Former student Nell Beckerman had her first picture book published earlier this year. She says of the experience, “I took Writing Picture Books on a whim, but quickly got very inspired by the form. In the second-to-last class, the instructor assigned a writing exercise in class. That five-minute writing prompt (revised many times after class) helped me secure a literary agent and turned into my debut picture book, DOWN UNDER THE PIER, published by Cameron Kids and illustrated by Rachell Sumpter. Inspired by the Santa Monica Pier, the book celebrates the fun on top of the pier at the arcade and carousel, and down under the pier, at low tide, where the animals of the intertidal zone are revealed. I have since sold two other picture books that are in the process of being illustrated and will publish in 2022 and 2023.”
Of her experience in the Writers’ Program, Nell says, “Learning the art of picture book writing with instructors Michelle Markel and April Halprin Wayland was nothing short of life-changing. I learned craft, got encouragement, was pointed to a path to find professional success by joining SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), plus I connected with peers in class to form a supportive monthly writing group. Having an actual book in my hands with my name on the cover is a life dream come true. I am so grateful to UCLA Extension Writers’ Program that I have returned to April’s class to give back by sharing my experience and tools to succeed in picture book writing.”
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