doug_unplugged_cover‘Twas the first day of class, suspense flooded the room,
Yet, my stomach gurgled a wee sense of doom.
For I’ve been to enough workshops to know what to expect:
A roller coaster of emotions, which inevitably reflect
Anxiety, frustration, embarrassment and fear,
Joy, pride, and laughter, with an occasional tear.

And so there I sat, one beaming face amongst twelve,
Locked, loaded and ready, into my manuscript to delve.
“Essentials of a Picture Book” was the game plan
Kicked off on that morning by Yaccarino, Dan.

Rule number one: Never write in rhyme.
Unless it’s done well, it’ll sound forced. Every. Time.
(Obviously, I’m a rebel as evidenced by this ‘TWAS
But sometimes I gotta’ try it, simply because…)

Rule number two: Show, don’t tell.
“She was lithe as a willow,” not just “She was swell.”

Whatever your process, begin with a dump
Of info and scenes to get over the hump
That keeps you staring at a blank page.
And, if you ask me? This advice is quite sage.
There’ll be plenty of time to clean up in revision.
Therefore, strike superfluity with pitiless precision.
“Keeping it simple” leaves space for the art.
“Make every word count,” is said, right from the start.

So, I whipped out my WIP along with my pen
And axed phenomenal from ‘Mabel the Hen.’
Egg-stremely died too, with that uplifting word,
Lip-smacking, scrumptious
A massacre occurred…

‘Twas the end of the battle—
my draft finally bereft
Of modifiers and alliteration—
not one adjective was left.
All adverbs too, slashed by my pen—
killed, sent to the morgue,
and left waiting for when
Some’d be earned back
and slipped into the text
Keeping the illustrator
content and not vexed.

So, my dear Reader, we’ve come to the end
And what did you learn? You’ll still be my friend
Even if you agree with Dan’s sage advice,
That I leave rhyme to the masters as a storytelling device.

BUT seriously, the Southampton Writer’s Conference was a blast. I learned not only about how to improve upon this craft we call ‘writing’, but I made new friends,

PB YAC heard phenomenal speakers tell their stories at a recording of THE MOTH,
hit the beach at sunset,

and even visited the Shinnecock Museum,
which exhibits some extraordinary Native American art.


I am also happy to say, that since I’m home again, I’ve had a few Yacc attacks.
My new works-in-progress, as well as the old,
are constantly being Yaccarino’d.


About Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

I am an adventure seeking ponderer of the mysteries of the universe, writer of children's books (represented by Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency), and lover of anything involving armor, archery, or swashbuckling.
This entry was posted in ADVENTURES, HUMOR, POEMS, ROAD TRIP, TRAVEL/PHOTO Themes, WRITING CHALLENGES and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to ON BEING YACCARINO’D

  1. ubensmom says:

    Like like like!


  2. Vic says:

    fabulous!!!!never give up your rhymes!


  3. menomama3 says:

    It flowed! Phooey on the critics. ’twas fun.


  4. Teela Hart says:

    I rather like you rhymes.
    They make me smile each and every time. 😀


  5. Okay this WAS amazing. Seriously. You make this seem so smooth and effortless, but I know this is far more difficult than it looks. But it’s the sign of an expert when others read it and think, “How fun. I’m gonna try that tonight.” NOT! No how, no way! You’ve cornered the market on this stuff. And I for one, am thrilled!
    ps. This seems to have been a smallish conference compared to the 4500 at mine. Oy!


    • Thanks Bunkie! I’m sure if you take a stab at it, you’d be able to pull it off. As for the conference, not 4500, but larger than our little Picture Book group. It ran for 12 days with the children’s book track joining in for the last 4. So when are you going to share your BlogHer 14 experience? I’m looking forward to it.


  6. Lyn says:

    That was so easy to read. No stumbles – even when I tried speed reading it aloud. I say this sort of rhyming rocks.


  7. A.PROMPTreply says:

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned……every little bit adds that much more to my brain and soon perhaps we’ll have an idea of where we’re headed with all this!
    A little tidbit here and there and soon your writing’s everywhere!


  8. nymediaworks says:

    Love this post! However the correct spelling for the term which describes chopping all your adverbs and adjectives from your picture book manuscript is “Yaccarinoed” 🙂 I happen to know this because it’s a Gribblism 🙂


  9. Very, very curious about the hen now, Donna! She must be thriving without the burden of carrying around all those adverbs. Sound advice! I’ll go Yaccarino some of my PB texts, too.


  10. Dear Donna, What fun! I especially love your wonderful description of “the massacre”, the taking out all the adverbs and adjectives. Proud to say I was there with you and had to go through the same thing. I look forward to reading more of your posts and send you all the best from Long Island 🙂


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  14. Donna, you wrote this and then critiques my rhyme? Goodness, I better get to it! Very funny and so glad we met there. A great group of people.


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