Apr 17

Sell Your Books Face-to-Face

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Pre-pandemic, I was gearing up to arrange a book signing, school visits, and gather materials to sell my books in a booth at local events. At the same time, I was working on creating a viable platform that would introduce the world to MOI.

All that changed, of course, but we indie authors are forever optimists. I’m glad I had to wait. Now, another year smarter, I’ve come up with a much better plan than I ever could have had a year ago, one that I think will be attractive enough to interest local librarians, teachers and parents, and online readers.

Find your Platform: Explore your Deepest Desire

If you need to create a plan and an author platform on how to present yourself as a tour-de-force author, here is an idea. Explore what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, or a skill you’d like to develop; use it as your focus and expand on it.

My focus has turned out to be puppets—a project I pursued when my two daughters were very young, under five years old. My idea at the time stemmed from my elementary-teaching background. I wanted to enhance my children’s creativity. That, and being involved in my children’s lives, worked. My daughters, now in their 30s, are both very creative.

The reason this idea of focusing on puppets hadn’t occurred to me until now is because my first book project was a mystery/ghost series for 7-10-year-olds. Puppets never occurred to me as perhaps in the back of my mind I must have thought that children that age wouldn't be interested in puppets. Rather, I devised a way to present myself in the classroom and at libraries by doing a science experiment, which would illuminate part of the Secret in the Stars story. The ghost in the story appears to Abi Wunder in a cloud. I would create a cloud. I thought of other types of presentations I could come up with, such as a presentation about honey bees, which is a prominent subject in the story. However, I didn’t have much confidence that these ideas would be attractive enough for me to be invited into schools and libraries.

Enter the realization that the one project, the Abi Wunder mystery trilogy, needed more. More book projects. I looked through my files one day and found several stories suitable for possible picture books. Two of these stories have now turned into completed picture books, currently being illustrated, and planned to be published sometime this year.

Expanding into picture books turned out to be key. I have collected the puppet plays and materials I saved from those past puppet presentations, and am creating a plan to write puppet plays from my picture book stories, create the puppets and materials (without a stage, rather the plan is to keep the presentations simple), and make a short list of the first places I would present these puppet plays, with the hope that requests for more presentations would follow. Of course, the Abi Wunder series would become an integral part of these presentations, both in person and online.

Selling Books Face-to-Face, by RJ Mirabal

RJ Mirabal, an adult and children’s author, and member of our SCBWI chapter in New Mexico, gave a terrific presentation on the ins-and-outs of selling our books locally.

After publishing an adult fantasy trilogy, the Rio Grande Parallax Series, a finalist in the NM/AZ Book Awards, in the science fiction category, RJ burst onto the children’s literature scene with the award-winning first book in a series for children, Trixie Finds her People, a story based on his rescue dog. One of five finalists in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, an international contest honoring independent and self-published books, Trixie Finds her People won first place in the Animal/Pets category; and the book was also a finalist in the New Mexico Press Women’s Writing awards, a regional contest. The next Trixie book will be coming out sometime this year.

RJ’s new children’s series, Dragon Train, is about a dragon who makes an unscheduled stop in a small village because this dragon towing a train is dying of exhaustion. A curious young farmer runs down to the tracks to help her, which sets the young man and dragon on an epic adventure to gain freedom and happiness.  

Open up for Business in your State 

To open for business in your state, there are certain things you need to do. Here are a few examples from RJ’s presentation:

    -Register your business with the state; you will have to pay gross receipts tax for your sales.
    -You may need to register in your town or city, which might require a business license. RJ registered in Albuquerque, NM. Cost: $35.
    -Register your business as a sole proprietorship; you don’t need to register as an LLC.
    -Report your income on personal tax forms.
    -Create a name for your business. RJ's is RJM Creative Arts.
    -Obtain a PO box, a good idea to use as your professional address.

Create your Display:

    -Purchase a portable table and tablecloth to match the mood of your books.
    -Decide how you want to display your books, author swag, a bowl of candy, etc.
    -Have a full-color poster (11 X 17 is an economical size that can be printed at Staples) made to use as a table display.
    -Have a banner made, a long sheet of plasticized paper, to match the banner on your website.
    -Have pictures from yours books, characters, book covers made to display.

RJ has graciously agreed to provide a PDF from his presentation for anyone interested. You can contact him at rjmcreativearts@gmail.com. Learn more about RJ’s children’s books: https://rjthestoryguy.com.

Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Sign up for Linda’s quarterly giveaways. Choose your prize! 
Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.
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: 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 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.  
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Apr 03

Two Ways to Format Your Manuscript

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Properly formatting my MG mystery book loomed in the background during editing. The reckoning day arrived. Thanks to children's author Margot Finke I knew who to call upon: the formatting service at Golden Box Books Publishing Services. Margot sang the praises of Golden Box author Erika M. Szabo, who did the formatting for her young teen fantasy, Daisy and Bartholomew Q. She said, "I couldn't be happier with the results. [Erika] also educated me in the ways of correct formatting." Among Erika's many talents: a multi-genre author, Publishing Coach and illustrator.

I fully intended to contact Erika to help me with my formatting needs but decided to Google the subject: "How to format a fiction book," to see what would happen. I clicked on a tutorial by Jill Williamson, an author for adults, teens, kids, and some for the whole family, which she uploaded onto YouTube. I decided to try it.

By splitting my screen with Jill's tutorial and my ms, I went through the steps she explained by pausing, executing, pausing. It took several views to fully understand how to do it all. The biggest glitch was doing the page numbering right, which Jill warned is tricky. 

At the end of the video, she invited viewers to visit her website for a more in-depth description. I found the information under, "for writers: jill's writing and publishing tutorials," and after some trial and error, solved the problem. I am proud of how my ms looks now and feel confident it is correct.

It's been an inspiration to discover both of these terrific authors and their websites, chock full of helpful information for writers.

Check out Jill Williamson's video, "How to Format a Fiction Manuscript," on YouTube, and  Jill's website. You'll be glad you did.

I will call on both of these resources again. The information offered is far-reaching and relevant in today's market. You will find many areas of expertise. My challenge to you? Go for it!
Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Sign up for Linda’s quarterly giveaways. Choose your prize! 

Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.

This was originally published at: 
https://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/01/two-ways-to-format-your-manuscript_28.html
Need help with your story?
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach, and can help turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

You can send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com to discuss your project. Or, you can give me a call at 834---347---6700

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!
MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN
When Is It Time to Let Your Manuscript Fly?

The Hardest Part of Writing is Actually Starting

Revisions and Editing – Do a Verb and Word Check
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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: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2021/01/revision-5-tips.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

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: 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 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


Aug 01

A Story Revision Checklist

Contributed by Children’s Writer Linda Wilson

Once your first draft is written, you can begin revising. Looking at one piece of revision at a time can be helpful. After I finished the first draft of Book 2 in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, I let the manuscript rest while working on other projects. About three weeks later, I was amazed at how much revision was needed. Every single page of my 30,000-word manuscript has #2 pencil cross-outs, squiggly lines, and deletions—every one!

To be effective, it’s good to have a revision plan.

I stuck with a general revision the first time. That included condensing long-winded paragraphs, finding better word choices, making dialogue sound kid-friendly, and replacing “telling” with “showing” passages.

Again, I put the manuscript down. I wanted to begin again with fresh eyes. While the story rested, I shared my story outline and a few chapters with my critique group. They helped me think through flaws in the manuscript that I couldn’t see. Also, I lined up my beta readers, fellow authors and friends who love to read and have offered to give me their opinions. But before I showed it to them, it was time to move on to complete the revision process.

The next revision began a thorough analysis and can be accomplished in parts.

-My first question: What do I need to re-think? Does the title work? Are the plot points in place? Does the story have an arc? Does each character have an arc?

-Is the story structure solid?

-The first sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter are critical. For more tips, please refer to my article “Writers: First Paragraph Essentials”: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/10/writers-first-paragraph-essentials.html

-Does the story have enough conflict? Stakes?

-Are there any characters who don’t have an active role in the story? If so, they either need to be taken out or given an active role in the plot.

-Are there any scenes that don’t move the story forward? Any scenes that drag? You need to find ways to change the scenes that aren’t working.

-Is the story told mainly through dialogue and action? Description can be added, but sparingly. Condense to a minimum and spread out any description “dumps.”

-Is the main character’s flaw/need evident in the beginning, and satisfied/solved from what she’s learned by the end? Does she grow and change by the end?

-Are the facts accurate?

-Are the details specific? Check for anything vague or general.

-Do a drama check. Heighten the drama wherever you can.

-Is the story told from the main character’s viewpoint? For example, any description you introduce needs to be seen through her eyes.

-Make sure the main theme shines through throughout your story. Do the minor themes bolster the main theme?

Books that have helped me the most: Elaine Marie Alphin’s boom, Creating Characters Kids Will Love. Her example on page nine is especially helpful:

His sneakers were braced against the roof’s shingles. Slowly, Benjy took one hand off the sill and gripped a lower shingle instead. Then he took a deep breath, told himself very firmly not to be afraid, and let go of the sill with his other hand . . . Why couldn’t he have been a few inches taller? Benji cursed his height silently. Even just a couple of inches would have meant his toes might have been able to feel the bench beneath him. But wishing wouldn’t make him grow.

Also helpful are books by Chris Eboch: You Can Write for Children and Advanced Plotting.

Recently, I’ve been reading and enjoying the graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier. I bought Guts, and even though my book is a chapter book and not a graphic novel, it helps to read passages now and then to remind myself to “talk” like a kid.

While writing my first book, Secret in the Stars, I had to disengage from disappointment after finding many glaring errors, when I thought the book was done. This must be the armor people talk about that writers must grow and wear, and perhaps why people admire authors so much. For the fortitude and single-mindedness it takes to do the seat-time, on and on, until we are finally satisfied with the finished product. Whatever it takes.

While writing Secret, I thought the amount of revision it took was excessive. Now that I’ve written multiple books, I understand how much revision is required. Lots. A good way to look at it is: the hard work of getting the words on paper is done. It’s time to play! Revising allows you to play with what you’ve written, rethink better ways of showing what the characters are going through, and re-do anything that isn’t working. When you’re finished, after careful attention to every detail, you can take the guesswork out of the many aspects of your story, and feel sure of your work. You’ve earned the title of a professional author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Children's author

Linda Wilson is a children’s author, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, is available at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor. The next book in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, will be available soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com

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: 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 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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Picture Books – Story or Illustrations, Which Comes First?

Writing – Showing vs. Telling

Writing Procrastination: IF and WHEN Were Planted and Nothing Grew


Feb 07

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book MBR Review

Book reviews help sell books.

They should be a part of every author’s marketing toolbox.

I’ve been fortunate to have a review of my book on Midwest Book Review Book Watch January 2021.

If you’re not familiar with them, they were established in 1976 and are committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. Their publications are specifically designed for community and academic librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public.

Okay, on to the MBR review.

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book
Karen Cioffi
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com
Privately Published
9780999294918 $14.95 paperback, 262 pages
B0891PHML4, $6.99 Kindle

Children’s books are more complicated to write than they first appear. This practical and well-organized book has explanations and formulas for writing them, with examples. There is an assignment for each of the eight sections. An entire book may be written by consulting this text. Children’s target audiences and genres are included. If you need story ideas, the first chapter covers that right away. Cioffi shares that character and dialogue are significant as these must be convincing to the child. Language must be authentic with age-appropriate words. Plot, theme, the craft of writing, hiring help, researching publishers, self-publishing, marketing, and working with editors are covered. An extensive list of resources is provided. Cioffi’s comprehensive book is a must for children’s book authors.

Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
Wise Owl Factory LLC
http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/jan_21.htm#carolynwilhelm

Here’s another review.

This one by children’s author, Linda Wilson

A comprehensive guide that offers a step-by-step approach

Anyone wondering how to write for children and where to begin would benefit from Karen Cioffi’s book, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book. A thorough reading of Cioffi’s book cover-to-cover would be an excellent way to begin the path to publication.

I started from scratch not knowing anything about writing for children and recently finished my first children’s book, the first in a series for young children. A lot of time—years—and effort would have been saved if I’d had this guide to follow.

Cioffi’s book begins with the most important aspects every children’s author needs to know, including how to choose your target audience, genre differences, and ten basic rules for writing for young children. The book then goes into detail, such as how to create a story, the use of dialogue, action, and imagery; and the all-important skill of showing vs. telling. Also, how to revise, edit and research; how to find a publisher; understanding contracts, and how to locate marketing resources.

The first draft of book two in my series is done, and even after studying children’s literature for many years, I have found that there’s no end to learning the craft. I made a major change in my draft due to advice I read in Cioffi’s book. So, even experienced authors can find reminders of the goals they’re striving for.

Cioffi’s book would be an excellent resource for any children’s author.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

CHECK OUT ALL HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK HAS TO OFFER: CLICK HERE!

Dec 27

Writing First Paragraphs

Contributed by Linda Wilson

How many times have you written and rewritten the first paragraph of your first chapter?

Ten, twenty, fifty times?

Stephen King has said he words and rewords his opening paragraphs over weeks, months, and even years: “If I can get that first paragraph right, I’ll know I can do the book.” What are the essentials of the first line and first paragraph that will entice your reader to want more?

An Opening Checklist

The opening of a novel must accomplish a lot in as few words as possible. When I’m starting a new book, I prop before me Linda Sue Park’s book, When My Name was Keoko, to use as a model. Of course, my book is completely different from hers, but the stage is set for her entire book by the middle of page two, and I work to accomplish this as early as possible in my book, following her example.

Park’s book is told in alternating sections by Sun-hee and her brother, Tae-yul.

  • Consider the first line: “It’s only a rumor,” Abuji said as I cleared the table. “They’ll never carry it out.” Are you in? This first line makes you wonder: Who is Abuji? What is the rumor? Who is ‘they’? And what won’t they carry out? Without a doubt, trouble is brewing.
  • Consider the second line: “My father wasn’t talking to me, of course. He was talking to Uncle and my brother, Tae-yul, as they sat around the low table after dinner, drinking tea.” The main characters are introduced simply and succinctly. Page 1 to middle of page 2 add more information to explain what the book is about. In the middle of page 2, the main character’s problem is expressed in plain language: “Nobody ever told me anything. I always had to find out for myself. But at least I was good at it. You had to do two opposite things: be quiet and ask questions. And you had to know when to be quiet and who to ask.”
  • By the end of this first section, on page 4, the problem that the book addresses is explained. From page 1-4, the story is told by Sun-hee but her name is given only once, as a kind of chapter heading: 1. Sun-hee (1940), and once is enough. Numbering the chapters alternately, first Sun-hee talks, then Tae-yul, is unique and a great way to tell the story.
  • The setting is established early and by the middle of page 2 the reader cares about Sun-hee.

Sage Advice from Stephen King

When Stephen King writes a first draft, he just writes. So, I understand this to mean that crafting comes with revision. And to draw your reader in, your opening line “should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know this.”

He doesn’t necessarily agree with advice many hear: to open a book in the middle of “a dramatic or compelling situation, because right away you engage the reader’s interest.”–called the “hook”. He says that’s true to a point. But the opening needs to accomplish more with few words, as Linda Sue Park’s opening first line did. The opening introduces the writer’s style, and more important, the writer’s voice. King thinks readers “come for the voice.” To find out more of Stephen King’s advice and many examples that he offers on first paragraphs that he thinks are great, please go to: A July, 2013 article in The Atlantic.

A Personal Note

I started this post believing that the first paragraph of my WIP was finished. I began reading it and, a la Stephen King, wasn’t happy. It is now revised for the umpteenth time. Was this the last revision? I can’t say. But I must keep working until “I can get that first paragraph right.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Wilson, is a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate. She has published over 150 articles for children and adults, and several short stories for children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.

This article was first published at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/10/writers-first-paragraph-essentials.html

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself? Check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

5 Rules to Writing a Children’s Book

16 Reasons Why You Should Publish a Book

Your Children’s Fiction Manuscript and a Ghostwriter

Social media sharing


Nov 29

Don’t Give Up – Seek Inspiration

Don't Give Up

Contributed by Linda Wilson

All writers experience it: low times. A low time can rear its ugly head after a particularly painful rejection, a bad case of writer’s block, or in my current challenge, a serious case of lack of writing time. At times like these there is only one thing to do: Seek inspiration.

So before you make those New Year’s resolutions, spend a little time filling your well with inspiration. Jot down inspirational sayings and thoughts that speak to you—tack them onto your bulletin board and read them periodically throughout the New Year.

Read the Tea Leaves

During a recent visit with one of my daughters, I delighted in sharing a quiet moment with her sipping a cup of tea at the end of the day. Our favorite? Yogi Bedtime Tea (Yogi tea in its many varieties is sold at most major grocery and natural food stores). My daughter would read her saying to me and ask me what mine said, and we would revel in the simple yet profound sayings before taking our first sip.

I keep an envelope with some of my favorite inspirational sayings, many snipped from the strings on my teabags, and am considering using one of the Yogi sayings in the front pages of my WIP book. Enjoy a few from my collection:

“Oneness is achieved by recognizing your self.”
“Happiness comes from contentment.”
“Your intuition is your best friend.”
“Love, compassion and kindness are the anchors of life.”
“Let things come to you.”
“Live from your heart, you will be most effective.”
“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. “ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) A saying from a Good Earth teabag.

Inspirational sayings Tacked onto My Bulletin Board

“I began to wonder if this was why I’m not afraid of the work it takes to write a novel. For me, writing isn’t work. It’s fun. It’s a creative exploration into my characters, their world, the possible points of view the story could be written in, or the possible scenes that could exist. It’s about exploring how wide and deep and wonderful a story can be, rather than seeing it as a straight shot from beginning to end. It’s not time to work on this revision. It’s time to play with this revision. I’m going to open my manuscript and not work, but play.” – Ingrid’s Notes

A note about Ingrid Sundberg: I’ve been following Ingrid Sundberg’s blog for years and gain a great deal of inspiration from her. She is the author of the YA novel, All We Left Behind, critiques manuscripts, and has recently begun teaching high school. If you don’t know her, I recommend visiting her blog. I think you’ll be glad you did.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov, known to be one of the greatest short fiction writers in history.

“Art can heal anything and everything. Go and give and give and give. And when you give it all, it comes back to you.” – Ben Vereen

A note about Ben Vereen: Ben Vereen, an “accomplished and versatile” entertainer has appeared on Broadway, performed many one-man shows in the US and abroad, played Chicken George in Roots and Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong, has had many appearances on TV and has accomplished much more.

Vereen holds a special place in my heart because of his courage in keeping his terrific attitude after losing his 16-year-old daughter in an auto accident, and suffering critical injuries from three accidents in one day.

“You’re dealt a hand of cards. You can choose to play it out—or not. I think the game is worthwhile, I really do.” Christopher Reeve, the actor who suffered a spinal cord injury after being thrown from a horse.

Do the work. Do the work. Do the work. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. I’m an audiobook fan and became inspired by Cranston’s story and advice in his autobiography audiobook, read by him,:A Life in Parts.

“Learning never exhausts the mind,” Leonardo daVinci, heard on CNN Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show on Sunday morning.

Benefit from Other Writers’ Wisdom

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up too.” – Isabel Allende, the Chilean-American author of The House of the Spirits.

“Kill your darlings. Even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Stephen King. One of the main inspirations I draw from Stephen King, and there are many, is how he gave up on his first book, Carrie, and threw it in the trash. His wife found it and advised him that it was good—keep going. When he finally finished it, it was rejected 30 times!

“Start telling the stories that only you can tell.” – Neil Gaiman, celebrated English author of American Gods, Coraline, and Sandman comics.

“Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.” – Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 40 novels, plays and novellas, and many volumes of poetry, short stories, and nonfiction.

As you begin the New Year, take heart. Inspiration can be found in likely places, and hidden in places you might least expect. You will feel renewed and ready to best any battle that should come along.

Linda Wilson, is a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate. She has published over 150 articles for children and adults, and several short stories for children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/12/do-not-give-up-seek-inspiration.html

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable 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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Oct 04

Tips on Polishing Your Novel

Contributed by Linda Wilson, Children’s Author

Writing tips.

You’ve finished your book. All the major edits and rewrites are done. Now it’s time to polish. Polishing includes the obvious edits, including making sure the story elements are present, verbs are active, every chapter moves the story forward, etc.

Fiction Short List:

– Does the beginning draw you in? Or could the story be started at a different point?
– Does the main character appear soon enough? Is there enough dialogue in the beginning?
– Does the story show and not tell?
– Is there a beginning, middle and end? Can you form a circle from beginning to end?
– Do the scenes flow and advance the plot?
– Does each character have an arc?
– Does your main character have a goal?
– Does your story have conflict?
– Is your story predictable?
– Did you explain everything well?
– Does the main character grow and change by the end?
– Would a different point of view, such as first person as opposed to third person, make the story more interesting?
– Are there any shifts in point of view?
– Does the dialogue sound natural?
– Are there any description “dumps” where pieces of the information could be spread out, ever so briefly? Does the story come to a satisfying conclusion?
– Are you finished? Not quite. Now it’s time to polish. Check to see if you’ve covered these technicalities, which I’ve collected since recently finishing my mystery novel for 8-12 year olds.

Edit each Item One at a Time

1. Each chapter beginning establishes “place” and each chapter ending entices your reader to find out what happens next.

2. Check past drafts to add any spicy details that were inadvertently edited out, such as brief descriptive phrases and personal thoughts of your main character.

3. Make sure you’ve covered the story elements, such as: Concept, Plot, Characterization, Voice, and Structure; beginning, middle and end, in a nutshell, the basics.

4. Are there are any “dead spots” where the story doesn’t move forward? Delete them.

5. Change any “telling” sentences to “show” what your character is doing and thinking.

6. Be specific. Check for anything vague or general and change to specific.

7. Do a drama check. Heighten the drama wherever you can.
Try this simple outline for each scene from Elaine Marie Alphin’s book, Creating Characters Kids will Love:

Situation
Dialogue
Main character’s thoughts and feelings
Action
Show moves or gestures and facial expressions to show feelings

I prop Alphin’s book in front of me when I’m creating a scene. Her example on page nine is especially helpful, as this excerpt shows:

His sneakers were braced against the roof’s shingles. Slowly, Benjy took one hand off the sill and gripped a lower shingle instead. Then he took a deep breath, told himself very firmly not to be afraid, and let go of the sill with his other hand . . . Why couldn’t he have been a few inches taller? Benjy cursed his height silently. Even just a couple of inches would have meant his toes might have been able to feel the bench beneath him. But wishing wouldn’t make him grow.

8. Scrutinize every word. For example: Make sure you’ve cut out unnecessary prepositional phrases, haven’t overused adjectives as too many adjectives weaken nouns, haven’t relied on unnecessary words such as these words listed by author Margot Finke on her website: seemed; thought; started; might; she said; he saw; got and get. Use fresh figurative language; no clichés. Use clear, concise language that paints a picture. One editor described this in a way that you won’t easily forget: “Write it plain then make it fancy.”

9. Make sure every scene builds toward an explosive climax and satisfying ending.

10. Collect important information in one place to help write your letter to the publisher and market your book:

-The story problem
-The main character’s special need or flaw
-The theme: Does your theme clearly stand out (without stating it)?
-My favorite example is Bruce Coville’s, The Skull of Truth. Charlie Eggleston has a not-so-slight problem telling the truth. On page three “a familiar voice sneered, ‘Well, look here–it’s Charlie Eggleston, king of the liars.'” Telling the truth carries throughout the book; the last line finishes the theme off with, “And that was the absolute truth.” Even though ‘truth’ is brought out in many not-so subtle ways–it appears even in the title–the book is such fun to read, the message of ‘telling the truth’ is integral to the story and never stated.
-The encapsulation of your story in as few words as possible.
-The synopsis: Tell someone or say out loud what your book is about–not always easy for someone who expresses herself/himself on the page.
-The book jacket blurb.
-The list of characters, brief descriptions, their goals and their own character arc.
-The list of chapter titles and page numbers.

11. Tie up loose ends: Jot down each part of the action and goal of each character and make sure you’ve followed through.

12. Last but Most Important: Your first sentence and first chapter are the most important part of your book. Make sure they contain what is necessary to interest an editor and your reader. Somewhere in my research I read that Stephen King has been known to spend a year on the first chapter. That’s how important it is to get it right. There are very specific points editors look for that must be covered.

Here are samples from two books I use to help me get the correct information in the first sentence, first paragraph and first chapter. In the opening, a few sparse words establish “place,” establish a bond with the main character and tell you what the entire book is about.

The Green Ghost by Marion Dane Bauer. 1938.

“Papa! Look! isn’t it beautiful?” Lillian breathed the words, long and slow. In the cold air, her breath clouded the store window. She wiped it clear again with a corner of her scarf.

The cloak was beautiful. It was dark green wool . . . All that green made Lillian think of a Christmas tree.

We don’t know it yet, but we’ve met our ghost–she is the main character who came from an earlier time, 1938. In Chapter two we meet Kaye who is riding with her parents to her grandmother’s house for Christmas in a snow storm. While reading the book I thought Kaye was the main character. Later when I analyzed the story I realized that though most of the book was about Kaye, Lillian was the main character. She became the green ghost wearing the green cloak, which was made clear in the above first two paragraphs but was so subtle I didn’t catch it until I thought about it.

When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

Sun-hee (1940)
“It’s only a rumor,” Abuji said as I cleared the table. “They’ll never carry it out.”

In one amazing first sentence we learn what the book is about. The chapter goes on to explain the details about the rumor and how it is planned to be carried out. The theme is established on page two:

“Nobody ever told me anything. I always had to findout for myself. But at least I was good at it. You had to do two opposite things: be quiet and ask questions. And you had to know when to be quiet and who to ask.”

The next paragraph explains the details, and so on.

This posts was first published at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/05/tips-on-polishing-your-novel.html

Children's authorLinda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney’s online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable 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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

The Pros and Cons of Publishing with a Small Publisher

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

Is Self-Publishing a Children’s Book the Way to Go? 4 Realities

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Jul 19

Writing Critique Groups – Dos and Don’ts

Critiques and Authors

Contributed by Linda Wilson

The purpose of a critique is to sift out what’s wrong. Showcased is your polished masterpiece, ready for publication. Explore your options until you find the most effective, longest lasting way to vet your work.

While working as a freelance writer, my family moved frequently. Luckily, through membership with organizations such as SCBWI, I found a writing group at each juncture. The information gathered here comes from my own membership in different types of groups.

Join a Critique Group or Start your Own. Gather interested prospective members. Make sure each writer is:

-Serious: willing to devote time studying her craft while practicing it.
Dependable: can be counted on to come to meetings and review members’ work.

-Honest: willing to let members know where she stands, as a beginner, intermediate or advanced writer.
Open: lets members know ahead of time what type of writing she would like to have reviewed.

-Communicative: gives her input on everything from critiquing to helping to run the group.

Establish a leader.

Decide how many members are desired.

Decide the type of writing preferred, if any. For example:

-Open Group: Allows all kinds of writing at any level. The advantages are many.

The variety of different types of writing gives the group widely varying points of view. One of the groups I belonged to had a poet, three article writers, and an adult novelist. The group expanded my world.

-Closed Group: Offers members who write only in your genre and are at about the same level. Advantages include powerful know-how in your genre. Potential for longer critiques is possible. Partnering among members is possible for more frequent and indepth critiques. Also, members can help each other stay abreast of conferences, webinars, informational books, etc.

When I wrote biosketches for Biography Today, I had deadlines which weren’t easy to keep because of my daughters’ activities. My writing partner spent one entire day helping me crank out one of my assignments so I could meet the deadline. Whew!

Agree on one of the following:

-No Homework: a writer brings a chapter, a section or a few pages of a work to be read on the spot. The writer can read her own work or ask another member to read it. During the reading, each member takes notes on a separate piece of paper. After the reading the members go round- robin to share their notes then give their note paper to the writer to take home.

-Homework: each piece of writing is emailed to members by an agreed-upon date, no exceptions. Members critique the work at home and share their results at the meeting. Members’ copies are then given to the writer to take home. Writer brings her own copy of her work so she can follow along during the critiques. Critiquer is given a specified amount of time to explain her critique and the writer is given a specific amount of time to ask questions or comments. I’ve belonged to both types of groups and really have no preference. I found both Open and Closed Groups effective as long as they were run productively.

-A timer: members agree on the amount of time given to each critiquer. Enough time is given so that no one feels rushed. There can be exceptions, along as everyone agrees, if a writer needs more time. However, this is an important rule, especially if the group is large. Everyone deserves a critique. There is nothing worse than having one person take up so much time that the meeting either lasts too long (and everyone gets exhausted, which can weaken enthusiasm), or there isn’t enough time for everyone to share their work.

-Cut the Chit Chat: be firm about saving chit chat for later because it’s easy to fall into this trap and lose the main purpose for meeting.
Food or No Food: meet at a public place, if possible, such as a room at the library. Meeting in people’s homes can be way too comfortable. These kinds of meetings can incur a serious loss of productivity. One of my favorite groups solved this by having two pot luck meetings a year, summer and winter, at lunchtime. We still worked but relaxed and visited. We even brought white elephant gifts for our winter get-together (in someone’s home) during the holidays.

-Show, don’t tell: spend one (or more) entire revision sit-downs combing your ms for “telling” statements. Turn those into “showing” your readers what’s going on.

-Nonfiction articles: one editor’s advice was simple. Answer the W’s in the first two (or three) paragraphs. Then the rest of your article is the How.

-Nonfiction articles and books: Before embarking on your idea (and spending time on it), make sure you have acquired the photos.

Write it plain, then make it pretty: I heard this during an editor’s talk and have followed it ever since. It’s a great tool. The first time(s) “getting it down” you can’t possibly expect your writing to shine. All you’re doing is pouring your soul onto paper. After you’re sure you’ve written everything you want to say, put your ms for a rest. When you pick it up again, make your writing more interesting; splather your personality all over the page; give it your all.

-Entertain your reader: Just like being a host at a party; if you’re having fun, your reader will have fun.

When in doubt, research: if you’re stuck (have writer’s block) it might mean that you need to do more research. Fiction and nonfiction alike both have to be accurate, so perhaps you need to spend some time looking something up to learn more about it. If you’re stuck on a non-research-type problem, then you might need to rest a bit and do a THINK. One of my writing instructors talked about BIG THINKS a lot. We all keep pen and paper with us at all times. Who knows, you might solve the problem by suggesting what you need before you go to sleep at night. The problem could be solved in the morning or in a few days, depending on the size of the problem. If you can identify the problem as a plot problem, a characterization problem, etc., then study the area in question. You might find your answer there. I think we all know, too, that often our answers come while we’re sewing, doing a flower arrangement, or on a walk. So sometimes it’s best to do something else that’s creative to relax your mind. It often kickstarts your imagination into doing wondrous things.

-Sit your reader down across the table: and talk to him. Tell him your story. You can try this out loud if you’ve come to a snag.

Write while sitting on the edge of your seat: that’s how you want your reader to be, so engrossed in your story that their eyes light up and their super excited about your story.

Remember this wisdom from Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

This article was first published at:

http://www.writersonthemove.com/2015/11/critique-groups-dos-and-donts.html

Author Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney’s online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. Wilson’s first ghostly mystery chapter book is out! is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

This article was first published at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2015/11/critique-groups-dos-and-donts.html

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable 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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Point of View and Children’s Storytelling

Storytelling – Don’t Let the Reader Become Disengaged

Writing Fiction and Writing Nonfiction – Similarities and Differences

Writing – It’s Not Wise to Revise Too Soon

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Jun 14

Three Tips on Starting a Book Series

Writing a Series

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Writer Beware: “Series are tricky. Writing series is not for the faint of heart.” So says Janet Lane Walters, award-winning author of series in multiple genres and more; as quoted in my latest find, Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas, by Karen S. Wiesner.

I am living testimony to this fact. My dream has been to expand the one undertaking that has taken heart and soul to write, MY BOOK, into a series. The dream took shape when I realized I didn’t want to part with my characters. Little did I know what the creation of a series would mean. Thank goodness so many authors are willing to share their ideas on writing a series, including how to begin, how to avoid common pitfalls and how to stay on target, whether you’re writing a trilogy or see no end in sight.

In today’s post, I would like to summarize three topics that will help propel you out of the gate, described in Wiesner’s book: Book Groupings, Types of Series and Series Blurbs. If you are looking for good, solid advice on writing a series, I highly recommend Wiesner’s book, which offers a thorough approach with many examples and worksheets that can save time and effort.

Book Groupings are as Familiar as Fiction Itself

Series: Any continuous or interconnected set of stories. The two main types are the books best read sequentially, such as Harry Potter books; and those books read in any order, such as Nancy Drew books.

Trilogy: Continues one long-term story arc or each story stands alone with a loose connection.

Serial: Serial, episode or periodical stories come from a single work and are read in installments, such as Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, first published in 1836; considered to have established the serial format. A current example is Stephen King’s story, The Plant (2000).

Miniseries: A planned number of stories told within an existing series. A personal favorite of mine on television, such as the six-part Roots and John Adams; Wiesner gives as her example in writing, The Darling Birds, by Johnny Dale.

Other types of groupings include: Prequel, Sequel, Interquel, Spin-off, and Tetralogy (four-book series that can be developed the same as a Trilogy).

What Type is your Series?
The four main types of series Wiesner pins down, summarized here, has helped me turn a fuzzy idea of what I’m attempting to write into a clear vision. She points out that authors often create a combination of these types, a good idea if you want your series to stand out.

Recurring character: Popular in mystery/suspense stories, fantasy, sci fi and paranormal genres. Wiesner's example: Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer.

Your star character appears in each book, often with her trusty sidekick. The stories can be told from one or the other point of view.

I considered doing this in my current series project but was advised by an editor that by switching POVs, some of the reader’s emotional investment in my main character could be lost. I decided for this first series, to stick with the two mc’s who are introduced in Book 1, with one of them the predominant mc. Wiesner advises that in this type of series there’s a large cast of characters with varied importance from story to story.

Central Group of Characters: Popular in romance novels, women's fiction, paranormal, sci fi and fantasy. Example: Redwall Series by Brian Jacques.

Your main group of characters have a loose or specific connection that ties them together, and one or two of the characters become the mc as the series progresses.

Premise/Plot Series: Popular in action/adventure, suspense and thriller, inspirational, paranormal, horror, sci fi and fantasy. Example: Unbidden Magic Series by Marilee Brothers.

The connection in this type of series is the plot or premise that is the underlying theme.

Setting Series: Your setting works in your series' books across the board.

The stories are tied by the setting. Characters can change, but the setting stays the same.

Series Blurbs on Steroids
One of the most difficult tasks of fiction writing, as we know, is encapsulating our novel in a short, concise sentence.

Weisner suggests blurbing your entire series in the early stages of the work, keeping it to one to four sentences; as short as possible and tweaking it as you go along.

Your series blurb should:

– Be an overview of the entire series.
– Tell how the books in the series are connected.
– Inspire readers to want to read not just one book but the entire series.
– Let the genre shine through.
– Give the blurb the same tone as the story.
– Consider adding interest by making the blurb a question or an exclamation.
– Should give you a plan on how your series will end.

Nailing down these preliminary tasks, authors say, will save you much time and effort as you write your series. But the initial planning is not yet complete. This trilogy of posts will conclude next month with various worksheet suggestions, that if started early, can serve as reminders of details that might be forgotten and not easily found once your series gets rolling.

This article was first published at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/10/three-tips-on-starting-series-part-2.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney’s online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 8-12 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable 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.
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/diy/

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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