Free Picture Book Challenge

Tomorrow, we’re releasing a free educational video series that will include Arree’s journey to publication and some of the very best parts of last November’s Black Friday Bootcamp. Arree and I even made workbooks to go with the videos. Whether you’ve just heard of us (and have no idea what Black Friday Bootcamp might have been) or you’re already a Storyteller Academy member (who’d love to hear Melissa Manlove read picture books, draw with Vanessa Brantley Newton, or see what a revision checklist that goes with Jim’s Hierarchy of Revision might look like), you can sign up for the Picture Book Challenge video series here.

Your Journey with Arree Chung

Arree takes a realistic look at what getting published traditionally looks like, sharing examples from his own journey. If you’ve wondered how writers and illustrators get literary agents or sell books, this will help demystify that process for you.

Arree believes in setting goals and developing creative habits. Do you have problems with time management? Having a clear goal and a plan can help motivate you to get the work done and create your own success story. Arree will help you plan your success with the end in mind.

Elements of Story with Arree Chung

In this second video, Arree shares how a picture book story is put together. He’ll break down the basic elements of story, making them easy to understand.

Then he’ll share an exercise that he uses to make sure stories contain all of the basic elements. You’ll do Master Studies of recent picture books, identifying those elements, so you’ll be able to identify them in your own stories. Studying great picture books really will make a difference in your craft.

The Hierarchy of Revision with Jim Averbeck

Jim’s Hierarchy of Revision begins with foundational questions about story shape. He’s going to have you asking about your character’s internal (needs) and external (wants) motivation. You’ll understand the way a story’s beginning and ending need to connect in order for you to have a satisfying ending.

From foundational revision, Jim will talk you through how to fine tune your story. Are you leaving room for the illustrator? Do you know how to pace your story on purpose? Are you choosing active verbs and words that support your theme?

Jim has been writing children's books for 20 years. You’re going to love his revision process and the checklist that we made to go with it. 

How to Create a Character with Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa is the award-winning illustrator of over 80 children’s books, with The King of Kindergarten releasing tomorrow, and she’s going to share how she creates characters with you.

You’ll learn how to find great references for your characters. She’ll demonstrate how you can draw your character’s head and expressions, and how she designs shapes. You’ll learn how to research, create, and use color palettes. And Vanessa will show you how to accessorize your characters to make them really stand out.

Crafting Voice with Melissa Manlove

In this video, Chronicle Books Editor Melissa Manlove will share some of her favorite examples of “voice” in picture books. You’re in for a treat.

You may get swept up in enjoying her reading, so don’t forget to download the workbook that goes along with the video. It covers how word choices, sound patterns, sentence structures, your pacing, and your character’s thought process all work together to create your character or narrator’s voice. Melissa gives specific examples of all of these in her video.

Publication Journey with Abi, Elaine, Isabella, LaRonda, and Arree

For our last video, Arree interviews four Storyteller Academy students who signed picture book deals last year: Abi Cushman, Elaine Kiely Kearns, Isabella Kung, and LaRonda Gardner Middlemiss. As they share their experiences, you’re going to find inspiration and practical advice on how you can also achieve success.

Elaine’s Noah Noasauraus released earlier this year, and the other three will have books out next year. In the interview, they share their struggles and creative breakthroughs. They highlight the need to do hard things and be persistent when pursuing literary agents. They talk about how it’s normal to take breaks and have thoughts about quitting, but they also share how they found the motivation to keep working toward their goals.

In this workbook, you’re going to find a Path to Publishing Roadmap, Key Stages in the Author/Illustrator Journey, an Author Track, an Author/Illustrator Track, and questions that will help you plan your creative career.

We hope you join us for our free Picture Book Challenge. Starting tomorrow, you'll have access to all of the videos and workbooks so that you can work at your own pace.


Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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