Three Questions For Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Writer's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveysWriting & Illustrating a Picture Book For Simon & Schuster BFYR post series and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Will Write For Chocolate).

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Friday
Oct312014

Guest Post from Paper Lantern Lit Co-Founder Lexa Hillyer: Character WANTS and NEEDS

 

From Debbie: Thanks to Paper Lantern Lit for letting Inkygirl premiere their new series of GET LIT videos. In this video, YA author Lexa Hillyer talks about how to establish the right WANTS and NEEDS for your characters:

Hello from Paper Lantern Lit, the "story architects!" We're so excited to premiere our new video series, Get Lit, on InkyGirl. Each Get Lit video will explore the blueprints to each of PLL's secrets of the storytelling trade.

http://www.paperlanternlit.com/

In this video, watch PLL Co-Founder (and author of PROOF OF FOREVER, out June 2015!) Lexa Hillyer talk about the Wants and Needs of characters, and how they form the essential basis on which to build your story. We hope these videos will be helpful to aspiring writers– especially all of you prepping for NaNoWriMo tomorrow!

If you missed the introduction to Get Lit featuring PLL Co-Founder and New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver (The Delirium Trilogy, Panic, The Spindlers) click here.

You can subscribe to the Get Lit videos here, and never miss an update.

If you want more content like Get Lit, check out PLL's Blog! We post lots of info for writers in our Toolbox series, which breaks down different parts of the storytelling craft.

On Monday November 3rd, check out Fic Fare for the next Get Lit video, and become the architect of your BEST story!

Thursday
Oct302014

A Halloween comic for fellow A WRINKLE IN TIME fans

From the Will Write For Chocolate archives...

Friday
Oct242014

Love print books but now packing for trips is easier. Used to spend hours choosing which books to take! 

Have a great weekend, all! I'm off to OVFF. Here's my explanation of this "filk" thing I mention sometimes, in case you're curious.

Thursday
Oct232014

Tip for aspiring writers & illustrators: Make a routine and then stick to it.

A tip for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators: Try not to let yourself get sucked into too much fussing over preparation and ritual. Make a routine and then stick to it.

Now to follow my own advice...

Wednesday
Oct222014

HAPPY #CAPSLOCKDAY (and only 10 days until #PictureBookMonth)

Happy International Caps Lock Day, everyone!

And don't forget, only ten days until Picture Book Month. I'm especially excited beause this year I'm a Picture Book Month Champion!!

Tuesday
Oct212014

CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination Conference

Thanks so much to CANSCAIP for inviting me to be a speaker at the Packaging Your Imagination conference at Humber College this past weekend. I had a fantastic time and once again appreciated what a wonderful kidlit/YA community we have here in Canada.

I've posted some of my photos on Facebook and on Flickr.

Kate BlairThanks to Kate Blair for being my "shadow" during the event; Kate helped get me find the right rooms, introduced me at my workshop, made me feel welcome. Kate is a middle grade and YA writer, and placed 2nd in the 2010 Toronto Star Short Story Contest (out of 1800 entries!) as well as being longlisted for the CBC short story contest in both 2011 and 2012. You can find out more about Kate and her work at Kateblair.com.

Anyway, the subway was shut down between Eglinton and Bloor so I ended up taking a cab and arrived way early! The organizers were still setting up. I think I was one of the first to pick up my speaker badge:

Ran into my Torkidlit friend Karen Krossing, who helped distract me from my pre-talk jitters by walking around the venue with me, figuring out where the speaker coats could be stored, etc. Here are CANSCAIP Administrative Director Helena Aalto and PYI Co-Director Lorna Poplak, just before the conference officially opened:

I also had time to check out the art show. So much wonderful children's book art, and I also loved the process sketches that some people included. I'm new enough that I also got a thrill to see my own art up on display...and also very cool to see my sister's art right beside it:

Teresa Toten's opening keynote was inspiring! I've just started reading THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, Teresa's novel that won the 2013 Governor General Literary Award For Children's Literature, and am loving it so far.

Teresa Toten, giving her inspiring opening keynote

After that were the first set of workshop sessions, including mine. Thanks SO much to the Humber AV crew, who did a fantastic job at PYI (especially Tom on the far right, who was my AV helper):

and the E-Learning team in my session, who helped the streaming portion run smoothly for virtual attendees:

The photo at the top of this post (courtesy GABBY author Joyce Grant) is from the beginning of my session. Here's one from GRACE author/illustrator Kate Parkinson, who was a virtual attendee:

And here's her screen with the live video in the top left and my current slide on the right:

After the conference, I asked Kate how the streaming went and she reports it ran smoothly, thanks to the Humber College tech crew. You can also read Kate's report about being a virtual attendee at CANSCAIP's event on her blog. Kate's FIRST children's book (she's author/illustrator), GRACE, comes out from Holiday House Books early next year!

Back to PYI. Judging from feedback afterward, the session seemed to go well, yay! I was still nervous, but it was a bit easier than last time I gave a talk, plus the attendees were enthusiastic and asked interesting questions. Partway through, I was actually having fun.

After my session, I chatted with some of the attendees, including Rebecca (who had flown from NEWFOUNDLAND for PYI!) and Peter Shelton, then stayed in the room so I could hear Ashley Spires talk about her work:

Ashley Spires during her session at PYI

I so love Ashley's bubbly enthusiasm and energy! Ashley talked about the creation process for Binky The Space Cat series of junior graphic novels, which I found fascinating, entertaining and informative. Did you know that Ashley initially drew all her herringbone and other intricate textures by HAND? Wow. I think Ashley noticed the look of awe (ok, maybe more like horror :-)) on my face when she told us this. 

Anyway, finally getting to meet Ashley Spires in person was one of my personal highlights at PYI.

With my talk over, I could relax at lunchtime and just chat. Thanks to my lunchtime companions for some great kidlit/YA conversation (including my Torkidlit pal Nicole Winters in the bottom right):

I looked around for my MiGWriters critique partner, Andrea Mack, but missed seeing her! Happily, we ran into each other later in the conference. 

Above: Lana Button, Jan Dolby and Joyce Grant at PYI 2014. Joyce and Jan are the creative team behind the GABBY series from Fitzhenry and Whiteside Publishers. Finally getting to meet Jan Dolby in person was another personal highlight during the conference; we were seatmates at one of the sessions, plus I had a chance to admire her very cool custom pencil case.

In the afternoon, I was faced (again) with an impossible choice: I wanted to attend all the workshops! I ended up opting for the industry panel with Susan Rich (Editor-At-Large at Little, Brown) and Tara Walker (Editorial director at Tundra Books):

An excellent panel, so informative AND entertaining. Teresa Toten was a fabulous moderator. And I loved the rapport between Susan and Tara -- lots of laughter during this session :-D.  They both were so generous with their info, and we all learned a great deal.

I missed getting a photo of Susin Nielsen (maybe because I was laughing too hard), who gave a wonderful closing keynote - see audience above. We even got to see a clip of her acting role in the original Degrassi Junior High (she was a screenwriter)!

Plus LOOK, I won a prize in the raffle! I never win anything but thanks to CANSCAIP and the Vermont College Of Fine Arts, I won this bag of goodies:

The popcorn and the chocolate are already gone (yummmmmm), and I'm using the water bottle in my office; it'll be a nice reminder of this excellent event.

Thanks to Lena Coakley for giving me a lift to a small gathering hosted by Sharon Jennings afterwards. Sadly, a bad headache prevented me from staying as long as I had wished but it was fun chatting with some of the others who came. Thank you, Sharon!

Torkidlit pals Cheryl Rainfield, Nicole Winters, Lesley Livingston & Maureen McGowan at PYI

And again, THANK YOU so much to CANSCAIP and all the volunteers and organizers. Everything went so smoothly and I had so much fun, plus came away super-inspired.

If you're a Canadian children's book author, illustrator or performer, I strongly recommend you checking out CANSCAIP's website....and do consider attending next year's PYI event!

Monday
Oct202014

Comic: Watch Those Dangling Modifiers...

Friday
Oct172014

Comic: Why You Should Always Proofread Your Email Before Hitting 'SEND'

Wednesday
Oct152014

#BookADay: A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Nick Bertozzi

#BookADay: A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck, with very cool chapter heading comic illustrations by Nick Bertozzi. Fun and satisfying read with some great twists, and I loved the fact that young Jack is an artist.  

Advice for new illustrators and writers from Jim Averbeck from his interview on Kidlit411.com:
"Grow a thick skin. Get great teachers. Challenge yourself. Value yourself. Put all of your heart into each story, but don’t put all of your heart into only one story. Surround yourself with creative people. And if you can manage to get hold of a trust fund, do so." :-)

Synopsis: "An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir.

After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco's swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written... in chocolate?

Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice: Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair."

More about the author: http://www.jimaverbeckbooks.com/

More about the illustrator: http://nickbertozzi.com/

More about the book on the S&S site: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Hitch-at-the-Fairmont/Jim-Averbeck/9781442494473
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Wednesday
Oct152014

Comic: The Leaf

Tuesday
Oct142014

#BookADay: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

Just finished WE WERE LIARS by Emily Lockhart. Totally lives up to the hype, I have to say. 

It's a novel I definitely want to reread (if you've read the novel yourself, you know why).

In hunting down interviews with the author, I was intrigued by the fact that Emily rewrote the novel multiple times as well as reorganizing "over and over." This hard work clearly paid off.

What I loved most: the voice. I only had to read a sample excerpt to be hooked, and immediately bought the book for my Kindle.

You can find out more about E. Lockhart and her work at EmilyLockhart.com. If you're on Twitter, you should follow @elockhart -- she sometimes posts about her writing process, too.

More about We Were Liars on the Penguin Random House site.

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Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.

Thursday
Oct092014

To fellow Canucks: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend!

Wednesday
Oct082014

Colby Sharp, Judy Blume and Green Kangaroos

Above: I love teacher Colby Sharp's enthusiasm for reading and how he shares it with his students. "READING IS AWESOME!"

Thanks to Colby for letting me use his classroom as photo reference for some of the illustrations I did for the Judy Blume chapter books. He and my teacher friend Allison Durno were kind enough to share reference photos with me during the process.

Here's how my illustration for pg 7 of THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE IS THE GREEN KANGAROO (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2014) began:

Then it became this:

Then I referred to a couple of stills from a short video that Colby sent me:

Video still courtesy Colby Sharp, reposted with permission.Video still courtesy Colby Sharp, reposted with permission.

and the illustration became this:

Then Simon & Schuster art director Lauren Rille worked her magic and here's the final page layout:

In thanks for the photo ref, I put Colby in the auditorium crowd near the end of the book:

So fun!

Anyway, do check out Colby's SharpRead blog and the Nerdy Book Club, which he co-founded.

Read more about how Simon & Schuster's Lauren Rille and I created a new look for Judy Blume classics at the Nerdy Book Club.

To find out more about the Judy Blume books I illustrated, see my Illustrating Judy Blume page. I'll also be talking about the process during a panel discussion at the INSPIRE! Toronto Book Fair on Sunday, November 16th on the Spark Stage at 1 pm.

Tuesday
Oct072014

Comic: The Scrabble Addict

Inspired by my friend John Chew. :-)

I revamped the old comic to use updated art as an excuse to play around with my new Alex Dukal cartoonist brushes. Wasn't sure if that meant I needed to update the copyright notice or not...?

Tuesday
Oct072014

Book I Read: GO, SHAPES, GO! by Denise Fleming

 

I just bought GO, SHAPES, GO!, a gorgeously illustrated early concept book with such a *fun* story, and it launched TODAY. I've been a fan of Denise Fleming's work ever since I saw Denise demonstrate her pulp painting process at the SCBWI Illustrator Intensives a few years ago.

You can find out more about Denise and her wonderful picture books at: Denisefleming.com (she also offers free READ posters for download!)

More about GO, SHAPES, GO! (including review excerpts) on the Simon & Schuster website.

Monday
Oct062014

Comic: "First Things First"

Writers and illustrators: don't get so caught up in promotion and marketing that you forget to CREATE.

Friday
Oct032014

Libraries Inspire: October is Canadian Library Month!

Wednesday
Sep242014

Happy National Punctuation Day!

 

 

Yes, it's National Punctuation Day!

Wednesday
Sep102014

Creativity, art, and drawing with garden vegetables (thank you, Lily and Rina!)

As some of you already know, I've been having fun drawing with found objects during the past year:

Then just recently, I posted a video of how I created a tomato doodle:

Thanks to middle grade author Rina Heisel for tweeting this, which made my day:

 

 

Tuesday
Sep092014

Writers: Revising & rewriting is part of the craft AND the business. Learn to do it without fear.