So… you want to write a manuscript that’s as strong as can be? You want your manuscript to fight the good fight in today’s competitive market? Well then...


Layering can bump a manuscript from good to FANTASTIC!

In my Rosie the dragon and Charlie series, I layered, layered, layered. Let me demonstrate.

A Recipe for Layering: Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions)

Step One: Add a dragon

Step Two: Mix in themes of friendship and pet adoption

Step Three: Stir in teaching a dragon to swim with REAL swimming skills

Step Four: Fold in teamwork, patience, and courage

Step Five: Link it to a season

And the final product is: A picture book with delicious layers to share!

I used a similar recipe with Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions)

Step One: Add that beloved dragon and her best friend

Step Two: Stir in a bedtime component

Step Three: Add a bedtime routine and specific bedtime strategies

Step Four: Fold in courage, teamwork, and patience

And the final product is: A picture book with tasty layers to share!

Just wait until you see the layers I added to Home For A While (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press), which will move into bookshelves February 2, 2021.

Now take a moment to think about the layers in your manuscripts. Can you add more?

Are your layers threaded through the whole story? Can you explore the layers you’ve added even further? Here are a few ways to expand your layers in a thoughtful way:

  • Are there any holidays that naturally tie into your manuscript?

  • Look up other (lesser-known) holidays like Donut day or Tie Your Shoes Day (I made that one up). Can you thread those holidays through somehow?

  • Think about specific milestones and skills children face/conquer.

  • What Evergreen topics might add a lovely layer to your manuscript.

  • Draw on your own childhood experiences. Is there a golden nugget hiding in there?

  • What universal themes might fit well?

These are just a couple of ways to ponder layers. I challenge you to think of more!

Now, go forth and LAYER! You never know what exquisite masterpiece you may create!

In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”

About the author:

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two, daughters, and their rescue dogs. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East/West Literary Agency. Lauren's debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) splashed into bookstores in 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions), will snuggle into bookshelves September 1, 2020. HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) is expected February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12x12 and SCBWI. Visit her at, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.

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