How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Common Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author... and How to Avoid Them

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Power of Three

3  
So three is the magic number for picture books, right?  Well, so is seven.  And twelve.  It depends on the story.  For my latest story, I used 6 attempts to solve the main character's problem.  I could simply add one more, but since the story is already so long, I am choosing to condense it down to the simple powers of three.  Oh, the powers that be, is three, three, three.


In the book I'm reading, Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, she truly explores the different ways of Holding Your Story Together (chapter 10):
  • days of the week
  • months of the year
  • the four seasons
  • a journey
  • circular (back to the beginning)
  • comparison
  • alphabet
  • counting
  • repetitive phrases
  • question and answer
  • and a story within a story.
I would venture to say that the majority of these methods would not be used on the "average" story.  The most popular ones are probably:  journey, circular, and repetitive phrases.  The ones I have used are months/seasons combined, and alphabet.  I'm thinking of combining a journey story within a story.  Endless possibilities!  Just go get the book.  She really discusses what they are, how they work, and gives published examples.  I'm merely listing them here.

I just discovered another great blog:  Two Writing Teachers: Teaching Kids. Catching Minds. 565 Miles Apart.  In their blog post on August 27, 2009, they talked about the power of threes, as well.  Here is what Stacey posted about how threes often show up in books:

  • Commas in Lists (a little grammar-teaching bonus): Whether it’s a simple list of three items or an elaborate list, many writers create lists of items, character traits, etc. in threes. Tuck in the teaching of commas in lists when you teach your students how to create a long or a short list.


  • Internal Thoughts: When a character thinks about what do, sometimes the options come in groups of three.


  • Same Start:  The author begins with the same word or phrase in three separate, consecutive sentences for emphasis.


  • Same Word Repeated:  Done for emphasis (e.g., really, really, really or yes, yes, yes).


  • Setting Details: Often revealed with three vivid adjectives or three vivid phrases that describe.

  • Visit their blog to read the entire post.  She also includes a list of books that include some threes.  


    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find three of your own books (not that you necessarily OWN, but that you thought of) to list as an example for picture books with the power of threes.  Here are my three:
    1. Purplicious by Victoria Kann
    2. okay, it's a lot harder than it sounds
    3. Defer to mission #2.
    Mission #2, should you choose to accept it, is to analyze every picture book you own and write down what aspect that holds the story together.  Come to think of it, I think I'm really up for this challenge.  Would make a great blog post.  It'll be a long one.  And I'm adding that to the list of how to analyze a picture book, too.  

    This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.  So choose a mission and hurry up about it!

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Psalm 27:14

    I haven't even mailed off my proposal package yet, but this scripture verse sums up how I'm already feeling:
    Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.  ~Psalm 27:14
    ...and on the publishers and editors...

    BE OF GOOD CHEER.
    BE OF GOOD COURAGE.
    BE PATIENT AND WAIT ON THE LORD.

    Have a good Sabbath Day.  Keep it holy.  And keep on keepin' on!

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Janelle in the Candy Shop

    Janelle ran through the candy shop with her mother chasing her, but not fast enough to catch her.
    "Mom, can I get a bubble gum lollipop, too?  And a chocolate one?  And a cherry one?"
    ...

    Book Proposal

    I spent the last several days vigilantly working on my book proposal.  I think it's finished.  All I have to do is write a cover letter.  And package the whole thing.  I am SUPER excited.  It's been a year since the idea landed in my heart and mind, and now I'm ready for it to really take flight.  I am looking forward to it being away from me.  I'm sure it will be tense as I wonder when the publisher got it, if they'll love it, and when I'll hear back from them.  But I will be so glad that I don't have to procrastinate that project any longer.  It's been too long.  Now I'll be able to truly focus on some other manuscripts.  Three in particular are chomping at the bit to be revised.  I can't wait to get to them!  But first, I DO have to write a cover letter.  Actually, first I have to go cook dinner.  So that's my life today.

    By the way, the suspense is still killing me.  See why.

    Or you can add on to the newest Pass the Paper story.  Or both.

    Have a good weekend!  And come back tomorrow for your Sunday's dose of poetry.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Bittersweet Beginnings

    Today was the first day of school.  My 6-year-old started FIRST grade.  And of course I felt like time had flown by.  It was bittersweet.  Happy and exciting for him, but a little sad for me that he's growing up.

    A picture book I read to him a couple nights ago also has a bittersweet beginning.  I cried.  But the ending is WOW!!!  Well worth your time to check it out.  It is a story I will cherish.

     Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Ofra Amit

    This story is about an experience from WWII.  Herman, 11, is forced to go with his brothers as his mother tells him to lie and say he is 16 because she knows it's the only way to save his life.  A girl begins bringing him an apple each day, which gives him sustenance and hope.  Years later, he moves to America and goes on a blind date, only to discover that she was his angel girl of years past.

    The cover says this is based on a true story, but based on two comments on KISS THE BOOK, it apparently was a lie.  So I guess it's pure fiction, but it's still a great story.  You can decide for yourself if you think it's true. 

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Tips for Revision

    I got the following tips from Writing Picture Books, A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul.  It came in the mail a couple days ago.  Chapters 3, 4, and 5, Telling Your Story - Parts One, Two, and Three offer lots of ways to revise a story.

    Change point-of-view.

    • Third person, limited
    • Third person, limited DIFFERENT CHARACTER
    • Third person, omniscient
    • First person
    • First person, DIFFERENT CHARACTER
    • First person, letter style
    • First person, journal style
    • Second person
    Change voice or style.
    • Apostrophe voice (mc speaks to something that cannot speak back)
    • Mask voice (mc becomes an inanimate object)
    • Conversation style (without tags)
    Change setting.
    • Change tense from present to past, or vice versa.
    • Change time period of story.
    • Change location (setting) of story.
    • Change characters to animals, or vice versa.
    The point isn't to revise your story into something it's not (or maybe it is).  But really to make you re-see the story.  Just try 5 of the above ways FOR THE FIRST PARAGRAPH ONLY.  If you really like the way the new story is headed or how it sounds, then revise the whole story in the same way.  Maybe you'll even change it in multiple ways within the same revision. 

    While reading these ideas, I thought of another.  Change from rhyme to prose, or vice versa.  So today, that's what I did.  I took my 890 word rhyming story about a girl with the hiccups and rewrote it from scratch in prose.  I'm sure it's quite a terrible first draft.  Even still, the exercise cut 400 words out bringing it down to 490 words.  I'm not convinced I like it in prose, even though it was just a first draft, and just an exercise.  I wanted to see what would happen.  Well, what happened is that I found a section I could cut.  And hopefully consolidate a little in a couple other places.  I doubt it will bring the word count down that much.  But it will bring it down some.  And that wasn't even my goal.  But the exercise was valuable.  So I still have much more work ahead of me.

    I would love to see what others have tried and what results you've gotten.

    P.S.  Read how the suspense is killing me.  Someone step up to the plate...

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Nonsense Poetry

    According to Wikipedia:  Nonsense verse is a form of light, often rhythmical verse, usually for children, depicting peculiar characters in amusing and fantastical situations. It is whimsical and humorous in tone and tends to employ fanciful phrases and meaningless made-up words.

    Two books I can think of right now (one of which I just read today - for the second time) are:

    1. (today's book) Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, ill. by Barry Moser.  Random House, 2009.  (555 words)
      Lots of good vocabulary, AND nonsensical words.  Cute, suspenseful, funny.  And of course, fun to read.  (To me, felt like Jane Yolen meets Dr. Seuss meets Mother Goose meets The Secret of Nimh.)



    2.  and...Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer ill. by Marvin Bileck.  Holiday House, 1964.  Caldecott Honor Book.  (181 words)
      This one is a classic.  Our favorite thing to say to each other when we're being silly (my kids and I) is, "You're just talking silly talk."  Definitely worth reading!  (Also has very detailed pictures.)
    And here's my own nonsense verse, based on homonyms, homophones, and the like.

    Non Cents

    A kind of kindness 
    knows no meanness.
    I mean to say
    I'm bound by rules.
    I bound by schools
    on bouncy buses
    though I man
    the man's brick trusses.
    I sense this pen 
    makes no sense.
    So sew with pins 
    to make some cents.
    I'm not a traitor
    of the word,
    just a trader
    of the world.
        
    ~Christie Wright Wild   

    What's your favorite nonsense poem and/or book?

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    The Suspense is Killing Me

    I really want to know what's inside that green envelope that Fred stuck inside the spokes of bicycle wheel.  Now the bully is after him 'cause he said the envelope was his.  So Fred grabbed the package and ran toward his friends.  They're opening it right now!  And the bully is almost to their little huddle.

    So what's inside, guys?  Someone, please finish this silly little story we've started.  The suspense is killing me.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Inspiration

    There's nothing like your own children inspiring and motivating you to write.  I have been busy all week typing up some books that I have written during the past year.  Four down and one to go.  The nonfiction book, If People Were Insects, has got my son excited about the world around him.

    "Mom!  A praying mantis!  Is that one in your book?"
    "Nope."
    "Tell me all the insects that are in your book."  He then names all the ones he can think of and they're all already in it.  "Well, you have to add the bumblebee," he adds.

    I just love it.  It makes me feel like I'm actually making a difference.  Even if it is in the life of my own child.  At dinner, he starts licking his plate like our dog, Cocoa.  Samantha laughs and says, "If Shawn was Cocoa, he would eat dog food!"  Wow.  It's affecting her, too.  As they would say (in the words of Sid the Sloth), "I'm a genius!"

    So now that I'm catching up on all my typing, I need to finish that proposal for my nonfiction series!  And next on the list, too, is to get my marketing lists typed up, query and cover letters ready, and to MAIL STUFF OUT!!!  It won't be long before I'll have 9 mss making the rounds through the publishing world.

    Then I'll have to decide which fiction story I want to focus on next.  Dragons?  Farm?  Arctic?  Mystery?  Sleepy?  Not sure...  In the meantime, I'm working on another nonfiction book, okay more than one.

    Anyway, life is good.  So, go play with ants.  Dig with a stick.  Sit in the grass.  Splash around some water.  Collect some rocks, that are no doubt made of quartz crystal, diamonds, and gold and will make you very rich, as soon as some one buys them for $5 a piece.  Keep on keepin' on!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    More Books To Put On My Shelves

    About a week ago, I bought a new picture book, Faucet Fish, by Fay Robinson.  It's a lot of fun to read.  Clever, funny, surprising, and laugh-out-loud.  I just had to add it to my always growing collection!

    Illustrated by:  Wayne Anderson
    Published by:  Dutton Children's Books
    Year:  2005
    Summary:  Elizabeth loved fish.  She loved going to the aquarium.  She wanted more pet fish than her single guppy.  Her parents wouldn't listen.  One day, fish started coming out of her faucet.  She had to find a way to deal with the fish and make her parents listen, too.
    Word Count:  931     Book Level:  3.0
    Sparkle Element:  I love the word play, the surprises, the illustrations, the repetition; and of course, the STORY!!!

    The next four books are gonna be my new best friends.  I can't wait to read them.  I've already read two of the books' intros and some portions of chapters via Amazon's Look Inside feature.  Oooooh!  I can't wait till they come in the mail!  Happy reading!

    Referred to by Amazon, when I went to buy the other ones.
    Visit his amazon blog to read 31 quotes of praise for this book, including Jane Yolen and Harold Underdown. 


    Referred to by Kristi Holl
    Referred to by Alison Stevens
    Referred to by Susan Lieurance and Book Bites for Kids

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    10 INGREDIENTS FOR A GREAT PICTURE BOOK

    In part of an Institute of Children's Literature interview with Kim Norman, author of Crocodaddy, she discusses the 10 things that are good to include in a picture book. "The Picture Perfect Picture Book" occurred on September 7-9, 2009.

    10 Ingredients for a Great Picture Book | writing tips | author advice | craft

    Try to include at least 4 or 5, but not necessarily all 10.
    1. conflict
    2. pacing
    3. interesting characters
    4. humor
    5. word play
    6. unique setting
    7. surprise/twist ending
    8. voice
    9. only about one thing, one conflict (no subplots and multiple themes)
    10. empathy (MC having a problem with which the reader can identify)
    If your PB is an "early" PB for 2-5 year-olds, you may be able to get away with no real conflict. But those stories are extremely difficult to break into the market.

    In the weeks to come, I'll talk more about word play, voice, and plots and themes. For now, check out the rest of Kim Norman's interview for more of her writing wisdom! Have a great day and happy writing!

    If you liked this, read The Top 10 Story Elements.

    Camping

    This past weekend, my family and I went camping in a tent.  We left Thursday (and I "missed" the last day of WriteOnCon) and were supposed to stay for three nights.  We left a day early because we got rained out.  The tent and all its contents got soaked.  I ended up sleeping in the car on the second night.  We still had fun, though. We let the kids get in their swimsuits in the rain and play in the mud puddles while we packed up the tent and supplies.  Next year, we'll have a big tarp to go over our tents.  We had a tarp on our portion, but it didn't cover enough of it.  At least we had a tarp covering the food and table!  And now I want to write a camping book!  But that will probably be book #150.  No GOOD ideas there, yet.  (But I DID write more than half of my next new story!  Can't wait to share it with my Story Swappers!)

    Fred's Bike is still the current story in Pass the Paper.  Who will finish it?

    Sunday's poem:  "Camping"
    (I'm writing this on the fly.)

    Camping!  Camping!  Let's go camping!
    Can't wait!  Can't wait!  Wanna go swimming!
    Paddle boat!  Paddle boat!  Peddle those legs!
    Fishing!  Fishing!  Give me a worm!
    Putt-putt!  Putt-putt!  Hole in one!
    Fun-n-games!  Fun-n-games!  Water balloon toss!
    Exploring!  Exploring!  Found some old tee-pees!
    Tie-dye!  Tie-dye!  Red and blue t-shirts!
    Hot dogs!  Hot dogs!  Roast 'em on a stick!
    Marshmallow!  Marshmallow!  Put it on a SMORES!
    Mud puddle!  Mud puddle!  Splash some more!
    Next year!  Next year!  We'll be back for more!!!

    How was YOUR weekend?

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    10 for 10 Picture Books

    The 10 for 10 Picture Book Blogging Event is an event that it hosted by Mandy and Cathy, two educators that love picture books!  On August 10, bloggers the world over have posted their top 10 picture books to use in the classroom.  You know, if you were stranded on an island and only had your top 10 PBs to teach with.  What a great idea!  Here's mine:

    1.  The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch





    Henrietta loves to read.   One day, she thinks that since reading is so much fun, it must be extra fun to write a book.  She takes on the mission of learning how to write.  A great "guide" for emergent writers!





    2.  Actual Size by Steve Jenkins





    Who doesn't love animals?  In this book, you can teach children measurement and visual depth.  Projects are just waiting to be born through using this book.






    3.  Where Have the Unicorns Gone? by Jane Yolen

    book cover of 

Where Have the Unicorns Gone? 

by

Ruth Sanderson and 

Jane Yolen



    This one for teaching vocabulary.  And imagination.  Even inferring about history and such.






    4.  The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy





    This one is a must!  What a great fun read!  The language is lovely and stretches vocabulary.  Could talk about story elements, too.






    5.  Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco





    This book gave me cold chills and almost made me cry.  That's how good it is!  A teacher helps a student learn how to read.






    6.  Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski





    This is a delightful read about a lamb with a free spirit.  He ends up guiding the rest of the flock toward his wild ways, but he still stays unique.  Very funny.  Lots of dialogue.  Teaches children how to be yourself, too.





    7.  Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller

    Front Cover
    A great resource to teach geography!  A fun read, too.  Lot's of funny pictures with the states talking to each other.  There's also companion game that goes along with it.  VERY FUN!!!




    8.  Sally Jean, Bicycle Queen by Cari Best

    Front Cover


    When Sally Jean outgrows her beloved bicycle, Flash, she experiments with various ideas for acquiring a new, bigger one.  Teaches ingenuity and how to be clever.  Lots of fun!




    Okay, I'm sure I can think of more.  Lots more, actually.  Too many, really.  But that's all I've got RIGHT NOW!  Anyway, enjoy!  And thanks, Cathy and Mandy, for this cool blogging event!

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Write On Con is HERE!

    Okay, well kind of.  For me, anyway.  It's Tuesday morning, and I didn't write a post yesterday.  Oops.  So this will have to suffice.  If anyone out there happens upon my blog, PLEASE CONTACT ME VIA E-MAIL.  I can't get the WriteOnCon website to open!  It's like it crashed at my house last night (okay, 12:30 this morning). I can't read anything!  No welcome message, nothing.  Nada!  Please, please, please...  Why on earth would I get:

    Forbidden

    You don't have permission to access / on this server.
    Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Apache mod_fcgid/2.3.5 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/5.0.2.2635 Server at writeoncon.com Port 80

    I've tried Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.  I don't see why that would matter, though.  Any techies?  HELP ME!!!!

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    Miss Rumphius

    The Miss Rumphius Effect is one blog I like to follow. Every Monday, she has a poetry stretch.  You can write your own poems in the comments and she'll post them later on.  Battle with the best of them:  Jane Yolen, Kate Coombs, among many other greats!  Here's mine from last week.  The theme was "How to Listen."

    Breakfast


    The plop of butter slides around 
    the frying pan. Minutes tick 
    until the sizzles begin.
    Fork scrapes porcelain bowl
    while beating two eggs once 
    whole. Broken shells cracked 
    scrunch down with the trash. 
    Whipped eggs sizzle and fry 
    in the bubbly butter. Omelet 
    gives way to quiet chewing
    then peach drips juice and 
    slurps set in. Giant gulps 
    of milk, but only five. 
    Stomach happy for an hour. 
    Grumbles and growls gnaw my 
    insides. Nine chimes on the clock 
    make me shudder to think how 
    long I have to wait for the 
    next meal of this diet.


    --Christie Wright Wild


    Feel free to share your own "listening/sound" poem!

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Fred's Bike Continued

    Head on over to Fred's Bike at Pass the Paper to see what happens next.  He just opened the envelope.  What's gonna happen to his bike?  The contents of the envelope?  Or better yet, Fred!  Who can finish the story?

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Make it Your Own

    So last night I was reading a nonfiction dinosaur book to my 6-yr-old son (shocker) and I think I had actually read it to him once before.  He swears up and down that I have.  But it was pretty new to me, or at least I didn't really remember it.  I found it so fascinating!  There was a tidbit of info in there that would make a GREAT PB!  So now I have 101 ideas!  (I don't really know how many ideas I have, but now I have another.)

    So I spent all morning today looking for the perfect way to make this info/idea my own.  It's gonna be a song.  About dinosaurs.  I know it doesn't sound original, but I can't give away all my secrets, can I?  But trust me, it IS unique!  So I searched the web for more info and got even more ideas to add to it.  It's gonna be awesome.  I had a lot of fun.

    And then I poked around over there at WriteOnCon all afternoon.  And I do mean ALL.  You mean I have to go pee?  Come on!  What?  I have to eat, too?  Good grief!  Prying me away from my computer is like prying a half-eaten lollipop out of a child's mouth.

    Speaking of mouths, I made a recipe all my own, too.  I looked up 3 recipes for Chicken Salad Sandwiches and copied them down.  Here's my own version:

    • 1 small 5 oz. can of chicken, drained
    • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
    • 1/3 cup grapes, halved
    • 1/3 cup pecans, crushed a bit
    • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1/3 Miracle Whip (or other "whipped" dressing)
    (Mix all ingredients and spread over bread.  Makes 2-3 sandwiches, depending on how thick and meaty you like it.  I use the Miracle Whip because it's sweeter.  And I'm a Duke's Mayonnaise fan.  I won't use that Miracle Whip for anything else, I'm sure.)

    Another thing that's good to make your own is the cover letter and the query letter.  Yes, we all know to be professional, to be ourselves, to let our writing voice shine through.  But I'm talking more about formatting, really.  I'm starting to develop my own style and format.  I just look at and read as many examples and advice as I can find.  Then I mesh them all together and use what I feel is important to me.  I'll start my letters the same way, close them the same way.  Heck, I even have a basic template now!  

    Well, that's it for today.  Keep on keepin' on!


    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Picture Book vs. Short Story

    How do you know when your children's short story is more for a magazine or could it be a picture book?

    Short stories, or magazine stories, tend to run much shorter (and I'm not talking teen mags) than PBs.  Most magazines that feature fiction only have a small amount of space to use for it.  Word count for magazines, even nonfiction, is very strict.  Don't go one single word over.  I'm guessing they tend to be 800 words or less.  Not really sure because I don't really write them, or read them - much.  But many (in the one kid's mag I do read) are in the 200-600 word range.  And you all probably know what I think about picture book word count.  If not, read my blog about it.  The overall consensus is that 1,000 words is the average.

    There's a lot more to it than just word count.  There has to be an image count, too.  Since magazines only have a limited print space, they also have to limit the illustrations for it.  Picture books, on the other hand, must have pictures!  And lots of them!  A minimum of 14 to be exact.  Since PBs are typically 32 pages long and take up 28 pages for text, that means there are 14 2-page spreads.  The pictures may or may not be actual scenes.  One scene could take up 3 spreads.  It all depends on the story, and of course the illustrator.  So if your story only has 10 images to illustrate, it's a short story, mostly.  (Some PBs are printed in 24 pages, with 20 pages of text.  So that would be 10 2-page spreads --IF they're really good images with a great story).

    So what makes a good image?  ACTION!!!  People talking a lot in one room, or even four rooms, is not enough action.  Characters have to be moving and doing things.  Most PBs typically don't have a lot of dialogue. Yes, there is usually some, but most don't have a lot.  The dialogue has to help move the plot forward.  But the actions have to get the characters moving!

    Here's an exercise to try.  You can add it to the list of how to analyze a picture book.  Take any PB, preferably your favorites, and summarize each 2-page spread.  Kind of like make a plot outline.  Here's an example.  I'll use I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse.  It's a 24 page book.  With 24 pages for text and illos.  The copyright and last page of text are printed on the opposite side of the end papers.  It looks like the first page, but it's actually not.  The numbers listed are the 2-pg spreads.

    1. Mama and two boys getting ready to go fishing.
    2. The lake with its reeds bending low at evening time.
    3. Scooping dirt and worms.
    4. Cans full of lively worms.
    5. Rowing in the boat.
    6. Night time with moon.  Who's the best rower.
    7. Who's the best fisherman.
    8. Tucking into bed.
    9. Bluest.
    10. Come closer to bottom bunk. 
    11. Reddest.
    12. Cabin at night and Mama dreaming.
    The more of these you do, the better your pacing and imagery will be.  Have fun!  I'd love to see you share one using your favorite PB.  (That one was one of mine, by the way.)  

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Cover Letter vs. Query Letter

    Cover letter vs. query letter? Well, they're both short. You send them to an editor. And you hope they'll get you a contract. But there really is a difference.

    What's the difference between a query letter and a cover letter? | writing advice | how to submit to an editor

    The Cover Letter

    • Accompanies a ms in the same envelope.
    • Shorter.  Usually 2-3 short paragraphs.
    • If solicited, make sure you remind the editor that they asked to see this ms.
    • Use when you are sending the whole ms, whether solicited or unsolicited.

    The Query Letter

    • Is sent by itself without the ms.  But still send a SASE so they can contact you to get that wonderful ms in their hands should they want it.
    • Longer.  Usually 3-4 short-to-medium paragraphs.
    • Is used to get an editor to solicit your work.

    When to Use Which


    With picture books, I'd say about 70-75% (based on my own research) want the full ms.  In other words, they accept unsolicited mss.  The other 25-30% want you to query.  You have to look up the publisher in a marketing book and/or online to see what they require.  So just because it's a PB, doesn't mean that you get to automatically send the full ms.  They may want you to query first.  It just depends.

    Marketing Books


    My favorite marketing book is Book Markets for Children's Writers (although some swear by Writer's Market).  It is published by Writer's Institute Publications (The Institute of Children's Literature) and focuses only on books from early PB to YA.  They also have a completely separate marketing book for the Magazine Market.

    Writer's Market is like the marketing Bible for writers.  It includes adult books for fiction and nonfiction, poetry, children's books fiction and nonfiction, AND magazines!!!  It is pretty comprehensive.  I would recommend checking that tome out from your local library. 

    Another good one to use is the Children's Writers and Illustrators Market.  It's less comprehensive than the Writer's Market because it focuses on children's writing.  But it's more comprehensive than the first I mentioned because this one also includes magazine markets.  

    Look at what you write to see what your best bet will be.  Buy something that will suit your needs. And then compare the entries to the publishers' websites.  I have found a few minor contradictions.  I always go with what's on their website.

    Make a List

    I use the index in my favorite "trusty friend" and choose two categories.  Say maybe picture books - fiction and humor.  Then I cross-reference them and see which ones overlap.  Those are the ones I write down first.  Then I turn to the pages and read the entries.  That narrows the list a bit further.  You can tell which ones will be a good fit and which one don't match at all.  Then go online and check their submissions guidelines further.

    Lastly, now you have to actually write the letter!    

    Keep on keepin' on...

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    A Tribute to Dr. Seuss

    Yes, I know it's already Wednesday, and I've missed a few posts.  But I'm gonna "back date" this one and make it look like I posted on Sunday.  Anyway, the poem for "today" is an excerpt from Scrambled Eggs Super! by Dr. Seuss.  BECAUSE it's the book I read tonight and I had never read it before.  My favorite page is this one (a little past the halfway point on a bright yellow page):


    "Then I went for some Ziffs.  They're exactly like Zuffs,
    But the Ziffs live on cliffs and the Zuffs live on bluffs.
    And, seeing how bluffs are exactly like cliffs,
    It's mighty hard telling the Zuffs from the Ziffs.
    But I know that the egg that I got from the bluffs,
    If it wasn't a Ziff's from the cliffs, was a Zuff's."

    What a tongue-twister.  I LOVE IT!!!

    So, what's your favorite tongue-twister?  OR your favorite Dr. Seuss book?