Monday, September 30, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #33: INCOME



When I was at a recent library presentation (for adults,) I was asked, "Is writing lucrative?"

The short answer is No.  No it's not.  

This surprises people (and kids) because most people think being a published author is like the top panel...


...but it's really like the bottom panel.

It's like anything really.  There are levels.  In acting, you have your movie stars (George Clooney), you lesser known TV actors (Lamorne Morris, who plays Winston on FOX's New Girl), and your buddy Fred who does local car commercials and recently got a role in your community theater's Fiddler on the Roof production.

George Clooney is making BIG MONEY.
Lamorne Morris, (I'm sure) is doing fine, but probably doesn't have a house in Europe.
and
Fred works full time as a manager at Staples and does his acting as a fun hobby which he sometimes gets paid for.  Sweet!

Most writers are in the Fred category.  Most writers need some other source of income.
One of the writers in my critique group is also a literary agent and another is a full-time school librarian.
I am extremely fortunate to be married to a man who pulls a good income which supports the family. (Thanks, honey!) Anything I make is extra.  I sell a book, we can afford a new roof - that kind of thing.

I once read a fact that an author has to have at least six books in print and be doing school visits to actually make a living as an author.  I don't know if that holds true today, but it seems about right.  And that's not a George Clooney living.  That's a supporting-actor-in-a-cable-show living.

See, an author makes money three ways: book advances (the money the publisher gives you when you sell a book to them,) royalties (the money the publisher pays you when you've sold enough books to cover your advance and you get a small percentage of each book sold after that,) and appearances (money paid to an author by schools or libraries for doing a presentation.)

If you figure an author sells a book a year (which is GREAT) to a big publishing house (which is AWESOME), they might get an advance of say $10,000 - $16,000.

For the sake of math, let's say the advance is $15,000.00

Now let's take 15% off for your agent.  We're down to $12,750.00.

But hey - you just got a royalty check for $1200.00.

And you booked 5 school visits at $500.00 a pop this year.  That's $2500.00.

You're up to: $16,450.00.  Not too shabby.  But that's for a year.  It's not a big income for a year.  I think my starting income as a receptionist when I was 22 was $17,000.00.  And I was single, in a small apartment, with no kids.

There's an excellent article by author Barbara Kanninen here which is much more detailed than mine, but the basic idea is this: if you're looking for a way to get rich, kid's books ain't it.

But if you want to be a writer, write.  There are great rewards - most of which are not monetary.  Just don't quit your day job yet.

Or marry George Clooney.  :)





Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Liebster Award

I recently was paid a very nice compliment by my blog being nominated for a LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD.





The Liebster Blog Award is an award given out to wonderful blogs with less than 200 followers.  BIG THANKS to Becky Shillington for the nomination, and please check out her lovely blog, Tapestry of Words.  (Note: I learned from Becky's blog that "liebster" is German for "sweetheart" and I think that is what this award is all about, just passing a little love around.) (Extra Note: After posting this I found out that NinjaWoman was also nominated by Chieu Anh Urban.  BIG THANKS to you too, Chieu!  You are too kind.)

Part of the rules of the Liebster Blog Award is answering some questions.  Here goes:

1. When did you first know you'd like to be a writer (or illustrator?)

I didn't get serious about a career in children's books until my late twenties.  I received my MA in Theater Education and for awhile I really wanted to teach theater at a college level.  When I realized I'd need a PhD to do that, I started to rethink my path.  I have always been an artist and I learned about story structure from the theater, so I thought I could put them together and make picture books.

2. If you could meet any author, living or deceased, who would it be?

Yanno, Jane Austen seems like fun.  I bet we'd have a great time having lunch in some seaside cafe while we gossiping about which celebs were dating each other and flipping through style magazines.  She seems like the kind of gal you can get a pedicure with.

That said, if I wanted to pick someone's brain and I could manage not to be a geek about it, I'd love to meet Oliver Jeffers.  He's crazy awesome.

3. Coffee or tea?

Every day I have a nice cup o' cocoa.

4. What is item #1 on your Bucket List?

My bucket list is not in order, but there are two things I'd really like to do/accomplish before I kick it.  One is ride in a hot air balloon.  The second is win a Caldecott.

5. What topic do you think is most overdone in the kidlit market?

Yeeps - that's a toughie.  I read a lot of YA and I have to confess I'm getting a little bored with love triangles.  Let's try another shape, shall we?  How about a love rectangle, or a love pentagon.  Ooo - that's a good title: LOVE PENTAGON.  Lucy thought she'd be with Ben forever, then she met Sam, Toni, and Blake and Lucy found herself entangled in a ... love pentagon! 

6. What is the best book you've read in the last six months.

Divergent by Veronica Roth.  LOVED IT!  I also really loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (But I read that over 6 months ago.) 

7. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

An early bird.  But really, I peak around lunchtime.

8. What is your favorite opening line from a book?

Ack.  This is tricky.  This is what springs to mind:

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. 
- The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

9. Do you write better in silence or with background noise?

Silence.  Absolutely.  I always think it is so funny when authors make playlists, because I could NEVER listen to music when I write.  It would be so distracting. That said, I can binge watch TV while I sketch or paint.  I just watched season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad while sketching a dummy book.  Kids like blue meth, right?

10. What book has the most profound effect upon your writing style?

Aw man, I don't know.  Really any time I read something I like and I try to imitate I flub it up so bad I have to scrap it.  But I do pay close attention to illustrators.  I'm particularly fond of Oliver Jeffers and Melissa Sweet.  Whenever I'm stuck on a composition, I just flip through one of their books and get inspired.

***

In addition to the Q&A, to accept the nomination I have to nominate some other fabulous blogs and ask my own set of questions.

Here are my nominees:

Natalie Dias Lorenzi of the blog, Biblio Links

Kip Wilson Rechea of her self-titled blog: Kip Wilson Rechea

If you choose to accept, here are the directions: Link back to the blogger that tagged you.  Nominate 5 - 10 others* and ask the questions of the one who tagged you (mine are below.)  Then as 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate as well as letting your nominees know of their award. 

Here are my questions - if you dare to answer, Kip and Natalie!!!

1. If you could be on any game show, which would it be and why?
2. What would you say is your greatest writing strength?
3. What is your greatest writing challenge?
4. What's the best gift anyone has ever given you?
5.  Ghosts: real or imaginary?
6. Where's the best place you've ever been in the whole wide world?
7. Name three of your favorite books.
8. Seen any good movies lately?
9. Name one professional goal you'd like to accomplish.
10. What's your favorite thing about being a writer?


(* Yeah, yeah, I know I only nominated 2 other blogs.  These are the ones I look at regularly that haven't already been nominated and are under 200 followers.)

Thanks so much for stopping it!  Have a lovely Thursday!





Monday, September 23, 2013

Picture Book Worshop #32: Research at the Bookstore






Every so often, I get to a point where I am familiar with many current picture book covers, but I've never seen the inside pages.  I have no idea what the book is about.  That's when it's time to HIT THE BOOKSTORE!


Just the other week I did this.  I went into Barnes & Noble with my notebook and camera and picked a bunch of books from the shelves (the big buck face out ones) and sat down in a very low chair and read. 

I took notes on the books.  I jotted down who the protagonist was and what their goal was.  If there was a lovely illustration, I snapped a photo.  (I was sneaky about this as I'm sure this practice would be frowned upon.  But I only took the photos for my own personal reference, not for sharing.)

It's important to see what's out NOW.  What are the publishers promoting.  Are there a lot of sweet family stories, or pithy comedies?  I'm not saying if you see a bunch of monsters-with-feeling books you need to write only monster-with-feelings books, but when it's time to pitch your book to an agent or editor, it can be beneficial to say, it has the brevity of THIS HAT IS NOT MINE combined with the thrill of THE DARK.

It short-hands what your story is like while letting the editor/agent know that you're keeping up with the current market.

Also, it is good to know about trends.  For example, I've noticed the more popular books have very lower word counts these days.  It seems like, more and more, a picture book is telling the story with more pictures and fewer words.  This is fine for me, b/c I illustrate my own books, but it would be good for a straight-up writer to keep that in mind.

And, as an illustrator, I'm also paying attention to the style of illustration that seems popular. 
That's not to say that I'm looking to copy someone else's style, but I am, again, looking at trends.  And inspiration.  Every book you read has the potential to spark an idea.  When you're reading and looking at the same things, that's when the creative juices stop flowing.  Creative people need to constantly take in new ideas, new music, new art to keep producing fresh and interesting things.

Finally, it's also nice to just LEAVE THE HOUSE.  I don't want to make it sound like I'm agoraphobic, but my office and my studio are in my house.  There are days when the only time I leave the house is to take Magoo to school and pick him up.  There's always plenty of work to do, but it is a good thing to take an hour and go out into the world.  Besides, a bookstore is one of the best places to spend an hour, in my opinion.

So get out there, see what's what, and if you do raid your local bookstore for an hour or so, maybe buy a book before you go.  I bought  SECRET PIZZA PARTY - it's hilarious!



Have a great week!






Friday, September 20, 2013

Computer Blogging and a Weekend Appearance

Hello Friday Readers!

If you're stopping in here it's probably because:
A. You know me
B. You are into children's books
C. Like like arts and crafts

If you fit into category A, you might like to know that my husband, Michael, has started his own blog about computer programming.  I don't understand a word of his content, but I think it's good to note that he was insanely jealous of my blogging and had to have one of his own.  KIDDING!

He does have one though where he writes super smart solutions to programming problems and one of his posts got picked up on a site called DailyJS (JS = Java Script.)  So not only is he a blogger, but he's a guest blogger!

Check it out here: http://dailyjs.com/2013/09/20/ycombinator/

***

In other news, it's going to be a beautiful morning tomorrow!  I'm going to be at Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, CT reading my books (and other picture books) at the PEACE, LOVE and MUSIC TOGETHER gathering, starting at 10am.


If you have little ones, it's going to be a fun event filled with music, crafts, and books.  And it's FREE!

Stop by if you get the chance.

Otherwise, have a great weekend and thanks for stopping in!



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Open Studio Hartford: THREE GOLDFISH & FLIGHT

Three Goldfish              2013                   j. c. phillipps

I'm cranking out the paintings, people.  I'm trying to get a nice, rounded inventory for Open Studio this year.  Some fancy, some fun.

For the fancy, fine art collection, I have THREE GOLDFISH.  This is a medium sized watercolor so it will suit the needs of someone who wants to buy a nice painting, but not a gallery-priced nice painting.

Then, on the fun side of things, I have FLIGHT.

Flight                    2013                     j. c. phillipps
This was inspired by a detail in a painting that I liked on Pinterest.  Ah, Pinterest.  I do love you so.  You show me so much wonderful art, sometimes I am too inspired, and sometimes I am crushed by the awesomeness of others.

But this time inspiration won out and I painted a fun folksy piece with wackadoodle birds.  I'm kinda in love with the plaid bird in the center.

The theme for the group show this year is MOTION.  I had originally thought I'd do a fun piece with the Mona Lisa and other famous art subjects in a bike race - something humorous like that.  But then I got the idea for the birds and I went with it.  See, someone might actually buy the bird painting, whereas people might chuckle at the Mona Lisa racing a bike, but they probably wouldn't buy it.  Marketing Julie won out.

***

In other news,  I'm crazy tired today.  I did a Picture Book 101 talk in Litchfield last night which went really well but the timing of it kept me wired much later than usual.  Most nights I am on the couch winding down by 8pm.  But last night I was the center of attention from 7 - 8:30pm then I had to drive home until 9:30.  WAY TOO ALERT.  My poor brain was processing, processing, processing all night long.

I think there is a nap on the couch in my future.

Thanks for stopping in - Happy Thursday!




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Upcoming Author Events


Hey - are you wondering how you can see me in person!?  Well, let me tell you, there are a couple of ways coming up.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, Sept. 18th, at the Guilford Free Library, I will be talking to aspiring picture book writers about all things picture book.  I loosely call this talk:


I should say Guilford, CONNECTICUT.  I hate when I look for a location online and have no idea what state it is in.  It's in Connecticut, peeps.  It's FREE.  And it's at 7pm.  For more info click here.

Basically, I go through all the nooks and crannies of my road to publication and give as much good, helpful info I can along the way for those who also want to write and publish picture books.

I'm told there are already 100 people signed up (I hope I get a microphone) so if you want to join us, give the library a heads up.

***



On Saturday, Sept 21, I'll be at the gathering in Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, CT, for Peace, Love and Music Together from 10am to 11:45am (although the even runs until 1pm).

Music Together is a music and movement learning program that my friend Catherine Madrak is the director of here in West Hartford.  (Click here for more info.)  She's hosting this lovely FREE event at the park where there will be music, arts and crafts, and a story corner featuring ME!

Saturday looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, so if you have a little one and you want to come down to beautiful Elizabeth Park Saturday morning, please stop by.

That's it for now.

If you're in the Connecticut area this week, please stop by!




Monday, September 16, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #31: Villains


While brainstorming ideas for this week's topic, the idea of the picture book villain, or antagonist, came to mind.  I immediately thought of Master Zutsu from WINK: THE NINJA WHO WANTED TO BE NOTICED, but when I went to my bookshelf to find other examples, I couldn't find any that had strong antagonists.  So I got to thinking...

Where have all the villains gone?


If you think back to fairy tales, there are a ton of them.  Cinderella had her evil step-mother.  Red Riding Hood had the Big Bad Wolf.  The Wolf showed up again to torment the Three Little Pigs.  Basically, you can't fling a dead cat without hitting some big nasty character out to eat/enslave some poor kid.  But nowadays ... not so much.

Why is that?

Well, for one thing, you really can't write about a child being harmed or threatened in any way.  Can you image going into a Barnes & Noble and finding a book where someone is trying to kidnap a kid but the kid outsmarts them with firecrackers.  OMG - never!

You also can't have weapons.

I learned that lesson the hard way.  When I was coming up with story ideas for the second Wink book, I had an idea for WINK AND THE YO-YO OF DOOM.  I got about three sentences into the pitch with my editor when she stopped me cold.  No weapons.  See, even though it was a yo-yo, it was also a weapon.  Boo hiss.

Master Zutsu is an acceptable modern antagonist because he doesn't want to harm Wink in any way, he's just a strict teacher and Wink is not following the rules.  Their conflict isn't about being good and bad, it's about their differing attitudes about what it means to be a ninja.  But because they both have strong personalities, they can play off each other like nemeses.


If you look at the most of the books coming out these days, the conflict comes more from a external problem in the main character's world or an internal problem in the main character (overcoming a fear, for example.)

However, there are a few mini-villains still out there.  (I call them mini-villains b/c there is no great harm intended by them.)

In SECRET PIZZA PARTY by Adam Rubin, art by Daniel Salmieri, our hero, the Raccoon, LOVES pizza.  But he's often chased off (with a broom!) by the pizza man.



In CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown, the Rabbit is tormented by a group of glaring carrots he sees everywhere he goes.


(Those were the only examples I could find and I'm kind of stretching it with the pizza guy.)

I love a good villain, so I'm sad to see this character on the outs.  Perhaps I'll have to write a good villain picture book.  That said, in constructing the modern picture book villain it seems like I would be wise to follow certain guidelines:

- The villain must not be too villainous.  It can either imply harm, but not exact it - like Creepy Carrots
or it's level of harm must be minimal - like broom swatting a raccoon. (And this only flies b/c the main character is not human.)

- In the case of a human MC, the villain may cause trouble to the main character's goal, without causing the main character physical harm. (Master Zutsu)

- The villain may be scary to the main character, but shouldn't be too scary to the reader.

- No weapons

- The villain should have a justifiable reason for his/her actions.  (In Creepy Carrots, the carrots are stalking the bunny so he'll stop eating them.)

Is there more?  Do you guys know of any good villains in picture books that I've left out.  I'd love to hear about them!








Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Open Studio Prep: Matryoshka Dolls

Anastasiya              2013              j. c. phillipps

Liliya               2013               j. c. phillipps

Olga                2013               j. c. phillipps

Open Studio Hartford is coming up.  (Nov.16 & 17th.)  It's time to take inventory of what I have and fill the holes of what I don't.

I firmly believe that everyone should be able to afford original art.  So one of my goals each year is to have some high end pieces for the collectors, but a lot of pieces well under $100 for the folks who love art but maybe aren't the wealthiest of folks.  Like me!  That said, I don't want to spend 10 hours on a piece and under sell it.

For the affordable art, the goal is to think of a cute design that isn't too complicated, that I can make in under an hour, but still looks great and professionally made.

This year I decided to make a collection of matryoshka dolls.  I made a simple template that I used for all three of them, collected papers in certain color schemes, and painted some simple faces.  Then, cut, paste, mat, frame - BOOM a lovely little collection that I think will appeal to girls and people who love those dolls.

Today, I paint fish!



Monday, September 9, 2013

PICTURE BOOK WORKSHOP #30: Illustrating Emotions




If I were solely a writer, I would probably feel obligated to convey my character's emotion in words. I might write things like, Becky felt sad, or Chris was so excited. As an illustrator, I write those things in a first draft, but as soon as I open my sketchbook, I draw those sentences and delete them from the manuscript.

Today, I'm going to talk about different ways to convey emotion in illustration. For starters, there's facial expressions.

If you have a character with eyeballs (as opposed to dots), eyebrows, and a mouth – you're good to go. Nose and ears don't actually help a whole lot in conveying emotion, but eyebrows … whoa, baby!

Open any Elephant & Piggie book by Mo Willems and you will see such a wide array of facial emotions. In my opinion, Mr. Willems is like the king guru of doing showing a lot with very little detail.

Here's Elephant from PIGS MAKE ME SNEEZE.



I particularly loved the uneven eyes. Uneven eyes = something's wrong. Whether it's fear or disgust or whatever, I love a good uneven eye situation to show tension.

If you can, click on the image and just check out the differences in each face and the sneeze grows.  There's discomfort, irritation, and a complete loss of control.  I love it!

It can be easy to fall into an expression rut, drawing the same eyebrows for anger or disapproval.  But there are SO MANY emotions and SO MANY different ways to show it.  To help myself out, I made myself a little expression chart.


I don't stick to this like a rule book, but it often helps me push my facial expressions a little farther.

But faces aren't the only things that show emotions.  Check out these hands:


The way someone holds their fingers says so much.  Shoulders, leg position, the way one is holding their head ... they're all important ways to show the character's emotions.

Look at this illustration from A RIVER OF WORDS: THE STORY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS by Melissa Sweet.


The face, alone, only tells us that he's pleased.  It's the body that really does the heavy lifting here.  The extreme bend in the legs and the fact that he's barely touching the ground shows how much energy he's putting forth.  He's not walking into the building, he's running with enthusiasm!

What if your character doesn't have a whole lot of face to work with?  Check out this penguin form Oliver Jeffer's LOST & FOUND.


There are no eyebrows, no frowny lips.   Only the slight slouch of its head is used to convey that the penguin is sad, forlorn.  But it's so effective, isn't it?

So we have a facial expression and body language, now the only thing left is STYLE!

This illustration is from Sophie Backall's MISSED CONNECTIONS.


That is a man who loves his bicycle!  

This semi-stylized pose beautifully conveys the love the man has for his bike and it's fabulously composed.  (Look at the negative space under the arm cradling the wheel.  And why aren't his two feet together?  Because the composition needs a little balance on the other side.) 

It's not always about realism.  We're not making text books (unless you are.)  We're still making art.  It's wonderful to be able to push the boundaries of what the body can do in the service of storytelling.

So if you're an illustrator, do a few loose sketches or stick figures to get some good poses, try a few quick options to see what works best.  Play with wide eyes, droopy lids, weird-shaped screaming mouthes, tense fingers, crooked legs, slouched shoulders, and pointed toes.  Options are always good, and the more you play - the further you can push the emotions, the better the art will be.

I'll sign off with a few of my favorite Master Zutsu expressions. (From WINK, THE NINJA WHO WANTED TO NAP.)


Thanks so much for stopping in!

(PS - I kinda can't believe I've managed 30 posts.  Sometimes I simple don't know what I'm going to write about next. :)  If there's anything you'd by curious to know more about in future blog posts, please feel free to ask in the comments section or by email, julie_c@rocketmail.com.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

DIY Fan T-Shirt

I am a fan of a British TV show called The I.T. Crowd.  Maybe you know it?  It's about two I.T. guys who work in the basement of an office building and the woman who "manages" them.  Here they are:




It's about two I.T. guys who work in the basement of an office building and the woman who "manages" them.

It's a very funny show and two of my favorite episodes are THE WORK OUTING and COUNTDOWN. 

A couple weeks ago I was looking online for cool, campy T-shirts for Magoo.  I was hoping to find a BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER shirt that wasn't too girly.  One thing lead to another and I decided to look for  I. T. CROWD shirts.

There's a very funny line in the episode, COUNTDOWN, which I thought must have surely be on a T-shirt.  Here's a clip:






I couldn't find a t-shirt, but the beautiful thing about being crafty is if you can't buy it, make it.
So I decided to make myself a shirt.  (I didn't think the kick ass part of the line would go over well at Magoo's school. :) SO I made the shirt for me.)

Here's a quick tutorial on making your own Freezer-Paper-Screen T-shirt.

Step one.  Get a T-shirt.  If you only need one, you might want to shop around at Target or JoAnn Fabrics or someplace like that.  Since I buy a decent amount of T-shirts for my art show, I ordered from a place called CheapesTees.  Once you have your shirt, wash it.

Step Two:  Make a design.  I did mine on the computer.*  It looked like this:


I printed it up on a piece of standard size (8.5 X 11") paper.  But you'd want to print it up to whatever size you need.

*You don't need to be able to make your own design though.  You can print up all kinds of things from the computer or trace something from an art book.

Step Three:  Copy the design onto the Freezer Paper.  This is Freezer Paper:




 
See how it says "plastic coated?"  That's important.  What you need to know now is that the plastic side is the glue side.  Draw your design on the NON-PLASTIC SIDE.

Step Four:  Cut out your design.  This part is the hardest part and it's worth it to go slow and be precise.  It took me about 2.5 hours to cut all the letters out.  I just popped on a mediocre movie and got to work.   (Remember, with a stencil, you are using the negative space.  The middle part is not important, it's the sides and edges you want.)

Step Five: Iron your t-shirt. Place cardboard in the middle (because the paint will soak through) and place your cut freezer paper on top.  Then iron it (no steam) onto the shirt.  The plastic side will stick to the fabric making a nice, clean stencil for you to paint around.

Step Six:  With a sponge, apply two to three coats of fabric paint.






Since I used white paint on a black shirt, I did three coats - meaning, I did a coat, let it dry, did a second coat, let it dry, did a third coat, let it dry overnight.

Step Seven: Remove the freezer paper stencil.  This won't just fly off like a Band-Aid, you're going to need to use a little finesse to get all the paper off.  Just be patient and gentle. 

Then YOU'RE DONE!  You now have an AWESOME, ONE-OF-A-KIND FAN TV SHIRT!




Have fun!

(P.S. Do you know what I. T. stands for?)


Monday, September 2, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #29: Internal and External Goals


First off, what is the difference between an external goal and an internal goal.

An external goal is the concrete goal of the main character, the thing he or she wants, which prompts the choices that move the plot.
An internal goal has more to do with why that character wants something or what motivates the character.

Let's say a boy wants to win the school science fair.  He works really hard making a volcano.  His external goal is to win the fair.  But why does he care so much?  Because he wants to impress his father.  That's the internal goal.



In THE GREAT PAPER CAPER by Oliver Jeffers, there's a bear tunning around the forest cutting down trees so that he can make paper from them.  You see, he's desperate to win a paper airplane contest. 

External goal:  Win paper airplane contest.

Why?

Here's why:



There's a beautiful illustration of the bear admiring his father and his grandfather's past victories.

Internal goal:  Join family tradition of winning airplane competition.

Now, the beautiful thing about external and internal goals is that the internal goal is more important.  So, as long as your character achieves the internal goal, it's OK if they don't achieve the external goal.

In THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, Jeremy wants a new pair of super cool athletic shoes that are black with two white stripes.


The problem is, his family can't afford the costly shoes.  They have some money, but they use it to buy Jeremy snow boots instead.  To make matters worse, other kids in school are coming in with those shoes.  To make matters even worse, Jeremy's own shoes fall apart at school and he has to accept charity shoes with embarrassing cartoon characters on them.

He eventually finds the exact pair of shoes he wants at a thrift shop, but they are too small.  Still, Jeremy buys them with his own money and keeps them at home.  Jeremy has a friend with smaller feet who has noticed Jeremy's new shoes.

In the end, Jeremy gives the shoes to his friend, then he is the only one without the new, cool shoes.  But then it snows, and everyone has to switch into their boots.  Jeremy has a brand new pair of snow boots.  So he goes out to play in his boots and he is happy.


Even though Jeremy never got a pair of those shoes, he is happy in his boots.  Why?  Because he wanted the shoes to fit in.  He wanted the shoes so that he could have something new.  He wanted the shoes so that he wasn't wearing a constant reminder that his family has less money than the other kids.

Those are his internal goals, and they all are met when all the kids are forced to wear their snow boots.

In MONKEY ONO, Monkey Ono wants to go to the beach.  That's the external goal: beach day.  But I state pretty early in the text that he likes to do particular things: soak his feet, build sand castles, and watch fishies.  So even though he doesn't get the big external goal of a beach day, because he is able to make the smaller aspects of that goal happen at home, he's still happy.

I should note that MONKEY ONO is a good example of a thin internal goal.  Monkey Ono just wants to be happy.  It has nothing to do with family or self-esteem or security.  Making sand castles makes him happy.  His internal goal is simply happiness.



And that's OK too.

So take a look at your favorite stories.  What are the external goals?  What are the internal goals?  Does the character achieve them both?  Or just one?

Thanks for stopping in!
Happy Labor Day!

PS - I'm going to launch the Autumn Litwits Log tomorrow, so if you haven't signed up and you'd like to, do it today and you won't miss out.  Sign up here.