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Wise Words About Picture Books and Contest!

One of my very favorite picture book writers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal (LITTLE HOOT, DUCK! RABBIT!, and many more) gave an interview in the 2012 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET book that I would love to excerpt here the day before my picture book webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, January 12th, which is still open for registration. As a reminder, you will get a 90-minute craft intensive talk on picture books, the opportunity to ask all the questions you have (every question gets answered, either live during the presentation or in an email afterward), and a critique of one picture book manuscript (up to 1,000 words in length).

During the webinar, I’ll talk about how to find the right hooks and universality to really make your picture books marketable on today’s shelves. I’ll also talk about the writer and illustrator relationship in publishing, as well as how writers need to think more like illustrators (and vice versa) in order to come up with truly successful picture book projects.

This excerpt features Rosenthal’s thoughts on finding just the right book idea, as well as working together with an illustrator and how that creative collaboration takes her work to new heights. Read on:

“When my kids were small, there were countless stories told. Often for the boys, I’d tell them stories about dinosaurs, monsters or something in a cape—all these nonsense stories they loved. Ninety-nine percent of the stories I made up for my kids were nonsensical things. But once in a while there was some kind of cool stuff. You have to tell one thousand bad ones to get to the one good one.”

Rosenthal says finding that one good one amidst all the others is a little bit like dating. “When a relationship isn’t right, even if you think I know this is going to work out, he’s really cute, it always has some convoluted glitch—this non-fluid, non-seamless barrage of obstacles. But true love is this flawless, shiny, perfectly smooth thing, at least in the beginning. When I’m writing something, I’m coming at it from a number of different angles. With the ones that end up working, everything falls into place more fluidly.”

That feeling of fluidity can also come from working well with an illustrator. For one of her most recent books, Plant a Kiss (which explores what might grow if you, quite literally, planted a kiss), Rosenthal worked closely with illustrator Peter Reynolds to develop the vision and feel of the book—a process she says has “been a dream.” Not only was it a chance for her to work with one of her favorite artists, but she was thrilled with the vision he brought to the book.

“When I started, I had mocked up the book with stick-figure illustrations. It was tidy, executed visually 100 percent. There was a moment of talk when we thought maybe the book should look like this. It was kind of cute. But thank goodness we reached out to Peter and he said yes. During the first conference call he said he’d send us some sketches. Later, I opened the document, and he had illustrated the entire book. And it was just this moment of ‘Oh my god, he nailed it.’ The characters are beautiful.”

With all of her picture books, Rosenthal has strived for this type of creative partnership. “I really value the collaboration. Oftentimes the writers are kept apart from the illustrator, but that paradigm never made sense to me. From the first ‘yes’ [for Little Pea and Cookies] I made the plea to be involved. I couldn’t imagine not doing it. The books gain so much by the writer and illustrator interacting.”

Interview excerpt of Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Meg Leder from 2012 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (c) 2011 Writer’s Digest Books. All materials used by permission of F+W Media. All rights reserved

Now that you’ve heard one picture book creator’s thoughts, you can hear even more thoughts on the craft of PBs during the webinar. To sweeten the pot just a little bit, I am going to give away one more copy of CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, but this contest is a quickie. You can enter in the comments below through 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow (Thursday, January 12th). I will announce the winner during the webinar (and on the blog next week). If you are taking the webinar, do mention that in your entry. US residents only, please.

Forward this post around and let’s give away another copy of CWIM. Those picture writers out there registered for the webinar will hear more from me tomorrow afternoon!

For those blog readers wondering when I’ll get back to the craft posts here, those are coming up next week. It’s just that 2012 has so many exciting things going on right out of the gate that I have to spread the word. I’ll resume my regular programming once the Writer’s Digest Conference excitement dies down. I seriously can’t wait for this year’s conference. You can check out more details here, and be sure to email me if you still need a special $115 discount code!

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  1. Jay’s avatar

    One day soon, I hope to be a part of your Webinars—they sound so interesting. That day isn’t here yet, but maybe I can still win a prize. I appreciate your posts and have learned from them. Thank you.

  2. F. Bertsch’s avatar

    Thanks for another chance to win a copy of the book!

  3. E. Kiely Kearns’s avatar

    Just registered for your webinar tomorrow, January 12th. I am very excited to learn more about writing picture book’s for children. Please enter me in your contest for the 2012 edition of CWIM! Thank you! :)

  4. Lauren’s avatar

    I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books SO MUCH that I currently own most of them! I think my all time favorite is SPOON, although Little Oink is up there on my list too. Looking forward to your Webinar! Please enter me in your CWIM contest — I have many old out-of-date volumes. Thank you!

  5. Kristin Gray’s avatar

    That book sounds Ah-mazing! I can’t make the entire live session tomorrow, but it sounds as if I’ll have access to the talk later on. Signed up and looking fwd.

  6. Erin Scherfling’s avatar

    I am looking forward to taking the webinar for the 2nd time. Thanks!

  7. Cathy Mealey’s avatar

    I had this book on my wishlist, but Santa forgot put one in my stocking!

    Amy = brilliant and Peter is truly one of the nicest people around.

    I have 1/2 dozen PB’s revised, critiqued, revised and ready for submission, so the 2012 book is my #1 pick! Thank you!

  8. Caren Caldwell’s avatar

    I am registered for the Picture Book Webinar and looking forward to it. I took one of your previous webinars and found it valuable. I’ve spread the word to my writing group and they signed up as well!

    Here’s hoping I win the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. Thanks for the opportunity.

  9. Lori Alexander’s avatar

    I’d like to try for the CWIM. I took your PB webinar last July–it was fantastic!

  10. Robyn Hood Black’s avatar

    Looking forward to your webinar tomorrow! And to bringing you down south for our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle at the end of next month. :0)

  11. ClaireCWrites’s avatar

    I would love to win this – thanks for the chance!

  12. Sophia Chang’s avatar

    Thank you for another chance to win this, Mary!

  13. Brown Rice’s avatar

    Thank you Mary, for this opportunity! Please do enter me in the contest.

  14. Christina Marie’s avatar

    Thanks for giving readers and writers alike another chance to win this book!!

  15. Raven Marlow’s avatar

    Thanks for such a great opportunity! I hope to see your next Webinar too!

  16. Stacey Woods’s avatar

    I registered tonight and I’m super excited about the webinar!! Great way to start 2012! :)

  17. Christy Luis’s avatar

    Every time I hear a writer talk about going to a conference, I feel a little braver. When I’ve officially finished a manuscript, I’m going to go to! Maybe I’ll meet you there :) That would be as cool as meeting Chris Baty!
    Thanks for offering the book! I really appreciate the freebies. I’m not writing picture books at this point in time, so this webinar isn’t for me, unfortunately.

  18. MelissaMM’s avatar

    I love your giveaways!! Thanks for another one Mary!!

  19. Brooke’s avatar

    Thanks for the opportunity to win the book, and for all your work on this site. I’ll be signing up for tomorrow’s webinar shortly and am very excited to attend.

  20. Stephanie’s avatar

    Hope you do another YA webinar soon, though the book will help with the wait! Thanks for the chance to win this book again.

  21. M.W.’s avatar

    I’d love to get this book. Thank you for giving us a chance to win this!

    Have fun with the webinar, Ms. Kole! :)

    –M.W.

  22. Diana Murray’s avatar

    Thanks for the chance to win. I need to update my copy. Looking forward to the intensive today.

  23. colleen rowan kosinski’s avatar

    Counting down the minutes to the webinar! Would love to win a copy of the Market book!

  24. Stella Michel’s avatar

    Sounds informative but January is a tough month for me, financially. Maybe next time.

  25. Jane Whitney’s avatar

    Thanks for the webinar. It was my first and I loved it. Great information and advice.

  26. Jane Whitney’s avatar

    Thanks for the webinar. It was my first one and I loved it. Great information and writing advice. Again, thanks.

  27. Nicole Zoltack’s avatar

    Thanks for a chance to win a copy of the book!

  28. Frankie Avalon Wolfe’s avatar

    Hi Mary! Great blog! Just today, (April 4, 2012) I learned of your webinar, purchased and attended it (2nd recording)! Wonderful! I would like to know if your WD offer to submit a manuscript for critique offer is still valid (your power point said till August 12th, so I assume so), but you also mentioned that it ended “today” in the seminar! Don’t want to fill up your box if this is closed. Thank you!

  29. Kathleen’s avatar

    Hello! I just listened to the recorded version of the webinar (June 25), and I thought I would share my thoughts. I loved it!!! Although you don’t receive a critique (which, yes, I know is a big draw), it is well worth it! Looking at my story drafts and idea basket, I will keep three of them and toss out the other three. Not to give away too much, but I loved the idea for non-illustrators to make a dummy just for themselves to think about page turns, creating excitement and capturing interest. Also, I had not given much thought to wordplay at all, which I would like to incorporate into my writing. You also get to listen to Mary read you lots of stories, which is really awesome. I loved that. Out of the stories read, When Blue Meets Egg and Little Oink caught my heart the most. Thanks, Mary!

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