2019 NAPIBOWRIWEE DAY 1 – Meet Guest Author Pat Zietlow Miller!

WELCOME TO DAY 1 OF THE 2019 NATIONAL PICTURE BOOK WRITING WEEK WITH GUEST AUTHOR PAT ZIETLOW MILLER!

Pat Zietlow Miller

We’re baaaack! Welcome to my annual NAPIBOWRIWEE – National Picture Book Writing Week! I started this event on May 1, 2009. We are now in our 11th year of this event that I started for fun. We’ve had people from all over the country and the world join the fun! (We have had participants from as far away as Australia, France, Japan, and Egypt!)

I have also noticed a lot of new people joining for the first time. Welcome! A quick refresher about our “rules” – the rules are simple. All you have to do is write 7 picture books in 7 days. LOL. Easy, right? 🙂 (For all official “rules,” go here: https://napibowriwee.com/about/)

Basically this event was created as a way to inspire myself and others to avoid procrastination by writing on a daily basis. We sometimes get so bogged down with research, brainstorming, outlining etc. that when it comes to actually writing… AND FINISHING… a first draft that we get stuck. And scared. And frustrated.

So my event was to encourage people to write every day. Don’t be afraid by grammar mistakes, cliched dialogue, and rough prose. Just WRITE.

Oh, and also… just FINISH.

So many of us have amazing works-in-progress with amazing opening pages but then we never FINISH those drafts. So those drafts just sit there, useless.

This event is to encourage everyone to COMPLETE at least one full draft of a picture book this week. The fun part is to try and complete 7 whole picture books in 7 days. Which is almost impossible. But it’s fun to try!

Now what happens IF you finish 7 picture books in 7 days? Congrats! You now have 7 rough drafts to choose from – which one will you go back and revise and polish to perfection?

What happens if you only finish 1 picture book in 7 days? Congrats! You STILL have at least one rough draft to revise and polish to perfection!

What happens if you don’t finish anything in 7 days? Congrats! You TRIED! You stuck with us for 7 days and read the blog interviews and commented and were inspired! And maybe you even got a partial draft written. That’s better than nothing! Now you just have to keep going! 🙂

I’ll be honest. I don’t always complete 7 picture books in 7 days at this event anymore. Mainly because I run it. LOL! 🙂 Plus some years are busier than others with jobs and my own book deadlines.

This may be one of those years where I may not complete all 7 because I’ve got a huge book deadline coming up. For more info on my latest book, check out this link! https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/77171-rights-report-week-of-june-4-2018.html

We also have family visiting and staying with us for most of NAPIBOWRIWEE. Plus as a TV writer/producer, I still have meetings and work to attend as well.

BUT… I still plan to try and write 7 picture books in 7 days. This year, I decided to return to my cats. I have three cats – Oreo, Beethoven & Charlotte. (You can follow Oreo here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/oreothecatyoo) And the only picture books I write are serious literary children’s non-fiction book biographies. (For more on my books: https://paulayoo.com/books/)

I have always, however, wanted to have my first FICTION picture book published. That hasn’t happened yet. AND I love my cats. I love them very much. I also love those adorable sweet beautiful short poetry picture books about animals. So I decided – since my book deadline is a very heavy and serious YA narrative non-fiction novel-length book, I will focus on trying to write 7 fiction picture book poems in 7 days about my cats. 🙂 I’ve done this before and although previous books were TERRIBLE, it was still fun and a good way to practice the craft of fiction picture book writing and poetry.

So that’s my writing goal this week.

What’s your writing goal for this event? Do you have a plan? Or are you just going to wing it and see what inspires you every day? I’m curious to hear what people are hoping to accomplish this week. Please post your comments in today’s blog!

So every day, I will post a blog by 6 AM PST (9 AM EST). The blog will open with a few thoughts from me about my progress each day, followed by an interview with one of our guest authors.

We also have our contest – winners will be picked at random to win fun prizes from our store and signed copies of our guests’ books! Winners will be announced on May 8, 2019. To be eligible for the drawing, you must post at least one comment this week on my blog!

And if you want souvenirs, here’s the link to our store! http://www.cafepress.com/paulayoonapibowriweeclassic

Here is the schedule for our Guest Author Q&As:

DAY 1 – MAY 1, 2019: Pat Zietlow Miller

DAY 2 – MAY 2, 2019: Alice Faye Duncan

DAY 3 – May 3, 2019: Deborah Underwood

DAY 4 – MAY 4, 2019: Curtis Manley

DAY 5 – MAY 5, 2019: Nancy Day

DAY 6 – MAY 6, 2019: David Zeltser

DAY 7 – MAY 7, 2019: Andrea Wang

DAY 8 – MAY 8, 2019: Contest Winners announced

DAY 9 – MAY 9, 2019: Wrap up and announcement for next year’s 2020 NAPIBOWRIWEE event

Finally, if you have any questions, most of them are probably already answered here in our ABOUT section about this event: https://napibowriwee.com/about/

Now on to our Guest Author! To inspire you, below is a bio and information about PAT ZIETLOW MILLER and her books, plus an in-depth Q&A with her. Thank you Pat for inspiring us on Day 1!

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DAY 1 – GUEST AUTHOR Q&A WITH PAT ZIETLOW MILLER

BIO: Pat Zietlow Miller has sold 17 picture books – 10 of which are available now. BE KIND (illustrated by Jen Hill) was on the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks, and SOPHIE’S SQUASH (illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf) won a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor and a Golden Kite Award. Pat’s most recent books are REMARKABLY YOU (illustrated by Patrice Barton) and WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE (illustrated by Eliza Wheeler).

Q&A WITH PAT ZIETLOW MILLER

What inspired you to write picture books?

Sometimes, something just feels right. And, I’ve always felt that way about picture books. I read them in grade school, and high school, and college, and when I was in my 20s and 30s. You’d think I would have figured out that I should be writing them earlier, but I was a little slow on the uptake.

I wrote a draft of a picture book when I was 19, sent it to one publisher, got a form rejection and stopped trying for the next 20 years. Like I said, I was slow on the uptake. When I turned 39, I decided it was time to take my interest seriously. Four years and 126 rejections later, I sold my first book, and I’ve sold 16 more since then. Picture books still feel right to me.

Do you write in any other genres?

I’m pondering trying to write a middle grade verse novel. I’m trying to think of it as a series of picture books so it doesn’t seem so daunting.

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

I love picture book writing because you have to tell a full, compelling story in as few words as possible. It’s a great mental challenge, and when you do it properly, the results are breath-taking.

Picture book writing is an art form with a very specific structure that I love working within. It’s like verbal Sudoku. All your words have to line up in just the right way and be in just the right spot for the puzzle to work. If just one’s out of place, the whole book is thrown off and you have to go back and figure out why.

What is the most challenging part about writing picture books?

See my answer above. Everything I adore about picture books is also what makes them challenging.

Tell us about your recent books. What inspired the idea for the books?

I had two picture books that came out earlier this year:

REMARKABLY YOU, illustrated by Patrice Barton, is about owning and celebrating all the things that make you special, interesting, unique or noteworthy. Whatever makes you, YOU. I wrote this book because we don’t always recognize all the ways kids are great. We tend to focus on fixing what we think needs improving. Or, we reward certain skills like being good at music or sports, but ignore quieter or quirkier gifts.

WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, is about – in Harry Potter terms – conjuring your own personal patronus. It’s about accessing your inner courage and using it when life seems just a bit too hard. I wrote this book because I was thinking about all the sort-of scary things adults expect kids to do – get a haircut for the first time, get on the bus to a new school or jump into the deep end of a pool. Some kids do those things without a second thought, but other kids find them very difficult. This is the book I needed when I was a kid.

Do you have a favorite picture book? If so, which one is it and why?

I have so many favorite picture books. I’m leaving a ton out, but these speak to me:

THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY – or anything else by Judith Viorst. She’s my picture book author inspiration. Everything she does is perfect.

ZOMBIE IN LOVE – by Kelly DiPucchio. It’s beautifully structured and hilarious and has a great voice. I use it all the time as an example of how to write a great picture book. (NOTE FROM PAULA: Kelly DiPucchio has been a Guest Author during previous NAPIBOWRIWEE events. Please search for her Q&A’s in our blog & archive sections!)

THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS by Carolyn Crimi. Great story with a wonderful, universally relatable moment and lots of heart. (NOTE FROM PAULA: Carolyn Crimi has been a Guest Author during previous NAPIBOWRIWEE events. Please search for her Q&A’s in our blog & archive sections!)

LIBRARY LION by Michelle Knudsen. It breaks practically every standard picture book “rule,” and that’s OK. Because the story and the writing are that awesome.

Where is the best place for you to write your books or to do your illustrations?

In my kitchen, surrounded by dishes and debris and bills and laundry. It’s not impressive, but it works.

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

I have a full-time job as an editor at an insurance company. So, I know more than most people when it comes to whole vs. term life insurance, umbrella policies and uninsured motorist coverage. My job has made me smarter, but writing picture books is more fun.

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

Realize that you aren’t going to be instantaneously awesome. No one would think that they could fiddle around on a piano for a few months and then play a piece well enough to sell out Carnegie Hall, but a lot of people think that if they write down a story and tweak it a bit, it will be good enough to be professionally published and sold for $17.99 in bookstores nationwide.

You have to put in just as much practice and work to be a professional writer as you do to be a professional musician. There are skills and techniques you have to master and hours and hours of practice to put in until you can do them effortlessly.

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?

I think it’s long overdue. I think any author or illustrator should make sure their books depict the kids who actually are in classrooms across the country. Not just the kids they remember from their childhood or the kids in their own local school district.

When I did my first book tour, I saw the kids I was writing for and it changed how I write my books. I wrote about my experiences in a blog post.

There’s been increasing pressure for writers 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 journey and career? Any advice for writers who might feel overwhelmed by the social media “burden”?

I am a big fan of social media. I think it’s fun. I enjoy posting things and interacting with others online. I’ve met people I truly like and respect, and I’ve been introduced to books I might otherwise have missed.

But I know not everyone likes social media or feels comfortable using it. I think it works for me because I don’t try to be someone I’m not online. In real life, I like books, reading, writing, cats, chocolate, my kids and the AP Stylebook. (Maybe in that order. Or, maybe not. You decide.) If you look at my social media posts, I post about books, reading, writing, cats, chocolate, my kids and the AP Stylebook.

If you’re cautious, a good way to get started is to post about books by other authors that you like. Tag the author and illustrator in the post and they’ll likely follow you back. You’ll make online friends, share your love of books and earn some good karma points with no risk to you.

I think I’m better known in the kidlit community because I’m on social media. When I attended the National Council of Teachers of English conference last year, I posted a picture of the orange shoes I was wearing on Twitter. Several people saw that post and then saw my shoes at the conference and introduced themselves. It made meeting people easier for an introvert like me.

Here’s where you can find me online.

Website – www.patzietlowmiller.com
Twitter — https://twitter.com/PatZMiller
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/pat.z.miller
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/patzmill/
Blog – https://www.picturebookbuilders.com
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-zietlow-miller-08496a7/

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Thank you Pat Zietlow Miller for taking time to answer our questions. I love your phrase “Verbal Sudoku” when describing how to write picture book texts! Everyone, let’s think of that puzzle game as we work on our writing today! And remember, you can find out more about Pat and her books here: www.patzietlowmiller.com

Pat will graciously give away an autographed copies of her books, REMARKABLY YOU and WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE to our lucky winners in our annual drawing contest! (Winners are chosen at random). Winners will be announced on our May 8, 2019 blog, so stay tuned!

Okay, I’m off to write. Good luck everyone on DAY 1! Please post your comments below about your first day progress! You can also tweet and post on our Facebook group and follow me (@paulayoo) on Twitter & Instagram!

As always, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!

122 Comments »

  1. This is awesome! Thanks ladies. I’m planning on/already have started going through my Storystorm ideas and other ideas I’ve thought about dinner but haven’t written drafts for. Love the piano analogy and thanks for sharing your story, Pat. There really is no specific way people get into this business.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your life and writing. I have a full time job, too, and I’m just starting out at writing. It’s great to hear that you can do both!

  3. I write in my kitchen too! Completely surrounded by bills and dishes, and my ever present nemesis—laundry. It makes me feel better to know that someone else does the same and makes it work. I am two sentences into my PB for the day. I guess I shall get back to it! Thank you for putting this on for us, this is so fun!

    • I write in my kitchen when the weather is bad so most of the year lol, with dishes, laundry, and my ever neglected to-do list. LOL. Hearing others do the same make me feel better. When it’s nice outside I love to find a quite spot in the woods and write, even if I don’t get a full draft out I’ll get a lot of good content down and sort through it latter on.

  4. Two Comments:

    Procrastination is my fatal flaw. I have been writing at picture books for 30 years, and only within the past month have I even begun to pursue getting published.

    Second:
    Pat, only this morning I began writing a story that is actually a series of stories, and I had the same thought that I might begin trying to have them published as individual picture books and perhaps synthesize them into a collection later.

  5. I am sitting at my kitchen table, where most of my writing takes place also. I wonder why my beautiful desk sits empty while I sit downstairs amidst the chaos of the day writing, but at least I am not alone in my preferred spot.

    Enough about me, I love your story and the inspiration you are sending all of us wannabe authors. Thank you!

  6. Thanks so much for hosting this, Paula! NaPiBoWriWee continues to inspire me and has helped me so much! Thanks for the wonderful post, Pat–I love the comparison of playing a piano at Carnegie Hall and getting published! Writing definitely takes work–but is fun 🙂 I’m going to be going through my StoryStorm ideas, and I’ve just started a picture book about some happy mice, but then a cat and kitten arrive… Can’t wait to find out what happens! Thanks again, Paula!

  7. Hooray, #NaPiBoWriWee is back! As I’m based in the UK, and participated last year, I gave myself the challenge to get started as soon as I could on Day 1 and have totally amazed myself by getting my first draft of the week completed before this posting! (Doing a little dance to myself right now!) Yes, it’s rough and needs an inordinate amount of work, but I’m hoping there’s a little spark of something good lurking within. Thanks for the great post from Pat Zietlow Miller, as a fan of Sudoku, I love that analogy about getting all the words in the right place to create a successful Picture Book. Roll on Day 2 – hoping I haven’t peaked too soon!

  8. I also loved the phrase “verbal Sudoku”. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight, Pat. And Paula, thank you for once again hosting this challenge and arranging these inspiring interviews.

  9. Thank you, Paula and Pat for the inspiration. I wasn’t going to try and participate this year. But I feel totally energized after this post. Thank you! I am off to the library to make this WiP into a finished draft. Good luck, everyone! And….go!

  10. I was just attempting to describe how difficult it is to write picture books to someone who doesn’t understand. From now on I am going to use the professional musician illustration. Perfect. Thank you. You are spot on about the right words in the perfect order eliciting a very physical response. Your line in “Sophie’s Squash” when the Mom decides to order pizza does that for me. There is a deeper understanding that is communicated that is beautiful and in touch with the needs of her child.

  11. What a great interview, Pat! I’m taking so much information away from this, but my favorite line was, “When I did my first book tour, I saw the kids I was writing for and it changed how I write my books.” That brings tears to my eyes–it’s so beautiful and so important, because every kid wants to be seen, and you’ve seen them. <3

  12. I’m very excited to take part in this challenge for the first time! Thank you for the inspiration, Paula and Pat! I pinky swear promise to write 7 drafts in 7 days.

  13. Ideas – check!
    Confidence – check!
    Making time – check! check!
    First few paragraphs – check!

  14. Fantastic interview! Thanks so much for the book recommendations. I’ve been checking out PBs like crazy over the past few days to get back up to speed on what a successful one looks like.

    In the middle of a draft for day one’s book, and this was exactly the inspiration I needed.

  15. Hey Paula- Thanks for organizing and inspiring again this year. And Pat: I had the 20 year hiatus too — we should start a club! Congrats on your two new books — can’t wait to check them out. Off to work now…

  16. Thank you for hosting, Paula, and congratulations on your latest book! What a terrific post for our first day out of the NAPIBOWRIWEE gate! I loved the phrase “Verbal Sudoku” as well. The following lines really resonated with me:
    “I love picture book writing because you have to tell a full, compelling story in as few words as possible. It’s a great mental challenge, and when you do it properly, the results are breath-taking.”

    “You have to put in just as much practice and work to be a professional writer as you do to be a professional musician.”
    I’m off to write!

  17. Thank you for this event! I went from idea to finished draft in under 24 hours, and it feels like the kernel of something good. I never would have written it if not for PiBoWriWee.

  18. Awesome interview! I love your analogy about learning to play the piano and being an expert over a few months…no way could I do that. So I should expect to spend more time than months to hone my writing skills. Thanks for sharing with us! Love the new books (and the old books). Fellow writers, best wishes in your writing this week! Here we go!

    • Great inspiring interview to start off the week. I’m an artist/illustrator who used to write a lot more when I was younger. I’m hoping this week will push me to get back into that creative mode again. Good luck to everyone!

  19. I love SOPHIE’S SQUASH! I also enjoyed how you so gleefully put it when you mentioned how writing picture books are a challenge to be puzzled out. One of the hardest things for me is to know when it’s just my pieces out of whack or it’s the whole story that’s the problem. Viewing it from a challenge perspective makes it seem less bleak. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Pat.
    And thank you for hosting this, Paula! I have a shiny new first draft written and really like it!

  20. OMG! This is really happening. I’ve got seven ideas, a full-time job, and full-time family including a daughter who is turning six TOMORROW! Wish me luck!

    Inspired by both Paula and Pat. Here we go…

  21. Fantastic post, Paula and Pat! Paula, I love cats and cat stories, so good luck this week writing about your three cats. Pat, I can’t wait to get my hands on WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE. I definitely needed that book as a child (maybe I still do). Thanks!

  22. Loved this and excited for the week ahead! I hope I can fit in the time for this but at least I accomplished my goal of writing a (very rough) first draft of a new PB today! One day down 🙂 Wishing everyone the best of luck and may we all be inspired by talented creators like Pat Zietlow Miller!

  23. Thanks to StoryStorm, this year (&Tara Lazar) I have 30 ideas to choose from so surely I can get a couple of books out of that.

  24. Thanks for sharing this Paula and Pat! I have a toddler and a newborn, so I’ve been on a writing hiatus for the month of April. I’m hoping to write at least one manuscript this week to get back into the swing of things, and I have some ideas from Storystorm to draw from. But, I may be inspired to do something completely different if an idea strikes during a 3 a.m. feeding… 😉

  25. Verbal Sudoku is the perfect description of this wonderfully challenging job of writing picture books. I love this week, and I’m in! Good luck, everyone!

  26. Congrats on your recent book deal, Paula! And Pat, your books are incredible. I often use them as mentor texts. I hope to meet you (and your orange shoes) at a conference someday! Day 1 draft, here I come!

  27. I love your books, Pat. I’m giving it a go despite my busy week ahead. If I can write one picture book, that will be more than enough for me. Thanks for inspiring us, Paula!

  28. I’m a first time participant in NaPiBoWriWee, and I’m excited to be here. The first post and interview were excellent. I’m another kitchen writer, and I see that I’m in good company. I’ve got a few ideas for the week, but will probably end up winging it a few days in. Here we go!

  29. Always inspired by this first week in May! I’m pulling out my list of StoryStorm ideas (thank you Tara Lazar!) and tackling the most enticing, Suduko-worthy story prompts. Thank you Pat for your inspiration and great shoe photos. 😉

  30. Thanks for your story and the inspiration Pat. Me and my kids love There Might Be Lobsters too! I dont have a plan for this week this year. Hoping storystorm ideas will help. Plus its NESCBWI conference this weekend. Probably lots of inspiration but little time to write.

  31. I learned so much from this blog post. I have fretted over how to handle social media. It’s scary! Thanks for the pointers I will definitely use them.
    Thanks lots
    hjr

  32. I’m very excited to participate! I’ve finished my first draft and working on ideas of more! Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. Hurray! Thanks for the great inspiration and materials. We are big Sophie’s Squash lovers!

    Day 1 down(ish) – I’ve had a thought that I wanted to turn into a story for awhile, but haven’t been sure about the right approach. Being forced to finish a full draft made me keep trying different approaches, until I found one that I could live with from start to finish. Otherwise I would have just kept mulling and mulling and mulling…

  34. Sophie is one of my favorite picture book characters. My library doesn’t have a copy of When You Are Brave yet. I’ll be putting in an acquisitions request. 🙂

  35. Thanks Paula and Pat. This was a great way to start Day 1. Pat, I liked your comparison of music with writing and that it takes lots of skill and practice to do both so you can make it to publication/performance level.

  36. Thank you Pat and Paula for the great interview! I love the Harry Potter reference in the description of WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE. This is my first attempt at NAPIBOWRIWEE, at the suggestion of one of my critique partners. Aren’t critique partners great!

  37. Thank you for organizing NaPiBoWriWee again this year, Paula. This is my 9th year and I can’t wait to dig into my research and write.

    What a great way to start NaPiBoWriWee with a bang!! Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your writing life, Pat. I loved your “Verbal Sudoku” comments!

    Paula, I am also a cat lover and so far have had 99 cats share my life… the oldest was Snaps who lived to be 24 1/2… the most cats at one time was 26. I love reading about Oreo, Beethoven, & Charlotte and think that writing 7 fiction picture book poems is a terrific idea. Good luck with your writing. I’ll be interested in learning what happens.

    As for me, this time around I’m trying my hand a writing nonfiction… I have 2 ideas, both for series, that are completely opposite from each other… am not sure which one I’ll follow, but am starting on the one that keeps pulling at my heartstrings but it will be a hard sell to get published.

  38. I love how encouraging this community is. This is my first year joining in and I’m aiming for the full 7 books! I feel like this sort of intensive will teach me a lot and maybe even kick my creative mind into a new gear.
    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story Pat. And thanks Paula for organising this event while you also lead what appears to be a crazy, busy life!

  39. This is my first year doing NaPiBoWriWee, and I’m excited about the challenge. I have a few ideas that I’ve brainstormed but haven’t done anything with so for the first couple days my plan is to take on those ideas I have and see them through.
    Today I wrote a topic that my 6year old daughter asked me to write for her and I couldn’t think of how to write a story about it that would be original so I’ve been putting it off. I started three different stories today and finally saw the fourth one to finish and while I’m happy with the concept it’s going to need a LOT of revising before I show it to anyone. I did like the concept I tried writing out in the earlier drafts too so if I get stuck on one of the latter days of this challenge I might come back to that beginning and see how the story could go in a different direction.

    I love the interview with Pat Zietlow Miller! I always like to hear how many rejections well known published authors had gotten before getting their break; it gives me hope. Also I love WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE and BE KIND, both beautiful books with strong, important messages. I have REMARKABLY YOU on my TBR list.

    Thank you for this challenge.

  40. I’ll never start another draft without thinking of Sudoku! I’m going to give it try right now…with 7 hours left in this first day. YIKES! Draft only…right??? 😉 Thanks for the inspiration.

  41. Hi! Wow over 50 comments already on Day 1 and the day is only half over! (At least on the West Coast). Thank you very much! I promise to respond more soon – today and tomorrow are a little crazy with some work meetings and book deadlines, so I might be behind on post comments and replies on Day 1 and Day 2 blogs just FYI. Also keep a lookout – our guest authors will try to find time as well to post comments here! I am also monitoring Twitter and Facebook as well. More comments directly on this blog soon! HAPPY WRITING! xo P.

  42. Fantastic interview for the first day of this very exciting challenge! I look forward to reading Pat’s new books to my great niece.
    I have 30 ideas from Storystorm which I plan to pick from and hopefully write 7 drafts. I am so grateful to Paula for organizing this week and feeling very inspired!

  43. Thanks for this inspiration! I’m super excited to take part in NaPiBoWriWee for the first time!

  44. Well, my head is spinnin’ faster than a pin wheel. I have never done this challenge and I’m so anxious to give it my best shot. I, too, have the jitters about attempting 7 picture books but who knows, maybe I can master something that resembles a picture book.

    The comments by Pat Ziethow Miller were inspiring to say the least and it has spurned me to become serious about trying one more time to make my PB dance.

    I am excited to give this challenge a huge try. I love Pat’s list. I, too am a HUGE lover of cats and children and words that rhyme; that stir my heart to my own beat. There are no words to describe my love of chocolate and if, perhaps I’m stretching it a bit, BUT IF, chocolate helps her write, then maybe I will have some success, too.

    With two grown sons and one daughter, and SIX BOYS and one granddaughter who is 11, going on 25, I should get some fun ideas.

    Thank you for the post.

  45. This is my first time taking part in NaPiBoWriWee and I am happy to have made a commitment to myself to write 7 drafts in 7 days. Pat, I enjoyed your interview and I appreciate you putting in perspective the number of rejections it can take before a book gets published. I received a rejection letter this week and know that perseverance is key. Paula, thanks for starting this wonderful week and seeing it through all these years.

  46. I just realized (at 5:46 PM my time) that today is May 1st…Aahhh! Thanks for the great blog post. I think your advice to new authors about social media is right on.

  47. I just completed a 198-word PB manuscript! 🙂 Thought I’d start with something short and simple so that I at least have one manuscript finished this week.

  48. I’m new to writing picture books and what Pat said is spot on. I’ve been writing all of my life, but this is a very technical genre in a lot of ways. It’s so complex and so difficult in so many ways, but I love it. I love reading great picture books and I love learning to write them. I feel a lot like Pat, though–I started this year and I’m 38. I always wanted to write picture books, but I always thought that was something reserved for Dr. Seuss.

  49. Great interview! Love learning a little more about Pat—and I sometimes write with food network on in the background too–although I think it makes me snack more…
    But I got my draft done today! Thanks for the inspiration!

  50. Thanks, Pat for the interview and inspiration. SOPHIE’S SQUASH is a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading your most recent books. I wrote several ideas during Storystorm in January, and my goal is to write 7 drafts this week. First one is done for today, and I am looking forward to reading the blog throughout the week. Thanks for the motivation!

  51. Oh, my word. I posted on this first day of the challenge, however, I don’t see it. Often my computer fairy gobbles up my words. I hope it landed somewhere on your post. I loved and enjoyed this first day of reading such a great article–great advice.

  52. Thank you! Simply thank you. I needed a challenge to make a move. I have said for years I want to write a children’s book! But if I don’t start somewhere, I will continue to say “I want to write a children’s book”. Thanks for the push. Paula, thank you for the platform. Pat, thank you for sharing today. Alice Faye, thanks for the encouragement.

    • Stephanie: I felt the very same way. I’d been saying I wanted to do it for years, and it finally hit me that that wasn’t enough. So I started actually doing it. And it felt great — even when I was getting all those rejections.

  53. Love this post! And I love your books, Pat!

    It’s nearly 8 pm EST and I still haven’t written my draft. . . I don’t think I’ll get a complete draft written but I will NOT go to bed with at least a few lines of something. 🙂

  54. Thanks for sharing, Paula and Pat!
    This is going to be a tough week for me to pull off 7 PB first drafts.
    I’m in MG mode going into the SCBWI MidWest Conference on Friday.
    And my guys are returning from college – finals now after Dead Week. 🙂
    So, after reading this post, I’m going to try writing 7 dog stories in the next 7 days. At the very least, I have today’s PB draft done.
    Good luck, Writers!

  55. I’m such a procrastinator that I hope this week will push me to simply actually write something instead of just thinking about writing it! Thank you for allowing this very inexperienced ole gal join in!

  56. Great post Pat and Paula. I love ‘There might be lobsters’ too and have that book. Sophie’s Squash is brilliant and sits in my bookshelf too. Thanks to this challenge I have taken my first idea, which was sitting in the Notes section of my iphone for months, and is now a reasonable draft despite an ending which currently eludes me. 🙂

  57. Now I wish I had 30 or so ideas that I worked out in Storystorm month (Um…I didn’t) but I have had a number of ideas bumping around in my head, scribbled on post-it-nites and I’m glad for this kick in the rear to at least get a first draft of some of them.
    So far, so good. At least now I have one draft to work on!

    Onward to tomorrow!

  58. Pat, as a former commercial lines insurance underwriter myself, I agree insurance work will make you smarter but PBs are much more fun! Thank you for sharing your insights and story! Paula, thank you for putting on this event. I got my first draft done before lunch as I’d actually done an outline in advance (a first for this pantser!) Looking forward to tomorrow!!

  59. Just read about this challenge on Facebook (thanks, Janie Bynum!) I’m not seeing a way to follow the blog?
    Love this: “Everything I adore about picture books is also what makes them challenging.” And verbal sudoku!

  60. Thank you, Paula and Pat!
    I love the “verbal Sudoku” because that is exactly what writing Picture Books is like!❤️

  61. Woohoo, excited to be here! Just finished draft number 1, and it’s super tight! Hope the rest of the week goes so well for me, but something tells me it’ll have its ups and downs. Thanks for hosting, Paula, and thanks Pat, for getting us off to a great start!

  62. Been telling everyone about #NaPiBoWriWee for months now. I’ve been doing research, making outlines and I just realised (at 10pm) that today is May 1st!

    Paula, thank you for doing this despite your schedule it means a lot too me.

    Pat, I feel I relate to a lot of what you told us in your story. Whether you want to be or not, you are an inspiration.

    now to work on something I’ve never done before – a rhyming picture book. I know that have a bad rep; but I am inspired by the verbal sudoku and something my son said to me when he woke me up @330am playing with his toys at my bedside.

  63. I’ve been preparing and telling people about this for months! And I forgot today is May 1st (well, untill 2200hrs )!

    Paula, thank you so much for hosting #NaPiBoWriWee despite your unrelenting schedule. It really mans a lot to me.

    Pat, you have motivated me to work harder at my craft. I too have had a late start and I am only on my 4th rejection letter… so I have time, and hope. Thank you.

    And now, off to write something I have never done before a Rhyming book. Thanks in part to my 6y/o son who woke me up at 330 in the morning playing by my bedside saying what will be the title.

  64. Done!!!!!!!!! (she sang!) Thanks to Storyteller Academy and my critique partners, I put in a lot more prep work this year. It has been hard NOT to write these stories before May first. That has never happened for me during NaPiBoWriWee before. I think this may be my…? sixth year? Is that possible? Let’s hope the rest of the week is as kind to me. Thanks, Paula! And we always love hearing from Pat! She always has some gem for us…ie verbal Soduku, right?!

  65. What a fantastic first post for this great challenge!
    Thank you Paula for the motivation. I am looking forward to reading Pat’s new books to my great niece.
    My goal is to pick out the best ideas from my Storystorm list of 30 ideas and create 7 PB drafts.
    We got this!

  66. I am excited to be joining this event for the first time! I just finished drafting up my first story. I’m not sure if I can do all 7 stories, but I’m going to try! Thank you for the inspiration.

  67. Thanks for running this, Paula. I’ve managed to come up with a first draft that I’m pretty sweet on. It’s a silly idea that’s kicked around in my head for a while. Feels great to get it down and structured!
    With apologies to your cats, Paula, my Day One story is all about dogs. 😉

  68. Just found the challenge for the first time and it is EXACTLY what I need and Pat Zietlow Miller – your capacity for metaphorical description is SUPERB. “Verbal Sudoku,” wow! (Not to mention the pianist and Carnegie Hall). Spot on and taken to heart! (P.S. anyone going to my kidlit website, sigh…not touched in a few years.)

    It’s midnight and I just finished a new draft. Wow! Didn’t know I could. But you did say FUN, right?

  69. Great interview Pat! Thanks to you and Paula for this. I wrote a few stories in HS…and generally, my college professors, thesis advisor and dissertation chair found lots of opportunities to “improve” my writing. Some days, I don’t think I’ll ever develop the knack for it, but I’m inspired by the ideas in my head. I hadn’t thought about writing for 15+ years…but ended up reading to my first kid (premie), in the NICU. I dug up the old stories, and felt really good reading my work to the kiddo. Now, with 2, I even workshop the ideas with them…so silliness abounds.

  70. My goal for this year for NaPiBoWriWee, my FIRST year, is … Well, first let me say that I am going to NESCBWI, so I’m leaving Fri-Sun open for learning… Okay, now that that’s out there, my goal is to finish at LEAST one rough draft, and hopefully 7 minus the three days of conference, so four rough drafts.
    Thank you for the inspiration, Pat!

  71. Hi Pat and Paula,
    Paula, I love how you made your week fit your needs with all your deadlines. I have several mss about Corgis, and I think I might resurrect one this week as a “redo.” Yup, another dog book! LOL.
    Pat, I was lucky enough to sit next to you at the 2104 LA annual when you got the Golden Kite for SOPHIE. I were a bit nervous about your speech. And now, look at you and all you wonderful books since SOPHIE! I’m not on my 125th rejection, yet but I am striving for 100 “no’s” and 1 “YES.”

  72. Challenge accepted!
    Loved the interview and ‘verbal sudoku’ (how perfect is that description!).
    Off to write day 1 manuscript…
    Good luck everyone.

  73. Hello Fellow NAPIBOWRIWEE Writers! This is my FOURTH year, and I’m SUPER EXCITED to once again use this WONDERFUL week to CHARGE my low batteries. Last year I was able to COMPLETE ALL SEVEN BOOKS IN SEVEN DAYS!!!! IT WAS AMAZING!!! As I contemplate each day this week, feeling like completing just ONE book is CRAZY-HARD, I will remind myself that I CAN DO IT AGAIN because I have done it before. I keep thinking of Kate DiCamillo’s wise words. She said, “every day I get up and think ‘I can’t do it [write].’ But then I sit down and do it again.” My first day of NAPIBOWRIWEE was difficult. EVERYTHING AND THEN SOME seemed to get in the way of my writing. Finally, at 11:00 P.M., with one hour to go for the deadline, I was able to sit down and write. Unfortunately, though I did get far into my story, I fell asleep before I could finish! DASH IT ALL!!! Well, I decided it wasn’t a COMPLETE BUST because I was actually able to work through everything to actually get to the writing. And whether or not I finished the story, THERE ARE WORDS ON PAPER!!! SUCCESS!!! THANK YOU, Pat, for your inspiration to NEVER give up on our dreams!!! And THANK YOU, Paula, for all the hard work of putting this together each and every year! This is the week I look forward to help motivate me to keep doing the work I love most!!! THANK YOU!!! And GOOD LUCK to EVERYONE!!!

  74. I’m inspired and going strong. Even a couple very rough drafts would be success! Thanks for getting us off to a roaring start.

  75. “verbal sudoku” with fewer clues! Day 1 feels like a sudoku with only one number in the first column… how does the rest all fall together? Then you finally get the boxes full and the numbers don’t add up! Luckily I enjoy a good puzzle. Thank you Pat!

  76. WOW! 102 comments on day 1 alone AND also many comments on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! Thank you everyone for your awesome updates and comments. I really appreciate it. I apologize for not having a chance to reply more individually to folks because it’s a busy week with family staying at our house (plus my own work deadlines), but I am reading everything and loving everyone’s adventure and progress reports so far. Keep writing! I’ll come back here and try to respond more soon! xo P.

  77. I love Sophie’s Squash. I’m a children’s librarian and I admire the authors and illustrators of picture books. I’ve tried some, and it’s so difficult I’ve stalled. I’m re-energized by NaPiBoWriWee! I’m a day late in starting, but jumping in with both feet.

  78. Big takeaways: Writing PBs is like verbal sudoku and Conjuring my own personal patronus!
    Today, after not planning a darn thing for this challenge, I decided I will make my own puzzle by writing seven new and different drafts of the same story I’ve been stuck on for months…then I can find the best pieces from each version and put them together to make one awesome PB!
    Thanks for all the inspiration 🙂

  79. Thank you for your great advice. It’s encouraging to hear a story from someone who has a busy day job and still finds time to write the stories they love.

  80. Thank you, Paula, for presenting this writing challenge in a realistic and encouraging way. I really enjoyed Pat’s interview too. (we LOVE Sophie’s Squash in this house!). It’s nice to read about a successful picture book writer who writes in at her kitchen table and manages a full time job. 🙂

  81. Thanks Paula for hosting. My goal is to work on some of my ideas from Storystorm.
    Pat, thank you post and letting me know I am not alone in writing in the family room amidst the chaos. I like the mention of practice as one would practice the piano to become a pro

  82. Thank you so much for this post, Pat and Paula! SOPHIE’S SQUASH is one of our favorites and I loved seeing my 4-year-old connecting with WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. (And agreed with others who said we can use this as a grown-up, too!)

  83. Reading that you won’t be instantly awesome at writing takes the pressure off. I have to remind myself of this often. Like you said, with any profession or skill, it takes a lot of practice. I requested Remarkably You from my library. And I have to add When You Are Brave. Looking forward to reading them!

  84. As of 5/5/19: Wow thank you everyone for your comments on these blogs! And apologies for our little glitch this week where newer comments were not appearing (they were posted, just not actually appearing on the blog itself). We fixed it! I also love everyone’s posts on Twitter & Facebook, too. Thank you! I am sorry I have not been able to personally respond to comments this year because of our computer glitch. I hope to catch up before Day 7, so stay tuned. Until then, I have read all comments and am very inspired by everyone. Thank you! More soon! xo Paula

  85. Pat’s post was great, as expected! I felt a sense of resolve at her stating that you can’t just start writing picture books well, that it takes practice just like learning a musical instrument.
    My progress on day 1 was to start a story that I didn’t know where it was going. I thought perhaps, that being the case, I might start multiple stories and then having let them stewed for a day or two, return to write the middles and ends.

  86. Thank you for hosting this event, Paula. Even though I may not end up with 7 drafts, I’ll come out with some–more than I had a week ago, for sure! SOPHIE’S SQUASH is one of my favorites!

  87. Thank you so much for running NaPiBoWriWee again, Paula. Between critique groups and family, I had a late start this year. And then I lost my internet and couldn’t post. But you inspired me to write 5 PB drafts already and I’m about to plunge into my 6th (I’m posting this late so there’s only one day left and I’ve been determined to catch up).

    Pat–thank you so much for your inspiring post. Somehow I missed reading your two newest PBs–and they sound amazing and very much needed. My daughter has been suffering from an eating disorder for 8 years and I wish there were more books like yours to help build her self esteem when she was younger.

    Good luck with your middle grade novel! I think writing PB and MG go together great. I’m sure you’ll love it–and I can’t wait to read another one of your amazing books.

  88. I am just catching up on reading all the posts for the week and so inspired by Pat, it’s amazing how you can work among the chaos of your kitchen. Thanks for the real life truth that this is not going to be instantaneous and that there is a lot of work and skill building. Thanks for reminding me that every word counts. Every word is a part of the puzzle.