You have your last post up. Now what?
Now you can visit other blogs on the list!
But with over 1000 blogs to choose from,
Which blogs to visit? …
Here’s some suggestions to help you choose:
1. GIVEAWAY - J Lenni Dorner is running a bonus blog challenge each day this month. You could win an Amazon gift card plus ebook!
2. BEFORE AND AFTER - Find your name on the list. Then visit 3 blogs before and 3 blogs after you.
3. PICK YOUR NICHE – Pick a category and read 4 blogs in that category
Don’t forget to comment and link back to your blog, so they can return the visit!
Read the entire story (with some bonus content) of THE GREAT ALPHABET DISASTER here.
Read my past posts in the order I posted here.
Read my blog with most recent posts first here.
I hear that the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer said in some schools.
I see the our national symbols being trivialized and sold like cheap tourist attractions.
I notice that sometimes people don’t even stand during our National Anthem.
It was like our patriotism was immediately lulled back to sleep.
Well, I can’t just sit by and let it happen.
And this post is my call to all Americans (citizens of The United States) to action.
Will you help me?
3. Learn other patriotic songs, like
never be afraid to sing them in public settings.
This is our nation!
We have every right to be proud of it.
Every great book starts with an idea.
Ideas can come from anywhere.
Want to get some yourself?
1. Catch them from kids.
2. Squeeze them from adult books
3. Or join a community like PiBoIdMo.com (wink, wink)
I often post little stories on my blog, usually to enter a contest or participate in blog hops like the A to Z challenge. But I realize that none of these stories would work well as is. Here’s why:
1. Picture books a perfect marriage of words and illustration. When I’m writing a blog post, all the reader will have is my words, so I need to paint a picture with them. When I’m writing a picture book manuscript, I know a brilliant illustrator is going to paired with me in bring this story to life. I have to leave some room for him or her.
2. Blogs are not meant to be read in one sitting and picture books have no room for filler words. When I’m writing blog posts, I need to make sure each post is clear and triggers in the mind of the reader all the relevant posts before it. In picture books, however, word and idea echoes are not allowed. For example, if THE GREAT ALPHABET DISASTER were a picture book, every page would not be assigned a specific letter, and I’d only need to say once that LMNO and P were stuck together.
3. Picture books are meant for a young reader (and caring adult), but blogs are read primarily by adults. While I don’t write anything I couldn’t read to my kids, some of my more subtle humor would not belong in a picture book. For example, when H tells an “As You Know, Bob” or when the passive voice is used incessantly, I am figuratively winking to my writer audience who all understand how wrong that is.
All Places have flavor.
While you do not have to visit a place that the characters in your book are travelling to, you should have a sense of the flavor of that place.
San Francisco has a different feel to it from New York and Chicago, for example, even though all three are large cities.
Just as you want your diverse characters to be authentic, you also want your places to feel authentic. If rely heavily on stereotypes of a place, your place is going to feel as flat as characters that are full of tropes.
San Francisco is known for its Chinatown, Market District, and Lumbar Street. However, if you’ve never been to the city, you might not know about the pastel flamboyance that peeks out of business windows, or the unique experience you’ll have as you walk from point A to point B.
On a larger scale, each state and country has its own flavor as well. You might know about California’s Hollywood or Maine’s beaches, but you couldn’t truly capture the casual way Californians dress and talk or the special way people from Maine speak, unless you know someone who’s been there.
So, what is special about where you live? What flavors make it unique? Try to capture that as you write and build your setting in books.
And now, here’s the next installment of my story which takes place in the pages of an alphabet book.
From unicorns to mermaids, and dragons to dinosaurs, mythical creatures can be a wonderful hook in your picture book. But each creature is surrounded by mythology and cultural assumptions. You should always research the creatures before submitting a story that includes them. Why?
Because it’s Not about You
If you are writing a book meant for publication, then you are writing a book for your reader - not yourself. Your reader will likely be bringing assumptions about the mythical creatures you are writing into your story. If those creatures act out of character, then your reader will at best lose interest, and at worst be angry with you the author.
One of my picture books has a clumsy hydra in it. I showed how a hydra was a horrible pet because it kept growing a new head every time it bumped into something. One of my critique partners didn’t like this character because it was not true to the mythology. She didn’t think having the hydra be clumsy was believable, nor was it plausible to have a new head grow from a simple bump.
The Reader is Always Right
My critique partner was right! I shouldn't have a hydra that doesn't match its mythological background without explanation.
But I couldn’t have my hydra’s heads get chopped off in front of my 5-8 year-old target reader. My solution was to make the appearance of new heads a mystery and leave it up to reader to decide how it happened.
This trick is used by Jon Klassen in This is Not My Hat. The reader gets to decide whether the little fish got eaten or somehow got away.
OK, that’s all I have to say about that. Onto the next installment of THE GREAT ALPHABET DISASTER.
This is a fun game to help think about words. The way you play is to pick two four letter words and try to get from one word to the other by changing only one letter at a time. For example to get from LEAF to WIND:
Or to get from WORK to PLAY
There are words that probably can’t get from one to the other, but I haven’t yet found one. Although, some take longer to get from one to another.
Why am I doing this?
Silly word games like that help you think about words, how they are spelled, and how they sound, and whether they are real. In an indirect way, they help you write better.
Clang, BEEP, Ahoooga! and other words that stand for sounds are onomatopoeia. Even if you don’t know the word, using sound words is a great trick for picture book writers – as long as you don’t overuse it.
Even onomatopoeia has to have a reason for being in your picture book. Will the moment still be as strong (or stronger) without it? Try deleting the word and see.
Well, my rant was short today! Onto the next installment of THE GREAT ALPHABET DISASTER
Here I'll help with some onomatopoeia:
Almost since there was television, there have been shows that teach children about science. Here are the ones I have enjoyed (some via the magic of Youtube) –
Magic School Bus First Aired 1994, Scholastic claims it is the longest running science series ever.
During the early 2000's TV shows began teaching science to younger viewers. Two examples:
While the younger audience still enjoys TV shows, it seems the older audience has moved to the internet. Two web-based shows worthy of mention are
What is your favorite children's science show? Let me know in the Comments!
When two (or more) types of text exist on the same page, the picture book has layered text. Perhaps a story or poem about a nonfiction topic and additional facts about that topic as a sidebar. Or maybe there are two stories intermingling like a dual melody creating interesting music.
Why Layer Text?
Layered text takes a lot of information and breaks it up into bite-sized pieces.
Readers on multiple levels can enjoy the book. The younger reader and pre-readers might just be interested in the story parts, while the older reader will be able to use the book in their research projects.
Unlike textbooks with paragraphs of fact after fact (in complete sentences), picture books with layered text help the reader’s retention and comprehension by grounding those facts into something more relatable.
Word Count Rules
Most editors and agents will advise a new writer to keep their word count below 500 in picture books. However, picture books with layered text follow different rules. While the main story should still be around 300 words (ideally), the ‘call outs’ or other layered text can add another 500 (or more) words. It’s acceptable to separate the main word count and call outs in your manuscript to show an understanding of word count rules.