#ReVISIONweek 2021: Let’s Play!

GUESS WHAT?! #ReVISIONweek 2021 starts ONE month from TODAY! This year’s theme came straight from the mouth of Linda Sue Park at SCBWI’s Big Five-OH Conference. She reminded us how important it is to PLAY and have fun when we write, revise, and illustrate.


With manuscripts,





and visuals

from September 30th-October 6th!


Lets Play Playtime GIF by EasyPeasy

Joana Pastro, Katie Frawley, Lynne Marie, Michal Babay, Shannon Stocker, and I will offer a Quick-Read Crafty Tip Post each day via my Insight and Inspiration Blog. Check out the exciting topics we plan to cover. All of these revision tips were sparked by various conferences and inspiring speakers we’ve watched this year:

If you sign up for my blog, you will receive these posts in your email (hopefully). They will also be ALL over social media and available on my website.

email GIF

And of course, there will be PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES! We will be offering critiques, virtual author visits, signed books, digital books, consultations, and more!

Season 6 Win GIF by Friends

And now, to whet your revision appetite, here’s a Quick-Read Crafty Tip from Lynne Marie:

You can hardly wait, right?!!


Just add your full name below and we’ll know you’re joining us for a week of PLAYING with revisions.

See you soon!

Feel. Write. Risk.

Joana, Katie, Lauren, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon

P.S. DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS? ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE WERE NOMINATED IN THREE CATEGORIES FOR THE KIDS BOOK CHOICE AWARDS! WOOHOO! They are so excited to be nominated along with so many other incredible characters and books. You can vote here until September 8th to help them proceed to the next round!

Quick-Read Crafty Tips: Summer Writing

The beginning of the summer:

“I have SO much time to write/illustrate!”

Your Happy Workplace yes yeah yay yup GIF

The middle of the summer:

“No problem, we’re only half-way through, I have so much time to write/illustrate!”

Bare Tree Media go cheer cheering cactus GIF

The end of the summer:

“How is it possible that the summer’s over and I didn’t meet a single writing/illustrating goal I set?”

Sad Balloon GIF by Chord Overstreet

Avoid the end-of-summer balloon blues and try these tips:

Set Realistic Goals (I’m looking at myself right now!)

Realistic goals will lead to more productivity and better feelings of self-worth.

Honor the Fact that Writing and/or Illustrating is Your Job (and Your Key to Sanity)

Imposter syndrome is real and summer only seems to make it worse. We second guess whether or not we should carve out writing time. We convince ourselves that writing isn’t as important as time with our friends, partners, spouses, children, the neighbor who needs help, the pets, you name it (especially after a year of relative isolation).

BUT writing is our JOB (whether we make money or not).

We write because we love it (even when it is painful).

We write because it fulfills our creative needs (even when we aren’t feeling particularly creative).





It is okay to take that time and do the thing you love and want to do.

CREATE! Listen to your characters. Shut out the outside world!

Block out Time and Protect it With Your Life

Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night…write. Whether it’s a scheduled day of the week or an unscheduled afternoon…write. Just block time out each week and stick to it.

Wednesdays are my writing day.

Wacky Writing Wednesdays.


I write other days as well, but everyone knows Wednesdays are protected. Wednesdays are THE day, no matter what.

Now, of course, there are exceptions and things pop up, but I ALWAYS draft, research, or revise on Wednesdays, even if it is only for a little while. Find a time that EVERYONE knows is your writing time and PROTECT IT! And don’t forget the sand-timer technique when you write. It will help you carve out the time you want and need.

Remember: Writing and Illustrating Doesn’t Always Mean BIC

You are creating when you play with an idea in your head. You are creating when you plant flowers. You are creating when you pop out of bed to write something down. You are creating when you jump out of the shower to record an idea on your phone. You are creating when you draw a REALLY rough sketch.

Write at the pool during swim team practice (that’s where I revised Rosie and Charlie). Draw for five minutes in the parking lot at camp pick-up. Write in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. REALLY, you are getting closer to your goals with each of these activities!

Engage Your Children in the Process

If you are a parent, and you find that your writing time is often sucked into the vortex of life-y distractions, engage your children in the writing process. Write a story together. Draw pictures of your characters together. Brainstorm silly phrases your character might say. My children are older, now, but their level of investment in my writing astounds and thrills me. It has since they were young, and I’m so grateful that I’ve always involved them. My eldest daughter recently made a project in her ceramics class of two of my new characters because she loves them so much. My youngest daughter painted a picture of Rosie the dragon. Engage your children in the process. They will learn about how much work it takes. They will become invested. And they will have fun being creative with you.

Pick a Small Piece of the Writing Process to Tackle

You might jot down a word bank for your story or write out three new ideas. Just spending five minutes on a task can make a huge difference in your creative fulfillment. Don’t feel you have to revise a whole story in one sitting. It’s okay to work on ONE piece of revision! Here are some posts to reference for additional tips


Reading is part of writing. Each time you read a book alone, or with your child, you are working on a critical writing-related task. Take five minutes after you read to write down three new thoughts, ideas, epiphanies, or character quirks you collected while you read. Each time you do that, you are writing!

Let’s end the summer feeling proud of the progress we made no matter how much BIC time we actually had.

Remember, no matter how much you accomplish, “You’re quite huggable,” just like Calvin!

proud GIF

As Charlie would say, “You’ve got this!”

Feel. Write. Risk.


2021 #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #2: A Dash of Inspiration, a Sprinkle of Motivation, and Prize Winners!

Happy Monday! If you are feeling anything like I’m feeling today, you’re longing to jump into writing for the week, and struggling to actually take the plunge. I thought I’d share my Monday action plan in case it is helpful to you:

  1. Write this blog post to warm up my fingers and brain.
  2. Read one mentor text.
  3. Critique one manuscript.
  4. Work out and watch Night Shift. Analyze the way they develop characters while I watch. 🙂
  5. Shower. Ponder plots and characters while I shower. 🙂
  6. Flip my sand-timer over and dive into outlining for my adult novel for 60 minutes.
  7. Critique one manuscript.
  8. Flip my sand-timer over and research a new PB idea for 60 minutes.
  9. And if I can squeeze it in, flip my sand-timer over and work on revisions on a PB for 30 minutes.

I didn’t mention the crunchy snacks I will probably consume throughout the day, but eating, thinking, and writing go hand in hand, right?

I also didn’t mention my definition of success:

If I can work out, critique one manuscript, read one mentor text, and work on one manuscript today, I am going to consider that a HUGE success. If I accomplish this whole plan, well then, CAKE for all!

I hope this action plan helps motivate you! Pick two or three things you want to accomplish today or this week and then dive in! In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”

Jumping In GIF by America's Funniest Home Videos

Here’s an inspirational quote to fuel your week:

May your writing enrich your life and enhance your happiness!

And now for our 2021 #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #2 Prize Winners:

sunday winners GIF
myfreebingocards.com - bingo card generator

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WHO SPENT TIME REVISING and to all of the winners. We will be in touch to help you claim your prizes.

And don’t forget about our annual week-long #ReVISIONweek challenge!

We can’t wait to revise with you September 30-October 6, 2021!

Read more about our challenge here: https://laurenkerstein.net/%23revisionweek.

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren, Joana, Katie, Michal, Lynne, and Shannon

P.S. If you aren’t receiving the emails, but you are signed up for my blog, you can take the following steps:

  • Sign into WordPress.
  • Go to your “reader.”
  • Look at the settings for my site (Insight and Inspiration).
  • Click on settings to see if you have the “email me new posts” setting enabled.
    That should enable you to receive emails.


Welcome to our 2nd #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of the year! HOORAY!

Pull out a manuscript (or two) and get ready to PACK YOUR PAGE SPREADS!

When we ensure that each page spread is as strong as possible, we craft manuscripts that are satisfying and riveting. You can use the following pinwheel as a guide:

As the pinwheel shows, you can check to see that each page spread has the following components as you revise:

⬜ Visual Language/Illustrator Bait

⬜ Increasing Tension

⬜ If Appropriate to Your Manuscript’s Structure: Escalating Attempts

⬜ Movement and/or Scene Change

⬜ Details That Move the Narrative Arc Forward

⬜ Lyrical Language Devices (Like Consonance, Assonance, the Rule of Three, etc)

⬜ Slowed Pacing as Necessary

⬜ Faster Pacing as Necessary

⬜ A Satisfying Page Turn That Leads the Reader Into the Next Spread

I hope this helps you pack each page with rich, detailed, and intriguing tidbits that:

move your narrative arc forward,

highlight your character’s rich personality,

support smooth pacing,

hone in on your emotional arc,

and craft a manuscript that knocks agents’ and editors’ socks off!

And now for prizes:

If you spend time revising today (any amount of time will do), you can enter the Rafflecopter to win one of these fabulous prizes!

myfreebingocards.com - bingo card generator

You will have until Sunday, the 11th to enter so don’t delay! Winners will be announced on Monday, April 12th.

Happy Revising Everyone!

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren, Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon

Quick-Read Crafty Tips: Plotsing, Plotzing, and Planting Seeds

One of the questions we are often asked as writers is whether we are pantsers or plotters.

men in black plan GIF by Men In Black: International

A pantser flies by the seat of their pants.

A plotter meticulously (or not so meticulously) plans out their manuscripts.

You can even take an online quiz to see who you are.

I never know how to answer this question because each manuscript demands a different, individualized approach. But at some point in the process, I need to both plot and pants my way through.

So, I’ve decided I’m a plotser. And no, I’m not referencing the Yiddish word, “plotz”, although I often want to plotz at some point during the writing process.

In my mind, a plotser is someone who falls in between flying by the seat of their pants and actively planning parts of the manuscript.

Anyone who has followed my Quick-Read Crafty Tips or who knows me, knows I LOVE spreadsheets, templates, and graphic organizers. Some might say I think in template, but I also love to see where characters might take me.

I love listening to characters.

I love the unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Pop Tv Alex GIF by One Day At A Time

I also know that at some point, no matter how I initially approached the manuscript, I have to go back to check that I’ve planted seeds for every twist, turn, and event. Otherwise, the events won’t feel organic and seamless.

The “planting seeds” concept struck me quite hard while on the elliptical yesterday. Let me explain…

In order to get my butt to the elliptical, I have shows that I’m only allowed to watch while working out. In the show I’m currently watching, the concept of seed planting leapt off the screen and into my brain. I decided to create a template (I know…shocking!) in order to track the plot twists and subsequent seeds I need to plant.

Here are some examples (I’m not mentioning the name of the TV show so that I don’t spoil it for anyone):

Do you want to try this too? You can find a complete blank template at: https://laurenkerstein.net/critiques%2Ftemplates.

Whether you are a plotter, pantser, plotser, or a plotzer , I hope this chart helps you plant the seeds you need to make your plot twists smooth and organic!

Feel. Write. Risk.


Quick-Read Crafty Tips: Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is real. It’s real for pre-published writers. It’s real for published writers. It’s real for prolific writers.

But in the words of Florence + the Machine, “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that shaking off Imposter Syndrome isn’t as easy as it sounds.

And yet, it is so darn hard to write with Imposter Syndrome on your back.

What if instead of working against Imposter Syndrome, we find a way to work with it?

Believe Good Vibes GIF by Amanda Cee Media

Here are a few strategies to try:

I HEAR YOU: Okay, Imposter Syndrome. I’m not hiding from you anymore. I hear you.

Listen See You GIF by Awkward Daytime TV

You don’t think I’ve got what it takes? You don’t think I’m a real writer? Well, here are three writing tasks I’m going to do today to prove you wrong:

  • Read mentor texts and look for words I love.
  • Open a manuscript I haven’t looked at in a while and write notes about three ways to improve it.
  • Read an article about craft and write down something new I want to try.

TAKE THAT, Imposter Syndrome!

BORROW YOUR ENERGY: Hey Imposter Syndrome, you sure use a lot of energy yapping negative thoughts in my ears. I’m going to borrow that energy and turn it into something useful.

take a ride on my energy GIF

I’m going to:

  • Set a 15-minute timer and cull through a manuscript for words that I can strengthen.
  • Create a new character (or revisit an old character) and write out all of the expressions they might use.
  • Critique someone else’s work to help them on their journey.

BOOM! See! I’ve got this, Imposter Syndrome!

NEW DEFINITION: I realized something, Imposter Syndrome. In order for you to have power, I have to believe your definition of what a writer is. Well, I’m here to tell you that I have my own definition and I like it much better.

A real writer is someone who:

  • Puts words to paper, even if it isn’t every day and even if the words aren’t quite working yet.
  • Reads about craft.
  • Puts their butt in a chair (or stands at their desk) and attempts tasks to further their writing.

So take that, Imposter Syndrome! I hear you, I siphoned your energy, and I have my own definition of real writers.

You’re welcome to float around, if you must, but I refuse to give you power!

Dog Swimming GIF by The Dodo

Bye bye, Imposter Syndrome. I’ve got to go.

I have lots of writing to do!

We Can Do It Women GIF by buzzfeedladylike

Feel. Write. Risk.


Quick-Read Crafty Tips: Temperament and Character Development, a Book Birthday, AND #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day Prize Winners! Oh My!

Rather than flooding your inbox, I’m sending out one blog post chock-full of important information, helpful writing tips, and an exciting #BookBirthday announcement! Hold onto your hats…


HOME FOR A WHILE is moving into bookshelves TOMORROW! I’m ecstatic to see this book make its way into the world! Click the cover for a sneak peek!

HOME FOR A WHILE is a book from my therapist’s heart! I wanted ALL of the children with whom I worked to see themselves in the pages of a book. I wanted to create a book that offered hope, positive emotion regulation strategies, and showed the impact we can have on others when we see their strengths.

It is tricky to create compelling characters, especially when we want to be realistic and hopeful at the same time. Here is a Quick-Read Crafty Tip to help you with this process..

In their book, Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions, Pat Harvey and Jeanine A. Penzo talk about the way temperament impacts children’s reactions (and adult reactions for that matter). This is one of the best books I’ve ever read as a parent and as a therapist. Their insight about children’s reactions are applicable to real life and to writing. They can help us sort out our characters and develop them more fully.

Here are a few examples of the way temperament might impact reactions (as adapted from Harvey and Penzo). Let’s think about a child who falls off a bike:

Child A: Initial Reaction: Gets up, brushes themselves off, gets back on the bike

Delayed Reaction: Talks to caregivers about what happened

Child C: Initial Reaction: Gets up, kicks bike, walks away, head down

Delayed Reaction: Doesn’t want to talk about what happened, might yell or “act out”

Child E: Initial Reaction: Cries, runs around screaming for help, refuses to get back on the bike

Delayed Reaction: Very difficult to soothe, cries inconsolably, angry at caregivers, but can’t explain why, might react in a “behavioral” way

This paradigm has not only helped me as a parent and clinician, it has also helped me as a writer. Who is your character? How do they react to adversity? How do they react to attempts to be comforted? What is their initial reaction? Delayed reaction?

These questions acted as a guide when I wrote about Calvin. He leans more toward the Child C temperament. His negative thoughts and feelings impact and fuel his actions. He doesn’t want to talk about what happens. His emotions are so intense at first, that he can’t access Maggie’s support.

He tries to calm his body, but his emotions get the better of him.

Art by Natalia Moore

With patience, persistence, and positive strategies, Calvin is able to calm his emotions and accept Maggie’s concern and caring. Calvin is able to tackle his emotions like a superhero!

Art by Natalia Moore

Thinking about Calvin’s temperament helped me make each scene more authentic, believable, and resonant. I hope this tool will help you develop your characters. What role will temperament play in your character’s narrative and emotional arcs?

And now, for the celebration…

I hope you’ll join Natalia Moore and me as we celebrate Calvin finding his home for a while on Sunday, February 7th at 2:00 pm MST. You can RSVP by clicking on the link below, or by emailing Lauren Casey (see email below). The event is free, but you must RSVP to attend. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-launch-with-lauren-kerstein-and-natalia-moore-tickets-136506601921?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch

And finally, here are the prize winners from our first #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of 2021. Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, Shannon, and I had a blast revising with everyone! We can’t wait to see you for our next #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day on April 7th, and our full #ReVISIONweek September 30th-October 6th!

Congratulations to all! We will email you regarding your prizes.

I hope you have a wonderful, productive, creative week!

Feel. Write. Risk.




I have such an exciting announcement for you!

This April, I am hosting a month-long celebration of independent bookstores, just in time for Independent Bookstore Day on April 24, 2021. Each #BookBirthday Tuesday, I will post a collection of book wisdom from booksellers around the country.

(Art by the extremely talented, Lily Williams. Check out her fabulous books!)

If you have a bookseller you love, please share this post with them on social media or via email! I’d be thrilled to feature them! And if you’re a bookseller and you’re interested in participating, please fill out this Google Form by March 15th. I’d LOVE to include you in the celebration!

Here’s a sample of the fun to come from Second Star Books to the Right!

(Thank you, Dea Lavoie, for this wonderful wisdom!)

AWESOME, right?!

I hope you’ll join me in April for bookseller wisdom and a sneak peek at the amazing independent bookstores that enrich our lives.

Here are a few of my local favorite bookstores:

And…don’t forget to BUY books from your local bookstores. Books change the world!

Feel. Write. Risk.


(P.S. Natalia Moore and I are hosting a Book Launch Party with Second Star to the Right for our new book HOME FOR A WHILE (Magination Press). We hope you’ll join us on February 7th at 2:00 pm MST!)

P.S.S. Please join me at another one of our fabulous local Indies, BookBar Denver, for a virtual storytime on February 11th at 4:30 pm MST.

2021 #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #1: What Type of Re-VISION-ary Will You Be Today?

Hello #ReVISIONweekers!

We are SO excited for our first #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of the year!

For a change of pace, we thought we’d share a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure. These videos are chock-full of revision tips to help you on your journey.

What type of ReVISION-ary will you be today?

Are you going to be a:

  • Word-count cutter?
  • Visual-scene star?
  • Critique culler?
  • Make-each-word-count critiquer?
  • Hone-in-on-your-humor hotshot?
  • Narrative-arc checker?
  • Emotional-arc polisher?
  • Critique-partner commenter?
  • Musical revisionist?

There are so many options! Check out these short videos to learn more about each approach.

But most importantly:

Be true to yourself.

Revise from the heart.

And trust the process.

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

And now, let’s talk about prizes. As long as you revise today or tomorrow (even if it is just for a moment), you can enter to win a prize. Here’s how…

Visit: https://laurenkerstein.net/%23revisionweek on Friday to enter the Rafflecopter. You will have one week to enter. The Rafflecopter will shut down on Friday, January 29th at 12:00 am MST.

Winners will be announced on Monday, February 1st.

Here are the fabulous prizes:

May you have a day filled with revision magic!

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren, Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon

P.S. I hope you’ll join Natalia Moore and me as we launch our latest book, HOME FOR A WHILE into the world on February 7th at 2:00 PM (MST). You can email Lauren Casey (address below) or visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-launch-with-lauren-kerstein-and-natalia-moore-tickets-136506601921

Quick-Read Crafty Tips: 2021 #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #1

Do you hear that sound?

No, it’s not Rosie and Charlie playing superheroes.


It’s not Calvin clunking up the steps of another new house.


And it’s not Lillybelle refusing to be in distress.


Do you hear that sound?

It’s the sound of people cheering as they gear up for our first #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of 2021!


Moldilocks is sipping and slurping tea as she prepares.


U is jumping high with excitement because…


On January 20th, we’ll immerse ourselves in revision magic! Please add your name to the comments below if you’d like to join us. Don’t forget to make sure you’re following Lauren’s blog. And as a special treat for this month’s Tune-Up Day, we’ll share two short videos that are chock-full of revision tips!

As always, we’ll have PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES just for participating. If you spend at least a few minutes thinking about revisions, you can enter to win.

Chewie thinks best when playing ball. What helps you think best?


Tabitha and Fritz have a purrfect idea. They’re trading places for a change of scenery. Surely that will help their creativity.


So, don’t delay.

Capture your creative spark.

Make some noise!

Spread the word!

And rev your revision engines because #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #1 is about to begin!

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren, Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon

(P.S. Please join Lauren Kerstein and Natalia Moore on February 7th at 2:00 pm (MST) as they help Calvin find his home for a while with storytime, an art demonstration, and a video about the journey of a picture book!