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 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


Comic: Hazards of Being A Writer


Hey, I'm in this video of the iPad 2 launch line in Toronto!


Lining up for 11 hours at the iPad 2 launch in Toronto


Read my photo-packed 3-part report:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.



RNIB video: A World Without Books

Thanks to Sheila McLeod for pointing me to this link. Sheila writes: "I've often wondered how it could be possible to make picture books accessible to children who cannot see or cannot see well. Thought I'd pass this link along in case it interests you or someone in your creative network."

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is a UK charity offering support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss. UK Helpline: 0303 123 9999. URL:


Not happy with Zazzle and Warner Bros right now

UPDATE: Ok, I found out what probably caused the problem (thanks to Kelly Light on Twitter, Christine in my blog comments & Patricia Storms on Facebook) -- Warner Bros must own the name/phrase "Harry Potter" and are protecting their trademark. -- Debbie


So I've had a Zazzle store with some of my cartoons on cards and t-shirts for a while. I don't tend to publicize my Inkygirl Gifts For Writers shop much because I don't keep it updated with new material -- I'm too busy with my illustration and writing.

Today, however, I received the following letter from Zazzle:

Dear inkygirl,

Thank you for your interest in, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle.

Unfortunately, it appears that your product, Four Things You Should Never Say To A Writer, contains content that is not suitable for printing at

We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.

Please help us make our content approval process better by taking this short survey.

The details of the product being removed are listed below:

• Product Title: Four Things You Should Never Say To A Writer
• Product Type: Shirt
• Product ID: 235977150042632245
• Result: Not Approved
• Policy Violations:
o Your product has been removed from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to an infringement claim by Warner Bros. This may be due to the actual design of the product, description or search tags that references properties owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
• Image: Image

We apologize for the inconvenience, a detailed description of the policies are located here.

If you have any questions or concerns about the review of your product, please

Best Regards,
Content Review Team
Zazzle Inc.

You can see the t-shirt design image at the top of this post. I assure you all that *I* came up with it all by myself, based on real life experience (though slightly exaggerated in some cases :-)).

The image link in the Zazzle letter did NOT match the name of the product title, but referred to another of my t-shirt designs:

Zazzle I Write

Now, I'm assuming that Warner Bros ISN'T claiming that they own the phrase "I write."

I've written to Zazzle to find out more info.

Have to say, though, that I'm not crazy about the fact that they took down my "4 Things To Never Say To A Writer" t-shirt (it's gone from the store already) without asking me about it first.


Comic: No Magic Beans...JUST WRITE

Jack The Writer


Writer Survey & An Amusing Barton Fink Video Clip: "I'm A Writer, You Monsters!"

My "writer uniform" today:

-- Red track pants

-- T-shirt

-- Fleece jacket

I try to avoid working in pajamas. I know some writers do, but I don't because I inevitably lose track of time when I'm working, and I don't want to have to answer the front door.

What do YOU tend to wear when you write?

(Thanks to David Diaz for the YouTube link)


New comic for writers posted on Writer Unboxed


Support the Red Cross & win a hand-illustrated custom poem from yours truly

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A while back, Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed asked me if I'd be willing to donate anything to the Writers For The Red Cross fundraising effort. I had no idea at that time how meaningful that effort would become for me.

By now, you've all heard about the Japan earthquake and tsunami. A family friend lives in Sendai with her young daughter, and we are still trying to find out if she's okay. [UPDATE Mon March 14th 8:30 a.m. - Just found out that Yoriko and her daughter are fine. Building damaged but ok. They have electricity but no water or gas.]

My heart goes out to the victims of the disaster and their loved ones, and I've been following the bravery of those involved in rescue and relief operations.

Please do consider bidding for the package I donated (handwritten, illustrated instapoem custom-made for the winner plus a selection writer greeting cards). If you donate $25 or more, you get to pick a free book from the authors donating to the project (not sure if this is only if you do a straight donation or not). My package is up for bid from March 13-March 20th.

Even if you're not particularly interested in my package, there are TONS of fantastic items and services donated by writers around the world. Please do take a look at the Writers For The Red Cross site.

Thank you.


My writing critique group made me cry

So my writing critique group, MiG Writers, made me cry this morning. Just recently one of them asked me what my favorite picture book and favorite middle grade book was. I told them heck, that's a hard question but if I had to choose, here's what I'd choose.

Well, this morning I logged into my e-mail to find the following video and blog posting:

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Feeling very, very lucky to have found this group of women. We've all become friends in addition to critique partners, supporting each other in so much more than just our writing projects.

Anyway, please do join the party over on the MiG Writers blog. :-)

And to my fellow MiG Writers: THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Writers & Voice: my MiG Writers' blog series

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I've started a blog series over on the MiG Writers blog about writers and voice, for those interested. Today's post:

Stephen Pressfield & the Fabrication of Voice


Will Write For Chocolate updated (finally)

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I bet you all thought I had given up on Will Write For Chocolate! Please read my most recent post to see why I was away so long, and why things look different.


Back home, catching up

I'm back from my trip to California! Unpacking and catching up with e-mail. Will resume posting in Inkygirl very soon. Hope everyone's writing is going well!


Podcasts For Writers: Guest Post From Julie Duffy

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I'd like to welcome Julie Duffy, my very first Guest Blogger. Julie is a fierce advocate of everyone's right to write. She hosts, a creative writing challenge held in May every year, and has written magazine articles, ebooks and workshops for writers.

Until May she'll be posting warm-up writing prompts every Wednesday at

This month, Julie will be talking about podcasts for writers. I'm especially interested in this topic since I've been listening to a LOT more spoken word these days -- while I'm illustrating, while I'm outside taking walks, while I'm doing household chores.

Podcasts For Writers


Guest post by Julie Duffy

Writing can be a bit of a solitary act and if you're not living with other writers, it can feel as if you're the only person in the world who 'gets it'. Social media is great for helping with this, but we can't be at our computers 24 hours a day. Happily, for those times when we must tear ourselves away from the soothing glow of the screen, there are, of course, podcasts. Specifically: podcasts for writers. So that you don't have to wade through all the podcasts in the world, I've compiled a list of the podcasts I find most inspiring and/or educational. Don't forget to share your favourites, or any I might have missed, in the comments. (I have mostly listed podcasts that are still being updated regularly but I did break my own rule once.)

Inspiration - Authors Talking

For inspiration, I love to listen to podcasts of authors being interviewed or doing readings at different venues. Often the authors take questions from the audience and usually end up spilling 'secrets' about how they write, how their characters developed, how they find continuing inspiration. All this is good. But my dirty little secret is that, while I listen, I imagine what it would be like to be up there answering questions from adoring fans who can't wait to read my next book. On days when I can't seem to concentrate on writing, I pop on a podcast and remind myself that the screaming fans can't come until I've actually done the work. My favourite podcasts of authors on the booktour circuit are:

The Author Events Series from the Philadelphia Free Library

This podcast features published authors on tour to promote their latest release. Sometimes the podcast features archived events, but usually they are recent. Each author usually reads a little from their work then takes questions from the audience. The library has a good system, where they take microphones into the audience so you can hear the questions as well as the answers. The audio quality is good and the questions are asked by everyday folks like you and me. I love this podcast.

Authors On Tour Live from the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

This podcasts hosts many of the same authors as the Philadelphia podcast, but the authors often read different passages and answer different questions. Also, it hosts more 'smaller' authors who have a local connection. It's nice to get a non-East-coast, non-establishment perspective. Also, AOT sometimes takes its recorder on the road and reports from places like Book Expo America.

BookLust with Nancy Pearl

A monthly podcast from the University Bookstore in Seattle. For the past four years Nancy Pearl has talked to big name authors on tour. This interview-style works well, perhaps because it's in a bookstore and the authors are comfortable; perhaps because Nancy Pearl is an intelligent interviewer. The audio quality is great and the half-hour length is long enough to go in-depth with the authors but not so long that it drags. This is available as audio-only or video too.

You might also like:

B&N Meet The Writers

This is a shorter -- and in my opinion inferior -- version of the two podcasts above. It has slick production values and an impressive cast of writers in its archive...but it also features anyone who might shift books, like The Kardashian Sisters and JWOWW from the Jersey Shore...For the past year this has been offered as a video podcast, but you can find lots of good stuff in the audio-only archive too.

iTunes Meet The Author

Another podcast of big-name authors doign the book-launch circuit, this time from the Apple store in NYC. The format varies from event to event as they sometimes feature guest moderators who interview the authors. Doesn't have a predictable schedule but it does use the enhanced podcast features like chapter titles and occasional photo slideshows.

Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon

Running since Oct 2010, still being updated. Interviews with authors. Fewer big names than the other podcasts, which means you hear some new voices.

Pen on Fire

From the University of California at Irvine. Discussions on art and writing, featuring interviews with writers, and occasionally editors and agents. Recent guests have included Edwidge Dandicat and Betsy Lerner.

Education - Craft and Workshop Podcasts

For this second class of podcasts, I look for those that focus on the craft of writing. These are sometimes hosted by working writers and sometimes feature speeches from workshops. On days when you want to take your writing seriously, and work on your craft, these are the podcasts to reach for.

Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcasts

This podcast features excerpts from classes taught at the Odyssey writing workshop held each summer. 16 writers are picked each year for this professional-level workshop, and it features published authors as teachers and lecturers. Each podcast is 15-20 minutes long and packed with useful information for more than just Science Fiction or Fantasy writers. These talks are aimed specifically at writers, not readers, and you should come away inspired to get back to your own writing after listening. Sometimes the talks touch on the publishing business, but more often the topic is craft-related.

Writing Excuses

Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells are writers and artists in the science fiction world. Their podcast's tagline is was enough to turn me into a fan: “15 Minutes Long, because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart”. They discuss the craft of writing from their perspective as working writers. The free-form conversation follows a different topic in every episode. As always, just because these guys are sci-fi and fantasy writers, this does not make their advice applicable only to SF writers!

The Writing Show Slushpile Workshop

Story consultant Paula B takes first chapters from a listener/writer and critiques it. This grew out of the most popular segment of her former podcast The Writing Show. I’ve always found it useful from time to time, to really tear apart someone else’s work and see what they’re doing - what works, what doesn’t and why. This show is all about doing that. Maybe you’ll even be brave enough to submit your first chapter...


Litopia hosts four different podcasts: Litopia After Dark, The Debriefer, Between The Lines and Open House. Litopia After Dark is a "A literary salon" with five hosts, each of whom brings a topic and gets a different discussion going, and a chatroom where people can send in comments during the broadcast. It is extremely well produced and it is fun. Good for reminding lonely authors in our garrets that we're not alone! Between the Lines is an interview-with-the-author podcast and Open House is a call-in show ("Skype-in", actually). My favourite, though is The Debriefer podcast hosted by Florida lawyer Donna Ballman. She covers legal issues as related to writing: using legal issues in stories, legal issues that affect writers. It’s a short, focussed podcast and I find it quite fascinating.

You May Also Like:

Holly Lisle on Writing

This one violates my policy of not reviewing podcasts that are no longer being updated. There are only six episodes of this podcast, from 2006 but they are so tightly focused on the craft of writing, that I wanted to include them anyway. She seems to have moved on to creating products like workshops and classes that she charges for (and I don’t blame her one bit), so grab the free podcast info and graduate to paid classes if you like her stuff.

Writing For Rookies

This podcast is aimed specifically at non-fiction, science fiction, screenwriting and comic book writers. It's relatively new but promising.

Bonus Inspiration

Since you've read this far, here's one bonus podcast which is not aimed at writers but is a treasure trove of ideas, speech patterns and stories that pack an emotional punch.


Storycorps is a group that collects real-life stories for the National Folk Archive in the US. Storycorps takes its mobile booths all over the country and invites people to bring a relative or friend in, and interview them. From the old New York couple talking about their first date, to the girl who lost her fiance on 9/11, to the 100 year old southern triplet who used to dance in sideshows, to daughter interviewing mothers...just try listening to these without tearing up, I dare you. Then go away and figure out how to do the same to your readers ;)

So go forth and listen: listen in your car, listen while you do housework, listen on the bus...just don't listen when you should be writing! Do you have any writing-related podcasts to recommend?

 - Julie Duffy


A Tale To Tell: Collaborative Illustrated Storytelling

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(via David Diaz on Facebook)


I've seen a ton of collaborative text storytelling sites but this is the first illustrated version. Intriguing! I'd volunteer but it looks as if they're booked up until at least the summer already.

From their About page:

A Tale to Tell is an illustrated, collaborative storytelling project where each week a new illustrator/artist will be invited to submit the next part of the story, with a text entry and an illustration to accompany it.  Each artist responds to the story as it was left by the previous, taking the story wherever they wish and leaving it open for the next person to continue!  Creating an elaborate, imaginative tale from the minds of some of the most creative people around.

For now, the project exists in online form but further down the line we will also be looking into getting our collective narrative published.


Mesmerizing Video: Organizing The Bookcase

Short and fascinating.

Thanks to David Diaz for the link.


Writers For The Red Cross

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I'm participating in Writers For The Red Cross, and am donating a selection of my writer greeting cards as well as a hand-drawn doodle and handwritten instapoem to the winner of the bid. Read more here. Bidding doesn't start until the event officially kicks off on March 1st.

About the event, from the site:

This online event celebrates Red Cross Month (March 1-31). It is intended to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross and its work in communities across the country. We’re auctioning off publishing-related items and services donated by authors, publicists, agents, and editors. We’ll also have daily guest posts from authors about “What the Red Cross Means to Me.” All donors who give over $25 will also be able to select one free book from a range of books donated and shipped by publishers for the event.

To find out more about Writers For The Red Cross and about the other participants, organizers and bookstore partners, please visit the Writers For The Red Cross site.


Writers and Voice

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I've posted the first in my series about "Writers and Voice" over in the MiG Writers blog, for those interested.


Reminder to writers: Don't forget to take regular breaks!

Writers: Don't forget to take regular breaks from your computer

I love my work. The one downside: I tend to work WAY too long without taking breaks. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, I find that taking regular breaks from the computer makes me MORE productive, not less.

Taking a few minutes to  stretch helps prevent repetitive stress injuries. Forcing yourself away from the keyboard to get some fresh air can also help put things in perspective and spark new ideas. While writers need to write, they also sometimes need to NOT write.

Right now I'm looking for Mac software that will remind me to take breaks  from my computer throughout the work day.  I used to have a great little application, but  the  developer no longer supports it, sadly.

I have tried several types of programs  ever since, but so far I haven't been completely happy with any of them.

I'd like the reminders to be customizable and to not interrupt a work task in progress. I'd like the option of scheduling mini computer breaks as well as longer breaks. I want to be able to end any computer break sooner if I need to. The last application I tried drove me crazy because the keyboard was completely inaccessible at times.

What about the rest of you? Do you have any system in place to make sure you aren't punched over the keyboard for hours at a time without a break?


Photographic evidence of the fading Twilight trend


Photo taken at a Walmart on the weekend.