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


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

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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)

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Time Management and Social Media: Progress Update #1

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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:


Creativity & Productivity: Rethinking my social media and blogging habits

Apologies for the hiatus; I've been away most of this month at a writer's conference and then on an anniversary vacation.

Though fun and (esp. in the case of the SCBWI Summer Conference) inspiring, it's been a hectic month, and I'm REALLY looking forward to getting back to work.

And what is that work, exactly? My main short-term goal:

To rethink my social media and blogging habits.

I'm a social media addict. I've been a huge fan of online communities before the term "online community" even existed. These days, however, I'm feeling spread too thin over too many social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Second Life, various writing and illustration communities, plus all the blogs I either manage or in which I participate as a collaborator.

No, I'm not going to quit cold turkey. Nor do I think social media is inherently a time vampire. It CAN be a time vampire, but in my own experience, it can also be a huge boon to authors and illustrators if properly managed. Most of the publishing opportunities that have come my way have done so because of contacts I've made through social media, or posting and reading blogs.

Recent opportunities, however, have convinced me that I need to better manage my time. There are SO MANY BOOKS I want to write, or illustrate, or write and illustrate. The awards I won at last year's SCBWI Illustration Portfolio Showcase (which resulted in a book contract and heightened interest from publishers) and the Sue Alexander Award nomination I just received for my YA novel in progress have been a much needed kick in the pants.

My long-term goal:


And to do that, I need to finish some projects and get them sent OUT there.

My interim goals:

-- To finish writing my YA novel. Whether or not it wins the Sue Alexander Award, the nomination has convinced me that this novel-in-progress has much more potential than my previous attempts. I've been working on my craft as well as benefiting from the critiques and advice of my MiG Writer group and some of my Torkidlit pals, and I believe that I'm a much better writer now than when I wrote my previous mss.

-- To finish my own picture book projects. Now that I'M BORED (Simon & Schuster, 2012) is nearly finished, I need to have more projects ready to send out: projects that I've written AND illustrated. I've been working hard at improving my illustration craft over the past year. I'm going to continue to work on my craft, of course, but it's time to get some new projects out there.

-- I also have several nonfiction book proposals I need to revamp and send out, such as the compilation of my writer comics.


In order to achieve my long-term goal, I'm going to be taking a hard look at how I spend my time online.

And yes, I do see the irony of blogging about spending too much time online. But I figure I'm not the only one who has this challenge. Some of you have likely found your own solutions.

I'll be posting on my progress (feel free to share yours!)...but not as often as I'd like to. If that makes any sense. :-)

Internet addict


Sue Alexander Award Nomination!


I know I've been scarce on Inkygirl recently, but it's been craaaazybusy around here with travel, work and prep for the SCBWI Summer Conference.

I attended as both a writer and illustrator, and have been posting my kidlit illustration info and reports over on the Where The Sidewalk Begins blog for children's illustrators (SCBWI Illustration Portfolio Mentees blog). I'll be posting writing-related reports here on Inkygirl when I have a chance, but first I need to announce that...

My new YA manuscript has been nominated for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award!

Selected from manuscripts submitted for individual critique at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles, the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award is given to the manuscript deemed most promising for publication.

I feel deeply honoured to be nominated for an award named after such an amazing woman. Here's info about Sue Alexander from the SCBWI site:

Sue Alexander was the first member to join SCBWI and was vitally involved with the organization from its inception to her death in 2008. Her responsibilities for SCBWI included, among others, serving as Chairperson of the Board of Advisors (33 years), managing the office (20 years), coordinating -- with Lin Oliver -- the August conference in California (25 years), and coordinating the Golden Kite Awards (25 years). She was the author of more than twenty-five books for young people, including World Famous Muriel; Small Plays for Special Days; Witch, Goblin and Sometimes Ghost; Sara’s City and award-winners Lila on the Landing; Nadia the Willful; and Behold the Trees. In addition to her books, she wrote stories for magazines and for the Los Angeles Times "Kids’ Reading Room" several times a year. Sue passed away suddenly on July 3 at her home in West Hills, California. She was 74. For more about Sue, visit

(Photo, ©1998 Marilyn Sanders.)

Many thanks to the MiG Writers Critique group, Torkidlit, Jeff and Sara for helping me get my submission into shape before the conference.


Directory of Literary People (Writers, Librarians, Kidlit/YA, Comics/Webcomics, Teachers, Digital Publishing & EBooks, Children's Book Illustrators etc.) on Google+

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I've been compiling an "add yourself" list of literary/publishing people on Google+. Short URL:

To add yourself to any of these lists, just go to the appropriate list and make a post. Feel free to include a URL. You an always edit/update your listing later on. Do spread the word to others on Google+, thanks!

Note: Please don't ask me to add you to the lists -- I purposely made this an "add yourself" directory for easier admin. :-)


Comic: Library Theft

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Comic: Bibliophile Break-up

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Jul132011 YA Author Andrew Tolson, Blogging, and Enticing Editors


With Andrew Tolson's agent submitting his YA manuscript ,The Girl Who Saved Kafka, to prospective publishers, he wanted to entice editors with something extra, a taste of the novel before they had read the first page. He decided to launch a blog that was in the voice of the main character:

An explanation from Andrew:

In my daily work as a photographer, I use big expensive cameras. For personal work, I’ve been using my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app. I’m fascinated by the lo-fi approach to many digital applications and Hipstamatic gives you all the beautiful and unpredictable results you’d get from a crappy film camera. The kind of low budget camera you might find in the Linfield Thrift Store. It’s a perfect tool for someone like Zoe Burns to express herself. She’s the fifteen-year-old heroine of my novel, who shops at the thrift store and uses a typewriter because it makes the letters sound loud. She’s desperate to break out of her outcast’s existence. But she must also come to terms with her crazy mother, her best friend’s growing allegiance to the popular girls and the pending appearance of teen pop star Tyler Sharp. Then there’s the school talent show which Zoe is being forced to enter. Can she combine her growing obsession with Franz Kafka’s existential masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, and her talent show performance? She’s certain she has the potential for extraordinariness but–

Wait a minute. This is starting to sound like a synopsis.

Just look at the blogopsis:


What gave you the idea for starting your Kafka Girl blog?

The idea was two-fold. First, I really enjoyed writing in Zoe’s voice and wondered what it would sound like if I transferred that voice to another medium and then added visuals. Since I’m also a photographer, I wondered what kind of things Zoe would take pictures of. How would she document her environment and her life? But also, I wanted to give prospective editors who are considering the manuscript a unique way of marketing the book to readers.

How often do you update?

At the moment I don’t update it all and that’s intentional. I’ve set up the blog so it has a narrative arc as Zoe introduces herself and her world. If the book sells, and the publisher is interested, I’d love to expand into regular updates with photos and video. Zoe already has a Facebook profile, but I’ve not done anything with it yet. It was a lot of fun putting together the stock images and shooting elements from the story, like Zoe’s Mom’s postcards. I hope the blog will intrigue readers enough to want to check out the book.

Kafka letter

What has the response been so far?

The response has been great. I’ve even had a few people get to the end of the blog and not realize it’s fiction. I just hope no one will feel duped.

Who's the man in the picture? (beside "I'm Zoe Burns...") I thought Zoe was a girl?

The man in the photo is Franz Kafka, he of the book’s title. Nowhere in the blog is there a clear photo of Zoe. I want the reader to leave it up to their imagination as to what she looks like.

What's your "elevator pitch" for your book?

Fifteen-year-old Zoe Burns is desperate to break out of her ordinary existence, so she mounts a one-girl show, performing her version of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis at her high school talent contest. Meanwhile, she must come to terms with her crazy mother, a burgeoning relationship with a fellow outcast and the imminent arrival of the insanely popular teenaged heart throb Tyler Sharp, who will be judging the talent show. It sounds like it could be dark and depressing, but it’s really quite funny.....


What other projects are you working on now?

I’m hard at work on a new book, a MG fantasy called ‘The Knife Of Lost Souls’, about an orphaned 12-year-old girl who discovers that she comes from a long line of demon slayers.'. Very different from the Kafka story, but hopefully just as much fun. It’s really important, I’ve found, to start work on a new project when your ms is making the rounds of editors. Otherwise you’ll go crazy with anticipation!

More info:

On Google+



Comic: Punctuation Kidfight

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Why I'm Loving Google+: Perspective of a writer, illustrator, musician/songwriter and board gamer (plus tips for newbies)

Google+ Comic

I've been using Google+ pretty heavily for the past week. Here's my Google+ Profile page, if you'd like to follow me; I've updated it with links to my directories of those on Google+ interested in kidlit/YA, librarians, digital publishing/ebooks, children's book illustrators, comics/webcomics, board gaming, filk, and iPads.

See the end of this post for a list of Google+ resources for newbies.

If you're just interested in my overall summary, here it is:

Even in its beta testing phase, I like the look and functionality of Google+ much more than Facebook. It's easier to filter the info that you read and share, using Circles. I love the Google+ Hangout video chat feature, which has huge creative collaboration and teaching potential, in addition to the obvious fun social aspect. As Google gradually integrates other services so many people use (Picasa and Blogger will become Google branded), I believe that the Hangouts feature is going to ultimately tip the scales in favour of Google+ when it comes to the whole Facebook vs Google choice.

Shorter summary:

Google+ is only in beta and I already love it.

My comic about joining Google+

Above: how I felt when I first heard about Google+. Did I really need to join ANOTHER social network?

But here are some detailed reasons why I like Google+ so much:

Compared to Facebook, it's uncluttered

I'm really hoping that Google+ keeps its current clean design. I know they will probably add Google ads at some point, but I don't mind this (just as I don't with Gmail) as long as they're not too obtrusive.

It's easier to filter information

I have multiple interests and follow people who focus on those various interests, including writing, illustrating, webcomics, board gaming, filking, techies, social media, digital publishing, iPads, and more. I was excited when Facebook added Friends' Lists, but then they not only buried them so they were a pain to find (whereas Google+ keeps them prominently displayed) but I couldn't share with specific Lists.

As a result, I find it nearly impossible to keep up with my Facebook stream since everyone's posts, pictures and videos come through in one huge, unending, gloppy mess.

With Google+ Circles, I'm finding it easier to keep up with posts from my different groups of friends and acquaintances, plus follow higher profile people who may not know I exist but  whose posts I find interesting. I'm still finetuning, but here are some of my current Circles:


The "Reading: Chatty" Circle, for instance, has people like Chris Pirillo, whose posts I enjoy but who posts so often that I can't have him in my default Tech stream and also be able to read other people's posts. :-)

I'm sure that the Google+ people are working to improve Circle filtering functionality.  I would love to be able to use Boolean filtering algorithms, like "everyone in Circle A -except- for the people in Circle B."   I would also love it if Google+ added smarter searching and search results suggestions, so that  I could look for particular topics within a Circle or group of Circles.

Compared to trying to sort through all the information and noise on my Facebook stream, however,  I'm loving Google+, even in its beta phase. See my list of resources at the end of this article for some helpful info.

It's easier to share information

Because I have multiple interests and multiple circles of friends, it's sometimes a challenge to share information. Some people feel that the more people you share something with, the better  (in terms of promotion), but I don't agree.

I may be following someone for his insightful comments on the publishing industry but if  he tends to go on regular tangents about his passion for football, then I'll end up unfollowing him. I know that while my board gaming friends  are interested in my photos and blow-by-blow accounts of games I've played, the same info and photos would bore my writer, illustrator, iPad, digital publishing and music pals.

Google+ Circles makes it possible for me to more effectively share information and media.When sharing content in Google+, you can share with individuals, with one or more Circles, to Extended Circles (your Circles plus their Circles), publicly, or any combination of the previous.

Plus the sharing is so easy. I can just drag a link, image or video over to the Share window and then drop it in (make sure the window gets highlighted before you drop, else your browser will open your info instead). Then choose what Circles you want to share it with, or make it Public.

See my list of resources at the end of this article for some helpful info on this topic.

You can edit posts and comments AFTER you post them

Need I say more on this?

There's not as much emphasis on Friends stats

I have always hated the whole "Follower Count Obsession" mindset so prevalent in social networks. Of course it's nice to know that people are interested in what you're saying, but  some people are waaaay too focused on numbers. I wrote briefly about this in my Writer's Guide to Twitter.

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With Google+, you can have Private and Public circles. Which means that the numbers displayed on people's Profiles don't necessary reflect the actual number of people who are following or being followed. You may look at someone's Profile and think, "Ooo, they  have 100 followers" but be unaware (because of Private Circles) that the person may have followed several thousand semi-random Google+ users, knowing that some will automatically follow back.

When people realize this, I'm hoping that those who jump onto the Google+ bandwagon in hopes of getting an early start on Follower counts will relax and start truly enjoying the service for what it is.

LOVING Google+ Hangouts


Above: Google+ Hangouts developer Chee Chew dropped by one of my open chats, yay! Super-nice guy.

One of my favourite features so far is Google+ Hangouts, the live video chat. Way easy to use. You can do a public Hangout (where anyone can join) or just invite one or more of your Circles. Or even just a single person!

What changed my mind about Google+ having a chance of becoming more popular than Facebook: when several of my non-techy friends tried out Google+ in super-skeptical mode but admitted they liked the look/feel here much better than Facebook AND they had no trouble getting into one of my test Hangouts.

I've even sent an invite to my Dad, who wasn't tempted by Facebook but IS tempted by Google+ because it could be an easier way of staying in contact with friends and relatives in Japan. He currently uses Skype, but there are sometimes tech issues. Plus there's the integration factor...YES, there are many separate services and apps out there that can achieve what each of these Google+ features attempt on their own, but I looooooooove the idea of having everything in one place, attached to ONE identity.

But I digress. Back to why I'm so nuts about Google Hangouts+...

First of all (as silly as this may sound), I like the fact that you can check how you look and what's showing in your camera space before you start or join a Hangout:


Here's what appears in your stream when you start a Hangout:


I like the fact that the chat can be as public or as private as you want. Once you are in the chat, you can also invite more people. The main window switches automatically to the person who is speaking, but you also have the option to focus the window on one person.

Moving your cursor over any of the smaller user windows below the main window will reveal the person's name as well as give you options to mute or report them. You can also type text into the text chat window, which can be handy if you are sharing a link or want to contribute something without interrupting a voice conversation in progress.

Right now, users can also view a YouTube video together and comment on it as it is playing. I strongly suspect that Google+ will also be adding the capability of sharing other kinds of media cheering the chat as well. The creative collaboration potential is HUGE.

A couple of my music pals and I tested out playing music together, but we found that the slight lag made it a challenge when it came to tight work. However, we found it a great venue for listening to one person perform. I could easily see Google+ Hangouts being great for writing workshops and illustration critiques. Some of my board gamer friends are already planning to test out board gaming via Google+  Hangouts -- so handy when we are all scattered around the globe!

Chatting on Google+

Above: chatting with people from England, North Africa and India. Thanks to Rebecca Woodhead for starting this public Hangout!

I am a big fan of text chats but I have to admit that the Google+ Hangouts feature has made me an even bigger fan of video chats. I like that I can be selective about how public or private I make the chat.

I also love the fact that I can open up a Hangout to a particular Circle and people can make up their own minds about whether they want to join or not. It's a much more casual set-up, and encourages more organic chats than Facebook's current set-up. I know that Facebook recently integrated Skype (or is planning to integrate it), but with a service like Skype you have to call people or prearrange a time.

There is currently a limit of 10 people in a chat. Sometimes you will see a report from a chat where apparently 22 attended, but this only means that some people left the chat and others joined partway through. I can understand Google+ wanting to limit people to limit lag in its beta testing phase, but I'm hoping that eventually they increase the chat room max size as well as allow in those who just want to watch/listen and not necessarily chat. That way you could have something like a panel of speakers as well as an audience.

See my list of resources at the end of this article for some helpful info on this topic.

Some other reasons creative types should start using Google+

For those who write for young people: Among other features, Google+ Hangouts is SO going to have a huge appeal to the younger crowd. Yes, most of them are still at Facebook. But unless Facebook improves its video chatting service to match Google+, I predict a mass migration. Depending on how Google+ Hangouts handles attendees & limits once the service goes public, this could be a potential venue for virtual classroom visits, readings, workshops, and book clubs.

Illustrators & comic artists/writers: Once Google+ Hangouts allows users to upload static images and other media, you could do slideshows, critiques, show how you create a drawing, etc.

Musicians, songwriters: Live music circles! Ok, the current lag makes a jam session a challenge. But for sharing one's music with others? It's brilliant. For my filker pals out there: imagine being able to listen in on a music circle or casual performance through a Hangout on someone's laptop! (for those curious, here's my post on What Is Filk?)

Gosh, I could go on for way too long on this topic. I think I'm going to have to write up some other posts addressing specific reasons why different creative types need to join Google+. Stay tuned. :-)


Deleted my tip on how to view your Profile as it looks to others because the following tip is far easier:

[Correction, posted by Google software engineer Yonatan Zunger in the comments section: "Great post, and I'm glad you're enjoying the system so much. :) One note: you can actually see how your profile is viewed by others just by going to your profile page. In the top right, there's a text box that says "View your profile as..." and you can just put in someone's name, or select 'Anyone on the web.'"


*Word* = Word

_Word_ = Word

-Word- = Word


Google+ Info site: Unofficial info about Google Plus, regularly updated

Google Plus: Ultimate Quickstart Guide: from Eugene Teplitsky

Mashable Google+ Complete Guide

Collaborate Google doc: essentially a wiki, open to anyone to edit. I linked to Google+ Info's blurb about it instead of the doc itself because if too many are editing it at the same time, the link won't work

How to Use Google+ Hangouts (wikiHow): basics, with screenshots

Where To Hangout At Google+: user-maintained directory of current G+ Hangouts

Google+ Cheat Sheet: one-page list of shortcuts (also translated into other languages)

Google Plus Tips & Shortcuts: Andrew Shotland keeps this list updated

Google+ Privacy: 5 Settings You need To Know

What are Google Circles and how do I use them? by John Haydon

Taming your Google+ Circle madness in 3 easy step: Vincent Mo

How To Make A Private Circle: Kimberly Castleberry

10 Google+ tips to help you get off to a good start: Deb Ng

Ultimate Google+ Tips and Tricks: Tech Exclusive

Don't disable Google+ notifications - Filter them!: Google+ Info

Why Google+ Is Awesome For Cartoonists: Ryan Estrada


Comic: Books Or Me

My friend Cheryl Rainfield asked about this comic, so here it is. :-)

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MiG Writer Post: How To Create A Successful Unreliable Narrator in Middle Grade Fiction

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Kate Fall has a great post about how to create a successful "unreliable narrator" in middle grade fiction on the MiG Writers Blog. An excerpt:

The trick is to present both what is really going on and what the character is thinking, and to have some reason why the character sees the world as it isn't. I think if you can pull that off, you can have a successfully unreliable middle grade narrator.

Find out more by reading the full post.


Guest Post: Four Steps To Writing Success - by Julie Duffy


Julie Duffy is a writer and the host of, a creative writing challenge held in May every year.


I've just finished up StoryADay May, in which a bunch of writers sat down every day and wrote, well, a story a day.

It's a real challenge and each year it teaches me something new about writing, creativity and productivity.

This year it helped me identify four building blocks for a stable and productive creative life.


"Start before you're ready.

Don't prepare. Begin."

-Steven Pressfield, Do The Work

It's scary, right? Yes, yes it is. And there will come a time when you
have to break off and research 12th century sanitation or how carbon
nanofibers are created, but that day is not today. Today is all about
the ideas and getting words on the page.

There were days when I had to literally put my pen on a piece of paper
and start making shapes. Soon the shapes became words, and soon the
words became a sentence, an idea, the germ of a story. By the end of
the day, that doodle had become a story with  characters, movement and
a world to live in. It was hard and messy at times, but I never
regretted just starting.

"Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and galaxies come into
being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms."
-Steven Pressfield.


Finishing a piece of art requires a whole different level of courage.
It is in finishing that we see the whole shape of the piece. It is in
finishing that we put ourselves on the precipice, looking woozily down
at the void that is  the wider world of readers/viewers/listeners.

But one of the best things about finishing is that once you're out
there on the precipice, you start to notice that there are a lot fewer
people around than before.

Doesn't it sometimes feel like everyone is writing, drawing,
composing, creating? It's wonderful and it is intimidating. But if you
look closely, the number of people finishing and polishing and
publishing (even trying to) is  a surprisingly small subset of all the
creative artists you know. It is a far shorter distance from
‘finished’ to ‘successful’ than the distance between ‘working on it’
and ‘successful’.

"The day I start a book 200 other people start books. And they're
smarter, and funnier, and more talented than I am, and you would enjoy
them much more than you're enjoying me. But too bad for them and too
bad for you, 'cause I'm the guy that finished the book. That's the
-Stephen Hunter

So these are two prongs of your creative life. But a two-legged stool
is pretty unstable. We need a couple more legs to really brace this


Yup, not 'quality'. To a certain extent you need quantity.

If you write or draw or play every single day, and if you have any
talent at all, you can't help but get better.  It's a simple as that.

Create daily and you will get better. You will find it easier to get
into that creative zone quickly, and you'll find it much, much easier
to survive a bad day because you know you'll be coming back tomorrow.

"Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves
writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost
ready to begin. That takes a while."
David Eddings


There is a book that is taking the sales world by storm, called Go For No.

The authors contend that the route to success is not a journey away
from failure and towards success,

failure  <<<<  you  >>>>  success

where you move towards either one end of the scale or the other.
Rather, they say, the route looks like this:

you  >>>> failure  >>>> success

where you traveling through failure in order to become a success.

Look around at the world (business, personal, creative, whatever) and
this starts to make a lot of sense.

If you stop creating every time you have to face rejection or
criticism, how much closer will you be to finishing? Now imagine if
you plough on through the ‘‘failure’ and keep creating anyway. Where
are you now?

So start today, work on your project everyday, recognize when it is
finished and, if it's not perfect? So what? That's one less crappy
story/picture/song you have in you. Now move on to the next one.


Julie Duffy is a writer and the host of, a creative writing challenge held in May every year. You can also read Julie's other guest posts on Inkygirl.


Video for teens from authors & illustrators: It Gets Better