Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Small Goals are Better Than Big Goals

If trying to write 5 pages a day, or 2,000 words a day, seems like too much, then make a smaller goal.

"My name is consistency. I am related to success." | quotes | productivity | consistent writing | author tips

My 2017 goals:

  1. Move for 25 minutes a day, no matter how slow.
  2. Blog 2x a week.
  3. Read more novels.

I started my blog in 2010.

  1. 2010 - Posted 143 times. Awesome!
  2. 2011 - 102.
  3. 2012 - 113.
  4. 2013 - Dropped to 78.
  5. 2014 - Dropped to 44.
  6. 2015 - Dropped WAY down to 27!!!
  7. 2016 - Even further... down to 21. Abysmal.

So, if I blog twice a week for 2017, that'll be 104 blog posts. I can totally live with that! Even once a week will be better than what I've done in the last 3 years. I can do this!!!

Small goals can give more wins and build your confidence faster. CONSISTENCY is key. Happy New Year!!! Here's to a successful 2017!!!

What would you like to be more consistent in this coming year? Leave a comment below!

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Episode 07: How to Act Like a Writer

Acting like a writer means dressing the part. There are certain things that writers (and runners) must do to take it to the next level. Merry Christmas!

EPISODE #07: HOW TO ACT LIKE A WRITER | look like a writer | writing tips | runners dress the part

All you have to do is get dressed.

There's not much to write here since the video pretty much says it all.

What's your favorite item to help you dress the part, as a writer OR a runner? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

44 Reasons to be a Writer

So you're a writer, or you're thinking about it? Let's explore 44 reasons why being an author is the best job in the world!

44 Reasons to Be a Writer | author | careers | fun | money | lifestyle | writers

The top 44 reasons to become a writer, summed up in 4 main categories:
  1. fun
  2. money
  3. perks
  4. healing 

It’s fun.

  1. You like being different.
  2. Playing make believe is SO your thing.
  3. Your fantasies come to life.
  4. It’s like recess and art smooshed together.
  5. You’re an artist – no time to clean. Hello, clutter!
  6. It provides a bigger rush than running does.
  7. People give you presents.
  8. Fans adore you.
  9. Librarians love you.
  10. It’s better than drinking.
  11. It’s better than sex. (Well, almost.)

Passion = money.

  1. Taxes are fun. (You get to claim almost everything).
  2. It’s better than being unemployed.
  3. Your childhood hobby of reading carries into adulthood – and you get paid for it!
  4. You can earn an income from your passion.
  5. You get paid to tell stories.
  6. Fame and fortune. Not really. But it never hurts to dream.
  7. Your name will be up in lights… er, in print.
  8. Advances and royalties.
  9. Passive income.
  10. Long-term part-time (or full-time) job.
  11. Easy to shop for Christmas. Duh, your book!

Great perks.

  1. Every day is a holiday.
  2. Mobile office.
  3. Flexible hours.
  4. No dress code.
  5. Every day is pajama day.
  6. No limits or boundaries.
  7. You can “hang out” with your friends anywhere… online.
  8. People look to you as an expert.
  9. You become a walking encyclopedia – about things you never knew before.
  10. You become “like the gods.”
  11. You become immortal; books live forever.

It’s healing.

  1. Sleeping in is good for the writer’s soul.
  2. You bring meaning to the world through your words.
  3. Your stories help people connect to life.
  4. Free therapy.
  5. Easy revenge for high school haters.
  6. Ex-boyfriends can become evil villains.
  7. Recognition and respect.
  8. You can become whatever you want.
  9. You experience life more deeply.
  10. You change the world: one person and one story at a time.
  11. You’ll never wonder, “What if…”

What's your main reason for writing? Share in the comments!

You might also like Top 10 Writer Myths of All Time.

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Motivation Monday

Yesterday in church, I listened to the speaker give a talk about how our youth are special and strong. They are important. I totally agree.

"The art of conversation lies in listening." ~Malcolm Forbes | inspirational quotes | quotes about conversation and listening | life quotes

My biggest takeaway relates not only to nurturing relationships to youth, whether they are your own children or not, but also relates to strengthening all relationships.

When you talk to people, you show you are interested in them. When you ask people a question about their lives, it shows you care about them.
"Even if you don't really care about the answer (or even the topic you asked about), you should still ask it." 
Especially if you don't really care, because it shows how much you care about that person.

Like when my son starts talking a little too much about Pokemon, or Pokemon Go! specifically. Or my daughter talks about LPS (Littlest Pet Shop) and how to make accessories for them, or whatever crazy cool thing she's doing that day. Or my husband's fascination with cars, tires, trucks, VW, motorcycles, Harley, racing, engines, etc. Most of it goes over my head.

Today, I vow to show more interest in the lives of those I care about. And that includes YOU, dear reader.

So, what are you up to? What are you into these days? Tell me! I really do want to hear all about it!

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Top 10 Writer Myths of All Time

These ten author myths are dangerous to believe. Writers who believe them are allowing these myths to keep them from moving forward in their writing careers.

Top 10 Writer Myths of All Time | author advice | writing tips | how to write | how to get published

1. It's going to be easy.

Life isn't easy. Why should anything else be? Just kidding. But, seriously, writing isn't easy. And having a writing career is definitely not easy.
"Anything in life worth having is worth working for." - Andrew Carnegie
On the other hand...
"Find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life." - Ray Bradbury
So, depending on your perspective on work, this may or may not be a solid myth. However, it bears repeating, that you still have to work hard to achieve success. How much you enjoy that work is up to you.

2. Being a writer is a solitary job.

Yes, writing is a very solitary act. But the best writers are surrounded by others. Being a writer doesn't have to be a solitary job. In fact, it shouldn't be. Yes, you sit at your desk and type on a keyboard for hours on end. Or, you take a notebook wherever you go, constantly writing down observations and working on the stories in your head. That? It must be solitary. But the rest of it? Not so much. You can instantly connect with other writers online. They'll help you and encourage you and keep you going. Don't be solitary ALL the time.

3. You should write every day.

Some writers really believe this. Write every day. That's all fine and good if it works for you, but it doesn't work for every writer. At the other end of the spectrum, some writers only write when the Muse strikes. The best thing is to find your own personal balance. Jane Yolen says it best:
"Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." - Jane Yolen
But even exercising the writing muscle every day doesn't mean that you're writing or revising heavily on your one novel, story, or book. Even athletes take rest days. Let journal and letter writing be your rest days.

4. Writer's block doesn't exist.

Some say it does. Some say it doesn't. Some say writer's block only exists if you don't know how to get through it. And that once you do know how to get through it, then it doesn't exist anymore. Well, that's one way to look at it.

Let me just say that writer's block really does exist. In its most simplistic definition, it actually applies to ALL professions, all fields of interest, all walks of life, not just writers, though we probably face it more often than anyone else.
NOUN: The condition where one is unable to think through a problem. Not knowing how to proceed. The feeling of being stuck.
Basically, it's a blockage. You just have to get your brain thinking again and your thoughts flowing again. How? Go for a walk! Trust me, it works. Though you might have to do it multiple times before you finally see a breakthrough.

5. If you're good, you'll make it.

Hate to break it to you, but those who make it are usually better than good. Do you think Michael
Jordan "made" it because he was good? No! He made it because he was awesome! Yes, being good is part of it. But your book has to be good too. Ever hear the phrase, "It's all about the book"? Yep! It's all about a great book being so well written that an editor can't put it down.

However, in order to "make" it, there's a lot more to it than writing. You have to be able to sell. You have to be able to sell your manuscript to someone who thinks the book will sell. You also have to be able to sell the book. It's called marketing. You can't be good at marketing either. You have to be good and relentless.

6. Editors will fix all your grammar mistakes.

Um... see #5. You do have to be good to begin with. Editors are bombarded with manuscripts. They don't even see half of them. Assistants and editors alike will not wade through paragraphs full of grammar mistakes. Automatic rejection.

What an editor will do is make your book better. They will push you. They will help you tighten your work. What an editor does is magical. Books are a collaborative effort and editors are word wizards. So wield your mighty magic wand of a pen and fix all your grammar mistakes.

7. Once you're published, your books will sell like hotcakes.

Not so much. Remember #5? You actually have to market your books. They won't sell themselves. Books sit on shelves until someone buys them. The point of writing a book is to have people read it. And people won't be reading your books if they aren't selling. Just because you're published now doesn't mean you're successful. Yes, it's an awesome, amazing, wonderful, thrilling accomplishment that most writers never reach. So, congratulations on this success!

On the flip side, you can do better. So, don't stop now. Keep going! There are things authors can do to increase their fan base, their reach, and ultimately their sales. Social media only goes so far. But you do have to DO something to make people think about hotcakes when they see your name. Then maybe your books will sell like hotcakes. When they do, be sure to offer people syrup. And a napkin.

8. You get fewer rejections after you're published.

Again, not so much. Just because you're published doesn't mean that the writing life is any easier. It just means you're doing all the right things to reach that milestone. It certainly doesn't mean that rejections are going to happen less often. In fact, you may even get more! Remember, agents and editors get rejected all the time too. Agents get rejected by editors, and editors get rejected by marketing teams. YOU, however, understand this. Rejections are just a part of the business.
"You ask me about tragic accidents? If I am on my tractor at my farm and it rolls over on me and kills me, that’s a tragic accident. If I die in a race car, that’s life. I died doing what I love." - Dale Earnhardt 
If a writer was to sum that up, it would go something like this. "You ask me about rejections? If I'm at the Yankee Stadium and I use the billboard to propose to my girlfriend and the camera captures her telling me NO, that's rejection. But if my book gets rejected - again, that's life. It's part of being a writer." In writing, each rejection is one step closer to a YES. Remember that.

9. You're going to get rich.

Did you hear that? I'm going to get rich!!! No, not that. I meant did you hear that sound of laughter? Yeah, that... That's the sound of Shakespeare laughing you right off the stage. You're book will likely not get turned into a movie. Or sell a million copies. It's not impossible, for sure. But let's just say it's highly unlikely. Your book will not be an overnight success. But then again, it might. An author's first book is almost never an overnight success.
"Successful people make money. It's not that people who make money become successful, but that successful people attract money. They bring success to what they do." - Wayne Dyer
Seriously, most writers do not earn a living strictly from advances and royalties. It's likely that you're not going to be the exception. I know I'm not. However, most writers can earn a decent living once they add other gigs to their writing, whether it be teaching, coaching, editing, or something else. Don't quit your day job either, even after you sell a book or two. Most writers are not able to quit their day job to make a living from writing. BUT, success IS what you make of it, so don't focus on getting rich. Focus on what you DO, which hopefully is WRITING.

10. Mistakes are bad.

The final myth is that mistakes are bad. If you believe this, then you're going to have a very long, hard road ahead of you. It's okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them. However, you don't have to make the same mistakes that others have made. You can learn from their mistakes so that you don't have to. You can make new ones. Learn from those. Most importantly, keep writing!

6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs
and How to Avoid Them

Know any other myths? Your favorites? Funny ones? Which myth speaks to you the most? Share in the comments below!

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Writers Who Run 10k Trail Race Pictures for You!

The race... before, during, and after. So much fun!!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Writers Race to NC for World's First Ever Retreat of its Kind

Writers will be racing to Fontana Dam, NC on August 3, 2016 to attend the world's only writing retreat that also incorporates running a race as part of the agenda. Space is limited to 32 participants who think of themselves as writers and runners (or walkers). The culminating event of the 5-day, 4-night writing retreat is a 10k trail race on Sunday August 7 through the Nantahala National Forest of the Great Smoky Mountains. The race is limited to 250 participants and is also open to walkers.

The Writers Who Run (or Walk) Retreat combines the best of both worlds all in one trip, saving you time and money. One website visitor commented, "What an awesome concept. I cannot believe I've found this. It's like Goldilocks discovering just the right bed! Writing retreats are sedentary. Running retreats are exhausting. But this one sounds just right!"

The retreat promises to be rejuvenating, educational, productive, and social. The 10k trail race isn't just a race. It's an inspirational journey including some of the most popular racing elements that attract runners: adventure, costumes, charity, and bling!

  • Rejuvenating: Write, run, and relax
  • Educational: Hone your writing craft
  • Productive: Time to work on your novel 
  • Social: Connect with other writers and runners
  • Adventurous: 62-foot bridge and 2.5 miles of narrow trails
  • Thematic: Dress up as a book character
  • Charitable: Donate a children's book for literacy 
  • Braggable: Awesome finisher medal

Writers Who Run was founded by Christie Wright Wild, a writer who realized that the only time she ever traveled was to go to a writing event or a running event. There's finally a solution where you can do both in the same trip!

Can't make it? Join us virtually!

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Giveaway

I haven't done a book giveaway in a LONG time! And just in time for summer, too! It's a suspense thriller in Kindle format... PERFECT for some BEACH reading!!!

Published 2013

​In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn't their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He's going to kill him.​
*Finalist - 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards - Best First Novel

*Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine

*One of the Best Books of the Year - Authors on the Air

Interested? Click over and leave a comment on the ORIGINAL BLOG POST at www.writerswhorun.com. Thanks for reading, and good luck!!!

Keep on keepin' on...

What other books do you have on your summer reading list?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Walking is Perfect for Summer

Growing up, my friend Natalie always "went walking." Every summer, I'd go to her house or she'd come to mine (and yes, they were within walking distance, too!) and we'd jump rope, or play games, or watch a movie, or dance to the songs on the radio. It was grand!

But, when evening came, Natalie would have to go home or I'd have to go home... 

...because it was "time to go walking." Her family walked together every evening! What an amazing family tradition! And just a few weeks ago, I met an amazing woman on one of my morning runs. Gladys is a cancer survivor.

Gladys walks every single day for an hour. 

I feel lucky to get in a 30-45 minute run 2-3 times a week. So, whether you walk or you run, if you pound the ground and add your miles, today you have the opportunity to do it in a way that can help others and really make it count!

Summer can be a very dreamy time for a child. I always loved summers. In middle school, I immersed myself in the world of books. Today, I write books.

Being able to read it the stuff dreams are made of. 

Because a dad couldn't read, he was jobless and homeless. Because a single mom couldn't read, she never read her children bedtime stories. When people can't read, God's Word seems a million and one miles away.

Give people the ability to read -- and their whole world changes. 

They can learn to do anything! They can serve more people in life. They feel empowered. Because being able to read is the magical stuff that empowers people. They have dreams. And a way to reach them.

Writers Who Run has teamed up with Greenville Literacy Association to help people reach their dreams. ALL the proceeds go directly to GLA, an organization in South Carolina that helps people learn how to read, teaches people English, helps people get their GED, and provides free or low-cost books to the local community.

The "On the Road to Literacy Tour" is a 6-week walking or running challenge. Register online and log 150 miles in the next 6 weeks. You can join as an individual or as a team. Teams are limited to 3 people. If you're like me, and you only log 5-10 miles a week, you'll probably want to join a team. Otherwise, to complete 150 miles in 6 weeks, you'd have to accumulate 25 miles a week, which a lot of runners can do easily, but I'm not a lot of runners. Please consider joining me to help GLA help make the world a better place.

You never know whose dream might eventually bless your life.

On the Road to Literacy Tour

Keep on keepin' on...

P.S. I'm on team Fancy Nancy. What team will you join?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Classic Toys for Summer

Don't you just love old toys? You know, the classic ones, that don't take batteries. With today
being the first day of summer, it just seems perfect to list these classic toys today. Imagine a room full of children, or a yard full of children, playing with some or all of these toys. What joy! Let your imagination SOAR!!! Go ahead, you can join them... You know you want to. See you at recess!

Top 40 Classic Toys for Summer || toys without batteries | dandelions are toys too | be a kid forever

  • the Rubik's Cube
  • Legos
  • Hot Wheels cars
  • kites
  • jacks
  • marbles
  • spinning tops
  • jump ropes
  • hula hoops
  • bubbles
  • pinwheels
  • string (yes, string! Jacob's Ladder, anyone?)
  • Silly String (I couldn't resist...)
  • harmonica
  • kazoo
  • drums
  • maracas
  • tambourines
  • dolls
  • rocking horse
  • tricycle
  • bicycle
  • trading cards
  • puzzles
  • frisbee
  • balls (soccer, basketball, football)
  • bouncy balls
  • beach balls
  • coloring books
  • kaleidoscopes
  • stuffed animals
  • board games
  • outdoor games (Freeze Tag)
  • sidewalk chalk
  • water guns
  • even DANDELIONS!!!
  • craft sticks and yarn (Remember making those God's Eyes?)
  • sticks (pirate sword, magic wand, or just whittle it)
  • boxes (a big ship, a race car, or a castle!)
  • BOOKS (technically, I know it's not a TOY, but why not?! It might as well be!)

What's YOUR favorite summer time toy?

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest WINNER (Winter 2016)

It's time to announce the winner for the Winter 2016 Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest. A small handful of the Fall 2015 entries were included in this contest. After much reading, I have decided that the winning entry to receive this quarter's contest goes out to Meagan Friedman for her story,


Congratulations, Meagan!!!

I'm running the summer contest a few weeks early and it will run until September 30. So, polish up those stories and send them on in!

Meagan, you will receive your critique this week. Just check your email.

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What's the Difference Between a Workshop, a Conference, and a Retreat?

You may or may not know the difference between a writing workshop, a writing conference, and a writing retreat. All three are wonderful places to continue learning the writing craft and meet new people. All three cost money. And all three will make you a stronger writer and help you learn more about the industry. However, there are a few differences.

What's the difference between a writing conference and a writing retreat? || resources for writers | learn how to write | writing communities

Writing Workshop

A workshop typically lasts anywhere from 50 minutes to 8 hours. The shorter workshops of 1-2 hours are likely part of a conference or retreat. Other workshops can be half-day or full-day events, with 1-2 instructors to help you dive deeper into a specific topic related to writing, whether it be picture books, how to blog properly to maximize your marketing efforts, or world building for any kind of novel.

Workshops are a typical component of conferences and retreats. Workshops, no matter if they are stand-alone or part of a larger event, always dive deeper into the nitty gritty. You may learn more about how to woo editors and agents, or how to properly write a query letter with a fabulous pitch (and even get a chance to work on your own), or do writing exercises that can be a part of current manuscripts or simply to get the creativity flowing.

Writing Conference

Writing conferences typically last 2-3 days, and include workshops as a main portion of their schedule. The workshops can be small-group or large-group. Conferences usually focus on networking. There will definitely be lots of authors there, and more often than not, a good handful of agents and editors as well.

There may or may not be a few social events mixed in, such as trivia games, a book signing gala, or a dinner with live music at a local restaurant. With your days packed full of workshops, and possibly the chance to get a professional critique on one of your manuscripts (you would know this ahead of time), you likely won't have much free time to get any writing done, aside from any short exercises prompted as part of a workshop.

Writing Retreat

This option to learn the writing craft is hands down my favorite, though it is also the most costly. Writing retreats typically last anywhere from 4-14 days, usually 5 or 6. The main focus is on networking with other writers, learning the craft, and having the time to implement what you learn on the spot during free writing time.

Some retreats are in exotic locations like Peru, Mexico, the Bahamas, Italy, or Ireland. Other retreats are right here in the states, whether you choose Texas, Colorado, or North Carolina. Some have a focus on swimming, yoga, or exploring the lore of the land. There's even one that has a focus on running (that one's mine). Retreats usually don't have an emphasis on wooing an editor or an agent. Some are very small and you write all day in your own private cabin or cottage and convene in the evening to eat, socialize, and talk about your writing progress, maybe even critique each other's work. Other retreats are larger with a bit more structure and workshop instruction.

All retreats should be a chance to get away, learn more about the craft, get some writing done, connect with others, and relax and rejuvenate.

If you're thinking about going to a writing retreat, check out the Writers Who Run (or Walk) Retreat in the secluded mountains of western NC every June. The inaugural 2016 year was held in August. It incorporates a daily 2-mile morning run, jog, walk, or hike and even offers a 10k race on the final day. If this excites you, definitely go check it out!

Have you ever been to western North Carolina? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Friday, May 6, 2016

Are You a Scholarship Winner?

Last month, people entered the scholarship contest to win free tuition to the upcoming Writers Who Run Retreat. Thank you so much for entering the contest and spreading the word about this new event. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. Every entry submitted was amazing! I have thought long and hard about who would win the scholarship and today is the day I am announcing the winner.

Whether you love children and want to instill a love for reading in them, you teach writing classes, or you are ready to get back to that novel you started long ago, we all love language and words and stories. We all have something to say and we know running (or walking or hiking) will help us find the right words.

So, without any further ado, please join me in congratulating this year's winner! The scholarship winner who will receive full tuition is awarded to...

Hillery Rubens of Riverside, California

Congratulations! Pack your bags, you're coming to North Carolina this August!

But, wait... there's more! I have decided to award two more entrants with a 50% off scholarship! These ladies were all so passionate, I couldn't stop with just one! For HALF the cost, the following two winners will also be able to join us in Fontana Dam, NC this August...

Tracy Cotton of Hendersonville, North Carolina 
Jackie Hoermann of Fort Worth, Texas

Congratulations!!! Can't wait to meet each of you on August 3!!!

In the meantime, keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

High Five #34: Monster Hunter Rising

Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to you for your debut picture book. Thanks for being here today, Justin!

Title: Monster Hunter
Author: Justin LaRocca Hansen
Illustrator: Justin LaRocca Hansen
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release date: October 2012
Word count: 560

Short summary:

Billy is a monster hunter. That’s because his home is infested with slimy, hairy, creeping, slithering, garbage-eating monsters! One week, Billy does battle with the monsters—in his bedroom, in the bathroom, even in the kitchen. But the problem is that monster hunting is a messy operation, and Billy’s mom isn’t so thrilled about all the messes she continues to find, whether it is water covering the floor, clothes thrown on the furniture, or food strewn about in the kitchen. So, when the hunting goes too far for Mom, Billy learns that monster hunting can—and must—be done with the proper tools. A vacuum or a rag with soapy water does wonders in defeating and cleaning up after a particularly troublesome Mud-Grass monster. With Billy’s new monster-hunting techniques, he and Mom come to an agreement, and Halloween (and the house) is never the same again!

Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.

Very hard to pick only three but let’s go with Ish by Peter H. Reynolds, Tuesday by David Weisner and because I love a good tear jerker, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Question TWO: Despite not having any children of your own, how do you feel that you were drawn to write for them?

As a child I was always in love with stories, not just books and movies but people’s stories as well. Friends and family, I loved hearing people’s adventures and I loved sharing mine. When you’re young stories are fresh and new and leave a lasting touch. I still remember how I felt when ET lit his finger and said ouch, I remember the shock of Luke finding out about his father, the horror of Peter Pan when he finds Wendy has grown up, and the terror when Heckedy Peg is about to eat the mother’s children. When we get older we get more critical, we’ve seen and experienced so much, we don’t FEEL those moments as often or as much as we used to. I like the idea of telling stories that completely capture someone’s imagination. Just us other creators have influenced me, I want to tell stories and create moments that will stay with someone for their whole life. For me, those stories were from my childhood so I think that’s why writing for children comes easier than writing for adults.

Question THREE: How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

Monster Hunter has a lot of alliteration in it so it is great for teaching the repetition of those consonants. It is a fun read aloud with repetitious phrases that can be used for call and response. Children can also learn that it is important to clean up your messes and that you can use your imagination and have fun while you do it. I’ve also done presentations where a class of students will help me create a monster, they will tell me their ideas and then I will sketch their monster for them. The main point of the exercise is to brainstorm first, think about what your monster will look like, write those ideas down and then create it.

Question FOUR: What was your road to publication like?

The road to publication was long and windy for me. I initially was only submitting my illustration portfolio when I moved to New York in 2005 but I soon decided that if I really wanted to illustrate books, I was going to illustrate my own ideas. I had sketched out all of Monster Hunter in 2007 (I was calling it Monster Cleaner then) and finished three of the paintings (none of which would actually make it to the final book) and I made a book dummy and mailed it out EVERYWHERE. I got many rejections. Like a lot. One rejection came from Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic, however I happened to bump into an art director at Blue Sky and told her about the book. I was working at the Scholastic Store at the time with the sole purpose of bumping into editors and handing them my work. She asked me to send it to her personally, I did, and they were interested. This was very exciting I thought this was it! We went through several revisions of the book but nothing major; we changed the name from Monster Cleaner to Halloween Monster Hunter. I brought all of the sketches to fully penciled ready to paint drawings. Things were going along nicely but then I stopped getting phone calls and my emails weren’t being returned. We had not yet signed any agreements; the idea was to get the rough proposal as good looking as possible and then present to the acquisitions team. Now this was in 2008, right when the economy went down the toilet. It appeared that Scholastic, along with many other publishers, weren’t putting out any new authors it was just too risky. So just like that, Halloween Monster Hunter was dropped.

It was heartbreaking. Time went on, and I started developing a graphic novel which caught the attention of my agent Sarah Warner. We began developing my graphic novel, called Stretch and Brella, and I told her, “Hey I have this picture book dummy too.” She took a look; we undid a lot of the revisions from Blue Sky, changed the title to Monster Hunter and started getting a whole new pile of rejections. However on thanksgiving 2011 Sarah called me and let me know that Sky Pony Press was buying Monster Hunter. It was a heck of a journey but I’d finally done it. I got one in the books, and soon after Penguin picked up my graphic novel trilogy Stretch and Brella (which will be renamed) and should be out Summer 2015.

Question FIVE: What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

Write as much as you can, the more you do the better you get and when you get those golden ideas get them out of your head and onto paper, or your computer. Get that story out as fast as possible and then worry about edits.

Show people your work. Send to editors, assistant editors, agents, post the stories you like online, go to conferences, and send things to your friends. I truly feel that getting published has little to do with talent and lots to do with hard work and with getting your work in front of the right person at the right time and that can happen in a billion different ways. I got my agent because her child goes to a summer camp in Switzerland. A camp that a friend of mine works at and this friend had some copies of my work that she left out on a table. Sarah saw the samples and that was that.

Be happy. The whole point of any creative field is that you’re doing it because it makes you happy. So make sure whenever you are writing you are in a happy place, maybe you like to write with music, or by candlelight or with a bowl of candy next to you, do what makes you happy. Be proud of your work, you’ve created something and brought it into the world and, published or not, that is truly something.

Friday, March 25, 2016

High Five #33: Awww, yeah, Baby!

Please welcome Keila Dawson for the latest High Five interview! Take it away, Keila!

TitleThe King Cake Baby
Author: Keila V. Dawson
Illustrator: Vernon Smith
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company
Release date: January 2015
Word count: 666

Short summary:

In this lively adaptation of The Gingerbread Man set in the New Orleans, the runaway king cake baby escapes an old Creole couple, a praline lady, and a waiter at Cafe du Monde, but he can't outsmart the clever baker! Filled with Louisiana phrases and comic-book-style illustrations, this story brings the Crescent City to life from Jackson Square to the Creole Queen riverboat. It even comes with a recipe for homemade king cake. This new adaption of an old folktale brings a tasty Mardi Gras tradition to life for readers.

Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.

Only three?!
1. Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena for the authentic voice and diverse content.
2. Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds for the humor and point of view.
3. Ish by Peter Reynolds for the inspiration and positive message.

Question TWO: How often did you read to your children when they were younger; do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books? 

We read to our children daily through elementary school. By middle and high school we switched to reading with them. In the younger elementary years we read books to them they were unable to independently read themselves. I believe language and critical thinking are both refined through reading to and with kids. By middle school, my husband and I would often read the novels they were assigned in classes. The discussion and feedback definitely helped create a special bond. During this special time together, especially during their tween and early teen years, we would discuss sensitive or confusing topics presented in the books they read. That allowed them to form their own opinions outside of peer pressure and become more confident individuals.

Question THREE: How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

Gingerbread Man stories are quite popular and studied in many pre-school and elementary classrooms. Because The King Cake Baby ties in the old world tradition of Mardi Gras still practiced in an American city, it's cultural setting can be used to compare and contrast with the traditional folktale or other adaptations. There are printable lessons, activities, and crafts available on my website at www.keiladawson.com.

Specifically, second grade teachers are use it to teach English common core standards. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy RL 2.1- 2.9). Two standards, RL.2.2 and RL.2.9 address using folktales from diverse cultures.

RL.2.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures. I have many fun. 

Question FOUR: What was your road to publication like? 

Writing for children is something I'd always want to do but didn't make the time or commitment to actually do it. Then one day some friends inspired me to just do it. That was my first step, making that commitment. But for months after, I didn't have an idea of what to write about. Then one day while making a king cake during the Mardi Gras season, a story idea popped into my head. Just as I described in The King Cake Baby, I couldn't find a little plastic baby we put inside the cake. The idea ofĂ‚ retelling the Gingerbread Man story but set in New Orleans seemed like a unique idea. That same night I wrote my first draft.

With a rough draft in hand I started where all beginners do, with research. I didn't have any knowledge about the industry from the author or publisher perspective so knew there was a lot to learn. Children's Book Insiders (CBI) was the first online resource I found, became a member and read through their self- paced lessons and newsletters. CBI recommended finding a group of other writers to critique your work. More research led me to a local group of children's writers. The stars aligned and the first meeting I attended was critique night. I read my story to a group of published authors and listened carefully to their great advice. The manuscript was way too long, well over 1000 words. It also had too many characters and scenes. I was told to cut, cut, cut. I read some Gingerbread Man stories. I joined the national Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and independently researched and read everything I could about the craft and the industry. I returned to the next meeting with an edited copy and got the thumbs up! This wonderful group of mentors also helped me understand the business part of the industry. When I subbed my story and didn't hear anything for several months, it was my writer's group who taught me how to research publishing houses to determine if my story fit with what they publish. That's when I decided to sub my manuscript one more time, to a company that published children's stories about Louisiana, Pelican Publishing.

I don't have an agent at this time. I do have a manuscript in acquisitions at Pelican. It's another fractured fairy tale based in New Orleans. Fingers crossed they are interested in adding another to their list!

Question FIVE: What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?
  1. Be authentic. I love hearing others describe my story that way. I do believe the only difference between stories that use the same topic or theme is the unique way in which the story is told by the writer.
  2. Immerse yourself in the kidlit community. Participate in free reading and writing challenges like Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo in November, Carrie Charley Brown's ReFoReMo in March, Susanna's Hill's pitch practice, Would You Read It on Wednesdays, her Perfect Picture Book Fridays, and the Debut PB Study Group on Facebook. Take classes, sign up for webinars, join SCBWI and attend conferences.
  3. Learn the business end of the industry. As small business proprietors, writers need to know how to negotiate publishing contracts, agent agreements, create marketing plans and file taxes.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Christie. Write on!

Thank YOU, Keila. You can find Keila around the web on her following social sites:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wealth Through Words: A 12-Step Guide to Becoming a Career Author

Writing can be a lonely job. We all know advances and royalties don't pay that much. But if you want to be a career author, it's important that you surround yourself with successful authors.

Following these 12 steps will guarantee you success. However, how you determine that success - and more importantly, WHEN it will manifest itself is left to be written. Are you ready to write it?

After you read the guide, I'd love to know what you think! Share which of the 12 steps is your favorite and why in the comments below!

If you are reading this blog post via email and you don't have Javascript enabled,
you can visit the actual blog post to sign up and get the 12-Step Guide.

Once you confirm, you should receive your template within 10 minutes.
If you don't see a confirmation email, check your junk folder.
All of the above freebies will allow you to receive my SHORT and FUN monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Types of Non-fiction in Children's Books

There are many more nonfiction books in the adult reading world than there are in the children's realm, but nonfiction children's books are HOT (and probably always will be)! And since picture books are a form, not a genre, each type of book listed here would be an example of a nonfiction genre or sub-genre, if you will.

7 Types of Non-fiction in Children's Books || writing nonfiction for children | how to write non-fiction books for kids


There are all kinds of nonfiction children's books out there waiting to be explored, and waiting to be written. The following are the most common types on nonfiction books found in children's literature.

Concept Books

This category of nonfiction books for children are typically for the younger audience, such as preschoolers. These books cover include topics such as counting, the alphabet, opposites, colors, days of the week, and more.

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 


Animal books abound. There is always a market for more animal picture books. They can be about life cycles, compare/contrast, a day in the life of, habitat, or anything that has to do with teaching kids about animals.

  • No Two Alike by Keith Baker
  • A Warm Winter Tail by Carrie A. Pearson
  • Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde


Children love to do all kinds of things and want to learn how to do even more. These could be how-to craft books, cooking books, how to play certain games, how to start a collection, how to become an entrepreneur, anything really!

  • Draw the DC Universe by Klutz
  • Sleeping in a Sack: Camping Activities for Kids by Linda White
  • Origami for Children by Mari Uno


Biographies for children are exploding right now. Publishers, teachers, and librarians can't seem to get enough of them. Autobiographies would be a sub-genre of this category. There are biographies about people in certain careers, inventors, famous people, lesser known people, presidents, athletes, scientists, artists, you name it! The blog, True Tales and a Cherry on Top by Jeanne Walker Harvey, reviews nothing but picture book biographies.

  • The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock
  • A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jennifer Fisher Bryant
  • Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris


Children's books about historical events or current events create this genre of kids books. These could be books about a war, political events, social events, etc. They are not really about a certain person, but more about what happened. Oftentimes, biographies are historical because one person usually had a huge impact on what happened.

  • The Story of the Incredible Orchestra by Bruce Koscielniak
  • The Alamo from A to Z by William R. Chemerka
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
  • Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet (this might actually fall under biography)
  • The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel (technically, I think this one is actually historical fiction)

Special Topics

Anything else that children want to know about would go here. Weapons of war, gardening, becoming an entrepreneur, nature and the environment, human relationships - it all goes here.

  • Water is Water by Miranda Paul
  • Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals
  • The Juice Box Bully by Bob Sornson


Anything else that doesn't fall into one of the above categories goes here. Alas, I do not have any examples.

What is your favorite genre of nonfiction books for children? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why "Dancing Through Time and Space"?

Creative Commons, Pixabay
If you haven't noticed, "Dancing Through Time and Space" is my new blog motto, log line, subtitle, whatever. No, it's not Star Trek. No, I'm not aiming to find a portal in the universe, or a crack in the time/space continuum, but I would love to have a time machine (to create more of it). Or would that be a time tree? If you had a time machine/tree, what things would you want to do? How could you more fully spend your time?

I also love space and thinking about the universe, don't you? And then there's each person's own personal space, too. And of course, there's DANCING! I do love to twirl around and dance. I just imagine myself dancing around trying to get more done in my limited space and time. I kind of jump from one passion to the next, always trying to learn how to be more mindful of my time.

Every day, we all dance through time and space as we say hello to a loved one, pick up the phone and call a parent, pick up the dirty laundry and squeeze a hug with our children. A peck on the cheek, a bear hug, a high five. These are ways I dance through time and space with my family. Family is the most important thing in life. I try to teach my children to love the Lord, teach them good manners, teach them how to be respectful, honest, law-abiding citizens. Teach them what they need to know to be safe and happy here on this earth. I pray for my sisters. I'm happy when my parents call me. How do you dance with your family?

But, yet I still struggle. Sometimes I steal time from my family just so I can write. A lot of writers don't have a clean house, or maybe they don't take the time to cook a nice meal. I, for one, do neither most of the time. But we always have clean clothes to wear and food to eat. So, yeah, I'm always dancing through time and space - fleeting, sometimes focused, sometimes unfocused, happy, searching for love and how to share with others the deeper meaning of life. Will you dance through time and space with me?

When you leave a comment, you'll receive "dancing time-released space-kisses" to last for a whole week. I know you want a little more love in your life. 

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Useful Resources and Links for Writers

I hope you find these blogs and websites useful. Thanks for stopping by! (*My favorites.)

Helpful Writer Resources
    Teaching Blogs
      Review Blogs
      The following are awesome blogs I've awarded The Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award to in the past. I haven't kept up with it, but I still want to share their links.

      Where did the Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award come from? Faith, Hope, Love, and Luck, of course! Originally, I wanted to create a NEW blogger award that I will give to other bloggers each month for excellent blogs based on both interesting and helpful content AND visually appealing and easy-to-navigate design

      There are so many awards out there that are just for fun. I wanted to create one that was easy to "accept" and simple enough to forward to others that didn't require listing 20 random things about yourself or 20 new bloggers you've recently met. 

      It's an award that says, "Look at this awesome blog I know about. There is such a wealth of information here! If you visit once, you'll want to return again and again." In other words, it's like discovering a pot of gold! It's a site you will visit frequently and enjoy swimming around in for a while. For the kick-off month of March 2011, I awarded FOUR talented bloggers. Each month hereafter, I'll award ONE lucky blogger.

      NEW: I now give this Pot-O-Gold Award to great websites and new books I've purchased. So, it's not just for bloggers anymore. I no longer give this award. After all, I do need to have some time to write. 


      March 2011: (the first FOUR)
      The Bookshelf Muse
      Literary Rambles
      Writer's First Aid
      There Are No RulesApril 2011I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
      May 2011Routines for Writers
      June 2011: Julie Hedlund at Write Up My Life
      August 2011Alison Pearce Stevens: Scientist. Writer.
      September 2011: Rachael Harrie at Rach Writes
      October 2011: Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers
      January 2012: Lydia Kang at The Word Is My Oyster
      February 2012: Rob Sanders at Picture This! (and a few bonus blogs)
      March 2012: Susanna Leonard Hill, a children's author's eye view of writing and life
      April 2012Mormon Mommy Writers
      May 2012: Tara Lazar at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
      June 2012: Corey Rosen Schwartz Blog of a Picture Book Ninja
      October 2012: Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts
      November 2012: Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect
      January 2013: Jeanne Walker Harvey of True Tales & A Cherry On Top
      January 2014: Dee of I Write for Apples, home of Query.Sign.Submit.
      And here are FOUR things about me (that are always changing):
      1. FAITH - I have FAITH in God, and in his son, Jesus Christ.
      2. HOPE - I HOPE for things which are not seen, but are true.
      3. LOVE - I LOVE the Lord with all my heart.
      4. LUCK - I feel LUCKY to have the family with which God chose to bless me.
      Blog Awards I have received:

       A photo on Flickr A photo on Flickr A photo on Flickr A photo on Flickr A photo on Flickr A photo on Flickr


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