Saturday, September 19, 2020

Check Out *WHO* Is a Round One Fiction Picture Book Judge for the Cybils Awards 2020

So excited to be on an AMAZING team of Bloggers and Judges! 

AND so happy to have you all along on my reading journey!

Don't forget to follow me on Goodreads HERE

ASK ME about my BOOK CHATS :) 

Three Reasons to Read: FRY BREAD by Kevin Noble Maillard, Art by Juana Martinez-Neal

Fry Bread - A Native American Family Story

AUTHOR: Kevin Noble Maillard

ILLUSTRATOR: Juana Martinez-Neal

PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press, 10/2019


Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.

Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.

Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.

Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.


1. Its lovely free verse is filled with images and emotions that are clear and effective. 

2. The art is beautiful and diverse and kid-friendly. 

3. Fry Bread is a wonderful metaphor for a heritage that allows the reader to grow in their understanding of what it means, starting small, with food and building with each example until it becomes all of us! 

Purchase Fry Bread HERE.

NOTE: FRY BREAD was a favorite at one of my Weekly "Tinker and Talk" Book Chats. Feel free to join us! Open until 12/31/2020 and then, available only to Rate Your Story Memberships. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

REVISION TIPS: Serving Up Another Morsel

      In case you missed it -- 

MORE "bite-sized" tips from ME for Revision Week HERE

over at Lauren Kerstein's Blog. 

And don't forget to sign up for Quick and Affordable Manuscript feedback!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Celebrating reVISION Week with my Cyber Home Girls Joana, Katie, Lauren, Michal, and Shannon

WELCOME to our 2nd annual #ReVISIONweek! Joana, Katie, Lauren, Michal, Shannon, and I are thrilled to be able to bring this back again, despite this year's challenges. 

We've worked hard to create bite-sized tips to help you through the trying times with your writing. 

CLICK HERE for My Revision Week Tip for 9/11 

Be sure follow Lauren Kerstein's blog to get my next tip, as well as the rest of the tips!

And, don't forget...

     so you don't miss any upcoming RATE YOUR STORY NEWS sign up at HERE 

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Story Behind the Story of MOOTILDA by Kirsti Call

Buy Mootilda HERE:

When Mootilda wakes up on the wrong side of the barn and experiences one cow-tastrophe after another, she has to figure out how to turn her bad moooood around. 

As soon as Corey Rosen Schwartz and I brainstormed Mootilda into existence, we knew we had to write about her. We wanted to write something social emotional (since I’m a therapist) and funny (since we both love to laugh) so we filled the story with wordplay and a repeating refrain: “I’m in a bad moooood!” 

Our first version of the story involved a coyote and Mootilda saving the day by scaring him away with her bad mood. We thought the story was perfect in every way and asked our agent to send it out immediately. She sent it to three editors and when Courtney Fahy at Little Bee told us she wanted a tiny tweak, we were thrilled. But her tweak involved taking the coyote out! WHAT?!?! NOOOOOOOO! We absolutely could not take him out! But we talked to our families and critique partners and somehow mooogically figured out a way to make the story work without the coyote. And Mootilda’s Bad Mood is vastly better because of it. 

I’m over the moooooon excited to see Mootilda out in the world on September 1st. And in case you’re curious, I’m almost always in a good mooooooood! 

BIO: Kirsti Call is co-coordinator of ReFoReMo. She reads, reviews, revises and critiques every day as a 12x12 elf, a blogger for Writer's Rumpus, and a member of critique groups. She's judged the CYBILS award for fiction picture books since 2015. Kirsti's picture book, MOOTILDA'S BAD MOOD (Little Bee) debuts fall 2020. COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) release in 2021. Kirsti is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency.

To find out more about Kirsti and her
moo-velous upcoming books, visit: 
@kirsticall (instagram) 
 Kirstine Erekson Call (facebook) 
@kirsticall (Twitter)

Want to Share YOUR Story Behind the Story?
We'd love to hear from you.
[Traditionally published, SCBWI PAL books only, please.]
Contact Lynne Marie at

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

THREE REASONS TO READ: Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham


Illustrator: John Holyfield                            

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2019

Jacket Flap:
Frank has always loved elephants, from their hosepipe trunks and flip-flap ears to their tree-stump feet 
and swish-swish tails. But he's never seen one in real life. More than anything, Frank wants to pet an 
elephant. He thinks he just might get his chance when Miss Fancy, a circus elephant, retires to 
Birmingham's Avondale Park. 

But disappointment sets in quickly when Frank relizes he won't be allowed to pet her, after all. The year
is 1913 and Avondale Park is segregated. The NO COLORED ALLOWED sign looms large and means
Frank's dream will stay a dream...unless he can find a way to change things. 

Based on the true history of Miss Fancy who lived in Birmingham, Alabama's Avondale Park until 1934, 
Meet Miss Fancy is an endearing and heartrending story set in the era when Jim crow reigned supreme, 
largely unchecked but for the dreams and will of those who thought they could make a difference. 


1.    An important book that is an absolute sweet, inspiring, engaging read with a delightful main character!
       It's so easy to identify with Frank. 
2.    Such beautifully drawn, yet animated art. 
3.   It's based on history and weaves in interesting truths, truths we should learn, and histories that should
      never happen again. 



Join Me for A Tinker and Talk Book Chat


Friday, August 14, 2020


TITLE: Fred's Big Feelings - The Life and Legacy of Mr. Rogers 


AUTHOR: Laura Renauld

ILLUSTRATOR: Bridgette Barrager

PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster 


JACKET COPY: Fred Rogers was a quiet boy with big feelings. Sometimes, he felt scared or lonely, other times, he was joyous. When Fred's feelings seemed too big, his grandfather McFeeley knew exactly what to say to make him better: "I like you just the way you are."

Fred grew up and created Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the television program that warmed the homes of millions. But one day the government threatened cut funding for public television, including Fred's show. 

So Fred stepped off the set and into a hearing on Capital Hill to make his feelings known. 

In this portray full of feeling, Laura Renauld and award-winning illustrator Brigette Barrager tell the story of Mr. Rogers, a quiet , compassionate hero whose essential message still resonates today. 


Hello, neighbor! It's a beautiful day. Come in. Look around. What do you see?

This is the closet filled with Mr. Rogers' cardigans. His mother knitted each one! And here's where he changes his shoes. Sneakers are more comfy, don't you think? 


     1. Many children will identify with the boy in this book and how he felt as a child. 

     2. Woven throughout are thoughts and inspirations about getting in touch with one's feelings, understanding them, sharing them and understanding others. 

    3.   Mr. Roger's story is interesting and inspiring. 

BONUS REASON: Honestly, this book gave me all the feels. It had an accessible main character and his story was written and portrayed in an engaging way that's understandable and accessible to the child reader. The illustrations are wonderful, with such heart and drive. I give a big round of applause to the author and illustrator for this wonderful treatment of a complex and even at times cutting edge, but beloved public figure. You don't have to be a fan of Mr. Rogers to see his positive impact on the world and LOVE this book! 

BUY Fred's Big Feelings HERE 

Review by Lynne Marie

To Dissect and Discuss More fabulous books like this one, 

join my TINKER AND TALK Book Chat! 


Keep your eyes peeled for more information, coming SOON!

Please leave your name in the comments to be added to the mailing list. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY with Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Author Lauren Kerstein


Although Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night (Two Lions/ Illustrated by Nate Wragg) is the second Rosie and Charlie adventure to hit the shelves, it was actually the first book I wrote in the series.

In 2016, I participated in NAPIBOWRIWEE. I challenged myself to write seven picture books in different structures (one each day of the week) after reading a wonderful ReFoReMo post by Tammi Sauer about structure.

The original draft of this book was a “how to” book about how to put your mommy to bed. I thought it would be funny to write about this from a child’s perspective. I wanted to highlight the trials and tribulations that parents and children go through at bedtime.

As a child and family psychotherapist, I’ve worked with tons of families around bedtime challenges, and as a mom, well… nobody can prepare you for the bedtime snafus you may encounter.

And now, that “how to” book is a character-focused story with some of its original text, all of its initial voice, and every ounce of its intended heart.   

Check out the trailer for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES here:

Purchase Rosie the Dragon and Charlie HERE

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two, daughters, and their rescue dogs. Lauren's debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) splashed into bookstores in 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions), will snuggle into bookshelves September 1, 2020. HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) is expected February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12x12 and SCBWI. Visit her at, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

HAPPY FOURTH! - Celebrate Christmas in JULY!


For this Month ONLY, purchase one of my The Picture Book Mechanic Critiques at the price of $50 with Code #XMASINJULY 

and you will not only get thorough LINE EDITS/COMMENTS and A BIG PICTURE CRITIQUE, but a copy of my book, 
to put away for Christmas! 

Please note that these copies will go directly to you from Amazon and will not be signed, but I will send out signed Bookplates with SASEs upon request. Email 
for yours with CHRISTMAS IN JULY 
in the Subject Line!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

Here's a CONTEST and OFFER (for New Clients and Old) That You Will Really DIG!

but before you do, get some FRESH EYES ON IT! 

Please click or copy and paste the link for more information!

And please go to my website and sign-up for my newsletter so that you don't miss any of my frequent specials or give-aways!

If you are a new or current newsletter subscriber, please leave a comment as to what dead manuscript you want to resurrect and WHY, and I will be giving away a FREE critique to ONE LUCKY WINNER!

Extra entries for sharing this contest with a friend. Please put the friend's name in the comments so you will both get extra entries. Thanks so much!

NOTE: Winners will be announced June 30th, or when there are 50 entries, which ever comes later.

Monday, May 11, 2020

TOP TIP: Here's My Top Critique Comments of the Day! (YOURS for FREE)


1. If the line of text or dialogue doesn't move the story forward, replace it or delete. 
2. Don't stack prepositional phrases, usually they lengthen and weaken the sentence, and often, will be shown in the art. 
3. In general, sentences in picture books should be, on the average four - eight words to match the attention span of the 4-8 year old reader. If there are too many words, the sentence becomes cumbersome and hard for the reader to remember all the details. Write tight and bright :) 
4. Replace all weak verbs like is, are, was, were, has, have, want to, started to, began to, etc. with active verbs, instead, if at all possible. Look at it as a fun challenge. 
5. You can usually delete the word the from in front of a noun and the sentence will read better, with less weaker words. 

Hope these help. Happy Revising!

SPECIAL OFFER: If you read this post and mention CODE: FastPitch and you will get a FREE (Up to 50 - Word) Pitch Critique with your Critique or Critique Package Purchase (One Per Critique). 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When Day Is Done by Natalee Creech

When Day Is Done is a soothing bedtime book, perfect for calming down after a busy day.
When Day Is Done began with a line that just popped into my head one day when I sat down to write. The words, “We sleep when day is done” floated into my mind seemingly out of nowhere, so I decided to play with them. Over the next weeks and months, I finished the poem, smoothing out the sounds until each phrase fit the quiet mood I was aiming for. 
Looking back, the seeds of this story (and the desire to write) were probably sown in my childhood with the books my parents read to us each night before we went to bed, so it seems appropriate that my first picture book is also a bedtime book. 
Every evening either my mother or father would faithfully sit down and read whatever books we wanted to hear before tucking us in for the night. At the time we lived in a small town with a population of about 1000. A tiny library kept us well-supplied. (It’s only now that I realize how lucky we were that a community of that size had a library. We could even borrow records!) 

There were four of us children and we each wanted to hear our personal favorites, so that meant a lot of reading. I can remember times my parents drifted off mid-sentence, they were so tired. Fortunately for us, they continued to read to us long after we could read independently, because it wasn’t about the actual reading so much as it was sharing that special time together. I can picture us tucked under Dad’s arm or sprawled across the back of the couch craning to get the best view of the illustrations. There was probably a great deal of fighting and jockeying for position too, but memory is selective! Looking back, I see what a gift my parents gave me: with the stories of my childhood they sowed the seeds of a love of words and language. 

When I wrote When Day Is Done I aimed for a soothing bedtime book that would help children settle before going to sleep – a book that would remind them that all the fun things they wanted to do would still be there the next day. I pictured children snuggling up with parents to hear these words and I imagined them surrounded by love. I hope this book becomes part of a comforting bedtime routine for children. 
What I love about reading is that each time we read a book we may notice or feel something different. The meaning we take away may change because of how we ourselves have changed, because of new life experiences, or our feelings at that particular moment. When I wrote the following stanza, I was thinking about a common experience of my own family; living overseas and saying goodbye/goodnight to friends and family far away.
These days (during the coronavirus pandemic) the words take on new significance. 

Authors may have a particular message in mind when writing, but the readers always bring their own meaning to the words, and this is part of the magic!
For children, familiar words that are part of a routine can be comforting, especially in a world that is uncertain and changing. And sometimes, even in the midst of the familiar, we are surprised with something new. Aren’t stories amazing?
You can purchase a copy of When Day is Done Here.

Natalee Creech is the author of When Day Is Done (Beaming Books, 2019) and Nothing (WorthyKids, Hachette Book Group, 2019) She is equally at home in Canada, (where she grew up) in the U.S., (where she studied education) and in South Korea (where she taught for many years). Regardless of where she lives, she is probably sneaking more children's books into the house, much to the delight of her children and the dismay of her husband. Oreo, the family cat, remains indifferent.

Twitter: @nataleecreech
Facebook: nataleecreechauthor

Monday, May 4, 2020

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: A Doll for Grandma - A Story about Alzheimer's Disease by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey

The Story Behind the Story of A Doll for Grandma:
A Story about Alzheimer’s Disease
by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
The seed for my debut picture book, A DOLL FOR GRANDMA, was planted at a
a pizza party, when a musician friend mentioned visiting his grandmother in her memory-
care home. She’d told him, “I had fried mosquitoes and a cup of hot tea for lunch.”
That would be a good line in a picture book, I thought.
I've been writing for children since the 1980s -- games and puzzles and short non-
fiction articles for magazines like Highlights, Cricket, Ladybug, and Hopscotch. But my
long-term goal was always to write a picture book, a genre I’ve loved since my daughter
was little and we read tall stacks of them every bedtime.
I'm also a pianist. After retiring from my job as a reference librarian about 15 years
ago, I started working as a volunteer pianist in assisted-living centers and memory-care
homes in my community. My volunteering led to a blog. Writing muscles limbered up,
I revisited by goal of writing a picture book. Now I had a topic: Alzheimer’s disease.
And I had that great “fried mosquitoes” line! In 2017, I joined SCBWI and signed up for
a Writer’s Digest University picture book course. I finished the class with a solid draft of
The story went through several rounds with my critique group. I revised, paid for professional critiques, revised again.
Then I queried that manuscript hard. Mostly I got no response or a form rejection. Occasionally someone labeled the story “too quiet.” (Editor Frances Gilbert says “too quiet” can sometimes be code for “I don’t like your book” but can also mean it’s a gentle story. My story is gentle. I intended it that way.) There were a few encouraging comments, too, including this one: “There is a deep sense of love that pervades these pages.”
Along with querying, I entered A DOLL FOR GRANDMA into all the writing contests I could find, including one held by Beaming Books. Although I didn’t win, editor Naomi Krueger offered to take by entry through their general acquisitions process. They soon passed. Several months later, I heard from Naomi again: There was renewed interest in my manuscript. Could she take it through acquisitions a second time? Yes, please! A month later, while I was in Alaska awaiting the birth of my first grandchild, I received an offer letter.

A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (illustrated by Samantha Woo, Beaming Books, 2020) is about a little girl named  Kiera who is very close to her grandmother. When Grandma develops Alzheimer’s, the old ways they played together no longer work and Kiera needs to figure out new ways to connect.
She gives Grandma a doll and together Kiera and Grandma care for their “babies.

"Kiera models the best way to interact with people living with dementia: by accepting their version of reality, rather than trying to bring them back into ours
     It’s a story about kindness and empathy, about the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and about loving and accepting people as they are, even when they change.
     To create the character of Grandma, I drew on my experiences in memory-care homes. For example, Grandma can still sing familiar songs because musical memories are held in a part of the brain often left undamaged by Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve seen this a lot. Even people who can no longer speak can sometimes still sing when I play a song from their younger years.
     I also used experiences I had caring for my mother, who had dementia. In the hospice facility where she spent her last week, she had a lovely moment with a therapy dog. I put that into the book. And that “fried mosquitoes” line as well! 
     After writing A DOLL FOR GRANDMA, I discovered Pearl’s Memory Babies, a beautiful example of embracing the altered sense of reality that Alzheimer’s disease causes. This nonprofit organization delivers baby dolls to people living in memory-care settings. The dolls soothe and comfort the residents, give them something to care for, and help them feel needed again. Alzheimer’s disease takes away memories, but it doesn’t take away the ability to love. 
     According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 65 seconds. I am fortunate to be able to donate all my author proceeds from A DOLL FOR GRANDMA to support Alzheimer’s research. We must find a cure. Your purchase helps! 

GIVEAWAY: Paulette has kindly offered to give away a copy of the book! Please comment below for your chance to win:
1. 2 Extra Chances for Tweeting and tagging @Literally_Lynne @PBSharkey and @BeamingBooksMN (please share link in comment)
2. An extra chance for Sharing this Post on Facebook or other
    Social Media (please share link in the comment) 
3. An extra chance for ordering the book into your library online
    (please mention this on comments). 
4. An extra chance for gifting a copy of the book (forward receipt to 
5. A chance for leaving a comment! 
GOOD LUCK! A winner will be chosen on May 30, 2020. 

Author Bio: Paulette Bochnig Sharkey worked for many years as a librarian, first in
her home state of Michigan, and later in Australia, Nevada, and Wisconsin. She has
also been a proofreader, ghostwriter, developmental editor, recipe indexer, and transcriber
of children’s books from print into braille. Her writing has appeared in magazines
including Parents, Hopscotch, Highlights, and Cricket.

picture book.

twitter: @PBSharkey