Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seven Picture Books in Seven Days

It's that time of year! Spring has sprung and Paula Yoo's picture book writing frenzy is nine days away. Join us as we participate in National Picture Book Writing Week 2014, now in its sixth year.
Sign-up now!

Have you participated in years past? Have you completed the challenge? Have any of your drafts from last year turned into worthwhile manuscripts? Share your thoughts and successes. I'd love to hear from you.

S is for Seven*

*Follow the A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rock

R is for Rock and Rockwell Kent**
Celebrate National Poetry Month!

This is my rock
And here I run
To steal the secret
Of the sun;

This is my rock
And here come I
Before the night has swept the sky;

This is my rock
This is the place
I meet the evening face to face.*

-David McCord

Rockwell Kent bookplate,
Courtesy BookplateInk

* This Is My Rock
** Follow the link to the A to Z Challenge.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

R is for Resurrection

Tomorrow is the scheduled day for "R" in the A to Z Challenge, but today is the day I celebrate the Resurrection of my Savior. Ask me about Him.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Illustration Sensation, Quentin Blake

Q is for Quentin Blake*

Sir Quentin Blake has been an illustrator for over sixty years. His art appears in magazines, books, galleries, and on postage stamps and hospital walls. In 1999, he became the first Children's Laureate. He was knighted by the Prince of Wales in 2013. He has received numerous awards including the Bologna Ragazzi prize, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, and the Eleanor Farjeon Award.

He is perhaps best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl characters.

Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa

The Big Friendly Giant

A Near Thing for
Captain Najork
, by Russell Hoban
Walker Books recently re-released three of Russell Hoban's classic books with the original Quentin Blake illustrations. ">Quentin Blake works loosely with pen and ink. 
To keep each illustration fresh, he works on a light box. The sketch shines through the paper, but not enough to copy it exactly. In this way, each drawing takes on new life of its own. He endeavors to create characters which are defined enough to tell a story, but not so defined that they interfere with the concept formed in the reader's imagination. Of artistic talent, he says, “Don’t worry about being a great artist … just draw until you find your style” 

I remember him best for his comic, Waldo Widdershin, which he produced for Cricket Magazine in the early 1980's.

More recently, Quentin Blake established the House of Illustration, the world's first non-profit dedicated to illustration as an art form. His work can be seen in various gallery shows, including Quentin Blake, Larger than Life, which showcases his mural work.

From the exhibition, Large As Life, at Hall Place & Gardens

You can read more about him in his books, Laureate's Progress, Beyond the PageWords and Pictures, or see his work in over 300 books.

*Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PPBF: Poetrees

J is for Jumbo*

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick helps celebrate National Poetry Month 
and Earth Day.

Poetrees, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
Written and Illustrated by Douglas Florian
Beach Lane Books, 2010
non-fiction, grades 1-5

Poetry, Nature, Non-Fiction

This book is ripe with poetrees,
They're grown to educate and please.
You'll see a cedar.
Oak tree too.
Birch and banyan,
Pine and yew.
Palm and gum
And willow tree,
Plus more you'll love tree-mendously!

Bristlecone Pine
I've chosen the jacket flap copy instead of the first poem because, well, because the copy is a poem. It perfectly explains  what to expect in this marvelous collection of eighteen poems about trees. There are a variety of poetic forms included in this book, too. The back matter, or "Glossitree," gives a paragraph about each tree in factual form.

What I Love:
Doug Florian's poetry is addicting. His tree poems are clever, informative, and filled with puns. Each spread of this book opens long-ways to emphasize the height of the trees. Every inch of this book was well-designed, contributing to the theme. "Tree Rings" is my favorite poem.

 tutorial from Ikatbag
1. Follow Douglas's poetic journey on his blog, floriancafe.
2. For information on species and care of trees, visit the Arbor Day Foundation site. Order some trees and get planting!
3. I found paper trees and other Earth Day crafts on Charlotte's Fancy.
4. If you live in the northeast, visit the National Arboretum, the Hershey Gardens, the US Botanic Garden, the Arnold Arboretum, or Longwood Gardens.
5. Have kids experiment with different types of poems listed at YoungWriters.  Kathi Mitchell's site lists examples and links for student poets.
6. Play poetry games online at Poetry4Kids.
7. What would PPBF be without a themed snack? Try these trees made from fruit or vegetables.
8. Inspire your young poet at Poetry At Play, founded by leading poets for adults and kids.
9. Here are some other Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

Posted by Grade Onederful
Posted by Laura Renauld
Another Florian feast
Posted by Sandi at Rubber Boots

Posted by Beth Stillborn
Posted by  Patricia Tilton

Posted by Carrie at StoryPatch

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for April 18, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

*Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Opportunity

We've been talking a lot about goals and advancing your career. So it seemed an appropriate time to talk about opportunities for growth and exposure.

What kind of opportunities you need to grow depend on where you are in your writer's / illustrator's journey.

Let's assume you are a newbie.

You should be spending your energy

  1. learning your craft
  2. building a body of work
  3. developing relationships in the publishing world. 
You are probably stretching in every direction right now. Most of you are plagued by an Overzealous inner critic. You may feel alternately Overjoyed and Overwhelmed.
Take every Opportunity for critique. Seek Opportunities for exposure.

  1. When attending a conference or workshop, sign-up for as many critiques as you can: first page reads, portfolio reviews, editor one-on-ones. Listen carefully, take lots of notes, put it all into perspective.
  2. Get into a critique group. Learn to evaluate others work and apply the same principles to your own creations. Share what you learn with others
  3. Participate in challenges. Meeting deadlines is an indispensable skill for authors and artists. The best challenges also come with a supportive community. This is a great place to meet critique partners and build friendships.

Maybe you are more of a seasoned professional.

You are spending your time 
  1. polishing your craft
  2. keeping your body of work fresh
  3. strengthening relationships in the publishing world

You are probably going from surviving to maintaining right now. Most of you are still plagued by an Overzealous inner critic. You may feel alternately Optimistic and Oppressed. Succesful one minute, forgotten the next.

Make the most of professional Opportunities. Pursue new Opportunities for exposure.
  1. Attend a conference or workshop which takes you in a new direction or challenges you at a new level. Listen carefully, keep it all in perspective.
  2. Reevaluate your critique group. Find your niche platform where you can share with others.
  3. Participate in challenges. Keeping yourself fresh is an indispensable skill for authors and artists. Take advantage of the supportive challenge community. Remember how to have fun.
Illustrators may want to participate in Susanna Leonard Hill's first ever art contest. Her contests are always challenging and fun. She offers great prizes and the participants are super supportive. The deadline is a week away, so please spread the word.

Here is a partial list of additional challenges you may want to add to your calendar over the next twelve months.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nuts and Bolts by Linda Ashman

N is for The Nuts and Bolts
Guide to Writing Picture Books
More for National Poetry Month:

Linda Ashman, author and poet extraordinaire, has written a valuable book on crafting picture books, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Available in PDF, e-book, or Kindle, her book covers character, POV, rhyme, humor, submissions, and much more. This book should be in every picture book writer's top five.

Available on Amazon

If you aren't familiar with Linda's books, drop in at your local library. A few of my favorites are pictured below. 
Illus by Susan Winter
illus by Michael Chesworth
Illus by Christian Robinson
Illus by Nadine Westcott
Illus by Claudio Munoz

Linda was kind enough to help Susanna Leonard Hill with a rhyme clinic several months ago. If you missed the opportunity, here are a few of the highlights. 
  1. Don't let rhyme trump your story. Use the rhyme to get from beginning to end, not as filler.
  2. Use natural phrasing or twist your words into awkward order just to make them rhyme.
  3. Make your meter matter. Exact rhyme and perfect meter - every time.
And Linda's advice from her guest post at Julie Hedland's 12x12:

  • Imagine your ending: Having at least a vague sense of your destination makes it easier to get there.
  • Let it flow: Don’t be nit-picky early in your writing process—just get your ideas on paper. Later, when you’ve got your story figured out, you can obsess about clarity, word choice, grammar and punctuation.
  • Brainstorm: Words beget ideas, and free-associating can stimulate creativity and lead your story in new directions.
  • Change your scenery: Being in a different environment can give you a fresh perspective.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes ideas aren’t ready to be hatched. Your drafts are likely to look bad— really bad —before they start looking good. If you can’t seem to get beyond your bad beginning, put your manuscript away for a while. Sometimes timing is everything.

You can see more about Linda in this interview with Tina Cho.
*Follow the A to Z Challenge.