Sunday, January 27, 2008

Book in A Month Club!

You're invited to join the BOOK IN A MONTH CLUB! Each year in March one of my critique groups participates in this club as we try to write an entire book in just one month. It's's zany...and it's fun! To find out more information and tips about how it works, you can visit my website and click on WRITERZONE, which has a link to the BOOK IN A MONTH CLUB.

This year since I already have a couple of long-term book manuscripts under contract, I'm planning to write a new picture book manuscript. Throughout the month of March, I'm hoping to post my progress here on the blog to help show you more about the world of writing a picture book from start to finish.

So hop on board and join the fun! Better yet--get your entire critique group to agree to meet the challenge of trying to write the first draft of an entire book manuscript--in just one month!

As I explained in my previous post on January 16, I'm targeting a specific publisher--Sylvan Dell--and have chosen my topic: a story about nocturnal and diurnal animals that would end up being a bedtime story. Yesterday, I went a my favorite scrapbook store and purchased two pieces of background paper--one is a picture of a big pillow for a kid's bed and the other has paw prints, in coordinating colors.

I've decided to keep a scrapbook of projects I'm working on for 2008. Last year, I kept a month-by-month scrapbook, but this year each spread will be for a certain project. It's helping me get excited about each project I planned on my Goal Planning Sheet. Also, it will help me stay focused and give me an incentive for actually completing the manuscript from beginning to end.

I also found some cute stickers to represent the main character of my story. Not only does this help me visualize my main character better, but it will provide a great accent on my scrapbook page! I'm continuing to jot down notes for the structure of the plot. I've chosen my 3 main characters. Now I want to choose names that fit them perfectly. I have a book of baby names, 35,000 BABY NAMES by Bruce Lanksy. It's a great resource for helping choose names because it states which culture the name originates from as well as the name's meaning.

I'm also making a list of bedtime picture books. Plus, I read an article in the January 2008 issue of Children's Writer ( about how to write bedtime stories. I have a subscription, so I photocopied the article to keep it handy and am trying to follow the tips. It says that bedtime stories should give "reassurance that everything is in its place and safe," be a book "that makes the child feel loved," and give the child "something comforting to think about" while going to sleep. I'm trying to structure my plot ideas to be sure to include these ingredients. I'm making a list of bedtime picture books and plan on borrowing them from my library and dissecting each one to see how it works.

Yesterday, I also started a pocket file folder to collect and organize my ideas. In the pocket folder, I put several file folders:
* one labeled Sylvan Dell where I'll put all my notes about the publisher I'm targeting
* one for research on diurnal and nocturnal animals
* one for notes about bedtime books
* one for notes about plot
* one for notes about characters
* one for the manuscript as I begin to type it in March

As you prepare to join the Book in a Month Club, here's a check-off list to help you get ready to start. March 1 is the official kick-off day! I'll be tracking my own progress here on my blog starting in March. Keep in touch and let me know how it's going for you!

1. Target one specific publisher.
2. Study their product line.
3. Find a hole in their list of a book that they haven't yet published but would fit into their list of books.
4. Read a how-to writer's book on the genre you're studying. (Eve Heidi Bine-Stock's HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK: VOLUME 1 STRUCTURE is a personal favorite for writing picture books.)
5. Start to plan structure of your book. Write an outline. Determine plots and subplots if fiction.
6. Choose characters. Write characterizations and determine names of main characters, if fiction.

Ask the Author:
Attention teachers, home-schoolers, families, kids and everyone who loves to read! If there is a question you'd like to ask about my newest book or my life as an author, post your question as a comment on my blog. I will be selecting questions to answer on my blog throughout the upcoming Virtual Book Tour celebrating the release of my newest book, D IS FOR DRINKING GOURD: AN AFRICAN AMERICAN ALPHABET. Mark your calendars to join in the fun! The tour starts February 1, 2008.

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