I’ve been thinking a great deal about the financial viability of being an author this week. I just completed (or rather, started) the launch for my latest picture book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, AND a pre-launch (available only to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers) for a brand new course I created on How to Make Money as a Writer.

So for a Throwback Thursday, I’m re-sharing a Brain Burps podcast episode, featuring myself and Susanna Hill, on this very topic. Everything we discuss in the episode is still as relevant today as they were a year ago. If you are inspired to try the course after listening, I have a pre-launch special running through Friday, September 12th. In the meantime, enjoy the “oldie but goodie” podcast episode. 🙂

Brain Burps BadgeI’m delighted to be a featured guest on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast today, alongside fellow author, friend and 12 x 12 member Susanna Leonard Hill. As you’ve probably guessed from the title of this post, we discuss the topic of Making Money in Children’s Publishing, but really, it’s applicable to writers of all genres.

For those of us who are not able to live off of book royalties but still need to put food on the table, finding a way to combine the passion and love of writing with the need to earn a living is imperative.

I’m not going to give away the guidance we gave in the podcast – you’ll have to listen for that. BUT, I did figure now would be a good time to share my top three takeaways from The O’Reilly Tools of Change Author (R)evolution conference in New York last week, as the lessons are 100% applicable to this podcast episode.

  1. Writers MUST be Entrepreneurs. The debate is no longer about traditional vs. self-publishing, as there are success stories in both and many authors are taking a hybrid
    Unfortunately, it doesn't grow on trees. We need to earn it and stop making it a taboo subject!

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow on trees. We need to earn it and stop making it a taboo subject!

    approach. What makes the difference between a book becoming a success or languishing unnoticed among the hundreds of thousands of new books published every year? It’s the authors who treat themselves, and their books, as a business who thrive.

  2. Social Media is NOT Marketing. It’s a Conversation. If you are using social media networks exclusively to blast information about your books, you are going to bomb. Social media is all about engagement and building an audience and community by sharing, conversing, being helpful. If you come to it from that angle, it can be a very effective engagement tool to motivate your audience and community to support your work.
  3. Writers Must Build Community. A community is more specific than an audience. A community is a group of people who are loyal to you and your work and will follow you everywhere. This does not happen overnight and can be a slow build, but it’s a must for success in 21st century publishing. So for pre-published authors who are wondering whether to take the plunge into social media, blogging, etc.? NOW is the time.

What are you doing to treat your writing and your books like a business?

 

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Well here we are at the end of another month. Check in time! July was blissfully slow and productive for me after a whirlwind June. Although I didn’t write a brand new draft, I revised several. One of them will soon go to an editor who requested it at the NJ-SCBWI conference. Meanwhile, MUCH work to do on a couple of new projects in the next month.

How about you? Has Summer inspired your newest manuscript and revisions? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Special thanks to our featured author Sue Fliess for teaching about writing for our youngest readers. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to meet our August author!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a picture book critique from Sue:

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “A Picture Book Critique” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on Sue’s Blog Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on Sue’s blog post. Commenting on Sue’s post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in July. If you haven’t yet commented, click here to do so. Then you click ENTER on that option in Rafflecopter, which will then open the next two options.
  3. Click on the “Wrote a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you completed a PB draft in July. If you did, click ENTER, if you did not, move on to the next step.
  4. Click on the last “Revised a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you revised a PB in July. If you did, click ENTER. If not, move on to the next step.
  5. Submit your entry. Rafflecopter will track your points.

You have until midnight Eastern on August 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on August 2nd.

Keep on writing!
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Kathleen PelleyI wanted to bring back this wonderful featured author post from our first year of 12 x 12. Kathleen Pelley is a marvel to listen to. Which is great because she speaks here about the importance of read-aloud-ability in picture books. Enjoy this #throwback thursday post. 🙂

Today’s post is a special treat. The topic our February 12 x 12 featured author, Kathleen Pelley, is going to address is read-aloud-ability in picture books. It didn’t seem to make sense to use only words in a post about how to make a great read aloud, so Kathleen and I recorded a series of videos that demonstrate the qualities Kathleen believes make both adults and children want to read a story over and over again. So it only seemed appropriate that I would do a video introduction of Kathleen instead of a written one. Here it is!



And now for Kathleen… If you are able to take your laptop by the fire for this post, I highly recommend you do so. 🙂

As soon as Julie suggested “read-aloud-ability” for my topic on her post, my creative juices began to flow – profusely. Of course, I’ve always loved to wax poetic about the power of stories in general, but it is the spoken word in particular, that has inspired me most of all, as a writer, a reader, a listener, and a teller of tales.

My love of language stemmed from growing up in a Scots/Irish culture, where stories were sacred. Before I could read or write, I had fallen in love with stories by listening to them on the radio with the BBC Children’s Story Hour. Later, when we acquired a television, I watched a program called, Jackanory, which featured children’s authors reading aloud from their books. So I spent many a happy afternoon with Roald Dahl reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to me. Yes, really!

When I came to America in 1992, not only did I begin to write my own stories (as a way of dealing with my homesickness), but I also continued to indulge my love of storytelling by: becoming a lector at our church, recording books on tape for the blind at the CTBL (Colorado Talking Books Library), and reading fairytales and folktales at an inner city school to grades K-6. So, you could say that I have really been nurturing my storytelling roots from the tender age of 3!

What makes a great read-aloud Picture Book?

(Presupposing, of course, that all the other hallmarks of any great story, regardless of genre, are in place – i.e. excellent plot, characters to cheer for, and a satisfying ending.)

RICH, LIVELY, FRESH LANGUAGE

Many adults mistakenly assume that Picture Books should only contain words that are part of the average 4 or 5 year old’s vocabulary. But Picture Books are MEANT to be READ ALOUD by an ADULT to a child. It shouldn’t matter a whit, if the child does not understand every single word. As long as the adult knows how to read a story well with great love and vim and vigor, then the child will eventually come, quite naturally, to understand any unfamiliar words. (There is a trend nowadays, though, that defies this notion, and I have had to struggle mightily with some editors over word choice.)

What exactly is a “rich” word? Have a look at “Amos and Boris” by William Steig, and you will see these “rich” words studded on every page – words like: phosphorescent, frazzle, delicacy, radiance, grandeur. Roll them around your tongue. What do they feel like? Majestic? Full-bodied? Plump and juicy? Perhaps Frank McCourt described it best when he wrote about encountering the words of Shakespeare for the first time as having “jewels in my mouth.”

What about “lively” words? We already know that language is a living thing that constantly evolves and adapts to our ever-changing world. So, “lively” language refers to those words that enable the listener to see and hear, taste and touch and smell the world that the writer has created. It is a language that literally breathes LIFE into the story. When we talk about stories that “inspire” us, we are using a word that comes from the Latin word, “inspirare,” meaning “TO BREATHE LIFE INTO!” When we talk about a story that has a great “voice,” we mean that the writer has BREATHED HER LIFE INTO the words and made the story come alive.

FRESH – Editors love “fresh”– fresh plots, fresh ideas, fresh voices, and especially fresh language.



And of course, such rich, lively, fresh language will naturally incorporate all those rhetorical devices that children adore – onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and maybe even some puns peppered here and there.

RHYTHM and CADENCE

The first sound we humans hear from the womb is the beat of our mother’s heart. So, no wonder that we are all naturally soothed by cadence and rhythm. That’s why we expose our little ones to lullabies, nursery rhymes, and playground chants (although, I don’t know that children use these much nowadays – all the pity)

Even if we do not write our Picture Books in verse (and if we do write in verse, it must be pitch-perfect), we still need to pay attention to our story’s rhythm, as it helps set the “mood” we want to convey. So, a jolly, whimsical tale will match well with a rollicking, rousing beat, rather like a jaunty jig. Whereas, a wiser folktale type story will be more serious and sedate, flowing slowly and gently, like a summer’s breeze or a willowy waltz.



SPACE

As picture book writers, we know already that we must leave space for the illustrator – we should not “over-describe,” or there will not be any room for the pictures.

We also need to be aware of leaving “space” as a way of pacing the story. At the end of each page, there should be some soupçon of excitement, hope, or even anxiety, that has the listeners at the edge of their seats, holding their breath, with saucer eyes and mouths agog. Literally, they are “hanging” on every word. (Suspense is from the Latin word –suspendere – to hang up)

As well as building suspense though, we also need spaces, at page turns and scattered here and there throughout the story, that give the reader/listener a moment to “pause and ponder,” -somewhat counter-cultural in our frenzied, busy world. When Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007, she talked about “space” as being one of the most important things for any aspiring writer, and posed the question, “Have you found a space? Into that space, which is form of listening, the ideas will come.” Surely, great picture book read-alouds are perfect “spaces” for children to begin this listening process.



Emotional/Universal Truth

Any editor will tell you that a common weakness of many picture book manuscripts is that it is “too trite.” In other words, it will not withstand multiple readings, because it is too one dimensional and lacks a universal, emotional truth.

What is an emotional truth?

It is NOT a lesson, a moral, or a message! Rather it is a simple truth, woven seamlessly throughout the story -some truth about love, hope, pain, joy, or home that a child can understand and connect with. I like to think of it as that whiff of wonder, that bolt of beauty which lingers with you, long after the last page is turned or the final word uttered.



Why should this universal truth matter so much to the read-aloud quality of a picture book?

“The storytellers go back and back, to a clearing in the forest where a great fire burns, and the old shamans dance and sing, for our heritage of stories began in fire, magic, the spirit world. And that is where it is held, today.” Doris Lessing

Truth connects us to one another, to our ancestors, and to the world around us. Good books and stories are all about connections. When we read a story aloud to a child – a story that truly touches us at the very core of our being with its beauty and its truth, then, we will naturally breathe our own life and love into those words as we read them aloud. (Notice how life and spirit, breath and voice are all connected ). And, in turn, those words will seep into the little listener’s heart, making her or him feel brave or bold, calm or kind, happy or hopeful.

“Adult books maintain lives; children’s books change lives.” Yolen

So, how do you inject a universal truth into your picture book?

Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996, said in her acceptance speech, that “a poet if she is genuine, must begin every poem with the words, I do not know.” (rather counter-cultural in this age of “google.”) But I think the same is true, to some extent of picture book writers, for surely, this “not knowing,” is simply a kind of wonder. It has been said that “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” And E.B. White maintained, “All I want to say in books, all I ever wanted to say, is, I love the world.” So, when we write from this place of wonder and love, from this place of “not knowing,” with language that is rich and lively, full of cadence and rhythm, then that universal truth will flow quite naturally through the words we weave, and a great story will be born – a story that will make a child plead “READ IT AGAIN! READ IT AGAIN!”

WAYS TO NOURISH YOUR STORYTELLING ROOTS

READ – not just lots and lots of picture books, but lots and lots of picture books that YOU love.

READ those books ALOUD to real live people- big and little.

READ poetry every day – ALOUD.

MEMORIZE chunks of poetry and snippets from your favorite read-aloud picture book.

CHANT those chunks and snippets aloud – as you walk, drive, cook, wait in line at the post office, before you fall asleep – IMMERSE yourself in language you love. BASK in the beauty of words. Hold them like “jewels in your mouth.”

READ Mem Fox’s book, READING MAGIC, and learn (if you do not know already) how to read aloud WELL to a child.

PLAY with words- magnetic poetry kits provide an excellent way to do this, also doing “poem sketches” as described in “Writing Poetry from the inside out” by Sandford Lyne.

Here is a list of my own favorite read-alouds.

And, remember, while you are waiting for that first picture book contract (or, like me, simply, your next book contract), that living a rich storytelling life will help us to find the glimmer of hope or chink of joy that simmer beneath the sometimes sad surfaces of our lives…will help us to see, in the words of Browning, that,

“All of earth is crammed with heaven…”

Or, as Emerson said,

“In the muck and scum of things, there something always, always sings.”



In order to make this a complete lesson, Kathleen is graciously giving one lucky 12 x 12 participant a copy of Mem Fox’s Reading Magic AND signed copies of the three of her books she used in this post — Inventor McGregor, Raj the Bookstore Tiger and Magnus Maximus, a Marvelous Measurer.

Please help me give a HUGE thanks to Kathleen for putting together this outstanding lesson on how to write picture books that will get read aloud over and over again. For it is a lesson, and not just a post. Kathleen spent almost two hours with me doing these recordings, and that was in addition to writing the gorgeous post to accompany the videos. Luckily for us, Kathleen will now be an honorary 12 x 12 member, so hopefully she will pop into the Forum and participate in the community.

Kathleen Pelley was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but spent most of her childhood summers playing on her grandparents’ farm in Ireland. Her passion for stories stemmed from listening to them on the BBC radio during the children’s story hour. Later, her gentle Irish father fanned the flame even more by feeding her his tales of fairies, leprechauns, and banshees.

So much did Kathleen love stories, that off she went to Edinburgh University and earned a degree in HiSTORY. She didn’t much care for all the facts and dates and numbers, but how she loved the stories of Rasputin, Napoleon, and Bonnie Prince Charlie! One character in particular captured Kathleen’s imagination—Florence Nightingale. After completing her degree, Kathleen studied to become a children’s nurse, but it was a brief and disastrous dalliance. For much as Kathleen loved children, she did not like to see them sick and suffering. However, decades later, Kathleen now sees herself as a kind of a nurse, because she believes that stories can heal the hurts in our hearts.

As a former elementary teacher, Kathleen enjoys sharing her passion with people of all ages. She is the author of five picture books: The Giant King, 2003, Child Welfare League of America (CD narrated by author – NAPPA storytelling award), Inventor McGregor 2006, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Bank Street Best Book and Colorado Book Award Winner), Magnus Maximus, a Marvelous Measurer, 2010 Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Bank Street Best Book, Colorado Book Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Anne Izard Storytelling Award), Raj the Bookstore Tiger, 2011, Charlesbridge (Colorado Authors League Award winner, Colorado Book Award finalist, Bank Street Best Book, and Cardoza Award finalist) and The Sandal Artist, 2012, Pelican Publishing.

List of Titles mentioned in this post:

 

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12 X 12 Member Miranda PaulI am so delighted to introduce you to my friend AND our June 12 x 12 featured author – Miranda Paul.

In many ways Miranda and I have “grown up” together in the picture book world, beginning with joining communities, searching for and securing agents (Miranda with Karen Grencik and me with Erzsi Deak), then taking on leadership roles by forming writing communities (Miranda with Rate Your Story and me with 12 x 12).

We are both originally from the Midwest (Miranda from Wisconsin and me from Michigan), share a passion for both writing and helping other writers, and enjoy sneaking contraband wine into the hotel during conferences. 🙂

But Miranda and I are also different. How? Well, that is the focus of Miranda’s post, probably the first where someone has advised you NOT to think about writing or to think of yourself always as a writer.

And, with the welcome advent of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I’ve found myself applauding the movement while also worrying a little — what can a white, blond, American woman from the Midwest contribute to this discussion/community? Luckily, Miranda has answers. Read on folks!

One lucky 12 x 12 participant this month will win:

They can have an RYS PRO free membership for the rest of 2014  (= 12 anytime submissions for a free critique rating plus access to monthly editor/agent interviews and other exclusive Bonus emails)

OR one SPEEDPASS  (A rating + comments on any manuscript under 2,000 words – within 7 days or less!)

OR 1 full MS critique by Miranda, for PBs only, under 2,000 words

Lucky you guys!! 🙂

The Bigger Picture: Beyond Writing

Last fall I attended a retreat, to work on a picture book biography of an influential American poet. I split the time between the beautiful nature trails and my cozy cabin, where there was a shared journal in which I could leave a message for future visitors.

I waited until the last morning to write anything in the book. I wanted what I wrote to be true to my voice and what I believed about writing, and helpful to other writers.

This is part of what I wrote:

beware

of being

only

a writer.

Before you scream, “ONLY a writer?!” let me explain.

In the quest to get published, we often focus on “being only a writer.” We hope to quit our non-writing jobs. We back away from non-writing community projects we’ve volunteered for in the past. Sometimes we neglect our families or non-writer friends. We invest time, energy, and money in becoming “official” writers. (And we spend too much time pondering if we’re qualified to put that title on our business cards.) We shamelessly self-promote our books, sometimes to the point of embarrassment or annoyance, even though we claim that we don’t want to.

Here’s the thing: You’re a writer.

But…what else are you?

You are unique.
More than one thing should define you.

We all are unique.
More than one thing should define us.

Simply put, we’re…diverse.

comp_ling_and_tingThe generation of kids growing up right now is more diverse than the books and lifestyles we expose them to in literature and media. They don’t define themselves into single categories like grown-ups tend to, or aspire to be only one thing—at least, not until our culture prompts them to figure out where they fit.

As a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign team, I’ve been asked versions of these questions a lot lately:

“As a white writer, what can I do about the diversity gap?”
“Should/can white writers even write diverse books?”

Let’s study those questions. They both involve a preset notion that writing is the only way to contribute. To which I say:

beware

of being

only

a writer

Don’t forget that we are also educators, parents, or librarians. We are book readers, book buyers, and book promoters. Some of us are editors, agents, or book sellers. We might be SCBWI volunteers, committee members, organization leaders, and event coordinators. We aren’t “only” one thing. And that’s great!

We have immense power to balance the scales and get all kinds of books into children’s hands. That power begins with our role as listeners. Listening helps us understand and support children and adults who have had diverse experiences. As supporters, we become good role models and foster new relationships. Our networks and groups begin to be more diversely integrated. As groups, we become doers, or change-makers.

We can support an underrepresented writer by inviting her to speak on a panel or visit a school. We can place free copies of already-published diverse books on park benches or pull books from the isolated “multicultural” section and face them out more visible locations. We can create promotional tools, like this:

Grace Lin Diversity Cheat Sheet

Examples of ways in which we can promote diverse books and authors include recommending titles or creating graphics that can be printed and displayed online or in bookstores. The strategy is to try not to separate or isolate “diverse” books from just “books.” Credits: Miranda Paul, #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, and Grace Lin (Full “Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity” is available for download here.)

The many things we do—beyond writing—shape us as writers. Don’t forget to live first, write second!

(And if you do decide to write a “diverse” book, I encourage you read this article.) comp_big_red_lollipop

One of the jacket flaps for my 2015 books lists that I like to garden, swim, and scuba dive. The other mentions my zest for recycling and rummage sales, and some of the projects I’ve worked on while traveling internationally. They’re purposefully not about me as a writer. Think about it—what kid wants to flip to the back and read,

The author is an agented writer. She writes every day. When she’s not writing a book, she’s reading her kids’ book aloud at schools, promoting her book, or blogging about writing and helping other authors become writers.

Go out and celebrate the diversity in your own life and in others’. Do things that you love to do. Try a few things you’re afraid of. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Talk less, listen more. Be passionate, be generous, be adventurous, make a difference.

Whatever you do when you’re not writing—it matters.

Miranda Paul credits her productivity to a lack of cable TV and smart phone, as well as easy access to an “Internet OFF” button. She has lived in and/or traveled through more than a dozen countries, including The Gambia, where she met the subject of her debut picture book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of The Gambia (Lerner/Millbrook, 2015). Over the past fifteen years she has worked a number of paid and volunteer jobs ranging from International Student Coordinator to elementary school Spanish teacher to poop-scooping zookeeper. She loves learning rules, then breaking some, and helping other writers do the same. Visit her at www.MirandaPaul.com, http://mirandapaulbooks.blogspot.com, or http://www.RateYourStory.org. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is hosted at www.diversebooks.org.

 

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Childhood, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Ah, the lovely month of May. Lilacs, fresh green grass, my birthday. Gotta say I love it every year, and this one is no exception.

But, you ask, did I write a picture book draft this month? I DID, I DID! Well, truthfully I wrote a proposal for a picture book biography, but I’m counting it as a draft because it was at least as much work and it’s going toward the actual manuscript. And I’ll count it again when I write the actual first draft. Because I can do that as the 12 x 12 leader – BWAH HA HA HA!

How about you my 12 x 12 friends? What was May like for your manuscripts? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Also, thank you once again to the legendary Jane Yolen, May’s featured author for permitting me to share mini-version Picture Book Boot Camp. Be sure to stop back tomorrow to meet our June author!

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win a signed copy of Take Joy by Jane Yolen.

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “A Signed Copy of Take Joy by Jane Yolen” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on Jane’s Blog Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on Jane’s blog post. Commenting on Jane’s post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in May. If you haven’t yet commented, click here to do so. Then you click ENTER on that option in Rafflecopter, which will then open the next two options.
  3. Click on the “Wrote a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you completed a PB draft in May. If you did, click ENTER, if you did not, move on to the next step.
  4. Click on the last “Revised a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you revised a PB in May. If you did, click ENTER. If not, move on to the next step.
  5. Submit your entry. Rafflecopter will track your points.

You have until midnight Eastern on June 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on June 2nd.

Keep on writing!
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Author Alayne Kay ChristianWow, we have had such a surge of success stories from 12 x 12 members that we have a BACKLOG of “How I Got My Agent” posts that we’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.

Today I am delighted to introduce my friend and three-time 12 x 12 participant Alayne Kay Christian, here to tell the story of how she signed with Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink. What is even more exciting, for me, is that Alayne and I are now agency sisters. Fellow chicks in the coop. It is my secret desire to populate the coop with all of my favorite PB writers, so I did my own Snoopy dance when Alayne got signed. 🙂

Please welcome Alayne!

Thank you for inviting me to share my story, Julie. And thank you for 12 x 12 and all the opportunities to submit to agents in 2013.

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I have written most of my life, but I had been writing picture books since 2006. I pondered seeking an agent for many years. However, I was discouraged by the “experienced” authors who told me it is even harder to get an agent to accept your work than it is to get a publishing house to accept your work. One author even told me it took her twelve years to get an agent. She suggested I start by submitting to editors.
Between 2010 and 2011, I submitted solely to publishers (about 28 submissions).

In 2012, I was feeling pretty discouraged and submitted very little. But I did dip my toe into the agent world. I subbed to two agents because of opportunities from the 2011 North Texas SCBWI conference I had attended in the fall. I submitted to Erzsi Deak because of Hen & Ink’s Open Coop Day. While I was busy pondering the idea of agents, I was finding a growing number of publishers that would only accept agented submissions. This warmed me up to the idea of submitting to agents.

After my first year of 12 x 12 in 2012 and two years of the Picture Book Marathon, I realized I was doing a lot of writing and very little submitting. So, I set a goal to submit at least six picture book manuscripts in 2013. But who was I going to submit to? What was best for me and my writing career? Coincidentally, 12 x 12 in 2013 offered the new benefit of an opportunity to submit to a literary agent each month. Ta-da! My decision was made. Agents would be my submission focus for 2013.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

I started by reading about Literary Agencies through “Book Markets for Children Writers” and “2013 Guide to Literary Agents.” To an extent, that was like looking for a needle in a haystack when it comes to picture book submissions. I was fortunate that a couple lists of agents who accept picture books circulated around 12 x 12, and I was able to narrow down my research.

Many agents offer information about what they are looking for and who they represent on their agency websites. There are often articles, blog posts, interviews and so on that offer a wealth of information about agents. A lot of my friends submit to agents, so sometimes they would tell me what they had learned about the agent. In the case of 12 x 12 submissions, Julie offers links for each agent to get us started with our research. I also followed agents on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The dreaded questions: How many queries? How many rejections?

In 2012, I submitted to 3 agents and received 3 rejections.
In 2013, I had 26 submissions to agents and 20 rejections.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

Once, I learned which agents accept picture books, I don’t feel like it was difficult. However, I personally did not want an agent who represented picture books only, as I might want to shop chapter books, MG, or adult books at a later date.

How did you know your agent was “the one?

My agent, Erzsi Deak, Hen & Ink Literary Studio, was one of the three agents I submitted to in 2012. Over time, as my rejections built, I never forgot the lovely rejection she sent me in 2012. If not for that rejection, I might not have had the courage or confidence to continue submitting to agents. Given most of the form rejections that I received, or the lack of responses that indicated a rejection, I grew to appreciate Erzsi’s style and kind consideration even more. On top of that experience, I paid attention to what was being said about various agents around the virtual writing community water cooler. Erzsi seemed to be highly respected in the community.

When offers of representation started coming my way, I had a long phone conversation with Erzsi, and I felt like we clicked. I asked her tons of questions during the phone call and many more via email. I felt like we would work well together. I also felt like she would represent me in the way that I wanted to be represented. Much of the decision was made by going with my gut. I have since learned that she is a lovely and patient person who works her butt off to support her clients. I believe we have a partnership that will lead us both to success.

If 12 x 12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how? (P.S. It is TOTALLY okay if the answer is no. I am not trying to “lead” you 🙂 )

When I submitted to Erzsi in 2012, it was during an open coop day. Generally, Hen & Ink is closed to unsolicited submissions. I waited and waited for another open coop day for picture books, and none came. In 2013, Erzsi was one of the 12 x 12 agents. There has not been another open coop day for picture books yet, so without 12 x 12, it could have been a very, very long time before I was able to submit to Erzsi again. In addition, I would not have been aware of the 2012 open coop day if my critique group (established through 12 x 12) hadn’t told me about it.

It is common for an agent who is interested in your work to request more work, and maybe even request a list of your works. 12 x 12 in 2012 and 2013 motivated me to keep writing. I can’t recall how many manuscripts I wrote in 2012, maybe 18? I wrote 14 in 2013. So, I had plenty of manuscripts to choose from when agents started requesting to see more.

As far as development of craft, I have discovered classes through 12 x 12. I have joined several critique groups and made many close writing friends who I can turn to with questions. I discovered other writing challenges through 12 x 12 – PiBoIdMo, WOW nonfic pic, and ReviMo – to name a few. I formed Sub Six – a group of picture book writers who support each other in achieving our submission goals. I met most of our members through the 12 x 12 Facebook forum.

12 x 12ers share blog posts with an unbelievable amount of information. Just having the 12 x 12 community to hang out with inspires me to keep writing and learning. The beauty of the group is that writing veterans help those just coming into the picture book writing world. I am honored to be a part of that. Butterfly Kisses

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

I think my writing process will gradually change. I have only been working with Erzsi since November 2013. But I can already see that I will learn from her. I think as I learn her style and preferences, my process will change to accommodate those things. I can also see that I will be spending much more time revising, as I polish stories for submission. I believe the biggest change in my writing process is that I now have someone else that I am responsible to. I have much more accountability.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

  • Keep developing your craft.
  • Join a critique group.
  • Make sure you have several submission ready manuscripts before you start submitting.
  • Get support from other writers.
  • Do your research.
  • Remember rejections are not personal. They have nothing to do with you as a person. They are about the agent’s preferences, needs, experiences and so on. That is not to say you shouldn’t take rejections seriously, because at times, it can be a sign that you need to keep improving your craft.
  • Understand that having the first manuscript you submit accepted happens about as often as someone winning the lottery.
  • Be realistic and be prepared for rejections. One way to be prepared for rejections is to have a plan for coping with the rollercoaster ride that submitting to agents brings. Some other things that help are having other writers to vent to; keeping a journal where you can express your feelings and thoughts; trying meditation; and avoiding comparing yourself and your experiences to others.

I have learned that when I have trouble coping with rejections or the writing world, it is sometimes because I am not in the moment with my work. My ego has jumped in and is filling me with fear and doubt by putting me into some imagined future that I truly can’t predict. I have also learned that when I work to keep my ego out of the way and let go of my fears, my mind becomes clearer. I am able to write from a happy or peaceful place. When I say “ego,” I am talking about the part of me that wants so desperately to control and have things my way – I want what I want – and I want it NOW.

I believe focusing on your craft and the writing process and not getting ahead of yourself is the most important thing a writer can do. If you write it and submit it, the agent will eventually come. That is, if you don’t give up. Martha Alderson wrote the following passages in her excellent book “The Plot Whisperer.” I think it is good advice.

“Know about the energy of the Universal Story and you are better able to bypass a crisis yourself and every day to write with a sense of consciousness. YOU ARE MORE CONCERNED WITH THE NEXT SENTENCE THAN REACHING THE END, MORE CONCERNED WITH SENDING OUT QUERIES THAN ATTAINING AN AGENT, MORE CONCERNED WITH YOUR NEXT STORY THAN THE REVIEWS YOU RECEIVE.”

“See your work as perfect no matter where in the process. Know that every day you sit down to write you improve your writing. Every time you look deeper into the structure of your story, you see an even more meaningful perfection awaiting you.”

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

No, I don’t think my platform helped me find my agent. I do think making friends via Facebook and groups like 12 x 12 did play a big part because I learned about submitting to agents. Joining Twitter helped because a pitchfest resulted in positive responses about my work from agents. This built my confidence and inspired me to submit more.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish (besides publishing a book, which is inevitable at this point 🙂 )

I just shared this in another interview. Please forgive me for repeating. On a personal level, I would love to see Aurora Borealis from one of the best places in the world – maybe Alaska, Canada, Finland or Sweden. One of my writer’s dreams is to learn illustration and illustrate my own picture book.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

I am working on polishing a picture book for submission with Erzsi’s help. And I am excited about a project that I have almost completed, which is converting a picture book to a chapter book. After that, I will be polishing other manuscripts while I try to fulfill my 12 x 12 commitment to write a picture book a month.

Represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&ink Literary Studio, Alayne Kay Christian is an award-winning children’s book author, a certified life coach and a blogger. Her independently published picture book, “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa,” Blue Whale Press, LLC, received the Mom’s Choice Awards gold medal and an IPPY Awards silver medal. The newly released anthology,“Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World,” Melusine Muse Press, includes two short stories by Alayne, “Christmas Spirit” and “Christmas in June.”

Alayne is a member of the SCBWI. She is an active participant in the 12 x 12 writing community, an annual participant in the Picture Book Idea Month challenge and a member of many other writing groups. She is the founder and administrator of Sub Six, a Facebook group intended for supporting and motivating picture book writers with their submission goals. 

“Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” is available in bookstores and libraries, at Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble.com. It is also available through Baker & Taylor Books and Follett Library Resources. For more information visit http://www.butterflykissesgrandparents.com or bluewhalepress.com

“Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World” is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com.

Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Children's Books, Creativity, Goals, Guest Blogging, How I Got My Agent, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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webinar sponsored by SCBWI-MI, and they have very generously offered to give away one free registration for the webinar (or refund your fee if you’ve already signed up). To enter, just share about the webinar in any of the ways provided in the Rafflecopter below by 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 28th. While the Facebook and blog shares are one-time, you can earn a point each day with a tweet!

Good luck and hope to see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Emma Walton Hamilton

Emma Walton Hamilton

What do you get when you mix a shiny new year, the beginning of another round of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge, and an amazingly talented and generous NYT-bestselling author kicking us off with the first featured author post?

You get phenomenal writing tips to start your year AND unprecedented opportunities to get even more help to improve your writing.

Because Emma Walton Hamilton is not ONLY an author. She is also a gifted freelance editor (I know because I’ve hired her!) who can work magic on both manuscripts and query letters. So much so with query letters that I’ve dubbed her “the query whisperer.”

Several opportunities will be coming to 12 x 12 members as a result of Emma’s generosity. First, this month’s winner will receive access to Emma’s online, self-paced, 8-week picture book writing course — Just Write for Kids. I, along with other 12 x 12 alumni, have taken this course and trust me when I say it will change your picture book writing life! This course costs $297, but one lucky 12 x 12 winner will get it for FREE.

Secondly, Emma has once again agreed to critique query letters from Little GOLDen Book members who pay the one-time fee to join 12 x 12. This year the event will be bigger and better, however, because Emma and I are going to create a webinar where we record her giving verbal critiques (names will be removed from queries to keep them anonymous). GOLD members will then receive a copy of the recording to keep for reference. A single query critique from Emma normally costs $150. But one-time fee paying GOLD members will get the critique free AND have the benefit of watching Emma work her magic on many other queries.*

One 12 x 12 member, Marcie Colleen, had this to say about the query critique she received last year: “(Emma) made (my query) SING! And that is the query letter I sent out and landed my agent. What an amazing opportunity that was to have Emma’s expertise work on my little letter.”

But there IS a catch. In order to participate in the query event, youh must sign up for 12 x 12 by the end of the day January 17th at the Little GOLDen Book level AND pay the one-time (vs. quarterly) fee. Hurry so you don’t miss out!

Now, let’s move on to Emma’s fabulous advice – perfect to get us going on a great new year of picture book writing! Welcome Emma!

So, it’s the first month of a New Year, and twelve new picture book challenges stretch out ahead of us.

Maybe you participated in PiBoIdMo in November, and have a stack (or even a handful) of ideas waiting to be developed into picture books over the course of 12 x 12 in 2014. Now what?

How do we take the seed of an idea and develop into a story? One way to begin is to write down everything you know so far about your idea. Free associate – what do you know about any of your characters, the subject matter, the setting, the takeaway you’d like to leave your readers with? What words, images, smells, tastes or sounds come to mind when you think of this idea?

Then, organize these thoughts into categories or relationships to one another. You can use index cards, Post-its, or a mindmapping tool like Freemind (freemind.sourceforge.net) to assist you. Once you have jotted down everything you know, you can begin to think about the central dramatic question of your idea.

A central dramatic question is at the core of every successful children’s book. It is the question the story raises, or what the book is really about. It can usually best be stated as:

“Will (the hero/protagonist) find, get, solve or achieve ______?”

For example, the central dramatic question at the heart of Whistle for Willie is: “Will Peter ever learn how to whistle?”

knuffle bunnyThe central dramatic question at the heart of Knuffle Bunny is: “Will Trixie ever get Knuffle Bunny back?” (or, more specifically, “Will Trixie be able to communicate to her parents that Knuffle Bunny is lost – and thus, get her back?”)

If you don’t yet have enough information about your idea, or it isn’t fleshed out sufficiently to determine the central dramatic question, you can prompt yourself with other leading questions. For instance, if you have an idea for a character but don’t know what their story is, ask yourself:

  • What does s/he want?
  • What is his or her problem that must be solved, or difficulty that must be overcome? (Another way of thinking about this is, what is standing in the way of their getting what they want? What are the obstacles?)
  • How does s/he solve or overcome the problem?
  • What does s/he learn in the resolving of their problem, or how might s/he change or grow by the end?

If you have an idea for a theme or subject (such as adoption, bullying, feeling different) but don’t yet know who the characters are, or what the story is, ask yourself:

  • What do you want to say about your subject? What point or message do you want to give kids, or leave them thinking about?
  • Who might be the main character – someone kids can relate to and connect with – that can help you tell your story, or make that point?
  • What problem might they have to overcome?
  • What would they need to learn or achieve over the course of the story in order to illustrate the point you intend to make?

Can you see a central dramatic question emerging now? Identifying your central dramatic question helps you focus your story, and ensures there will be a compelling plot with a built-in conflict or problem for your character to overcome.  It is also a helpful pre-cursor to being able to summarize your story in a concise sentence – a powerful exercise when it comes to focusing an idea, but even more valuable later, when the time comes for pitching, selling and marketing the book.

Now, here’s a down and dirty template for converting your central dramatic question into a plot and character driven sentence: (Name of hero/main character) wants/needs to (need/goal), but s/he can’t because (problem/obstacle) so s/he (actions/resolution) and ultimately realizes that (message/takeaway).

Happy writing!

EMMA WALTON HAMILTON is a best-selling children’s book author, editor and arts educator.  With her mother, Emma and Julieactress/author Julie Andrews, Emma has co-authored over twenty children’s books, seven of which have been on the NY Times Bestseller list, including The Very Fairy Princess series (#1 Bestseller), Julie Andrews Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies, the Dumpy the Dump Truck series, Simeon’s Gift, The Great American Mousical, and Thanks to You – Wisdom from Mother and Child.

Emma’s own book, RAISING BOOKWORMS: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment, premiered as a #1 best-seller on Amazon.com in the literacy category and won a Parent’s Choice Gold Medal.

Emma is a faculty member of Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, where she also serves as Director of the Children’s Literature Fellows programand Executive Director of the Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP), an inter-disciplinary writing program for middle and high school students.  A former actress and theatre director, Emma was a co-founder of Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, and served as co-Artistic Director and Director of Education and Programming for Young Audiences there for 17 years.

Emma also works as a freelance children’s book editor, and hosts Just Write for Kids! – an online home-study course in writing for children as well as the Children’s Book Hub – a center of resources and support for aspiring children’s book authors.

*Emma will critique as many queries as she can in a two-hour period. Julie Hedlund will critique any queries Emma is unable to get to in that time period.

 

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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12 x 12 new bannerIt’s November! Just two months left of 12 x 12 this year. Before you get started on your manuscript or revision for this month, let’s announce the lucky October winner of a picture book critique with Lori Degman. And the winner is….

Sheri McCrimmon

Woo-hoo! You are a lucky girl! Please contact me at JulieFHedlund (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.

Congratulations! KEEP WRITING everyone!

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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Linda Ashman

I am SO excited to welcome November’s 12 x 12 featured author, Linda Ashman! I’ve met and worked with Linda in person and online several times. She is a phenomenal writer (seriously her rhyme blows my mind it’s SO great!), an equally fantastic mentor and now, she’s sharing her considerable talent with us. The only thing I don’t like about Linda is that she moved from Colorado to North Carolina, so I don’t get to see her in person anymore. 🙁

Linda’s latest step in her distinguished career as a picture book writer was to publish an ebook sharing her extensive knowledge both as a writer and a writing teacher — The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Folks, this book MUST go onto your virtual shelves. I’ve read all 150+ pages of it and there is so much juicy goodness in there it will make your head spin (how many more cliches can I use in one intro??). Not since Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books has there been a tome I recommend so highly for picture book authors.

Linda is generously giving away both a picture book critique AND a free copy of Nuts & Bolts. So we’ll have two lucky winners this month! In the meantime, soak up all the knowledge and wisdom contained in her guest post here on bad beginnings and how to fix them. Welcome Linda!

Beyond the Bad Beginning

If you’ve read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), you know it’s okay to write “shitty first drafts”—that even the best books begin badly. Still, if you’re like me, you’re convinced that no one’s first drafts are as irredeemably drecky as your own.

In today’s post, I plan to prove that (a) my first drafts are, actually, much worse than yours, and (b) even the most pathetic beginnings can be turned into compelling—and salable—manuscripts. To do that, I’ll share some of my own unlovely work, then offer ten tips for getting beyond the bad beginning.

In The Nuts and Bolts Guide I talk about how I struggled with the rhyme pattern for my book Creaky Old House—so much so that I wound up writing three versions, each in a different meter. While I share the first stanzas of each version in the Guide, I don’t share the inauspicious beginning that preceded them.

The idea for the story—then called “Rickety House”—was pretty skimpy: a wacky family lives in an old house that’s well-loved but needs lots of repairs, with one repair leading to another and another. Because my son—like many 4 year olds at the time—was a Bob the Builder devotee, I wanted to include some tools and construction action as well. With those basic ideas in mind, I grabbed a pad and scribbled the following:

Aunt — came to visit.

But the doorknob came off in her hand.

My word! Huffed Aunt Rita
Oh these old houses! Aunt Rita complained
They’re nothing but trouble
No trouble at all, my Papa exclaimed.
I just need a . . . screw. / thingamajig.

We went to the basement.
To the basement!
We searched through
Through piles of nails and
And . .

We found rusty old nails
And —- pails
Buckets and screwdrivers, hammers and —
Sandpaper, saws and – and –
But no screw.

No problem, said Dad.
The hardware store
And find a new knob.

Does the word “gibberish” come to mind? There’s little evidence of a story here, much less a rhyming one. A pretty flimsy platform to build on, but I had a strategy—or at least a next step. Since the family was headed to the hardware store, I brainstormed construction and renovation-related terms and jotted them on the same page, figuring this might give me some direction and generate phrases with rhyme potential (you can see the actual draft here: Creaky First Draft). Then I sat at my computer and started typing, hoping to clarify—or at least add to—the story in the process. Here’s the next iteration:

Aunt Bess came by to say hello
But the doorknob came off in her hand.

And the doorknob came right off.

“No problem, Bess,” my dad
just a little screw is all we need
I’ll get one from my workbench/workshop

To the basement
We cleared the cobwebs, wiped the dust
Found – and an ancient sandwich crust
Searched through buckets, bins and pails
Through nuts and bolts and – and nails
And then—at last!—we found a screw.
“aha!” said Dad. “this one should do.”

I’ll fix that doorknob lickety split.
Too bad. The — — didn’t fit.

Brackets, pliers, wrenches, clamps
Trowels, vises, mallets,
Tacks, drills, drill bits, scrapers,

Found brackets, trowels, pliers, tacks
Rags and workbooks, stacks and stacks!

Papa scratched his head.
Mama heaved a sigh.
“seems this screw won’t do the job.
We’ll buy ourselves a brand new knob.

Hmm. Not much better, is it? The story, such as it is, doesn’t make sense, and has blank spots and unfinished sentences. My rhymes are minimal and mostly bad (and hint at the struggles with meter to come). Oh, and Aunt Rita is now Aunt Bess.

Bad as it was, I felt encouraged by this draft because I could see the barest outline of a story—an old house, a goofy family, and an escalating misadventure as they came up with increasingly elaborate solutions to address a minor problem (a broken doorknob). Plus it had good illustration potential and gave me the opportunity to use plenty of construction words.

Still, I had a long way to go just to make the story comprehensible, much less worthy of submission. So I wrote many, many dozens of drafts, and—as noted earlier—experimented with three different rhyme patterns. Nothing seemed to work. At several points I nearly threw in the towel, convinced that my struggles were a sure sign the manuscript was unpublishable. But I liked the idea, and liked a few of the stanzas, so I kept at it. And—eventually—the rhyme pattern clicked, the story fell into place, and I finished (for the time being; I did more revising after the story was acquired).

Although Creaky Old House required more work than most, all my manuscripts start out just as scraggly and unpromising. And many of them—actually, most of them—never get beyond that stage. So how do you know if your bad beginning has the potential to be a viable manuscript?

Well . . . you don’t. That’s the frustrating part. Few of us want to invest time in a story that’s not going anywhere, but it’s a necessary part of the process. You have to be willing to play around with an idea—to flesh out those early, scrawny drafts—to get a sense of where the story’s taking you. And you have to be willing to do the painstaking—and, yes, sometimes tedious—work of revising (and revising . . . and revising). This is where a lot of us get stuck—and discouraged. So here are a few suggestions to get you past the bad beginning toward that final, fabulous—and salable—manuscript:

1. Imagine your ending. Often, I know what’s on page 32 before I have any idea of what’s in the middle of my story. Having at least a vague sense of your destination makes it easier to get there.

2. Think incrementally. Yes, it’s good to keep your ending in mind, but you don’t have to have the entire story mapped out from the get-go. Just let the beginning lead you to the next step, then the next one, and the next one. Stuck? Then . . .

3. Brainstorm. If you look at my Creaky Old House early draft (Find it here: Creaky Early Draft), you’ll see lists of tools, doors, doorknobs, and hardware stuff along with strings of rhyming words. Similarly, my To the Beach drafts include long lists of beach paraphernalia. Do I use all these terms? No. But words beget ideas, and free-associating can stimulate creativity and lead your story in new directions.

4. Let it flow. As you probably noticed, my earliest drafts are barely coherent, filled with partial sentences and dashes when I couldn’t think of the right word. Don’t be nit-picky early in your writing process—just get your ideas on paper. Later, when you’ve got your story figured out, you can obsess about clarity, word choice, grammar and punctuation.

5. Experiment. Your story’s written in third person? Change it to first. The little girl is narrating the story? Try letting the goldfish tell it. It’s written in rhyme? Change the meter, or write it in prose. Switch things up and see what happens.

6. Visualize your story. Sometimes I can “see” the story before I can write it. For my book Rain!, for example, I made a rough (very rough) storyboard to map out the action, then figured out the text later (you can see just how rough my storyboard is here: http://www.howtowritepicturebooks.com/1/post/2013/10/the-wisdom-of-making-dummies.html).

7. Change your scenery. I often read my drafts while walking around my neighborhood, pen in hand. Or I go to a coffee shop. Being in a different environment can give you a fresh perspective.

8. Let it go. Occasionally I start off with some self-imposed requirement that trips me up down the road. For example, after reading somewhere that repetition was a good thing in picture books, I decided To the Beach would be a “Story with Repetition.” So, as I wrote it, I repeated the same phrase over and over again (The car is packed. We’re on our way. We’re going to the beach today). Yes, repetition can be good. Sometimes. And other times it can be annoying. Once I let go of the repetition idea (admittedly, at an editor’s suggestion), I wrote a much stronger story.

9. Be open to serendipity. I’ve started several poetry collections that never quite came to fruition. But I expanded a few of the poems I’d written into manuscripts that eventually became picture books. Don’t be afraid to let your story take you in a different direction.

10. Be patient. Sometimes ideas aren’t ready to be hatched. If you can’t seem to get beyond your bad beginning, put your manuscript away for a while. Do not throw it away. I wrote Rub-a-Dub Sub in a week—two years after I’d relegated it to my file drawer as a nonstarter. Sometimes timing is everything.

Above all, don’t be discouraged. Your drafts are likely to look bad—really bad—before they start looking good. If you forget this, just remember Aunt Rita and Aunt Bess—neither of whom, by the way, made it to the final version of Creaky Old House. (See the final text here: Creaky Old House Final Text)

It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog, Julie. Thanks for having me!

ONE MORE THING FOLKS! Linda is teaming up with another of our fabulous 12 x 12 members — Susanna Hill — to offer a rhyme clinic on December 2nd. I HIGHLY encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Submissions are open until mid-November and all of the details are here.

Linda Ashman is the author of many critically acclaimed books for children, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a “how to” handbook for picture book writers. Her children’s books have been included on the “Best of the Year” lists of the New York Times, Parenting, Child, and Cookie magazines, Bank Street College of Education, the New York Public Library, and others. As a children’s poet, she’s been compared to Mary Ann Hoberman, Douglas Florian, and Jack Prelutsky; Kirkus called her poetry “as pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best.” You can learn more about Linda on her website: http://www.lindaashman.com

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Picture Books, Rhyming, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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