NAPIBOWRIWEE 2015 – DAY SEVEN: Submissions Check List

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

What? It’s Day SEVEN? Are you kidding me? Where did the time go? How is everyone feeling? Can you believe you have been writing for almost an entire week, non-stop? Are you exhausted? I am! But hang in there! We can do it! Just one more day! 🙂 Even as a professional writer who HAS to write every day, I have to admit writing 7 picture books in 7 days, no matter how much “pre-writing and outlining” you have done, is still a crazy and almost impossible idea. So I am BURSTING with pride for all of you and your hard work. I’m so excited! I am also grateful everyone was willing to join me on this annual journey of insanity to write 7 picture books in 7 days! LOL! 🙂

I will miss everyone! Before our week wraps up, some housekeeping reminders:

1. Please visit my website again on Friday May 8th at 6 AM EST/9 AM PST because I will announce the winners of our annual random drawing contest! I’ve put everyone’s names in a hat and will pick someone from random for the prize! 🙂

2. Our next NAPIBOWRIWEE 2016 event will take place on the same dates – May 1 to May 7th. Mark your calendars and visit my NAPIBOWRIWEE blog here:

3. If you registered for my website, PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR USER NAME AND PASSWORD. That way it will be easier for you to comment on my blog next year. If you forget your password, just follow the instructions at the FAQs here:

4. You can also find some fun souvenirs at our store here:

5. How to keep in touch with me: You can check out my latest blogs at my regular blog address here: and you can follow me on Twitter here: @paulayoo

MY DAY SIX EXPERIENCE: Today was a bit of a messy writing day. As I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog, because of some work deadlines and exhaustion from juggling a full-time job and this event and updating daily blogs, I hit a wall and couldn’t write Book 5 yesterday. So my goal today was to write Books 5 AND 6.

My day job was still busy as ever but I got out early! So I came home, did my daily two-mile walk (exercise is important for writers! Don’t be sedentary!), and then settled in front of my computer and started writing.

I started working on a non-fiction biography of a historical figure I had already done a ton of research on earlier. BUT… as I worked on it, I realized… this person’s life may be too obscure. And the topic might be too hard for the picture book audience. (Hint: It involves a scientist, but NOT Madame Curie.) So I ended up just jotting down a rough outline but I think I want this book idea to simmer more before I decide whether I do want to commit to writing a rough draft at all for this.

So then what did I do?

(small voice) I wrote another cat poem. I couldn’t help it. I have three cats and they are a constant source of inspiration for me. In fact…

(smaller voice) I wrote TWO cat books. LOL! So that counts as Books 5 and 6. However, one was wordless. My first attempt at a wordless picture book. Given that I write screenplays for my day job, scripts are very visual, so it was fun to put on my screenwriting hat to imagine all the visuals.

Which made me realize – if you want a fun writing exercise, watch one of your favorite movies. It can be any genre, from romantic comedy to sci fi to horror to suspense or drama. Jot down notes during the movie – write down what all the story beats are. Examine how the character changes and grows during the movie – from flawed person to hero seeking redemption etc. Figure out what the three-act structure is for the movie (what are the stakes of the plot and how do the storylines affect our character’s well-being?). Once you do that, you will be hyper aware of story structure. Take that energy and apply it to your picture book – if your book was a little mini-movie, what would the main story beats be etc.?

Please post your progress for Day 7 in today’s comments!

Reminder: I am posting daily blogs from May 1-7, 2015 at 6 AM PST (9 AM EST) here at Our contest drawing results will be posted on May 8, 2015 featuring fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE (link:, 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:

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 “Submissions Check List,” I asked Amy for what her top five tips were for making sure your manuscript is ready to submit to agents and/or editors. I thought this would be the best way to wrap up our final day of NAPIBOWRIWEE with an editor’s advice on taking the first steps towards pursuing publication. Here’s what she had to say…

QUESTION: Any advice on how to submit a picture book? What are your Top Five tips that writers should check off their submissions check list before submitting?


1. Use your words. If you can’t comfortably read your own book, the language is off and it needs another pass.

2. Read it to children. Did they yawn or drift off? If so, it’s boring. Sorry. Move on to step 3!

3. Find MORE CHILDREN. Read it to them. If they love it, the first kids may have been over-tired. Revisit #1, just in case.

4. Edit this manuscript within an inch of its life. If a word isn’t 100 percent necessary, cut, cut cut. Be merciless.

5. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never submitted your work before. Everyone panics before clicking “send.” Use your unproven status as an asset by taking one sentence of your author bio to include something memorable about yourself. Are you a marathoner, artist, or black belt in Kung Fu? If one of these things can be related to your book, an editor will remember it and you.

And one final tip: When you attend conferences like the annual summer conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (, make a point to find out the names of early career editors who are working at the publishing houses you have your eye on for submission. They might be more likely to consider books that are too risky for a more established editor. The only person as invested as you in your book, is the eager young editor trying to build a list.”


Thanks Amy, again, for your thoughtful advice! Everyone please remember to check these 5 Tips off your check list when you are ready to submit one of the books you wrote (hopefully) for NAPIBOWRIWEE when it’s ready to go! See? You will have (hopefully) 7 finished picture books by May 7, 2015, and then you can revise, revise, revise before following Amy’s Top 5 Checklist in order to submit to your agent/editor! 🙂

Grateful thanks again to the Amazing Amy Cherrix for taking time out of her busy editing and writing schedule to be our NAPIBOWRIWEE Guest-in-Residence for this year’s event! We’ve learned a lot from you!

Please remember – even though today is our last official day of writing for NAPIBOWRIWEE, there’s still a CONTEST coming up! I will be picking names at random out of a hat for fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE, autographed books from moi, plus some other prizes and… drum roll… one lucky winner gets to have his/her picture book manuscript (minimum one book) critiqued for FREE by professional editor Amy Cherrix!

** CONTEST RESULTS: I will post tomorrow’s CONTEST WINNERS on May 8, 2015 at 6 AM PST/9 AM EST here. Good luck to everyone!

Well, time to leave the Blogging Batcave and head back into the Writing Batcave. Remember to follow me on Twitter @paulayoo for updates.

Until then, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂



  1. (Can you tell I get up early to do my writing?) Anyway, I managed to write two more manuscripts! For a grand total of six! Awesome! Thanks so much, Paula, for hosting this challenge. And I’m going to watch a movie soon and record all the beats. Thanks to Amy for all her advice. I will especially remember number five from today’s checklist, and I will look for early career editors at my next conference.

    • Cool, I’m so glad you are chugging along with six books! And yes, find those hungry younger editors at the next writing conference! Let me know what movie you watch! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for the motivation! As tired as I am, I started today’s draft thinking, “I’ll do a concept book. It will ease the brain.” Two hours of research later… my mind is done! But, I have a draft and a sparsely written core curricular concept book. 🙂 YAY! Thanks to Paula, Amy, and Erin for the support! I look forward to my 7 May drafts every year! Now it’s time to revise!

  3. Love, love, love the submission checklist, Amy. I am subbing to houses as we speak. I’ve sent out three manuscripts. Talk about nervous. It takes so long to hear back. UGH. Pins and needles.

    I have seven drafts. Wahoo. Thanks, Paula. I wouldn’t have these drafts if it wasn’t for NaPiBoWriWee. Hug hug hug!!!

    • Pins and needles – even I feel that. It never ends, that scared nervous feeling. I’m so happy you got your 7 drafts done! Hugs back!

  4. Well, yesterday started on a happy note. I started PB draft #6. But plans changed, then completely unraveled. This can happen when you have two exhausted teenagers. So instead of writing in the evening, I recharged by reading picture books by Peter and Paul Reynolds. Great mentors!
    I will finish PB#6 now and hope to write PB#7 tonight.
    Thank you Paula, Amy and Erin for this great week of writing and sharing!

    • I am so proud and happy you did some reading for inspiration. I’d say at least 60% of writing is READING BOOKS because it really does help inspire our creativity. Good luck with #7! And since you have teens, ever think about writing YA? 🙂

  5. PHEW! I’m done! The 7th first draft is in the can!
    Thanks so much, Paula! This has been hard but FUN. I never would have muddled through without your encouragement and humor!
    Thanks to Amy for all the wise words of advice.
    And thanks to Erin too!
    Learned a lot!
    And congrats to all my fellow NaPiBoWriWee’ers! Think of all the words we put on the page together this week… a lot!

  6. Thanks for the submissions list, Amy! Very helpful!
    I’ve completed five drafts. If I have time tonight, I’ll see if I can knock out one or two more. Thanks for the motivation and inspiration, Paula and Amy!

    • Five is really great! Hugs and hope you can knock out 6&7 but you’ve already “won” with 5 books. That’s great work! 🙂

  7. My brain is FLAT but book 7 is done – A Place for Ducks. Based on facts – When a building in Japan is demolished ducks are displaced. Mandrin and Kamo are relocated to a rice paddy where ducks are protected and used for weeding!

    • OMG I LOOOOOOOOOVE THIS BOOK IDEA!!!!!! How wonderful! What a way to end your NAPIBOWRIWEE experience. Congrats!

  8. Bumfuzzled.
    My new favorite word and what I wrote about. Bumfuzzled…..I love the word. And, yes it is a real word and is even in the dictionary. It has been a productive and busy week. I got confused yesterday on the number of drafts/days I’d been writing. I looked it up and yes I got my seven done. But, what’s great is I looked up confused….don’t ask why LOL LOL…..please don’t ask……..and discovered the amazing word “Bumfuzzled”. It’s magic how we writers discover our themes for writing. Magic!

    • LOL bumfuzzled. I had no idea it was areal word! I love how you accidentally discovered this word! 🙂 Congrats on your lucky 7! 🙂

  9. 7 books in 7 days. Phew! I feel like I’ve run a marathon. A really fun and motivating marathon 🙂 Thank you so much, Paula, for your inspiring event and Amy, for all of your super advice. Until next year!

    • LauraR congratulations! I’m so proud of you and can’t wait for you to join us next year. Please keep me posted on your writing! 🙂

  10. It’s really, really nice to have the seven days end on a Friday this year!

    Looking forward to a weekend “off” from writing and starting with fresh eyes on Monday to see what I’ve created this week!

    Thank you so much Paula. You are always an encouraging and positive hostess and you introduce us to wonderful guest blog posters as well. Thank you Amy for being the 2015 guest-in-residence and cheerleader! Happy writing and revising everyone!

    • Hi Cathy! So awesome to have you participate with us again. I like your “fresh eyes” idea. Keep me posted on how your revisions go! 🙂

  11. Thank you so much for all your wonderful posts and inspiration this week!!! I got more done than I ever thought I could, and now have my work cut out for me in order to polish up the rough gems. 🙂

  12. I finally decided that I needed to participate… on day 7. Wrote a complete first draft today. Really. A complete first draft with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Thanks for the inspiration! Dare I say that next week I’ll catch up?

    • LOL! Hey, better late than never. And you got a draft done on day 7! Bravo! Maybe you can have your own private NAPIBOWRIWEE next week? Keep me posted on how you progress! 🙂

  13. Can’t believe I did it. . .7 ms in 7 days! Of course, there is much editing ahead, but at least they are down on paper. Thanks SOOO much, Paula, for orchestrating this event. Even though it is tiring, I’m looking forward to next year!

    • Yes, it is exhausting. I have a day job of writing, too, so my brain was especially fried. But it’s always fun and I love meeting new friends online. Congrats again and keep me posted on how you do!

  14. Thanks so much Paula and Amy for this very fun week! It’s been a real challenge but definitely worth it! I have to confess that I cheated a little these past couple of days. I’m an illustrator so I spent a little time making drawings of my characters yesterday and today. For me the art really drives the writing so it’s part of the process. Any way you look at it, this week has helped me move some ideas along. Thanks again!

    • Sue I don’t think it’s cheating to do some illustrating. I think it’s all about STORY and CHARACTER, so I’m glad you were able to do both. Maybe the writer part of you should focus on voice and revising the voices in your stories via the text for your revision process? Might be a good way to focus on how to revise these drafts. Congrats and good luck! 🙂

  15. What a great list! And such a fun & challenging week! Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty much a bust for me, writing-wise. But, today, I plowed my way through completing 2 drafts that I’d been working on (but not finishing) since Monday. So, my grand total is 4 drafts, 1 off-to-a-pretty-good-start draft, and good brainstorming on 2 other picturebook ideas (including my first nonfiction foray). I think that I’d only managed to complete at-best 3 drafts in the past… so, new record. I’d love to hit the 7 book mark some year! Thanks, Paula and Amy 🙂

    • Hi Silly Librarian, you’ve been doing great at all the NAPIBOWRIWEE events. I think four drafts is fantastic and the good start and brainstorming on the other three is promising. I know you will hit 7 one day! 🙂 xo P.

  16. Okay, I am done. Draft 7 is complete, it is weak but complete.
    Paula, the challenge was great! The timing is perfect for me because I have a slight break in my schedule and you provided great motivation!
    I also loved all the information and to hear everyone’s ideas.
    I love the checklist Amy!
    Thanks again!

    • Perfect that you had some time carved out this week for the event. I think the weekend was also helpful for some of us. Congrats and keep me posted on how you do with the revisions! 🙂

  17. So I completed 2 tonight they are both similar in nature but the setting is different city and country. They explore the 5 major senses.
    Maybe I’ll get lucky and pump another book out in the morning. .

    • Wow Seth you are going to attempt a Book 8? Bravo! 🙂 It was fun to have you here this year and I loved your progress report comments. Keep me posted on how your writing goes! 🙂

  18. Thank for the motivation, valuable information, and fun. I got draft #7 done today when a Ballerina and a Mummy came to play. Fortunately, it’s not in rhyme. Lots of polishing, but lots of promise in the drafts thanks to your challenge Paula. Plus a story about mystery boxes in an attic still bubbling about up there. Thanks again.

  19. Well, I didn’t comment yesterday because I didn’t finish a draft. It was a battle to write one, let alone two manuscripts today. The words just weren’t flowing. But after a few false starts, I finally finished #6 and 7. Wahoo! They’re not pretty, but they’re on paper. I’m off to grab a snack, change into my comfy clothes, and wrestle my day 5 draft into submission. It’s been bugging me all day. I won’t be able to sleep tonight until I jiggle those pieces into a better form . . . That is, unless I fall asleep on my notebook again. At least I have off tomorrow. Thanks and hugs to Paula and Amy and Sam!

    • Bravo Joanne. I’m glad you were able to fight this battle. Even tho you have been feeling “bugged” all day, I’m actually happy to hear that because it means you are PASSIONATE about Book #5 and want to fix it. That’s what a writer does – our passion is what drives us. Thanks again for your kind words and participating. Keep me posted on how you wrestle Book 5 into submission! 🙂

  20. Thanks so much for starting and hosting NaPiBokWriWee, Paula! Hope you got off work early again and go some writing time in today. Happy I could join in the fun this year. Thanks to Amy for the advice too!

    Got my final picture book written tonight. WooHoo! Not sure it completely makes sense (really tired tonight), but I wrote it from my notes and I can revise it later, so I’m sure it’s a masterpiece (or will be in a future draft). 😉

    • I’m glad you were able to participate again! Congrats on your future masterpiece! So proud you got 7 drafts done in time! 🙂

  21. I did it! Seven done. Today’s story was actually more of a beginning chapter book. Wrote it fast. Very rough. Glad to be done. 🙂 This has been fun.

    • That’s exciting to hear that your last draft might be a chapter book. Guess what? The same thing happened to me last year or so. This is another reason why NaPiBoWriWee is fun to do – sometimes our ideas turn out to be other genres. That’s why it’s important to FINISH a draft to find out if the idea needs to be in PB form or something longer. Congrats again! 🙂

  22. Woohoo! This was tough but almost done. I’m writing my seventh draft right this second.
    I am out of ideas for the next week. Thanks for the motivation and challenge!

    Zainab Khan

    • You deserve to take a break now. Rest up for the weekend. You have plenty of time to revise now. So proud of you and excited you were able to get the 7 drafts done. Yippee! 🙂

  23. I have 7 very rough manuscripts. Now I need a picture book revision week.
    Amy, I like the advice to read to kids. I teach kindergarten and they are a discerning audience. This week I read 2 different beginnings and had them vote for their favorite. They were even able to articulate why they liked one better than the other.
    Paula, thanks for making time in your busy schedule to be such an organized encourager.

    • That’s so wonderful you teach kindergarten, Claire. I substitute teach K-12 and I thought Kindergarten was the hardest grade to teach. Wow. I love that you used your class to help you write – you also taught them how to analyze storytelling. Wonderful! I’m very pro-teacher because I’m also married to one. Team Teacher! Teachers are awesome and deserve our respect and appreciation every day. I hope you continue to write and teach and keep me posted on how your writing goes! xo P.

  24. Thanks so much for all the inspiring posts, Paula and Amy!

    It’s been a really rough few months for me because of serious family health issues, and they got in the way of me winning the challenge. But I still feel like a winner, because even with all the chaos going on in my house, I was able to jot down some rough PB drafts, thanks to both of you. I can’t wait to whip them into shape (and hopefully finish writing a few others I brainstormed for this challenge).

    • Hugs Mindy. I’m always so grateful you can participate every year. You rock! I’m so sorry about the family health issues. Sending out positive vibes for your family to be in strong health and spirits. And you won of course in terms of writing on a regular basis. Also – when our lives get sad or complicated or messy, that darker emotion is important to confront and resolve because it honestly helps us when we write for children. So many children do not live in a perfect home, and we write for them because we want to help them – and ourselves – understand the human condition. Children’s books help kids learn to grow up to be compassionate caring people. You’re on a challenging but ultimately rewarding journey as both a writer and human being. Many hugs! Love, Paula 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Paula! (((Hugs)))

        You’re so right–I’d love to help children understand our world better–plus take the time to really enjoy it and let their imaginations soar.

        I’ve definitely learned so much through all of this (one daughter had an eating disorder relapse and we had to put her in a facility a few states away for 2 1/2 months and are now trying to keep her on track at home, but it’s been very hard and the other has IBS and all the stress from this has been making her even sicker). I hope some of our experiences will be able to be worked into future books that can help children in the future!

  25. Aloha e Paula & folks! Well, I did it… I finished NaPiBoWriWee with my most complete draft ever–right around midnight. The story is fictional and it culminates at a kanikapila–a backyard music jam with some hula in the mix. As the saying goes: write what ya know! ;)! I’m so happy I did this challenge. It’s the first time, I made it all the way through, 7 for 7. Yay! Congrats to everyone who participated and got some words and stories down. Mahalo nui, Paula–I totally appreciate your organizing this! 😀

  26. First, thank you for doing NaPiBoWriWee every year, Paula. I really look forward to taking some of my ideas that I come up with during PiBoIdMo and turning them into rough drafts!

    Sorry that I didn’t this post last evening but I was exhausted… I met my total for this year’s NaPiBoWriWee!! YAY!! I ended up with 10 rough drafts that will now go through ReviMo. Yes, I use all three (PiBoIdMo, NaPiBoWriWee, ReviMo) to take my ideas to a revised manuscript.

    Again, thank you, Paula for doing this!! And a special thank you to Amy Cherrix and Erin Kono for all their advice. I will definitely be back next year!

    • I look forward to your participation eery year as well! 🙂 I cannot believe you have ten drafts?! Wow! And I love that you use PiBoIdMo, NAPIBOWRIWEE and ReviMo as your writing schedule. Great idea! Good luck and see you next year! xo P.

  27. Finsihed #7 yesterday (a 3rd non-fiction) and then last night capped a great week off with the fireworks of an insane stomach bug (maybe food poisoning?). Ugh.
    But ONE MORE great thing about NaPiBoWriWee is hat I can’t share germs with any of you!! (AND I can sit here typing in my gross pajamas…)
    Thanks so much Paula — and Amy — I really love the push of this week!
    It was my second year, and I was a little more organized; a healthy idea pile at the outset made things flow much more easily.

    • Yay congrats! But boo on stomach bug. So sorry you got sick. LOL can’t share your germs. Well you should take it easy this weekend and relax. You deserve it! xo P.

  28. I finished draft 7 before bed (I wasn’t sure I’d make it) last night. Woohoo! It was harder than running a marathon (or so I imagine because I’ve never been in one. Heh).

    Thank you, Paula, for the yearly push to write out some of my PiBoIdMo ideas…and Amy for the extra insights this year! xoxo Teresa