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When Images Attack

1 Nov

Fresh into Picture Book Idea Month, my mind is wired to think the wondrous, the innocent, and the politely bizarre. It feels good to be a kid again and my senses are tuned to pickup on any visual, smell, taste, or sound that may spark an imaginative idea. So today when my wife accidentally pronounced ‘leopard’ like it was ‘leotard,’ the good husband in me vanished with a writer taking over. “Leopards, leotards… hmmmm…LEOPARDS IN LEOTARDS. Yes!” Whenever an idea in my head is labeled by the processing department as “Children’s Book Friendly,” I search on Google and Amazon to see if it’s been done before. While I’m sure this combination is in a ‘grammar’ book, creatively speaking I was in the clear. My next task was to perform a google image search for continued inspiration. That’s when this happened… LeopardsInLeotards With all due to respect to this lovely lady, I can’t bring myself to think of ‘leopards’ or ‘leotards.’ So imaginators, what did we learn today? Sometimes a picture is worth 1 word: “Yuck!”, and it may be best to let an idea fully blossom before allowing a cruel world to influence you. Happy writing everyone!

Bring on the Ideas: 2014 PiBoIdMo

29 Oct

It’s that time of year again!

Now that we’ve filled our mouths with Halloween candy, allow that sweet sugar to muse our brains with 30 delicious ideas for picture books. If you haven’t already, please sign-up for the 6th Annual Picture Book Idea Month hosted by the lovely Tara Lazar. On a personal note, for the second year in a row, my 9th grade English honors students will participate for extra credit. I hope to share their creative ideas with you in the future!

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2013 PiBoIdMo

24 Oct

While fall is cooling our bodies as winter prepares to visit, allow Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month to warm your creative soul!

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CraveWriting has participated for the past three years and looks forward to awakening from a dormant period of children’s book writing hibernation. We strongly encourage all imaginators to participate by visiting TaraLazar.com and creating 30 original picture book ideas during the month of November.

Happy imagining everyone!

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.

Highway to the Creation Zone: A Peek at Writer Rooms

21 Dec

The magical world of Harry Potter must have whirled itself within J.K. Rowling for years before it became a world wide sensation. But at some point she needed to sit down and scribe every word of the seven book series. So where do authors pen their inspiring works of fiction? What do these desks, spaces, crevices, and creative caves look like?

Continue reading

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

Teddy Bear Hospital

24 Jun


While the Teddy Bear Hospital has no direct correlation to children’s books it does embody a creative approach to teaching children to overcome their fear of hospitals. The Teddy Bear Hospital is a global initiative pairing up medical school students with 3-7 year olds. Future doctors get to practice consultations while the children are given healthy habit tips and are exposed to hospitals in a safe and warm environment. Check out the Leicester Teddy Bear Hospital site for an extensive look at the program with several pictures.

CHALLENGE: Think of things that give children anxiety, and now come up with a creative solution (a book) that will help them overcome it.

Expose Yourself to…SMORIES

3 Jun

Stories are a form of oral communication. They are only written so they won’t be forgotten. While most books are read in quiet, a good story begs to be read outloud. And when it comes to children literature this blessing/burden falls on the adult/parent/teacher. Unless you pay a visit to SMORIES. In an age when websites such as Post Crossing and Couch Surfing help connect the world together, this altruistic children’s literature site is surely doing its part.

The simple look of the site is misleading as SMORIES is packed with over 300 original children’s stories…but the best part? They’re all read by children!!! If you can pray yourself from those movie trailers and home videos on youtube, pay a visit and enter an imaginative word led by the innocent narrative of adorable youngsters.

Please be warned that each and every child is from the UK, therefore the stories are read with a British accent. As an American, I find this delightful. We as writers/educators have a responsibility to expose ourselves and children to all forms/styles of our native language.

Whether you want to hear a well-crafted tale or take the night off and let a child perform ‘bedtime story duty,’ definitely pay a visit to SMORIES!

Disclaimer: For those wishing to have their works read, according to the website, submissions are currently on hold. If interested join their mailing list and you will be notified when submissions open.

Please be sure to check out the following fellow PB Factory Imaginator stories: Sara Dean’s ‘Little Apple’ and Christine Cassello’s ‘Bring on the Food Fight’ and ‘I Can.’

PICTURE BOOK FACTORY OPENS!

18 May

It is my esteemed pleasure to announce that the ‘PICTURE BOOK FACTORY’ online critique group is now 5 members strong! It’s a diverse menagerie with both published and aspiring writers. For anyone interesting in joining we currently have room for 3 more!

Click here to visit & join the PB Factory listserv.

Happy critiquing imaginators!