Tag Archives: NaPiBoWriWee

September Inspiration

Here in the Southern Hemisphere spring has sprung! But if the beautiful spring weather (or the arrival of autumn and all its wonderful colours for those above the equator) isn’t sparking your creativity, here are some prompts to help inspire you.

PICTURE PROMPT

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Where is this? Who is taking the photo and why? What is that black shadow in the sky? (you can click on picture for larger view)

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Spring
  • Father
  • Grand final
  • Heritage
  • Sneeze
  • Rain
  • Chile

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • School
  • Autumn
  • Work
  • Moon
  • Harvest
  • Regatta
  • Remembrance

GENERAL

  • Sapphire
  • Minerva
  • The number seven
  • Basil
  • 30 days
  • Maiden

May Inspiration

With NaPiBoWriWee and Short Story Month currently happening, I’m sure there are quite a few of you looking for inspiration this month. Since these events are happening, and since I didn’t do an inspiration post in March or April, I’ve added some extra inspiration in this month, including TWO picture prompts!

PICTURE PROMPTS

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Picture Prompt 1

Where does the road lead? What’s beyond the fog? Who is travelling this road? What does the fog mean?

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Picture Prompt 2

Who does this belong to? What does it contain? How did it come to be here?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Leaves
  • Autumn
  • Sign language
  • Music
  • Butterfly
  • Revolution
  • Red

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Flowers
  • Sunshine
  • Sneeze
  • Children
  • Maypole
  • Horse
  • Cinco de Mayo

GENERAL

  • Mother
  • The number five
  • Fertility
  • Elders
  • Soldier
  • Nurse
  • Dance

12 x 12 in ’12 Blog Party!

12x12 blog partyWhat better day to celebrate the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge coming to a close than a blog party on the 12/12/2012?

By mere coincidence I’ve been penning my December draft today without realising the date. It was only when I got the reminder on Julie’s blog that today was the blog party I realised. How fitting I should write my final draft for 12 x 12 in 2012 on today’s date.

12 x 12 has been a fantastic journey and I really urge any PB writers out there to have a go at 12 x 12 next year. It’s great motivation to build up a folder of PB drafts to work on and the community that comes along with the challenge is invaluable. Next year looks as though it promises to be even better with a new forum opening up and opportunities to pitch to agents (check out all the details here).

A huge thank you to Julie Hedlund for being the brains and driving force behind 12 x 12, she’s has done an amazing job and put so much into the challenge to make it a success. And thank you to my fellow 12 x 12ers for all the support, sharing and friendship throughout the year.

So how did I progress during 12 x 12 this year? Here’s a bit of a timeline…

JANUARY

I started the year full of motivation and was inspired early on in the month. Heavily pregnant and battling a sweltering Australian summer, I wondered how I would be able to pull an idea from my melting brain, but it was the heat that ended up being the inspiration behind my very first draft. It’s been revamped and overhauled several times already and still needs a bit of work. It’s a keeper, though.

FEBRUARY

After having a story published in Australian Women Online’s Bedtime Stories collection back in November 2011, I thought I might look to their upcoming themes to gain inspiration for my February draft. The upcoming theme for March was ‘Green’. I wrote the draft, revised it, put it through my critique group and revised it some more. (I also had a baby in there somewhere!) Despite it only being a month old (the story, not the baby), I thought it was a a strong story and I was really happy with it. I submitted it literally at the eleventh hour. The next day I got an email saying it had been accepted! I couldn’t believe it! You can read ‘Green Nadine’¬†here.

MARCH

St. Patrick’s Day was the inspiration behind my March draft. I’m really in love with this one. I entered it into CYA later in the year and although it didn’t place, I got some feedback on it, which will hopefully help me shape it up a bit more.

APRIL

I started a PB draft about a boy who thinks he lives next door to a wizard, but I quickly discovered it just wasn’t working for me. I got a rushed draft about a duck scrawled in my notebook at the very end of the month. Not sure if I’ll do anything with that one, though I adore the name of the duck.

MAY

NaPiBoWriWee!! The aim was to do 7 drafts in 7 days. With a new baby, who had been in and out of hospital the last couple of months, I think I was probably a bit crazy to think I could even attempt this. But I got a few drafts done ūüėÄ

– An Australian fairytale based on a play I wrote for kids while studying teaching at university.

– A story about a young chef, which I never finished.

– A house-hunting mouse (this is also based on a story idea I had years ago).

– A country child visiting the big city inspired by a trip to Melbourne with my kids (I believe this was on the first day of NaPiBoWriWee–I was writing the story in my head the whole trip there).

– A family of grumpy monsters, which started as a silly name I made up and just grew from there.

– A simple board book text about fruit.

– The last was more a poem than a story and was written for a magazine (and unfortunately didn’t get accepted–it probably could have done with more rest time and revision, but I was rushing for the deadline).

JUNE

I started a story about a principal with a silly premise, but it didn’t get far. Luckily I ended up with another two completed stories this month; it was a good month for inspiration. The first was based on a rollicking first line I kept singing in my head, with my three children inspiring the three characters in the story. It turned out as an interactive story and if I don’t end up submitting it to publishers, I think I will just make it into a book for my children. The other is really quite a sad story. I guess I had been feeling a bit down, thinking about the baby I lost (and would have been celebrating his/her first birthday this month), and that poured into a story about a boy whose brother dies.

JULY

I wrote my favourite, most favourite story this month. I had been bouncing my baby on my knee singing these silly nonsense words to her, when BAM! Lightbulb! The silly words became the opening line to a rhyming story about a baby echidna. I’ve been revising and rewriting this story like mad, because I really love it and want to submit it. It’s been through my critique group several times, had peer critique at Write on Con and got a great in depth critique from Rate Your Story. As it’s a rhyming PB it needs to be completely perfect in meter and rhyme before I’ll submit it. I hope I can get it there!

AUGUST

I couldn’t find any stories dated from August on my computer, but I do have some handwritten drafts scrawled in my notebook that I haven’t dated and I know I completed a draft in August. I also lost a couple of stories when my laptop crashed that couldn’t be recovered, so I don’t know if there was an August one there. I think the scrawled story about a pirate crew (inspired by my son’s birthday pirate theme party I had been planning) may be an August draft, though it is unfinished.

SEPTEMBER

My son is self-teaching himself the times tables at the moment and my inspiration for my draft this month was a story based on the 3 times tables. Not sure if it works well, however. :/

OCTOBER

Another scrawled, unfinished draft in my note book that I think may have been an October draft. My son got invited to a birthday party and I knew his friend loved cooking, so I set out to find a children’s cookbook for his gift. I found none (except for one on cakes, but their family isn’t really into sweets). So I decided to write a PB about kids cooking, with the intention of including some simple recipes for kids in the appendix. (Note: I’ve noticed in the lead up to Christmas there are actually quite a few kids’ cookbooks around now.) I didn’t actually finish this one as it is going to be a longer PB, but I have a skeleton plot written out.

NOVEMBER

Zip! Zilch! Zero! No drafts this month. Simply too busy, unfortunately. Though I did attempt PiBoIdMo for the first time, since I was forgoing NaNoWriMo this month. I came up with 24 ideas. So even though I don’t have a draft for November, I have a nice little idea bank to dig into.

DECEMBER

I’m halfway through a Christmas/fairytale crossover story that I started today. I believe I will have it done by the end of the month (I already have the whole story planned out).

FINAL STATS:

PBs Complete: 14!

PBs started, but not finished: 6

Lost stories (from the computer crash): ??

PiBoIdMo ideas to get me started next year: 24

What a year!

NaPiBoWriWee is Just Around the Corner

The first week of May is National Picture Book Writing Week. The aim: to write a picture book a day for seven days. The picture book manuscripts¬†do not have to be perfect;¬†they’re just drafts. The point of NaPiBoWriWee (as it is affectionately known) is to get motivated to write. As always, it is hosted by Paula Yoo, who has some great things planned for the week, including Q & As with published authors/illustrators and giveaways!

Fingers crossed I will be attempting it again this year (it will be my third NaPiBoWriWee). ¬†Whereas the 12 x 12 challenge is pushing me to write a picture book a month, NaPiBoWriWee will be an even bigger challenge, since I will only have one day to write each draft instead of a whole month. This year will be even more challenging since I have one¬†more child than I did last year and since she’s just 2 months old, and still feeding through the night, my writing time is rather sparse at the moment!

While some of my PB drafts from previous NaPiBoWriWees are sitting in folders and will probably never see the light of day again, I really love some of the other PBs that have come out of this challenge. In fact, I already saw some success with one of my NaPiBoWriWee PBs when it won second place at CYA last year. Who knows what this year will bring!

Worried you’ll be stuck for ideas? Alison Hertz (who participated in NaPiBoWriWee last year) has a great exercise on her blog to help prepare for NaPiBoWriWee.

Will you be attempting NaPiBoWriWee this year? Have you attempted it in the past? Any tips for new NaPiBoWriWee-ers?

12 x 12 in 2012

Over on Julie Hedlund’s blog she has set a challenge: write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months–a picture book a month for every month of 2012. I thought this sounded like a great challenge as I love writing picture books and am often inspired with picture book ideas, so I joined up.

Julie has done a fabulous job of organising this challenge. There are monthly prizes for participants, guest posts from those in the picture book industry (the first guest post from picture book author and founder of Picture Book Idea Month, Tara Lazaar, went up yesterday) and a great community of fellow participants in the Facebook group Julie has set up for the challenge. You can also follow the #12x12in2012 hashtag on Twitter. (Edited to update: the new Twitter hashtag is #12x)

For anyone who is interested in writing picture books this challenge is a great opportunity to learn, grow and connect, so I would encourage you to join up. You can join at any time throughout the year, but to be eligible for prizes you need to have signed up by the 29th January 2012 (you still have nearly a month to sign up). You can find details on signing up here (it’s super easy and completely free).

With a baby due in a month, I hope I can stick to the challenge. Like Julie, I also intend to do NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) again this year. Am I up to the challenge? I guess we shall see.

Seven Picture Books in Seven Days

Writing seven picture books in seven days is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve just finished NaPiBoWriWee where that’s exactly what I had to do.

Finding Ideas

On some days the ideas came easily. One morning I woke up with an idea already formed in my mind. Other days inspiration didn’t come quite so easily. In fact, it got to seven o’clock one night and I was fretting that I wouldn’t find an idea at all. Some of my ideas were sparked by the world around me (a picture book set on a farm) or a memory (the theme song to Postman Pat reminded me of a funny line my siblings and I used to sing when we were younger and it formed into a picture book idea). Some of my ideas came out of thin air (such as the one I wrote about a pirate) or from staring out the window blankly (what if there were fairies in the garden?) Asking my son for ideas didn’t work out very well as all he wanted to do was count (hence one of my picture books ended up being a counting book), though he came up with some good character names for one of my picture books.

Time

For the most part I waited for my children to go to bed before I sat down to work on my picture book for the day. On a couple of days my son was my sounding board while my daughter napped. The fact we went on holidays with two days of NaPiBoWriWee to go left me worried I wouldn’t get those last two picture books for the week written. As it turns out our very long car trip gave me a lot of time to think and work out a story in my head (which I typed up on my laptop the first chance I got) and my final idea was inspired by the trip itself.

The Writing of a Picture Book is a Complex Exercise.

Although picture books appear simple on the surface, it is their simplicity that makes them complex to write. Writing picture books is a lesson in using concise language. Word choice is especially difficult as it mustn’t be too flowery or difficult for a child to comprehend, yet an odd word every now and then that encourages the child to explore language beyond their own vocabulary enriches the text. Picture books tend to have a rhythm and flow, whether a rhyming text or straight prose. It must sound right when read aloud.

Far From Finished.

The picture books I wrote for NaPiBoWriWee are no where near finished, they are simply rough drafts. Two of the picture books I wrote will probably never be explored further as I just don’t feel I like them enough or that they have enough potential. Some of my other ideas I really love and I will definitely be revising and reworking them until they’re polished. (My picture book critique group can expect to see some of them in the near future!)

Did you do NaPiBoWriWee this year? How did you go? Was it easier or harder than you anticipated? If you didn’t do it, is it something you would consider doing in the future?

NaPiBoWriWee 2011

May 1st to May 7th is National Picture Book Writing Week. The idea is to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I had a lot of fun doing it last year and came up with some great ideas. Like NaNoWriMo, it’s a great way to get yourself writing. And though the idea of writing a picture book a day seems easy on the surface, it’s not! It’s a great challenge. I’m still polishing some of my ideas from last year. If you’re a picture book writer, consider having a go. It’s a rewarding experience.

If you want to find out more just visit here.

NaPiBoWriWee: Now it’s over

What a busy week! NaPiBoWriWee officially ended at midnight on Friday. (See Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee 2010 wrap-up blog post here) I managed to get four and a half picture books written. It wasn’t the seven I was aiming for, but I’m still quite happy with what I got written. It was a great learning process. If you think writing a picture book a day is easy, it’s not! I learned that putting myself into my son’s world is a great way to find inspiration for picture book stories. I also learned that asking a three-year-old for ideas is not such a great idea (My story about a red button, a lion, a kitchen and a girl was a huge flop). A couple of my stories are still quite rough, and I didn’t finish the story idea my 3-year-old suggested because it just wasn’t working for me. One of the stories I really quite like and I want to revise it and polish it up at some point. For now though I’m going back to revisions on my novel.

For those who participated you may be wondering what you can do with those picture books you wrote during NaPiBoWriWee. I mentioned in an earlier post a website called smories.com where every month picture book writers have the opportunity to submit a picture book story. The best 50 are chosen and videos of children reading them are posted on the site. I just found out my picture book “Can You Jump Like A Kangaroo” has been shortlisted this month and the video of a child reading it will be posted on the site on the 1st of June! If you want to submit a picture book story to their newest competition just go here:

Submit a story

If you know of any other picture book opportunities I would love for you to tell us about them in the comments.

I would also love to hear how others did  for NaPiBoWriWee. Did you get 7 books written in 7 days? Or, like me, did you find real life made it difficult to find the time to get them all done? Maybe your muse left you halfway through. Did you learn anything along the way?

*icon from Paula Yoo’s blog

NaPiBoWriWee

I promised in my last post I would talk about NaPiBoWriWee (it’s a little later than intended because I’ve been sick this past week).

In November I blogged about participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where the idea is to write a novel (50,000 words) in one month. NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) follows a similar concept. The idea is to write seven picture books in seven days. It is still quite new, as this is only the second year it has run. It will be taking place from May 1 to May 7. You can visit Paula Yoo’s website to find out more information (and join in the NaPiBoWriWee fun:

NaPiBoWriWee

Since I’ve finished my first lot of edits on my novel I thought NaPiBoWriWee would be a nice break and an opportunity to try something different. Now I just have to think of some picture book ideas to use! It’s always a good idea to have a few back-up ideas too in case any of them don’t work out (or your muse refuses to cooperate).

What does a picture book entail?

I found this description from right-writing.com:

Picture books — Traditionally, picture books (also called “picture story books”) are 32-page books for ages 4-8 (this age may vary slightly by publisher). Manuscripts are up to 1500 words, with 1000 words being the average length. Plots are simple (no sub-plots or complicated twists) with one main character who embodies the child’s emotions, concerns and viewpoint. The illustrations (on every page or every other page) play as great a role as the text in telling the story. Occasionally a picture book will exceed 1500 words; this is usually geared toward the upper end of the age spectrum. Picture books cover a wide range of topics and styles. The list of Caldecott Medal winners, available from your library, is a good place to start your research. Nonfiction in the picture bookformat can go up to age 10, 48 pages in length, or up to about 2000 words of text.

And if you do decide to participate in NaPiBoWriWee and don’t know what to do with your finished products, there’s a new site called smories where authors can submit their picture book text every month. The best ones get chosen to be read aloud by children on the site and then voted on. The best stories win cash prizes. It’s also a lovely way to share your stories with children (since the site is primarily a way for children to hear stories read to them by other children).

Is anyone else participating in NaPiBoWriWee this year?

*icon from Paula Yoo’s blog

Helpful Writing Sites

It’s time for another blog post on helpful writing sites.

YA Lit Chat

This is a writing community forum for those who write Young Adult, although they also have sections for Middle Grade and picture book writers. Some of the great sections they have include: Query Kick Around, where you can post your query to have others critique it; First Pages Critique, where you can post your first five pages to be critiqued; and Agent Insider, which lists agents who represent YA. YAlitchat also hosts a chat once a week on Twitter at 9pmEDT on Wednesdays (which just so happens to be 11am Thursday for me as I’m in Australia). These chats are a great way to connect with other writers and have guests such as agents and published authors to answer your questions. Just use the #yalitchat hashtag.

The Kill Zone

The Kill Zone consists of seven authors who each take a turn at blogging over the week. This blog is filled with great writing tips on the various aspects of writing a novel. Although the authors involved are all mystery/thriller writers their advice is applicable to writers of any genre.

Promptly

Looking for some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Zachery Petit offers writing prompts as well as some other writing tidbits.

And here are a few posts worth mentioning:

Top Ten Things I Know About Rewriting

A fantastic post on rewriting by Alexandra Sokoloff. She gives an in-depth look at revising a novel. It would honestly have to be the best post on rewriting I have come across. If you are serious about revising your novel you should check out this post.

Critique Connection

Are you looking for a critique partner for your WIP? Mary Kole has posted this on her kidlit website for writers of YA/MG/PB to hook up and find the perfect critique partner.

NaPiBoWriWee

In November I talked about NaNoWriMo (National Book Writing Month). NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) is a spin-off of NaNoWriMo created by Paula Yoo. The idea is to write 7 picture books in 7 days. (I will be covering this more next week.)

If you have come across any other helpful writing sites or posts feel free to share them with us in the comments (and links would be great!)