Monday, March 9, 2015

Let's Get Ready to Rhyme! ~ by Patricia Toht

Grab a notebook and a pen,
April’s time to rhyme again.
Learn about a challenge here –
RhyPiBoMo’s second year!

RhyPiBoMo stands for Rhyming Picture Book Month, and is pronounced "rye-pie-bow-mow". It is the brainchild of Angie Karcher.

Tell our readers a little about yourself, Angie.

I’m a Hoosier, married to my supportive husband Stan for nearly 24 years and mother of four teens and two doggy assistants. I’m a former kindergarten teacher and developmental therapist. I’ve been writing for over 20 years, and am represented by agent Kendra Marcus of BookStop Literary. I enjoy writing poetry, rhyming picture books, historical fiction and non-fiction.

Angie's first book, Where the River Grins, M.T. Publishing, 2012.
A regional history resource book used in local schools. Buy it here.

Angie's second book, The Legendary R.A. "Cowboy" Jones, M.T. Publishing, 2014.
A biography of a 71-year-old jockey who still races horses in Kentucky. Buy it here.

Angie's special message:

I want to thank everyone for kind words of encouragement after my accident at the L.A. SCBWI Conference last summer. For those who don’t know, I fell and had emergency surgery to repair a severed nerve in my right hand. I am doing great and appreciate all the loyal RhyPiBoMoers who stuck around while I recovered. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to host the event this year, but your kindness and encouragement was quite motivating!

Angie, how did you come up with the idea for RhyPiBoMo?

In 2013 I participated in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo and loved the experience of community and focusing on a specific part of writing. There were no writing challenges in April (poetry month) that focused on poetry and rhyming picture books, so I began planning. Tara was so supportive and helped me get organized, and writer friends helped me find fabulous guest bloggers. Once Jane Yolen and Lee Bennett Hopkins joined, everyone else jumped aboard.

I’ve found there’s a stigma attached to being a writer of rhyme -- being a rhymer is alarmingly frowned upon. So, I started RhyPiBoMo to give rhymers a place for support and to encourage writers of rhyme to do it in a professional manner, following the rules of picture book writing and using rhyme as one piece of the puzzle, not as the focus of the story.

As authors, we’re told to polish our elevator pitch. Doors closing…GO!

RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) is an annual writing challenge in April for children’s writers who enjoy writing in rhyme. It features 25 fabulous writing professionals who share their knowledge about the Dos and Don’ts of using rhyme in picture books. There are daily prizes, rhyming parties, a poetry contest and more! Find it on my blog,

Whew…how was that?

Well done! Any changes this year?

We do have a few changes this year. First of all the blog posts will be shared only on week days. This will allow us the weekends to spend with family and get caught up on other important things.
Last year, I taught daily lessons along with the guest blog posts. This year I asked the guest bloggers to choose a topic from a suggested list and to use their blog post as a lesson itself.

Each year, your banner honors a wonderful poet. Last year, it was William Shakespeare, designed by Gayle Wing O’Donnell. Who are this year’s honored poet and illustrator?

I’m thrilled that we are celebrating a personal favorite, Maya Angelou, on our banner. Her passing saddened me, and she was the clear choice for this year’s honored poet.

I love the banner and badges, designed by author/illustrator Tanja Bauerle! 
We met in an online writing class several years ago. Since then, we’ve hugged in person, ridden in an ambulance together, and shared laughs on this bumpy road in children’s literature land. Visit Tanja here to see her amazing work! 

When collaborating with Tanja, we decided to share one of Maya’s quotes on the banner. A few days of research later, we discovered that we both had selected the same quote --

This quote speaks to us as writers. We don’t write to put words on the page, we write to share the joy and our passion for the subjects with children. The poetic rhythm and song of rhyming picture books are magic and should be read aloud to children to experience the full gift.

Tell us about your guest bloggers. I heard you are hosting ALL NEW poets this year!

Yes, this year we have 25 all new guest bloggers! I’m very excited that Kwame Alexander will be in the house! He’s been floating around the country since receiving his esteemed Newbery Award and graciously accepted the final spot on my calendar in the midst of his confetti and fireworks. Buckets of gratitude to all of the busy, talented folks who will celebrate writing poetry and rhyming picture books with us!
You are such a fun-loving poet, Angie. What’s planned for the launch of RhyPiBoMo?

I suppose I have been known to have a good time at whatever I do! I like to laugh and share this passion I have of writing with others. That being said…there may be something coming up in April that will be BIG! It will be memorable and I believe it will remain in the hearts and minds of all…

Oh wait. I’m saying too much. I guess you will need to participate in RhyPiBoMo to find out more! Did I mention that I like to tease too?

Rest assured. We have something BIG up our sleeves for the kick-off. It’s a Rhyming Surprise!

So, mum’s the word? Well, a little blue bird did tell me that RhyPiBoMo will have a flurry of celebration on April 4th

April 4th is Maya Angelou’s birthday, so we’ll celebrate with a webinar hosted by author Jackie Wellington and myself. We will read Maya’s work, discuss her impact on children’s books, and more.

In addition, I’ve been asked by my local Barnes and Noble to give a talk on April 11th about Maya Angelou. I’m thrilled that we’re setting up a book fair to donate proceeds from purchases on the 11th to WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS, bringing diversity and poetry together to support an important effort. More details to come!

In 2014, members of RhyPiBoMo formed critique groups. Will this happen again in 2015?

Absolutely! Another dear friend, Dawn Young, is the Admin for RhyPiBoMo and Critique Coordinator who will set up rhyming critique groups through our Facebook page. Our Facebook group has grown to over 300 members! This is where we chat and have rhyming parties and lots of silly fun while learning from each other. Request to join the RhyPiBoMo Facebook group and I will admit you.

Dawn, an amazing writer and friend, is instrumental in helping to make RhyPiBoMo a success. She also rode in an ambulance with some very handsome actor/EMTs and me -- it’s amazing how you bond over things like that! You can find more about Dawn here.

What’s a Rhyming Party?

A Rhyming Party is an impromptu or planned party on our Facebook page. I pose questions pertaining to the previous week’s blog posts, and all who participate must answer in rhyming phrases.

For example:
Me: “Who is the lovely poet on our banner?”
Answer: “A lady named Maya who writes about the sky-a.”

It’s fast-paced silliness and a fun way for us to share our love of rhyme and get to know each other. Prizes vary and all who participate leave with a smile.

Will The Golden Quill Poetry Contest return this year?

Yes, we will again host the Golden Quill Poetry Contest. Poems will be judged on clever theme, rhyme scheme, poetic techniques, rhythm, and overall read-it-out-loud-ability. There are wonderful prizes, too! Last year, we had over 40 entries! More information will be on the blog soon. To participate, you must be a registered participant of RhyPiBoMo by April 8th.

That little blue bird was chirping again, telling me about RhyPiBoMo Awards for 2015. Tell me more!

That little bird has been busy! Yes, we’ve formed a new committee of RhyPiBoMo folks who will be reading lots of rhyming picture books soon, and will name a favorite rhyming picture book of 2015 and several honor books this November.  I’m very excited to bring well-deserved attention to brilliantly written and illustrated rhyming picture books.

So, how do we register for RhyPiBoMo?

Registration opens on March 18th and runs through April 8th. Go to to register. You must be registered to win prizes and compete in the poetry contest.

Thanks, Angie!

Thank you so much, Patty, for helping me spread the word about RhyPiBoMo. I hope many more writers will join us in this celebration of poetry and rhyming picture books. This is a labor of love for me and many who write and illustrate picture books.

Angie also offers a class, Writing in Rhyme to WOW, as well as critique services. You can find more information here and here.


  1. Great interview! Sounds like fun...if only I was a poet.

    1. Take a look at the calendar, Tina. Perhaps one of the guest posts might inspire you to try your hand at it!

  2. Thanks Tina! Maybe you are a poet...and don't know it! Oh that was bad. sorry! = )

  3. Knows the time to commit to rhyme. So amazing this is year two for Angie and the muse! Thank you for the great interview, Patty. All us SCBWI LA attendees remember what an amazing time we had w/Angie, you, Dawn and Tanja.!

    1. Those were fun times, Kathy! (Well, except for the whole Angie's accident thing...)

  4. Patty -
    This is A Group Blog post with the MOST. Thankye!
    So pleased to return & devour all the links & info - just skimmed thru stealing time from work.
    Angie is so warm & sharing.
    Very glad about the nerve damage healing after such an emergency experience.
    Your joie de viere bubbles thru. Thank you.
    Tinah is a winnah - look up at the your sky - look - it wants you to try.
    Pat, you are top cat.

    A.K. - take it away

  5. Terrific interview Pat and Angie-you two are rocking the way to rhyme heaven! I'm excited about the second year of RhyPiBoMO and all the guest bloggers. See you there!

  6. Wow. Lots of good info on this post. Great job putting it all together. My daughter and I had tickets to Oprah many years ago, and it was the perfect show to attend. It featured children's books and she showed a taped segment of Oprah and Maya having a pajama party at Maya's place. What a special memory.

    1. Wish I could've been at that Oprah show, Sherri! I was able to attend once and saw Tim Allen -- fun, but children's books would've been even better.

  7. Wow, this looks like fun! I will definitely sign up. Thanks for posting :)

    1. I'll see you there, Stephanie! It really is a blast. Angie is a ball of fire.

  8. Thanks for the heads up. I'm definitely signing up.

  9. Great interview! Angie, I'm looking forward to this year's event. Last year's RhyPiBoMo was such a blast!

    1. I agree, Kristi -- last year was so much fun! And this year will be even better, I'll bet.

  10. I am looking forward to this. Thanks, Angie for asking me to participate. And on the fourth, we will be throwing a party...The GROGgers that I, Miss Jackie, know how to throw a party. So looking forward to this.

    1. So glad you will be playing a big part in RhyPiBoMo, Jackie. The celebration on the 4th is sure to be special.

  11. Angie is the Rhyming Queen.
    Writing words with rhythm & rhyme is a challenge for me.
    Time to try my best until Angie must intervene.
    Oh, but I have a plan - - Just drink several cups of caffeine!

    Patty, you have shared an outstanding interview.
    Sending a hug and a big thank you.
    This girl is ready to try something new.


    1. You make me smile, Suzy! :) I'm so glad you'll be joining the rhymers. When writing rhyme, practice helps.

  12. This is a great interview! It sounds like a terrific event. I enjoy reading what everyone is doing in RhyPiBoMo. I really stink at rhyming. ;o)