Jun 30, 2013

Revising an Old Manuscript

This week, I am going to submit another manuscript to Rate Your Story, I just don't know which one.

Rate Your Story is a free online critique service that allows writers to submit manuscripts (or parts of manuscripts) the 1st-7th of every month.  The judges are published writers who simply offer their opinion on the quality of your work and they tell you if they think it will appeal to agents.

The scores range from 1-10.  One being the best score, and they urge you to submit to agents/publishers, and a 10 meaning... well, not so good.  In the past I have received a "6", another "6", a "7" and once I even received a "?" because my picture book was about a specific body function (I'm not revealing the exact story here since agents still have my manuscript).  Then again, the judges always tell you that the business is subjective.  One agent may hate your manuscript and another may call you immediately because they want to represent it.

Also, RYS has rules.  For example, you can only submit one story at a time, and your MS cannot exceed 2,000 words.  Oh, and you can only send the same manuscript to them total of three times.  Typically, they allow writers to submit the first week of every month, and before the end of the month, you receive a critique.  Like many other things in life, you have to take what you are told with a grain of salt.  After all, it's the publisher who is the ultimate rejection, not necessarily an online judge or even an agent.

I have a manuscript I am crazy about, though, I believe it will be a hard sell.  So, I'm considering doing my 3rd round of revisions for RYS to see if I can get better feedback.  Then, I might move forward with submitting to agents to publishers.  You never know until you try.

This coming week will prove to be a busy one for me.  We have house projects in the works, and a four day weekend!  I'll try to keep you updated with my decisions.

Jun 24, 2013

My Mascot

Earlier, as I browsed my Adobe Illustrator files, I found this little guy.  He was an early attempt at trying to draw an elephant using AI, without looking at a picture of one.  Okay, okay, he's a special needs elephant.  So?

When I saw this picture, creativity began flowing through my veins.  Creativity that I have been lacking the past month.

I guess the smallest things can give us inspiration.  But, it looks as though the dinner dishes will have to inspire me first, as they await me in the kitchen.  Blah!

Jun 23, 2013

Targeting Agents/Publishers

We all know that our manuscripts must please a publisher.  If an agent is queried first, the manuscript has to please the agent and the publisher.  Since the ultimate goal is to please the publisher, do you think it's smart to research a publisher's bookshelf and write a book to target their tastes?

As I complete a manuscript, and revise it a zillion times, I come to realize what the book is about.  Does my story teach a lesson?  If so, what type of lesson?  Is my story just a fun-loving, good time kind of story?  Does my story feature funny topics that children laugh at, such as body functions (peeing, pooping, etc..)?  Once I know these answers, I try to find publishers that handle books that are similar to mine.

But... what if the process were reversed?  What if I researched a publisher first, then wrote a story I believed they would take on?  Is that... bad?

Don't get me wrong, I'd never write a book I didn't enjoy writing.  But, there are times when I feel like I should write to a publishers liking and maybe I'll have an even better chance of getting published.   Once I can get published, maybe I can have more flexibility to publish other things I have written. It seems as though debut writers have to walk the tight rope until they are published.

So, what do you think?  Is it bad to write a story to just target a specific publisher?

Jun 17, 2013

Writing Goals for 2013

Ten.  That's how many agents I'm waiting to hear from.  Ten agents who might possibly reject my picture book manuscript (if you are curious, 18 have already rejected the manuscript I'm referring to). The question is, what do I do after that?  Query publishers?  Move on to the next picture book manuscript?

The querying process is a lot like the weather.  Feeling great about a manuscript is like looking into a cloudless sky.  The sun is shining bright and the world looks beautiful.  But then, doubts arise as agents reject the manuscript, and those rejections are the nasty gray clouds that move in front of the sunshine.

Year 2013 is half finished.  Half finished!  Writing and submitting to agents makes time fly, and it flies because when you wait to hear from agents, you wish time away.  Days turn into weeks and before you know it, it's time to write another manuscript and get it ready for submission.

My 2013 goal was to get an agent, and considering the time it takes agents to respond, I feel that goal might not come true this year.  I still have hope, but in the publishing world, I come to realize how short a year really is.

On another note, I am trying to gear up for the Cheerios New Author Contest.  Hey, it might be a stretch, but it doesn't hurt to try!

What are your writing goals for 2013?

Jun 11, 2013

Sibling Rivalry in Picture Books

In the midst of querying manuscripts and waiting for replies, I have created a draft of a picture book on a subject of which I know nothing.

My picture book began by just being funny, then I realize it was about sibling rivalry.  Well... I'm an only child.  What do I know about sibling rivalry?  Not much, but I will share a story that may interest you.

Mary and Ruby were sisters.  Mary was 4 when Ruby was born.  Mary was very jealous of Ruby and didn't know how to handle it.  So, Mary completely ignored Ruby.  Yep, she pretended like Ruby did not exist.  It was her way of coping.

As the years went by, Mary's jealousy did not subside much.  In a family portrait, Ruby touched Mary, and Mary had a fit:  "She touched me!!!"  As if Ruby had a disease.  It took many years before Mary could come to terms with Ruby's presence in the family, but she finally accepted it.

It seems as though picture books about sibling rivalries are a bit depressing.

Can't these picture books plant an idea of worry in young children preparing for a sibling?

Jun 3, 2013


Many famous writers are/were author-illustrators:  Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter and one of my favorites, Mo Willems. I tend to think these people had an unfair advantage as opposed to the plain ole authors, like myself.

Sometimes when I write a manuscript, I have very vivid ideas for illustrations.  The problem is I can't put those images on paper because I'm not an artist.  This usually makes me think, "Aww, man, if only an agent could see the story's potential, they would want this manuscript!"  But, no, here I am, only with text to offer.

I imagine people like Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter simply handing a complete book to an agent or publisher, and the agent being blown away by the awesomeness of the complete product.  This makes me feel like author-illustrators have such a huge advantage of just plain ole authors.

Do you think there are picture books that wouldn't have been published without the illustrations complete from day one?