About Writing

  • Best Opening Lines of Kids Books
    “Marley was dead, to begin with.” This short, punchy line opens Charles Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. But Lewis Carroll took his time with the beginning of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. “Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and…
  • Tips for Researching like a Professional Writer
    Do you like to research? Some writers love research and do too much of it. Others hate it and do too little. We’ll post tips over the next four Fridays to help writers of nonfiction, who must research, and writers of fiction, who should research…
  • Happy New Year, Aspiring Authors!
    Make 2021 the year you pursue your passion and make it the year you write regularly. If you’ve had trouble sticking to past writing resolutions, we hope the daily tips we’ll post during this next week will help. These tips work for procrastination in general…
  • Common Myths About Writing for Children
    There are common myths and misconceptions about writing for children and about children’s books. We address some in our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book. Shirley Raye compiled a list, and we’ll post one a day this week. Myth #1 Writing for kids is easy—there…
  • Benefit from a Story Blurb Sheet
    Writers know the benefits of signing up for meetings with editors and agents at conferences, and the wise prepare themselves to make the best use of such encounters. The blurb sheet contains teasers about your manuscripts and shows word counts and categories, as well as…
  • Selling What You Write: It’s What You Know and Who You Know
    You’ve heard the saying about success, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” To succeed in selling what you write, “It’s what you know and who you know.” I’ll start with “what you know.” You may have an idea that would make a…
  • Best-Selling Picture Books
    Lists of best-selling children’s books are great tools for writers. They show us what publishers and consumers are buying, and we learn about our craft from reading other authors. In this post, we reveal the 30 best-selling picture books in the US. The list is…
  • Bestsellers-Children’s Frontlist Fiction
    We know as writers that we need to read, read, read—especially books like the ones we want to write. So this week we’ve listed the current frontlist fiction for children in middle grades and up. Frontlist books are a publisher’s sales list of recently published…
  • Same Old Stuff? Get Inspired!
    I’ve discovered some fun websites and even gleaned an idea from one to use in a book. Maybe they’ll inspire you with ideas for characters and plots or provide fun tidbits to include in your stories. They are also just interesting  to explore.   Www.listverse.com…
  • What’s So Great About Books?
    I can’t imagine life without reading and hope I never have to. Great books open our hearts and minds and show us how to be better, whether we’re kids or adults. Consider these ideas on books: TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine…
  • What C.S. Lewis’s Secretary Learned
    It’s important that beginning writers conquer isolationism.   If you don’t, it will lead to feelings of restlessness, futility and self-defeat. Find a writing buddy. Join a critique group or take a weekly writing course—anything that will keep you in social circulation. You’ll find a…
  • Stretch Yourself – Literally
    When you spend as much time writing as Jennifer and I do, the task can become a pain in the neck—literally. Have you ever had writer’s cramp? Do you have trouble sleeping because of the tingling numbness in your hands and fingers? Having difficulty getting…
  • Advice From Editors
    I recently read an article in which seasoned editors gave advice to newbies. It was in Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2014, and was titled, “Voices of Experience: Advice from Publishing Veterans.” Although the tidbits of wisdom are meant for beginning editors, the ideas are helpful…
  • Avoid Small-Minded People
    As the author of two dozen children’s books and four romance novels, I am often asked to speak in classrooms, libraries, and at writing conferences. I am still slightly disconcerted whenever I overhear a child whisper, “She doesn’t look like a writer, does she?”  …
  • Make Your Manuscript Grammar Perfect
    As competitive as the writing world is, one can’t afford to be careless with one’s writing, particularly when submitting a manuscript to an editor. I’ve heard editors state that if they find spelling errors on the first page of a submission, they automatically reject the…
  • How to be an Effective Writer (and 7 bad Habits to avoid)
    Many of you may be familiar with Stephen Covey’s bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He recommends that if you want to be a winner—in anything you pursue—you need to: be proactive begin with the end in mind put first things first always think win/win…
  • 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…
  • Write a Marketable Children’s Book Is Now An E-Book
    Shirley Raye and I are excited to announce 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…
  • Pick Your Words Carefully and Make Them Count
    In WRITE A MARKETABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK, we advise writers to replace utility words with more concrete language that appeals to one of the five senses. What is a utility word? These are words we use a lot—wonderful, beautiful, good, bad, great, fine, and things. Unfortunately,…
  • 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…
  • 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…
  • 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…
  • 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…
  • 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 lovable sisters, living in genteel poverty during the American Civil…
  • 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…
  • How to Write Fast Right
    Since November means NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month, we thought we’d share – 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…
  • Are You Up to the Writing Challenge?
    It’s November again, and for many of you that means NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month. All the skinny can be found at http://nanowrimo.org/ More than 200,000 writers have already signed up to accept the challenge. If you’re serious about actually writing a novel in a month,…
  • How to Impress Editors
    If you want to sell your manuscript, you must correspond with editors like a professional.   Whether you are querying an editor about sending a manuscript or submitting a story with a cover letter, make sure you do it correctly from the get-go. There are…
  • How to Break In and Sell a Book-Persist and Persist
    Last week I advised writers to sign up for critique sessions with editors at conferences and related my experience meeting Mallory Loehr of Random House. Here’s an excerpt from our workbook, showing how I broke in. “Years ago at a conference, Jennifer heard an editor…
  • Meet Editors, Then Listen and Follow Up
    If you want to break into writing for children, sign up for writing conferences and sign up for private sessions with editors who will be attending. Many conferences allow you to submit a manuscript for an editor to critique. If you meet with an editor,…