Every now and then we have a wonderful former student guest blog for us and today (my birthday) the wonderful Charlotte Offsay is doing just that. Charlotte took our Picture Book Writing course a few years ago and now her career is rocketing, which makes me VERY happy!
I always love to hear how other writers get their story ideas.
Some writers I know make lists and mix up atypical characters, feelings and settings. Others I know try word associations and see where their minds wander. Personally, my best ideas tend to come from the things that take up the most room in my heart.
Take for example my upcoming book How to Return a Monster. When I sat down to write this book, I wanted to write a story about an older sibling feeling replaced by a new baby.
At the time I was consumed with how my 19-month-old would react to her new baby brother and a need to process and embrace the mixed feelings I was certain she would have. I first wrote a traditional narrative arc story about a train feeling replaced by a shiny new train, but the story felt too much like a sad terrible twist on Toy Story.
But I kept re-envisioning characters and story structure and eventually arrived at a humorous how-to story about a child who tries to return their sibling in the mail. This is the manuscript that is being illustrated by Rea Zhai and will be published this September by Beaming Books.
The Big Beach Cleanup is another manuscript that was formed from the things in my life that I care about the most. I passionately believe that if enough hands join together we can change the world and wrote this manuscript out of a desire to show my children that they don’t need to be superheroes to make a difference, they just need to do their part and join hands with those around them.
The Big Beach Cleanup is an ocean advocacy story about little hands joining together to make big change. It features Cora who plans to be a sandcastle-building champion, but when the contest is canceled due to litter at the beach, her plans come to a halt. Cora and Mama pull on gloves and get to work, but soon Cora realizes it will take more than two pairs of hands to solve a big problem. It is illustrated by Katie Rewse and published by Albert Whitman.
Yet another example of a story idea inspired from my own life, is my upcoming book A Grandma’s Magic. One of the things that matters the most to me is family and in particular my Grandma. My Grandma lives in England and I don’t get to see her as often as I would like. After one particularly difficult goodbye I was reflecting on what I wanted to write about and decided to write about my Grandma whose magic inspires me daily even from far across the pond.
A Grandma’s Magic is a picture book celebration of grandmothers and all the ways in which they are “magical.” It is being illustrated by Asa Gilland and published with Doubleday Books for Young Readers in Spring 2022.
Even though these story ideas are taken from my own life, none of them in concept are unique just to me. These are things that lots of people not only care about, can relate to, but also have been broached in picture books before…
There are many fabulous new sibling stories including these:
There are lots of wonderful books which encourage young activists, including these…
There are lots of lovely grandma books out there including these…
What makes my books different is that they are told in my voice, from my unique perspective, from my heart. I look forward to reading the stories that are most important to you, told from your unique perspective. Happy writing!!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.