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Summer's First #FirstDraftFriday

It's summer!!! A wonderful time to kick back, relax, and...WRITE! OK, so maybe the writing sometimes takes a backseat to fun in the sun. All the more reason to seize the day (that would be today) and knock out a new draft before the summer shenanigans shift into high gear. #FirstDraftFriday is here with guest author Adria Karlsson to help you do just that!

Cover of My Sister, Daisy

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

Adria’s debut picture book, MY SISTER, DAISY, illustrated by Linus Curci and published by Capstone, will be out on Sept. 1!

To pre-order, visit:

Let's learn a little about MY SISTER, DAISY and what inspired Adria to sit down and write the first draft of it?

MY SISTER, DAISY arose out of a need for a book for my kids that featured a confident transgender kid in an accepting family and community. My daughter had socially transitioned six months earlier and we had picked up and read every picture book we could find that featured transgender kids or diverse gender representations. There were so many good ones! But there weren’t any that reflected our experience. My daughter hadn’t faced pushback from her family or peers, but we still had questions about what this meant “in real life” – in particular, her older brother was concerned that this meant she had changed. DAISY is the answer to his questions, and our questions as parents – for a family that is accepting and proud of their transgender kid but isn’t sure what that means will change.

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

Adria Karlsson

The process was very messy. I hadn’t ever written a picture book before and my fifth child was about three months old when DAISY came into existence. Our household was in a fair amount of chaos and upheaval, I was exhausted, and we were doing what we could to stumble along. But part of that was that I loved to take baths. All on my own with no kids around: time to zone out and stare at my phone. That very first draft of MY SISTER, DAISY was typed up in the notepad app on my phone while lying in a bathtub. Definitely not a professional moment!

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

Even though that first draft was rough and unplanned, I knew it had something. A spark. I took a deep breath and shared it with a few friends. They were very encouraging and I ended up hiring a local editor to help me shine it up. She was phenomenal – helped me nix three extra siblings that didn’t need to be there, figure out what the story was really about, and strengthen what I was trying to say. When I queried Naomi Davis with it, she immediately understood my book and must have seen something to my writing that she liked because it was barely two weeks between starting to query and her signing me! Within a month, the book had gone to auction and been acquired by Capstone. They’ve been so supportive of my book, my voice, and found a fabulous illustrator. Linus Curci’s illustrations completed the story and made DAISY into all I could have ever dreamed.

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

I think it’s safe to say that DAISY was the result of being a pantser at heart! That being said, I had been turning it over in my head for months before I wrote it. Since DAISY was acquired I have pivoted my career and am dedicating most of my time to writing and figuring out what I did right with MY SISTER, DAISY! In the process I’ve learned a lot more about plotting and have leaned into it for some ideas.

Do you ever find yourself putting off drafting a story?

Frequently! I don’t like to write when I don’t know what words to start with. I’m getting better at jotting any ideas I stumble over down in a journal or a blank document so I don’t forget them, but I like to have a really good starting sentence before I dive into writing.

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

The hardest part is figuring out the POINT of the story! I have so many ideas and half-baked concepts and funny images that catch my eye and want to be stories, but I can’t do much with them until I figure out why that story needs to be written and what it wants to say. I deal with it by writing lots of ideas that never see the light of day. But hopefully one day, those ideas will find their hook and a story arc will emerge, and I will write them into actual stories!

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

Write it. All these ideas without stories are at least written. I know what I like about them, even if I don’t know where they’re going yet. If they weren’t written down, it would be easy to talk myself out of ever continuing to consider them because my brain likes to immediately dive into all the reasons they aren’t actually good ideas. Once they’re on paper, I can tell that part of my brain to shush and focus on thinking the story through because it’s no longer just floating around inside my gray matter.

Time to pick an idea out of that brain of yours and get writing because #FirstDraftFriday has officially begun!

To enter for a chance at a free critique of a picture book manuscript (1000 words or less) from Adria, you must do the following by 8 pm ET today (July 2, 2021):

  1. Follow both me and Adria on Twitter: @HollieWolverton and @AdriaKarlsson

  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 writing!

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Patricia Franz
Patricia Franz
Jul 02, 2021


DONE! Turned out my "PB&J" story spark turned into "Be Careful What You Wish For" -- including tantrums and fairy godmothers! Go me!


Jul 02, 2021


I have finished a picture book about a non-binary kindergarten class pet.


Jul 02, 2021

Done! It's a story inspired by our stay at Pirate's Wharf -- an Air BnB in coastal NC! Getting my pirate on for this one! @tonnyef


Marilyn Wolpin
Marilyn Wolpin
Jul 02, 2021

I have written the first draft of a story that's been knocking around the grey matter since the first time I saw it in the newspaper a year ago. Now I have to figure out why it's a story that should be published. Anyway. This wasn't the one I meant to write; I had actually started another one but this one got in the way! @MNW51


What an amazing story behind your first book. Congratulations!

And I have a draft completed - and the main character is also named Daisy. @claire_noland

Jul 06, 2021
Replying to

Thanks! It really is a beautiful name. :)

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