Pitching Your Manuscript: How and Why

October 12, 2016

The day after I recorded my class video with Julie Kingsley for The Manuscript Academy, I realized (with horror!) (or just annoyance) that I’d forgotten to talk about pitching. I almost called Julie and told her to come back so we could record more, but then decided, hey, I’ll do it myself. It’ll be a bonus video.

Pitching! It’s super important, and also kind of scary. In this video, I talk about five reasons you need to write pitches:

1. A pitch is a mission statement for your story.

2. If you are having trouble writing a pitch for your story, it means there’s a problem with the story.

3. A pitch gives you an answer to the question, “What’s your story about?”

4. You’ll need a pitch for social media pitch events.

5. Your agent and editor can use your pitch in submission letters and promotional materials.

And then I talk about the formula (SECRET FORMULA!) (or not secret at all, actually) I use for writing pitches, and give you some examples.

I hope this helps any of you pitchophobes out there. And if you like this video, you’ll love the class I did for The Manuscript Academy, which is me sitting on this same couch talking in the same way, but for way longer, and with better lighting and done with a much better camera.



Snappsy on Stage!

September 30, 2016

portlandstagesnappsyIf you’re anywhere near Portland, Maine, come join me at the Portland Stage’s Play Me a Story production of Snappsy on October 15, 2016.

If you’re asking yourself, “Sheesh, Julie, isn’t that just a whole other level of achievement, to have a theater company do your book on stage?” the answer is yes. I read this blog post by Tara Lazar about not pitching from your own point of view a few weeks ago, and it really made me think, but at times like this I want to throw that advice in the dumpster and say: I’M SO EXCITED TO GO SEE THE PORTLAND STAGE DO SNAPPSY!

Come meet me there! I’ll be signing books and bouncing in excitement!



Manuscript Academy

September 28, 2016
Cosmo was a REAL HELP in getting this video shoot done.

Cosmo was a REAL HELP in getting this video shoot done.

I’ve never been to a writer’s conference.

I want to go. I think they sound amazing. You get to network with other writers, agents, and editors. You go to craft workshops and learn about techniques that inspire you to write and revise. But you also leave your family for several days, and have to pay for lodging and travel in addition to the cost of the conference. And when you have four little kids and are renovating your house, it’s hard to justify that time and expense.

When my friend Julie Kingsley told me she was on the team lauching The Manuscript Academy, I knew this was the kind of conference that people like me could actually attend. The Manuscript Academy is a an offshoot of Manuscript Wish List, and is an online writing conference, so you get the inspiration, techniques, and craft of a traditional conference, but you can do it from your home.

Check out their website to learn more — you’ll see that I’m part of the faculty.

Julie K. and I just recorded the video for my class/lecture, and we had a blast. We did it right here in my house (my dogs say hi!), so I think there’s a really cool intimate quality, because it’s me in my home talking to you in your home.

Here are some of the things I talked about:

  • Word count in picture books: what’s the sweet spot? What do you do if your manuscript is 100 words? What do you do if it’s 3,000 words?
  • Adding a surprising element to make your story stand out in today’s crowded marketplace.
  • Plot arc and character.
  • Why you need to write terrible stories.
  • What Snappsy looked like from first draft all the way through to finished book.
  • The (difficult! cramp-inducing!) process of writing and revising The Society of Underrepresented Animals.
  • How to translate picture-book-writing skills to writing middle grade novels, plus some middle grade revision techniques.

There’s lots of information in there, plus visuals, and lots of book recommendations, because I can’t help but recommend books.

The Manuscript Academy starts on November 5, 2016 and you have access for 30 days.

I’m doing some one-on-one live first-page critique sessions too! (That’s where we video chat or talk on the phone about your manuscript, which will be so fun.)

If you’ve been thinking, “I wish Julie would just sit on a couch in her house and talk writing and books at me for 45 minutes,” (or an hour? I talked for a long time, we’ll see what it gets edited down to), then you should sign up.




Kidlit Open Mic on Barnes & Noble’s blog

September 23, 2016

julie10croppedThe Barnes & Noble blog has this fun newish feature called Kidlit Open Mic (maybe there’s an adult one too? I don’t know) where they ask authors to share personal stories. There isn’t any guidance on what the authors can talk about, just that it should be a personal story, and around 300 words.

I’m honored to have been asked to be part of the picture book group. Go check it out! Because we were allowed to write about whatever we wanted, there is a really interesting mix of stories. I wrote about the time my dad took me to my first Broadway show. I’m up there with Kell Andrews, Cece Meng, Jessica Walton, Liz Wong, Ruth Ohi, and Isabel Campoy.

And many thanks to my neighbor Brian Reeves, who fielded my urgent text saying, “I need a photo for a blog post in the next three minutes…can you meet me in the street?” with grace, patience, efficiency, and proper equipment. (Also be sure you click through to Brian’s website, which right now features an art installation by my daughters, who often take over Brian’s house and art projects, which he also greets with grace and patience. I mean, who lets some neighborhood kids crash art installations and move stuff around? Brian does. And then teaches them electric guitar afterwards.)



Instagram giveaway

September 22, 2016

instagramgiveawayAre you on Instagram? I am…now! I finally entered the current decade and got a smartphone, so now I can be on Instagram. You can follow me if you’re interested in seeing what so far is mainly photos of my dogs. To celebrate my newfound Instagrammatical status, I’m doing a giveaway: rare, limited edition proofs of the Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) case cover (hard cover of the book) and jacket. Suitable for framing! Also a copy of the book, which I’ll sign if you want me to, and as many bookmarks as you need (as long as you don’t need, like, 1000). Check out the giveaway post on Instagram for info on how to enter — I’ll draw the winner next Tuesday morning (Sept. 27th, 2016).




August 31, 2016

I was asked by the amazing Ounce of Prevention Fund to join the #ShareYourWords campaign. The Ounce of Prevention focuses on early childhood education and “gives children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life by advocating for and providing the highest-quality care and education from birth to age five.”

Watch the video to see what my favorite word is, and then make your own video and let me know what your favorite word is!


CATEGORIES: books, Uncategorized

New book deal announcement: The Great Indoors

August 3, 2016

I am very pleased to announce another book deal!


Everyone make sure you go run out and get Ruth’s book Where’s the Party? if you haven’t already. It’s SO GREAT.

I’m really pleased with how this story came out, and I can’t wait to see what Ruth does with it. This is one I had the idea for a while ago, and the book kept simmering. I wrote it about six different ways before I figured out the voice (usually I go at manuscripts the other way: voice first, then figure out what the story is). I was doing most of my writing on the literal sidelines: on the bleachers while my kids learned to swim, in the hallway while Ramona took a tumbling class. Writing was turtley: slow and steady.

And then finally I understood who was telling The Great Indoors and how I could approach it, and I finished a draft in the right voice. I was excited. I told Eli how excited I was about it, and what it was about.

He said the scariest words anyone can say to someone who has a shiny new manuscript: “Oh, we just read that story in class last week!”

After about three hours of panic (most of it involving me saying, “But what was it called?” because he couldn’t remember the title of the book they’d read in class), I found the other book and read it and PHEW. It was totally different. The only similarity was “animals in a house.”

(Here’s where I note that it could have been the same. That happens all the time, and you just have to make your story more You so it’s very different from the first story. The fact is, there aren’t really that many different ideas out there.)

Mostly I’m telling you all this to remind you that writing takes time, and sometimes you’ll approach a story twelve different ways before you realize how it should be, and sometimes all that takes even more time if you can only write for 40-minute stints. But 40 minutes is better than nothing, because you write and write and eventually it’s a book.

I love this story, and am so excited to be working with Rotem, and Ruth, and Disney-Hyperion!



Interviews up on One Bad Mother and Dickinson College magazine

July 15, 2016

Hi everyone! Two new things up today!

First, I’m interviewed on one of my very favorite podcasts in the world, One Bad Mother, talking about how I wrote a book with four kids and about giving myself permission to follow my dreams. We also talk about a Snappsy cocktail, puppies, and I get called a magical unicorn, so that’s fun.

I was also interviewed for my college alumni magazine. Head on over to the Dickinson College page to read about my career path, and also see a bonus Q&A with Snappsy himself.


CATEGORIES: Julie, Parenting, Snappsy, writing

Snappsy is getting a sequel!

July 12, 2016

Exciting news! There will be a second Snappsy book heading your way in the fall of 2017! Read all about it over at the Nerdy Book Club today!



This week: puppy, videos, readings, and more!

July 11, 2016

Here’s the weekly news roundup! (Don’t you like how I’m saying that, like that’s a thing I’ve ever done before?)

We got a puppy! Her name is Marlo. She’s from Tennessee and is part black lab part horse? moose? Something big. So far she’s a total dream puppy and mostly likes to hang out getting kibble out of puzzle toys.



Tim made a great video for Brightly where he’s reading Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)If you’ve been waiting to hear it in its entirety, now’s your chance (plus Tim does a great job reading it!).

Tim also talked to Papercuts about why he procrastinates.

I did a reading at my local toy store, Treehouse Toys, which was awesome.



And I went to the International Literacy Association conference where this huge line of people (!!!) waited for me to sign their book.


Also I made an alligator dress for the occasion.


Finally, I’m at Kidlit Summer School today, talking about how to get your stories to be fun and surprising with a writing and revision technique I call “the expoding sandwich.”


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