Category Archives: process

Articles or discussion of the process of writing or of making art.

Not Giving Up on 20 Percent of Readers!

My first thought after reading an article in the SCBWI Winter 2018 newsletter about accommodations for dyslexic readers was that this significant problem could easily be resolved. Provocatively titled, the article “Are Authors Giving Up on 20 Percent of Their Readers?” by Dr. Theodore Jerome Cohen, begins by stating, “I don’t know of any industry […]

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Commitment: Upstream by Mary Oliver

  In her book Upstream the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver says of creative commitment, “There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. …The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and […]

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Finding a Critique Group to Nurture Your Fire

You’ve heard of Burning Man, right? The arty, fire-infused festival takes place each Labor Day week in the middle of the 400 square mile Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Disclaimer: It’s not kid rated, but does serve as a tantalizing analogy. Imagine that you are there in 1996 when 8,000 people come to witness it […]

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September 11, 2001

  One day, Jeb Dubus, Rob Blount, and I were in Jeb’s office at what was then the Amesbury Artworks building in Amesbury, MA. We were planning our response to the city’s RPF for the building next door, to work with artists and the city to convert it to artists’ studios. The phone rang. It […]

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First experiences at ALA

The American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, a ginormous offering for ALA’s 68,000 member librarians, was held this past weekend in Orlando at the newly refurbished Convention Center. Why should that matter to you? According to the ALA convention website, approximately 16,000 people who are decision makers concerning which books are purchased for their libraries […]

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Author – Artist Residency Tips

by Joyce Audy Zarins If someone from a school overseas invited you to do an author or artist residency in connection with your picture book what would you do? I said yes even before I knew the particulars. If that would be your reaction, there are a few things you may want to consider to […]

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Interview: Totally Talented Brian Lies

I recently did an interview for with Brian Lies, successful author and illustrator of gorgeous books for children. It was posted to coincide with the release of Brian’s latest picture book, Gator Dad. You can see his glorious artwork and read about him here. Bookmark

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Interview: Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis, Thriving Author/Illustrator

by Joyce Audy Zarins Also posted at “Armstrong-Ellis fills the page with slime and sludge, and careful readers will even spy monster-themed parodies of works from da Vinci, Cassatt, George Rodrigue, and other artists.” —Publishers Weekly Picture books by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis are filled with hyperbole and delightfully disgusting detail. Her most recent book, […]

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World of Books #4

This post is #4 in a series. The earlier ones are here, here and here. This article also appears on another blog, here on We see hundreds of excellent children’s books each year published here in the U.S., but what about those published in other countries? The rest of the world is producing books […]

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Pain-free Writing and Art

also posted on most visuals by author Here’s something for writers and illustrators to consider: the painful physical effects of your work. Don’t laugh. I kid you not. You might think that the arm in the photo (mine, actually) looks pretty healthy. After years of making welded steel sculpture using all sorts of heavy […]

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Prose Pointers: Stylistic Features

  There are two aspects to each story— what it is about and how it is written. Three young adult novels I’ve read over a span of two weeks excel in certain intriguing elements of style – meaning the tools used to write them. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I’ll Give You the Sun […]

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Author to Bookstore: Timeline

The process of writing or illustrating a children’s has often been compared to having a baby. That gestation-to-birth time is partly the work of creating the story and pictures, but that’s just the beginning. Here is a fantastic explanation of the actual publication timeline, written by tween and teen author extraordinaire, Jen Malone. Bookmark

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Writing Devices: Pros and Cons of Connectivity

By Joyce Audy Zarins Mobility increases productivity. Although you write B.I.C. (Jane Yolen’s famous rule #1 on writing: keep your “Butt in Chair”), that chair now has wings. With the right connectivity between devices, you can write anywhere you are. There are definite pros and cons to being connected through different devices, so be aware […]

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Caring for Heron’s Dream

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day; perfect for a touch-up on Heron’s Dream. This kinetic sculpture, a collaboration between The Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council, the town of Acton’s NARA Park, Carolyn Wirth, and myself, was installed after the pond froze last winter. The grant process, town approvals and contract negotiations meant that I could not fabricate […]

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What Shape Is That Story?

This article is a post I wrote for the fabulous Writers Rumpus blog today, September 30th. While recently reading John Green’s Looking for Alaska, I was surprised by the shape of the story. I’ll get to that in a minute, but it reminded me of other authors who played with the structure of their narratives. […]

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Naturalized Diversity

By Joyce Audy Zarins Like daffodils naturalized in the woods, all Native Americans, immigrants from everywhere in the world, people with various abilities, talents, handicaps, and preferences populate our American nation. We are all in this cross-pollinated garden together. Our stories should reflect that biodiversity. By “naturalized diversity” I mean that the characters in our […]

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Writers Rumpus Blogiversary

 What is Writers Rumpus? Marianne Knowles, who runs the writers critique groups I belong to, started a blog for children’s book writers and illustrators that is chock full of great information in twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays)  by our crit group members  and guest posters. I’ve written a few of these articles myself. One, titled […]

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NESCBWI 14: Terrific Conference, Going Fast!

Registration for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators New England regional conference opened today at 10:00 AM. Already two thirds of the slots are full. If you plan to attend, what are you waiting for? If you are a writer or illustrator of books for children and young adults, this conference will stimulate […]

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About: 26 Letters, Infinite Possibilities

Have you ever considered that all of the books written in English in libraries, bookstores, on e-readers and in your own home are really only comprised of 26 letters arranged in different ways? Our alphabet is an amazingly simple set of symbols. And what writers do with them is magic. This morning I posted an […]

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Why thirty-two pages?

If you’ve ever wondered why the average picture book is usually thirty-two pages long, take a look at this post I did today for Writers Rumpus. Bookmark

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