Nov 19

SCBWI Book Critique Boutique

I’m excited to announce that on December 10th, I’ll be at Touro College in Bayshore, Long Island selling books and giving 10 minute critiques for ONLY $10!

Get a critique of your manuscript

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is having it’s first ever (as far as I know) Book Critique Boutique.

If you’re in the area and you’re a children’s author or illustrator, stop on by.  I look forward to seeing you!

Children's Author

Oct 01

Children’s Writing – Creating your Main Character Part2

Writing great charactersThis is Part2 of an article about creating your protagonist. Well, not just creating him, it’s about creating a powerful and memorable main character (MC). And, it’s based on an article I read at Jerry Jenkins, author of 186 books.

Part one discussed:

– Naming your character
– Making him quickly visible
– Let the reader be able to picture him
– Give him a backstory
– Making him realistic
– Making him heroic

You can check out Part1 HERE.

Now on to tips 7-11 for creating your MC.

7. The reader needs to see inside.

This strategy helps the reader connect to the MC. It helps the reader create a bond. It makes him want to turn the page and root for the character.

A great way to do this, in part and especially with children’s writing, is to let the reader see the MC’s thoughts. I do this with italics.

Here’s an example from “Walking Through Walls”:

I will be rich once I am an Eternal. I will have servants to toil in the land I own. Anything I want I will just get. Who can stop me?

It’s kind of like having the character whisper in the reader’s ear. The reader is privy to what’s going on inside the MC. His hopes, his fears, his anger, his happiness . . . his emotions.

This is powerful.

Another great tool for this is writing in first person.

Take a look at the first chapter, first paragraph of “The Talented Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker:

“I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened anyway.”

What a great first paragraph. What kid wouldn’t relate to that.

8. Make your characters a bit like you.

For this strategy, weave your experiences into the development of your MC.

You may not think you have anything in common with your MC. Or, you may think none of your experiences are relevant, but you’d be surprised. Your wants and fears and all the other emotions you have can easily make their way into your character. Even if the character is a different gender than you.

And, this can come in handy when you’re stuck for a reaction or even motions from your character.

In one scene in Walking Through Walls, the MC was drooling over some delicacies he saw but couldn’t have. I had to picture myself in the scene and think of what I’d do.

Would my eyes grow wide? Would my mouth hang open? Would I actually drool?

Other times, you might be stuck on how your character will move or use his hands. Again, you’ve got to step into his shoes. Act out how you’d move in a similar situation.

Would you wave your hands? Would your eyes blink quickly? Would you glare? Would you smile, laugh, or cry? Would you form a fist? Would you throw your hands out wide? Would you shove your hands in your pockets?

Finding these answers and using them in your story will be bits of you woven into your character.

9. The character arc.

The character arc is super important with writing for children.

Your story starts with the child having a problem. He tries and tries to overcome it. As he struggles to get past, over, under, around of through the problem, he grows and changes in some way.

“The Talented Clementine,” is a perfect example of the character arc.

There was a talent show going on and Clementine wanted to be good enough at something to be in it. But, she didn’t believe she had any talents. She tried to get out of it, she tried to find something she was good at. Everything failed. Finally, at the end, her principal needed her help directing the show and Clementine did an amazing job. She found her talent.

10. You’ve got to ‘show’ your story and your characters.

While you want the reader to know all about your MC, you don’t want to tell the reader.

Everything your character does will convey what he’s about. How he acts. How he reacts to situations. How he talks. How he moves. These all show what the character is about. And, adding his thoughts here and there helps too.

Here’s an example from “The Chocolate Touch” by Margot Apple:

“At last he came to a small central ball of cotton batting, and there right in the middle, was a little golden ball. He picked at the ball with his fingernail and peeled away the gold paper. . .”

It could have read: John opened the box and ate the chocolate. Instead, the author shows the reader exactly what John is doing. You can feel the character’s anticipation. This is showing.

11. Research, if needed.

Jenkins says, “Resist the temptation to write about something you haven’t experienced before conducting thorough research. Imagination can take you only so far.”

It’s a sure bet that I did lots and lots of research writing Walking Through Walls. Set in 16th century China, my imagination could take me only so far. And, it’s essential when writing in a specific time period that you get it right. You want the flavor of the time. You want the authenticity.

But, I also do research for lots of my children’s ghostwriting clients. I may be writing a fiction story about a horse or a pig and I want to know what their real characteristics are so I can incorporate them into the stories.

Or, maybe it’s a story about a boy with asthma or a girl learning to swim. Getting the details right matters.

Summing it up.

There are at least 11 elements to writing a great character, a memorable character, the first of which is to give him the right name. Use all the tricks of the trade when writing your characters to ensure their engaging, connectable, and memorable.

Do you have your own strategies to write a great character? I’d love for you to share with us.

Reference:
10 Tips to Developing Your Characters

Articles on writing for children

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

Be a Successful Writer Even if You Don’t Think You Have Enough Time

Writing Picture Books for Young Children – A Different Writing Style

Children's ghostwriterLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Sep 24

Children’s Writing – Creating Your Main Character Part1

Write Memorable CharactersI read an excellent article by Jerry Jenkins who is an author of more than 186 books and a New York Times bestselling novelist. This is a writer who knows about writing.

The article was about creating memorable heroes.

Every author wants to be able to do this. So, below are the first few tips Jenkins offered (I put my own spin on these tips and made them relevant to children’s writing. And, since it’s a long post, I divided it into two-parts):

1. Name him right.

A name isn’t just a name. Giving your main character (MC) the right name matters.

I’ll use my middle-grade fantasy book, “Walking Through Walls”, as an example.

The story is set in 16th century China.

What names come to mind?

Harry, Shawn, Dale, Justin, Juan, Saheb? I don’t think so.

If you want to keep the flavor of the story true, you’ll need to use appropriate names. The MC in “Walking Through Walls” is Wang.

2. Get him out there.

You’ve got to get your MC out there in front of the audience right away.

You don’t want any confusion as to the MC. You want your reader to make a connection quick. The MC should be the first character introduced in the story.

This is especially true with young children’s books.

3. The reader should be able to picture the main character.

This may not be relevant if you’re writing a children’s picture book or even a chapter book as most of them have illustrations. But, if you’re writing a middle grade, you most likely will need to describe your MC somewhat.

Just give enough information for the reader to be able to imagine what your MC looks like.

Is he tall? Is she fair or dark? Is she thin? Does he have any unusual characteristics?

You want the reader to be able to picture him – to create her own image of him. Whatever information you leave out, the reader will fill in.

4. He’s got to have a backstory.

Okay, this isn’t relevant to picture books as they’re too short for backstory. But, with other stories, the MC needs to be realistic and this means he needs a life.

Using “Walking Through Walls” again, it’s quickly revealed that Wang has a father, mother, and sister. It’s also quickly revealed that he’s a dreamer and doesn’t like to work. And, he wants the fast track to fame and fortune.

This was done within the first couple of pages.

Other aspects of your character that might be conveyed are:

– Is he smart?
– Is he an athlete?
– Does he have lots of friends?
– What are his innate qualities?
– Is he a follower or a leader?
– What are his goals?
– What are his hobbies?
– What makes him happy, mad.
– What he’s afraid of.
– Is he outgoing or shy?
– What’s his family life like?

The list can go on and on. Use the qualities or characteristics that are relevant to your story.

5. Make him realistic.

I wrote an article a few years ago about your character being one, two, or three dimensional.

You need a three-dimensional character.

He needs good qualities, bad qualities, things he’s good at, things he not good at, and so on and so on. You need a character who is life-like.

Along with this, he needs a mutli-faceted personality. What I mean by this is, a boy will act differently with his brother, his friend, a girl he’s sweet on, his teacher, his coach, his mom, his dad, and so on.

Our personalities are able to adapt to the interactions we have. You don’t want a MC who acts the same with all secondary characters and in all situations. He needs to portray realistic feelings and reactions.

6. He’s got to be heroic.

While your MC needs to be human / flawed, he also must learn from his failures . . . from overcoming the obstacles thrown in his way.

I love the way Jennings put this, “While striving to make your main character real and human, be sure to also make him heroic or implant within him at least the potential to be heroic.”

When writing for children, especially young children, the MC must prevail. He needs to overcome his obstacles and end up smarter, stronger, wiser, happier. Whatever the growth is, it’s got to be there.

Going back to Wang, while he’s kind of a slacker, he feels a need to help his friend even though it would mean fighting against warriors. There’s more to the story to make him heroic, but just wanting to help a friend in need is enough.

To read part 2, click the link:
Children’s Writing – Creating your Main Character P2

Reference:
10 Tips to Developing Your Characters

BEEN THINKING ABOUT WRITING YOUR OWN CHILDREN’S BOOK?
Check out FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Write your own children's bookMORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing Fiction for Children – 4 Simple Tips

Writing Fiction for Children – Character Believability and Conflict

The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript

 

Sep 03

Writing Picture Books for Young Children – A Different Writing Style

Writing Style and Picture BooksA writing style is the way a writer writes a story. It’s the words used, sentence structure, tone used, and even the method used.

The children’s picture book writing style is unique for two main reasons:

1. You’re dealing with young children.
2. You’re often dealing with parents and teachers who will read the story to young children.

Let’s break the reasons down.

1. Simple words, simple sentences, simple ideas.

When writing for children you must remember you’re writing for children.

It may sound silly, but it’s easy forget this and end up writing for yourself. Always remember your audience will be young children.

Reason one is broken into two categories:

A. Your sentences are too long and complex for the young reader. Or, the words you’re using are too advanced for the young reader.

I’ve been guilty of this one. I’ll write the story using longer sentences than I should and using words that are too advanced for the target reader. This is a no-no.

Children, especially young children need things kept simple: simple words, simple sentence structure and length, and simple story line.

As a simple (and exaggerated) example:

BAD: Freddie couldn’t comprehend the complexity of the situation.

BETTER: Freddie didn’t understand.

The ‘better’ example above reduces the length of the sentence and simplifies it also. Children will quickly understand what’s being said. And, if parents/teachers are involved, they won’t be stumbling over a complex sentence.

Simple is better with young children.

There’s a great book to help with the use of age appropriate words when writing for children, “The Children’s Writer’s Word Book” by Alijandra and Tayopa Mogilner.

B. In addition to simple words and simple sentences, you need to think about the scenarios you’re creating. You don’t want to give young children bad or dangerous ideas, like sneaking out at night, or running away from parents when in an amusement park, or running into the street.

This doesn’t pertain to young adults and even some upper middle grade. In these genres, the reader is able to grasp just about as much as an adult.

But, for picture books you need to keep it on the simpler side.

2. Parents and teachers may be involved.

Parents and teachers often read picture books to children. You certainly don’t want them stumbling over long sentences. And, their audience is very young children who will usually have very short attention spans.

Think of a one or two-year-old who can’t get away fast enough or who’s squirming all over his mom trying to grab the teddy bear that’s sitting on the shelf.

Next, think of the kids in pre-school and kindergarten. Granted they have a better attention span than the toddler, but not by much.

Make the picture book kid-friendly. Simple words, simple sentences, and simple story line.

You also need to consider the parent who is reading their child a bedtime story. Make the story flow. Keep it simple. Make it engage the reader as well as their audience.

How to test your story.

To help get a handle on your story, to help determine if it’s simple enough, Mary Kole from Kidlit advises to read the story out loud. It’s so much different than just reading it. (1)

Reading aloud, you won’t just glaze over the words, you’ll have to read each one to say them. You’ll get a better sense of how it sounds and flows.

An even better test, if possible, have someone read it out loud for you. Maybe a family member or friend or critique partner. This is even better than reading it yourself because that person won’t be familiar with the story. You’ll be able to catch all the snags in the story that can cause pausing or stumbling.

(1) Picture Book Writing Style

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Articles on writing for children

Writing With Clarity
5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos
The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

Jun 11

Ghostwriting Children’s Books – 5 Ways to Know if You’re Any Good

Chidlren's ghostwriterSome writers can at times wonder if they’re ‘good enough’. Are they fulfilling their clients’ expectations? They may occasionally doubt their writing skills and ability. I think it goes with the territory.

They may take on a project they’ve never done before. Yep, doubts surface.

They see peers getting credits from major magazines or getting book after book traditionally published. Yep doubts will undoubtable surface.

Hey, writers are human, right?

But what about ghostwriting. You’re not submitting traditionally yourself, so you don’t have the rejection or acceptance feedback.

So how do you know if you’re good at being a children’s ghostwriter or other type of ghostwriter?

Well, there are at least five telltale signs.

1. The proof is in the pudding, right?

This is a perfect analogy for whether you’re good at what you do.

One clear way to tell if you’re effective at what you do is by the reactions of your clients.

Are your clients unhappy? Are they satisfied? Are they pleased? Are they happy? Are they overjoyed? Are they thrilled to tears?

Now, not all clients may cry at the masterpiece you create, but you want every one of your clients to be ‘very happy to overjoyed’ at the very least.

You can tell if you’re successful by how your clients react to the finished product.

2. Do any of your clients come back (repeat clients)?

It’s true that because of the expense of having a book ghosted, not all clients can afford to hire-out more than one book. But, have you had any clients request a second project with you?

If you have, you can be assured you’re doing something right.

3. Do you have clients with a series?

This is kind of like #2 above, but it’s an even stronger indication that you’re producing the goods.

Clients who invest in a series with you believe in you and your ability. If they didn’t love what you created with Book One, they would never move forward in a series project. So, if you’re looking for a Ghostwriting Stamp of Approval, this is it.

4. Are you getting testimonials?

I’m adding this here, but it not necessarily a clear indication of your qualifications. The reason is most ghosting clients don’t want to share that they’ve hired a ghostwriter.

If you’re fortunate to get some testimonials, that’s fantastic. The reason is because it’s not only personal validation of your qualifications, it’s public validation.

Testimonials are also a great marketing tool. People are influenced by what others think of your work.

5. Have any of your clients traditionally published? Have they won awards?

This is the icing on the cake.

Have any of your clients submitted to traditional publishers and agents? If so, have they gotten a contract?

As a ghostwriter you cannot use this as a promotional tool, but it definitely is another personal stamp of approval.

So, if you’re wondering if you’ve got the stuff to be a children’s ghostwriter, use these five questions to put your mind at ease.

Articles on writing for childrenChildren’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Children, the Environment, and Story Telling
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Let's talk about your children's writing projectLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn you story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Apr 30

Children’s Writing and Information Dump

Tips on writing for childrenAs a ghostwriter and editor, occasionally I get clients who give me a draft of a story that has information dump within the first few spreads of a picture book.

This is a no-no.

Information dump is when an author literally dumps a chunk of information for the reader to absorb.

Granted most new writers may not realize they’re hitting the reader with these big chunks of information. Or, the author may want to tell the reader what she thinks the reader should know, but doesn’t know how to weave the information into the story.

I think the problem is the ‘author’ wants to make sure the reader understands what’s going on. For example:

Billy and Joe had been best friends since Kindergarten. They played together every day and even had sleep overs. They were also on the same football team. Then Billy insulted Joe last year. After that, Joe didn’t want to be friends with Billy anymore. Now, it’s a new school year.

While this example isn’t too long, there are some info dumps that are paragraphs long, pages long, or in the case of picture books, spreads long.

Another possible reason for information dumping.

Another possibility is that the ‘author’ is writing the story for himself. He’s writing to see what he wants to see in the book. He’s not thinking about what a seven year old or a 10 year old will want . . . even expect in a book.

Whatever the reason, information dump at the beginning of a story leads to a very boring beginning. And, it delays the initial problem that the protagonist must overcome.

While this has touched on the beginning of a story so far, it’s not a good idea to dump clumps of information elsewhere within the story either.

Why information dumping isn’t a good idea.

Children, even adults, have short attention spans. Being told what went on is boring for the reader. She wants to see or hear what’s going on through action and dialogue. Information or backstory must be weaved into the story here and there.

For example, going back to Billy and Joe. Instead of telling the reader flat out in the beginning of the story why they’re not friends, bring it in through dialogue.

It was the first day of the new school year. Joe walked past Billy in the yard without looking at him or saying a word.

“Okay, enough already. I insulted you last year. Get over it already,” chided Billy.

This lets the reader know what’s happening without knocking him over the head or dumping clumps of information. It brings the reader into the action and conversation. It’s effective writing.

While you may not be able to get every bit of information into the story that you think should be there, it doesn’t matter. Your reader will read between the lines. .

So, think twice before dumping that information on your reader.

Articles on writing for childrenBuilding a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus
What’s Your Writing Forte?
3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

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, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Apr 09

4 Writing Tips on Using Descriptions

Tips on writing descriptionsUsing descriptions can be a powerful writing tool. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use your imagination. Close your eyes and picture what your character is doing. Picture what the scene looks like then paint it with words.

Below are four tips to help you get a handle on writing descriptions.

1. You’ve got to engage your readers.

How do you do this? By showing them what’s going on.

Let the reader:

– Smell what the character is smelling.
– Hear what the character is hearing.
– See what the character sees.
– Feel what the character is touching.
– Taste what the character is tasting.

Let the reader feel like she’s there. Use your character’s senses to describe (show) what’s going on.

2. Use descriptions in action scenes.

Using an excerpt from my middle grade fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls, I could have said just said it was hot. But that wouldn’t show how hot it was for the protagonist, Wang.

The sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore. He hurled the bundles on a cart.

I used description to show the action scene. This helps engage the reader.

3. Use description to emphasis the scene.

While you should write tight, sometimes it’s powerful to use description to bring the reader into the scene. In the excerpt below, the protagonist of Walking Through Walls is on a path that could change his life forever:

Deep in thought Wang did not notice the black cat that crossed his path, or the black raven that swooped and almost landed on his head. He did not even notice the silver snake with the purple tail that slithered along beside him on the road. Wang only noticed that each step took him closer to the merchant’s home and the beginning of the road leading to his destiny.

I could have simply used a version of the last sentence to say he didn’t notice anything. But, this wouldn’t allow the reader to know what was going on around him – how absorbed he was in fulfilling his dream. It wouldn’t bring the reader into the scene.

In addition, the description used for that scene is brought up later in the story. So, it’s also helping move the story forward.

4. Don’t use description dumps.

While it’s essential to use descriptions in your writing, you don’t want to overdo it. And, you don’t want to give description dumps.

What this means is avoid going beyond what is needed to engage. Yes, authors did it years ago – they’d elaborate on descriptions for sometimes pages. And, I would think it gave the writer a sense of freedom to be able to describe in full what she was imagining – not having to worry about tight writing. But, it won’t fly today.

Today is about writing ‘lean and mean.’ It’s about thinking carefully about your word choices, your descriptions, and your character’s backstory. If you can say it effectively in two words rather than six, do it in two.

It’s about making sure everything thing in your story is moving the story forward. No sidetracking for a beautiful description. No sidetracking for over elaborating.

Weigh what will work and what is too much. Use balance in writing descriptions in your story.

Articles on writing for childrenWriting with Clarity
Writing Rhyme in Children’s Stories  
The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

WANT TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK?

Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out Fiction Writing for Children. This 180 page ebook  gives you all the basics of writing fiction for children, finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Writing Children's Fiction

Feb 26

The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins

Your book's front matterI get lots of questions from my clients as to what comes after the story is written.

While a lot of the questions are about illustrations, what’s been coming up more and more is about the pages that come before the story text begins. The pages before the story are called the front matter.

Just this week, someone asked me about a Dedication Page.

So, here is a list (in order of appearance) of the pages that will or may come before the first page of your story. Some examples are included.

1. Half title page – this is a page at the very beginning of the book that has ONLY the title of the book. It’s usually only used if pages are needed to thicken the book.

2. Frontispiece – this is a page that is an informative or decorative illustration that faces the book’s title page. It appears on the opposite page of the title page. This page is optional.

3. Title page – this is the page that lists the title, subtitle, author, and publisher. I may include the publisher’s location, year of publication, a description of the book, and either the cover illustration or other illustration.

4. Copyright page – this is the page that lists the copyright notice and the “All rights reserved” warning. It should also include the publisher’s name and address; printing details; the edition of the book; and the ISBN(s).

It may also include ordering information, your website URL, disclaimers, and the CIP Data Block from the Library of Congress.

In regard to the CIP Data Block, Kindlepreneur.com explains:

The Library of Congress issues a CIP data block to you. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not even eligible to have a CIP data issued to you by the Library of Congress.

You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you, if you truly desire. Having P-CIP data can make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100, and can be done by Quality Books, Inc. or CIPblock.com. (1)

5. Dedication – this is a page that explains the author’s source of inspiration and/or who she is dedication the book to. It can be a single name or it can be a paragraph or two. This page is optional.

6. Epigraph – this is a page that includes a quotation, sentence, or poem. It can face the Table of Contents or the first page of the text.

I’m currently working on a 10 book series that will have an epigraph in each book.

Epigraphs can also be used at the beginning of chapters, on the same page the chapter begins or on a separate page opposite the beginning of each chapter.

According to LiteraryDevices.com:

An epigraph can serve different purposes such as it can be used as a summary, introduction, an example, or an association with some famous literary works, so as to draw comparison or to generate a specific context to be presented in the piece. (2)

This page is optional.

7. Contents Page, also known as the Table of Contents – this page lists each section and/or chapters within the book. It helps the reader navigate the book in longer works, like middle grade and young adult stories.

You would not use a Contents Page in a picture book.

8. Foreword – this page has a short piece written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to introduce the author and the book. It most often includes the writer’s name and signature.

Usually, the writer of the foreword is noteworthy.

This page is optional.

9. Preface – this page is written by the author and usually tells about how and why the book came to be and the process. It may also include what the book is about and why you think it’s important. This page is optional.

10. Acknowledgments – this page lists the people or entities the author is grateful to for help in the creation of the book. This page is optional.

11. Introduction – this page discusses the purpose and goals of the book. This page is optional.

12. Prologue – this page sets the scene for the fiction story. It can include backstory and should be told in the protagonist’s voice. This page is optional.

13. Second half title – this page helps set off or end an extensive front matter. As the name implies, it’s identical to the first half title page and is added before the beginning of the story text. It is used when needed.

Other pages in the front matter that you may find in some books are: List of Figures and List of Tables. But, for the majority of authors self-publishing children’s books they aren’t needed.

I just want to note here that most of the front matter isn’t necessary until after the story is written. And, if you have a picture book, it won’t be needed until after the illustrations are done.

You’ll need it when you’re ready to upload your book to sites like CreateSpace or when you’re ready to hand it over to them to upload it for publication for you.

That’s about it for the front matter of your book. The story itself is considered the ‘body of the book.’ When I get the time, I’ll write about the ‘back matter’ of your book.

Hope this is helpful in your self-publishing journey.

Sources:

(1) https://kindlepreneur.com/book-copyright-page-examples-ebook/
(2) https://literarydevices.net/epigraph/

Additional Sources:
https://wikipedia.com
https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/02/self-publishing-basics-how-to-organize-your-books-front-matter/
https://www.scribendi.com/advice/front_matter.en.html

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

10 Tips to Hiring a Children’s Ghostwriter
5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish

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, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Oct 09

10 Tips to Hiring With a Children’s Ghostwriter

10-tipshiringghostwriterBefore I get into the tips to working with a ghostwriter, let me explain what a ghostwriter is. A ghostwriter is simply a ‘writer for hire’ who will write your children’s book, article, website content, or other type of content you need to create and market your book.

S/he’ll take your idea, your notes, your outline, or your draft and turn it into a publishable story. A story that you’ll be proud to put your name on. And, if she knows the ropes, she’ll give you advice on what to do after the book is written.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the 10 tips to working with one.

1. Research ghostwriters before jumping on board with one.

Do a Google search for ‘children’s ghostwriters’ and see how s/he ranks in the search engines.

2. Visit the website of the person you’re interested in working with.

How does it look? Does the site quickly convey that it’s about writing for children? Is it neat and easy to navigate (get from page to page)?

A couple of other things to check for on the website is whether or not it’s current. Check the blog and see if it’s posted to on a regular basis.

You’ll also want to check out the testimonials page. Are there clients who are recommending and/or praising the ghostwriter?

The website is important. I’ve had clients base their decision to hire me just by visiting my website.

3. What about qualifications?

Does the writer’s About Page let you know that s/he is qualified?

One side note here: While some ghostwriters may have lots of their own books published, I for one have so many clients I don’t have the time to keep up with my own books. I have two published and a children’s picture book series in contract. I’ve been wanting to write a sequel to Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure), but just don’t have the time.

So, when looking at this particular qualification, keep this in mind for whoever you’re thinking of going with.

Look at the groups their associated with or have memberships to. Look at any other distinguishable events or awards.

4. Make sure the ghostwriter is accessible.

When you’re on the writer’s website, make sure there is an email address and phone number, so you can easily communicate.

5. Does s/he offer a free consultation?

Some people want that personalized experience – not just an email. I’ve had clients who simply wanted to hear my voice to make sure it was a real person they were dealing with. I’ve even had a couple of people who wanted a Skype consultation. But, aside from this, if you like, ask for a free consultation to discuss your project.

Most ghostwriters will be happy to talk with you about your project. Just please keep in mind that they may keep it short, maybe 10-15 minutes. So, have your questions ready before the phone call. And, have a clear idea of what you want.

6. Not a talker? Then contact the writer by email.

Send the ghostwriter a brief, but clear email on what you’d like and how s/he can help you.

7. The NDA (nondisclosure agreement).

The NDA is simply a confidentiality agreement. It protects your idea. The writer states that s/he will not use your idea for any purpose or reason.

If you’re dealing with a reputable ghostwriter this isn’t really necessary – professional ghostwriters would never disclose any information you divulge. But, for peace-of-mind, ask for one if you’d feel better.

Regarding my clients, I’d say half want one and the other half could care less.

8. About a Freelance Writing Agreement.

Most freelance writers, if not all, have a standard freelance writing agreement for their clients. It is tweaked for each individual project for those particulars, but the basic information is the same.

The agreement may include:

• Terms: What the client wants done and what the writer will do.
• The relationship of the parties.
• The time frame for the completion of the project.
• Compensation.
• An NDA.
• Termination information.

9. Does the ghostwriter offer payment options?

This is important. Most writers will offer payment options and scheduling.

For example: For picture books, I have a three-payment schedule. For chapter books and middle-grade, the number of payments depends on the length of the book and time frame involved.

10. Is the ghostwriter easy to work with?

This you won’t really know until you start working with one. But, often the testimonials will give you an indication of how they work.

But, even before you hire one, you can have some indication by:

• Did s/he answer all your questions?
• Did s/he get back to you promptly?
• Is s/he friendly and approachable?
• Does s/he sound knowledgeable?

Sometimes, just speaking with someone can let you know if s/he is the ghostwriter you’d like to work with.

11. Yep – a bonus tip.

Find out who’ll actually be writing your book. Does the site farm out their writing projects or use subcontractors? Is it a staff of writers? This is not to say the latter is bad, but it’s good to know who you’ll be working with.

So, there you have it, 10 11 tips to getting started with a children’s ghostwriter. I hope it’s helpful in choosing one that you’ll feel comfortable with.

If you’re thinking of hiring a children’s ghostwriter and have questions or would like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your project, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Or, shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice—@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

Oct 02

Fiction Writing – 5 Top No-Nos

Fiction writing mistakes to avoid.Fiction writers who are good at what they do, enjoy what they do. They like creating something from nothing . . . well from an idea. They enjoy the craft and the process.

But, with that said, there are 5 top mistakes these writers make.

1. You make the beginning of your story all roses.

While we’d all love to live in a peaceful, happy land, readers need something to sink their teeth into, especially at the beginning of the story.

The beginning of your story is the hook. It’s where you GRAB the reader and make her have to turn the page and want to know what’s going to happen to the protagonist.

Here are a couple of examples of ‘hooking’ beginnings:

“I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened away.”
“The Talented Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker.

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
“Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo

These two examples of children’s writing give you a good idea of what it takes to ‘hook’ the reader.

2. The dialog is weak, fluffy.

Having weak dialog can kill your story. You need your characters to have passion . . . to have life.

You want dialog that is strong and tight. You want the emotion (the conflict, the tension, the passion) to come through the words. And, you want to say it in as few words and as realistically as possible.

You want the reader to feel what the character is feeling at that moment.

If Bob is angry in the story, show it through his dialog:

“WHAT! Who said you could take that?!”
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
“No! You can’t. Now get lost.”
“Get your hands off of me!”

The tight, strong dialog goes for exchanges also:

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Bob yelled.

Gia spun around. “Oh, ugh, nothing.” Her eyes darted to the door then back to Bob.

3. The story is predictable.

You’ve got to have some surprises in the story. If you don’t, it will make for a rather dull, predictable story.

For this aspect of your story, think questions.

– Why is the character in that situation?
– How did he get there?
– What must she be feeling, seeing?
– How can see get out of it?
– What might happen next?

Try to come up with four or five options as to what might happen next.

In an article at Writer’s Digest, the author advises to “Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.” (1)

Let your imagination run wild.

4. Your characters are one-dimensional.

For readers to become engaged in a story, they have to develop a connection with the protagonist and other characters. In order for this to happen, the characters must be multi-dimensional.

Characters need to be believable and unique. You don’t want them to be predictable or a stereotype.

According to “Breathing Life into Your Characters” by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., “The essential components for creating successful characters with emotional and psychological depth—feelings, passion, desires, psychology, and vision—reside within [the writer].”

So, think about it. What conditions or characteristics does your character have?

– Does he have a personality disorder?
– Does he have phobias?
– Is she dysfunctional?
– Is she a troublemaker or bully?
– Is he anxious?
– Does she have an eating disorder?
– Is she fearful?
– Is she a risk taker, fearless?

And, keep in mind that the more stressful an ‘inciting incident’ or event, the more reaction and/or adjustment there will be.

For example: If a child lost a pet, it wouldn’t be as severe as losing a parent.
If a woman became separated from her husband, it wouldn’t be as severe as having her husband suddenly die.

So, using your experiences and innate characteristics, along with research, you can create multi-faceted characters.

5. You dump information into the story.

This is more of a mistake that new writers may make. I had a client who created the entire first paragraph of her middle-grade story with ‘information dump.’

She had the protagonist talking to a stuffed animal, in a pretend interview. She gave backstory and other details she wanted to convey to the reader through the interview. She didn’t realize that this information needed to be layered or weaved into the story, not dumped in one big truck load.

You might also use a prologue to give backstory.

While there are other things to watch for in fiction writing, these are five of the top no-nos.

Reference:
(1) 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes and Fixes

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication
Why Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Children’s Book is a Good Idea
Submitting Queries – Be Specific and Professional