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Author Interview with Joan Reid aka Gianna B. Reid (Writing Tips and a Poem)

GiaanB Reid photo 20017

“Author Interview with Joan Reid aka Gianna B. Reid (Writing Tips and a Poem)” by Joan Y. Edwards

Hi, Joan Reid.  I’m very happy to have you as a guest on my blog today.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you. 

My readers are anxious to learn about you, so let’s get started.

a. Where were you born?
I was born in New York City.  My family moved to New Jersey when I was 2 years old. I have lived in New York State for the past 20 years.

b. Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child? Where and why?
I read often on the couch in the living room or at the kitchen table after supper.

c. Who or what inspires you to keep on writing?
My parents and a grammar school teacher, then people whom I have met along the way, and now my husband, daughter and my friendsand you, Joan Edwards! (See Joan Edwards smiling)

d. What do you do for the pure fun of it?
I love riding my bicycle! It helps clear my mind for more writing.

e. What are your hobbies? Do you draw? Paint? Work with clay? Sew? Do woodworking?

Photography, creating collages, and reading are three activities I most enjoy.

f. What are your favorite books that you enjoy reading more than one time? Why?

  • A Year By the Sea by Joan Anderson; and

  • Tao of Writing by Ralph L. Wahlstrom

These books are vastly different, but each brings a fresh focus every time I read a passage.

g. Do you have a funny story to share?

I have a sense of humor for sure, but I cannot recall a specific funny story.

Incidents are funnier when I tell them.

h. Why do you write? 

My reasons for writing:  I have to write what I observe and feel; Writing is enjoyable and fun;  Writing is my connection to myself and others.

i. What are three tips for writers?

  1. When you write, don’t edit until all your ideas are down.

  2. Leave the piece for a day or more to look at it with fresh eyes. When you revisit the work you will be able to edit for content.

  3. READ!

j. What is the most essential ingredient of a poem?

For me, the most essential ingredient of a poem is emotion which is an intangible.

k. Do you have a poem you’d like to share with us that’s not in And the Woman Smiled and is shared first and exclusively in this guest post?


I am a Word – © Gianna B. Reid 2017


Poetry is—

words scribbled across people’s faces,

on objects, landscapes, in empty rooms,

the splendid and the ugly.

I see and feel words in open spaces, hallways,

in a blade of grass

looking upward to its sun-god.

Soaking in the 24-carat butter of

its rays smeared on blue-toast.

Can we separate ourselves from words?

I am a word.

Today, I am joy.

Aww! Thank you, Joan (Gianna B. Reid). That is a great poem.

l. Would you share three of your favorite poems? (Title and Author)

  1. “August” by Helen Maria Winslow

  2. “The Sun Poem” by Mary Oliver http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/mary_oliver/poems/15800

  3. Numerous poems by Billy Collins

  4. Numerous poems by William. S. Merwin

m. And the Woman Smiled is your latest book. What company did you choose to publish this poetry book?

I self-published it on CreateSpace.com/

n. Where can readers buy And the Woman Smiled?

Readers can purchase it on Amazon.


o. Did you pay for editing services before you submitted to CreateSpace?

CreateSpace does offer editing services. However, I did not pay them for editing services for And the Woman Smiled.” I did all the formatting and editing myself.

p. Did CreateSpace design your cover? Did you have any choices?

CreateSpace has many choices of book covers, fonts, and trim-sizes on their website. I chose a design provided by CreateSpace.  

q. How are you marketing your book?

I sent review copies to publications that consider self-published poetry, and two local magazines in the Hudson Valley area.  And, I am thankful for this interview!

r. Did you get to choose the retail price for your book?

CreateSpace determined the retail price. There is a minimum charge which
I made every attempt to stay close to.

s. Were you ever traditionally published?

I was a contributor to a traditionally published book, The Bicycle Book – Wit, Wisdom & Wanderings, Published by Satya House.

t. What are the titles and links to your other books? Are they available on Amazon, too?

I have 16 titles on Amazon as Gianna B. Reid.

I self-published Life is a Bike;  and Yes We Can!

I contributed to the following book with Anisa Claire West:
Crime Flies! (Mystery Collection)

Here are links to some of my other books:

Like Gary Cooper (Super Duper)

Gold Trotter Mystery Series (First 3 from the 9-book series)

Dogs Never Lie

Blue Hill Heist

Until We Kiss

m. Do you have a blog?

My blog is: http://joansview-jbreid.blogspot.com

u. How can others connect with you on social media? 

Readers may connect with me on Face Book and Linked In.  Send an email request to me at joan.reid@yahoo.com

Short Bio

Joan Bellofatto Reid (Gianna B.Reid) began writing plays and short stories in elementary school. She has since written and produced several plays: The Jobless Chronicle (winner of Monologue Mania, performed at The Producer’s Club, NYC); and His Last Word, about Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi.  Life is a Bike was a newspaper column that appeared in the US and UK, the essays are available on Amazon.  She contributed essays to The Bicycle Book: Wit, Wisdom and Wanderings.  Other published works: “The Marriage Game”  “Path to Promise” (Student Aid Transcript Magazine); “Not a Fake Pollock” (Art Times); “Not Guilty” (Modern Collage).  Joan hosted a radio show, “Cool on the Groove” (Rockland World Radio) from 2003-2006, featuring authors, poets and journalists.  She currently freelances on education and healthcare; and writes poetry.

Wow! Joan Reid. I’ve really enjoyed learning about you. I had no idea you’d written so many books! I am very proud of you. Thanks again for being a guest on my blog.

Thanks for reading this guest interview. Joan Reid will be glad to answer any questions and respond to any comments you leave for her in the comment area.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

My Books:
Flip Flap Floodle, Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide published by 4RV Publishing

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


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Interview with Leslie Helakoski, Prize-Winning Picture Book Author and Illustrator

Leslie Helakoski

Leslie Helakoski

“Interview with Leslie Helakoski, Prize-Winning Picture Book Author and Illustrator” by Joan Y. Edwards

Leslie Helakoski was one of the presenters at the Highlights Foundation workshop I attended in April, 2015 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania called, “Picture Books and All That Jazz.” 

Leslie is the author of eight picture books including Michigan Reads winners Big Chickens, and Woolbur. Her books, known for their word play and humor, have won acclaim from Junior Library Guild and with starred reviews in Kirkus and award nominations in over 20 states. She has illustrated her three most recent books, including Doggone Feet! (a best math choice by Scholastic Magazine) and her newest release, Big Pigs.

Leslie, I am very impressed with your writing and illustrating talents. Thank you for being a guest on my blog. I know that learning about you and hearing your advice will intrigue and delight my readers.

You’re welcome. I’m glad to be here. Let’s get started.

  1. Where were you born? Abbeville, Louisiana.
  2. Where was your favorite place to live as a child? I grew up in Louisiana, and lived on the banks of Vermilion Bayou. I still love it there and am always looking forward to going back. The culture there is so interesting and the food and music inspires me.
  3. Which states have you called “home?” I’ve lived in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, South Carolina, as well as Louisiana and both the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. I loved each of them.
  4. Did you ever want to hide when you were a child? I loved hiding as a child. My siblings and I were always building camps in the woods or crawling into some hole to hide.
  5. What are your favorite places to read a book? In a tree, on the beach, in a hammock.
  6. How did you do in English in high school? Aced it!
  7. When and why did you decide to become an author? In the eighties and nineties I came across fun picture books like Frog and Toad, George and Martha, The Stinky Cheese Man  —they were beautiful and funny and the kids I read to loved them. As a graphic designer and new parent, I thought ‘I can do this.”
  8. Have you always illustrated your books? I have always wanted to illustrate my books but the publishers have not always been in agreement. Sometimes it is a marketing decision to pair a new writer with an established illustrator. Sometimes it is an aesthetic choice—how an editor envisions the book that makes them choose a different artist. In my case, I think I wasn’t ready to  illustrate my first few books, even though I thought I was. It took me a while to understand the depth of illustrating and not just designing a page.
  9. Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer? Joining SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been the most helpful thing I’ve ever done for my writing and illustrating.
  10. Which is your favorite genre? Comedy, drama, poetry, I love them all.
  11. What’s your favorite book? Impossible to say overall. I love the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I loved them as a child and find them still relevant today.
  12. What are you writing now? Four different manuscripts… all picture books. Each is getting good comments from editors but they have  not sold yet. I’m hoping to announce something about them soon.
  13. What are you illustrating now? I’m working on a dummy for one of my projects. It has very spare language and I think a dummy showing how the book could look will help it sell.
  14. What resources have helped you improve your illustration skills? Taking a painting class, being in a critique group with other illustrators I admire.
  15. What has been the most exhilarating moment for you as a writer? Oh, my first sale with a major publisher (Big Chickens) and the starred reviews it received.

  16. Do you ever cry while writing or illustrating your books? Nope.
  17. Do you outline and plan your books ahead of time or do you let your books develop on their own as you write them? I’ve done both. Not sure which is better—anything that gets the story out works.
  18. What is your advice for people who have rhyming in their picture books? If you are going to rhyme, you’d better do your homework. Read tons of books in rhyme, scour websites on rhyme, listen, attend workshops on rhyme. Do not accept mediocre rhyme. Rhyme is fabulous fun when it is on beat.
  19. How can writers use rhythm and sound to make their children’s books come alive even if it is not a rhyming book? Studying poetry can help prose as well as rhyme. Listen to music and lyrics as well—I sometimes try to get my words to echo the rhythm of a musical piece for mood.
  20. What are 3 ways to create an unforgettable character? Shoot, if I knew how to do this, I wouldn’t be waiting to hear on four manuscripts.
  21. What do you do when your story gives you trouble?  Here are some questions I ask myself when I’m struggling with a manuscript: What is the outer conflict? What is the inner conflict? Is the problem clear? How is the problem solved? (Resolution) What is the theme? (Be concise.) Is there a universal connection?  What is the take-away?  Is it child appropriate? Has it been done? And if so, how is this different?
  22. Please explain what you mean by theme or take away? The theme of a book, or the take-away, as some people call it is the underlying message of the story. For example, in Big Chickens, the story is about four fearful chickens running away from a wolf. But the theme, or what I want kids to leave with, is a message about how fear itself causes problems.
  23. What are the main things a writer should check when revising a manuscript? What is the theme or take away?  What is the connection for a child?
  24. How can a writer tell when a manuscript is ready for submission to an editor or agent? If you have revised it until you can’t see straight, then put it aside for a few weeks and gone through revisions again. Then show it to your critique group—WHAT? You don’t have one? Then get one!— After all you’ve done all of the above, then it might be ready to send to an editor or agent. Never, never hurry to submit. Send your very best work.
  25. How did you find your agent? I was submitting to several agents when I saw my agent speak at an SCBWI event. I liked her attitude and savvy. Before I had an agent, I submitted to names I’d see written up in newsletters and professionals I’d meet at conferences.
  26. Which blog do you believe all authors should read? I don’t read a lot of blogs regularly. I am too distracted by the internet to use it wisely and end up procrastinating.

Check Leslie’s website her latest books and workshops: www.helakoskibooks.com
Twitter at @helakoski

Here are two articles about Leslie:

“9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid (Or Be Ready for Stiff Competition and Write a Story with a Fresh Take)” by Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison

“Q & A with Leslie Helakoski: DOGGONE FEET:” http://annemarieobrienauthor.com/2013/09/q-a-with-leslie-helakoski-doggone-feet/

Here are three of Leslie’s Fun-filled Books:

Big Chickens Fly the Coop by Leslie Helakoski

Big Chickens Fly the Coop
by Leslie Helakoski

Big Chickens Fly the Coop http://www.amazon.com/Big-Chickens-Coop-Leslie-Helakoski/dp/0142414646/

Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski

Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski

Woolbur http://www.amazon.com/Woolbur-Leslie-Helakoski/dp/B005X9FTN6/

Doggone Feet! by Leslie Helakoski

Doggone Feet!
by Leslie Helakoski

Doggone Feet! http://www.amazon.com/Doggone-Feet-Leslie-Helakoski/dp/1590789334

Thank you for doing this interview with me, Leslie. It was fun, fun, fun!

Please leave a comment for Leslie or ask her a question. She would love to hear from you.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards


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Pitch Exercise #1 – Would you accept or reject these pitches?

Pitch Exercise #1 – Would you accept or reject these pitches? http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/73SLT8B

The online exercises have ten questions. They have the published or unpublished pitches of ten books or movies. It is your job as a pretend editor or agent to accept or reject each pitch.

You can select more than one answer.  For instance, you can choose reject it and then check all the things it was missing.

You must select at least one answer for each question. If you reject it, please put a check by the reason.  If your reason isn’t listed, you can put it in the box below number 10 on the form.

1. Reject it.
2. This pitch is missing main character.
3. This pitch doesn’t tell what main character wants or needs.
4. This pitch doesn’t tell why main character can’t get what he wants or needs.
5. This pitch is missing emotional hook.
6. This pitch is missing conflict.
7. This pitch is missing change in character.
8. This pitch is missing universal theme.
9. Ask for first 3 chapters and a summary. Why? (Put answer in box below)
10. This is a pitch from an already published book or movie. (Put title in box below)

Thank you for reading my blog.

We have 97 subscribers as of October 31, 2012. Thanks. Only 3 subscribers away from our big celebration. We are very close. When we reach 100 subscribers, ten lucky subscribers will win a free pitch and 1000 word manuscript critiques. I’ll choose one winner from first ten subscribers, second ten, etc. One lucky person will win a free pitch and 5000 word manuscript critique. Would you like to win? Get your name in the hat, now.  Subscribe now by email from the left hand column.

Find out facts about me and my writing on Jen Veldhuyzen’s PetrePan Blog: http://www.petrepan.blogspot.com/2012/10/author-interview-with-joan-y-edwards.html. She asked intriguing questions, such as: “What sound would describe your writing style?” Please leave her a note. Thank you, Jen.

Never Give Up
Pitch Corner USA

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Interview with Dr. Bob Rich: Writer, Mudsmith, Psychologist, and Editor

“Interview with Dr. Bob Rich: Writer, Mudsmith, Psychologist, and Editor” by Joan Y. Edwards

Dr. Bob Rich and Ella

Dr. Bob Rich and Ella, one of his “grandkids.”

Today I’m honored to have Dr. Bob Rich as a guest on my blog. He is a writer, mudsmith, psychologist, and has an editing service. He lives in Australia. After reading my blog post, “Errors That Might Escape Spell Check,” he told me he has collected thousands of English words that writers confuse. His website is http://bobswriting.com (it takes you to http://mooramoora.org.au/bobrich/writer/.)

Doesn’t that get your curiosity up? Here we go. I’m going to ask 13 questions.

1. You write books about many subjects. Which three books have sold the most copies? What was your challenge when you wrote them?

Book Cover for Earth Garden Building Book by Dr. Bob RichMy first published book, The Earth Garden Building Book: Design and build your own house has sold hundreds of thousands of copies through 4 editions. It is still considered “The Australian owner-builder’s bible.”

How I wrote it: I started in 1972 as the most impractical fellow on earth. By 1980, when I started to build my house, I had lots of practical skills, but knew very little about building. So, I got a succession of laboring jobs in the building trades. After a few weeks at, say, being a bricklayer’s laborer, I wrote some how-to articles about it in Earth Garden, a marvelous magazine. Then I applied the skill in my house, and changed a job to teach me the next lot of skills I needed. After awhile, I thought to suggest to the publisher of the magazine that we write a building book together. He had copyright of lots of suitable articles, and had already published 8 books. After I posted the letter, I checked my post office box. There was a letter from him — making the same suggestion! So we did it, and the book has turned out really well.

Woodworking for Idiots Like Me by Dr. Bob Rich

My second book published, and the second highest seller, is Woodworking for Idiots Like Me. It sold maybe 60,000 books between 1994 and 1999. I have reissued it as an e-book, and it won the nonfiction category of the EPIC contest in 2007. It is a collection of short stories that makes most people laugh, but each story leads to an instructional section on some aspect of woodcraft.

Third highest seller is Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias. This little book has led a great many people out of despair and self-hate.

However, I much prefer writing fiction to nonfiction. Eight of my 14 books are fiction, the latest being Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s role in the Universe?

2. What triggered a desire to make a collection of words that writers confuse?

My fingers often have trouble keeping up with my brain, and so I can make finger stumbles. Being obsessive (a good characteristic for an editor), I instantly notice them… well, most of the time. Actually, I notice other people’s typos a lot more readily than my own.

Computers have a spell checker, but those things don’t pick up confusions like their-there or quiet-quite. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to team up with some programming genius and produce an automatic tool that does so?

Also, I have a twisted sense of humor. I just LOVE it when a serious publication states, “The value of early identification, diagnosis and intervention… cannot be underestimated.” I do have this theory that the writer meant “overestimated,” but then maybe SHE has the twisted sense of humor. So, I was collecting such malapropisms in the way others collect jokes.

3. Are you considering publishing your lists of commonly misused English words in a book? I think it would be helpful, if you published a book that listed sentences with the words used correctly and incorrectly. You mentioned that you had thousands of words for the letter “S.” Perhaps each letter could have 10 samples.

Well, I am still waiting for the programming genius to come along. Trouble is, the program would need to have a human-like understanding of syntax, grammar, all the fine points of language. I don’t think endless lists are fun to read (unless perhaps if you are a computer that has a human-like understanding of language).

Here are commonly misused words from my list. Most of these are homophones like “salary” and “celery.” Finger stumbles like “sash” and “smash.” Meaning-related ones like “saved” and “freed.” Anagrams like “said” and “dais.” People often confuse different grammatical forms, for example “sarcasm” and “sarcastic.”

1. said/dais.

2. salary/celery.

3. sash/smash.

4. saved/freed. Or raising/upbringing; ravish/devastate; tenuous/tentative.

5. sarcasm/sarcastic. Other examples are things like California/Californian; teacher/teaches.

6. cause/’cause. illustrate another source, like its/it’s.

7. bill/Bill. I am sure William wouldn’t mind being paid, but… And Ken may be smart, but the word is different from ken.

8. a bout/about; recur/re occur; preconception/pre conception. A space can make all the difference.

9. pin/p=in; artichoke/art[choke. Sometimes a symbol gets in through a finger stumble, and divides a word into two legal ones.

10. knots under/knot sunder. This is a different space problem from 8. “The knots under the parcel became undone” makes sense. Move the s from one word to the other, and you have a problem.

4. When “editing for content,” you look closely at plot, characterization, description, language, readability, organization, and dialogue. Can you usually tell with the first 1,000 words which of these will probably need the most help in the whole novel?

I get a very good feel for the technical competence of a writer within a couple of paragraphs. This includes characterization, the use of point of view (POV), the use of elements of writing like description, dialogue and action. However, the more subtle aspects like plot, continuity and the maintenance of tension sometimes seem all right at first, but prove to be poorly done further in the book. To counter this, for many beginning writers, the first few chapters are the worst, then the book improves.

It is actually a good idea to start writing in the middle, and introduce it later!

5. When editing a manuscript and you get to a point where the writer starts repeating certain errors, do you keep noting it for them?

That depends what I am being paid for. I often suggest to my client that we stop, I get paid for the work I’ve done, and the client applies the lessons to the whole manuscript, then sends me a new sample for a probably lower quote. But then, I am the world’s worst businessman.

6. What does an editor do when they do a “line edit?”

No, it is nothing like line dancing.

This means focusing entirely on picking up mechanical mistakes: spelling, punctuation, syntax, incorrect word usage, repetitious or awkward language. Trouble is, because I am obsessive, I can’t stop myself from also commenting on other stuff, even if I don’t actually get paid for it. Told you I am a terrible businessman.

7. I found that even I confuse certain homonyms. I put it’s when it should have been its. I know the right ones. However, when I was reading my manuscript, I missed it. Other people who critiqued my manuscript didn’t catch the error, either. Do you have any hints that might help writers catch these and similar errors?

It’s always easy to miss your own mistakes. Edit swaps or a professional editor help.

In the 1930s, a big publisher intended to produce the error-free book. They went over and over and over it… and the publisher’s name was misspelled on the title page!

It helps to put a document away and allow it to get cold. It also helps to read without meaning, just focusing on language. One way of doing this is to read from the end forward. I actually did that for galley proofs for my first few books. Now I don’t need to.

8. Who has been the most influential in encouraging you in your writing?

Oh, it didn’t happen like that. I’ve described how I started writing nonfiction. I started writing fiction because I didn’t want to cheat on my wife.

I was out of money, and out of a job. A friend suggested I should train as a nurse. But I live far from the relevant places, so that meant staying in a nurse’s home attached to a teaching hospital, and that was full of gorgeous 18-year-old girls. I had a choice: make a fool of myself running after them, or doing something creative and challenging with my free time. So, I started writing short stories.

I now have my own style, but early on, I enjoyed studying the writings of Asimov, Heinlein, Tolkien, Dick Francis, Hemingway, Conrad…

9. What are three things that help increase your creativity?

For me personally, I need to rein it in (funny how many people write “reign”). I tend to get TOO creative for my own good.

Everybody has oodles of creativity. You don’t need to increase it, but to unshackle it. The trouble is that modern society suppresses it. Creative children are more trouble to keep in line. Creative students ask questions, do things differently. Creative citizens go against herd actions, protest, see things differently, refuse to be brainwashed into being good little consumers and wage slaves.

The best way to unshackle your creativity is to throw your TV away.

10. How has living in beautiful Moora Moora, Australia inspired and helped you in your writing and your other jobs?

It has been wonderful to live in a place of beauty and power, but I like to think that wherever I am, I can draw inspiration from my experiences. I gained as much as a writer from being a nurse as from living at Moora Moora. Every experience is potential fodder to a writer.

11. What has been your proudest moment as a writer? As a psychologist? As a mudsmith?

For a long time now, I haven’t done much of being proud. I’m not bashful about achievements, but put them in their proper context, which is, “So what.” We are not on this planet to make money, gain honors, win power, status or fame. Those are all tokens in a Monopoly game. The aim of the game is to give us opportunities to grow, to become better people.

Here is another way of explaining what I mean. In New York, there is a school for gifted children. Three days a week, they go to an ordinary school, three days to the special school. At the latter, they deal with the same syllabus, but at a much deeper level, and using wonderful resources not available to others. Why do they spend half their time in an ordinary school? So they can learn to fit in with people not blessed by stellar IQs. They are taught that their high intelligence is luck, and doesn’t entitle them to arrogance. They learn to be tolerant of others, and are encouraged to make friends, fit in, be kind without even seeming to be.

12. Do you find yourself using your psychology knowledge in building your characters?

Well, there is only one of me. I do all of what I do, and they all reflect me. My writing has enhanced psychology, and my psychology has enhanced my writing. The main requirement for both creative writing and psychotherapy is empathy, so yes, they feed off each other.

13. If there was a question you wish I’d asked you, what would it be? Please answer this question, too.

Question 13? OK, I am not surreptitious (that’s one of my confusions!)


First, I am a professional grandfather. Four young people are genetically related to me, but I have hundreds of “grandkids,” all over the planet. The picture I sent you shows Ella with me. She is no genetic relation. I exchange regular emails with an 18-year-old in Saudi Arabia, a 17-year-old in Canada and a 19-year-old mother of two in Britain. There are many others. It gives me great pleasure that contact with me helps them to improve their lives that had been full of misery.

Second, at least since 1972, I’ve been a strong environmentalist. This planet only has two kinds of people: Greenies and Suicides. For many generations, humans have stolen from their descendants. We are those descendants, and ALL the trouble you see — irrational wars of hate, resource wars, climate change, resource depletion, the pollution that’s killing us, and many other problems — are the consequence of a culture based on greed. If we want to survive, we need to change to a culture based on compassion and simplicity. Above all, do no harm. Live simply, so you may simply live.

Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Bob Rich. This interview was fun and inspiring for me. I know it will be for my readers, too.

Thank you for reading my interview. Please leave a comment for Dr. Bob Rich and/or for me. We’d love to hear from you.

Here are three of Dr. Bob’s more recent books.

Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s role in the Universe? Is a novella and three short stories. We are definitely NOT the crown of creation. The novella, Liberator, stars the perfect mammals, whose planet has been invaded by monsters from space. Guess who the monsters are?

Sleeper, Awake is an award-winning report from my visit to the future. Of course, no one would believe I can do that, so I presented it as fiction.

book cover for Cancer-A Personal Challenge by Dr. Bob Rich

Cancer: A personal challenge is for everyone, because we are living on cancer planet. It is for those who want to reduce their chances of getting cancer, for those who love someone with cancer, and for those battling with this monster.

Celebrate you
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Join 84 others –  Subscribe by email to my blog in the left hand column. When we get to 100 I am going to have a big Subscriber Celebration. Ten free pitch and 1000 word manuscript critiques to 10 lucky winners and 1 free pitch and 5000 word manuscript critique to the overall winner.

Submit your work to an editor or agent in August, then leave a comment on the following Submit to an Editor or Agent in August (Pub Sub). I’ll put your name in the hat for a prize of a free pitch and 1000 word manuscript critique by me.

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique

Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique by Joan Y. Edwards

How can you give a good manuscript critique? When you critique a manuscript, you want to do a good job. You want the writer to be able to tell easily what you think. You want to give them both ways to correct and ways to enhance the manuscript. Here are ways that will guide you and insure you give a good critique.

When you critique a manuscript, make your notes stand out:

  • Highlight in blue or put in blue text at least three Blue Ribbon passages – my name for words, sentences, phrases, paragraphs, or scenes that are especially well-written. In this particular manuscript, these parts win First Prize – the Blue Ribbon.
  • Highlight in yellow or put in red text, and/or cross out words you believe should be deleted like this.
  • Use a different color font for your remarks from the one the writer used.
  • Use all caps for your input. WHAT A STRONG BEGINNING!
  • Note punctuation and grammar errors.
  • Point out where the writer needs to show, not tell. SHOW, DON’T TELL.
  • Write questions in the manuscript when you think of them.
  • Or do your own thing. Be creative.

Write the following questions at the beginning of the manuscript you’re about to critique. It will help you focus on the story’s strengths, as well as give the author places that need enrichment. If you’re the author, ask yourself these questions about one of your own manuscripts. When you ask another person to critique your work, you can highlight questions for special emphasis.

23 Questions for a Critique

After reading a manuscript, answer these questions.

  1. Do you know what main character wants?
  2. What was he willing to do to get it?
  3. What kept the main character from getting what he wanted?
  4. Does he get what he wants? How?
  5. What are the mistakes that the main character makes?
  6. What are his flaws? (He’s got to have flaws.)
  7. What is the lowest point in the story?
  8. Did the main character change? How?
  9. What does the main character learn about life from his experiences in this story?
  10. Do you know what each main character wants?
  11. Does each main character a distinct voice of his own?
  12. Can you tell when a different character is talking?
  13. What do you want to know that the writer is not telling you?
  14. Does it make sense? If not, note in the manuscript which parts that don’t make sense.
  15. Does the main character face his conflict or run away?
  16. Does the main character save himself by human means or is he saved with unbelievable circumstances that seems like magic?
  17. Did you mark where writer needs to show, don’t tell.
  18. Can you write a short summary of the story? Do it.
  19. What are three main errors main punctuation and grammar errors for the author to correct?
  20. Point out any pet words that the author uses over and over again? A thesaurus might have other words to use in place of them.
  21. What are three Blue Ribbon passages?
  22. What questions come to mind as you read the manuscript?
  23. After reading the story, can you write a short (25-100 word) summary? Do so. If not, tell the parts you can and explain the parts of the story that are missing.

I wish you great success in your writing career. Thanks for reading this blog post. You honor me with your presence.

May I count you as a Pub Subber? Pub Subbers submit one or more of their quality works on the third Friday (or any other day) of the month to critique groups, editors, agents, or contests.

Please leave a message in the comment area. I’d love to hear your ideas on how to give a good critique.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Flip Flap Floodle on Amazon Even mean ole Mr. Fox can’t stop this little duck!

Please Subscribe to my blog from the left hand column.


Join the Pub Subbers Yahoo Group: Pub Subbers Yahoo Group

Copyright 2012 © Joan Y. Edwards

…And the winners are Linda Andersen and Jean Matthew Hall

Linda Andersen was the only person who told me her favorite blog post (universal theme, conflict, and emotions) in a comment on my Happy Second Birthday article. Therefore, she wins a free critique of a pitch and first ten pages of a manuscript. Congratulations, Linda.  Please send your pitch and the first ten pages of one of your manuscripts.

The following six people left a comment on my Happy Second Birthday article for a chance to win a critique of a first page:

1. Widdershins

2. Jean Matthew Hall

3. Sharon Willett

4. Sarah Maury Swan

5. Mary Lash

6. Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Random.org gave me number 2 as the winner. Therefore, Jean Matthew Hall wins the free first page critique. Congratulations, Jean. Please send your first page to me my email address listed in the left-hand column.

Thank you for reading and leaving a comment on my blog. I really appreciate you. You make it fun for me.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Flip Flap Floodle written and illustrated by me

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) – November

Picture Book Idea Month – PiBoIdMo – 30 days of idea brainstorming for picture books.

Sign up the last week of October. Check out Tara Lazar’s post:  http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/piboidmo-2011-is-coming/. If you plan to join PiBoIdMo, subscribe to Tara’s blog, so you don’t miss out during the sign up at the end of October.

“You will be able to sign up, grab a badge for your blog and social networks, and get ready for some awesome prizes! There will be critiques from published authors, feedback from literary agents, original illustrations by picture book artists, signed books, jewelry, journals, and who knows what else!”

See the lineup of editors and agents: http://taralazar.wordpress.com/piboidmo2010/

Read below for fun information about Tara Lazar and PiBoIdMo below:


Tara Lazar is one of those talented writers who help inspire other picture book writers to go a little out of their comfort zone to create great ideas for new stories that may lead to successful publication.

Here are her answers to my questions about PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month, held in November of each year. The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. To win prizes for PiBoIdMo, you have to register on her blog:  http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/piboidmo-2011-is-coming/

Would you please explain a little about the history of PiBoIdMo?
PiBoIdMo was born out of jealousy! I noticed all my novel-writing friends having a great time with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and felt left out of the loop. So I created Picture Book Idea Month in November as an event specifically for picture book writers.

What date did you begin?
The first year, 2008, I did it on my own. In 2009, I decided to share it with others and hosted it on my blog.

What inspired you to get this idea rolling?
NaNoWriMo prompted it. I didn’t think writing a picture book a day was something I could do, but a new book concept a day was something achievable.

What have you learned from doing this?
That creativity can be encouraged–you can get the lightning bolt to strike more often if you are out in the open, actively seeking it.

What has been your proudest moment while doing this?
When Karma Wilson, author of BEAR SNORES, said she used my website to help her find ideas.

Why did you decide to get others to join you?
Because writers often work in solitary conditions. PiBoIdMo brings picture book writers together for support and encouragement.

Tara Lazar’s first picture book, THE MONSTORE, will be released by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2013, illustrated by James Burks. For a sneak peak at the illustrations, go to http://www.taralazar.wordpress.com. Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Congratulations on your first book, Tara. Thanks for sharing and encouraging others.

To find out other ways to join forces for creative ventures, look for an article I wrote called, “Find Your Creative Edge” on p.24 of the July-August SCBWI Bulletin. I am honored that Stephen Mooser and the others on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin staff chose my article to put in the bulletin. If your article gets published, you get paid $50.00 plus they pay $70.00 for the renewal of your membership for a year. For PubSub3rdFri, send them an idea you have found helpful to you about writing or illustrating.

Never Give Up
Celebrate Where You Are
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

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