AND Finally... A winner... And that wraps up ReviMo 2015!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thank you ReviMo'ers! What an amazing week of revisions!!! 

And now...

The final prize goes to:

Lauren Kerstein


Today is the last day to purchase from the CafePress Shop and have proceeds go to Reading is Fundamental

That's all for now folks! 
See you for Petite ReviMo, February 15th!

Even more winners AND A PRIZE GIVEAWAY!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One more prize up for grabs! 

The winner of Linda's book already had it, so I'm opening it up a bit. If you revised 1 day or more, you are eligible to enter to win The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books! Scroll down to the bottom of this post to find the Rafflecopter for today's prize! Open until Thursday midnight, CST.

And now...

Winners of the ReviMo 2015 Prizes for revising 4+ days:

Carrie Finison
*Picture Book Critique from Alayne Kay Christian*

Janie Reinart
*Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann*

Gabi Snyder
*Picture book manuscript critique from Carrie Charley Brown*

You are all winners in my book! Hope you'll join us for Petite ReviMo, February 15th. Jen Swanson will be our guest blogger and she's kindly offered a prize. Picture book critique - fiction (up to 800 words) or nonfiction (up to 1100 words.)

Be sure to check out the CafePress Shop! All proceeds (through Fri. Jan. 23nd) will go to Reading is Fundamental

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Winners!!

ReviMo 2015 Prizes for 6+ days revised:

(congrats to all who revised 6 days (like moi!) that was tough, but so rewarding!)

Yvonne Mes

* One Video Production (or collaboration) from Carrie Charley Brown*

Kimberly Sprinkles Cowger

*Renee LaTulippe's Lyrical Language Lab Online Writing Course*

Sydney O'Neill

*Susanna Leonard Hill's Making Picture Book Magic Class*

Manju Gulati Howard

*Critique from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen*

Winners I will be in touch with you, via email, about collecting your prize. If you don't see my email, check spam folder or contact me!

I wish I had prizes for everyone! But don't forget about the special offers from our lovely sponsors! Contact me if you can't find the details on the website or the Facebook group!

Be sure to check out the CafePress Shop! All proceeds (through Fri. Jan. 23nd) will go to Reading is Fundamental


Winner winner, chicken dinner!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winners of the ReviMo 2015 Prizes for revising 7 days:

(which is awesome and every one who did it should be celebrating 'cuz that was hard!)

Lori Mozdzierz
*Critique from Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary*

Nicole Popel
*Critique from Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary Agency*
Winners I will be in touch with you, via email, about collecting your prize. If you don't see my email, check spam folder or contact me! 

Thank you all for participating in ReviMo!!! I had a revision and fun-filled (albeit some staring and swearing) week. The very BEST prizes are the revisions you've made and the camaraderie of our great group!

Be sure to check out the CafePress Shop! All proceeds (through Fri. Jan. 23nd) will go to Reading is Fundamental


And now.... Enter To Win, ReviMo'ers!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

WHAT a crazy, amazing week! I hope pushing yourselves to revise has thrilled and empowered you. I know it might also make you pull out a few hairs or perhaps curse ReviMo and it's little creator too, but overall I hope you had fun! Thank you for joining me in revising! :D

A HUGE THANK YOU!! to ReviMo Guest Bloggers and Sponsors. I couldn't do this without all of you! 

Please Read Carefully, lots of info!

To enter Giveaways, for those who have revised at least 4 days:
1. Scroll down to the appropriate Rafflecopter widget(s) in this post (Those who have revised 4+ days may enter the 4+ days widget only, those who revised 6+ days may enter on the 4+ days widget and the 6+ days widget,  those who revised 7 days may enter the 4+ day widget, the 6+ days widget and the 7 days widget). There are multiple prizes on each Rafflecopter widget, click arrows under the one prize listed to view. You have until Sunday midnight CST January 19th to enter. 1 Entry per Reviser.
2. Under the prize listings, CLICK on the “I Revised (X) Days During ReviMo 2015button .
3.  Click ENTER and you're entered. Remember you are on the honor system. :D
4. Be sure you commented to be eligible. (I know some peeps had trouble with the blog, so FB comments can count.)

If you revised 4 or more days!!
(If you've not used Rafflecopter before, you can check out a how-to here). 

Repeat after me, I do solemnly pledge that I have made significant revisions to manuscripts for 4  or more days the week of January 11-17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you revised 6 or more days!!

Repeat after me, I do solemnly pledge that I have made significant revisions to manuscripts for 6  or more days the week of January 11-17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AND Finally...............................................

******7 Day Revisers!!****** 

Repeat after me, I do solemnly pledge that I have made significant revisions to manuscripts for 7 days the week of January 11-17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And for anyone who revised this week, a winner badge for your website, blog or wherever! 1 day or 7, you are all winners in my book! If you want it any ReviMo schwag, don’t forget to stop by the shop. Proceeds from this week and the next few days will to go Reading is Fundamental. Last year we donated $50!

Don't forget to take advantage of special offers available to ReviMo'ers! If you can't find them, shoot me an email and I'll guide you to them. :D

ReviMo Day 7 with Kara Lareau

Last day of ReviMo!!!! You can do it revisers!!! I'd love to hear how it's going, what have been your challenges, where you've had great breakthroughs, etc.

The ReviMo Shop is chock full of cool stuff, so be sure to peruse it. Proceeds for this week go to RIF, Reading is Fundamental, a wonderful cause. Let me know if you don't see what you'd like!

Don't forget we've got special deals for ReviMo participants! You can find the link in the Facebook group or drop me a line if you can't find them. 

And now.... our 7th guest for ReviMo 2015... Kara Lareau. We love Kara's books Mr. Prickles and No Slurping, No Burping. On with the show, heeeere's Kara!

Hello, friends! I’ve been asked to talk a little bit about my revision process. So without further ado…


1. To get myself in a positive frame of mind, I eat some chocolate.

2. I fix myself a cup of coffee in my favorite mug. 

3. I make sure I am wearing something comfortable. (I am LIVING for cotton ragg socks right now. Highly recommended for chilly writing nights.) 

4. I settle into my workspace. (I know it seems strange, but even though I have an office, I almost never work there. It’s upstairs in our house, and it feels too remote to me. I’m trying to make some changes up there, to make it seem more inviting, but for now, I find I do my best work sitting on my bed.) 

5. I put in my headphones. I do listen to music while I work, but I find I can’t listen to any songs with lyrics or anything too percussive, as they distract me and my sense of rhythm. I have a CD called Bach for Book Lovers, and I swear by it. I also NEVER play it unless I’m writing, so my mind knows when it’s time to get Bach to work (heh heh). 

6. I read through the piece, and whatever supplemental material I have (an editor’s letter, my own jotted down ideas), and make a list of objectives. And then I set really, really small goals for myself, goals that are easy to reach, so I can keep up my confidence. With picture book revisions, sometimes it’s just a page a day — a chapter a day if it’s a longer piece. 

7. I take at least one break. I always make sure to get up and leave my work area when I’m taking that break, as changing the scenery is a good way to reset the brain (sometimes I can solve problems in the time it takes to walk from the laptop to the coffeemaker). 

8. If I get stuck and need a fresh perspective, I work on something else for a while. Another revision, a new idea, a blog entry, whatever, as long as I keep the momentum going. I find I get my best ideas on a project when I’m trying to focus on ANOTHER project. So I allow myself to jump around a little.

9. When I’m done for the day, I write in my journal. I keep a writing journal to jot down how I’m feeling about the work I’m doing. Sometimes, just writing out my feelings or problems helps me to discover new solutions. And then I make sure to jot down some goals for my next session. (I’ve obscured my entry here to protect my “brilliant” ideas. Ha!)

10. I reward myself. I watch a TV show I like, play around on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, or catch up on whatever book I’m reading.

Hope this is helpful! Happy revising!

Thank you Kara! I think I need to model your process, it sounds zen and cozy! 

Thank you revisers! Be on the lookout for Rafflecopters in the post tomorrow. Be sure to take your time and read the instructions so you get your votes properly cast!

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of Snowbaby Could Not Sleep, illustrated by Jim Ishikawa; the Rocko and Spanky stories, illustrated by her sister, Jenna LaReau; Ugly Fish, Rabbit and Squirrel, OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars, and Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story, illustrated by Scott Magoon; and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay BovĂ©.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their two cats.

Day 6 with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 6, just one more day to go. Hang in there everyone!

Sudipta has written lots of fun picture books. Chicks Run Wild is a big favorite of ours, perhaps because of our own silly chickens. Take it away, Sudipta!

To Be? No! Not TO BE!

As writers, revision is a part of our lives. A totally unwanted yet unavoidable part of our lives. Like ear wax or belly button lint.

Or maybe…maybe ear wax and belly button lint aren’t like revision. Maybe…revision is more like the removal process of ear wax or belly button lint.

(At this point, someone should award me a trophy for the use the phrase “belly button lint” repeatedly in a writing-related blog post. Thank you. Thank you very much.)

Maybe it is the words that we need to trim off that are like ear wax or belly button lint, and revision just leaves our manuscripts cleaner, fresher, and more sparkly. And less waxy.

Maybe revision shouldn’t be so unwanted.

There are many ways to revise manuscripts to get them submission-ready. It would be impossible to point out all the strategies in a single blog post (in fact, I’ll be teaching a whole class on picture book revision this year at Kidlit Writing School! So, instead, I wanted to share one important, universal, deceptively simple yet incredibly powerful way to revise your work to make the writing stronger:


No, that’s not some Yoda-speak wisdom that you need to mull and decipher. Very simply, I want you to go through your manuscript and try to remove every form of the verb “to be.” So that means go look for the following words:

be, am, are, is, was, were, been 

When you find these words, think of them as ear wax or belly button lint and get rid of them. Because almost every time you use one of these forms of “to be,” you are telling, not showing.

When you write, “She was mad,” you’ve told me what your character is feeling. When you revise it to, “Her jaw clenched and lasers practically shot out of her eyes,” you show me her feelings without having to tell me.

“We were terrified” is a tell. “We trembled like leaves” or “Our hearts pounded so loud it sounded like a bass line” is a show.

“She’s been sad all day” is a tell. “She cried until there were no tears left” is a show.

Obviously, you will never get rid of every instance of “to be” in a manuscript (just like you will never get rid of every last bit of ear wax or belly button lint!). There are many, many times when be, am, are, is, was, were, and been are essential. But as a place to start in the revision and tightening process, looking for “to be” can help you quickly identify parts of your manuscript that could use a second look and a bit of a makeover.

Show, don’t tell is the mantra of our industry. Even experienced writers have moments when they struggle with this (I know I still do on a daily basis). But I’ll bet you’ll be amazed at how this simple trick – getting rid of “to be” – will take your writing from telling to showing.

Happy Revising! 

Thank you Sudipta! One lucky reviser will win a critique from Sudipta! Watch for the Rafflecopters so you can to win on the 18th!

Sudipta is an award-winning author of over 40 books and the co-founder of both Kidlit Writing School ( and Kidlit Summer School ( Her books include DUCK DUCK MOOSE, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, ORANGUTANGLED, and over thirty more titles that have been acclaimed by the Junior Library Guild, the California Reader’s Collection, the Bank Street Books Reading Committe, the Amelia Bloomer list, and many more. Find out more about her by visiting SUDIPTA.COM or her blogs NERDYCHICKSRULE.COM and NERDYCHICKSWRITE.COM

Starting on January 26, Sudipta is teaching a course on Character Building in Picture Books at Kidlit Writing School. For more information, visit this link:


Twitter: @SudiptaBQ

ReviMo Day 5 with H. Joseph Hopkins

Thursday, January 15, 2015

We love Joe's book, The Tree Lady! AND Joe has LIVED on a houseboat. How cool would that be??!! I think that would be very cool. :D  And now, heeeeeere's Joe!

When I write I describe the pictures—images—in my head into my MacBook computer. I look for words that will provoke the reader to create similar pictures—images—in his/her head.

That’s what I strive for:

Hence the saying,

That goes for all kinds of writing, essays, poems, shopping lists, and this post.

I came to writing for children late in life, after decades of writing professional reports and a bit of newspaper work. As a newbie I have only a few ideas to suggest.

For me writing is re-writing. Even shopping lists have crossed-out items.


Let scenes tell a story. I’m at my best when I describe a scene. In my head I often picture a cartoon, stick figure drawing, or diagram that illustrates what I want to write. All around my messy house you will find backs of envelopes and sticky notes with my little cartoons or diagrams.

After I have a picture on paper or in my head, I use words to describe that drawing or design.

While writing I repeatedly ask myself,

One big value of re-writing—or “revising”—is:  

Or, the scene in your head may change and you realize that what you really want to say is different than what you originally thought.

In this way you clarify your thoughts by writing. Some writers call this process, “Letting ideas percolate.”

Note: you may have to ask old uncle Jigs what “percolate” means. 

Or, others say,

I know of only one writer— only one! — 
who did not depend upon re-writing: 
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). 
Stevenson wrote “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped,” 
“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” 
and other action packed adventure fantasies. Stevenson’s books
were popular in his day and remain so today. 
I am told that Stevenson would sit or pacefor long silent periods, deep in thought,
and then proclaim with the mighty voice of a Pentecostal preacher, 
complete sentences of fully developeddescriptive prose. A secretary copied 
Stevenson’s literary utterances, and thus his works were written. 
Everybody else—including all the geniuses—depend upon re-writing. 

So, re-writing is not an admission of guilt or a badge of shame. Re-writing is a proclamation that you are doing the work of writing.

The fun of re-writing is discovering the exact words to express the precise idea that is in your head.

Discovering the precise word brings joy.


Your computer lets you push words around on the page. So easy!

Two processes occur while you push words around on a computer screen:
  • First, you glory in the freedom of being liberated from crossing out, writing in a crimped hand above a sentence, or squeezing notes in the margin. 
  • Second, when I push words around on the screen I develop a deeper, richer understanding of my major ideas and the minor ones. So I get a deeper understanding of what I wanted to say.                                                               Then I keep pushing words around until I get the combination that satisfies me. 
Thus, by re-writing and revising I get to a place in which I understand my topic more deeply and clearly than ever before.

And note: I get to that place of understand by writing.

It’s true what they say:


Have fun!
Joe Hopkins

Thank you Joe!! I wish I were like Robert Louis Stevenson, but since I'm not... good thing I get lots of great revision advice from great peeps! :D 

H. Joseph "Joe" Hopkins lived for many years on a houseboat on the Columbia River in Portland OR. Joe came to writing through a series of happy accidents after retiring from life as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). Joe's picture book, The Tree Lady, illustrated by Meg McElmurry, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2013 and has won numerous awards from librarians and groups interested in biography, sustainability, environmental science, and the lives of independent women. The Tree Lady is a picture book biography of Kate Sessions, an independently minded woman who spent her life bringing plant color to San Diego and Balboa Park in Southern California. Reactions by reviewers children and parents have been uniformly positive and passionate. Sales have been brisk and The Tree Lady has reprinted three times.  Contact Joe at

ReviMo Day 4 with Meg, the Megster, the Meganator...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Okay, today is going to be GRUELING. Get ready to WORK!

Juuuuuuust kidding! 

Today we are going to get in touch with our "broccoli" as Anne Lamott calls our intuition, that small voice inside you [Bird by Bird: Part Two: Broccoli]. "You need your broccoli in order to write well." You need your broccoli to KNOW what your character will do. Anne says we lose our intuition as kids. I wonder if some of us don't lose it as adults, when we live by to-do list, with little time to daydream. 

To reconnect with your intuition, "stop the chattering of the rational mind." Then give your intuition some room to breathe. If you give it some space it "wafts up from the soul", but crowd it and it "becomes a fitful little flame." Too much "manic attention" and it will be blown out.

image from

"So try to calm down, get quiet, breathe and listen." "Stop trying to control your mind so much," let it wander and
wonder a bit.

To this end, I'd like you to take paper and a writing utensil, find a cozy quiet spot and relax for a half hour or longer . . .

Happy broccoli hunting! 

ReviMo Day 3 Interview with Rebecca Janni

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My 5 year old daughter REALLY wants a horse, so we can relate to (and love) all the Nellie Sue books! Welcome Rebecca!


Can you give us a little background about yourself?

Revision landed me my first book contract.

I know, I know. Every author could say that, right? No editor pulls a rough draft out of the slush pile. (At least I hope not!)

I'm talking about revision mojo here. When I brought that early manuscript to an SCBWI conference, it had been revised several times already. But when Jane Yolen spoke about revision, about the benefits of seeing again, I knew there was more work to do. In a critique session, she encouraged me to keep revising and saw enough potential in the story to suggest a home for it.

I kept revising and submitted the story as she suggested. When a call came from Steve Meltzer at Dutton Children's Books, I almost fainted. (That wouldn't have turned out well, since I was potty training my toddler at the time.)

He called to say that Dutton's editorial team liked the story a lot, BUT . . . would I mind revising it once more for their consideration?

Of course, I said yes, and just like Nellie Sue, I kept getting back in the saddle, and that revision of my revision of my revision became my first book, Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse.

And there was much rejoicing!

How do you determine if a story idea is worth pursuing/revising?

For me the question is rarely whether an idea is worth pursuing or revising, but rather how to find the space and time to do it. With five incredible kids in the house (my four children, plus an exchange student from China), sometimes I just have to hide.

What is your revision process?

I make a book dummy. (Note that there is no comma after book in the preceding sentence. I'm not calling anyone a dummy!) But I do make a book dummy, which is to say I lay out my story page by page, even though I'm not an illustrator – especially because I'm not an illustrator. The editors never see this stage of my writing, but it helps me to work through pacing and plot and story arc. I use book dummies at every stage of the revision process.

To revise well, to really see a manuscript again, I also have to put it aside for awhile. That's one reason it helps me to have multiple projects going. When I've been working on the same project for a period of time, I become too close to it and can't see the cuts and changes that will make the story stronger. So I trade it for another. When I've walked away for a while – a week, a month, or more – time creates a healthy distance, and I can read my own work more objectively.

If that doesn't work, thank God for my Writers' Bloc – Sharelle Byars Moranville, Jan Blazanin, and Eileen Boggess – three talented writers who help keep me honest and mostly sane.

Sometimes when I'm revising, I look at past editorial letters to help take a story to the next level. Usually, those notes tell me to

add conflict,
add humor,
add character,
and cut words.

It may feel impossible to add, add, add at the same time as trimming words, but this is a great exercise to make sure

Every. Word. Matters.

Because every word really does matter. In stories, and in life. It could be my mantra.

Every word matters.

Every word I say to my children matters. Every word I say to my husband matters. Every word I say to my friends matters. Every word I say to myself matters. 

Any other thoughts for fellow writers?

Sometimes, you just need to listen to the voices in your head. One morning, I was in revision muck. I knew my story needed revising, but I couldn't figure out how to make it better. I might have pitched a fit if a school visit hadn't come to my rescue. While presenting Every Cowgirl Goes to School to a smart and receptive group of second graders, I had an AHA moment. One of the students pointed out that Nellie Sue's day doesn't change at all, but that her attitude changes. I couldn't believe it. In a round about way, my fictional character was reminding me to have an attitude adjustment! And really, that was all I needed.

That, and a little chocolate. Always chocolate.

Rebecca Janni learned early on that biking was the best way to get around the neighborhood and reading was the best way to get around the world. Rebecca Janni is the author of Jammy Dance, and the Every Cowgirl series. She has an MAT in English and enjoys teaching composition and creative writing. Today, she divides her time between volunteering, adjunct teaching, and writing -- all of which take a back seat to motherhood! She lives in Iowa with her husband, four children, and a dog. She loves to read and bike with her family, but not at the same time. Visit her website at