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12 X 12 Featured Author April 2019 – Wendy Greenley

12 x 12 Featured Author April 2019 – Wendy Greenley

Wendy Greenley

We are thrilled to bring you our April Featured Author Wendy Greenley! Wendy is a long-time 12 x 12 member and the epitome of her topic today. She has stayed on the bus of picture book writing and it’s now paying off in spades. Congratulations, Wendy!

Stay on the Bus

I’m here to tell you to #stayonthebus (some of my critique partners and I add effing to the slogan, but that’s purely personal preference). Thomas Edison is credited with saying that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Substitute “picture book publication” for “genius” and I would adjust the equation to 98% perspiration, 1% inspiration and 1% luck.

In my experience, one of the biggest hurdles to publication is keeping going when you get rejections—or worse, when there’s radio silence following your submission. It’s hard to know how to proceed, or to even muster the energy to keep going. #stayonthebus

Okay-so it’s a van, not a bus. And I’m not an illustrator

I joined 12 x 12 with no prior creative writing experience. My father was killed when I was five. I remember a parade of detectives and clatter from the State Police teletype. I watched my mom struggle and I focused my schooling on ways I could reliably support myself. Lab reports and legal briefs came with a paycheck.  But I always loved books. With my dad gone and my mom working to support the family, books were my refuge. I carried armloads home from the Bookmobile. It didn’t occur to me that I could write stories like the ones I read. Until my kids’ school brought in an author—I had never met one! I thought you had to be born into some prodigious lineage of writers who were definitely not part of my family tree.

Is it crazy to think about becoming a creative writer when you have zero background in it? Maybe.

Call me crazy.

Coming from my background, I had a lot to learn. Here are six big-picture tips from my journey to publication in hopes of shortening your own.

  1. Don’t write in isolation. I spent (wasted) time writing without getting feedback. On the Forum or elsewhere, critiques and critique partners are a tremendous resource. I learned as much or more from doing critiques as I did from receiving them. And critique partners become friends who will remind you to #stayonthebus!
  1. Use your public library. Compare books on similar topics/themes. Copy down text that makes your heart sing, then analyze why you love it. I keep a notebook of opening lines and type out entire picture books if a new structure dazzles me.
  1. Lola Shapes the Sky by Wendy GreenleyWrite first drafts for yourself. Explore. Play. Laugh. Cry. Write incomplete thoughts, glimpses of insight, things that make no sense but are stuck in your head. Get it all down on paper (I’m a paper first draft gal). Then—REVISE FOR THE MARKET. I don’t recall who originally said that, but it was my biggest personal learning. Your ferocious draft? Don’t get me wrong, yours may be perfect, but mine need work. Author Tara Lazar critiqued a manuscript for me at the NJ SCBWI conference and said something fabulous. Which Tara does often. Kidlit authors are generous with help like no other profession I’ve been a part of. The gist was that she loved the language, structure etc.—but my story would never sell. Ouch, right? NO! This was exactly what I needed. The work we create is our art. But once we say “please publish this” we’re asking a business to spend its money to bring our art to a larger audience. We need to send the gate keepers something they think they can sell. And not just a few copies—sell enough to pay you, the illustrator, the editors, art director, sales and marketing, printers, distributors, and shipping it back from China while keeping the lights on at the publishing house.  In a 2008 post, agent Rachelle Gardner estimated a publisher’s investment in a hardcover book at $58,000! And this wasn’t for a full-color picture book.
  1. Be open to change. The first lines of my original draft for Lola Shapes the Sky read:

“On the first day of school, Lola joined the other clouds at Horizon Elementary. It was hard to pay attention.”

How many words are the same in the version that sold? Two. Lola, and clouds.

Lola Shapes the Sky inside

“Lola formed on a fresh wild wind. Her one-of-a-kind outline blew the other clouds away.”

It took a year of agents’ “no thanks” and a workshop with Caldecott-winning illustrators to convince me the original people-watching manuscript wasn’t illustratable. The manuscript steeped in my files for another year until I realized I loved Lola and the overall theme, and I could write different words to tell her story. The changes were big enough that the same literary agency that rejected Lola Shapes the Sky signed me when I submitted it a second time. Yes, I resubmitted two years later, acknowledging the earlier manuscript of the same name, and asked to be reconsidered.

  1. Conversely, when you get a rejection, don’t immediately change your manuscript. Remember the 1% luck in the equation above? The person who read your manuscript and said “no” may have woken up with the flu, or dropped their backpack in a puddle on the way to work. They may hate piglets. They may have just signed two books, and not have time for anything else. The way luck and timing factors into this business is another crazy element! Remember all the editors that sent JK Rowling rejections, and #stayonthebus. Look critically at your work and decide if a change is in order, or not.
  1. Finally—find a moment of joy in the process every day. On tough days, I ask myself—Why are you writing? I tell myself I’ll take a day off, and before I realize what I’m doing I’m scratching down an image or a snatch of dialogue I overheard. Creating stories delights me. I feel like I’m in on some inside joke. Publication is my goal, but out of my control. The joy and wonder are mine. Share the joy. #stayonthebus

I hope you found a nugget you can use in your writer’s toolbox. In my case, it really does help to let manuscripts steep. I first heard this expression from author Juilene Osborne-McKnight. When stories steep, the essences swirl and strengthen and I’m able to isolate the heart I want to focus on.

Thanks for being part of my writing journey!



Wendy Greenley doesn’t mind if you say she has her head in the clouds—with her recent picture book debut, she’s on cloud nine! Her eclectic interests led her to be an ice cream scooper, microbiologist, attorney, Cub Scout leader, Art Goes to School Volunteer, and public relations for a dog rescue. Emphasizing the importance of critiques, Wendy enjoys being a local critique group leader for the Eastern PA SCBWI. Connect with Wendy at, on Facebook and Twitter @wendygreenley.

Wendy is offering a critique to one lucky 12 x 12 member! Get your draft done for your best chance of winning in the April check-in!

This Post Has 317 Comments
  1. Thank you for your wise words, Wendy. I definitely found several nuggets to help me #stayonthebus, especially staying out of isolation, the luck and timing factors you mentioned, and following your example of resubmitting, after lots of reworking and revision and time, to the same literary agency. Congratulations on your beautiful book, Lola Shapes the Sky. Your post has helped me look at picture book publication from “both sides now!”

  2. First of all…HUGH congrats, Wendy. I’ve seen you around since I began my journey and it’s wonderful to read more about your journey and to celebrate your success. I can’t wait to read Lola Shapes the Sky!
    Your tips are spot on, IMO! And this one might be my fave because I feel the exact same and I think some people write in isolation way too long and miss out on this valuable piece.
    “I learned as much or more from doing critiques as I did from receiving them.”

  3. Lovely post and a lovely book that I can’t wait to read! Just one question: What do you do if buses make you car sick? Take a Dramamine and #stay on the bus! Right? 😉

    1. The bus works for me, because the other passengers are part of my journey too but I guess it can be stay in the car/on the horse/bicycle built for two!

  4. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read Lola Shapes the Sky – the art is beautiful. I needed to read these 6 tips – sometimes it feels like it would be easier to get off the bus! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. This is so encouraging and helpful to new writers. Wendy, I love your example of how you reshaped Lola. That’s real revision! The details of that would make another wonderful post! Congratulations on your beautiful book.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! The TOTAL rewrite is one reason I needed to remind myself to stay on the bus. It felt like all my work was wasted. But I realize now no writing is wasted. It’s part of the journey. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Carrie! I think different advice works for different people and different parts of the process. I’m glad you found this helpful.

  7. Great advice, Wendy, especially the one about revising for the market. Seeing the cost of a book really brings home WHY it must be salable if we expect a publisher to buy it! I love the premise of your book; can’t wait to read it. Congrats to you and here’s to us all ‘staying on the bus.’

  8. What an interesting journey you’ve had so far with your different careers and now as an author! Congratulations! I love your writing advice. I’m going to strive to “stay on the bus!” Thank you for sharing, Wendy.

  9. Such a great story…felt like I was sitting with you having a conversation about our journey..I’m still sailing out there somewhere! Loved this post. Thak you.

  10. Wendy, thank you for sharing your story! I can relate to so much of it, and I fully agree with you about believing in your own work, loving what you do and putting yourself out there, over and over again. I’m gonna keep at it and look forward to the day when I get to the other side! Wishing you all the success in the world!

  11. I gleaned so many useful nuggets and insight, not to mention motivation, in your post my head is swimming. Thank you!! I will be staying on the bus:) Congrats on your success!

  12. Thank you for sharing your wise words and experience! It is inspiring to see you success and what you did to get there!

    1. Thanks, Kim! Working on my craft was important but none of it would have mattered if I gave up too soon.

  13. Thanks Wendy for the fabulous, optimistic tips! I’m a steeper too. And congratulations – your books sounds wonderful.

  14. Congratulations, Wendy! I am so happy for you! This book looks beautiful and I can’t wait to read it!! I love what you say in this post- Thanks for the inspiration and terrific advice!

    1. Thank you, Nancy! I hope you love Lola as much as I do (I know no book is for EVERYONE, but I refuse to acknowledge that for Lola, lol)

  15. You have shared a wonderful post! Thank you for the encouragement and ideas for making a story better. You have persevered and created a beautiful book.

  16. Thank you so much, Wendy, for sharing your story and reminding us to #stayonthebus. I bought your book as soon as I read about a few weeks ago. It is delightful!!

    1. Oh, thank you, Lisa!! I’m so glad that you liked it! Lucky for all of us writers, the “bus” stops at bookstores. 😉

    1. Thanks, Linda! My bus is like the London Underground – it intersects and exchanges passengers all the time. 🙂

  17. Thank you for such an inspiring post. STAY ON THE BUS! i love it! Plus, I love the look of your debut picture book, Lola Shapes the Sky. Thanks again, Wendy. I’m going to let it steep.

  18. I love, love, love this post, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for the reminder to #stayonthebus. What an honor it would be to win a critique from you! I wish you all the best.

  19. Wendy, I could so feel your personal love for writing. You echoed my thoughts as well. I write the first draft for me and then take up the eraser and make it ready for other readers. I love words and wish it were not such a burden to have many words when it truly reflects how I want others to see why I am writing. Thanks for validating my “heart”.

  20. I especially like your reminder not to write in isolation. I may think my manuscript is absolutely wonderful and post it in the forum expecting nothing but compliments. This has yet to happen, but what I do get are wonderful comments that allow me to see my story in ways that never would have been possible on my own. And seeing what others are writing is so helpful in evaluating my own material. I do struggle with “staying on the bus” from time to time, but thank you, Wendy, for your encouragement.

  21. Your story looks marvelous and congrats! Thanks for the reminder! I finally got to sit on my bus earlier today to churn out a few more words and it felt great!

  22. Wendy, what a great post. Thank you and congratulations on Lola–she seems like a wonderful companion for you to spend time with over the years.

  23. I enjoyed reading about your journey Wendy. You are an inspiration and your wise and kind words here will help many. Best of luck as Lola Shapes The Sky goes out into the world. It looks phenomenal.

  24. Wendy,

    Wow, I loved this post!! Thank you for sharing this insight. I love the revise for the market concept to help us focus in revision.

  25. I think we’ve gonna need a bigger bus! With a drinks dispenser and cafe at the back! Great post Wendy, a real tonic for all of us who are still aspiring! Love the look of Lola too!

  26. Great post, Wendy! Thank you for giving us a peek at your publishing journey and for sharing your insights on how important it is to #stayonthebus!!

  27. Oh, Wendy, Congratulations. Your words rang true for me. Perseverance and courage is what it takes to withstand this knock down get up field we have chosen. Thanks for sharing your story.

  28. Stay on the bus–even if it’s a bumpy ride–is excellent advice. Bless my public library now and forever! #4 was truly inspirational, and I loved #6 because I find myself doing the all the time. Thank you, Wendy!

  29. I so appreciate your honesty! Everything you said rang true. I need to read your post again next time I receive a rejection and feel like giving up. Congratulations on your book!!! I can’t wait to read it!

  30. I so appreciate your honesty! Everything you said rang true. I need to read your post again next time I receive a rejection and feel like giving up. Congratulations on your book!!! I can’t wait to read it!

  31. Great Post, Great Advice! I especially liked your line about radio silence, I think not hearing anything is worse than getting rejected. Thanks for the inspiration.

  32. Wow, Wendy! Your candor and hope boost my spirit this morning. We’re all riding that “bus.” At times, we want reach out to pull the STOP cord, but your journey and insight give us courage. Yes, you’ve added several gold nuggets of wisdom to my tool box. This is my first year as a 12 x 12 participant, and I’m overwhelmed by the encouragement, professionalism, talent, and friendship given freely within our community. I’ve learned VOLUMES about good writing and critiquing. My learning curve has had a growth spurt. Thank you SO MUCH for reliving your travel to publication. You give us all the grit and guts to #stayonthebus!

  33. Loved learning your backstory & look forward to reading Lola! Thanks, too, for the tip to #stayonthebus.

  34. Hi Wendy!

    Thanks for your wise words and inside tips you learned along the way to publication! I love when you get nuggets of truth that makes you stop and think and then regroup! I am on the bus too #stayonthebus! Thanks for sharing your story and all the best to you and your writing career!

  35. Thank you so much, Wendy! This is just what I needed to hear today. By the time I got to the end of your post I was almost in tears! This will be one I will read again and again when I need a boost and am tempted to get off the bus. I was told once in a critique of one of my very first manuscripts that although it was well written it would never sell. I was devastated. That was two years ago, and just recently I was thinking of revisiting it. Thank you for giving me the courage. Looking forward to reading your book!

  36. Thank you so much Wendy for this beautiful, inspirational post! Your book looks absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to read it! Congrats on your success and thank you for giving us these very real/very practical gems of advice!

  37. My favorite bit of advice here is to let the work steep. Letting it all steep (drafts, critiques, rejections) will allow the work to rest, and can restore some objectivity about things that might not be working. It’s not an easy thing to do, when all we want is to get the work right… but sometimes leaving it alone for a bit is the very best way to do that!

  38. Thanks Wendy! Everyday is a new learning day. The road is long but the bus ride is fun. I’m staying on the bus with you!

  39. Excellent advice as we carry on toward our goals of publication through hard work as we “stay on the bus.” Thanks Wendy!

  40. I love this advice, Wendy! Stay on the bus! Sometimes it feels like the bus is the runaway bus from the movie Speed. And other times, it is stuck in heavy traffic with a flat tire. But, I will stay on the bus. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story.

  41. Amazing and wonderful story on so many levels! Congratulations on Lola!! And thank you for the inspirational boost!

  42. Such wise, wise words! Thank you and congratulations on LOLA SHAPES THE SKY!

    “I feel like I’m in on some inside joke.” I loved, loved, loved this line because I often feel the same way when I’m playing with an idea in my head.

    Thank you for reminding us to #stayonthebus!

  43. Wow, what a great post, Wendy! I appreciated your snarky humor, your message to be relentless, and (possibly the best nugget for me…) the example of your Lola first draft first line and how magically and poetically you transformed it!
    Congrats on your success!

  44. I love hearing that you resubmitted a couple years later with the same manuscript to an agency that had originally turned you down. A couple of obvious things were at work here – first, you’d reworked the manuscript enough, applying critiques seriously, and showing that you were dedicated to your craft and a writer an agent could work with, and secondly, timing! A lot can happen in two years – what the market is looking for is constantly changing. So just because with your first rounds of submissions didn’t garner you a sale didn’t mean the manuscript had no value. I’m so glad you didn’t give up! And that you stayed on that blasted bus!

  45. Such a great post! Reading things like this help me #stayonthebus. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading Lola Shapes the Sky.

  46. Wendy, I loved reading your post. It was inspiring and filled with excellent information. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Wendy, I identified with a lot of this post. My father died when I was younger (not as young as you, though, and he died from natural causes), but rationally or not, it definitely had an impact on how I approached money. I still struggle with my two halves – the me that craves spontaneity and freedom, and the me who needs a paycheck. Thank you for sharing your story!

  48. Love #stayonthebus Wendy. I’m taking your advice to let my manuscripts sit a while to let the heart of the story steep and then revise. Congratulations on “Lola Shapes the Sky! and your success!

  49. Congratulations on your beautiful book and thank you for the inspiring post! There’s so much great advice in here, but what will stick with me forever is #stayonthebus.

  50. Thank you for your inspiring post! And congratulations on Lola. I look forward to reading it (The cover art is delightful). 😊

  51. “Find a moment of joy in the process every day” — YES! For me, this is what it’s all about. Thanks for the great post, Wendy!

  52. It can be so discouraging to get those rejection letters which is why Wendy’s encouragement to #stayonthebus is so important and so valuable. Fantastic and practical tips too – I especially like #1 and #5.

  53. Thanks, Wendy. Your advice and insight speak volumes to me. I wish you much success with Lola Shapes The Sky, which I can’t wait to read.

  54. What a refreshing post! I have been “on the bus” for a long time, but I’m staying on it. You’re an inspiration, and your book looks unique and beautiful.

  55. Thank you Wendy. Your article was helpful and reminded me to search out some new critique
    partners to replace lost ones and keep writing and resting my manscripts and coming back to them
    with fresh eyes. Thank you and Congratulations on publishing success.

  56. Thank you Wendy. Your article was helpful and reminded me to search out some new critique
    partners to replace lost ones and keep writing and resting my manuscripts and coming back to them
    with fresh eyes. Thank you and Congratulations on publishing success.

  57. I like your image because a bus moves. The very purpose of the bus is to transport. We do have to get on it, and stay on it. Sometimes we feel like we aren’t going anywhere in our writing. Yet, by writing itself, we are being transported. Thanks, Wendy. Congratulations!

  58. A wonderfully inspiring post, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your tips on how to #stayonthebus. I loved seeing how your first line changed and am looking forward to reading Lola Shapes the Sky. Congratulations!!

  59. Thank you, Wendy, for a motivating post. I need to #getbackonthebus, and your post is a needed nudge. I especially liked “Publication is my goal, but out of my control. The joy and wonder are mine. Share the joy.” I think you should start #sharethejoy too. Happy writing!

  60. Congratulations on your debut book, Wendy! I always love getting the inside scoop about revisions on the way to publication. So totally agree with the #stayonthebus philosophy, especially with the many black holes currently out there. If you don’t stay, you’ll never get to the ‘published author’ bus stop.

  61. Wow! I finally got a chance to read this, and what great timing. I just got two rejections this morning and was ready to get off the effing bus. You are right. Writing is not something most of us can just put away and be happy with. I’m glad I read this just now because it gives me new hope to keep plugging away and believing in myself.

  62. Fabulous advice…particularly your experience with opening lines. You demonstrate Stephen King’s warning that we must be prepared to “kill our darlings.” No one ever said it would be easy! 🙂 Thanks.

  63. Oh Wendy, I love your post! Congrats on Lola. I’ve been with 12×12 for a very long time and I recognize your name. You are my new inspiration to stay on the effing bus when I’ve been tempted to get off at the next stop so many times. Thanks for your advice. Much love sent your way. Joan Sloane

  64. Thanks for the inspiration, Wendy. I love to read stories like this that show the payoff for staying on the bus!

  65. Thanks Wendy for putting into words such great wisdom. I needed to hear this right now- received another rejection, and in the past wanted to jump off the bus. Staying on this time!

  66. Such a lovely post, Wendy, just like your book 🙂 “Share your joy & #stayonthebus”–absolutely!! Always knew you’d be a super star 🙂

  67. Thank you, Wendy! So many “nuggets” here! I think I will read this again and again to keep me energized.

  68. Thanks for sharing these helpful nuggets of information and inspiration. Congrats on your book! I look to reading it!!

  69. Thank you Wendy, I definitely found some nuggets here. It is hard to stay on the bus sometimes but I won’t hit the next-stop-please button just yet. 🙂

  70. Okay, Wendy, I’m stayin’ on the bus, slow as it is. I hope you’ll come on board at one of its many stops one day!

  71. Truly an inspiring post! I also think I would use “effing” in #stayonthebus! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  72. Love your post Wendy. Love – Joy and wonder is mine and I almost fell off the bus. Thanks for your hand up.

  73. I’m sending out a huge thank you for your encouragement and wisdom. Writing is my new adventure and I am anticipating a bumpy ride. I will remember your words of advice and forge ahead. I look forward to reading your new book.

  74. Thank you so much, Wendy, for your inspiring post! Just the encouragement I needed today. I now have #stayonthebus on a post-it by my laptop. Congratulations on publication! Looking forward to reading about Lola. Mahalo!

  75. Wendy, thanks for the (effing) #stayonthebus admonition! Sometimes, you want to slink away, or even throw yourself off, but sticking the landing is (effing) tough from a moving vehicle. 🙂 Great tip to revise for the market. And “let it steep”. Makes perfect sense! Also appreciated the comparison of your original v. final first line. You could teach a whole class on that. Matter fact, please do?

  76. Love the nuggets of encouragement and wisdom. I especially appreciated your story of submitting and resubmitting your manuscript.
    I love the advice to find a moment of joy in writing each day and asking ourselves why we’re writing. Keeping our “why” in front of us can be powerful!
    Thanks for so many good words for us!

  77. So many wonderful tidbits of advice for this late bloomer. Surely, #StayOnTheBus strikes closest to my heart. Thanks for generously sharing your journey here.

  78. I’m on the bus! Love your tips, and I just wrote a book with a cloud component ❤️. Thank you for the encouragement.

  79. Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for the inspiring post! I feel like I need to print out these 6 suggestions and hang them in my office. I love your suggestion to #stayonthebus!!!

  80. This. is. brilliant. Creating stories delights me. I feel like I’m in on some inside joke. Publication is my goal, but out of my control. The joy and wonder are mine. Share the joy. #stayonthebus Thank you Wendy!

  81. Lots of good reminders in this post. I appreciate the encouragement to stay on the bus. It has been a long road, but I am still moving forward. Thanks, Wendy.

  82. Thank you for the words of encouragement, Wendy!! Even with 4 published books to my name, it is hard to “stay on the bus!” Every manuscript has it’s own hurdles!! Lisa

  83. Congratulations, Wendy! I will look for your book and read it! Thank you for the encouragement, to #stayonthebus!

  84. I love that you said, “When stories steep, the essences swirl and strengthen and I’m able to isolate the heart I want to focus on.” That’s exactly where I am right now! My first PB is on submission and I’m trying to isolate the heart of book 2…while book 1 flowed out easily, 2 feels much more complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to step away enough to let them steep, but the results sure are clear when looking back! 🙂

  85. Such great advice for those of us with our ‘heads in the clouds’, learning how to be ready for publication! Congrats on your beautiful debut!

  86. You saved me, Wendy. I had nine toes and three-quarters of my body off the bus. I just submitted my first manuscript, which I have worked on for one year with a mentor, two critique groups and supportive friends. One publisher rejected it and nine others have chosen (at least up to this moment) to leave me in an empty, hollow, echo chamber.

    I am going through all the thoughts you mentioned. Should I throw it out the window, change it so it is unrecognizable or keep going? You have convinced me to keep going. I am back on the bus and hopefully headed to a creative, productive place. I will let you know!
    With gratitude,

  87. My critique partners keep me on the bus, and give me a community. Thank you for the inspiration to keep going, if only for the joy of writing.

  88. Wendy, you are an inspiration for me! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I cannot wait to read Lola Shapes the Sky.

  89. Wendy, thank you so much for sharing your refreshing wisdom and insight. I love the encouragement to #stayonthebus. I also loved your advice on how to keep your joy and wonder while also being smart about the market and the process. You are an inspiration, and I can’t wait to read your beautiful book!

  90. What a timely post! I’ve just begun querying a new story, so this is advice I can take to heart and use right now as the rejections begin trickling in.

  91. I, too, am a lover of clouds and have been working on a PB for years. I really love it and wish someone else would too.

  92. Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for your timely advice. April has been a tough month, but I’m hanging on by a thread. Your post reminded me how important it is to keep going, if only for my creative being.

    Congratulations on your debut PB!

  93. @WendyGreenly thank you for your wise words and for helping me stay on the bus. I would love publication but the joy of creating is so much and your book and character Lola sound so good.

  94. Wendy, Thank you for your encouraging words, and congratulations on your new book! I love clouds, and included them in a manuscript I wrote one time. When I get discouraged about my writing, I’ll remember to “stay on the bus.”

  95. Wendy,
    Thank you for sharing glimpses into your journey and the sage advice. I think we all need the support and reminders of one another’s take aways to continue being motivated and creative enough to gift the rising generation the literature they need, want and deserve. So glad you #stayonthebus! Congrats on publishing Lola and keep up the great work!

  96. Thank you so much for sharing your journey to picture book writing. Your stay on the bus mantra made me think of M Willemstad “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. I feel as if the Pigeon is driving my bus right now, but I will stay on and persist. I appreciate your example of persistence.

  97. Thank you so much for your post and amazing tips! I love how your book shows your delight in clouds and invites children to imagine being one! Thank you. I’m excited to read your book.

  98. I read your post when your originally wrote it, but it’s nice to read again since I’ve been in the process of querying. I’m realizing that I definitely need to join critique groups and share my work with others for feedback. Thank you for the encouragement.

  99. Hi Wendy,
    Just got Lola from the library today. It’s lovely! I’m glad you took the time to let Lola and her story take shape.

  100. Congratulations on your book, Wendy! I’m looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the tips and inspiration – very helpful!

  101. Thanks for sharing Wendy – useful reminders for us all! #stayontheeffingbus is definitely advice to live by! 😉

  102. Wendy,
    Thank you for your journey and wonderful advise about #stayonthebus. I also loved the advise about don’t change your manuscript after only one rejection. You should get several opinions and see where they are similar. Thanks for the post!

  103. Wow! Your message was so spot-on and timely for me in my writing journey! My critique partners have been invaluable and supportive of each other. They are my writing “sisters” who share ups and downs as well as their words of wisdom. I loved how you shared the first line of your story and the changes you made., Wendy. That is fabulous insight to how we should look at each line in our own stories. Can’t thank you enough for your inspirational message. You made my day!

  104. Wendy, I love your post so much, and agree with your adjustment of Edison’s equation. Plus if you keep perspiring and showing up, you’ll show up when that bit of luck strikes, too. Your book looks and sounds stunning, I can’t wait to read it.

  105. Wendy,

    Love this! We can never hear enough to keep going. That’s what I’m doing. But need to find a critique group. How did you find your?

    Thanks so much for the inspiring post! I’ll #stayonthebus!!


  106. So happy for you and for this awesome book being in the world. Your post was so encouraging.

  107. Wendy – You gave me more than a nugget for my toolbox. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful and heartfelt story.

  108. It was helpful to read the way your story’s first line changed from first to final draft. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the encouragement to stay on the bus.

  109. I love this post!! And I totally agree with what you said in #3 about Tara Lazar. I was lucky enough to win a critique from her in a blog contest. We Skyped and she said my writing was really strong but the story needed to be more unique. We threw around ideas and I instantly connected to one thing she suggested. Based on that idea, I totally revised my manuscript. It is NOTHING like it was before and my critique group loved the new version when I posted it. Brainstorming and revision. Never give up.

    Also, I like how you gave us the first line of your original draft and then the first line of the published story. The revised line is so much better. And I love the poetic language. Once again, revision. Takes time but so worth it.

    Thanks for sharing and for all the good advice. And congrats on your book. It looks beautiful.

  110. Wendy-your tips are golden nuggets! Congrats on LOLA SHAPES THE SKY 🙂 “Lola formed on a fresh wild wind. Her one-of-a-kind outline blew the other clouds away.” This first line captures my heart and my imagination!

  111. As a late comer to the writing party, I appreciated the advice and wisdom you shared with us. Thank you and congratulations on getting published. It looks like a lovely book.

  112. I love the bus. I see so many inspiring images….I NEVER want to get off! Happy riding everyone.

  113. Oh my gosh so much to say. First, congratulations on your gorgeous book Lola Shapes the Sky, and thank you for sharing the story of its publication. Your wise words of encouragement and inspiration will absolutely remind me to #stayonthebus. I especially enjoyed the nugget of letting manuscripts steep – just like a good cup of tea. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  114. I’ve been on the poetry bus lately, but I needed to read this because the pb rejections have been brutal. I’m looking at the pb bus, circling it. Getting back on. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  115. Thank you, Wendy, your persistence made this beautiful book to be out in the world! You reminded me how important is to be connected and check the market with more reading all the time. Great advice and book! Greetings from Greece!

  116. Thank you for your encouragement! I will certainly remind myself to #stayonthebus! It is helpful to see your timeline, as the road to publication is often longer than we would like to chart out for ourselves, however, the growth that time allows is priceless. Thank you for sharing! I am inspired to continue honing my craft!

  117. I’m late to the party, but so glad I came. What a wonderful post – thank you, Wendy. You talk about how generous picture book authors are – and you are the same! Thank you for reminding us not to write in isolation and encouraging us to #stayonthebus!

  118. Thank you so much, Wendy! Such an inspiring post. I applaud your patience, persistence and wisdom on your path to success! It was also so interesting to see the difference between two versions of the very first line of the book – it makes me think that if we really believe in the idea we must fight for it, sometimes with our own selves. It will all be worth it in the end.

  119. What a beautiful first line. Thank you for this inspiration to #stayonthebus! I love the idea of letting stories steep. I’ve been letting mine bake and that works too. 🙂

  120. Thank you for your stories and your “bus” pass. I needed all these suggestions and look forward to keeping on the bus.

  121. Write the first draft for ourselves. Yes! This post was full of great advice, Wendy. And your book cover is gorgeous.

  122. Thank you, Wendy and congratulations! So glad you stayed on the bus! I look forward to reading your book.

  123. I spent years “writing in isolation” until I made the decision to form a critique group, so your words have really resonated!
    Thank you!

  124. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your experience. And how just two words made the first sentence from your original ms. That is an eye-opener. Also a great reminder that when we write, we must think about the illustratability (is that a word) of the text we choose.

  125. Wendy –

    Thank you for your article. After getting my hopes up that I had a publisher then finding out it was a vanity press…wanted to give up….I’ll keep looking for that 1%!

  126. Thanks for this terrific post. So full of heart while also speaking the truth about publishing being a business. Congratulations on Lola!

  127. Thanks Wendy! I really appreciate your 6 tips and the reminder to stay on the bus. I especially resonated with not writing in isolation and allowing our manuscripts to steep. So important to remember that we don’t have to get it right the first time, and that it may take a while for the final story to emerge.

  128. I think I’m ready and my critique partners always show me more. Beautiful book, thanks for talking about your process!

  129. Thanks for sharing your writing journey. I’m happy to hear you found refuge in books.
    And now children will find refuge in your books. I love your new book. Congrats and looking forward to more of your books.

  130. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I just love this post and all the inspiration to stick with it you shared. Thank you!

  131. I loved this article. Every time I feel discouraged now I just tell myself to stay on the bus. I also feel inspired that you had no previous writing experience—but just stuck with it.

  132. Wendy, thank you for sharing your personal story. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Every time I feel discouraged, I’m going to remember to #stayonthebus. Love this!

  133. Oh my gosh – this is exactly what I needed this month! Hope it’s okay, but I’ll be adding to #stayonthebus a lot as I go through this journey! Thank-you for sharing with and encouraging us!

  134. Thanks, Wendy! It’s always good to hear inspiration for “staying on this bus!” Especially when it can be such a bumpy ride. Thank you for your advice, as well. Writing / revising for the market is a good perspective to keep in mind. Best wishes for your writing projects!

  135. Thank you for sharing your encouraging post, Wendy! As long as I’ve been submitting my work and receiving rejections, I’m still on the bus. I look forward to reading about Lola.

  136. I love where you say “Write first drafts for yourself. Explore. play… It is really very freeing to hear that. I feel like I can get a better start on a story if I write it for myself–for the fun of it–first.

  137. Thank you so much for this! I actually read this at the beginning of the month, and I was so pumped for this month. Then, of course, complications occur. Now, here it is the end of the month–I am discouraged with my writing but encouraged by your words to continue on.

  138. Hi Wendy,
    I almost missed the bus this month! I had a terrible fall with a head injury and concussion which has affected my language. Sometimes my writing is gibberish. So I liked your advice about setting aside a manuscript or two or three for an unknown period of time . I can always get back on the bus later.
    Thanks for your advice.

  139. Wendy,

    So many nuggets of wisdom, but what I really latched onto this time was the part where you said you loved Lola as a character and the theme, but it was ok to completely rewrite the text. Only 2 words from the original manuscript – wow – this gives me hope and inspiration as I work through my MFA for children’s program, finding that major text revisions are my biggest challenge!

  140. Wendy, It’s May…I guess you could say my head was in the clouds during April. Circumstances, out of my control, kept my focus away from reading your wonderful post on time.
    I am commenting now to let you know how much your post and the comments of the other writers have helped me to get back to writing.
    I too love looking at the clouds. Several months ago I received a photo from one of my best friends of a cloud in the shape of a swan (I love swans) that looks very much like your cover illustration. Amazing! Looking forward to reading your picture book! PS My dad was a microbiologist.😊

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