Writer on a Horse
And a Dog

The world looks better from the back of a horse and the roads of life are easier with a good dog beside you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bad Blogger... I'm going to try to do better

back about ten years ago I wrote a monthly question and answer article for an online critique group.  I've decided I'm going to share these articles with you on my blog.  I'm going to do one a week for the next several weeks.  Here is the first one.

 Picture This

I’m going to address questions about writing picture books. Picture books are the hardest genre to write because you have to paint a story using words and pictures.

For example, Josie is your main character. Her classmates make fun of her freckles. Readers need to read how this makes Josie unhappy. They don’t need to read that she has red hair, blue eyes and fair complexion. All of these details can be shown through pictures. The freckles are the main theme, not her other features.

Now to the questions!

1. How long should a picture book be and should I indicate page breaks?

The standard rule for a picture book length is 32 pages. Picture books for younger children can be 24 pages and ones for older children can be 48 pages, but these fall in the story picture book genre. These numbers include front page introductions and the blank back page.  A picture book needs to have a word count of 800 words or less.

Never put page breaks in a picture book manuscript. Quoting from the book How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books by Jean E. Karl, “You should not indicate pages as you see them or indicate what you think the pictures should be. A text that offers no possibility for picture variety is nothing but abstract talk and will not work as a picture book.”

2. I’m not an artist, but I have pencil illustrations for my picture book. Should I include them with my manuscript?

This is a hard question to answer. I can only tell you what the Children's Writer's Market says about submitting your own illustrations. If you are not a professional artist do not submit illustrations with the manuscript. In the cover letter you can tell the publisher that you have illustrations sketched and would be willing to send them in for consideration.

I would like to share an eye opening experience I had this spring at the SCBWI Mid-South chapter writing conference. I paid the fee for a professional critique of my best picture book manuscript. After reading it, the editor stated it was a beautifully written magazine article but not a picture book. Seeing my crushed look, she pointed out the details in my story that could have been related to the reader in the pictures instead of the text.

Go to your library, local book store, or get on the Internet and find some comprehensive books on picture book writing, then follow their professional advice. It could save you a lot of time and wasted effort.

Remember that like all manuscripts, picture books need a beginning, middle and end.  The main character needs a problem and they need to solve it by the end of the story.  

just a few sites that will help you write a picture book


Friday, September 12, 2014


Yesterday my friend Irene learned that I'm a word creator.  I used the word wobblecotted and she looked at me and said, "What?"

Do you know what wobblecotted means?

You can't look it up

                                        but use your head...

okay I will give you a hint.

The Leaning tower of Pisa is wobblecotted

Houses and windows can be wobblecotted

Stairs can be

Even trees

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Starred Review for Dear Wandering Wildebeest YEA for Irene

Kirkus Star



A poetic celebration of animal life found in the African grasslands.
Inspired by wildlife photographer Greg du Toit, who submerged himself in a Kenyan water hole to capture glimpses of the creatures gathering there, Latham and illustrator Wadham showcase the splendors of that world in this riveting picture-book tribute. Through spare lyric poems and brief but illuminating prose descriptions set within warm, subdued-toned spreads, the duo invite young readers to explore the importance of the water hole for no fewer than 15 species who congregate at this vital life source. Unusual beasts with sonorous names like impala, oxpecker, nightjar and wildebeest all come to drink, sometimes risking life and limb when met by dangerous snakes—“Puff adder / hisses— / rarely misses”—who also frequent the water hole to survive. In an effort to ward off other would-be predators, including the unrelenting African sun, a “rugby tangle” of frolicking zebras or a herd of elephants luxuriating in a “dust bath at dusk” may be spotted, all hoping to evade the services of the “mean-eyed marabou,” the bald-headed carrion-eating stork. Latham’s finely crafted verse, at once humorous and serious, dazzlingly opens the imagination to the wilds of the world.
Enlightening and engaging, a thrilling panorama of the diversity to be found throughout the animal kingdom.

School Library Journal

Starred Review on JULY 1, 2014  |  Preschool to Grade 4

Gr 2–5—This will be a much-sought-after book for teaching reading and inquiry skills. Each animal (which include the wildebeest, impala, meerkat, black mamba, puff adder, and more) features a poem on the left side of the spread and an informational text box on the right. Latham's knowledge of these creatures enhances both the well-crafted poems and the informational texts, the two working in tandem

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bad Gardener

Here is what my pot looked like before the bad gardener

Here is after

Which one do you think is the bad gardener??

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Want y'all to meet Loretta... a real sweet heart

Loretta was born the day after Mother's day on May 12th  She has one sister Georgia and six brothers... Archie, Luke. Arrow, Bear, and two that the new owners didn't let me know what they named them.  Loretta wasn't the prettiest pup but what she lacks in beauty she makes up in charisma and she has tons of that.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

In the month of July I'm going to blog about things that make happy I live in a free country
First thing:
Have you ever noticed that athletes from other countries look like they don't enjoy the sport.  Like it's a job instead of a passion.  I'm so happy we can have sporting events for pleasure not work... and with that

 Roll Tide Roll