Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year - Plan to Succeed!

What are you doing and what are you listening to? Do you have the outline for your new book ready? Are your query letters ready to mail? In other words-------Do....You....Have....A....Plan?

Are you a doer or a hearer?

Did I hear you say you are both? Of course but how often does the doing get done?

The only way to get it done is to plan and set goals.

Mary DeMuth has an excellent piece on goal setting over at her blog So You Wanna Be Published. Go on over and read and leave a comment.

Write it down,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award!

I would like to thank Cynde Hammond of "Cynde's Got the Write Stuff" blog for nominating me for a One Lovely Blog Award. This is quite an honor.

While you are here also visit Cynde's blog here. A dedicated writer, Cynde has the "Write Stuff" with links to book reviews, contests, and many writing tips.

According to the "One Lovey Blog" rules I am to select five (5) blogs for this special award.

Following are blog links and owners who are dedicated to the craft of writing and sharing. Take a few minutes to visit and become inspired like I have. You will be glad you did.

Terri Forehand from Writing to the Heart of the Matter

Donna McDine from Write What Inspires You

Kathy Stemke from Education Tipster

Karen from Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children

Margot Finke from Margot's Books for Kids

Write it down,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three Parts of a Magazine Article

Writing articles are easy - publishing is the hard part. However, the better your article, the better chance of becoming published or at least a better writer. If you've never written an article, use the three helpful tips below to begin. Don't put it off.

1. Tell them what you're gonna tell 'em. The first paragraph of an article will entice the reader into your article. Also, the lead-in could be comprised of several paragraphs if you choose to use an anecdote or a few bullet items or to talk about current trends. Most writers refer to this method as a "hook". After that, however, you need a sentence or a few sentences that tell your reader what the article is about - a statement of purpose, if you will. It is important to tell your audience what the article is about so they have an idea of where they are going. Hopefully, you've persuaded them into wanting to go there.

2. Tell 'em. This section represents the heart of your article. Here you will place all your supporting material, such as statistics, quotes from interviews and professional sources, additional anecdotes, your analysis, etc. Remember, however, that if you are writing a reported article, in most cases you must write in an objective manner; this means without an opinion. If you are writing a public opinion piece, you may voice your opinion as loudly as you like.

3. Tell 'em what you told 'em. Now write your conclusion. Sum up what you wrote about without simply repeating what you already said. That's right: Say it again but in a totally new way so your readers have no idea that they are reading the same information again. Give it a new angle. Put a new take on it. Treat the conclusion of your article as a summary and offer additional information to support what you've already offered. If possible, provide a bit broader view of a quote or information that takes the reader into the future. You know what they say - "Save the best for last."

Follow these helpful tips and you will begin to feel comfortable with article writing. Another thing to remember is to write about what you know and like. Keep in mind that most people are like you and struggle with daily issues. They need a source that will help find solutions and provide thought provoking subjects. Also no matter what your subject matter is, learn about it and understand it before you write.

Write it down,

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Slow Burn - Book Review

Meet the author of A Slow Burn, Mary DeMuth.

Mary DeMuth is an expert in the field of Pioneer Parenting. She helps Christian parents plow fresh spiritual ground, especially those seeking to break destructive family patterns. Her message guides parents who don’t want to duplicate the home where they were raised or didn’t have positive parenting role models growing up.

An accomplished writer, Mary’s parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Her real-to-life novels inspire people to turn trials into triumphs: Watching the Tree Limbs (2007 Christy Award finalist, ACFW Book of the Year 2nd Place) and Wishing on Dandelions (2007 Retailer’s Choice Award finalist).

Mary is a frequent speaker at women’s retreats and parenting seminars, addressing audiences in both Europe and the United States. National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, and U.S.A. Radio network. She also has articles published in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, and HomeLife.

As pioneer parents, Mary and her husband Patrick live in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France where they planted a church.

A Slow Burn - Review

Emory Chance comes up short for any chance of a life after the murder of her one and only daughter Daisy. Emory is ridden with guilt and heartache toward her self as well as anger and doubt toward people who just want to protect her.

As the murder investigation becomes stagnant Emory struggles to keep her sanity by toggling between a blissful drug-induced existence and a daily routine of sober living without love. Convinced there is no such thing as love, she begins to receive anonymous letters about Jesus, forgiveness and Daisy. Yet, she buries her feelings deep down inside where no one can reach and she blames God for Daisy’s death.

Mary’s suspenseful prose draws you through a wide spectrum of love and hate. Just as you revel in acts of absolute humility the turn of a page can throw you into a downward spiral of betrayal and denial. Will Emory Chance survive the onslaught? Mary’s characters are personal and readers begin to care and connect which is what writing is all about. Mary has skillfully brought her characters to life on each page of “A Slow Burn”. I am looking forward to the third sequel. Take a look at the book trailer below.

Thanks for stopping by Mary DeMuth's A Slow Burn blog tour.

Here are more blogs featuring A Slow Burn blog tour from September 28 through October 3, 2009

A Writer’s Journey
Adventures of the Duncan Six
AP Free Writing 101
Arkansas Dreams
Aspire2 Blog
Awesome God…Ordinary Girl
Be Your Best Mom
Beams of Light Ministries
Bell Whistle Moon
Blog Tour Spot
Bluebonnet in the Snow
Book Nook Club
Caregiving and Beyond
Carla’s Writing Cafe
Carly Bird’s Home
Cheaper by the Half Dozen
Cindy’s Stamping and Reviews
Communicating the Vision
Critty Joy
Declaring His Marvelous Work

Elizabeth Bussey
Fiction for the Restless Reader

Heading Home
His Reading List
i don’t believe in grammar
J’s Spot
Joy in the Journey
Karen R. Evans
Kristin Early

Merrie Destefano
Mocha with Linda
Moments with MarLo
Musings by Lynn
Musings of Edwina
My Alabaster Box
My Life Message
Net’s Book Notes
Niki Nowell
One Desert Rose
Paper Bridges
Passionate for the Glory of God
Pollywog Creek
Ranunculus Turtle
Real Hurts, Real Hope
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Refresh My Soul
Scraps and Snippets
Sheila Deeth
Sherri Woodbridge
Sky-High View
Snapshot’s Photoblog
Surviving the Chaos

The Gospel Writer
The Harrison Kaleidoscope
The Heart of Writing
The Stubborn Servant
The View from Here
This That and The Other

Unreasonable Grace
Walking Daily

Where Romance Meets Therapy
Word Vessel
Write 2 Ignite
Write on the Knows
Writer’s Wanderings
Writing to the heart of the matter

Until then, Lord Willin'


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to Teach Children to Free Write

Every writing teacher I have ever known always sets aside a time for students to free write. At first it can seem daunting because of the "fear" factor. Our fingers become all twisted up right along with our tongue and brain.

I ran across this great article by Dianne Dachyshyn, who dispels the difficulties of writing "cold turkey".


When it comes to writing, starting is the hardest part, but free writing makes it so much easier! Even with a chosen topic, a blank page or computer screen can be discouraging. Free writing will get kids past the blank page.

I make myself and my students free write because it is the easiest and best creative writing idea out there. Many professionals prefer to jump start their imaginations this way. It is also called quick, madman or practice writing.

The first time you ask children to do this, they will stare incredulously and grumble. They will be hard pressed to meet the time requirement of three minutes. However, after a regular discipline of free writing, they will begin to enjoy this time and it is amazing what they can produce. I often have to force them to stop at the end of ten minutes.

The rules for free writing:

1. Write quickly and uncritically. Aim for quantity, not quality.
2. You must write for the mandatory time period (begin with 3 minutes and work up to 10). There is no need for a topic. Begin writing. Do not think of what to write. It doesn't matter. It's the process, not the product that is important.
3. Your hand must be moving the entire time and you are not allowed to talk. Not even a peep

To read the rest of the article click here

Dianne Dachyshyn is available to speak to groups on the topics of homeschooling and teaching writing. She can be reached at

Article Source:

Write it down,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Interview with Pat McCarthy - Children's Author

Pat McCarthy has written more than twelve non-fiction children's books. Her newest, "Heading West: :Life with the Pioneers" is now available on Pat's love for nature, photography and history inspire her to share this love with her readers. Pat McCarthy is also and expert author at Please welcome Pat McCarthy to Carma's Window.

Q: Hello Pat, I understand you write mostly non-fiction for children. Your newest book, “Heading West: Life with the Pioneers” is about pioneer children and their families who traveled in covered wagons. Is this story about a particular group? What time period does this story cover?

Pat: No, the book is not about a particular group. It pretty much covers the whole pioneer era, which was mainly the 1800s, especially the last half of the century.

Q: What types of activities did you include in “Heading West”?

Pat: I tried to balance the activities, including crafts, writing activities, games, and recipes. They include making a model of a cabin, pretending you're on the Oregon Trail and writing a letter back home, playing Blind Man's Bluff and making cornbread and butter.

Q: I see that you have written biographies of Henry David Thoreau, Abigail Adams and so on. What is the most difficult thing about writing on the subject of these historical figures? You say biographies are your favorite. Tell us why.

Pat: Probably the most difficult thing about writing biographies is sifting through all the information available and trying to decide what is true. Well, we all like talking about people and hearing about what people are doing, so I guess I like learning about a person's life. It seems like everyone is interesting when you find out more about his or her life. I'm always looking for little tidbits that I think kids will like.

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

Pat: I work best under pressure, so I work a lot harder as the deadline comes closer. This isn't necessarily a GOOD thing, so I wouldn't recommend it! I definitely do an outline first. I have to do one in order to get a proposal approved, but I would anyway. I do a very complete outline of each chapter, and once I plug all the info into the outline, the chapter seems to write itself.

Q: I have heard that many publishers do not encourage authors to contribute any art work or photographs with their submissions. You are an avid photographer. Do you supply your own pictures for your books?

Pat: The publishers I have worked for not only encourage, but REQUIRE the authors to provide the photos for the books. I took about half the pictures for the pioneer book. Some are stock photos of famous people and many are old ones from the Library of Congress that are out of copyright or were never copyrighted. I think this is much more common with nonfiction than with fiction, where they definitely don't want you to provide illustrations unless you are a professional illustrator.

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

Pat: I write mostly nonfiction, so plot and dialogue don't really apply. The plot is already there - I just have to discover it. And in true nonfiction, there isn't dialogue unless you're writing an autobiography, where you were there to hear the conversations. When I'm writing fiction, dialogue comes easily for me. Trying to get the plot to all work together is the hardest.

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

Pat: Don't give up. Perseverance is more important than talent, but it helps to have both.

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

Pat: I don't really have writer's block. There are times when I don't feel like writing, but I don't think that's exactly the same thing. And a looming deadline does wonders to cure it!

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

Pat: There wasn't a lot I could do to promote my other books, as they were sold to schools and libraries. I'm hoping to have more book signings and to do lots of school visits with this book. I also am working on a website. I'm on Facebook and have a Blog.

Q: What future goals or projects are in the works?

Pat: I'm working on a proposal for another book for Chicago Review Press. I do have a mid grade novel that I'm sending out, but no bites so far.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Pat: They can look at my Blog, which can be found at When I get it set up, my website will be I'm hoping to have it up early in August.

Thank you so much Pat for taking the time to answer my questions.


Monday, July 13, 2009

8 Steps to Writing Articles for Children

Article writing is a key tool for children's writers. It is a great way to get your name out there and garner some publishing credits. Enjoy Pat McCarthy's article below.

Eight Easy Steps to Writing an Article for Children

Have you thought about writing an article for a children’s magazine? Maybe you have an idea, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Here are some tips.

Step One. Choose a topic. It should be something that many children will be interested in. But it should also be something you know about or are interested in learning more about. Animals, sports, famous people, science and how-to articles are all popular choices..

Step Two.
Narrow your topic. Concentrate on just one aspect of it. I wanted to write an article about birds. I’d just returned from Florida, so I decided to concentrate on the birds I saw in one place, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. This was still too broad a topic, so I honed in on how different birds there eat. The article, “Dinner at Ding Darling,” was published by Children’s Digest.

Step Three. Research your article. Use both online resources and books and articles. Editors like a mix of print and Internet sources in a bibliography. Look for interesting little tidbits that will appeal to kids. Find facts with wow appeal and yuck appeal. Kids like the amazing as well as the gross.

Step Four. Organize your research. Jot down the main points you want to make, then go through your notes and plug them into your outline. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline. It just needs to get your thoughts in order. I love outlines. Once my outline is done, the article seems to almost write itself.

Step Five. Write the article. Decide what age you are writing for, then try to keep your writing on that level. Don’t talk down to kids but try to use words that age child would know and understand. Keep your sentences simple and fairly short. Use short paragraphs. Children are intimidated by large blocks of type.

Step Six. Revise and edit your article. To make sure it flows smoothly, read it aloud to yourself. That will enable you to notice the rhythm and to find repeated words. Be very sure there are no errors in spelling or grammar.

Step Seven. Research the markets. Get a copy of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market or research children’s publishers online. Make sure your article is the right length, for the right age, and on a topic the magazine uses.

Step Eight. Submit your article. Then get busy writing another one.
Sound simple? Try it! With a little work and practice, you can be successful at writing articles for children.

Pat McCarthy is an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature and the author of over a dozen books for children. Learn more about her books at her blog, If you have a question about writing for children, e-mail Pat at More resources for children's writers will soon be up on the blog. Article Source:

Write it down,

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Book Review
A 2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book; Winner of the 2007 Bank Street/Josette Frank Award; A Child Magazine Best Book of the Year

Title: Clementine
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Reading level: Ages 7 - 10
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (February 15, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0786838833
ISBN-13: 978-0786838837

Clementine knows the layout of the principal’s office as well as she does the art supply closet. In fact she is so comfortable in the principal’s office that she helps out whenever she can. But going to Principal Rice’s office is not a highlight of Clementine’s day. Instead of sending a note home every time she visits the principal’s office, a note is sent home when Clementine does NOT visit Principal Rice’s office. Clementine was so used to being sent there that one day she showed up on her own.

Trouble starts when best friend Margaret gets glue stuck in her hair and Clementine obliges to help by cutting all of Margaret’s hair off and then fills in the gaps by drawing hair back on the scalp, forehead, and neck with a Flaming Sunset permanent marker. Clementine remarks in her witty fashion, "It looked beautiful, like a giant tattoo of tangled worms,"

Everyone thinks Clementine does not pay attention. Everyday her teacher and principal tell her “Clementine, you need to pay attention.” She pays so much attention that she can “tell everyone right in the middle of the Pledge of Allegiance that the lunchroom lady was sitting in the janitor’s car and they were kissing, Again! No one else was paying attention out the window.” Clementine pays attention.

In Clementine's mind she is helping and fixing problems with her “spectacularful ideas which are always “sproinging” up in her brain. Kids and parents alike will laugh out loud. I highly recommend it. You will exclaim Oh my darling Clementine!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Pennypacker When I was a kid, I loved books and I loved art. Books and art didn’t care that I was shy. Books and art didn’t care that I was really tall. So I read and made up stories, and I drew and painted and did mosaics and carved things (there were a couple of years when I spent my entire allowance on bars of Ivory soap for carving) and I read and made up stories. In school, I used to do all my work as fast as I could so I could get extra time for free reading or to work on art projects. Even as a grown-up, I am still happiest reading, writing, and making art.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Marla Frazee has created illustrations for a number of award-winning books for children, in addition to writing her own self-illustrated titles. Her expressive ink drawings capture every nuance of Clementine’s emotions, from bemusement to anger to dejection. Frazee once told SATA that illustrating children's books was a childhood career goal. "I have wanted to be a children's book illustrator for a very long time,"

Write it down,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing -

Book Review

Tales of a fourth grade nothing
Author: Judy Blume
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Puffin (April 5, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0142408816
ISBN-13: 978-0142408810

First in a series of five Fudge books, Judy Blumes’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a timeless story revealing trials and tribulation of sibling rivalry. Blume takes the scenario of “good kid” “bad kid” and turns it into enlightening prose. Peter Hatcher is nine years old and must deal with little brother Farley’s (aka “Fudge”) repulsive cuteness and constant meddling among other serious offenses, which are almost too much for Peter to bear at times.

All of these enlivening episodes are dealt with big-hearted humor from Blume. Fudge is lively and has limited vocabulary as most three-year olds do. His two most over-used words are “No” and “Mine”. It’s pretty hard for Peter to communicate rights of ownership when Fudge cannot comprehend. Everything is theirs for the taking: like leaping from large rocks; throwing temper tantrums in shoe stores; and refusing to eat until Peter stands on his head.

Each chapter in this book is a small vignette of daily interactions and adventures between Peter and Fudge. As the story progresses, you may think poor Peter, will he ever get a break? Peter is understandably jealous of the amount of attention his little brother gets but at least when he is allowed to get a pet turtle named Dribble, Peter feels a small sense of comfort. However, when Fudge ends up breaking his own two front teeth after flying off a rock, which is his own fault, Peter’s mother takes her anger out on Peter. He begins to wish Fudge had never been born.

Blume is a master at creating suspense for her 9 to 12 year old audience. As the story builds on each chapter to the happy ending, the main position held throughout is family values. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing demonstrates the importance of family values and the role that humor plays in our lives. We must never lose that sense. This is a must read for any kid you know.

If you are considering writing for this age group (8 – 12), reading a Judy Blume book will inspire you. Blume’s insight into the elementary school mind is awe-inspiring because she is so on target. As writers of children’s books, it is recommended to study the craft in addition to reading the type of book you wish to write. To be a good writer you must first read, read, read, and then read some more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We're Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her.

Write it down,

Monday, July 6, 2009

The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs! - By A. Wolf -

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Author: Jon Scieszka
Illustrator: Lane Smith

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Puffin (March 1, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0140544518
ISBN-13: 978-0140544510

If you or your child have ever been bored buy the Three Little Pigs story, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! By A. Wolf” is a must read. However, I think the satirical humor is lost on kids under the age of six. The publisher says reading level is for 4 – 8. The reading level is fine but it is the content I am speaking about.

The story by A. Wolf proves there are two sides to every story but that doesn’t make either side good or bad. Everybody has a story. However, realistically, somebody’s gotta be the “bad guy”. The author indicates A. Wolf is just an ordinary wolf who wants to borrow a cup of sugar. Never mind that two pigs die in the process. According to Alexander Wolf the dumb little pigs shouldn’t have built shabby houses. How dare they!

This is a very funny book but I would not read it to a pre-school or kindergarten age child since Alexander T. Wolf blames his penchant for cute little animals, like bunnies and pigs, on the fact that it’s not his fault because “That’s just the way we are.” He is just a poor misunderstood wolf who only wants to make a cake for his granny. Victimized by three dumb pigs and the media.

About the author:
Jon Scieszka: He is the author of some of the best known and funniest books written for children, including The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, the Time Warp Trio chapter book series, the Caldecott Honor Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales and the newest Trucktown series (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

About the Illustrator Lane Smith: After illustrating his first children's book, Smith met aspiring author Jon Scieszka and agreed to illustrate his parody of The Three Little Pigs. Once Smith found a publisher who didn't think the story was too sophisticated, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! became a bestseller.Lane Smith’s tabloid type illustrations are what set True Story apart from all others.

Write it down,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Learn to Write for Children in Six Weeks!

Writing Coach and award winning Children's Author, Suzanne Lieurance has done it again. Suzanne has developed a concise and rewarding E-course for serious writers who want to learn how to break into the children's lucrative market. No excuses here. Learn all the Tricks of the Trade in the comfort of your home.

This is a perfect summer course and you can even download the audio to your mp3 player and take it on the road. It will be like having Suzanne in your pocket. In addition, you will also receive a text file of written materials to accompany the audio. Whether you are a visual or audio learner, this course is made for you and affordable. For only $147.00 (that's only $24.50 per week) you can become a children's author. And there is much, much more. So what do you say?

OH! Did I mention the Bonus you receive when you sign up for this 6-week E-course?

When you register for the course right now!! you'll also receive 2 months membership in the Children's Writers' Coaching Club (a $54 value), which will give you the opportunity to have at least one of your manuscripts professionally critiqued once a week every single week for two months. As a member of the Children's Writers' Coaching Club you'll also receive email invitations to weekly teleclasses presented by successful published children's authors.

Hurry up and click on the link below and begin learning Tricks of the Trade today.

Tricks of the Trade: Learn to Write for Children in Just 6 Weeks

Write it down,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Five Ways to Write After a Crash!

Three weeks ago I clicked on my computer screen to remove the screen saver. All I could see were multi-colored dots and lines. After rebooting twice and restarting once, it was obvious my modest computer knowledge wasn't gonna cut it.

A trip to the Geek Squad confirmed my fear. My HP is going in the shop. However, there was good news. I had forgotten I had purchased an extended warranty three years ago so repairs cost nothing.

Five ways for a writer to survive without a computer:

1. In case you forgot how to hold a pen or pencil. Open your writing hand and place forefinger and thumb around the barrel of a pen or pencil.
2. Touch the point end of pen or pencil to paper and begin to move your hand. The act of writing will come back to you rather quickly.
3. Use a voice recorder to “write” your article or story. This is great if you have arthritic hands like me.
4. Take a trip to your local library and use their free services to surf the Internet, check email and transcribe notes from your voice recorder. Be prepared to work and think like the speed of light because there is always a long line and not enough computers. One hour time limits, per day, apply to most libraries. Unless you know exactly where to surf, one hour is not long enough. (Note: libraries are not open at 10 p.m. when you are on deadline)
5. Throw yourself on the mercy of your adult child or best friend (who do not live with you) and promise to cook them dinner if they will lend you their computer and office space in their home.

I admit I am addicted to computer technology and have long since discarded any manual writing methods. Physically it is too difficult for me to hand write for any length of time. Short notes are about all I can do without pain. Typing on a keyboard uses different muscles and the pressure required is light. Also, the curvature of my hands is natural.

How would your writing survive without modern technology? Would you want it to? Are we destined to commemorate our “feathered writing quill” into an icon reminiscence of the past?

I'm Back!
Write it down,

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Interview with Lynn E. Hazen - Author of Shifty - Chosen for VOYA's Top Shelf Fiction

Please welcome my guest, Lynn E. Hazen. I met Lynn on March 21, 2009 when she co-presented a “how to” social media workshop with Susan Taylor Brown at an East Bay Region SCBWI workshop. Lynn has several educational degrees to her credit. She holds an M. A. in Education from San Francisco State University and a B. S. in Applied Behavioral Science from U. C. Davis. In addition she holds an M. F. A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College where she won the Houghton Miffin Scholarship.

Welcome to Carma’s Window Lynn. It is a pleasure to have you as a guest. Before I get started I want to say Congratulations on Seymour Snail’s Pub date. The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail, that is.

Q: It was a beautiful day for the event. I am sorry I could not attend. How did it go and where can readers find out about Seymour?

Hazen: SEYMOUR's launch party was really fun. You can see my blog post and some fun photos here:
My son and two friends helped me create a really cool window display at Cover to Cover Booksellers, complete with Seymour zipping around and around the window on a hidden Lego train. Many guests wore berets in honor of Seymour who wears a beret on the cover of the book.

Seymour Slimes His Way from Lynn H on Vimeo.

Q: How do you balance all the various aspects of your academic, writing and publishing interests?

Hazen: It is definitely a juggling act, but I just keep moving from one thing to the next. Taking a long nap every few days helps!

Q: I can relate to that. What comes first for you, the title or the story?

Hazen: It depends on the story, but for SHIFTY, and CINDER RABBIT, the titles came very quickly. But of course behind every book, there are years of life experiences and a unique author worldview that bring the author and her muse to ponder and write any given story.

Q: Is Shifty your first YA novel? Tell us about the award for VOYA and Smithsonian Notable.

Hazen: Yes, I had written a middle grade novel, MERMAID MARY MARGARET (published in 2004), but SHIFTY was my first YA novel. I began SHIFTY while in my MFA program at Vermont College. I was a little wary of writing YA, but Soli, my main character seemed to be driving a car in the first scene, so I had little choice but to go along for the ride. I'm glad I did. I'm thrilled with the great reviews, and that SHIFTY is being published in Australia and the UK. I'm jazzed that SHIFTY was chosen for VOYA'S Top Shelf Fiction, as a CCBC Choice, and a Smithsonian Notable.

One of the best things is hearing reviewers’ comments.
As a writer we create our worlds in isolation. So it’s great to hear readers’ comments and know that they’ve connected to your characters and story.
For example, for VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), where SHIFTY was chosen for their Booklist of "Top Shelf Fiction" for Middle School Readers,

...Christina (8th Grade) would "recommend it to all my friends. Shifty has all the appeal that readers, reluctant and avid, would need—beautiful characters you can relate to, a passionate and expertly crafted story, an exciting plot, and a touching yet unanticipated conclusion. Nothing is idealized; nothing is too ugly. Readers will love it beginning to end."

For the Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2008, I love the description of their list. “Surprising, inspiring and outstanding titles for youngsters and the grownups that read to them”

Wow, that makes me so happy and quite honored to be included. To see the rest Smithsonian’s 2008 list, click on this link

Q: What are you most passionate about outside of writing?

Hazen: My own kids of course. Working with young children and their families, reading great books, enjoying nature, and butterfly gardening.

Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Hazen: I guess, exactly what I am already doing--I've been the owner and director of a preschool for 25 + years. I also enjoy teaching adults. I taught English to adults in Japan for 3 years, I've taught Early Childhood Education at the college level, and now I'm teaching classes in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Stanford Continuing Studies. I'm lucky to have vocations I love.

Q: You have an amazing background rooted in children's writing and education. What can readers expect when they read your books?

Hazen: Whatever audience, from picture books through YA, my books seem to be filled with humor, heart & hope.

Q: Who or what has influenced you the most in your career?

Hazen: Reading great books by authors I admire certainly influenced me to want to try writing. Connecting with people and children in my own family, and in my preschool’s world of families has given me lots of ideas and inspiring characters. Discovering a circle of talented friends in my critique groups has provided me with encouragement and a professional community of kindred spirits. Giving myself the gift of attending Vermont College's MFA program in Writing For Children & Young Adults was perhaps one of the most intense and best positive influences. The amazing faculty and fellow students there, the creative vibe, and the structure of two years of intense hard work all made for a fantastic experience and, I am sure, helped my career as an author. I’d highly recommend the MFA program there. You can visit their site at this link.

Q: Is there such a thing as a typical writing day in your writing/publishing life?

Hazen: Nope. No typical days for me.

Q: What other books or projects are you working on?

Hazen: I'm working on a middle grade novel right now. The title keeps changing so this one is NOT a case of the title coming first. I also have a baby board book and a couple of young chapter books I'm happy with. I'm hoping they find homes soon.

Q: What type of book promotion works best for you? Are there any special strategies you’d like to share?

Hazen: Right now, I'm doing a little bit of everything. Ha--who knows what works? Is there any way to measure precisely what kind of promotion works? For me, writing the best books I can is a start. I enjoy connecting with readers, teachers, librarians & booksellers in person and online. I love doing school visits. Then of course, trying to find time to write the next book is important, too!

Just for fun I've recently been playing with creating short videos like the one shown at the beginning. You can see more at:

You can find a really cool “How to Make a SHIFTY Card” project there, too. Fun for teens and crafty folks.

Q: The use of video's in blogs and websites are gaining in popularity. I love the way you made yours. I am sure you have experienced many memorable moments in your career. Is there one that stands out more?

Hazen: Oh, it is hard to choose one. Here are a few:

....Dancing around the living room in a fit of happiness singing along with the lovely loud music of Joni Mitchell, "…go to the Mermaid Café Have fun tonight…" when I found out my first book had sold (MERMAID MARY MARGARET)
  • A much quieter happy moment many months (years?) later--getting all unexpectedly teary-eyed when seeing the same first book available for check out at my San Francisco Public Library.
  • Meeting so many creative kindred spirits in the sometimes wacky world of children's books--fellow authors, illustrators, editors, agents, booksellers, teachers, librarians and of course, readers, all of whom care deeply about books.
  • Speaking of readers--high on the memorable moments list is meeting children and teens, and getting fan mail, email, and drawings from children and youth who have liked my books.
  • Doing the Bunny Hop with an enthusiastic library full of young children with CINDER RABBIT.
  • Connecting with youth at the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Center and local high schools about reading, writing, and my book, SHIFTY.

Wow, so many memorable moments. I’m thankful to have experienced them. I guess it is good to reflect on these moments from time to time, especially in the inevitable “less than inspiring” times as an author. I might just have to print this list, post it on my bulletin board and reread it in times of “writer frustration” so I don’t forget!

Q: This is an impressive list. Where can readers reach you?

Thanks so much for the interview, Carma.

Lynn it has been my pleasure. You are a motivating force for children's writers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Never Give Up

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."

(Beverly Sills)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


A Book Review

Author: Lynn E. Hazen
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 188 pages
Publisher: Tricycle Press (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1582462577
ISBN-13: 978-1582462578

Shifty is a heart warming story about a couple of hard to place kids in foster care and the precarious situations they have to deal with every day. However, Lynn Hazen melds reality, love, trust and an uncaring social service system that is over burdened and buried in red tape, with compassion.

Fifteen year old Shifty (a nick name he got when in juvie) has finally landed in a home that he can feel good in. His foster mother, Martha, foster sister, Sissy and crack addicted baby, Thaddeus (aka Chance ), are not a typical family but deep down where it counts love shines through. This is the first time Shifty has felt like he could belong and maybe he wouldn’t have to move again until he was too old to be a foster kid. Shifty has been on the move all of his life that he can remember and many of his previous foster parents were in trouble with the law one way or the other, which is why he landed in juvie in the first place, but you will have to read the book to find out what happened. Also, he desired to find out about his biological parents but no one would ever tell him. He didn’t know if he ever had parents.

Shifty is a resourceful kid who looks older than his fifteen years and maybe that is why he gets away with driving Martha’s van all the time with an expired permit in some one else’s name. Besides he is a good driver. But that doesn’t keep Shifty from getting a $275 parking ticket for parking in a bus zone when he stops to buy a burrito.

When the regular social worker leaves to have a baby she is replaced with a worker who is inexperienced, unknowledgeable and treats all foster homes and kids like they are nothing but a case number. Shifty spends some time trying to outsmart her and the results are remarkable. Between befriending a homeless lady and trying to keep himself and Martha out of trouble creates many dilemmas for this inventive teenager. However, it also creates page-turning excitement for the reader.

Hazen depicts the grim circumstances of this foster family on the edge of disaster with hope and humor. I was laughing a lot as I read about various predicaments Shifty managed to escape from with no dire consequences for him or his foster family. Hazen introduces the right amount of suspense to keep you sitting on the edge wondering if Shifty’s luck will fail this time.

The story is not depressing but it is realistic about foster care in the sense that kids in foster care are totally at the mercy of other people. Some who care about them and some do not. When they finally make a good match it only takes one person who can make it all go away. Hazen has created an original fast paced plot that flows smoothly to the end. There are many surprises and many aha’s! I highly recommend this book for adults as well as young children.

About the Author
LYNN E. HAZEN earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. She is the author of several picture books and a middle-grade novel called Mermaid Mary Margaret that was hailed "a winner" by Kirkus Reviews. Also Kirkus Reviews praised Shifty as a "realistic story that resonates. Smart writing and an engaging narrative...." She lives with her family in San Francisco, California.

Look for an interview Friday May 29 right here at Carma’s Window with Lynn E. Hazen.

Write it down,

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

God Bless America!

My most heartfelt thanks to all soldiers in all wars past and present who laid down their lives to give me and others the freedom to write these words!

Let Freedom Ring!

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

Write it down,

Friday, May 1, 2009

the little bit SCARY people - book review

The Little Bit Scary People
Author Emily Jenkins
Illustrator Alexandra Boiger
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (September 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1423100751
ISBN-13: 978-1423100751

Most children are afraid of something such as the dark or monsters under the bed. But “The little bit Scary People” helps to sooth young children’s fears that some people may not be so scary even if you are only three or four feet tall. Jenkins is able to transfer scary people into warm and loving characters.

I love the way Emily Jenkins uses a child’s imagination to show how perception of other people is not always what it seems to be. Jenkins uses words that speak directly to the children. As I read this story to my seven year old granddaughter she would say “That’s not nice” when I read about the nasty bus driver or the mean cafeteria lady and the school principal who shows a mean face in the hall way.

When the page is turned Jenkins words “But I bet,” prefaces each warmhearted statement that shows a good side of each character. For example: “The bus driver won't let me on if I don't have the right change. She honks her horn loudly, when she doesn't even need to. She’s a little bit SCARY.” (turn the page) “But I bet, she makes fancy breakfasts in the morning for her kids: pancakes, waffles, or English muffins with eggs and chopped tomato."

Toward the end the story takes a turn from imagination to reality through the voice of the main character. Instead of saying “but I bet,” she says “But I know,” I think this story helps children look at the differences in people and learn how to accept them for who they are. Also to realize everyone’s family is full of unusual and loving people too.

The artwork by Alexandra Boiger is gorgeous and vivid. Her comic illustrations of the “scary” pages are just realistic enough and she adds a touch of warmth and humor with each page turn. Kids will relate and the fresh take on subduing children’s fears will be appreciated by parents and teachers.

About the author: Emily Jenkins was born in New York City, grew up in Cambridge, MA and Seattle, WA, studied English at Vassar, and then came back to New York to get her doctorate in 19 th-century English literature at Columbia.

Write it down, Carma

Friday, April 17, 2009

For the Love of Autumn - A picture book review

For the Love of Autumn
Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Philomel (August 14, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0399245413
ISBN-13: 978-0399245411

This is a love triangle story between a woman, a man and a kitten. We all know how love triangles usually turn out but this one time there is a happy ending. Also, this story touched my heart in a special way. First my granddaughter is named Autumn and secondly, I love cats. The illustrations by author/illustrator Patricia Polacco bring the story to life with tenderness and affection. Although this book is a little longer than most picture books it is well worth the extra read and could possibly be read to children under seven in two settings.

Polacco writes about Danielle, a young student teacher, who adopts a beautiful kitten named Autumn. The kitten has gray and black stripes and a white tummy. Danielle loves Autumn, her perfect little kitten. They eat popcorn together every night. One day Danielle gets an offer for a permanent teaching position in Port Townsend, Washington. They move to a charming cottage by the sea. Autumn helps Danielle with everything, including planting the garden, or rather digging in the garden.

One night a huge storm comes up and Autumn is caught outside and disappears. Every day Danielle looks for Autumn. Even her students join in the search. Although still distraught, Danielle decides to put Autumn’s things away. Six weeks later, to everyone’s amazement, Autumn literally drops out of a tree in the garden right into Danielle’s arms. Autumn’s coat is shiny and clean and her tail has a bandage on it. Someone has been taking care of her. The question is who?

To Danielle’s surprise, Autumn continues to disappear every couple of days. Each time she comes back a note is attached to her collar. Eventually Danielle and her students unravel the mystery. Danielle meets Stephen Norton, the man who took care of Autumn and their mutual love for Autumn grows into a love for each other.

This is a story of true love and providence. I recommend it. Obviously the main attraction for young readers is Autumn’s playful personality and her antics.

Patricia Polacco has been writing and illustrating about animals for decades. She is the author and illustrator of over forty books for young readers. When she is not at home in Union City, Michigan, she is traveling all over the country, visiting schools, bookstores, and conferences.

Write it down,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Interview with Author Susan Taylor Brown - A Girl Who Wanted to Write

Susan Taylor Brown is the author of numerous books for children. The most recent is Hugging the Rock, an American Library Association 2007 Notable Children's book. When you visit Susan’s blog and website you will find out a wealth of information for writers, readers and bloggers. But first enjoy the interview.

Q: When did you decide to become a writer or did it just evolve?

It was/is a lifelong evolutionary process for me. I'm an only child with a very vivid imagination. As a child I was afraid to go to sleep at night and would imagine all sorts of monsters coming down from the ceiling to "get me" while I slept. I told stories about them, long, long stories about them, to get my mom to stay with me as long as possible. When I got older I started making up stories about the various TV shows I watched, changing the endings to suit myself. Usually that meant putting myself into the shows so I could be part of a big, normal (to me) family. Writing stories down progressed from there.

I've always sort of envied those writers who say they knew they wanted to be a writer from the time they learned to write their name on wide ruled paper in school. I thought I couldn't be a "real writer" because I couldn't pinpoint a time in my childhood that I knew had influenced my path to writing. The thing is, I wrote poetry for fun. English was easy for me because I loved to read and I loved to write. Because I was good at it, I got good attention. Which of course encouraged me to keep on writing. All through junior high and high school I wrote in spiral notebooks. Love poems to boys I liked. Hate poems to people that made me mad. But it was just something I did. I never thought I could actually make money at it or look at it as a career option until my first child was born.

I had tried all sorts of home businesses with zero success. One day I was walking around the block with a friend, both of us pushing babies in strollers, and my friend asked me what I would do if I didn't have to worry about making any money at it and I didn't hesitate for a moment before I said I would write. She pointed out that I might as well be doing what I wanted since it was obvious all the other things I was trying weren't making any money either. After we had a good laugh I realized she was right and I enrolled in a writing class the next week. That was over 25 years ago and I've been writing ever since.

Q: Is there any particular element of writing that comes more natural to you than others? For instance, plot, characterization, dialogue?

I think characterization comes easiest to me because my stories always start with the voice of a character whispering in my ear. Until I hear that voice, I find it hard to sit down and write the story. Each of my characters has a part of me that brings them to life.

Q: Which one gives you the hardest time?

Dialogue is always hard for me until I've been in the book for a while. At first it feels contrived. Well, the whole book always feels contrived for a while. But plot, plot is the absolute worst for me. Plot is a four-letter word. I have a really hard time with that one.

Q: What was your inspiration for writing your award winning book, “Hugging the Rock” in verse?

Hugging the Rock is, among other things, about making peace with things you cannot change. I never knew my father, well except for the bits and pieces (not much) that my mother and grandmother told that all added up to him being a horrible, rotten person. I have spent most of my life wondering about my father, wondering what kind of person he was, and what kind of person I might have been had he stuck around. Even though you learn how to pick up and go on, when there is a hole like that in your life it colors everything you think and do for the rest of your life. You can't help it.

Throughout childhood I got pretty good at making up stories about the kind of father I wished I had had. When I started writing I gravitated to the stories that tugged at my own heart, ones that had a main character trying to figure out where they fit into their family. I also knew I would have to write about my relationship, or lack of one, with my father some day. When I was divorced I watched my own children struggle to make sense out of it and wonder if they did something that caused the divorce. I couldn't write this story then, my own pain was still too raw, but it simmered under the surface. I also have several family members who suffer from mental illness and I have seen the devastating affect it has had on their lives and the lives of those they love. All that went into the idea stewpot and simmered for years. I couldn't write Hugging the Rock until I was at a place in my life where I felt safe and loved....I really needed that support system in place before I could tackle this tough topic.

Q: What type of book promotion works best for you? Are there any special strategies you’d like to share?

Oh boy, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I think the best type of promotion begins long before you ever sell a book. You get your network in place with genuine connections, a combo of in-person and online networks, and you continue to build it, little by little so that when you have a book come out, your network is there, ready to support you. Every author needs to have a website, a place to refer people to learn more about you, your books, your speaking availability, etc. You don't have to blog but I think it helps because I think it makes you more real to your readers, more approachable. People want to buy from someone they know. If you aren't going to blog you should be online somewhere - Facebook, Myspace if you are writing for teens, or at one or two of the places you can find on this Social Media map put together by Lynn E, Hazen and myself.

I think blogging is the easiest for a lot of people to get started in and I really enjoy it. As for strategies, with regard to blogging (though I think it would ring true for other online networks as well) you need to remember that it is all about sharing. Even though you are doing this for you, to promote yourself and your books, you need to give the reader something first. You need to "pay it forward." Go visit other blogs and leave comments. Eventually people will come to your blog in return. Don't try to read and comment on 100 blogs a day. It will make you crazy. Find a few blogs that speak to you and begin to visit them regularly and leave comments. Grow your audience gradually. If you give good content, you will find an audience.

Q: I am sure you have experienced many memorable moments in your career. Is there one that stands out more?

I would say that one of the most memorable moments for me was being asked to speak at the 2003 Highlights Foundation Conference at Chautauqua. My talk was called Write Where it Hurts: Finding the Courage to Create (you can read a snippet of it here:

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

Every day and all the time. There are some days where I wonder why I am doing this because I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, what to say next, write next, etc. After I finished Hugging the Rock I was so spent emotionally that it took me a long time to find my way back to the words. Sometimes my block comes as a result of that sort of thing, using up all my energy on an emotionally draining project. Sometimes real life intrudes. I am not a disciplined person but I am an obsessive person. I also have a strong sense of guilt when it comes to meeting my deadlines. So for me I have a lot of projects going at once so that when I stall on one, I can move to another one, a new obsession as it were. And I almost always have WFH projects or articles due so I have those deadlines to force me to sit down and write. When the choice is write or not get paid, well, I find a way to write.

Getting unblocked is sometimes as easy as going outside and puttering in the garden for an hour. My subconscious continues to work while I am doing mindless tasks. Sometimes it's much more difficult. Sometimes I need to be kind to myself, to tell myself that I only need to write one true sentence per day. If I do that day after day for a while, eventually, the block breaks.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned about making a career as a writer?

That's a tough one because I am learning new things about this business all the time. I think it at a very basic level you have to realize it is a business. Publishers aren't in business to make you feel good or stroke your ego. They are in business to make money. You have to treat your career like a business, make business plans, stay on a budget, get educated, share your knowledge, develop your own marketing plan. No one is going to do that stuff for you. And treating it like a business means making decisions about whether or not to write for free (sometimes yes, sometimes no), when to push for more money and when to be willing to take a credit. It means acting long before you ever publish a book. Because it's a small world. Editors and agents move houses. Agents become editors. Booksellers become agents. Everyone is connected.

Q: How difficult is it for new writers to find an agent?

I think the difficulty comes from finding the right agent. And you might have to accept that you won't have the same agent for your entire career. It's hard to find one that both likes your work and that you feel you "click" with. But just like writing a book, you have to put in the time. Go to conferences, research the agents and agencies online. Actually conferences are a great way to meet agents because you can often get a critique of a manuscript which might open a door for you. The secret to getting an agent is really the same secret to getting published - write the best possible story you can, be professional, and send it out into the world. While you're waiting, get back to work on your next project.

Q: Tell us about your newest project. I understand you also offer on-line classes. Tell us where we can go to find out about your classes and other writing resources.

I'm working on a couple of things right now. A YA novel about boy searching for, you guessed it, where he fits into the family dynamics. He's an airplane fanatic so there is a chance for me to tap into a lot of years visiting air shows when my kids were young. I'm in the discovery phase of a couple of MG novels, both in prose, that I'm not yet willing to talk a lot about yet except to say that one of them deals with animals and the other with nature. And I'm working on another verse novel, this one loosely based on my experiences teaching writing to at-risk youth. For National Poetry Month I gave myself the challenge to write a new haiku every day, one that is inspired by my California Native Plant garden.

Yes, I am teaching Online Social Media for Authors and Illustrators in May. There are still a few spots left. I also offer one-on-one coaching/mentoring for social media via email, in person or over the phone. You can read the details here: To keep up with the latest events with me, check out my blog at:

Susan, thank you so much for your time to answer these questions. I know everyone will enjoy visiting your website and blog as much as I do.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Blast Writer's Block Away with 10 Strategies!

Everyone gets it. There are no immunization shots for it. However, the important thing to remember when faced with writer’s block is to is curable. The following strategies will boost your immune system and help you rebound better than ever.

1. Do not pressure yourself. In other words if you force your brain to write on command you could experience performance anxiety.

2. Work on another project or play some relaxing music. Music by master composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and the like have been reported to be “music for the soul.”

3. Keep a notebook with you at all times to record thoughts, memories, jokes, dreams and so forth. Having simple items like this available when writer’s block rears its ugly head will provide you with multiple writing prompts to jump start your creativity.

4. Read a great book by a favorite author. This will do wonders and give you an itch to write for yourself. It will give you “I can do this” attitude.

5. Change your writing environment. If you are glued to your computer, take pen and notebook to your local library and write away. What better place to be inspired than in a room full of great books.

6. Get rid of the little dictator in your head that keeps pounding in your brain. Stand up and walk away. Do anything but write. Doing something physical like walking or jumping jacks is a great way to stimulate your creativity.

7. Take a ride to the park and meditate on nature. Think how awesome our world is and be thankful.

8. Write out of your genre. If you write fiction, write a short article on non-fiction. A little research on a subject unknown to you is one of the best ways to stimulate your creative mind.

9. Relax. The more you worry the harder it is to think clearly. Remember you are what you think.

10. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t worry if words don’t make sense at all. In most cases after you have written about a half page your mind will begin filling up with ideas faster than you can type. The excitement builds and you are writing again!

Write it down,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So You Want to be A Full Time Children's Writer.

That is great news. You have loved writing your entire life from elementary school to college and beyond. However, you never thought of it as a career until now. You could be a full time mom raising children with great insights on children's behavior. What if you are that grandma who is full of information from the experience of successfully raising a family? Or, you are a teacher thinking of retirement or in retirement and with a wealth of inside information on what children really like to read.

Understanding what kids want in regards to stories and books is a large part of the process of searching for subject matter. Here are some questions you may ask yourself:

1. Who do you write for?
2. What genre do you love the most?
3. Do you have a penchant for pre-teen kids or do you imagine connecting with a four year old and cuddling up with a fabulous picture book?

When I began analyzing and dissecting pros and cons of writing for children, I found the research pool ripe with subjects begging to be written about.

I confess my reason for choosing to write for children began with selfish motivation. I fantasized being resident author of my grand children's school. I was convinced the road to success could be achieved in three simple steps: 1) Take a course; 2) write a story; 3) become published and the whole world will applaud you. Then my bubble burst. Work? Writing is Work?

Obviously, I was operating under delusions of grandeur. However, it has not taken me long to understand the importance of patience and practice. An important discovery was made as I began to hone my craft; children's writers write for adults because adults decide what their children will read and what they will read to their children. If you can get your story past the adults, your chances of becoming published increase.

A children's writer can be instrumental in influencing children's education, self esteem and imagination. Most children's writers will choose a specific genre that fits their tastes and desires but some writers like variety and are flexible to write in a number of different genres. For instance, picture books, fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, the list is long. Children's writers have to be flexible and think ahead for future trends by studying the children’s writer’s market. What is hot now will not be hot five years from now. Writing for children takes planning.

You might ask yourself “Where do I start?” The first step I recommend for all beginning children’s writers is to join the Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club led by author Suzanne Lieurance. Click on the link above and you will be taken to a page explaining what the Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club does each month.

Write it down,

Friday, March 27, 2009

10 Things Children Should Know About Prayer

by Susan Taylor Brown

1. Prayer is communication.
It can be spoken or silent. It can be a song or a story. It can be a picture or a dance.

2. Prayer can be done as often as you like.
Every week. Every day. Every hour.

3. Prayer can be done however you want.
There's no right or wrong way to pray.

4. Prayer can be shared, but doesn't have to be.
It can be done alone or with a favorite toy. It can be done with friends, family or pets.

5. Prayer can be done anywhere.
It can be done in your room or at the kitchen table. It can be done out in your yard, at the park or even at the zoo.

6. Prayer can be done in any mood.
You can be happy, sad, angry, scared or confused when you pray.

7. Prayer can be for yourself or someone else.
If you know someone who could use a little help - add them to your prayers.

8. Prayer doesn't need a certain structure, length or specific words.
Whatever words you use, long or short, however your prayer comes out is fine.

9. Prayer doesn't need a special occasion.
There are certain prayers appropriate to special occasions but you don't need to wait for a special time to pray.

10. Prayer doesn't have to be a request.
It can also be used to give thanks for what you have already received. "Thank You" is a perfect prayer.

Susan Taylor Brown is the author of the children's picture book, CAN I PRAY WITH MY EYES OPEN? (ISBN #0786803282) Deciding when and where to pray is something every child wonders and this non-denominational, multicultural book offers an answer. Every child is assured that they can pray when, where, and how they want --- and they will always be heard. The book is available at bookstores everywhere.

Publisher's Weekly called it "...a lovely book. Perfect in its directness and simplicity." Booklist says, "A nice place for parents and children to start a discussion about prayer."

Home page:

Permission granted to freely reproduce and distribute this page in its entirety.

I encourage all parents to read this lovely book with their children.

Write it down,