Video #1: So, you’ve told me you want to write a picture book…

One of the things I’ve been hoping to do this year (and I’m talking 5779, not 2019) is make some videos about writing. I finally took the plunge after receiving a number of phone calls, PMs, and other queries about what it takes to write a picture book.

In this 9 minute (or so) video, you’ll hear:

7 & 1/2 minutes answering the following very basic questions:
1) Should you write a picture book at all? What kind of person does well writing araizy cover picture book?
2) What is the very first step you should take?
3) Should I self-publish or traditionally publish?
4) Does it matter if you are “naturally gifted” at writing?

And then you’ll receive about a minute & 1/2 of resources for learning to write a picture book which will all cost you less than hiring me. (Even if you’ll need to hire a coach or editor later, you will save yourself a bundle by doing what is recommended in the second half of the video FIRST.)

If you’ve got questions, post them in the comments. I’ll either answer them there, refer you to a better resource, or make another video in reply.

 

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A Fun Editing Gig, almost Complete!!

(Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know, I missed my Wednesday post. But here I am, making it up to you just one day late.)

I thought I’d share a little bit about one of my editing gigs, which is just about wrapped up now. I’ve been consulting with Ganit and Adir Levy about their upcoming picture book, What Should Danny Do?

The Levys came to me several months back with a rough draft of their picture book. At the initial consultation, I gave them a list of changes to make and issues to address. They had a lot of questions for me, too, and we scheduled a series of meetings where we inched towards that final draft.

What made the Levys such a pleasure to work with was their persistence. So many writers panic when presented with rigorous WORK. They question whether they are good enough, they let a critique get them down, and they give up…or they simply blow off insightful feedback and continue about their merry way while ignoring the advice which would have made all the difference for their book. The Levys took criticism in stride, chose carefully what to accept and what to decline, and then tinkered and tinkered until they were happy with their text.

What Should Danny Do? is nearly ready to go to print, and I couldn’t be more excited. Today, we did one final copy edit. I’ll give you more information when we get closer to the release date.

 

I Live With My Mommy: new Jewish picture book addresses life with a single mother

Today, I’d like to share with you this interview with Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, the author of the upcoming picture book I Live With My Mommy. This new, groundbreaking picture book for the first time focuses on growing up in a single-parent, Orthodox Jewish home. I learned about the book through its illustrator, the gifted Dena Ackerman, and upon my request, she hooked me up with Tzvia for a bit of Q & A via email.

picture book about Jewish home and divorce

I Live With Mommy, Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein’s new book about growing up with an Orthodox single mother.

RK: What led you to write about children living with a single mother?

TEK: Over 30 years ago I got divorced. At that time it was — or at least seemed to be — very rare [in the Orthodox community]. Walking my (approximately) 4-year-old daughter home from gan (nursery school) with her friend, I overheard her explaining to her friend: “No, my abba (daddy) didn’t die. They got ‘vorced.”

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Writing for Children: not for those who want glory, fame, or big bucks

Last week’s Hamodia/Inyan Magazine had an article by one of my favorite columnists, Rabbi Fishel Schachter entitled “Guided by Tale Winds.” While today Rabbi Schachter is well-known in the Torah world for essays and presentations for adults about the weekly Torah portion, parenting, and other subjects, he first gained popularity as a rebbi and storyteller to students in Jewish day schools.

Rabbi Schachter explains in the article that one of the adults in his audience told him many years ago that he had to choose between teaching grown-ups or kids — and he indicated that the natural choice for a man of Rabbi Schachter’s talent and intelligence was to teach adults.

Turning to his own rebbi for guidance, Rabbi Schachter asked if teaching kids was really beneath him? Were all the silly voices and so on undermining his stature?

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My thoughts on Tablet’s article “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

Emily Sigalow, in Tablet this week, published an article entitled “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

While she does make one point I agree with, that awards committee’s tend to favor Jewish picture books with male lead characters and that the females tend to be engaged in traditional roles, she seems to learn from that that Jewish children’s books as a whole have a problem.

I have to disagree with the overall picture Sigalow paints, though.

You can see my comments on the article if you visit Tablet (scroll to the bottom of the page), but I’d like to make a few more thoughts.

Jewish children’s books do have problems. Actually, many secular books have the same problems. Continue reading

2 Major differences between writing a picture book and writing short stories

So the folktale project turned out to be an eye-opening experience for me.

scissors

Am I a writer, or a barber?

When I first started writing for kids, I didn’t really understand the difference between short stories and picture books. I’d submit short stories to book publishers, and picture books to magazines who published short stories. Selling Raizy and being guided through revisions by Devorah Leah Rosenfeld, the editor at Hachai, schooled me in the differences between the two media. After a couple years, I started writing regularly for children’s magazines, and her lessons allowed me to jump between the two formats.

2 Major differences between picture books and short stories:

 

1) The length differs significantly in the two formats. Oddly, an entire picture book has about half the words (sometimes less) as a short story for a kids’ magazine.

2) The illustrations in a picture book replace almost all the description. And the only words that could appear in a picture book text are ones that drive the narrative forward. When I learned this lesson, my picture book writing attained a sharpness that it had previously lacked.

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