Thursday, November 20, 2014


How a Multi-Published Author Became a Debut Author

Blame it on SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). When I joined SCBWI over two decades ago, I’d already sold a middle-grade and was interested in writing young adult books, too. Yet most of my writer friends wrote picture books. Whenever I went to SCBWI conferences, I attended many presentations by talented PB authors and illustrators. I listened to so many PB talks that I joked I could teach a picture book writing class myself. But write a picture book? Nope. Not interested.

2009 was the year I sold my 37th book, BURIED/YA mystery (Flux)—and the year I wrote a picture book. This PB idea struck with no warning—like summer rain or falling in love. I was driving to a SCBWI retreat with authors Verla Kay, Danna K. Smith and Linda Whalen when my thoughts jumped to the childhood photo Verla had showed me of a snow dog. A word storm of Inspiration flooded my head. When we stopped for lunch, I grabbed a napkin and wrote a story that began: More than anything, Ally wanted a dog—but dogs made her ACHOO. So Ally drew pictures of dogs….

Jump five years and that napkin-scribbled book is now my debut picture book, SNOW DOG, SAND DOG (Albert Whitman). And my box of author copies arrived this week (YAY!). But it’s not like I stopped writing MG/YA. I still do that, too.

How did this genre hopping happen? Thinking it over, it’s more of a surprise that I resisted writing PBs for so long. Whether I’m writing for big or little kids, I love the rhythm of lyrical, active and funny words. Studying the art of picture book writing has actually strengthened my novel writing. Sentences roll and sway like songs from thoughts to finger-tips.

For example (from a MG work-in-progress):
I’m squashed like a human pretzel and struggling not to sneeze at dog hair or freak out as I imagine creepy crawlies creeping and crawling all over me.
This is a sentence from a middle-grade book yet fun words like sneeze, creepy and crawling create a rhythm like when I’m writing pictures books.

They heated popcorn and played fetch with straw brooms. They napped with a scarecrow then danced to the music of wind chimes.

I love the craft of word play; molding words like clay until they’re shaped into sentences that make children smile. Writing words for children brings out the child in all of us—and it’s fun.

But it’s hard work, too. I consider picture books the hardest format to write. There’s no room for even one sloppy word. Every word counts and the story arc should rise and fall with character growth like a novel.

It took five years for SNOW DOG, SAND DOG to become a published book. It went through editors, agents, rejections and rewrites. I rode a roller coaster of disappointments and hopes. The day it sold, my agent told me, “You’re now a picture book author.”

And this MG/YA author is very proud to be a picture book author.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


My first picture book, SNOW DOG SAND DOG, was featured on the November Book Month

Why Picture Books Are Important by Linda Joy Singleton
The first picture book I remember loving was The Poky Little Puppy. It was an early copy with gorgeous art and a thick colorful cover. Years later, as an adult, I spotted this book on my grandmother’s shelf and couldn’t resist reading it. There’s a special feeling children reserve for the books they fall in love with, and holding this book made me feel like a child again.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I pursued my writing career. I quickly realized I loved kids books the best. While I happily published midgrade and teen books, I also admired the picture books by my writing friends. I thought, “It would be so cool to have an artist draw pictures for my words.” And I dreamed of having a picture book of my own.

Still it took a while to write a picture book that was good enough to publish. Writing picture books is hard! Every word has to sing with meaning, plot, and character. All this is a super short format–usually less than 500 words. What a challenge!

But I thrive on challenges, and I never give up on my dreams. My first published picture book was about dogs—one for each season. I was lucky my publisher found an amazing illustrator who shared my love of books and dogs. And now I get to read my own picture book to kids. It’s SO fun! They laugh, smile and ask great questions. Kids really connect with the art in picture books and the art of telling a story just for them.

A picture book can transform a lap into a magical carpet that takes both reader and listener on an amazing journey. Words and pictures are like food for the soul, nourishing young minds and hearts. In my case, loving a picture book about a poky puppy was the beginning of a future of writing for kids—which is a wonderful honor.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thinking Through Our Fingers: How to Be a Crazy Writer

Thinking Through Our Fingers: How to Be a Crazy Writer: Years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautaqua in New York. While there, I was extremely fortun...

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Leap Books: Get Ready For Our MONSTER BACKLIST BASH!

Leap Books: Get Ready For Our MONSTER BACKLIST BASH!:   Does your heart race when things go bump in the night?   Then you're in the right place because  Leap Books is about to get ...

Monday, October 06, 2014

Leap Books: Get Ready For Our MONSTER BACKLIST BASH!

Leap Books: Get Ready For Our MONSTER BACKLIST BASH!:   Does your heart race when things go bump in the night?   Then you're in the right place because  Leap Books is about to get ...

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014




A panel of kids readers will select the top three names and the winners will receive:

* Autographed SNOW DOG, SAND DOG book by Linda Joy Singleton & Jess Golden

* A set of Albert Whitman books for your favorite library/school.

* And for FACEBOOK friends--I will also put YOUR name in a future published book.

It's easy to enter:

Email your name suggestion to: with subject: SNOW DOG CONTEST

Include your email/mailing contract information.

Contest ends September 1st. Winners will be notified by email and the name for Snow Dog will be announced online.

writerwriterwriter: Limori : Book Three post #1

writerwriterwriter: Limori : Book Three post #1: I don't remember where I took this picture....I think in Paris, but it might have been at one of the other cities on that tour. That ...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Provo Library Children's Book Reviews: Snow Dog, Sand Dog

Provo Library Children's Book Reviews: Snow Dog, Sand Dog: Snow Dog, Sand Dog  Written by Linda Joy Singleton Illustrated by Jess Golden Albert Whitman and Co, 2014. unpaged picture book A...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Adventures of a Zookeeper: Safari Park Life Update

FUN ARTICLE By my critique partner, Patti's, daughter who has an amazing job at a zoo-park!

Adventures of a Zookeeper: Safari Park Life Update: My new job at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is going wonderfully! As a photo safari tour guide, I lead two or three tours a day for guests...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


When I saw this photo, an idea clicked in my head.

I was writing YA at the time and gaining fans for my THE SEER & DEAD GIRL series.

I didn't write picture books, but suddenly an IDEA was there. I couldn't ignore it.

Within a few days, I had a rough draft. But it took five years and many rewrites before the photograph became a picture book, which recently was published by Albert Whitman.

SNOW DOG, SANND DOG -- my first ever picture book!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Random Acts of Writing: Please Release Me!

Random Acts of Writing: Please Release Me!: The writing world moves slowly. Most books take about two years to from sale to bookshelf.  In the case of my latest release, Cowpoke Cly...

Sunday, May 04, 2014



The population sign shows just over 700 people live in the small town my family traveled to last night. We drove high into forest rimmed roads that twisted and twisted for miles with few homes or towns. It took over an hour to reach our destination.

Our group included 3 little kids, two parents and two grandparents. We embarked on this trip to watch seven year old Nik perform a musical number on his recorder (like a flute). Nik wore a pin-striped dress shirt and looked excellent. Little brother Pat was also styling like a gentleman, despite his energetic habits of looking for trouble. And 3 year old Bee charmed everyone with her purple-streaked blond hair, deceptively-innocent big blue eyes, velvety prom-styled dress and wicked-cute attitude.

I'm used to going to suburban kid activities like soccer, t-ball and gymnastics. But I hadn't been to a talent show--especially one so far out in the rural mountains, so I didn't know what to expect.

We parked off the main road and entered the Community Hall. I was glad I'd decided to dress up at the last minute as others shined in their best clothes. One model-thin young woman wore a tight business suit with her hair-pulled back elegantly, more like a New Yorker at a cocktail party--but later I found out why--she was in costume for one of the acts. A performance that had the audience laughing. But I'll get to that later....

Not only was this event a talent show, but there was a baked goods raffle and ice cream social. Count me happy! Who can resist ice cream? It was served between acts. And those raffled pies, cakes and cheese cake were raffled off for $50-$125.

Soon the lights dimmed...and the performances begin!!

The first few were what proud parents expect. A gorgeous blond girl (think Taylor Swift). If Simon from American Idol were judging he might have been harsh for some off-key notes but her confidence and grace wowed the audience. She belted out a song like a big star in a small sky.

Next came the little kids (including our own amazing Nik). Cute little kids with lots of relatives in the audience to enthusiastically applaud piano keys, ukulele strums and sweet recorder notes. Nik was a little shy but wonderfully composed for a seven year old. And when he bent over in a formal bow after his performance, the audience LOVED him even more.

The next performer shifted the night into a surprising realm of talent. Kellsey was a 20-something, flowing dark-haired beauty with curves...and when she stood on the stage to sing, I thought I was on Broadway or at an opera. Her voice was larger than the stage, the room, the town. She belted out a song from Phantom of the Opera that had the audience standing up for an ovation. So what's she doing hidden away in a mountain town? Get out to Broadway, Kellsey!

The next singer, a spunky country singer sang a bouncy song called "Dead Skunk." As someone who travels on country roads often, dead skunks are a familiar rural perfume.

The lights went out and movement rumbled from behind the stage--then four black-lit figures looking like shadows with only stick-figure shapes glowing from costumes that seemed made of glow sticks. And when they turned around to dance, their backsides glowed with circle butts, which they booty-shook to bursts of laughter. Very funny dance.

Lots of creativity and hometown support for little kids. I was impressed but figured that the opera singer was a fluke, that everything else would be the average talent show fair. But then the next singer stepped up to the piano and sung an original song she'd written herself which was bouncy and crafted with the skill of a pro; uplifting and sweet like an Elton John tribute to Disney.

We left a little early due to little kids falling asleep or crawling under the table, so the last act I watched was a definite "finale" in humor. A skit of "Jeopardy" in a small mountain town. Each "contestant" portrayed a stereotype of country residents. The elegant woman spouting off NPR, the New Age free-spirit, the savvy grandma and the good-old gal who loves to drink "cold ones." Very funny questions and crazy answers. I loved how everyone made fun of their own stereo-types, and how well rehearsed they were, too.

So in closing, all I can say is that all those America Talent Shows on tv, should look closer into the rural towns, even if it means driving for hours and miles, through wooded, curvy roads. The talent is amazing (including our Nik).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire: On Submission With A Debut Author - Christine Kohl...

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire: On Submission With A Debut Author - Christine Kohl...: If there's one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it's the submission process. There are good reasons for that; ...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers: Friend Friday

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers: Friend Friday: Please welcome Linda Joy Singleton to the blog today. I met Linda Joy eons ago at a North Central CA SCBWI (Society of Children's Book...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cynsations: Guest Post: Linda Joy Singleton on Jumping Age Mar...

Cynsations: Guest Post: Linda Joy Singleton on Jumping Age Mar...: By Linda Joy Singleton for Cynthia Leitich Smith 's Cynsations Blame it on the SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers &...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cynsations: Guest Post: Linda Joy Singlton on Jumping Age Mark...

Cynsations: Guest Post: Linda Joy Singlton on Jumping Age Mark...: By Linda Joy Singleton for Cynthia Leitich Smith 's Cynsations Blame it on the SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers &...

Friday, February 21, 2014

How many faces do you recognize in this video?

Have you been at the SCBWI LA conference or do you want to attend? I put together 22 years at a glance of photos from 1991 to present.
How many faces to you recognize in this SCBWI video?
(And if you like it, please share. It would be cool if it went viral).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Donna L Martin's ON THE WRITE TRACK: Birth Of A Book

Donna L Martin's ON THE WRITE TRACK: Birth Of A Book: I announced last week I had received my first book contract. It was an exciting time and my feet still haven't touched dow...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Interesting comparison of original and revised text of Mary Poppins

American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL): Travers (author of Mary Poppins): "I lived with th...: With the release of Saving Mr. Banks , my colleagues in children's literature are responding to Disney's presentation of P. L. Trave...