NAPIBOWRIWEE 2015 – DAY THREE: Timely Trends & Topics
I hope you are now in the swing of things! How’s the writing going? How many of you have written two books so far? Ready to handle No. 3? And for those of you still writing Book #1 – do not fret! I’m PROUD of you for continuing to write! Don’t give up! Remember, we must conquer procrastination! 🙂 Please post your progress for Day 3 in today’s comments!
MY DAY TWO EXPERIENCE: The day began quite dramatically as I had to herd three cats (Oreo, Beethoven & Charlotte) to the vet for their annual shots and grooming. The good news? They’re all in good health, although Oreo struggles with the occasional feline asthma. The bad news? They are all fat cats! Oreo went from 17 to 18 pounds! Beethoven went from 14 to 14. 7 pounds! Even tiny Charlotte went from 8.4 to 8.5 pounds! I was given a stern lecture and some bags of kitty diet food. Needless to say, my cats were NOT happy. It was not a Happy Caturday, it was a Crappy Caturday. LOL! 🙂
Fortunately, I was able to work in a cat-free environment for most of the day and finished Book No. 2. I had already done a bunch of research and outlined it, so I just had to write it. For me, the biggest challenge of writing a non-fiction picture book biography is coming up with the opening scene. It has to be in media res (in the middle of the action) that immediately captures the main character’s personality and drive that helped him/her overcome obstacles in their childhood to become the important historical figure in the future. Once I figure out that opening scene, the rest of the draft tends to flow pretty smoothly because I have that engine that drives my character from scene to scene. The writing itself was not happy but crappy, LOL, but at least I got it down and can pretty it up later. 🙂
(I also admit I now want to write a picture book poem off the cuff for another book about cats at the vet. So maybe I will do that for Day 4! Take a break from non-fiction. That’s also another NAPIBOWRIWEE TIP – to avoid burn out, switch genres or challenge yourself in another genre of writing that is outside your comfort zone to make this week more fun and exciting!)
Also… one of our NAPIBOWRIWEE participants, Anna Forr, asked if there were picture books with multiple POVs or alternating POVs. I googled and found this interesting link: http://www.teachingkidsbooks.com/3rd-4th-grade/point-of-view and I also heard TWO BAD ANTS is a good example for different POVs.
I gathered some answers from other writers plus our own Amy Cherrix. Here’s what they had to say:
– Cathy Ballou Mealey: “Not quite alternating POV’s – but SHARK VS TRAIN comes to mind.”
– Robyn Campbell: “The Summer Visitors,” by Karel Hayes.
– Amy Cherrix: “Hmm… 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.”
Hope that helps!
Reminder: I am posting daily blogs from May 1-7, 2015 at 6 AM PST (9 AM EST) here at https://paulayoo.com/category/napibo/ Our contest drawing results will be posted on May 8, 2015 featuring fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE (link: http://www.cafepress.com/paulayoonapibowriweeclassic), 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 @acherrix and her website is here: http://slushpilepress.com)
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 “Timely Trends & Topics,” I asked Amy what she thought were interesting trends and topics for picture books today. Here’s what she had to say:
QUESTION: What are interesting new timely trends and topics for picture books today?
AMY CHERRIX SAYS: “I think we’re in a Golden Age of Non-fiction for young readers of every age. From picture books, to longer narrative forms, the genre is providing kids with a wealth of engaging and informative options. Edge-of-your-seat writing combined with clear elegant prose, and impeccable research are making household names out of authors like Steve Sheinkin, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Phillip Hoose, and Sy Montgomery. And the reluctant reader has never been better served than in today’s market. Illustrated middle grade novels are still booming, thanks to a WIMPY KID and a LIGHTNING THIEF. I edited a wonderful high-concept easy-to-read middle grade trilogy called ROBOTS RULE for HMH. All of these books enjoy broad appeal to parents and kids at storytime while helping to build confident independent readers.”
I am excited to hear from Amy that non-fiction picture books are timely in today’s market. It also makes sense with the new Common Core educational standards that focus on narrative non-fiction – that will create a need for more non-fiction picture books in the market. For more information on this, here’s a helpful article about this topic here: http://www.shelf-awareness.com/theshelf/2014-05-27/children_s_picture_books:_swinging_toward_nonfiction.html
I know many writers prefer writing fiction, but I highly recommend everyone try their hand at least once in the world of non-fiction. What’s so challenging yet rewarding about non-fiction is how you can seamlessly and organically weave in historical facts with a fictional-type story narrative to create an emotional story about a fascinating and engaging non-fiction subject or person. I used to be a journalist, so I thought writing non-fiction children’s picture books would be “easy.” Boy was I wrong! I had no idea that writing about the facts was NOT enough – you have to create a compelling character that readers care about when writing biographies. For non-fiction subjects that are not biographies, you have to infuse that subject with creativity and passion and a well-structured exciting storyline.
You can find out more about my three non-fiction picture book biographies from LEE & LOW BOOKS here: https://paulayoo.com/books/
For more information on my latest picture book biography, TWENTY-TWO CENTS: MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK (illustrated by Jamel Akib, Lee & Low 2014), go here: https://paulayoo.com/portfolio/twenty-two/
If you’re curious to try your hand at non-fiction, why not go for it today on Day Three? Think of a famous historical figure who inspired you… and write a children’s picture book biography about him or her! Or think about a non-fiction subject that fascinates you… from hobbies to actual historical events or nature/animals etc. and write a non-fiction picture book about that subject! I’m curious to hear from those of you who attempt non-fiction today!
Finally, for those of you who live in Los Angeles, today is the first day you can register for the annual CRITIQUENIC sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (AKA SCBWI). If you are newbie and don’t know about SCBWI, please just join NOW. You can find out more about this amazing organization here: http://www.scbwi.org They have an annual national writing conference in Los Angeles every August and one in New York in January/February, plus a ton of other helpful resources. They also have local branches across the country as well as international branches in countries all over the world, from Egypt to Japan to Paris to Australia!
Their annual Critiquenic is a lot of fun. You bring five pages of a manuscript and get grouped with several members and a professional author who helps run a mini writing critique group. They also provide a fun picnic lunch. I did this the first year I joined back in 1999 and not only got great feedback but also made two lifelong friends from the event. In fact, the critique leader was famous veteran published picture book author Ann Whitford Paul who has participated in my NAPIBOWRIWEE event in years past as a guest blogger and participant herself!
To find out more about the Critiquenic and how to register (starting May 3rd for the June 7th event), go here: https://losangeles.scbwi.org/events/critiquenic-15/
Well, time to leave the Blogging Batcave and head back into the Writing Batcave. Remember to follow me on Twitter @paulayoo for updates. I will post tomorrow’s Day 4 Blog on May 4, 2015 at 6 AM PST/9 AM EST here with thoughts from our guest AMY CHERRIX about character and plot advice for picture books.
Until then, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂