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#FirstDraftFriday with Dane Liu

It's the last #FirstDraftFriday of 2021! Wrap the year up right by drafting a new picture today! Guest author Dane Liu is here to share the story of how her debut came to be and help you get writing!

Cover of My Sister, Daisy

BONUS! Dane is generously offering a manuscript critique as a prize for someone who completes a draft today! Details at the end of this post.

Dane Liu’s debut picture book, FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS, FOREVER, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield, will be out later this month from MacKids Books!

To pre-order a signed copy, visit:

Let's hear a little about FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS, FOREVER and what inspired Dane to sit down and write the first draft of it?

The story is about leaving home, making a new friend, celebrating the Lunar New Year, and finding home, again. It’s inspired by my life. When I was 11, my family and I moved to the U.S. from China. The transition was hard. Immigration is an experience of gains and losses. In the beginning, the losses can feel very pronounced. For me, that balance

shifted with time, and the idea of home, identity, and community became richer and more complex.

What was that process like? Any hiccups with getting the first draft done?

In 2018, We Need Diverse Books awarded me a mentorship with Jim Averbeck. Jim is an incredible teacher. We worked on several of my manuscripts. One day, I told him a childhood anecdote. “That’s a great story!” he said. I wrote it, and Jim helped me revise. The first draft was full of hiccups. I’ve grown to see first drafts as a mental deluge, getting ideas down on paper.

How did the manuscript change from that first draft to what it is today?

I knew the plot. Revision was the world building, refining characters, pacing, atmosphere. A book is a team sport (my family, critique partners, agent, editor, and illustrator). Everyone challenged and informed the story and sharpened its focus.

Are you a pantser or a plotter? And how does that affect your drafting of a story?

Both. For PBs, I pants more. For novels, I plot more.

Do you ever find yourself putting off drafting a story?

Not if I love the story.

What is the hardest part of drafting a story for you? And how do you deal with that?

I think the hardest part is also the most fun. It’s spending time with your characters to really “see” them and connect to their inner and outer worlds.

What are your tips and tricks for getting that first draft committed to the page?

Just write it. Expect it to be terrible. You’ll make it better!

Well, readers, I hope you're ready to "just write it" because #FirstDraftFriday has officially begun!

To enter for a chance at a free critique of a picture book manuscript (non-rhyming and less than 750 words) from Dane, you must do the following by 8 pm ET today (Dec. 3, 2021):

  1. Follow both me and Dane on Twitter: @HollieWolverton and @daneliuwrites

  2. Complete a full picture book draft

  3. Return to this blog post and comment that you’ve completed your draft and provide your Twitter handle. You will need to Sign Up/Log In to leave a comment (it’s easy - just an email and password). NOTE: You may get notifications as others leave comments (unfortunately, this is how Wix works), feel free to hit "unsubscribe" at the bottom of any notification you receive if they bother you! You will still be signed up for the giveaway.

You don’t need to send in your draft or provide proof - we’re all about the honor system here! The lucky winner will be randomly drawn from the comments and announced on Twitter shortly after 8 pm ET tonight.

Happy drafting!

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Dec 04, 2021

Done! My day didn't go as planned so I didn't think I was going to make it! But I did it! 12 for 12 this year!



Reed Hilton-Eddy
Reed Hilton-Eddy
Dec 04, 2021

DONE!!!! phew. That was a crawl to the finish. Thank you Hollie for keeping the momentum going. and to all these amazing authors sharing their wisdom through critiques. @reedandwriteki1


Dec 04, 2021

Better late than never. My Twitter handle is @msteinauthor


Unknown member
Dec 03, 2021

Thank you Hollie and Dane. I have been trying to join First Draft Fridays for months. Today I pulled it off! Wrote a draft and managed to circle back to post the news on the blog. Thank you again! Excited for you book Dane. Happy holidays everyone.

Unknown member
Dec 03, 2021
Replying to

oops - twitter is @SWildmanSF - see I was so excited I forgot - and I see Gennie the same - YAY!


I did it!!! I’ve been attempting to participate in #FirstDraftFriday ALL YEAR, and I finally did it!!

My Twitter handle is: @GennieGorback

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