BANANA PEELIN’ POST
Hi, guys! Want to read my big Banana Peelin’ moment? And how I finally picked myself up and brushed banana bits of my pants?
Okay, here goes:
My first picture book manuscript was called BLACKBERRY, THE FLYING GOAT. There are several good reasons why you’ve never heard of it:
· BLACKBERRY was 1,423 words long.
· It had a grown-up protagonist.
· And it was a love story. (Not with the goat.)
Yeah, I hadn’t done my homework. So naturally, I was convinced my manuscript was awesome!
In March, 2008, I took BLACKBERRY to my very first NJ SCBWI event.
I was positive the editor would adore it.
I expected her to write “A+++” all over it, like the teacher in A Christmas Story.
I thought she’d hand me a contract over dessert.
I could not have been more mistaken.
After my critique, I went home and:
· Ate all the ice cream and blamed it on a freezer malfunction.
· Got a shovel and buried BLACKBERRY in my backyard.
Then I rolled up my sleeves (which were really muddy from all that digging), and I got to work.
I signed up for every single NJ SCBWI event I could.
I went to First Page Sessions and Mentoring Workshops and Annual Conferences. And I listened to all the feedback and advice.
What I heard most was, “If you want to write picture books, you have to read them.”
I read picture books to my kid, of course. But I needed to read them to me.
So I got the biggest tote bag I could find and I went to my local library and checked out 50 picture books—the max you can check out at one time.
I went home and read those 50 picture books and brought them back and got 50 more.
And then I got a library card in my kid’s name so I could check out 100 picture books at a time. (If you bake for your librarians—which you should do anyway—they will pretend not to notice when you do this.)
I got a Picture Book Haul every week. (And I still do. )
And I kept going to NJ SCBWI events. (And I still do.)
With all that reading, my writing and my feedback improved. Editors said my writing was funny, but there was a little problem.
My subject matter was too… weird.
I was told there wasn’t a big market for a picture book about a were-chicken.
Or a talking bowl of fruit.
Or a dead goldfish.
After contemplation (and more ice cream), I realized the editors were right. I needed a protagonist with wider appeal—not banana peel.
And my first thought was, “Well, everybody loves robots!”
Like her book, Ame is awesome. She has offered to giveaway a copy of BOY + BOT plus some swag. All you need to do is leave a comment below describing the strangest premise for a book you have ever had OR a book you have read that has haunted you ever since due to its wackiness! (My "friend" offers a personal example: a girl with a pet hairball, named Harriett.) Thank you so much for reading! Good luck!