I've been really behind in reading and writing about this book.  My last posts on chapter one and chapter two were quite some time ago.  I've been meaning to get back to it, but it wpid-img_20140707_061624_888.jpgremains sitting on my desk, not far from this computer, and gathering dust.  I've been reminded of it in updating my book list and in my recent endeavor of getting a professional critique on one of my favorite manuscripts.  The author doing the critique actually suggested reading it...so....

Thus, I've pulled it out, dusted it off and reviewed chapter three - well , really reread the whole thing since it's been so long since reading it.

Chapter three in Ann's book is on telling the story.  Interesting that Ann has told me in this book that just like I change my outfits, I can change my story by telling it in different ways- just like the published author told me I could change my story in my current favorite manuscript!  One of those ways is simply by changing the narrative voice - first, second, or third person.  Most picture books are told in the third person narrative.  Ann spends a lot of time in this chapter making sure the reader understands and can identify point of view - and then challenges us to take a story and write it in another point of view.

I'm about to take this manuscript that I have worked on for several months and change it from first person POV to third person POV.  I do think this will help - just not sure I'll like it but I need to give it a real shot.... time to get cracking.

Do you have a story that you have changed the POV?  What happened?




Back in January I wrote about Chapter One of Writing Picture Books: A Hand's On Guide wpid-IMG_20140228_091607_740.jpgfrom Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul.  This month (besides dodging kidney stones, visiting my Mom, and doing the famous 'wearing too many hats and I'm going to topple right over dance' among other things)I've been working on chapter 2 of Ann's book.

In Chapter 2, Ann reminds us that a story must have depth that resonates with both the adult reader, who makes the purchase, and the child listener.  It is critical for each story to have a question - an absolute focus, if you will.  Not a question that is obviously written out in the story itself - mind you - but a question that you, as the writer, keeps in mind to keep your story tight and on track.  Read more about this in Ann's book!

This month's (chapter) assignment:  I must (and did) write the story question (and answer) for my manuscript.  Then I must (and did) see if someone agrees with me....good thing I belong to SCBWI and 12 x 12.... these two groups made finding someone with an unbiased opinion quite easy!  Both of the people who looked over my piece came up with very similar questions and answers to my own, so I feel I'm at least on target with that!

Even though I'm only starting the third chapter, I really feel this is a good book on writing and I feel I've already learned a great deal.

Do YOU know the "Question" for your current writing piece?  Is it hard for you to keep that question in mind while writing and revising or do you tend to meander away from it?  How do you keep yourself on track?

Shannon Abercrombie's Start The Year Off Write Challenge came to an 'end' last Saturday, January 25th. The challenge consisted of 21 prompts or writing exercises to kick-start the new year of writing for children's writers, though many of the prompts could be used by students and adults of other genres as well. Shannon is offering prizes to the participants but those have not been announced yet.

I completed each of the 21 prompts. Some took more time than others. A few were definitely more difficult than others and some left me feeling much more satisfied and full

I wrote my prompt assignments out in here...along with a couple new 'ideas' for January....
I wrote my prompt assignments out in here...along with a couple new 'ideas' for January....

of ideas than others. But all were wonderful exercises for the writing mind!  If you haven't participated and want to see what all the fuss was about, Shannon has a list of the lovely talents involved along with links to their websites and prompts on her webpage!  Check them out here.

I loved that some of them gave me further ideas to develop the ideas I had during PiBoIdMo! I took one of them and developed it into a manuscript - albeit in VERY rough draft form! (I can actually thank Tara Lazar for that particular idea from prompt #8 ~ Title Talk~!)

So now what??

Well, now that the 21 day challenge is over I'll be spending more time with Ann Whitford Paul within the pages of her book on Writing Picture Books and on the forums over at 12 x 12! I am also hoping that a critique group that I signed up for might begin as I'm really itching for some feedback on a manuscript I'm working on about my patron saint.  I'm also looking forward to a little self-writer's- retreat that my husband is giving me -  a couple of days away so I can just totally catch up on some reading and writing without the daily interruptions of life - might try to catch up on some sleep too!  But I'm really looking forward to uninterrupted writing time 🙂

Tell me - what are my other writer friends up to these days?? How are you keeping going after the challenge?


My husband got me some books for my birthday back in December, one of which was Ann Whitford Paul's well-known and recommended Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Since I'm using this as a major tool on developing my writing 'career',  I've decided to journal about my progress through this book.

Product Details

Ann Whitford Paul is a picture book author. She has authored several well-known titles -  Hello Toes, Hello Feet; Eight Hands Round - A Patchwork Alphabet, and Fiesta Fiasco to name a few.  She realizes, as do other picture book authors, that writing picture books does take a unique set of skills and a working knowledge of children and their parents!

Chapter One of Ann's book is titled 'Becoming a Picture Book Scholar'.  Besides setting down the basics of picture books such as manuscript length and age ranges, Ms. Paul covers some important concepts of the average picture book audience.  I enjoyed her advice to remember that children live in the present.  I know myself all too well of her example  of the child continuously asking, "Are we there yet?" on a long trip. This concept and knowledge of children's  strong emotions, short attention spans, rich imaginations and others are important to have a grasp on when writing for children.

In addition to becoming very aware of these concepts, a picture book writer MUST be familiar with ......


Ms. Paul ends each chapter with hands-on assignments and of course the most important one for this chapter and the others is to keep reading picture books.  Being a mother of a 3 1/2 year old makes this one really easy for me.  Our trips to the library are frequent and well spent.  We load up with 12-15 books per trip!

I've made a list of some I'd like to look for next time including an abundant amount of titles suggested by Ann Whitford Paul throughout chapter one and chapter two(I glanced ahead!).  Some of those titles include:  If Animals Kissed Goodnight by David Walker, Old Turtles by Douglas Wood, and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban.

I enjoy going to the library with my little guy although sometimes it's nice to go without him so I can browse more without worrying about his whereabouts. Like I said, we usually end up with about 12-15 books but the last time we went I had a big list for us and he decided to add quite a few to the pile!  I sometimes experience frustration because I usually can't find all that's on my list in one visit.  I guess that's good though; it means other kids are reading!

In addition to reading about writing picture books, I've been working on several manuscripts.  I actually have started three new fiction manuscripts since doing PiBoIdMo back in November and one non-fiction manuscript (that one is on an Orthodox Saint).  I'm also still revising an older manuscript that I started several years ago.

I've also joined in the Start Write Challenge  (which is over tomorrow) and  a picture book writer's group called 12 x 12.  It's on a blog by Julie Hedlund and it's focused on getting 12 PB manuscripts started in 12 months.... NOT manuscripts that are ready for submission..... 12 drafts and I think this is something I need to help me stay focused on writing.  I'm sure to  write more about that as time goes on.  I love the forum and am hoping to form a nice strong critique group!  I need critique friends!!

So I'm definitely staying busy!      What are you working on??