It’s no foolin’! April has arrived and with it, blooming flowers, singing birds, and the shining sun. Plus – Poetry Month!  AND for 12 x 12 in 2012 participants, it’s not just one but FOUR opportunities to win prizes to improve your writing craft.

That’s right.  April features four multi-published authors, all of whom are participating in the 12 x 12 challenge.  I asked each of them to answer four questions about writing and publishing picture books.  4 questions, 4 authors, 4th month.  (I’m sorry I can’t help myself!).

First allow me to introduce these generous and accomplished authors in alphabetical order by first name — Jennifer Ward, Linda Ravin Lodding, Sandy Asher and Susannah Leonard Hill.  Then keep reading for their valuable insights into the craft of picture book writing.

Jennifer

Jennifer Ward is the author of numerous acclaimed books for children, including, Way Out in the Desert, Somewhere in the Ocean, and There Was an Odd Princess Who Swallowed a PeaShe’s also written parenting books including, I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of NatureLet’s Go Outside: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature, andIt’s a Jungle Out There: 52 Nature Adventures for City KidsForthcoming titles by Jennifer include What Will Hatch? (Bloomsbury/Walker Books), Mama Built a Little Nest, (Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books),  The Sunhat, (Rio Chico), and, There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fish, (Marshall Cavendish). You can find Jennifer on her website and Facebook  Jennifer is offering one 12 x 12 participant a manuscript critique.

Linda

Linda Ravin Lodding is the author of The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister (Flashlight Press, 2011) and the upcoming Hold That Thought, Milton! (illustrated by Ross Collins) and Oskar’s Perfect Present (illustrated by Alison Jay) both from Gullane Children’s Books, London. Linda is originally from New York, but has spent the past 15 years in Sweden, Austria and now The Netherlands. Today she lives in a one-windmill with her wonderful husband and daughter (who is, at times, as busy as Ernestine) and their sometimes-dog Nino (who speaks Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and a smattering of English). She loves dreaming up stories, biking along the canals, taking photos, doing pottery, traipsing through quaint towns, playing the flute…and sometimes just playing. You can find Linda, on her websiteFacebook and Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and located (in person!) at 52°9’7″N , 4°23’05″W.  Linda is offering one 12 x 12 participant a manuscript critique.

Sandy

Sandy Asher’s first book for young readers, SUMMER BEGINS, was published in 1980. Since then, she’s written 25 more. Her latest picture books are all about Froggie and Rabbit, Too Many Frogs!What a Party!, and Here Comes Gosling!. Sandy has also edited five anthologies, including, DUDE! Stories and Stuff for Boys, coedited with her friend David Harrison. Her latest anthology is WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Perfect and Sell Their Stories. Sandy and her husband are the proud parents of two grown children, and have three small grandchildren.  They live in Lancaster, PA, with their cat Friday. You can find Sandy at the website she co-founded with David Harrison – America Writes for Kids, their blog and on FacebookSandy is offering one 12 x 12 participant a copy of her book, WRITING IT RIGHT! 

Susanna

Susanna Leonard Hill began writing as soon as she could hold a pencil, but her first published book was The House That Mack Built, released by Little Simon in 2002. Since then, she has published eight more books, including: Punxsutawney Phyllis (Holiday House, 2005), No Sword Fighting In The House (Holiday House, 2007), Not Yet, Rose (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2009), Airplane Flight! (Little Simon, 2009)Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, (Walker Books, 2010) and April Fool, Phyllis! (Holiday House, 2011). In her spare time, Susanna is also a chauffeur, housekeeper, laundress, reader, rider-when-she-gets-the-chance, gardener-wanna-be, and former teacher. You can find Susanna on her website, blog (where she hosts the popular Perfect Picture Book Friday, and Would You Read It? series), Facebook and YouTubeSusanna is offering one 12 x 12 participant a manuscript critique.

1. What, in your opinion, is the most important element of an outstanding picture book?  Please name one picture book that executes this well.

Jennifer: The most important element found in an outstanding picture book is the ability to transcend the reader’s thoughts and emotions. The story isn’t simply read by the reader, but processed on a variety of levels.  This happens during the book’s creation, when many-many thoughtful, technical and artful elements are woven into the book’s design, seamlessly:  language, characters, concept, text placement, illustration, tone, composition…
The result is a book that not only resonates with each individual reader on some personal level, but also stands the test of time, becoming a classic.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, written and illustrated by William Steig, is an example of a book that executes this perfectly.

Linda: Only one element? There are so many important ones. Great character! Rich text! Read aloud rhythm! Strong narrative!  Sense of playfulness! (See how I worked in more than one?) But if I had to choose, I think I’d linger on the word “picture” in “picture book”.  Ultimately, an outstanding picture book is a “pas de deux” between words and pictures; each without the other isn’t complete.  So for me, (one of) the most important elements of a picture book is the way the text and illustrations dance together — each relying on the other to create something magical.

There are so many books that do this brilliantly but one that pops into my head is Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann.

Sandy: As Sue Alexander told me long ago, an outstanding picture book works on three levels:  Very young children understand and enjoy the events.  Older children understand and enjoy the connections between the events.  Adults understand and enjoy the universality of the connections between the events.  Example:  Very young children laugh at Max’s antics at home and with the Wild Things in Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.  Older children realize that Max’s misbehavior has gotten him sent to his room, where he’s angry and imagines the land of Wild Things until he’s ready to calm down and everything’s okay again.  Adults appreciate the depiction of a world in which a child can misbehave and get angry and wild but still be surrounded by his knowing parent’s love as symbolized in the waiting dinner.  Those levels are a lot to accomplish in only a few words, but that’s what makes a picture book truly outstanding.

Susannah: Someone (sorry, I forget who) said that picture books are big emotion for little people.  To me, the most important element of an outstanding picture book is the emotion, the connectedness, the “I know exactly what that feels like” rush of understanding you get when a character experiences something that you’ve experienced.  A picture book that does emotion well – whatever the emotion is – speaks to kids.  It brings comfort, or reassurance, or relief, or a laugh, or a feeling of common humanity to small people who have yet to learn that everyone sometimes misses their mom, or feels sad, or gets angry, or thinks a joke is funny, or is afraid of something.  Owl Moon by Jane Yolen shows the quiet happiness of a father and his daughter sharing something special together.  The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney help children feel the depth of parental love even when kids and parents have to be apart.  Z Is For Moose by Kelly Bingham is laugh-out-loud funny because every child understands impatience and not wanting to be left out.  Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak lets kids know that even when they’re bad, they’re loved.  To me, it is this depth of emotion that resonates with children and makes them ask for a book over and over and over.

2. What is your number one piece of advice for improving in the craft of picture book writing?

Jennifer:  Read, read, read.  Don’t ever stop reading in the genre you’re writing. I also believe it is important to give each manuscript time for subconscious processing – you know, that time you think about your work while doing the mundane, day-to-day stuff?  During this time, don’t ignore the “aha” elements that may surface:  a new twist, a different ending, another level or layer that adds to the reader’s enjoyment of the book. Often these thoughts surface as nothing more than a fleeting whisper in your mind and could easily be ignored.  But latch on to them and give them attention.   There might be a shy bud of thought that blossoms into a moment of genius.

Linda: It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again… Read!  On Linda Sue Park’s website she quotes an editor who once said, “Read a thousand books of the genre you’re interested in. THEN write yours.”

Sandy: Read, read, read.  We learn language by hearing it spoken.  We learn the elements of storytelling by listening to storytellers.  Read, read, read picture books until their rhythms become a natural part of your own storytelling voice.

Susannah: I guess my number one tip for improving in the craft of picture book writing is two-fold.  First, read a lot of picture books to get a feel for the length, the rhythm, and the language, to get a feel for what is in the story and what is in the pictures, and to learn what works and what doesn’t.  Second, write.  Every day.  Practice your craft.  The more you write, the more you will find your own rhythm and language – the kind of stories you can make work well, the voice that is yours and yours alone.

3. What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known starting out?

Jennifer:   I’m going to spin your question around, because today finds me grateful for what I didn’t know back when I started out.  I suppose it is true on some levels:  ignorance is bliss!  In the beginning, I had no knowledge regarding the “business” aspect of being a writer.  I didn’t know about reviews or sales numbers or marketing.  I was green!

Back then, I wrote because I loved children’s books, words as a medium, and writing.  I sent off my first manuscript to one publisher, it was accepted, it was successful, and continues to sell very well today. Back then, the process of writing was pure bliss and joy. My focus was solely on craft.

Fourteen years and many books later, I am a full-time writer who makes a living as a writer.  Today I find it’s quite easy to get consumed with the business aspect of making books:  the marketing (a whole world in and of itself), traveling, speaking and promoting.  I will spin all of those plates on my fingers, and since there’s no finger left to spin the writing plate, I’ll try to spin that one on my toe.

So to answer your question, I am glad to know what my experience was like in the beginning, because it serves as a reminder that craft needs a place in my day-to-day realm of existence: to ensure success in this business, and to provide me with some balance.  The fact of the matter is – writing/creating – brings me the greatest joy.

Linda: To refer back to Q1, I wish I had known how to write with the illustrator in mind. Ten years later, and, by George,  I think I got it! It took me awhile to learn to let go of my manuscript and trust that a savvy editor, wonderful illustrator and a child’s imagination would “tell the rest of the story.”

Oh, and I also wish I knew that I’d have to be patient (but I’m still working on this).

Sandy: I wish I’d known how to study the market.  A story is art when you create it and art when readers receive it, but everything in between is business, and you can’t get your story to readers if you don’t understand how that business works.  Basic rule:  If a publication, publishing house, or contest offers specific guidelines, believe them!  Sure, people break the rules and get away with it.  But not often!

Susannah: The one thing I know now that I wish I had known starting out… hmmm… that is a tough question!  I’m not sure I have an answer.  I’m glad I didn’t know how long it would take to get published, or that I would have to do my own marketing, or that even once I was published I would have no guarantee of future publication.  I think those things would have made the process more intimidating than it already was.  I have certainly learned a lot along the way, but I can’t really think of something I wish I’d known.  I’m sure when the other authors post their answers I’ll think, “Oh, yes!  Of course!  I wish I’d known that too!” 🙂

4. Why, as a multi-published author, did you decide to participate in the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge?

Jennifer:  My reason relates to Q3.  The 12 x 12 served as a vehicle to allow Craft to jump back into my work days and elbow Business out of the way a bit.   As a bonus, being part of the 12×12 challenge has allowed me to meet many wonderful people who share a passion for children’s books and creating. So thank you, Julie, for providing such a rich place for picture book lovers to converge.  I have drafted four complete manuscripts so far, and I am “loving” the momentum!

Linda: For the past  two years I participated in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo and, while I ended up with a list of ideas, they stayed seeds buried under a pile of dirt (or laundry as the case usually is). The 12 x 12 challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to tend to those seeds – give them a bit of water, a ray of sunlight, coo to them and see if they actually could grow.

But the number one reason for jumping on the 12×12 bandwagon with all you wonderful participants, was because I wanted to get back to writing.

In the run-up to the debut of my picture book The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister, I threw myself head first into marketing and promoting the book — built my website, organized bi-continental book launches, signed at bookstores, posted on blogs, solicited reviews, prepared school visits – everything that writers do….except I wasn’t writing. In addition, I’d been working on edits for  two new picture books due out in 2013 (more like sitting on them and waiting for then to hatch but still…).

While this doesn’t diminish the thrill of all the things that happen post-book, it got me wondering if I had any books left in me.  I wanted to find that spark again, make writing a priority and feel the buzz of a new book project. Nearly four months into 12 x 12, I have four new picture book drafts!  Thank you, Julie!

Sandy: Quite frankly, after 40+ years in the business, I’d reached a place where I wasn’t sure I had anything more to say — and that was bothering me.  I’d completed WRITING IT RIGHT, an anthology of other authors’ work, I’ve been working on several plays that are centered on bringing other people’s stories to the stage, and I’m helping my husband with his blog America — The Owner’s Manual (http://americatheownersmanual.wordpress.com).  Obviously, I’m deeply committed to helping other people share their stories, but I never intended for that to be all my work for the rest of my life!  I read about the Picture Book Marathon in the SCBWI Bulletin and signed on, but weeks passed and I didn’t hear back from the organizers, so I figured it wasn’t going to happen.  Then I heard about 12 X 12 via a Facebook posting and decided that’d work just fine, so I signed on.  About the time I finished my January draft for 12 X 12, I heard that the PB Marathon was indeed on for February!  What the heck, I thought, I’ll do them both.  And sure enough, the more I’ve written picture book drafts — one in January, 26 in February, one in March so far — the more ideas I’ve discovered for writing picture books. Rather than an exhausting double dare, it’s all been wonderfully invigorating!  Have I thanked you recently, Julie?  THANK YOU!

Susanna: I have been lucky to be published, but I know I still have a lot to learn about writing.  For me there is always room for improvement.  I joined 12×12 partly to learn what I could learn, and partly for the motivation – to help me make sure that at the very least I would have 12 new MSS by the end of 2012.  But I also joined largely for the camaraderie.  I like being part of a community of picture book writers.  I love the guest posts on this blog.  I’ve enjoyed getting to meet so many wonderful people.  We all have things to teach each other, and it’s nice to have a place where everyone understands the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations, of being a writer.  I’m so glad you had this idea, Julie, and I’m really enjoying participating!

It is truly my honor to host these four inspiring authors on my blog this month.  PLEASE help me thank them by visiting their websites and social media networks and, especially, BY BUYING THEIR BOOKS! 

12 x 12 Participants – to enter to win one of the four prizes, you must be an official challenger and leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of April for one point.  On April 30th, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog.  If you completed a picture book draft in April, you can let us know in the comments of that post for another point.  I will draw winners using Random.org and announce them on May 2nd.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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100 Comments

  1. What a terrific idea and post, Julie! Thanks for setting it up. Thank you, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy and Susanna for sharing your knowledge with us. It’s like a great big picture book hug! -Jan O’Neil

  2. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

    I love this place! Thank you so much ladies for your words of wisdom and for offering such generous prizes! I feel so inspired at the beginning of our fourth month! Thanks so much!

    Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

  3. This is amazing Julie, to have not one, but four wonderful authors share their words of wisdom with us, as well as offering very generous prizes. Like Elizabeth before me has said, I to feel very inspired and rearing to do some solid writing this month… Yay! … Thankyou ladies, I’m Diane Tulloch.

  4. Wow – Wow – WOW! I love this palooza. The authors are great, the questions wonderful with inspiring heartfelt responses. I’m so blessed to be a part of this 12×12 experience. Thank you Juile, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna!!

  5. What a treat to begin the month! I have wondered why established authors would participate in 12 x 12 along with us newbies — it is so good to get FOUR perspectives on that question and so much more.

    Thank you all (and thank you, Julie).

    Beth Stilborn

  6. First of all, thank you Julie for setting this up. I was touched by all of the authors in this post. Most of all how Sandy shared that this inspired her to come up with ideas for new picture book drafts. FANTASTIC!

    Thank you all for sharing with us! Mel Bugaj

  7. Beth Gallagher

    What a great post and interviews! Thank you, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy and Susanna for your information and comments. 12 X 12 is so truly inspiring. Happy April all! ~Beth Gallagher

  8. Thank you to all of the authors who so generously share their words of wisdom. We really appreciate it! Kim Murray

  9. Thank you so much for inviting me to take part in this, Julie. I am honored to be in such terrific company! I really enjoyed reading what the other authors had to say, and found it interesting that for Question #2 we all said pretty much the same thing – that must mean something 🙂 I hope you have a (relatively) prank-free April Fools Day – and that’s no fooling’ 🙂

    Susanna Hill

  10. Wow- such experience. Thanks to all the authors for sharing their insights.
    Hope spring is inspiring everyone-
    Teresa Vens

  11. Four different prizes? Are you sure this isn’t an April Fools Day joke? I so want to win. ~Nessa Morris

  12. Wow! What a great way to start the month! Thanks for setting this up, Julie. And a big thanks to Jennifer, Linda, Sandy and Susanna for so generously sharing their insights. I like four authors for the 4th month …. does this mean 5 authors next month? (just kidding, because really, how would you manage December!) I’ve printed out some of the author-advice and taped it to my wall to remind me that even multi-published authors are still learning with each writing project. Yay! It is never to late to start again.

  13. Shai Stephenson

    Julie, you are amazing. Thank you so much for organizing this for us. Knowing I am in the same group as Susanna, Linda, Sandy and Jennifer is enough inspiration to carry through the month.

  14. Stacy S. Jensen

    4x4x4. I love it. Thanks ladies for the information. – Stacy S. Jensen

  15. Julie, we love you!!!!!!!!!! And thanks to all these writerly folks sharing the love with us. Er, four prizes? Uh, today is April Fool. Hmmmm. Not a joke, cuz I know you wouldn’t do that! BODACIOUS!

    Printing out. (((hugs)))

  16. So many fabulous nuggets of wisdom here. Thank you, ladies! I ain’t foolin’!

  17. What fun to hear 4 perspectives. Thank you, authors! It has given me some added inspiration that you’re all 12×12 participants too.

    Erin Pearson

  18. Thank you, ladies for such helpful information! Today, I will be sure to work in PB reading/writing time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. I hope everyone comments so they have a chance to win an author critique. Susannah’s graciously critiqued one of my MS through Phyllis’s World Tour, and it was invaluable. I’m almost ready to send it out (crossing fingers). Thanks ladies for sharing your wisdom.

  20. Wonderful creative juice. All of it – questions and answers – like being in the audience of a panel discussion on the craft. Wearing my pajamas! Thank you.

  21. Julie, what an awesome way to begin April Author-Palooza!

    Aw-inspiring, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna!
    Thank you for sharing :~D

    Lori Mozdzierz

  22. Thanks Julie for 12 x12 and bringing these four authors to us today. What great insights.

    AND…thanks Sandy for getting me into this challenge. Your are an inspiration to me. I learned so much from you at the week at the Highlights workshop. You are a great teacher of writers. Glad your creative juices are flowing.

    Mary Jo Guglielmo

    • Thank you, Mary Jo — and to all of you! — for your kind words. It’s been a total delight to be involved in Julie’s amazing adventure and I’m glad there’s so much of 2012 left!

  23. Thanks for all of the interview answers to the four authors!

    Thanks Julie for this wonderful April Author-Palooza! 🙂

    Thanks to all of you for sharing! 🙂

    ~Rebecca Fyfe

  24. Jennifer Young

    Thank you Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, Susanna and Julie for putting this post together. Julie, what great questions to ask! I’ve learned a lot from each of you, especially the advice on what you wish you knew back then. Thank you for all the advice. This is being bookmarked 🙂

  25. Melissa Kelley

    Palooza makes everything special! Thank you, multi-published authors, for sharing your insight – it’s a big world and sometimes hard to know who to listen to as we are all struggling along the Author path. One of the things I love best about the 12×12 is the feeling that everyone who is participating has something real and honest to share! Your insights are much appreciated!

    Welcome April (or as my writing partner calls it) 12×12 Q2!

    Melissa Kelley

  26. How amazing was this post!!!!? So much information! So much insight! Talk about your Author Palooza! Yawooozah! Good, Good stuff here!

  27. What a great way to start off April! Thank you so much to Julie and the participants. A very informative post!

    • Loni Edwards-Illustrator

      Ack! Sorry for the double post, didn’t think they both went through. Oh well, it was a good post, so deserves 2 bravo comments 🙂

  28. Loni Edwards-Illustrator

    Thank you so much for such an informative post! What a great way to kick off April! Wooohooo!

  29. Super idea Julie! And what a great post. Thanks so much for spreading the wealth of knowledge out. Awesome!

  30. Just realized I didn’t leave my name in my comment…thanks again!
    Susan Halko

  31. I love hearing advice from already published authors. Yes, they honestly say it’s a process and getting published is not always easy. BUT they are also supportive, willing to share lessons they’ve learned, and cheer all newbies on. Thank you Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna~ And thank you Julie!
    Gail Handler

  32. Lori Grusin Degman

    OMG – what an awesome line-up! Julie, you asked terrific questions and Jennifer, Linda, Sandy and Susanna, you gave thoughtful and incredibly helpful answers! Thanks to all of you!

  33. Wow! What a truly inspirational post! April Author Palooza is going to be hard to top! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. -Natalie Fischer

  34. Much thanks to all 4 authors for sharing this wealth of knowledge and experience. Looking forward to April.
    Dana Carey

  35. Inspiration X 4! Thank you marvelous authors and Julie too!

  36. What a wealth of experience and knowledge! And what a great way to start out April! Thank you to Julie and April’s 4 authors!

    Dana Atnip

  37. These were some great inside tips from some great insiders. The fact that being published is no guarantee of ever being published again is what haunts me more than anything. Aargh!! The elusive Book #2…..

    One-Book-Wonder
    Genevieve Petrillo

  38. I would like to thank the four authors for their answers to the questions. I learned a lot from your responses. I even bookmarked the page for future reading! Thank you so much!

    -Eric VanRaepenbusch

  39. This post was a great motivator for me, Julie…and thanks, ladies! Now I know what I need to do: read, read, read, and write, write, write. Oh, and learn all I can about the ‘business’ of writing and marketing. No small task, so I better get started. I appreciate your author’s insights, Linda, Sandy, Susanna and Jennifer!
    Jarm Del Boccio

  40. Thank you, Julie! And thank you Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna! This is totally fantastic! I loved the 4 x 4 in 4 :•)

    Penny Klostermann

  41. It’s thrilling to read your tips and hear of your struggles, especially when the advice comes from some of my favorite authors.

    Susanna, I especially adore “Can’t Sleep Without Sheep.”

    Thank you Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna for sharing your insights. Thank you again, Julie, for everything you’ve done to make this happen.

    Karen Kallis Cheesman

  42. Julie, you keep out-doing yourself!! What a fantastic post from FOUR fantastic Authors. I got Sandy’s WRITING IT RIGHT the day I graduated from ICL. I ate that thing up!! It’s such a wonderful book to have, if revision isn’t your thing.

    I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by the amount of books and knowledge these women have up their sleeves. Bravo, ladies! You inspire us ALL!!!

    Bethany Telles

  43. Hooray for April! This is an incredible opening post this month. Thank you all for sharing your advice and experiences. It is so important for pre-published writers and illustrators to have these bits of wisdom and encouragement as we move through the business ups, downs and joys of children’s book publishing. Julie-you have started something wonderful with this 12X12 challenge! Thank you. Heather Newman

  44. Ooh. La. La.

    Great stuff, ladies! 🙂

  45. Julie – What a great post! And how cool to read four authors thoughts on picture books and the 12×12 Challenge. Thanks again for the motivation to continue through the month!
    Jennifer Rumberger

  46. Wow. This is awesome. Thanks!

    Rena Traxel

  47. This morning I was in a Houston-SCBWI writing intensive with Penguin editor Heather Alexander (SO helpful!), and this evening I got more useful advice–a little mini-conference online! WIth all this inspiration, I should be able to write my April story by mid-month! Thanks to all!

  48. Great post. Loved hearing 4x answers.
    Thanks.

    Darshana Khiani

  49. Julie, I’m amazed by how you’ve put together this 12×12 challenge. Each month, you bring us terrific new insights and inspiration that really enrich everyone’s experience. Like Linda, I’ve participated in PiBoIdMo for two years but most of my ideas just stayed that way…until now! And like Sandy, the more I write, the more ideas spring to mind. All of your guest writers today beautifully shared their knowledge, passion and courage. Thanks to all.
    Lisa Rogers

  50. What a valuable post — great questions and great answers. Thank you Julie, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susannah!
    -Margaret Greanias

  51. Wow! My brain is reeling from all the information here and blogs. Thanks so much Susanna, Sandy, Linda, and Jennifer! It’s great to learn about you and all the books you’ve written. Congratulations on all your successes! We’re blessed to have you in 12×12. Thanks, Julie, for the post!
    ~Tina Cho

  52. Thanks for the 4by4! It’s the 4th month and Earth Day is my birthday too! Even more a reason for me to win a prize! Not being pushy, just assertive. I’ll check in again on the 30th. Until then – Happy Spring!
    Kathy Van Duzer

  53. Hum -4x4x4, Sounds a bit OCD:) Just kidding. Liked your author picks and found their answers to your questions very enlightening. Lots of information. Thanks everyone!

  54. nicolezoltack

    What a wealth of information! Awesome, awesome post. Great questions and answers.

    Nicole Zoltack

  55. Wanted to write how much I enjoyed this post with multiple authors, but realized I better go read read read! And squeeze in some writing time as well. Isn’t it funny how the more your create the more ideas you get? Thanks all for this 12 x 12 community.

    Sallie Wolf

  56. Elizabeth McBride

    Thank you to all the interviewees and to Julie for the wonderful post. I am curious about how the four of you see the changing role of agents and authors, and whether you see some of the current trends as pendulum swings? I wonder if the author’s role is likely to continue to require so much marketing and promotion (in the social networking realm there isn’t much room for change since it has to come from the author his or herself), and if the agent’s role will take on more editorial responsibilities in order to bring manuscripts to publishing houses. Are there trends that any of you see as ‘developing’? The downloadable book and interactive ‘book/game/activity’ have changed the products we offer and the way we must market, but I wonder if there are some ‘extremes’ that any of the four of you see as ‘more likely to smooth out’ more readily than others? (Perhaps this does not qualify as a reply as much as an initiated discussion…)

    from Elizabeth McBride

  57. Great 4×4 post–a monster truck’s worth of information. Thanks to the interviewees and thanks again to Julie.

  58. Wow – great post! There was so much insight and information in those answers that I’m going to need more time to read through it all again and absorb it all.

    I’ve given you a blog award today – thanks for being such a great blogger!

  59. FANTASTIC POST, Julie! I love all of these authors. And I find that their “read, read, read” advice is the most useful tidbit of information. That’s the best way I learn about the craft. Thank you, all!

    Miranda Paul

  60. Thank you Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, Susanna, & Julie. Your insights, tips and honesty are appreciated as is your generosity of time and talent.

  61. LOVED reading the Q&A with these four writers! Thanks to them for sharing so much insight and themselves with us!

  62. Oh my! What a fabulous way to start the month. I love that this challenge is complete with motivating and helpful posts. It’s like vitamins for writers. Great advice. Excellent perspective.

  63. Oh my, four months worth of goodness rolled into one! My favorite quotes:

    “Picture Books are big emotion for little people”

    “A story is art when you create it and art when readers receive it, but everything in between is business”

    “The story isn’t simply read by the reader, but processed on a variety of levels.”

    “Ultimately, an outstanding picture book is a “pas de deux” between words and pictures.”

    Thank you for sharing, ladies!

  64. Hi 12 x 12 in 2012 Buddies 🙂

    Thank you for a wonderful interview with 4 great picture book authors! Sandy’s comment about how picture books need to work on 3 levels, that was fascinating, I went back and read that again to fully appreciate what she was saying. So helpful!

    I think I’ll go back and re-read the entire article again, it was terrific. Thank you again.

    🙂 Abigail

  65. Relating to Q2 ~ I knew all this reading will pay off some day! 😉
    It’s awesome having four great authors to learn from here!
    Erik
    A.K.A. One of your many 12×12 in ’12 ‘ers

  66. Lisa Birenbaum

    Thanks to all four authors for their insight!

  67. Julie…what an outstanding Q&A with four very special 12 x 12’ers!

    Thank you to Jennifer, Linda, Sandy and Susanna for the priceless gems you have shared here. 🙂 This is a post that every aspiring AND published picture book writer should print out and save…Joanna singled out a quote from each that I want to frame and keep in front of me when I write.:)

  68. I noticed I did not put my name in my comment. I’ll kick me for you. *wink* So I came back to thank you for everything you do for us and I said to Self, “Self, ya better add your name.”

    Robyn Campbell
    *smiling*

  69. Whew. I think I have finally read this enough times to grasp the MAGNITUDE of the 4×4 Author-Palooza. April is shaping up to be pretty awesome.

    Count me in. 🙂
    Carter Higgins

  70. Fantastic post! i particularly liked reading the answers to the first question and look forward to looking up some of the picture books cited that I’m not familiar with. Thank you all!

  71. Great post and wonderful advice. Thanks for including all four this month.
    Jackie Castle

  72. WOW! What great information!! Thank you so much, Julie for posting this!

  73. This has me thinking a lot about the balance of writing for writing’s sake and writing with the knowledge of potential publication…and the non-writing work that a published author has to do, too. Writing is first, craft is first, because without those you can’t have any of the other things. I love reading about these four brilliant writers and their thoughts. (I will also say I have Writing It Right and highly recommend it.)

    • Am I the only one having a bear of a time logging in to blog comments these days? This is Julie Falatko, not Meursault, the main character from Camus’ The Stranger. Though I’m sure he’d come up with one hell of a picture book.

  74. Love this apporach this month and hearing for these four amazing authors. Thanks!

  75. Wow–what a surprise to see interviews with four picture book authors! I loved reading this. 🙂

    I’m usually great about reading stacks of picture books, but have fallen behind while trying to finish up an MG revision. This is a great reminder to start going through my PB stack again. I picked some great ones up from the library that are beginning for some attention.

  76. I don’t know if I have read a thousand picture books, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read some of them a thousand times! This post was both reassuring and inspiring, and I needed that this month! One of the many wonderful things about 12×12 is having published writers riding along with us offering guidance and support.

  77. Such wonderful advice! Thank you to all of the featured authors for stopping by and answering those questions for us!

  78. Christie Wright Wild

    What a GREAT interview!!! Absolutely loved it. Thank you, ALL!!!

  79. Thanks all of you for a great read. Lots to think about and yet more PBs I’m not familiar with to search out and devour!

  80. Great answers! Good luck to all!

  81. Brenda A. Harris, Finished my April draft.
    Just want to thank you for the hard work you do in making 12×12 so SWEET. I pray things run smoothly for you for the rest of this year. 🙂

  82. Thank you April Authors for all your input! I haven’t finished April’s draft yet but reading this post has inspired me and hopefully i’ll finish before May.

  83. Great interview! I enjoyed reading it at the beginning of the month, and again today.

  84. It’s terrific to have these insights! Thank you, Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, Susannah, and Julie! I so much appreciate this wealth of information.
    Holly Ruppel

  85. Somehow, I missed this post on April 1. (Too busy playing pranks, I guess. LOL) I’m so glad Julie’s post today redirected me here, where there’s so much wisdom to soak in. As I read, I jotted notes and related tips directly to the manuscripts I’ve written — check this one for rhythm, that one needs more playfulness. Thanks, ladies. I’m off to write. And I’m going to begin my journey of reading a thousand picture books.
    — Carol Munro

  86. Not sure where I was on April 1 either, but I’m so glad I got to go back and read this today! What a great amount of information and ideas — thanks for sharing yourselves with us!!

  87. What’s funny is I can’t remember if I already commented on how wonderful this post was. In my mind I did. Anyway, I’m too lazy to check the 90 responses to see if I did or not. Anyway, I love Q & A sessions with authors. Lots of informative responses. Thanks Jennifer, Linda, Sandy, and Susanna for your time. I love that you all agreed that the number one tip to writers is to READ, READ, READ!

  88. thegracefuldoe

    I thought I’d left a comment at the start of the month, but it doesn’t look like I did.

    Just wanted to say thanks to all of you for your wonderful insights!
    Jo Hart

  89. Well, I don’t know how I missed THIS first post but I’m SO glad I caught up with it today! A TON of good PB info–and now I may need to do a *little* tweaking on my April 12 x 12 x 12 PB. 😉

  90. So thankful to have found the 12 x 12 x 12 group & especially thankful that so many talented authors are sharing their wisdom & that you made it all happen, Julie!

  91. Wow! April was an exciting month around here. I’ve enjoyed reading through this wealth of information time and time again this month. Thank you Julie, Susanna, Jennifer, Linda, and Sandy for this awesome post.
    Beth Thaler

  92. I did comment much earlier on…but came back when redirected by the 12 x 12 check-in post. And saw I hadn’t left my name…which I’m not sure we need to do on this post…but it was fun reading all of the comments anyway…what an amazing community this is! I am so grateful to be a part of it. 🙂

    Vivian Kirkfield

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