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On June 6, I attended a Writing Intensive in Orlando, where I read a few pages from the beginning of Adventures of Bra Girl to Michael Stearns (Firebrand). He gave me some amazing advice. I tried to fix up that same segment before my afternoon critique with Nicole Kasprzak (Putnam), but made so many changes that I knew it would be difficult to read my writing...so I chose one of my favorite scenes around page 50. In addition to praise about the voice (yay), she gave me some wonderful suggestions. Even better—I mentioned one issue I had with the manuscript, and she gave me a brilliant solution. So for me, the Writing Intensive was a huge success, and couldn't have come at a better time.

But...I didn't feel comfortable handing in the first page I had printed for critique in the Middle Grade Track the next day. I knew I could make it better. So I told my family they'd have to wait about a half hour before going out to dinner, and I revamped the first page until I was happy with it. I had originally started the novel with a comic the MC draws, but it ended up in the second chapter. Now, it's on the first page, where I believe it belongs. And I also streamlined several other areas.

My new beginning was the first one chosen for critique. Both Michael Stearns and Andrea Tompa (from Candlewick Press, who had completed an incredibly helpful ten page critique of an older version) noticed the changes. I received some wonderful compliments—and advice from Bruce Hale, Andrea Tompa, and Michael Stearns that really helped me polish the beginning. I've run the newest version by my mentor and critique buddies, and think it's really close to being ready now. I also worked in the amazing advice from the four faculty members listed above into the entire manuscript—read through the changes several times, and gave it to Joyce Sweeney for a full critique. I can't wait to hear what she says!

I also had an incredibly helpful (and in depth) critique of my PB, Mess Monster, by Debby Garfinkle. I just finished going through my revision a couple times, and love the way it reads now! Thanks to her advice, I streamlined and added more fun language. I think this one is almost ready to submit, too!

I am so thankful to the faculty for their amazing advice! And a special thanks to Linda Bernfeld and Vivian Fernandez for organizing such an amazing workshop, and to Christina Gonzalez and Flora Doone for all your help. It was fantastic meeting Blueboard and LJ friends like Fran Slayton and Debby Garfinkle, and spending the weekend with my local friends and critique group members.

Since this is long, I’ll try to share some specifics about the workshop in another post—but I’ll fill you in on some Firebrand news. They’re looking to add two new agents, and will have a new website soon.

Here’s a photo of my daughters with the amazingly talented and funny Bruce Hale.

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 18th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
LURVED your post, especially the process you're going through with the professional critiques. Vair, vair nifters!
Jun. 18th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Awesome!
Thanks, MJ. :)
Jun. 18th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
I saw Bruce Hale at a conference. He is the awesome.

Jun. 18th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
Bruce Hale is amazing. This is the second time I've seen him at a conference, but the first time I took a workshop with him. Besides being incredibly funny and entertaining, he has so much fabulous information to share. It was really difficult to choose a track for this workshop--they all looked great. But I'm thrilled with everything I learned.
Jun. 18th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
The workshop sounds like it was great!
Jun. 18th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Olmue. It was fantastic. I'll share some of my notes soon. :)
Jun. 18th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, Mindy! Your girls are such young ladies now! Where does the time go? :-)
Jun. 18th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
I know. I can't believe how fast my girls are growing. Part of me wishes I could keep them at 7 and 10 for the next few years.
Jun. 18th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean! :-)

And I saw that you called... I'm going out of town for a job interview, but I'll be back next week. :-)

Jun. 19th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to hear more about your job interview. Sending tons of good luck vibes your way. I'll call you next week. :)
Jun. 24th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mindy! :-) I think the job interview went awesomely, but I won't hear the absolute verification for one to two weeks yet.
Jun. 18th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh Mndy
I know you're on that rooolllll and thanks for sharing it with all of us... I love the way you listen to your mentor and critiquers and use some of their suggestions. and I love both Andrea Tompa and Deb Garfinkle, the people.
...your girls a beautiful(really beautiful)
You are on a roll honey!!!
Jun. 19th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Mona. :)

Jun. 18th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
This conference does sound amazing. I think I'm going to have to arrange a family vacation for next year (my in-laws have a place in Daytona!). Thanks for sharing!
Jun. 19th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. It would be great to meet you in person next summer. I believe Michael Stearns will return again, along with Bruce Coville. We're not sure of the date yet, but it will be either:
May 22 (Memorial Day Weekend)
June 19 & 20.
I'll let you know when we have an official date.
Jun. 18th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
Great stuff! And that's a wonderful pic of your daughters!
Jun. 19th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Liz. :)
Jun. 20th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
It's so funny how alike we are in some respects, Mindy.
You know that middle grade WIP I've had going for ages now (Adventures of InvisiBoy)?
My MC is a comic book artist and I also include comic book excerpts in the MS. Does that make your stomach flip too?
Jun. 22nd, 2008 05:03 am (UTC)
Wow--we really do have a lot on common! Let's hope that by the end of 2008, we'll both have amazing agents and editors for our MGs! Then, we'll have to meet up somewhere and CELEBRATE!

What kind of sidekick does InvisiBoy have? Mine is Scaredy Dog, who has to battle giant, dog-eating obstacles.
Jul. 11th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
That's a great photo of your very grownup looking daughters! You are on a roll Mindy! I'm glad that the Intensive went so well for you! Bra Girl rocks!!
Jul. 12th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
Thanks, Sharon. My girls have grown so much since you first saw pictures of them over three years ago. Becca looks like a teen already--how scary is that?
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


Mindy's head shot
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.


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