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Peggy's Pages Blog 

Picture Book Idea Month—November 2012!

Picture book writers—do you need some daily inspiration? A goal to keep you going? Sign up at Tara Lazar’s blog site for PiBoIdMo—Picture Book Idea Month!

The idea is to come up with a picture book idea every day in November. Get your juices flowing! The more ideas you find, the more likely one, or more, will evolve into a finished picture book. “Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you.”

Log onto Tara’s blogsite at www.taralazar.com (or click on the link under the banner at the right) and click on ‘PiBoIdMo’ to read about the challenge. Then click on the link to register by November 4th to accept the challenge. Those registered have a chance to win some great prizes which you’ll find listed on the PiBoIdMo site.

The fun has already started. Read the guest blog posts and find out where other picture book authors get their ideas. Then get set to create your own month of picture book ideas to follow up on later!
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THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN, a picture book, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the perfect time to blog about a wonderful picture book that deals with breast cancer. THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN teams up children’s author Janna Matthies and illustrator Kristi Valiant, both from my home state of Indiana.

In January, when her mother shares the news with her family that she has breast cancer, Janie comes up with the idea to plant a garden: “Watching it grow, and eating healthy veggies, will remind us Mom’s getting better,” Janie tells them. With pumpkin season as their goal, the family joins together to plant the ‘Goodbye, Cancer’ garden.

From planning and planting, to eating the vegetables that they’ve grown, the garden parallels Mom’s progression through her treatment of breast cancer. Told in a sensitive way, the story shows ups and downs over the months that follow—eg: “Sometimes she looked sad, and my brother and I felt a little worried.”

THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN addresses a difficult issue with an uplifting and hopeful story line, and is illustrated with beautiful pictures filled with love and hope. The story was driven by the author’s own battle with breast cancer.

Enjoy a chat with the author and illustrator, and get in on a special give-away, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, a blog that combines food and children’s books. While there, you’ll also find photos, a recipe, and get some insight into writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Jama’s Alphabet Soup:

Janna Mathies blogsite: http://jannamatthies.blogspot.com/
Kristi Valiant’s website: http://kristivaliant.blogspot.com/

THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN by Janna Matthies, illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Albert Whitman & company, Chicago, IL 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8075-2994-2
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NCTE National Day on Writing--today!

Today is the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) National Day of Writing.

For more information go to http://www.ncte.org/dayonwriting/about or click under the banner.

Did you write today?
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Manuscript Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison

Last month I attended a Manuscript Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison. It was a warm, cozy setting in the home of one of our Missouri children’s authors, and everyone there was fired up with enthusiasm.

For those of us whose school days are long behind us, we were re-introduced to homework! A month before the retreat we were given the first of our assignments which included books to read, manuscripts to read and evaluate from our retreat group (mine was the picture book group), and submitting a cover letter and manuscript.

Unlike most of Darcy’s revision retreats, we didn’t stay overnight, but left to go home and work on our manuscripts before returning the next morning—more homework. I felt that I got a lot accomplished in the bits of time that we had to re-write.

Between the time before the retreat and when it ended on Sunday mid-day, I cut my picture book manuscript from over 1100 words to under 850 words, and improved the story while doing so.

Much of the same advice can apply to novelists and picture book writers as well. I think that the biggest benefit for me was the focus on sensory details and word choice. Varying sentence length, attention to the number of syllables in words, and attention to vowel sounds and the sounds of consonants to create mood shows what power the ‘right’ word has in your story. Focusing on the last word on the page and making that word strong brought new insight to making a picture book dummy.

It was a very satisfying week-end in more ways than one. It was two days focused on writing for children without distraction, with new insights, tips and information, shared evaluations and critiques from other children’s writers, in the company of enthusiastic writers who are dedicated to writing good books for children.

You can visit Darcy Pattison at her website: http://www.darcypattison.com/ or click under the photo.

Some recommended books for writers:

Some websites to visit:
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