ABC’s of Writing – Verla Tells All

Here’s a question I see frequently in my inbox.

I’ve got a friend/uncle/daughter who’s written a children’s book. She needs a publisher. Do you have any advice?

And the answer is certainly “YES, YES, YES!” Generally I respond to these queries with links to my favorite writing websites, blogs, boards and books. But the generous Verla Kay has summed up the kidlit process – from start to finish – beautifully on her blog, where she, too, offers links to handy resources. Check it out here:

I’ve got F &Gs! Now what are those again?

My F & Gs for TOO PURPLEY! arrived last week. And they look terrific.

Since I’m rather new to publishing, I had to Google “F & G” again because I’d completely forgotten the term. Turn out it stands for “folded and gathered.”

But honestly, that term doesn’t do these babies justice. They look quite nice. They’re simply flimsier, paperback versions of my book. Their structure is a bit like the wonderful books my kids “published” in grade school.

Eventually I’ll need to figure out what to do with them. But for now I’m just dancing around the house – celebrating another exciting step in this amazing process.

For the Love of 49 Words: You say “Purply” and I say “Purpley.”

I couldn’t be more excited about finding TOO PURPLEY! on Amazon. And if you should search on my author name, you’ll see the paperback U.K. version right there next to the U.S. hardcover. Now look closely. The U.K. title is actually TOO PURPLY! That makes me smile.

Why? Because my editor spent tons of time with her U.K. counterparts deciding on the spellings of all my made-up words. And there are quite a few. She explained their thought processes which were highly intelligent and completely logical. And it was decided that “purply” would work better for the Brits.

I love that these wonderful editors – both here, and across the pond – take my precious words – both real and made-up – as seriously as I do. All 49 of them.

Thoughts from Picture Book Peek #2

After this round of critiques, including my Take the Dare, Show You Care critique, I think I’ve hit on a good number. Three or four manuscripts per Peek Week feels about right.

Some of you may wonder why not more. The answer – they take a ton of time.

The initial read through and text markup is quite fast. And if that’s all I was doing, I could turn them around in less than an hour. But often, as I read, I sense that something isn’t working. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a reader simply say “this is great” or “this doesn’t work for me” without at least exploring reasons why.

So in order for my critiques to be most helpful I need to explore that “why” and then attempt to verbalize it in my critique letter. That takes time and energy. And since I don’t want feelings from one manuscript to carry over into the next, I often need a bit of a break between readings.

Picture Book Peek Week #2 had some terrific submissions. Here are some general take-aways from my critiques:

  • PBs are not easy readers. Simple language still needs to be rich. Seek out wonderful words.
  • Figure out whose story you’re writing – it had better be the kid’s.
  • Be wary of adult abstractions that wheedle their way into kid’s stories.
  • Remember, even non-rhyming stories have a rhythm.

That’s it for now. Watch for Picture Book Peek Week #3 coming this Fall?

Picture Book Peek Week #2 – And the Winners Are …

Oh, I hate that I only have time for 3 this week.

There were so many titles I loved. So many manuscripts I wanted to read -proving I need to do this more often. But I’m absolutely thrilled with the winners. And I’ll have you know that the selection process was extremely official. My husband, who’s a CPA (think Price Waterhouse at the Oscars) drew the titles.

And the winners of Picture Book Peek Week #2 are …


Please e-mail your manuscripts as Word attachments to reidy(dot)jean(at)gmail(dot)com.