Participating in a Picture Book Writing Challenge

Wow, I’ve been away from this blog for months! I had a very busy fall, courtesy of the first class in the fiction-writing program I’m enrolled in through Stanford (more on that in a later post), plus the time required to get my freelance writing business going and growing. The good news is that I earned an ‘A’ in The Writing Life: Form & Theory of the Novel, and now have three clients. I continue to work on the first draft of my novel while seeking more paid writing gigs.

As if the above doesn’t keep me busy enough, I recently committed to participating in a children’s writing challenge in order to further my understanding of that highly specialized craft. I mentioned in my review of Mirette on the High Wire that I’ve been collaborating with a friend on a picture book idea. I had the pleasure of working with Nichole Forti at PDI/DreamWorks Animation, where we were both production coordinators. She’s now an up-and-coming visual development artist and illustrator who shares examples of her work on her blog, Paper Doodle. Nichole has been instrumental in helping me address character, story, and art issues. She’s also kept me accountable by agreeing to meet with me every few weeks. The upshot is that I now have a very solid draft of the manuscript, which I am having critiqued at the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Winter Conference in New York in late February before I send it out to agents.

The process of writing several drafts of that book, tentatively titled Allyson in the Islands, got my creative juices flowing. I found myself coming up with more picture book ideas and realized that I needed some guidance and support to do them justice. Enter Shannon Abercrombie’s Start the Year Off Write 2014.

Badge_StartTheYearOffWrite

This free challenge provides a creative prompt from a published children’s author each day for three weeks. Over the last twenty days, I’ve refined Allyson, brainstormed six new ideas, researched them, written a rough outline for one and character biographies for another, and learned myriad ways to overcome procrastination and self-doubt. I’m sad that there’s just one prompt left in this year’s edition! While I’d be thrilled to win one of the awesome prizes Shannon has lined up, in truth, the increase in my creative output has been its own reward.

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