers Weekly, “There’s certainly a need for books that portray, mirror and show the value in all kinds of families: same-sex families, mixed-race families, stepfamilies, families with grandparents as guardians.” I also believe that books should reflect the diversity in the world around children. In my own neighborhood, there are families from Brazil, India, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, China, Taiwan, Denmark, and Mexico. So I was pleased to see that Yamaguchi’s book introduces readers to animal competitors from all over the world.

Tim Bowers illustrates with such adorableness (is that a word???), bright colors and a jovial quality. You can’t help but smile at the wonderful world he’s created.

IT’S A BIG WORLD, LITTLE PIG brings together many cool themes (besides ice): following your dreams, making friends, diversity, independence, and doing your best. And it’s all rolled up in a figure-skating package! What could be more perfect?

Well, I’ll tell you! One hundred percent of Kristi’s profits from IT’S A BIG WORLD, LITTLE PIG will benefit early childhood literacy programs supported by her Always Dream Foundation.

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

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