Welcome to DAY THREE of NAPIBOWRIWEE! Did you do it? Did you write 2 picture books in 2 days? Well, congratulations if you did! Let’s see if you keep up the pace for Day 3! For those of you who are still struggling with Book 1 or already falling behind – don’t despair! You’ve still got five days left to catch up! Keep the faith!
For those of you visiting for the first time, NaPiBoWriWee stands for National Picture Book Writing Week, where we attempt to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I started this event five years ago for fun. 🙂 As a reminder, here’s the 2013 NAPIBOWRIWEE FAQs in case you have any questions or concerns:
In the meantime, if you’re already getting stressed out, here’s something to make you laugh! Here’s a fun video I did with Scholastic editor (Arthur A. Levine Books) and author ARTHUR A. LEVINE. Fellow SCBWI partner-in-crime/writer LEE WIND filmed us doing this video for a past SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) conference. The theme of the video? SCBWI Conference Tip: Try Not to Piss Off An Editor…
Lesson learned! 🙂
MY DAY TWO EXPERIENCE: Today was insanely busy again. Basically my entire week has been filled with a billion meetings for my “day” job as a TV writer/producer. Plus I attended my dear friend JORDANNA FRAIBERG‘s book launch party for her latest YA novel OUR SONG (Razorbill 2013). (Please check out her books here: http://jordannafraiberg.com). I had a blast with Jordanna and her cool writer friends. I also met a fellow TV writer/producer and novelist DAVID IVERSON (http://davidiserson.tumblr.com) whose YA novel FIRECRACKER comes out this month, too! And to top it off, I met the famous ALAN WATT who is the author/teacher of the amazing THE 90-DAY NOVEL workshop books and classes that I highly recommend you check out: http://lawriterslab.com
So by the time I got home, it was after 10 PM! Because of yesterday’s experience where I realized my picture book was really a chapter book in disguise, I decided to just relax, have fun and come up with a simple story off the top of my head. Because I was a TV writer/producer on SyFy’s EUREKA and am a total Star Trek geek, I thought – why not try a sci fi picture book? And out of nowhere, by midnight… voila! Really crappy first draft! But at least I have a working draft I can go back and really flesh out. 🙂 YAY!
So far I’m two for two. Let’s hope I can keep this up on Friday. (NOTE: I will be out for most of the day on Friday, so please be patient if your comment does not get “approved” on this website for a few hours because I will once again be stuck in L.A. traffic. :P)
Now… on to DAY THREE! Today’s guest blog Q&A about the Future of the Picture Book is with children’s book author VARSHA BAJAJ (http://varshabajaj.com) She will donate an autographed copy of her book, HOW MANY KISSES DO YOU WANT TONIGHT? (illustrated by Ivan Bates) for our NAPIBOWRIWEE 2013 contest drawing. Thank you, Varsha, for your kind donation!
(Please keep reading after the jump for our interview with Varsha Bajaj!)
GUEST BLOG – DAY THREE – VARSHA BAJAJ
VARSHA BAJAJ grew up in Mumbai, India. She was an avid reader as a child, devouring books by Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Jane Austen, and P.G. Wodehouse. She came to America in 1986 as a graduate student. She earned her master’s degree and became a counselor. She started writing after getting married and having two children. Her picture books include HOW MANY KISSES DO YOU WANT TONIGHT? (illustrated by Ivan Bates), which she will donate an autographed copy for the 2013 NAPIBOWRIWEE contest drawing. “This book will hopefully be read by children and their parents for a long long time,” she says. “It is interactive and an unabashed statement of love for the child.” Her other picture book, T IS FOR TAJ MAHAL: AN INDIAN ALPHABET (illustrated by Robert Crawford), is part of a series of books by Sleeping Bear Press that takes kids on a voyage to different parts of the world. Her middle grade novel, PASSAGE TO BOLLYWOOD, will be published in Spring 2014 by Albert Whitman & Co. She has also sold a book to Nancy Paulsen at Nancy Paulsen books. Varsha says, “I could not be more excited. Nancy is the best and I am both eager and intimidated to work with her. “Our Baby” is a story about the birth of a baby elephant. It’s a celebration of life and community.”
Q&A ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE PICTURE BOOK WITH VARSHA BAJAJ
QUESTION: There have been many “Boy Who Cried Wolf” articles in the media recently about how picture book sales have declined as anxious parents try to push their students into reading chapter books instead. Why is it important for children to read picture books? What makes a picture book special as well as important for a child’s educational growth?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, many parents equate the number of words or the length of the story with its level of complexity. Picture books are so much more than the sum of their words. They are a springboard for ideas and conversations. They are possibly a child’s first introduction to humor and a joke. Rhyming picture books are an early introduction to patterns, poetry, reading and literacy.
QUESTION: Many aspiring picture book writers are discouraged by the doom-n-gloom reports of the declining book industry (Big Six mergers, lower sales of picture books, more emphasis on the writer-illustrator as opposed to the solo writer). What words of encouragement would you give to these aspiring newbies to NOT give up?
ANSWER: Picture books are tough to write, and the market is even tougher. So, you cannot afford to be easily discouraged. Picture book writing is not for the faint of heart. So be sure you love picture books and if you do, more power to you!! The club awaits you.
QUESTION: What challenges do you face as a published author of picture books in these volatile times of the publishing industry? Have you noticed a change in your career in terms of what agents/editors/readers want?
ANSWER: Few agents accept writers who write primarily picture books. Author-illustrators seem to be preferred. Some of my favorite picture books though are a product of an amazing writer-illustrator team. I love Doreen Cronin, Jane O’Connor, Liz Scanlon Garton.
QUESTION: Any final words of advice or any epiphanies you would like to share with us about your own writing/art journey?
ANSWER: It is just that, a journey, full of twists and turns. From the first seed of an idea to a finished manuscript can take years or months. Picture books have so few words that each one has to earn its place and I love the process of choosing the right word and constructing the right group of words to convey the plethora of emotions that make the best books meaningful. Picture books have to appeal to both the adult reading the book and the child being read to and that is the biggest challenge.
Thanks again to Varsha Bajaj for answering our Q&A for Day Three!
In the meantime, good luck writing today. Please post any comments below for today’s blog with your thoughts, questions, and writing updates. You can follow me on Twitter @paulayoo. Please feel free to use this HASHTAG – #NaPiBoWriWee
I’m off to write! Until tomorrow’s blog, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂