Thank you, Tara Lazar

The 7th annual Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) came to a close yesterday and I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the challenge.

I’d also like to thank Tara Lazar, the PiBoIdMo founder and organizer. For those who don’t know, Tara spends countless hours each summer and fall lining up guest posts, contacting agents for prizes, organizing a Cafe Press store (where she donates all proceeds to Reading Is Fundamental – RIF), moderating registration, managing the PiBoIdMo Facebook Group, sorting out and awarding prizes, and probably a dozen more things I don’t even know about.

She does this all for us. PiBoIdMo is completely free. For everyone.

And while all of this work does give Tara’s books some exposure, that exposure doesn’t count for much unless we, the PiBoIdMo participants, take action.

So this holiday season, I encourage everyone to purchase at least one (or more) of Tara’s books, all of which are terrific favorites in my family. If not for yourself, then perhaps as a gift for a child in your life or your local library or school.

While I am a strong supporter of independent book stores (see yesterday’s post), I’ll make it easy for you:

Little Red Gliding Hood

(under $11 at press time)

little red gliding hood

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


I Thought This Was a Bear Book

i thought this was a bear book

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


The Monstore

the monstore

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Normal Norman

(available for pre-order only, releases 3/1/2016)

normal norman

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Two for You

See the four for you above.

My PiBoIdMo Post: Do Your Worst

Quick note: My 2015 PiBoIdMo Post Josh Funk Dares You to Do Your Worst went live yesterday. I encourage everyone to check it out and if you register for PiBoIdMo and comment on the page, you’ll be eligible to win some Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast swag (see image below):

swaggg

Registration for PiBoIdMo is now open (click here) but it’s only open for TWO MORE DAYS! So register now if you want to have a chance at winning any of the giveaways (literary agent consultations, books, swag, etc) throughout the month.

Two for You

1. Stone Giant written by Jane Sutcliffe and illustrated by John Shelley

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Enthralling story of how Michaelangelo’s David came to be.

2. Hiding Dinosaurs written and illustrated by Dan Moynihan

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Boy hatches dinosaur eggs. Hilarity ensues.

7th Annual Picture Book Idea Month Is Here!

PiBoIdMo 2015 Calendar

Why is November 1st one of my all-time favorite days of the year?

No, it’s not my wife’s birthday! (or is it?)

November 1st is the start of Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)! According to the FAQ (found here), “PiBoIdMo is a free November writing challenge for picture book writers and illustrators. The object is to jot down one picture book concept daily. By the end of the month you’ll have at least 30 bright & shiny new ideas! You can then refer to these ideas throughout the year to jumpstart your creativity and write new manuscripts.”

Registration for PiBoIdMo is now open (click here)! It’s free and it’s awesome. Every day throughout November a different author or illustrator will post on Tara’s blog in order to inspire and ignite your creativity. I posted last year (see here) and I’ll be posting this year again (on November 2nd!). Here’s the calendar for the entire month:

pibocalendar

What a lineup, eh? And what a logo! PiBoIdMo founder and organizer Tara Lazar works tirelessly every fall to organize this event.  And today happens to be the book birthday for her third picture book, Little Red Gliding Hood. So let’s give Tara a hearty congratulations! I’d also like to congratulate Little Red Gliding Hood illustrator (and PiBoIdMo 2015 Artwork Creator), Troy Cummings.

tara lazar

Congrats to Tara & Troy!

And as I do at the conclusion of every blog post, here are two recommendations for you:

Two for You (Tara Lazar Edition)

1. The Monstore written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks

monstore

Just in time for Halloween, pick up this family favorite, Tara Lazar’s debut!

2. I Thought This Was a Bear Book written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Benji Davies

i thought this was a bear book

Alien crashes into a bear book. Hilarity ensues. Meta at its finest!

Josh Funk’s Guide to Writing Picture Books (in 12 easy steps)

Yesterday I updated my official website (joshfunkbooks.com) to include a new Resources for Writers section.

Josh Funk's 12 Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

For those of you that have been following this blog for a while, those 12 lessons may look familiar. I took my Tips for Writing Picture Books series and reorganized it a bit to make it a little cleaner and available all in one place.

See all of Josh Funk’s 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

Lesson #1: So, You Wrote a Book. Now What?
Lesson #2: Picture Books Are Short
Lesson #3: Every Word Counts
Lesson #4: The Illustrator Is Your Partner
Lesson #5: Show Don’t Tell
Lesson #6: Write with Active Emotion
Lesson #7: Story Arc Components
Lesson #8: Don’t Write In Rhyme
Lesson #9: Rhyming Is All About Rhythm
Lesson #10: Some Ideas Don’t Work
Lesson #11: Keep Learning
Lesson #12: Now You’re Ready! Dive In!

I hope that these lessons help any prospective picture book authors, as it’s basically a massive brain dump of things I’ve learned in the last ~4 years.

Feel free to share – and enjoy!

My Official Picture Book Idea Month Post Is Now Available!

Just a quick note to the four of you who read my blog. My Official PiBoIdMo post is up at Tara Lazar’s website. I even snuck in two new previously unreleased sketches from Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast (by illustrator Brendan Kearney). Or is it sneaked? Is snuck even a word? It has that dastardly red jagged line underneath it! The word snuck/sneaked definitely causes problems for a rhymer.

joshfunk_pibo_prize

Also, I’m giving away FIVE signed books from my critique family over at my post: THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL by Kirsti Call, REX WRECKS IT! by Ben Clanton, MONSTER NEEDS A CHRISTMAS TREE by Paul Czajak, RUTH THE SLEUTH AND THE MESSY ROOM by Carol Gordon Ekster, and ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER by Jane Sutton.

Happy PiBoIdMo Day #12.

PiBoIdMo Is Coming

November is Picture Book Idea Month. If you’re a picture book writer, you should definitely be signed up. And if you’ve ever thought about maybe considering the possibility of potentially becoming an aspiring picture book writer, you should sign up as well. (You can join the party here – it’s free)

What is Picture Book Idea Month? PiBoIdMo (for short) is a November writing challenge for picture book writers and illustrators. The object is to jot down one picture book concept daily. By the end of the month you’ll have at least 30 bright & shiny new ideas to jump-start your creativity and write new manuscripts throughout the year.

Every day in November, author Tara Lazar (founder of PiBoIdMo and weekend clerk at The Monstore) has a different guest blogger lined up to give some insight and hopefully inspire all of us writers. Check out this year’s calendar:

piboidmo2014calendar1

(pay close attention Wednesday, November 12th)

There are loads of prizes (signed book giveaways, agent critiques, and more).  It’s like a month long online party! Don’t be late!

So get your pens, notebooks, and brains ready to be inspired!

Tips for Writing Picture Books: Keep Learning

It’s important to know ONE thing: You don’t know EVERYthing. So …

Keep Learning

I debated on whether to call this post Find the Right Critique Partners or Be the Worst … and Learn from People Better than You. I think there are a couple points I want to touch on regarding progression with your craft.

First, you don’t have to do it alone. The kidlit community, both online and in person, is full of friendly people who cheer each other on. Whether through SCBWI, PiBoIdMo, 12×12, or one of the many social networking groups, there is a profusion of resources available. You just have to ask.

Baby Hedgehog *

Find a critique group. This is critical. It sounds like a cheesy acknowledgements section of a middle grade novel, but the truth is that I’d be nowhere without the many critique partners who’ve made my writing better over the years.

But don’t be the best in your critique group. If you want to keep improving your writing, be sure to work with people who are better than you (by this, I mean better at writing). I can definitively say I have never been the best one in any of my groups – and that fact has played a large role in any success I may have had.

There are many other ways to continue learning. One is by going to conferences, retreats, and workshops. This can get expensive and potentially prohibitive, but luckily lots of classes have popped up online that range from very affordable webinars to even free (see Nerdy Chicks Write Summer School, currently in session).

Read books in the genre you write. This is important for several reasons. It will help keep your focus on the audience for which you’re writing. It will also give you an idea of the business side of the writing world. What are publishers buying? What are librarians, teachers, parents, and children enjoying?

How do you keep learning? Do you find it important to continue expanding your knowledge of kidlit? Why?

Next time I’ll share why it’s important to …

[fill in later before you post this, otherwise you might look kind of silly and you wouldn’t want that, would you, Josh?]

Wow, that sounds like an interesting topic! Betcha can’t wait to hear about that!

 

See all of Josh Funk’s 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

Lesson #1: So, You Wrote a Book. Now What?
Lesson #2: Picture Books Are Short
Lesson #3: Every Word Counts
Lesson #4: The Illustrator Is Your Partner
Lesson #5: Show Don’t Tell
Lesson #6: Write with Active Emotion
Lesson #7: Story Arc Components
Lesson #8: Don’t Write In Rhyme
Lesson #9: Rhyming Is All About Rhythm
Lesson #10: Some Ideas Don’t Work
Lesson #11: Keep Learning
Lesson #12: Now You’re Ready! Dive In!

* You might be wondering why I inserted a picture of a baby hedgehog earlier in this post. If you are, then you’re not thinking hard enough.