Wednesday, August 7, 2019

8/2019 UPDATED - The Picture Book Mechanic Critique & Mentoring Service Pricing

*UPDATED* 2019 - 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.

(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.

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.

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.

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 (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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

COMMENTARY: MORE Insights from a PB Chat Mentor by Lynne Marie and SPECIAL SUBSCRIBER OFFERS for Applicants

My life got a little crazy (just being back from Europe and having so much to catch up on, and how life so often does!) so I had a little breather and now I'm looking back at the applications. I do think that some distance from the manuscripts and now focusing on my short list has served me well. I imagine that editors do much the same thing and that you will need to survive several rounds of reads to get an offer.

What I was basically looking for in this round, was:

1.  Does the story still stand out to me?
2.  Was the story as rewarding to read on the second round?
3.  Again, is this a story I want to work with?
4.  Again, is this a story that I feel I can offer assistance on?

I am also going through and reading the bios and questions with a little more focus, since I will be working with these writers.  And again, I want to be sure I can help facilitate their goals in some way.

Here are some issues that stuck out to me on the second read.

Primarily, that the story was not as satisfying the second time around, AND
that it just wasn't a story that I wanted to read again and again as I worked on it.

So do keep that in mind while writing your manuscripts. Re-readability is key. Most buyers/readers want a book they can read again and again. Most of my favorites have that quality, as I am sure do  yours. Here are some factors that contribute to re-readability:

Kid appeal.
Fascinating setting.
Endearing character.
Engaging plot.
Active attempts to solve problem.
Physical/emotional journey.
Heart.
Satisfying resolution.

Now keep in mind that I was not even looking for polished manuscripts. The above list is actually kind of general and broad. But I am looking for the potential for these things in the the manuscripts.

As I read through the short list of manuscripts, I found that many weren't as intriguing to me on the second read. This is one of the reason for instilling different layers in books. It's great when you read a book again and discover it had another layer to it. Something else to think about!

I know I've mentioned layers again and I do that a lot. Picture books should work on several levels.  But don't get overwhelmed. Think of them like rows of yarn threads in a knit cap or in a crocheted blanket. You get a rhythm, you pull the right colored threads and weave them together to form a piece with no holes where there shouldn't be.

Here are some things I know will be working on with whomever I chose. These are more specific and more detailed than the items mentioned above, and all lend to creating those bigger concepts.

Character flaw (+ how relates to problem)
Stakes
Language
Tension
Activeness
Potential for Illustration
Page Turns
Tension
Language
Pacing
Active attempts to solve
Kid appeal

If anyone is reading this to use as a revision checklist for their manuscript, I would recommending picking one item and checking for that with each read. Then pick the next item and focus on that, making sure each layer is intact and as best as can be.

So after sifting through the manuscripts again all day, I am happy to say -- I have selected two Mentees and one Runner-up!

I am so excited and can't for the announcement on 7/31.

If you applied to me, but I did not choose you, please know that I am so very sorry that I could not choose more. It was tough to limit to three.

Please consider signing up for my blog -- I will try to share as much as I can here from time to time to try and assist as many as I can on their journey.


PITCH CRITIQUE OFFER:
I wanted to post again that I am happy to offer a FREE PITCH CRITIQUE to anyone who follows this blog and who does not get selected for a Mentorship on 7/30. Believe it or not, once you have perfected your pitch, it is often enlightening and helps you write and make sense of your story.

Please note that this is a first-come, first served offer, and that there is no promised time-frame for return as I often get very busy with critiques. But I will do each one, and I will return them in the order received. They must be sent to THEPICTUREBOOKMECHANIC@GMAIL.COM. And you must comment here, that you have sent an e-mail with a pb title pitch and any other comment you wish to make. I will post here when the offer has expired. Until then, feel free to submit (1) pitch for critique.


ADDITIONAL OFFER: If you would like to try out one of my picture book critiques, for the month of August ONLY, I am offering a $5.00 DISCOUNT per manuscript critique discount to #PB Chat Members for their first critique. Current clients may also take advantage of this offer, as long as you are a #PB Chat participant/applicant.

JUST KEEP WRITING, JUST KEEP WRITING! 

BOOK A VACATION PACKAGE, 
GET A FREE MENTOR SESSION
(when you return from your trip!) 


Thursday, July 25, 2019

JOIN ME - Facebook Live Presentation @The Children's Book Academy - Friday, 7/26 @6PM

Want to hear more about how to write PICTURE BOOKS Books that pack a punch and STAND OUT? Join my FB Live video chat on Friday at 6 PM during Mira Reisberg's Children's Book Academy Picture Book Palooza  Hope to see you there! There'll be LOTS of TIPS, fabulous BOOK recommendations and MORE!
https://www.facebook.com/childrensbookacademy/


Monday, July 22, 2019

COMMENTARY: Insights from a PB Chat Mentor by Lynne Marie and SPECIAL SUBSCRIBER OFFERS for Applicants


INSIGHTS FROM A PB CHAT MENTOR
by Lynne Marie

I wanted to share thoughts as I go through the large pile of candidates for the #PB CHAT Mentorship as I hope it will share some necessary insights that may be useful to any of the applicants in other submission opportunities.

IT'S NOT PERSONAL
I'll be honest - when I opened each application, I read the story first, and then read the application itself with varied levels of interest.

Here's the reason behind that -- if the story is not a one that I connect with or feel I can be helpful with, then it's likely not a good choice for me or for you. This doesn't even necessarily say anything about the writing, the viability of the idea, although those can and might be factors.

My first run through applications was merely to choose a story that I had interest in as I will likely be spending time with it. In fact, I made a list of names and topics to help narrow down my selection. Of course, all of these, I felt I could be of assistance to as a mentor. And I'll be further honest -- the topics of my shorter list, for the most part, had animal hooks (with the exception of a few intriguing stories about witches, ballerinas and scientists and a balloon).

What does this say about me (or an editor or agent)? That I prefer anthropomorphic or animal stories, that I don't mind stories about inanimate objects and that I like colorful, focused characters, like witches, ballerinas and/or scientists. There had to be something for me that made the story stand out. For example, amidst all the sloths, dinosaurs and sea animals (don't get me wrong, I have two sloth stories, several sea animal stories and several dinosaur stories as well), a story about a yak (I actually have one of those too), was quite refreshing and nice to see! It stood out!

ATTRACTING EDITORS AND AGENTS:
You will find that personal taste dictates to editors and agents, too, so it is a really good idea to get to know your editor/agent and what they like/what appeals to them. Of course, you won't have extensive bios like us mentors filled out. But there are ways to get this information, like the Spotlight Features I write about Editors / Agents for Children's Book Insider (www.writeforkids.com), searching Publisher's Marketplace if you have a subscription and doing online research or reading conference bios. I have to also admit that my shortlist wasn't much shorter than my original list. Most applicants did a good job of sending a story on a topic that would appeal to me!

But my main point here, is that not once did I consider or not consider anyone based upon personal details. And please know that editors, also, are not reacting against you, either! They are merely going with the story that speaks to them (for whatever reason personal to them). Don't give up -- make your story the best it can be and find someone who your story speaks to!

GOOD WRITING
There were so many well-written manuscripts. But there weren't quite as many well-told stories. I hope this make sense, as I think it can prove entirely helpful. A phrase I often repeat is: "Good writing and a token can get you on the New York City subway." Because it takes more -- it takes good storytelling, and if you can start to appreciate the difference, your picture book manuscripts will improve greatly.

Put your manuscript away for a bit, and the next time you read it, shake yourself out and try to listen with some distance (not as the author). Read it aloud -- is the beginning hooking? Is the story engaging? Is the language lyrical? What bumps you out of the story or confuses or distracts you? Start to train your inner critic. Don't just write well, tell a compelling story.

THINGS THAT NEEDED WORK
Of course, these are things that I will address with my chosen Mentee in our Mentorship, but for those wonderful, promising authors that I regrettably will not be able to work with (since I can only select one), here are areas of concern.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few manuscripts that:

Didn't have an intriguing title.

Gave away the ending in the title.

Didn't present a hook in the beginning to keep the interest flowing.

Didn't really have a lot of conflict (if at all) or tension.

Felt quite common and didn't stand out quite well enough. Even as a reader, I was looking for fresh new slants that stand out above the rest.

Didn't have a compelling problem.

Had adult interference or distraction early on in the manuscript. I really wanted to read about the child and see what they wanted and what drove them and their story.

Had language that was kind of blah.

Didn't focus on emotional reactions of the characters.

Didn't have a main character that drove the story forward to a satisfying ending.

Didn't hit on that quality that a kid will be able to readily identify with and a flaw/problem that will inspire a child to root for it.

I do hope that you find these comments helpful. Please sign up to follow this blog for more helpful tips and offers.

IN CLOSING:
I have spent the better part of the day since 8 AM on this have only completed a quick first run.

I will be reviewing again tomorrow, looking at a list of other items of consideration which I hope to have time to also share with you.

I hope all of you know that we Mentors are striving to make the best possible match with our personality and style and do not in any way get discouraged, but merely dust yourself off and stay in the game (tip: that's how to win). I am happy to offer a FREE PITCH CRITIQUE to anyone who follows this blog and who does not get selected for a Mentorship on 7/30. Believe it or not, once you have perfected your pitch, it is often enlightening and helps you write and make sense of your story.

Please note that this is a first-come, first served offer, and that there is no promised time-frame for return as I often get very busy with critiques. But I will do each one, and I will return them in the order received. They must be sent to THEPICTUREBOOKMECHANIC@GMAIL.COM. And you must comment here, that you have sent an e-mail with a pb title pitch and any other comment you wish to make. I will post here when the offer has expired. Until then, feel free to submit (1) pitch for critique.

JUST KEEP WRITING, JUST KEEP WRITING! 





BOOK A VACATION PACKAGE, 
GET A FREE MENTOR SESSION
(when you return from your trip!) 


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

CHECK OUT my Guest Post over at THE WRITER'S RUMPUS!

So happy to be a Guest at Writer's Rumpus today and join in the fun!

https://writersrumpus.com/2019/07/02/the-s-and-s-of-writing-holiday-books/


Monday, June 24, 2019

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Lola Shapes the Sky by Wendy Greenley (by the Author)



 The Story Behind LOLA SHAPES THE SKY 
by Wendy Greenley 
illustrated by Paolo Domeniconi

I started writing Lola Shapes the Sky in 2012. The idea had been noodling around in my head for a while, and I felt like I was finally ready to put it down on paper. It was going to be a book about clouds looking down at people. I wrote a humorous story, set in cloud school. I had it critiqued by my local critique partners, and eventually by peers at an SCBWI conference and then by an editor at the conference. The editor who gave me my critique seemed to like the story, and I had high hopes for it. Sky high hopes.

At the time, I was unagented, and I sent the manuscript to a few other editors who responded asking me to send more work, but saying that this manuscript wasn’t a good fit for them. I put the manuscript away and worked on other stories.

I decided to get more editorial input on my work and saved up for Picture Book Boot Camp at The Highlights Foundation. If you ever get the chance to attend any one of their workshops, I highly recommend it! My workshop featured Author/Illustrators Pat Cummings, Denise Fleming, Paul O. Zelinsky, agent Rachel Orr, Art Director Laurent Linn and author Bruce Degen. As part of the application process, I submitted a manuscript about a chicken, and my round-table group gave me feedback on it, but when it came time to discuss one of the manuscripts we loved with the agent and art director, I couldn’t get LOLA out of my mind, and I shared that story.

The Highlights workshop changed my literal and figurative perspective. I FINALLY realized that the problem with the manuscript wasn’t my words per se, it was that the physical viewpoint limited an illustrator. When I returned from the workshop, LOLA went back in the drawer to steep. Finally, about a year later, I couldn’t get LOLA out of my head and went back with fresh eyes, and rewrote the entire manuscript. It’s a totally different plot now. No school. More Awww, less Haaa! And that’s fine with me! My story about a cloud who doesn’t fit in and remains true to herself, realizing that she has to be who she is remains. The heart of the story beats stronger than ever. The new version of the story connected me with my agent and publisher. And now it’s out in the world for everyone to read.

Jacket Flap: “Lola is not like the other clouds. While they are busy making shade and rain and snow, as clouds do, Lola makes shapes. “Clouds make weather, not shapes!” thunders Thor. But while Thor’s thunder makes people run for cover, Lola’s fantastic shapes inspire awe and wonder.  Clouds make weather and shapes, after all.”
Author Bio: Wendy Greenley doesn’t mind if you say she has her head in the clouds. With her recent picture book debut, she’s on cloud nine with her main character, Lola. Besides writing for children, Wendy has been a telephone interviewer (sorry), ice cream scooper, night security guard, microbiologist and attorney. Wendy graduated with her M.S. in microbiology from The University of Delaware and a J.D. from Villanova University. You can find seven of her nonfiction stories for adults in Chicken Soup for the Soup anthologies (and on a Chicken Soup dog food bag!).

Meet Wendy—

Sunday, June 23, 2019

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves by Lauren Kerstein (by Lauren Kerstein)






THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
feature on
My Word Playground!

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Lynne! Congratulations on your upcoming books: MOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE SCARES and LET’S EAT: MEALTIMES AROUND THE WORLD.
Writing challenges, swim team, and flexibility (i.e., saying “YES!) helped me create ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES.
Let me explain:
In April 2016, I read a ReFoReMo post by Tammi Sauer about structure. I was fascinated by the myriad of structures we might use to write picture books. In May 2016, when I participated in NaPiBoWriWee, I was curious to see if I could write in different structures, so I challenged myself to do just that.

I wrote a “how to” book about putting your mommy to bed. It was fun and cute, but critiquers asked: “Can you make this more unique?”
I said, “YES! How about a dragon who wants to learn how to swim?!”

And then I revised. And revised. And revised.
At that time, I was one of the Parent Reps who ran our swim team (NOT a job for the weak). I hid in a corner revising Rosie and Charlie’s story. Ideas flooded me as I listened to the swift strokes of swimmers and wiped pool water from my face. If you’ve ever been a swim team parent, you know the trials and tribulations of keeping track of goggles, intense summer friendships, overcoming fears, and eating more sugar at swim meets than you thought humanly (or dragonly) possible.
 I subbed to critique group after critique group. (Including Lynne—thank you!)
And then I revised. And revised. And revised. Again.
I queried agent after agent after agent after agent until finally, Deborah Warren (East West Literary Agency) said “YES!”
Deborah asked, “Can you incorporate actual swim skills?”
I said, “Yes! What a terrific idea!”
So, I revised again.
When an editor asked, “Can you rewrite this as a character-focused manuscript with a more typical structure?”
I said, “YES!”
And revised again, until:
ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES was born.
I am thrilled to share Rosie and Charlie with the world!
May you live courageously and make waves, just like Rosie and Charlie!

Lauren is giving away a critique and a copy of the book.

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who loves reading, drinking tea, and devouring chocolate. Lauren currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Josh, their two dragons...er, daughters, Sarah and Danielle, and Hudson, the dog. Her picture book, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES, recently swam to shelves near you. She runs a critique business, is a member of SCBWI, is a judge for Rate Your Story, and is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek. Lauren also writes books in the mental health field. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts.

Website Link: www.LaurenKerstein.net
Social Media Links:
FB: @laurenkersteinauthor
IG:
@laurenkerstein
Twitter:
@laurenkerstein

Jacket Flap Copy from Book (Optional):
It’s summertime, and you’re invited for a rollicking day at the pool with Charlie and his pet dragon (and best friend!), Rosie. But be careful—swimming with a dragon can be, um, challenging. As Rosie and Charlie blow bubbles (don’t forget your umbrella!), practice flutter kicks (watch out for tidal waves!), and offer shoulder rides (hang on tight!), Rosie proves that dragons make the most fun pets ever. Now if only Charlie can keep Rosie’s attention focused on the rules at the pool and NOT on her gummy snacks (you know, the ones that cause stinky dragon breath!)…Grab your towels and sunscreen and join Rosie and Charlie for a fun-filled summer adventure!
*.*.*.*.*


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