Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Working on Picture Books

I have a few picture books that I have been working on behind closed doors. Meaning, I have not showed too many people. In some cases, no one has read them but me. I don't know why, but I feel like my picture books aren't as strong as my middle grades. But, today, I am going to show the starts of three of my picture books in the hopes that I get over my fear to present them to readers, and then to publishers and agents.

In fact, I'd love to read some of them at Big Sur, which is coming up so fast. This is my way of getting myself ready. Psyching myself up!

The hardest part for me when writing picture books is to cut out those words that the illustrator will create, without losing the main plot of the story, or making it too confusing to read without the pictures, or adding a bunch of author notes so someone can understand it without pictures. UGH!

Below are the 3 picture books I'd like to work on: If you'd like to help, please note at the bottom in the comments section, which one has the best start. 

779 words

My name is Mira, and this is my MeMaw's yesteryear wall. When you get your picture up on the yesteryear wall, you know you belong to our family.

The yesteryear is in a special part of MeMaw's house. It is in between the front door and the kitchen. Where everyone can see it. Aunts, and Uncles, Moms, and Dads, Sisters, and Brothers and all the Cousins pass by it. They see our smiling faces every time they visit. They can even reminisce. Reminisce means to think back on it.

My favorite one to look on is the one of my big brother when he was younger than me. He is naked and his bum shows. MeMaw says, "For goodness sakes, both ends are smiling at us." I laugh when she says that. Brother does not.

But, once you're up on the yesteryear wall, you don't ever come down, even if later, you don't appreciate the picture so much. "It's part of your history," PawPaw says. "Ain't no shame in that." I agree with him, even though I secretly hope I never get a funny looking picture up there.

Polle. Polle.  365 words

"Jumbo!" Porters greeted.
Trailhead, 6,400 feet.
Tents packed.
Backpacks loaded.
Ascent started.
Eat. Drink. Climb.

"Polle. Polle," repeated the porters.
 Up Mt. Kilimanjaro we hiked and hopped.
 Rongai route zigged and zagged.
 Jungle gave way to shrubs.
 Climate changed from hot to warm. 

      Oscar: 320 words

Everyone always said, "No kicking!" But everything Oscar saw, Oscar kicked.

Oscar and little brother built a block castle. Oscar set the last wedge in place, and kicked.  CLACK! CLINK! CLANK! Pieces toppled.

Little brother cried.    

"Oops," Oscar said. 
Mom scolded. "No kicking!"

Oscar darted into the kitchen for snacks. His cat’s toy sat on the mat. Oscar kicked. CLINK! It hit the milk bowl. SPLISH! SPLUSH! SPLOOSH! Milk splashed.

The cat sprang.

"Oops," Oscar said.

Dad frowned. "No kicking!"


  • It feels good to have looked these over again, and to have printed some of them here
  • From taking time away from them, I have a fresh perspective
  • Remember - you can't be a writer if you don't submit your work

Revising Tips for Picture Books:
  • Is the idea a real story?
  • Is the age group targeted spot on?
  • Did the Main Character learn? Change?
  • Is it under 1000 words?
  • Is the language up to date but not too trendy?
  • Is the character interesting?
  • What's the pacing like? 
  • Engaging verbs?
  • Is there enough room for front matter and/or back matter?
  • Where are my page turners?
  • Will adults find humor in it too?
  • Was I thinking about layout?
  • Did I give the illustrator places to have fun with pictures?

I will be revising right up until Nov. 29th - when I drive down to Big Sur. Any help is much appreciated. I am very thankful for all of you readers. As always, keep writing and revising your own work.

Good Luck!

Happy Thanksgiving.

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