NAPIBOWRIWEE DAY 5 – Meet Literary Agent Tricia Lawrence!

Feeling burned out from NAPIBOWRIWEE? Don't panic! Keep Calm and Write On!
Feeling burned out from NAPIBOWRIWEE? Don’t panic! Keep Calm and Write On!


Congratulations! You made it through Hump Day #4! Now we’re in the home stretch – we can see the finish line! Day 7 is just around the corner!

I have read everyone’s comments and will try to post some replies soon. My Day 4 was a little hectic with some meetings and getting stuck in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. In fact, I would like to blame LA Rush Hour Traffic for preventing me from getting BOOK NO. 4 done. BUT… as I always say… SILVER LINING…

… so as you know, I also write for TV. May is known as our “Staffing Season” where the networks finalize their decisions by mid-May for what new shows and returning shows will make up their fall schedule. As a result, us TV writers get calls at the last minute for job interviews known as “meetings.” It’s a lot of scrambling and last-minute preparation. I’ve gotten calls while at the bank or shopping at the grocery store with the “Can you go to this meeting at 4 PM today?” LOL! 🙂 It’s exciting but also very stressful. So today, I had some meetings to attend and got stuck in LA traffic. Which led to a cranky Paula getting home late and not having enough time to work on Book No. 4.

BUT SILVER LINING… as Cranky Paula looked over her hastily jotted down music idea, she suddenly had an inspiration and went a-Googling. And lo and behold, her picture book took a left turn and became BETTER because her original idea inspired a BETTER idea. A fun young picture book but with a non-fiction element! Basically, I wanted to write another orchestra book as an alphabet book because when I get desperate, I do alphabet books. LOL! 🙂 But when I wrote down the list of instruments, one particular instrument stood out to me. I started researching it and came across some fun facts that made me realize – this instrument needed its own solo book! Hence my System Reboot 2.0 of Book No. 4! 🙂

But it was too late in the day and Cranky Paula was also super exhausted. But I decided to stockpile Book No. 4 and work on it for DAY 5 because I have a less hectic day and can schedule my writing time better. So stay tuned. Can I do 2 books today or not? Will I be scrambling until the end? Probably. Will I make to Book 7? I’m not so sure. But I’m going to try. 🙂 So for those of you who have fallen behind… DO NOT DESPAIR! THE CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF NAPIBOWRIWEE IS ALSO BEHIND! SO YOU ARE IN GOOD COMPANY! LOL! 🙂


(NOTE: Special thanks to NAPIBOWRIWEE “Writing Warrior” Michele Blood for creating the above Leonardo Di Caprio meme and allowing me to borrow it! 🙂 LOL!)

So my WRITING TIP OF THE DAY: If you can’t finish a book today, ask yourself – is there a better book idea that can be inspired from your original idea? Maybe it’s not quite ready to be taken out of the oven. Think about how you can re-work this idea. Think of it as a System Reboot Book 2.0. 🙂

Now onto our DAY 5 Guest… please meet the amazing literary agent TRICIA LAWRENCE of the ERIN MURPHY LITERARY AGENCY! Tricia wears many hats – from writing picture books herself to being a business owner/entrepreneur and of course as a literary agent. She was gracious enough to take time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few industry questions for everyone.

In addition, Tricia’s clients, authors JILL ESBAUM and PENNY PARKER KLOSTERMANN will be featured Q&A guests for tomorrow’s blog (posting May 6, 2016 at 9 AM EST/6AM PST)!

Without further ado, let us meet Terrific Awesome Tricia! 🙂

Meet literary agent Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency!



“Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency — born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 20 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids books to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

“As agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

“Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.”


Q: What drew you into the book business?

A: I was a voracious reader when I was very young. I read Reader’s Digest magazines when I was 8, which was like my gateway drug. I started hardcore reading (Brontes, Dickens) when I was 11 or 12. Books were magical. They took me to other places. I used my reading to stage-direct huge dress up parties in our backyard: we were Laura Ingalls Wilder, playing house, or we were in Narnia, mixing leaves and mud together to make Turkish Delight. If we weren’t reading, we were outside. That was my childhood.

Q: What were some books that inspired you to get involved in the publishing industry?

A: My first books that made me realize I was more drawn to kid lit than adult were Sherman Alexie’s DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, the FROG AND TOAD series, and Mo Willems DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. I admire those books so much. Along with the books I read as a child, they are the books I think of as the standard for what I want to represent.

Q: What are your favorite children’s books, and why?

A: I adore Jon Klassen’s I WANT MY HAT BACK for its dark edges and its simplicity, Stephanie Roth Sisson’s STAR STUFF for its dreamability (I made up a word!) and lovely biographical slice of life, and STARS by Mary Lyn Ray, helping children be inspired by the world around us. I also adore THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann, because it makes me giggle every time I read it.

Q: The children’s book world is become more and more competitive.  What is the most important piece of advice you feel an aspiring writer must know in order to succeed? (And anything specific for picture book writers)?

A: Aspiring writers (especially PB writers) must know that writing is revising. You are not going to write just one manuscript and get famous and rich and your first manuscript is probably not the book that will be published first. Keep writing. Fail often (and I mean, write a manuscript that doesn’t work) and then figure out why. Self-awareness is so important. Knowing when you feel the plot works or the voice works and when you feel the character falls flat or the plot feels like it goes off on a tangent. It takes time to learn this too. Don’t fret if it feels like you’re not moving fast enough. This is key to becoming a successful writer (of one or many books!).

Q: Do you have any agent/editor pet peeves?

A: When authors are in a hurry and don’t grasp just how slowly our industry works. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, there will be times it will go fast (usually it’s hurry up and wait) and yet I’d like to see expectations set for a slow build—set a writing practice, read lots of published picture books (hundreds of them is my advice), hang out with other aspiring writers who are serious and really trying to improve, be accountable, learn about the industry, write notes of appreciation to authors you admire, ask for favors rarely, give in as many ways as you can, care for kids, be advocates for them and celebrate your progress. Remember that the agents/editors you are approaching have hundreds of people vying for their attention and that being professional and even patient if necessary helps you to stand out.

Q: There’s been a growing demand for more diversity in children’s book publishing. What are your thoughts on that, if any?

A: It is VITAL. We are slowing killing ourselves when we demand that everyone be just like us or think just like us. We are dying on the vine still. If we don’t reach for stories from underrepresented groups, we are simply recycling the same lie—that everyone is just like us and thinks just like us. I applaud WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS for their work here, and every day I recommit myself as a publishing professional to do what I can. If I can be that ally to a writer who needs to be heard, that’s my part. But that’s not just my job; it’s everyone’s job. If you want to be part of a diverse industry, then what can you commit to every day to become an ally? Can you help critique a story that should be seen by agents and the writer needs help? Can you give a writer who couldn’t make it to a conference your opportunity to pitch to an editor/agent? If you’re being asked about diversity at your job and there is someone else who could speak to it with more experience, are you handing the microphone over? It’s not hard to do our part. We just have to be willing to do it.

Q: There’s been increasing pressure for writers to be active on social media. Are you on social media? If so, where can people reach you? Has social media helped your agent/editing journey and career? Any advice for writers/clients who might feel overwhelmed by the social media “burden”?

A: I am on social media and it’s so much fun. The community of kid lit publishing is wonderful and supportive and thought-provoking. You can find me at @authorblogger on Twitter and on the web at Social media has been amazingly helpful to meet people, and to build friendships and relationships with other publishing professionals and authors. If you’re overwhelmed, start small and slow. Start with ONE social media tool (say, Twitter) and start reaching out. Don’t join them all in one day and try to do everything at once. Limit your social media time to a morning session and an afternoon session. Think about what you’re sharing on social media. Is it relevant to what you want, i.e., to be a writer? It is helpful? What do you have to share? If you write nonfiction for kids, what’s showing up in your research that’s interesting? If you write fiction, what are you learning about plot or characters? Or what articles outside of writing are you reading each day? Find an interesting topic and focus on that. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. Stick to what truly interests you and be interesting. Be gracious. Be upbeat and positive. Be passionate. Be YOU.


Thank you again, Tricia, for your valuable advice for our writers! Tricia is a social media expert, by the way, so really take her social media advice to heart. Social media has become such a huge part of a writer’s career – even writers who have not even published yet! – because there is so much pressure to “brand” yourself in our increasingly competitive industry… and it’s okay if you want to focus on your writing instead. As Tricia says… “Be YOU.” 🙂 So thank you Tricia, for all your wonderful insights.

Well, I’m off to write. On deadline for my job, hoping to post a few replies to everyone’s comments as I play catch-up, and now I have TWO books to write today. Oh the suspense!

Good luck on DAY 5! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog posting May 6th at 9 AM EST/6 AM PST with our guest authors JILL ESBAUM and PENNY PARKER KLOSTERMANN! Until then… as always, HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂


  1. @PaulaYoo – you’ve totally got this. You can crank out two today, and if you don’t you can definitely catch up by day 7. I’m certain of it!
    Great interview with @AuthorBlogger. I especially appreciated the Dory-esque advice to JUST KEEP WRITING. Part of learning what to do is learning what *not* to do. Knowing what elements make a PB FLOP is as important as knowing what makes them FLY.

  2. Paula, I hope “May 4th” was with you during your “meeting.” And an orchestra alphabet book ‘sounds’ like a perfect PB.

    Tricia, Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Your advice reminds me of one of my favorite quotes – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

  3. Thanks for the daily dose of inspiration, Paula! Your “meetings” this time of year sound super exciting and super nerve wracking!

    Tricia, thank you for sharing your expertise. And thank you for reminding us not to fret if we’re not moving quickly enough. Patience and perseverance are key!

  4. Hi Tricia – thanks for this very informative post. I loved hearing about your childhood….reading or being outside sounds fabulous (so much room for creativity to emerge instead of the typical over-scheduling of our kids today – that I too am guilty of!). I also appreciate your advice to be gracious, upbeat and positive, passionate, and yourself!

  5. I SO enjoy reading your posts, Paula. Your humorous yet heartfelt writing starts my day with a genuinely sparked smile, motivation fuel and nuggets of inspiration. Of course you can write two today! And… if not, there’s always tomorrow. This interview was helpful in many ways. From the excellent advice regarding exploring why a draft doesn’t work to the reminder that “writing is revising.” Thank you! I wrote #4 yesterday and it is definitely a “writing is revising” draft. I’m off to write #5 today. We shall see what emerges from my rather cluttered brain in and around all of my work commitments.

  6. Tricia-being patient, self-aware and tenacious are the traits often overlooked on the quest to publishing. Always good to have reminders to keep on the right path. Thank you for sharing your insight with us.

    Paula-Michelle Blood said it best “You’ve totally got this!”

  7. Fabulous stuff – and reminders I need DESPERATELY. Thanks so much – now off to work on my PB for today, which I just got the idea for as I sat on my porch to get busy!! 😀

  8. I’ll have to double check that I am following Tricia on Twitter – those are great tips!

    This almost NEVER happens but I woke up at 5:11 AM with an idea on how to revise my Day 4 draft. A gift! I think it is directly attributable to devoting these 7 full days to writing, writing, writing. So thank you Paula! May you all experience unexpected story inspiration as well.

  9. Arin Wensley
    Thank you Tricia for your advice to keep on plugging away and revising our writing. Thank you!

  10. Thanks Tricia – I’m going to look at my pile of manuscripts that don’t work and start to figure out why instead of just fretting about them.

  11. Writing is revising! It is a mantra here, and one I will continue to chant next week after I’ve forced out all these drafts! Thank you so much for the continued inspiration and for building this community.

  12. Tricia – I am all for writing manuscripts that don’t work, and then trying to figure out why they don’t. In fact, I just wrote another today that fits the bill; WHOO HOO — more opportunity to learn! (somehow this day of NaPiBoWriWee felt like hump day even though it was day 5, not day 4.)
    It all somehow feels akin to that whole “kissing a lot of frogs…” idea, though they left out the part about how, after you kiss each frog, it’s good to stop and try to figure out what you did and didn’t like about the last kiss before you move on to the next frog.
    Thanks for the post.

    And Paula, I keep forgetting: please add me to the list as being available for (and interested in) Jodell Sadler’s class. Thanks!!

  13. Paula – yes! about the writing and discovering there’s a better idea hiding inside. That happened yesterday. And Tricia – thank you for the words of encouragement.

  14. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon…one that takes years and lots of tears. But well worth it! Thanks so much for this great interview. And Paula, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve generated more ideas than stories this week (so far). Just what I needed to get back in the swing of things.

  15. Great advice from both Tricia and Paula! Thanks so much.
    I’m still in this thing and I’m so glad. Days 4 and 5 have been harder and slower but it feels good to write.
    Good luck to all– we’re in the homestretch!

  16. Hi, everyone! Thanks for the lovely comments! Keep writing! Thanks to Paula for such a wonderful week of inspiration.


  17. I’ve managed to write my fourth draft this week–and all four don’t quite work yet! But I’ve got something(s) to work with now! Thank you for the motivation to keep writing!

  18. Thanks Tricia. I love your idea about learning one social media thing at a time.
    Trying to do everything at once is like wearing 2 pair of new dress shoes at one time:)

    Paula, congratulations on those meeting—job interviews. I am happy for you and jealous at the time. You’re the bomb! Does that statement age me??? LOL

    • LOL Da Bomb is timeless slang. 🙂 Hugs and thank you! LOL re: the two new shoe pairs on at the same time! 🙂

  19. I am totally with you on the whole idea sprouting from an idea thing! Lately all of my ideas for PB’s are coming from short stories I have written; I’m just more in tune with how to take them from adult to child. Thanks for your honesty 🙂

  20. Thank you Paula for your sense of humor and keeping it real! I have to crank out two stories too!

    Thanks Tricia for your inspiration— keep writing, it is revising. Keeping in mind it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Thanks for your advice on social media too.

  21. So, I have to admit… today’s blog was the first it occurred to me that the challenge is truly 7-in-7, not one-each-day-for-7!
    I *was* celebrating that I wrote #5 on my lunch break today, so I wouldn’t be cram-writing this evening, but now I dO feel a smidge guilty for not getting started on the next one. Still saving it for tomorrow, though. 🙂 Hopefully my energy is building like a grand crescendo!

  22. Tricia, thank you for the very helpful information and tips. I do love that I need to be me, not anyone else. Thank you! I love the other traits to adopt as well – patience, passion, graciousness, caring, positive. If we all do that, what a wonderful life!

  23. Thank you, Tricia, for your agent insights. I’m happy to post that Day 5, Draft 5 is complete. And the most promising of the week! (So far 🙂

  24. Hi, Trica: I enjoyed reading about someone who also made fun concoctions out of leaves and mud! OH, CHILDHOOD!!!!! I guess that’s why we write children’s literature, right!?!?!?!!!

    Paula: THANK YOU for your BEAUTIFUL honesty! To know our blog hostess isn’t right on target 100% of the time gives us all HOPE!!!! YOU ARE WONDERFUL and INSPIRATIONAL!!! THANK YOU!!!!

  25. SORRY! The above comment that reads: Elaine C. Tanner, should read Natalie Lynn Tanner instead.

  26. It seems to me that I am destined for an occupations where outsiders think it’s easy. And jobs where there is a lot of hurry up and wait; and requires immense amount of patiences… Oh well C’est La vi

    Today’s writing: it’s a draft…. A very rough draft. You can be assured a lot more hours will go into revising this one.

  27. Thanks, Paula, for the System Reboot advice. I have wasted hours trying to make this one ms work. Now I am really behind and more than a little discouraged. I’ll press on, though!

    Tricia, thanks for your insight. How funny about the Reader’s Digest! I used to read my mom’s– I must have been 7-8, too. My uncle still sends me a subscription to it:) I guess my 4 year old will be picking it up soon!

  28. Thank you, Paula, for creating this adventure in writing, and for being honest about your own journey, while encouraging us to keep going :-).
    Tricia, thank you for encouraging us to remember that revising is as much a part of the process as writing is, and perhaps the biggest part. Also, I appreciate that you asked, “Can you give a writer who couldn’t make it to a conference your opportunity to pitch to an editor/agent?” One thing that troubles/concerns me about the publishing industry as a whole, as I’ve had the privilege to pay to attend a few conferences now, is that there is a sense of “buying access,” if you will, when one attends events. I feel this expensive gateway makes it that much harder for certain voices to be heard. I love your suggestion. Do you have any tips on what this would look like? A writer who has attended a conference maybe posting to a Kid Lit group that someone could take her query opportunity that she earned by attending a conference? I’d love to know more. Thanks again :-).

  29. Paula, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who ends up dealing with a “System Reboot 2.0.” My muse has a terrible habit of taking a left turn right in the middle of a story and leading me down a totally different path.

    Excellent post, Tricia! Thank you for your advice to keep on plugging away and revising. I love what Michael Crichton said about revisions, “Books aren’t written — they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

    One thing you said struck home, “Fail often.” My motto in writing comes from Norman Vaughan, the chief dog driver on the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition in 1928-30 who said, “Dream Big and Dare to Fail!”

  30. Paula, I love the background information about the tv business and their “meetings.” It’s a whole other world to explore. I’m behind too and will give it a go to write two today. My schedule is more flexible.

    Trisha, your suggestions about helping diversity were spot on, easy and gave me some ideas. Thank you.

  31. Hey NaPiBoWriWee Writing Warriors! Just a quick comment on 5/6/16 to say I’m catching up on comments and loving what everyone wrote. Thank you for your kind words about my blogs and for your observations, progress reports, and very good questions for our guest authors! And LOL I’m glad my honest about not finishing on Day 4 inspired some of you not to give up either! 🙂 Thank you to our guest Tricia for your generosity and time. So happy everyone is getting a lot out this event! xo P.

  32. Sharon, I’ve had writers approach me at a conference and ask if they could give their ability to query me post-conference to another writer who couldn’t get to the conference. I readily agree every time. It’s got to be organic, so just look for opportunities, rather than trying to make them happen. You’d be amazed how many chances there are around us daily to be that ally. Thank you for being open to this! xoxo

  33. Paula, if only we could write while stuck in traffic… In addition to a System reboot, the wonderful thing about multiple drafts is that if one is being problematic, there are others you can revise and tweak until inspiration strikes. Love this challenge, thanks again for starting it.
    Tricia, I love the “write like you mean it” and “fail often” sentiments. If you’re failing, you’re trying. One of my favorite quotes is “Shoot for the moon, if you miss you still land among the stars.”

  34. Yay that your idea turned into an even better idea, Paula! I love hearing about your progress. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Tricia! I love your advice–especially to ‘be YOU’. There’s such a push for authors to sell their books through social media connections, I think they often forget to be themselves, get to actually know people, and share their journey.

  35. Thanks, Tricia, for the reminder that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So easy to forget sometimes! And I love your comments on the We Need Diverse Books campaign!