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The Artist’s Way

25 Mar

I’ve been a  “children’s writer” for over four years. While I have over 60 picture book manuscripts, a funtastic blog, contacts, critique groups, and a working knowledge of the industry, something is missing. Where are all of my rejections? If I’m not submitting, I can’t get rejected to later become published. I lack consistency, because I’ve lost my way. And now thanks to Julia Cameroon’s remarkable course within a book, I will find my way, “The Artist’s Way.”

“The Artist’s Way” is a 12 week course designed to help readers discover/rediscover the artist within. Each week consists of a motivational chapter, and a series of tasks. In addition, the emerging artist, regardless of discipline and medium, needs to handwrite three pages when they wake up (known as Morning Pages), and complete one artist date a week. The artist date is a 2 hour or more block a time where the artist spends time alone soaking in inspiration from the outside world. An artist date could consist of a trip to the zoo, checking out a movie, or bargaining at an estate sale. At the close of each week, the artist must then evaluate their journey with a “check-in.” Each week, I will be posting my “check-ins” here at CraveWriting in the hopes that more imaginators will take the plunge and re-emerge from the shadows as consistent, productive and confident artists.

I was turned on to this course through fellow writer and blogger Julie Hedlund. She in turn was inspired by a fellow blogger. This whole course has a “pay it forward” vibe written all over it. I’ve already secretly ordered a book for an artist friend. Instead of drowning you in related links, just google it yourself and see if Julia Cameroon’s “The Artist’s Way” is for you. If you’re not sold, just sit back and watch my progress.

Happy re-discovering imaginators!

Katy Perry’s Sesame Street Remix

13 Feb

After watching Katy Perry deliver a stunning performance of her new single “Part of Me” at the 2012 Grammy Awards, I thought more than a 30 year old man should about her library of tunes. In my defense (and embarrassment) I was in the shower and I started to imagine how wonderful it would be to use the lyrics from some of Katy Perry’s songs as the textual basis for a series of picture books. We’ve seen it work (at least in sales) with Puff the Magic Dragon and a host of other books I prefer to ignore. But come on, Katy Perry is a hot commodity right/for now, so why not capitalize on it. “Hot and Cold” could blend magically to a child character who doesn’t fit any stereotypes and is all over the place. Well, someone beat me to it… sort of. I’m happy to say that it works!

Jack and the Beanstalk Come to Life

13 Feb

Since you were a child, you’ve planted magic seeds, ascended a giant beanstalk and explored the fearsome giant’s castle. But this was all in your head. While I’m not doubting the power of imagination, how would you like to visit a recreation of the Giant’s castle?

Now you can… if you happen to be on the outskirts of Bangkok. Dream World amusement park has a large fairy tale focus and actually built one of the coolest walk-through and Facebook photo friendly attractions in existence today. Head on over to sister site CraveCoasters and check out this fairy tale come true.

Picture Book Marathon 2012

9 Feb

“BANG!” Equestrian bodies hurl past the open gates. Hooves pound the dirt below. The race is on!

For the past two years I’ve participated in the Picture Book Marathon and am proud to say that each time I came out a winner with 26 new picture book drafts.

This year is a little different. Instead of charging out of the gate, I haven’t moved an inch. Ever see a cartoon where one of the horses lazily stays in its pen. That’s me. I keep waiting for the jockey to whip my behind. Though I need to realize that if I’m going to finish this race it’s up to me and me alone.

It’s already well into the second week with 20 days left to pen the 26 required drafts.

Can I do it? Of course.

Will I? Well that’s the question I shouldn’t be pondering. It’s just like those wide receivers in the NFL that look ahead to the endzone before focusing on the catch at hand. What happens? They end up dropping the ball. Someone I love dearly once told me that starting is 50%. In any goal we wish to undertake, the focus shouldn’t be on whether or not we can finish, but rather that we started. I’ve never sat on the other side of an interview, but a resume full of half endeavours looks more promising than a blank one.

Recently, I’ve had some people astounded by the task at hand saying that 26 drafts is just impossible. Quite the contrary, I find it easy to generate new ideas. The hard part comes later with dissecting the raw draft into a marketable manuscript, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

By the end of February I hope you will see a post about my conquest, but to be honest I should be worrying about whether I start or not. So who’s with me in leaving the gate and starting the epic Picture Book Marathon of 2012? Better late than never!

Official Information from the Creators:

Your Goal: Between February 1 and February 29, write one picture book a day, until you get to 26. This year, February has 29 days (thus, Take the Leap!), so you get a bonus break day.

The Basics: We define a picture book as (1) a story or narrative, (2) with a  beginning, middle, and end, (3) for children, and (4) intended to be illustrated. They’re generally, though not always, published in a 32 page format. Given the speed of the marathon, your picture book DRAFTS (for that’s what they’ll be) will be very rough. What you hope to capture is the basic plot, characters, and emotion of each story.

Why Do It:
  • Generate a lot of material in a short amount of time.
  • Get your creative juices flowing by forcing yourself to write daily.
  • Circumvent your internal naysayer – they either won’t have time to criticize, or they’ll be too tired.
  • Practice a writing practice.

For encouragement please check out the official PB Marathon blog

Special thanks to the Picture Book Marathon masterminds Lora Koehler and Jean Reagan and illustrator Will Strong for providing the official 2012 logo.

October Project: BOBE

3 Oct

Thanks to a handful of generous souls and the social networking capabilities of the internet, imaginators have several themed months of writing open to them. From November’s NANOWRIMO and PIBOIDMO, to February’s Picture Book Marathon, to April’s Script Frenzy, there’s no excuse for not being able to churn out heaps of material. While all of these aforementioned initiatives are quite popular and effective, there’s still room for more.

In October 2011 I’m personally testing a prototype “month.” BOBE (Book Of Beginnings & Endings) asks imaginators to pen one beginning and one ending each day in October.

While first entitled “The Beginning End,” I couldn’t resist joining the acronym party. So until further consideration, this endeavor will be titled “BOBE: Book Of Beginnings & Endings.”  Continue reading

The Perfect Postcard

19 May

For those unfamiliar with PostCrossing please refer to a previous post or sign-up today!

Thanks to a kind-hearted soul the perfect postcard arrived in my mailbox. Previously, I received postcards with photos of random cabins, statues, and herds of trees. While each one had a personal message, and I appreciated the effort, none of them registered in the deep chasm lobby of my heart.

Though yesterday, all the way from the Netherlands arrived a peculiar postcard.

Instead of a touristy or nature mugshot, it was an eccentric drawing. “This looks like an image from a children’s picture book,” I thought. Flipping the card over, not only were my instincts proven on the mark, but Marlous helped prove the theory we all ‘learn something new everday.’ She was kind enough to introduce me to Dutch cultural icons Jip and Janneke.

It’s the thought that counts, and this beautiful piece of personalized postal paper will forever be the centerpiece of my postcard collection. And this is all thanks to the altruistic genius behind PostCrossing and the tenderheart of a total stranger. The world is a beautiful place!!!

Happy PostCrossing imaginators!

The Day in Pictures

8 Apr

Inspiration can come from anywhere. But for those  imprisoned within a cubible, a dense fog lingers.

Luckily, many have access to the internet. Facebook and Twitter may absorb more time than a wait at the DMV, though besides networking they do little to aid a writer. A google image search can conjure up a bizzare menagerie of images, but more time is spent on teh hunt than relishing the glory of the catch. While Children’s Literature themed blogs are the ideal, sometimes a writer needs inspiration from other sources. Consequently, I recommend a personal passion of mine, USA Today’s ‘The Day in Pictures.’

This daily dose of photographic gems aids the writer in many ways. First they provide inspiration in the form of a possible character, setting, or emotion. In addition, they give non-fiction writers an idea of what to capture if they need to provide their own photos. Though, best of all, the photos are topical and educational. I can learn about distant cultures, customs, and conflicts. Think of it as a living history textbook in the form of an entertaining slideshow. While a picture may say 1,000 words, those penning middle grade or chapter books need more to fill the pages. Conveniently, given the journalistic captions, ample information is provided forming a joyous springboard for further exploration and research.

Imaginators, if you’re looking for current and vivid inspiration to strike your sense of sight, look no further than USA Today’s ‘The Day in Pictures.’


2 Feb



Happy Happy Hippos


QUOTE PARADE: “A satisfied customer – we should have him stuffed” – Basil Fawlty

IMAGICISE: What’s inside a teddy bear that makes it so cuddly? Imagine if children were asked to think about what was inside a stuffed toy. In 5 minutes create that list. For an advanced imagicise begin writing a story about one stuffed toy who had an item from that list inside him/her. (This imagicise actually prompted me to pen my picture book ‘Stuffed’ about a teddy bear who loses its stuffing and searches for the ‘right stuff’)

THE STARTING LINE: I always wondered what hid beneath Mr. Buttonworth’s furry skin. Then one day…

THE FINISH LINE: …and that was his/her first and final hug.


"push me please"


IDEA FACTORY: The Casting Call – Want to create a character driven story? Need some fresh characters for a story? Simply assemble your stuffed animals and hold a casting call. Sit the critters against a plain backdrop and allow them to tell you their story. If you don’t have an arsenal of stuffed toys, simply borrow your child’s, neighbor’s, or bring a camera to the toy store. Luckily for me, I stumbled upon the casting call by accident. My parents wanted to put my treasured childhood relics to ‘sleep.’ I agreed on the condition that each and every toy was immortilized with a photo. Since every picture says 1,000 words, I was able to listen to each creature’s story.


1 Feb


A relaxing yet odd Crave.


Comfortable: providing physical ease and relaxation     /     Eerie: strange and frightening

Combine “comfortable” with “eerie” and you get my pathetic portmanteau for anything “strangely relaxing.” Think of the movies ‘Coraline,’ or Tim Burton and you’ve got comforteerieness oozing its way through your senses. When creating, immerse yourself in a comfortably eerie world. Surprisingly, you won’t be scared. Instead, you’ll pleasantly delight in a darker world, and perhaps churn out some fresh ideas.

IMAGICISE: The Grim Reaper and Mother Nature have a falling out. Consequently, cats will no longer be bestowed with 9 lives and will receive just the one. The problem is, you’re a cat, and you haven’t used any of your lives. You have exactly one year from today to use them up. How will you choose to lose 8 of your lives?

QUOTE PARADE: “It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.” – Douglas Hostadter

THE STARTING LINE: It all started when I ate a poisioned lollipop.

THE FINISHING LINE: …and they lived grumpily ever after.

INSPIRATHON! – An Introduction

1 Feb

“Inspiration and genius – one and the same.”  – Victor Hugo

With the Picture Book Marathon this month, the time is ripe and ready to welcome fellow imaginators into a goofy domain for inspiration, motivation, or a comforting chuckle.

INSPIRATHON! features themed or random assortments of media will be packaged together to stir up your creative melting pots or to push you through writer’s block.

Each and everyday in February (pending levels of sanity), CraveWriting will present a buffet of thought-provoking, adorable, or just bizarre photos in addition to Quote Parades, Imagicise writing prompts, The Starting Line story starters, The Finish Line story enders, tips, links, music, and videos!

Imaginators, let’s fight off the frustration together.