Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Like a Bar-Headed Goose...and Other News

Today I have three bits of news for all my writer-friends!

#1: My New Favicon is a Soaring Bar-Headed Goose!! 

There's a good reason why, too.  I was tired of seeing Blogger's "B," and I wanted something that would be inspiring to me and anyone who happened to be visiting my blog.  Bar-headed Geese are probably the highest flying birds on the planet.  Every year they battle high winds, low oxygen, and other weather extremes to migrate over the Himalayas!  I want to be a high-flying, fear-stomping, stellar type of writer who doesn't mind tackling a few mountains on a regular basis!

Close-up of a Bar-headed Goose!

#2: Rachel Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign Has Started!! 

I have already met many other writers with interests similar to mine, and I am looking forward to getting to know them better.  If you're interested in learning more, visit her here.  Today is the last day to sign up to join the campaign, which runs through October.

#3: More Than 100 of You Are Following This Blog!! 

Thank you so much!  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to think that I'm not just talking to myself, that some of you might actually find the things I say useful, and that there are other people like me with similar hopes and dreams (and blogs!).  It makes me want to, next week I'll tell you how I plan to celebrate!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creating Characters for Picture Books

Character-driven picture books are in demand, but how do you make the space to introduce a character, share his/her story, and create a decent plot in a couple hundred words? 

Every author will find a personal method, but here's a few tips I'm working with: 

* Know your babies!  You, the author, will know far more about your characters than your readers ever will.  You will know their passions, weaknesses, greatest fears, and proudest moments.  You don't have to put it all in your book (you can't!), but knowing them may just bring the story you're looking for onto the computer screen.

* Kids (and editors) like character-driven books because they relate to the main character.  Reading the book makes them feel something.  Emotions and feelings are powerful!

* Challenge your main character.  Tension is good.  Don't make the solution too easy.  Remember you're relating to young children.  Life can be downright hard sometimes.  Challenges do not always disappear in less than 32 pages, even for children living relatively comfortable lives. Today, for example, my four-year old said "Good-bye" to her grandma (who she won't see for at least 2 more months), had to leave some "beautiful, special flowers" outside where the "wind might blow them away," had to cope with her brother putting a scribble on her masterpiece, had to wait for a turn (several times!), had to share toys and games she didn't want to, had to play outside while it was hot, and lost her computer privileges when she didn't mind.  Remember the world from a child's point of view--what seems like a minor inconvenience to me can be a very stressful situation for preschoolers.  And they want to see that in their books.

* Learn from the best!  Fancy Nancy and Mr. Duck Means Business are two fun examples. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free Writing Conference: WriteOnCon!!

WriteOnCon is currently in session!  I have been learning from industry experts and other writers all week...for free!  I'm heading over there now, but thought I'd give them a shout out just in case you haven't heard.  There's still live events until Thursday, but here's a few of the highlights so far for me:

* Live events with industry experts!
* Brilliant articles posted hourly on the blog!
* Forums for query critiques and critique partners!
* Everything is online!  (This is a huge plus for me and my crazy schedule.)  

In case you're too busy to join them live, they're saving all events and can catch up any time.  If you're able, they'll take donations.  Otherwise, they're offering everything free.  It's an amazing opportunity--I feel like I've learned so much already. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


As the summer is ending, I find our schedules changing...again.  It seems like our schedules change significantly every 3-4 months.  These are good times to consider priorities and goals.  I have two projects that I'm putting away for a while and two new projects that I'm beginning.  My fingers are crossed and my hopes are high for my new ideas!

I've been enjoying the Bird's song Turn! Turn! Turn! lately.  The world keeps turning and there will be a time for all the good things I want to do.  Here's the first verse:

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

Do your schedules change with the seasons?  the school year?  anything else?  Do you have any new projects or projects that need a rest?