Tuesday, October 15, 2019

TRAILER REVEAL: Let's Eat! Mealtime Around the World by Lynne Marie



So excited to reveal the trailer of my latest book with the wonderful BEAMING BOOKS, publisher of my holiday book THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY...
LET'S EAT! MEALTIME AROUND THE WORLD, illustrated by the fabulous Parwinder Singh!

Take a L@@K!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HymfLKelzP4&feature=youtu.be



BUY HERE:
https://amzn.to/33xcxQz

Thank you for your continued support!
Lynne Marie
www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com
LiterallyLynneMarie@Gmail.com

Friday, October 11, 2019

THREE REASONS TO READ: Where Are You From by Yamile Saied Mendez






Title: Where Are You From?
Illustrator: Jaime Kim
Publisher: Harper Collins 2019

Jacket Flap: When a young girl is asked where she is 
from -- where she's really from -- she's no longer as 
sure as she was. She decides to turn to her dear abuelo 
for some help with this ever-persistent question. But he 
doesn't quite give her the answer she expects. 



Yamile Saied Mendez's lyrical text and Jaime Kim's 
stunning illustrations celebrate the importance of family,  
love and home through embracing one's rich heritage and culture. 

THREE REASONS TO READ:

1.    I really love that although the heritage in this book is Spanish, in the end, it emphasizes: "he points 
       to his heart. You're from here, from my love and the love of all those before us, from those who 
       dreamed of you..."
2.    I enjoyed the cultural flavor of the Pampas. 
3.   I loved the collaboration between the Argentinian author and South Korean illustrator that resulted 
      in this beautiful book. 

BONUS REASON: It inspired me to draft a picture book manuscript which shares about my culture. My 
Mormor would be proud.  

BUY THE BOOK:
https://amzn.to/32b5WuQ


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

THREE REASONS TO READ: How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees by Vincent X. Kirsch

Title: HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES
Author/Illustrator: Vincent X. Kirsch
Publisher: Abrams Books, 2019

Jacket Flap:
Hang on tight with both hands. 
Take it one branch at a time. 
Letting go will be the hardest part...

Roger and Adelia are the very best of friends. They've spent many springtimes collecting birds' nests, autumns jumping into piles of colorful leaves, and winters building snowmen. When Adelia has to move away, the two friends must say goodbye. However, she has a parting gift. She will teach Roger how to climb a tree and fall safely. But how do you learn to let go? Adelia makes sure that, for Roger, falling will be the easiest part. 

A tender tale for anyone who's ever had to say goodbye to a friend, How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees captures the bittersweet emotions of growing up and moving forward. 

THREE REASONS TO READ:

1.    A problem kids (and adults) can identify with! 
2.    Such a sweet and tender (and clever) treatment of the problem that's kid-friendly and not at all preachy. 
3.    Wonderful, accessible art that also works to make the story accessible.  

BONUS REASON: TREES -- trees are so important and the cornerstone to this book. We need more trees! 

BUY THE BOOK:
https://amzn.to/35heoL5



Thursday, October 3, 2019

2019 CYBILS - Bring On the Books! Call for Nominations

I am excited to have been appointed as a Cybils Fiction Picture Book and Board Book Round 1 Judge -

Congratulations to all who are serving on this year's panels! 

IMPORTANTLY, Cybils Nominations are open until October 15, 2019. We can nominate one book in each category. 

As much as I would have appreciated it, PLEASE do DO NOT nominate my books as I will have to disqualify them due to fact that I am serving on the panel. 

Take a moment and see what's been nominated and add YOUR pick! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THREE REASONS TO READ: Flower Talk - How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Lynne Marie

Title: FLOWER TALK
Author: Sara Levine
Illustrator: Marsha D'yans
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2019

Jacket Flap:

Psst! DID YOU KNOW PLANTS CAN TALK? It's true! Plants use colors of their flowers to communicate with animals. Because they help plants make seeds by moving pollen from one flower to another.  Learn the secrets of flower talk from a narrator with an inside scoop!

THREE REASONS TO READ:

1.    The narrator is a cactus! 
2.    The information is important AND engaging.
3.    The art and presentation is amazing! 

BONUS REASON: Bees -- Bees are so very important. Be kind to them and all living things! There's so much more I can say about this book with it's truly beautiful illustrations. It's a necessary book. Read it. Share it. Preserve plants and insects! 

BUY THE BOOK:
https://amzn.to/2o5VGFb


ASK ME how to get a free Mentor Session when you book a vacation package!

Friday, September 27, 2019

SUMMER/FALL 2019 - My Moldilocks and the Three Scares Blog Hop

SUMMER WEBSITE AND BLOG APPEARANCES: 

Want to learn more about ME and MOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE SCARES? Here are some places
to discover the story behind the author and the story!

July 1, 2019 - Writer’s Rumpus
July 15, 2019 - Kirkus Review 
August 4, 2019 - Rate Your Story Blog
August 6, 2019 - Writing and Illustrating Blog
August 8, 2019 - Simply Seven
August 9, 2019 - KidLit 411
August 27, 2019 - Manju Blog
September 6, 2019 - 12 x 12 Featured Author
September 17, 2019 - #Revision Week
September 27, 2019 - Inherview with Shannon Otto Stocker
http://www.shannonstocker.com/lynne-marie-inherview/

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

CHECK OUT MY FRIENDS AND THEIR FABULOUS #reVISIONweek POSTS HERE


What happens when a group of six close, invested and motivated authors get together? reVISION week, that's what!

Along with our Leader Lauren Kerstein, Katie Frawley, Shannon Otto Stocker, Joana Pastro, Michal Babay we've banded together to motivate YOU (and let's be honest, ourselves)!

Please feel free to check out my DAY TWO POST, as well as the fabulous posts from my dear friends. I will be updating them each day, so you will always have a way to find them all in one place! They're fabulous, just like my friends!

PRIZES and MORE REVISION TIPS!
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/revisionweek-2019-wrap-up-and-prizes

DAY SEVEN WRAP UP POST: Looks Like You Made It!
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/22/revisionweek-day-7-you-made-it-enter-to-win-a-prize-today/

DAY SIX POST: Make Your Manuscript Sing by Shannon Otto Stocker
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/revisionweek-day-6-make-your-manuscript-sing/



DAY FIVE POST: Pacing tricks by Lauren Kerstein
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/revisionweek-day-5-pacing-tricks-that-strengthen-your-manuscript/









DAY FOUR POST: Revise Your Schedule by Michal Babay
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/revisionweek-day-4-revise-your-schedule-otherwise-known-as-say-no-to-distractions/


DAY THREE POST: Filtering Feedback - How to Stay True to Your Revisions
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/revisionweek-day-3-filtering-feedback-how-to-stay-true-to-your-vision-during-revisions/


DAY TWO POST: Revision Tips from The Picture Book Mechanic
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/revisionweek-day-2-revision-tips-from-the-picture-book-mechanic/







DAY ONE POST: How to Critique Your Manuscript Like a CP by Katie Frawley
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/revisionweek-day-1-note-to-self-how-to-critique-your-manuscript-like-a-cp/








REVISION WEEK EVE POST: Twas the Night Before Revision Week
https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/twas-the-night-before-revisionweek/










Because when it comes down to it, we're all in this together and 
couldn't have done it without each other. 


Friday, September 13, 2019

NEW ACCOLADE for "The Picture Book Mechanic" AND *Special One-Day Discount Offer*


“Lynne Marie is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the world of children’s literature, and she has the experience to back it up. She has the ability to zone in on the potential problems in your manuscript, and helps you find solutions. I resonated with her feedback, and feel it will ultimately help bring my book to the next level. I would highly recommend her consulting and mentoring services. Her critiques are easy to digest, and extremely affordable!”
-Lydia Lukidis, author

http://www.lydialukidis.com/


Thank you, Lydia Lukidis! So happy and proud to be a part of your journey!

For a limited time, *Blog Subscribers* who visit dear Lydia's website and mention one of her book titles will receive $5.00 off a Standard Critique or Critique Package when paid in full TODAY (9/13/19). 




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

THREE REASONS TO READ: A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Kayla Harren

THREE REASONS TO READ: A Boy Like You

Author: Frank Murphy
Illustrator: Kayla Harren
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

1.    It has a wonderful message
2.    It's timely
3.    It's inspiring

There's so much more I can say about this book with it's truly beautiful illustrations. It's a necessary book. Read it. Share it. Live it.






WATCH THE TRAILER:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWfF2iwdRCU
BUY THE BOOK:
https://amzn.to/2LWPmbx


ASK ME how to get a free Mentor Session when you book a vacation package!

GUEST POST: Lynne Marie and Moldilocks and the Three Scares over at the Picture Book Builders!

Not only will you get to read some of the story behind the story, but you can get a chance at winning a copy of the book!

https://picturebookbuilders.com/2019/09/moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-giveaway/


Book a Vacation Package with Me and Get a Free Mentor Session for your Picture Book!
Contact me for more details! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

2019 UPDATED - The Picture Book Mechanic Critique & Mentoring Service Pricing

Critique Offerings from 

THE PICTURE BOOK MECHANIC



*PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUES* 
available from a traditionally-published Picture Book Author 
in both fiction and non-fiction. 

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, 2019) and Let’s Eat: Mealtimes Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019) as well as two pending books in the series and more, forthcoming.
She's a contributor to Family Fun's Games on the Go (Hyperion, 1998).
She's published magazine articles with Highlights for Children, Highlights High Five, 
Highlights Hello, Spider Magazine, Family Fun, 
Writer's Digest, Writer's Journal and more. 
She's been professional book reviewer for book review journals 
like Riverbank Review and KLIATT.
An extensive resume can be provided upon request.


Lynne Marie is a member of SCBWI Florida (and has been on SCBWI Florida Boot Camp, Workshop and Critique Faculty). She's the Spotlight Feature Columnist for Children's Book Insider, a 12 x 12 Critique Ninja (2018 and 2019), and a Rate Your Story Judge (2017, 2018 and 2019). She was a Cybils Elementary / Middle Grade Non-Fiction First Round Judge for 2018 and a Picture Book First Round Judge for 2017 and 2016.

When she's not travelling around the world for her job as a Travel Agent with Pixie Vacations, 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 and www.thepicturebookmechanic.com


*.*.*.*.*.*.*

LATEST NEWS!
7/12/19 - Mentee offered contract with Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster on workshopped Manuscript. YAY! 
*.*.*PLEASE READ THIS POST IN ITS ENTIRETY*.*.*

Pricing is SUBJECT TO CHANGE, so take advantage by purchasing critique packages, which will price protect you. These can be purchased now and used now OR in the future (see expiration date).

Any unused critiques expire on December 15, 2019 (no exceptions) and will not carry into the new year. December critiques must be submitted on or before December 10, 2019.

Please note: NEW Critique PURCHASE Requests *MAY* be sent after December 15th, of course, but a quick turnaround is not guaranteed and need pre-approval as far as return dates prior to December 30, 2019.

TERMS: Payment must be 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.

VENMO: www.venmo.com/Lynne-Marie-1
PAYPAL: paypal.me/LiterallyLynneMarie

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. 

(SALE) FICTION PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
COST: $35.00 per picture book (Full Manuscript up to 650 Words) - See below for *over-the-limit* fees. This does not include pitch unless you pay for one...

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, $162.50 will get you five (5) Picture Book Critiques on account.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF OVER THE LIMIT FEES -- See "Word Count." Manuscripts up to 650 Words. Send in an additional payment if your manuscript goes over the limit. There is a $5 surcharge for each 150 words.

(SALE) NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
COST: $37.50 per picture book (Full Manuscript up to 650 Words) - See below for *over-the-limit* fees. This does not include pitch unless you pay for one...

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, $175.00 will get you five (5) Non-Fiction Picture Book Critiques on account.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF OVER THE LIMIT FEES -- See "Word Count." Manuscripts up to 650 Words. Send in an additional payment if your manuscript goes over the limit. There is a $5 surcharge for each 150 words, UP TO 950 
Words. AFTER THAT, there is an hourly charge for critiques of $25.00/hour. 

(SALE) PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE with 10 MIN PHONE CONSULT
COST: $40.00 per picture book

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, $190 will get you FIVE (5) Picture Book Critiques with 10 Min Phone Consultations, PLUS a BONUS extra 10 Minutes of Phone Consultation. Additional time can be added for $5 each additional 10 Mins.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF OVER THE LIMIT FEES -- See "Word Count." Manuscripts up to 650 Words. Send in an additional payment if your manuscript goes over the limit. There is a $5 surcharge for each 150 words.

(SALE) PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE / 20 MIN. CONSULTATION
COST: $50.00 per picture book

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, $235 will get you FIVE (5) Picture Book Critique / Consultations with 20 Min Phone Consultations on account, PLUS a BONUS extra 20 Minutes of Phone Consultation. Additional time can be added for $5 each additional 10 Mins.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF OVER THE LIMIT FEES -- See "Word Count." Manuscripts up to 650 Words. Send in an additional payment if your manuscript goes over the limit. There is a $5 surcharge for each 150 words.

CRITIQUE & FOLLOW-UP PACKAGE & ADD-ON FOLLOW-UP CRITIQUES:
COST: $62.00 for One Critique and One Revision Critique on the same manuscript, when Purchased TOGETHER. Follow-up critique on revisions, if not pre-purchased, will be $32.50.

PLEASE BE AWARE OF OVER THE LIMIT FEES -- See "Word Count." Manuscripts up to 650 Words. Send in an additional payment if your manuscript goes over the limit. There is a $5 surcharge for each 150 words.

ADD-ON PAGINATION:
COST: $10
This fee covers paging out the entire manuscript up to 32 Pages.
COST: $12.50
This fee covers paging out the entire manuscript up to 40 Pages.

COVER LETTERS:
COST: $8.50
Cover Letters, as an Add-on, will be $7.50.

PITCHES:
COST: $7.50
Pitches will be $6.00 as an Add-On.

ONE PAGE SUMMARY OF OVERALL THOUGHTS:
My critiques, with the exception of a short list of positive aspects of the manuscript and things that need work, are basically detailed "line by line" critiques. If you would like your manuscript to include an additional one-page summary of thoughts on setting, characterization, motivation, stakes, plot, pacing, resolution, there is a $12.50 additional charge for same. 

WANT YOUR STORY RATED?
If you would like me to give your manuscript a rating with regard to my personal opinion as to the viability 
of it in the current marketplace, please add a $5.00 fee. This will include a sentence or two that explains the 
rating. For a $7.50 fee, I will include a short paragraph explaining the rating. 

PHONE CONSULTATIONS:
COST: $15.00.
We will pull up a manuscript and discuss for 1/2 hour. As an add on, in a pre-paid block of one-half hour's time, this will be $12.50.

"HONE-YOUR-PITCH" TELEPHONE SESSION:
COST: $8.50
Each "stand-alone" session will be 10 minutes via telephone. As an Add-on, this will be $7.00.

BIO and/or ADD-ON BIO:
I will edit your bio for your query letter for an additional $7.50 charge. As an Add-on, this will be $6.00.

EDITOR OR AGENT COMMENT / PRIOR MANUSCRIPT REVIEW:
I am happy to review Editor or Agent Comments for $10.00 per manuscript. Should you wish me to review (but not comment on) a prior version of a manuscript, that will also be $10.00 reading fee.

CRITIQUE OF REVISIONS FOR SUBMISSION TO AN EDITOR/AGENT:
These critiques are billable at $25.00 per hour, with a minimum deposit of $60.00 which includes 2 hours and Editor/Agent Comments review ($10), payable in advance of services rendered.

MENTORING:
Online Mentoring runs $25.00 per hour. This requires a deposit of $100, payable in advance. Time statements will be kept in a google doc and shared with client.

Telephone Mentoring runs $30.00 per hour. This requires a deposit of $100, payable in advance. Time statements will be kept in a google doc and shared with client.

Video Chat Mentoring runs $35.00 per hour. This requires a deposit of $100, payable in advance. Time statements will be kept in a google doc and shared with client.

In-Person Mentoring runs $40.00 per hour, with a Deposit of $100.00, payable in advance. In person Mentoring ALSO requires payment of a $5.00 travel surcharge. Payment is cash only, in person at start of session.

COMPARISION OF CRITIQUE TO PRIOR CRITIQUE:
If you wish me to critique a manuscript and compare it to a prior critique, you will need to pay an $25.00 surcharge. 

CUSTOM PACKAGE:
I am happy to make up a custom package to try and accommodate your needs.

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.

TURNAROUND TIME:
Please note that while I strive in every way to get your manuscript back as quick as possible, due to popular demand and affordable pricing, I have quite a queue. Please know that I will do my best to get to your manuscript as soon as possible and turnaround time is now estimated at 5-7 business days.

Should you want or expect a quicker turn around time, please add the following Rush Fees to your order:

RUSH FEE(S): For Guaranteed Turnaround
If you require a same-day turnaround, there will be a $30 rush surcharge added to your order. If you require a one-day turnaround, there will be a $20 rush surcharge added to your order. For a two-day turnaround, there will be a $20 rush surcharge. For a three-day turnaround guaranteed, there will be a $10 rush charge. 

Of course, these require pre-approval before payment of fees.

WORD COUNT LIMIT - OVER THE LIMIT FEES
The rates above are for picture books for to 650 words or less. If your picture book is longer that this, there is a $5.00 surcharge for each additional amount up to 150 words UP TO 950 Words. AFTER THAT, there is an hourly charge for critiques of $25.00/hour. 

So, for example a Manuscript of  740 words would have a $5 surcharge and a manuscript of 875 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 $5.00 to the total. Honed pitches will get you attention in queries and in twitter pitches so this step is very important!

For these rates you will receive a multi-level, line-by-line critique which discusses several aspects of writing a story which may include, but not be limited to (beginning, inciting event, characterization, motivation, stakes, character flaw, attempts at solving the problem, deep dark moment, renewal, ending and take-away value, IN ADDITION to title, word choice, poetic devices, sentence length, point of view, syntax, etc.). Sometimes, I am able share comp titles. PLEASE note if your manuscript requires a lot of work, we can only focus on first things first. In that case, I recommend repeat critiques to get the manuscript submission ready.

ZOOM MENTOR CRITIQUE GROUP:
I am now filling slots for Mentor Critique Group Sessions. The current, limited-time *introductory* pricing is $10 person for a reading and verbal feedback on one manuscript over Zoom. Time allotment 15 minutes per person. Minimum of four people required to make a group. Contact me directly for availability. 

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that a # of my clients were recipients of *Writing with the Stars* Mentorships and *PBParty* Finalists and others have recently signed with Agents and gotten book deals. So proud and happy to be a part of their journey! 

Here is what current clients have said recently:

*New* I wanted to thank you again for your insightful comments. You really have great suggestions and are able to pinpoint the problems. Thanks so much. KB

*NEW* Thank you so much for these detailed and extremely helpful edits. I can't wait to dive back in and use all of your suggestions. KD

*NEW* Thank you, Lynne! I'm so grateful for your help with several of my stories. I think your two recent critiques in particular helped me catch the interest of agents! B.S. 

*NEW* 
What amazes me about you is not only that you send the critiques out so quickly (you must have racing stripes on your red pen), but also that the quality of your critiques are so good. Your fee is darn reasonable, too. J.S.

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.



Wow, you are awesome! I absolutely love the way you’ve commented throughout the document and your insights are just what I need.

Thank you so much and when I get back to revising this story, I’ll have all your suggestions to get me through.


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


Wow, you are awesome! I absolutely love the way you’ve commented throughout the document and your insights are just what I need.



Oh, my goodness! You are wonderful! You were so thorough and exceeded my expectations. It is quite evident that you spent some time on the critique. I would love for you to critique the revision and will get back to you once I feel it is ready. Thank you so much! C.L.M. 

Thank you so much and when I get back to revising this story, I’ll have all your suggestions to get me through. K. 

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


Man I learned so much. Truly grateful for all the insights! PM

Thank you for making a difference in my life and work. Devon Kondaki. 

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.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Shannon Stocker's Can U Save the Day illustrated by Tom Disbury


THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
by Shannon Stocker 

One chilly night, late 2015, I tucked under the covers after an exhausting day. Christmas loomed and I felt utterly unprepared, despite the fact that I’d recently quit my job to focus on being a mother and a writer. Evenings overflowed with decorating, cleaning, cooking, and wrapping, while I stole daylight hours to write. But for weeks, I’d been reworking a picture book that simply didn’t want to cooperate. I felt defeated.
I kissed my husband goodnight and turned off the light. As I finally drifted toward sleep, words filled my head.
Instead of bark, the dog said BRK.
I rolled over and tugged the covers higher.
Instead of bark, the dog said BRK, the words screamed.
I’ll remember in the morning, I thought-screamed back.
NO YOU WON’T, my subconscious shouted. INSTEAD OF BARK, THE DOG SAID BRK!
I sighed. Fine, I thought. I snagged my phone and typed the words into my NOTES section, then rolled over and closed my eyes again.
And the duck…couldn’t quack…she could only…
Quck, I thought. Wait a minute… Bark. Brk. Quack. Quck. Croak. Crok. Moo…
I grinned.
My eyes snapped open and I reached for my phone again. As I typed the lines, my brain became overwhelmed by an onslaught of vowel-less farm animals. I kicked the covers off, the mattress creaking as I stood.
“Where are you going?” my husband mumbled.
“Sorry—go to sleep. I’m gonna be a while,” I said. “I think I’ve got a good idea for a book.”
The first half of the story rolled out of me, in rhyme, within an hour. Once my thinking slowed, I allowed myself to get some rest. The next day, I finished the first draft of what was then called, THE DAY ‘A’ RAN AWAY. In that version, B bullied A, who became sad and ran away. E, I, and O followed suit, leaving behind a mess of stuttering, stammering farm animals. 
Realizing that the vowels are crucial, U convinced her gang to return and B saw that even though there are only five vowels, they are all equally important. 
The book rolled out perfectly the first time, sold quickly, and landed me my dream agent. Right?
Ha.
I queried a few of my top agent choices with the story, including Rosemary Stimola. Many were kind enough to respond that they loved the idea, but something was missing. It was always a “no.”
I reworked the story with two critique partners I’d met at my first SCBWI conference the prior fall. I joined a local critique group and reworked it with them. I took an online class and reworked it again. In the fall of 2016, I attended my second SCBWI conference, submitted the story for a paid critique, and reworked it again. Late fall 2016, I paid for an online critique by an editor who loved the idea, but suggested I rewrite the story without rhyme. My heart sank. The story first came to me in rhyme. As a songwriter, I believed in my ability to write with strong meter, rhythm, and rhyme. But I’d been around long enough at this point to know that if an editor wanted you to try something, you should try it. So I did.
I hated it.
And that’s when I got my first bite from a publishing house I’d queried through the slush pile. In late 2016, an editor suggested that not only should vowels disappear from the animal sounds, perhaps they should disappear from everywhere. What if the vowels left the farm, and road signs lost the vowels, too? It was a suggestion I could embrace wholeheartedly.
As the rewrite unfolded, I injected a scene where a truck nearly flattens the consonants. It became clear that U was the heroine of my story, so a new title emerged: CAN U SAVE THE DAY. This editor and I went back and forth for a few revisions, then BOOM! My story went to editorial.
Just as quickly as my dream ignited, it died. The editorial director felt the idea was too abstract for young readers. But the momentum had given me hope.
Early 2017, I signed up for another online editorial critique. This one was with Sarah Rockett of Sleeping Bear Press. In some ways, her suggestions mirrored those of the first editor. She wanted me to clean up my logistics—it would be much funnier, she thought, if the vowels left all the dialogue as they abandoned the farm. But in other ways, she disagreed with the other editor. Sarah suggested I bring the vowels back to the farm for the whole book. And instead of a truck, how about a tractor? And tension, she said. Add more tension.
So I did. Sarah and I emailed revisions back and forth until finally, she sent my fifty-sixth draft to her editorial team.
They loved it.
About two months later, in May 2017, I learned that CAN U SAVE THE DAY had passed through Acquisitions as well, and Sarah offered me a contract. Champagne flowed!
Almost one full year after the contract was signed, I learned that my illustrator would be Tom Disbury. I looked him up and felt thrilled by his humorous, modern style. I knew his artwork would pair perfectly with the manuscript…and it does!
Now, over two years following the sale of my first picture book, I can look back and appreciate the lessons I learned during this period of time. Patience. Persistence. Gratitude. Every step served a purpose. I’m grateful to my early critique partners who guided me on this book, and I’m grateful to my new critique partners and agent, Allison Remcheck, who forge ahead with me on this crazy road. It is because of all of them that I’m now celebrating my next book, LISTEN (Evelyn Glennie: How One Deaf Girl Changed the World of Percussion), to be released by Dial Books for Young Readers!
Stick to it, y’all. It can happen!

GIVE-AWAY: Shannon is willing to give-away a critique and a book, so we will have not one, but TWO (2) lucky winners. To be eligible, be a follower of this blog, and leave a comment for Shannon on the blog. For extra entries, please share this post and let us know where you posted it. Thanks in advance for helping promote this fabulous author and book. 

Winners Chosen 9/1/2019 and announced shortly thereafter! PLEASE NOTE: If you are chosen, and you are not a follower of this blog, another winner will be chosen, so please be certain to follow the instructions. Thank you. 


 AUTHOR BIO:
Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who loves all letters equally. She lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, KY, where she molds the alphabet into picture books and songs all day. LISTEN, Shannon's picture book biography about deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie will be released by Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin/Random House), and several of her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, and an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate. She’s also a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. 
To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes, mantras, and adorable animal pics @iwriteforkidz. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.
 WEBSITE LINK:
 SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Facebook (Shannon Otto Stocker) - https://www.facebook.com/shannon.o.stocker
Facebook author page (Shannon Stocker Author) - https://www.facebook.com/shannonstockerauthor/
Twitter - @iwriteforkidz
Instagram - @iwriteforkidz

PRE-ORDER LINK:
CAN YOU SAVE THE DAY