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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: piboidmo, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 96
1. AUTHOR TO AUTHOR: A Conversation with Audrey Glassman Vernick

 

I’m not exactly sure when Audrey Glassman Vernick became a blip on my radar, but suddenly she was blipping everywhere. I felt like one of those guys in the mission control tower, trying to determine if this green blip was a “friendly” or an incoming missile. Ultimately, I decided that Audrey was a rising star.

I had the chance to meet Audrey personally, as opposed to through her books, at the 2015 Princeton Children’s Book Festival (thank you, Alison Santos!). We were at a backyard gathering, tired and happy after a long day. I bravely introduced myself, and we enjoyed a brief, easy conversation. I liked her immediately.

Anyway, I invited Audrey over to my swanky blog for today’s conversation. Here she comes now . . .

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AGV: Why, it is swanky!

JP: I know, thanks. It’s the Picasso poster, isn’t it? I saved it from college. 

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But that’s the definition of class. It’s not just a hand or flowers. It’s both! And thanks for having me.

Glad to have you. About a month ago I read a bunch of your books. I was especially taken by Edgar’s Second Word, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. I even wrote to tell you how much I loved it, calling it “a small masterpiece.” Do you remember your reply?

I hope my first response was thank you. And I suspect my quick follow up was that you were one of approximately six people who read that book.

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Yes, you were gracious. But you also mentioned that I was one of the few people to have actually read it. Which just goes to show that this is a crazy business. Your book has so much heart. It’s expertly constructed, like a well-built cabinet. We learn Edgar’s first word, “NO!” early on, so there’s a built-in tension: What will his second word be? That curiosity keeps us turning the pages. I was worried that the second word might be a letdown, but you totally delivered.

Thank you! Tension (and the building up thereof) is my very least developed writer skill, so extra thank you!

I interviewed James Marshall back in the early 90s, and he maintained that a strong ending for a book was essential. I’ll always remember what he told me: “The ending is what people remember. If the book fizzles at the end, they remember the whole thing as a fizzled book. It’s important to have a very satisfying ending for the reader. They’ve entered a world and now they are leaving it.” Wise words, and again, I think you nailed it with Edgar’s Second Word.

Let’s stop right here so I can faint. James Marshall!

I know, I was bragging to impress you. He’s one of my children’s book heroes. I can vividly remember our conversation. Heck, I can remember picking up the phone. James was friendly, funny, genuine, completely unpretentious.

George and Martha are the two main loves of my life. They are quoted with solemnity in the Vernick home.

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Do you have a favorite line?

A truth about me (which does not go over well with kids at school visits): I am unable to pick a favorite anything except sports team (Yankees). Unable. So I could write some great lines here but then, minutes later, I’d erase and replace. (It is not easy being me.) Also, you sort of have to be looking at George and Martha along with reading their words to get the full picture. All that said, an oft-repeated line that comes to mind (you won’t even believe how lame this is) is:

 

“Boo!” cried George.

“Have mercy!” screamed Martha.

 

Nice, subtle. His humor is always natural, never seems forced. You never get the feeling that Marshall is trying too hard. 

The blog I had and still kind of have was in large part an homage to those two, about literary friendships.

Oh, nice idea. There’s Frog and Toad, of course. Do you know the book Patrick and Ted by Geoffrey Hayes? It’s pretty perfect.

I do not. But I shall seek it out. Pronto!

I blogged an appreciation of it a while back. Let me see, it’s around here somewhere. Here you go, click on the link

A scan from PATRICK AND TED by Geoffrey Hayes.

A scan from PATRICK AND TED by Geoffrey Hayes.

Back to your question.

Wait, there was actually a question?  

The ending! You asked about the ending! It was the first, and only, thing I knew about the book when I started writing it. I received an email from a college friend whose young not-book-loving son (Edgar!) sat through his mother’s read-aloud of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and, at the end, said, “Again.” I shared that with my wise agent, Erin Murphy, who said, “Well obviously you’re going to use that in a book, right?”

Right.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but when a book fails to sell, fails to reach an audience, I tend to slowly, inexorably begin to think of it as a failed book. And by extension, I begin to see myself as a failed writer. Intellectually, I know that’s wrong, but that’s my reality. So that’s why I’m dwelling on Edgar a little bit here. I want to be sure that you know it’s a great blipping book!

That’s a very George-to-Martha thing to say (maybe not the blipping part). Thank you! I have my dysfunctions when it comes to this publishing business. I suffer some jealousies. I focus on benchmarks I have not achieved. But I am pleased to say that in this one particular case, I still really love this book. Priscilla Burris’ illustrations are unspeakably sweet and perfect.

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Yes, she did a terrific job. The right tone. 

And the people who read it respond so well to it. It just didn’t find its people. That happens. It wasn’t the first time it happened to me. A nice side note is that it was named a highly commended title by the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Outstanding Writing in a Picture Book.

First Grade Dropout, illustrated by my pal Matthew Cordell, turns on a lovely mistake. A boy absent-mindedly calls his teacher, “Mommy.” Where did that idea come from?

Some years I take part in Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), in which you try to come up with a picture book idea each day of the month. One day I wrote “kid calls teacher mommy,” something I know happens in my sister’s second-grade classroom with some frequency. (I’ve since learned it happens in nearly every classroom.)

Yes, it rings true. That’s probably why it’s funny.

FirstGradeDropoutIt sat on that list for years because it wasn’t a story yet, just an incident. One day I decided to give it a try. In my experience, you sometimes have to start writing a picture book to find the story. And that voice just came out. It happened again a few months ago, when I was looking for a follow-up to that book. I brainstormed ideas with my editor, but while we had fun and shared lots of embarrassing elementary-school memories, we didn’t hit upon anything usable for a book. Once I started writing, though, I found the idea for Second Grade Holdout, which is coming out next year (because Matt is F-A-S-T as well as fantastic).

I am crazy about Matt. I once slept in his guest room. He even drove me to the airport. Strangely, Matt insisted on dropping me off sixteen hours early, which was confusing.

You are wise to be crazy about Matt. He’s kind and funny and so talented. Immensely likable.

Well, let’s not get carried away, Audrey. He’s okay. But I’ll be hog-tied if I let Cordell hijack this interview! So, yes, you discovered the idea for Holdout . . . through the act of writing. Jane Yolen’s famous “butt in chair” advice. How do you actually get work done, Audrey? Do you have a time clock where you punch in each morning? Or do you wait for inspiration?

Somewhere in the middle. I am not disciplined. With picture books, I write when inspiration strikes, but with novels I need to force myself to sit and write. And I have to come up with sad little bargains to keep myself in the chair, writing.

Such as?

I’m only allowed to sit in the comfy chair with the heated blanket when I’m working on a novel. And once I’m there, it’s still a whole bargaining thing. If you finish the chapter, you can shower. Or eat breakfast. Or walk the dog.

Oh, that poor dog. Getting back to James Marshall, you share a great trait with him. You’re funny. And even better, you are able to write funny, which is a distinct and rare talent. There’s never enough of that in children’s books. Children’s publishing went through a biblio-theraputic period where every picture book had to be about something important. Laughter lagged behind.

I nearly fainted from the first sentence here.

And I agree that there’s never enough funny. But there are so many more now than there used to be. The books that were considered funny when I was a kid and, for the most part, when my kids were little, were more amusing than genuinely funny. Lots of modern picture books are flat-out hilarious. It’s a really fun time to be writing them.

Can you name a few of your favorites?

See previous explanation of ever-changing favorites. That said, I believe the Pigeon books kind of burst the door open to a new kind of funny. Bob Shea’s books often crack me up and I have serious title-envy about his Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. Like debilitating jealousy.

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Deborah Underwood’s Cat is a brilliant new character.

I really liked Ryan T. Higgins’ Mother Bruce and Julia Sarcone-Roach’s The Bear Ate Your Sandwich.

Good to know. I understand that 2016 is going to be a big year for you.

I have four books coming out.

Wow. Girl is on fire. You realize I kind of hate you now? A little.

I can both understand and accept that and will just quickly add that it’s possible I have four books coming out in six months -— the pub date for the last release of the year has not been set.

Shoot me now. I mean: I’m sooooo happy for you!!!!!

Aww!

I’m curious, how do you do it? I find that writing picture books can be so difficult. I’ve been seriously trying for the past year and everything comes out half-baked, half-finished, half-awful. There are times it feels like throwing darts in a darkened room. It’s so easy to go down the wrong path. I wonder if you can talk about your process a little bit. Do you begin with a character?

I write both fiction and nonfiction picture books, and for the nonfiction ones, I look for a subject, get obsessed, research and write.

Do you first clear the topic with an editor?

I float it more than clear it. Or maybe those are the same. I am not writing with a contract, to be clear.

And for your fiction titles?

Just about every one has been different. Sometimes, the title comes first and leads the way to the story. Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums was the first of those for me. Once a whole first page came to me, unbidden:

“Zander was a monster. This wasn’t strange as his father was a monster. His mother too. Oddly, his sister was a fairy. And his dog was a skunk.”

That last sentence just killed me. (And then, as with many lines I love, I had to fight to keep it.) That’s from Unlike Other Monsters, coming out in June.

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And his dog was a skunk. That’s a funny line. Comedy gold! Sometimes with the right sentence, even just a few words, or the right rhythm, a door seems to open. You can suddenly find your way in.

I don’t think any of my picture books has started with a character, which I didn’t realize until you asked. With novels, it’s always character. But it’s usually title/concept or incident that gets me started with picture books.

Getting back to what you said about going down the wrong path -— to me, that’s what is so great about picture books! If you do it in a picture book, you erase the last 100 words and go back to the fork. With a novel, hacking out 50 pages feels like pulling out a minor organ.

I maybe once cried when cutting 10,000 words from my book, Six Innings.

The first novel I wrote, Water Balloon, I wrote these extra 50 pages before the story really got going. I so wanted credit for those pages.

Even so, picture books have to be “just so.” You know? I feel like there’s more forgiveness in a longer work. More room to wander. With a picture book, basically 30 pages, there’s not a lot of space to get lost. That’s why I’ve concentrated on longer works, because I felt it gave me more control over my (and the book’s) fate. 

I adore picture books. I love writing them. I love the very fact of them. I enjoy every step of picture book writing and revising. But getting a first draft of a novel done -— the avoidance I have to fight is embarrassing. I’m in that place now. At least ninety percent through a novel I’ve been working on for years. I am looking forward to being done but not to what I have to do to be done.

That’s how I feel about exercise.

Me too.

I could be wrong here, but it seems there are not many folks that are exclusively writers who have built a reputation in picture books. There’s Tony Johnston, Eve Bunting, Ruth Krauss, Mem Fox, Charlotte Zolotow. It’s not a long list. Mac Barnett, of course, is doing great work now. Though it was only last week when I first realized that he wrote Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. I had previously thought of it strictly as a Jon Klassen title.

Well, crap. I guess I knew that but I never knew it in words. Thanks.

You’re welcome! I like that you’re a big baseball fan. Where’d that come from?

When kids ask this at school visits I always give the super-articulate answer that goes something like, “It’s hard to say why you like what you like. For example, I love pizza. Why? Because it tastes good.” Note to self: Work on that response.

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I was on a panel recently with a bunch of seasoned writers –- Todd Strasser, David Levithan, others –- and they all had such great, pithy answers to audience questions. I was like, “Damn, I have to raise my game.” The whole staring and stammering thing won’t cut it.

I don’t think anyone will ever say that about me. You know what impressed me about that Vernick? Pithy answers.

Pithy can feel too slick on some folks. I like your stammering authenticity.

My love of baseball -— sunny days (I will always take a day game over a night game); the fact that it’s a sport without a clock, with a lot of time for a mind to wander, to wonder, to draw connections; and it’s a sport with an immensely rich history (albeit one with very few women in it).

I associate baseball with my mom, who is still a huge fan at age 89. She taught me how to throw, how to catch. So there’s a lot of transference there: by loving baseball, I’m expressing love for my mother. Also, I loved playing, and still do. Now that I’m finished coaching (had a 15u travel team last season), I’ll probably return to a Senior Men’s Hardball team next spring. Read that as: Old guys clutching their hamstrings. We’re all still boys at heart. Did you ever get to play?

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First I have to say I just love that, your connection to your mom there. Organized sports for girls didn’t exist when I was younger. I played softball at camp and was sometimes good. In my neighborhood, it was mostly punchball in the street. A neighborhood of girls. Seriously, I think there was only one boy and we were terrified of him because he once threw a firecracker at my sister.

He was probably terrified, too. Don’t we all throw firecrackers when we’re afraid? I know you are a Jersey Girl, and a mother, but outside of that, I don’t know much about your background.

Okay, first of all, no. I grew up in New York City -— in Queens. I’ve lived in NJ 19 years. Wow. That’s a long time. But I definitely do not identify as Jersey Girl. Strike that from the record!

Done. Both my parents were from Queens, so I like this better, anyway.

I live near the ocean. When I lived on eastern Long Island —- my home before this one, and Boston before that -— my house was a block from the Long Island Sound. I hope to always live near a big body of water. My present and future dogs probably hope so too.

Have you written a dog-and-ocean book yet?

I cannot sell a dog book. It kills me.

I hear hedgehogs are trending. Or was that five years ago? It’s hard to keep up.

I wrote literary short fiction for adults before writing for kids. It’s a very good way to learn to accept rejection.

So how did you get into children’s books?

It’s a sad story. You’ve been warned.

When I was in my early twenties, my mother was taking a children’s writing class at the New School in NYC and she sent the first novel she wrote to one publisher (Dutton) and it was accepted. She died two months later, a pedestrian on the sidewalk, hit by a car around the block from my childhood home.

200px-Morning-glory-C6295bMy family was reeling for years. And in that time, we had to work with my mother’s very patient editor. My mother hadn’t even received her editorial letter at the time of her death, so all the revision fell to us. As you might imagine, we didn’t want to change a single one of her words. So that was my first step, as the literary executor of her estate. (The book, The Morning Glory War, was published in 1990 and received a really nice review in the Sunday Times.)

Wow. You must have taken a deep breath before typing that out. Like, “Okay, here goes, you asked.” I know that feeling, Audrey, since my oldest is a two-time cancer survivor. I’ve lost two brothers. These are not happy stories to tell at parties. Oftentimes, it’s easier not to get into it. And you’re right, it is sad, but it’s also an incredible story.

Yeah, as I wrote that out, I could see clearly that my family led me here.

Years later, I fell in love with the art of an outsider artist named Tim Brown, showed his art to one of my sisters, and she said that it belonged in a children’s book. Together, we wrote that book.

Which book is that?

Bark and Tim: A True Story of Friendship.

Hey, um, Audrey, this is nice and everything but . . . are you going to leave? I mean, ever? Or am I supposed to feed you now? I guess I have a pull-out couch . . .

Yeah, maybe tomorrow I’ll start pulling my stuff together. I could walk your dog. Do you have a dog?

Daisy. And two cats. And three kids. And four . . . well, it all stops at four. I don’t have four of anything.

I’m sure you have four readers of your blog!

Oh, dozens more. Dozens! We’re basically talking to ourselves here. It’s like the Cone of Silence in “Get Smart.” But before you go, is there anything you can share about your upcoming books? 

Okay, since you asked:

The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton, illustrated by Steven Salerno, nonfiction about a Philadelphia girl playing professional baseball from age 10.

 

The real Edith Houghton.

The real Edith Houghton.

 

I Won A What?, illustrated by Robert Neubecker, about a boy who hopes to win a goldfish and ends up with something a wee bit bigger. And better.

Unlike Other Monsters, illustrated by Colin Jack, with the opening page mentioned above. And a novel, Two Naomis, written with my dear friend Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich.

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How did you co-author a book? It’s seems difficult, fraught with peril. How did you handle it?

I have co-authored four books. Two Naomis was the first novel. We each wrote from the point of view of our own Naomi. So my chapters were the even-numbered ones — individual writing of separate chapters. When I co-wrote picture books, first with my sister and most recently with Liz Garton Scanlon, we just back-and-forthed a lot. Both experiences were really freeing and so much easier than doing it alone.

So what’s for dinner?

Get out! 

But before you go, by way of thank you, please accept this set of steak knives as a parting gift. I wish you all the luck in the world, Audrey. Keep up the great work.

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2. November is PIBOIDMO

Did you know that November is National Picture Book Idea Month or PIBOIDMO?

The object of PIBOIDMO is to generate one new idea for a picture book every day in November.

You don’t need to develop all of these ideas into complete picture book manuscripts. Just come up with 30 new picture book ideas.

Later, you can go back and decide which of your ideas are worth working on further so they become complete picture book manuscripts.

Click on the illustration, below. It will take you to Tara Lazar’s blog, where you’ll find a new post by a children’s book author or illustrator each day this month that offers helpful tips for generating picture book ideas. You can also become an official participant in PIBOIDMO and be eligible to win some great prizes.

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3. PiBoIdMo Winner 2014! And Daily Sketch Commitment!


Hurray! I participated once again in PiBoIdMo in November- 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It was a little tricky with CTNx and Thanksgiving, but somehow I managed to come up with 31 ideas! I can guarantee that the majority of them are pretty bad ideas, but maybe there are a handful of gems in there that might become great picture books someday! I'm happy that I did it once again. I think one of my favorite things about PiBoIdMo is all the inspiring blog posts by guest bloggers on Tara Lazar's blog. They give great ideas for coming up with picture book ideas, tell about their experiences, or just give great encouragement. This is definitely going to continue to be a yearly tradition for me.

As for the month of December, I have decided to do one sketch a day. I am not good at doing daily warm up sketches, I'm really not. I think it is because I have such a limited amount of time working as a freelance illustrator and then trying to do all my mom duties as well- I guess the daily sketch usually gets pushed to the back burner. But I am going to commit to it for one month. I know December is a weird month to do it, but I was so inspired after CTN, and I just want to start now. So here I go. I am committing to sketching every day. I may or may not post sketches. Some of my sketches may be copies of what other people have done for educational purposes- so I definitely won't be posting those. I know I will probably come up with some pretty bad sketches. But the thing is, if I am sketching more, I am going to get better. So I am committing to do it today!

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4. Generating Ideas: Three Strategies from PiBoIdMo

Three strategies to generate story ideas

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5. A comic for those about to dive into NaNoWriMo or another writing challenge

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6. Let the Ideas Begin – PiBoIdMo is Here!


If you create children's stories (or want to), join this fun writing challenge for picture book writers and illustrators. The idea is to come up with one picture book idea every day in November, so by the end of the month you'll have 30 new ideas to help you throughout the year! 

Don't miss the daily posts on Tara Lazar's site from authors, illustrators and picture book professionals to help you along on your 30-day idea journey this November.

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7. PiBoIdMo 2014 Logo Revealed!

Who can believe it’s almost November? I know, it was just November last year, right? And we had a whole buncha fun creating new picture book story concepts! (Need a recap? Look here.)

I’m still firming up the festivities for 2014 and will post the guest blogger line-up soon. But while you wait for that and for registration to begin (on October 25th, right here), here’s a peek at this year’s logo, created by the talented Vin Vogel, whose new picture book MADDI’S FRIDGE is out now from Flashlight Press, with author Lois Brandt.

Each year  I ask the logo illustrator to include an important detail—a lightbulb, to represent ideas being created. This year, Vin had a delicious idea! (Was it from the FRIDGE? Sure seems like it. Well, maybe it was from the FREEZER.)

piboidmo2014banner

Registration for the November PiBoIdMo online event will commence October 25th. Individuals AND classes are invited to register. All registration requires is your name (or teacher’s name in the case of a class) on the registration post’s comment thread, plus you must also follow my blog (handy-dandy button in the left column). The “Official Participant” logo will also be available at that time for you to download and display on your website or social media platform.

Registration entitles you to PRIZES along the way, from signed books, critiques and author/illustrator Skype visits, to the grand prize–an idea consultation with a picture book agent. Last year we offered nine grand prizes!

Also, October 25th will kick-off “Pre-PiBo”, a week-long series of posts intended to gear you up for the month of idea-generating.piboidmo2014journal

Need somewhere to record your brilliance? The PiBoIdMo Cafe Press shop is open, featuring this year’s Official Journal of Ideas. Remember that all proceeds ($3 per sale) are donated to RIF, Reading is Fundamental. So your purchase benefits an excellent cause!

If you want to discuss the event with kindred spirits, please join our PiBoIdMo Facebook Group. (Please note it *is* the current group although the name on Facebook, which cannot be changed, says 2011.)

Well, that’s all for now, PiBoIdMo’ers. Except, can we think of a better name for y’all?


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8. Host Your Own PiBoIdMo Kick-Off Party

I needed a kick in the pants to host a kick-off party. I never even THOUGHT about it until Leeza Hernandez asked me to host a PiBoIdMo Party for NJ-SCBWI. So to inspire you, I’ve created a three-page handout that you can use to host your own kick-off event. Writers, librarians and SCBWI devotees rejoice!

The first page contains the FAQ—what is this strangely-named online writing challenge all about? (Sorry, no instructions on how to pronounce it. I have no idea how to pronounce it myself!) This FAQ can be hung in your local library or writerly cafe to let others know about PiBoIdMo.

The next two pages provide exercises and tips from The Ghost of PiBoIdMo’s Past. I went through these exercises with my party peeps last Monday and they came up with some fabulous ideas for new stories already!

To access this free 3-page PiBoIdMo pamphlet, just click here:

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And I just had another idea! Perhaps your kick-off party can include a kick ball! Hoverball, anyone?

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Let me know if you’re planning to KICK IT with PiBoIdMo this year! I’d love to hear what you’ve got goin’ on!

 

 

 


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9. PiBoIdMo 2014 Registration: Sign-up Here!

 

Registration for PiBoIdMo 2014 is open! Let’s go!!!

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But wait!

First, let’s review our guest blogger line-up, shall we?

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These authors, illustrators and picture book professionals will provide daily doses of inspiration to help you along on your 30-day idea journey this November.

And don’t forget—there’s Pre-PiBo beginning tomorrow, to get you organized and ready. And then in early December, there’s Post-PiBo to help your organize and prioritize your ideas.

Participants who register for PiBoIdMo and complete the 30-idea challenge will be eligible for prizes, including signed picture books, original art, critiques, Skype sessions and feedback from one of ten picture book agents. This year’s agents are:

  • Heather Alexander, Pippin Properties
  • Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
  • Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency
  • Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency
  • Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary
  • Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
  • Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Plus I still hope to add a few more!

Need more info about PiBoIdMo before you register? Read this.

So are you ready to register? You need to do THREE THINGS:

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This is so you don’t miss any of the daily PiBoIdMo posts. If you already follow another way, via RSS or a blog reader, no need to do it again via email. And if you already follow via email, obviously skip this step.

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Be sure to comment with your FULL NAME in the TEXT of the comment. This is how you will be identified for prizes.

Please, leave ONE COMMENT ONLY on this post.

DO NOT REPLY to other comments.

DO NOT COMMENT AGAIN if you forget to leave your FULL NAME. (I will fix it and/or contact you.)

If your comment DOESN’T APPEAR IMMEDIATELY, it means I have to moderate it. Check back in 24 hours to see if your comment appears. It probably will.

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Here is the badge! Right click to save to your computer and then upload it anywhere you please–Facebook, Twitter, your blog or website, etc.

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If you do not have a place to display the badge, you can skip this step.

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4. Purchase PiBoIdMo merchandise, like the official journal. All proceeds ($3 per item) benefit RIF, helping to put books into the hands of underprivileged children.

5. Use the #PiBoIdMo hashtag when tweeting about the event….and follow @TaraLazar on Twitter.

6. Join the PiBoIdMo Facebook discussion group. This is a closed group meaning you must request to join and I will approve you. (Note: the name says “2011″ but it is the current group.)

7. Repeat after me:

I do solemnly swear
that I will faithfully execute
the PiBoIdMo 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into
picture book manuscripts
throughout the year.

 That’s it. You’re golden!

REGISTRATION REMAINS OPEN THROUGH NOVEMBER 7th. You can still follow along if you’re not registered, but remember, those who register and complete the challenge are eligible for PRIZES.

Visit this blog for daily inspiration from the guest bloggers, then keep a journal or computer file of your ideas. There’s no need to post your ideas online or send them to me. KEEP YOUR IDEAS TO YOURSELF! As Sheena Easton croons, they’re “for your eyes only.”

At the end of the month, I’ll ask you to sign the PiBo-Pledge confirming you did create 30 ideas. You’re on the honor system.

Thanks for joining! I hope you enjoy this year’s PiBoIdMo! As always, if you have any suggestions for this event, please contact me at tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com or post a question on the PiBoIdMo Facebook group.

I will leave you with a quote that serves as PiBoIdMo’s motto…from Roald Dahl’s THE MINPINS…

roalddahlquotepibo

*Photo credit Alessandro.


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10.

PiBoIdMo is just around the corner. Sign-ups have started. Are you in?






Click here to join!

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11. It's PiBoIdMo Time Again!

http://taralazar.com/

It's that time of year again – the leaves are turning, the weather is colder, and it's Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo)!

PiBoIdMo is a writing challenge for picture book writers and illustrators. The idea is to come up with one picture book idea every day in November, so by the end of the month you'll have 30 new ideas to help you throughout the year! I just love the adorable banner for this year, designed by Vin Vogel!

Don't miss the daily posts on Tara Lazar's site from authors, illustrators and picture book professionals to help you along on your 30-day idea journey this November.

Participants who register for PiBoIdMo and complete the 30-idea challenge will be eligible for prizes, including signed picture books, original art, critiques, Skype sessions and feedback from one of eleven picture book agents! You have until Nov. 7th to sign up to be eligible for prizes.

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12. PiBoIdMo Day 9: Sandra Tayler’s Future Possible Tense

Sandra Taylerby Sandra Tayler

I never had an ambition to become a picture book author. I know it is a thing that many people dream of doing. Their brains burst with rhythm and rhyme. They long to have their words matched with glorious pictures and put on shelves for children to love. I tumbled into it because I had a child and she desperately needed a story. She was struggling and hurting. I knew that the right story could help her. I looked for it at the library and in bookstores. I didn’t find it, and so I wrote it instead. This was how Hold on to Your Horses was created. I thought I was done, but my daughter still struggled and I knew there was another question to answer, so I wrote The Strength of Wild Horses. Both stories came directly from the need of a child. So that is my advice to all those participating in PiBoIdMo. If you’re struggling to find ideas, go spend time with some children.

I once read an article that described children’s play as taking place in the Future Possible tense. You can hear it in the intonations of the kids. They have an idea—something they hope will be accepted into the mutual game—So they make a statement, but give it the intonation of a question.

“And then I grew wings?” says one child.

The other nods and says, “And I pulled out my rocket pack and we flew to the mountain together?”

Each is part statement, part question. It is an expression of what might be possible in the next part of the game. Many adults would do well to think in the future possible tense. PiBoIdMo writers would do well to sit down with a note pad and scribble notes as fast as the kids can imagine. The games of children will teach you magic and whimsy that you can carry with you to the picture books you want to write. Children know that sometimes the best answer is to sprout a pair of wings (or a jetpack) and take off for the next mountain.

Stories are gifts to the children who read them. Your story may be a gift of whimsy or delight. It may be a solution to a problem. It may be a necessary lesson. Like gifts, these stories can come in all sorts of wrappings. They may be full of rhyme or they may be simple prose. The pictures may be simple or elaborate. If you’re not sure yet which story you want to tell, go spend time with the people you want to tell it to. Listen to them. Learn what they love, what they worry about, what they cry over. Throw all of this into the pot from which you draw your ideas and let it simmer for a while. The result will be something delightful or useful, and perfectly suited to your audience.

guestbloggerbio2014

Sandra Tayler is a writer of essays, children’s books, picture books, speculative fiction, and blog entries, all of which can be found at onecobble.com . She has two picture books in print, two essay books, ten years of blog entries, and a novel in progress. Sandra can be found online at OneCobble.com or on twitter @SandraTayler. When she is not working, Sandra spends time with her house, her four kids, and her cartoonist husband, Howard Tayler.

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Sandra is giving away a matched set of picture books Hold on to Your Horses and The Strength of Wild Horses. Perfect reading for anyone who has a child filled with wild ideas.

holdontoyourhorses strengthofwildhorses

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!


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13. Rules of BRAINSTORM

I love the posts over at Tara Lazar's site every November during PiBoIdMo! Some inspire me by presenting a new way to look at creativity, and some are reminders of things that I already knew, but seem to forget about when trying to create!

The last few on not censoring yourself inspired me to write this post. Back in the days when I was a graphic designer in the advertising/communications field, we would have brainstorming sessions for new projects. We would have to repeat the rules about 10 times each session because someone would say, "that's stupid," or "don't write that one down!" That breaks the first rule – anything goes – no censoring! You gotta get the bad ideas out somehow!

Here's a quote from the great Chuck Jones about creating art:

 

Switch out ‘drawings’ with ‘ideas’, or any creative endeavor.

Here is my list of Brainstorming Rules written in deference to the Movie Fight Club, and the Rules of Fight Club:

Rules of BRAINSTORM
  • 1st RULE:  You do not censor ANY ideas in BRAINSTORM.
  • 2nd RULE: EVERY IDEA gets written down in BRAINSTORM.
  • 3rd RULE: No Judgey Judgersons! If someone says 'that's stupid' or 'don't write that down' BRAINSTORM is over for them, and escort them out of the room. (This includes your inner voices!)
  • 4th RULE: Only 15 minutes for each BRAINSTORM. (If nothing comes out of it, take and break and come back to it.)
  • 5th RULE: In BRAINSTORM, quantity trumps quality. The more ideas, the better.
  • 6th RULE: Build upon other ideas. Take an idea you wrote down and add to it.
  • 7th RULE: Sketch you ideas out. If you just thought 'but I can't draw' please leave the BRAINSTORM. (Back to 3rd RULE of BRAINSTORM!)
  • 8th RULE: Wild ideas are welcome. This is the time to think of the wildest ideas you can imagine! Having toys and puzzles around may help get your juices flowing.

Good luck with your ideas!

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14. Illustrator Interview – Vinicius Vogel

As soon as I saw Vin Vogel’s wonderful banner for this year’s PiBoIdMo, run by Tara Lazar, and knew that Vin had written and illustrated a picture book about YETIS, I knew I had to interview him. Vin Vogel is … Continue reading

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15. PiBoIdMo Logo, Badge and Guest Bloggers!

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It’s NOVEMBER ALREADY?

Well, almost. October will whip by in a sugar-induced haze. Especially because a) I’ll buy candy way too early and eat it all; and b) my kids will change their minds about their Halloween costumes umpteen times. “I wanna be Frankie Stein! No, Draculaura! No, a zombie mermaid! Ooh, I know, a picture book author! I can trick-or-treat in my jammies with a story stuck to my forehead! You’re sorta like a zombie, right, Mommy?”

Um, YEAH.

October is NOT the month of jack-o-lanterns, candy corn (BLECH!) and costumes. It’s the month of PiBoIdMo-eve!

Don’t know what PiBoIdMo is? Check it.

Our 5th anniversary logo, banners and badges have been designed by the kawaii-cutie, author-illustrator Joyce Wan.

Joyce knows my penchant for hot-air balloons. (My husband almost proposed on one. But I think he was afraid I’d drop the ring.)

So this year’s theme is IDEAS TAKING FLIGHT!

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WAIT A MINUTE! DID TARA SAY 5TH ANNIVERSARY?!

Yep, I sure did. Which means I’ll have to come up with something super-snazzy for this year. So how ’bout JANE YOLEN?

Besides the legendary Ms. Yolen, here are some of the authors and illustrators who’ll be blogging all November long, helping you to fill your idea notebook with 30 picture book concepts:

  • Drew Daywalt
  • Michael Garland
  • Melissa Guion
  • Leeza Hernandez
  • Lenore & Daniel Jennewein
  • Renee Kurilla
  • Elizabeth Rose Stanton
  • Adam Lehrhaupt
  • Wendy Martin
  • The McQueen Brothers
  • Pat Miller
  • Pat Zietlow Miller
  • Anne Marie Pace
  • Paul Schmid
  • Annette Simon
  • Tammi Sauer
  • Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • Dianne de las Casas
  • James Proimos
  • Laurie Keller
  • Katie Davis
  • Zachariah Ohora
  • Kelly Light
  • Steve Barr
  • Greg Pizzoli

And even more to be announced…

Official registration will begin on this blog on OCTOBER 24th and run through NOVEMBER 4th. Watch for it! (It’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy if you just follow this blog. See left column.) Only officially registered participants will be eligible for PRIZES, like a consultation with a picture book agent!

But you can grab the “Official Participant” Badge NOW and proudly slap it on your blog or social network site. Kindly link it back to taralazar.com/piboidmo so folks know where to join the challenge. You can also grab the “Ideas Taking Flight!” slogan above.

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Do you Tweet? Add a PiBoIdMo Twibbon to your Twitter avatar. Just visit the PiBoIdMo 2013 Campaign to upload it.

And here’s some adorbs lightbulb balloons! Use them when you’re blogging about PiBoIdMo to express yourself!

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The only thing that’s missing is the PiBoIdMo 2013 merchandise to benefit RIF—like your official idea notebook—so I’ll be announcing that soon.

In the meantime, let us know how YOU’RE gearing up for PiBoIdMo. Blog about it or leave a comment below. What are you looking forward to this November?

Me? Tonight I’m hosting one of NJ-SCBWI’s PiBoIdMo kick-off parties at the Manville Public Library. Maybe I’ll see some of you there? I promise I won’t be a zombie.


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16. Ideas

Starting on November 1, Mom will be a part of PiBoIdMo.

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Yep. November is Picture Book Idea Month. That means she will have to get a picture book idea in her head every day for 30 days.  Last year, she wrote 30 ideas, and 8 of them are now either stories or poems. And one of them will be Mom’s first ever eBook, called What If I Don’t.

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Ideas are a way of life when you’re an author. They are also a way of life when you’re a dog. Here are some ideas I have for stories….

Cupcake, the Best Dog in the World.

polka

Cupcake Gets Unlimited Treats

101 treats

When Cupcake Went for a Ride

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Cupcake Looks Pretty

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Read to a Pet Night Starring Cupcake

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Street Naps for Cupcake

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Cupcake Turns Seven Years Old

birthday 7

That’s a week’s worth of ideas, right there! What’s the big deal? I wish November was named DogIdMo. I could totally do this!


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17. Five Word Friday

Today’s five words are about autumn.

1. Leaves – Leaves are falling everywhere. Some of them are dull and brown. Some are gorgeous and brightly colored. They remind Mom of ideas. Ideas come in all shades, too. Some are brilliant. Some crumble when you touch them.

huh

2. Cool – Mornings and nights have been cool lately. Sweater weather for sure.

sweater

3. Ready – Fall reminds us that winter is coming. We need to be ready. Mom is getting ready for PiBoIdMo. It’s a whole month when she has to write down a new picture book idea every single day. She’ll type them into her phone, and then try to make each one into a story.

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4. School – Kids go back to school in the fall. That means I go back to working at Read-To-A-Pet-Night at the library. Sometimes, Mom and I listen to 7 or 8 stories. Some are awesome. Some are …meh.

pet night

5. Halloween – Halloween is in the fall. Mom got me 2 costumes. One of them is a turtle costume. We used to have a turtle named Leave-the-Turtle-Alone. I hope Mom doesn’t change my name to Leave-the-Dog-Alone. That would be too lonely!

IMG_2629

Does anybody want to play with me?


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18. PiBoIdMo 2013 Registration is OPEN!

piboidmo2013-participant-214x131

Well, it’s that time of year again. Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) is almost here. Tara Lazar has another great lineup of guest bloggers and prizes again this year. To make this a more manageable project for me this year, I am only going to blog about my progress on a weekly basis. so here is my promise:

I do solemnly swear
that I will faithfully execute
the PiBoIdMo 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into
picture book manuscripts
throughout the year.

This has been successful for me the past couple of years, so I hope I’m up to the challenge again this year.


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19. PiBoIdMo 2013 Day 1

piboidmo2013-slogan-490x301

I have signed up for Picture Book Idea Month, and today, November 1 is Day 1. I have my idea written down this a.m. in my journal, and I will post a small scan of it when I get back home from work (I always have a drawing or two with an idea).

 

PiBo was started in 2009 by author, Tara LazarPiBoIdMo is a challenge to write a picture book idea every day for the 30 days of November. It has grown so much in participation since the first year (in which I was one of the random winners of the grand prizes). Now, we have over 300 participants and loads of wonderfully inspirational posts every day on Tara’s blog by accomplished writers, authors, and literary creatives. It has grown into a wonderful community that inspires not only through out November, but the rest of the year as well via Facebook and Twitter. I wish all of my fellow participants good luck! To my fans, please check back for updates and new sketches related to PiBo. Have a great weekend!

piboidmo2013-lightbulb-happy-200x254Isn’t this little illo adorable? This years artwork and badge were created

by artist, Joyce Wan. Check her art out, it’s so sweet!

 

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20. SkADaMo Last Day!!!

SkADaMo button 2013 monkey winner 450

Wooo hooooo! We did it, y’all!

First of all I want to give a hearty thanks to all the folks who visited my blog, Facebook, or Twitter to support and root me on. Your comments, retweets, shares and ‘likes’ were encouraging, often funny and clever and always more than welcome. Thanks also for doing the same for my fellow SkADaMoers. You guys made the journey all the sweeter and kept me going when I was tempted to just sit and eat a whole bag of chips while watching goofy, but time wasting kitty antics on YouTube.

I may have only completed 25 sketches in 30 days, but that’s 25 more sketches than I would have done otherwise.

In fact, to all my fellow SkADaMoers:

You decided to step a bit out of your comfort zone this November, dip your toe into a challenge. Maybe you did one sketch, or 5, 10 or all 30. Whatever number you managed to do… You. Are. A. Winner!

Why? “Why am I a winner no matter how many sketches I finished”, you may ask? Well, because you took a positive, productive step toward revving up your creative engines this month. Perhaps your sketchbook is a little fuller, your blog has a few more posts. Maybe you killed it and did 30 sketches or more! Maybe for those who participated in PiBoIdMo or even if you didn’t, you have some great picture book ideas percolating  now or some great new ideas for a painting or some other type of super cool project. Maybe because you dipped your toe into this challenge you’ll be more toned up to jump into something even more challenging with both feet! Whatever the case may be, you did it and that is fantastic! Good for all of you!

You rock. Take a winner badge!

SkADaMoWinnerbutton2013

Now go on and enjoy the rest of your holiday season, feeling a bit more energized. Maybe you’ll take a rest from sketching every single day, maybe you’ll continue do a wee bit every day…

OR…

Maybe you’re a masochist like myself and you’ll join the HoHoDooDa (Holiday Doodle a Day) fun that December brings (starts tomorrow, or any day you can join. Of course the sooner the merrier.)

More about the third annual HoHoDooDa later today. For now congratulations SkADaMoers! You kicked November’s butt!

And thanks again to everyone who supported us and rooted us on. You guys are winners as well. Take a badge!


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21. Inspirational Quote of the Week

All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.
Chuck Palahniuk

Experiences inspire ideas. Mom has completed her PiBoIdMo challenge with 35 inspired ideas for new stories.

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Some of her ideas will become picture book manuscripts. Some will become poems. One of them might become the elusive Book #2 or eBook #2. Some of them stink so bad that they will stay in her phone and rot. But somewhere, somehow, all of them were inspired for a few minutes by an experience during the month of November.

At her author visits, students or teachers often ask Mom if she ever has writer’s block. She says, “Never.” That’s because as long as she has a list of ideas, even if one story gets stuck, there are a bunch of other stories just waiting to get started.

I was inspired last night, so I started playing the piano with my paws…

piano paw

…and my face.

piano face

Mom came in to see what was inspiring me. Was I a genius and she was just finding out? No. Did I suddenly get skills that no dog in the world ever had? No. Would I play at Carnegie Hall and be famous? No. There was a fly in the house. And I wanted a closer look at it.

*Not actual fly

*Not actual fly

The fly disappeared after my concert, and later he met with an unfortunate end. Rest in peace, little fly. I think you would’ve been delicious.

clipart-rip-b846

*Not actual fly tombstone


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22. Combinations

There are lots and lots of breeds of dogs.

tv

Nobody is really sure what combination I am. Part Jack Russell for sure, and maybe some Beagle or Dachshund or Dalmation or ….Monkey or Bobcat.

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Whatever the mix, I’ve turned out to be perfectly me. Not perfectly perfect, but with a bunch of good parts put together (and a little naughty streak for good luck).

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Is that…? Is he…? Am I…?

I’m an original.

tv huh

Wait. What?

Mom keeps idea lists in her phone. One of the lists is called PiBoIdMo2012. It has 32 ideas.

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One is called PiBoIdMo2013. It has 35 ideas.

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And one is called Story Ideas. It has 42 ideas. Some of the ideas are already used up, so Mom marked them with a star. She says, “An author needs lots of ideas.” and “My phone is always nearby, in case I think of anything.” and “Do you have the hiccups?”

what

Hic….

When Mom starts a new story, she doesn’t always pick one of the ideas from her phone. Sometimes, she picks two ideas or even three and puts them together to make a combination. It’s not perfectly perfect, but it’s perfectly her. Idea mixing makes stories have some surprises and some unexpected events and unique characters in odd places doing unusual things.

And yes, sometimes I have the hiccups.


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23. Finished

photo 1

Dinner is finished. I can tell by my empty dish.

photo 2

The Nutcracker Ballet is finished. I can tell by the SugarPlum Fairy dancing…

photo 3

…and Clara waking up.

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You mean we can’t play King of the Hill??

The snow is finished. I can tell by this little pile of black mush which is called Get-Away-From-It-It’s-Filthy.

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Mom is finished with her Goodreads Reading Challenge. She read 200 books this year, just like she planned.

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She is finished with PiBoIdMo, too. She made a list of 30+ ideas, just like she planned.

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Now, 2013 is about finished, but Mom isn’t ready. She has one more thing to finish. It’s her second year of The12x12 Challenge. That means she planned to write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months. But she’s only got eleven-and-a-half stories finished. She needs to buckle down and get to the end of her 12th story before the end of the year.

Mom says, “It doesn’t count if it’s inside my head.” and “This is a tough time of year to catch up.” and “Dinner is finished. Get over it. You will eat again tomorrow.”

photo 6


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24. Frenzy

Sometimes, when I play with my monkey in a barrel, it puts me into a frenzy. There’s just too much going on! Too much to do. Too many possibilities. Bite the barrel? Tear off the lid? Growl at the talking? Rip the monkey’s face off? Chew his arm till he stops laughing? Shake the whole thing till I’m dizzy? I don’t know what to do first.

Since NewYears, Mom has also been in a frenzy. She’s not biting, tearing, growling, ripping, chewing, or shaking, like me. But she does have a lot going on, a lot to do, and a lot of possibilities. She may have bitten off more than she can chew. I’ve done that occasionally, too…. (And by “occasionally” I mean every day.)

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Gah! Why is my mouth so tiny?!

Mom has entered a ton of challenges, and made a bunch of goals for herself this year. She will read 200 picture books in the Goodreads Challenge again,

2014 goodreads

she joined 12×12 for 2014, which means she needs to write a new first draft in the next few weeks,

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she’ll get 30 new ideas when PiBoIdMo starts,

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and she will write 30 poems this year.

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In between all those jobs (and a bunch of others – if you can believe such a thing), Mom decided to enter the Highlights Annual Fiction Contest this month, AND take Susanna Hill’s Making Contest Magic class this week.

So Mom is learning, mind-writing, registering, paypal-ing, reading, commenting, revising, studying, listing, rhyming, critiquing, and ….do you see what’s missing here??

Snow pea?? Blech! I may have bitten off (stolen) more than I can chew again.

Snow pea?? Blech! I may have bitten off more than I can chew again.

Rocky, over at my friend Bacon’s blog told me that January 6 was National CuddleUp Day. So I made sure Mom took some time out to celebrate. Actually, I will make sure we celebrate that thing EVERY day!!

cuddle


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25. Thank You, PiBoIdMo, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster and RIF!

Thank you, PiBoIdMo participants, guest bloggers and illustrators. Do you know what you did?

You helped me raise $433.62 to donate to RIF, Reading is Fundamental.

RIFlogo

 

Your purchases via the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop made it possible.

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With Carol Hampton Rasco, CEO of RIF

For every $10 donated, RIF is able to distribute four books to a child in need.

FOUR BOOKS!

fourbooks

So last month I made my way down to RIF Headquarters in D.C. I toured their offices and talked with RIF staff about the important work they’re doing.

One staff member had just returned from a county in Appalachia, where 28% of the schoolchildren were officially homeless, and where even more lived in crowded trailers with multiple families apiece.

The school Principal told RIF that amazingly, their test scores rose from 9th percentile to the 22nd percentile in just one year. To what did they attribute that growth? RIF! Now that these children have books of their own, they’re able to continue learning at home and over the summer break instead of being left behind. Books are AMAZING. But you already knew that, right?

As part of my trip to RIF, my publisher, the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster, donated 100 copies of THE MONSTORE to the children at Bancroft Elementary in Washington, D.C. I was honored to appear at the school to talk to the children about writing and to personally sign every copy.

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The best moment of the day? When I told the children they’d each be going home with a copy of my book. They cheered and hoorayed, and two besties in the front row hugged each other so tight they tumbled over in joy. Now that’s a great day for any author. Thank you, Aladdin and RIF!

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I have something else important to tell you.

RIF’s donations have taken a plummet in recent times. The economy has hit them hard. So please consider donating directly. Remember $10 = 4 books!

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Donate here. Or here.

And again, thank you for making the PiBoIdMo donation possible!

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