Yes, I said free! World Book Night is April 23 and the deadline to register for twenty copies of your chosen book to give to non readers is February 1st. Among the titles on WBN's list are Zusak's The Book Thief, DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie, Anderson's Winter Girls, and Collin's Hunger Games. You must be 16 to register and ready to offer a description of who you intend to give the books to and how you will distribute them.
WBN started in the UK in 2011 and this year the US and Ireland have picked up the gauntlet. According to the official World Book Night site, it began as a means to "celebrate a love of reading and books" and "promote the value of reading, of printed books and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year round." An impressive list of publishing industry types are behind this effort, as well as the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association. Even if this is a thinly disguised tactic to sell books, I support any effort to seed reading addiction.
I've entered the second week of the sixteen-week dummy book challenge on kidlitart. We started last week by brainstorming story ideas. I already knew my subject, a terrier puppy, but what was she up to in this picture book? I envisoned her leaving her mother and going to a new home. How would she deal with it? What was her goal and what obstacles would she overcome in roughly twenty-eight pages, 500 words or less? During the week, I ran ideas past my husband and eventually, the story jelled.
Our assignment this week is to create the first draft so yesterday, I siphoned the story from my head through computer keys to a file. But the visual part of me wasn't satisfied with that and I'm betting I wasn't the only artist crafting scenes in my head. Tomorrow, I'll start thumbnail sketches. I'd like to have a rough storyboard to present for critique next week . . . if I'm accepted back to the PB&J group. I'm still waiting to hear. There's a tiny person pacing in my head! I sent the request last week when PB&Jers were preparing to leave for the SCBWI conference in Miami. Not the best timing. Rob Sanders, the group leader is posting about the event all week on his blog, Picture This! He's a fantastic motivator, never failing to inspire and lift spirits.
It's good to start the year with a new project. Your mind hums with possibilities . . . that the story will blossom and the sketches turn into memorable art. That phrase "Don't get your hopes up" was never meant for writers. Writers hope every story they start will soar. Unpublished writers hope agents and editors will see the potential in their books. Published writers hope readers will love their characters and get lost in their stories. I hope for the confidence to finish this book.
I'm not a person who handles creative productivity slumps well. So, with my latest novel project stalled, I turned to a picture book I'd written. The text could be improved but what it really needed was art. After a week of uninspired drawing, I headed to the library for resource material and came home empty handed. How is it that two local libraries lack books on Louisiana?
I'm trying really hard not to panic about the absence of my artist self. She'll come back. She has to come back. Art's been a vital part of my life since toddlerhood. I can't imagine my life without it. I thought back to those early years when horses ruled my drawing. Eventually, I added dogs and people to my portfolio. An idea surfaced. Why not go back to the subjects I loved to draw the most, horses and dogs, find the joy art used to bring me before it became a job.
I immediately knew the story I would write about a very special dog who grew up with a horse trainer. But I also knew I needed support. I've tried to go it alone the last few months and it just doesn't work for me. The January news from Florida SCBWI mentioned the Dummy Book Challenge, a guided sixteen-week process from story idea to finished dummy at kidlitart . I signed up before doubt interfered. Then I emailed Rob, the leader of my old picture book group, asking if they had room for one more. I'm waiting on their reply. Next step, gathering photos of my subject, who is now deceased. I don't have many but I know the ones I have will make me smile and I'm hoping . . . praying, that they make my fingers itch for a pencil and paper.
Is it really three days into 2012 already? Time is so sneaky. I meant to make resolutions but somehow they haven't solidified. Author, Julianna Baggott shared her enlightened goals on her blog, Baggott, Asher, and Bode . One of her resoultions was to revisit her vows every week and renew them. I don't think I'm disciplined enough to do that. I don't even like to look back at year's end to examine how many I achieved.
2011 battered the world. Oppressed nations erupted, Mother Nature attacked, and here in the U.S., discontent grew in the downtrodden masses. As the presidential election looms, candidates point fingers, fueling hate and further splintering a government that badly needs to unite. Despite the turmoil, I sense optimism for this new year. Is it just lingering holiday euphoria? Or upbeat predictions tossed from experts on TV? I hope not.
My writing suffered serious setbacks last year. Two novels stalled, resisting my best efforts to revive them. Three picture book projects await art and the artist in me is AWOL. I've always worked through dry spells in my art and writing with positive results, until now. By the end of 2011, I was feeling pretty desperate, so I could definitely use hope. My budget allows for no writing education or motivational conferences this year. But I have supportive friends and family, some of them writers who understand this process. And there's already a bright dot on the calender, my first published story, due in Highlights, May 2012. I'll look for inspiration where I can find it, including books . . . thank you, God for libraries! Maybe my first resloution will be learning to trust the dry spell will end.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor