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

Entries in twitter (11)


Agents and editors on Twitter

For those on Twitter:

I've updated my lists of children's/YA book editors on Twitter as well as literary agents on Twitter who represent children's/YA book creators.

I've compiled these lists to help writers and illustrators find industry types to follow on Twitter, not as official lists of those accepting particular types of submissions, so do check the agency and editorial guidelines online before submitting queries, etc. 

For info about breaking into the business etc., please see my list of answers to questions I am frequently asked.


Creativity, art, and drawing with garden vegetables (thank you, Lily and Rina!)

As some of you already know, I've been having fun drawing with found objects during the past year:

Then just recently, I posted a video of how I created a tomato doodle:

Thanks to middle grade author Rina Heisel for tweeting this, which made my day:




Thanks to 14-year-old Caitlan for being my 26,000th follower on Twitter

Thanks so much to Caitlan Washington (@CreatorWashingt) for being the 26,000th person to follow my @inkyelbows account.

With permission of Caitlan's parents, here's more about this young UK writer...

Caitlan says she's just "an ordinary 14-year-old girl from Leeds with a passion for performing."

From Caitlan:

"I've always been a fan of reading and creating stories for lessons in primary school and going into high school. About 5 months back, I started writing a book about a girl who owned mysterious dolls but I forgot about it until recently. It was until then I decided to make plans for a different style book and plan to stick to it, so I started Peek-A-Boo Clown. I adore performing and giving monologues out as work in class and I find it so interesting. I'm off into year 10 when I go back to school and I've been accepted into performing arts Btec and hopefully that will help my confidence."

Q. What kinds of books do you like reading?

"I love mystery and thriller books with cliffhangers at the end, making you want to read more."

Q. What were the last three books that you read?

Ann Cassidy - Looking For JJ

Yukiru Sugisaki - DN Angel

J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Q. What were your favourite children's books when you were little?

The Magic Key and Winnie the Witch.

Q. Do you find that your passion for performing helps you when writing stories?

It helps so much being much more confident to be much more creative.


From Debbie: Thanks Caitlan, and good luck with your writing and performing!


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.


On Twitter: #YABooksWithALetterMissing

If you're trying to get work done today, I strongly advise AGAINST checking out the #YABooksWithALetterMissing hashtag

Just a sampling:



Interview with Literary Agent Emily Keyes of L. Perkins Agency (and my 25,000th follower!)

Thanks so much to Emily Keyes, the 25,000th person to follow me on Twitter. Emily is a literary agent at L. Perkins Agency, and kindly agreed to answer a few questions for Inkygirl readers about her work and what she's looking for.

Q. How did you come to work at L. Perkins Agency?

Lori Perkins, the founder of the agency, used to teach at the NYU and I was a student at the NYU Publishing Program. She was looking for interns and I worked for her briefly, going through slush, but she kept in touch with me when I was working other places.

So when my job at Simon & Schuster ended, she said I could come work for her which was huge for me because I was really worried about what I was going to do, and because I had always been very interested in the agent-side of the business. In addition to building up my own list, I do the contracts and foreign rights for the agency.

Q. Are you open to submissions? If so, what kinds of books are you looking for? What are you NOT looking?

Yes, I am open to submissions. I'm looking for all kinds of things. I still feel like I'm really building my list. I'd really like to see some middle grade novels from your readers. I get a lot of teen books but not as many younger readers. I'm not looking for picture books right now though. I love them so much, but I worry about my grasp on the market. Maybe one day. I'm also not looking for erotica. I get a lot of erotica submissions which is awkward.

(Note from Debbie: Emily does not currently represent illustrators.)

Q. You mention you're especially looking for middle grade novels. Any specific types/genres you're looking for? e.g. fantasy vs contemporary, etc. Any examples of MG novels you especially like?

I love a lot of types of middle grade. I wouldn't say no to fantasy, but I'm leaning toward contemporary these days. Or science fiction. I think there are a lot of MG fantasy books out there already, so the bar is set very high. My favorite MG growing up was probably MATILDA and I can't wait to see the musical. I recently read ZEBRA FOREST and enjoyed that quite a bit. And THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN made me cry a lot (I have a thing about baby elephants, in that I love them). 

Q. How should writers submit material to you?

Authors can send their query and the first five pages of their manuscript (pasted into the body of the email) to emily at lperkinsagency dot com.

Q. Who are some of your clients? Any new or upcoming projects you'd like to mention?

My client Sara V. Olds has a book called MY LIFE AS A LUMBERJACK coming out on May 30th. Definitely check it out if you're interested in a fun summer read. Some of my clients are Kit Forbes (who used to write adult romance novels under the pen name Barbara Sheridan, her first YA is coming out next year), Kenneth G. Bennett (who self-published his middle grade series and we recently sold the film rights, that's exciting), Amy Zhang (who wrote a piece for CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: INSPIRATION FOR WRITERS that came out May 21) and Dale Lucas (whose YA science fiction story recently appeared in the FUTUREDAZE anthology). I also have some exciting things that are going to be announced soon that I'm dying to talk about but can't.

At the Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Co.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring children's/YA book writers?

Read a lot. Your followers probably don't need to be told this, but I see a lot of submissions from people who don't actually read kidlit. They just think, "Hey JK Rowling made more money than the Queen! It's easy!" I find that very insulting. Writing for kids is so much fun, but it's also a lot of work. I think the shorter the book, the more each word matters, so the degree of difficulty actually goes up.

Q. Where can people find out more about you online?

I have so many online accounts. I tweet almost every day at @esc_key. I also have a blog  and a tumblr. Those are the three I use professionally. I'm still trying to figure out what to post where. But I do like interacting with people, especially readers.

Q. Anything else you'd like Inkygirl readers to know?

I used to moderate a blog about Sweet Valley High called 1bruce1. I debated mentioning it in the above question, but it's not professional (at all!). I haven't had much, if any, time to devote to it recently. I guess it says something about me that I work on young adult books all day and then, for fun in my free time, I read more.

The L. Perkins Agency www.lperkinsagency.com


Twitter: @esc_key



Mistakes by new kidlit writers: 1. Thinking it's easy 2. Not reading it. - Lit agent @esc_key http://bit.ly/18bL1Zm (Tweet this)


For more interviews, see the Inkygirl Interview Archive.


Interview with Rachel Poloski: Production Associate at Abrams/Amulet Books (and my 24,000th Twitter follower!)

Thanks to Rachel Poloski for being the 24,000th person to follow my @inkyelbows Twitter account. When I went to check her profile, I was intrigued:

Rachel was kind enough to answer some questions for Inkygirl about her work.

Q. Your profile says that you work in production at Abrams on YA and children's books. Could you possibly tell us more?

Of course! I work specifically on Amulet Books, which is an imprint of Abrams focusing on fiction and non-fiction writing for middle grade and young adult readers. I also work on reprints across all the children's imprints; Abrams Books for Young Readers, Appleseed, and Amulet Books.

I like to think of Production as the behind-the-scenes of book making. You don’t always see our names in the book or know who we are, but we are involved from start to finish. As production manager of a title, you begin by providing estimates on a book that has not yet been acquired. This enables editors, publishers, and our CEO to discuss the possibilities for the title and if it will work for Abrams. Once a book is acquired, you start forming a schedule based on a publication date or when advances of books are needed.

I work closely with Managing Editorial, Editorial, and Design to keep the schedule on track as well as start working out the book’s specifications. By this I mean the cover stock, text stock, cover effects, inks, trim size, etcetera. We also work out effects on the jacket/cover, which include lamination, embossing, glitter uv (ultra-violet coating), glow in the dark uv, metallic inks, cloth cases, and much more!

For the books I work on, this is the exciting work! Production managers have to be creative and provide ideas to editorial and design in order to bring their ideas to fruition, while maintaining a budget and schedule. Sometime we need to think outside the box and research materials or effects that will accomplish the look and feel the editor and designer desire.

Q. What recent or upcoming Abrams books are you especially excited about?

I am really excited about working on all my upcoming titles, but specifically I am enthusiastic to work on a new Lauren Myracle title and the final book in the NERDS series written by Michael Buckley! I also just finished working on the paperback edition of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, which is most definitely my favorite book published at Abrams. It is funny, endearing, unique, and moving. I also had the pleasure of running into Jesse Andrews in the Abrams elevator and he is equally as charming as his writing. He is a both kind and humble. Another hardcover to paperback title I am thrilled to work on is Roddy Doyle’s A Greyhound of a Girl. Such a fantastic book! In Spring 2014 I am also working on new books from Lisa Greenwald and Sarah Skilton, which I am also eagerly anticipating.

Q. What do you write? (aside: I notice that you're a columnist for the Abrams site, for example)

Phillip, by Rachel PoloskiAh, yes. I do write for the Abrams blog, mostly about cooking and then there is the one of me shooting a rifle in the Adirondacks. Don’t worry; this is not a regular sport for me. I do love to cook and bake, therefore writing about it is also pleasurable. Luckily, Abram’s imprint Stewart, Tabori & Chang publishes beautiful and yummy cookbooks for me to test out in the kitchen!

I also do some writing personally, either about silly characters I draw or about my coveted stuffed cat, Celeste. I like to make up names and personas for the little felted creatures I hand make, but nothing that I have published or shared with the world. Maybe there will be some short stories to come soon. I recently illustrated a nervous soul named Phillip. I think I might write a little piece on him.

Q. Where can people find you online?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachel_poloski
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rachelapoloski
Instagram: http://instagram.com/rachel_anne_poloski
Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/people/rpoloski

I will hopefully have some felted creatures as well as some little felted naked people up on Etsy soon and I really would love to start my own blog. What’s stopping me you might ask? Me. Fortunately, I have slowly been putting myself out there on both Instagram and Twitter and its not so scary after all. I am proud of me and would love to share my zany thoughts.


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.


MicroBookReview: FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon

I've been starting to post micro book reviews & comments about kidlit/YA books on Twitter from time to time, and will include them here on Inkygirl when I like a book. I'll tag these with "microbooktweet" to make it easier for people to find similar posts.



23,000th Follower Profile: YA Author Julie Williams On Writing Process, Art and Tips For Aspiring Writers

Thanks to Julie Williams (@JulieKWms2013) for being the 23,000th person to follow my @inkyelbows Twitter account! Julie is the author of two YA books. ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON: A Story In Poems (HarperCollins, 2004) is a novel in verse. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD (title may change) will come out from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press in 2013 or 2014. She's repped by Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency, Inc.

As I started checking out her blog, I discovered that Julie is not only a published author but also an artist. When she's not writing, she's likely to be in her studio up to her ears in paint, glue, markers, fabric, paper, old photos, beads, sticks, driftwood, stones, vintage books, lace and hardware -- all used to create her mixed media works.

Check out her gorgeous "Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa" piece, which was chosen for the cover of the Minnesota Women's Press magazine a while back:

The piece is a mixed media fiber art collage: fabric, fusible interfacing, thread, ribbon, beads, Lumiere acrylic paint, ribbon. Stitching was done by both hand and machine.

Q. What is your writing process?

I'm an avid journal keeper. I write first thing every morning no matter what and have been doing that for many years. When I'm working on a book, my journal becomes a place to try out all the WHAT IFs of my characters and story line. Almost all my back story writing happens in the journal first. Starting my day with the journal is the most constant part of my writing routine. In the early stages of a novel (you know, like the first THREE drafts) I write mostly in the mornings and only about 2 or 3 hours a day. I usually write about five days a week. Later, when I'm bringing the story home (like rewrites FOUR and FIVE) I become pretty obsessed and write for 5 or 6 hours a day or even longer and seven days a week. I wake, sleep, dream, eat and journal journal journal the book. That's where I am right now with what I hope is the final revision of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Whenever I get stuck in my writing (and I do get stuck, especially on a big project), I either let it sit and do artwork for a couple days, or I apply the visual work to the book project itself. What works for me: I make many charts and calendars and flip charts and story boards. Sometimes I even draw maps and do collages and make character paper dolls. Anything that helps me to not only track the characters and plot lines, but to flesh them out and make them dimensional. Whenever I take the time to do one or more of these things, the writing always flows again.

ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON is a novel in verse and it began with poems I'd written about my family and about growing up in Northern Minnesota and Nebraska. I wrote over a hundred new poems in order to create the story of Allie. It was an exciting process because I discovered that the more fictional the story line and characters became, the more they revealed the emotional truth I'd been searching for in my original writing. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD is different in two big ways -- it's in a more traditional prose form and it's not nearly as autobiographical. But my inspiration for the book does come from the years I spent in the theatre here in the Midwest and from my wildly diverse and nontraditional family.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Do it because you love it, because if you don't write your head will explode.

Develop rituals that work for you -- like writing in a journal first thing in the morning (or right before you go to bed at night). Let the other parts of your life inform your writing and your writing rituals. When I was working on an earlier draft of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, I created a Director's Book inspired by my graduate study in Acting and Directing. And then when that wasn't giving me what I needed, I went back into it and added visual images to help capture things I might have missed about the characters and about their dreams and wants and needs and desires. When I was in the theatre I never dreamed I'd use those skills to write a book. No matter what "other life" you've led or are still leading -- mine it for your writing!

Read what you write out loud. And then, when you're too close to what you've written -- have someone else read it out loud to you so you can hear how someone else is receiving your words. That second one is a lot scarier than the first, but it is a pretty powerful tool. This revision I've done a lot of interviews with my main character (again, in my journal) and I'm always surprised what Jessie has to tell me when I get out of my own way.

I've been very fortunate to have one or two "first readers" that I love and trust. I think they encourage me to continue writing more than anyone or anything else.

Hook up with great organizations like the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Sisters in Crime (SinC) where you can meet other people who write so their heads won't explode. I'm not a big group person myself (like a lot of creative people I tend to be a loner who needs a LOT of solitude). What helped me get over that obstacle was to volunteer to help at events and conferences and workshops and that led to many years of fruitful contacts and teaching opportunities. I met my first editor at an SCBWI retreat. My agent and I were in a writing group together when I lived in Southern California. Here in Minnesota I know if I show up at The Loft for a reading or a class or a workshop, I'll go away enriched and quite possibly with a new writing friend.

Facebook and Twitter (I'm just starting this!) and web sites and blogs, oh my! They work. I'm still learning about all of this and parts of it I love and parts of it I don't love so much. What I do love is meeting new people in a virtual way. I forget to check FB and twitter, so I set it up to receive everything in my email. This would make many people crazy but I love it. I'd rather delete what I don't want to read than miss something important.

Laugh a lot. Cry a lot. Listen hard. And keep writing so your head won't explode.

Q. I saw your gorgeous Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa piece. Have you ever combined your writing and artistic talents for any book projects?

I'm so glad you liked Mardi-Gras Me-Dusa. I had a lot of fun doing that fabric art collage and was really pleased when it was chosen for the cover of the November 2011 issue of Minnesota Women's Press magazine (e-edition and paper copy). I haven't combined the writing and artwork (in a finished product kind of way) yet, but would love to do that in a creative nonfiction/memoir piece. I'm really drawn to hybrid forms in both fiction and nonfiction. They are, as I'm sure you know, harder to sell. I am using some of my poems and other journal writings in my collages right now and am excited about the possibilities.

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?

I'm totally engrossed in what I hope is the last big rewrite of IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. By the time I finish the book, it will also have a new title!

Where you can find more info about Julie:

Julie Williams blog

Julie Williams gallery at MNArtists.org

On Twitter: @JulieKWms2013


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.



Congrats to Valerie Haight: My 16,000th Twitter Follower!



Today I'm highlighting Valerie Haight, who was the 16,000th person to follow my @inkyelbows account on Twitter. :-) Valerie was also mentioned in Joani Plenty's blog recently and although I've never met Valerie in person, she sounds like someone I would like to meet someday.

Valerie's first e-book, HAPPENSTANCE, will be released through Turquoise Morning Press in December. She also has a suspense represented by Blue Ridge Literary Agency that is currently in edits. and is working on a suspense she says she hopes to pitch in May.

I asked Valerie how she found me on Twitter. Her answer:

I found you by searching the amwriting hashtag on Twitter. I've been on Twitter almost three years and I joined to meet other writers, broaden my resource opportunity and to market my books.

You can find out more about Valerie on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

Screen Shot 2012 02 23 at 5 50 04 PM

Related links:

Blue Ridge Literary Agency blog post about Valerie


Daily motivation: #amwriting


Writers on Twitter are probably already familiar with Johanna Harness and #amwriting but if you're not, you should be!

#Amwriting is an ongoing chat. You’re not expected to stay tuned-in constantly. The chat happens in the background of your writing day. It is a virtual watercooler for writers, a place you can hang out and talk to your colleagues about your current writing projects (and theirs) and then you get back to work. You are expected to pop in and out of chat as you write, so no one thinks anything of it if you disappear into your writing.

#Amwriting is a community. The writers here care about one another. We have member biographies, a store, discussion groups, help-a-writer classifieds, and a site full of resources.  Both readers and writers are encouraged to join us: http://www.amwriting.org.

If you're not sure how to use hashtags or attend chats on Twitter, please see my Twitter Chat Guide For Writers.

My only warning: Just be careful not to let yourself get so pulled into online socializing that you forget about your real purpose: to get more writing done!


Writer's Guide To Twitter updated

Believe it or not, I think I've finally moved over most of the old site. Most recently revamped: The Writer's Guide To Twitter. I'll be gradually adding to this FAQ, so if you think of any questions you'd like me to answer or research, please let me know!