A Freebie for You. Plus, Let’s Celebrate Picture Book Month!

From time to time I send out this download to the creatives on my mailing list.  I wrote this download as a blog post ages ago, in response to a wildly common question:

How do I know what I’m writing?

Say what?

The thing is, when it comes to writing books for children, people (especially newbies) get bamboozled. Real fast.

So I wrote this blog post then made it into a PDF. It’s a little ‘map’ to help you on your kidlit adventure and save you from spinning in circles. 

If you want to get clearer on categories, formats and word counts in children’s literature, please hit the link, print the doc and tuck it in your Writer’s Notebook. This doc will help you time and time again.  I promise!

Cottage Diaries

Last weekend, we left the little bubble that is our hometown and ventured over to Kyneton.

Do you know Kyneton, dear reader?

It’s hard to spell but it’s a pretty town. 

It also has a glorious children’s bookshop with one of the best names for a bookshop ever. Squishy Minnie. Isn’t that adorable?

So. Whilst in Kyneton, I visited Squishy Minnie and bought a couple of picture books. Of course I did!

Tada! (see pic below). Anna Walker and Jen Campbell have both been guests in the Duck Pond. I love their work and can pore over it for hours. Do you reverse-engineer picture books, too? Thought so.

I also visited The Alchemist, the new art supplies shop and nearly lost my mind. Honestly, I could feel my voice rising with every passing second (this happens in the Myer Christmas Shop too. One day I will be forcibly removed, I’m sure).


Squealing aside, I bought a beautiful ‘mech pencil’. (Mechanical pencil,  dear reader, very posh, very hip). I got some other pencils too — because pencils. Gawd I love ’em.

We had a picnic in the gardens. Himself lovingly prepared the entire thing so I just sat there, rather like a Rupert Bunny lady, and stuffed my face… 

This Writing Life

My new middle grade novel is choofing along at a pleasing rate. Not much more I can say about that except that I’m happy with the progress. I recently thought about flipping the setting and having it all happen in America. But after a bit of push and pull I decided against it. Instead, I simply made one of the characters a Texan.

Don’t you love how we can wave our wands and create a world that entirely suits our needs?

This is what I’m always telling aspiring authors who might be second-guessing themselves or seeking permission to create freely. It’s your world. Your story. You make the decisions because you are the creator.

When it comes to your story, YOU are Steven Spielberg, okay?—

In other news, I’ve been playing a lot with colour palettes lately. In the evenings, instead of watching Netflix (ahem), I muck around in my Moleskine and experiment with colour. It’s so soothing and leads to all sorts of delicious discoveries and inspirations.

And on that pretty note, I shall bid you farewell, dear reader.

Thank you for skipping through these words and images with me.

Jen xo

PS: The Duck Pond is currently open! (But only until April 1.)

Click here to hop in. You can join us for Picture Book Month!

For the entire month of April, we’ll be celebrating all things picture books — as well as gobbling up TWO very special events:

• A masterclass with renowned illustrator, Andrew Joyner (yeah, he recently illustrated a Dr Suess book!)

•Plus, a Zoom session, Q&A with Chren Byng, Head of Children’s Publishing at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and now also a picture book author. This is your chance to meet the publisher and ask all the questions!

• There are also prizes to be won (!) plus free access to a picture book tutorial, Story Lab,  with me.

Celebrating, discussing and creating picture books has got to be one of the finest ways to spend your time.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this special, Duck Pond event. Come along. You can join for a month (put a toe in the pretty water) or join for a year.

It’s all here. Just waiting for you!

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