Nov 21

Writing Opportunities and Inspiration Through Television and News

Writing inspiration is all around us

By Regina Montana

I consider myself an animal lover which is why they often find their way into my stories and poems as main characters.

Then, I read a newspaper headline “Animals rescued from California fires.” I knew that this had real potential for a poem or picture book. It was filled with emotion for me.

I never realized how many animals could be affected by wildfires until I read this article. Bears often get burned since their instinct tells them to climb trees when there is danger. Many of the injuries are the same: burns, dehydration, respiratory problems, traumatic lesions, and starvation.

I’m always amazed at the brilliant work that scientists and veterinarians do to care for all creatures, great and small. Maybe I could in some way figure out a way to bring this story to light. I had already written a free verse poem called “A Giant Turtle Rescue” about the rescue of sea turtles in south Texas early this year when the waters turned frigid and the people of South Padre Island all came together to rescue the turtles. I also did a sketch of the turtles saluting the people who saved them.

At one point, my mentor and children’s book author Randi Mrvos suggested I try to write a non-fiction article for a children’s magazine.

Listening to the local news one night, I heard about The Hudson River Eel Project. This was a type of citizen scientist project designed to involve adults and college students in local environmental work. The project had been in existence for about 10 years, and the purpose was to track the migration pattern of the American Eel which then helped scientists study the health of the Hudson River.

I was never really enamored of eels. Until, that is, I heard about their amazing journey. They ride ocean currents as tiny larvae born in the middle of the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of North America.

This motivated me. I was determined to write an article that would change kids’ minds about this creepy creature that has been around for millions of years. Once complete, I submitted it.

Recently a major newspaper wrote to me saying my article is still with the editorial department which may consider publishing it in the coming months. I remain ever hopeful that this story will amaze young readers as it did this 72-year-old grandmother (at the time.)

Did I mention I had to hike down a fairly steep embankment with a torn meniscus in my left knee, fearful that at any minute I could fall into the fairly frigid water of this Hudson River tributary? Thankfully, I did not fall, but kept a tight grip on a rope that helped us get down into the water.

We counted baby larvae that got trapped in nets called fykes. They were subsequently carried in a pail as we walked past a damn and released them into the tributary. Now they were ready to swim upstream and grow into adult eels, many 3-4 feet in length. Then they swim back out to the Sargasso Sea, the only place where they spawn and die.

So always keep an open mind when you read the news, in print or online, or turn on the television. The main character for your next picture book, magazine article, or poem may be waiting. It might even be the story of tiny larvae riding the currents of the Atlantic Ocean, then heading up and down North American rivers and growing into adult eels. And they’ve been doing this for millions of years.


Contributor to Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

Regina is a children’s literature writer of poems and picture books. She has written for the ezine Kids Imagination Train, and is a member of Children’s Book Insider where she contributed two articles to, as well as a member of SCBWI. Regina is also a teacher with a Master of Education Degree. She has raised two children of her own and is now a grandmother of 5 who give her lots of ideas when she listens carefully.

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story 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.


5 Must-Know Tips to Help Revise Your Story

Writing for Children: Enjoy the Journey

Scenes and How to Make Them Work

Like this post? Please share it!
Nov 14

Self-Publishing: Scams, Scams, and More Scams

Writing and Scams

Scams are all over the place and touch on almost every facet of life.

From paying off you student loans, to your car maintenance insurance is about to lapse, to calls that your Amazon account has been hacked.

Well, authors aren’t exempt.

There are a number of scams going around for self-publishing authors.

These scams range from online services that will publish your book, edit and proof your manuscript, create your illustrations (if you’re a children’s author), market your book, and even create a website for you.

Dealing with so many ghostwriting clients (around 350), I’ve heard and even seen some of the horror stories.

One client hired a self-publishing company, a subsidiary of a major publishing company, to do the illustrations for a book I wrote for him.

The client thought that because there was a major publisher somewhere in the background would ensure quality work, so he went with them.

The illustrations were poorly done and it cost him upwards of $10,000.

Another client decided to use one of these self-publishing services to market his book and create an author website.

He gave me the link to the website and again, another unprofessional job. The web copy was weak and full of errors.

Yet another client hired a marketing firm to handle her children’s book marketing. They subbed the work to ‘who knows who’ to create the website.

The subbed service had no idea how to write copy for a children’s site. They didn’t even know what webpages to create. The client hired me to oversee the website project.

Most of these services use ineffective marketing strategies. So basically, the author is paying for nothing. Probably eight out of ten of the services don’t’ know what they’re doing. And, they don’t care.

The scam stories go on and on and on. It’s horrible. Authors spend thousands and thousands for noticeably unprofessional work.

In regard to editing, proofing, and even ghostwriting, these services hire non-English speaking writers and most often they’re not professional writers. And, they charge top dollar for the work. I’ve even seen manuscripts where it’s evident that the writers didn’t know how to write for children.

I’ve had a couple of clients who decided to allow the self-publishing service they hired to publish the book edit the manuscript also.


The reason I know this happened is because they came back to me to revise what the service had done.

This is a main reason I’d never allow a client to use my name in their book. I have no idea what they do with the story once I hand it over.

A New Scam

Now, there’s a new scam in town. At least it’s one I haven’t heard of before.

This one aims at a book that’s already self-published.

According to Writer Beware, “scores of publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams that are super-aggressively soliciting self-published and small press writers these days with an offer to re-publish or “re-brand” your book.” (1)

You should read this article as these services are worse than the self-publishing companies.

You can read it here:
(1) Say NO to That Offer to Re-Publish Your Self-Pubbed Book 

Another article to check out is:
3 Ways to Identify a Publishing Scam

If these articles can stop one author from jumping in blindly, they’re worth their weight in gold.

As someone who has been in this business for a while, it’s so sad to see authors taken advantage of by unscrupulous scammers… thieves.

So, please beware, and remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story 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.


Children’s Books and Back Matter

The Secret of Getting Ahead

Creating Story Characters – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Please Share

Nov 10

Children’s Book Mastery 2021

Writing for children

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to mention that I’m a speaker at the Children’s Book Mastery 2021.

Want to ask me something about writing for children?

Well my workshop probably covers it. The title is: The Ins and Outs of Children’s Books Genres, Age Groups, Writing and Craft.

And, there’s a 12-page give away: How Do You Plan a Children’s Story.

It covers plot, story structure, characters, setting, conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution. Then it goes into theme and the feel of your story, which covers tone, mood, and style. There’s a lot packed into these 12 pages.


You can learn the biggest secrets to children’s book author success from the experts at this event. Find out who the speakers are and what the session topics are right NOW at the Children’s Book Mastery 2021!

My workshop is LIVE and there are over 30 other Masterclass workshops.

The summit is on until the 13th and then the 14th and 15th are encore days. So check it out quick!


Writing for children
Nov 07

Book Marketing: SEO Basics

SEO Basics for Authors

By Karen Cioffi

As an author, it’s important to understand book marketing.

To understand book marketing, it’s important to understand the basics of SEO.

SEO may seem confusing and even a bit scary to some. But it needn’t be.

Just dip your toe in and learn the basics. It’s kind of common sense once you understand it’s purpose.

This acronym stands for search engine optimization and its fundamental purpose is to get you visible and build your authority through organic strategies (marketing strategies that are free).

This in turn will help you build your readership and help you sell your books and/or services.

And, it’s important to understand that having your website and content optimized isn’t only for the search engines; it’s also for searchers (the people using keywords/phrases to search for what they want), and visitors to your site.

Before I delve into SEO, let me talk a bit about author websites, as it’s a crucial part of online marketing.

You Need One

Every author and writer should have their own website. If you weren’t sure about this before, you can be now.

You can’t rely on social media networks for your only online address. For instance, having a Facebook author page is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be the only place people can find you for a number of reasons.

These networks are continually changing the game. Your organic marketing reach (the other users in your social network who actually see your posts) is shrinking more and more. To get more visibility you need to pay to ‘boost’ your post.

The last I read, organic reach for the average Facebook Page is below 5 percent. Roughly, this means that 1 in 50 connections will see your posts.

I think in some instances it’s even much lower. I saw the stats of an article I recently posted to Facebook and it reached 3 users out of around 1000 followers. Yes, only 3.

And, if a social network doesn’t like what you’re posting, they can remove it.

To establish a solid book marketing foundation, you need a website.

But, I’m getting off track here.

What is SEO?

SEO is kind of like a popularity contest. Certain actions by people can give your website a vote of confidence (authority). A few of these actions are:

  • Liking you
  • Sharing your content (blog posts)
  • Clicking on your link that leads back to your website (this is considered an inbound link)
  • Staying on your site for more than several seconds
  • Linking back to your site from their website (this is considered a backlink)
  • Commenting

Google considers these actions votes.

If a lot of people are giving you votes, Google will make your website and content more visible to people searching for keywords that are relevant to your site and/or article.

An Example of SEO in Practice

This site’s basic keywords are: writing tips, writing for children, book marketing, self-publishing, publishing

If my site and the content on it are doing a good job motivating people to take action with votes of approval, Google will list my posts higher up on its search engine results page (SERP).

This in turn will bring even more people to your website, giving us more votes.

How it works:

I write a post on book marketing. I share that post on my social network accounts. People see the post and click on the link back to my website to read the post. The visitors find the post informative, so they share it and maybe comment.

Then, let’s suppose Amanda comes along and wants to learn about ‘book marketing’. She puts that keyword in Google’s search box.

Google scours its millions or billions of tidbits of information and sees that Writers on the Move has an article that has gotten votes and is relevant to Amanda’s search keyword. So, Google puts the link to that article on the first SERP so Amanda can see it.

Amanda sees the title of the article and the brief description I included. She thinks it will be helpful so clicks on it.

See where this is going?

The more visibility, the more people come to your website. This in turn boosts your authority and ranking along with your chances of ‘conversion’ (turning visitors into customers, clients, and/or subscribers to your newsletter).

This is SEO.

Sharing and Commenting

Because of this cycle of sharing and visitors, and sharing and more visitors, it’s essential to get people to share your blog posts. It’s considered another vote.

Google pays attention to everything.

So, if you’re reading this post and find it’s helpful, PLEASE Share it. And, if time allows, please comment.

This post was first published at:


Karen Cioffi will show you how to build your author platform

Build Your Author/Writer Platform

Along with being a children’s author and ghostwriter, I’m an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

This e-class is 4-weeks, in-depth, and interactive. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW to check out all it includes!

If you want to check out other classes I offer, check out:


Writing a Children’s Book Series – Different Types

Villain or Antagonist – Is There a Difference?

10 Top Book Marketing Strategies

Please Share!

Oct 31

Every Writer Needs a Strong Critique Group

The benefits of writing critiques

Contributed by Maryellen Annese

When I first started writing, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to join a critique group. Thankfully, when I joined SCBWI, I found a group of picture book writers who met monthly to critique their works in progress. Over the last few years, I have learned so much from them. I have changed and I have grown as a writer, with their helpful guidance and advice. I strive to be a good critique partner too. I’ve found that when I look at a critique partner’s story, I follow the same structure each time:

1) Read the story all the way through first- ideas may pop into my head but I need to get a sense of the story, the whole story, before commenting.

2) Sit on it. I find my best ideas are found upon reflecting on the story for a few hours at least.

3) When I return to the story, I often ask myself these questions:

  • Does the story’s main character reflect a child? Does the problem or issue the character has reflect something a child could relate to?
  • Is there an emotional arc to the story? Has the character changed in some way?
  • Are there places where the text could be cut in order for the illustrator to be creative?
  • Any repeated words? Cliché phrases? Too much telling not showing?
  • Does the opening line grab?
  • Is the ending satisfying?

4) Critique time. I approach critiques the same way I do with parent-teacher conferences. Start out with the positives. Comment on everything that is working. Then discuss the questions above and any related comments- any areas to improve. Finally, come full circle and finish with something positive.

I am still learning every day, but so far this approach has been working for me. Every week, I check out at least 10 new picture books from the library in hopes that by reading more and more in our genre, I can become not only a better writer, but a better critique partner.

Critique Groups/SCBWI

I was recently asked how I would measure the value of my critique group. My answer: immeasurable!

I have been involved with the same critique group for about two years now. I found them by joining SCBWI and connecting with writers in my local chapter. We have six members in our critique group. Each month, members can submit a manuscript they have been working on. We zoom on the second Friday of the month to discuss. The feedback I have gotten from my critique groups have been stellar and I have learned a TON from them.

For some people, including myself, it is hard to hear criticism about your “baby”. After each revision on any given manuscript, I always feel like I’m done. Thank GOD I have my writing group. They bring me back to Earth in a nice way and give excellent feedback to help take my work to the next level.

Of course, not everything that is said in the group I will use or change in my work. But when multiple people bring up the same issue- then I know I need to work on something. My manuscripts would not be nearly as polished if it weren’t for them.

People who say that “it takes a village” to raise a child, may not know that this also applies to writing a book. My village of supporters in my writing journey is quite vast. Recently, a writer friend was giving me feedback on my manuscript for my picture book biography. She said that readers should not just learn the history of my topic, but should be inspired by it. This really changed the way I looked at my story.

Critique groups can be hit or miss from what I’ve heard. But when you find the right people, you just know. My biggest piece of advice for new writers- join SCBWI and find a critique group!

Write What You Love–Love What You Write

I have always admired picture book groups like 12×12 where the goal is to write one picture book manuscript for each month of the year. Although I have never tried it, I have a hard time imagining myself coming up with a good enough idea for every month of the year. As of March 2021, I have been on my writing journey for almost 3 years and have written six polished picture book manuscripts.

As I reflect on the writing process in each of those pieces, some of them have been more motivating than others. My first manuscript, I had the concept idea first and spent nearly a year and a half painstakingly polishing it.

For another MS, I had the catchy title idea first and wrote the story around that. After one or two revisions, I put it to bed. But certain ideas that really have grabbed me, have driven me to continue with this process. I’ve been working on my picture book biography for over a year now. The subject of this bio was blessed upon me from my students. But I was so taken with this subject that I couldn’t —and won’t— give up on the protagonist until his story is told. I have been motivated to revise, revise and revise some more with that story. I truly love this topic.

Certain stories I have written, I have procrastinated FOREVER to look at again after a critique. I just didn’t love those ideas as much. But when the idea really hits you and it’s something you identify with, you will enjoy the writing process that much more. It’s just like falling in love- you just know. When I write about what I love, then I really love writing.

Props to all the 12x12ers. You inspire me. Maybe someday I will work up the courage to join you. But for now, I am digging for the gold that is those ideas that I really believe in, which brings so much enjoyment for me to write.

This article was first published at:


Maryellen Annese was raised in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. She studied Elementary Education at Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Baltimore and received her MA from Johns Hopkins U. in Reading and ENL instruction. She’s taught various ages of elementary education for 11 years. She is also a kidlit creator and ha written fiction and non-fiction picture book manuscripts and #amquerying. She is currently a volunteer for the Eastern NY region of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). If Maryellen wasn’t writing or teaching, and could have any talent in the world, she’d be a professional singer playing the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton.

Children's ghostwriter

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

Articles on writing for children

Is Your Busyness Productive?

Should You Really Write a Book?

4 Reasons Why Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book May Be Your Best Option

Like thie post? Please Share!

Oct 24

The Children’s Ghostwriter: Who, How, and Why

The Who, How and Why

A while ago, I had a conversation with a fellow attendee at a children picture book workshop. When I mentioned I’m a children’s ghostwriter she was curious how I got started in the field.

I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t remember how it actually came about.

Thinking back, though, I did start out editing for authors. Many of the manuscripts I was given was in such poor condition, I ended up rewriting the stories, some almost to the point of ghostwriting.

It just seemed to evolve from there.

In case you’re wondering, a ghostwriter is a writer who will take your idea, notes, outline, or other information and write a story for you. And, ghostwriters write in every genre you can think of: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, screenplays, video, TV scripts, technical, medical, speeches, music, and so on.

The ghostwriter offers a nondisclosure agreement and freelance agreement. And, she usually doesn’t get any recognition for her work. Although, there are instances where the ghostwriter and client agree to other terms.

Two other terms that may arise between a ghostwriter and client:

The ghostwriter has her name on the book as co-author for a reduced fee.

The ghostwriter gets a percentage of the sales, again for a reduced fee.

In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to accept either of these terms. Well, that is unless you absolutely know the book will be successful or the author is famous.

Who hires a children’s ghostwriter?

The answer to this question always amazes me.

There are people from around the world who want to be author of a children’s book but don’t have the skills or time to do it themselves.

I’ve worked with well over 300 clients from lots of different countries, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Norway, Saipan, Jordon, Dubai, and all over the United States, even Hawaii.

It seems most often it’s parents or grandparents who develop a desire to be an author of a children’s book. Usually, they want to have a story created about their children or grandchildren, or they want to impart some wisdom to children.

I’ve worked with child therapists and child psychologists who use children’s books as a tool to broaden their ability to help children.

I’ve also worked with teachers and principals who want to teach children beyond the boundaries of their school or classroom.

And, then there are the business people who see a children’s book as part of a marketing strategy for the industry they’re in or as an addition to a product they already have.

In addition to this, I’ve worked with clients who wanted a series of children’s books to use as the foundation of a new business.

I’ve even ghostwritten for a dentist.

What skills does a children’s ghostwriter need?

  1. Being a skilled writer.

While a number of authors who self-publish have the “I want it now” syndrome and ‘wing’ their books into publication, you can’t do this when someone is paying you to write a professional story.

Aside from knowing how to write, it’s essential to know the specific rules of writing for children. The ghostwriter needs to know what the current industry guidelines are.

  1. Knowing how to listen.

Listening carefully to the client is a must. The ghostwriter needs to take simple things like an idea given over the phone or in an email, notes, or a basic outline and create an engaging and publishable book.

Along with this, the writer needs to ensure the book reflects the client’s voice and vision. Listening is an essential factor in doing this.

  1. Being patient.

It may seem unusual, but a ghostwriter needs to be patient.

I’ve had a couple of clients who approved a final story, then came back in a week or two and decided they wanted revisions.

I had a middle-grade client who kept putting multiple POVs within one chapter. I’d edit it, and he’d change it.

I had another client who pretty much kept ignoring my advice as I rewrote his young adult novel.

It’s important to be patient and tactful while explaining over and over why something doesn’t work. The reason to keep after the client is that it’s the ghostwriter’s job to make sure the final product is professional.

  1. Being organized and focused.

I usually handle more than one project at a time. At one point, I worked on eight projects simultaneously.

If you’re dealing with multiple clients, you need to be able to switch stories and sometimes genres without losing a beat. This takes focus… and flexibility while handling all he emails from clients.

For organization, I use a Word and excel file for each client. I keep track of every email and every phone call.

Any time you’re dealing with writing clients, you need to keep things moving smoothly and keep your clients satisfied and in-the-loop throughout each project.

  1. Having the ability to follow through, and be on time.

As with any writing project, you’ve got to complete it and come in on time.

In the terms of the agreement, there is a time period for the project to be complete. The ghostwriter must meet the deadline.

Above all else, a ghostwriter wants to make sure her client is thrilled with the final product.

What’s the motivation?

I can’t speak for all children’s ghostwriters, but for me, I love writing for children. It’s satisfying to teach children, engage them, amaze them, bring them on adventures, and stretch their imaginations.

And, I love helping others fulfill a desire they have to see their children’s story ideas come to life.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story 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

Children’s Books and Back Matter

The Secret of Getting Ahead

Creating Story Characters – Avoid These Common Mistakes


Oct 17

5 Must-Know Tips to Help Revise Your Story

Editing and revisions are a major part of writing.

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Now that the first draft of the second book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secret in the Mist, is done, I can get to work. As author Michael Crichton has said, “writing is all about rewriting, which can be depressing, especially when after the seventh rewrite you find that’s still not working.” In other words, “books aren’t written, they’re re-written.”

Most helpful is a study of the charts that Kate Messner has created to use in her revision process. Before I studied Messner’s charts, I relied on lists, which is what I’m using for Mist. When I begin the third and last book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secrets of the Heart, I plan to switch over to my own version of Messner’s chart system.

Get the First Draft Down

When I wrote the first book, Secret in the Stars, I spent too much time writing and editing what I wrote, all the way through the manuscript. That process turned out to be extremely inefficient. It made the book take a long time to write. This is what I advise after writing Mist:

• Leave your editor’s cap at the door and write your book straight through without any interruptions.
• Let the draft sit at least five days.
• Do a read-through or general revision, editing for word choice, obvious additions and deletions; in short, anything you see that needs improving.
• Let the draft sit.

Analyze your Story: Make a List

• Get Organized: First on the list is to take stock of ideas that occur to you while writing the first draft. I wish I could say I made a neat list of my ideas. I didn’t. The ideas appeared on whatever paper was available at the time the idea struck. Still, after sifting through the piles of papers in my office, I’m glad I saved them. Examples: Abi hears a faint whistle every time the ghost appears. This “aha” moment came to me while watching a movie on TV and hearing that whistle. I put to use that terrific little scrap of paper.
• Another example is my note: “Keep personal stakes high,” a reminder I had heard at an SCBWI Zoom meeting. I began a revision with this in mind, and that pass turned out to be the second major revision.

Create Arcs for each Character

Making character arcs are not only fun and informative, but necessary. I like to make diagrams with brief descriptions of how the characters have progressed and grown through the story. The example I like to use is the thirty-five pages in Book 1 where the dog Star was missing. It was a noticeable gap, which I filled in. In Book 2, I’ve completed the arc for Angel, an antagonist, who doesn’t appear in Book 3.

List the scenes

It is, of course, important to make sure the scenes are varied and interesting. Also, keeping track of the scenes helps you make sure the story is moving forward and doesn’t contain any “dead” spots. When Chris Eboch, a professional editor and prolific author who happily belongs to my SCBWI-NM chapter, edited Book 1, she came to a lovely chapter near the end about kittens that the two main characters were given.

But, and that’s a big but, the scene didn’t move the story forward. I had to take the entire chapter out, painful as it was after having a professional photographer take my picture with two kittens at a pet store. The good news is that the photo with the kittens is a fun one for my website, and the chapter can be used in my promo materials, hopefully to help touch children’s hearts.

List Plot Points

For this most important analysis, structure becomes important. I learned how to structure my stories in a fiction writing course I took, which followed Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.”

• Make a diagram of your plot points using Cambpell’s diagram. Make sure your story has the structure it needs.

Check for Accuracy

Any information included in your book can be true or close to the truth. I mention the Alleghany Mountains in both Book 1 and 2, and made sure the setting was oriented correctly with the mountains set to the west. Many parts of both books needed to be researched for authenticity, such as in Book 1, a sheriff’s and deputy’s uniforms, the color of hard hats worn by different types of contractors; and in Book 2, Quakers who moved from Pennsylvania and settled in Loudoun County, Virginia in the 1800s, studied in order to help shape the personality of the ghost.

Release your book to your beta readers and a professional editor only after it is as polished as you can get it, after you’ve gone through your checklist of edits.

This article was first published at:


Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters, Kim and Tracy, who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story 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

The Hardest Part of Writing is Actually Starting

Revisions and Editing – Do a Verb and Word Check

Writing Success – You Have to Walk-the-Walk

Oct 10

Writing for Children: Enjoy the Journey

Tips on your writing for children journey

Contributed by Regina Montana

Writing for children can be a wild ride. It is full of ups and downs, but success will depend on your tenacity to stay on that bucking bronco. Remember those scenes of cowboys holding on for dear life and then getting thrown off if the bronco was too hot to handle? Maybe this analogy is a slight exaggeration but in some ways it is not.

I’ve been on this bronco ride for about eleven years now. As I write about what it takes to stay on this amazing journey and hopefully become a published author, a few essentials come to mind:

  1. Believe in the message of your story. And not just believe, but be passionate about children reading this very unique book.
  2. Remain positive and don’t get bogged down with the rejections that inevitably will come. It’s all part of becoming a good writer. Be your own best friend. Talk kindly to yourself and celebrate small steps along the way.
  3. Read as many books as possible in the genre you want to write in. You can often find picture books read aloud on YouTube so a trip to your local library is not necessary.
  4. Attend webinars and join the many online writing groups and magazines including SCBWI and CBI. They will help you navigate the world of children’s literature. Find a mentor or critique group to bounce ideas off of.
  5. Write for at least a half hour every day. Keep a journal and write whatever comes into your head without editing. Feed your soul often by taking a walk alone and allow your imagination to wander. You might just get inspired and meet your main characters along the way. Remember: Ideas are everywhere. You must remain open.
  6. When your manuscript is finished, have it professionally critiqued by at least 4 people or services. There are many to be recommended. Develop a thick skin since it’s in your own best interest to have multiple sets of eyes reading your story.
  7. Try to find joy along the way. This journey is not for the faint of heart. If your expectations are not too many out of the gate, you can take your time, learn to write well and accept professional advice. You might just become a published author one day. The emphasis is on “one day.”
  8. Keep some inspiring words, figures or sources of inspiration nearby to look at. A figurine of my main character Sophie, a rescued tortoise, sits on my table as I write her story.

Below are my favorite books for beginning writers:

The Artist’s Way- Julia Cameron
Take Joy – Jane Yolen
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
Writing Picture Books – Ann Whitford Paul

Hope you find them helpful too.


Contributor to Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

Regina Montana is a children’s literature writer of poems and picture books. She has written for the ezine Kids Imagination Train, and is a member of Children’s Book Insider where she contributed two articles to, as well as a member of SCBWI. Regina is also a teacher with a Master of Education Degree. She has raised two children of her own and is now a grandmother of 5 who give her lots of ideas when she listens carefully.

Children's ghostwriter

Check out my 200+ 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.

Articles on writing for children

Working with a Children’s Ghostwriter – The Process

Book Marketing – The Foundation

How to Write a Story

Oct 03

Scenes and How to Make Them Work

Writing powerful scenes

One of the best descriptions I’ve read on what a scene is, comes from James Scott Bell’s blog, Kill Zone. In an article on strengthening scenes, Bell explains that “scenes are the bricks that build the fiction house. The better the bricks, the better the house.” (1)

This gives a visual of how scenes work. Building one on top of the other to create a strong story.

Masterclass describes a scene as, “a section of a story that has its own unique combination of setting, character, dialogue, and sphere of activity.” (2)

This description gives more details, but I like Bell’s visual better.

The Masterclass article also explains that scenes are one of the “most valuable writing skills an author can possess.”

This makes scenes even clearer. They’re essential to a ‘good’ book. Going back to the brick house, the better (stronger) the brick, the stronger the house.

A scene has a beginning, middle, and end, just like the story.

When the location changes, or another character enters the scene, or something else significant changes within the scene, that’s usually an indication that it’s the end of that scene and the beginning of the next.

An example of this is from my middle grade book, Walking Through Walls.

The protagonist Wang, is trying to walk through a wall, but just can’t do it. He’s fearful of getting hurt. It takes him ten tries.

Finally, he passes through it. That’s the end of that scene.

The next scene has Wang ecstatic. He’s thrilled. He can’t contain himself.

So, how do you make scenes work?

  1. The first thing a scene needs to do is achieve something.

Think of the brick. It’s solid. It’s its own entity.

Each scene has a story to tell.

The scene may be a chase scene, a fight scene, the inciting incident, a romantic scene, or a scene establishing the setting.

Using Walking Through Walls again, in the beginning of the story, Wang is seen sweating and complaining while working in the wheat fields. This scene establishes the type of work Wang is doing and also establishes his attitude toward it.

  1. A scene should be the foundation for the next scene.

Scenes are like building blocks. They provide information the reader should know to move forward in the story.

Going back to Wang and his attitude toward hard work, it allows the reader to understand why he desperately wants a way out of his life.

The scene can also provide more information, such as backstory, or a look into the character’s family life, friendships, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.

It can be anything of value that helps move the story and characters forward.

  1. Every scene should have a point of view.

As a children’s ghostwriter, the majority of the stories I write have one point of view.

But also work on upper middle-grade where there can be two points of view and young adult where there can be multiple points of view.

When working with more than one point of view, each scene should be specific to only one, otherwise it can get confusing and weaken the strength of that brick.

  1. Each scene should contribute to the world you’re creating.

In Walking Through Walls, the time period is 16th century China. This meant a lot of research.

I incorporated tools of the time period, clothing, and even food within in the scenes to build the world the characters lived in.

I also used dialogue to build the world. I eliminated contractions and flavored the dialogue and actions with respect, especially toward elders.

  1. As your story should be shown and not told, so should your scenes.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new writer of an experienced writer, it’s easy to fall into the ‘telling’ mode when writing.

Showing a scene means to use dialogue and action, along with sensory details, and internal thoughts.

Using showing allows the reader to be absorbed in the story. It allows the reader to connect to the character, and brings the reader into the story.

Telling keeps the reader at arms-length. The reader won’t be able to make as strong a connection to the character or the story.

Hope these five tips to writing a good scene help you strengthen your own story’s scenes.




Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story 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

Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing – The Differences

6 Power-Tips to Writing a Memorable Protagonist for Your Children’s Story

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

Sep 26

Word Constraints, a Bet, and Dr. Suess

Who would think that a random bet and constraints could lead to a book that sold 8 million copies as of 2019, and would become the best-selling book of the Dr. Seuss series?

When most people think of the word ‘constraint’, it invokes a negative feeling or idea.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of constraint is “something that controls what you do by keeping you within particular limits.”

This is where the negative idea comes from.

Children’s writers of picture books are bound by the amount of words that can be used to create a grabbing, engaging, and page turning story. This means TIGHT writing.

It makes sense that something that limits you, controls you, isn’t a good thing.

Well, according to James Clear, constraints are our friend. Constraints foster creativity and motivate us to work within those limits to accomplish what we need to.

What I found exceptionally interesting is that “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss came about through a bet and constraints.

In 1960, Bennett Cerf, the founder of Random House, bet Theo Geisel that he couldn’t write a children’s book with only 50 words or less.

The bet was for $50.

Imagine if Dr. Seuss, balked at the idea of writing a story of only 50 words for a bet of a measly $50.

I’m sure you’ll find the rest of Clear’s article as interesting as I did:
The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work

Do you desire to become a children’s author?

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Send me an email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable 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

Writers – 4 Power Tips to Breaking a Bad Habit

Writing Workshops – Getting the Most out of Them

Create a Believable Protagonist with Realistic Characteristics