Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prize in Children's Literature - $10,000

I have some exciting news. Straight from Children’s Book Insider in the “At Presstime” section, comes this gem.

Milkweed Editions is currently accepting submissions for the 2008 Milkweed Prize in Children’s Literature, for the best manuscript for children ages 8 – 13 that Milkweed accepts for publication during the calendar year by a writer NOT previously published by Milkweed. Submissions must follow regular guidelines for middle grade novels and be received by Milkweed by the end of 2008.

The $10,000 cash advance is part of any royalties agreed upon in the contractual agreement negotiated at the time of acceptance. For more details go to

Also Milkweed is accepting novels for ages 8 – 13 that are between 90 – 200 pages. No picture books or poetry for this age group. Visit the web site for more information and submission guidelines.

There is more…..

Fun For Kidz is an activity magazine that publishes 6 times a year for ages 6 – 13. They are looking for activities that deal with timeless topics such as pets, nature, hobbies, science, games, sports, careers and simple cooking. Each issue revolves around a theme. They are looking for lively writing and need articles of approximately 500 words. Articles accompanied by good photos are given preference.
For upcoming theme lists go to

The CBI is such a great newsletter. If you would like to learn more about this great newsletter and how to subscribe, surf on over to Write 4 Kids

Write it down,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brain Exercises for Children

The mind is a beautiful thing - especially a child's mind. The following article by Sarah J Holt explores a variety of ways to exercise a child's brain so they will develop better learning skills. It wouldn't hurt the adults either. Enjoy the article.

As children are growing up they are developing thinking, as well as behavioral, patterns. Using these 6 brain exercises for children is one way to help them develop these skills for better functioning and mental abilities for life.

Word Searches/Crosswords

They make many books for kids that contain word searches and crosswords. These are great activities for children to exercise their brains by using the focus and thinking that they require. Crossword puzzles are also a great family activity, where one person can read off the clue and tell how many letters are involved and everyone else can guess.

Memory Exercises

Working with memory exercises can be one of the easiest brain exercises for children, since it can be done in the car while driving or almost anywhere else. Starting when they are young we naturally do these exercises by teaching them how to spell their names, and what their phone numbers and addresses are. We can expand on this by having them work on remembering poems, songs, and the names from family trees.

Memorizing helps children use their brain to focus and retain the information. It also is a very useful skill since a lot of education is based on memorizing, such as learning the number facts for math or learning a list of spelling words.

Obstacle Courses For The Brain

We all have heard of obstacle courses that require physical exercises, but we can also set up ones that include brain exercises for children. An obstacle course for the brain can combine both physical and brain exercises, or focus exclusively on the latter. You can make stations along a physical obstacle course where they can only proceed to the next station after they complete a mental task, such as a short crossword puzzle or word problem. You can also set it up where they have stations throughout the house where they have to complete a series of mental tasks all lined up along the floor or a table.

Write Or Draw Left-Handed (Or Right-Handed)

A great way to exercise the brain is to use the non-dominant hand for writing or drawing. This can be fun to see who can tell what was written or drawn afterwards. Another option is to draw a picture where one-half is done with the dominant hand and then afterwards it is copied onto the other half by the non-dominant hand. These are brain exercises for children that encourage both sides of their brain to work together.

While brain exercises for children can be simple and fun the payoffs can be huge. By using these brain exercises the children are learning to exercise an important part of the body.

Sarah Holt writes for For more Math Games, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit:
Article Source:

How about you? Do you have any special brain games?
Write it down,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

39 Tips for a Productive Life

Take some time during the course of this summer and practice at least ten of these regularly. You will be a better writer, parent, spouse and citizen.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water... Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words:’ in five years, will this matter?'

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. GOD heals everything.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change!

30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. The best is yet to come.

34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

35. Do the right thing!

36. Call your family often. (Or email them to death!!!) Hey I'm thinking of ya!

37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: 'I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

39. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney world and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

Write it down,


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: In Remembrance

Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.
Jawaharlal NehruIndian politician (1889 - 1964)

We hold in our hands, the most precious gift of all: Freedom. The freedom to express our art. Our love. The freedom to be who we want to be. We are not going to give that freedom away and no one shall take it from us!
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Cicely, 1992

Write it down,

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review: The Higher Power of Lucky/ Newbery Medal Winner 2007

Author: Susan Patron
Hardcover: 134 pages
Ages: 8 to 12 years
Illustrated by: Matt Phelan
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
An Imprint of Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 13: 978-1-4169-0194-5
ISBN: 10: 1-4169-01949-9

Lucky Trimble is ten years old and lives in the desert town of Hard Pan. CA (pop 43) with her dog, HMS Beagle and her French guardian, Brigitte. Lucky spends her spare time eavesdropping on twelve-step programs like Alcoholic Anonymous and smokers anonymous where she learns about a higher power that helps people when they hit rock-bottom.

Lucky yearns to find her own higher power that will help her stop Brigitte from going back to France and putting her into an orphanage. At least that is the conclusion Lucky has jumped too. Lucky is tenacious and vulnerable and has a tendency to jump to conclusions. But first she needs to find her higher power because she knows her rock-bottom will be here soon.

Lucky is suspicious that Brigitte is tired of taking care of her and wants to leave Hard Pan and go back to France. Lucky begins to pile up evidence that Brigitte will leave any day now. This gives Lucky a sense of urgency to hurry and run away before Brigitte has a chance to leave. Even the warnings of an approaching dust storm will not deter Lucky from her destiny with her higher power.

This is a complex story with a lot of back story but Patron makes her characters charming. The young characters seem to be older but they are all dealing with unusual conditions forcing them to accept the harshness of life earlier than most. Lucky’s best friend Lincoln Clinton Carter Kennedy has a knot tying fetish and five year old Miles who lives down the street is an orphan addicted to cookies and Lucky has not yet come to terms with the death of her mother or abandonment by her father.

About the Author:Susan Patron is also the author of Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe (an ALA Notable Book, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 1993 Parent’s Choice Award and a New York Public Library Children's Book List selection) and four picture books. She has spent most of her life at the Los Angeles Public Library, both as a child and an adult. She is currently their Juvenile Materials Collection Development Manager.
Write it down,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Author Interview: Simon Rose

Simon Rose is an author of science fiction and fantasy novels for young adults and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Western Canada. Also Simon is an instructor for The National Writing for Children Center and presents seminars on topics like character development, story structure, editing and revision.
Simon, thank you so much for participating in this email interview. I thoroughly enjoyed The Heretic's Tomb and I liked the way you got Annie into the past and out of the walled up room at the abbey. What was your source of inspiration for The Heretic's Tomb?

I'm pleased you enjoyed the book. It was inspired by my own love of history and I have always enjoyed time travel stories. Many novels have medieval settings, but to me some historical periods, such as the era of the Black Death or the mystery of the Princes in the Tower depicted in The Sorcerer's Letterbox, for example, are the most fascinating and the most suitable settings for a good adventure story.

What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?

Yes I do. I always work extensively on an outline, determining all the twists and turns of the plot, before beginning the actual novel. This outline is usually at least one paragraph for every chapter and can be up to 5000 words.

What goes on inside the mind of the fantasy writer?

All kinds of things - ancient mysteries, the unexplained, the paranormal, science fiction themes, time travel ideas, parallel universes, alternate realities, weird and wonderful characters and a whole lot of 'what if' scenarios.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are trying to break into the fantasy genre?

Try to be as original as possible and not copy something else, even if it has been popular. Write about what interests you in this particular genre rather than jumping on any bandwagon.

Who is Simon Rose? Describe an ordinary day in your life.

I'm not sure there is an ordinary day. If I'm not traveling or at a local school or library, I do spend much of the day working on the current book project, as well as on marketing, correspondence and so on, but also have children to take care of, pets to feed, household chores to do and so on.
What type of books did you read as a child?

I became immersed in science fiction as a boy and read a lot of science fiction novels and collections of short stories, as well C S Lewis, Tolkien and other fantasy writers. At high school, I studied a great deal of history and have retained my interest in the subject up to the present day. I also read a tremendous number of comic books as a child. Pure escapism perhaps, but comic books were great for the imagination. On TV, the original Star Trek series springs readily to mind, along with many other influences.

How do you set about promoting your novel? How many hours a week do you spend on book promotion?

I do some form of promotion every day, whether for the books or for myself, usually online though the website, blog or via e mail correspondence regarding author visits, summer camps, writing services, festivals and other events.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

There are lots on resources on line and elsewhere with regards to publishers, but a good thing to do is to research which houses are publishing the same type of material that you are writing. If you are writing fantasy for ten year olds, see who is doing that and then check their website to see if they are accepting submissions, Similarly, if you are writing teen fiction, see who is doing that and again be sure to check out their submission policies. There are also publishers who only deal with non fiction, prefer to specialize in regional issues, those who only do picture books or who do picture books, but don't accept stories about animals and so on. It can be a long process, but is well worth it.
What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you? Any special strategies you'd like to share?

All authors have to be prepared to do as much as they can to promote their own work. Get a website or blog or both, even before your first book is published, forge a good relationship with your local bookstores in order to secure book signing events, look into ways to talk about your work at festivals, other events and especially at schools and libraries. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book doesn't become known to potential readers.

Visit Simon Rose's web site at and surf on over to his blog to see where he is traveling to. Simon is available for presentations, workshops, Author-in-residence programs in Canada and the United States. Simon's upcoming book due in Spring of 2009 is Doomsday Mask.
Thank you for this interview Simon.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Author Interview - Shayn Cutino

Shayn Cutino, of Anja Wellness, is a hypnotherapist, author and speaker and works in a therapeutic capacity with clients of all ages. She is a widely requested speaker for schools, community groups and hospitals. Continuing her education, Shayn became certified through CIHAS as a clinical hypnotherapist and graduated with honors from the Global College of Natural Medicine, where she received her certification as a Holistic Health Practitioner.

Shayn is a contributing co-author of “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, a new book created by founder and owner David Riklan of Self Improvement Online, Inc. This book is a compilation of 101 leading experts with proven strategies and reliable tried-and-true ways to become a healthier person.

How did the name Anja for your business come about?

Anja is a Sanskrit word meaning all knowing and intuitive. Since I am a clinical hypnotherapist, I utilize my intuition a lot when dealing with my clients. The name resonated with me and the best part was that it started with A, which for marketing purposes, puts me on the top of the food chain.

What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?

My writing habits are random. I do make an outline but it is generally very rough. I always ask myself the basic who, what, when, where, why and how questions when writing. My frustration lies in believing that I have completed a project and then, when I go back to it, it appears incomplete.

How do you set to the task of promoting your articles and presentations?

I utilize my web site as well as local publications to promote myself. I also send out a monthly ezine to my entire database announcing upcoming events.

Your current CD series was created to help people unblock what stands in their way in life. Do you find one more popular than the other?

Yes, I have so many requests for the deep relaxation and stress reduction CD’s. Our world moves so quickly now that most of us are under the impression that we never have enough time. Taking time to slow down your breathing and relax the body is key to staying healthy as well as grounded in this fast paced society.

What do teenagers want to learn from you the most?

I have done numerous presentations at the local high schools and most teenagers are just fascinated with hypnosis in general. When I give a presentation I include a sample of hypnosis and the majority of them love the experience and are very receptive to it. When it comes to my teen age clientele, most of those kids are seeking confidence for athletic abilities, overcoming test anxieties and fear and phobia reduction.

Tell us about your new book. What inspired you to write it?

I am so excited about my new book, which I anticipate having done by July 2008. Without giving away the store, I feel that there is such a huge need for this type of book. I believe the topic is one that each of us struggles with at some point and time in our lives and I feel that this book will literally help thousands of people. I was inspired to write this book because of my own life experiences and then when I opened my practice, I began to notice a pattern with my clients. We all have a common thread and this is what I discuss in my upcoming book. I believe that this is something I was destined to deliver to the world and I am really excited about the project.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Wow, that is an understatement! Do I suffer from writers block…..absolutely! What generally helps me is to walk away from the project and just let it sit. Then I meditate and reflect on what it is I want to achieve and I ask for answers as well as guidance in helping me to move forward. This works very well for me.

As a therapist you are always helping others move forward with their lives. What is your biggest challenge you have faced?

Detachment. Like I mentioned earlier, I use my intuitive abilities a lot in session and my feelings are very strong. When faced with a client who comes in and literally dumps on my doorstep, I need to let them vent, help them and then let it go. I believe that all therapists have this struggle because we are dealing with peoples emotions and having them re-live experiences, good as well as bad and sad.

What type of books did you read as a child?

My favorite reads were Little Women and Nancy Drew books.

What is the most important success lesson you have learned?

Success comes from perseverance. You simply can never give up. You must remain diligent and passionate about what you do.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Thank you for asking. Yes I do. My website is and my blog can be found on my web site.

Thank you Shayn for taking the time to answer these questions today.
To find out more about Shayn go to her website at and discover what all she has to offer and download her Speaker one-sheet..

To add to the mix, Shayn is a professional speaker and is available to provide an array of workshops and presentation topics for your group or school.

Write it down,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Week Links: Get On With Your Research & Reading

The Writing for Children Resource Site.

This one link has tons of articles that answer questions like
Where should I start?

What shall I write?

Many new writers have no idea how to submit their work. There are articles here that will demystify the process.

This link has articles on the writing process and submissions. Riches of information abound.

In addition the world of children’s books is at your finger tips through your local library. You don’t even have to leave home unless you want to check a book out. I logged on to my local library and clicked on the kids category box. A page called Kids Infobits came up with links to a broad coverage of subjects for children through the GALE database.

I found a treasure chest of children’s magazine articles from publishers like Dig, Calliope and Scholastic and more. You can find out what topics have been published. Also, many articles are printed in full which would allow a writer to “study” the type of article a particular magazine publishes. This benefit could save you money and the hassle of acquiring samples via snail mail. This is a great resource to add to your tool box. Of course you will need your local library card.

Write it down,


Sunday, May 18, 2008

6 Reasons to Hire a Writing Coach and Achieve Success

A writer needs a coach for the same reason an athlete does. Consider Joe Blanton, pitcher for the Oakland A’s. He tied an Oakland rookie record of twelve wins in 2005 and threw his first shutout against the Royals on May 31, 2006, all under the guidance of a coach. Success and coaching go hand in hand.

Following are six reasons to hire a writing coach:

1. Increase productivity. Free up more time for writing. Work like cooking, washing dishes or cleaning house is unproductive for writers. This type of work can be delegated to other family members or if your budget allows it, hire someone else to do it.
2. Earn more money. Your writing coach will teach you how write top notch query and cover letters leading to great writing jobs. Also, a writing coach will show you where to look for jobs.
3. Generate desired results. You are your own worst critics. A coach can be objective and open your eyes to your positive attributes.
4. Learn to use S.M.A.R.T. Goals (specific, measurable, attainable, and timely) T can also stand for tangible. A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of your senses. For instance when you see your first novel on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.
5. Receive self-esteem support. It is easy to feel depressed when creativity seems to get stuck. You may feel inadequate and the knee-jerk reaction is to beat your self up. A coach can show you how to combat against writing blocks.
6. Shatter Procrastination. All the planning and goal setting in the world will not help you become a best selling author unless you apply action. A writing coach is there for you every inch of the way. Each time you cry out “It’s too hard”, your coach will tell you yes it is hard but you can do it!

In conclusion:

A writing coach gives support, listens and teaches. Furthermore, the objectivity they provide is incredible because they are not so embedded in your trees that they can’t see your forest.

Join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club and unite with other children’s writers and aspiring authors. Under the guidance and expertise of writing coach and founder of The National Writing for Children Center, Suzanne Lieurance, you will be on your way to becoming a published children’s writer.

Write it down,

Friday, May 16, 2008

TOT LOL On line Videos for Kids

Videos for kids are not a new thing but too many Utube type videos on the Internet are not suitable for children under thirteen. I found a website that solves that issue thanks to Elizabeth O Dulemba's blog and it is the coolest thing. The website is

Click here to see a sample called The Birds.

I had so much fun surfing around this site. TOT LOL is a brand new community-moderated website designed to be enjoyed by those from 6 months to 6 years. I imagine that some parents will enjoy these videos right along with them.

TOT LOL is still in the early testing stages and that means that some things will work most of the time but occasionally there may be couple of things that don't. Feel free to join this community and participate in rating these unique, funny, educational and touching videos. The registration is free. Surf on over to get the full scoop.

Write it down,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! It's Children's Book Week!

May 12 through May 18.

Hosted by the Children's Book Council. Go visit their website to learn all about it. Also, check with your local library. I am sure they have some wonderful things in store to celebrate.

Color Me!

Purchasing coloring books online is a common occurrence. Also, many sites have single pages that can be printed out for coloring. I have found a few sites to print out coloring pages drawn by illustrators of children 's books such as Elizabeth Dulemba. She places one coloring page for children each Tuesday on her blog for printing and coloring. I have printed several for my grandchildren.

Read the article below: Coloring Books - Online Books, by Elizabeth Ashe. Her website also lists resources to help you find quality books for children at affordable prices.

It seems that you can find everything and anything online these days, but can you find coloring books? A quick search will reveal that coloring books are indeed online and there are quite a few options that appear for them.
Some of these options include: online coloring books, jumbo coloring books, and coloring books for purchase.

Online coloring books - This is a new phenomenon known only to the online generation, kids prior to this day in time never knew the option of printing out virtually endless amounts of coloring pages for their coloring pleasure. Nowadays, kids can log on to their favorite kid's programs website and either color pictures of their favorite characters right there on the computer screen and print them on their printer, or they can print out the blank coloring page and color with crayons. Now that's options!

Jumbo coloring books - Also a new but very fun idea is the jumbo coloring books that are available today both in your local discount store and for purchase online. These huge coloring books can create hours of fun for your child. Available again with their favorite cartoon characters and these are larger than life. Kids can spend hours coloring in these extra large books.

Coloring books for purchase online - Does your child have a favorite cartoon character or maybe they have a love for tiny horses, sheep dogs or some other unique animal. Online you can find an array of coloring books available for purchase that you may not find anywhere else.

Elizabeth Ashe is a mom of four that would love to show how to find great cheap books online. To learn more visit
Article Source:

Write it down,


Monday, May 12, 2008

Walk Two Moons: Newbery Medal Winner Book Review

Hardcover: 280 pages
Ages: 9 to 12
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0-06-023334-6
ISBN: 0-06-023337-0

Walk Two Moons is the tale of thirteen year old Salamanca (Sal) Tree Hiddle and her trek from Euclid, Ohio to Lewiston, Idaho with her zany grandparents. Through humor, wit and poignancy Walk Two Moons addresses dying, loving and grieving. I loved this story. The plot twists, satire and charming characters come alive on every page. Another great facet about Walk Two Moons is how the main character, narrates a parallel story of grief and love while she sorts out her own heartaches.

Sal’s mother leaves home without warning and Sal experiences a feeling of abandonment even with all the post cards her mother sends to her. When Sal’s father announces her mother will not be coming home, Sal is devastated. Still, she and her father move to Euclid, Ohio against Sal’s desire.

Sal’s grandparents, Grams and Gramps Hiddle are determined to help Sal get to Lewiston, Idaho before her mother’s birthday. However instead of following a direct route they follow the scenic tour bus route.

In order to pass the time and keep her mind off of her Gramps crazy driving, Sal narrates the story of her friend Phoebe’s mother who also left home. Phoebe is adamant her mother did not leave home on her own accord rather Phoebe believes her mother has been kidnapped by a lunatic who delivers notes with strange messages like “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”

Additionally, Walk Two Moons provides a glimpse of how families can react differently to similar circumstances and still hold on to a solid foundation of love and warmth. As you begin to learn about Sal’s grandparents and the deep love they share you also learn about Sal’s friend Mary Lou and her family who are openly rambunctious and affectionate with each other in comparison to Phoebe’s family who are uncomfortable with outward signs of affection.

Creech’s talent to write two story lines simultaneously is the essence of Walk Two Moons. There are so many things to admire about this book that a mere few lines of plot description will not do it justice. However, just when you think you know where the plot is headed, Creech drops a few surprises on you and a curve ball is thrown right between the pages. Walk Two Moons speaks on a level that all middle grade students can relate too. The plot unfolds nicely and yet the end is still a surprise. Don’t be surprised if a small tear trickles down your cheek too.

Author Sharon Creech was awarded the 1994 Newbery Medal award for Walk Two Moons and Newbery Honor Book for The Wanderer. She is also the first American to win the Carnegie medal for her book Ruby Holler. For nine months of the year she lives in England and teaches American and British literature. You can visit her website at

Write it down,


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Web Links and Children's List Links

While writing my book review of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, I ran across a great website. BloomsburyUSA. This site was launched in 1998 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. An England based publishing company and independent publisher. Its USA children’s list was launched in 2001.

I love looking through their children’s catalog. I have been told by many professionals that it is wise to read publishers catalogs before sending out queries. Reading publishing catalogs will give you a sense of the type of books they are interested in.

Also click here for free online data of reference books.
Write it down,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Suzanne Lieurance: Children's Author, Coach & Radio Show Host

It gives me great pleasure to interview Suzanne Lieurance of The Working Writer's Coach. Suzanne is a multi-talented and multi-faceted writer. In addition she is an extremely motivating writing coach. Through her weekly teleseminars, students are inspired to be the best they can be. Take a class from Suzanne Lieurance and you too will feel the charge of energy careening over cyber space.

Q: I ran across your Working Writers Coach Blog back in March 2007 and I kept being drawn back to it. Actually I think it was when I subscribed to the Morning Nudge that kept me going everyday and still does. Tell us how The Morning Nudge came about.

A: As a writing coach, I like to encourage my clients to get a little writing done every single day. When I first started coaching, I was sending out a weekly newsletter, but I suddenly thought how much more helpful it would be to my clients and other writers by sending them something every week day. That’s how the Morning Nudge came about.

I have a friend who calls it “The Morning Shove” because some days I just want writers to stop making excuses for not creating the writing life of their dreams. The only way to become a writer is to write! And the purpose of The Morning Nudge is to remind readers of that every day.

Q: What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?

A: I write something every single day. When I’m working on a book length manuscript I work from an outline whether the book is nonfiction or fiction. However, even with an outline I find that many surprises pop up as I’m writing. And that's part of what makes the writing process so much fun.

Q: Is one genre easier to write than another? Why or why not?

A: For me, fiction is more difficult to write than nonfiction because I have to really, really focus on the world I’m creating when I’m writing fiction. I have to sort of enter this world, and it takes me a while at the keyboard before I’m able to do that fully. But once I’m there in my fictional world, I don’t want to come back to the real world, so I try to write for hours at a time.

When I’m working on nonfiction, I’m able to do that in short bits of time here and there. So it’s easier for me to get a lot of nonfiction writing done in a short amount of time.

Q: You always have a project or two in the works. The Locket just came out so tell us a bit about your other soon to be published stories. What was your inspiration for these stories?

A: Right now I’m working on another historical novel for Enslow. I’m also working on a nonfiction book with two other coaches, and I’m reworking several picture book manuscripts. I also write my own materials for my coaching programs, including materials for the Working Writer’s Summer Bootcamp that starts June 2, 2008.

What inspires me the most - for anything I write - is people who do incredible things. I want to write things that show everyone how we can ALL do incredible things if we follow our passions and believe in ourselves.

Q: Which element of historical fiction writing comes more naturally for you—plot, characterization, description, dialogue? Which one gives you the hardest time?

A: Characterization comes easiest for me. I have to “feel” what the character is going through in order to write about this person. But I can generally do that.

Description is sometimes difficult with historical fiction because every detail about the time and place must be accurate even though the actual events are not all true.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers who are trying to break into the field?

A: First, take a course or workshop to learn the basics about writing for children. Next, join or start a critique group for children’s writers and be sure there are at least a few published children’s authors in the group. Third, read, read, read all the children’s books you can. Finally, write, write, write!

Q: Who is Suzanne Lieurance, the lady? Describe an ordinary day in your life.

A: I think the essence of who I am involves teaching, coaching, and motivating others every single day. This may sound strange, but I don’t think I have ordinary days. To me, every single day is special because every day I wake up and get to do what I love to do most - write, coach, and help others in some small way.

But the best part is, I get to do all this no matter where I am, so I can work from home in my pjs if I want - and I often do want to write in my pjs. I think pjs are totally underrated.

Q: Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

A: I don’t have trouble being creative. What I have trouble with sometimes is staying focused on ONLY the project at hand. My mind can get to racing a mile a minute if I don’t control it. So, I meditate and write in my journal every morning in order to get focused before I work on the day’s writing project.

Talking with other writers and other coaches unleashes my creativity.

Q: What type of books did you read as a child? Did you like to do book reports on them?

A: I always loved books about animals when I was a child. My favorite book was called The Magic Pin and it was about a little girl who found a pin that was shaped like a horseshoe. Whenever she put this pin on her shirt or dress she could talk to animals. I just thought that having a pin like that would be the coolest thing since animals were everything to me when I was a kid - dogs, especially.

Q: How do you set about promoting your books? How many hours a week do you spend on book promotion?

A: I promote my books in a variety of ways. Mostly through school visits and speaking at writers’ conferences and other events, plus through my websites and blogs. However, I probably spend more time every week promoting my coaching than I do promoting my books. Nowadays, I seem to be a coach who also writes, even though I started out as a writer who also coaches.

Q: What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

A: Speaking at conferences and making author visits to schools seems to work best for me as a means to promote my books. But I also like networking with other children’s authors, illustrators, and editors to help get the word out about all sorts of books for children, not just mine.

To find out more about my books for children, visit my author website at and to find out more about my coaching visit and sign up for a free subscription to The Morning Nudge at either site. Also, be sure to listen to my talk show about children's books, LIVE on blogtalkradio every weekday afternoon at 2:00 central time -

Thank you Suzanne.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blog Talk Radio Interview

Monday through Friday Suzanne Lieruance of The National Writing for Children's Center and the Children's Writer's Coaching Club hosts a half hour talk show interviewing children's writers and illustrators at 2 p.m. central time and 12 noon pacific time. There is always something to learn. I compare these interviews to a mini seminar. Interviews are archived for later listening if you don't have time to listen live.

Suzanne will be interviewing Harold Underdown, children's writer/editor/publisher for four consecutive days. May 6 through May 9, 2008. That is two hours of choice tidbits and information for free! Harold's new book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books (third edition) will be out soon. My copy is on its way.

If you would like to ask Harold Underdown questions go to Blog Talk Radio and call in. The phone number is listed on the website.

Write it down,


Monday, May 5, 2008

The Locket, Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Book Review

Title: The Locket, Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Hardcover: 160 pages
Illustration credits: Library of Congress
Locket: Joan Loitz,
Cover Illustration: Original Painting by Corey Wolfe
Ages 9 - 12
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN 13: 978-0-7660-2928-6
ISBN-10: 0-7660-2928-X

The Locket Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
is a historical novel written for ages 9 to 12. It tells the story of Galena, an eleven year old Russian-Jewish immigrant who lives in New York City in 1911 with her family and works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory with her older sister Anya. The factory pays low wages, has horrendous working conditions and employs under age children like Galena.

In the early 1900’s joining the union is a dangerous thing to do but Anya longs to improve working conditions for abused workers. Soon a horrible fire erupts and destroys the Triangle Shirt Factory and shatters a young girls dream.

Author, Suzanne Lieurance weaves together the fictional and non-fictional aspects of this historical story with ease. By blending dramatic factual accounts of a historical event using realistic fictional characters, Lieurance brings the reader inside the ill-fated factory. Lieurance’s account is truly a step back in time to understand how a young Jewish immigrant girl uses the support of her Jewish traditions, family and friends for inspiration to fight for workers rights.

The Locket also has an educator's guide available for teachers and parents. Go to Enslow Publishing and click on "what's new". Scroll down to Historical Fiction Adventures and click on The Locket. Next click on “Free educator’s guide." This guide is a fantastic supplement with additional reading suggestions, discussion questions and other activities.

I will be interviewing children’s author Suzanne Lieurance later in this week so be sure to check back often. You don’t want to miss hearing what this motivating author has planned next for her readers.

Write it down,


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Six Tips to Create Fictional Settings from Real Places

The devil is in the details. This expression must have been originated with writers in mind. Writers paint pictures with words and if you were to write "John went to the park on a sunny day" your readers might get bored.

But if you were to write "John heard the rustle of golden autumn leaves swirling around his feet as he strolled up the grassy pathway." You would create an aesthetic picture in the reader's mind. .

1. Walking through a real setting like a park or city would be ideal but if it is not possible, draw a picture of it and try to see it from your character’s perspective.

2. Choose details that are relevant to your POV and action of the plot.

3. Use all your senses to describe your setting. If you have been able to walk through a real setting, visit it at different times of the day and note where shadows fall in the afternoon or how well lit it is in the morning hours. Record your observations in your notebook.

4. Think how the scenery of the setting evolves over time.

5. Read about the history of your setting. Especially if you are writing historical fiction.

6. Don’t allow your setting to dominate the landscape of your novel. Study how other writers describe places on the page and make sure your level of details matches theirs.

These six tips were inspired by Children's Book Insider. If you would like to subscribe go to

Write it down,