2018 NAPIBOWRIWEE DAY 1 – Meet Guest Author Helena Ku Rhee!

Helena Ku Rhee


Hello, my NAPIBOWRIWEE participants! Welcome back! I hope you are excited for this year’s event where we will attempt to write 7 picture books in 7 days! Can you believe this is our TENTH ANNIVERSARY? Woo hoo! 🙂

NUTS & BOLTS: This is a quick list describing how this week works!

  1. Goal: To write 7 picture books in 7 days. All drafts must be COMPLETELY FINISHED. Half-finished or work-in-progress drafts do NOT count.
  2. Caveat: If you cannot write 7 picture books in 7 days, don’t despair! I will be happy if you can complete at least ONE FULL DRAFT! Come on, you can do it! (Cue: Rocky theme music!) 🙂 (NOTE: We do the Honor System, so please do NOT send me your drafts as proof. I believe you!)
  3. How to Participate: Please post a comment in our COMMENTS section about your writing day, your experience, and any comments or questions you might have! Please read each day’s Guest Author Q&A for inspiration and writing tips!
  4. Blogs: I will post a daily blog featuring words of wisdom from our Guest Authors/Artists every day from May 1-7, 2018 at 9:00 AM EST (6:00 AM PST). There will also be two extra blogs on May 8, 2018 announcing the contest winner and information on our next 2019 event on May 9, 2018.
  5. History: This event was created in 2009 as a fun way to battle procrastination, and has since gone viral and become an annual event. To find out more, visit this link about the History of NAPIBOWRIWEE: https://napibowriwee.com/about/
  6. Archives: If you are curious about past Guest Authors, please visit the BLOG link for the 2016 events up through the present. If you want to explore the NAPIBOWRIWEE Archives of 2009-2015, please go to our ARCHIVES link.
  7. CONTEST: Everyone who posts a comment in this week’s blogs will be included in a random contest drawing for prizes including autographed books by our Guest Authors and myself, plus souvenirs from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE! I will announce the contest winners on the last day – May 7, 2018.
  8. STORE: If you want to wear your NAPIBOWRIWEE shirt while you drink coffee or tea from your NAPIBOWRIWEE mug and jot down your ideas in your NAPIBOWRIWEE journal, go to our store here: https://www.cafepress.com/paulayoonapibowriweeclassic

Because this is our 10th Anniversary of NAPIBOWRIWEE, I’m going to post a daily “Greatest Hits” blast from the past from NaPiBoWriWee events. So let’s get into the NAPIBOWRIWEE Time Machine and go all the way back to… 2009!


Prolific children’s book author and poet Lisa Wheeler took time out of her busy schedule to write this lovely picture book describing her journey to becoming a published picture book writer. This is a huge honor to receive an original poem by Lisa for our 2009 NaPiBoWriWee week, so thank you Lisa!!!!

For more info on Lisa, please check out her website here:



By Lisa Wheeler

Lisa wanted to write books.
Books about animals. Grrrrr.
Books about people. “Hello.”
Books with shiny cover. . .
and books kids would love the cover right off of.
Thin books and fat books.
Small books and tall books.
She wanted to write all books.

So she did.

Lisa wrote about a girl who blew a bubble so big
it exploded and coated the whole house. YUCK!
She wrote about a boy named Smelly  who would not take a bath.  P.U!
She wrote about a Hippo who got stuck in a doorway,
a rabbit who was afraid to go up the stairs,
and a dog who needed a friend.
She wrote about lots of things…
that no one would ever read.

The problem was that every time Lisa sent her story to a publisher
she got a big fat NO THANK YOU.
Lisa started to count her NO THANK YOUS.
When she got to 100 she stopped.
She took all those nasty NO THANK YOUS and dumped them into the shredder.
“Bye-Bye,” Lisa said. “Out with the negative vibes!”
The next day, Lisa got NO THANK YOU number 101.
Lisa started counting again.

One day, Lisa was in an extremely good mood.  She went skipping to her mailbox. Tra-la-la!
Only to be greeted by four NO THANK YOUS.
“148, 149, 150, 151,” Lisa counted, as she slumped back home from the mailbox.
“That’s it!” she said to her husband. “I am done! I am finished! I quit! I will never be published. The end!”
The next day, Lisa got a new idea.
It was NO THANK YOU number 200.

Lisa started listening to people.
People said talking animals don’t sell.
Lisa stopped writing about talking animals.
People said rhyme doesn’t sell.
Lisa stopped writing in rhyme.
People said picture books don’t sell.
Lisa wrote a chapter book.
The chapter book got NO THANK YOUS numbered 205 through 210.
Lisa was very, very sad.

Then, one day, Lisa wrote a new book.
It was a picture book!
It was in rhyme!
It had talking animals!

It sold.

Finally, after 225 NO THANK YOUS, Lisa got a YES!

Lisa still wants to write books.
So she does.


Thank you Lisa for that trip down memory lane! 

And now, welcome back to 2018! Here’s our first Guest Author interview with Helena Ku Rhee!



The Turtle Ship by Helena Ku Rhee & illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage (Lee & Low Books 2018)

BIO: Helena Ku Rhee is a children’s book writer by night and works full-time at a movie studio by day. Helena’s debut picture book “The Turtle Ship,” illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage, will be published during the summer of 2018 by Lee & Low. Her second picture book “The Paper Kingdom,” illustrated by Pascal Campion, will be published in 2019/2020 by Penguin Random House. She lives in Los Angeles, and you can find her online at helenakrhee.com.


— What inspired you to write picture books?

I think I’ve always gravitated towards picture books because they’re a beautiful art form. The words and illustrations have a synergy that truly transport you. Flipping the pages on your own, or reading the story aloud to kids and watching the wonder on their faces – that’s magical.

— Do you write or illustrate in any other genres of writing or art forms? If so, what and why? Any preferences?

In addition to picture books, I’ve also written a couple of middle grade manuscripts and am working on a young adult novel. I love all three for different reasons. I love picture books because it’s fascinating to see the text and illustrations work together. I love middle grade books because I just adore that age set – kids have the funniest questions and observations at that age, and I like to reflect that humor and curiosity via my characters. And I love YA because everything seems so momentous at that age – your first love, your first heartbreak, your first traffic ticket!

— What do you like most about picture book writing/illustrating versus other genres?

I love that picture books are a happy marriage between the text and the art. I love seeing the artist’s interpretation of the story. When I first saw artist Colleen Kong-Savage’s illustrations for our debut picture book, THE TURTLE SHIP, I was very, very moved. The artwork was so meticulously and lovingly rendered. It’s amazing to see your characters come to life in full color, looking better than you’d ever imagined.

— What is the most challenging part about writing/illustrating picture books?

I have to constantly remind myself that the illustrations will help illuminate the story, so no need to go into lengthy descriptions. Also, it’s an exhilarating challenge to tell a full story in under 1,000 words.

— Tell us about your first published book or first art assignment – what inspired the idea for the book or how did you figure out how to approach the art for the author’s text?

THE TURTLE SHIP will be my debut picture book, published by the amazing Lee & Low. It’ll be available this summer! My parents are from South Korea, so I grew up with their stories about Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his real turtle ship, which was a battleship modeled after the shape of a turtle. With a curved top and even a tail-shaped stern, the turtle ship was likely the first ironclad ship ever created. It fascinated me. Also, I lived in South Korea for a year after college on a Fulbright fellowship. While there, I purchased an academic book about the turtle ship and was absolutely amazed. Since nobody knows the full origins of the turtle ship, I wondered if it was possible that a small turtle could’ve indeed inspired the design of a mighty battleship.

— How long did it take to write (for artists – or illustrate & write)?

I wrote the first draft of THE TURTLE SHIP probably over a decade ago. But in the original draft, I’d told the story from the king’s perspective, and something about that never seemed quite right. So I set the story aside for a number of years until it started calling to me again. Then, a couple of years ago, I revised the story many times and told it from the perspective of Admiral Yi Sun-sin as a child, and that made all the difference.

— Any fun or interesting details about the road to your first book’s publication?

One of the most incredible parts of getting THE TURTLE SHIP to publication was finding the illustrator, Colleen Kong-Savage. Once I got the offer from Lee & Low, I went to the portfolio showcase at SCBWI’s summer conference, to see what was out there. I think that was in late July/early August of 2016. I saw the portfolio of artist Colleen Kong-Savage, and kept going back to it, again and again. Her illustrations really stood out to me among the many brilliant portfolios I saw that day. So I took one of her postcards and looked up her website. I sent her a fan email, and mentioned I’d written a book about a boy and his pet turtle, and would love to introduce her to my editor. She wrote back immediately to ask if my book was with Lee & Low. What?! How did she know?! I had no idea that months beforehand, Jessica (my editor) had already pinpointed Colleen as a potential illustrator for THE TURTLE SHIP and had reached out to her agent. Of all the hundreds of thousands of illustrators out there, Lee & Low and I landed on the same artist! We must’ve had the same vision for the book, and Colleen’s artwork matched that colorful and whimsical vision. The serendipity still gives me the chills!

— Do you have a favorite picture book or a picture book that most inspires you with its writing and/or art? If so, which one is it and why?

I have so many favorites that singling out just one book is truly impossible! I tend to gravitate towards picture books that make me laugh or that make me cry. Okay, I’ll mention a few that I love. Amy Krouse Rosenthal was amazing, and “Duck! Rabbit!” is a book I often gift to friends with young kids. I also love the work of Doreen Cronin – “Diary of a Worm” and “Click, Clack, Moo” make me laugh out loud. And recently, I discovered Jessixa Bagley’s “Boats for Papa.” Makes me sniffle whenever I read it. And what’s cool about Paula Yoo’s “Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds” is that I had the good fortune of coming across the story right before I met Sammy Lee at a dinner– her story was a wonderful introduction to the impressive (yet adorable) man I met in person!

— Where is the best place for you to write your books or to do your illustrations? (If you are an illustrator, are you hi-tech or low-tech? Do you use those fancy computer programs or do you sketch/draw by hand on paper/non-computer materials?)

I’ve always fantasized about being the type of person who, dressed in a cute outfit, can write in a hip café while listening to music. But I need silence to write. And I don’t write to music because I find it very distracting. So I’m usually in loungewear in my upstairs home office or at the dining table if it’s quiet downstairs.

— If you weren’t a writer/artist, what would you be?

Doesn’t Anthony Bourdain have such a cool job? To travel the world, eat delicious foods and meet interesting people all the time…that would be awesome. But unfortunately, eyeballs and maggot fried rice are not my idea of a great meal. Also, I’m seriously in love with being at home, so I think the constant travel would wear me down. In other words, Anthony Bourdain should feel no threat that I’m after his job.

— Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

I eat a square of dark chocolate every afternoon. Just one square, maybe two if I’m indulging myself. When I read in the NY Times a couple years ago that former President Obama ate exactly eight almonds every night, I loved him even more. Of course, I found out later that this was a joke, but looking at him in his neat attire, I think he actually does eat a precise number of almonds each day (but just pretended like it was a joke so he wouldn’t come across as super weird/anal). Anyway, I’m very particular about the cocoa content in my chocolate — my preference for years has been Valrhona’s 71%. I also love Bachmann’s dark chocolate, but it’s hard to find outside of Switzerland. I considered contacting Bachmann to see if I could be their U.S. distributor out of my house, but I’m afraid I’d eat all the inventory.

— If you could give one piece of writing or illustrating advice for our NaPiBoWriWee participants, what would it be?

This is something that I’m constantly telling myself: though it’s important to study the market and keep up with what’s being published today, don’t pay too much attention to what others are doing. If you let marketplace news distract you too much, you will waste precious time that could be spent on your projects. It could also make you feel depressed. For many years, when I read the news of other writers getting their works traditionally published by a great publishing house, I’d feel a little down. But I kept at it, and then started getting “nice” rejections from agents and editors, the kind with hand-written comments complimenting my characters or my writing. So I knew that, despite the rejections, I was on the right track. As tough as this is to accept before you reach the other side, rejection is truly part of the process and it makes you better and stronger. So focus on your projects and your ideas, and don’t get too caught up in “what’s hot” and who’s got a deal with whom. You don’t want too much noise crowding your brain space.

— There’s been a growing demand for more diversity in children’s book publishing for women and people of color either as book subjects/stories/characters or for diverse writers/illustrators. What are your thoughts on that, if any?

This movement for diversity is long overdue. I wish there’d been such a diversity of voices while I was growing up. It would’ve been wonderful to open a picture book or a middle grade mystery with a diverse cast of characters. I think, in part, books help kids understand the world. And how awesome to have a diverse world represented in the books that they open over and over again. I think this planet will be a better and more tolerant place if the characters that kids fall in love with are from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. I’m so glad that the publishing industry is pushing for diversity, and I hope it’s not just a trend, but a normal mode of operation going forward. The two publishing houses I’m currently working with, Lee & Low and Penguin Random House, have done a great job of making diversity a priority. And Lee & Low is unique in that diversity is their primary mission.

— There’s been increasing pressure for writers and artists to be active on social media. Are you on social media? If so, where can your readers reach you? Has social media helped your writing/art journey and career? Any advice for writers or artists who might feel overwhelmed by the social media “burden”?

I’m on social media, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. Probably because I’m a very private person as well as a classic introvert. So I’m a late adopter who’s still trying to figure out how to incorporate social media into my life as a writer – in other words, the jury’s still out as to whether social media will help my writing career or just continue to serve as a distraction from my writing. I have been enjoying Instagram and Twitter (though I’m not very active) because there’s a casualness about those platforms that I like. Posting on Facebook kind of scares me because their targeted ads and algorithm-generated suggestions make me feel like there’s always someone watching. But I do love hearing from fellow writers, artists and readers. So please connect with me!

Website: helenakrhee.com
Facebook: Helena Ku Rhee
Instagram: @helenakurhee
Twitter: @HelenaRhee


Thanks, Helena, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions! I hope everyone is now inspired to start writing for Day One! 

Please remember – in order to be included in our CONTEST DRAWING, please post a comment below about your Day One experience and anything else you’d like to add. I will include all your names in a hat for the prize drawing at the end of the week!

Stay tuned for DAY TWO’s blog which will be posted tomorrow, Wed. May 2, 2018 at 9 AM EST/6 AM PST! We will meet the ILLUSTRATOR Colleen Kong-Savage who did the beautiful artwork for THE TURTLE SHIP! Until then, HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂


  1. I’m so excited to rise to the challenge this week, and I event got out a rough draft while I was in the shower this morning 🙂 Lisa’s over 200 rejections are a great inspiration and I’m with Helena on the need for quiet and chocolate! Thanks to you all for sharing, and Happy Writing Everyone!

    • I love to create “reward moments” for myself. Example: write two pages, and then reward myself with a square of chocolate and a cup of tea. Chocolate is a great motivator!

      • I do the same thing! I am a staff writer by day so I sometimes have to bribe myself to get through the afternoon with a hot chocolate reward 🙂

        • A hot chocolate rewards sounds right up my alley! I have a day job, too (at a movie studio), so I find that I absolutely rely on my quiet tea and chocolate “reward moment” to get me through each busy afternoon.

  2. I loved hearing about the serendipitous connection between you and your illustrator. Congrats! Looking forward to reading The Turtle Ship!
    Day 1- Draft 1 is done!

  3. Great interview, Helena! I’m midway through draft #1 but the day is young and the words are plenty (now I just have to select a few choice ones for the manuscript). Happy writing, everyone!

  4. I’m so excited to participate in my first NaPiBoWriWee!!! If a nervous porcupine were riding a rollercoaster for the first time, that’s the sound I imagine he’d make as he clank-clank-clanks up and over the first hill.

    Porcupine gripped the metal bar. “N-n-na….P-p-p-pi….B-b-bo, Wrrri, WEEEEEEEE!!!!!”

  5. I got a big fat “No thank you” this morning in the mail, so I could really relate to the poem. But despite the rejection, I did write a picture book draft this morning. It was based on a draft I had written before, but my mentor suggested some changes. I realized that the new character no longer fit the storyline, so I basically threw out my first draft and wrote a whole new story. We’ll see where it takes me. I am looking forward to reading “The Turtle Ship”, and now I actually have a new story idea based on a ship that fascinates me! Yay!

    • Hang in there! Over the course of my writing life, I’ve received enough “No thank you”s to make any sane person want to quit. Fortunately, I enjoy the entire crazy process enough to keep at it. Sounds like you’ve got enough passion, determination and grit to keep you marching forward to your goal — awesome!

    • Hugs Linda, I’m sorry about the No Thank you but the silver lining is that you got a Day One draft done! AND you work with a mentor which means you are taking the right steps on your writing journey to publication. Keep working hard and keep up the positive spirit! Congrats! 🙂

  6. The Turtle Ship sounds like a fascinating story. I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing your writing journey – and how you and the illustrator were just meant to be.

  7. I had waffles about doing the challenge this year due to various reasons but I am so glad I decided to jump in because 1) I love Paula, and 2) I now love Helen, too! 😉 This was such a fun interview…full of humor and insights. I feel like Helen and I have a ton in common and I can tell wait to read her debut PB!

    I’d not read the original Lisa Wheeler post so I’m glad it was shared again. What a hoot! Such a great format to do the interview in.

    Ok, I’d better go hammer out my first NaPiBoWriWee draft of 2018! Thanks, Paula, Helen, and Lisa!

  8. Does it count if i’m in the middle of revisions? I’ll see what I can crank out this week in the way of new stories. Thanks for hosting this, Paula. And thank you for the post, Helena.

    • Hi Gregory! Unfortunately, ONLY NEW stories. Must be first drafts. Revisions are for later. This was created to encourage people to jump that first hurdle of completing a first draft. Congrats on your revisions though! Hopefully you can come up with new stuff for this week. 🙂 Happy Writing! 🙂

  9. This post is a much needed reminder that it can take a long, long, lonnnng time before you get a YES! I do like the idea of the square of chocolate each day … might have to adopt that particular habit. Also inspired by hearing how your book was first written ten years ago, but kept calling to you, demanding to be told, but not the way you’d originally thought. I love that this story just had to be! Day 1 draft complete … where’s that chocolate?

  10. Colleen Kong-Savage’s illustrations are stunning! I loved hearing the magic of the artist, writer and publisher all finding each other. Now I’m off to write… with visions of turtles dancing in my head.

  11. I have my NaPiBoWriWee cup filled with tea, am inspired by the post (I can’t wait to read The Turtle Ship!) And now I’m ready to start draft #1. Thank you Paula!

  12. Thanks for this insightful interview, Helena. I appreciated the reminder about not getting distracted by marketplace news. And I can’t wait to read THE TURTLE SHIP. I loved reading its origin story.

  13. OK, I’m reluctantly here. I’ve never done this before but agent sisters are doing it, so I thought about it. Decided last night to put it off for another year as I should be revising this week. BUT, an unfortunate but humorous incident happened to a son’s pet this morning and I’ve got a draft ruminating in my head that I might as well get on paper!

    • Welcome Debra! I’m glad you could join us. And hmmmm, I am intrigued about the Humorous Incident with the Son’s Pet! LOL! Glad you found inspiration! Happy Writing! 🙂

  14. Colleen Kong-Savage and Pascal Campion are two of my favorite illustrators – you are so lucky to find each other! Excited for both books. Wanted to get a jump on research for my first draft and ended up in weird wormhole – see if I can dig myself out today! I’m definitely “waffles” about where I’m going. 😉

  15. There is something magical about NAPIBOWRIWEE! This year, I decided to research and order mentor texts ahead of time. I am rolling my sleeves up and am ready to write my first manuscript today! What a terrific Day 1 post! I can’t wait to read “The Turtle Ship.”

    Thank you, Paula, for your fearless leadership!

  16. I am half done the first ms–I’m thinking that grass mowing + Helena’s reminder to keep moving will reactivate my brain for the second half. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Paula. 🙂

  17. It was so refreshing to hear about going with your ideas and not focusing too much on what’s hot/or not. Your message to keep writing despite the number of “No Thank Yous” received was a mantra to write by!

  18. Congratulations Helena! What a wonderful post! I look forward to reading your books and wow, what a fabulous publisher Lee & Low is, as well as the talented illustrators who’ve worked on your books.

    Congratulations Paula on 10 years of NaPiBoWriWee! So grateful for your tireless efforts to help the community!

  19. Thank you Helena! I can’t wait to read your book!
    And p.s. How can you only have ONE square of chocolate?!?! 🙂

  20. So excited & hopeful to begin my second year of #napibowriwee! This year I actually got a draft written today thanks to a funny but unfortunate event from this past weekend. Write on!

  21. Thank you for the challenge. I can’t wait to write draft #1 today.

    Also, thanks for sharing Lisa’s story because I feel like I am walking in her shoes with those rejections. I’m keeping at it.

  22. Thank you for hosting this event, and this thoughtful post! (I confess the “Lisa” poem felt a little personal. :)) I had a lovely time knocking out today’s draft. Fingers crossed I’ll keep the WEEEEE in days to come!

  23. Thank you for hosting such a fun event! Writing in nap-length bursts means that this will be an extra speed-writing challenge. I’m excited to attempt it!

    • Angela – yes! We should all tune out the “Market Noise” I agree! Let’s focus this week on supporting each other and our writing! Welcome and happy writing! 🙂

  24. I so appreciated reading both posts saying to keep writing even though you get rejections. I’m at the point that I’m not sure where my writing is going, so I appreciate the encouragement! Now on to the writing!

  25. Great interview! I love hearing author’s inspirations and publishing journey. I am very excited to to the challenge for the first time this year. It has been a start and stop kind of day but making progress! Thanks for the motivation.

    • Hi Elizabeth! Welcome! I hope you had a good day 1! Keep writing every day and hopefully you can have at least one if not SEVEN full drafts by the end of this week! No pressure – this is just a fun silly event I like to host every year so we can all cheer each other on. Happy writing annd keep us posted on your progress! 🙂

  26. I admit to eating a handful of almonds every night (No, I don’t count them). It’s something my Indian father and grandfather used to do.

    I’m very curious about The Turtle Ship. The cover art really pulls me in.

    Today, I took the leap from submitting to agents to submitting to editors. With that ms in the mail, I can focus on drafting a new ms this evening.

  27. A hearty thanks to everyone for reading my interview! It’s really gratifying and encouraging to be part of a community of writers who grapple with the same ups and downs. Keep plugging away, and keep up the great work! Despite the “no thank you”‘s that may come your way, have faith in your talent and sustain yourself with the things you love — inspiring books, fellow creators, some chocolate (or almonds)! I’m looking forward to seeing your books on the shelves. Very cool to know that THE TURTLE SHIP has inspired at least one other marine-themed book 🙂 Thank you, Paula, for this wonderful event and community!

  28. Thanks for the inspiration and the in-depth interview. What a great start to a week of writing.

    Looking over my ever-growing list of story ideas, it’s amazing to see what pops off the page and begs to be written. Draft #1, check. This is going to be fun!

  29. I am SO EXCITED to be doing NaPiBoWriWee for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW! It has TRULY helped push me when I needed it the most, as it seems to come around each year when I need that extra BOOST to keep on writin’ on! I already finished my story for the day. I was SO EXCITED to get going, that I started writing at 5:00 A.M.!!! I TRULY APPRECIATE the words of wisdom from Helena and the flash-back wisdom of Lisa. What really stuck out to me is how both of these AMAZING writers didn’t allow rejection and the dictates of the market to dictate their course. Instead, they kept writing what they were passionate about and didn’t let rejection keep them down. GREAT lessons here! THANK YOU for sharing! GOOD LUCK to ALL of the participants for a TRULY INSPIRING week of writing–and hopefully a life-long one, too!

    • Natalie has it been three years now? Wow! And yes you nailed it – it’s about being passionate and not letting rejection and market concerns stifle your artistic vision. Let us know how your progress goes this week! xo P.

  30. I’m excited to participate in the NaPiBoWriWee. This is my first time, and I really need the boost to create new picture books. This week is a busy one for me, so I’m planning os some pretty late nights.

    • Welcome Barbara! We love first timers! Yeah, it’s hard to do this when you are working or have a busy week, so I too am doing some late nights. But it will be worth it, I promise! It’s like a fun yet slightly torturous First Draft Boot Camp. 🙂 Good luck and happy writing! PS. BTW if you can’t write one day, you are allowed to make it up by writing more than one book if you want to make up for lost time. 🙂

  31. Great guest post with Helena, and excellent blast from the past with Lisa Wheeler. What a great non-fiction biography she wrote:) I lucked out today, because I dreamt a story and my daughter lovingly woke me up at 3AM because “she got a drink of water and freaked out that it was exactly 3:00.” I was able to jot it down all fresh right there in the middle of the night. Lucky me!

  32. Finished the day with TWO rough drafts and notes on a third. Much better-than-expected start; the ideas just kept coming.

    Helena, I grew up in Korea with stories of Admiral Yi, as well as living on Geoje Island near the inland waterways where some of the decisive Turtleship battles took place, so I. Cannot. Wait. For. This. Book!!

      • Paula, you’re making such a significant contribution to the field with this movement. Imagine all the mss that would never get written otherwise! (Autocorrect changed “mss” to “mess” and that’s applicable too to the first drafts I’m churning out! 😉 Some of mine are ideas or concepts I’ve carried for years but never figured out how to start.

        xo back & hi to David when you talk to him – Annie

  33. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited about the next 7 days! Thanks Paula for the time and energy you put into this week… Thanks Helena for starting us off strong! I usually write best in the morning, but life got in the way today, so I’m staying up late to crank out Draft #1. Best of luck to everyone this week!

    • Hi Jennifer! Thank you for your kind words. Sorry you had to pull a late night but hopefully you can catch up on sleep after Day 7 🙂 Good luck and happy writing! 🙂

  34. Paula, thank you so much for the Lisa Wheeler blast from the past. How encouraging to be reminded of her journey as I rack up rejections. Her story coincides well with something Helena mentioned, too. Knowing the market is important, but writing from your passion is most important. So, I am pleased to have written PB #1…with a fair amount of passion.

    • Hi Susan and thanks! Hey we have all “racked up” those rejections. I have seven published books and I STILL GET REJECTED ALL THE TIME. Writing is 99 percent rejection. All you need is that ONE person who says YES and the rest is history. Our passion drives us – at least we can control the writing. That’s the most important part. Stay passionate! xo P.

  35. So enjoyed the interview – love hearing an author’s writing history.
    Got started on a first draft – I’ve had the idea for ages but just couldn’t get started. I did today. Still lots to do with it, but it felt good to make some progress..
    Thanks for holding this week of writing.- it really is a motivating boost for me.

  36. I’m so thrilled that my critique partner told me about this challenge! As I reviewed my StoryStorm idea notebook earlier this week, I was having trouble deciding which manuscript idea to write out. Now, with this challenge, I can write them all- THIS WEEK! I’m pumped for this writing challenge!

    • Hi Jennifer Broedel andn welcome! We’re pumped YOU’RE pumped! Keep us posted on how your writing goes this week! xo P.

  37. I loved hearing about the illustrator coincidence! Wow! It’s great that you and your editor were on the same wavelength about what the book should look like.

    Day 1 draft — half finished? I hope to finish it later tonight.

    • Glad to hear about everyone’s fantastic progress. Keep on going, get those words down — you can edit later! I personally love the revision phase. It’s the blank page that intimidates me. So plow through and get your first drafts done 🙂

    • Teresa – half finished is better than zero finished! Let us know if you were able to get the rest done! See you on day 2 🙂

  38. Thanks for the inspiration! Today I ended up “cheating.” I started what I thought would be a picture book and it ended up being the beginning of a middle grade novel (I think). Tomorrow I’ll try not to cheat (although I’m going to work on that middle grade novel, too!).

  39. Thank you, Paula! I love this picture book community you’ve drummed up here with your excellent get-writing butt-kick. Helena, I’m so glad to take this big step in the journey with you! And Lisa Wheeler, you say it like it is, sister!

  40. Wonderful post! I do love reading about authors who face many rejections yet keep on writing and growing. Thank you! Today I worked on a story that has been simmering on the back burner of my brain. 🙂 Congratulations on the upcoming book birthdays!

    • Hi Angie! Great to have you back! I’m glad your back burner idea is now on the FRONT burner! Sounds like a good Day 1 for you! 🙂

  41. I don’t quite have book #1 finished for today, but I’m close (I hope). Back to writing! (It might be after midnight here, but it’s still May 1st somewhere.)

    Paula – thanks for the trip down memory lane with Lisa’s poem and the wonderful interview.

    Helena – thanks for sharing your insights and journey, and congratulations on your upcoming picture book!

  42. How do you fail the first day of a challenge? Ugh. I procrastinated on my preparation all weekend and am paying for it now. I thought I’d whip out my draft before my critique group tonight…then it was cancelled. Ended up working on an illustration deadline instead. I’m still determined to get 7 drafts done this week. Wouldn’t want to break my streak from previous years. Gotta give this part of my career a little more love tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiring post, too bad I’m reading it at midnight. Thanks, Paula and Helena!

    • Hugs Joanne, there is NO fail at NAPIBOWRIWEE. Sorry your group got cancelled tonite and that you had to juggle an art deadline. But yes, you can always make up for it the next day. So keep us posted!!!! I’m rooting for ya! 🙂

  43. Hi everyone! Thanks again to Helena for her wonderful interview for Day 1 and to Lisa Wheeler for our Greatest Hits moment. I loved everyone’s comments and tried my best to reply to everyone. Given how busy it gets for me, I won’t always be able to comment directly to everyone but please know that I read and and love all your progress reports, and yes, I have collected your names for the CONTEST DRAWING. Stay tuned for Day 2 Blog with Colleen Kong-Savage! 🙂 xo P.

  44. I really enjoyed reading this interview. It really puts things into perspective… write what’s in your heart, not what the trend is. It means that your voice will be genuine and authentic… and children are the quickest and sometimes the most critical judges I know (they seem able to sniff out authenticity at 10 paces lol). I have a (very) rough draft that I completed today!!! Woohoo! It needs a lot of polishing, but it’s whole and it’s on a page! Feeling inspired… this is such a great challenge Paula!!!

  45. Hi! I completely forgot to check in yesterday. I wrote a horrible first draft from an idea that came to me earlier in the morning. It has a beginning, middle and end, but I changed the story question halfway through, so it’s rather messy. But it’ll be a fun one to go back and revise. Thanks, Paula!

  46. Good morning! Time is realative, right? Family obligations force me to start late but doing my best. To keep up with the task… I love Dark Chocolate too, but for me it’s one or two BARS, not squares… maybe I’ll use that as my inspiration today, gluttony here I come.

  47. Thank you so much for sharing your story….225 NO THANK YOUS! WOW! This has really encouraged me to toughen up and not let the “NO’s” get to me.
    I also am a fan of Colleen’s beautiful illustrations….she’s magical, isn’t she?
    Finished Draft # 1 “Harriet Hen’s Egg” (its REALLY rough, but it has a good beginning, a somewhat mediocre middle and two possible endings)
    Thank you again for NaPiBoWriWee!

  48. Great kick-off post guys — and the story about your illustrator is the BEST. Those moments of synchronicity are such a gift!!

    Paula: I love how chill and honest this challenge is (and grueling- ha!). I’m so happy to be back.

  49. I really enjoyed Lisa’s journey to publication and her perseverance. There have been many times I have thought about giving up writing, so reading this helped me to know I am not alone.
    Day 1 I almost have a complete draft and now inspired to finish and write draft #2.
    Thank you to Lisa, Helena, and Paula!

  50. I’m late to the blog posts, but I’m on schedule with my PB drafts (I wrote my first one after midnight on the 1st and one during the day on the 1st.) I had a hectic day today and didn’t have time to write one, but I’ve been going through my ideas and can’t wait to tackle at least one new draft tomorrow.

    I loved reading Lisa’s poem again–so inspiring to see how far she’s come from all those rejections to her first acceptance, and now she has so many picture books, I’ve lost count of them. But they’re all amazing!

    Thanks for your inspiring post, Helena and congrats on your first picture book! It gave me chills to read that you wanted the same illustrator as your editor. It definitely was meant to be.

    Thank you so much for hosting this again, Paula! You’ve helped me and so many other writers year and after, and I can’t wait to see what gems show up in this year’s drafts. With everything you do for us, I hope you’ll have time to write 7 drafts this week. xoxo

      • Hi Lisa. It has been way too long. (((Hugs))) Hopefully, we can lure you back to Florida soon.

        I’m definitely grateful for all of Paula’s hard work with NaPiBoWriWee. I look forward to it every year.

        Thanks for the luck! I’m a little behind, but should be caught up by tonight. 🙂

  51. The Turtle ship looks wonderful. I am so happy to be participating for a second year. Here we go. 1 picture books manuscript written. 6 more to go.

  52. This is my first #napibowriwee! I am very pleasantly surprised and a bit shocked at the types of stories that are emerging from the recesses of my mind when I sit and force myself to write with no end goal in mind other than to just START. So far, one about a ballerina (I am not one) and a rock climber (again, not one). These stories just showed themselves. They are very rough, but it has been a very interesting process. Thanks for hosting!

  53. Helena, loved reading about your fascination with Turtle Ships.
    Paula, love the archive feature this year!
    My day one was filled with good intentions but I only got so far as reading most of this post, which I’ve just now gotten back to. Nevertheless, onward!

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