Congratulations to Barbara Younger who was last week's winner of Emily Pearce's book, Isabel and the Miracle Baby. By the way, for those of you who are in the middle of that interesting/challenging/unavoidable time of your life called menopause, Barbara runs a fun and informative blog on the subject!
In this second blog featuring my guest instructors, Tameka Brown shares some advice with my Writing for Children class at Central Piedmont Community College.
Tameka is a FTM (full time mother) who started writing picture books because she enjoyed reading them with her three daughters. She studied the craft, joined SCBWI, and published her first book Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day in 2010. That was followed by My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood in 2013 which received the prestigious Charlotte Zolotow Honor award. Read more about how Tameka developed this book which shows a day's worth of emotions, in my previous blog about her. She currently has another picture book out on submission and is mulling around other projects.
- For picture book writers, sometimes getting an agent is tougher than getting a publisher. She and her agent, Jennifer Rofe at Andrea Brown Literary, sent out Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day for a year before it was purchased by Abrams.
- Bed time stories allow children to use their imagination as they come up with the pictures which accompany the stories.
- Young children practice pre-reading and fine motor skills as they pinch, grasp, and turn pages.
- Publishers want books that children will pick up on their own-not just because their parents have picked it.
- A good illustrator will dovetail his work with the author's. They'll add another layer of meaning to the book. For example, Shane Evans added gray swirls that showed Jamie's emotions when his mood turns black. (see sample illustrations by clicking on "Look Inside" here.)
- Many picture books are character driven (like the Fancy Nancy series) but so far, Tameka's books have been more literary, focusing on language and using free verse to tell her stories.
- A moral should be written into a story so that the child draws it out herself. Stories should have a takeaway which shows the character's solving a problem herself and/or her growth.
- Even if your book is first in a series, market it as an individual title. It needs to be able to stand alone.
- As writers we need to make personal connections to our story. More than including details of real events from our lives, we want to insert the emotions we've experienced that may be universal to our readers.
- When you're asked if you are willing to revise, the answer should always be "Yes!" Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day started out as an ABC book--but didn't end up that way!
To win an autographed copy of My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood, please leave me a comment by April 25. Open to U.S. addresses only. Share this on your social media of choice or become a new follower and I'll enter your name twice!