Apr 29

Are You Showing or Telling?

Showing and telling in your writing

I’ve written about showing and telling before, but it’s such an important topic that I think more information is always helpful.

Writing is an ongoing adventure…always something to learn and tweak and hone. A while ago I wrote a children’s story and found I still had a bit of showing in it, noted by writing coach and children’s author Suzanne Lieurance who gave it a critique.

I was toying with the idea of submitting my story as a picture book, but was advised it would work out better as a children’s magazine article, unless I wanted to rewrite it specifically for a PB.

Anyway, I noticed that when I write, and I think this goes for most of us, my thoughts precede my reading and writing ability – so I don’t catch my own errors. This happens because I know what I wrote and what I intend to convey. This makes it almost impossible for a writer to edit her (or his) own work. You can get close, but as the saying goes, Almost Doesn’t Cut It.

What do I mean? Well, let’s look at a simple sentence:

In a daze, Pete stumbled to his feet.

While this isn’t the exact sentence in my story, it is similar. I revised my article and reread it numerous times and didn’t notice that “in a daze” is telling, not showing. And, what’s the KEY to writing in today’s fast paced, no time to waste world? FOCUS AND TIGHT WRITING.

In fact, the fast paced reader of today is getting even more impatient and ready to move on in the blink of an eye. So, we need to take this into account in our writing and marketing.

Okay, back to the focus of the article…

So, how do we change the above sentence into a showing only sentence?

Dazed, Pete stumbled to his feet.

Really simple when you are able to actually read what is written rather than already know what you intended.

What are the important tips to take away?

1. Make sure you are part of a critique group. These groups can be super-helpful. If you’re a children’s writer, you can find one in the forum of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrations (SCBWI). There’s a yearly fee, but it’s worth the investment.

2. Belong to writing groups in the genre you write. Usually, you can ask questions and get answers.

3. If your budget can afford it, get at least one grammar editing tool. I use Grammarly and ProWritingAid. They may not specifically tell you you’re ‘telling’, but they will tell you if you’re using passive writing.

Just be careful not to depend on it solely. I’ve had both tools miss an ending dialogue punctuation on a client’s work.

For more on showing versus telling (the article has been updated):

Writing – Showing vs. Telling

4. Do not submit your work to a publisher or agent before you’ve edited it and proofed carefully. It’s important to have someone who knows how to write to review or critique your manuscript for you (if you’re not already a part of a critique group).

5. If it’s in your budget, have it professionally edited.

MORE ON WRITING

Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory
Learning to Write for Children – It’s More Than Just ABC

Children's ghostwriter

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

Just send me an email to: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

Feb 22

Creating and Beefing Up the Conflict in Your Story

Writing conflict

Your story has a great beginning—a great hook that will capture the reader instantly. You have an interesting, funny, or mischievous protagonist who will keep the reader engaged.

But will it be enough to keep the reader turning the pages to end? Is there something missing?

Children’s stories aren’t what they use to be. Granted many stories of years ago did have conflict, but they would not cut it in today’s children’s market.

In today’s children’s writing world, writing must be tight and focused. And, you need conflict. The conflict is like a detour or obstacle in the road from point A to point B. The protagonist must figure out a way over, under, around, or through it.

Examples You Can Use to Create and Beef up the Conflict:

Tommy wants more than anything to play baseball, but he’s not very good. The other boys never willingly choose him for their team. How will Tommy overcome this problem?

What if Tommy gets the best bat and glove on the market—will this make him a better ball player?

Kristen’s friends all have new bikes, but she has her older sister’s hand-me-down. Kristen needs to figure out a way to get a new bike.

What if Kristen finally gets a new bike and leaves it unattended at the park. It gets stolen. She’s afraid to tell her parents, so keeps this little bit of information to herself. But, how long can she keep this up.

What if Billy has a run in with the school bully and ever since he’s harassed every day. How can Billy get out of this mess?

So, the way to create and build conflict is to use “how” and “what if” to generate conflict and get your story off the ground and flying.

In the article “What to Aim For When Writing,” Margot Finke advises, “A slow buildup of tension gives good pace. Dropping hints and clues builds tension, which in turn moves your story along. Short, punchy sentences give better pace than longwinded lines.”

For chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, Finke advises to keep the reader engaged by ending each chapter with a kind of cliff-hanger. This doesn’t mean you need a life and death scenario, just something that entices the reader to move onto the next chapter to find out what happens. In addition, to increase your story’s pace in certain sections, use shorter chapters. Chapters with 5-7 pages creates the sense of a quicker pace.

More Fiction Writing Reading:

Theme and Your Story
Imagery and Your Story
Writing with Clarity

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your 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 347—-834—-6700.

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Feb 22

Character Sheets – Adding Dimension to Your Protagonist

Character Sheets

Connecting with a reader entails a couple of things, one of which is to have a fully developed protagonist. A crucial aspect of creating a real character is his/her interactions with the other characters in the story, and his/her reactions to external influences. These reactions to external surroundings or occurrences add layers to your protagonist.

To be able to write with this type of clarity and dimension for your protagonist, you need to know every detail of your protagonist’s character. Even if you learn tidbits here and there as the story progresses, those new bits and pieces of the characters traits will need to be remembered and possibly used again. An excellent way to keep track of your protagonist’s characteristics is to create a character sheet.

Using Character Sheets

Make note on your character sheet of every reaction and interaction your character has with another character. As with actual life, we interact differently with different people in our lives. A boy will not react to a friend the same way he does a brother. He will not react the same to a sister as he does a brother. The same holds true for all other relationships. All these different interactions help create a fully dimensional protagonist.

As you’re creating your story’s characters’ dynamics, keep in mind that all characters play a part in creating a realistic story, even in fantasy and sci-fi. What this means is that your protagonist needs a responsive partner or team member (character) when interacting, otherwise the interaction will feel one-sided and flat.

Create Character Continuity

In order to create a continuity of character traits for all characters, each character needs a character sheet. While for some this may seem tedious, it is well worth the effort. You may be three quarters through the book and can’t remember how character A interacted with character D. You won’t want to have to search through the story to find this little tidbit of information.

Also, keep in mind that each character will have his/her own motivation for actions and reactions. This is part of their character traits and should be listed on their character sheet.

Remember, every action, reaction and interaction created in your story will not only develop the protagonist, but also the other characters in the story.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Writing for children tips

Adding More Dimension to Your Story’s Characters

10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories

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Feb 22

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

Submitting your manuscript

Writing is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea. You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters. The journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Then, the day finally arrives. Your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

The writing journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Time passes, and finally your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript.

1. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best you can do.

2. Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre. Submit your ms for critique.

3. Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received. Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story is age inappropriate, listen. If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4. Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5. Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6. Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7. Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8. Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
• Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors?
• How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue?
• Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as was and very.
• What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs – got a grasp on them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited. If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not. Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing – it will provide a solid foundation. The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

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Need Help With Your StoryWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

Articles on writing for children

Character Sheets – Adding Dimension to Your Protagonist

Theme and Your Story

Adding More Dimension to Your Story’s Characters

Feb 22

Imagery and Your Story

The Writing World

Probably one of the most difficult aspects of writing is providing content that your reader can turn into pictures or imagery. You may know exactly what you’re trying to convey, the image you want your reader to see, but does your content translate into effective imagery for your reader?

Stephen King discusses this topic in an informative article in the August 2010 Writer magazine. Obviously, any advice from this author is valuable, but I especially like his views on imagery. A key tip that struck me is: “Imagery does not occur on the writer’s page; it occurs in the reader’s mind.”

The question that follows is: how does a writer transfer what’s in her mind into the mind of the reader?

The answer is through description.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. What many writers may tend to do is offer too many details that aren’t necessary and may weigh the story down. According to Mr. King, you need to pick and choose the most important details and descriptions that will allow the reader to understand what you’re conveying, but also provide enough room for the reader to create his own unique image.

To accomplish this task Mr. King says to “Leave in details that impress you the most strongly: leave in the details you see the most clearly; leave everything else out.”

The strategy in this is to look carefully at what you want to convey. Picture an image in your mind and focus on the key aspects, the aspects that give you a clear picture of what it is. Then, write what you see. Again, this may not be easy to do, but Mr. King suggests that there is another vision tool to use, which he calls “a third eye” of imagination and memory.

What we see is translated to our brain. Once there we need to interpret that image and transcribe it into content that will provide the reader with a strong gist of what it is, but also allow the reader to fill in her own details. And, those details should convey what you’re targeting.

For example: The house stood dark and dreary.

While this simple sentence provides imagery that should enable the reader to create a picture, there are probably not enough details for the basic image you might be going for. What color is the house? Is it in disrepair? Is it a new or old house, big or small?

A possible alternative to the above example that adds a little more detail, but not too much is: Cracked shingles hung on the dingy grey house.

To further emphasis its disrepair, you might add: Chipped paint and missing caulking on the windows gave the house an eerie feeling.

Another example of imagery is from my children’s middle grade fantasy book, Walking Through Walls: Wang bound the last bunch of wheat stalks as the sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore.

The two sentences provide sufficient imagery for the reader to understand the situation, while not giving too many details. If you notice, the content doesn’t mention the color of his shirt, or if Wang knelled on the ground or hunched over the bundle. It’s also missing a number of other details that aren’t necessary and would weigh the story down.

Interestingly, along with concise details, your characters’ names might also add imagery to your story. When you read my character’s name, Wang, what image comes to mind?

You might think of your story’s imagery as an outline or sketch, rather than a colored and finely detailed painting. The basic idea is there for your reader to enhance with her own imagination and memory.

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Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Writing for children tips

Storytelling – Don’t Let the Reader Become Disengaged

Point of View and Children’s Storytelling

Writing – It’s Not Wise to Revise Too Soon

Feb 22

Theme and Your Story

Your story is like a puzzle. It takes a number of elements working together to make a memorable story. One of those elements is the ‘theme.’

Theme can be a frightening topic. Do you have a theme in mind before striking the first key? Or, do you write your first draft and then decide what the theme is? Do you have a problem deciding what the theme is, even after you’re in revisions?

In an article, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Theme,” in the Writer’s Chronicle, May 2010, Eileen Pollack discusses theme:

The concrete elements of any story constitute its plot—Character A, in Village B, is torn by a specific conflict that gives rise to a series of concrete actions through which she relieves that stress. The more general question raised in the reader’s mind by this specific character acting out this specific plot constitutes the story’s aboutness—or, dare I say, it’s theme.

This description of the elements of a story holds true for any fiction work, including children’s stories. The elements, woven together with theme as the foundation, is what makes the reader continue on, turning the pages . . . it’s what makes the reader care. According to Pollack, “Theme is the writer’s answer to the reader’s rude, So what?” And, if the theme is poignant, and captures what some or many people actually do, allowing the reader to recognize the situation and actions, the reader will be engaged. Hopefully, the reader will be able to take the theme, however subtle it is, away with them.

For those worried about the theme affecting the story’s natural flow, Pollack advises deciding on your theme after your first draft. Once you have your theme in hand, go over your story again and again. You can now let the theme subtly permeate your story. Pollack goes on to say, “The most powerful use of theme is the way it allows you to fill in your character’s inner lives.”

Former literary agent Mary Kole, in her blog at Kidlit.com, also sheds light on the worrisome theme:

When you revise, think about what your work is saying. You’ve got to have a reason for writing it. There should be distinct themes and ideas that you could point to as the center of your book. [. . .] Once you know what these are — and you usually won’t until you’ve started revising — you can use them as a lens. [. . .] A theme for your work should color everything in it, subtly, especially the descriptions.

So, there you have, after you’ve written your story and are working on revisions, if you haven’t gotten it yet, your theme should become evident. Using it as a “lens” and filtering each paragraph through it, you should be able to convey the theme to the reader.

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Be a children's writerBeing 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 my 250 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of  HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Write a children's book

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Amazon Author Central Page and Book Page – Make the Most of Them

Feb 21

10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories

Tips and tricks to children's writingI write for young children and I’ve also written marketing and health articles. Writing in multiple genres, I can tell you that writing for children can be much more challenging.

When writing for children, there are guidelines to keep in mind to help your story avoid the editor’s trash pile.

Here is a list of 10 rules to refer to when writing for young children (these rules pertain to traditional publishing and self-publishing):

1. This is probably the most important item: be sure that your story does not suggest dangerous or inappropriate behavior.

Example: The protagonist (main character) sneaks out of the house while his parents are sleeping.

This is a no-no!

2. Make sure your story has age appropriate words, dialogue, and action.

3. The protagonist should have an age appropriate problem or dilemma to solve at the beginning of the story, in the first paragraph if possible. Let the action/conflict rise. Then have the protagonist, through thought process and problem solving skills, solve it on his/her own. If an adult is involved, keep the input and help at a bare minimal.

Kid’s love action and problem solving!

4. The story should have a single point of view (POV). To write with a single point of view means that if your protagonist can’t see, hear, touch or feel it, it doesn’t exist.

Example: “Mary crossed her eyes behind Joe’s back.” If Joe is the protagonist this can’t happen because Joe wouldn’t be able to see it.

5. Sentence structure: Keep sentences short and as with all writing, keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum. And, watch your punctuation and grammar.

6. Write your story by showing through action and dialogue rather than telling.

If you can’t seem to get the right words to show a scene, try using dialogue instead; it’s an easy alternative.

7. You also need to keep your writing tight. This means don’t say something with 10 words if you can do it with 5. Get rid of unnecessary words.

8. Watch the time frame for the story. Try to keep it within several hours or one day for very young children. For the older crowd (7-8) keep it short also, but the time frame can extend a week, a month, and depending on the storyline, you can probably get away with a school year. Just follow the current traditional publishing guidelines.

9. Along with the protagonist’s solution to the conflict, he/she should grow in some way as a result.

10. Use a thesaurus and book of similes. Finding just the right word or simile can make the difference between a good story and a great story.

Using these techniques will help you create effective children’s stories. Another important tool to use in your writing tool belt is joining a children’s writing critique group. No matter how long you’ve been writing, you can always use another set of eyes.

It you’re a beginning writer and unpublished, you should join a group that has published and unpublished members. Having published and experienced writers in the group will help you hone your craft.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need rewriting, ghostwriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

Articles on writing for childrenCritiques are Essential for Writers

Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

Creating Conflict in Your Story

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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

Learning to Write for Children – It’s More Than Just A,B,C

Writing for ChildrenI have been writing since childhood: poems, short stories, even songs. I never thought of publishing my work or making it a career until around 2006.

Not knowing any better, I thought it would be easy.

I felt comfortable writing and always seemed to be able to think of something to write about.

Then I started the process of actually writing children’s books with the intent of having them published. This opened another world, one filled with road blocks and rejection letters and a lot of hard work.

While I did minor in English Literature in college it had been many years prior and it was not the background specifically needed in writing for children.

To write for children you need to know techniques such as the Core of Threes and having the protagonist solve the problem, not the parent or grandparent. You have to know showing is a must, but telling must be limited. You need to have the right sentence structure along with good grammar and punctuation. Your dialogue must be age appropriate and you must watch out for blind spots in your writing. You need to understand and utilize words such as tighten, good voice, focus, point of view, hook…it goes on and on and on.

And, you need to know what children’s editors are looking for.

So, how do you learn all the information needed to write for children, especially if you don’t want to get a degree in children’s literature or are unable to enroll in a school specifically geared toward this subject?

The answer is the internet. Sounds easy, right?

Well, think again.

I’ve taken several college courses long distance and I can tell you that learning a subject in a classroom is much easier.

And learning on your own, using the internet is even more difficult and very time consuming.

First, there are thousands of sites and blogs that have information you need. Just use common sense and be a little careful as you want to make sure the information you’re reading is valid. The time spent searching this needed information is so great it can very easily keep you from actually writing.

So, what can you do to ease into writing for children?

1. Your first order of business is to join a writer’s group where there are new and seasoned people in the business of writing who are willing and able to help. This is also a good place to network.

2. You also need to join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – you can get great tips and advice there.

3. Next, you should join a children’s writing critique group.

4. If you are able, you should make it a priority to attend a children’s writing conference – online and/or offline.

5. There are also a number of sites that offer free videos, webinars, teleseminars, and teleconferences,  take advantage of as many as you can.

6. Also, check out online courses from Gotham Writers Workshop and/or the Institute of Children’s Literature.

7. Another source is editors, publishers and agents’ blogs. Often, you will get great tips and information.

8. Don’t forget about children’s writers’ blogs, like this one. They have tons of valuable tips to writing for children.

9. Read, read, read. Read about children’s writing and read children’s books. Well, don’t just read them, study them, learn from them. Try to figure out what makes them work.

10. Persevere. It’s not always the best writers who succeed, it’s the writers who persevere.

There are also a couple of helpful books such as “The Little, Brown Essential Handbook,” and “The Children’s Writer’s Word Book.”

The world of children’s writing can feel overwhelming, but it can also be very rewarding.

Remember to pace yourself. Create a time management plan and prioritize. With hard work and perseverance you’ll be writing stories soon enough.

Be a children's writerBeing 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 my 250-page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.