I, I will Revise!! Pre-ReviMo Interview with Marcie Colleen

Monday, December 30, 2013

Two weeks until ReviMo! Hooray hooray! Today we have Marcie Colleen with us. Welcome Marcie!

Can you tell us about yourself?
Wow. That’s a HUGE question. Sometimes I wonder, myself. I am a former teacher and former theater educator from New York. I have always wanted to be a writer, but didn’t know what KIND of writer until 2010. And then it kinda seemed like a no-brainer. Picture Books + Marcie = perfect fit.
Let’s see. What are the top 10 spicy things I can tell you about…
  • I used to work in the Broadway theater industry.
  • I once met Sir Paul McCartney at a party.
  • Tony Randall, of THE ODD COUPLE fame, used to be my boss.
  • I’ve been skydiving.
  • I worked the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade once.
  • I just recently ran the NYC Marathon.
  • I studied for most of my masters degree oversea in the UK.
  • I starred in a B-rate horror flick back in the day. Eeek! Can you say “straight to video”?
  • My fiancĂ© is an artist who’s medium is Lego bricks. You can check out his work at BKNY Bricks on Facebook. (psst…for his REAL job he works at Little, Brown though.)
  • I am one degree from Kevin Bacon.

What has most influenced your picture book writing journey?
Truly, I think it’s the way I look at life. I tend to have a 5 year old sensibility. I view a lot of my household goings-on through the eyes of my sock monkey. When you look at life that way, the scenarios keep rolling in.

What inspires your revisions?
The drive to “get it right.” I want each one of my stories to be the best that they can be. Therefore, I want to be stretched and questioned. I belong to 3 critique groups and have many friends who read my work, as well. They truly inspire me to keep on keepin’ on.
The current manuscript my agent has out on submission is version #25! Yeah. You heard me. Number 25! I worked on the manuscript for 14 months and in that time wrote many drafts and had many eyes look at it. I had professional critiques and peer critiques. I think I was at version #23 when I signed with my agent. And then we went through two revisions together before finally deciding version #25 was the one we wanted to send out into the world.
So, revisions are important. Having patience is important. Being thorough is important. That’s why you have to love the process.

How has having an agent changed your revision process?
I have a greater sense of confidence since landing my agent. I guess I like the idea that at least one more person in the industry loves my work and thinks its worthy of publication. So, when Susan asks for revisions I take them very seriously. I know she has the best interest of the story in mind and I love that I now have a “business partner”. I trust her. Her critiques have been spot on.
Recently I sent a revision to her that I was certain was ready to submit. I was a little disappointed when she returned my manuscript to me a few days later with notes for revision. She apologized, but said she didn’t think it was quite there yet. But to be truthful, I would rather have an agent say, “Its not ready yet” than “Its good enough.”

Favorite picture book?
Hmmmm. I think I have to go with a classic. CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina. Not only does it have monkeys in it (my fave!) but it is a fabulously fun read-aloud and a favorite of mine since childhood.

Favorite hair product? (Love those locks!)
Alas, it always comes down to the hair, doesn’t it? About 3 years ago I decided to splurge and get my hair cut at “The Curly Girl Salon”, officially called Devachan, right here in NYC. They specialize in cutting curly hair. My curls have never looked better. And, in fact, I use hardly any products now because the cut is so good. But I do use the Devachan hair products which are better for curly hair because they do not have any silicone in them. I use the Devachan Low-poo Shampoo, One Condition Conditioner and DevaCurl Light Defining Gel. That’s it. My routine is simple. I condition and use the gel every other day. The shampoo I use when needed…sometimes only once every 2 weeks. And there you have it.

Thank you Marcie, love your 10 spicy things! I have to ask, how are you one degree from Kevin Bacon? :D 

Check out all the Pre-ReviMo Interviews here!  

Last day to spread the word about ReviMo and win! Enter here!

Revvvvvvvvvv it up for ReviMo! With Pre-ReviMo Guest Penny Klostermann

Monday, December 23, 2013

Three weeks until ReviMo! Wow, time flies. Today Penny Klostermann is here to talk to us. Welcome Penny!

Can you tell us about yourself?
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!

Let's Get Ready to Revise! Pre-ReviMo Guest Blogger Kristen Fulton

Monday, December 16, 2013

Four weeks until ReviMo! I hope you are gearing up for a fun week of revising. Today Kristen Fulton is going to talk REVISIONS!

My fingers have typed and typed, the draft is on the page, what next? REVISE!

Being a firm CDO candidate (OCD in the proper alphabetical order), my revising process is very exact. Granted that as writers and illustrators we are artist, so my organized method may seem insane. But, perhaps an idea or two will help you along your journey.

You will need a box of crayons or markers with at least 12 different colors (I told you that my way was exact) and 1 index card. You can use different colors for different things but this is my story, so it’s my color description :-)

Blue- I underline each time my main character is referred to or speaks.
Red- I put a mark by each time another character is mentioned or referred to.

Is there more red than blue in your story? Then ask yourself, “who is my story about?”

Let’s check our tenses:
Purple- mark every word that ends with an “ed”.
Yellow- mark every word that ends with an “s” or an “ing”.
Pink- mark every single did, didn’t, was, wasn’t, were, said, asked, had, hadn’t, went, gone or been.
Green- mark every single do, does, doesn’t, is, am, are, says, asks, has, hasn’t, have, haven’t, go, goes, going, be and will.

Words that  end with “ed” are generally past tense while words that end with an “s” or “ing” or generally present tense. Check all of your purple and yellow marks to ensure that you aren't tense wobbling.

Now, do you have pink and green marks in the same story? You are tense wobbling. Decide your point of view and then fix it.

“There ain’t no stinking math in revising.” Oh, yes there is. Know your word count without any authors notes, back matter or bibliography. Put an Orange line at 10% and 75% of your story.
At 10% of your story we need to know the who the main character is and what the problem is.
At 75% we need to feel that all hope is lost and begin our resolution.

This works for everything, watch movies and television. On a one hour TV show, by the first commercial we know who the story is about and what their problem will be. And, when there is only fifteen minutes left we lose all hope: the good guy is captured, the couple gives up, etc. Then we begin the resolution as the good guys picks the lock and breaks free only to save the day or the couple run into each other in the grocery store and all love is rekindled. It’s the 10/75 solution.

Turquoise- Have someone read your story and put a X by any part where their mind wanders off in another direction. This lets you know what to cut or where to amp up the drama.

Now, let’s grab that index card. Does your story satisfy the reader? On one side write your first sentence or two. On the back side write your last sentence of the story. Now read it as though those sentences were your story. Does the end satisfy the beginning? I call this the “Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after effect.”

Look at some of your favorite books and you will see the satisfaction that the ending delivers.

And finally- SHOW-vs-TELL, the words we hear over and over and over again.
You should have four colors left to use.
Lime Green- mark every sensory word including all forms of feel, smell, taste, listen, heard, saw, viewed and touched.
Brown- mark all words that show emotion such as scared cried whimpered, trembled, laughing, saddened, and even cliches like knots in her stomach.
Lavender- Action words, lets use those verbs. Mark ever action word from ran, skipped, chop, bark, hid and more.
Baby Blue- Mark every adjective from colors, temperatures of cold, hot, muggy, actual sounds such as creaking or tastes like sour or bitter. Words that end with an “ly” are very often adjectives.

Now look at your story, do you have lots of lime green, brown, lavender and baby blue filling your story? You should. These are the words that put us in the story.

Example of us telling:
In July, 1776, men gathered in a building to sign a piece of paper.
Can you see the illustrations? Sun shining since it is July, men in clothes from 1776 era, a building and maybe even a banner that says, “1776.”

Now let’s show the story:
On a steamy July day in 1776, some very important men gathered. Excitement filled their hearts as they signed not just any piece of paper, but the declaration of the United States of America.

Whatever your revision process might be, I hope that it brings your story to success.

Thank you Kristen! I'm feeling inspired, anyone else? Print out a couple manuscripts and a grab a box of crayons and let's prep for ReviMo! :D

Read more Pre-ReviMo interviews, click here and scroll down.

R-E-V-I-M-O - ReviMo!!! Pre-ReviMo Interview with Christine Irvin

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five weeks until ReviMo! I'm excited, how about everyone else? Today we have Christine Irvin with us. Welcome Christine!

What has most influenced your picture book writing journey? 
I have had a passion for writing ever since I can remember. When I was younger, I liked to write poetry. It just felt right to write poems about things that were important to me. Now, I don't write poetry very much, but I like to write stories, particularly stories for children, hopefully ones that will become picture books. I started reading very early and I am an avid reader. Books have had a major impact in my life. I would like to have at least one picture book in print that is the kind of book that kids ask for again and again and again. Okay, I want to be the author of a whole slew of those kinds of PBs, but ya gotta start somewhere. That dream is there, and has been for quite some time, and I keep pursuing it even though I sometimes get sidetracked.

Christine you have several craft books published Paper Cup Mania, Egg Carton Mania and more (click here), how have they influenced your picture book writing? 
Well, at the beginning, right after they came out in print, I was under the mistaken impression that I had hit the big time. I had eight craft books to my name (then, there are 9 now). Surely, publishers would want to publish other things I had written. Right? Wrong. It's been a very slow, uphill journey in my picture book writing career. I keep writing stories and they keep getting rejected (for a number of reasons). That's discouraging, but I keep on trying. I've incorporated the idea of making things into the story lines of a couple of my most recent endeavors. I like the idea of the main character learning how to make things, how to create something decorative or useful. I think that idea could work well in the picture book market. I'm going to keep working on it...

Favorite picture book? 

Gosh, I don't think I have a FAVORITE one, there are just sooooo many really, really good ones. I LOVE most of the picture books J. Patrick Lewis has written. He writes a lot of poetry for children and I love his style.

What inspires you to revise? 
I've joined a couple of critique groups whose members are very helpful and encouraging. They are good at pointing out the places in my stories that need revision, but they also are very good at offering suggestions for revisions. They help me look at my stories from different angles to see what works and what doesn't work, so I have a better idea of how to revise and make them better.

Thank you Christine!

ReviMo 'Toons and a Contest!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The 'toons for the winners of my ReviMo contest! It was fun painting you Angie and Dani. :)
Would you like me to 'toon you? Enter to win your own personalized cartoon by spreading the word about ReviMo! You can enter once for a FB post, once for Blog post and once for a Tweet. 
Contest runs from today to Dec 30th. Good luck and thank you! 

And if you'd like to learn more about me, Meg Miller, ReviMo master(?)mind, check out Elaine Kiely Kearns interview, here!

*****Post Updated to extend contest to Dec 30th.*******
To Enter: Share the news about ReviMo (http://megmillerwrites.blogspot.com/p/revimo_16.html)
*Post about ReviMo on Facebook
*Blog about ReviMo
*Tweet about ReviMo 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RmmmmRmmm... ReviMo! Pre-ReviMo Interview with Julie Rowan-Zoch

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Six weeks until ReviMo! Today we have an interview with Julie Rowan-Zoch, writer AND illustrator!

Can you tell us about yourself?
First, thanks for having me over - I love opportunities to talk PBs! A reformed graphic designer, I am a pre-published author/illustrator of picture books. Currently illustrating 3 board books for a local indie press, to be launched in Oct.'14. Originally from Long Island, New York, I transplanted from northern Germany to Colorado 15yrs ago. Let's just say, I got around.


Why and where do you write and/or illustrate picture books?
I started writing because I needed something to illustrate, but now I have to write because I can't help myself - I enjoy it that much! But I've never thought to be writing for kids, I'm just having fun! When an idea hits, any scrap of paper will do. And no office, I have to get everything done before other family members need the computer! Otherwise I sketch while sulking on the sofa.

Favorite picture book?
Too many, but Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell and Lillian Hoban, holds sweet and sticky memories for this former picky eater. For about 3 years I have, at times, been reading close to 100 PBs a week. My librarian says I am their best customer! Now I am a picky reader.

Favorite illustrator?
Again too many - even tougher to name one, so I'll include the link to the growing list on my blog: http://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/illustrators-i-link/ And I totally judge book by it's cover - so glad when I am wrong!

What inspires your revisions?
Everything. I love my critique group partners, face-to-face and online, but I read and re-read craft books and articles, and otherwise let problems stew while I pursue other activities, like hanging wash on the line. I play badminton competitively (stop laughing, Meg - it is an olympic sport!), which puts me in a zen mode - I only focus on the next hit. This acts like a gray-cell duster and story revision comes easiest when the mind has had a chance to clear. At least for me!

How is your revision process different when you are illustrator and writer?
I don't really know how to answer that. I'd like to say it's tougher. It's not easy to ask for a critique when you haven't got a dummy to accompany your text and all the images are in your head. My mss would look a bit art-note heavy if I tried to put it ALL in words! On the other hand, I can revise without changing the words - ha, ha! Now there's a skill, eh? Generally, I try to get the text completed before I do a sketch for every scene, but I definitely flesh out my characters visually - that's a LOT of fun! Sometimes the character sketch cries out for a story, but at this point I more often have an idea first and the character is developed through the pencil - drawing IS thinking!

Love it and your art, thank you Julie!