Recipe for creativity: A crowdsourced picture book

This is the third in a series of guest posts from select authors in Protagonize‘s creative writing community. Do you have something to say that might be of interest to our members? Feel free to contact us with blog ideas and share your passion for writing with our readers.

My name is Megan Little, although most Protagonize members will know me as FogCat, a name I affectionately took on nearly two years ago when I signed up on Protagonize. I’ve grown leaps and bounces in my writing in that time; primarily due to all the wonderful practice and the encouragement I’ve received from other writers on Protagonize.

In my non-virtual life, I’m 21 and an undergraduate studying art and writing at a college in New York state. I’m cheerful, extremely enthusiastic, and fast talking. I decided when I was about ten that I wanted to be a writer, after giving up the idea of becoming a botanist because I don’t like science.  Somewhere along the way, I realized that I don’t really fit the mold for a writer either, being more of an extrovert than the usual introvert.

I found my solution to that problem on Protagonize, which has allowed me to explore the usually solitary act of writing with a group of other passionate writers. Why write stories alone when there are people out there who want to write with you? Co-writing long stories has forced me to keep writing and stretch my usual genera choices, and writing poetry through the Poetry Tournaments and other poetry collaborations have given me plenty of inspiration and motivation to continue developing my poetry.

Apart from writing, I spend my time in classes that range from math to philosophy. I also pass countless hours in the studio, exploring print making processes and creating paintings.

Now I’ve cooked up a plan that’s a combination of almost all the things I love. The recipe looks something like this:

  • 2 cups of collaboration
  • 1/2 cup of writing, well edited
  • 1 cup mixed art, with lots of variety
  • A whole chunk of learning and research
  • 1 tablespoon of exciting new internet communication possibilities, for flavor
  • a pinch of humour

Stir the collaboration with the learning and new internet communication together in a bowl longer than seems necessary or until it comes to just the right consistency. Pour in the writing and mixed art and simmer on low heat until it explodes. Season with humour. Look for a publishing restaurant where you can serve your unique dish.

I’m making a children’s picture book! It’s about this guy who gets magically stuck moving only one direction. And by stuck, I mean really stuck; if he comes to a tree, he’s got to climb it or cut it down. You can imagine the hilarious adventures he has as he and two friends travel around the world along the 40th parallel, going only East. Hop over to the Wikipedia article to find out which countries and states they travel through.

Here’s the deal. I’m looking for people to share travel stories, photographs, interesting local facts, and anything else I should know about the 40th parallel. I also want to bend that line between fiction and reality as my characters meet and interact with real, ordinary people who either live along the 40th parallel or are regular travelers.

The illustrations are going to be in mixed media, changing materials and styles according to the flavour and style of the art in each place they go. Some elements, like the characters and the collaged-in photographs and informative notes, will remain the same throughout, unifying the book. The text will be both playful and informative; the idea being that kids can learn a lot about different places and people, while at the same time enjoying a funny fictional story.

So there you have it! I’m creating a travel story for kids and am in search of the people, photographs, and trivia that will wind their way into the final product. Oh, and did I mention that I’m doing this as a one semester independent study? That means my deadline is the end of April.

So hurry on over to my blog and community sharing site to get your pictures, stories, and local tidbits included in the project:

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9 Responses to Recipe for creativity: A crowdsourced picture book

  1. Archi says:

    That sounds absolutely incredible, foggy!! :D I’m going over to the article to see if I live along that parallel right now :)

  2. trevor says:

    You’re sitting on a gold mine there, Madeline!

    That’s a purdy tight deadline – get crackin’!

  3. Robyn says:

    Oooh! Sounds cool! Best of luck :D

    And that recipe looks about right, hahah.

  4. redhat says:

    Very cool! Can’t wait to see your writing AND your art! You’ve got to get this published!

    By the way, there are two 40th parallels, (sorry, I’m a former geography student) The one you’re talking about is the 40th north also known as 40°0′N.

    I don’t live along your line, but let me know if you need any geography related info, I’d be happy to help.

  5. FogCat says:

    Thanks for your encouragement folks. ( :

    @Trevor: yeah, it’s gonna be an intense couple of months.

    @rehat Yeah… you know, I did know there were two… at least, it occurred to me somewhere along the line. But thanks for the heads-up. I should start clarifying that throughout. ( : And I’ll keep you in mind for geography stuff. Thanks.

  6. redhat says:

    Believe it or not, there’s a whole social movement organized around combating a so-called “northern hemisphere bias”. They say that there’s no reason that north should be up on maps. South could point up just as easily. I guess they feel neglected and forgotten way down there on the bottom of the planet. ;-)

    Just goes to show, you can politicize anything.

  7. FogCat says:

    @redhat They have a good point. But boy would that mess with my poor little head. ( :


  8. Vikram Karve says:

    Lovely Recipe.
    All the Best for a delightful book.

  9. seldom says:

    Great idea – and brilliantly presented. Am only sorry I live nowhere near rhe 40th parallel. Maybe I should move!

    Best of luck with it – am looking forward to hearing more


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