Welcome to DAY SIX of NAPIBOWRIWEE! It’s National Picture Book Writing Week, blah blah blah, we’re trying to write 7 picture books in 7 days, etc. etc. Oh go here for all the FAQs: https://paulayoo.com/napi/?p=474
Sorry. Do I sound cranky or grumpy? LOL! 🙂 😛 I’m just SUPER TIRED. I think I have had maybe three hours sleep in the past five days. How is everyone else doing?
The strange thing is that despite the lack of sleep, I’m still having fun. 🙂 I’m excited that I MIGHT have 7 drafts done by the final day. Who knows if ANY of these drafts will end up becoming a submission-ready picture book for my book agent, but at least I’ve got some pages to work with! It’s better than NOTHING. Which again is the WHOLE POINT of this event – it’s to encourage us all to KEEP WRITING and to actually FINISH DRAFTS. 🙂
For fun, I would suggest everyone who is a writer to try and create a picture book dummy for Day Six. See if you can write your Book No. 6 as a picture book dummy. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw at all. Stick figures are fine. But see if you can create a picture book dummy. This might be a fun and fresh way to write your latest draft.
For more info on how to create a picture book dummy, go here:
I also recommend this link as well:
(PS. If you already ARE an illustrator/artist and you make picture book dummies all the time, I would suggest you do the opposite. Why not just WRITE a picture book manuscript with NO pictures and no layouts? Try a simple double-spaced Word document of text ONLY. (Which is what us only-writers do anyway.) Keep the word count to 1000 words or less.)
I’m curious to see what everyone comes up with today if you attempt the picture book dummy layout for Day 6! 🙂
And now some updates on my own progress…
MY DAY FIVE EXPERIENCE: I woke up on Sunday and had absolutely NOTHING TO DO. For the first time in several weeks. No book deadlines. No TV meetings to prepare for. So what did I do?
This picture pretty much sums it up…
Yeah. That’s right. I SLEPT! I SLEPT IN LATE! I DIDN’T WAKE UP UNTIL AFTER 10 AM! HA!
It was like a typical Sunday morning in college when I would sleep until noon and then shuffle over to the cafeteria for food. LOL! 🙂
But boy did I need that sleep. And you know what? Sometimes we HAVE to sleep in order for our subconscious to gestate all the ideas floating around in our heads. I’m being very serious here. I have learned that over the years. Sometimes, it’s best just to walk away from the computer and take a real nap. Get some serious REM sleep going. Let your subconscious gestate – it’s like putting your laptop to sleep mode. 😉 When you wake up, suddenly you might have a solution to a creative writing problem or a brand new idea might pop into your head.
Like the idea that popped into my head when I woke up after 10 AM. Okay, really, I woke up after 11 AM. 😛 But the thought that popped into my head was an idea for another non-fiction book. I realized no one has done a biography on this person, and realized… this could be a great idea for another LEE & LOW book! So I spent most of Sunday researching this historical figure and putting together a rough outline. Then I had to think about what would be a great opening scene. With children’s picture book biographies, which is my specialty, you usually try to start with an important incident or event that happens in the person’s childhood that is a turning point for him/her, something that inspires them to take those first steps on their journey to becoming an important person who contributes something to our society.
Once I came upon the perfect setting, I started writing. I wrote a very very VERY rough draft with a lot of notes to “get extra details here” etc. I still need to do more research, but by cobbling together this rough draft and finishing it, I realized this could definitely work as a future submission for publishers. But it’s going to take a LONG time to deepen this first draft and take it to the next level. But I was pleased with what I had done so far.
Again, I haven’t had time to respond individually to comments, but I’m reading them all and may write a few comments later this week, so stay tuned. I’m soooooo proud of everyone. You guys are doing a fantastic job. KEEP IT UP! And remember, we’re having a contest where lucky winners will receive autographed books from me and some of our guest authors plus souvenirs from our store (http://www.cafepress.com/napibowriwee2013)! (Winners will be posted on May 8th in a future blog.)
In the meantime, let’s welcome author TANIA MCCARTNEY (http://www.taniamccartney.com) for Day Six. She will answer our Q&A on The Future of the Picture Book in today’s guest blog. Please comment on her blog today and/or also update us on your progress for Day 6!
(Keep reading after the jump for our guest blog with TANIA MCCARTNEY!)
GUEST BLOG – DAY SIX – TANIA MCCARTNEY
TANIA MCCARTNEY is an author of both children’s and adults books. An experienced magazine writer and editor, she has written for many online sites and hard copy magazines. She also founded Kids Book Review in 2009, one of the most respected children’s literature sites on the web. An ACT Ambassador for the National Year of Reading (2012), Tania is passionate about literacy and has spent many years, presenting and speaking to children and adults on reading, books and writing. Her latest books include BEIJING TAI TAI: LIFE, LAUGHTER AND MOTHERHOOD IN CHINA’S CAPITAL (Exisle Publishing) and RILEY AND THE GRUMPY WOMBAT: A JOURNEY AROUND MELBOURNE (Ford Street Publishing). In 2013, she has four new releases for children, including the next book in the Riley series, set in Canberra.
Tania adores books, travel, photography and marshmallows. She lives in Canberra with her husband and two kids, in a paper house at the base of a book mountain. For more info, please go here: www.taniamccartney.com & www.kids-bookreview.com
Q&A ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE PICTURE BOOK WITH TANIA MCCARTNEY
QUESTION: Do you think the rise in popularity for the eBook will help or hurt the future of the picture book? For writers, when you work on a new book, do you think about how it will “read” on an eBook reader as well? Does that affect how you write your book?
ANSWER: I don’t think ebooks stand a chance in affecting the future of the picture book. A recent study here in Australia showed what I’ve known all along – parents and children are simply not happy to curl up in bed at the end of a long day and flick through an ebook. Books are living, breathing entities with heart and soul – their weight in the hand, the feel of the page as it turns, the colour and vibrancy – it’s a joy. Ebooks are wonderful for sparkle and interactivity, but they lack the soul of real books. My own children have sensational books in both ebook and real book format – and I have to say they have never once re-read an ebook. The virtually endless repeat read rate for real books says it all.
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: Although I’m not a book retailer, I personally haven’t seen a decline in the picture book market, at least not in Australia. It seems more PBs than ever are being published. As founder of Kids Book Review, some of our favourite books are PBs and I can’t imagine parents abandoning them for early reader chapter books (many of which are illustrated, anyway). Picture books are vital for children (both younger and older children) because they harness and develop the imagination. They are filled with nuance. They intimate meaning and emotion in ways words never can. We all know a picture paints a thousand words – a picture book paints countless words. Picture books encourage children to dive in, to become part of the story, and to immerse themselves between the lines. They are also absolutely vital for anyone who struggles to read or who has processing issues. For these children, PBs may be the only way to have them fall in love with books (and therefore encourage later reading).
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: I would say that the picture book market is never going to go away. I think this ‘blip’ is temporary. As we explore and welcome new, high-tech ways to publish and enjoy books, we will eventually hit a rhythm that feels true to us, and PBs will once again rise to the top (as does any type of cream). Just as the ‘demise’ of so many of life’s pleasures – going to the movies, barista coffee, magazines – never came to pass (good try, DVDs, instant coffee, the internet – oh, and let’s not forget the ‘paperless office’), PBs are not going anywhere – and someone will need to author them. So, PB authors should not give up – but they should also ensure they are up-to-date, market-savvy and writing in ways that explore new themes and forms. Like any oversaturated market, you’ll only stand out if you’re original.
QUESTION: What challenges do you face as a published author f 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: I haven’t noticed a change in my career at all – in fact, I’ve achieved more contracts in the past three years (when the children’s market supposedly fell) than ever. I do feel the kids’ market has fared far better than the adult market because parents and schools will always buy books for children, but I’m confident it will continue to improve right across the board (especially if readers support independent books stores and stop buying books for pennies at wholesale sites). What I have noticed is that industry people have pulled closer together than ever before – we are there for each other, and it’s really helped buoy spirits and keep things afloat. I haven’t noticed a difference in what readers want – they just want great stories and books that inspire, but it’s always been like that. In terms of what publishers want – I think things have definitely changed. In order to (most understandably) keep companies afloat by making sales, marketing teams and book distributors now have a say in what’s published and I do believe market quality has suffered enormously for that. Great editors have also lost footing (cost-cutting) and that’s the greatest tragedy of all.
QUESTION: Any final words of advice or any epiphanies you would like to share with us about your own writing/art journey?
ANSWER: I have such passion for, and great confidence in, the children’s book industry, both here in Australia and overseas. I think great children’s books are the foundation for reading skills in the very young, as reading is a key to life. These past few years have been tough in the book industry overall but then perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, as it weeds out the stayers from the players. Because of the vital nature of PBs, having stayers (those who are in it for a deep love of children and literature) run the industry can only be a good thing. A very good thing, indeed.
Thanks again to Tania McCartney for answering our Q&A for Day Six!
Tune in tomorrow by 6 AM (West Coast Time) for our Day Seven Blog featuring picture book author/illustrator ERIN EITTER KONO (http://www.eekono-illustration.com) (Remember to visit here on May 8th as well for our Contest Winner blog plus one last author Q&A.)
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! 🙂