Colorado Book Award Finalists 2012

I’m incredibly honored to be in the company of these incredible writers! See the list below.

Please join me and the other finalists as we read and sign our books at this special event:
Colorado Book Awards Finalist Readings

April 19, 2012
5 – 8 p.m.
Residence Inn Marriott, Denver City Center
1725 Champa St., Denver, CO

Readings will be followed by a book sale and signing. The event is free, but attendees can partake in the Residence Inn’s Happy Hour for $6 per person (includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer). Event parking is available for $5. Special hotel rates are available for attendees coming in from out of town or for those interested in taking advantage of a night in Denver.

Now finally, the finalists!

Climb: Tales of Man Versus Boulder, Crag, Wall and Peak, Edited by Kerry L. Burns and Cameron M. Burns, FalconGuides
Denver Inside and Out, Managing Editor, Steve Grinstead, History Colorado Monumental
Majesty: 100 Years of Colorado National Monument, edited by Laurena Davis Mayne, The Daily Sentinel


Elevated Perspective: The Paintings of Joellyn Duesberry by Joellyn T. Duesberry, Rose Fredrick Fine Arts Publishing
Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning by Boyd Norton, Fulcrum Books
Thomas W. Benton: Artist/Activist by Daniel Joseph Watkins, People’s Press


Helen Ring Robinson by Pat Pacoe
The Man Who Never Died by William Adler
WD Farr by Daniel Tyler

Children’s Literature

Raj the Bookstore Tiger by Kathleen T. Pelley, illustrated by Paige Keiser
Light Up the Night by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Young Henry and the Dragon by Jeanne Kaufman, illustrated by Darla Tessler

General Non-Fiction

Math for Life by Jeffrey Bennett
The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Debora Robson and Carol Ekarius
The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus


Breaking the Ties that Bound: The Politics of Marital Strife in Late Imperial Russia by Barbara Alpern Engel, Cornell University Press
From Jars to the Stars by Todd Neff,
The Beasts of the Buchenwald: Karl & Ilse Kock, Human-Skin Lampshades and the War-Crimes Trial of the Century by Flint Whitlock, Cable Publishing

Juvenile Literature

Letters to Jupiter by Peggy Tibbetts
Rescue in Poverty Gulch by Nancy Oswald
City of Orphans by Avi

Literary Fiction

Kings of Colorado: A Novel by David E. Hilton
The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas
The Weird Sisters: A Novel by Eleanor Brown

Popular (Genre) Fiction

Buried by the Roan by Mark Stevens
Mercury’s Rise by Ann Parker
The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg

Young Adult Literature

Queen of Water by Laura Resau
Lucy Dakota: Adventures of a Modern Explorer Book 1 – Rocky Mountain Beginnings by Carol Sue Shride
The Dragon, the Blade and the Thread: Book Three of the Star Trilogy by Donald Samson

Picture Book Intensive with Liz Garton Scanlon Coming to Colorado!

Are you an aspiring picture book author, or a picture book author ready to take your work to the next level? Join author Liz Garton Scanlon for an intimate one-day picture book intensive: study the form, practice the craft, and see your work rise up out of the slush.

Scanlon, author of a number of picture books including the Caldecott-honored ALL THE WORLD, is bringing this very popular event to Colorado one time only, and you won’t want to miss out!

Saturday, June 16, 2012 at The Spice of Life Event Center in Boulder, Colorado
9 am – 4 pm
$125 includes morning coffee, lunch and afternoon treat

Email TODAY for more information and a registration form!

Critique Questions for the Average Joe … Or Mike!

So I’m revising a middle-grade manuscript and my critique group made some assumptions about my story based on my first chapter — that were completely incorrect.

While the corrections seemed like easy fixes, I wanted to make sure I had indeed fixed the problems. However, my crit buddies were no longer fresh readers. They now had information from subsequent chapters and our discussions that would sway their perceptions. So even if they reread my pages I wouldn’t REALLY know if I had fixed my opening chapter.

Enter my husband.

Now Mike isn’t much of a fiction reader. And he rarely reads kidlit. But I figured with his fresh eyes, I could conduct a little experiment PLUS see if my fixes had indeed worked.

So I had him read my first chapter. I told him not to edit it or change it in any way or ask me any questions. But I did tell him that when he finished to immediately turn the manuscript face down.Then I asked him the following questions.

1. Who is the main character? What’s his/her name? How old is he/she?

2. List 5 words that would describe the main character.

3. Now describe the main character in 3-5 sentences.

4. What is the time and place setting of the story? When was that absolutely clear?

5. Who are the most important secondary characters thus far? What are their names and ages?

6. For each secondary character named in 5 above, list 3 significant characteristics.

7. Does my main character have a problem yet? If so, what do you think it is?

8. Is there anything at all that’s frustrating you in an annoying way rather than a “I want to read on to figure this out” sort of way?

Once we went through the questions, I compared Mike’s answers to what I expected from my fresh reader. Did my expectations match his answers? Pretty much. But they left me with a little more work to do on setting.

Overall, it’s a quick exercise. Bonus: It’s pretty easy to ask anyone to do at any time. So after I make a few changes I’ll put it out there again. And see if I can finally get a perfect match.

More … on Rhyming Picture Books

I’ve gone on and on, in the past, about lining up loads of fresh readers for your rhyming picture books in order to make sure your verse rolls right off the tongue and that no rhyme or rhythm trips your reader out of your story.

But I haven’t spoken much about when to rhyme.

I’ve used vague parameters like:
Does the story have to rhyme?
Is it somehow made better because of the rhyme?

I recently critiqued a funny, funny picture book manuscript in which the rhythm and rhyme scheme were nearly perfect. This author was obviously comfortable with poetry and had a great ear for it. The premise was absolutely darling and the illustration potential rich. And while the text was perhaps one verse too long, I didn’t see the common rhyming PB manuscript problem of adding hundreds of words for the sake of the rhyme.

But something was bugging me. Hmmmmm …

So I had to wonder if in this very funny story, the perfect rhyme was making it feel almost too … um … perfect. I wondered if, as it flowed out like a song, it was losing the clever quirkiness that the premise inspired. In other words, while the rhyme was perfect, was the rhyme fitting the story?

Then just last week I revisited a manuscript that has aroused some interest from one of my editors. I’ve refrained from submitting it because it wasn’t feeling quite right. My main character’s one-sided conversation was falling flat. And while the premise and possible pictures were working, the text lacked the energy that matched the story.

The opening line/title that caught my editors attention had a certain punch and rhythm. The scenes had a cause and effect thread that lent well to a bit of repetition. That’s when I decided, this story needed to rhyme.

But I worried that in the perfection of the rhyme, I’d lose that clever quirkiness that the premise inspired. Sound familiar?

That’s when it becomes about voice and word choice. Whether you write in poetry or prose, your tone must match your story. So as I built verse after verse around my narrative, I was careful to choose snappy, cropped kid words that reflect my MC. My goal – that the story rolls along, scene after scene, antic after antic in a completely readable romp and the rhyme disappears.

Because after all, it’s not about being a brilliant poet right? It’s about a kid loving a book and sometimes not even being aware of all the many reasons why.

For more today on rhyming PBs, check out Tara Lazar’s blog.

TOO PURPLEY! featured on the Martha Stewart Show!

 A Purple Party indeed! Here’s the link.

All materials © 2020 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.