Yes, I’ve heard it before. Picture books have so few words, they MUST be easy to write, right?

600-900 words? What is that, an hour or two at THE MOST? Maybe a half hour more to correct spelling?

I had the second meeting of a new critique group I joined yesterday and we discussed some novels the members are working on and some picture book manuscripts. And those of us who are trying to do both clearly see how the differences between the genres/formats does not add up to one being ‘easier’. Or quicker.

A picture book manuscript I wrote, which is finally good enough to share with my agent, had a long gestation. When someone asked how long even I was shocked that the first sketch I did that inspired the idea was done just after my daughter was born. 7 years. Ouch.

I know I am not a ‘fast’ writer and not all my picture book have bounced about for that long, but many do.

Two picture books I wrote have been published now (well, Dilly Dally Daisy won’t be out until July) and the other 20 or 30 I wrote along the way will never be out. Not a great batting average.

The right 900 words are not so easy to find.

From The Thing with No Head. Available as an ebook on the iBookstore.


Buy and download it here.

Mark’s Neighborhood. I meet different folks every day of the week. Generally a happy lot. But it’s a bit different ’round here.


From the eBook available at the iBookstore.



On my recent school visits I made a mistake. I was signing a lot of books and talking while doing it, and I draw in each book so it takes a bit and…

You see…I was signing a copy of The Great Thanksgiving Escape and I had been signing a lot of copies of Earthling! as well – and it looks like I had a crossover signing.


That’s Gavin from The Great Thanksgiving Escape, drawn onto the title page of The Great Thanksgiving Escape inviting a student to attend Cosmos Academy – which happens to be the school in my book Earthling!

Avyree brought this to my attention later that day and ah – I added a bit more to that page to make it right!

And I always thought I was great at making sure I signed the right book with the right name and such. Live and learn, live and learn and slow down!


Just a few pictures from the dozens and dozens and dozens of wonderfully illustrated and thoughtfully written cards I received from my recent school visits.

Reading and looking at the cards and letters crafted by the students is one of my favorite parts of this so-called ‘job’. Very cool indeed!

And I really loved this one- The Card That Says “Thank You”! (This must be The Book That Eats People’s nice cousin!)


Kids used all kinds of cool methods to make the cards including collage and paper art.










Here’s one of many great Big Bad Robots!!



Thanks again to Hilda Lahti Elementary and Warrenton Grade School for organizing such wonderful visits!



A great list from one of my favorite blogs. All about books. Facts like this one – Only 2% of the 1.2 million different books sold in the US in 2004 sold more than 5,000 copies. – YIKES!!!

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

30 fun facts about books, in honour of World Book Day 2015

SF writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) is the only author to have published a book in all ten Dewey library categories.

When asked what book he’d like to have with him on a desert island, G. K. Chesterton replied, ‘Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.’

Hugh Lofting, author of Dr Doolittle, thought books should have a ‘senile’ category to complement the ‘juvenile’ section.

Dickens’s house had a secret door in the form of a fake bookcase. The fake books included titles such as ‘The Life of a Cat’ in 9 volumes.

Playwright Joe Orton went to prison in 1962 for defacing library books. One of the cartoons he drew shows an elderly tattooed man in trunks.

Books BerlinThe first book bought on Amazon was called Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.


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