Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Comic for writers: Best Birthday Gift


#BookADay: THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE by Kekla Magoon (Wendy Lamb Books)


At some point, you just have to let go.


Advice For Young Writers, Debut Picture Books and Three Questions With Ishta Mercurio (SMALL WORLD, Abrams)


Ishta Mercurio is an author and actor. Raised in Cincinnati, she has traveled to England, Scotland, Italy, France, and all over the United States. She now lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she films and photographs plants and wildlife, from the tall to the small, in her backyard. I met Ishta through our local Torkidlit group and CANSCAIP. You can find out more about Ishta and her work at her website IshtaMercurio.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

SMALL WORLD is Ishta's debut as a picture book author! The gorgeous illustrations are by Jen Corace. Thanks to Abrams for sending me a copy. Wow, check out what was beneath the dust jacket:

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Poll Results: What Editors and Agents Look For In Social Media

In prep for my Social Media Masterclass for Authors and Illustrators at SCBWI-Illinois, I posted a survey for editors, agents and art directors and 25 responded

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Donalyn Miller's 2019 #BookADay Challenge Has Launched!

(Shortcut to this page, until next year's updated post: http://inkygirl.com/bookaday. Also see my #BookADay archives and Donalyn Miller's official #BookADay post on the Nerdy Book Club site.)

Donalyn Miller's 11th Annual #BookADay Challenge has officially launched! You can read about the history of #BookADay, guidelines and more via Donalyn's #BookADay post on the Nerdy Book Club website. While I read throughout the year, Donalyn's #BookADay challenge helps me rediscover my reading mojo,  as well as share book recommendations and read other people's book recommendations.

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Advice For Young Writers, Pride Sunday signing and more: Three Questions With Debut YA Author, Paul Coccia (CUB, Orca Books)

Paul Coccia is a Toronto author with an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and an avid home-baker. His debut young adult novel, Cub, is part of Orca's Soundings Series: short, high-interest novels specifically for teens. Paul lives and bakes with his nephew, three dogs and a little grey parrot. You can find Paul on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and also see Orca's interview with Paul on their blog.

To Torontonians: Paul is signing his book as well as celebrating diversity (of all types) in kids' books at Indigo Bay & Bloor (55 Bloor St. W.) on Pride Sunday, June 23, 2019 from 11:30 am - 3:30 pm; Paul is setting up a table with recommendations of books that appreciate difference.

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Advice for Young Writers and Illustrators: Three Questions with Pat Cummings (TRACE, WHERE IS MOMMY?)

Pat Cummings was one of my first illustration mentors, through the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship Program, and I've valued her friendship ever since. She's smart, funny, honest -- and incredibly experienced in the world of creating children's books. I'm thrilled to have her visit my blog!

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Happy Mother's Day! (Also, why you should always read your email one last time before hitting SEND)


#BookADay: BREAKOUT by Kate Messner, illustrated by Ellen Lindner

Although I've been embracing Donalyn Miller's #BookADay challenge year-round, I don't always have a chance to post about what I'm reading. You can see my archive of my #BookADay and book recommendation posts here.

One of my #BookADay reads: BREAKOUT by Kate Messner, illustrated by Ellen Lindner (Bloomsbury).



More info: Donalyn Miller's #BookADay Challenge - My #BookADay Archives (also see my visual #BookADay archive on Padlet, Flickr and Pinterest).


Don't let fear of writing poorly stop you from writing. That's why we revise. - Cindy Pon

For more info about Cindy Pon, the author who said "Don't let fear of writing poorly stop you from writing. That's why we revise....", see CindyPon.com.


#BookADay: THE VERY LAST CASTLE by Travis Jonker and Mark Pett (Abrams)

THE VERY LAST CASTLE is written by Travis Jonker and illustrated by Mark Pett, and I adore the main character, Ibb! This picture book came out from Abrams Books For Young Readers last October. Read the *starred review* in Kirkus!

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#BookADay: EMBRACE THE CHICKEN by Mahtab Narsimhan (Orca Currents)

Reading any of Mahtab Narsimhan's books always make me hungry for Indian food!

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“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” - StephenKing

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” - Stephen King

Related: How To Find Time To Read More Books In 2019.


ME, as I work on my middle grade novel.


No guarantee that my middle grade novel will ever be published; that's out of my control.

I'm trying to focus on what I can control:

(1) Writing the best book I possibly can, and

(2) FINISHING the book.


Three Questions With Debut Picture Book Author June Smalls (ODD ANIMAL ABC'S illustrated by Claire Sedovic, Blue Manatee Press)

June Smalls is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and a lover of literature. She resides in Northern Virginia with her hubby, The Kid, and an ever-growing assortment of animals. I so enjoyed meeting June at Highlights last year, and am excited about the April 16th launch of her first picture book, illustrated by Claire Sedovic.

You can find out more about June and her work on her website and Twitter.

Book title: ODD ANIMAL ABC'S
Author: June Smalls
Illustrator: Claire Sedovic
Publisher: Blue Manatee Press


A is for Alligator, B is for Bear, and so on, right? Not in this book. The odd animals are taking over! It's time to meet Aye-Aye, Fossa, Numbat, Xenops and more curious, yet real animals that are ready for their spotlight.

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

Here are two photos. One is my plant George. I grew him from a trimming, stuck him in a paper cup for two weeks until he grew roots, then I got him a fancy pot of his own with all the soil he wanted. I don’t even know what kind of plant George is, but he is the only plant I’ve ever kept alive. George is just over one year old.

The second picture is my own broken crayon art. I always say I’m not an illustrator but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with pictures. Debbie Ohi hosted a class at the Highlights Foundation, and this was one of our activities. It sits on my Shelf of Beloved Objects with my turtles, a tibbit (tiger/rabbit), and other odds and ends that make me happy.

Sample spread for ODD ANIMALS ABCs (click on image to view bigger version)

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

The job of a writer is not to tell kids what to think. It isn’t to tell them what to do or what lesson to learn. Our job is to point them forward. We don’t tell them how to get somewhere, we just tell them that they CAN get somewhere, as long as they keep going.

Writers have to keep moving forward too.

I had hundreds of rejections on roughly one dozen books, picture books through middle grade. It took about five to six years to go from “I’m serious about writing for the traditional market” to “I have books being traditionally published. There are no secret formulas, magic beans, or fairy godmothers to make it happen overnight. But if you keep working, keep learning, and keep growing, you can make things happen. I now have an agent, two trade picture books sold, as well as two work-for-hire books sold for the school market. I have a number of other works on submission.

Keep writing.

Q. What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about creating more books! SHE LEADS: THE ELEPHANT MATRIARCH is due out in spring of 2020 with Familius and I have a number of picture books, novelty books, and chapter books ready or already on submission. I am excited for kids to read my work and say, “This made me happy/laugh/curious about the world/think.”

I’m also excited about chocolate… but I’m always excited about chocolate…

Related posts:

Learn the ABC's With June Smalls And Her Odd Animals - on the Blue Manatee Press blog.

Exclusive Cover Reveal on Matthew Winner's blog - plus June Small finishes Matthew's sentences.


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.


Comic: Font Sommelier



Comic: Cinderella Writer, Revamped (and Happy International Women's Day!)


Comic: The Angst Of Reading A Good Book


Three Questions With Debut YA Author Nikki Barthelmess (THE QUIET YOU CARRY, launches March 5th)

Nikki Barthelmess is a journalist and author of young adult books. She entered foster care in Nevada at twelve and spent the next six years living in six different towns. During this time, Nikki found solace in books, her journal, and teachers who encouraged her as a writer. The Quiet You Carry is her first novel. You can find out more about Nikki at her website, on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

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