Showing posts from November, 2012

Why Picture Books Matter

      You know that feeling of excitement when you open a fresh container of play-doh?   I like to take a whiff of its salty smell first.   Then I plop it out carefully without injury to its perfect cylinder shape.   Finally, when the dough is least expecting it, I smush it with abandon.     Oh so soft and supple, ready to transform into anything I can imagine.     Sloppy spaghetti on a plate. A penguin prince sailing an iceberg to NYC.   Axl Rose. Some serious smashing is about to go down.       Tara Lazar posted this week on the importance of picture books to children: " Picture books let them know there’s a place without limits. (Psst, it’s called “the imagination”!) "       Some activities - like playing in the back yard because mommy is digging in the garbage disposal to see if she lost her mind in there- force kids to use their imaginations.  These activities are like rolling pins, dough presses, and cookie cutters shaping and stretching little minds.

A Quiet Mind is the Perfect Place for an Idea Attack

     Long drives usually make my eyes glaze over with boredom, but on the way home from the holidays I jumped at the opportunity because it meant a break from being the wet nurse for the back seat drivers.              "Mommy I can't find my nugget!" they screamed.      "Sorry, Mommy's driving," I beamed.               Happily, I let my mind go blank.  White.  Empty.   My New Happy Place! Eye by Vjeran Lisjak &  Wheel by  Melinda Bylow via      But the stillness was short-lived, because lots of happy little picture book ideas came to visit.  The unruly fellows yelled out their stories at the same time.         My husband was busy combating a barrage of flying crayons, so I fired up my  Dragon Dictation  app.  I was too excited to recite calmly, and ended up with a garbled mess of story bits.  My husband feeling heroic after winning the crayon battle, took pity on me and wrote down the ideas as they attacked.        &q


    I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.  Quite literally.  Just like in a fairy tale, the moment my foot stepped out on the right (not left) side of the bed, the Wrong-Side-of-the-Bed-Gnomes conspired to penalize me for insubordination.       The first fellow quietly padded in his red felted slippers over to the bathroom and put the toothpaste in the wrong drawer, causing me five minutes of delay and leaving a wake of products strewn across the bathroom.      The second green -hatted lad kept hiding my coffee in different rooms.  It was cold when I finally found it, and the morning seemed worse without proper caffeination.  "Has anyone seen any hot babe Munchkins around here?" by Tracy Scott-Murray via     Finally, a particularly spiteful troll wearing lederhosen had the audacity to make me put my shirt on backwards.  I only discovered as I ran out the door, but I didn't have time to switch it because we needed to acquire a box of donuts

Mash Up Match Up Game! (A New Story Idea Guaranteed)

Day 10 of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) brought a great idea from Diana Murray to try a mash up of ideas to create fresh new picture books.  To add structure to this inspiration, I decided to create the Birthday Mash Up Match Up Game!   How to Play:  MASH 'EM! By Miguel Saavedra There are two lists below.  Find your birth month in the first listing and grab the corresponding classic golden book.   Find your birth day from the second listing and grab the corresponding movie.  Then select any elements of the stories - characters, plot, key word in title, etc. -  and mash 'em together.  The idea could be for a picture book or for whatever genre you prefer.   For example, my birthday is December 5.  So I mashed up The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Titanic.  (Oh crapplesauce, how in the world am I going to do that?)   Okay, goes. S.B. Elephant is the biggest elephant in the plains.  In fact he is the biggest elephant of all time!  No one and nothing

Stop Shunning Your Manuscripts - Edit with Love

I have been shunning one of my manuscripts. It was my favorite.  I still remember the night I jumped out of bed and began feverishly scrawling the idea for the character.  I had a hard time getting to sleep that night thinking, this is the one!   My first love.  "And then she said I couldn't edit with her anymore and now we aren't friends!" via by Ned Horton But after it received its second rejection, I tucked it away and stopped even cordially waving when I passed it in my notebook.   Some days I would put "edit Willie" on my to-do list, but I never got to the task. Why was I being so harsh to my love?  I thought about the happy spring picnics where we would discuss our dreams for the future and the summer days by the beach where it would make me laugh so hard I snorted.  I forced myself to give it a look the other day, after quietly saying sorry.  The manuscript got some much needed TLC, and I fell back in love again.  After tha

Fear and Joy as Inspiration

     While the power was out last week, I suffered a recurring zombie dream.   Being cut off from television and internet lets your imagination loose in the dark streets of your light-deprived mind.           One particularly cold night we stayed at a friend's house.  I was lulled to sleep with the sense of security the loud hum of a generator provides.  At 1:30 in the morning the generator cut.  And my body froze in place:         Oh no, the zombie attack is happening. Saltwater from the hurricane must have made subway rats sick, spreading a virus to humans.  The sound of generators will decrease each day until only silence and zombies remain.  copyright H. O'dowd       Luckily, we got the generator back on without major incident.  And then my friend did something amazing.  Since she couldn't run in the NYC Marathon (cancelled), she organized a local marathon to support a police officer seriously injured during Hurricane Sandy.  In the flash of a day I went