The first time I submitted a manuscript, it was rejected within 24 hours. “This story is more instructional than engaging,” the editor said, and went on to suggest that it would make a great article. I was dismayed and confused. I thought I had written a story that hit all the notes of a good picture book. I wondered where I had gone wrong.
I reached out to a colleague who used to be a children’s book agent. “Your main character has no agency,” he pointed out. “If your main character has a problem and someone else solves it, then he’s not really your main character.” My mind was sufficiently blown. As soon as he said it, I saw it so clearly! After a lifetime of reading and exploring picture books, how could I have missed that?
Whether it’s a novelty book or a picture book, an interactive element (e.g., flip tabs, spinners, sliders, touch/feel textures, etc.) can give your book an extra level of engagement. But how do you decide if your book should have interactive elements?
Coming from a paper engineering background (i.e., I make pop-up cards), I really wanted to include some kind of interactive element in my first book. When you decide to include something interactive, there’s a special kind of dance that happens.
Join us on Thursday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m. for a webinar with Patricia Toht titled “Let’s Get Rhyming!” Despite what some may insist, it’s not a crime to write in rhyme! But it does take effort to master your verse. Join author and Rhyme Doctor Patricia Toht as she shares her new releases, Together With You and Pick a Perfect Egg, along with other wonderful books in rhyme, and reveals key elements that make them shine. The price will be $12 for SCBWI members.
Before attending Henry Lien’s Creative Toolbox Workshop in January, I wasn’t much of a workshop person. I’ve got a theatre (with an “re”) degree. I’ve studied all the great playwrights from the inside out—meaning I’ve played their characters, and there is no better teacher about what works and what doesn’t than a live audience. I have written screenplays. I’ve won awards for TV and film. I have books published with glowing reviews. I have earned my snobbish attitude!
But I’ve also been locked inside for two years, like the rest of us, so any chance to see another person face-to-face is a joy these days. Also, I know Henry. Author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy/adventure series, he sat on a panel I put together for L.A. Comic Con. He’s a really nice guy, so I should go wave the flag of the SCBWI-L.A. board, right?
There is nothing more scary than a blank screen. Starting a new novel from scratch is more terrifying than any roller coaster in any amusement park anywhere in the world.
That’s why I avoid an empty page.
Instead, I’m a great believer in germination. Instead of starting from bare earth, I plant the tiniest of ideas, giving them time to take root and put up shoots. I never know which seeds will fully blossom, but I’m willing to be surprised.
Disability is everywhere, sometimes hidden, sometimes unmistakable. Disabled people make up the largest and most diverse minority group in the world. So—yes—disability should be abundant in our children’s literature as well. But is “bad” (i.e., inaccurate, inauthentic, insensitive) representation better than no representation at all?
As calendar year 2022 winds to a close, here are some things I have noticed this season: friends and family gathering together more frequently, people traveling for vacations, and folks going out to the movies again.
Do you sense it, too? That life in general has recovered some of its vivid color? And that our own—and our community’s—creative focus has reawakened?
Call it a holiday gift. (It is!) But renewed spirit has also been a trend all year long. Read or re-read these 10 favorite quotes and stories from Kites Tales 2022 to see—and to get ready for a “trending terrific” 12 months ahead.