It’s PiBoIdMo time!

Novem­ber is here, and that means it’s time for Pic­ture Book Idea Month. So far, I’m two for two: woohoo!
PiBoIdMo 2014 banner
Remem­ber the Howdy Doo­dy theme song? Did you ever notice how PiBoId­Mo has the same num­ber of syl­la­bles as “Howdy Doo­dy?” Now that I’ve noticed, I can’t get it out of my head. So, I thought I’d share my lit­tle ear­worm with you here:

It’s PiBoId­Mo time.
It’s PiBoId­Mo time.
Tara and her great crew
Wish PiBoIds to you.
Let’s give a rous­ing cheer,
Cause PiBoId­Mo’s here,
It’s time for books to grow,
So here we go!

I love PiBoId­Mo. Some­times it’s a strug­gle to come up with ideas (okay, most times), oth­er times they seem to flow faster than I can write them down (okay, rarely, but when it does it’s awe­some!). Either way, it feels good to have those ideas tucked safe­ly inside my note­book, ready to blos­som when giv­en a chance.
And yes, even non­fic­tion writ­ers (like me!) can par­tic­i­pate in PiBoId­Mo! Christy Peter­son has a great blog post on how to do that. I rec­om­mend read­ing it here (even if you write fic­tion!). I usu­al­ly come up with about half non­fic­tion ideas and half fic­tion ideas, and I use all of the meth­ods Christy men­tions in her post.

sample Fiction Magic card
sam­ple Fic­tion Mag­ic card

This year I’ll also be using a new tool that just arrived (per­fect tim­ing!). My friend Deb Lund is a tal­ent­ed author, teacher, and cre­ativ­i­ty coach. She’s made a deck of cards, called Fic­tion Mag­ic, which fea­tures prompts to inspire writ­ers as well as a handy guide­book on how to use them. I drew one card today, played around with it for a while, and voila… I had two new ideas! You can get your own set of Fic­tion Mag­ic cards here.
I prob­a­bly should­n’t be doing PiBoId­Mo at all this year. I have too many projects call­ing to me at the moment, and the last thing I need right now is more ideas! But, PiBoId­Mo is about so much more than the ideas for me. It’s about cre­ativ­i­ty, play­ful­ness, free­dom, and fun, and every year I end up redis­cov­er­ing why I decid­ed to write for chil­dren in the first place. In those ways, it’s good for my career. PiBoId­Mo also reminds me to look at the world through a lens of dis­cov­ery and curios­i­ty, won­der, grat­i­tude, and empa­thy. In those ways, it’s good for my soul.
I may not love all of the ideas I come up with dur­ing PiBoId­Mo, but I love what PiBoId­Mo does for me. If you want to write pic­ture books, I hope you’ll give it a try, too! You can reg­is­ter through Novem­ber 7th at this link.

2013: What a year!

EMLA Client Retreat group photo

I haven’t post­ed here for way too long, but 2013 turned out to be quite a year. I did man­age to squeeze in a few posts over at Emu’s Debuts, so I thought I’d share them here as a sort of roundup (and to par­tial­ly explain where I’ve been since the last post)…
In July, I had the amaz­ing expe­ri­ence of attend­ing my sec­ond Erin Mur­phy Lit­er­ary Agency client retreat, this time in Big Sky Mon­tana. Words can’t real­ly describe how won­der­ful these retreats are, but I post­ed a bit about it here.

EMLA Client Retreat group photo
The whole EMLA retreat gang (except me!)

Aside from that trip, I spent the sum­mer writ­ing, research­ing, writ­ing, inter­view­ing, writ­ing, revis­ing, writ­ing, revis­ing, revis­ing, and revis­ing to deliv­er the final man­u­script for BE A CHANGEMAKER. I wrote a bit about the process here.
A screen shot of the developmental edit
Tracked changes in the devel­op­men­tal edit stage

Despite the mad race to the fin­ish line, I feel real­ly good about how it all came togeth­er. And here’s a post about how it felt to get to THE END.
Then there was the dread­ed author pho­to, which actu­al­ly turned out to be sort of fun (and decent enough to share with the world, thank goodness!).

Laurie Thompson head shot

Oth­er news and high­lights from the year?

  • I got to see an ear­ly study for a scene from the pic­ture-book biog­ra­phy of Emmanuel Ofo­su Yeboah, illus­trat­ed by Sean Qualls.
  • The above book also FINALLY has a title, EMMANUEL’S DREAM!
  • I also got to see pre­lim­i­nary sketch­es for MY DOG IS THE BEST (sor­ry, I can’t share them here, but Paul Schmid’s illus­tra­tions are ADORABLE!).
  • I fin­ished anoth­er fic­tion pic­ture book man­u­script and it will soon be going out on sub­mis­sion (fin­gers crossed!).
  • I par­tic­i­pat­ed in and fin­ished PiBoId­Mo 2013.

Stay tuned for my next post on how I plan to tack­le 2014. 🙂

It’s time to get busy

Cybils 2012 logo

I’ve been work­ing like crazy late­ly on a revi­sion for the edi­tor of my first book. I’m simul­ta­ne­ous­ly blown by away by how much work she’s ask­ing me to do AND by how much bet­ter it’s going to make the book. Most of her com­ments feel so utter­ly, obvi­ous­ly right–AFTER I’ve read them–that I’m left won­der­ing why I did­n’t think of them myself.  (I’m also left won­der­ing why she ever bought the book in the first place, but in that way lies mad­ness, so let’s not go there, okay?) I thought I had giv­en every­thing I had to this book, thought there was noth­ing more I could do, but now I real­ize how lazy I’d actu­al­ly been. A few days ago, Mitali Perkins wrote about being grate­ful for tra­di­tion­al edi­tors. I could­n’t agree more. The process is not only mak­ing a bet­ter book, but mak­ing a bet­ter writer. That’s not to say there has­n’t been some gnash­ing of teeth, bang­ing of head on desk, and wine and choco­late binges, of course. And I’ll be over-the-moon hap­py when I think I’m final­ly done. But it’s get­ting there. I think I can see what it might one day be, and it sure feels good.
Cybils 2012 logo
As soon as I wrap up the big revi­sion I’m look­ing for­ward to ful­ly jump­ing into two more excit­ing activ­i­ties! First, I’m thrilled to be judg­ing the Non-Fic­tion Pic­ture Books cat­e­go­ry of the Cybils again this year. We have just over 100 nom­i­na­tions to read. I’ve had a slow start giv­en the revi­sion, but hope to be pick­ing up steam soon. I’m max­ing out my check-out lim­it at the library and build­ing huge stacks of beau­ti­ful books to indulge in. What could be better?

And, I’m also attempt­ing to do agency-sis­ter Tara Lazar’s Pic­ture Book Idea Month (or PiBoId­Mo). The goal is 30 pic­ture-book ideas in the 30 days of Novem­ber. I had a great big bunch of them right before the chal­lenge offi­cial­ly start­ed, and today, on the first offi­cial day, I had two more (and I even ful­ly draft­ed out one of them–WOOT!). This is a fun chal­lenge with a ton of sup­port and cama­raderie for all lev­els, and I can’t wait to see what else comes out of it.

November is PiBoIdMo!

Picture Book Idea Month link

For many writ­ers, Novem­ber is Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month (NaNoW­riMo), a month-long com­mit­ment to cre­ativ­i­ty where­in writ­ers turn off their inner crit­ics and pound out a com­plete 50,000-word nov­el in 30 days. I’ve seen the results, and it’s noth­ing short of amaz­ing. A self-imposed dead­line can be very moti­vat­ing, espe­cial­ly when shared with others!
Alas, how could pic­ture-book writ­ers join in the fun and enthu­si­asm? I sup­pose you could try to ham­mer out 100 500-word pic­ture books in a month, but writ­ing 100 dif­fer­ent sto­ries, even if they’re short, is a very dif­fer­ent beast than writ­ing just one long one. It may not take long to write the first draft of a pic­ture book, but it can take a very long time to find one real­ly great pic­ture-book idea (and we won’t even talk about revisions!).
Last Feb­ru­ary, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a month-long pic­ture-book writ­ing marathon, where we chal­lenged our­selves to write 26 pic­ture books in 28 days, and it was a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence. In fact, two man­u­scripts from that expe­ri­ence are very close to being final drafts ready for sub­mis­sion. Of course, that means there were 24 that weren’t so great, rang­ing from “might be worth work­ing on” to “total stinkers” (lots more in that cat­e­go­ry, to be sure), but still, I feel it was well worth the time–and a ton of fun!
Per­haps an even bet­ter idea, and cer­tain­ly less intim­i­dat­ing now that I’ve done the pic­ture-book marathon, is Tara Lazar’s Pic­ture Book Idea Month (PiBoId­Mo). Sign up starts today, right here!

Picture Book Idea Month link

If you’ve ever even thought about writ­ing pic­ture books, I urge you to try this chal­lenge! So far, almost 300 peo­ple have signed up, so there will be cama­raderie. Tara will fea­ture dai­ly inspi­ra­tion and guest blog­gers to help keep us going. And, as if that was­n’t enough, there will be PRIZES: signed books, pic­ture-book man­u­script cri­tiques, orig­i­nal art by pic­ture-book illus­tra­tors, book jew­el­ry, hand-made jour­nals, vin­tage chil­dren’s books, and feed­back from one of three lit­er­ary agents!
I’ll hope you’ll join me, Tara, and hun­dreds of oth­er pic­ture books writ­ers for this year’s PiBoId­Mo. Please let me know in the com­ments if you’re participating!