PiBoIdMo 2014

It’s that time of year! Picture Book Idea Month. Generate 30 picture book ideas in the month of 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 ten picture book agents. 
This year’s agents are:
I’ve taken part of PiBoIdMo since the beginning. I love having a springboard of ideas (some great, others not so much) I can work from year round. (Thank you, Tara!) A helpful hint:  I actually use the Notesy app that syncs from my laptop to my phone, so I can jot down ideas wherever I may be. So, good luck!
Here’s to a creative month!

LOOP Cover Reveal

My good friend Karen Akins has been given permission to share her debut cover. Look for LOOP on shelves starting October 21st.

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Nonfiction Picture Book Class

I took author Kristen Fulton‘s online nonfiction picture book class and highly recommend it, if you are curious about writing nonfiction. Kristen’s upbeat, professional, and provides you with some pretty stellar worksheets to take your idea to the next level.

She also did a one on one critique of my manuscript at the end of the four week session. And an added bonus, my group is staying together to keep polishing our stories until they sing. Kristen offers one class per month. I encourage you to check it out.

Happy writing,

The Idea

That’s what I’m aiming for today. The heart. Because of Winn-Dixie does this so well. As does The One and Only Ivan. Wonder. Three Times Lucky. Boy + Bot.

Can you think of others? I’m creating a list.

Happy writing, everyone.

It’s not just me.

“I write in my house, at my desk where I have Christmas lights strung over it to try and convince me that I’m having a good time. I can’t really write anywhere else.” Kate DiCamillo 

I adore this funny quote by the impeccable Kate DiCamillo, especially as I just hung a cheery flag banner over my own desk. Kate’s newest release is FLORA & ULYSSES, and I’m about to read it for the second time. It’s a complete riot and is packed with superb characterization (William Spiver anyone?) and that pitch-perfect middle grade voice she’s famous for. I intend to study this story, to take it apart, much like one would when repairing say a vacuum cleaner. Maybe i’ll emerge with my own set of super powers and exclaim, “Holy Unanticipated Occurrences!” 

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo.

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format — a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell.

Have you read any of her books, and if so, what’s your favorite? 

Arkansas SCBWI Conference Recap, 2013

I’ve recently returned from my home state’s SCBWI conference. Here are a few nuggets I picked up from the Saturday faculty (I regret I missed Darcy Pattison‘s session on Friday, but I highly recommend you buy her novel revision workbook. It’s super.)

Dawn Frederick is the owner of Red Sofa Literary and co-founder of MN Publishing Tweet Up. She is a social media guru, has read The Phantom Tollbooth every year since the first grade, and is not a fan of mermaid fiction. (Queriers, take note.) Dawn also likes to see a solid author bio, especially when it relates to the book you are querying.

Dawn recommended writers read Stet: An Editor’s Life by Diana Athill and 77 Reasons Why Your Book was Rejected by Mike Nappa.

A few truths from Dawn:
*Editors want a character they can empathize with.
*Every book already published is competition, especially books similar to the one you’re pitching.

Karl Jones, assistant editor at Grosset & Dunlap/ Price Stern Sloan, loves nonfiction and has worked on the popular Who Was…? books and the new companion series What Was…? He is looking to acquire more nonfiction trade books. He also likes what he calls “tomboy/tomgirl” fiction, saying his favorite read from last year was Caroline Lawrence’s P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados.

*Pay attention to the reveal of a character’s traits. As seen in The Deadly Desperados, unconventional, delayed revelations can be a tool…the author withheld a vital piece of information to further plot.

I also made a note to check out The Treasure Chest series by Ann Hood.

These books sound fantastic and put a new spin on the classic Magic Tree House, if your child has exhausted them (ahem). What I love about this series is the protagonists travel back in time to meet famous historical figures as children (Clara Barton, Crazy Horse, Alexander Hamilton, Harry Houdini and more).

All in all, our advisor Phyllis and her team put on another great conference. It’s always good to see friends, new and old, and talk books.

Happy reading and writing!

Trying New Things

You know that saying if you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done? Well, I’m doing something new. I’ve had a story rattling around in my head for two years now, and I’ve acquired the research for it. So, here I am strapping on my parachute, closing my eyes, and taking the big leap. Nonfiction, here I come. And no matter the turbulence, may my landing be soft.


What I’m Reading Wednesday

(Sandpiper, 2007)
“I was supposed to play the piano.
The piano is a beautiful instrument.
People wear ball gowns and tuxedos to hear the piano.
With the piano, you could play Carnegie Hall.”
States ten-year-old Zoe Elias who dreams of having her own piano and being called a prodigy. But the terrible truth is Zoe ended up with a wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ instead of a glossy baby grand. All because her Dad, an impulsive (if not compulsive) shopper couldn’t resist a certain mall organ’s catchy boompa sound. With encouragement from her teacher, Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition. It’s not Carnegie Hall, but it may be perfect enough.
I fell in love with Zoe and hope you’ll find her endearing, too. Note Ms. Urban’s newest book THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING releases March 5.