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

Wednesday
Mar312010

Three more days until I pick up my iPad

My husband was kind enough to give me an iPad for my birthday on Monday, and I'm picking it up on Saturday. Here's what I feel like.

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Tuesday
Mar302010

My Life In A Nutshell updated

For those interested, I've updated My Life Life In A Nutshell with an iPad paranoia comic. :-)

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Monday
Mar292010

100 Pages in 30 Days: Script Frenzy!

Only a couple of days left for you to sign up for Script Frenzy. From the site's About page:

Script Frenzy is an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April. As part of a donation-funded nonprofit, Script Frenzy charges no fee to participate; there are also no valuable prizes awarded or "best" scripts singled out. Every writer who completes the goal of 100 pages is victorious and awe-inspiring and will receive a handsome Script Frenzy Winner's Certificate and web icon proclaiming this fact.
What I hadn't realized until recently: in addition to screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, and short films, Script Frenzy also includes graphic novels. Hm. I'm SO tempted. I've just started work on a cartoon-heavy novel for middle grade readers which is a sort of "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid meets Captain Underpants." Right now I'm focusing on the script, with very rough sketches of the graphics. Unlike NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy doesn't include a wordcount and also doesn't require you to start from scratch. My novel isn't in comic book format all the way through, which is why I'm still calling it a novel. However, there are going to be a LOT of mini-comic strips and fun graphic elements throughout, which is why I would be relying on scriptwriting format just as much as regular manuscript format. What about the rest of you? Are you planning to do Script Frenzy?

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Monday
Mar292010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Saturday
Mar272010

Seven more days

7 more days until I pick up my iPad. Thanks to Susan Pigott for pointing out this gorgeous Vaja cases for the iPad. I especially love the one that looks like a Moleskine. To avoid overloading those of you who aren't iPad fans, I've been pouring most of my iPad obsessings into my @iPadGirl Twitter account and iPad Girl blog, so feel free to follow me there.

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Thursday
Mar252010

Comics for writers: Bo's Cafe Life

For those who enjoy comics focused on the writing life: check out Wayne Pollard's Bo's Cafe Life, which follows the adventures of Bo, an aspiring novelist. Thanks to Wayne for giving me permission to post the comic above!

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Wednesday
Mar242010

YA Author Rock Band: Tiger Beat

The members of Tiger Beat (I remember reading Tiger Beat magazine when I was a teen!) are all YA (Young Adult) authors, and they apparently rocked the house at Books of Wonder during a Sourcebooks launch party. From Mediabistro:

Libba Bray wailed on vocals, Daniel Ehrenhaft played guitar, Natalie Standiford played bass, and Barney Miller handled drums. The band headlined the launch party for Sourcebooks Fire, the publisher's brand new YA imprint. GalleyCat missed the party, but Sourcebooks passed along the excellent video.
Too bad the sound isn't clear enough to hear all the lyrics. I'll have to check to see if any of the band members have posted the lyrics online.

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Monday
Mar222010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Friday
Mar192010

"Motion magazine" demo on iPad

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread - iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

14 days until I pick up my iPad. Not that I'm counting or anything, of course. Anyway, thanks to James Huskins (@groovymystery on Twitter) for pointing me to the demo above, which was included in an AppleInsider article. And so now I'm even MORE excited about the iPad's potential, and look forward to seeing how book and magazine publishers take advantage of colour tablet devices like the iPad.

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Thursday
Mar182010

Lovely Blog Award + 15 sites to visit

Thanks so much to Anita Nolan for giving me the Lovely Blog Award! If you write for young people and aren't familiar with Anita's blog, you should definitely visit her website. Here’s my list of blogs that I check regularly because of their excellent info and inspiration. I've tried to avoid blogs that have already been given the award, but I strongly suspect there may be overlap. I also check WAY too many blogs regularly to list here, so please don't be offended if your blog isn't listed. Congrats to all! If you write about the award on your blog, I encourage you to award 15 more, and let them know with an email or a comment on their blog. 1. Cheryl Rainfield: Cheryl updates her book blog with great info for writers in addition to her book reviews. 2. The Actress and The Writer: Adrienne posts a weekly roundup of links and info for writers, plus I also enjoy her frank insights about the craft and business of writing. 3. Mystery Writing Is Murder: Elizabeth Craig is also one of my favourite people to follow on Twitter at @elizabethscraig. Consistently high quality information for writers on both her blog and her Twitterfeed. 4. Routines For Writers: One of my daily reads, always inspiring! I've always been fascinated by work habits of other writers, so this blog is right up my alley. 5. Writer Unboxed: Always high quality content, with excellent interviews and information of interest to genre writers. You can find a list of the author interviews they've done so far as well as useful writer links in the right-hand navigation bar. 6. The Happy Accident: Writer Greg Pincus offers tips on how to use (and not use) social media, with a focus on writers. 7. Book View Cafe Blog: Online publishing venture by a group of writers. Posts include tips and thoughts re: craft & business of writing. 8. Gail Carson Levine: Wonderful posts by Newbery-winning children's book author, packed with practical tips for those who write for young people. 9. Bookends, LLC - A Literary Agency: Great tips for writers looking for an agent. BookEnds is a literary agency focusing on fiction and nonfiction books for adult audiences. 10. Editorial Ass: A self-described "recovering editorial assistant," Moonrat posts from the editorial perspective. Love the ascerbic wit throughout these posts. Lots of good info here. 11. Georgia McBride: If you're interested in writing for young adults, you HAVE to add this blog to your RSS reader. Georgia also has an active YA author community going on Ning and Twitter. 12. Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent: One of my favourite sources of retweet material on Twitter, Rachelle posts consistently high quality tips and info for writers. 13. The Swivet: Colleen Lindsay's blog. Colleen is publishing consultant and a literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management. I read Colleen's blog not just for the useful information but also for her acerbic wit. 14. Lisa Yee: LOVE Lisa's sense of humour, and her blog posts are a fascinating and often entertaining glimpse into the life of a children's book author. 15. Blue Rose Girls: Seven children's book professionals (authors, illustrators, an editor, and one former librarian) discuss everything kidlit related; from industry news and the ever-changing world of publishing to the creative process with all its frustrations and inspirations.

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Thursday
Mar182010

Hey, I'm "Blog Of The Week" at Profwriting!

Wednesday
Mar172010

WWFC: Michael Finds A Niche

Wednesday
Mar172010

iPad anticipation cartoon

To see a bigger version of this comic, see My Life In A Nutshell.

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Monday
Mar152010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar102010

Taskpaper: minimalist note-taking PLUS other favorite organization/writing apps

I'm a big fan of lists, and have been experimenting with various To Do list systems for quite a few years. Recently I've been using Culturedcode's Things, which syncs between a desktop version and my iPhone. While I like Things, in the past year I've found myself relying more on a plain text file. I suppose part of it is feature overload -- there are SO many great apps out there with all kinds of cool features, but sometimes I find myself spending way too much time fiddling with the settings. I started a plain text file for daily tasks out of a need to see just the bare content without the distractions of other stuff. Which brings me to Taskpaper, which was developed by Jesse Grosjean. Jesse is also the developer behind Writeroom, a minimalist writing environment. Taskpaper works like a simple text editor. From the website:

Works like a text editor Type your lists into TaskPaper and each line is formatted into a project, task, or note. TaskPaper doesn’t force a particular system on you; it provides you with basic to-do list elements and then you use them as you see fit. Feels like a magic piece of paper TaskPaper has a magic trick. It can instantly filter your entire list to show only items of interest. TaskPaper’s filter system is simple to use—focus on a particular project or tag with a single tap. It also supports advanced searching if need.
I've been using Taskpaper heavily on my desktop and iPhone lately, and am excited to hear that Jesse is working on an iPad version. After reading SimpleText, TaskPaper, WriteRoom, Notational Velocity – Going minimalist with my notes from Dougist.com, I decided to adopt some of his strategies. What I'm trying now: For longer writing projects, I use Scrivener. Not sure what will happen with that when I get my iPad, since it doesn't look as if there will be an iPad version of Scrivener. If I end up using my iPad for doing a lot of writing outside of my office, then I'll probably have to look for an alternative. For pure writing (not outlining), my favourite so far is WriteRoom. WriteRoom has improved its features and flexibility a great deal since it first launched; although the green text on black was cute, I found it hard on the eyes. Now that I can write on a lighter background, WriteRoom is back in my favourites list. WriteRoom also has an iPhone app. I use Evernote as my catch-all for everything: important e-mails, maps, audio notes, business card scans, screenshots, etc. plus a reference library for my comics. What I like best about Evernote: (1) search recognizes text and handwriting in images, (2) I can e-mail items directly to Evernote, (3) it syncs with my iPhone, (4) an iPad version will be available and (5) it's actively seeking partnerships with other app companies, making it more useful to me. I use Zengobi's Curio for visual brainstorming. What I like best about this product: (1) the drawing feature supports my Wacom Intuos tablet, (2) Evernote integration, (3) an iPad version will be available, (4) the wide variety of supported media appeal to my packrat nature, and I find it a huge creative boost. I've also just started checking out Notational Velocity and SimpleNote, mainly because they seem to work so well with Taskpaper and Writeroom. But back to Taskpaper... One of my only quibbles about Taskpaper is that the sync process is a bit of a pain. It took me a little while to get everything straight and I'm used to it now, but I suspect this is the factor that will keep Taskpaper from appealing to a wider audience. Anyway, in case there are other Mac users who are syncing between their desktop Taskpaper and the iphone app, I've put together a basic overview in laymen's terms of the process. I spent some time looking in vain for this kind of document when I first started using Taskpaper, so figure it might be useful to others out there: Taskpaper Syncing Tips For Mac Users with iPhones INSTALL SIMPLETEXT All the synching goes through SimpleText, so you need to install and run the SimpleText client from: http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/simpletext. When you run SimpleText, it may seem as if nothing happens. Look at the navigation bar at the top of your screen; the SimpleText icon is the black circle with the small white pencil inside. Click on it and choose "Open SimpleText folder" from the drop-down menu. Move any Taskpaper docs you want to sync into the SimpleText folder. TO GET CHANGES FROM YOUR DESKTOP TASKPAPER APP TO YOUR IPHONE TASKPAPER APP: After making your changes, save your Taskpaper document. If you followed the instructions above correctly, this document should reside in the SimpleText folder on your desktop. Click on the SimpleText icon at the top of your screen and choose "Sync" from the dropdown menu. This sends changes to SimpleText. On your iPhone Taskpaper app, go to the main Documents screen. Click on the icon on the top left corner: it should look like a small piece of paper with lines on it. Choose "Sync" from the drop-down menu. TO GET CHANGES FROM YOUR IPHONE TASKPAPER APP TO YOUR DESKTOP TASKPAPER APP: After making changes to the document on your Taskpaper iPhone app, make sure you click "Done" to save it. Go back to the main Documents screen. Click on the icon on the top left corner: it should look like a small piece of paper with lines on it. Choose "Sync" from the drop- down menu. This sends the changes to Simpletext. Back on your desktop computer, open Taskpaper. Click on the SimpleText icon at the top of your screen and choose "Sync" from the dropdown menu. NOTE: If you already had Taskpaper open, with the SAME document open that you've been changing on your iPhone, then you'll also need to go to Taskpaper on your desktop computer, click on the File menu and select "Revert to Saved." To other Taskpaper users: dod I miss anything? Feel free to point out corrections that need to be made to the info above. Many thanks to Lawrence, Elastic Threads, Eugene, Doug and others for their help. Related helpful docs and sites: Main Taskpaper website Developer's tips on how to sync Taskpaper to the iPhone Taskpaper overview video How other people are using Taskpaper Hog Bay Software blog Taskpaper forum

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Tuesday
Mar092010

New version of Black Mana Studio's Manuscript fixes import/export issues

Last month, I posted a review of Black Mana Studio's Manuscript app for the iPhone, saying it was a disappointment. The developer has released an update which appears to fix the import and export issues from an to Google Docs. I've only had a chance to do some preliminary testing, but so far everything appears to be working fine now. From Black Mana Studios:

Hi Inkygirl, We have just released a new version of Manuscript that deals with the points you’ve mentioned. It should be live on the app store within a few hours (or days, depends totally on Apple). After installing this new version (v1.1.3), you will be able to start documents on Google Docs and import them to the iPhone, as well as edit existing documents so they can be imported into Manuscript (even if they were not written on Manuscript). To do so, follow these simple guidelines (after you download v1.1.3): 1. First line is the Manuscript name 2. Second line is the author name 3. Each chapter starts with a number and then a dot, like “1. Chapter one”, “2. Another chapter” and so on. 4. Four lines of space before each chapter header will signify it is a chapter header. I have posted a document template on our support forums, under the Manuscript announcement section. We are always open to feedback and comments, and wish to constantly improve our app. Thanks, Aki, Black Mana Studios.
I still find the user interface takes a little getting used to, but at least I'll be able to save files into Google Docs.

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Monday
Mar082010

Interview with Mahtab Narsimhan: The Silver Anklet

THE SILVER ANKLET is a sequel to Mahtab Narsimhan's THE THIRD EYE, which won The Silver Birch award in 2009. For those who don't know, The Silver Birch Award is a province-wide honour given by Grade 3, 4, 5 and 6 Ontario students. Although administered by the Ontario Library Association and run by teacher-librarians and teachers in schools and by children's librarians in public libraries, the final choice is made by the young readers. The trilogy follows the adventures of Tara, a young Hindi girl who lives in the village of Morni in India. When Tara's brother Suraj and two other children disappear from a local fair, Tara and her friends set off to find them. I enjoyed THE SILVER ANKLET even more than the first book in the Tara trilogy. Like its predecessor, the story kicks off with immediate action and suspense, with a chase and a mystery, grabbing the reader and not letting go until the very end. Mahtab's vivid descriptions add rich detail to the exciting story, weaving in Hindi colour and flavour that bring scenes to life for the reader. My mouth watered for biryani wrapped in banana leaves and spicy papads, and I shuddered as Tara and her companions trudged through the dark forest, batting away clouds of mosquitoes. Tara is an appealing protagonist, fighting her private fears and insecurities to save her brother. This is a story full of secrets and discovery, betrayal and mercy. Fans of the first book will love THE SILVER ANKLET.

Q&A with Mahtab Narsimhan:

How long have you wanted to write? Writing was definitely not a life-long wish, though I’ve always been an avid reader. I felt the desire to write only when my father passed away in 2003. I wanted to keep a record of incidents that happened back home so I would never forget the fun times we had as a family. These initial jottings, along with my love for fantasy and adventure, morphed into the idea of writing a children’s book in early 2004. THE THIRD EYE’S gestation period was longer than a whale’s; four years and twenty rewrites before it was published in the fall of 2007. And now, writing is all I want to do. Was THE THIRD EYE your first writing sale? If not, what was your first sale? How did it happen? I did manage to get a short story and an article printed in couple of magazines but, yes, this was my first “real” sale for which I was paid. I was so ecstatic to receive that cheque from Dundurn that I wanted to frame it and keep it in my office. My business-savvy husband suggested that I take a photocopy of it and cash the real thing! I love all the cultural details/flavour threaded throughout THE THIRD EYE. How much research did you have to do for this book? The cultural aspect, e.g. the food, clothing, locale etc was easy since I lived in Mumbai for most of my life. Indian Mythology can be quite complex and confusing and that took a fair bit of research. I’m still finding out interesting facts about the various Gods and Goddesses especially their Avatars. Only the very interesting bits make it into my books and are woven through the plot to make the narrative richer. What's your writing process for a book? e.g. outlining? how many drafts? etc. THE THIRD EYE was my very first attempt at writing a novel. It involved a steep and lengthy learning curve. Initially, I made a grid which listed all the chapters and jotted bullet points about the content and characters of each. This gave me a pretty good idea of how the story was progressing, and about pacing and structure. The first draft was a whopping 68,000 words and garnered many rejections. As I worked through it with my critique group, the story became leaner and more polished. It was 52,000 words when it finally made it to publication. As I mentioned before, from start to finish it took 20 drafts and 4 years of writing and rewriting. This was because each time I rewrote I could only concentrate on one aspect of the story; character, plot, pacing, dialogue, motivation. As I’ve gained experience, I can focus on two or three aspects simultaneously, greatly cutting down on the number of times I have to rewrite. For THE SILVER ANKLET, I wrote a synopsis and a very detailed chapter by chapter outline which gave me the framework. In the course of actually writing it, the story changed a fair bit but I always knew where it was going. The interesting part was that I wrote the first draft late 2007, early 2008, and put it away for a while. Then I took a Creative Writing course at the Humber College. My instructor was Tim Wynne-Jones. I worked on an entirely different manuscript with him but I learned many techniques which I was able to apply to all my writing. When I came back to this draft I didn’t like it at all. So out the window went 50,000 words and I started afresh. The new draft took about six months to write and another six to polish. So all in all, this one took a year. I worked with another wonderful writer, Uma Krishnaswami, on this manuscript and once again, gained some excellent writing tips. The final book in the trilogy; THE DEADLY CONCH(working title) took two months to write only because I had the plot already worked out, most of the characters were already fleshed out so the key things I had to focus on were pacing, consistency and the quality of writing. It took a month to finish the second draft. Compared to the first novel, this will be done in record time. Based on my six years of writing experience, I will say that practice does make perfect and the more you write the better you get. Writing bad stuff helps you get to the good stuff buried just underneath. Not a single word is ever wasted! You said that you're still finding out interesting facts about the various Gods and Goddesses, especially their Avatars. Could you please share a couple of these facts? Avatar is a Sanskrit word and literally means “one who descends” and the closest translation is “incarnation or manifestation.” Kali the evil Goddess of Death and Destruction is just another avatar of Goddess Parvati who is the wife of Lord Shiva and known for her kindness and gentleness. She is also known as the Divine Mother or Mother Goddess. Hanuman, the Monkey God, who helped Lord Rama rescue his wife, Sita, from the evil Ravana in the epic Ramayana, is also a very popular God in India. He is believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva and is worshipped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. In times of trouble, it is a common faith among Hindus to chant the name of Hanuman or sing his hymn - "Hanuman Chalisa". Hanuman temples are among the most common public shrines in India. 20 drafts and 4 years to write THE THIRD EYE, wow. Did you ever find yourself getting discouraged? If so, how did you get through the discouragement? Chocolate, Wine, and the Will to succeed. As the days, months and years rolled by, I realized that I had put in far too much effort and time to give up now. Though I was miserable doing the umpteenth rewrite with only rejections pouring in, I was even more miserable when I did not write. And so I kept going, trying to polish the manuscript till it shone. Then I got my lucky break and haven’t looked back since. Reminds me of a quote I’ve often heard; The harder I work, the luckier I get! What is your daily writing process? (e.g. mornings or evenings, setting daily goals, rituals, etc.) I write for at least a couple of hours in the morning to complete my allotted quota for the day. If it is a new draft, it’s a thousand words a day. If it’s a revision I break the manuscript up into pages or chapters and try very hard to finish the amount allocated for that day. Most days I can stick with it, some days it’s impossible so I try and catch up on the weekends when I put in four to five hours each day. All in all, I have daily, weekly and monthly goals on a bit of paper beside my laptop. It gives me tremendous pleasure to be able to tick off an item each day as I complete my quota. That’s why I love making lists! I listen to instrumental music when I write. My two favourites are: The Lord Of The Rings (Part 1) –Music composed, orchestrated and conducted by Howard Shore, and Dan Gibson’s Solitudes: Rocky Mountain Suite. Currently the soundtrack for Avatar-music composed by James Horner is also at the top of my list. I love everything by John Williams, especially Memoirs of a Geisha. I always focus better when I have something playing in the background, though it must be without words or I’m tempted to sing along and that would be disastrous for my writing. Most of my real work is completed in the morning when I’m fresh. In the evenings I revise, rewrite, research, catch up on my reading and spend time maintaining my online presence. What was the Silver Birch award ceremony like? FANTASTIC! It was a truly memorable moment filing onto the stage with the other authors, cheered on by thousands of screaming fans. It was so evident that these kids loved books, that they wanted to be here and were not shy about expressing themselves. It was a heart-stopping moment when the runner ups were announced. Since my name wasn’t mentioned, my heart sank a little. I was hoping THE THIRD EYE would be (at the very least) a second or third choice of the readers. Words fail me when I try to describe that ecstatic moment when they announced that THE THIRD EYE had won! I wanted to cry, faint and dance, all at the same time! I have no idea what I said in the acceptance speech except thank you…many times over. That feeling of euphoria, of a sense of unreality lasted all through summer. Even now, in the depths of winter when I am blue, I pull that memory out, examine it, remember it and inevitably…it lifts my spirits. Any news about upcoming projects you'd like to share? Penguin Canada will be releasing an anthology (to which I have contributed my own story) titled PIECE BY PIECE. STORIES ABOUT FITTING INTO CANADA on March 9, 2010. To celebrate the release of the book, Penguin is joining forces with the youth literary series Small Print to stage "The Piece By Piece Mash-Up," an event on Sunday, March 28, between 2:30-5pm, at Gladstone Hotel. A writing contest for high school kids will be organized ahead of time, asking them to contribute their own 500 word, Piece By Piece stories. The event will showcase the contest winners and feature a sound clash by teenage DJs from different communities. I’m really quite excited about this event and the book’s release because I believe it will be an eye-opener for many teens who believe that they cannot “make” it in a new country, far away from home. I hope it will inspire them to shoot for the moon! You can find more information about Mahtab at http://www.mahtabnarsimhan.com. You can also follow Mahtab on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mahtabnarsimhan.

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Monday
Mar082010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Thursday
Mar042010

Happy National Grammar Day!

You can find more info about the song here.

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Monday
Mar012010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in (1000, 500, 250 wds/day)

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

Click to read more ...