Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

How Loose is TOO Loose?

ges0001“She’s BA-ACK…”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen… after a long (LONG) hiatus, I am back and better than ever.  Well, not necessarily better.  But I’ll tell you that, anyway.  Makes ME feel better.  (And this blog is really all about me, isn’t it?)

Ye-GADs, it’s been a while, but, as before with previous hiatuses (is that a word?), I have good reason(s).  I have been:

1) Working ferociously on my favorite work-in-progress since spring.  And I finally finished it… yippee!!  (Disclaimer: I may not be able to keep my tiny little editing fingers away from it forever.  Lord knows I have a hard time with just “letting things be.”)  But I am in “submit” mode.  I’ve already researched several agents and have submitted to four thus far (since yesterday so no word yet, obviously).  BTW, this is the WIP that was critiqued, edited and sanctioned by none other than Deborah Halverson of DearEditor.com.  She really likes this book.  (Did I tell you she’s a genius?) 🙂

2) Self-educating (through online courses, videos, books, etc.) to improve my illustration skills.  (Side note: I almost wrote “Self-educating myself“… but that would be redundant, wouldn’t it?) And I call myself a writer.  HA!

3) Keeping (or trying to keep) my 9-year old fed, watered and generally entertained throughout the summer.  (But school is back in session as of last week– YEE-HA!!)

4) Playing tennis.  Not as much as in past years, but more than I have in past months.  That is, a LOT… and it’s messin’ with my time!  (But I play mostly singles and it is great cardio… so there is that.  A girl’s gotta exercise.)

And speaking of tennis, I’ve brought this up before but tennis really does have SO many pieces to it that are truly analogous to life.  As in that favorite topic that I’ve discussed here before– i.e.  this idea that with looseness comes brilliance.  Well, maybe not Stephen Hawking-like brilliance… but a kind of brilliance nonetheless.  sad

So I’ve been working on getting looser with my tennis game.  I actually tell my limbs to relax and I do a mini-meditation before every point.  And you know what?  It works.  (So much so that I’ve actually gotten to the semi-finals for this one singles league I’m in… whittled down from an overall playoff bracket of 32 that was whittled down from a couple of hundred initial players in early divisions.  If I win, I go to City Finals on Saturday!) But I digress… this blog really is about KidLit!

That same looseness has been translating to my writing (and drawing), too.  I’ve been training myself to relax and just let the ideas flow… and they’ve been a-flowin’.  I’ve written a total of six picture book manuscripts in months past, and have a pipeline of close to 20 ideas, complete with synopses for each.  And this summer, during this effort to be loose, I’ve come up with a few more… with no synopses yet, but I do need to polish up the ideas before I do that.

On the illustration front, I’ve fallen in love with the sketchy line.  I’m trying to stay away from hard, sharp lines and am discovering illustrators that do that well present such a wonderful emotional quality to their drawings.  These artists really make my heart sing. (By the way, for those of you that know that I grew up drawing and started out college as a wannabe artist, I’ve truly come full circle after so many decades and have reignited my passion for drawing.  As I told someone recently, I’ve written (books, ads, articles) most of my adult life… but drew the first 20 years of my life.  I realize that while I love “having written” (but not necessarily the process of writing), it’s different with drawing, where I love the whole thing– that is, the process as well as the “having drawn.”  That’s the difference.

ana1Anyway, this whole terribly long post is just to say that I am back and I do plan on blogging regularly again.

In posts to come, I plan on reviewing more kidlit, showing off my favorite writers and illustrators, and writing about other works-in-progress and the general nonsense of every day life.

Including tennis, most likely.  And whether or not I made it to (and won!) City Finals!

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Nurture Your Goodness

I would argue that lovers (especially WRITERS) of children’s literature are ALL good and kind people… with big, compassionate hearts.  Just a guess.

Of course, I am a Pollyanna, of sorts, and believe that MOST people (save a few) are good at their core… no matter how dastardly their deeds may be.

But kidlit people– REAL kidlit folks… well, to me, they (we) are a special breed.   I don’t think it’s possible to feel true joy when creating stories for young people if you have a bad bone in your body.  In fact, I would argue, that the MORE you embrace– and nurture– that sweet, unselfish, good-hearted side of yourself, the better your stories will be.

Very recently, a friend passed away.  He was really more of what I’d call a “solid” or “good” acquaintance– our boys are the same age, they played on the same football team last year, we’d see each other at school every other day…

But I cried buckets when I heard the news.  I was absolutely devastated.  Why?  Well, he was relatively young at  53 years old and his passing was sudden and completely unexpected.  He left behind an ailing wife and three children.  And he was truly one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met in my entire life.

This happened in early October and I haven’t been able to write about him until now.  He was the kind of person who, even if you didn’t “run into him” in the school hallway for a few weeks, he’d remember EXACTLY where you left off in your last conversation… and he’d follow up with you on those things.  He always had a big smile on his face… for everyone, friend or stranger.  He was the kind of person who would just lift a person up when you saw him.  His goodness flowed out of him like a river and EVERYONE felt it.  He had just about the whole community attend his funeral.  His loss stung more than words can say.  Everyone felt it– like the world was not quite as good a place without him in it.  That’s no exaggeration.

At his funeral, one of his sisters said that when he was a kid, he made it his life’s goal to make at least ONE person happy every single day.  I’m sure he accomplished that… and then some.

My point in all this is to pay homage to this wonderful man… and to say that he would have made a helluva children’s writer, I would bet.

Nurture your goodness.  Focus on others.  Make one person happy every day.

Rest in peace, Kevin.

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Dribs and drabs

I just realized yesterday that I’ve been actively pursuing this KidLit writer’s life since the end of July, and have completed two manuscripts and am well into a third… and, just this week, have started a fourth!  (As I wrote here the other day, I want to have three that are completely done– three that I’m happy with, anyway– before I start submitting to agents.)  And I have a feeling the fourth will be the best.  It seems that whenever I can’t finish one, I have to start another… then that somehow gets me back to the previous unfinished one and I’m able to complete it.  It’s what I did with numbers 1, 2… and now 3.  Go figure.  That’s my process, I guess!

My only hope is that I don’t turn into a serial writer who never ends up submitting anything.

Back to agents for a sec– I know that I’m probably just a few weeks away from submitting, so I ordered a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents the other day and it arrived yesterday.  SOOO excited to see that my literary agency (that sold my e-mail marketing book that I wrote umpteen years ago)  is in there and NOW has an agent specializing in KidLit who is actively seeking picture books!  She will obviously be my first contact– as soon as I have my “magic three,” I’ll email her a query.  Unfortunately, I learned that my original agent there — one of the founders/partners– passed away just a few months ago.  Very sad.

And speaking of sad, I find that I’m drawn to more melancholy picture books… melancholy with a message, that is.  I’m not sure if that means that’s what I need to be writing or not.  I remember in the old days of taking novel writing classes, I used to always hear, “Write what you know.  Write what you’re drawn to in your own reading.”  So we’ll see.  On the other hand, I do really enjoy goofy picture books, too.  Yes– with rhyme (and without)!  What the heck is wrong with rhyming picture books, anyway?  Everyone says that they are verboten with some editors… yet I constantly see new rhyming picture books getting released.  I can’t help it– rhyme just comes naturally to me… though I do want to transition to writing more prose.

This is supposed to be my Tuesday post… it’s late because it’s been a crazy week.  Tomorrow is Perfect Picture Book Friday already!  I can’t wait– I already have my book in mind (yes, it’s rather melancholy).

Oh… and the sketch today?  Not related to anything.  Just felt like drawing an egg and a chick.  🙂

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Design Of The Picture Book

Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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