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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Storystorm Success!


There they are, another 30 rough first drafts (some of them partial) to add to the 30 from PiBoIdMo 2015. I'd like, as I did last year, to thank Tara Lazar and her guest bloggers for helping make this possible. Without their daily prompts, there's no way I could have done this.

Here's a breakdown of the stories I wrote this month:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Storystorm Day #30: The Best Magician Ever

I made it to day 30 again! 30 days, 30 rough first drafts. (Albeit some of them only partial drafts.)

I'm thankful this year, as I was last year, for Tara Lazar and her guest bloggers. I could not have done this without their daily prompts.

This year, however, there were fewer blog posts that took the form of writing prompts. Sometimes, they were more general in scope, and on those days, I needed the help of two other mechanisms: First, the fact that one of my stories (Ursula the City Bear) turned very easily into a picture book series, and second, a second grader friend of mine that I play with from time to time. She's super imaginative, and from our play alone, I got two ideas for stories earlier this month, as well as today's final Storystorm installment.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Storystorm Day #29: The Backward King

This is an attempt to turn my super political (and super cathartic) day #27 story into something that might really have a chance of being published. I changed the "backward president' into a backward prince, who is all fun and games until he inherits his father's throne:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Storystorm Day #28: In which I Collaborate with Myself

Today's Storystorm blog post by Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon made me want to try some collaborative brainstorming to come up with a story to write for the day, but unfortunately, as a mere nom de plume (if you didn't already know that about me, I hope it doesn't come as too big a shock to you!) I can't dance, teeter totter, or brainstorm (in person, anyway) with anybody else. So, I decided to brainstorm with myself!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Storystorm Day #27: The Backward President

Yup, I'm going political again! I don't know how publishable these political picture books will be, but writing them is doing me a lot of good. Today's story evokes George Orwell's 1984 by imagining (without too much effort) a "backward president" who says things like, "Ignorance is knowledge," or "Protest is violence," or "Voting is cheating."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Storystorm Day #26: A Very Scary Story

At the prompting of today's Storystorm blogger Rebecca Hirsch, I thought about what non-fiction topics I had any expertise in, and chose a topic I don't necessarily know that well, but have been thinking a lot about lately: climate change.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Storystorm Day #25: Ursula Saves the Day

And I'm back on the Ursula train!

In this new installment of the City Bear series, Ursula is recognized as a bear...by a very young child. Does this mean her cover is blown? Will she have to go back to living in the woods? Stay tuned, same bear time, same bear channel.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Storystorm Day #24: Periwinkle Pansies

I did an alphabet book today, though not the one I started then gave up on yesterday. Today's was much simpler in concept, though it got pretty hard at the end. Here's how it begins:

Storystorm Day #23: There Was An Artist

After reading Tara Lazar's Storystorm interview of Adam Grant, I took to heart his assertion that "being original isn’t about being first—it’s about being different and better," and decided to write one of the most common types of picture books there is: the alphabet book. Except that I would come up with a unique twist that would set it apart. What I came up with was the idea of describing bits of a painting (the Artist would be the A that started the book) alphabetical item by alphabetical item, and then show the entire painting at the end.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Storystorm Day #22: Popup Pirate

Keith Allen's Storystorm blog post about being a popup book creator inspired me to write a non-popup story...about a popup character!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Storystorm Day #20: The Burly Guard

The many "punny" story titles listed by Corey Rosen Schwartz in today's Storystorm blog post got me thinking about a story I began during PiBoIdMo 2015. It was a collection of twisted old sayings, such as "a witch in slime says, 'fine!'" (for "a stitch in time saves nine.") At the time, I decided that listing twenty actual old sayings and creating twisted versions of seven of them was enough to count as a first draft. Today, I created seven more, and also got a new idea about how the illustrations might work.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Storystorm Day #19: Larry's Late Day

Today I was actually inspired by some play time I had with a second grader friend of mine the other evening, where we imagined a kid being late to all his classes because the fallout from being late to each class makes him late for the next one as well. I added to that a series of increasingly bizarre circumstances that make him late in the first place, and that saddle him with problems that go on to contribute serially to his bad day, and I had my story for the day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Storystorm Day #18: The Princess Frog

After reading Veronica Bartles' post about varying on the classic story, The Frog Prince, in order to create her debut picture book, The Princess and the Frogs, I decided that the obvious response would be to create yet another twist on the tale. So I went with a princess who kisses a frog -- and turns into a frog herself!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Storystorm Day #17: When Love Trumped Hate

I only had to read the first sentence of today's Storystorm blog post by Laurie Ann Thompson to be inspired to write another of the "X Trumps Y" stories that I hope to persuade my fellow children's book authors to also start writing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Storystorm Day #16: When Hope Trumped Fear

Today, I decided to do another "X Trumps Y" story. "When Hope Trumped Fear" is my account of Barack Obama's political career, beginning with his election to the Illinois state senate and ending with his victory in getting Obamacare passed. I employ a pattern of repetition, where at each stage of the story, I describe the next step Obama wanted to take, talk about why it was a scary proposition (to him or to the Democratic Party or to the voters) and then repeat the refrain, "But hope trumped fear," and go o to narrate his victory.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Storystorm Day #15: The Stone Soup Swindle

Today I created a twist on the classic stone soup story. In my version, three thieves intend to use the trick to convince some villagers that they have a magic pot, and then sell it to the village "for a tidy sum." What they don't realize is that the ogres who live in the village naturally eat stone!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Storystorm Day #13: Ursula Goes to the Zoo

Storystorm is turning into Bear Bash for me. Today, I wrote my third Ursula the City Bear story. This time, Ursula visits a zoo and meets up with some fellow bears who got a little stir-crazy and escaped from their cage. So Ursula does the polite thing: she invites them to crash with her in the big city!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Storystorm Day #12: Ursula Goes to the Doctor

Today I decided to write a sequel to the story I wrote on day #4 about a bear who decides to live in the city. I thought at the time that it might make for a good series, and I believe it even more now. In this installment, Ursula gets sick and has to see a doctor, and fears that a medical expert will surely be able to see through her disguise and discover that she's a bear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Trumping Trump: a proposal for my fellow children's book authors


This is an idea I got while working on today's Storystorm assignment. It's a way we children's book authors can make a statement against the President-Elect and all that he is and represents, while also in fact fighting against those things in the next generation of voters. This is how it would work:

Storystorm Day #11: Love Trumps Hate

Chana Stiefel suggested scanning the headlines for story ideas today, and boy was the timing of her blog post...potent! The news was dominated by Obama's farewell address, Trump's first press conference since being elected, and the revelations about Trump's...uh...Russian misadventures? All of this combined to give me an idea that wasn't exactly a twist on any particular headline, but something I just had to write whether or not it turns out to be good material for a picture book. (And that turned into an even bigger idea I'll describe in my next post.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Storystorm Day #10: The Color of Love

In today's Storystorm blog post, Nancy Churnin recommended paying close attention all through the day for situations or occurrences that might prompt a story, and so that's what I did. At one point, I overheard a conversation about what colors someone was, or was most definitely not, going to paint their kitchen, and got the idea for the story (or really, the poem) I wrote today. In it, I begin by asking simple questions about what color you would paint a certain thing (for example, what color would you paint an apple?) but then, the things begin to get a little more complicated (what color would you paint summer?) and soon, they're just crazy.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Storystorm Day #9: The Night of the Giants

Today's Storystorm prompt, by Salina Yoon and her husband, artist Christopher Polentz, was to go to an antique or thrift store and find an old photo or item that triggers a story. They also provided some portraits by Christopher for this use, and this one:


immediately gave me an idea for a story set during the days of the London Blitz.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Storystorm Day #8: Rabbit Song

At the prompting of Tara Lazar and Deb Lund (“Sing Along to the Classics”) I reread The Tale of Peter Rabbit to see what could be learned, and here's what I found:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Storystorm Day #7: Piano Lesson

I was rather directly inspired by Jennifer Arena's Storystorm blog post today. "Be Big! Be Small! Be Any Size at All!" says Jennifer, and so I wrote almost a complete first draft of a story about a girl who gets shrunk to about an inch tall and explores the inside of her piano. I didn't manage a complete draft, because I've realized I don't know that much about how a piano works, and that's what most interests the girl (who likes building things and figuring out how machines work.) So I've got some research ahead of me.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Storystorm Day #6: It is Winter

Today, I decided to extend a series of poems I began last PiBoIdMo. This was the first one, and this was the second. As you can see, each poem has a rather elaborate metrical pattern, and tripled rhyming lines that pose riddles that are answered by single short lines that produce an almost hypnotic effect. The first poem was about the moon and the second one was about the dawn. Today's was about winter.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Storystorm Day #5: The Girl Who Caught The Moon

In today's Storystorm blog post, Dan Moynihan urged us to "don't think, just draw!" (or write, or whatever) and suggested using verbal or pictorial prompts to get ourselves started. The idea is that even if you don't know what story you're about to tell, you should just look at the prompt and start writing and see where it takes you. So I decided to give that a try.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Storystorm Day #4: Ursula the City Bear

Using Tammi Sauer's "What if?" chart, I started writing a story about a shark who didn't fit in, but then that changed into a bear who wanted to live in the city. And so, my story for today, which I managed to write a complete first draft for, tells the story (and I think it could be the first of many stories in a series) about the adventures of Ursula the bear in the big city.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Storystorm Day #3: Otter Wrecks

I loved Josh Funk's post about letting autocorrect give you new ideas, but I was worried it wouldn't happen quickly enough for me to get an idea and write a rough draft for it today, so I stole one of his! I wrote, not a full draft, but at least the start of a story that begins,
The worst mistake we ever made was letting the otters do all the driving.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Storystorm Day #2: Zuzu's Zen Garden

Inspired by Tara Lazar's Day #2 prompt about mindfulness, I wrote the rough draft of a picture book story about the daughter of a witch receiving, on her tenth birthday (which is the birthday when witches' give their daughters their first magical gifts) a plain and unmagical Zen Garden. (You know, those boxes of sand that you set on your desktop and arrange with a little wooden rake.) Needless to say, she's very disappointed, until she's accidentally shrunk to the size of an ant by an errant spell and has to spend months and months living in her Zen Garden, developing habits of mindfulness that last her the rest of her life.
“Is it magical sand that turns into anything I command?” asked Zulu.
“No,” said her mother. “The sand is just sand.”
“Is the rake my first magic wand?” asked Zulu.
“No,” said her mother. “You use it to arrange the sand.”
“If I arrange the sand just right, does it spell out magical incantations that call spirits to guide me and help me?” asked Zuzu.
“No,” said her mother. “Once you arrange the sand, you just look at it.”

Storystorm Day #1: Cats and Dogs

I completely forgot about Day #1 of Storystorm!

I did register the day before it started, but then New Years Day came, and this happened and that had to be done, and I didn't think of it again until past midnight.

Anyway, here's my belated Day #1 entry. This year, as with PiBoIdMo the November before last, I'm not only coming up with one picture book idea per day, but also writing a rough first draft for it.

Fortunately, this first idea was easy. Before even reading Deb Lund's Storystorm prompt (which I'll now save for -- dare I say it? -- a rainy day) just from her title (and, of course, Tara Lazar's new name for this event) I got an idea for a story where it rains cats and dogs -- literally.