NAPIBOWRIWEE 2014: Day Five – Guest Authors, Part 2 of 2 (May 5)

The next NAPIBOWRIWEE will take place May 1-7, 2014
The next NAPIBOWRIWEE will take place May 1-7, 2014

(NOTE: For this entire week, I will post a new blog every day by 6 AM PST here. So check back daily! Also РI will post fun Tweets live each day! Follow me on Twitter @paulayoo)


Can you believe it? By now hopefully you have FOUR FULL COMPLETED FIRST DRAFTS of your picture books! Time to work on Draft No. 5!

And for those of you who have not written a picture book per day – do NOT despair! I’m proud of you for sticking through this and just writing! I don’t care if you’ve written four first drafts or four first sentences LOL! ūüôā I’m just happy that you are writing EVERY SINGLE DAY. That really is the point of my NAPIBOWRIWEE – to encourage everyone to write EVERY SINGLE DAY! That’s how you improve upon your craft. It’s like working out – you gotta exercise every day to be in good health, right? Same thing with your writing! We gotta keep in writerly shape! ūüôā

MY DAY FOUR UPDATE:¬†I finally caught up on my NAPIBOWRIWEE writing today after missing Day Three due to my Southeast Symphony concert on Saturday. So far, I have written a good-night type book (with a kitten of course!), a musical alphabet book, and I finally wrote super horrifically rough drafts of two non-fiction biography topics I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile but never had time. I need to do more research but it helped to get at least the rough bones of it down on paper. So I’m caught up. Day Five? BRING. IT. ON. ūüôā

I’ve noticed on Twitter and Facebook that folks are getting distracted and say it’s hard to keep writing. They want to procrastinate by going online or checking their emails etc. I’ve recommended this in the past, but try this really fun writing app called OMM WRITER. It’s a great way to get your mind focused and “zen” with some cool ambient music and chromotherapy designed color screens that supposedly enhance your creativity. It’s kind of hard to explain so just check out this link:¬†

I also downloaded all the ambient music from Omm Writer. I will play it nonstop while writing to get me in a “zen” mood too when I have to use my other writing software (Word and Scrivener). You can find it here:¬†

So those are your hi-tech writing tips of the day. ūüôā¬†And now to celebrate DAY FIVE, here’s Part 2 of our special Guest Authors who have graciously agreed to give away personally autographed copies of their books in our annual NAPIBOWRIWEE Random Prize Drawing Contest! Yippee! ūüôā

Remember Рif you have signed up to post comments on my blog or have emailed me privately (paula at paulayoo dot com), then you are automatically included in our drawing. For more info, check out our FAQs blog here:

By the way, I want to add how touched I am by everyone’s kind comments so far. I’m loving everyone’s honest progress reports and how you feel each day and also your reactions to the diversity theme this year. I wish I could reply to every single comment but time constraints forbid that. So please know that I read every single comment and try to answer them when I can. This is such a lovely group of people, many of whom I now know from having done NAPIBOWRIWEE for all six years. And it’s a pleasure to meet the new folks, too. So thank you again for supporting my fun writing event with your hard work and enthusiasm and kind words and thoughtfully written comments. Group hug! ūüôā

(Keep reading after the break to find out who are Guest Authors are!)

Greg Neri (author) (Photo Credit: Debrah LaMattre)
Greg Neri (author) (Photo Credit: Debrah LaMattre)


YA Novelist

PRIZE: One lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of CHESS RUMBLE (Written by Greg Neri and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson, Lee & Low Books 2007)

Meet GREG NERI! I met Greg at the annual Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators national summer conference. We’ve kept in touch ever since. I’m a huge fan of his writing. He’s a very versatile writer, having written everything from novels to poetry to filmmaking and screenplays. Although NAPIBOWRIWEE is all about picture books, I felt Greg would be an appropriate author to include for this year’s event because of his book CHESS RUMBLE. This book is for ages ten and up but it is a unique mix of free verse poetry and illustration. The picture book market has influenced other older genres like middle grade novels, chapter books and YA novels to include more visuals and artwork for our increasingly visual children and teens.

G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free verse novella, Chess Rumble. His novels include Surf Mules and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning Ghetto Cowboy. His work has been honored by the Museum of Tolerance and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Antioch University, the International Reading Association, the American Library Association, the Junior Library Guild and the National Council for Teachers of English. Neri has been a filmmaker, animator, teacher and digital media producer. He currently writes full-time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. For more information on Greg, please visit his website here:



“I write books for young people. Many of my characters are characters of color who live in urban centers like the Bronx or Philly or Chicago. They speak in urban dialects. They deal with gangs, poverty, gentrification, broken families. But the books are hopeful in their search for belonging, for love, for connections. They are books for humans.

“Many of my readers don’t read because they don’t see people like themselves or hear voices they recognize. Comments I hear over and over: this is my story, this is my world. Why aren’t there other books like this? Where’s your next book? I point them to folks like Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Flake, Matt de la Pena and many others but they usually have read those and the very short list of my contemporaries. When they run out of titles, they read them again. And again.

“My books will never be on the NYT Bestseller list and are hard to spot in your neighborhood Barnes and Noble. But they are widely read. I travel the country going to schools where they cannot keep them on the shelves. For every dog eared copy, hundreds of kids read them, passing them along like they can’t believe what they are seeing: themselves. Seeing themselves on a page is like discovering that you are worthy of being written about. That you belong in this world that will write about everything under the sun except you. Bravo to Walter and Christopher Myers for what they do and who they are. There are many more out there like them.

“Now the publishers have to step up to the plate and recognize the vast untapped audience out there just waiting for them. The publishing world better wake up to the fact that the world is browning– and I don’t mean just from global warming. The audience potential for kids of color is huge, if only they could realize how to tap into the kids like the ones who read my books. The smartest publishers will not ignore this world because it isn’t being exploited (and I mean that in a good way) but embrace it and make money from it… This lack of books about kids of color is definitely not from a lack of talented writers out there but a lack of houses unwilling to seek them out.”


Ken Min (Children's Book Illustrator)
Ken Min (Children’s Book Illustrator)


(Children’s book artist)

PRIZE: One lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of HOT, HOT ROTI FOR DADA-JI (Written by F. Zia and illustrated by Ken Min, Lee & Low Books 2011)

Meet KEN MIN! I met Ken Min at one of the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators national summer conferences. He was one of the winners of the art portfolio contest, and I had to meet him because I fell in love with his art work. Ken studied illustration at Art Center, College of Design and has worked as a storyboard artist for animation and various commercial houses, most recently FUTURAMA. He has been recognized for his portfolio work at various SCBWI regional events and was runner up in the portfolio display at the 2008 National Conference in Los Angeles. He recently illustrated the title¬†HOT HOT ROTI for Lee & Low Books. For more information on Ken, please visit his website here:¬†

(You can also read an older interview I did with Ken a few years ago here:


HOT, HOT ROTI FOR DADA-JI¬†was written by F. Zia and illustrated by Ken Min. It was selected as an 2012¬†Asian Pacific American Award for Literature Honor for Picture Books and also chosen as one of the¬†Best Children’s Books of the Year Bank Street College of Education. A starred review from Kirkus praised the book: *”Food, family and storytelling set irresistible hooks in this high-spirited double picture-book debut. Grandfather s rousing tales of a village youth spent tying cobras into knots, shaking mangos for the pickle jar from a giant tree and savoring the ‘fluffy-puffy roti that bubbled and wobbled in ghee on the hot, hot tavva pan’ inspire young Aneel to give his Dada-ji ‘the power of the tiger’ once again with a fresh batch of the unleavened treat. Min echoes the narrative s exuberance with bright, blocky acrylic scenes of an Indian family in Western surroundings. After downing the roti with finger-licking enthusiasm, the two proceed outside to shake apples off a tree for Dadi-ma s pie and tie their legs in knots to sit lotus fashion on a grassy hillside. A natural for reading aloud, laced with great tastes, infectious sound effects and happy feelings.”¬†


“The thing we have to remember, working in the field of children’s literature, is that we are on the forefront of educating and instructing the next generation of society. Literally, we are talking to kids in their early, formative years. It’s at this age that they are becoming who they will be as adults. It’s an awesome responsibility and we need to do it with care and open minds.”


Erin Eitter Kono (photo credit: EE Kono)
Erin Eitter Kono (photo credit: EE Kono)


Children’s Picture Book Author and Illustrator

PRIZE: Two lucky winners will receive an autographed copy of CATERINA AND THE PERFECT PARTY (Written and illustrated by Erin Eitter Kono, Dial 2013) and HULA LULLABY (Little, Brown 2005).

Meet ERIN EITTER KONO! Guess where I met her? Yup! The SCBWI conference.¬†Erin is an award winning picture book author and illustrator. She grew up in the midwest and studied Art History at the University of Iowa and the University of Hull in England. ¬†She studied Graphic Design and Writing through UCLA Extension in Westwood, CA. ¬†She lives in Palos Verdes, CA with her husband, daughter, dog, hamster, and the neighborhood’s wild Peacock.

Erin had illustrated many children’s picture books written by other authors before debuting with her first written (and illustrated) picture book, HULA LULLABY (Little Brown 2005). Against the backdrop of a beautiful Hawaiian landscape, a young girl cuddles and sleeps in her mother’s lap. ¬†winner of the Children’s Literature Council’s Excellence in a Picture Book Award and was named “Best Lullaby and Good night Book” by Nick Jr. Magazine. The book’s lush art featured the diverse culture of Hawai’i which set it apart from other “Good Night” books. For more info on Erin, please visit her website here:¬†

I asked Erin about her thoughts on diversity and her first book and why it’s so important to her…



“As a former airline flight attendant, I’ve been privileged to have traveled extensively throughout my adult life.¬† I¬†believe that¬†the more cultures one encounters the easier it is to respect differences¬†in people¬†and to¬†appreciate how¬†we are all innately the same.¬†¬†A¬†good story is just another way of traveling.¬† My first book, HULA LULLABY (Little, Brown 2005),¬†told the story of a¬†Hawaiian mother and child.¬† I was inspired¬†by¬†many years of traveling to¬†the islands¬†and by friends in the Hula community.¬† I worked hard to be true¬†to the native culture and consulted with experts in the community.

“I maintained the same respect for all my books. PASSOVER! (written by Roni Schotter/Little, Brown 2006) described a family‚Äôs celebration of Passover. GRANDMOTHER, HAVE THE ANGELS COME? (written by Denise Vega/Little, Brown 2009), which celebrated the¬†relationship between old and young and touched upon the subject of aging, was a¬†2010 Am√©ricas Book Award Commended Title, chosen for the Reading Is Fundamental 2009 Multicultural Library Booklist and winner of a MLAG Living In Color Literary Award. (click for trailer)

“Books¬†are¬†the most¬†efficient and affective way to create understanding of both¬†ourselves and others.¬†¬†Stories allow us all¬†to experience the world through another’s perspective, whatever their race, whatever their culture.¬†¬† A character’s world comes to life and brings the truth of that existence¬†to the reader¬†no matter who¬†they are.

“Multicultural books not only allow children of all backgrounds to see themselves in print, the importance of which can not be over stated, but they also¬†influence the world of everyone who reads them.¬†Diversity as¬†the¬†slogan says, is the one thing we all have in common.¬† I believe whole heartedly that we need to read far more¬†books¬†by writers of all ethnicities.¬† To not have those¬†voices means that¬†we are missing out on learning¬†the nuances of those worlds, of our world.¬† It is shameful, because our country is diverse and will only¬†continue to become more so.¬† We as writers, whatever our¬†backgrounds,¬†should strive to tell more than just the dominant culture’s viewpoint.

“As an author and illustrator, it’s my job to tell¬†stories as¬†fully and as meaningfully as if they were my own. And as someone who is in an interracial marriage with a biracial child, it is also a personal mission.”


Grateful thanks to Greg, Ken and Erin for donating books to our prize contest and taking time to answer our questions on diversity! 

Hang in there, everyone! We’ve still got two more days left! You can do it! Please comment below on how your Day Five went!

Until the next blog, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! ūüôā


  1. Great post! I love Greg’s note that especially for the kids dubbed “reluctant readers” there needs to be books relevant to them that they want to read (and not just the same books over and over again.)
    I have a very very rough (think crocodile skin) day 5 draft in the books.

  2. Super post! Paula, I KNEW you’d catch up. You rock! Congrads!

    Greg, you’re on the kids best seller list and that’s THE list to be on! Ken, it is an awesome responsibility. Erin, it’s all about creating understanding. What great reading today. Thank you for giving us your time.

    I’m writing mine right now. Non-fiction. My first. So it needs work. Ha. And that’s okay!

  3. Yay for your getting caught up, Paula! My draft yesterday is more like a glorified outline, but I’ll take what I can get. LOL!

    I love the varied experiences and insights Greg, Ken, and Erin bring to the multicultural kids books world! I hope that, one day, all kids will have at least one book where they can identify with the main character and feel included.

  4. I love Erin’s quote: “Stories allow us all to experience the world through another‚Äôs perspective, whatever their race, whatever their culture. A character‚Äôs world comes to life and brings the truth of that existence to the reader no matter who they are.”

    Day Five draft is SO not pretty but done!

  5. It took a bit of effort to get going. Yucky morning. So, I put on a cup of tea and here I am…the 5th draft is done.

    Everyone have a great day and another shout-out to Paula…Thanks hjr

  6. I had another writing deadline today but I DID write…Okay, so tomorrow, I’ll be catching up.

    And I’ll be catching up on some reading, too. Need to add a couple books to the TBR pile!

  7. Hi Paula, I know it’s late but, I just finished my 5th draft for National Picture Book Writing Month! Why aren’t we writing 31 drafts this month?

  8. Very interesting guest perspectives, thank you Paula!

    I wrote a draft yesterday (May 5) and a paragraph earlier in the week. Hope to knock out a draft (maybe two???) today!

    Thanks for the motivation Paula!

  9. I wrote my 4th draft today. Not keeping up but that’s ok, I’m thinking of a lot of new ideas. They’re just not in my computer yet. I love this challenge.Thanks for you tech tips Paula. I am definitely going to try omniwriter. Thank you Greg, Erin and Ken for your insights on diversity.

  10. Thanks for sharing these views on diversity and for introducing these authors and their work.
    Erin’s statement is so true:
    “Books are the most efficient and effective way to create understanding of both ourselves and others.”

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