Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Find Out Anything and Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Writing and Publishing for Kids

If you’ve been wondering how to get started writing and publishing your own stories and other work for kids, then you won’t want to miss this special FREE teleseminar next Monday night, December 1, 2008, at 7:00 central time, 5:00 pacific time and 8:00 eastern time.

I will host this teleseminar with special guest, Suzanne Lieurance, author of over a dozen published books for children, instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center. Suzanne will be answering questions that are submitted prior to the call. Just sign up and attend the seminar to hear the LIVE answer to your question.

Sign up for this Free teleseminar right now, and ask your most pressing question about writing or publishing for kids. Then, attend the LIVE teleseminar Monday night December 1, to learn the answer to your question.

The first 24 to register and ask a question will receive a special gift. The New York Times Best Seller, The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans. A Christmas classic. After typing in your question, please type in your mailing address to have the book shipped to you.

To attend the seminar, register here now.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Interview Experts for Non-Fiction Work

When writing non-fiction, research is not the only way to gain information on your topic. Interview an expert to illuminate what is important. Maureen J. Hinds has written an excellent article on this topic. I’m going to put this one in my notebook. Read on.

Writing for Children – Interviewing experts for Your Non-fiction Work.

Know Your Subject
This may seem contradictory to the purpose of conducting the interview—you’re consulting an expert because you’re not one yourself, right? Yes—however, you need to have a good grasp of your topic so that you know what you’re talking about during the interview. The purpose of contacting an expert is to clarify and gain additional information, not to be taught your subject. Experts appreciate the effort you put into understanding the topic and being able to speak as knowledgeably as possible about it.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Preparation is key to a good interview, no matter what method you choose. Make a list of your questions ahead of time, for your own purposes and to send to your expert. Many people appreciate knowing what they will be talking about, as it allows them to generate thoughtful responses rather than “off the cuff” comments. Send your list of questions to your interview subject, and follow them during the interview (while allowing the interview to veer as appropriate).

Decide How You Will Conduct the Interview
This depends in part on your subject, but your options often include in person, by phone, or through email. All methods are acceptable, and while a shy person may lean toward email, remember that the immediacy of an in-person or phone conversation can often add that “human” element that might be just what your piece needs. Sometimes you won’t have a choice, if your editor or subject prefers a particular method. It’s a good idea to practice various methods as you progress through your writing career. (If you record a conversation, be sure your subject knows and check any applicable state or governmental laws.)

Be Respectful of your Subject’s Time
Many professionals are happy to lend their expertise to your cause, as long as you don’t abuse the privilege. Be respectful of the person’s time, letting them know ahead how long you expect the interview to last. Be on time, and stick to your time estimate. If you run over, you can request a second interview, or ask if you can follow-up via email or phone.

Quote Accurately
No matter what method you choose, be careful that you quote your experts accurately. Obviously, this can be easier via email, but it is certainly possible for other types of interviews as well. If you have time, consider sending the quotes to your expert for review before submitting the manuscript. Not only will this help ensure accuracy, but it also gives your expert an extra opportunity to clarify a difficult topic or expand on an idea or comment. If your topic is technical, you can also request permission to rephrase the quote in terms that your younger readers will understand. Many experts are open to this, and will approve your changes—just be sure to let them know! And of course, when you write your piece, be sure to give credit to your source.

Where do you find experts? There are many options, but here are some ideas to get you started:
• Check your local yellow pages

* Investigate professional and nonprofit organizations

* Ask for references from research contacts, colleagues, those you talk to throughout the process, and even in casual conversations when someone says, “I know someone who…”

* Names you run across through Internet and other research

* Through online directories such as

Maurene J. Hinds is a children's author with several published books and two forthcoming. She is an experienced teacher who has taught creative and technical writing and literature at the high school and college levels, and teaches online writing workshops and offers manuscript critiques through her website. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Teenagers from Vermont College. She is completing a young adult novel, "Bruised," under the name Maurene Janiece. Visit her website at
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Friday, November 21, 2008

While Mama had a Quick Little Chat - Book Review

While Mama had a Quick Little Chat
Author: Amy Reichert
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (May 17, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0689851707
ISBN-13: 978-0689851704

“While Mama has a quick chat with Uncle Fred, Rose is supposed to be getting ready for bed.” Yeah right. All children know how quick these “quick little chats” can be when they try to get Mama’s attention. Rose’s Mama gave her detailed instructions what to do while she was on the phone.

“Brush your teeth. Wash your face. It’s getting late! I want you in bed by half past eight.”

Rose thought “No problem,” but then the door bell rings and four muscley men appear with a load of party supplies. To no avail Rose calls and calls out to her Mama but she keeps saying she will be through soon, so Rose lets them in.

More people begin to arrive and Rose tries to slam the door but people keep coming with waiters and trays of hors d’oeuvres. Rose can not stop this big party no matter how hard she tries so she decides to join in the fun. Something odd happens when a magician appears.

“Mama!!!” shrieked Rose “Come right now and see!”
“Rose, dear,” said Mama. “Stop Pestering Me!!!”

Finally the band arrives and they need a drummer so Rose steps in and begins to play a boogie beat. When Mama warns she is ready to get off the phone Rose makes sure everyone leaves and take their mess with them. Everyone left and thanked Rose for a fun time. Mama finds Rose fast asleep in her bed and none the wiser as to the big bash that had just happened in her living room.

The story is told in rhyme with an upbeat and steady rhythm and characterizes the impatience children often exhibit while waiting for attention from the parents. I think children will appreciate the humor because they will be able to relate to Rose. On the flip side parents will relate to Mama when she becomes irritable as Rose shrieks and begs for attention.

Mama and Rose both have skinny legs and pointy toes with red hair going everywhere. The cartoon type illustrations add a lot sparkle and life to the story. The addition of Rose’s cat in the illustrations adds a bit of amusement as a spectator to the party. This is a splendid book to share with everyone.

About the author: Amy Reichert has a home phone, a cell phone, a speakerphone, a headset phone, and call waiting. She can cook, clean, work in the garden, check e-mail, help with homework, brush her cats, eat, read, exercise, drive, watch TV, feed her fish, and write a book -- all while having a quick little chat! She lives with her husband and two children in Bethesda, Maryland.

About the Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger is the illustrator of While Mama Had A Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert and Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, as well as Doris Orgel's Doctor All-Knowing, coming in 2008. She lives in San Anselmo, California.

Write it down,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sprinkle a Few Sparkles Here and There

Jill McDougal has written over a hundred books for children. I found her to be quite informative and fun. I hope you enjoy her article on how to put that special something in your story.

Writing for Children – Add a Sprinkle of Sparkle

It's your worst nightmare. The editor at Blockbuster Publishing has sent you an email. She's read your manuscript and she likes it but there's one small problem (and this is where you stop breathing), your story needs more ... sparkle.

Your heart sinks to your toes.

If only the editor had asked for something else. Anything else. More words. Less words. Words without the letter 'e'. But asking for sparkle is like asking for a bag of fairy dust.

In my role as a writing tutor, I've read thousands of manuscripts and I'd say that sparkle is the element that writers find most elusive. A story can be competent, readable, even clever but in a competitive market, sparkle is the magic ingredient that will attract an editor.

There's no recipe for sparkle but if you want to put an extra coat of gloss on your story, try this:

First save a new copy of your story - a copy that you will work on for this exercise. That way you'll feel relaxed about making a ton of changes. You can always go back to your old sparkle-free version later. (Yeah, right.)


First read your story out loud. Don't just mumble it to yourself. Stand up and make your delivery as entertaining as possible. Pretend you're reading an excerpt at your book launch. There are some sentences, paragraphs and whole scenes that you know the audience will love, right? Gems that will have them giggling, or sighing or leaning forward in their seats. When you get to these engaging passages, colour them bright orange (use a highlighter).

There are also some bits of your story where the writing is flatter or the scene less interesting. Bits that might have your audience gazing at the freckle on your nose or wondering about Aunt Clara's recipe for tomato bisque. Be honest - you know there are. These are the ho-hum bits you'd prefer to rush over or skip altogether. Colour these parts blue.

To find out why go here to read the rest of the article.

Jill has written over a hundred books for children. You can find more writing tips at
Article Source:

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Learn the Do's and Dont's of Writing for Children

You want to be a children's author and you have discovered there is more to writing than writing a story. Embarking on a writing career is like enrolling in the school of hard knocks. You will learn many skills by experience only. As you write in your genre you will need to study various aspects of the publishing industry before you seek publication.

I know this is all overwhelming right now but you do not need to do this alone. Do what I and countless other writers are doing. Join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club. ">Join Here There is no need to be discouraged and alone.

Here are some great do's and don'ts you will learn under the guidance of author and writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance.

Learn the writing market. Spend lots of time in your local bookstore and library, reading through current bestsellers.

Perfect your craft. Before worrying about seeing your name in print, really learn how to write. Take courses, read "how-to" books, join a writing group, and so on. Write for the sake of writing, and enjoy the journey.

Focus your attention on "hot" areas in children's publishing. Current hot issues include multicultural stories, nonfiction for all ages, horror stories and easy readers.

Learn how to request publisher guidelines and catalogs before submitting your work to a publisher. Study these to make sure your work is what the publisher is currently seeking.

Learn to write an upbeat query letter that will hook the attention of a stressed editor.

Be persistent. Success as a writer rarely comes easily or quickly. Don't get discouraged by rejection...just keep writing!

Assume that today's kids' books are just like the ones you read as a child. Juvenile literature is more sophisticated, creative and far-ranging than ever before.

Get bogged down in cliches. Editors are sick of cute talking animals, "ugly duckling" stories about shy wallflowers who save the day, and moralistic tales that shout "it's OK to be different!" Strive for originality.

Treat kids like babies. Don't talk down to your readers. Use rich and interesting language that evokes strong visual images, not baby talk.

Preach. Your job as a writer is to entertain. If your story has a message, tell it through the plot and characters, not by a "moral" tacked on to the end.

This is just a sample of the wealth of information and support you will receive through the CWCC Join today and begin writing your passion.

Write it down,

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Full Belly Bowl - Book Review

Title: Full Belly Bowl
Author: Jim Aylesworth
Illustrator: Wendy Anderson Halperin

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Atheneum; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0689810334
ISBN-13: 978-0689810336

Too much of a good thing is usually just that. Too much.

An old man lived in a cozy tiny house with his cat Angelina. She was white with patches of black and the very old man thought that she was just about the sweetest cat in the world. When the old man becomes hungry he goes into the forest and searches for wild strawberries. Soon he hears the sound of a small voice calling for help. The old man sees a fox trying to carry a “wee small man” away.

The wee small man was injured and the old man gently lifted him up and took him home. For three days the old man shared generously with the small man. The wee small man became strong and one day he was gone. However, he left a letter on the old man’s doorstep beneath the rim of an overturned bowl that the letter described as a “Full Belly Bowl.” It was obvious the bowl was a gift but what in the world is a “Full Belly Bowl?” The letter explains the rules: "When not in use, store it upside down."

Later that evening the old man prepared some stew as usual and placed it in the bowl and began to eat. He ate and ate and ate, but the bowl was still as full as when he began. He even gave some to Angelina. The two had never been so full. They were so full that they fell asleep and the old man forgot to turn the Full Belly Bowl upside down.

The secret of the Full Belly Bowl was discovered. Any object or thing placed in the Full Belly Bowl multiplies until the bowl is turned over. After a few mishaps, the old man decides to multiply his coins at the prospect of untold wealth. However, greed gets in the way and the old man forgets the rules. Follow the old man and his cat in this light hearted folk tale that teaches the lesson: more is not always better.

Aylesworth keeps the story’s action going with some amusing capers. This is an excellent story time book and the wonderful colored-pencil drawings help to move the story along with little vignettes and borders with fruits, flowers and birds help to enhance the plot. Thoughtful attention to layout, visual detail, and a well-told tale combine to create a book that will compliment any library for a long time.

About the Author: Picture book author Jim Aylesworth tells his stories with generous doses of loud sounds, rhythms and rhymes. His experiences as a teacher have taught him that these are the elements children like in a story, especially when it is being read aloud. He has been honored in several years with an entry in Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

But it was his work with children that brought him the most reward. It was his experiences as a teacher that eventually led him to writing children's books. His students' enjoyment of his stories encouraged him to persist in pursuing his dream of being a children's book writer. It was in the classroom that he realized the power of books. He says, "I have seen a room full of children sit still and pay attention to a good book when it may be the first time they've been still at the same time all day."

About the illustrator Wendy Anderson Halperin: "My life enters into my books as if I were reading a mystery. I never know how, who, when, or why things and people enter my drawings. It is not calculated, however it is mysteriously woven."

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Writing Non-Fiction for Children's Magazines

It is common to think fiction when writing children's stories but there is also a great need for non-fiction articles. Writing non-fiction in a creative way can help children become excited about learning. Read Maureen J Hinds article below for some valuable tips on the non-fiction market.

Writing for Children-Non-Fiction Magazines

Nonfiction need not be dull; it includes a wide range of topics. It can include history, biography, personal essays, personal profiles, sports, biology, geology, geography, holidays … the list really is almost endless. Anything that you find fascinating can be turned into a riveting nonfiction piece for young readers. Also, keep in mind that you can write for whatever age group you prefer, from the youngest toddlers to teens.
If you’re interested in writing for the magazine market, the following tips will help you get started:

Stay Focused
Magazine pieces are short, which means that you will not be able to cover all sides of your topic. Choose the one that most interests you and that you feel has the most readership appeal.

Spice it Up
One way to avoid an “encyclopedic” feel to your article is to include quotes from experts, interesting quotes from your research, descriptions, and if appropriate, dialogue. Use the tools of fiction for a lively magazine piece.

Do the Research
This applies to both your article research as well as your market research. For your article, editors want to see a variety of resource materials. One entry from an encyclopedia will not make the cut. Use a variety of sources, and try to avoid those encyclopedia references. If possible, use both primary and secondary sources. If you are able to obtain a quote from an expert, that can also help sell your piece.

When doing market research use a variety of tools available to you, and do not forget the "hands on" approach. This means reading several back issues of your targeted magazine--reading a year's worth is ideal. When fine-tuning your piece, be sure to follow the each magazine's guidelines. This means staying within the word count, avoiding certain topics, and following any approaches listed. The following are some sources for learning more about the market and magazine guidelines. For up-to-date information, be sure to visit each magazine's website, as many post their editorial guidelines as well as upcoming themes if applicable.

BOOST's Magazine Database
Jan Fields offers a great website:
Writer's Market Online
Children's Writers & Illustrators Market, published by Writer's Digest Books
The Best of the Magazine Market, published by the Institute of Children's Literature (

Lastly, be persistent! One common theme among published writers is that they do not give up. Find several target markets to begin with. If these do not work out, consider re-working the piece for a different age group, or give the piece a different slant. Whatever you do, keep writing and keep submitting. The nonfiction magazine market can be a great way to see your work in print. Yes, it takes focused effort, but it can be well worth it!

Article Source:

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Chickerella - Book Review

Author and Illustrator: Mary Jane and Herm Auch
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Holiday House (March 15, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0823420159
ISBN-13: 978-0823420155

The timeless story of Cinderella is parodied into a hilarious “chick-lit.” “Chickerella had a wonderful chickhood until one night when a fox got into the coop and carried off her mother. Chickerella’s father, now a single rooster, did his best to raise her, providing her with a happy and stable cooplife.”

A few years later, Chickerella’s stepmother and stepsisters, Ovumelda and Cholestera, show up. As the reader would expect, it is not long before Chickerella is a servant in her own coop and banished from the main coop to live in the springhouse. Every day was the same for Chickerella. Work, work, work. Her sparse diet of bugs and spring water began to affect her eggs. Soon she was laying eggs of pure glass.

The clever dialogue is predictable at times with words like “eggscited”, “eggstravaganza”, “eggasparating” but nevertheless fitting for this fowl story.

To read more about this delightful story, surf over to The National Writing for Children Center. While you are there be sure to check out all the other great articles by Suzanne Lieurance's staff and faculty.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November Issue of Carma's Window Newsletter Now Available!

If you are a subscriber to Carma's Window you should have your copy of my Newsletter in your in box.

Not a subscriber? No problem. Go to the left sidebar to enter your email address and name. Then pick up your free Ebook "Tips for Children's Writers and Illustrators" and I will get a copy of Carma's Window out to you right away. If you are a subscriber and have not received your November issue, please contact me at carmadutra at att dot net.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Can You Write for Children?

Do you want to write for children? Read this article to determine if you CAN write for children. Go to The Writing for Children Resource Site then scroll down to sub heading "Where should I start?" and click on "Can I Write for Children?"

How does one get started writing for children? Do I need an agent? What are multiple submissions? Have you ever asked yourself these questions and more? I found a website where you can find out answers to these questions and more questions you may not have thought of yet. Bethany Roberts’ Writing for Children Workshop.

The Bethany Roberts Workshop is a place to learn tips that motivate and it will direct you to other helpful links. Do you want to know how to prepare for doing story telling at a library? Read the response here.

Another favorite bookmark of mine is The Purple Crayon. It’s about writing and publishing children’s books. You can also find articles about publishing and submitting etc. For example here is a great article titled Getting Out of the Slush Pile. In piles of hundreds of manuscripts how can you be sure that yours will be noticed? Harold Underdown breaks down some common concerns for writers. This article is about 1) the beginning, 2) overworked story types, 3) What to include 4) Recommended approaches.

Last but by all means First. How to Write a Successful Query There are tons of articles about query submission and from what I hear, the query letter may soon be the only way to break into some of the best markets. This article is one of the better ones.

Write it down,