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The Building Blocks of Lynne Marie

This month, we'll be highlighting the Donors from Our Rate Your Story *Build-A-Story* Contest (August 1 - 31st). Each will share a little bit about themselves and the building blocks of their career, tell you about their latest project and leave YOU a building block to help build your stories! Be sure to check them out! AND don't forget to enter our contest (more info here) to be eligible for prizes! SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to not being able to complete our many Donor Spotlights by the end of August -- there are more building blocks and prizes to come -- we are going to extend our contest by just over one week! The new deadline will be September 10th, also to allow for Labor Day, and Back-to-School, as well as time to review all the Donors, who we are very happy to promote. Please feel free to share any blogposts for Donors who shared advice or prizes that resonate with you. They would surely appreciate it, and I know that I would, as well. The more entries, the more prizes that I will add to the pile (Rate Your Story Speedpasses, Query Critiques and Mentor Sessions with The Picture Book Mechanic). Thanks in advance!


My love for children’s books spans several decades over which I have been afforded wonderful opportunities to immerse myself in the genre. I am currently an Agent Mentee at the Seymour Agency, and am excited for the opportunity to become a Kidlit Agent! I am also a former editor for a small press. In addition, I am the owner/director of and, the Creator/Host of March On With Mentor Texts (, Mentor Text Mondays at the RYS Blog, and Mentor Text Talk by Rate Your Story, a Co-Host of #SeasonsOfKidLit ( along with creator Heather Macht, a Cybils Judge since 2016 ( and a Feature Columnist at Children’s Book Insider (

Lynne Marie is the award-winning author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -- art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling / Scholastic 2019) and Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project and The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project Coloring Book -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022), The Palace Rat -- art by Eva Santana (Yeehoo Press 2023), Broommates co-written with Brenda Reeves Sturgis – art by Nico Ecenarro (The Little Press 2024) and more, forthcoming. Visit her at Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland and Jonathan Rosen of


I am happy to promote my latest book, The Palace Rat, as it is one that was conceived and written as far back as 1997! I feel this is inspiring in many ways. First of all, I call the path to success “the Long and Winding Road” and this manuscript’s journey certainly shows that. While I hope that none of your journeys take as long as this book’s, it will serve to show you that your journey may be much longer than you originally expected. And that’s okay! The main thing is to stay on the path. This is a book I’ve always believed in, and I am grateful that I never forgot about it or lost faith in it. However, that being said it took more than a fun idea, good writing and faith to bring it to life – it took inspiration, dedication, perspiration, time and many, many revisions, and space (and repeat).


ON THE BUSINESS OF WRITING: As much as writing is a passion, it is also a business. We don’t need only good writing, but also outstanding and marketable ideas (to be transformed into a manuscript that publishers and booksellers believe they can sell, and sell well). It is very important to understand this and to present stories that are well-written, well-told, fresh and new and have selling hooks. A good way to effectuate this is to read, read, read, and know what’s out there and who published what. Also, learning craft and effective writing and storytelling is paramount. BOTH are important. Good writing without great storytelling will get you where you want to go in your career. So always be striving to better your writing and craft.


This, after your title (which is hopefully kid-friendly and engaging), is the first impression to the editor or agent (or reader). It’s really important to make it count! Hook the reader by presenting a likable (but flawed) character that the child reader can connect with and a child-friendly problem that the child reader can identify with. The issue should be important and the character should have the motivation to solve the problem / achieve the goal and there should be stakes involved. While all this doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the first spread (the problem should be presented by the third spread, the latest), there should still be some strong hooks (character, setting, intrigue, etc.) in the first paragraph to entice the reader to turn the page and read on.


These are often an important stepping stone on your path to success. But these can also be, at times, problematic. Not all groups will turn out to be a good fit. Some can be too inexperienced, not objective enough (as to not provide honest feedback – either than can’t see it, or they don’t want to hurt any feelings), not well read enough, not invested enough in the writer’s success or other issues. Finding the right fit is not always easy. Think of critique groups like shoes – you need a good fit. So be on the lookout for the right one! And there’s always independent, honest feedback like or from Critique Services, like, as well as others to try out. However, with any feedback, free or paid, always be open to considering it, trying it on for size, and making an objective decision as to what works. Sometimes, the best feedback may be something that you didn’t want to hear (but should listen to). Again, try it on for size – you’ve got nothing to lose and much to learn / gain in the practice.


I am not the first owner of Rate Your Story, but actually the third. Rate Your Story was founded by the inimitable Miranda Paul, Author and Agent Extraordinaire! About five years later, she passed the torch to the wonderfully talented Sophia Gholz. When Sophia was ready to move on after five years, she chose me to pass the torch on to. Why? I had been a long-time Member of Rate Your Story, and then a long-time Judge. It stood out to her that I was passionate about the project and really loved the entire rating and feedback concept of I wholeheartedly believed in it as a tool to get independent, honest feedback. However, being the thinker I am, and realizing that not everyone has the skills to navigate the feedback, I had ideas on how to make RYS even better. As a result, I added monthly Crafty Webinars, weekly Mentor Text Talks, Help Desks, Mentored Critique Groups (an additional charge of $15/session), a Member FB group, a Resource FB group, March On With Mentor Texts, unlimited replays of the webinars and mentor text talks for the year, and More!

This year, I am more excited than ever to bring on even more writing magic to our platform. We will have a Member Forum (like Mighty Forums), Member Critique Forum, and Monthly Mentored Critique Groups at two times, in addition to all the other benefits. Also, we will be utilizing rafflecopter for our March On With Mentor Text Event (all invited) and all Rate Your Story Members will get extra chances in our prize drawings! Of course, we will also have our annual summer contest, stacked with helpful feedback, prizes and opportunities!

LYNNE MARIE'S PRIZE(S): As a prize for everyone, Lynne Marie is happy to review all manuscripts and recommend any with potential appeal to her Agent Mentor Marisa Cleveland of the Seymour Agency. In addition, if these manuscripts are not among the prize winners, she is happy to gift a 1/2 hour Mentoring Session to polish these manuscripts before sharing.

She will also be giving away spot prizes of query letter critiques, mentor sessions and speedpasses to those manuscripts that speak to her.

In addition, she will be offering Mentor sessions as outlined in the contest information:

Announcing the 2023 Rate Your Story Summer Contest Remember, like they say at the New York Lottery -- you gotta be in it to win it!

Meet MORE Prize Donors and Find More Prizes HERE [Click on the Links]

The Building Blocks of #SeasonsOfKidlit ( The Building Blocks of #SeasonsOfKidlit ( The Building Blocks of Erin Dealey ( The Building Blocks of Dan Cramer ( The Building Blocks of Audrey Ades ( The Building Blocks of Michele McAvoy and The Little Press ( The Building Blocks of Linda Joy Singleton ( The Building Blocks of Helen H. Wu, Publisher & Author ( The Building Blocks of Jennifer Buchet ( The Building Blocks of Adam Blackman, Cardinal Rule Press ( The Building Blocks of Becky Scharnhorst ( And don't forget to send in your entry here: Announcing the 2023 Rate Your Story Summer Contest And sign up for our Monthly Newsletter here: Rate Your Story : Sign Up to Stay in Touch ( Be sure not to miss upcoming blogposts by signing up for future posts!


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