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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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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!


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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