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


The Today Show Snubs Children's Book Award Winners...And What YOU Can Do About It

(Update: Also see the related Facebook page)

Instead of their traditional interview with the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals in Children's Literature, The Today Show decided to interview Snooki instead. Here's what Lin Oliver of the SCBWI (Society For Children's Book Writers & Performers) said in her letter to The Today Show in response. An excerpt:

"In choosing not to run the interviews with Clare Vanderpool and Erin Stead, television has once again underestimated the intelligence of its audience.  Parents are dying to get their hands on good books for their kids.  Booksellers are eager to sell and promote good books for kids.  It’s good business, good broadcasting and good ethics to honor the best books for children."

If you're as disappointed by The Today Show's choice as I am, I encourage you to post a comment saying so at:



New comic up on Writer Unboxed


Golden Marmot Award goes to: MIKE JUNG

Today's incredibly prestigious Golden Marmot award goes to middle grade writer Mike Jung for his entertaining Facebook post above.

Mike recently announced that his book GEEKS, GIRLS & SECRET IDENTITIES, is under contract with Arthur A. Levine Books (yay, Mike!).


Showing Reader Loyalty Through...Tattoos? (and a new comic)

Harry Potter Fan Tattoo

A publisher has offered its readers a lifetime subscription to its titles if they get a tattoo inspired by one of their books. Wow, now THAT's loyalty.

Reading about this inspired me to draw the cartoon above today. :-)


Time management tip for writers: keep a work diary


If you find yourself vowing to do some writing but then reach the end of the day not really sure where the time went, I strongly advise keeping a time diary for a few days. Make sure you pick days which are fairly typical in terms of your planned schedule.

Write down EVERYTHING you do during the day, along with a time stamp. Yes, everything. Don't be embarrassed -- you're going to throw this out when you're finished, so no one else will see it.

I tried this and was horrified at how much time I was wasting or frittering away on non-work activities. The exercise really makes you more conscious of how you're spending your time.

These days I still try to keep a work diary, but not nearly so detailed...just enough to help keep me on track.

Has anyone else tried this exercise?


Literary fiction writers: "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest

DearLuckyAgent Contest

From time to time, I promote writing contests that have no entry fee. This one targets literary fiction writers.

Deadline: Jan. 23, 2011

Prize (3 winners): critique of first 10 pages of your work by agent, 1-year subscription to Writersmarket.com

More info


Word Count Challenge Check-In

URL shortcut for this challenge: http://bit.ly/dailywords

I Love My Work

I've successfully managed 500 words a day except for one day on the weekend. I'm going to wait after I attend the SCBWI conference in NYC at the end of the month before I consider ramping up to 1000 words a day.

How are the rest of you doing with your Word Count Challenges?



Great cartoon about the Huckleberry Finn revamp controversy

If you haven't already heard, a new version of Huckleberry Finn is being released that replaces the word "nigger" with "slave" instead.

Bookshelves Of Doom recently posted a good Cagle comic on the controversy.


Picture book Dummy Challenge

Are you an author thinking of writing or writing and illustrating a picture book? If so, check out the Kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge, 25-week online group challenge to create a submit a picture book dummy. It starts today and ends on June 30th.

Excerpt from the description of who can join:

Though geared primarily toward author/illustrators, writers who are not artists can benefit from portions of the dummy exercise, and illustrators without an original manuscript can use the process to create a dummy portfolio piece.

Find out more at: http://kidlitart.blogspot.com/2011/01/its-here.html

Here's the blog post schedule:

Jan. 6-Jan. 13 (1 week): Pick your project

Jan. 13-Feb. 10 (4 weeks): Draft the story

Feb. 10-Feb. 24 (2 weeks): Develop the characters

Feb. 24-Mar. 10 (2 weeks): Storyboard text and art

Mar. 10-May 5 (8 weeks): Produce tight, full-size sketches

May 5-Jun. 2 (4 weeks): Produce final art of two spreads

Jun. 2-Jun. 16 (2 weeks): Comp the cover and assemble the dummy

Jun. 16-Jun. 23 (1 week): Research submissions; prepare dummy package

Jun. 23-Jun. 30 (1 week): Submit

Jun. 30: Wrap party!


Writer Productivity Tip: unsubscribe to as many mailing lists as you can

So far, I've managed to easily meet my goal of 500 words a day. I'm even thinking of upgrading to 1000 words a day, but am going to wait a couple of weeks to make sure I'm not just experience a burst of "beginning of the year resolution" enthusiasm.

How are the rest of you doing?

One thing I'm doing to help minimize wasted time: UNSUBSCRIBING TO UNNECESSARY MAILING LISTS. I've mentioned this a while back, but since then I've let a number of services put me on their mailing lists without doing anything about it. Instead, I just delete the messages as they come in, without reading them.


From now on, if I find myself about to delete a mailing list message, I'll think very hard about whether I should be on the mailing list at all. And instead of being lazy and just hitting the delete key, I'm going to take the time to scroll to the bottom of the message and figure out how to unsubscribe myself.

A related tip: never EVER put people on your promotional mailing list without asking their permission first. It drives me crazy when I start getting promo e-mails from an author with an accompanying message like, "Hey, I thought you'd be interested in my work. If you want to be taken off the list, just let me know." It immediately makes me want to NOT buy the author's book. Ok, rant over.


250, 500, 1000 Words A Day Challenge now on Facebook


I'm tickled by the enthusiastic response to my 250, 500 and 1000 Words/Day Challenge for Writers! I've been getting a ton of "I'm in!" messages on Twitter, Facebook and here on Inkygirl. For those on Facebook, I've created a page specifically about the challenge:


Happy New Year's, all!

I've posted a new comic over on Writer Unboxed. Title: "New Year's Resolutions."

One of my New Year's Resolutions: To post in Inkygirl more often.

Another: to write a minimum of 500 words a day. As I mentioned before, I know that 500 words isn't a lot, but I've been doing a LOT more drawing lately and have been neglecting my own writing.

I'm secretly hoping that I'll find that once I get into the groove of regular writing again, I'll be able to aim for a higher wordcount goal.

What about the rest of you? Anyone else willing to join me in aiming for 250, 500 or 1000 words a day?



Comic: Writer's Santa Wish List


Comic: Santa's deadline


1000, 500, and 250 words a day: Personal Writer Challenge ... With Leeway

As some of you already know, I've been doing more illustration work lately. Right now, my main illustration project is Michael Ian Black's I'M BORED picture book for Simon & Schuster. I've also been doing a ton more sketching to improve my craft.

The writer side of me, however, has been languishing. I signed up for NaNoWriMo but had to give it up because of illness in mid-November -- that's when I started thinking about how much I need to get back to regular writing. And how I need to revisit my Daily Writing Goal challenge myself!

To be realistic, I'm going to start out next year by aiming for 250 Words A Day (and only count words written for my novel(s)). Hopefully I'll find 250 words way too easy and upgrade to a higher word count goal.

Making New Year's Resolutions involving a daily writing goal can be a dangerous thing, I know, but I need something like this. What about the rest of you? Anyone else up to a daily writing goal challenge for next year?

The goal of the Inkygirl Wordcount Challenge simple: to inspire writers to write.

Too often, I find that writers start motivational challenges like NaNoWrimo with enthusiasm and good intentions, but give up when they start missing their daily targets for more than a few days in a row...undermining their confidence and defeating the purpose of the original challenge. I wanted a challenge with build-in leeway, to take into account that sometimes Life Gets In The Way.

I also wanted a challenge that lasted the whole year rather than just a month.

You can find out more about the 250, 500 and 1000 Words A Day Challenge here.

So who's in with me? And wordcount goal are you setting?


Please vote: Writers Digest 101 Best Websites For Writers

Hi all,

If you've found Inkygirl useful, inspiring or entertaining this past year, I'd be appreciative if you'd nominate my site for the Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites list.

How to do it:

Send an e-mail to writersdig@fwpubs.com with "101 Best Websites" in the subject header, and mention that you're nominating Inkygirl.com.

Whether or not you decide to nominate Inkygirl, I'd like to thank you all for your encouragement and support this past year. This site is run by one person (yours truly) and funded out of my own pocket, and the info and feedback I've been receiving by e-mail and in comments make it all worthwhile. Thank you!

- Debbie

p.s. If you'd like YOUR site to be considered by other writers for nomination, do post your site name and URL below!


Cartoon Caption Challenge: Pencil-nose Snowman


Comic: Frosty and the Stamp


Comic: Mom's Christmas Wish List


Comic: Finding A Quiet Place To Write: Idea #241