critique group, query letter, Writing Picture Books

The PBJs

peanut-butter-and-jelly-ftrWriting is tough. The words all have to be spelled correctly. Sentences have to be structured. Verbs have to be in the correct tense. Don’t end in a preposition. Make sure you have a story arc. Make sure you’ve developed your characters well. Single or double spaced? “Said” or “explained“? It’s enough to make your head spin! But alas, it’s what I love doing.

I’m not an English major so there are many reasons why I need a critique group. I’m not published. I don’t have an agent. I’ve just started this journey and I’m 2 years in! There is so much to know, so much to learn.

After attending the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI) writing conference in Golden, Colorado last year, I realized I knew very little about the industry. And many of the attendees were in the same boat. We were floundering, wondering how this all works, and all working hard to become authors. Writing for children is probably the toughest book market, at least that’s what we’re all hearing. Every word counts. Every sentence counts. Most importantly, we’re learning that 500 words or less is what publishers are looking for. Really? That’s all I get to tell a story?

So this brings me to my wonderful and amazing group of writers called the PBJs! The Picture Book Junkies. We brainstormed our name and wanted something catchy and kid-like. It works for us. And every other week we gather in a small conference room, filled with excitement and energy for each other and our stories. Two stories are critiqued and we come up with creative ideas for each other, provide edits, kudos, and things to consider. We write a pitch that could be used in a query letter and overall have a really nice time together. I’m super thankful that I found the PBJs. They provide a great deal of enthusiasm to my writing, and I can’t wait to read more exciting stories from this very creative bunch.

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