Category Archives: Motivation

The Art of Starting

I am an expert in this field. I start books, exercise programs, blogs, wedding albums, manuscripts, emails, Christmas cards, and on and on and on.

On occasion, I’ve been known to push through and finish. But, in the past few years it feels like the things that actually get finished are few and far between. Blame this on moving, kids, lack of sleep, life, or what ever excuse falls out of my mouth. However, the real problem is my ability to focus on one task and get it done.

By nature, I believe, females are natural multi-taskers. This skill can be both a blessing and a disaster. Yes, I can make dinner, help with homework, stoke a fire (yes, we own a wood burning stove to keep us warm-it’s awesome!), check e-mail, text my sister, doodle on a post-it-note all while talking to my husband about what needs to be fixed in our new (old) house. Exhausting. On some days, the buzz of everything going on around me is so loud that I just want to shut down and take a nap. (Naps solve everything in my world!) This is not always a great option so taking steps to focus and work on one task at a time is a priority this year.

As I write this post, I have not moved from my chair. I have only been distracted once by my husband (house issue), and I have almost completed an entire post that has been on my mind for weeks. How hard was that?

My steps to focus and finish:

1. Decide on three most important task for the day and work on those first.

2. Do not check e-mail, Pinterest or any other social media until three tasks are complete.

3. If I get distracted return to task as soon as possibly and don’t beat myself up about it.

4. Once complete, take a few minutes to have a cup of tea or cocoa and relax.

I am off to write a manuscript that has been  calling my name for weeks.

Ahhhhh. Now, that feels better. Join me!


PiBoIdMo Day 9: Kelly Light Drives Through Roadblocks from Tara Lazar’s Blog

Inspiring post by Kelly Light. I am in awe of her attitude and lovely artwork! Go Kelly!

Thank you, Tara Lazar, for an amazing month of inspiration!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

“This person has no business being in children’s books.”

Read that again.

Imagine it being said in front of a crowd of over a hundred of your peers and various industry editors and art directors… at the NY SCBWI conference.

Your work is up in front of a big auditorium on a video screen with a panel with loud microphones when these words are spoken…

Imagine that person that it was said about was YOU.

DON”T WORRY! It wasn’t.

It was ME.

In 2009.

Yes. An art director declared me as a person who has NO BUSINESS being in children’s books … in front of the entire world of children’s books.

It felt worse than the worst college art critique I could have ever imagined. I was a grown woman. I had already had a hot career as a hot shot in cartoon merchandise. I shrunk in my seat. I…

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PiBoIdMo-Picture Book Idea Month 2012

Picture Book Idea Month

Greetings to all!

Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) starts TOMORROW November 1!  There are wonderful pre-PiBoIdMo month posts going on over at her blog now and the line up for blog posts is inspiring! So get on over to and enter your name in the comments section of her sign up post to take part in this event!

Great prizes are going to be given away for those that commit to and participate in the thirty-day challenge.

Join me in this writing adventure!

PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) sign up!

Sign up started yesterday, Monday October 24th, for Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) so get on over to and enter your name in the comments section of her most recent post to take part in this motivating event!

Great prizes are going to be given away for those that commit to and participate in the thirty-day challenge.

Hope you will join me in this writing adventure.


What Goes Here?

There are certainly a million new and changing tidbits to learn about writing/editing/submitting/publishing children’s books. However, I often find myself staring at the blank screen waiting for some thing, some idea, some what-ever-might-make-an-(might I dare say) awesome blog post to pop into my very crammed noggin. An awesome blog post that not only says something about what I do but how I can help people and…be engaging (not much to ask, huh?).

When I first started this blog, I thought there would be an infinite number of topics I would be able to quickly put into words and post. Well, the ‘quickly put into words’ part is what I should have questioned myself about the first time around. As an unseasoned writer, I am often flustered by how much time I spend creating a simple blog post. The A-HA! moment should have hit me long before I decided I would post once a week (which I have rarely done from the start). But, no. Excited with fervor, pushing ahead no matter how many times my husband warned me. I, again, have been staring at the screen daily for the last week wondering what really belonged on this blog. Useless information is the last thing I want to be writing about, but sometimes reading what I’ve posted in the past can be painfully eye-opening. Life is a learning process. Right?

In the end, I know that this blog belongs here. But maybe, just maybe some other words need to be said. Not just what I learn about writing, but how to manage life: life with kids, a husband that travels, family far away, temporary moves across the country, friends coming and going, homeschooling, and trying to fit writing into all of these.

Writing from my gut is what I promise. Writing that matters. Sometimes silly, sometimes frustrated, sometimes funny (if I’m lucky) sometimes who knows what the heck I’ll come up with. But…

I. Will. Write.

Please continue to write with me. Check out these great blogs:

Kid/children’s literature blogs


All things children’s book writing related and

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

NaPiBoWriWee Personal Update Day 7

Woo hoo! Day seven manuscript complete. I made sure I finished early in the day Saturday so I wasn’t fretting about it on Saturday night. The time and energy were worth the seven new manuscripts I have to work from for the next couple of months. My critique groups will share in the fun of providing feedback once I have done some much-needed editing. I definitely will be adding this event to my calendar for next year.

And a fun bonus of participating this week: I won a signed copy of Paula Yoo’s picture book Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story (Lee & Low 2009) in the prize drawing that Paula held yesterday for participants!

If you didn’t get a chance to participate this year, then put this awesome event on your calendar for next year and join me (and all the other crazy people) for National Picture Book Writing Week.

Thanks, Paula! What a great idea!

NaPiBoWriWee Personal Update Day 5 & 6

Day five and six drafts complete. National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) is a grueling challenge! Last night I was up late just to finish day five manuscript. Day six went a little smoother, but I’m still not sure about the story having any true substance. When I begin to edit, it will be the true indicator of what to keep and what to junk. Or, what to turn into a completely different story.

Here’s to writing! If you are working hard to complete the week-good luck on day seven manuscript! If this event inspired you to write just one manuscript–congratulations! You are moving forward and that is what life is all about. Step by step you will see progress and results!

Find out more about NaPiBoWriWee at Paula Yoo’s site.

Good luck!

NiPiBoWriWee Personal Update Day 2

Okay. I made it through day two of National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee). Draft two complete. Fortunately, I had another idea in my head that needed to get on paper. A coherent beginning, middle and end does exist but not sure there is much to work from other than a few lines towards the end. I guess that’s what this process is all about. Get it out and then edit, edit, edit. Feels great to be writing so much.


Today is day three. I am stuck. It’s 2:30pm and I am not sure what I am going to write about. Searching my files, notebooks and all corners of my foggy (sleep deprived) brain…and still nothing. So, a blog post is born and I am back to the creative process to make day three of NaPiBoWriWee a personal success.

check out the official National Picture Book Writing Week blog:

NaPiBoWriWee…Starts today! May 1-7, 2011

Don’t forget National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) starts today Sunday May 1, 2011. This awesome event runs through next Saturday May 7.

Write one picture book manuscript draft every day for one week! Crazy? Yes! Fun? Absolutely! Working your butt off? No question!

Have fun!

Check out all the details at Paula Yoo’s website and blog:

National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) May 1-7, 2011

National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) starts this Sunday May 1st and runs through Saturday May 7, 2011. Each day you are to write a full picture book manuscript with a complete beginning, middle and end.

This is the year! It might be tough and grueling…but think of the manuscripts you will come away with!

I hope to find one shining star in this process.

Prepare the workspace, gather your writing tools and tell the world you are busy doing NaPiBoWriWee so everything else will have to wait!

Write like you mean it!  ~Tia

All the details can be found at Paula Yoo’s blog. She is getting ready to put up a new site for the NaPiBoWriWee in the next few days, so hang tight. Here are the details you need at her blog or see below.

from Paula’s blog:

In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) where people across the country try to write a complete novel in one month, the fine folks at have decided to start the first ever National Picture Book Writing Week, affectionately nicknamed “NaPiBoWriWee.”
The goal? To write 7 picture books in 7 days.

The basic rules? Just write 7 complete and separate picture books in one week. Each picture book must have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There is no required minimum word count because picture book lengths can vary from 50 words to 2000 words, depending on the genre.

Caveat: This is NOT to say writing a picture book is easy. On the contrary, it’s EXTREMELY difficult and challenging to write a?complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, an original plotline, and a unique character with a compelling voice for the picture book genre. Every word has to count. Every image and every action has to speak volumes in terms of theme and deeper meaning… while still being kid friendly, fun, and appropriate for the tone of the book (be it a quiet literary picture book or a hilarious, laugh out of loud funny picture book).

Having said that… I want everyone to have fun with this! I’m not expecting Shakespeare or “Goodnight Moon.” This is an attempt to encourage people to finally write that picture book they’ve been dreaming of… please think of this as a fun opportunity to brainstorm and finally write that first rough draft that you can go back to later and revise and improve upon. So often we  procrastinate or convince ourselves that our idea for a picture book is not “good enough.” So NaPiBoWriWee is a fun way to have everyone GO FOR BROKE and write 7 picture books in 7 days and see what happens!

For everyone who has a website or blog – you are encouraged to promote NaPiBoWriWee on your blog/website/myspace/Facebook/Twitter. I only request that you provide a link to my website – My Twitter page is here: and my cat Oreo’s page is here:

And for those of you attending the national Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators ( conference in August, let me know and I’ll arrange for an informal gathering during the conference so we can meet in person and celebrate our first NaPiBoWriWee!

To summarize, the basic rules:

1. Midnight May 1st to 11:59 p.m. May 7th: Write 7 separate and complete picture books.

2. You are NOT allowed to write the same picture book in 7 variations. Each book must be complete and separate.

3. No minimum word count. Instead, each book must have a clear beginning, middle and end.

4. You are allowed to brainstorm and research book topics before May 1st. Outlines are acceptable. First draft writing is NOT. Do NOT write your books before May 1st – only brainstorming, taking notes, and outlining are allowed.

5. You are NOT allowed to write a single word of your draft until midnight May 1st.

6. There is NO minimum word count required. The fine folks of NaPiBoWriWee require nothing but your word of honor. We will embrace the Honor Code. If you say you have written 7 complete picture book drafts in 7 days, we will believe you. Besides, why would you lie to us? You’re writing picture books for little children! Picture Book Authors are nice, honest people who would never lie!

7. If you plan to blog about your NaPiBoWriWee journey, please include a link to:

8. Please comment on the soon-to-debut NaPiBoWriWee WordPress blog or email me at paula at paulayoo dot com and I will include your name in the prize drawing. Several winners will be chosen from random. Winners will receive an autographed copy of my books “SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY” (Lee & Low Books 2009)  and “SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY” (Lee & Low ’05), along with items from our NapiBoWriWee Store and a couple of surprise autographed book prizes from special guest authors!

9. Please do NOT send me your manuscripts. This is NOT a writing contest. Think of NaPiBoWriWee as a writing support group where we can cheer each other on! Smile