Monday, September 24, 2018

I'm A Round 1 Judge for Cybils Elementary and Middle Grade Non-Fiction Award!


So very excited to share the official announcement (now that I am back from my Travel Agent Training for Royal Caribbean Cruiselines).

Here it is!

Following 2 Years as a Round One Picture Book Judge, I am a Round One Elementary and Middle Grade Non Fiction Judge for 2018! So excited to serve in this new category. 


http://www.cybils.com/2018/09/cybils-2018-elementary-middle-grade-non-fiction-judges.html

Thursday, September 13, 2018

TITLE STUDY: The Spy Who Played Baseball by Carrie Jones


TITLE: The Spy Who Played Baseball
AUTHOR: Carrie Jones
ILLUSTRATOR: Gary Cherrington
PUBLISHER: Kar-ben
PUBLICATION: 2018

In between my extensive travels (I've just spent a week in Mexico, four days at Universal Studios Orlando and five days in Jamaica in connection with my job as a Travel Agent), I had the pleasure of squeezing in the reading of THE SPY WHO PLAYED BASEBALL. It's the story of Morris (Moe) Berg, who was an talented Jewish baseball player who later became a spy during World War II.

What if it was called The Morris Berg story? Despite him having an amazing life story, that wouldn't be much of a hook, would it?

It's important to consider, when titling your own manuscripts, what works in this and other titles. I always say that a book should have three hooks right up front. This one has two, right in the title alone! SPY and BASEBALL! Just the combination leads to the compelling question -- how did a baseball player become a spy, so that's like three hooks for the price of two, in the title alone! PLUS, a title is a promise and this one kept it's promise, so even better!

Right now I am just discussing the book in regard to it's title. However, I want to say this was an enjoyable read, and I can see why the publisher, Kar-Ben (Lerner), snatched it up. It's the perfect example of a lesser known story that deserves and needs to be told

I hope you enjoyed this little mini lesson and that you are inspired to read this book!

Keep following this blog, and reading and evaluating these books and your own in this fashion, and you will soon see the way you look at your own stories change. For. the. better. 

PLEASE follow this blog so you don't miss any tidbit of information and please feel free to leave any comment or question you may have. I will do my bes to answer all! 


Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. 

To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

MORE Study of Hooks and Fresh Angles in Picture Books by Lynne Marie

NOTE: When you are done reading, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page if you feel this was helpful to you. I am also glad to hear what topics you would like me to focus on in upcoming blogposts. Thanks!

*.*.*.* 

"Do as I say, AND as I do." Me. 

Again, not the first likely to say this, but people often ask me what I did to become a published author. When I tell them, they usually look a bit bored, and like they are waiting for the magic answer. But THIS. Stuff like this. 

It's a good rule of thumb to read books as a writer AND as a reader. I read them as a writer the first time (as it's fresh) and as a reader the second time, straight through. Of course you can reverse that. Whatever works, right? 

Evaluating what makes OTHER books sell as opposed to our own is priceless. Heck, I even see books I don't like and can identify why they sold over something of mine I like. 

CLEAR HOOK. At least 3 of them! 

So in continuation of our study, here are a few more books from my "To Read" pile:

FOOD TRUCK FEST by Alexandra Penfold. 
Illustrated by Mike Dutton. 
Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2018

BEGINNING: Over at the depot and up with the sun, the food trucks get ready. Today will be fun. 

COMMENTS: It's pretty evident that this book leans toward the younger picture book set, so there's also a clear market (young pre-readers who like trucks). Of course, there have been many books about trucks, but NOT Food Trucks! See that new and different approach that editors are looking for?

But Starting with the title, there's consonance which makes it catchy and an exclamation which promises excitement. But most of all there's TRUCKS. I feel there's three hooks put out by just the title alone. Next, the sing-songy rhyme is catchy and the phrase "up with the sun," alerts me that there will likely be a lot of active phrases. And there were. These phrases keep the attention of little ones and move the story forward, like:

Engines, rumble, start to roar.
Close the windows, shut the door. 

Ready and loaded with tons of good eats,
the fleet of mighty food trucks takes to the streets. 

EVEN MORE -- this book features some ethnic food! Alexandra Penfold is an Agent with Upstart Crow, so she has obviously studied what sells and was able to make her idea work. 

Not a truck lover myself, but I read it and think little ones will LOVE both listening to it AND looking at the pictures. FOOD TRUCK FEST is a slam dunk for it's target reader. 

*.*.*.* 

SAMSON IN THE SNOW by Philip C. Stead
Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, 2016

BEGINNING: On sunny days, Samson tended his dandelion patch. Stepping carefully, he used his long truck to pull up botherson weeds. When he was finished, he stood in the sunshine, hoping for a friend to come along.  Samson waited quietly with his flowers to keep him company. 

COMMENTS: From the onset, we can see and hear that this is a quiet book. The soft s in Samson and Snow, the soft dark pastel-y cover. And yet, whether or not you lean toward soft books. First - is that a wooly mammoth? YES! And then, a question -- what is he doing in the snow? And then, snow itself. Snow has been a part of several popular books and is nice to see, especially without freezing in it. So there could be considered two or three hooks on the cover, especially if you like snow. 

Stead opens with the ordinary world of a sunny day. But you saw the snow on the cover so a storm is imminent, acting as another hook to pull the reader into the story and have them turn the page. This is sweet and simple and could appeal to younger readers, but also older readers because of the friendship theme. And page after page the story presses on to a well-woven and satisfying ending. And, importantly, the art is absolutely beautiful! 

Covers sell books, but you have to sell the book first, without the cover, so your story needs to have what it takes. 

*.*.*.* 


READ THE BOOK, LEMMINGS! by Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Little Brown and Company, 2017
Edited by Mary Kate Gaudette 

BEGINNING: Foxy found a quiet spot to read his book about lemmings. "Huh!" Foxy said. "Says here, lemmings don't jump off cliffs." 
Jump? I'll jump! said a lemming. Me too! said a second. Ditto! said a third. 

COMMENTS: The title is active and engaging, and Lemmings! The fact that the word book is in the title will work for book lovers, librarians and teachers alike. The art is fun, so at least three hooks coming out of the gate. Of course it wouldn't have had the art to rely on in the beginning, but still, it stands out. Like in Samson, the premise is a hook. The author has set up a situation you will want to follow. The book says that Lemming don't jump off cliffs, but the lemmings say, jump! What happens after that? You will be hooked and will turn the page just to find out. 

Notice to the devices. Three beats and repetition. The repetition makes it funny -- yes, another hook! 

*.*.*.*

These were random books in my pile. I did not even know if I would like them or not. I liked two more than one of them ONLY because of my personal inclinations toward wooly mammoths and lemmings, but I found them all highly saleable. I am sure you can see why. 

Keep following this blog, and reading and evaluating these books and your own in this fashion, and you will soon see the way you look at your own stories change. For. the. better. 

PLEASE follow this blog so you don't miss any tidbit of information and please feel free to leave any comment or question you may have. I will do my bes to answer all! 


Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. 

To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Study of Hooks and Fresh Angles in Random Recent Books by Lynne Marie

NOTE: When you are done reading, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page if you feel this was helpful to you. I am also glad to hear what topics you would like me to focus on in upcoming blogposts. Thanks!

*.*.*.*

"The more you read, the more you'll learn." Me.

I'm sure someone else has said this before, and I'm sure someone will say it again, but it's #Truth!

For today's post, I will go through three books on my reading list (notice the 3 beats) and make notes on what I feel attracted an Agent and/or Editor to these books:

MISUNDERSTOOD SHARK by Ame Dyckman. Illustrated by Scott Magoon.
Orchard Books, Scholastic, May 2018.

BEGINNING:  "Hello, people!" Today, on Underwater World with Bob, Fun Facts About ---"
"SHARK!"

NOTES: I don't think anyone would disagree that this beginning serves to hook the reader. First, the narrator is a newsperson jellyfish, filming live! How cool is that? Next, it's about Sharks! Need I say more. I live in Florida and have two words for everyone: SHARK WEEK! Although the craze has hit the nation, it's HUGE down here. One of the yearly featured scientists even lives down the road from us. But back to shark -- Shark is a wonderful character with a problem that many can identify with. He's misunderstood.  So to recap, we have a popular topic (sharks), an interesting character (misunderstood shark) and a compelling beginning (featuring a shark AND a jellyfish). That, in my opinion wraps it up with THREE HOOKS right away (within the first two spreads). As an added benefit it includes fun facts about SHARKS! As you can tell, I LOVE this book, but more importantly, kids do/will to!

*.*.*.*.*
First of all, I assure you -- I am NOT obsessed with sea creatures. The next title is purely coincidental
and just happened to be next on my "To Read" pile. PURELY coincidental.

SAMSON THE PIRANHA WHO WENT TO DINNER by Tadgh Bentley.
Balzer and Bray, Harper Collins, 2017.

BEGINNING: Samson was a rather adventurous fellow.

While other piranhas stayed close to home, he wanted to explore far and wide. And while they stuck to the same old routine, Samson liked to get out and try new things.

NOTES: Right at the starting gate, a piranha is a new and unusual character. Who wouldn't want to follow him into his story, especially one that hinted at an adventure! Lastly, I feel a character who wants to break out from the stereotypic norm is one that readers will definitely be able to identify with. BAM -- three hooks! Again, in two spreads. So as you can see, there is take away value from this exercise. What do the first two books have in common? Both hook the reader right up front (even with the titles alone) and then reinforce the hook with the first two spreads.


THE LITTLEST VIKING by Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

BEGINNING: Sven was the littlest Viking. But it didn't matter. He had the loudest cry, the fiercest set
of teeth, and if he felt like pillaging...Well, let's say no one was bold enough to stop him.

NOTES: Like the others, this one has a hook in the title. Vikings are definitely interesting and there aren't too many books about them. And being the littlest, well -- many readers will identify with that story problem. So right away, in the title, two possible hooks and then the third, that he is a bold an admirable character that no one was bold enough to stop. It hints at the question -- how far will he go? Readers will want to read on to see. So, there you have it! 1.2.3 Hooks right up front.

When writing, revising and revisioning your manuscripts, take a few moments to consider the hooks. Does your manuscript hook the reader with the title? With the first spread? With the second spread? If not, perhaps some revisioning will bring it where it needs to be to sell in today's market. Good luck to you!

PLEASE follow this blog so you don't miss any tidbit of information and please feel free to leave any comment or question you may have. I will do my bes to answer all! 

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. 

To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.

Monday, August 27, 2018

An Exercise / Challenge / Study of Market Delineations for Picture Book Writers


NOTE: When you are done reading, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page if you feel this was helpful to you. I am also glad to hear what topics you would like me to focus on in upcoming blogposts. Thanks!

*.*.*.*

I just received my monthly Amazon Newsletter
*Best Books of August for Kids.*  I am always
looking for clues how to target my writing toward today's market, and I noticed that the age delineations for the recommendations were Baby - 2, 3-5, 6-8, 9 - 12, Non Fiction and Young Adult.

I found these delineations interesting that they veer from the previous standard. But they did make sense.

If there were words instead of ages, it would be:
1. Baby - Toddler
2. Pre-Readers (Younger Picture Books)
3. Beginning and Early Readers (Older Picture Books)
4. Middle Grade
5. Non Fiction
6. Young Adult

Notably the picture book age group of 4-8 was split up, almost as if to say younger and older picture books.

Here are the titles that fall in the previously-held picture book delineation of ages 4-8:

3-5
THE SLOTH WHO SLOWED US DOWN by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To
BOING! A VERY NOISY ABC by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Jorge Martin
THE DRAGON AND THE TROUBLESOME KNIGHT by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji
     Davies
EAT PETE! by Michael Rex
I FEEL TEAL by Lauren Rille illustrated by Aimee Sicuro
LUCY AND THE STRING by Vanessa Roeder
WANTO PLAY TRUCKS by Anne Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham
GOOD DOG by Cori Doerrfeld

6-8
DC SUPERHERO GIRLS by Shea Fontana, Illustrated by Marcelo DiChiara
MEET YASMIN by Saadia Faruq, illustrated by Hatem Ali
BARKUS DOG DREAMS by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Marc Boutavant
MEGA BAT by Anna Humphrey, illustrated by Kass Reich
BEAR COUNTRY by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Stephen Jo
MELIA AND JO by Billy Aronson, illustrated by Jennifer Oxley 

Now, the challenge. Divide the # of books between your critique group and have each purchase one or two or three. It would not only be an investment in your education and career, but you would be supporting your current or future colleagues and promoting children's literature in general.  And I always maintain what goes around comes around. Purchase books from others and someday it will be your turn to see readers purchase your books! 

Have each member do a study of their books. The study should include word count, topic, theme, notes on language, estimated age of main character, does it have a narrative arc, is there resolution, etc. When finished, swap books and repeat. When all books are studied, compare / contrast your studies for the books in 3-5 and 6-8. What did you find were the stand out differences between the two? Discuss with your group and take notes (the more you type / write down, the more you will remember and learn). 

I am going to give you a free tip before you actually go out and purchase your books. The true picture books are in the 3-5 age group category, so they are skewing younger and shorter. The books in the 6-8 category, are, for the most part, early reader chapter books. So if your goal is to publish a picture book, you may want to confine your study and your investment in the 3-5 age group books and study the similarities between them that make them "work" for that age group. If you find you write older and are willing to strive for success in the early reader arena, choose books for 6-8. 

From time to time, you will hear advice NOT to write for the market. I honestly disagree with that sentiment in some respects. I feel like you need to be able to understand the market and find a way to coax your own writing to fit within it to some degree. You can rewrite and revision ideas *many* ways. The important thing is to find the *way* that will sell that idea. And that's where market study becomes important. 

I have told you that picture books shew younger and shorter and that is absolutely helpful. But the things I can't tell you come from doing the work study yourself -- and that work study will undoubtedly inform your future success. 

I hope you enjoy this challenge. If you do decide to take any part of the challenge, please feel free to stop back here and share your thoughts as to whether it was helpful or not, and what you learned. 


*.*.*.*.*

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. 

To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

*UPDATED* 2018 AMAZING $20.18 INTRODUCTORY MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE OPPORTUNITY *Plus More*


I meant to put out this offer on New Year's Day, 2018. But already it has been one of those years. I was sick, my daughter contracted Flu A, my father had a heart attack (and thankfully, survived) and my car got stolen from the hospital parking lot (and thankfully later recovered, although with damage. And since all of this has resulted in more bills, better late than never!

First, here's my BIO:

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending)  and Let’s Eat Around the World (Beaming Books, 2019) as well as two pending books in the series and more forthcoming. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter, son, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, you can take advantage of my manuscript critique and editing services at a lower cost.

TERMS: Payment received prior to services rendered, in the form of Venmo (@Lynne-Marie-1) Friends and Family Paypal OR Paypal with Fees (LiterallyLynneMarie@Gmail.com). Please note that this pricing is already heavily reduced, so I need to receive the correct payment quote, not a reduced payment with paypal fees taken out.

PLEASE NOTE: If you send the wrong amount by sending Paypal Goods and Services without adding on the Extra Fees, you will need to send a 2nd amount to correct the amount. So please be careful when sending. Either FRIENDS AND FAMILY or PAYPAL FOR GOODS AND SERVICES PLUS FEES (which I believe are around .30 plus 2.9% per transaction) or VENMO (a Paypal App) will be accepted. 

The rates below are for picture books for to 700 words. If your picture book is longer that this, there is a $5.00 surcharge for each additional amount up to 150 words. So, for example a Manuscript of  740 words would have a $5 surcharge and a manuscript of 975 words would have a $10 surcharge. If you are adding your 1-2 line pitch at the top, which is fine and highly recommended, please add $2.50 to the total. Honed pitches will get you attention in queries and in twitter pitches so this step is very important!

(SALE) PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
COST: $20.18 per picture book Manuscript

NOTE: You can buy more than one of these and get a discount if you PRE-PAY at the time of your first order. For example, $100 will get you five (5) Picture Book Critiques on account.

(SALE) PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE with 15 MIN PHONE CONSULT
COST: $25.18 per picture book Manuscript

NOTE: You can buy more than one of these and get a discount if you PRE-PAY at the time of your first order. For example, $100 will get you FOUR (4) Picture Book Critiques on account, PLUS an extra 10 Minutes of Phone Consultation.

(SALE) PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE / CONSULTATION
COST: $27.68

NOTE: You can buy more than one of these and get a discount if you PRE-PAY at the time of your first order. For example, $100 will get you FOUR (4) Picture Book Critique / Consultations on account.

ADD-ON FOLLOW-UP CRITIQUES:
COST: $25.00
Follow-up critique on revisions, if not pre-purchased, will be $25.00 and will include a telephone consultation for any portion 1 hour's time not used up by the critique.

(SALE) ADD-ON COVER LETTERS:
COST: $5.00
Cover Letters, whether pre-purchased or not, will be $5.00.

(SALE) ADD-ON PHONE CONSULT
COST: $5.00
If you have previously purchased a critique from me prior to 3/30/18 and did not get to take advantage of the Add-On Phone Consult, you can do so NOW for only $5. We will pull up the critiqued manuscript and discuss for 15 minutes.

(SALE) "HONE-YOUR-PITCH" TELEPHONE SESSION:
COST: $10
Each session will be 10 minutes via telephone. PRE-PAY for 6 "Hone Your Pitch Sessions" at $60 and get 1 Pitch Session FREE. Great for cover letter pitches or twitter pitch contests!

(SALE) ADD-ON BIO:
I will edit your bio for your query letter for an additional $5 charge.

Please feel contact me to check in and see if the sale is still valid, and/or for regular rates on pitches, cover letters, picture book manuscripts, chapter books and MORE.

Here is what clients have said recently:


You are efficient! Thank you so much for your very helpful, speedy feedback! That was one of the most thorough critiques I've ever received. 


I want to say thank you for your critique of my story. I’ve had a chance to review it a few times and your notes and suggestions will be extremely helpful for my revision. I obviously have a lot of work still to do on this story, but I want to continue to develop it into, hopefully a polished manuscript for submission. Your thoughtful and detailed critique has set me in the right direction.


You don't know how much joy you brought me when I saw your critique and that is priceless. Thank you for continuing to motivate me as a fellow writer. Alicia Minor.


Thank you so much, Lynne. Your insights on both of these pieces are incredible. You've given me a LOT to think about and I'm excited to tackle the revisions. Very much appreciated!


Many thanks for the detailed critique! I have already incorporated many of your changes and ideas.

Lynne Marie has been a critique partner for years. She has great insight into what makes a picture book work. And this is a bargain price— buy five! Sherry Hyberger Howard
Many thanks, again, for this extremely insightful and helpful critique! I can't wait to work on revisions.

I have never learned so much from someone's critiques as I have from yours. You make me see things so much clearer. They have been thoughtful and honest. You have no clue how much you are teaching me. Thank you SO much. 

I didn’t know what to expect with my first critique, but Lynne Marie made the entire process painless and enjoyable! My manuscript took so many necessary turns and twists that I didn’t even know I needed! Andrea Jaimes


Thank you for your incredibly helpful feedback!  You have given me a lot to think about.



Feel free to contact me for more testimonials. 

ARE YOU A TRAVELLER *AND* A WRITER? WANT A CRITIQUE X 2 FOR FREE?
For a limited time, if you book a Vacation Package through me as a Travel Agent @PixieVacations.com, I will give you two (2) picture book manuscript critiques of up to 750 words PLUS two (2) 15 minute telephone consultations. Details: Offers available upon final payment and only on packages which are non-refundable or have insurance. Not combinable with other Pixie Perks like Cruise Line Door Decorations, Onboard Credits or Gift Cards.




PPBF: A Review of Bird, Balloon, Bear by Ill Sung Na

TITLE: Bird, Balloon, Bear
AUTHOR: Il Sung Na
ILLUSTRATOR: Il Sung Na
PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
IMPRINT: Borzoi Books

SNIPPET: It was Bird's first day in a new forest and he was looking for a friend. It wasn't long before he found someone! But Bird was too shy to say hello. 

When he finally felt brave enough...
...it was TOO LATE! Bear already had a friend. 

A simple and effectively-told story of a bird, a balloon and a bear with a satisfying ending and the subtle message that good things may come to those who wait, but yet take action when they receive the call. Bird's story is depicted in somewhat simple, soft and beautiful art which also lends to the appeal of this sweet story. 

While some of the sentences might be considered a bit tell-y, it ends up working well and I wouldn't change a thing. We are brought straight to the heart of the matter without delay and the sparse text is enhanced with the emotion portrayed in the art. 

This story gives hope for second chances, which are well worth the wait. 

RATING: 5 out of 5 Peas