Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight Early Pictures!

I'm thrilled to show you the first mockup of my character driven story, Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight's cover! And it's SO CUTE!!!! **swoon**

Okay...I've recovered now.

The illustrator, Liana Hee, has done an amazing job. I can see little girls wanting to emulate her bravery right now. And her pink poodle sidekick, Pixie, is PERFECT.

SO...here she is:



I'm in meltdown wait mode, though. We really don't have a definite release date, but GETTING CLOSER!



Princess Peepers Picks a Pet Nominated for Iowa's State Award!

I'm beyond excited to share that Princess Peepers Picks a Pet was nominated for the Iowa State Goldfinch Award. That means librarians got together and made a master list of the best books for ages K-3rd. The children will read them all and then vote on their favorite. I am thrilled librarians thought so highly of my book!


What makes Princess Peepers a character that children love to read about? For one thing, she really wants to please other people and although the other princesses are mean to her, she doesn't retaliate. In the end, she always does her own thing and that's the message of the book.

There will be a new Princess Peepers coming out. I'm so excited to share about this. But I can't reveal it yet. In this one, Princess Peepers will be taking a stand for true beauty on the inside!

If you want to learn more about how to write books like Princess Peepers Picks a Pet, check out my article on character driven stories. These are the types of books editors want to see!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Picture Book University EXTRA! Take a Children's Writing Course

Hope all of you are busy writing outside on these beautiful spring days! As it happens, I've just had the wonderful experience of participating as a judge for a picture book contest. I read about 100 manuscripts and it gave me some ideas for new blog posts. :-)  PBU Extra! is supplemental material for those that might need a bit of specific advice.

I've had many people come to me, asking for advice--from friends to friends of friends to my critique clients. I can tell by the first page whether someone has just decided to venture into this business sight unseen--meaning with no training at all. I want to make it clear that writing picture books, although seemingly simple, is anything but easy. In fact, I had been published in Highlights for Children and I still couldn't break into picture books. Why? Because I'd had no training in writing them! I didn't know how to set them up, even though I'd read a lot of them.

If you want to get published, you will have to invest in this as a career. If you don't want to be bothered with extra education, then you really need to think of something else to do. I mean, if you're a professional, didn't you go to college to learn your trade? A doctor goes to med school, a lawyer goes to law school, a business person gets their business degree. Why in the world wouldn't a picture book author learn the art of picture book writing? Yet time and time again, I see picture books written by people who obviously have never taken a class about writing for children.

Is this you?

Are you writing and writing and writing, sending out manuscript after manuscript and either getting silence or rejection? Or are you the person who on a whim has this funny joke or idea and thinks kids will like it? So you write it out and feel it must get published. Your kids laughed after all!

If you think you don't need training, I will wish you great good luck and send you on your way. But if you just didn't realize there were classes out there, and you really want to succeed, then I have some great advice for you!

1. Take Institute for Children's Literature--I cannot be any more clear or loud about this school. It
will teach you everything you need to know about writing for children. I say start here because if you don't, your learning curve will be high and long. They will pair you up with a published author that will mentor you through many manuscripts and you will start "seeing" like a child and therefore, write better for them. I was published in a children's magazine only 9 months after taking this course! But I couldn't write picture books well, so if you want to write those...you will need even more education.

2. Do my free PBU workshop--This is a great start for you and it won't cost you a cent! I would advise doing the lessons one at a time and at the end of each lesson, do the assignment. They can be done at your own pace, but DO THEM! By the time you're finished, you will have a better understanding of how to set one up. And you will have read and studied over 80 picture books! After you're done with this...you STILL need more help! (Sorry...but you will...)

3. Take a picture book class--The one I can endorse is Anastasia Suen's Intensive Picture Book Workshop. She will go through one of your manuscripts with this intense class while you and seven others critique as well. It's amazing how she can fine tune a manuscript. I put PRINCESS PEEPERS through her second workshop and sold it! I would never have been able to write that manuscript if I hadn't taken the first course, though.

4. Other classes--I've heard from around the blogosphere of other picture book classes. I cannot vouch for them, but I know good things about the teachers themselves and they are either editors or highly accredited authors. So I will list them here:

Picture Book Academy--Many different authors participate as mentors.

Writer's Digest picture book workshop--ongoing classes. Check to find availability.

The Loft--picture book course--taught by picture book author, Molly Beth Griffin

Revising and Reimagining Your Picture Book--by Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. The workshop is full but they are offering a discount for those who want to join in on the recordings.

5. Join a critique group--Only after you've done all that, NOW you are ready for a critique group. You have to get the basics down first before others can even start making your work better. A great way to get a group is in Anastasia Suen's class. It's set up like a critique group and in my class, we started one. ALL of my fellow critique group members became published: Katherine Rollins, Barbara Kaninnen, Dianne White. How's that for rate of return?

6. Get a professional critique--I only advise this if you've done all of the above yet you still can't get an agent and you still can't get published. Having a professional look at your work is amazingly better than having someone on your writing level review it. A GREAT way to find out if you have a good story is to join Rate Your Story. For a minimal annual fee, you can have one manuscript a month reviewed by a professional. If you score a 6 or better, I'd say your manuscript is worth paying a professional to help you.

I happen to offer a professional critique service. I must say that all those who do pay for my service are well on their way to achieving their dream. Why, you say? Because people who are not ready to invest in their work are not ready to succeed. I can say I'm very proud of all of my clients. They really are a cut above the rest! It's fun being the mentor to these talented writers. :)

I hope this post is helpful to you. I can honestly say that over the years, those who don't give up do get published. They keep honing their craft, keep learning, and one day...they get that fabulous call.

Someone wants to publish your work!

Crack open the celebratory libations! HOORAY!

Happy writing,





Rate Your Story Contest

There's a cool contest out there I wanted to let you know about from RATE YOUR STORY. If you don't know about this awesome, informational website and tool, you should check it out. They have a wonderful newsletter jammed with insider information as well as the ability for you to get your stories rated by professional authors--every month!

I am one of the authors who participates in rating these stories--for free!  So, if you have a wonderful manuscript just waiting out there, send it in! A win in a contest like this will get you noticed as having something that an agent/editor might want.

If you'd like to check it out, go here: RATE YOUR STORY WRITING CONTEST


Some of the things a judge will look for:

1. Marketability--is it unique? Will children love it?

2. Emotional connection--did it make them feel something? Laugh? Cry? Bond with the characters?

3. Understanding of how to write picture books--meaning, the author thinks in pictures and the story will be enhanced by illustrations. In fact, without pictures, it wouldn't be a whole package.

4. Under 600 words. This is not a hard and fast rule, but I've found in rating lots of stories and through my own critique service that if a story goes over 600-650 words, usually, it needs to be cut or the story needs to be restructured.

5. Style elements. How does the author use these to delight their readers? Are they cleverly used? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, please read my post about style elements here: PBU Style Elements.

6. A unique, twist ending--something that surprises the reader, makes them say, awww, or just knocks it out of the park!

If you want examples of stories I think would help you and are wonderful to study, go through my PBU workshop and see the picture books I highlight. All of them are masterpieces in my opinion.

You have until March 31st to get your entries in!



Happy writing and...

GOOD LUCK!

SOLD! My New Character Driven series!


Just wanted to share that I will be having a brand new princess series coming by Two Lions! We finally decided on the name--don't get hung up on a character's name. Over the many picture books I've written, only one actually has the name I came up with in the beginning (Princess Peepers). 

So, it's entitled, BRIANNA BRIGHT, BALLERINA KNIGHT! It's about a spunky princess who's searching for her talent.Through lots of trial and error (re: much slapstick), she ends up with TWO! 

How did I get a new series? By holding onto the tenets I found by studying these types of books. I knew publishers needed them, and I set out to find a story that hasn't been written. UNIQUENESS is key! Plus humor helps. My spunky princess is funny and my editor wants more adventures. 

If you want to write a character driven story, please read my lesson on this topic and do the assignment! Character Driven Picture Books. Study these types of books!

And NEVER GIVE UP!