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

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Announcing my next illustration project for Simon & Schuster: NAKED! by Michael Ian Black


I enjoyed working on I'M BORED so much that I was secretly hoping that I'd get to illustrate another of Michael's stories...and my wish was granted! Entertainment Weekly posted the news this morning.

I am so very, very pleased to announce that my next picture book illustration project is going to be NAKED!, written by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. I LOVE the story and am already having a ton of fun doing sketches for the book.

Plus I get to work with Justin Chanda (editor) and Laurent Linn (art director) again!

NAKED launches in the Summer 2014.

If you're on Facebook, I'd appreciate you Liking our new NAKED Facebook Page...thanks. :-)


Inkygirl chosen for Writer's Digest's list of 101 Best Websites For Writers

Inkygirl.com was included in the Writer's Yearbook 2013 list of Top 101 Websites For Writers! Apparently 4,350 nominations for sites were sent in, and the Writer's Digest editorial team sifted through them to choose the final list. Thanks to all who nominated me and to Writer's Digest for choosing Inkygirl!


Comic: Octopus Writer


Comic: The Rejection


Comic: Death and The Writer


Comic: The Celebrity Poet


DIY: Turn Your Book Into A Bag!

I am soooo tempted to follow the detailed instructions on Rookie ("It's A Book! It's A Bag") and turn a copy of I'M BORED into a book bag. But I am trying very hard to stick to my goal of cutting down the number of extra projects so I can make more time to read and create books.

But. I. Am. So. Very. Tempted.

If you're a crafty type and want to be tempted to, feel free to check out the instructions on Rookie, or one of the following resources:

Book Purse Tutorial - Hungry Panda Clothing

How To Make A Book Purse - WikiHow

How To Make A Purse From Old Books - Squidoo

Or get a book purse custom-made:

BookPurses on Etsy

Novel Creations on Etsy

plus many others. Just search for "book purse" and look for creators who do custom orders.


Comic: World Writers Guild Crisis

I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl, Tumblr, and Pinterest.


Interview with children's book author Ame Dyckman about BOY + BOT, picture books & writing process

[Update: You can download Ame Dyckman's "Breathing book molecules helps you write" quote poster from my For The Love Of Reading page.]

Ame Dyckman is one of the sunniest and most enthusiastic online personalities I've ever come across. I love her positive posts, how she encourages and helps promote others in the industry. I really hope to meet her in person someday!

I recently bought a copy of her BOY + BOT picture book, published by Knopf Books For Young Readers last year and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. This funny, tender story focuses on a friendship between a boy and his robot.


You can visit Ame at amedyckman.com, or follow her on Twitter (@AmeDyckman), where she posts picture book reviews "and a good amount of whatever pops into her head."

Q. What’s your writing process?

At home, I sit in my Writing Spot, on the floor in the TV room between the couch and the toe-eating table.

When I get a funny thought, I jot it down. Some of these become story ideas. Some become Tweets. (Twitter is a terrific brain playground for PB writers!) Some of my thoughts are too goofy to become anything! But they make me laugh.

If my Funny Thoughts tank is empty, I think up random questions and Google the answers. (Recently: “How do you brush an alligator’s teeth?” and “Where can I buy gauntlets?”) This often leads to story ideas, too.

When I’m stumped for the morning, I jump in the shower. When I’m super-stumped, I ride on a train. (Once, I was SUPER super-stumped and thought I’d have to shower on a train, but I got an idea on the way to the station. Which was good because I don’t think our trains have showers.)

I go to the library a lot. Breathing book molecules helps you write. It’s a fact.

When I have a story percolating, I’m possessed and temporarily useless for most other tasks. I forget to shut off the sprinklers. I lock myself out of the house. I burn most meals.

Luckily, my family is very understanding. (And our local pizzeria delivers.)

I jot on anything handy. (The cats run when I’m holding a pen.) I do my actual writing on my laptop, and my editing on paper. I keep pages to edit in my pocket.

Usually, I remember to take my pages out of my pocket before I do the laundry.


Writing picture books is a crazy-fun-messy process, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.


Q. What advice do you have for aspiring picture book writers?

If you want to write picture books, read every picture book you can. Then re-read them. Order pizza for dinner so you can read longer.

Read picture books aloud to children. If no children are handy, read to dogs. (I love cats too, but most cats prefer dystopian YA.)

If no children or dogs are handy, read picture books to anyone not operating heavy machinery at the time.

Learn what you love in a picture book. Learn what others love. Write for all of you.

Most importantly, celebrate every writing success, no matter how small. Each finished draft deserves ice cream!

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?

I’m looking forward to the release of my next picture book, TEA PARTY RULES (Viking; Fall, 2013), illustrated by the fabulous K.G. Campbell (LESTER’S DREADFUL SWEATERS and the forthcoming THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF FLORA AND ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo). TEA PARTY RULES is a funny eventual friendship/compromise story between a rule-obsessed little girl and a tea party-crashing bear cub who really wants cookies.


Here's where you can find out more about Ame Dyckman and her projects:

Her website: AmeDyckman.com

On Twitter: @AmeDyckman


Celebrate every writing success, no matter how small. Each finished draft deserves ice cream! - @AmeDyckman http://bit.ly/VLC7bC (Tweet this)

Breathing book molecules helps you write. It is a fact. - @AmeDyckman (BOY and BOT) http://bit.ly/VLC7bC (Tweet this)


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.


Comic: The Plot Hole


Comic: Freelance Rates

I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl, Tumblr, and Pinterest.


You don't find time to write. You make time. - Nora Roberts


Comic: Some Quiet Writing Time...Or Not

I continue to be in awe of all your parents of young children out there who manage to carve out regular writing time.

I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl (http://inkygirl.com), Tumblr (http://inkygirl.tumblr.com) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/inkyelbows/comics-for-writers-inkygirl-com)


Comic: Pinocchio's Critique


Comic: Something Amazing

Originally posted in Writer Unboxed. See my other comics in Writer Unboxed.


Comic: You May Be Luckier Than You Think


The angst never ends. :-) Another reason why writers should enjoy every success along the way, no matter how small.

Originally posted in Writer Unboxed. See my other comics in Writer Unboxed.


Comic: Sometimes You Just Have To Let Go...


New comic on Writer Unboxed

Just posted a new comic about Writer Resolutions on Writer Unboxed, plus some excellent advice from one of my favorite authors, Juliet Marillier.


23,000th Follower Profile: YA Author Julie Williams On Writing Process, Art and Tips For Aspiring Writers

Thanks to Julie Williams (@JulieKWms2013) for being the 23,000th person to follow my @inkyelbows Twitter account! Julie is the author of two YA books. ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON: A Story In Poems (HarperCollins, 2004) is a novel in verse. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD (title may change) will come out from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press in 2013 or 2014. She's repped by Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency, Inc.

As I started checking out her blog, I discovered that Julie is not only a published author but also an artist. When she's not writing, she's likely to be in her studio up to her ears in paint, glue, markers, fabric, paper, old photos, beads, sticks, driftwood, stones, vintage books, lace and hardware -- all used to create her mixed media works.

Check out her gorgeous "Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa" piece, which was chosen for the cover of the Minnesota Women's Press magazine a while back:

The piece is a mixed media fiber art collage: fabric, fusible interfacing, thread, ribbon, beads, Lumiere acrylic paint, ribbon. Stitching was done by both hand and machine.

Q. What is your writing process?

I'm an avid journal keeper. I write first thing every morning no matter what and have been doing that for many years. When I'm working on a book, my journal becomes a place to try out all the WHAT IFs of my characters and story line. Almost all my back story writing happens in the journal first. Starting my day with the journal is the most constant part of my writing routine. In the early stages of a novel (you know, like the first THREE drafts) I write mostly in the mornings and only about 2 or 3 hours a day. I usually write about five days a week. Later, when I'm bringing the story home (like rewrites FOUR and FIVE) I become pretty obsessed and write for 5 or 6 hours a day or even longer and seven days a week. I wake, sleep, dream, eat and journal journal journal the book. That's where I am right now with what I hope is the final revision of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Whenever I get stuck in my writing (and I do get stuck, especially on a big project), I either let it sit and do artwork for a couple days, or I apply the visual work to the book project itself. What works for me: I make many charts and calendars and flip charts and story boards. Sometimes I even draw maps and do collages and make character paper dolls. Anything that helps me to not only track the characters and plot lines, but to flesh them out and make them dimensional. Whenever I take the time to do one or more of these things, the writing always flows again.

ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON is a novel in verse and it began with poems I'd written about my family and about growing up in Northern Minnesota and Nebraska. I wrote over a hundred new poems in order to create the story of Allie. It was an exciting process because I discovered that the more fictional the story line and characters became, the more they revealed the emotional truth I'd been searching for in my original writing. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD is different in two big ways -- it's in a more traditional prose form and it's not nearly as autobiographical. But my inspiration for the book does come from the years I spent in the theatre here in the Midwest and from my wildly diverse and nontraditional family.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Do it because you love it, because if you don't write your head will explode.

Develop rituals that work for you -- like writing in a journal first thing in the morning (or right before you go to bed at night). Let the other parts of your life inform your writing and your writing rituals. When I was working on an earlier draft of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, I created a Director's Book inspired by my graduate study in Acting and Directing. And then when that wasn't giving me what I needed, I went back into it and added visual images to help capture things I might have missed about the characters and about their dreams and wants and needs and desires. When I was in the theatre I never dreamed I'd use those skills to write a book. No matter what "other life" you've led or are still leading -- mine it for your writing!

Read what you write out loud. And then, when you're too close to what you've written -- have someone else read it out loud to you so you can hear how someone else is receiving your words. That second one is a lot scarier than the first, but it is a pretty powerful tool. This revision I've done a lot of interviews with my main character (again, in my journal) and I'm always surprised what Jessie has to tell me when I get out of my own way.

I've been very fortunate to have one or two "first readers" that I love and trust. I think they encourage me to continue writing more than anyone or anything else.

Hook up with great organizations like the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Sisters in Crime (SinC) where you can meet other people who write so their heads won't explode. I'm not a big group person myself (like a lot of creative people I tend to be a loner who needs a LOT of solitude). What helped me get over that obstacle was to volunteer to help at events and conferences and workshops and that led to many years of fruitful contacts and teaching opportunities. I met my first editor at an SCBWI retreat. My agent and I were in a writing group together when I lived in Southern California. Here in Minnesota I know if I show up at The Loft for a reading or a class or a workshop, I'll go away enriched and quite possibly with a new writing friend.

Facebook and Twitter (I'm just starting this!) and web sites and blogs, oh my! They work. I'm still learning about all of this and parts of it I love and parts of it I don't love so much. What I do love is meeting new people in a virtual way. I forget to check FB and twitter, so I set it up to receive everything in my email. This would make many people crazy but I love it. I'd rather delete what I don't want to read than miss something important.

Laugh a lot. Cry a lot. Listen hard. And keep writing so your head won't explode.

Q. I saw your gorgeous Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa piece. Have you ever combined your writing and artistic talents for any book projects?

I'm so glad you liked Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa. I had a lot of fun doing that fabric art collage and was really pleased when it was chosen for the cover of the November 2011 issue of Minnesota Women's Press magazine (e-edition and paper copy). I haven't combined the writing and artwork (in a finished product kind of way) yet, but would love to do that in a creative nonfiction/memoir piece. I'm really drawn to hybrid forms in both fiction and nonfiction. They are, as I'm sure you know, harder to sell. I am using some of my poems and other journal writings in my collages right now and am excited about the possibilities.

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?

I'm totally engrossed in what I hope is the last big rewrite of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. By the time I finish the book, it will also have a new title!

Where you can find more info about Julie:

Julie Williams blog

Julie Williams gallery at MNArtists.org

On Twitter: @JulieKWms2013


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.



Comic: Not A Good Way To Start The Year...