Linda Ashman

children's book author, mom, wife, writing instructor, animal lover, gardener, vegetarian . . .

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NEW New Blog at

September 3, 2014

Tags: PictureBookBuilders, resources

I'm one of eight authors and illustrators posting over at PictureBookBuilders. The blog will explore the sorts of things picture book creators do to make their books engaging, heart-tugging, hilarious, thought-provoking and otherwise unforgettable. In addition to Jill Esbaum-- who came up with the blog idea and rounded up the participants--contributors include Kevan Atteberry, Pat Zietlow Miller, Jennifer Black Reinhardt, Barb Rosenstock, Tammi Sauer, and Eliza Wheeler. Please visit and join in the conversation!

New Blog at

October 15, 2013

Tags: getting started, resources, how to write picture books

I'll be adding periodic posts about writing picture books over at Come visit!

Good Advice for New Picture Book Writers

November 15, 2012

Tags: Writing exercises, getting started, how to write picture books

Many months after I'd quit my job to start writing picture books, I got a piece of advice that would have spared me a lot of wasted time and effort -- and probably a fair number of rejections, besides. This little gem came from Susan Goldman Rubin, who was among the authors speaking one afternoon at a UCLA children's book event. Susan's advice was simple: get some picture books from the library and type the text into your computer. Then do a word count.

Since I was writing (and, sadly, submitting) manuscripts with 2,000 or more words at the time, this was positively revelatory. As I typed in picture book after picture book, I began to understand how economically they manage to tell their stories -- with just 700 or 500 even 100 words.

Besides the basic word count discovery, the process of typing in picture book texts gave me a better sense of language, rhythm, and pacing. I still do this exercise on occasion, and always find it valuable. If you want to write picture books, I highly recommend trying it. By the way, picture books have changed quite a bit over time, so be sure to include a good sampling of those published in the last few years.

Where Do I Begin?

November 1, 2012

Tags: getting started, resources, how to write picture books

I get lots of questions from people who've written a picture book and aren't quite sure what to do with it next. Often, they think they need to find someone to illustrate it before they can submit it to a publisher. Well, they don't. But they do need to do some homework. Luckily, there are many excellent sources of information online and in print for writers and illustrators who are just starting out. Here are a few good ones:

First stop: The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. If you're just dabbling at this stage, go to the Just Getting Started page for info on all the basics. If you're more serious, become a member (well worth the price of admission) and get access to a variety of publications, including directories of publishers, agents, freelance editors, and more.

Second Stop: The Purple Crayon, editor Harold Underdown's website for all things kid-lit related. If you're new to this, start with the Basic Information, which has lots of helpful articles to get you on your way.

Next stop: your local library or bookstore. Here are several good books to check out:

The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, an annual publication with comprehensive lists of publishers, plus lots of helpful articles and interviews.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Children's Books by the aforementioned Harold Underdown. A good solid reference to writing a children's book (any genre) and getting it published.

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by author and teacher Ann Whitford Paul. The title says it all.

That should be enough to get you started. Happy reading!

Greetings, fellow writers!

October 31, 2012

Tags: Intro, formatting, how to write picture books

I'm not much of a blogger. Actually, I'm not a blogger at all. So I thought I'd use the blogging page of this website to answer some of the common questions I hear in my picture book writing classes and workshops, and share some info that I hope will be helpful to other writers. And if you have questions you'd like answered, please send me an email and I'll try to answer them here.

For starters, I often get questions about the proper way to format manuscripts for submission. In particular, many picture book writers who aren't illustrators struggle with how to include illustration notes when the text doesn't completely convey what's happening in the story. This happens a fair amount -- we're writing picture books, after all, so the text should be spare and leave room for the art to tell much of the story. But that doesn't mean you need to bog down your manuscript with lots of explanatory notes. The key is to include illustration notes only when necessary for clarification purposes, and to do it as unobtrusively as possible. The exception is if you're writing a nearly wordless book. In that case, the illustration notes essentially ARE the story.

To see how all this works, take a peek at the examples I've included on my website. For more traditional (albeit rhyming) manuscripts, take a look at Samantha on a Roll and Creaky Old House.

For a very short manuscript (150 words) heavy on notes, see Babies on the Go.

For a poetry collection, look at Come to the Castle!.

And for a nearly-wordless book, check out No Dogs Allowed!. Look for the files under "FOR WRITERS" on these pages.


Brand New
"A go-to source of calm and comfort." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Print
"Altogether delightful." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Excellent advice in a sweet and easy-to-swallow package." KIRKUS
"A memorable first skate by an irresistible imp." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Ashman's concept is both sophisticated and delightful." KIRKUS
"Beautifully crafted and satisfying." Starred Review, BOOKLIST
"Kids will love the colorful paintings while parents will appreciate that it's chock full of facts about the Centennial State." VAIL DAILY
A "lovely reverie on the joys of being alive and being loved." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"As pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A splendid bedtime fantasy." KIRKUS
Other Titles
"Ashman's poetic portraits are packed with lots of tasty assonance and alliteration." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Quirky, sarcastic, and rather educational, too." BOOKLIST
"A 10 on the "aw"-inspiring scale." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"A family outing gone hilariously awry." BOOKLIST
"A rip-roaring, exciting excursion." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
An "enchanting ride." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"The clever, rhyming text bounces along with perfect cadence." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A riotous adventure." HORN BOOK MAGAZINE
"Vibrant, playful text . . . excellent for storytimes." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A hilarious look at the world through the sharp eyes and nose of a dog." SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
"This one's a keeper." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Youngsters will find nothing but comfort in these pages." KIRKUS
"Ashman captures the non-stop action in rollicking rhyme." KIRKUS
A "captivating collaboration." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A lighthearted look at bad behavior." KIRKUS
Wagmore is "a charming, gentle hero." KIRKUS REVIEWS