Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mentor Text Talk with Author Lynne Marie

We're excited to celebrate the release of THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY with Lynne Marie! We know Lynne Marie from the 12x12 community, she's member of the ReFoReMo family, and she and I were Cybil's judges together last year. Welcome, Lynne Marie, and thank you for sharing how mentor texts have helped you in your writing journey!

Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you in the creation of THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY?


This is a good question -- I consider any and all picture books I read to be mentor texts, whether they show me what has been done before (as well as what HASN’T been done), but also what to do and not do in terms of successfully telling a story and/or utilizing particular literary devices.
With this manuscript, I had played around with it in my head and all the components, including the title, had come together before I started writing. The first thing I did was search for my title, The Star in the Christmas Play, on Amazon. If you take a look, you will see that there were basically no SIMILAR comp titles. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=The+Star+in+the+Christmas+Play

But of course, that did not mean my search for mentor texts was done! I read any and all Christmas books I could get my hands on, including these:

Source Books / Jabberwocky, 2016                         Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008

HarperCollins, 2005                                             Sleeping Bear Press, 2016

These are just a few -- there were oh, so many more! As a general rule, when I am focused on submitting a particular manuscript, I’ll read 50 to 100 mentor texts before I do. I’ll scribble down the subcategories (Ex., Christmas, Nativity Play, Self-Esteem, Savanna Animals, etc.) and keep ordering titles from the library until I exhaust all possibilities. I use both my library card and my daughter’s if I have to! If I can’t find a book that looks like a necessary comp at the library, I usually buy it.


Harper Collins, 2002           Orchard Books, 2001

My research showed me that my book was different and there weren’t any books like it. It was set against the backdrop of the Christmas holiday with its Nativity Play, but it was really about believing in yourself, not giving up and finding a way to shine despite any limitations. My research also showed me that there weren’t many publishers that might take on a book like this. I didn’t give up, but put it to the side. Then, in 2017 when I saw the Sparkhouse Family (now Beaming Books) Contest, I researched their catalog and knew that I had found the perfect home for this book. I submitted it for that contest. While my manuscript wasn’t the first place winner, they said that Raffi’s story had charmed the team so much that they still wanted to publish it!


How has reading Picture Books helped you discover who you are as a writer?
Reading picture books provides constant inspiration to me. I no longer truly believe that there’s nothing new under the sun as I have seen many authors find a way to take an old idea or concept and make it new and different by mashing, slanting, adding levels, looking at the story from a different perspective, writing outside the box, seizing inspiration from current events and using interesting literary devices.

I discovered that I want to play around with my ideas, try a variety of directions until one feels right and give the story a chance to find their own path. In particular, I discover I am able to write in diverse styles and types, as long as I keep writing and revisioning until I find a way to make it work.

What do you feel is the BEST way to for picture book writers to utilize mentor texts.

1. To see what has been done before.
2. To see what has not been done before (potential holes in the market that you might fill).
3. To experience other options in telling a story.
4. To inspire a new/different direction for my own story.
5. To see what works in a story (and learn from that).
6.     To see what doesn’t work in a particular story (and learn from that).
7. To see what types of books a publisher might publish, as well as what it already has published.
8. To inspire.
9. To recognize stories that draw out emotion, and those that don’t, and why.
10. To remember what it’s like to be a child and how important it is to relay
the story through the eyes of a child, in an accessible way.

Honestly, I am the biggest fan of mentor texts. I utilized the concept of mentor texts before it even had a
term (LOL). I credit the success of each and every sold manuscript to my study of mentor texts. I learned
from the Best -- Richard Peck, who said “read 100 books before you try your hand at writing one.” I
took that to heart, and I repeat it for each project that I focus on.
Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 10/16/2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019)  and her first non-fiction picture book, Let’s Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019) and more forthcoming. She is also a freelance Editor and a Travel Agent. When she’s not cruising around the world or traveling to Disney World, Universal Studios and other fascinating places, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter Kayla Michelle, son Kevin, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds.
You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com.
ON TWITTER: @Literally_Lynne
E-MAIL: LiterallyLynneMarie@gmail.com


18 comments:

  1. Love your process and list of ways to use mentor texts. I don't do all of these, but maybe I should! My market analysis often leaves quite a bit to be desired. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Jilanne. Happy experimenting. I hope one works for you!

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  2. Thank you for this post. I have a trip to the library in my plans for today and my new goal is to read 100 picture books before the year ends. I can't wait to read "The Star in the Christmas Play!"

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    1. What a wonderful goal! You CAN do it! Please keep me posted. I hope you enjoy Star as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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  3. Look forward to reading your newest, Lynne Marie, and thank you for sharing all of your reasons for using mentor texts.

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    1. You're very welcome, Patricia Nozell. Yes, I am a big fan of mentor text. I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your process. I look forward to your new book.

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    1. You are very welcome, Tracy! I do hope you enjoy it!

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  5. Fantastic article. I love how well and how often you look to other books in your process. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You are very welcome, David! I do hope it's inspirational!

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  6. Thank you for sharing how mentor texts help you in your writing. I have The Star in the Christmas Play and love it!

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    1. Awww, thank you for your support, Judy! I am so happy that you love it! XO

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  7. Thanks for sharing your very detailed research and mentor text process! And I love your checklist for using mentor texts! Congratulations on all your beautiful books!

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    1. Awww thanks, dear friend. I appreciate your love and support! XO

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  8. Thanks for sharing all the creative ways to use mentor texts.
    They truly are a gold mine!

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    1. I do hope you strike it rich with them, Marty! Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Thank you for sharing your best ways to utilize mentor texts. Congratulations, Lynne Marie :)

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    1. I am very happy to share, Charlotte. I hope there's inspiration in the post. Thanks again!

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