Archive for February, 2013

What does your picture book character want?

I held a very casual, intimate picture book workshop the other day.  It was so enjoyable, hearing the beginning writers read their manuscripts a loud, albeit tentatively.  The stories had merit, charm and a lot of the hallmarks of a good picture book manuscript.  Except they lacked one thing: the main characters didn’t seem to want something enough, whether clearly or at all.  Especially if you are a beginning writer, it’s imperative to know what drives your character, what gives them the joie de vivre, their motivation, their angst? Even if we’re talking about the angst of a duck who everyone makes fun of “The Ugly Duckling,” a boy’s adventure on a fantasy train “The Polar Express,” or a baby bear who’s afraid of the dark in “Can’t you sleep, Little Bear?” there is some kind of conflict that propels the reader forward to root for the main character, to make sure everything turns out okay.

Look closely at your manuscript.  Does your main character have a real motivation or problem(s) free of cliches?  Do the obstacles your m.c. encounters form an arc until the “black moment” or climax, around p. 25 in a 32 pg. book?  Make a 32 pg. dummy with sketches and copy roughly penciled in to see how your story lays out, warts and all.  It will save you time.. and tears.


February 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

Looking for the next J.K. Rowling An event for Middle Grade and Young Adult Novelists

Looking for the next J.K. Rowling
An event for Middle Grade and Young Adult Novelists
Broomfield, Colorado—OnMarch 2, 2013 three power-house literary agents will team together to help aspiring writers discover how to break into publishing.  Those who register for the event will enjoy a rare opportunity to move beyond the veil of the internet and meet three agents: Sara Megibow from Nelson Literary, Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary, and Terrie Wolfe of AKA Literary.
J.K. Rowling, the popular author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected twelve times before she found her publisher.  Furthermore most publishers won’t even engage with authors without an agent representing them. The Rocky Mountain chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has arranged for the three agents to offer a workshop at the Broomfield Public Library.  Aspiring children’s book novelists will learn the in’s and out’s of publishing including how to pitch their project. This is a quick way to move past the slush pile. After learning the art of the pitch, each writer will be afforded the valuable chance to pitch directly to an agent, and then receive immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  Furthermore, the agent panel will read the first page of each participant’s manuscript in a session called “First Pages” and again participants will receive immediate feedback. This is an incredible opportunity to meet
executives in the industry, and it’s a valuable chance to ask questions and learn.
The event takes place on Saturday March 2nd from 9:30am-4:30pm at the Mamie Dowd Eisenhower Public Library located at 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, Colorado. Space is very limited and pre-registration is required (registration deadline isFebruary 25, 2013).  The cost is $79 for SCBWI members and $100 for non-members.
To register please visit or contact the registrar, Carrie Seidel,  To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, please visit more on Agent day at

February 12, 2013 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

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