Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writing Picture Books is Not for Wimps!

Picture book and middle grades novel writer Robyn Campbell joins us today to talk about the tough business of picture books:

By Robyn Campbell

Stacy, thank you for this opportunity and a huge thanks for your month of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) posts.

Writing Picture Books is Not for Wimps!

            "Writing a picture book is like writing 'War and Peace' in Haiku." Mem Fox (Isn’t that cool?)

As I talked on the phone with a man (who is in publishing and shall remain nameless), he mentioned that anyone could write a ten page picture book. (He doesn’t understand that ten pages makes for a long picture book.) This man thinks it is the novel writers who flex their muscles daily. To say I was not amused is a definite understatement. I mean, I write novels too. But. I know that not everyone can write a picture book. Over these last few years I’ve met a lot of folks who think they can though. Have you ever told someone you write picture books and heard them answer with, “I’ve been meaning to sit down one afternoon and write one?”  *cringe*

Let’s face it. The majority of the population will never write a picture book. Never. And of those who do, most will not be published. I saved this onto my computer to look at every so often about a year ago. It reminds me of why I write and who I write for. If I didn’t love doing it, I definitely wouldn’t. It’s from the site of Elizabeth O. Dulemba:
  •  81% of the population feels they have a book inside them . . .
  •  20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.
  •  6 million have written a manuscript.
  •  6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.
  •  Out of every 10,000 children's books, 3 get published."
  •   - Jerrold Jenkins. 15 May 99.

 More tough news. A common misconception is that all published authors must be rich. So, is there money in it? The stats are as follows. In all the arts:
  • 3% make the 'big bucks' (these are the creators most people have heard of).
  • 12% make enough to live on (and boy is that relative).
  • 85% make under $10,000 to $12,000 a year.

This should show us that we are not in this to make gobs of money. *sob* We’re doing it because we love the little kiddies of the world and because we love to write. That’s it, period.

Yet most people feel they have a picture book inside them. Go ahead. Ask some folks you see at the grocery store or doctor’s office. You will soon discover that a lot of folks think our job is easy peasy.

So it’s PiBoIdMo! We’re reading all these excellent posts about ideas and coming up with about fifty new ones every day. *wink* We’re dreaming about our $50,000.00 advance on our next picture book that we’re going to write and how Nickelodeon will turn our book into the next big preschool cartoon.  And that’s more money. *slaps face* Sorry. I have this dream every day.  

I am going to ask you a very important question in a moment. But first, think back to the man I talked about at the beginning of this post. He said that everything you work for, every story you write, can be easily written by someone else. Not just someone else, anyone else. I don’t think he had the right to say this. If I told you who he was we could always go all ninja on him. *evil smile* But I won’t. What I will tell you is this. Never let anybody dis what you do. Just politely remind them that if they think they can write a picture book then that is what they should do. Do suggest they be prepared for a lot of criticism and a lot of rewrites. Tell them that writing picture books is not for wimps.

And now for that question: What are you going to do with all those ideas? 

Robyn Campbell writes picture books and middle grade novels. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her family and assorted farm creatures. When she is not writing down at the barn, she is sure to be found on one of her horses or taking an early morning run. Robyn believes boys need more books and has several of them stirring and whirling in her computer and in her head. You can find her blogging at Putting Pen To Paper.

Stacy here — So glad Robyn joined us today. You can also find her on Twitter @authorswrite.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday idea: Photo prompt for PiBoIdMo

Here's your final photo prompt for Picture Book Idea Month. I was thinking about my NaNoWriMo friends when I chose this one.

I hope the photos have been helpful. You'll find another prompt on Facebook too.

On Wednesday, picture book and middle grades novel writer Robyn Campbell from Putting Pen to Paper will visit to talk how writing picture books is not for wimps!

Good luck turning all those picture book ideas into stories.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Perfect Picture Books: The Twelve Days of Christmas in Colorado

I'm joining in Susanna Leonard Hill'Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Colorado
Written by Linda Ashman and Illustrated by Dawn Beacon, Sterling Children's Books, 2011

Suitable for: Ages 5 and up

Theme/Topics: Holiday, educational

Opening: The book begins with a letter to Sophie about her upcoming visit to Colorado from her "favorite cousin" Zach.

Brief Synopsis: From the dust jacket —
"Ready to greet you are 12 skiers swooshing, 11 horses prancing, 10 covered wagons, 9 woven baskets ... and much more from the Centennial State.
Zach is so excited about his cousin Sophie's visit to Colorado that he gives her one of these VERY unusual gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas, and Sophie writes lively letters home to tell her mom and dad all about her trip. Lucky readers are in for a wild Christmas countdown!"

Link to resources: In addition to the information provided about Colorado through Sophie's letters to her parents, the book includes Colorado facts such as the state tree, bird and fossil as well as some famous Coloradans. Linda Ashman shares some thoughts about the book here.

This book is part of a series called Twelve Days of Christmas, State by State from Sterling Children's Books.

Why I chose this book: This is actually the second time I've chosen this book. When Julie Hedlund interviewed Linda on her blog recently, I raised my hand saying "Pick me! I want this book."

Why? I attended a picture book retreat Linda taught in July. She's great at rhyme and storytelling. Plus, I'm not a Colorado native, so I knew I would learn something. Christmas arrived early at my house when I received this book.

For now, Enzo and I are skipping the letters Sophie writes. They are packed with a lot of information and intended for an older audience. At 18 months, my son is amused by the shorter parts. He follows the gifts through the twelfth day without a problem.

This book will make a fun gift year round to other families, who are new to Colorado. You might be able to find one in the series focusing on your state.

If you get a book, please let me know if your state has a state fossil. I'm excited to know Colorado's fossil is the stegosaurus. This detail just makes me smile.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday: @taralazar

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm grateful to be sharing a wonderful meal with my family (Hubby and Enzo) and friends. I hope you have been able to take a break from all the November writing challenges for this one day.

Since Picture Book Idea Month is wrapping up, I thought it appropriate to highlight Tara Lazar — the mama (or creator) of the whole idea.

When I first began stalking (er following) blogs, I found Tara's Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). Her Who's Tara? page has some interesting facts like the library drop-off box location in relation to her house.

This line in her bio makes me smile:  Tara Lazar is a children's book author, mother, foodie and boogeyman assassin (currently booked at 3 am nightly).

This line in her bio inspires me:  Her first two picture books, The Monstore and I Thought This Was a Bear Book, will be published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Some fun posts from her site:

The PiBoIdMo challenge has been a tremendous help to me. On the site, Tara says it's "the picture book writer's alternative to NaNoWriMo and encourages picture book writers to create one new picture book idea a day for 30 days."

I  have some new note-taking habits as well as a ton of ideas (well, I'll give you an official tally after I've turned the page on my calendar) from this challenge.

I really appreciate Tara's efforts to help writers capture their wild ideas.

She can also be followed on Twitter  @taralazar or liked on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catherine Johnson shares picture book ideas, books

Children's writer and poet Catherine Johnson joins us today to talk about ideas. 

By Catherine Johnson

“Characters don’t pee in stories.” Anne Whitford Paul - Author of Writing Picture Books

(Don’t give too many details.) This is brilliant if you remember more than the pee part lol.

Here is a list of the best illustrated books of 2011:

With my picture book Everglator (a.k.a. Big Al of the Everglades) I surprised myself and chose the setting first and when I think about it I chose the setting first on another pb To the Beach. This is very unusual for me, but in choosing two very original settings: the first is the Everglades and I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen many picture books about the Everglades. And the second is based on my local beach when I lived in New Zealand. It is the most amazing black sand beach where you can drive on it with your car and do all sorts of sports. So unusual that I thought it would work.  
How do you come up with ideas? What has worked for you? What could you switch around a bit? Have you considered changing your setting at the last minute? I don’t have any picture books published yet, so I cannot spout wisdom to you, but I know what it feels like to read something amazing. And don’t forgot we are not re-inventing the wheel here folks, you can mix a couple of old ideas together to make something new. Look at it like an old recipe where you change only a couple of things and hey presto! everyone thinks you are Martha Stewart. (Okay that never happens in my house ;) 

These are some picture books I’ve read recently and they are all wonderful. I do encourage you to check them out, you may just get some new ideas!

A Nap in a Lap by Sarah Wilson - 
This one is for pre-schoolers and goes through some brilliant places different animals take a nap in. The twist at the end is the narrator, a little girl, says the nest place for a nap is in a lap (I.e. mommy’s) so really cute and nice how they finished on the title.

Dancing Feet  by Linsey Craig
- is really cute and also for pre-schoolers.

Noises at night
by Beth Raisner Glass and Susan Lubner -This is a good one for boys who are scared of noises with wonderful rhyme. The location is the bedroom, but with each different noise a different scene is pictured, fabulous!

Tiger Can’t Sleep by S.J. Fore 
- This is such good fun. There is a Tiger in the closet making crunching noises, scaring the boy silly until he realises the tiger is so funny eating chips etc. Great use of senses in this book, something I’d like to use more in my stories.

Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika and Christopher Denise - 
This is my favourite of all my recent reads because not only is it a nice subject (moving house) to cover for kids but her cuddly bear Elephant is just s cuddy bear on some pages and on others its enormous. So imaginative and I love the illos!

Tip Tap Pop by Sarah Lynn 
is my next favourite. It is about a girl who dances with her grandpa even when he gets quite old, so cute. 

Down to the sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen 
is a fab rhyming book. 

Where does Thursday go? by Janeen Brian 
This was my son’s recent favourite and he is so fussy it perked my interest. Kids love wonder and wondering where a day went is quite interesting to them. If you are interested in layering in pbs, this is a perfect example because as adults we often wonder where a day went n’est-ce pas?

Hope this helps and you manage to find some of these titles. Do share some of your own in the comments if you’ve read any stunners recently. Have fun creating!

Catherine Johnson is a British ex-pat living in Canada after four years in New Zealand. She lives with her husband, two young children and a puppy called Sandy. Catherine has several poems and a flash fiction piece published in Static Poetry II, IV, Yarns for our Youth and Pot Luck. She loves writing picture books too and would love to write MG one day. 

Stacy here - So glad Catherine joined us today. You can also find her on Twitter @CJohnsonWriter Also, if you missed it, she recently shared her story Kangaroobee on her blog. The story is a fun treat.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving contest: Off to Grandma's House

Here's my entry into Susanna Leonard Hill's Thanksgiving Contest. Writers are linking their entries to this post. So, get a little Thanksgiving cheer by stopping by and reading the stories. 

Off to Grandma's House
By Stacy S. Jensen

They were supposed to go to Grandma's for Thanksgiving, but the blizzard came in fast.
Henry popped his head from under his covers. “What?”
“We can’t make it to Grandma’s house,” Mom said again.
“ That’s what we do,” Henry cried.
“We can’t,” Mom said.
“I can,” Henry said jumping out of bed and looking out the window to see the streets empty and everything covered in snow.
Henry dressed in his long johns, sweatshirt and snowsuit.
He fixed a ham sandwich, potato chips and water.
“Where are you going?” Mom asked.
“To Grandma’s” Henry said.
“You can’t,” Mom said.
“I can,” Henry said pulling his backpack over his jacket.
In the garage, Henry put on his snowshoes.
Dad walked by and asked. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to Grandma’s,” Henry said.
“You can’t,” Dad said.
“I can,” Henry said grabbing the rope to his sled.
Dad shook his head at Henry. “Wait a minute,” he said and returned in his own snowshoes.
“We’ll go together,” Dad said.
Father and son walked down the neighborhood through piles of snow. Henry slid down the hills.
It took a while, but Henry made it to Grandma’s house. She hadn’t fixed a meal as all the family stayed home due to the storm.
“I don’t have anything,” Grandma said.
“I do,” Henry said. “We’ll share.”
After lunch, Grandma made hot chocolate with a white frothy top for Henry.
“Now this is Thanksgiving,” Henry said slurping his drink.

A note:
I sought snow guidance from Hubby, who grew up in Iowa. He was quite the Debbie Downer on how to get Henry to Grandma's house in a blizzard. Henry would be featured on a Dateline Special/news drama show had I used Hubby's realistic advice. 
Earlier this month Jennifer Young from Castles in the Sky gave me the Versatile Blogger Award. I'm grateful she thought about me. She has a wonderful blog. She wrote a great piece earlier this month on Why I Write
I know I've been a bit wacky with my posts this month as I've been focusing on picture books and participating in a few extra events. I promise to return to my regular three posts a week in December. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday idea: Photo prompt for PiBoIdMo

Here's your Monday photo prompt for Picture Book Idea Month.

You'll find another prompt on Facebook too.

On Wednesday, children's writer and poet Catherine Johnson will share how some of her picture book ideas develop and picture books she's recently read. 

Here's to ideas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Perfect Picture Books: Owl Babies

Today, I'm joining in Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book

Visit her site to see the other books recommended by other picture book writers and readers. It's the first week and may change a bit. 

I'm participating for two reasons: I like the idea of finding more picture books to read and as a mom, I haven't explored adding resources and activities to my son's reading experience. My son loves board books. He eats them and gladly hands me ones to read to him.  

Owl Babies —Written by Martin Waddell and Illustrated by Patrick Benson
Candlewick Press, Text copyright 1992, First board book edition 1996

Suitable for: Age 1 and up

Themes/Topics: Separation

Once there were three baby owls:
Sarah and Percy and Bill. 
Brief synopsis: The baby owls think their way through their mom's absence.  Or as the cover says:  "(The book) ... offers the gentle promise needed by every young child that Mommy will always come home."

Link to resources: 
Free Owl Babies lesson plans and lap book
An Owl Babies story pack
For more books with resources please visit Just Right Books!

Why I chose this book: My son has reached the separation stage. He gets anxious and cries sometimes when I leave. He received this book as a gift. He likes the actions of the owl siblings. I like their message that Mommy returns. For now, I think it soothes me more than him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Children's Books Heal

I met Patricia Tilton of Children's Books Heal through the recent Writer's Platform Building Campaign.

Her blog about children's book is truly a niche one.

On her about page, she explains her passion for words began as a child. Later she spent years as a journalist and in public relations. Now, she's returned to writing for children. She says:
My hope is to write books that are healing for children, particularly those with special needs. This theme is reflected throughout my blog. 

I've found the blog useful as a mother and a writer. She finds books that have meaning to all parents — not just those with special needs. I find myself jotting down book titles and authors to check out at the library and to refer to friends — those who may be dealing with similar topics.

Patricia shares books and topics that families and classrooms are dealing with on a daily basis. They deal with difficult topics in a great way to help children (and adults too). I'm grateful I found Patricia as a writer learning the craft of picture books and also a mom, because I'm sure her suggestions will be useful as we're having "talks" about a variety of topics. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cultivate your voice

Children's book author and freelance writer Julie Hedlund  from Write Up My Life joins us today to talk about voice.

By Julie Hedlund

Thanks to Stacy, for inviting me to celebrate PiBoIdMo with a guest post on picture books!

Julie Hedlund
About a month ago, I opened an email from The Boulder Bookstore announcing that none other than Jon Scieszka would be coming to give a talk and to sign books. After busting open the picture book genre with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs in 1989, he's gone on to write a passel of picture books, chapter books and books for toddlers. In 2008, he was named the first-ever National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress. But the best thing about Jon Scieszka?  He's funny.  Really funny.  So he writes funny. And that brings me to my topic for this post - voice in picture books.

The kids and I settled into our seats that day at the BoulderBookstore, and Jon started to speak. Within minutes, everyone was laughing. My daughter leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, he sounds just like his books!"

That, my friends, is voice.

Last May, I wrote an entire post on voice. The cliffnotes version is that it is personal and unique to the author, and it must project authority and confidence in the writing. Andrea Brown, president of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, said there are only so many universal themes in literature. They’ve all been used – over and over again. She said there is no such thing as a fresh idea, only a fresh voice.

Take the theme of a child's anxiety about a new baby in the family. What separates On Mother's Lap, by Ann Herbert Scott from When I Was King, by Linda Ashman is voice.  Here are a few other examples:

Making Friends by Sharing
The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister
Mr. Duck Means Business, by Tammi Sauer

Giving Up Your "Lovey"
Knuffle Bunny Free, by Mo Willems
Owen, by Keven Henkes

Special Friendships
Cowboy and Octopus, by Jon Scieszka
Harry and Horsie, by Katie Van Camp

Time for Bed, by Mem Fox
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea

And the list goes on and on. Picture book writers have special challenges in projecting voice because a lot of the "voice" is in the illustrations.  If an author is not the illustrator, the words need to ooze with voice in order for the illustrator to truly feel the story and then add his/her own dimension. Also, with most picture books at far less than 1000 words these days, PB writers do not have the luxury of "finding" their voice in the first few pages. The voice needs to be clear from the very first sentence.

There's a reason why Mem Fox said, "Writing a picture book is like writing War and Peace in haiku."  Writing picture books with voice is an art form. I am still learning, but happily, my voice is becoming louder and clearer the more picture books I write. When I first started writing, I wrote like I thought picture books were "supposed" to sound. Now my books are sounding more like me. Here are a few of my strategies I use to cultivate my voice:
  1. Free-write the first draft. Just write it all down without thinking so you turn off the internal editor and give your voice free reign. Write way more words than you will use so you are not censoring your ideas or your voice. Dictate your story if it helps you bring your voice forward.  Speech recognition software like Dragon Dictation will transcribe your speech to a laptop or mobile device in real time.
  2. Evaluate your draft for voice. Is it showing up as tender, funny, silly?  Is there more than one voice? If so, does the story need more than one? Once you decide, pare down the manuscript to the theme and words that express your voice(s) the best.
  3. Then, build up the voice. Add more silliness, tenderness, humor, etc. Take risks.  Be as "you" as you can.
  4. Cut out every unnecessary word so the voice shines.
Do you have any special strategies for finding your voice in your writing?  Please feel free to share in the comments!

Julie Hedlund is a picture book author and freelance writer who left her "real" job in 2010 in order to pursue a career in writing.  She blogs about the craft of writing, publication, her own writing process, and "life" at Write Up My Life.  She lives in Boulder with her husband and two children, and when she is not mothering, writing or reading, she enjoys running, hiking, skiing, cooking, yoga, and savoring a great glass of red wine at sunset. 

Stacy here - So glad Julie stopped by. You can also find her on Twitter @JulieFHedlund

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday idea: Photo prompt for PiBoIdMo

Here's your Monday photo prompt for Picture Book Idea Month.

This guest photo prompt is courtesy of Karen S. Elliott - The Word Shark.

Karen also has a fun contest going on at her blog called The "Paint the Writer's Wagon" Contest. She lives in Minot, North Dakota. She lost her home to the floods almost five months ago. She just recently moved into this FEMA box. There are prizes for the best entry, but you know I think helping Karen spruce up her new digs (even if it's just on paper) is a great idea.

You'll find another photo prompt on Facebook too.

On Wednesday, children's book author and freelance writer Julie Hedlund from Write Up My Life will visit to talk about voice in picture books.

If you aren't familiar with Julie's website, take time to visit. She has a "How I got My Agent" Series with fun interviews and helpful information. She has a sidebar filled with links. And, every Sunday she posts a "Gratitude Sunday" post filled with little and big moments and end with a question:  What are you grateful for this week?

So, how are your picture book ideas flowing so far during the challenge? Or, how is NaNoWriMo treating you? I hope your Monday is filled with ideas.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hibernation: Fun Friday Foto Fextravaganza

Here's my entry in the Fun Friday Foto Fextravaganza:

Something hiding in the grass in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
Today's word is HIBERNATION.
I don't know why the minute I read hibernation I thought  about this photo of something that appears to be hidden.
What is it?
A black Rhinoceros, according to my safari guide five years ago.
Fun Friday Foto Fextravaganza is the creation of Susanna Leonard Hill and Catherine Johnson. There will be links to more photos at their sites.
Perhaps the photos will give you a story idea or two. 
Two of my favorite picture books with a safari theme are Starry Safari by Linda Ashman and  We All Went on Safari:  A counting journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs.
Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served including my Hubby.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Darcy Pattison

Darcy Pattison is a children's book author and writing teacher. While I'm focusing on her resources for picture books, her  Fiction Notes blog is for all types of writers.

The about page says Fiction Notes is an ongoing, innovative, in-depth guide to revision.

In her blog's header, it says:  "Believe in your story."

She offers a variety of tips on writing picture books:

For those participating in Picture Book Idea Month, you could easily study a post a day from Darcy to improve your picture books in a month.

Here other Resources include: 

Darcy's story 11 Ways To Ruin a Photograph recently won Take Part's children's story contest in conjunction with the release of the movie The Help.

She mentioned her winning entry as a way to celebrate Picture Book Month and Veterans Day. With so many service men and women being deployed, her book is timely. Our military families sacrifice for us all. This link has access to a free download of the book. It is available through Amazon and Nook for a fee.

I live in a military town, so I've shared the link with friends as well as through the newspaper's military section.

I appreciate Darcy's writing advice and stories.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giving Back: Ideas that Move

 Picture book author Jenny Sulpizio joins us today to talk about ideas.
Jenny Sulpizio
By Jenny Sulpizio

It’s PiBoIdMo 2011! Now, for those of you who think I may be speaking another language, picture book writers know exactly what I am referring to. You see, this month we are hard at work (and play), bursting with creativity and jotting down thirty (+) ideas for future picture books.  That’s one idea per day, folks and while it does manage to absorb most of our brain power, there’s nothing more fun then gathering inspiration from one’s environment and turning it into a story for little ones to enjoy.  

In fact, when you think about it, anything and everything has the potential to be turned into a storyline for a children’s picture book (and I mean everything). Take a plain, old tree for example (yes, I said a tree). I mean honestly, what sort of story can result from something as simple as a tree you might ask?  Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that trees are beautiful, provide much needed shade, and have a general overall purpose-but how does the existence of a “tree,” result in a revered children’s keepsake title that spans the generations?

The answer is simple-IMAGINATION!

You see, if you take an ordinary object and provide it with a voice, a personality, and throw in the ingenious, creative talents of a children’s book author, something as simple as a “tree,” can become something extraordinary. I bet Shel Silverstein felt the same way years ago when he sat down to develop his own picture book manuscript. His inspiration? None other than his surrounding elements and yes, you guessed it-a plain old tree.  The result? The Giving Tree has grown to become an all-time children’s classic that has not only appealed to younger readers, but also holds a special place for its adult audience as well.  Packed with an endearing message, this book describes the love, compassion and sacrifice that one little tree exhibits towards a human boy during various stages of his life. The Giving Tree in essence, is a book that continually gives back to the reader by reminding us that nothing is more important than the bonds we share with others. No matter what we have or don’t have in this world, the love we have for one another is truly all we need.

Like Shel Silverstein, the majority of children’s book writers want to bring that same type of magic to life in each of our stories, no matter who (or what) the main character may be. As we rack our brains this month searching for new ideas, and plots that have yet to be written, have you asked yourself what your writing goal is? What it is that you want to accomplish in this big, crazy world of publishing?  We all have a desired goal in common on our paths to publication, but what are the hopes that we have for our words? What is the message that we want our precious readers to understand? The question we have to ask ourselves as authors is, how are we giving back and just who are we writing for?

For me, this answer is pretty simple. After producing two children’s picture books (Mommy Whispers: Isaac, 2010 and There’s Just Something About a Boy: Ajoyin, 2011), I can honestly say that my audience is at the forefront of my mind when I put pen to paper. Not only do I want to initially capture their attention, but I also want to write material that they can grow with and enjoy as adults…material that spans generations if you will. Like The Giving Tree, I want to be able to give something back to my readers, to bless them with the content of my stories, peak their imaginations, and have them get lost in my words. I want to provide each of my readers with something extraordinary.

How about you?  How do you want your readers to respond to your works and what is your main goal when developing your stories?

Jenny Lee Sulpizio, M.S. is a wife, business owner, and mother of three residing in Boise, Idaho. She is an active member within her church and community, and enjoys tapping into her creative side whenever she gets the chance. Mommy Whispers, an ode to mothers and daughters everywhere was the first children’s picture book released in a series that also includes, There’s Just Something About a Boy. Jenny is a member of SCBWI and is currently represented by The Seymour Agency for her Women’s Christian Non-fiction works-in-progress.

Please visit Jenny at to learn more about her projects, or to read her blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday idea: Photo prompt for PiBoIdMo

Here's your Monday photo prompt for Picture Book Idea Month.

You'll find another prompt on Facebook too.

Here's to ideas!

Picture book author Jenny Sulpizio joins us here on Wednesday to talk about ideas, too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's author Susanna Leonard Hill offers more than just books for writers and parents. She offers a lot of help and virtual donuts too.

On her blog Susanna Leonard Hill - A children's author's eye view of writing and life, she shares resources with parents, teachers, librarians and other writers.

Here you take another link to Activities & Resources. It sends you to the Classroom Resources page on her website at

There are guides for six of Susanna's books with loads of activities. I'll have to remember these during snow days when my son gets older.

For writers, Susanna has tons of helpful posts with working writers and illustrators.

Would You Read It?
I've found the Would You Read It? series very educational. Pitches typically appear on Wednesday, but this week due to Mother Nature it's a day late. Brave writers submit pitches for their children's book. Blog readers give a yes, no or maybe with suggestions on how that opinion might change.

I don't know anything about children's book pitches, but am learning a lot. One day, I might even submit one.

If you are participating in Picture Book Idea Month, follow Susanna's blog. One of those ideas might turn into a story and a pitch. When you need feedback, the Would You Read It series is a great place to get it.

Susanna's books are fun. Can't Sleep Without Sheep is brilliant.

Susanna has created a wonderful community on her blog of resources and support for readers, parents, librarians and writers. Stop by, I think you feel right at home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PiBoIdMO is under way

Created by Illustrator Bonnie Adamson
November arrived and so did Picture Book Idea Month.

I'm sure I can channel today's snow into a few picture book ideas.

I know many of my friends are writing out 1,666 words a day for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My picture book ideas haven't taken up that much space on the page. A few ideas have sparked 50 words or so as I fleshed out some details.

If you want to join in the PiBoIdMo fun, sign up here before Nov. 3.

As I've mentioned before, my blog posts will focus on picture books this month.

On Mondays: There will be a photo prompt to spark an idea or two. Another photo will appear on my Facebook page, if I figured out how to schedule it properly through Hootsuite.

On Wednesdays:  I've asked several picture book writers to guest post.

This schedule includes:

On Thursdays: I'll focus on a picture book authors and resources for picture book writers.

In addition to the 30 ideas (or more you'll have at the end of November), you'll also have a network of picture book writers. Participants are connecting through Twitter, blogs and a Facebook group.

Take a look at the posts on author Tara Lazar's site about the challenge already. The posts continue until the end of the month.
PiBoIdMo Day 2: Karma Wilson Asks The Magic Question
PiBoIdMo Cafe Press Shop is Open for Charity!
PiBoIdMo Day 1: MaMoIdMo–Magical Moments Idea Month?
PiBoIdMo Preview Day 2: If You’re Lucky
PiBoIdMo Preview Day 1: Mindy Alyse Weiss Isn’t Scared!
So what are you working on in November? A special challenge or just writing.