Writing Humorous Picture Books

27 08 2015

Rebecca witch 1Today I have the great pleasure of hosting my friend Rebecca Colby, an awesome picture book writer, whose book, It’s Raining Bats & Frogs, released this month. She’s agreed to give share some secrets for writing funny picture books. And as a special bonus, if you read through the post, you’ll find a clue for her Scavenger Hunt. Be sure to collect all of the clues to be eligible for a prize.

And here’s Rebecca…

 

 

Show Them the Funny: Writing Humorous Picture Books

Everywhere I look on editor and agent submission wish lists these days, I read the following: WANTED: Funny, Quirky Picture Books. Why? Because everyone enjoys a laugh—kids and adults alike. Laughing makes people feel good, and as a result, funny sells.

But if you’re not the kind of person who automatically sees the funny side of life, you may find writing humorous picture books difficult. (And even if you do see the funny side of life, like me, you may still find it a struggle.) So here are some tips to showing editors and agents “the funny.” And if you’re playing my online scavenger hunt, here is one of the names you’re looking for: Sabrina.

 

JuxtapositionPirates Don't Change Diapers

Put two things together that don’t normally go together. This already sets the scene for a humorous story before you’ve even written a word. For example, Melinda Long puts ‘pirates’ and ‘a baby’ together in Pirates Don’t Change Diapers (illustrated by David Shannon). Who can resist laughing at babysitting pirates, especially when they think they’ve been given the task of sitting on babies.

 

Contradictions

Dear Mrs LaRueSome of the funniest books to read are those in which the illustrations contradict the text. Mark Teague does this so well in his book, Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School. In the book, Ike begs to be rescued from dog obedience school. He writes letters home to Mrs. LaRue, complaining about the school and painting a bleak picture of it, while the color illustrations tell a very different picture—that of a luxury, high-class school that is more akin to a spa retreat.

 

Potty HumorMorris the Mankiest Monster

Okay, so it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but most kids of average picture book age, love (and I do mean LOVE!) potty humor. And if you’re looking for an example of a book that is super-duper, hilariously disgusting then look no further than Morris, the Mankiest Monster by Giles Andreae and Sarah McIntyre. Morris lives in a house made of dung and eats green bogies. Need I say more?

 

The Web FilesWord play

Be it nonsense words, puns, tongue twisters, or other word play techniques, using fun language can add humor to a book. And the sillier sounding the language, the better. A picture book author that knows how to use word play to its best effect (and one to study) is Margie Palatini. With titles like Broom Mates, Moosetache, and Gone with the Wand, you already know she’s an author who likes to play with words. In her book, The Web Files (illustrated by Richard Egielski), someone has pilfered a peck of perfect purple almost-pickled peppers and Ducktective Web must investigate the fowl play. While it proves to be a hard case to quack, he eventually finds the dirty rat involved. Now how’s that for some fun word play?

 

Give it a twistI Thought This was a Bear Book

Another way to ensure your book is humorous is to add a twist. Your book should be anything but predictable, so surprise your audience. A recent book I’ve read that accomplishes this is I Thought This was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar and Benji Davies. The entire book is a twisted fairy tale with an alien accidentally falling into the pages of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. But while some of the elements in the book, like the appearance of Goldilocks, porridge, chairs, and beds are expected, these elements are mish-mashed with the story of the alien, making for a completely new and unpredictable book. And just when you think you’ve got the book sussed and the happy ending is looming, a further twist shows up on the last page. But to find out what it is, you’ll have to read the book!

 

Illustrations

Illustrations are another way to inject humor into your picture book. However, since this is a post about writing, rather than illustrating, I’m not going to say much here, except occasionally–and only VERY OCCASIONALLY–if you come up with a strong, visual image that would enhance the humor in your text, then you might want to consider inserting an illustration note in your manuscript.

Humor is subjective so employing these tricks is no guarantee that every editor or agent will find your book humorous, but you’re sure to tickle a few funny bones.

Thank you for hosting me today, Laurie! I’ve had a great time and I hope everyone will get writing and “show them the funny”!

Thank you for being here, Rebecca. Lots of great advice for those who want to write “funny.”Here’s more about It’s Raining Bats and Frogs! and about Rebecca. Be sure to use that Scavenger Hunt clue.

It’s Raining Bats and Frogs! Blurb

Delia has been looking forward all year to flying in the annual Halloween Parade. But parade day brings heavy rain. So, Delia takes action. Using her best magic, Delia changes the rain to cats and dogs. But that doesn’t work too well! Then hats and clogs. That doesn’t work, either! Each new type of rain brings a new set of problems. How can Delia save the day?

About Rebecca Colby

When not staring at blank pieces of paper, Rebecca can be found scribbling on napkins, walking into lampposts, and talking to herself. You can learn more about Rebecca and her strange habits at www.rebeccacolbybooks.com Alternatively, check out some of her one-sided conversations on Twitter at @amscribbler.

Rebecca is the author of It’s Raining Bats & Frogs (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2015) and There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie (Floris Picture Kelpies, 2014), and the forthcoming Motor Goose (F&F/Macmillan, 2017).

 

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Dreaming of a special romance?

9 02 2015

heartHere’s THE PERFECT ONE. From February 9 to 14, fourteen writers will embark on a heart-stopping blog tour that will hook readers up with great romantic reads and cool SWAG.

Grand Prize GIVEAWAY: one lucky winner will receive a free Kindle, as well as a $20 Amazon gift card. That’s a ton of heartbreaking reads… 😉

Who can resist a heartbreaker?

2015 TOUR ROSTER

Participating Authors:

Eileen Cook: Remember (Simon Pulse, 2015)
D.G. DriverPassing Notes (Fire and Ice, 2015)
Laurie J. Edwards: writing as Erin Johnson. WANTED series: Grace and the Guiltless (Switch Press, 2014); Her Cold Revenge (2015)
Janet Gurtler: The Truth About Us (Sourcebooks Fire, 2015)
Sara Hantz: Will The Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up (Entangled Teen, 2014)
Brenda HiattStarfall (Dolphin Star Press, 2015)
Denise JadenForeign Exchange (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Jen McConnelHer Secret Inheritance (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Judith TewesMy Soon to be Sex Life (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Ashley PostonThe Sound of Us (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Dawn IusAnne and Henry (Simon Pulse, 2015)
Shari GreenFollowing Chelsea (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Vanessa BarneveldThis is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
LS MurphyReaper (J Taylor Publishing, 2013), Pixelated (Bloomsbury Spark, 2015

Participating Bloggers:

Reading is My Treasure
YA Yeah! Yeah!
A Glass of Wine
Little Library Muse
Jennzah.dot.net
Tales of Yesterday
The Reader Bee
Words of Mystery

Click here for the THE GIVEAWAY!





A to Z Challenge: Day E

5 04 2014
Grace and the Guiltless (US)

US Version ~ August 1 ~ Capstone/Switch Press

E is for Erin. Erin Johnson. One of my pen names. People often ask why I have so many pseudonyms, and I have to say it’s because I have so many different personalities. Writers can get away with having a multiple personality disorder by claiming they’re using pseudonyms. They can talk to people who don’t exist and say they’re developing their characters. Non-writers get help for these problems; writers welcome them.

So as part of the A to Z Challenge, which is offering 30 prizes, I’m giving away a copy of the UK version of Grace and the Guiltless, part of the WANTED series…

Have you heard about the A to Z challenge?

Here’s a link to 26 posts about 26 awesome books by 24 terrific YA authors, AND there will be prizes. Yep, most days there are book and/or swag (mostly books) giveaways. There are about 30 prizes to be won in April.

For the fantastic lineup, see the previous post or go here.

 

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And here’s the UK version of Grace and the Guiltless that you can win:

WANTED: Book 1

WANTED: Book 1





A to Z Challenge (30 free YA books)

1 04 2014

azimage1

Have you heard about the A to Z challenge?
Here’s a link to 26 posts about 26 awesome books by 24 terrific YA authors, AND there will be prizes. Yep, most days there are book and/or swag (mostly books) giveaways. There are about 30 prizes to be won in April.

Here’s the fantastic lineup:

A is for Aimee Gilchrist Aimee Gilchrist 1-Apr
B is for Breed of Innocence Lanie Jordan 2-Apr
C is for Cry of the Sea Donna Driver 3-Apr
D is for Don’t You Wish Roxanne St. Claire 4-Apr
E is for Erin Johnson (Yes, that’s me**) Erin Johnson 5-Apr
F is for A Flight of Thieves David Bridger 7-Apr
G is for Goodbye, Rebel Blue Shelley Coriell 8-Apr
H is for Heiress PI Amanda Mahan 9-Apr
I is for I Spy Dead People Jennifer Fischetto 10-Apr
J is for Jennifer McGowan Jennifer McGowan 11-Apr
K is for Kelbian Noel Kelbian Noel 12-Apr
L is for Legendary L.H. Nicole 14-Apr
M is for Maureen McGowan Maureen McGowan 15-Apr
N is for Nail Polish & Feathers Jo Ramsey 16-Apr
O is for Of Sea & Stone Kate Avery Ellison 17-Apr
P is for Rebekah L. Purdy Rebekah L. Purdy 18-Apr
Q is for Bria Quinlan Bria Quinlan 19-Apr
R is for Roots Kelbian Noel 21-Feb
S is for Stained Cheryl Rainfield 22-Apr
T is for The Twin’s Daughter Lauren Baratz-Logsted 23-Apr
U is for Undercover with the Hottie Juli Alexander 24-Apr
V is for C.A. Verstraete Christine A. Verstraete 25-Apr
W is for We Are the Weirdos Jennifer Fischetto 26-Apr
X is for The Avery Shaw Experiement Kelly Oram 28-Apr
Y is for Confessions of A 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips Cindy M Hogan 29-Apr
Z is for Zera and the Green Man Sandra Krauf 30-Apr

** Watch for my blog post on April 5, which will explain how you can win a copy of Grace and the Guiltless, part of the WANTED series that I’m writing as Erin Johnson.





Heartbreakers Blog Tour

17 11 2013

This February I’m lucky enough to be doing a blog tour with 13 other great authors to celebrate the launch of the first book in the YA series WANTED that I’m writing as Erin Johnson.

Here’s a list of other participants:

Judith Tewes

Janet Gurtler

Denise Jaden

Barbara Binns

Renee Pace

Jen McConnel

Eileen Cook

Donna Diver

Christine Duval

Sara Hantz

Brenda Hiatt

Tina Bustamante

Jenny Kaczorowski

Lots of great books and authors and fabulous prizes, including a free Kindle. Check out Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

More about WANTED… It’s a new YA series set in the Wild West…

After her family is slaughtered by outlaws, sixteen-year-old Grace Milton goes on a vendetta to capture the gang who did it. But once she meets a rugged range rider, she’s torn between revenge and love.

WANTED: Book 1

WANTED: Book 1





Cover Reveal and Swag Giveaway

25 06 2013

It’s always fun when a critique partner has exciting news. Here’s a cover reveal of my CP Tracy E. Banghart‘s YA paranormal novel BY BLOOD.
To celebrate her release, Tracy’s giving away a bunch of swag. To participate in a Rafflecopter giveaway, just click on the link. NOTE: the first set of prizes is for US readers only, but the second prize pack is for international entrants. So wherever you live, you can enter to win. Here’s the list of awesome prizes.

GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY
Giveaway Prize Pack #1 (US only)
Signed paperback copy of By Blood by Tracy E. Banghart along with hardcover copies of:Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Jane by April Lindner

By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Slide by Jill Hathaway

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Giveaway Prize Pack #2 (International)

Signed paperback copy of By Blood + $50 Amazon Gift Card

About BY BLOOD:

For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.

Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby
half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather
jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant
Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than
drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll witness her
family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.

But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her
vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she
anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of
freedom… and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s
all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family
dinners.

Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.

By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.

About Tracy:

Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy
movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.
 

Tracy’s Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

ByBloodBlitzBanner





Only 79 More Shopping Days Till Christmas…

6 10 2010

It’s always exciting when a fellow author has a new book out. This week we’re celebrating Elizabeth Dulemba’s latest book, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia. It may seem a bit early to celebrate the season, but there are only about 79 shopping days left, so here’s a great gift for all the kiddies on your list.

You might also want to check out Elizabeth’s other books. And her site has lots of kid-friendly activities. Also, her book, Lulu’s Brew, available as an app, has had more than 9,000 downloads! Very cool!! After all Halloween’s just around the corner.