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  • Writer's pictureManju Howard

Lynne Marie Shares Her New Picture Book and Insights as a Literary Agent Mentee

As another school year begins, this is the perfect time to feature author Lynne Marie. I love her series about a kindergarten hedgehog. Her latest picture book, The Palace Rat was illustrated by Eva Santana, published by Yeehoo Press and released on September 5th.

Kidlit Creatives Members: Lynne Marie is offering one Rate Your Story (RYS) contest entry. Enter for this special prize by following the directions below this post.

First, I want to share illustrator Eva Santana’s playful cover art!

About the Book: Henri is a palace rat living as the pampered pet of King Louis the XVI! He’s waited on paw and foot . . . but not everybody is happy about it. When a dastardly plan by the royal staff casts Henri out to the streets, he must find his own way safely home. Country mice take Henri in and kindly show him their ways of living. To survive, Henri will eat field strawberries, fashion new clothes out of rags to match the latest Parisian styles, and sleep on grass nests, dreaming of his return to the palace.

In no time, Henri will become a popular figure, spinning rich and colorful tales of palace life for growing audiences. Yet every great tale must have a happy ending . . . and when the time comes for Henri to determine how his own story will conclude, will he choose to stay with his new friends on the street or return to his regal life of comfort?

Manju: Hi Lynne! Congratulations on your new picture book, The Palace Rat. Please share what inspired you to write this story.

Lynne: As writers, we should always be thinking and questioning the world around us. So when a rat raced across the courtyard at the Palace of Versailles in France, I immediately thought: What if that rat is a descendant of a rat alive during the French Revolution (a period of history I am interested in)? Then, I wondered what if the ancestor rat was the pet of King Louis? Then, what if the ancestor rat was pampered and the Queen (and others) were jealous? I also thought about how the rat I saw would have then obviously been displaced from its former family status - a life of luxury. And basically, those idea seeds are all I needed to start the story. I hope readers will read the story and see how it all came together! It was a fun story to write!

Manju: Do you have more input in the publishing process at this stage in your career?

Lynne: This would largely depend on the publisher AND situation to situation, so has varied from book to book. For my first two books with Scholastic, I had no say in anything but the editor was very accommodating as far as my naming more secondary characters, which is unusual. For my third book, The Star in the Christmas Play with Beaming Books (illustrated by Lorna Hussey), they asked for my input regarding the illustrator and hired my recommendation. For my fourth book, Moldilocks and the Three Scares, they again asked for input on an illustrator. One of my choices was not available, so they went with the other one and thankfully, David Rodriguez Lorenzo was available! They also let me review sketches and recommend tweaks.

For The Palace Rat, I had actually recommended an illustrator and was told that the publisher wanted to go in a different direction. And they did ask for some ideas on how to portray “the meanwhile(s)…” I only got to see the finished product and make suggestions. For my latest book, BroomMates (The Little Press 2024), my co-author Brenda Reeves Sturgis and I were shown character sketches and were allowed to share our thoughts and revisions were made. I have more books and more examples to share, but I think this pretty much sums up different levels of involvement in the process.

Manju: I'm excited about your new path as the Seymour Agency Mentee. What skills do you bring to agenting?

Lynne: Since I went back to school and studied Children’s Literature, I have a solid foundation. But that is not all - I spent years studying / practicing / honing my craft through courses The New School in NYC, attendance at Long Island Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator (now LI-SCBWI) meetings, SCBWI Conferences (on bi-National, multi-state and international levels), being a paid book reviewer and writing for literary journals, and more! Of course, I was active in critique groups and got all the paid critiques I could afford. I truly invested in myself and my career and it paid off in getting multiple picture books published. This, of course, bolstered my knowledge and experience. And to add another facet, I self-published a book - The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project - in order to gain insight into independent publishing as well.

But that is not all , I run a successful paid critique and Mentoring Service ( since 2011 and am the Owner/Director of Rate Your Story ( since 2020. I have been an Editor and Agent Spotlight Feature Columnist at Children’s Book Insider since 2016 and Cybils Judge since 2017.

I am also a former intern for a NYC Literary Agency and a former Editor for a small publisher. So I have many years of experience in editing and fostering books to a successful offer.

Manju: What skills are you developing as an agent mentee?

Lynne: I have discovered that my experiences have primed me well for being an Agent and that I am in the right place. But what I am learning is to be more selective about the books I invest my time and energy into. It has to be a book I love AND a book I believe I can sell. And then there’s the component that it not only needs to be a book I can sell, but an author that I believe I can work with and have a respectful relationship with. My experience as a mentee has confirmed that the kidlit market is a difficult place right now – with a lot of issues and changes on all levels. The bottom line is that a book needs to sell and to sell well. And I am really seeing how important it is to have a high-concept book that’s fresh and new and has selling hooks. And an author who is willing to work to sell their books. While many of the things I had learned previously, I am seeing it in practice and can better convey these thoughts to writers. But of course, there is much more – the experience has been an educating and enlightening one and has ignited my passion to be a fairy godmother to future published books by making a match to a publisher!

Manju: When you become a junior agent, will your focus be on representing picture book writers?

Lynne: It is my goal to represent primarily picture book and board book authors (both fiction and non-fiction) - as that is my strong suit, as well as select middle grade and young adult authors, and illustrators. However, the authors will have to be aware and understand that I am an established author who is also writing and selling in the market and be absolutely okay with that.

Thanks very much, Lynne Marie!

Lynne Marie is the 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 -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022), American Pie (Mac and Cheese Press 2023), The Palace Rat (Yeehoo Press 2023) and more forthcoming.

She’s also the Owner and Director of and The Picture Book Mechanic, a Children's Book Insider Editor, a co-host over at, a Cybils Judge, and a Travel Agent. She lives in the heart of Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and a Chihuahua named Marlowe.

Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency.

Visit her at

Prize offer: Lynne Marie is offering one Rate Your Story (RYS) contest entry. For your chance to win, leave a comment on our Kidlit Creatives page (must be a member) and share this interview on your social media.

Deadline to enter is Thursday, September 7th.

All posts on Manju's blog promote members of Kidlit Creatives: Create, Query & Support

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