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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Catching Up (and STILL Loosening Up)

I have SO much to write about and so little time… First off, I want to mention that one of my picture book pitches will be “airing” today on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for her Would You Read it Wednesday (WYRIW) feature.  I’m excited to see if any of Susanna’s followers WOULD actually read the book, based on the pitch alone.  Check it out on her home page.

And I’m especially looking forward to the feedback because of something that Mary Kole told me about that very same pitch recently.  That’s right– Mary Kole.  Literary agent extraordinaire, blogger behind KidLit.com (with tens of THOUSANDS of followers) and now published author of the hit new guide for children’s writers, Writing Irresistible Kidlit.  I’ve written about her in previous posts, but have kept her somewhat anonymous.  Well, I can officially tell you that it’s Mary who has helped me tremendously with my writing.  AND she also took a look at my near-twenty PB ideas, written in synopsis and/or “pitch” format.  And one of them, dear friends, was the pitch found on WYRIW today.  That’s why I was a major PITA for Susanna… because she already had a different pitch/different book set for today… and I switched gears on her at the 11th hour.  (Sorry again, Susanna!)

I’m going to leave you in suspense about what Mary said… he he he.  More on that, along with some of the things I’ve learned from her, in a future post.  (Hey, suspense is part of good fiction writing, right?  And that INCLUDES the world of picture books, of course!  So sue me!)  🙂

Mary’s not the only one who’s been helping me.  As many of you know, I’ve been writing a lot of rhyming stories lately, and I sent the one I felt the strongest about to none other than 1 Zany Zoo author Lori Degman!  Lori is a true expert on rhyming and meter… and she gave me some great insights and advice on how I can make that particular manuscript much better.

For the record, both Mary and Lori offer freelance critiquing services–  I’d recommend both of them highly. (Check them out at MaryKole.com and LoriDegman.com.)

Something funny happened as a result of taking the advice of both Mary and Lori– I went into serious revision mode… but what I ended up with is a completely new, completely different story with an actual theme, unique (yet not) conflict, and a strong central character.  I started out by trying to flesh out the original character more… and the rest kind of wrote itself.  I’m not completely finished with this one, but I’m really happy with where this one’s going.  No, scratch that.  I’m really excited about this one!  My goal is to wrap it up and start submitting to agents at the end of this month.  (Yikes!  Is it already November 14th?  Hmmm… maybe I’ll make that deadline end of the year!)

This post is getting long– I’ll save the rest (more about loosening up) for a later post.  Maybe– gasp!– I’ll post it tomorrow!

Happy Wednesday, All!

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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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