August 2011 Archives

Picture Book Resources

boy reading.jpg
(Picture courtesy of Gracey Stinson.)

Here's a collection of picture book resources I've found. Enjoy!


Books about Writing Picture Books

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul*
You Can Write Children's Books by Tracey E. Dils
Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books by Uri Shulevitz (See sample here: How to Make a Storyboard)
Illustrating Children's Picture Books: Tutorials, Case Studies, Know-How, Inspiration by Steve Withrow and Lesley Breen Withrow


Picture Book Resources on the Web
You'll find on some of these sites you should keep looking around for more info.

Getting Started Writing Picture Books

So you want to write a picture book...by Mem Fox
Writing Picture Books:The Basics by Margot Finke
If You Wanna Be a Picture Book Writer by Pam Calvert
How To: Write a Picture Book by Sue Bradford Edwards
Jane Yolen*: Creating and Recreating the Picture Book
Picture Book or Short Story? by agent Mary Kole

Layouts and Standards for Picture Books

Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout by Tara Lazar
Picture Book Standards: 32 pages by Darcy Pattison
Dummies for Smarties by Sarah S. Brannen
How to Mock-up a Picture Book by Darcy Pattison
Picture Book Dummies by Julie Hedlund
Storyboarding by Katherine Battersby

Tips and Do's and Don'ts for Writing Picture Books

20 Do's and 20 Don'ts by Mem Fox
Twenty Tips for Writing Picture Books by Pat Mora*

Got Rhythm? Rhyme and Meter in Picture Books

Rhymes and Misdemeanors by Hope Vestergaard*
How to Write a Picture Book with Fabulous "R & M" by Margot Finke
Rhyming Picture Books: A Rhyme With Reason by agent Mary Kole
Writing in Rhyme by Laura Backes
Rhyme in Picture Books by Tiffany Strelitz
Icing the Cake: Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme by Dori Chaconas

Plot and Character in Picture Books

Plotting Your Picture Book by Writing Your Pitch First by Mandy Yates.
The Plot Clock in Picture Books by Rob Sanders
Irresistible Picture Book Characters by Tammi Sauer*

Revising Your Picture Book

Revise the Picture Book Text by Darcy Pattison
Jane Yolen on How to Revise Picture Books: Revision Example to Create Lyrical Prose
Make Your Picture Book Sparkle! by Peggy Tibbetts
How Many Times Can I Revise 500 Words by Brianna Caplan Sayres

Illustrating Picture Books

An Illustrator's Guide to Creating a Picture Book by Meghan McCarthy
Does the Guild have any advice for aspiring illustrators of children's books? (The Children's BookGuild of Washington, D.C.)
Loren Long* - Creating Picture Books: My Process

Other PB Resources

PiBoldMo - Picture Book Idea Month [November Writing Challenge]

What Makes a Great Picture Book?

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know (New York Public Library)

Picture Book People Pointers FREE Ezine & FREE E-Book, Write a Dynamic Picture Book

Monster List of Picture Book Agents by Heather Ayris Burnell


*I've heard these people speak, run, don't walk, if you ever get a chance to hear them! A number of the others I'd LIKE to hear...


Writing is like steering a

Writing is like steering a ship: one will inevitably—and constantly—fall off course on the way to one’s destination.
Noah Lukeman

No matter how good the

No matter how good the writing, if it does not further the intention or progression of the work, it must be cut.
Noah Lukeman

Author Talks versus Workshops


If you will be speaking to writers, unless you were asked to do so, it's doubtful that the organizers want you to give an "author talk" or a bookstore "book signing talk" where you share your journey on how you became an author. Of course, you will reference what you know, but this isn't about you; it's about your audience.

And who is that audience at a workshop or conference? Other writers. Writers listening to other writers want practical helps to take home. Think about what in your experience can encourage or inspire them. Think about what you've learned that someone else might be able to use. What practical tips can you share? What do you continue to struggle with?

One of the things I've found that people appreciate in a workshop is good handouts. They might be a copy of an article on the topic at hand, internet resources, a page of info they'll probably want so they don't have to scribble fast, a booklist for further reading.

Think about this tweet quote from Erin Bow: "BTW, the complete stack of MS for PLAIN KATE, which I use as a prop for my HS writing presentations, just *barely* fit in one suitcase." (I know I've used this quote before.) Is she taking that large stack of manuscript pages to say "look how great I am" or is she taking it to show that writing a good book is hard work? I'm guessing the latter.

I love myself.jpg If you've heard writers speak at conferences and events, you've probably been disappointed at the ones who seem to have an ego larger than the stage. Keep your ego in check.

When a conference or event organizer gives you a topic and you agree to speak on that topic, don't cheat and not give that talk. Yes, I know you may be asked way in advance to choose a title, but that's a burden you should bear, not your audience. Attendees will be most likely be disappointed if they come to hear about "A" and are given "K" instead, no matter how good your speech is.

Of course, sometimes authors are asked to give an inspirational speech or keynote. If that's the case you probably will mention some parts of your journey as that's the one you know best. I saw good examples during keynotes at the SCBWI 2011 LA Conference (on tweetchat go to #LA11SCBWI for quotes and comments and/or go to the official SCBWI blog for a taste of the conference.)

Here are a few "thumbs up" tidbits from the conference:

Bruce Coville gave us 13 practical tips on "How to move in the world as a writer," many of which he illustrated from his life. I loved his story of how he and Paula Danziger pledged to each other: if you don't write 3 pages tomorrow, you will have to endure unendurable shame. At the end of his talk, Bruce said, "Don't start with a message. Start instead with your good heart." I'm so thankful that Bruce has a good heart and has been willing to share his wisdom and insights over the years.

David Small made us cry with tears of sympathy for the abuse of his childhood shown in his illustrated book Stitches, which has been a voice for others who don't have a "voice." After being the downer of the morning, according to David himself, he said, "I'm going to be the upper." He gave us a hysterical visual view of book signings in chain versus independent bookstores. I'm thankful for the memories I'll carry with me from his talk.

Libba Bray had us in a different kind of stitches--laughter--from the get go of her keynote as she talked about "Writing It All Wrong: a Writer's Survival Guide." But it wasn't just sharing humor of how-she-did-it- wrong, she also gave some practical suggestions. The one that has been retweeted a lot is, "Your book is in there buried under the one you hate."

Judy Blume and Laurie Halse Anderson both talked about their unhappiness before they became writers. How could we not be inspired by what they shared from their lives? Laurie reminded us we shouldn't do so many writing related activities that we don't write. (I'm sometimes guilty as charged!) Judy said, "The first draft is finding the pieces to the puzzle. The next draft is putting the pieces together." She believes technology has made that harder as it's too easy to go back and edit before the first draft is finished. Since Laurie's keynote was the closing one of the conference, she ended with, "Go forth laughing and disturb the universe!"

These "big name" speakers ably demonstrated the purpose of their talks was to encourage, enlighten, inspire, and challenge their listeners. If we are asked to do those things, great. However, if we are asked to teach on a topic, we should teach.

Note: If you can't see the comment box, click on title above and scroll down.

Hard to put down! - Divergent


Divergent.jpg Divergent (Katherine Tegan Books, 2011) by Veronica Roth is one of those incredible books that holds you tight to itself.

Beatrice has been raised in a very self-abasing faction, but now has to choose which faction to belong to. Her tests were . . . inconclusive . . . a fact she must keep to herself. Choosing another faction will mean she will be separated from her parents and her brother, but how can she stay? Abnegation doesn't really fit her.

Veronica Roth has created such a strong and believable world that it's hard to imagine this society doesn't exist. I'm not alone in admiring her work--today I found out there's going to be a movie! And I came across a fansite for the trilogy. I, too, am really looking forward to the next few books, although I was very satisfied with book one--it truly could stand alone.

If you like The Hunger Games, I bet you'll like Divergent.

Read Veronica's reaction to the book's best selling status on her blog. Watch that space for news about the sequel, Insurgent, movie news, and more. Wow, and check out how many countries are publishing Divergent!

Murder in Space? - Across the Universe


across-the-universe.jpg
Step on board the spaceship, Godspeed, after you've experienced the horror of the freezing process with 17 year old Amy in the best selling debut book Across the Universe (Penguin/Razorbill , 2011) by Beth Revis. The first in a trilogy, not only is it scifi, but there's mystery and romance.

Amy, and her parents, should wake in 300 years, however, she's been awakened 50 years early. It's not an accident or a malfunction. Could someone have meant to kill her? And will they kill her parents? She has to protect them as she learns about this odd shipboard society where she's a misfit simply for her red hair.

You'll also get to walk with the lone teen, Elder, who is being trained to take over the leadership from Eldest. He's attracted to this strange girl Amy, and he's finding out very disturbing things about Eldest and the ship.

Then after you read the book, you can explore the ship on the website and explore the author's site where you can find out about the making of the book and more.

Beth Revis has created a fascinating society. I'm really looking forward to the next book from this imaginative author!

Writing the last page of

Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It's one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.
Nicholas Sparks

You get ideas from daydreaming.

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.
Neil Gaiman

Ends are great. If you

Ends are great. If you know how it ends, you can just start somewhere, aim, and begin to write (and, if you're lucky, it may even end where you were hoping to go).
Neil Gaiman