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 Creating Picture Books series, Writer's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay, 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).

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 Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Adrienne Kress wrote a blog post about me!

Screen shot 2011 10 13 at 11 05 18 AM

Above: photo with Adrienne Kress at a Torkidlit gathering

Many thanks to the mega-talented Adrienne Kress for her lovely post about me in her blog this week, which made me blush.

Adrienne's new YA book comes out from Dutton next year, by the way. Here's what Publisher's Weekly said:

"Alex and the Ironic Gentleman author Adrienne Kress's Young Adult debut The Friday Society, in which the lives of three intelligent and very talented young women, all of whom are assistants to very powerful men, become inextricably linked by a chance encounter and a murder, to Nancy Conescu at Dutton, for publication in 2012, by Jessica Regel at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (world)."

You can find out more about Adrienne (who not only writes books for young people but is also an actor) at:



Ongoing writing challenge with more flexibility than NaNoWriMo: 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day


Augh, I admit I've been lax on my daily wordcount goals because of more pressing deadlines.

BUT NO MORE! I've been thinking about signing up for NaNoWriMo but I think I need to be more realistic in my writing goals, especially since I'm away for part of next month (NaNoWriMo month).

SO....I'm going to start up the Daily Words challenge again. For those of you who aren't familiar with this challenge, please read these guidelines. It's a challenge for those who may sometimes have to put their writing on hold when life gets in the way, and who tend to get discouraged during NaNoWriMo month when they start falling behind. It's also a challenge for those who tend to write more slowly.

If you already pump out thousands of words on a regular basis with no problem, then you don't need this challenge. :-)

Feel free to adjust the wordcount challenge to fit your own output level: 50 words a day? 2000 words a day?

So...who's with me? Or if you've been taking the challenge all along and have been successful, do you have any tips to share?

For more details and for badges/icons, see:

or use this shortcut:

On Facebook:


Comic: Back To School & Writing Parents

OHI0073 WRI BackToSchool 600


Kern Me

Kern Me

An online challenge for fellow typography nerds out there.

I ended up scoring 94/100. How did you do?

Try the test now!

(Thanks to Lisa Yee for sharing the link!)


Comic: Autumn Procrastination

Creative Procrastination


To Fellow Canucks Out There: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Turkey Writer


Review on MiG: The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life, by Nava Atlas




Looking for the perfect gift for a writer friend? Check out The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life, by Nava Atlas.

I've posted a mini-review on the MiG Writers' blog.


Happy 2nd Anniversary, Torkidlit!

Torkidlit 2011 10 05group

Last night, I got together with some of the other members of the Toronto Middle Grade And YA Authors group at the Bedford Academy to celebrate our 2nd anniversary as a group.

I still remember when Claudia Osmond approached each of us in Twitter about getting together in person in Toronto. I confess I was a little nervous. Meet face-to-face? What if we all hated each other?

As you can guess, my fears were completely unfounded. Not only have I found everyone in the group friendly, but over the past 2 years it's been wonderful to watch friendships spring up within the group.

We talk about everything from the craft and business of writing to renovation hell stories and family updates. Plus a whole lot of other stuff that I can't possibly post publicly, of course. :-)Anyway, I asked the attendees of last night's get together what they were working on or if they had any news to share, and here's what they told me:


Leah Bobet

Her new book ABOVE is coming out in April 2012 from Arthur A. Levine Books, with international rights sold in Brazil & Germany.


Maureen McGowan

Hopes to announce good news about her YA science-fiction trilogy soon!


Claudia Osmond

Potential paperback version of SMUDGE'S MARK coming in spring 2012. Plus Claudia says that she has actually begun a brand-new middle grade novel!

JoSwartz 200

Jo Swartz

Working on her new picture book, IZZY GOURMET: 5 1/2 YEAR OLD GOURMET FOOD CRITIC, and creating political illustrations in support of Occupy Wall Street.


Bev Katz Rosenbaum

Has been distracted by her acquisitions editing work for McGraw-Hill Ryerson but has a kick-ass new agent (Jill Corcoran) and a couple of new books ready for publishers' eyes. Fingers crossed!


Cheryl Rainfield

Her new book, HUNTED, comes out on October 27 in the US from WestSide Books. The Canadian launch is in January , from Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Cheryl is now working on the sequel to HUNTED.


Stacy King

Stacy is currently shopping around her new YA paranormal novel and is hoping to have more news soon!

NelsaRoberto 200

Nelsa Roberto

Nelsa is looking forward to the release of her 2nd YA in Spring 2012; THE BREAK!


To find out more about Torkidlit, see:




Bookcomic Review: UNFINISHED ANGEL by Sharon Creech

A bunch of my old Inkygirl posts got trashed when my Wordpress blogs were hacked last year, so I'm going to be uploading some of my personal favorites so that they stay accessible in Inkygirl. Here's my bookcomic review of Sharon Creech's UNFINISHED ANGEL:

You can find out more about Sharon Creech at:


On poetry, language and Robert Lee Brewer's ESCAPE

Escape RobertBrewer 500

I used to hate poetry. I blame scholarly literary dissection and school. My memory (which, I admit, may be tainted by early years of accumulated hatred) is one of many hours of tortuous analysis, taking a few simple lines of text that I kind of thought were cool at first but then learned to dread as we hacked and slashed at every syllable, every nuance, every possible interpretation, until there was nothing left except a dry husk that made me want to run from the room screaming "ENOUGH WITH THE RED WHEELBARROW!"

Years later, a poet/librarian friend of mine introduced me to some poems that I actually enjoyed. That I LOVED.

Some poems, I discovered, could be understood and appreciated by the average person. I also learned to love the language of poetry, and became more aware of writing style and the importance of word choice in my own writing. Every word counts, after all, and not just in poetry.

Recently, I purchased Robert Lee Brewer's most recent poetry chapbook: Escape. I bought  his first collection, ENTER, because I wanted to support Robert. He's been a wonderful editor at and great to work with, plus I've enjoyed his Poetic Asides blog. But the bonus: I loved Robert's poetry.

So when I found out that he had a new collection of poems, I ordered one right away. I have no formal poetry scholarly training and have never reviewed poetry before. All I can say, though, is that I LOVED THESE POEMS. They're full of emotion and music, and a joy to read.

If you're interested in owning a copy of Escape, send Robert Brewer an e-mail at robertleebrewer[at]gmail[dot]com, with "I Need an Escape" in the subject line. Price: $10 (which includes shipping to anywhere in the world). Do it before they sell out!

p.s. I actually do like The Red Wheelbarrow now.


TOMO anthology of Japan teen stories launch date: March 2012

TomoCoverDebPic 500

Holly Thompson just posted the cover of Tomo on her book blog:

The illustrated figures were created by illustrator John Shelley. I took the cover and created the promo graphic above...feel free to repost it anywhere you'd like to help promote this anthology; please do link the graphic to (and thanks!)

As I mentioned a while ago, I'm tickled that my illustrated short story "Kodama" was chosen to be included in this anthology for teens. Proceeds will benefit young people affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Edited by Holly Thompson, Tomo will be published by Stone Bridge Press in March 2012.

You can find a list of the other contributors as well as more information about the book at:


Google+ Hangout with Pixel Shavings

Pixel Shavings Hangout On Google+

Just had a great Hangout with some of my Pixel Shavings pals (group of children's book illustrator/writers who glog (groupblog) together): +Hazel Mitchell +Sheralyn Barnes +Russ Cox and +Fred Koehler. We missed you, +John Deininger!

We've never all been in one place together and some of us have never met in person, so it was great to actually chat face-to-face.

You can find out more about us at:


Writer & Illustrators: Don't forget the fun!

Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa

Above: Me, in the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA.

Nearly finished final revisions to illustrations for I'M BORED (and created a new Facebook Page for I'M BORED -- if you're on Facebook, I'd appreciate it if you could Like it at

Meanwhile, though, I'm still trying to do a little bit of writing and illustrating every day purely for the fun of it. Sometimes I post this publicly, sometimes I don't. I strongly feel that doing something creative & fun with your craft on a regular basis is vital. I find it helps keep me from getting in a rut, gives me a chance to experiment, and sparks new ideas.

Off to do some doodling now...


Working on the cover for I'M BORED

YellingAtLaurent 500

My art director (Laurent Linn at Simon & Schuster) called yesterday to say he had a cover mockup, saying that he had just emailed it to me, was interested in hearing what I thought. I opened the email attachment while he was still  on the phone. Then I started yelling (yes, yelling), I was so excited.

At the beginning of this whole process, I briefly entertained the idea of trying to play it cool, maintaining a composed and professional demeanor. Well, I gave THAT up pretty early's just not me. Plus, who knows when I'll get my next book? Hopefully soon, of course, but you never know. So I may as well embrace every moment.

Fortunately Laurent has been more amused than horrified. Plus he's pretty excited about the project as well, though he doesn't yell like I do.

Anyway, I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS BOOK TO BE ON THE SHELVES! Publication date is still scheduled for late 2012.



Author: Michael Ian Black, Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Publication slated for Fall 2012


Congrats to Marilyn Hilton, winner of the 2011 Sue Alexander Award

A while back, I posted about being nominated for the 2011 Sue Alexander "Most Promising Work" Award.

The winners of the award were announced yesterday (I just found out):

First prize: Marilyn Hilton

Runners-up: Pati Hailey and Karen Bonner

Congrats to all the winners!

Though I didn't win, I'm still hugely motivated to finish my YA novel. Many thanks to all involved in nominating for and judging the Sue Alexander Award. Just being nominated is a great honor, and gives me hope for eventually getting my novels published. Who knows? Maybe this one will be my first. :-)


Comic: Pirate Plagiarism (in honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day)

OHI0061 WRI PirateWriter 500


Time Management and Social Media: Progress Update #1

OHI0060 EmailCheck 500

A little while ago, I posted about needing to rethink my social media habits. I am still rethinking. :-) I was off-line for much of August because of the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles as well as a 10 day anniversary trip with my husband.

I had originally planned to stay offline the entire time. Because we needed to coordinate with friends in California and because Jeff was relying on Google maps and other online navigation information during the trip, I found it impossible to resist the lure.

Yes, I am weak.

I did manage to stay off line for as much as 48 hours at a time, however. This may not seem like a lot to some of you. For me, though, it was an achievement. :-)What I found: I did not miss being online if I had other distractions to keep me occupied.

When I got home, I started experimenting with longer work sessions during which I stayed completely offline. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought, especially when I realized how much more productive I could be. A surprising challenge: training everyone else to learn that I wasn't as glued to my e-mail as usual. I can't blame them, really. People are so used to me being able to respond to an e-mail within a few minutes.

As I mentioned before, I have no interest in pulling back completely from social media. I use social media for so much more than just business networking, and it's part of who I am. I have always been a fan of online communities.The people and posts I follow on various social networks inspire me, inform and educate.

As a creative freelancer, I'm used to working for long periods in isolation. When I'm working on something that requires a lot of creative concentration, I need to be alone. However, sometimes it's great to take a break and socialize a bit online.

The key, of course, is moderation.

Here are some steps I've been taking in my attempts to get more control over how much time I spend online and my productivity:

1. Learn to say no. Sometimes a fun project or a project for a good cause will come up, or a potential promotional opportunity that's hard to turn down. I'm keeping closer track of how many of these I take on at any one time, and learning how to say no or to postpone the rest.

2. Learn how to focus for longer periods of time. I've grown so used to an interrupt-driven workday. What I have learned, which I'm sure is already obvious to most of you: being able to work for longer periods without interruption makes me more productive. I try to ignore the phone when it rings, and let people leave messages. I tried to check e-mail fewer times during the day, and am also gradually training people I know to not expect immediate responses.

3. When I go online, I try to stick to my original purpose. I find it way too easy to start following links and looking things up online, clicking and clicking until I realize I've totally forgotten the original reason I went online. Now I use Instapaper and Pinboard to record links I want to check out later and tell myself (who gets the following nerdy Star Wars quote ref?) to STAY ON TARGET.

How are the rest of you doing? Have you learned any new tips to share?



Woohoo - my illustrated short story's been accepted for the TOMO anthology!


I'm delighted to announce that my short story, KODAMA, has been accepted for publication in TOMO, a YA anthology coming out from Stone Bridge Press.  Proceeds from the sales of the Tomo anthology will go to organizations that assist teens in the quake and tsunami hit areas. Tomo, which means friend in Japanese, will link writers of young adult fiction with readers worldwide and the teens in Tohoku in need of their support. Editor: Holly Thompson.

I'm especially excited because I've been experimenting with a new illustrated story-telling style for teen readers, and Kodama will be the first time this new format appears in print. Eventually I'd like to do an entire YA novel this way (I've started up an ideas folder for this project).

Anyway, you can find out more about TOMO as well as the other contributors at:



Daily motivation: #amwriting


Writers on Twitter are probably already familiar with Johanna Harness and #amwriting but if you're not, you should be!

#Amwriting is an ongoing chat. You’re not expected to stay tuned-in constantly. The chat happens in the background of your writing day. It is a virtual watercooler for writers, a place you can hang out and talk to your colleagues about your current writing projects (and theirs) and then you get back to work. You are expected to pop in and out of chat as you write, so no one thinks anything of it if you disappear into your writing.

#Amwriting is a community. The writers here care about one another. We have member biographies, a store, discussion groups, help-a-writer classifieds, and a site full of resources.  Both readers and writers are encouraged to join us:

If you're not sure how to use hashtags or attend chats on Twitter, please see my Twitter Chat Guide For Writers.

My only warning: Just be careful not to let yourself get so pulled into online socializing that you forget about your real purpose: to get more writing done!


My sister's book trailer PLUS soundtrack composed by my niece

My sister, Ruth Ohi, just posted a book trailer for her newest picture book, Chicken, Pig, Cow and the Class Pet. She created it using iMovie, and the soundtrack was composed by my niece. And yes, I am fairly exploding with pride here. :-)

Ruth has illustrated over 53 books (12 of which she also wrote).

My sister's site: