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


Neil Gaiman retweet fame, NaNoToons, Debs & Errol NaNoWriMo Comics


How very cool. Author Neil Gaiman, who has like a ZILLION followers, tweeted about one of my friend's Nanowrimo comics! Here's Errol's post about the comic and a link to the comic.

You can follow Errol Elumir's Nanotoons on Facebook (unfortunately there's no way to link to individual NaNoToons on the NaNoWriMo site, plus new comics are added at the bottom of the page rather than the top :-( ).

Plus geeknerd music duo Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden & Errol Elumir) are posting comics about their NaNoWriMo collab novel adventure on their website and you can follow them on Twitter.



Torkidlit Bedford Academy Meetup: Nov/2011

Had fun with the Toronto Middle Grade And YA Authors group at the Bedford Academy earlier this week: dinner, drinks and lots of kidlit/YA talk!

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:


Maureen McGowan

Maureen just found out that one of her short stories is appearing in a McGraw-Hill anthology in May 2102.



Claudia Osmond

Claudia's moving ahead with her new middle grade novel.


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Jo Swartz

Jo says she's finished and submitted her IZZY GOURMET picture book and she's now working on a wordless graphic novel.



Cheryl Rainfield

In addition to being excited about getting the ARC for her new teen paranormal, HUNTED, Cheryl has just launched her Pro Page on Facebook

Joceylyn Shipley

Jocelyn just won the Writing For Young People Award at the Surrey International Writers Conference.

Karen Krossing

Karen's been getting lots of great reviews for THE YO-YO PROPHET (Orca).

Megan Crewe

Megan's going to be presenting with Lena Coakley at the November CANSCAIP meeting about fantasy and science fiction.

Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer had a successful art gallery show at the Toronto Public Library. 

 Jordan Hagemann

It was Jordan's first Torkidlit meetup! She recently started her own book blog, A Book Long Enough and is also on Twitter at @ABookLongEnough.

Lena Coakley

Lena's agent is submitting  her next novel, new YA historical fantasy, to an editor.



To find out more about Torkidlit, see:




New comic up on Writer Unboxed

For those doing writing challenges, I just posted a cautionary comic on Writer Unboxed.

Now I'm off to Packaging Your Imagination conference!


Inkpop: HarperCollins’ community YA site


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Publishing Perspectives has an interesting article today called, Are Social Media Sites the New Slush Pile?

Debut author Leigh Fallon, discovered on HarperCollins’ community YA site, is one example about how the path to authorship is changing, according to the article.

Quote from the article: "Launched by HarperCollins in 2009, Inkpop combines community publishing, user-generated content, and social networking to connect aspiring writers of teen literature with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals. Fallon uploaded her manuscript and almost immediately it caught the attention of readers – within three weeks it had risen to the site’s 'Top Five' most read and highly rated manuscripts."

You can read the full article on Publishing Perspectives.



Comic: Bad Rabbit

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Oh wow. I have my VERY OWN PAGE on the Simon & Schuster website!

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HOW COOL IS THIS?!??????????

I'm sure you jaded published authors/illustrators out there are rolling your eyes, but give me this moment of SQUEE. :-D

I am SO determined to get more titles listed under "Debbie Ridpath Ohi's Books"...

Comic: Bad Dog

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November 2011 is Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month is an international initiative to designate November as Picture Book Month, encouraging everyone to celebrate literacy with picture books. Founder, Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller), and Co-Founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator), are putting together their worldwide connections to make this happen.

Every day in November, there will be a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.

"We are doing this because in this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.

Join the celebration and party with a picture book!"

On Twitter, you can follow Picture Book Month tweets with the #PictureBookMonth hashtag.


Yay! I'm allowed to post the cover for I'M BORED!

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Cover design: the amazingly talented Laurent Linn (my art director at Simon & Schuster BFYR). Author and illustrator credits will be on the back cover. I LOVE the cover design! So clean and simple, and (fingers crossed) bound to catch the attention of bookstore browsers.

I'll be gradually posting some more art, sketches and photos from my whole I'M BORED adventure, plus info for kidlit writers and illustrators based on what I've learned from the whole experience.

If you're on Facebook, please do "Like" our I'M BORED page....thanks!

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NaNoWriMo Music Video from Debs and Errol


If you're doing NaNoWriMo (or if you want to see me dance around my office in a red boa), check out Debs&Errol's new NaNoWriMo music video. :-)

For more info about Debs & Errol (who do wonderful music for geeks):

Errol Elumir is also doing daily NaNoToons:

If you want to link to individual Nanotoons & get updates when he posts a new comic, be sure to "Like" the NaNoToons Page on Facebook.


Halloween Comic Caption Winner: Kelly Light


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Congrats to Kelly Light on winning my Halloween Comic caption challenge (see the final comic below). I -love- Kelly's illustrations - you can find out more about her at:


WWFC Archives: Wrinkle In Time Halloween Costume

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Inkygirl Golden Cupcake Award: Writer's Knowledge Base

Congrats to Writer's Knowledge Base, who wins an Inkygirl Golden CupCake Award! Created by mystery author and writing advice curator Elizabeth Spann Craig (@elizabethcraig on Twitter) this search engine is specifically geared toward writers.

It's a pretty amazing resource. Are you feeling dejected about a recent rejection? Entering "rejection" in the search field will turn up over 1400 posts on the topic! If you haven't already, I encourage you to try it out yourself.



Established in July/2010, the  Inkygirl Golden Cupcake Award is given to blogs  or sites I find particularly inspirational to writers, especially those that may not already be well-known. Criteria is unapologetically subjective.

If you win the award, you do NOT have to display or acknowledge the award (but feel free, if so inclined). Just bask in the ephemeral, golden glory of online blog stardom and then move on, continuing to be an inspiration to the writing community. And THANK YOU for doing what you do.

Here is a list of recent winners of the Inkygirl Golden Cupcake Award.


NaNoWriMo Music Videos & NaNoWriMo Comics & a new NANOTOONS Facebook Page

For those doing NaNoWriMo (or even if you're not), my creative twin Errol Elumir posted this NaNo music video above last year. Actually, he posted a bunch (so do check out his YouTube channel). Debs and Errol will be posting a NEW NaNoWriMo music video very soon.

AND I strongly recommend that you Like Errol's NaNoToons Page on Facebook! Errol made me a co-admin because I've done Nanotoons in the past & may again in the future (but not this year). I'll be posting some of my Nanowrimo cartoons from my archives during November as well.


Comic: Some Things Don't Change

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Originally posted in Writer Unboxed.


Book Review Comic: The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson (plus plotting tips & some plot cartoons)


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Martha Alderson has worked with hundreds of writers in sold-out plot workshops, retreats, and plot consultations for more than fifteen years. Her clients include bestselling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors.

Martha's new book, THE PLOT WHISPERER: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Adams Media, 2011) is an excellent resource for writers of all levels of experience. Beginning writers will find her templates and clear explanations of basic structure a solid starting point for their work. More experienced writers will find ways to improve their craft even further PLUS (and I hadn't expected this!) apply some of her basic principles to their own writing/creative lives.

This book isn't just a list of "do this, don't do that" writing tips; it encourages you to examine HOW you view yourself as a writer and how you pursue your own career goals.

Martha offers TONS of excellent advice for writers in a variety of interviews and guest posts in  her Mega Book Blog Tour.

It's worth visiting these blogs not just for the great info but also to see how effectively Martha uses this Book Blog Tour to promote her nonfiction book by interacting with blog readers as well as offering real and useful content. So many times I see blog tours in which the author just gives teasers but spends most of the time saying WHY people need to buy her book. Martha's generous with sharing her knowledge, and I believe this is a far better way to show readers what her book can offer them.

Anyway, here's a round-up of tidbits I found at the blogs in her tour...

Janet Fox at Through the Wardrobe:

You may find the first draft is wobbly and scenes ramble. The complete vision of your story was a bit hazy the first time through. The action was tangled. The protagonist comes off as bewildering. You have glossed over an energetic marker or two. Don’t panic—this is good. As a matter of fact, the worse the first draft, the better. Trying for perfection before you know what you are trying to convey commonly leads to procrastination.

Teresa LeYung Ryan at Love Made of Heart:

On figuring out which subplots in a story have merit and which should be dumped...

Three comments:
1) follow the energy — at least with the first draft. When a writer is energetically engaged in developing one plot line over another, they’re more apt to write all the way to the end, which then makes it much easier to assess what the story is all about.
2) character and action are the yin and yang of stories. Every story benefits from the development of both!
3) create a master plot planner and line up the multiple plots one above the other — usually the primary plot shines through…

Plot For Sale

Becky Levine at Moving Forward on the Writing Path:

Martha believes in plot. She recognizes that there are many writers who worry that, by plotting, they’ll make their story stiff or formulaic. She recognizes and respects that fear, but she also reassures us–rightly, I think–that the plot is the container, the structure, that holds all the magic we could ever want to write. And she coaches us through all the steps of creating that plot.

Mary Baader Kaley at Not an Editor:

On how Martha critiques someone's work (her general process):

I never critique writers' work. I have found as a plot consultant to writers that I cannot see the forest (plot and structure) for the trees (words). Plot consultations focus exclusively on the master plot, which is made up of the action, character and thematic plot lines or, in other words, the form and structure. Writers are asked to have on hand a list of scenes from their projects and an idea of the message they are hoping their story will convey.
By pushing aside the words, I am better able to see the deeper structure of the story and assess what is working and what needs work.

Kelly Klepfer of Novel Rocket:

On why Martha advises writers NOT to show their first drafts to anyone:

Allow others to read your writing now and you may lose energy for your story and become overwhelmed by the task ahead of you.

Deana Barnhart:

On the Universal Story:

The part of the book I am most excited about is the story beneath the story – the Universal Story and the message that writing is transformative. I hope writers come away from this book with practical techniques to integrate the energy of the Universal Story into their stories. After using these ideas, I believe writers will begin to understand themselves better. They’ll see their writing in a different light. The ways they interact with their writing and with the world around them will shift.

Shreve Stockton at Honey Rock Dawn:

Now, with The Plot Whisperer, Martha takes this essential information even further.  Further and deeper.  Martha has been doing one-on-one writer’s consultations for years and this is what reading The Plot Whisperer feels like ~ it’s like sitting with her and being coached, psychoanalyzed, pushed, encouraged, and, via all of that, INSPIRED to get down and write.

It's Inevitable

Lia Keyes:

Martha offers time management tips for those participating in NaNoWriMo:

While keeping that word count in mind, at the same time, writers who understand how to use the time most effectively based on the Universal Story, find themselves at the end of November with more than just 50,000 words (though that is an admirable accomplishment in itself).
Writers who are savvy about the parameters of the Universal Story finish out the month with a definable beginning, middle and end.

Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now:

On why it doesn't really make a difference if you use an outline or not for your first draft:

I don’t care how you write the first draft. Just get it written all the way from the beginning to the end anyway you can – pre-plotting, plotting as you write, or writing purely by the seat of your pants. With a completed draft, no matter how wretched you may believe it is, you can then get down to the real work of plot and structure.

Charissa Weaks at A Day in the Life of An Author:

On how to determine which parts of the backstory to include in your story:

I recommend writing the first draft all the way from the beginning to the end one time with absolutely no back story other than how that back story influences the protagonist’s reactions in scene in real story time.

Vivian Lee Mahoney:

Two common mistakes I see writers make is giving up before writing to the end of the story and rushing through writing the end of the story as if with eyes squeezed shut on a wing and a prayer that all of the words will add up to something meaningful and make sense in the end.

Uma Krishnaswami (Writing With A Broken Tusk):

I suggest using what I call a Scene Tracker. It’s a template or worksheet that allows you to plot out the seven essential elements in every scene you write. To analyze scenes at a thematic level before you have written a draft or two is usually premature. Far better is to wait until you better understand the deeper meaning of your piece. Then, stand back and analyze each scene for thematic elements which allows you to see where they show up now and where they could be inserted to create the most pleasing patterns for the reader and for the greatest good of the story.

Linda Joy Myers (President, National Association of Memoir Writers) at Memories and Memoirs:

For each scene, ask yourself the seven essential questions of plot:

1. Does the scene establish the date and setting?

2. How does it develop the character’s emotional makeup?

3. Is the scene driven by a specific character goal?

4. What dramatic action is shown?

5. How much conflict, tension, suspense, or curiosity is shown?

6. Does the character show emotional changes and reactions within the scene?

7. Does the scene reveal thematic significance to the overall story?

For More About Martha:

Her blog:

She's on Twitter (@plotwhisperer ) and on Facebook.

On YouTube: Martha's Plot Series -- This is how I discovered Martha -- excellent videos! Here's the first in her video series...


p.s. I've had a growing number of people approach me about reviewing their books or inviting me to be part of their blog tours. Please note that in most cases I have to decline. Apologies, but I simply lack the time. In Martha's case, I had already been a big fan of her video series, plus I wanted a free copy of her book. :-)


Kidlit/YA News Quickie Round-Up


Daniel Nayeri: Book Commercials vs Book Trailers

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Wish Police Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

Instead of making a book trailer for Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow, his collection of four novellas from Candlewick, Daniel Nayeri commissioned four mini-commercials instead.

LOVE these! They're short and intriguing, and get a potential reader's attention. Many of us aren't able to afford hiring the people that Daniel did, but I do think that there are elements in these commercials that the rest of us can apply, such as keeping the video promo short. Also, I like the way the video gets across a sense of the presentation of the book, the tone and the ideas in such a short time, without attempting to summarize the plot.

You can find out more about Daniel's thoughts on book commercials, promotion and his recent projects in Mary Cole's interview at

You can also see his four book commercials on Vimeo.




Facebook vs Google+ For Children's/YA Writers & Illustrators: My Take So Far

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Still torn between Facebook and Google+. I have been using both social networks, but eventually I know that eventually I'm going to have to pick one or the other as my main social network hangout; I simply haven't the time to use both I've mentioned before, my current goal is to change my social media habits so I can spend more time on my writing and illustrating projects.

Yes, I know there's always Twitter. I don't really compare Twitter to Facebook and Google+ because for me, it's such a different animal. I love Twitter but use it far differently than I do Facebook and Google+. More on this in a future blog post.

What I'm Liking about Facebook

Anyway, I've liked some of the recent changes that Facebook has been making. I'm sure that some of these changes have been in response to Google+ features that have been popular, but I'm all for healthy competition...especially if it means improvements to my own user experience.  Yes, I know. It's all about meMEMEEE!  I like the simplification of privacy settings. I like being able to tweak how much of people's information I see in my incoming stream.  I like being able to access my Close Friends list from the main page.

Unfortunately the company has not always been great at communicating with its users about upcoming changes, so there has been a lot of confusion and resentment. I can sympathize, though. In my experience, the larger an online community grows, the more difficult it is to make changes without upsetting users. People get comfortable with how things work and may get irritated about having to learn a new interface, even if it ultimately results in a more positive user experience.

What I'm Not Liking about Facebook

Even though it's now easier to read and share with particular Friends list, there is currently no easy way to retroactively organize the people on your list. On Google+, you can mass-select users and to use drag-and-drop to move them to particular Circles. In Facebook, you have to individually select each user. Major pain, especially if you have a lot of people following you.

I'm also not crazy about how Facebook Fan/Pro Pages work right now ... but at least Facebook HAS Pro Pages, unlike Google+.  I only started one after finding out that there is a cap on the number of people with whom you can connect via a personal Facebook account.  Not a problem for me yet, but I've heard of more and more authors who have reached their cap and had to start from scratch (in terms of making connections) again....this time with a Pro Page.

What I'm Liking about Google+

Overall, I find Google+ to have a cleaner and more intuitive user interface. I love the whole concept of Circles, which makes it easier to read and share with specific groups of people. The people who follow my posts on Facebook and Google+ represent a wide range of interests in my life. There are my friends from university, family members, writers and illustrators, board gamers, filkers, comics people and others. Although each group probably wouldn't mind occasional posts from me that didn't overlap with their own interests, they'd probably be turned off (as I would) with too many.

My gamer friends, for example, would be far more riveted by my reviews of board game prototypes from a board gaming convention then would my writer and illustrator followers. Meanwhile, the board gamers would likely have little interest in my promo posts about children's book illustrators and writers.

I find it easier to discover interesting new people on Google+ than I do on Facebook. I also find I usually get far more responses to what I post  on Google+ than I do on Facebook, and more interesting and involved discussion. Why? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Another feature of Google+ I love: Google+ Hangouts! I'm a huge fan.

What I'm Not Liking about Google+

No business pages. No integrated groups.  I'm pretty surprised that Google+ chose to launch without business pages, and then specifically asked people NOT to create nonpersonal or group accounts for this long. I'm sure this has kept a number of people from moving to Google+.

I'm also finding that as much as I love Circles, there is still some awkwardness about where to put new followers. Someone who follows me for my kidlit/YA posts, for example, may also be a closet board gamer, but neither of us may be aware of this additional connection. I'm hoping that Google+ will add the ability to include categories or tags in our profiles; this would help a great deal in terms of connecting through similar interests.

My Overall Take

There are far more  kidlit/YA people on Facebook than Google+ at present. Or to clarify, there are many kidlit/YA types who have a presence on both networks, but mainly post on Facebook. This is a major factor for me in the whole Facebook versus Google+ choice. I may like the interface and feel of Google+ more, but in the end I will go where the majority hangs out.

For many people, it seems that Facebook wins out because that is where they can connect with family members. Until  these family members  have incentive to move to Google+, it's unlikely the situation's going to change.

Facebook strikes me as more of venue for maintaining personal connections, while Google+ is more about discovery and discussion. Both have their appeal to me -- which is good AND bad, in terms of my decision where to spend the most time. :-)

I'm also well aware that Google+ is still in its infancy, only recently promoted from its testing phase to public use. Undoubtedly Google is going to be integrating more of its other services. I've already noticed that the posts I make in Google+ generate far more search engine love (not surprising) than anything I post in Facebook, and this goes for sites I link to from within Google+.

So for now, I'm going to wait and see. Leaning slightly toward Facebook because that's where more of the kidlit/YA industry seems to be  (including my agent and my publisher), but curious about how Google plans to integrate its other properties.

Where You Can Find Me On Both Networks

On Facebook:

My personal account | My Author/Illustrator Page | I'm Bored (book I'm illustrating for Simon & Schuster BFYR)

On Google+:

My personal account (see my About Profile for a list of Google+ people directories I've started, Including my Google+ kidlit/YA directory)


Halloween Cartoon Caption Challenge


Any suggestions for a caption?

I'm also open to suggestions for the titles on the books being read.