Tag Archives: picture books

PiBoIdMo Idea Cards

Photo by L. M. Quraishi, © Words Like Rain, 2015

Photo by L. M. Quraishi, © Words Like Rain, 2015

Thanks to author Carter Higgins, PiBoIdMo guest blogger, for her brilliant suggestion about picture book ideas. She urges us to ask ourselves, What is this book about?

Not a synopsis, but an about about.

Authors, agents and editors all focus on this question as they create pitches to sell completed manuscripts, but Higgins suggests wrestling with “the about about” much earlier in the process, at the genesis of an idea. Author Kathryn Otoshi described this as identifying the heart of a story at the May 2015 SCBWI North and East Bay Picture Book Intensive.

After three Novembers of participating in Tara Lazar‘s Picture Book Idea Month challenge, I’ve added Higgins’ idea to my Picture Book Idea Notecards, completing the system I use for logging and developing my picture book ideas.

Continue reading

Choosing Your Story: Shelf Research Points the Way

Photo by Dean Hochman

Photo by Dean Hochman

I’ve got picture book ideas–and the sticky notes, crumpled napkins and scribbled notebooks to prove it. I’ve got manuscripts–some crappy first drafts, some overworked revisions and some that look pretty good. But which story to focus on next?

This summer, I’m gratefully participating in Mira Reisberg and Kelly Delaney‘s Children’s Book Academy course on the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books on a Yuyi Morales scholarship. For this online course, participants choose one story to hone over five weeks. How do I go about choosing just one story?

After two rounds of Tara Lazar‘s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), I’ve learned a few tricks that help me make these kinds of choices. One of my favorites is SHELF RESEARCH. Continue reading

What I Didn’t Do—ReViMo 2015 Recap (with Revision Strategies Checklist)


Meg Miller’s ReViMo (ReVise More) online writing challenge was my exciting new discovery in January 2015: participants pledge to revise seven picture book manuscripts in seven days. A stellar list of picture book authors and illustrators offer daily motivation and ideas for revision in a series of guest posts. And of course, as in every good online challenge, those who met their revision goals were eligible for fabulous industry prizes. You can even buy ReViMo goodies (all proceeds benefit the wonderful Reading is Fundamental program—which puts actual books in the hands of kids who will love them).

So here’s what I didn’t do for this year’s ReViMo: I didn’t revise seven manuscripts. I didn’t revise even four manuscripts, the minimum to be eligible for prizes. I didn’t post updates on the Facebook group about how my amazing revision efforts were going. But I also didn’t get down on myself for my failure to meet any of my writing goals for the week.

How can I even claim to have participated in this event? What did I do (aside from nursing my children’s ear infections and pneumonia, that is)? I read every delicious post on Meg Miller’s generous blog. I revised ONE manuscript. And I did what I do best when I’m not doing what I really want to be doing—I made lists. And here they are, just for you.

List #1: a compilation of revision strategies for picture books:

Words Like Rain




Revision Strategies for Picture Books

(a Words Like Rain Printable)



And List #2, to help me next December, when I’m…

Getting Ready for ReViMo

  1. Tidy writing space.
  2. Choose and print out seven manuscripts for revision.
  3. Re-read the manuscripts, and then set them aside.
  4. Sign up.
  5. Read the pre-ReViMo posts to get revved up.
  6. Go!

When ReViMo ended all too soon, I felt at first that I had not met the challenge. Being a lurker didn’t qualify me for anything, in my mind. But then I re-evaluated my participation. I learned a lot, I revised one manuscript (ending up with something I’d be proud to see in print), and I gave it a try. I think maybe I will post that winner’s badge on my website after all. And next year, watch out! I’ll be ready.

How did ReViMo go for you this year? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? I’d love to hear, especially in time for petite ReViMo in February.