top of page

Writing Virtue for January

I have a wonderful little calendar chart given to be by a special friend that lists a virtue for every month and inspires focus. January's virtue is HONESTY. To start the year off on the right foot, let's incorporate this into our writing.

Let's be honest with ourselves about where we are in our writing. What comments are often repeated by our critiquers and/or mentors? Write them down in the form of a little checklist, particularly the concerns. Why focus on the issues? Because those are what you actually need to focus on to bring your writing to the level needed to get the validation you want.

Becoming an author is a profession and you'll go further if we honestly approach our weaknesses, rather than if you turn a blind eye to them, or become too in love with your own writing. It may be a challenge to manage this objectivity, it's important not to be too close to your own writing.

While being honest about your the level of your own writing is a difficult measure, there are several ways to gauge this.

1. Read your book alongside a well written, published book. Does it have a clear hook? Does it flow as well? Are the characters as developed? Is it as engaging? Does it have heart? Is the pacing even? Does it have tension? Does it have as good of a takeaway value? There are many comparative questions you can ask yourself, based upon what makes the comp book wonderful.

Rate Your Story Members can enjoy a FREE weekly Mentor Text Talk on Sunday at 6:30 - 7:30 PM EST or so, which can also help immensely in this regard. Non-Members can also join each week for a nominal fee of $5. Make the payment to and e-mail to request the zoom link.

2. Ask your critique group for honest feedback on your story and what your issues seem to be. Remember, this is not personal, it is an effort to learn what you need to work on to get the desired result.

3. If you are a Rate Your Story Member or Non-Member Speedpass User, take a look at the ratings you are getting. Although we encourage you to focus on the feedback, rather than the ratings, this can be an indication of how much you have work to do. Also, if you are having trouble navigating the feedback on a particular manuscript, I offer reduced rate consultations on that Rate Your Story member submission or non-member speedpass. Book Lynne Marie: Critique, Mentoring and Editing + Travel Planning (

4. Book a session with a professional mentor and get some honest feedback and goal counseling as well as some areas to focus on. I am always happy to mentor and/or critique, and several Rate Your Story judges offer the same or similar services.

5. Join our March On with Mentor Text Monthly Celebration of Picture Books!

Registration starts on the Rate Your Story Blog in February. Be sure to follow!

Regardless of the method you undertake, be open to feedback. Try the suggestion(s) on for size. You have nothing to lose (you can always go back to an old version), and only improvement to gain.

LYNNE MARIE is the CEO of, as well as the author of HedgehogGoes 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 2019 and 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 -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press, 2022), American Pie (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2022), There Was a Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2023) and more, forthcoming.

She’s the CEO of, an Editor/Columnist at Children's Book Insider, a Cybils Round 1 Picture Book and Board Book Judge since 2016 and a Travel Agent. She currently lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. Visit her at Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of



bottom of page