Nov 27

Working with a Children’s Ghostwriter – The Process

Children's ghostwriter processIt easy to understand that the idea of having a children’s book ghostwritten can be nerve-wrecking. You’ll no doubt have a number of questions:

– Does the ghostwriter know what she’s doing?
– Is she qualified? Is she a skilled writer?
– Does she know the genre you want a book in?
– Is she reasonably priced?
– How long will it take?
– Will she listen to my input?
– Will it be my story?
– And, so on and so on

So, the first thing in the client/ghostwriter process is for you to do your homework. Research ghostwriters who write in the genre you’re interested in.

Check out her website, including the Testimonials Page.

Other important aspects to pay attention to: Is the site active? Is there helpful information on it? Is the writer’s contact information easy to find?

You should even check the copyright date at the bottom of the site.

Next, if you find someone you’re interested in, ask for a phone consult. Or, if you prefer, ask for an email consult. Then ask for writing samples.

The Freelance Writing Agreement.

Once you get a feel for the writer and you think she’s the real deal, and you’ve agreed upon the fee, and you’re ready to work with her, ask what the next step is. It’s usually a freelance writing agreement.

Interestingly, some clients prefer an agreement, while others could care less.

The freelance writing agreement will detail all that’s involved in the process. It’ll list the price, the payment schedule, the timeline, and other items.

Note: If a freelance agreement isn’t used, I make sure all the details are listed in an email. It’s essential that the client knows what to expect.

So, once all the agreement details are completed, what’s it actually like to work with a children’s ghostwriter?

As I can only speak for my own business, I’ll explain how my process works.

The first thing is to discuss all the details of the story.

I’ll ask for any ideas, notes, outlines, drafts, or other content the client may have. We’ll also discuss what type of story is wanted: funny, a mystery, an adventure, a fantasy, or other. We’ll discuss the targeted audience age and whether it’s to be a picture book, a chapter book, or a middle grade.

Some clients are very particular about the character names, so that may also be discussed.

It’s important the writer knows exactly what the client wants.

The publishing method.

Another important aspect to be discussed is the publishing method to be used.

If a client is going the traditional route (submitting to publishers and agents), the word count and other aspects of the story must adhere to current publishing standards.

If a client is going the self-publishing route, there’s more flexibility. This does not mean you can produce a substandard product. It means for example, if you want a picture book of around 1500 words, it’s your prerogative.

I’ve had a client who said he was self-publishing, but after the story was complete, decided to submit it to publishers.

The problem is the word count was too long for a picture book and too short for a chapter book. These are the types of hiccups that can arise when the client isn’t sure what he wants.

The beginning of the story.

Once the initial payment to begin is received, I start writing the story based on the information I have.

I keep the client in the loop by sending her drafts of the story as I go along. As I send the story, I wait for the client’s input. If it’s good to go, I move forward. If changes are requested, I make the changes.

When the client requests changes, if they are completely inappropriate for the genre, age group, or other, I’ll bring it to his attention and suggest the changes be re-thought.

An example of this: In one story, the client wanted the young protagonist and her friend to play in the street. For the age group, this was completely inappropriate. You cannot suggest dangerous behavior in a young children’s story.

The middle.

As the story progresses, the client becomes more familiar with my writing style and the tone of the story. At this point she knows whether it’s the story she’s envisioned. And, the process continues. I write and then submit what I’ve done for approval or suggestions.

I revise as we go along.

The end.

Once the full manuscript is completed, the client will decide if any changes are needed. Once revisions are made, if needed, it’s on to editing and proofing.

Then I submit a final manuscript to the client.

Extras.

When I first started ghostwriting children’s books, the end was the end of it.

But, as time passed, more and more clients requested additional services, such as: back cover copy, author bio content, formatting the manuscript for submissions, cover letters, query letters, and even basic marketing help.

I’ve even done manuscript to illustrations coordination for a couple of clients. This process includes checking the illustrations for errors.

So, my services also includes these elements to help clients achieve their dream of being an author.

That’s about it.

Keep in mind that every writer may have her own process and particulars, but this should give you a general idea of what to expect when working with a children’s ghostwriter.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing
Critiques are Essential for Writers

Let's talk about your children's writing project

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jul 31

Writing – Trimming The Fat

Writing tips on writing tightGuest Post by Penny Lockwood (Ehrenkranz)

If you check market resources both for printed and on-line publications [picture books], you’ll find a number whose word limit is below 1,000 words. How do you trim the fat from your manuscript to fit within the tight confines of those word limits?

First, check your manuscript for “weak” modifiers. These are the words which writers hoping to strengthen another word. The two most commonly used words are “very” and “really.” Removing these words from your sentences will give them more impact.

Other weak, modifying words to watch for are: some, just, so, such, even, certainly, definitely, exactly, and that (when overused).

Second, check your manuscript for “wishy-washy” words. You’ll recognize them by their lack of clear definition. Words which fall into this category are: somewhat, sort of, rather, a little, perhaps, seem, and words with “ish” on the end, such as “shortish,” “tallish,” and “brownish.”

In an effort to create realistic dialogue, some writers insert “well” and “oh” into their sentences. Be sure to eliminate these from your manuscript. If a writer were to capture true dialogue, there would be pages and pages of “um,” “uh,” “well,” and “er.” Fortunately, as writers, that’s not our job. We need to create an illusion of reality, not play back word-for-word a “real” conversation. An occasional spattering of the interjections “oh,” “well,” and “um,” is sufficient.

Although adjectives and adverbs have a clear place in our writing, there isn’t an adjective or adverb that can strengthen a weak noun or verb. If you’re looking for variety in your writing, use a thesaurus instead. Go through your manuscript and highlight where you’ve used these modifiers to fatten up and strengthen ineffective words. Go back to the highlighted areas and replace those weak words with strong, descriptive nouns and verbs.

It’s not easy to trim the fat whether eliminating those yummy chocolate truffles from our diets or cutting out the weak modifiers, “wishy-washy” words, extra “wells,” “ums,” “ers,” and “ohs” from our dialogues, and replacing adjectives and adverbs with strong nouns and verbs. But if we want our human body or our body of work to be fit and desirable, we must trim the fat to achieve tight, firm writing or a lean physique.

While working on my latest release Ghostly Visions, I had a lot of help from my editors in trimming back the “fat.” This middle grade novel is comprised of two books published as one: Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch.

Children's middle grade book

In Ghost for Rent, Wendy Wiles attracts ghosts when her parents separate and she, her brother, and mother move into a haunted house. The story begins in Portland, Oregon and quickly moves to small town, Scappoose, Oregon. Miserable at leaving her friends and beloved Portland behind, Wendy meets her neighbor Jennifer who tells her the house Wendy’s mom rented is haunted. After two of them appear to Wendy, the girls find themselves tracking down the mystery of who the ghosts are and why they “live” in the Wiles’ home.

In Ghost for Lunch, Wendy’s friend, Jennifer, moves away, leaving Wendy sad until new neighbors and their restaurant in St. Helens bring ghosts back into Wendy’s life. She, her brother, and their new friend discover the two cases are connected. Once again, the young sleuths use clues and lots of brainstorming to figure out who is haunting the restaurant.

While on the surface, these two stories appear to be about ghosts and the mystery of solving them, they are also about the importance of family and friends and working together to solve a problem.

Ghostly Visions is available direct from the publisher 4RV Publishing LLC for $15.99 including shipping and handling. It can also be ordered from your local bookstore with the following ISBN numbers: ISBN-10: 0982642326, ISBN-13: 978-0982642320, or through Amazon.

About the Author

Author of Ghostly VisionsPenny Lockwood (Ehrenkranz) has published over 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications. She is a former editor for MuseItUp Publishing, 4RV Publishing, and Damnation Books. Visit her web site at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com and her writing blog at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.

4RV Publishing has joined her two middle grade novels (Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch) as Ghostly Visions. She recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has one other children’s picture book under contract with them: Many Colored Coats. She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Alban Lake Publishing and Smashwords.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper?
Focus, Determination, and Perseverance = Writing Success
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory  

May 08

The 3 Levels of Picture Books

Children's picture books have three purposes..Children’s picture books have 3 levels or purposes in regard to the reader and purchaser. Think of it as the structure of a house: there’s a basement, a first floor, and often an upper floor.

Level 1: The basement, or Surface Level, is geared toward the youngest reader (or listener if too young to read). This child is able to understand what’s going on. He is engaged by the story. Using a wonderful children’s picture book, Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, the child will think it’s funny that monkeys take the peddler’s caps, put them on their heads and won’t take them off.

Level 2: The first floor, or the Underlying Meaning Level, is for the older children who can understand on a deeper level. At this age, they can realize danger, anger, and a cause and effect scenario. Again, using Caps for Sale, the children should be able to understand that the monkeys are mimicking everything the peddler does, but the peddler doesn’t realize what they’re doing. With this age child, he/she may yell out, “They’re doing what you do!” in an effort to help the peddler.

Level 3: The upper floor, or the Take Away Level, is the value the book holds for the purchaser, usually the parent, grandparent, or teacher. The adult reading the book to the child understands the meaning of the story, what value can be taken away by children. In the case of Caps for Sale, the young child is engaged and understands the monkeys took the peddler’s caps and wouldn’t give them back. The older child is engaged and understands that the peddler is causing the monkeys to act as they are. The value that might be taken away is that our actions create reactions.

I just want to point out that Caps for Sale was first copyrighted in 1940 and renewed in 1967, so there is a great deal of telling in the story. Back then, writing for children used a different structure. The stories were not geared toward today’s short attention span and need for action. But, some stories, such as this one, hold up even through change.

Keep in mind though, in today’s children’s market a writer must take into account that a child is bombarded with media and entertainment. Children’s publishers want showing rather than telling. They also want action right from the beginning of the story. In today’s market it’s the writer’s job to grab the reader quickly.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Creating Conflict in Your Story
Imagery and Your Story
10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories  

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Feb 28

Book Review of The Lucky Baseball

Children's Middle Grade BookAs a children’s author and writer, I’ve done my share reviews of children’s books. Occasionally, I’ll be sharing them with you. It’s important to make note of ‘good’ books for kids. The first one up is:

Title: The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp
Author: Suzanne Lieurance
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7660-3311-5
Reviewed by: Karen Cioffi

The Lucky Baseball brings WWII history to life in an engaging and enlightening middle-grade story.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack shocked Americans and a deep fear that Japan would launch a full scale attack on American home land grew. President Franklin Roosevelt immediately entered the United States into WWII.

Out of the growing fear, bordering on hysteria, that the American borders were at risk, in February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. The Lucky Baseball is a fictional account, through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, of what Executive Order 9066 meant for Japanese-Americans.

Harry Yakamoto was an average American boy: he had friends, went to school, and loved baseball. Only, he was of Japanese descent. Living in California during the 1940s, people were prejudice against the Japanese – just for prejudice’s sake. So, the ‘real’ American boys wouldn’t let Harry or his best friend play on their baseball teams.

Then, Japan attacked the United States. Japanese and people of Japanese descent were ordered to leave their homes, businesses, and all belongings, except what they could carry. They were moved to internment camps for their protection, so they were told. But, the camps were fenced in and had military guards to keep the Japanese from leaving.

These camps became Harry’s, and many other Japanese-Americans, new home for three years. And, The Lucky Baseball, through a descriptive and engaging story, tells of the living conditions, personal losses, and unconscionable treatment endured by Harry, his family, his friends, and others.

But, amidst the hardship, baseball became a favorite past time for the children, boys and girls alike. While at home, Harry couldn’t be on a baseball team, but in the camp he was the Captain of a team. Ball playing provided a tidbit of normalcy in an otherwise unnatural environment.

Suzanne Lieurance brings the 1940s to the reader. She allows children to feel, see, smell, hear, and even taste the conditions within the internment camps. “I forced myself to climb out from under the warm covers. I wiped a layer of sandy dirt from my face with the back of my hand. My bed was covered with a layer of this dirt, too. In fact, the whole room was dusted with a mixture of dirt and sand, white as flour.”

Another passage describes the intolerable cold that the refugees had to endure, “She [the grandmother] wrapped up in one more of the army blankets. We were both wearing our winter coats. She shivered.” That was a description of the conditions inside the housing units, which consisted of individual barracks, each divided into six units/rooms with half-fast partitions separating families.

The author also shows the human spirit and its ability to survive and prosper.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction adventures for children. It’s the perfect way to bring history to children in a format that they will find interesting, entertaining, and informative. Lieurance, focusing on baseball and a boy growing up, did a wonderful job doing this with The Lucky Baseball.

Along with a wonderful and very informative story, the author includes “The Real History Behind the Story” at the end of the book. It’s full of facts about WWII, Executive Order 9066, the camps, and baseball in regard to the Japanese-Americans.

If you’d like to get your own copy, visit: Amazon.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict
What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice–@–gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Dec 16

Talking about A Caterpillar, a Bee, and a VERY Big Tree in the Classroom

children's picture bookToday I’m hosting Day 3 of a 5-day virtual book tour for “A Caterpillar, a Bee and a Very Big Tree,” written by brother and sister pair, Dicksy Wilson and D. B. Sanders. This book tour is sponsored by The National Writing for Children Center.

This rhyming picture book teaches cadence and rhythm and has a sing-song feel in places. The charming characters and illustrations will inspire young minds and immerse children in the action from the first page through the last. The main and recurring theme in the book is simple: “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

Throughout the tale, readers learn a few different important life lessons. Each of the following lessons can be used as a talking point for group discussion in the classroom or by parents as they read the book with their own child or children:

Lesson 1 – BE YOURSELF

In the earliest part of the story, a brief lesson in individuality comes from the main characters – a caterpillar named Gus who is a self-proclaimed procrastinator and not like the other “green fuzzies” and a bee named Shoo who is allergic to pollen and unable to work with the other “buzz-buzzies.” While they discuss the fact that they are different from their own respective kind, they decide that they can be friends with one another regardless of how they are viewed by others.

Discussion Tip:

After students have read or listened to the story, have them list the ways the main characters were unique. Have them next make a list of their own unique qualities. They can also list the unique qualities of their best friend and decide which (if any) qualities they share with their best friend.

Lesson 2  –  HELP OTHERS

When the pair is faced with the conflict of the story – a huge storm coming straight for the mighty oak in which all of the other diligent caterpillars have already spun their cocoons – a lesson of helping others becomes the theme of the book. Gus and Shoo decide that they have to take a risk to save all of the others who may not have tied their cocoons tightly enough. They work together to overcome a multitude of obstacles in order to save the day, and, although they sometimes get a little panicked and overwhelmed with the task at hand, they always find a way to cooperatively solve the problems before them.

Discussion Tip:

Have students discuss all the obstacles the characters have to overcome, then have them tell about obstacles in their own lives that they’ve had to overcome.

Lesson 3 –  THINK POSITIVE

Both characters deal with their own self-doubt along the way, but they rely on the gentle encouragement of each other and embrace a positive thinking approach. When Shoo doubts his ability to carry Gus to the top of the tree, Gus smiles at his friend, “I just know you can do it… you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” In the end, Shoo helps Gus overcome his fear of flying after he transforms into a beautiful butterfly.

Discussion Tip:

Have students discuss the techniques the characters used to think positively. Next, have them create or list some techniques they can use themselves to think positively in trying times.

Lesson 4 – NEVER GIVE UP

Throughout the book there are lessons about taking the time to slow down, think things through and never give up.

Teaching Tip:
Have students point out scenes in the book where the characters slow down to think things through and never give up. Have students talk about times in their own lives when they’ve felt like giving up. What kept them going?

Follow the entire virtual book tour for A Caterpillar, a Bee, and a VERY Big Tree by finding all the links for the tour at The National Writing for Children Center.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory
Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Like this post? Please share it!

Sep 28

Days End Lullaby Video Book Review

Children's bedtime storyThanks to Amy Robbins-Wilson, creator of Lullaby Link, Day’s End Lullaby is now in a video.

Amy did a Google search for “lullaby” and came upon my book. She contacted me and offered to include my book as a review video on her site. But, she didn’t stop there, she offered to create a video of the lullaby on YouTube!

Well, Amy kept her word and provided me with links to both the review video on her site, and the video of the lullaby on YouTube.
Please check out these two videos and let me know what you think:

Day’s End Lullaby Singing Book Review Video:
http://www.lullaby-link.com/days-end-lullaby.html

Day’s End Lullaby YouTube Video – Entire song sung by Amy Robbins-Wilson
CLICK HERE!

This children’s bedtime picture book has the sheet music to the lullaby included as an added feature at the back of the book.

You can get your own copy of “Day’s End Lullaby” at:
http://www.amazon.com/Days-End-Lullaby-Karen-Cioffi/dp/1419691570/ref=sr_1_1

Feb 14

Know Your Reader – Writing for Children

CharlesS experiment-38-frontGuest post by Charles Suddeth

I am primarily a children’s writer. I belong to SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). The rule of thumb is that children like to read books with the main character their age or slightly older. Recommended ages for readers and main characters vary from publisher to publisher, so these are general guidelines:

Picture Books: Ages 3 to 7, with main character’s ages 5 to 9 (Board Books for younger readers and Easy Readers for slightly older readers extends this range in both directions)
Middle Grade (Middle Reader’s): Ages 8 to 13, with main character’s ages 10 to 14 (slightly younger readers may read Chapter Books—early middle reader’s books with a limited number of illustrations; slightly older readers may read Tween fiction involving dating)

Young Adult: Ages 14 to 18; high school readers. Main character’s ages high school freshmen to seniors. (New Adult, Young Adult fiction geared toward college-age readers, is becoming popular)

Here are the issues the main characters usually deal with for each category:

Picture Books: Searching for Security. Children this age, even while playing and having fun, need to know their parents are there for them with love, protection, and life’s necessities. The Llama Llama series of books by author/illustrator Anna Dewdney is about a baby llama enduring various adventures and challenges, but above all, Mamma remains nearby. Middle Grade: Searching for Identity. Children in this age are not certain who they are or what their abilities are. They often do things in groups to obtain peer approval, because they lack self-confidence and self-identity. J K Rowling’s early Harry Potter books are an example. Harry didn’t know he was a wizard with powers or that he would have a quest. And he didn’t know who his allies (his group) would be, but he gradually learned.

Young Adult: Searching for Independence. Teenagers are famous for their rebellion against their parents, sometimes called “attitude.” Psychologists have described this as subconscious psychological efforts to separate themselves from their families, so they can become adults. Most people think of the Hunger Games as pure survival. Katniss lost her mother, but she is seeking independence from the oppressive, totalitarian society that replaced her parents.

New Adult is often described older teens and/or undergraduate college students exploring their new-found independence. My 4RV Publishing thriller, Experiment 38, will be New Adult. The main character has just graduated from high school. She quickly learns that independence from her parents has its dangers.

Another peculiarity of writing for children is that boys prefer to read books where the main character is a boy, but girls will read books where the main character is a boy or girl.

My favorite rule for writing is: Take your reader where they are not expecting to go. This also applies to children. Once you know your audience you can take them to destinations unknown and even undreamed of.

CharlesS feb2015Charles Suddeth was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, grew up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and has spent his adult life in Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from Michigan State University. He belongs to Green River Writers (Contest Director), the Midsouth SCBWI (Louisville Schmooze host), International Thriller Writers, and the Kentucky State Poetry Society. He also leads two critique groups for children’s writers.He has had numerous poems, short stories, and books published, including a poem in Spider magazine.

Experiment 38 (young adult thriller, 4RV Publishing, paperback): Eighteen-year-old Emily, small for her age, lives alone with her scientist-father and learns too late that he holds a terrible secret, one that might destroy her life.As she and her boyfriend, Nate, try to unraveel the mystery behind her father’s secret, they face danger and uncertainty .ISBN: 78-1-940310-02-2

~~~~~
Charles, thank you for being a guest here! I hadn’t heard of “new adult.” Interesting new genre. Best wishes for a successful book launch.

Karen

 

Jan 29

Tips for Marketing Your Children’s Book

children's book, excalibur, fantasyGuest post by Fiona Ingram

When marketing your children’s book, a better result comes from a finely-tuned approach. Simply honing in on your target market the right way will reap great benefits. Here are my tips.

1. Have a top quality product. Your book must be entertaining or educational, well written with age appropriate language, themes and/or illustrations, and have an eye-catching cover and appealing blurb. Parents and those involved in buying children’s books will probably be a lot more demanding about the quality of material to be viewed by a young reader.
2. Define your target market. These are parents, relatives, teachers, librarians, literacy experts, and parenting and educational organizations. If they trust the quality of your book, you are halfway there.
3. Ask yourself: why would they read your book or choose it for young readers? What is the focus or ‘hook’ that will captivate a young audience? Is it adventure with a bit of history or geography? Fantasy with lots of imaginative goings-on? Is it educational, religious or cultural in theme? This will help you narrow down the persons or organizations who will give your book a second glance.
4. A good author website is a must, where buyers can read more about the author and the background to the book/s, see what the author has achieved, such as winning book awards, writing articles of interest to parents and educators etc. Don’t forget a Facebook page for your book or book series where you can post event updates and your book video/s.
5. Enter your book in every possible but reputable award. Book awards are a fantastic way to blow your own trumpet modestly. Awards and even just nominations usually come with stickers that, displayed on your book cover, give it higher status. An award or nomination says that your book has achieved industry standards and is worth purchasing. This is important when attracting the attention of libraries, bookstores, and schools.
6. Reviews are another excellent way to spread the word. People rely on reviews because they are the opinions of buyers just like them. Apart from Amazon, B&N and other major book sites, don’t forget to list your book/s on Goodreads, Librarything, Shelfari, and Jacketflap, which focuses on children’s books. Take it a step further and approach parenting, literacy and educational blogs (such as The Reading Tub), offering to write informative articles on kids and reading. Don’t forget publications devoted to children’s books such as School Library Journal, The Horn Book, Library Media Connection, and Booklist. Subscribe to children’s book publisher newsletters (Publishers Weekly and Scholastic) and find out what other authors are doing. James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead is also a great resource.
7. Give something away. You can give of your time and skill as a storyteller. Using the hook that will appeal to librarians and educators, approach your local schools, libraries and literacy centers with an offer of a book reading, a chat to kids about books and the fun in reading, or include a quiz if your book has an educational theme. Kids love quizzes and they can all win a prize–bookmarks, postcards, and posters are a cheap and fun way of making sure your book lingers long after you have left.
8. Blog tours are an incredibly effective way of targeting the audience interested in you and your book.

These are just a few ways you can focus on marketing your children’s book. Lastly, I’ll reiterate the advice I was once given. Tell everyone you know about your book—family, friends with kids, local teachers and librarians. Word of mouth is the best advertising and it’s free!

children's authorAbout Fiona Ingram:

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.

About The Search for the Stone of Excalibur:

A modern day adventure as our protagonists search for Excalibur and the treasures it holds!

Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.

However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fiona.robyn.ingram

Get Your copy of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.

~~~~~

Fiona, it was a pleasure hosting you on your virtual book tour for your new book. It looks like a wonderful book. Best wishes for its success!

Karen

Jan 22

Using The Boy Who Ran as a Teaching Tool

The Boy Who Ran Today, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Michael Selden for Day 3 of his virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center.

Using “The Boy Who Ran” as a Teaching Tool

If I were using THE BOY WHO RAN as a teaching tool, I might link the story of the boy having overcome adversity with other noted efforts, like the digging of the Panama Canal or the Apollo Mission. His mission in the book, which he tackled with the same intensity he used to run silently through the forest, was to learn to hunt, but really to become an integral part of the village.  I tried to show the focus he used, both here as well as in the way he behaved with White Flank as well—a singular purpose, undeterred even by his nemesis.

At the same time, you can see him changing as well, opening up to the concept of friendship with Morning Song and Gray Wolf. Finally, he was forced to face the ghosts of his past and resolve this and it freed him of the spell that kept him silent.

I’d want to show students how allowing himself to be shackled this way was foolish, that it was the sharing of skills and a sense of community he lacked. He waited far too long to open up, and this could serve as a lesson to seek help and advice.

Finally, I’d use the information I gathered and tried to share about the history of the times and to seek out links about the tools, foods, artifacts, and what we’ve learned about the people of the time. Note the link shown between White Flank and the boy. People of the times, apparently, had a sense of spiritual transformation between animal and human “forms”.

ColoradoMichael Selden has lived all around the world and has been an eyewitness to numerous historical events such as the building of the Berlin Wall. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. Mike was graduated from St. Mary’s High School, Colorado Springs Colorado and later earned a degree in physics from the University of Florida.

He has worked as a research physicist, program manager, and principal investigator on numerous scientific and engineering efforts his career. He first developed technologies and techniques that helped expand our understanding of the earth and the earth-moon system and even to validate the relativity principle of equivalence.

When Michael is not writing, reading or staying abreast of the latest developments in the world of physics, he likes to travel and hike, cook, and ride motorcycles, meet up with friends. He is learning how to fly-fish and hunt.

Find out more about Michael Selden and his book at www.michaelselden.com.

* The picture with the gorgeous scenery is where Michael lives and writes at 8500 feet. It’s in the middle of a million acre park in a town called Woodland Park, Colorado.
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To continue following Michael’s book tour, visit http://writingforchildrencenter.com/

Jan 14

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

Susanna HillToday, I’m pleased to be hosting children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. This is Day 3 of her virtual book tour through the National Writing for Children Center. Susanna will be talking about how her books can be used in a classroom setting.

Trade book Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Susanna Leonard Hill

I am in awe of teachers.

The patience, good humor, intelligence and caring that go into a career in teaching are monumental.

The job they do is one of the most important jobs there is and every teacher I’ve met is more than up to the task.

So I don’t think I have much to tell them about using books in their classrooms 

As far as my own books, though, I can suggest that PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS could be included in a Groundhog Day unit for preschool through Grade 2.  The story illustrates what happens on Groundhog Day, and back matter is appended for ease of lesson expansion in the classroom.  I also have quite a few free downloadable activities on my website which teachers might like to incorporate including coloring pages, paper doll kits, mazes, word searches, madlibs, library activities, and classroom guides.  (Please see http://www.susannahill.com/resources.html).  PHYLLIS can also be fun for signs of spring activities and classroom predictions about 6 more weeks of winter or early spring.

Most of my other books can also be used in the classroom for one unit or another.  APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS!, a sequel to PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS, is about April Fools’ Day and could be incorporated into a unit on that holiday, or on spring.

NOT YET, ROSE is about a little girl waiting for a new baby and could be included in a unit on families.

CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP is about a child who has trouble falling asleep and could be used in conjunction with discussions about bedtime and imagination and problem solving.

NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE is about brothers who take their mother’s instructions a little too literally and could be used in conjunction with talking about actual meaning vs. intended meaning, puns, or language.

ALPHABEDTIME! (forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books in 2015) will be able to be used for younger children learning the alphabet.

As a picture book writer, I like to see parents and teachers use picture books and expand on what they have to offer.  I run a weekly feature on my blog called Perfect Picture Books.  Each week twenty or more new books are added to our alphabetized and themed lists.  The books are always ones that are highly recommended by the reviewer and they are always accompanied by expansion activities to make life a little easier for parents, teachers, and homeschoolers looking for a way to include picture books in lesson plans or daily activities.  (Please see http://susannahill.blogspot.com/p/perfect-picture-books.html)  (I’m in the process of updating to a more user-friendly format, so please be forgiving as the transfer takes place – not all the books are currently on the lists.)

I hope you’ll come visit! 

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS Susanna (Leonard) Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)

Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.

To check out tomorrow’s hosting link, please visit the National Writing for Children Center site: http://writingforchildrencenter.com/