NAPIBOWRIWEE 2015 – DAY TWO: The Editorial Eye

napibowriweelogo3-300x284-200x200Welcome to DAY TWOΒ of my seventh annual National Picture Book Writing Week (“NAPIBOWRIWEE”) 2015!

Did you survive the first day? What a way to kick off the weekend, huh? πŸ™‚ Thanks for all your comments and for participating!

My DAY ONE EXPERIENCE:Β Right now, I’m working full-time during the day as a TV writer/producer for the show DEFIANCE on SyFy. Our third season debuts this Friday June 12, 2015! We also had a post-work dinner event to attend, so I did not get a chance to write until I got home at 9 PM. I decided it would be a NAPIBOWRIWEE Late Nite Owl Writing Session! Fortunately, I had already prepared for this year’s event by doing some research for potential new non-fiction picture books I wanted to write. (When I’m not writing for TV, I’m a published children’s book author. I have a YA novel with HarperCollins and three non-fiction picture books with Lee & Low Books.) I’m also a Crazy Cat Lady, so one of my picture book ideas was a non-fiction book about real-life cats who made significant historical contributions. For those of you who are new to NAPIBOWRIWEE, one of the “rules” is that you can research, brainstorm and even outline your picture books before May 1st. You are NOT allowed to write a draft until May 1st. So I printed out my research (mostly some articles on the Internet and one book I had bought) and wrote my draft in poem form. It doesn’t scan, the meter’s off and not everything rhymes. But I have my basic draft down, so now I can revise after this event is over.

Thank you for all your comments. I’m so glad many of you were able to finish your first draft! For those of you still writing, don’t give up!Β Keep writing and post your comments about your Day 2 experience here!

NOTE: For all the newcomers, please feel free to browse through my archivesΒ (look specifically in the months of May of course) for tons of interviews with published picture book authors and illustrators for information on the writing process, publishing, and other inspirational tidbits.

In the meantime, I am posting daily blogs from May 1-7, 2015 at 6 AM PST (9 AM EST) here atΒΒ Our contest drawing results will be posted on May 8, 2015 featuring fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE (link:Β, autographed copies of my books, other surprise prizes as well as ONE free picture book manuscript critique from professional editor/author AMY CHERRIX, who is also our guest-in-residence for this year’s event! (You can follow Amy on Twitter @acherrixΒ and her website is here:Β

Meet Amy Cherrix of
Meet Amy Cherrix of
Visit Amy Cherrix's website:
Visit Amy Cherrix’s website:

The theme for this year is EDITORIAL NUTS & BOLTS as Amy answers our questions about writing and the publishing industry. For today’s blog on “The Editorial Eye,” I asked Amy what a typical day was like for her as an editor. I also asked her what made for a good picture book pitch for an editor. Here’s what she had to say:

QUESTION:Β Can you talk about what a typical day is like for you as a book editor and what makes for a great picture book pitch for you?

AMY CHERRIX SAYS: “Getting paid to read is great work if you can get it, but finding time to actually do the reading required to publish books is notoriously difficult (keep those pitches brief, I beseech you!). A typical workday for me as a freelance editor: I read early in the morning, on my lunch break, and as much as I can at the end of the day. In between those reading sprints, I check email, write pitches, and correspond with authors and illustrators, all while my email *dings* with the next thing I need to read. But when my exhausted email account yields a little gem of a picture book, the rest of the world falls away. It’s a high I liken to what those people on Antiques Road Show feel when they find out some dirty old sea trunk is worth thousands of dollars – equal parts disbelief and satisfaction. It has a voice! It has clever word play that’s spare and not too on-the-nose. And if I’m really lucky, it makes me feel somethingβ€”or better yet, more than one thing! It’s a fresh take on a timeless theme like friendship, growing up, or hopeβ€”something that has me squealing with glee over how darned clever and charming human beings can be. Great picture books make us want to be better people. If you don’t think it’s possible, just read ME, JANE, by Patrick McDonnell. Yeah, it’s kind of a high bar to set, but when you reach it, that feeling is there every time you turn the page and emerging readers deserve nothing less.”

I love what Amy says about how “great picture books make us want to be better people.” Let’s set the bar way high for NAPIBOWRIWEE! As Amy says, “our readers deserve nothing less.” πŸ™‚

Okay, back to the Writing Batcave! Remember to follow me on Twitter @paulayoo for updates. I will post tomorrow’s Day 3 Blog on May 3, 2015 at 6 AM PST/9 AM EST here with thoughts from our guest AMY CHERRIX about interesting trends and topics for today’s picture book market.

Until then, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! πŸ™‚



  1. Great post to inspire us! I’m off and running on Draft #2. The idea has been ruminating for a year or so, but last night I dreamed about it! (That’s got to be a good sign, right? πŸ˜‰ ) So today I’m writing about a hedgehog that speaks only in haiku. Am I insane?

    • Thanks Beth! OMG I LOVE THE HAIKU HEDGEHOG! THAT IS GENIUS!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!! I love that you dreamed about it, too – means your subconscious has been churning away on this idea all year. Good luck!

  2. Busy day ahead – up early to write. Done with Number 2 – I am on a dog kick! This one is about a dog who is ring bearer at the owners’ wedding.

    • I just went to my cousin’s wedding last week. LOVE the dog ring bearer. That is so cute, my head will explode! πŸ™‚

  3. “…word play that’s spare and not too on-the-nose” That’s my goal for today’s draft, inspired by my son’s 9 AM Little League practice. Play ball! And good luck on Day Two everyone! πŸ˜€

    • Yes, “on the nose” is also a huge phrase they use in Hollywood. As a TV writer/producer, we always are warned to make sure our dialogue is not too “on the nose.” I also have heard of “first thought theatre.” Our rough drafts tend to be “first thought theatre” and “on the nose” but that’s why we FINISH these first drafts so we can then go back and revise to make them less on the nose. πŸ™‚ Good luck today!

  4. Setting the bar high. YEAH! I hope we all finish our drafts today. I’m working on mine. Wahoo. Amy, your typical day is hectic. Wow.

    • Good luck Robyn! And yes, Amy’s days are super hectic. I was so grateful she found time to help me with this year’s event! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! Good luck on two. You bring up a good point – these drafts may be rough but they have POTENTIAL. That is why I so passionately believe we must FINISH what we write, no matter how rough it is! πŸ™‚

  5. Good Morning!
    Day 2 – It is California Independent Book Seller Day so guess where I’m setting today’s pb?
    Paula – you certainly are a busy lady. You must have extra hours in your day.
    Amy – thanks for your comments. Me, Jane is one of my favorites.

    • Thanks Claire for the CA Indie Bookseller day. I had no idea! Wow! LOL yeah sometimes I feel I live a 28 hour day. πŸ™‚ Good luck writing today!

  6. I finished my third draft a few minutes ago and after some lunch will do more research on another nonfiction series that I’m working on. I may actually start on one of the drafts later this evening

    • Non fiction series sounds great! You are on a roll. You are one of our NaPiBoWriWee Veterans! πŸ™‚

  7. Whoa. Beth Gallagher (the day’s first commenter), just reminded me of the last dream I had before I woke up this AM: it was dusk, and my daughter and I were laying on our backs in the alley behind our house (which doesn’t exist) with some friends, staring at the sky, when this 2-D chariot floated across in front of the moon. It was made out of colorful, needle-felted clouds (???) and was carrying a hag with a pointy cap and a sunken mouth. As we marveled at it, a bus emerged from behind the moon and plummeted to earth, landing β€”we could tell — in the neighbrhood just north of ours, with a loud crash and a big plume of smoke. And then I woke up (not too happy…).
    As for draft #2 β€” halfway there. And I’m wondering, apropos of it: can anyone think of any picture books that tell a story from two alternating voices or perspectives? Not in dialogue, but from two different characters in close 3rd person (or two separate 1st person narrators)?

    • Anna what a surreal dream. What’s weirdly coincidental is that I watched ELYSIUM on cable TV last night (the sci fi movie from the director who did District 9). There’s a huge scene where one of the transport ships crashes into Elysium and it totally was like how you described your chariot crash dream! πŸ™‚ As for alternating voices or different POVs, let me run that by Amy and get back to you. I did a brief google search and found out TWO BAD ANTS is an example of that. I also found this interesting blog on pic books that are good for teaching point of view, so maybe you’ll find something here too:

      • PS. Also posted the question as a separate comment for folks to answer and tweeted it @paulayoo

        • Got some answers from Facebook from these NaPiBoWriWee participants and Amy Cherrix: Cathy Ballou Mealey: β€œNot quite alternating POV’s – but SHARK VS TRAIN comes to mind.”

          Robyn Campbell: β€œThe Summer Visitors,” by Karel Hayes.

          Amy Cherrix: β€œHmm… GERALD AND PIGGIE books…THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT has MULTIPLE multi-colored voices! MR. WUFFLES (cat and aliens!)DUCK! RABBIT!
Maybe not all GERALD & PIGGIE books–hmm…WE ARE IN A BOOK is pretty meta, and I AM GOING plays with varying POVs in the space between art and text…picture book narratives are tricky because POV can shift in the interplay between words and pictures.”

      • Spooky. (And: I am marveling that you had time to watch a movie given everything else you did Friday!)
        Thanks for those resources β€” will check them out!

  8. Day 2 done.
    I don’t know why…but all I can think of, write about and even read about lately is cactus. Go figure. Anyway, everyone have a great day. On to three………hoorah

  9. I’m done with one draft. (started it yesterday and wrote the ending this morning.)
    I’m starting the next one right now. πŸ™‚

  10. Today is filled with lots of activity as all my weekends are but your workday sounds so jam packed and then some! Yet you have achieved amazing things! I have not though about writing non fiction and it sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and work attitude.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it. Non-fiction is worth trying and it’s becoming more important in today’s schools, so the market is expanding. Good luck writing during your busy weekend – you can do it! πŸ™‚

  11. My mind is a complete blank for the 2 POV question, but I have a terrible memory so maybe I’ve read a book or two that does that but just can’t remember.

    I finished POS draft #2! I wish I had the foresight like you to do research on the topic first because there was a lot of “[look up ____]” in my ms. LOL! NaPiBoWriWee kind of snuck up on me even though I have it down on my calendar. Dang…is it May already?

    Have a lovely Saturday, Paula!

    • Congrats T. on #2! I am writing some pic books this year off the cuff with no prep, and am writing a couple from research.

      • Got some answers from Facebook from these NaPiBoWriWee participants and Amy Cherrix: Cathy Ballou Mealey: β€œNot quite alternating POV’s – but SHARK VS TRAIN comes to mind.”

        Robyn Campbell: β€œThe Summer Visitors,” by Karel Hayes.

        Amy Cherrix: β€œHmm… GERALD AND PIGGIE books…THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT has MULTIPLE multi-colored voices! MR. WUFFLES (cat and aliens!)DUCK! RABBIT!
Maybe not all GERALD & PIGGIE books–hmm…WE ARE IN A BOOK is pretty meta, and I AM GOING plays with varying POVs in the space between art and text…picture book narratives are tricky because POV can shift in the interplay between words and pictures.”

  12. My cranky cat kept me up all night. Fortunately, it gave me lots of time to imagine a story and replay it (over and OVER!! Blast that cat!) I just finished drafting and storyboarding it, and you know what? I like it! 2 drafts down. Time to make a run for kitty treats. (Bless that cat!)

    • Oh poor kitty! But yes, our cats = endless stories. What a coincidence cuz Oreo threw up a lot last night and woke me up, too, so he had a bad time at the vet today. You deserve a treat, too, for your hard work today! πŸ™‚

    • Laura that’s wonderful. I should look at old photos or think about fun memories from my childhood, too! Great idea!

  13. I’m a bit behind. I just finished my first draft, but I hope I can catch up! Today’s draft contained elves and giants.

  14. Paula, you must be very good at sleep writing.
    Yesterday, I completed first draft of PB 1.
    My Saturday morning was filled with yard work, and then errands in the afternoon.
    Now I write for one hour. Make dinner. And write until draft for PB 2 is done.
    At least that’s the plan. πŸ™‚

    • Sleepwriting! I love it! I’m actually just fast with drafts because I write all the time, so it becomes second nature to me. But I still struggle with the blank page like most folks. πŸ™‚ Congrats on finishing PB 1. I love how you plan to write for one hour – that’s better than NO hours. And if you can get more time in after dinner, great! But it’s smart to focus – little chunks of time like one hour can lead to more words on the page than you realize. Good luck!

  15. Ugh. I’m really struggling today. I’ve got the dregs of PB2, but I’m not sure if I’ll get much further. I got distracted by research and other procrastinating activities. One thing that amuses me while writing a story are the entertaining Google searches. Today’s finds include “top 12 ballroom dances”, “castles, kings, and queens vocabulary word list”, and “Old English words-a short list just for fun!” Ha. (Yes, there’s a royal ball in PB2…)

  16. Hang in there Silly Librarian! LOL I love the entertaining google searches about top 12 ballroom dances etc… I think research is great but sometimes you have to clear your brain and just focus on the STORY and the CHARACTERS and the VOICE. It’s like yoga – clear your mind of all the research clutter and just write. One of my favorite Zen writing apps is: Try it! I swear by it. U just have to prevent yourself from going online. If you are addicted to going online, try this as well: Good luck! πŸ™‚

  17. Thanks! I also recommend writing by longhand, too and turning off the computer. πŸ™‚ I have so many tricks. πŸ™‚ LOL!

  18. Just checking in… I sorta ran out of time today got a rough outline but not a whole book… Hopefully I will finish both tomorrow;as I will not be as busy.

    • Rough outline is better than a blank page! πŸ™‚ Don’t worry, sometimes I have to play catch up as well. There have been NAPIBOWRIWEE years where I myself did NOT write 7 books in 7 days but at least I wrote every single day. πŸ™‚ Let us know if you can catch up tomorrow! πŸ™‚

  19. I had a tough time sticking to one idea today, so I got half way through a draft and wrote down the new ideas as they came. Wonder if that means my first idea isn’t interesting or “fresh” enough yet?

    • Hmmm, maybe the first idea needs more percolating. But this is another reason why we do 7 picture books in 7 days… not all our books will end up being revised because yes, the idea for it may be half-baked LOL. But that’s the point – you don’t know if an idea works or not if you don’t complete a manuscript of it. Only then do you realize, “Oh, that was a fun idea but not a fully-fleshed out story.” In television, we will write an entire script after the outline and brainstorming process and then critique that draft and realize which scenes do not work. Sometimes the entire episode doesn’t work and we go back to brainstorming and outlining from scratch. But we had to write the entire script before we could determine if it worked as an episode of TV. I think the same process is what influenced my idea for NAPIBOWRIWEE. Gotta write out that draft of a picture book to see if it even works! πŸ™‚ Happy Writing! xo P.

  20. Did more art than writing today, but since I’m an author/illustrator, that’s not a bad thing. πŸ™‚

    I love this statement, Amy! “Great picture books make us want to be better people.”

    Great picture books also inspire me to want to create great picture books! They push me out of my comfort zone to try harder.

    • The market is much more interested these days in the author/illustrator, so you definitely have a leg up when it comes to submissions. I love that you are pushing yourself out of the comfort zone, too. Have you thought about writing a wordless picture book? That counts as a NAPIBOWRIWEE book. Think about it! πŸ™‚

      • PS. Wordless picture books do have a manuscript but the writing is very straightforward and descriptive and then the art fleshes out the actual story. Go for it! πŸ™‚

        • Yes, I have thought about it! I love wordless picture books! Not sure if any of the ones I planned for this week would work without words. Hmm. Thanks for the suggestion, Paula!

  21. Woah! It’s not midnight here yet… 11:53 PM. I did the night owl write tonight, Paula, and squeaked one in at the last minute! Idea came to me at the start of spring and is finally on paper. Rough again! But, it’s a start!

    • Yay Team Night Owl Carrie! I’m glad you were able to make it. πŸ™‚ BTW since my blogs don’t post until 6 AM EST/9AM PST, you actually have until 6 AM EST to write for that day. LOL. πŸ™‚

  22. Yeah, did it – finally. PB # 2 written. Word play and a genie.Thanks for doing this Paula, it is really fun. Challenging to squeeze in around the inevitable catastrophes that life throws you.

    • Congrats! I’m intrigued by the genie and wordplay. Good job! Yes, you brought up a great point – professional writers have to deal with day-to-day surprises (sick child comes home from school, boss gives you extra deadlines, car tire goes flat) and yet they still have to write on deadline. I hope NAPIBOWRIWEE helps train everyone to be able to write on deadline despite our daily lives interrupting us. πŸ™‚

  23. Thanks for these great posts and the awesome motivation this contest gives me. I’ve been so incredibly busy, but I write a PB draft today! I’m behind by one, but still happy dancing that I have a shiny new draft with lots of potential (and lots of revisions ahead of me, of course).

    I’m glad you found time to write your first draft yesterday! What an amazing idea. I’ve never seen anything like it, and you’re definitely the perfect author to write something a fun NF book about historical cats. I have a feeling this one will be scooped up by an editor once you polish it up.

    • Hugs Mindy! I also have a top secret cat novel I’m working on but can’t say much about it. LOL. I know, I truly am a crazy cat lady. I’m glad you got a PB done. Don’t worry about being behind, you’ll catch up like you always do. πŸ™‚

  24. Hi Paula, et al,
    Just stopping by to share that I wrote my 2nd PB for the challenge around 8 pm. Did the pomodoro thing again. The story features a lovable, dopey MC–how the heck did my muse come up with that? *snort* πŸ˜‰
    Keep on writing, peeps! πŸ˜€

  25. Gah! Endings! I sort of have 2 stories with no endings for day 2. I guess I’m working out the limitations of the idea. Oh well! May try to finish it and then move on to Day 3’s draft.
    Hope everyone else fared better than I did!

    • Bonjour Dana! Yes, I think that it’s okay if you couldn’t finish because you analyzed the problem – it’s the ending that may not be working and the idea itself may need more baking. πŸ™‚ Keep going, maybe work on Day 3 and then let your subconscious solve #2?

    • Hi Dana! Everyone is different but if it helps, when I have trouble bringing my stories to a close I try to simplify the concept… I tend to over think things so simplifying the concept helps me settle on a closing path.

  26. Love that description of being paid to read (Yes!) vs finding time to do it (tricky). Got my first draft done and have my idea for the second. Reading today’s post has me considering writing in verse for draft 2.

    • Oh cool, let us know how possibly writing in verse will go Susan! There’s a famous book which I’m sure you already know about, but it’s Myra Cohn Livingston’s POEM MAKING, if you are interested. A must-have for any kid lit writer, even if you don’t write in poetry, because her chapters on word use and imagery are applicable to prose, too.

  27. I had to skip a day, but so glad to come back and read this. I love the description of what gets Amy excited about a manscript and I will keep this things in mind as I put my words to paper!

  28. Almost gave up on day two but got the idea for the story when I was going to bed. Got it finished after midnight.