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, #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 DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Thursday
Nov132014

A Happy Birthday (and THANK YOU) to my Simon & Schuster Children's editor, Justin Chanda, who helped me find my books


My dedication at the front of my VERY FIRST solo picture book, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? (comes out from Simon & Schuster Children's in May 2015)

Since Justin Chanda "discovered" me at the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles (and after many, many years of rejections), my children's book career has taken off. Every so often I still pause in the middle of whatever I'm doing and think to myself OH MY GOSH I'M ACTUALLY MAKING A LIVING WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN'S BOOKS and hyperventilate a bit but then calm down because I have upcoming deadlines and need to get back to work.

For you, @inkygirl!! (Also for me, because, well, it's @judyblume!)

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:37pm PDT

This past year has been especially crazygood, with my illustrations appearing in JUDY BLUME reissues from Atheneum (JUDY BLUUUUUUUUUME!!!!!!) as well as NAKED!, a second picture book with Michael Ian Black and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. And then S&S sent me on my very first book tour!

 

So @michaelianblack and @inkygirl popped by to celebrate #Naked!!

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Apr 4, 2014 at 1:24pm PDT

Do you see that wand that Justin is holding in one of the photos above? A while back, I was posting about the Judy Blume illustration project as well as NAKED! coming out in 2014, and someone asked me if I had a fairy godmother. Yes, I told them, and my fairy godmother's name is JUSTIN CHANDA. I presented Justin with a labelled Fairy Godmother wand at the Simon & Schuster Children's meet & greeting with Michael Ian Black and me. Here's a photo that my husband Jeff took, just after I gave Justin the wand and was about to give him a big hug:

Photo: Jeff Ridpath.

Apparently Justin has taken the Wand to several Simon & Schuster Children's meetings since. :-)

And just recently, I got to see the color proofs for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, which is going to be my very first solo children's book. I think it really didn't hit me that I'm actually going to be a children's book AUTHOR as well as illustrator until I saw those proofs. The book comes out from Simon & Schuster in May 2015, woohoo!

Now that I've been working with Justin for four years, I feel even more lucky. He's a brilliant editor. I'm learning so much from him about the craft and business of making children's books. Justin has the ability to bring out the best in those who work with him, pushing them hard but also trusting their creative instincts.

I'm grateful to SO many people who have encouraged me along the way and could not be where I am now without them. Justin Chanda was the first editor to give me my Big Break, to believe in me enough to offer me that first book contract, and mere words cannot express how much I appreciate what he did and continues to do for my career.

Happy birthday, Justin, and THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME FIND MY BOOKS!

 Also see my Thank You To Justin Chanda and Simon & Schuster Children's.

Me hanging with the incomparable @inkygirl at #la14scbwi

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:33pm PDT

Wednesday
Nov122014

Comic: Another Reason You Should Always Make Backups

Tuesday
Nov112014

Comic: Pseudo-Productivity Tip for Writers, especially those doing #NaNoWriMo

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to check out my friend Errol Elumir's daily NaNoToons!

Tuesday
Nov112014

Will Write For Chocolate comic: "You're never too old for picture books"

Just posted a new Will Write For Chocolate strip, inspired by Ame Dyckman's wonderful Picture Book Month post today. More at Will Write For Chocolate (and don't forget to "Like" my Will Write For Chocolate Facebook page!).

Tuesday
Nov112014

To those doing #NaNoWriMo: Good luck! (and here's a comic for you)

Also check out my friend Errol Elumir's daily NaNoToons, if you're looking for distraction. :-)

Sunday
Nov092014

Comic: There's More To A Girl Than Just Her Word Count (a #NaNoWriMo Breakup)

Friday
Nov072014

Comic: Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder

To writers out there: so 'fess up. How many of you out there can identify?

Friday
Nov072014

Comic: It Was A Dark And #NaNoWriMo Night...

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to check out my friend Errol Elumir's daily NaNoToons!

Thursday
Nov062014

Wordcount Envy Clinic (a #NaNoWriMo comic)

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to check out my friend Errol Elumir's daily NaNoToons!

Wednesday
Nov052014

NaNoWriMo comic: The Word Pusher

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to check out my friend Errol Elumir's daily NaNoToons!

Tuesday
Nov042014

A comic for picture book writers

Revamped this comic for use in Part 2 of my "How WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? was created" series. The post also includes a free, downloadable 32-page picture book thumbnail sketch template.

Saturday
Nov012014

November is Picture Book Month! (and PiBoIdMo, NaNoWriMo)

November is Picture Book Month! Each day, you can find an inspirational essay by a children's book writer or illustrator about the importance of picture books. ALSO, teachers and librarians can find curriculum connections compiled by educational consultant and children's book author, Marcie Colleen (Marcie did the Teacher's Guides for I'M BORED and NAKED!).

Anyway, the first essay is by Aaron Becker, and you can read it here.

 

If you're a picture book writer, I also advise you to check out Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdmo), in which participants are challenged to come up with 30 picture book ideas in a month.

And of course, November is also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

Saturday
Nov012014

Winning Halloween comic caption: Megan Maynor

Congrats to my Halloween comic caption winner, Megan Maynor. Megan's first picture book, ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER, comes out from HarperCollins in 2016. You can see Megan signing her contract in her "Wait, It Took HOW Long To Sell A Book?" post on Word Disco.

Here's Megan's winning caption:



Runners-up:

"Trick or tweet!" - Alecia Miller, on Twitter

"AND she doesn't even broompool." - Kevin Sylvester, on FB

"She spends far too much time on her newfangled iOfNewt." - Greg Pincus, on FB

"Young witches these days. Always flying and hex-ting..." - Arlene Graziano, on Twitter

"Does GPS even work up here?" - Joey Shoji, on FB

"The last witch that texted while flying, got hit by Dorothy's house." - Devin Melanson, on FB

You can see other caption entries on Twitter and on Facebook.

Megan wins my most recent #inktober doodle:

 

Last #inktober doodle, which is also a prize in my Halloween caption challenge (see my @inkyelbows Twitter acct).

A photo posted by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@inkygirl) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:32am PDT

Friday
Oct312014

Comic: Personal Muse

And speaking of inspiration, don't forget to check out the previous post from Paper Lantern Lit and former HarperCollins/Razorbill editor Lexa Hillyer about how to establish the right wants and needs of your characters.

Friday
Oct312014

Guest Post from Paper Lantern Lit Co-Founder Lexa Hillyer: Character WANTS and NEEDS

 

From Debbie: Thanks to Paper Lantern Lit for letting Inkygirl premiere their new series of GET LIT videos. In this video, YA author Lexa Hillyer talks about how to establish the right WANTS and NEEDS for your characters:

Hello from Paper Lantern Lit, the "story architects!" We're so excited to premiere our new video series, Get Lit, on InkyGirl. Each Get Lit video will explore the blueprints to each of PLL's secrets of the storytelling trade.

http://www.paperlanternlit.com/

In this video, watch PLL Co-Founder (and author of PROOF OF FOREVER, out June 2015!) Lexa Hillyer talk about the Wants and Needs of characters, and how they form the essential basis on which to build your story. We hope these videos will be helpful to aspiring writers– especially all of you prepping for NaNoWriMo tomorrow!

If you missed the introduction to Get Lit featuring PLL Co-Founder and New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver (The Delirium Trilogy, Panic, The Spindlers) click here.

You can subscribe to the Get Lit videos here, and never miss an update.

If you want more content like Get Lit, check out PLL's Blog! We post lots of info for writers in our Toolbox series, which breaks down different parts of the storytelling craft.

On Monday November 3rd, check out Fic Fare for the next Get Lit video, and become the architect of your BEST story!

Thursday
Oct302014

A Halloween comic for fellow A WRINKLE IN TIME fans

From the Will Write For Chocolate archives...

Friday
Oct242014

Love print books but now packing for trips is easier. Used to spend hours choosing which books to take! 

Have a great weekend, all! I'm off to OVFF. Here's my explanation of this "filk" thing I mention sometimes, in case you're curious.

Thursday
Oct232014

Tip for aspiring writers & illustrators: Make a routine and then stick to it.

A tip for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators: Try not to let yourself get sucked into too much fussing over preparation and ritual. Make a routine and then stick to it.

Now to follow my own advice...

Wednesday
Oct222014

HAPPY #CAPSLOCKDAY (and only 10 days until #PictureBookMonth)

Happy International Caps Lock Day, everyone!

And don't forget, only ten days until Picture Book Month. I'm especially excited beause this year I'm a Picture Book Month Champion!!

Tuesday
Oct212014

CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination Conference

Thanks so much to CANSCAIP for inviting me to be a speaker at the Packaging Your Imagination conference at Humber College this past weekend. I had a fantastic time and once again appreciated what a wonderful kidlit/YA community we have here in Canada.

I've posted some of my photos on Facebook and on Flickr.

Kate BlairThanks to Kate Blair for being my "shadow" during the event; Kate helped get me find the right rooms, introduced me at my workshop, made me feel welcome. Kate is a middle grade and YA writer, and placed 2nd in the 2010 Toronto Star Short Story Contest (out of 1800 entries!) as well as being longlisted for the CBC short story contest in both 2011 and 2012. You can find out more about Kate and her work at Kateblair.com.

Anyway, the subway was shut down between Eglinton and Bloor so I ended up taking a cab and arrived way early! The organizers were still setting up. I think I was one of the first to pick up my speaker badge:

Ran into my Torkidlit friend Karen Krossing, who helped distract me from my pre-talk jitters by walking around the venue with me, figuring out where the speaker coats could be stored, etc. Here are CANSCAIP Administrative Director Helena Aalto and PYI Co-Director Lorna Poplak, just before the conference officially opened:

I also had time to check out the art show. So much wonderful children's book art, and I also loved the process sketches that some people included. I'm new enough that I also got a thrill to see my own art up on display...and also very cool to see my sister's art right beside it:

Teresa Toten's opening keynote was inspiring! I've just started reading THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, Teresa's novel that won the 2013 Governor General Literary Award For Children's Literature, and am loving it so far.

Teresa Toten, giving her inspiring opening keynote

After that were the first set of workshop sessions, including mine. Thanks SO much to the Humber AV crew, who did a fantastic job at PYI (especially Tom on the far right, who was my AV helper):

and the E-Learning team in my session, who helped the streaming portion run smoothly for virtual attendees:

The photo at the top of this post (courtesy GABBY author Joyce Grant) is from the beginning of my session. Here's one from GRACE author/illustrator Kate Parkinson, who was a virtual attendee:

And here's her screen with the live video in the top left and my current slide on the right:

After the conference, I asked Kate how the streaming went and she reports it ran smoothly, thanks to the Humber College tech crew. You can also read Kate's report about being a virtual attendee at CANSCAIP's event on her blog. Kate's FIRST children's book (she's author/illustrator), GRACE, comes out from Holiday House Books early next year!

Back to PYI. Judging from feedback afterward, the session seemed to go well, yay! I was still nervous, but it was a bit easier than last time I gave a talk, plus the attendees were enthusiastic and asked interesting questions. Partway through, I was actually having fun.

After my session, I chatted with some of the attendees, including Rebecca (who had flown from NEWFOUNDLAND for PYI!) and Peter Shelton, then stayed in the room so I could hear Ashley Spires talk about her work:

Ashley Spires during her session at PYI

I so love Ashley's bubbly enthusiasm and energy! Ashley talked about the creation process for Binky The Space Cat series of junior graphic novels, which I found fascinating, entertaining and informative. Did you know that Ashley initially drew all her herringbone and other intricate textures by HAND? Wow. I think Ashley noticed the look of awe (ok, maybe more like horror :-)) on my face when she told us this. 

Anyway, finally getting to meet Ashley Spires in person was one of my personal highlights at PYI.

With my talk over, I could relax at lunchtime and just chat. Thanks to my lunchtime companions for some great kidlit/YA conversation (including my Torkidlit pal Nicole Winters in the bottom right):

I looked around for my MiGWriters critique partner, Andrea Mack, but missed seeing her! Happily, we ran into each other later in the conference. 

Above: Lana Button, Jan Dolby and Joyce Grant at PYI 2014. Joyce and Jan are the creative team behind the GABBY series from Fitzhenry and Whiteside Publishers. Finally getting to meet Jan Dolby in person was another personal highlight during the conference; we were seatmates at one of the sessions, plus I had a chance to admire her very cool custom pencil case.

In the afternoon, I was faced (again) with an impossible choice: I wanted to attend all the workshops! I ended up opting for the industry panel with Susan Rich (Editor-At-Large at Little, Brown) and Tara Walker (Editorial director at Tundra Books):

An excellent panel, so informative AND entertaining. Teresa Toten was a fabulous moderator. And I loved the rapport between Susan and Tara -- lots of laughter during this session :-D.  They both were so generous with their info, and we all learned a great deal.

I missed getting a photo of Susin Nielsen (maybe because I was laughing too hard), who gave a wonderful closing keynote - see audience above. We even got to see a clip of her acting role in the original Degrassi Junior High (she was a screenwriter)!

Plus LOOK, I won a prize in the raffle! I never win anything but thanks to CANSCAIP and the Vermont College Of Fine Arts, I won this bag of goodies:

The popcorn and the chocolate are already gone (yummmmmm), and I'm using the water bottle in my office; it'll be a nice reminder of this excellent event.

Thanks to Lena Coakley for giving me a lift to a small gathering hosted by Sharon Jennings afterwards. Sadly, a bad headache prevented me from staying as long as I had wished but it was fun chatting with some of the others who came. Thank you, Sharon!

Torkidlit pals Cheryl Rainfield, Nicole Winters, Lesley Livingston & Maureen McGowan at PYI

And again, THANK YOU so much to CANSCAIP and all the volunteers and organizers. Everything went so smoothly and I had so much fun, plus came away super-inspired.

If you're a Canadian children's book author, illustrator or performer, I strongly recommend you checking out CANSCAIP's website....and do consider attending next year's PYI event!