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Meet Our April Guest Guru - Erin Dealey

We are very excited to feature our March Guest Guru who brings a wealth of knowledge and information to us and will give a rating and feedback to four lucky Rate Your Story Members this month. All you need to do is request her, and if there are available spots and your manuscript seems like a good fit, you will receive this benefit.

If Erin's spots have been filled - not to worry -- Lynne Marie serves as our back-up Guest Guru each month and will also be taking on four requests. Please read her Interview and take advantage of all the underlined takeaway tips and more before submitting. Meet the Guru: Lynne Marie (

What do you LOVE about children’s books? 

I am going to borrow a phrase from Stephen King here: They are “portable magic.”

I love the world that the illustrator brings to a picture book. 

I love the combination of language and visuals.  

Just look at the gorgeous art in my latest book, JUST FLOWERS, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove (Sleeping Bear). Amazing.

What brought you to children’s books? 

I always loved wordplay, puns, jokes, and song lyrics.

In 6th grade, I got to go down the hall and read to the kindergarten.

As a high school Theater teacher, I wrote skits for my students to perform.

When our daughter was young, I read picture books to her every day, and bedtime too. 

That was probably when I realized picture books were like theater, and my worlds collided in the very best way.

Name something you loved / enjoyed as a child?

Tetherball, climbing up onto the roof of our garage, riding my bike.

What do you look for in a project to make it a favorite?

Language –whether prose or in rhyme—that takes me on a journey or feels like a hug. 



Outside-the-Box elements

Share a story that you love and why. 

BALDERDASH John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books by Michelle Markel, Illus. Nancy Carpenter (Chronicle)   

ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE – Waiting is NOT Easy –Mo Willems (Hyperion) 

The reasons for both are listed in #4.

What is a common issue with the submissions you receive?

This may sound odd but often texts attempt to be way more clever than they need to be. Too much cleverness – (I have been guilty of this, myself) – can squelch the voice, or strangle the story. 

Professionalism is important in this business. In terms of becoming a writer, what does this word mean to you?

Respect for others, and the unique creativity that each individual brings to the kidlit table.


Please share a Submission tip with our Members. 

Don’t push SEND until you’ve tucked that story away for at least a week. 

Let the “body heat” go out of it, and then read it with fresh eyes.

If you still think it’s ready to submit –go for it.

If not, revise, rinse, and repeat. 

Please share a Revision Tip for our Members.

Write your manuscript in longhand, with a pencil and (preferably) on unlined paper.

Write it in stanzas, or sections, as it might appear in a book.

Remember writing is a Language ART. 

Name subjects you would like to read about, or, if you are an Editor or an Agent, see in your in-box. 

Open to all but please leave the topics listed in #11 for someone else.

Surprise me.

Name subjects you would not like to read about.  

Death & dying, illness.

Nonfiction biographies, memoirs. (I know I listed BALDERDASH as a book I love but that doesn’t mean I would be the best person to critique that genre.)

Stories with alliterative character names… 

Share a fun fact about YOU! 

I also write plays. See Uproar Theatrics 

Bio: Erin Dealey is a screenwriter, playwright, blogger, and award-winning children’s author of 20+ picture books & board books (so far), including the newest, JUST FLOWERS (Illus. Kate Cosgrove /Sleeping Bear), the award-winning DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), SNOW GLOBE WISHES (Illus. Claire Shorrock / Sleeping Bear—an Anna Dewdney Read Together honor book; and silly PETER EASTER FROG (Simon & Schuster, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Illus. G. Brian Karas). Dealey's original career goal was Olympic Gold Medal tetherball player. When that didn't pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, and author--and welcomes any opportunity to visit schools around the world. She lives in northern California with her husband. You can find her online at and on TwitterX @ErinDealey & Instagram @ErinDealey.  

You can buy Erin's Books Here.

Other links:


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