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.