Class-Writing Picture Book Biographies that Shine

Dates: Sundays Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26, Oct 3, 10

Times: 4pm-6pm CST / 2pm-4pm PST / 5pm-7pm EST

Class Size Limit: 15

Class Level: All levels

Tuition: $399 Contact me if you prefer to pay via Venmo or personal check

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I am smitten with picture book biographies. In fact, while pursuing an MFA in Writing (Children’s and YA focus) from Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), I even focused my critical thesis on creative approaches to picture book biographies and the often-fuzzy nonfiction line. Since then, I have been honored with awards for Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness (Lee and Low Books)Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words (Peachtree), and King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara (Peachtree). See the home page here about my newly-announced co-authored book, Wings of an Eagle. Teaching writers is one of my great joys, and I have done so through the Highlights Foundation, SCBWI, The Writing Barn, and my individual classes. You can read some student testimonials here. I hope you’ll join me this fall 2021.

A well-crafted and marketable picture book biography requires the research of a scholar and the style and sparkle of a storyteller. In this six-week masters-level class, we will dive deeply into the process of writing a stellar picture book biography, from idea to publication. This will not be your typical theory-driven class. We will mine stacks of mentor texts for concrete examples of craft elements in action so that you can better conceptualize or revise your own work-in-progress.

What you can expect to learn:

  • Defining nonfiction vs. fiction
  • How to analyze mentor texts
  • Finding your personal connection to your character
  • Marketable ideas
  • Choosing a tight angle/focus
  • Point of view and psychic distance
  • Theme (the heart of your story)
  • Character arc
  • Narrative arc
  • Voice
  • Structure
  • Beginnings & Endings
  • Research & organization
  • Backmatter
  • Revision & Submissions
  • Publishing process
  • Guest author Q&A (this is a bonus additional perspective)

What you can expect to receive from me:

  • Six info-packed two-hour classes via Zoom (You will learn more than you expect)
  • A mega-list of mentor texts
  • Handouts with helpful resources and idea generators
  • Writing exercises to help you build or evaluate your own picture book biography
  • An active private Facebook group for sharing resources, news, and encouragement
  • A one-on-one phone call with me to discuss your manuscript or your career goals (must be used within the six-week class session)
  • Limited-time recordings of each class

  • Bonus option for my students: One deeply discounted Developmental Critique letter from me (normally $225+). P.B. Bio. manuscript less than 1500 words. Must be used within six months of class.)

Why isn’t there an opportunity to workshop my manuscript during the six-week class?
Doing so would mean eliminating two class times of content so that up to 15 manuscripts can be live-workshopped within 4 hours by every student. That would be a whole lot of work for each of you. I polled former and potential students, and the majority preferred the current six-week instruction model. Here’s an example of feedback I received: “I can’t imagine you cutting any info from the class! … I did a XXXX Pb bio class after yours… and it was the 4 + 2 model. It was fine, but I preferred yours.”

Why don’t you offer a written critique of my manuscript as part of the class registration fee?
It’s a matter of time, really. I am immersive and thorough, and picture book biographies take longer than fiction picture books. Between multiple readings, outlining, and preparing notes, I easily spend 2-4 hours on each written Developmental Critique that I prepare. Multiplied by the number of student manuscripts (up to 15), it is impractical.

Still have questions? Contact me.

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