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I had a wonderful time at the SCBWI Florida Workshop in Orlando!  I came home fueled with fantastic feedback, great new gems to use when writing and revising, and tons of inspiration.  Plus, it was amazing to spend an entire weekend with so many people who love children's books as much as I do!
I've been busy revising since I came back (I got a request for one of my favorite picture books--wahoo)!  I recently took out something I loved after several critiquers didn't think it was needed, and after talking to an amazing and enthusiastic editor, it's back in.  Yay!  I always try to keep my picture books under the magical 500 word mark, but I was told that it's okay to go over that to flesh out some scenes. Sometimes, it's hard to know exactly how much to put into a picture book, because the illustrations will tell the other half of the story.  Years ago, I used to put in too much detail.  I might have scaled back just a bit too much, and love that the editor suggested that I try to convey the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of the most dramatic scenes.  It really made me look at my manuscript in a new way, and I've already come up with some interesting new ideas.  I just sent my first round of post-conference revisions to one of my online groups, and can't wait to see what they say!

I'll blog more about the incredible Picture Book Intensive next week, but want to share my biggest 'aha' moment with you.  I've always interviewed my novel characters, but for some reason, I never thought about interviewing my picture book characters. I mean, I jot down notes and imagine how they look and speak, but I didn't really dig deep enough to find out what they're like outside of the book.  

Well...that's behind me now, because Alexandra Penfold gave us an amazing exercise with interview questions to analyze our picture book characters. I love exploring how my characters view themselves vs. the way others see them.  The question that had the biggest impact on me for Sock-a-palooza was: Who is your character's best friend, and why are they friends?  Well, in a very early version of this, I knew who her friends were.  But now...she doesn't have any friends mentioned, and I realized that she really longs to have a friend who loves socks as much as she does.  So at the end of the story, she not only solves the mystery of her missing socks, but also fills a void in her life as well.  It adds a whole new layer to my picture book that I never knew existed!  I can't wait to interview all my picture book characters, and see how much better their answers help me tell their stories!         
I wish I could share the whole sheet of questions with you, but I can't give away all her secrets.  If you have a chance to go to a workshop or intensive with Alexandra Penfold...jump at the chance!  She and Lisa Wheeler put on an amazing Picture Book Intensive.  Things ran so perfectly, you'd think they've been doing this for years!  If anyone is looking for future faculty for an in depth study on picture books, see if you can ask both Alexandra and Lisa!

It was wonderful chatting with old and new friends in Orlando!  It went by so fast, I didn't get to talk to some friends as much as I would've liked. Hopefully, we'll keep in touch online and have lots of time to talk in Miami this January.  I did go to a fun dinner to celebrate Steven dos Santos' two book deal with Flux Books for his amazing Torch Keeper series.  Congrats again, Steven!  If you don't know him, hop on over to his blog and congratulate him.  And you can also read about our adventurous ride to Orlando (thanks so much for driving us, Marjetta!)
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
Sounds like you had an amazing time.
Thanks for the little hint of your PB workshop. You know how things have meaning when you hear or think of them 2 or 3 times. Well, yesterday while struggling with the "point" of a pb story I'm working on, I thought of Lisa Wheeler and the workshop I took with her. It's amazing how some things just stick in your mind and pop into your story when least expected.
Love conferences and what they send us home with. During our NE conference in May, I jotted a note to myself and came home with a new MG idea (that I can't stop working on now)
Think I'll try the interview with the MC of my PB story...thanks again.
Write write write!!!!
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks
Thanks, Mona. It was wonderful! I love conferences and what they send home with us, too. :)

Wow--congrats for having a new MG idea, and good luck with your PB. Let me know how it comes out!
Jul. 4th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a great workshop! I'm glad you were able to put the part you loved so much back into your PB. And interviewing your PB characters is a great idea. Thanks for sharing this.
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
You're welcome, Kelly. I'll share more details about the rest of the intensive soon.

And thanks--I couldn't stop smiling when the editor thought that would be perfect for my PB, and had so much fun working it back in (plus some new things, too).
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
Hi, Mindy! So nice to put a face with the name. I was there for the workshop as well--did the MG track and you're so right! It went by so so fast. It was my first SCBWI anything and it was such a great experience. I sent a partial in to Joanna Volpe who was there and within two days she responded back. Not with good news, but hey that turnaround time was incredible! All because the subject line with SCBWI that got me in there above the rest. Anyway, she had great things to say, but couldn't take me on because she already represents a similar story. So whateves, right?
You've got some great info here, so I'll be browsing thru your blog. I did a post on the MG track too a few days ago. It's been fun catching up with all the tracks thru bloggers.
Nice to meet you! :)
Jul. 19th, 2011 06:02 am (UTC)
It's nice to meet you too, PK. I'm glad you had such a fantastic time at your first conference! I remember how nervous I was before going to my first event...and I instantly became a conference addict.

I'm sorry you received a rejection...but it sounds like it was incredibly positive. I bet there's another agent out there who will love it...and won't already rep something similar. I've done a lot of agent research, so if you want to let me know more about your MG, I should be able to give you some names that might be a good match (have you checked out agentquery.com, querytracker.net and Verla Kay's Blueboards (which has market info and response times on it, plus tons of other great info).

Do you want to add a link to your blog post on our FL SCBWI Facebook page?

( 6 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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