Sunday, November 28, 2010

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Review of Gulliver's Travels

The blog for Stories for Children Magazine is a great source for good books and family entertainment for kids. It is family friendly and is fun, educational, and all around wholesome.
Check it out if you are a writer for children as well because it covers a variety of topics of interest to parents and kids.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Review of Gulliver's Travels: "Review By David Broughton Title: Gulliver's TravelsISBN: 978-0-14-311911-1Published by Penguin GroupSuggested Retail: $14 USD $19 CAN290 pag..."

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Mummy Mazes: A Monumental Book

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Mummy Mazes: A Monumental Book: " Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ..."

Friday, November 26, 2010

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Happy Thanksgiving

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Happy Thanksgiving: "Thanksgiving is the time to express gratitude for the blessings of the past year. How do you go about helping children to understand that..."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 2: The Writer's Life with Author Rachelle Burk

Meet Rachelle Burk, author of Tree House in a Storm.  Discover her writing process and how she goes about coming up with ideas for children's books.

I’ve read many columns by writers describing how they organize their days, often writing in the wee hours before waking the kids for school, during lunch hour at work, or late into the night when the kids are in bed. They set attainable goals. How I admire these writers! But I am from a different planet.

Like theirs, my world is a balancing act. I juggle my writing life with family life, a “real” job (social work), my small business as a children’s entertainer (aliases include Tickles the Clown and Mother Goof Storyteller), and volunteering with my local rescue squad. My organizational skills are limited to making lists, which I promptly misplace or forget I’ve even made. Bottom line: I’m a poor role model for organization or balancing life.

My writing life, I’m afraid, has somewhat of a bipolar quality. There are times I can’t tear myself away from the computer. I stagger down the stairs and log on to my computer even before coffee or a shower, writing furiously. I make trips to the library and book store to research my subject matter. I study books of a similar genre to what I’m working on. I submit drafts to my writing groups, and work on revisions the minute the critiques arrive in my inbox. I go to bed with story-on-the-brain insomnia. During this “manic” phase, which can last weeks or even months, I can churn out two or three picture book manuscripts, while my house gets messier and dinner is chronically late.

Then I crash. This is the “depression” phase of the cycle. I’m not actually depressed, but the hurricane of creativity sort of dies out—the calm after the storm, as it were. Inspiration disappears as quickly as it came, and my writing world is limited to critiquing others’ work, staying involved in the online writing community, and keeping my Resources website current (*). I panic, wondering if my muse has abandoned me forever. (The silver lining is that, during these dry spells, my house is clean and dinner is on time.) Then one day, a writing contest, or perhaps a fascinating news article that screams to me, “STORY IDEA!” will prompt me to start something new. Then I’m back in the saddle (or office chair) again.

Check out day 3 of the tour here:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Welcome to Day 2 for Author J. Aday Kennedy-

Klutzy Kantor is fun and the illustrations are adorable. Read about how Children's author J.Aday Kennedy goes about her writing to create great books like her new book about Klutzy.

Day 2 The Writer's Life with Author J. Aday Kennedy

I spend my days writing unless I have a speaking engagement or book signing. A typical day begins at 7:00 am. I’m a quadriplegic and on a ventilator.

My caregiver, Jackie, arrives and feeds me through a feeding tube in my stomach. When that task is completed I am bathed and my lung therapy and physical therapy are conducted. During these times I listen to children’s books on tape.

Frequently a writing idea will come to me and Jackie will write them down for me so that I do not forget. It’s extremely frustrating when writing ideas are churning in my mind in the middle of the night, and I have to wait to write the stories.

I am very impatient and hate waiting. Yet, daily I spend the first five hours waiting for the time my “real life” can begin (therapy ends).

Around 11:30 or 12:00 my therapy ends. Some days I sit in my wheelchair and must dress and don a pair of tight hose and a tight band around my waist to maintain my blood pressure. Many days I stay in bed. My desk rolls over my bed and the height can be adjusted as necessary. Around the perimeter of my computer monitor I have my goals, motivational slogans and a list of traits I felt were indicative of me or that I hope to be in the future. Before I begin writing I read my goals aloud ten times. Then I read my confidence boosters ten times. I call this my daily brainwashing.

My next step is my thirty minute to one hour bible study. Currently I’m studying Corinthians 2. After I pray and thank God for the blessings in my life, it is time to get down to business. I’m a scatter brain and have to follow a structure or I am going in a hundred directions at once. I write a list of the things I need to accomplish. I pick and choose what to do first. As the day progresses I check them off. Whatever I don’t accomplish is transferred to the next day’s list.

The most challenging part of the day is writing and typo hunting. My stroke causes my hand-eye-coordination to be off. For every sentence I type, I expect at least four typos. I’m legally blind which makes them difficult to find.

If the muse strikes I ignore the list and write. I force myself to work on my current book project. On the days my mind is a blank I still write, but in my journal. I interview a character, brainstorm or write about my frustration over not being able to write. No matter how I feel or how awful my prose is, I write. Writer’s block is not a good enough excuse not to write.

I end the day with email around 11:30pm.

Be sure to follow day 3 of the tour for J. Aday Kennedy at the blog of author Nicole Weaver.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Welcome to Day 2 for Author Nancy I. Sanders. You are in for a treat.

Welcome Nancy I. Sanders. Nancy is a wonderful children's author but she also has much to offer new writers. You can read more about Nancy at Blogzone.

Day 2 of the Tour The Writer’s Life with Author Nancy I. Sanders

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: This past summer I signed the contract to write another book in the same series as America’s Black Founders. Its focus will be on the Civil War era. For the first time, ever, my husband and I were able to take a photo research tour and acquire images we took ourselves. For two weeks we traveled through Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, visiting key historic sites and taking over 1500 photographs for the new book. It was a fantastic experience! The hard part will be trying to narrow our photographs down to 50-100 photographs that will actually make it into the book itself, but I’m hoping to use many of the extra ones to build a website about the book after it’s release in 2012.

I’m also working on a couple of other book and article deadlines right now, and you’ll always find me working on some stage of a picture book. I love writing picture books and am constantly working on creating new stories to bring delight to children’s hearts.

To learn more about the books I write, please visit my site:

Q: Describe a typical writing day.

A: Since I’ve been writing now for over 20 years, my writing day has changed with the stages and ages of my children as they grew. Typically when our two sons, Dan and Ben, headed off to school, I headed off to my computer to type. When they came home, I set my writing aside. Now that we’re empty nesters and our sons have moved away, these past two years I’ve been able to write full time from August to June while Jeff is at work. Since he’s a teacher, I take the summer months off from this heavy writing schedule when he’s home from work. This is a great time of refreshment.

Right now, however, I can get up at 7:00 in the morning and write until 5:00 in the evening when I start cooking dinner. I don’t sit at the computer for eight hours straight, however. That would result in eyestrain and backaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Instead, I break my days up into chunks so that I’m only sitting at the computer for about an hour at a time. I schedule fifteen minute to half hour breaks into my day with specific purposes. I brainstorm while I do housework so I get moving around with lots of energy after sitting for so long at my desk. I sit in a comfy chair and read books for research for the next section I plan to write. And about once each week, I attend a different writer’s group (I belong to four writers groups) and run errands such as pick up library books I’ve ordered in for research.
Search for Nancy I Sanders

Check out day 3 of the tour for Nancy I. Sanders here:

See you there. Don't forget to check the links here for all the books that Nancy I. Sanders writes. They will make great gifts for the kids, teachers, or writers on  your Christmas list.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welcome to Day 2 -The Writer's Life with Author Pat McCarthy

Day 2- The Writer's Life with Children's Author Pat McCarthy

Since all my published books have been nonfiction, a great deal of my time is spent on research. That can include reading books and taking notes, surfing the Internet, or going places to check on information. The research takes a lot more time than the writing.

I do all my note-taking on the computer. I open a folder for each chapter and take notes directly into it from books or computer printouts. It's much easier to find reliable information on the computer than it was ten years ago. When I was writing the pioneer book, I found all kinds of primary material online-material that was generated during the time period I was writing about. There are any number of journals available. You can find the full text of Lewis & Clark's journals online, including journals written by several other members of the expedition. I also found lots of journals and diaries written by pioneer children, which makes my book much more interesting for kids. There are also copies of many letters written back home by pioneers.

It's hard to know when to stop researching, but when you start seeing the same information over and over and not coming across anything new, the time has probably come to stop. I do a very complete outline before I start writing a chapter. Yes, I hated doing outlines when I was in school, but now they're my best friend. Because my material is all organized in a logical order before I start writing, I seldom have to do any revision on the structure of a chapter. In fact, once I have the outline in place, I can usually write a chapter in a couple of hours. Because of the outline, my revisions usually consist of cutting something that's too long, proofreading, finding a better way to say something, replacing a repeated word, etc. I always read it out loud. That's the best way to make sure the writing flows and that the reader won't stumble.

I try to work all morning on days when I'm writing. I'm definitely NOT an afternoon person. I just run out of steam about 2:00 (all those years of teaching took their toll!) so I take a nap in the afternoon. I often write in the evening, sometimes as late as midnight. I'm a night owl.

 Visit Pat on day 3 of her tour here:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Read About Children's Author Sean Noonan

Please join me in welcoming Sean Noonan to our site today in day 2 of his virtual book tour. Check out his books for fun and unexpected surprises that kids will  be sure to enjoy.

Day 2 The Writer's Life with Children's Author Sean Noonan    

"I have always loved to read and lose myself in the wonder of stories. I find it incredible and very privileged that I may be able to instil that same sense of wonder in others."

Writing is a pleasure. It is hard work but, when all is said and done, it is a pleasure. I am very fortunate to find myself, at this point in my life, being able to type on a computer just as fast as I can write by hand. The best part of which is that people can actually read what I write on the keyboard, whereas my hand writing leaves a lot to be desired.

I remember, in the last year of primary school, that I won an award for my writing because it was so much like spiders had stepped in the ink and walked across the page. Not the best way to encourage children, though it just goes to show that anyone can overcome any challenge. If I can do it, anyone can.

Most of the adventures I have written so far were actually typed on airplanes, in airport lounges and in hotel rooms. I have a little ritual when I intend to write, particularly when I am flying. As we taxi down the runway I close my eyes and relax. I just drift off into the Land of Dreams and visualize the plot and scene. Then when I am ready to write (and the pilot switches off the "fasten your seatbelts" light) I pull out my computer and let the characters loose across the pages.

Grumphspawn's grumpiness, Elannah's elegance, Sam's bravery, Pokey the Hedgehog's sense of humour are all very real to me and are as much a part of my success as the story lines themselves.

These stories are products of all of the families imaginations. What better way to write for children than to have them actively involved in the story's creation. Some of the plot twists and characters names come from my kids and we have fun talking about what will happen next. Children have such wonderful and unexpected imaginations.

When I think of the 'Adventures' and what I will write next, I often let my thoughts drift off into another world. I visualize the story. What will happen, and where the tale takes place, become images in my mind that I write down. The characters are fun and so I let them play in this virtual story land. They become real to me so much that they sometimes even hijack the story down routes that I didn't originally intend. Elannah's character can be quite persuasive and she often leads me off into new thoughts. Sam's character is adventurous and brave and he will cause the story to change more in the directions that he wants. All in all, we have fun together crafting the adventures and we just hope that our readers love the stories as much as we do.

I have noticed something that has changed since I started writing; the way I read. I still love books, of course, but I can't help but look at what an author has done and how they have achieved the effects that the stories invoke. It is essential to read if you want to write. Broaden your horizons and expand your perceptions. Life is learning and when the lessons learnt allow us to be better individuals then life is rich.

I choose to write in a very positive way and even though the adventures are thrilling I keep them encouraging and focussed. Our imaginations are powerful tools. It is best to nurture them for good reasons.

PLEASE check out day 3 of the tour for Sean Noonan here:

At the blog of children's author Nicole Weaver. See you there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

C. Hope Clark: Writing for the Christian Children's Market - Gues...

C. Hope Clark: Writing for the Christian Children's Market - Gues...: "Kathleen Muldoon is a retired journalist and current instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and also for local continuing edu..."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Frankie Stein Book Review

Great book, check out the review and add this to your Christmas list for kids.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Frankie Stein Book Review: " Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ..."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Writing prompt and chance to enter it here.....

Writing can stump you. Just when you think that things are going well, something happens and the page looks blank. The characters don't speak, they don't even react....they lurk in the corners of the story without a hint of what they are up to next.

What does a writer do?  Keep writing. Change the subject matter, find a new project for the time being, use a writing prompt, listen to music, bake a cake... you name it there is a world of things to do when you are stumped. What works for you may not work for the next writer. Writing is what the end product needs to be...words on a page. Finding the things that spark your creativity is one of the joys of being a go forth and write.

Here is a prompt for you. Take a look at this picture and what do you see? Do you see a peaceful walk in a park that your character and her lover take or do you see your character running frantically down the path  tripping over what appears to be a hand reaching out of the wet leaves?

Set the timer and  write for 5 minutes.  Write whatever comes to mind as it relates to this picture. It may just jumpstart a great story.

Email to share your story idea here. The best entries will be compiled into a project I am working on for the blog which will include your bio and some exposure to your writing. See you on the page.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Great Interview with Alan Silberberg

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Great Interview with Alan Silberberg: "In this industry I have had the privilege to meet many amazing writers and downright super cool people. Many of these people I have connecte..."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Do We as Authors Keep Connecting to Kids?

How do we as authors, keep connecting to children of all ages when we write?

The technology is far out reaching my expectations as I see kids so  much more focused on computers, hand-held games, IPods, and cell phones then on reading a good book.  Writing must step it up to keep kids wanting to read instead of only looking and listening to sounds and graphics of their latest game.

So how do we do it?

1.Characters... well developed characters. It doesn't matter if the character has a few flaws, so much the better. Kids are not perfect and they don't want to read about perfect kids either.

2. Theme: the theme or subject matter has to matter to the reader. Make the theme of your story resonate with what is happening in a child's real life world. Kids will read about stuff that they care about or that they can relate to.

3. Conflict: conflicts need to be edge of your seat kind of stuff, the stuff that kids worry about and think about. They want to read about it and relate to it but here is the key. It has to be believable, even if the story is a Harry Potter take off with wizards and supernatural happenings, the rise and fall of conflict and resolution must be believable for the world you have created.

4. Endings matter: the ending to your story needs to be satisfactory. That doesn't mean it has to be a happy ending every time. Life doesn't work like that...bad stuff happens to good people or in this case characters. But the ending needs to be a natural consequence of the story line. Example: Character A has done drugs and refuses help and thinks he doesn't need help from outsiders so makes no change throughout the story.  Now Character A dies in the alley with a syringe in his hand. For a teen or young adult reader... that is real. It may not be happy but it is the natural consequence of the actions laid out in the story.

 Age appropriateness of the story line and the ending are important when you are trying to attract a readership. It is also important to keep the conflicts age appropriate in most cases. Picture book characters wouldn't settle an argument with a peer with a gun for instance, however a young adult theme that includes gangs and gang violence may have more graphic conflicts as the natural consequence of the characters and their actions. Not always goody goody, but definitely hooks a young adult reader.

Look at your story and identify the characters, the theme, the conflicts, and the natural consequences of the actions in your story. Can you tighten anything, change anything, or add something that will hook your reader away from the techie game or music they are currently into? If you answer yes, you've captured what your reader needs and wants, and now maybe you will be the next author he downloads to his Kindle.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Tips from Stanley and Tyke on Gratitude

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Tips from Stanley and Tyke on Gratitude: "Fall is upon us. The air is crisper. The wind is cooler. And around the world, people everywhere are bundling up to face the elements. Here ..."


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