Monday, April 7, 2014

Writing Picture Books

I cared for infants, toddlers and preschoolers in a day care centre for over fourteen years. Before that, I was a Sunday school teacher and a child minder. Happy memories of sharing stories with children skipped through my mind and my pen flew across the page. When I finally ran out of ink, I'd written two picture books.

Something Good to Eat (inspired by Icelandic folklore)
Gryla lives on the tallest mountain peek in Iceland. She feasts on the naughty children who live in the valley below. Unfortunately, her diet has resulted in a digest disorder. Gryla has lived with stomach pain for years but one night she meets a child who ends her pain.

Something Special for Pearl
Pearl visits her grandma. During the visit, Pearl learns were wool comes from and receives a special gift.

Two picture books in need of a publisher. 

'Competition for publication of picture books is fierce. Many publishers receive hundreds of these manuscripts every month and picture books are expensive to produce. You will be competing with well established children's writers...and with the work of author-illustrators....
[I]t's best to approach this genre armed with information...
The Canadian Children's Book Centre web site provides links to the web sites of dozens of Canadian publishers of children's books.'

My journey to seeing my manuscripts published has just begun. Over the months to come, I will continue to share this adventure with you.

One thing I won't be doing is self-publishing these--or any other--picture book. 
Why not?
Listen to Joanna's Penn with picture book author Karen Inglis.

And even if I don't find a publisher, I've already gained from the experience of writing them.

I assure you that with every picture book manuscript you write, your ability to write tight and clever will improve. How to Write Children's Picture Books by Tara Lazar.

And as always, reading is key.

Picture books have a unique rhythm and cadence, a certain subtlety that can only be understood by reading and absorbing them...I suggest reading 500 picture books before you sit down to write your first manuscript. How To Write Children's Picture Books by Tara Lazar.

So, as I travel this journey to publication, I return to my favourite bookstore. 

"What's your best-selling picture book," I ask the clerk. Because if you want to live there, you need to visit...

And why travel alone?
Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers
You may also be interested in reading...

For the Love of Books
For the Love of Books (continued)

And I found these helpful articles on the web...
Drawing inspiration:  how Montreal became a hotbed for children's illustration
What To Do With A Picture Book Manuscript by Janet McNaughton
Write to Done choose Tara Lazar:  Writing for Kids as one of its top 10 blogs for writers 2013. Write to Done described this blog as a hub for picture book writers.
Guest post Friday:  Interview with Ayelet Tsabari author of The Best Place on Earth (a short story collection)
Sharing my author journey...
On the weekend I sent a short story to a literary journal. Mail doesn't leave my island until today so it sat in the mailbox for two days. But, you know, I needed to make that trip; I needed to drop that letter into the box; I needed to prove--to myself--that I've still got my head in this game. Lately my life has become this great big ball of wax and its dripping all over my writing. I need three things to be productive--I need to be happy; I need to have my mind on writing; and I need time. All three have been in short supply, lately. When this happens I need to remind myself that not only am I a writer but I'm also an engaged human being. My life doesn't only exist on paper but in the 'real' world. And I'm learning how to be gentle with myself when I'm not as productive as I'd like to be. 

And I have another submission waiting by the door. Today just may be the day that it gets mailed. Figures crossed.


Dean K Miller said...

We had some great picture books and read them with our girls. The good ones read so well that it seems like they would be easy to write. I have steered clear of them...there's enough challenge in other forms of writing.

Good luck with your submissions. I think it's great you put the one in the box for two days wait time. That's commitment! Always honor that with yourself.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Dean. Writing is such a private occupation that it's difficult to determine--at least for me, at times--how to interrupt my actions. Thank you for helping me to interpret them in such a positive light.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - Your two fantastic children's picture books do, INDEED, need a publisher!

Leanne Dyck said...

Ah, Laurie, you made me smile--from ear to ear. Thank you for your comment and your support.