May 22

Your Children’s Manuscript: Synopsis to Submissions

Before you decide to submit a story to a publishing house or literary agency, you’ll need a completed and polished manuscript.

This means your manuscript will have been edited and proofed. It should be in the best possible shape it can be.

Once this is done, you’ll move on to the next phase.

The Synopsis

Your synopsis is what your story is about. According to Jane Friedman, “The synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc.”

It gives the editor or agent a quick look at the entire story, including the ending.

The synopsis is a sales pitch for your book, so it needs to be engaging (grabbing) enough to motivate the editor to want to read the manuscript or at least some chapters.

You’ll need a synopsis for your query letter.

Keep in mind that a synopsis is different than a description or back cover copy. While the synopsis reveals the ending, the description does not.

The description/back cover copy is intended to motivate the reader to read/buy your book. You should not reveal the ending in the description.

The Cover Letter

You’ll most likely need a cover letter if you’re writing a picture book, as most publishing houses want the manuscript sent along with the letter.

The cover letter won’t need as many details, as a query letter because the editor can quickly read the attached or enclosed manuscript itself.

You’ll need a query letter for chapter books, middle-grade, and young adult manuscripts.

The Query Letter

The query letter is similar to the cover letter, only it’s more detailed. The synopsis will tell the editor or agent all he needs to know to decide whether he’d like to see the manuscript of some of the chapters.

More about query letters:

Book Marketing and the Query Letter

The Query and the Author Bio

See below for an example of a query letter.

TIPS FOR SUBMITTING

  1. Study the publishing house guidelines.

It’s super-important to study the publisher’s website guidelines carefully.

Find out if they’re accepting manuscripts in your genre.

You’ll also want to know if they allow you to submit the entire manuscript. If they do, then you’ll use a cover letter.

If they only want a query letter, you’ll use a query letter without the manuscript.

The guidelines page should tell you everything you need to submit to that publishing house.

  1. Unsolicited manuscripts.

If you’re unagented, you need to be sure the publishing house you’re submitting to accepts unsolicited manuscripts.

Unfortunately, the big publishing houses don’t usually accept unsolicited manuscripts. You might consider smaller presses.

But it you’ve met an editor at a writing conference or workshop, or elsewhere and she requested your manuscript, then you have a invitation to submit.

  1. Find complementary books.

If at all possible, review a few of the publisher’s titles. If you can find one or two slightly similar to yours, mention it: I feel my story would complement ones already on your list, especially (title of book). Add it at the end of the paragraph where you’re requesting the editor to consider your manuscript.

The connection could be related to humor, school, social issues, sports, politics, friendship, family, etc. Just be sure not to make up a connection.

A good way to find out if a book is suitable for this is to read the book’s description on the publisher’s site or on Amazon.

If you can’t find any that your book will complement, leave it out.

In its place, put a brief sentence or two as to why you’re submitting to them. It may be that you love a particular title of theirs or something else.

If at all possible, try to make it personal as to why you chose their publishing house to submit to.

  1. The editor’s name you’re submitting to.

When addressing the individual you’re submitting to, try to find the actual editor’s name. You may need to contact the publishing house directly to ask for it. If you can’t find it anywhere, use “Dear Editor.”

  1. Simultaneous submissions or exclusivity.

If you’re submitting to multiple publishers at the same time, pay attention to whether they allow simultaneous submissions or require exclusivity.
If they accept simultaneous submissions, you can submit to other publishers at the same time; this should be limited to five at a time. Just be sure they each accept simultaneous submissions.

If they prefer exclusive submissions, you can only submit to that publishing house. They usually expect three months to decide on a project.

You may or may not receive a rejection letter within that time. Feel free to submit to other publishers after three months if you don’t receive one.

Either way, add a last line before “Sincerely,” mentioning whether it’s simultaneous or exclusive.

EXAMPLE: This manuscript is a simultaneous submission.

  1. The SASE.

If you’re using regular mail to submit your manuscript, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. (SASE). The publisher’s site will advise whether to submit by email or regular mail.

  1. Submitting via email.

If submitting email, pay attention to whether the publisher wants the query letter and manuscript attached to the email or in the body of the email.

  1. Tools to use.

If you’re a children’s writer, it’d be a good idea to get the most recent edition of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

EXAMPLE OF QUERY LETTER

Author name
Address
Phone number
Email 
Website

Date

Publishing House name
Address or Email (depending on how you’re submitting)

Dear, Editor’s Name,

At twelve years old, Wang wants to be rich, powerful, and famous. He’s done working in the wheat fields with his father. He believes becoming an Eternal will allow him to get what he wants, so he journeys to the Lao Mountains to find them. Becoming an Eternal apprentice is hard work with no benefits, so he decides to leave, but only after learning how to ‘walk through walls.’ With his new magic, he is intent on stealing from the wealthy. About to enter a rich man’s home, he stops. The lessons he learned as an apprentice flood over him. He journeys back to the Lao Mountains the next day to finish his apprenticeship.

Set in 16th century China, WALKING THROUGH WALLS is a 10,000-word chapter book based on an ancient Chinese tale. It is filled with magic, adventure, and subtle lessons on being a good citizen and a good friend.

I would like to submit my manuscript for your consideration. According to your guidelines, I’ve attached the first three chapters. I feel this book would complement other titles on your list, especially, XXXXX.

I’m a children’s author and ghostwriter with clients worldwide. I have three traditionally published children’s books and two self-published books. I have an established author/writer website, and I’m an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Karen Cioffi
References:
https://marykole.com/how-to-write-a-book-proposal 
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-submit-a-book-manuscript-to-an-agent#how-to-submit-your-manuscript-to-an-agent-in-6-steps
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can help turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of, one that’s publishable and marketable.

Contact me at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Or, you can give me a call at 834---347---6700

Or, if you’d rather do-it-yourself, check out my book, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.
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May 08

6 Things a Writer Should Always Do

While there are a number of writing tips and processes, below are six of the most important for new authors.

1. Stop. Learn. Jump.

I see it much too often. Authors jump into writing and publishing a book without knowing a thing about writing. 

If you STOP and think about it, anything a person wants to accomplish needs a foundation and building materials to accomplish it.

Want to play the piano?

Guess what. You need to learn how to play.

Want to become an electrician or plumber?

Guess what. You need to learn how to do it.

Want to be in finance or become a nurse, a doctor? 

Again… you need to learn how to do it.

Writing is a skill; it’s a profession just like any other. 

This is especially true when writing for children. There are many additional guidelines to follow in the children’s writing arena.

This process involves spelling, writing mechanics, grammar, and so on. These are the foundation of good writing.

So, stop and think about what you want to do. Then take the time and effort, and if needed, spend the money to learn how to write. The next step is to jump in and write your outline or first draft.

2. Decide how you want to write.

I’m a pantser, usually. This means I fly by the seat of my pants. I jump in and start my story without an outline. I have an idea, then let the story and characters take me on the journey.

Now, this isn’t for everyone. And if you’re writing a novel, it’s probably best to have some kind of outline to guide you from point A to point B.

While I jump in with picture books and chapter books, I do use an outline for middle-grade stories. 

When you’re writing 30,000 to 100,000+ words, there are so many things to remember. It’s not wise to leave the details to chance; it will lead to mistakes.

There’s no right or wrong way to write in regard to outlining or flying by the seat of your pants. Just use whichever process you’re comfortable with.

3. It’s always a good idea to use character sheets (cards).

While character sheets are a useful tool, if you’re writing a children’s picture book of under 800 words, you shouldn’t need them. But beyond that, it’d be wise to create one for each character in your story.

According to Reference.com:

“The term ‘character development’ can be used in literary contexts to refer to the way in which a written character is described and fleshed out.” (1)

Creating your character is the process of adding factors like personality, family and friends, appearance, and the other elements that make your character believable and unique. Even your character’s name matters.

Character sheets help you keep all the details intact. If you forget something about a character, just check the sheet.

And if you create a new quality to the character, add it to the sheet.

4. Pause before acting on information you get online.

The internet lets everyone and anyone offer writing advice. Some of it is excellent, but some not so much.

Keep in mind that someone just starting out on the writing path may decide to give advice on her blog just to keep an active blog.

Be cautious and know who is offering the advice. It’s always best to take advice from an experienced writer with a track record.

5. Revise. Edit. Proof.

Revising, editing, and proofing is a must, but after you actually write the first draft. Let the first draft just flow – get the words down. 

Once you have the first draft, it’s time to revise. 

Revision is the major process in writing. It’s the fine-tuning of the overall story. This process is where you look at the story structurally and logically. It’s making sure all the elements of a good story are there. 

Once you revise the story and it’s where it should be, it’s on to editing.

Editing deals with sentence structure. It makes sure each sentence is structurally sound and understandable.

Finally, it’s on to proofing. 

This is where you get out your magnifying glass to check each sentence, line by line. The job here is to find typos, misspelled words, beginnings of sentences and paragraphs, and so on.

6. Get your work critiqued and accept feedback graciously.

If you’re a smart writer, you will have a critique group or at least one qualified person to review your work. Or you may hire a professional to review or critique it.

It’s just about impossible to see all the mistakes you might have made. Basically, your brain knows what you wrote, and that’s what it’ll see. 

In an article at Wired.com, psychologist Tom Stafford is quoted saying:

“The reason we don't see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” (2)

This is why it’s a good idea for a critique group or professional writer to go over your manuscript.

While it’s important to have your manuscript critiqued, it’s also important to accept any feedback graciously. 

This isn’t to say you need to incorporate everything you’re told into your story, but you should take the feedback to heart. If it makes sense, use it. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t use it. You know what your story is about better than anyone else.

(1) https://www.reference.com/world-view/definition-character-development-1a0cb87e27929d2d

(2) https://www.wired.com/2014/08/wuwt-typos/

Need help with your story?
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can help turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Contact me at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Or, you can give me a call at 834---347---6700

Or, if you’d rather do-it-yourself, check out my book, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.
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Apr 10

Sensitivity Readers – Are They Now a Necessity?

I read an interesting article by Anne R. Allen about whether authors now need sensitivity readers. 

A sensitivity reader will go over your manuscript to find anything that might be considered offensive to someone. 

It could be a word, phrase, representation, or other.

You would usually hire someone who can knows the subject matter and can easily depict the nuances of the particular culture you’re writing about, or the character. The sensitivity reader should also know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

The reason for this type of reader is to make sure characters, scenes, and situations are accurately represented. 
An article at Reedsy explains that “characters must be represented accurately without perpetuating stereotypes. This kind of reader helps by pointing out unintentionally insensitive or incorrect portrayals of race, sexuality, religion, and physical disabilities.”
Along with this, they should be able to check for language. From the article at Anne R. Allen, I learned the word “duh” is racial. 

You wouldn’t want to unintentionally write something that’s in anyway offensive, so a sensitivity reader may be a necessity in today’s sizzling sensitivity environment.

This in essence is a good thing; no one wants to unintentionally hurt any one or a group of people. 

But with today’s angry social media mobs (small in size but highly agitated, ready to attack, and apparently powerful), even the slightest perceived offense that may or may not actually be offensive, it’s also a dangerous thing.

And, what’s worse, as noted in Anne’s article and comments, most of the viral posts are soared into that viral momentum by people who blindly ‘share’ the posts. They don’t take the time to actually read the original ‘possibly’ offensive content that would allow them to make an educated and responsible decision as to whether to share the post or not. It seems Twitter is notorious for this.

But I’m getting sidetracked. The point of this article is that while sensitivity readers are important, they can take it too far and pick your story apart to the point where it’s no longer your story.

Walking Through Walls, based on an ancient Chinese tale, was published in 2012. I fear that if it were published now, it would be torn apart.

While I did tons of research and the original ancient tale was given to me by a Chinese author, I’m not Chinese. 

Right there, I would have a strike against me. 

Next, the main character is a Chinese boy who through most of the story is self-serving, scheming, and selfish. If I had a sensitivity reader go over it, would they have told me I’m somehow stereotyping, even though his culture is not known for this?
 

I’m sure someone, somewhere would have thought this.

Would they have picked at the lack of contractions in the dialogue?

Or, with my Planetman picture book series, might they (the social media bullies) slam the books because I don’t have any girls in it. Or might they find fault because the three superheroes are white? Or maybe a word or phrase might trigger someone’s anger? 

While deliberately offending or hurting someone is despicable, and obviously should not be tolerated, it now seems there are ‘invisible’ lurkers on social media who will find just about anything offensive. And their opinions and viral postings can ruin books, careers, and so on.

These invisible lurkers work hard to cause any trouble they can.

Where does it end?

You should read the article and comments at Anne R. Allen:
https://annerallen.com/2022/03/need-a-sensitivity-reader/ 
Writing Help
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. Let me 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!
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Mar 27

7 Steps to Creating a Successful Writing Career

No matter what business or career you’re entering, it starts with a plan.

That plan should include the steps you’ll need to take to get it started, give it momentum, and make it successful.

Now, you may think that you’re not a business owner, you’re simply an author. But if you are selling books, you have a business, even if just a simple sole proprietorship.

So, let’s go over some steps you should take.

1. You need to decide on a genre.

If you already have a genre in mind, you’re ahead of the game.

If you don’t, think about it. You must be drawn to one genre or another. Think about what you read, and what type of people (market) you’d like to write for.

Choose one.

Stick to this one genre… at least for now.

2. Do it right and learn the craft of writing.

While some people think they can write, if you haven’t made any effort to learn how to write, you don’t know how.

Just because self-publishing has allowed anyone to publish a book, that doesn’t mean that’s the way to go.

You should want to be proud of any work you produce. Your book should convey that you know what you’re doing.

Learning the writing ropes is especially true if you want to write for children.

Not only are there genres within genres, there’s an additional set of skills or knowledge needed to write for children.

3. Butt in seat and write.

At this point, you know what genre you want to write in, and you’ve put effort, time, and money (if necessary) into learning how to write.

Now, it’s time to write your book.

There’s a lot of information online about how to go about doing this. Simple get your thoughts into a document or on the paper.

Some authors create outlines of their story before starting into the draft. 

An outline can be helpful. It’s like a GPS from beginning to end. You know what direction you’re heading.

Other authors are pantsers.

These writers go with the flow. They let the story and characters unfold as they go along.

I lean toward being a pantser, especially with picture book, and even chapter books. But with longer stories, like middle grade, I slow the pace and create an outline. 

With longer stories, it’s more difficult to keep track of everything. Having an outline gives guidance. You have a map of where you’re going. While you can deviate from it somewhat, you know where and how to go back.

4. Butt in seat 2–the magazine arena.

If you’re going into the magazine arena, you’ll still need to begin by writing an article.

You’ll first need to do lots of research to see which magazines you’d be interested in writing for. And you’ll need to study their guidelines carefully. 

You’ll also need to research back issues to make sure you don’t query a topic they’ve already done. This research will also give you a feel for what type of stories the magazine wants and how they’re written.

Once you have your direction, start writing.

5. Submit, submit, submit.

If you’re writing books and decided to submit to traditional publishers and/or literary agents, you’ll need to have a polished manuscript. Then you’ll need to write a query letter.

Once that’s done, research publishers and agents who are in the genre you’re writing. Find as many matches as you can, then find out who to address the query to.

Then submit, submit, submit. 

Just be sure the publisher or agent accepts simultaneous submissions.

If you’re submitting articles, it’s a little different. You’ll be writing for a specific magazine, so you’ll be querying one magazine at a time. But this doesn’t mean you can’t query multiple articles.

6. If you’re self-publishing books.

In this case, instead of submitting to publishers or agents, you’ll be getting your books formatted and published.

It’s important to take the same steps as the traditional road. You want your books to be professional. Learning how to write first is critical.

7. Repeat to create a successful writing career.

A one-shot book or article isn’t a career. Whether you write books or articles, or both, keep on writing and submitting. 

8. Promote your book.

This is a bonus step.

Even if you’ve written a professional and engaging book, if you don’t promote it, you won’t sell it.

This also goes for traditionally published books, especially if you’re with a small publisher.

It’s essential to promote your book. Make it visible through blogging, social media, in-person events, and so on.

A subscriber to my email list contacted me that she was selling well at in-person events in her country but had no sales in the U.S.

The lack of U.S. sales is because she didn’t have a website, and she didn’t use social media to broaden her book marketing reach.

While in-person is an effective way to sell books, it has a very limited marketing reach. The internet, on the other hand, has a worldwide reach.

I hope these 8 tips help you to reach a successful writing career.
Need help with your story?
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can help turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Contact me at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Or, you can give me a call at 834---347---6700

Or, if you’d rather do-it-yourself, check out my book, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.
Jan 16

You Are Never Too Old to be a Writer

You can start your writing career today.
I jumped into a writing career in my mid-40s. I was an assistant controller for a manufacturing company before that.

With my accounting background, writing about business and marketing was a natural fit… or so it seemed at the time.
My first gig as a freelance writer was for a company that offered human resources solutions. They had two related (sister) sites and I wrote articles for one site and rewrote them for the other.

Rewriting can be fun, but is also challenging as it’s important to have the new content pass a duplicate content checker.  

The reason for this is Google doesn’t like duplicate content on your website or your related sites.
Heath writing was soon added to the mix and it was more lucrative than the business and marketing writing. 

I supplied an allergy site with about 100 articles per month. I had to hire subcontractors to help with this project.
I also did academic rewriting and editing for health professionals.
Then I decided to add on writing for children.

It seemed like a natural addition as I had written a bedtime lullaby when my first daughter was a baby – to help her fall asleep. I turned it into a children’s bedtime picture book in 2008. 

Soon though, I was stretching myself too thin as you can imagine. That’s never a good thing for a number of reasons.

-You can’t devote the time and focus needed to a particular genre.
-You don’t have a strong platform or brand.
-And, you know the saying: Jack of all trades, master of none. This is definitely not a good thing. It should always be quality over quantity.

I had to decide what genre I would focus on. 

Focus is essential to success.

As the children’s writing really took off and grew each year, and I love to bring children on journeys, that’s the genre I chose.

And that’s how my children’s writing career got started.
Another example of never being too old to follow your dreams is a 92 client I worked with about a year ago.

I got a query from a woman who had a children’s picture book published in by Houghton Mifflin in 1988.

She had a 25,000-word middle grade story she had been submitting to agents but wasn’t getting any interest. She asked if I’d review it. After a few emails, I learned she was 92 years old! 

Ninety-two! And she was following her dream!

She inspired me.

Working and raising seven children on her own during most of their growing-up years didn’t leave room for writing, especially as she had to work. Once she was able, she got back to it, though. She wanted to publish more stories. 

After consulting with this client, she turned her middle grade into a chapter book, and I edited for her. She then self-published. I went on to review and edit several shorter stories for her. 
And there are lots of other late bloomers. 
The very successful authors listed below also started their writing careers later in life:

Toni Morrison - Age 40
Mark Twain - Age 41
J.R.R. Tolkien - Age 45
Raymond Chandler - Age 51
Annie Proulx - Age 57
Laura Ingalls Wilder - Age 65
Frank McCourt - Age 66 (1)
So, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to start writing, IT’S NOT.

If you have the desire and haven’t gotten started writing for children yet, GET STARTED TODAY!
Reference:
(1) https://bookstr.com/article/10-hugely-successful-authors-who-got-their-start-later-in-life/
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
3 Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid

The Writing for Children Ropes - 8 Tips

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Like this post? Please share it!
Jan 09

The Domino Chain Reaction and Your Words

The Writing Chain Reaction
So many things inspire me; the most recent is a video I saw on LinkedIn.

It’s about chain reactions, and I immediately thought of writing.

I found the original video on YouTube and have it here. It’s only 2 ½ minutes and super-interesting.

As the demonstrator (Stephen Morris) mentioned, if he had 29 dominos, the last one would be as tall as the Empire State Building!

WOW!

It’s minding boggling thinking about the actual size of the initial domino that caused such a powerful chain reaction.

So how does this relate to writing?
As writers, what we write matters. 

Words matter.

You trigger the initial event by writing your story. Once it’s released into the world, it creates energy; and each time a reader reads it, more and more energy is released. The domino chain reaction is underway.

This is the superpower writers have.
As a children’s writer, you never know how your story will spark something in a child. 

It could be sparking an interest in the environment, maybe in history, or astronomy, or kindness, or even peace. 

It’s that initial event or trigger than can lead that reader on to greater things.

Or, it may be a nonfiction book on creating a better life, or a better world.

Again, your words can become the trigger that sparks better things.

That’s the power of a story. 

The possibilities are limitless, so use your superpower wisely!
Want to be that spark in a child’s imagination or life?
Become the author of your own children’s book.

Be the trigger in a writing-reading domino chain reaction.
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
3 Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid

The Writing for Children Ropes - 8 Tips

Are You Overthinking Your Story?

Please Share!
Dec 26

3 Absolute Must-Nots in Writing for Children

It seems there are still new children’s authors or wannabe authors who don’t take the time to learn about how to write for children… at least to learn the basics.

The absolute must-nots when writing for children:

The Picture Book Cliffhanger

A recent client of mine was for a picture book rewrite project with the ending missing, so there was a bit of ghosting involved. The intended age group was four to eight.

I rewrote the story and added a ‘satisfying’ ending with a takeaway only to learn the client wanted it to be a cliffhanger and didn’t want a takeaway.

Well, kind of a cliffhanger. The client wanted the ending missing.

No loose ends tied up. No satisfying ending. No full character arc. No full story arc.

This was a first for me.

Not wanting a takeaway is one thing, but not wanting a satisfying ending for a young children’s book doesn’t make sense.

The story was to leave the reader to guess what the author had in mind for the ending or create their own. 

The author’s intent was to create a series of cliffhangers motivating the reader to purchase the next picture book.

I’m not sure if the author intended to abruptly end the next book in the series, but I think so.

I tried my best to help the client understand that a young children’s book needs all the elements of a ‘good’ story, especially when seeking a traditional publishing contract.

I get that in self-publishing a lot of new authors do whatever they want (even though they should produce a quality book), but it’s a different ball game when going the traditional route.

The Perfect Story World

I don’t get too many of this type of author, but it came up in another recent project.

This scenario is when the author doesn’t want any significant conflict in the story. No real stakes involved.

-No swarm of bees to block a path the protagonist must get through.
-No ferocious fire breathing dragon blocking the entrance to a cave the protagonist must get into.
-No dangling from a cliff before being rescued.

The author also doesn’t want the characters, even the villain, to have any bad traits.

-No evil Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes nemesis).
-No evil Joker or the Penguin (Batman’s nemesis).
-No evil Lex Luthor (Superman’s nemesis).

This type of story is sugar-coated.

Instead of a roller coaster that goes up and down, where the rider has to hold on tight, this type of story is the stationary horse on the carousel, no holding on needed, no real movement involved.

You always want your story to be the one that the reader is motivated to hold onto, motivated to turn the pages. You want your story to go up and down.

Hitting the Reader Over the Head

Most of my clients have a specific goal for their story. They want to send a message to a child. They know exactly what they want the takeaway to be. 

A number of stories have the bullying theme, but interestingly that’s eased off. Now I get more requests for the inclusion theme, the standing up for yourself theme, and the being kind theme.

Some new authors think they have to hit the reader over the head with their message. They blatantly want to tell the reader how the main character grew because he was kind, or stood up for himself, or included someone different into her group.

Hitting the reader over the head with the story’s message is frowned upon. The story should convey the message subtly. The reader will pick up on it.

I hope these three absolute must-nots in kid’s writing help you on your children’s writing journey.
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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Dec 12

What’s Your Takeaway?

The children's writing takeaway.
Most of my clients know what they want the takeaway of their book to be. 

It may be to demonstrate kindness, overcoming fear, being a good friend, learning responsibility, learning about conservation, becoming self-confident, learning coping strategies, realizing the importance of family…

Now and then, though, I still get clients who think a list of events constitutes a good story. And they have a tough time understanding the elements that need to go into making a story work, such as character arc, story arc, and plot. They also don’t understand that a children’s book should have a takeaway.

What is a book’s takeaway?

According to Merriam Webster, a takeaway is “a main point or key message to be learned or understood from something experienced or observed.”

With this in mind, the takeaway is what’s valuable in the book – the message it conveys. It’s what the reader will find memorable or worthy of remembering. 

This is important when writing for children because you want the reader to leave the book learning something, even if subconsciously. 

Examples.

Using my middle-grade fantasy, “Walking Through Walls,” the protagonist, Wang, begins as a selfish and lazy kid. His journey to become a Master Eternal, in order to become powerful and wealthy, changes him for the better.

Along with Wang becoming more than he was or better than he was, the reader can see how it came about and the value in those changes.

By the way, "Walking Through Walls" is a cross between a chapter book and a middle-grade and is a great book for the reluctant reader.

Another example is “Stephanie’s Ponytail” by Robert Munsch. 

The kids in Stephanie’s class copy every hairdo she creates. Finally, she outwits them and they never copy her hairdo again. 

As well as being a fun read, the takeaway in this book is teaching children about creativity, independence, self-confidence, imagination, and being daring. It could very well inspire them to the same actions.

So, as you’re writing your children’s story, think of the takeaway. What message do you want to instill in the reader?
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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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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: 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

5 Must-Know Tips to Help Revise Your Story

Writing for Children: Enjoy the Journey

Scenes and How to Make Them Work

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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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