I write picture books and poetry. I was named runner-up for the 2012 Barbara Karlin Grant. My debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, is coming from Random House Children’s Fall 2015. It will be illustrated by Ben Mantle (big smile!). I am represented by Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Can you tell us about your picture book writing journey?
I’ve wanted to write picture books for a long time. But I was all want and no action until Fall 2010. It was then that I decided that if I really wanted to do this thing that I’d better get serious. Early in 2011, I found a critique group (the critique group of awesomeness). I had never critiqued a manuscript in my life. So not only did I need to learn how to write a picture book, I had to learn how to critique. No, they didn’t just let me in. I had to give writing samples and they saw something. They didn’t see a well crafted-picture book…I can tell you that. Looking back…Oh my! But you know, the fact that they let me in challenged me to get to work. I worked!!! Then came Runner-up for the Barbara Karlin Grant. That was a HAPPY day and the encouragement I needed to pursue getting an agent. After researching, I knew my top choice was the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. But there were others I liked, too. I queried and submitted to several. In April 2013, I signed with Tricia Lawrence (Erin Murphy Literary ) and that was a HAPPIER day! Just a few days after Tricia submitted THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, we had interest from Maria Modugno at Random House Children’s Books. And I guess the HAPPIEST day of all was when Maria said she wanted my story!
That’s very condensed because along the way…I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. I read craft books. I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. I followed blogs. I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. I critiqued. I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. I entered challenges. I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. I got discouraged. I wrote. I revised. I read picture books. You get the picture!
What has influenced you most?
As far as influences, my critique group gets a ton of credit. They are honest and encouraging. They push me to write my best. Other influences have been my online writing buddies that I share with many of you through Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog activities, Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, and Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12. I love you people!!!
Can you tell us a little about your revision process?
After I write my first draft, I try to look at it as a manuscript I’m critiquing for someone else. I know I can’t really let go of the fact that it’s my story, but I try. By doing this, I find a lot to reconsider, delete, and/or change. Then I send it off to my critique group. I read each of their critiques and let my thoughts simmer. I’ve learned to consider each of their comments in terms of what I want to do with my story. From their comments alone, I may come up with several revisions. Then when I have it revised to my liking, I send it back to my critique group. And so the process continues until I feel my story is the best it can be.
If my manuscript is rhyming, I send it through my poetry critique group, The Poet’s Garage. They are wonderful to point out problems with meter, logic, or forced rhyme.
I consider each word. I use the heck out of the thesaurus. As I’m considering an idea, writing a draft, and revising, I do a lot of research. I keep a glossary of terms and images relating to my characters and settings. Even though my manuscripts are fiction, the research has had an influence on all my stories. For instance, while writing THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, I researched dragons and medieval times. I pasted the information and images at the bottom of my manuscript. The research is informative and inspirational. I know my revisions wouldn’t have come as quickly if I hadn’t had my research for reference.
I did have to revise THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON. That scared the beejeebies out of me! It’s rhyming…Eeek! I totally got what Maria wanted to see and knew if I could find my way to the revisions that my story would be stronger. At first nothing came to me! Nothing! Nada! Blank! I took a deep breath and did other things for a few days. Then slowly, new lines began creeping into my brain. I made notes and turned those words into text that got me all kinds of excited about the transformation of my story. I came up with two options. I sent them to my critique group and my poetry group. Mixed opinions! I had my favorite, but the other one was strong, too. We ended up showing them both to Maria. She picked my favorite
Favorite picture book?
You saved the hardest question for last! There is no way I could pick a favorite! I do have a soft place in my heart for Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes because it never fails to entertain me and is one of the picture books that inspired me to try my hand at writing. I love Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein! I could go around all day reciting Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Then there’s Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill which I read over and over again. And Pat Zeitlow Miller’s Sophie’s Squash just came out this fall and I just know it will be a classic. I’ve made it known that I actually hug the picture books that I love! I read them the first time and I just can’t help myself…*HUG*! There are many more I have hugged, but I’ve gone on too long.
You can learn more about me at my blog, ~a penny and her jots~. Be sure to check out my Perfect Picture Book Friday posts. You can search for them with my Search box at the top of my left sidebar. I would love to have you drop by my Pinterest (HERE) where I pin a plethora of picture books.
Now get revvvvvvvvved up! ReviMo is not that far away!
Thanks for having me, Meg!
Thank you for joining us Penny! I love that you hug favorite books.
Check out all the Pre-ReviMo Interviews here!