Wednesday, January 24

How To Find Inspiration To Write Your Picture Book (by Lindsay Ward)

Hello all! I've got quite the pleasure of introducing this guest post's author, Lindsay Ward, who recently published her newest picture book, Don't Forget Dexter!, the first in her new Dexter T. Rexter series (which earned a starred review from Kirkus!). She is also the author and illustrator of Brobarians (which I reviewed back here), Henry Finds His Word, and When Blue Met Egg. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. And today, she's sharing with us her techniques for finding the inspirations for her books...

About the Book

Don't Forget Dexter!
(Dexter T. Rexter #1)
Lindsay Ward

Two Lions (December 1, 2017)

"Introducing Dexter T. Rexter, the toughest, coolest dinosaur ever. At least he likes to think so.

When his best friend, Jack, leaves him behind at the doctor’s office, Dexter T. Rexter panics. First he tries to find Jack. Then he sings their special song. Then he sings their special song even louder. But when Jack still doesn’t appear, Dexter starts to wonder. What if he’s being replaced by another toy? It can’t be—after all, he can STOMP, RAWR, and CHOMP! Right? Right?!

This hilariously neurotic dinosaur will do whatever it takes to get his friend back—even asking the reader’s advice—in this first book of a brand-new series."

How To Find Inspiration For Your Picture Book
By Lindsay Ward

Every single book I’ve ever written has come from a personal experience. As cliché as it sounds, there is something to be said for writing what you know. I’ve always found it to work for me.

Usually I come up with a concept first, then I flesh out the manuscript. I tend to revise over and over again until it feels just right when I read the story aloud. I like to think of it as a very Goldilocks approach to writing.

Once I’ve settled on the manuscript, then I begin to draw. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters. What are their likes and dislikes? How would they sound? What makes them happy? And so forth. The more I know them, the better I can write and draw them. They feel real to me because they all derived from an experience I had at some point in my life:

Don’t Forget Dexter!—I was pregnant with my first child when my husband had to get a shot prior to our son’s birth. While waiting to get the shot, my husband texted me a photo of a toy dinosaur that had been abandoned beneath a chair. Following the photo he texted “well, they left me here.” Dexter’s voice immediately popped into my head and I sat down to write his story.

Brobarians—Movie night with my husband watching Conan the Barbarian. Seriously. You never know when John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger will influence you to write a children’s book...

The Importance of Being 3—Graduate school application prompt: tell a story using the number 3.

Rosco vs. the Baby—I used to live next door to a dog named Rosco who never stopped barking. Oddly enough the couple who owned Rosco ended up having twins after I wrote the ending of the book. True story.

Henry Finds His Word—I had lunch with a good friend of mine and her son when he was just starting to talk.

Please Bring Balloons—A combination of being an only child, my love for the magic of snow, and the fact that my parents used to paint carousels for a living.

When Blue Met Egg—My love letter to New York, after living there briefly during college.

You never know where an idea will come from. Usually it’s when you least expect it, which has certainly been my experience. I try to be observant, enjoy the world around me, and keep a notebook handy...just in case.

Lindsay Ward was inspired to write this book after her husband texted her a photo of a toy dinosaur abandoned at a doctor’s office. The caption read: “Well, they left me here.” Lindsay thought it was so funny that she sat down to write Dexter’s story immediately. Most days you can find Lindsay writing and sketching at her home in Peninsula, Ohio, where she lives with her family. Learn more about her online at or on Twitter: @lindsaymward.

Thursday, January 4

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...Sort Of

Sometimes, life is like...

and then it just...

and you feel like...

and so you take a short break from the blog.

Okay, okay, so life wasn't that dramatic. But I have added quite a bit to my to-do list with two kids to raise and an elementary school library to run. So there will be some changes coming to the blog. First and foremost, you can see my new review policy here. Basically, I won't be posting as many reviews here, just my top choices each month. I'll still be welcoming guest posts, however, and posting the occasional helpful tidbit I've learned on the job (including displays, lesson-helps, and such).

Also, look forward to a new advertising policy page coming your way and the creation of a newsletter.'s still going to be Literary Hoots, just with a tad fewer hoots... cool? Cool.