Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning to Draw with Will Terry


            Today, I have the pleasure of spreading the word about a wonderful children’s illustrator, Will Terry. I’m not too prejudiced……….he illustrated my picture book, ROCK STAR SANTA, and I love his illustrations. They pop right off the page.

Will has taken a major step. He has written his own picture e-book, which is available as a Nookbook at Barnes and Noble. Look for Monkey and Croc.


From there, he developed a video series, which he is featuring on his blog. It’s a great series that teaches children how to draw. Check it out!

http://www.willterry.com/kidscourse.html



                       Check out TEX, the Tarantula, Will's aide and learn how to draw. :)




Sunday, January 16, 2011

IT’S IN THE BAG-- FINDING ORIGINAL CHARACTER TRAITS




How is writing a children’s book like taking one of my final exams?

The answer………..”It’s in the Bag!”

In my career as a teacher educator, training prospective Elementary and Pre-K teachers, I always dreamt up creative ways to test their knowledge. Students wrote children’s plays and then acted in them. They had to make the costumes and scenery as well as teach the children their singing and dancing roles. But that was a group exam.

Individual exams were quite different. Each student sat at table. Upon that table was a large, black plastic big filled objects unknown to them (but everyone had a variation of the same materials)………paper towel tubes, hand puppets, picture books, feathers, beads, crepe paper streamers, music, clean milk and egg cartons etc….

The assignment:  Create a specific lesson as designated on the board in front of the classroom. (Science, Social Studies, Math, Art etc….) which included all teaching tools and materials.

The lesson would then be taught to the children in the Pre-K the following week.

So how is that final exam like writing a book?

What if the items in the bag belonged to the characters in your story? Or what if you had to write a story based on what was in the bag?

Maybe Penny Pig always wore a feather headband…….thus becoming Miss Piggy.

Or a tube of lipstick might belong to a “mean girl” or a “crazy mother.”

A wooden spoon might be used as a grandmother’s choice of discipline, or the utensil, which mixed the sweetest pancake batter.

The next time you need unusual traits or possessions for your characters have a grab bag exchange with your crit partners. Each one should bring a bag filled with various found items. Exchange the bags. Then let your imagination run with the contents. You can create memorable or unusual character traits from the actual objects in the bag, rather than thinking up quirky attributes in your head.

Concrete examples always work better than abstract ones.

Try it. Grab your inspiration where you can. The more unusual, the better.

Your next novel idea might be “in the bag!” J





Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Picture Books from Christmas Cards - Recycled Inspiration!


The last of Christmas went today, not to the garbage can, but to my desk. Oh, I’m not talking about tinsel or falling needles from dried out tree branches, I’m talking about the pile of Christmas cards I received this year.

As I was getting ready to throw them away the one on top was of two children peeking into Santa’s toyshop, and a picture book was born…….. I titled it Christmas Jack!

Many of you participated in the picture book idea a day marathon in November. And many author's blogs and magazine sites offer prompts to get you started on new writing ventures.

I say, why not use your Christmas cards to do the same thing?

These are the picture book ideas my cards inspired:

Six animal cards………….Three picture books.

two cats having a tea party in the snow………….. Kit-Tea Party
four penguins holding hands……………………... The Perfect Penguin
a snow rabbit hiding beneath a holly bush………. Berries for Bunny

Three Santa cards……………….Two picture books.

snowman with gifts and a Santa hat…………………Snow Santa.
and Christmas Jack from above.

Ten cards with Christmas Trees……….Three picture books.

three glitter trees………………………….The Crystal Forest
children circling a village Christmas tree……………..Dance of the Christmas Trees
a reindeer with a small tree strapped to his back…………Donner’s Special Delivery

Five religious cards…………………….Three Picture Books

four childlike angels in patchwork gowns…………….The Country Angels
a lamb, a donkey and a baby angel………………The Shiniest Star
three Kings in the desert…………………………Santa’s Desert Ride

Two cards with little children………………………One picture book

a little girl skating on a country pond……………………….Country Christmas

So that’s 12 picture book ideas from 32 Christmas cards. Not bad! And I have the whole year to write them.

If you didn’t throw your cards out yet, go through them and see what you can come up with.

Next up, how taking one of my mid-term exams is like writing a novel………..another recycling inspiration. J

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