Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ten Reasons PiBoIdMo is a Good Idea

Each year in November, while novelists all over the world are furiously trying to write 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo, children's book author Tara Lazar hosts Picture Book Idea Month (or PiBoIdMo). The goal is simple: come up with 30 new picture book ideas in 30 days. An idea can be as basic as a title, or as complicated as a plot summary. But the point is to grab hold of each idea as soon as it strikes so that you have a go-to list for possible projects.

Picture Book Idea Month is a good idea for any picture book author, even those who've been around for a while. And here's why:

1. Purposely seeking out new ideas, rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, changes your perspective (thinking outside the box and all that).  

2. Brainstorming helps get creative juices flowing.

3. Filling a notebook (or a few pages of one) with ideas helps you feel productive, especially during writing slumps.

4. PiBoIdMo gives you an excuse to read more picture books.

5. Lists are fun!

6. Old PiBoIdMo lists can be excellent sources for renewed inspiration (don't throw them out!).

7. It will help you let go of the need to be perfect. Every idea counts, no matter how flawed or incomplete it is!

8. You might stumble across that gem of an idea that will lead to a book deal.

9. Networking with lots of other creative, supportive children's book authors.

10. The chance to win prizes! Really, what more reason do you need than that?

I'll be participating in PiBoIdMo again this year. How about you?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Moosey Monday: Cover Reveal!

And here it is! The picture book cover you have all been waiting for!

Is it not the cutest thing you've seen all day?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Bringing On the Giggles in Children's Books

I am not especially funny. At least not when I try to be. Though I have been known to make people laugh, my brand of humor is generally spontaneous and unexpected. If you have ever chuckled when reading one of my blog posts, I can assure you it was not planned in advance.

But in raising kids, and working with kids, and writing for kids, I have discovered that there are a few things that are practically guaranteed to bring out the giggles, whether in experiences, movies or in books.

1. Butts. And any variation thereof. Hiney, tush, rear end. The mention of this part of the human body elicits giggles so easily that teachers have taken to asking kids to sit on their pockets rather than their bottoms. Why else would books like Chicken Butt by Erica S. Pearl and The Butt Book by Artie Bennett make it onto shelves?

2. Underwear. Haven't we all tried to trick someone into saying "underwear" at some point? It's funny, and kids know it. Captain Underpants, anyone?

3. Farts. It doesn't have to be the actual word "fart," to bring on the giggles (like in Walter the Farting Dog). Onomatopoeia also does the trick, as do various references to stinky gas. We adults may shake our heads at this kind of humor, but often we are secretly laughing our butts off!

4. Poop. Noticing a pattern here? Yes, kids think poop is funny. Hilarious. Dog poop, cow manure, dung beetles. Excrement can be an author's best friend! Having worked in a library, I have seen first hand how kids are drawn to books with titles like Poop Eaters: Dung Beetles in the Food Chain and Everyone Poops. And let's not forget Professor Poopypants, or the diaper references in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

5. Grossness. In addition to farts and poop, anything else that elicits an "Ew!" is likely to elicit a giggle or two. A monster that slurps slugs for breakfast, a dog with severely bad breath (like in Dog Breath by Dav Pilkey), and anything else that is gooey, slobbery or just plain gross will do the trick.

6. Naughtiness. Kids love reading about naughty kids' antics in books like No, David! or David Goes to School by David Shannon (my own David loved his books when he was little). Not only do they find this stuff funny, but it's good for them to see that characters in children's books are as flawed as they are.

7. Slapstick. Who doesn't love a little slapstick comedy, like in Aaron Zenz's Hiccupotomus (bonus "bottom" humor in this one) or Karma Wilson's Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive? A little bumbling, colliding, and near catastophe can go a long way to amp up the humor in a children's book!

Of course, a book doesn't have to be all laughs in order for humor to be an important element. Sometimes the best giggle is the one you didn't see coming.

What kind of humor do you like to see in children's books?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Moosey Monday: If You Give a Moose a Muffin

In continuing the celebration of moose in all their forms, today I bring you the adorable picture book If You Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff. This was one of my and my son's favorite books to read aloud when he was little (as were the others in this series). The pictures are fun to explore, the series of events elicit chuckles, and the way the story comes full circle is satisfying and clever.

And, of course, it stars a moose! What's not to love?

Friday, October 03, 2014

Time is like a gnat

Time is zipping by
so fast!
Like a little gnat that zigs
and zags
in front of my face,
daring me to catch it,
to smack it,
to squish it.

But I can't catch time,
can't slow it down,
can't squish it into what I want it to be.

All I can do is try
to keep up,
keep breathing,
keep hoping that
time and I
will fall into an easy

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The End of Summer

Photo credit: Me!
The End of Summer

Coneflowers in full bloom
bees buzzing from blossom to blossom
hints of red and orange tinted leaves
cooler evenings
morning dew shimmering in the sunlight
cicadas whirring, whirring in the branches
the sudden absence of robins
and goldfinches
sun peering into south-facing windows
chrysanthemums unfolding
apples ripening in the orchard.
A beautiful end,
a hopeful beginning.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Moosey Monday: My Birthday Present

My college daughter surprised me with an unannounced visit on my birthday (this past Saturday). As if that wasn't enough of a treat, she also brought me this little gift:

A moose figurine! Isn't it lovely? I think it will go very nicely on my writing desk.