Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

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


Comic: Keiko gives thanks

Keiko is a young Japanese-Canadian girl who wants to read ALL THE BOOKS. One of my goals for 2019: make more Keiko comics! I had originally only planned to do a few Keiko comics, but she won't get out of my head. As with most insistent characters, I find the best way to make her stop bugging me is to give her space in a story.


Comic: NaNoWriMo Emergency


Gave up on NaNoWriMo? Try a gentler, year-round writing challenge

While NaNoWriMo is a wonderful motivating challenge for writers who are able to devote a big chunk of time during November to writing, some of us find it nearly impossible to keep up throughout the month. In my case, it's usually because I'm away for a week at a board gaming convention (and therefore need to devote more time to book work during the weeks I am at home). I have nevertheless given it a shot in past years, only to have to drop out, discouraged and frustrated, partway through.

I found out that others were in similar situations, which is why I started the Inkygirl Daily Writing Challenge, which can be for writing or editing. Feedback has prompted me to add more types of goal badges for flexibility, from 100-1000 words a day to 15-60 minutes a day.

Click to read more ...


My favourite sharpeners for pencils and crayons (also a plus for CW Pencil Enterprise)


If you're an office supplies fan and find yourself in Manhattan, you need to go visit CW Pencils at 15 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002. Note that the shop has a new location!

Here are links to some of the sharpeners I've been using.

Mobius & Ruppert Brass Round Double-Hole Sharpener - US $8.00 at CW Pencil Enterprise.

KUM Wood Cutter Pencil Sharpener - US $3.00 at CW Pencil Enterprise. This is the one I take with me on the road since it's super-portable and (in case I lose it) inexpensive compared to my other sharpeners. Shavings need to be collected, though.

KUM Automatic Long Point - US $7.75 at CW Pencil Enterprise. This is my current favourite sharpener for pencils when I'm looking for a long, super-sharp tip.

4-in-1 KUM Metallic Sharpener - US $5.00 at CW Pencil Enterprise.

Sargent Art 36-1022 - CDN $2.29 on Amazon.ca. This is my favourite for sharpening crayons because so far, it's the only crayon sharpener I've found that contains crayon shavings. A bit big for travel but is inexpensive enough that I could possibly order it ahead of time, to be delivered to a school etc. if I was going to do a craft activity with students.


To those starting NaNoWriMo today: Good luck! I hope you find ALL THE WORDS

Also see my friend Errol Elumir's daily Nanotoons!

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) begins today! To educators: there's also a Nanowrimo Young Writers' Program.

If you love the spirit behind NaNoWriMo but want a gentler year-round writing (and editing) challenge with flexibility, feel free to try the Inkygirl Daily Writing Challenge. There's also an Inkygirl Daily Writing Challenge Facebook Page where I'll be posting motivational comics and tips.


Comic: Life With A Scrabble Addict


How Mira Campbell and Shelly Narayan Created a Book Tasting Café at F.H. Miller Jr

Image courtesy Mira Campbell.

Earlier this year, I was so impressed to see Mira Campbell's posts about a Book Tasting Café that she and fellow educator Shelly Narayan created for students at F.H. Miller Jr. PS in Toronto.

I asked Mira if she would share some info about what went into this project -- thanks to Mira for answering some questions for me!

Click to read more ...


Just write. Many writers have a vague hope that elves will come in the night and finish any stories for you. They won’t. - Neil Gaiman

Just write. Many writers have a vague hope that elves will come in the night and finish any stories for you. They won’t. - Neil Gaiman


Interview with book creator couple Sarah McGuire (THE FLIGHT OF SWANS, Oct.1st) and Fred Koehler (GARBAGE ISLAND, Oct.9th)

Sarah McGuire and Fred Koehler were once both awkward teenagers who mostly grew out of it. Each draws on their unfortunate adolescence to write stories for young readers. They met at a writers conference and decided to get married. In common they share: love of travel and adventure, dogs over cats, and sci-fi movies. They most often disagree about Oxford commas, whether or not Florida has hills, and who gets the fuzzy blanket. You can find out more about Sarah at her website and Twitter, and more about Fred at his website and Twitter.

Sarah and Fred are not only both children's book creators with middle grade books coming out this month, but they're a married couple (they got married last year on St. Patrick's Day)! Here's some info about their new books, and the pros and cons of being book creator couple.

Click to read more ...


Free, print-ready Masquerade Mask template for Oct.29 Canadian Kidlit Masquerade (or classroom activity)

I was thrilled and deeply honoured that SAM & EVA has been nominated for a Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award this year in the CCBC Book Awards. After the invite-only event for winners and nominees, some of the Toronto area kidlit/YA authors are throwing an public Unofficial After-Party Canadian Kidlit Masquerade Ball on Oct.29th, 2018 from 7 pm - 2 am at the Lula Lounge not only to celebrate writers, illustrators, editors and publishers who create awesome stories for kids and teens, but also to raise funds for Books With No Bounds. Children's/teen writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, booksellers, teachers and librarians are all welcome!

Click to read more ...


Advice For Young Writers: Three Questions for Nancy Tupper Ling and Andrea Offermann (THE YIN-YANG SISTERS & THE DRAGON FRIGHTFUL)

Thanks to Nancy Tupper Ling and Andrea Offermann for answering Three Questions for me today! Their picture book, The Yin-Yang Sisters And The Dragon Frightful, comes out on Sept. 18th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. Synopsis: "When a fearsome dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters Mei and Wei have opposing views of how to fix the problem. Wei wants nothing more than to confront that stinky old dragon head on, but Mei favors a more thoughtful approach... an empowering sibling story about celebrating differences."

Click to read more ...


A canned ampersand in the sand (in honour of Ampersand Day)

Sept. 8th was Ampersand Day, so I celebrated with a canned ampersand in the sand.


SAM & EVA is nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award!

I was incredibly honoured to find out that SAM & EVA (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers) has been nominated for The Canadian Children's Book Centre Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. I am especially honoured, considering the other finalists in the same category. For more info about each of these books as well as other finalists in the CCBC Book Awards, see this press release from the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Click to read more ...


My biggest piece of creativity advice for writers & illustrators (all ages): make time to PLAY.

No matter how busy I am, I always try to carve out a few minutes every day to do some art and writing purely for the fun of it. No pressure to show anyone or have anything be perfect....just to PLAY.

I find if I don't make regular time to just play and experiment, then I slip into a rut, not pushing myself to try the new and different, and I also start losing the joy.


Make time to play.


Writers & illustrators: Develop a thick skin. To succeed (and survive) in this business, you need to be able to take criticism.

Rejection and criticism are part of publishing process, before AND after publication. Work on developing a thick skin early on and you'll not only enjoy the journey more but also increase your chances of longterm success.


Comic: Life with a writer


Writing is a solitary endeavor, but trying to get published doesn’t have to be. - Nancy Parish


Reminder to everyone out there: DO YOU BACKUPS! (and make sure they're working)


Comic: Plot Crisis


Comic: Book Purge Angst

Gah. I have (once again) reached the point where there is no more room on my office bookshelves for new books, so I've been piling my "to read" books on the floor -- but these are starting to get tippy.

I know I need to give away older books I'll likely never read again, at least in physical form, but.....BUT IT'S SO HARD!