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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 ......

PICTURE BOOKS!

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??

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Wow....  things are progressing - I hope that's a good thing!  Part of me feels like I'm in a whirlwind but another part is very excited and motivated.

The blog is doing well.  Today will be my 128th  post and I have over 80 followers.  I'm still enjoying the writing though cramming the time in every day to work on future posts is sometimes daunting - but feels so natural and good! I really must figure out how to make it all work and not be so stressful - and still have time for other things I enjoy like spending time with my family!

I've been doing quite a bit of reading on the craft - though it's hard to drag myself away from the fiction books I love - Doctor Sleep is calling my name and of course I have Laurie Halse Anderson's newest book lying here begging to be opened!  What I've read has encouraged me to learn more and become a part of the whole social media thing.  I started this blog as an outlet for my desire to write and to feel like I was at least working on the goal of being a writer - little did I know that blogs and other social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) can actually assist one in making a platform if one becomes a published author.  So I've joined Twitter as well - I keep that mostly for following other writers - and am trying to learn the ropes of that and everything else!

In the meantime, and probably the greater of it all - I have signed on to Shannon Abercrombie's  Start The Year Off Write Challenge of 2014  as well as Julie  Hedlund's 12 x 12!  I am really excited to be doing these!  Shannon gives out a writing assignment each day for 21 days while Julie's Group is a HUGE challenge to write 12 PB manuscripts in 12 months and involves a big group of PB authors - also giving us an opportunity to really get to know one another and offer a ton of support and inspiration!

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to dish out the money to join the Silverstein group of 12 x 12.... but I've decided to face it... I'm not 21 anymore (no matter how many "It's your 21st Birthday Cards my dear husband has given me - thank you dear) ....  If I'm going to do this, the time is now to BEGIN and begin strong!  So Shel Silverstein and Julie Hedlund, here I come!  Everybody wish me luck and PRAY!!!!

Who else is out there with me for Start The Year Off Write and 12x12??