Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Better Critique Story

After posting about the nightmare impromptu critique of my first attempt at writing and illustrating picture books (you can read it here), I thought I'd share another critique story ... one that was more positive.

A few years ago, I attended my first national SCBWI conference in L.A. If you are interested in writing or illustrating for children, I cannot stress enough that it would be well worth it to save your pennies and go to a national conference. They are incredible, and for me, life changing.

Anyway, I'd signed up to have my manuscript critiqued. It was the story that eventually became Puzzled by Pink, but in the beginning stages of the book, the story was only about this little girl:

Her name was Zelda (she's now called Izzy). She was a Wednesday Addams kind of girl who loved all things creepy and goth, and she lived with her grandmother. The whole story centered around this creepy tea party that she was creating for her best friend (who turned out to be invisible).

For my critique, I landed the writing teacher Anastasia Suen. She's brilliant, teaches creative writing, and has written about a bazillion children's books as well as a book on writing for children called Picture Writing.

She looked at my manuscript and we talked through it. She suggested that it could be a cumulative story like The Napping House or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom where everything builds up and then falls apart. "You could have Zelda gather up everything for this party and then it could all come crashing down or something," she said. Then she looked from the manuscript to the sketch of my main character, leaned forward, and said, "But you really don't have a conflict here. It's just not interesting enough ... I like your main character, though ... Tell me, what's the worst thing that could happen to this little girl?"

I sat up and immediately responded, "Something PINK!"

Her eyes lit up. "That's it," she said. "There's your story. Let's talk it through ..."

And we did.

It still took many, many revisions to get my book in the kind of shape that it needed to be, and I still had some learning to do about illustrating a children's book. But that critique? It set me on FIRE!!!


P.S. I'm traveling this weekend, and I'd love to see some of you if I'm hitting your town!

Friday afternoon at 3:30: Black Forest Books and Toys in Charlotte, North Carolina
Saturday afternoon at 1:00: Fox Tales in Woodstock, Georgia
Sunday afternoon at 2:00: City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina
Monday morning at 10:30: Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville, North Carolina

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sketchbook Friday--Camp Pix

Hi all!

My older two girls are at camp, leaving me with just one little girl. We've been having a great time bike riding, swimming, and hanging out at the pet store (staring at the lizards mostly). While I've been camp director here, my older girls have been hiking throughout the North Carolina mountains--where the Hunger Games movie was filmed.

I usually draw my letters to them, so today I'm posting the ones I put in the mail this morning.

I think in the next ones I need to arm each of them with a bow and arrow . . . in case Cato shows up!

Stay tuned next week for a kindler, gentler critique story.