• That Dreadful, Dreaded Blank Page

    Have you ever faced a blank page and wondered what to do? This unnerving experience can happen at the start of a new project or in the middle of a work-in-progress.

    You ask yourself, now what? Where do I go from here? No matter what you do you just can’t seem to concentrate. I’ve offered some ideas in previous blogs, but here are more strategies to unblock yourself and get back on track.

    (1) Clean out your file cabinet—sort, pitch, alphabetize. Catch up on filing. This is a time-honored activity that people other than writers have used for decades—some to avoid working and others to stimulate their thought processes. I find that spending ten or fifteen minutes looking through file folders is a good way to jump-start my writing day.

    (2) Sit in on a Read More

  • Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks Is Now An E-Book

    Shirley Raye and I are excited to annoucne that our workbook is now available in all e-book formats. The workbook has a fun, new cover as an e-book, but it offers the same essential information for those who dream of writing a children’s book.

    One of the most important factors in selling a manuscript is understanding the inside workings of the publishing business.

    • How can a writer know if an idea is marketable NOW? Read More
  • Now Read This–Aloud

    One of the things children’s book authors get asked to do quite frequently is to come to story hour at the library or to visit school classrooms. When doing so, many are usually asked to read their books aloud or portions of their books. If you’ve ever listened to an audio book, you know there’s an art to reading aloud. So, you’d better practice. As one author put it: “A well delivered reading leaves your audience something more precious and potent than a bookmark: a memory, a connection, a personal bond between readers and writer.”

    Here are a few tips to help you read your book to a captive audience— Read More

  • Weaving in Historical or Factual Data

    Last week I wrote about the writing sin of “info dumping.” An editor told me that writers commit it when they force historical or factual data into a scene in a way that doesn’t advance the plot. The same editor complimented some other scenes in the manuscript she critiqued for me. According to her, I wove in necessary information effectively in the following scene from my middle grade historical fiction based on the childhood of Audrey Hepburn.

    As the soldier lit a cigarette, he asked in German, “Do I make you afraid?”
    “Nein.” The boy shook his head, but like his two friends, he stared at his shoes. Read More

  • Don’t Be Guilty of “Information Dumping.”

    It’s often important to do research on certain places or time periods when we write fiction. But we need to use the information we gain effectively and not “dump” it on the reader. I learned this from an editor I had a session with at a conference. She critiqued a chapter from my manuscript—middle grade historical fiction based on the childhood of Audrey Hepburn. My research had yielded the names of popular books for girls in 1940. I knew Audrey loved reading, so I tried to work in some tidbits to show her relationship with a brother and add authentic details about the period. Read More

  • How to Write a Synopsis

    Worried about trying to write a synopsis of your middle grade or young adult novel?
    The most important thing to remember about a synopsis is—

    It should not be a summary of the whole novel. A synopsis should be a summary of your main character’s story and how he or she changes. The paramount thing is the Read More

  • Can’t Get ‘Em Out of My MInd

    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was one of the first novels that made a lasting impression on me. I read it when I was a fifth grader and thought the story of those four loveable sisters, living in genteel poverty during the American Civil War, was a great story. Their bittersweet experiences growing up, including sibling rivalry and the pangs of first love, were easy for me to identify with in the 1960s—just as they must have been for young readers in 1868 when the book was first published. I hated finishing the book and closing the cover with all that happiness inside.

    Why? I think it’s because Read More

  • C.S. Lewis—A Commitment to Craft

    November is definitely C.S. Lewis’s month. He was born on November 29, 1898 and died on November 22, 1963. In fact, he died in England on the exact same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. This year is the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death and Lewis’s as well. His Chronicles of Narnia are even more successful now than when they were first released in 1949 through 1956. A scholar, a theologian, a literature professor and the author of more than 20 books, Lewis still found time to answer letters from his even his youngest fans.

    These letters are worth reading today. Treat yourself or a C.S. Lewis fan to a copy of C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children Read More

  • How to Write Fast Right

    Since November means NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month, we thought we’d offer some tips on how to write fast productively.

    1. Start with a basic outline. Outlining in longhand is faster and makes it less tempting to keep revsing your outline. Or make a plot grid, one square per chapter. Our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks, offers helpful plotting guides, one of which is a grid outline with ideas for major plot points.

    2. Eliminate distractions and get ready. Turn off all phone ringers and alerts for email. Email POTUS to hold requests for help. Declutter your writing area. If needed, scoop up clutter and pile in a box to be attacked later. Put a pitcher of water or a big cup of your favorite beverage nearby.

    3. Do not stop Read More