what are Hooks? and why does every manuscript need them?

​If you are struggling to describe your manuscript from a marketing perspective, check out this example. Bookshop’s description (shown below) of The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship (by Kim Tomsic, Hadley Hooper, and Chronicle Books) highlights all the elements that will help sell this book. These… Read more »

Wondering how to combine ELA and STEM?

Author and empower-er Patricia Newman hosts a blog series called LitLinks for teachers and learners about how to connect English Language Arts (ELA) with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). She’s using children’s books as the connector. I was thrilled to receive an invitation to contribute to the series and talk about how to use STRETCH… Read more »

How To Build a Better Story Without Writing It

Recently I had the opportunity to be a special guest as part of the Picture Books and All That Jazz Workshop (PB & J) at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center. You can see I was jazzed about being part of this workshop. And a Highlights experience has been on my bucket list for years, so…CHECK! Now, I’ve attended… Read more »

Picture Book Art Notes Decoded

creative commons We all want to be the conductor of our manuscripts. We want them to reflect our creativity, our voice, our idea. However, picture books are not solo pieces. Text plays with illustrations. Illustrations play with text. So, what happens when, as writers, we feel we need to offer something that is not text… Read more »

Want to Sell Your WIP? Study Publisher Catalogs. 

​As part of a continuing effort to match my WsIP with publishers’ interests, I scour new online catalogs for publishers that seem like a fit. Usually catalogs release in the fall and spring, so I’m actively looking at them now. ​This catalog by Sterling Publishing is particularly informative because they provide info on the author, illustrator,… Read more »

Want to get blown away? Do a book study.

courtesy of Amazon.com Consider my mind blown. A 54 page picture book?Of course it’s a biography of Albert Einstein (On a Beam of Light A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky) and there’s relativity and quantum physics and atomic particle stuff. But still.We are “taught” to work within 32 (or maybe… Read more »

3 Crucial Reasons to Ditch Didactic Stories

The term didactic refers to intending or inclined to teach, preach, or advise.​In today’s market, writing an overtly didactic children’s story for the trade market is usually a kiss of death for the manuscript. Avoiding didactic writing or themes might be one of the hardest concepts when beginning to write for children. I get it; our adult mind — either… Read more »

Are You A Children’s Book Illustrator-Wannabe?

created by Michigan SCBWI member, Lindsay K. Moore I’m drawing-challenged, but if I weren’t I’d be registering for this Retreat before the chartreuse could dry on my cotton duck canvas. The (Days and) Nights of the Roundtable Fall Retreat 2016 is hosted by SCBWI Michigan. It features three tracks: picture books, novels, and illustration. The illustrator track… Read more »

The HOW of reducing PB text!

Laura Backes, former children’s book editor and now co-founder of Children’s Book Insider, wrote a helpful article in their newsletter about the perennial topic of leaving room for illustrations. I’ve blogged about the “why” of this concept before and now Laura’s perfect algorhythm for “how” to keep word count down follows. To read the full newsletter and access all… Read more »

Floyd Cooper (and Tara Lazar) Helps me Get It

Remember that PiBoIdMo adventure I posted about recently? I love it because it gives me permission to throw ideas out there without mental-censoring. And the posts Tara Lazar has lined up by creative people are always inspiring. Today’s post, however, did more than inspire. It shifted my thinking on a point that has stuck in… Read more »