Seeking Scarlett

Illo. courtesy Vesper Stamper

Illo. courtesy Vesper Stamper

Kathy Temean’s wonderful blog, Writing and Illustrating, features first page prompts critiqued by an amazing array of industry professionals.  Last month I submitted “Seeking Scarlett” which was among three pieces reviewed by Kate Sullivan, editor for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

I did a bit of background research on Ms. Sullivan, who focuses on commercial and literary middle grade and young adult fiction, before drafting a prose piece geared toward a middle grader reader. Stepping outside my usual picture book comfort zone, I went a bit wild with the adjectives and adverbs, thinking I had more room for description and scene-setting.

Having an expert editorial eye peruse my submission is incredibly helpful! Here’s a snippet from Ms. Sullivan’s critique:

Intriguing first page. Trust your voice. That first paragraph seems obviously put in because you were nervous about not having action! Also be wary of too many adjectives and telling too much information on the first page. We don’t need info or background, we need intrigue. You’ve got it here, and there are moments of real clarity of voice. Stay true to that.

To read the full review and other submissions, please click here.

As always, my thanks to Kathy.  I’m so glad I could begin my 2013 blog posts on a bright note, and give credit to Kathy for all her work helping so many writers and illustrators.  I am also grateful to Vesper Stamper for her intriguing picture prompt.  Vesper’s work was also featured on Kathy’s blog in August 2011.  Finally, my thanks to Ms. Sullivan for honest, helpful feedback and the ever important encouragement to stay true to one’s voice.

Happy 2013 readers!

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About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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30 Responses to Seeking Scarlett

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    That’s super, Cathy! Are you going to write the rest next?

  2. Wow! Good for you for submitting and being brave enought to share with others publicly. It is helpful though for us to read the comments. Did you win the critique? I do hope you continue to work with the MG — you have a beautiful vocabulary. Congratulations on your future endeavors.

  3. Also meant to tell you how much I liked the photo — perfect share.

  4. This is terrific Cathy! I hope you don’t mind me sharing the link with my local crit-group! I also hope you get back to finish this sometime soon!

  5. Beautiful pic and congrats on your critique. Brave you! Well done!

  6. tinamcho says:

    You know I subscribe to Kathy’s blog but didn’t catch your name on that one. Sorry! You’re a great writer! Congrats for being selected for a critique.

    • I just discovered that Lauri Meyers has had several pieces critiqued on Free Fall Fridays recently and I missed her name until she mentioned it on HER blog too!

      I hope you will submit a first page too sometime Tina. It’s fun!

  7. You’ll be published before you know it.

  8. That was great, Cathy. I really liked your opening. Very intriguing. I haven’t followed Kathy’s blog regularly, but I always like what I read there. It’s something I want to keep up with more this year. So many blogs…so little time [sigh]. I look forward to reading more from you!

    • I know – SO many blogs! However I am looking forward to StoryPatch’s January blog and find out what you have learned from your craft books. My December choice was Mary Oliver’s “Rules for the Dance” but it was not an easy read!

  9. laurimeyers says:

    I thought you did a nice job setting scene. Also, did you notice in the next story Star Crossed, one of the adjective-laden sentences was given the critique of “very descriptive”? It makes me wonder if it was really too many adjectives or if the adjectives were just not pulling their weight? I struggle with this – so I really appreciated these examples!

    • Oh what sharp eyes you have! I think in my 23 lines the adj were flabby. I love using ‘wordle’ to help me edit and delete such things, but I had forgotten that step in my rush to submit on time. Shame on me!

      BTW the January first page prompt is up [robots!!] and you should submit!

  10. Sylvia Liu says:

    Congrats on submitting and being featured. I just found out about the first page review recently and it sounds like an invaluable service. Glad I found your blog through the Mother Reader comment challenge.

    • Hi Sylvia – Thanks for stopping by through the Mother Reader blog challenge. I follow your blog and your tips alwa ys tempt me to move from WordPress to Blogger! It’s a great resource.

      Hope you’ll submit a first page sometime. It’s a great learning experience and Kathy is terrific!

  11. Lori Norman says:

    I hadn’t known about the first page review or ‘wordle,’ so thanks for sharing both. I have stopped by Kathy’s blog and will do so more often. She always has valuable posts. Congratulations on having your first page reviewed!

  12. Molly says:

    I love that illustration, and how brave of you to put the critique out there to aid others!

  13. Hilary says:

    What a beautiful illustration! It just looks like what finding a new and beautiful idea should look like! The wonder and awe are beautifully depicted.
    Congrats to you for being so brave. Truly, I don’t know if there is anything harder to do than write. You have to be so very honest. I attended a picture book workshop where the mock up I did was torn in two and I was told to start again. I wish I could say that I did. I really should though, and thank you for reminding me to by your example.

    • Ah Hilary – those tear ups are tough, but I know you will get back to it when you are ready! There are some terrific picture book groups to join online, such as Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 group. I’m sure you would find the support and blogposts inspirational! Email me if you want more information. 😀

  14. Hilary says:

    Shared your post on my Facebook wall as part of my inspiration to get writing again! Hope you don’t mind! That picture and your writing were inspiring.

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