Saturday, April 30, 2011

O is for Organizing and P is for Plot and Publishing- The Next Letter in Our A to Z Challenge

O is for organizing your story. You can do that with a time line, an outline, or by taking notes. Whatever way you choose to organize your thoughts will help you in the end with plotting.

Plot is a key element in the story. Writers new and seasoned may have trouble with the plot of a piece of their writing. I would venture to say that plotting may be the main area where writer's block occurs. The author simply writes till there is no tomorrow and then comes up against a brick wall with the plot. It suddenly is going nowhere fast.

The plot of the story can make or break it when it comes to finding a publisher. A manuscript that is ready and polished will have a solid plot, one that has a hook at the beginning that makes the editor want to keep reading. Followed by the hook will come several conflicts that move the middle of the story  to a page turning  climatic scene. The ending must satisfy the reader and bring the conflicts to a reasonable and believable close.

Lesson here: A well woven plot will make your chances of being published more realistic. It behoves the author to study plot formation and to hone those skills. Seek books, resources, and mentors that can help you to learn the craft of plotting. You will see a difference in your stories and your characters as you learn this skill.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review : I Love You, Be Careful

I Love You, Be Careful
 Judy Snider and Joan Dickow
 Xlibris, 2010
 978-1-4535-6115-7 $7.95
 Ages 3 to 8
Rating: 5 stars  Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth from Stories for Children Magazine

Synopsis: This is a very heartwarming and enchanting book about how we must be careful in our lives. Our parents are always telling us that there is so much out there that we should be careful of. As the reader is reading the book, (s)he will be moved by the truth of what the author is saying. Children have to be careful when they are playing in the backyard, riding their bikes for the first time, holding a baby sibling and going off to school for the first time. Overall thoughts: I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are as beautiful as the message and they capture some of the poignant memories during a child's life. The book portrays the love and care of parents from babyhood through adulthood. There are different layers and complexities of love during the various stages of a child's life. But there is still a very concerned, unconditional love by a parent towards a child at all stages. What a wonderful message for readers, young and older. There is also a page at the beginning of the book to personalize it as a gift for children as well as adults. I just can't say enough nice things about this book! What a treasure it truly is!

For more books and products for kids, please visit Irene’s inspiring books and products website just in time for the holidays at and Also, to read about self-esteem and self-confidence for adolescents, please visit Irene’s adolescent website at:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with Children's Authors Judy Snider and Joan Dickow


What inspired you to write?

A: Judy: I have written since I was in the third grade when I discovered the world of books and came up with a story called The Mystery Of The Green Hand…I was hooked on writing.

A. Judy: I love words, I love talking, and my parents read a lot, so books were always a part of my life.

My sister’s and I read magazines and comics growing up, and I always wondered who wrote the books

We read. My sister Joan and I had fun writing I Love You, Be Careful….writing is fun for me, always has been. Lots of work, but lots of fun! My husband is an author of a medical thriller so we have fun in our marriage talking about writing a lot.

Do you consider yourself a born writer?

A. Judy: I am a very visual learner, so reading and writing were there from the beginning I feel, along with a house full of books.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you cure it?

A. Judy: Goodness Yes! I go away from my writing, or in the case of my sister’s and my book, I would call her and she would use her creativity to jumpstart mine….or we would just laugh, and that always helped.

I think chocolate is a great cure for my writer’s block and my grown sons and husband, too.

Have you any training to become a writer?

A Judy: Yes, when my oldest son was a baby I took the Institute of Children’s Literature write away course during his naps. I would do an assignment and send it to my instructor for feedback. Working later in a children’s library in a school is also training in some way…you get to know what kind of books the kids like. My sister has grandkids so she got the “family” training too.

What type of books do you mostly write?

A. Judy: I love to write children’s books the most that are funny and speak to the heart! I have written many children’s manuscripts through the years before Goldy’s Baby Socks, and I Love You, Be Careful. I am in two local writer’s groups: Cape Henry Collegiate Writer’s and Hampton Roads Writer’s and with the Cape Henry Group we did a book called The Sacred Purse with Debi Wacker as the coordinator….fun again-Love to write with other women and attend groups!

Do your children inspire any of books, characters, or plots?

A. Judy: Oh, Yes, they have throughout their lives. They are in their 20’s now, but I remember driving them in the car with their friends and asking their opinion, reading stories to them on a daily basis, and they are zany and fun. Joan also has kids and grandkids, so they have definitely had a positive effect on her inspiring her to write this book and the one she is working on, The Porch Fairy. My goal in getting a book published was to read it to my kids and groups of kids and have them smile and laugh…it worked. My other sister Mary and I also are working on a idea for a movie with a talented writer in Chicago.

Can you share with us a little about your current book?

A. Judy: Joan’s, Cady’s and my book is a heartwarming and uplifting children’s picture gift book that shows the various stages of a child’s life from birth till they have their own child and all the “Be Careful” moments that we as parents go through with them. It really is for mother’s of daughters, father’s of daughters, new brides and new moms…yet kids love the repitition of I Love You, Be Careful with each illustration. Cady did a wonderful job of illustrating the book….people get happy teary and sentimental after reading the picture book.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

A. Judy: Editing, editing, making sure the words are kids friendly….Joan, Cady and I made a good team on this book, and we all are parents, so we had been through many moments of a loved one leaving the house and we say, “Be Careful, I Love You”. We still say I Love You, Be Careful to our husbands, kids, friends, etc. on a daily basis it seems.

Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job’s?

No, because I am an early bird, so I am most creative in the morning…..I make time to write.

Tell us about your writing space?

A. Judy: I write a rough draft on my couch in a cozy room with chocolate(wow, I have mentioned that a lot)

My two cats around on a legal pad of paper. Later in the book, I put it on the computer, check in with my sister and illustrator on this book, and that again is in a cozy but sunny room with lots of my familys pictures around and of course books. I have my own small collection of children‘s books I love. I thrive on sunshine indoors!

The world of children’s book publishing is extremely completive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?

A. Judy: I get asked to talk on writing around town, and I really feel there is a book in everyone, if not more. For children’s books I tell people to join the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators, get the Writer’s Digest book on how to write a book, and who is taking what. I suggest trying agents and traditional publishers, and then tell them to also look into Print On Demands. I have loved Print On Demands, but getting a package that has the books be returnable is a must to get into bookstores,

And to make sure the book has a copyright and ISBN number. I give lots of other tips too!

How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?

A. Judy: There will always be books to hold in hand, but with the new electronic books like Kindle and the Booknook,, phone apps., etc. there is an amazing new way books are being read. I still like to hold a book in hand, but many of my friends and family use the new ways and love it. I think more and more people are self-publishing and doing print on demands. Our dream is to see our book in the Hallmark Line of books, as it is a good fit, we feel, and we love their books! If not Hallmark, some other avenue to get it out there were people can get it to give to kids, parent’s, new brides, etc….a plug: great for mother’s day….My other book I did with Thomas McAteer illustrator, I would love to see as a book fair book…fun, silly, kids laugh and love it.

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?

For this book and my others, the group process was an important part of it. For The Sacred Purse, the Cape Henry Writer’s Group would bat back and forth ideas for each chapter being woman as mother’s, sister’s, etc….Joan and I would go back and forth on the phone about the book all the time, and Cady Driver would send one of her beautiful illustrations and we would talk about it, and with Cady….by phone, we never have met her yet, and it was not until after Goldy’s Baby Socks was published that I met Thomas, the illustrator for that book.

What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?

A. Judy: First person

What well known books do you like the best:

A. Judy: Somebody Love’s You , Mr. Hatch, the Froggy series, so many books….

I am always visiting the children’s section for new children’s books….so many good authors and illustrators!

Do you participate in competitions? Have You received any awards?

A. Judy : Yes, Joan , Cady and I have our book, I Love You, Be Careful, in a competition now for independent books published, and Thomas McAteer and I won the Must Award with The Cat Writer’s Association for Goldy’s Baby Socks which is in English and Spanish. We will enter more contest too.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc?

A. Judy: On our new book, All three of us are great at sticking to schedules, details, and love to do marketing on our book. It makes it easy to work on my books, because all have been done on schedule by all of us .

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago, but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?

A. Judy: Get them out, edit, edit…it is amazing when I go back to my stack of manuscripts how I change things. Join a writer’s group for advice and fun. Ask one friend who is up on on your type of book to please read it….for kids books, ask your kids or their friends….actually ask more than one friend as like editors it all depends on personal preferences many times….does it appeal to them. Of course for editors will it sell, what is the market, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

A. Have fun writing, don’t give up, research books like the one your writing, surround yourself with one or more writers, read blogs and other things on writing on the internet. I love our book trailer on You Tube for I Love You, Be Careful that Virginia Grenier did!


(Our illustrators website-Cady Driver who is also SCBWI member)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Joe Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill- Case # 2 Mineral Mischief

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill

Case # 2: Mineral Mischief

Author: Renee Hand

Illustrated By: Jake Karwoski

ISBN 978-0-87839-415-9

Pages: 74

Publisher: North Star Press

Author Bio:

Renee Hand writes because it is a passion in her heart. She is a homeschooling parent and likes to create books that educate and inspire the children of today. She was born in Michigan and still lives there with her husband and two children. She has a degree in Zoology with a minor in Chemistry. Renee is the author of the amazing mystery series known as the Crypto-Capers Series that encourages children to read by incorporating several topics of interest. The reader participates into the story by solving cryptograms and puzzles to solve the case. She is also the author of the Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series, which focuses on animal detectives. This series is a great way to teach children about animals in a fun and interesting way that captures the reader's attention and yet fills them with knowledge they will be learning about in school. All books are great to use in a classroom setting to supplement various topics or to just enjoy. Renee is an award-winning author, receiving awards such as a Best Book Award, a National Literary Award and a Preferred Choice award for her children's series and adult books. She has just recently won a Seal of Excellence award in Storytelling for her Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series. She has been writing for over twenty years and when she is not spending time with her family or participating in author events, she is coaching and playing tennis, as well as doing research for her books and many other things that keep her busy. Not quite sure what a cryptogram is and want to learn more? Visit the author's website at to learn about cryptograms and how to solve the ones that are in the books.

Joe-Joe Nut 2 : Summary

In the midst of having her friends visit her rock collection, Maple Moo’s rare mineral goes missing from underneath her large cow nose. She instantly turns to Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill, the most famous detectives in Acorn Valley, to find it. They didn’t know the task was going to be an impossible one. The suspects were hard to figure out. Was it Candy Cardinal, who committed the crime? She collects various gemstones to make jewelry. Brutus and Betty Blue Beaver also collect minerals and have a fancy quartz collection. Liam the Llama looks suspicious with his igneous rocks and exploding volcano, or was it Huckleberry Moose with his sedimentary rock collection? Joe-Joe and Biscuit find themselves at a loss until some bullies roar into town. Will the detectives be able to find the missing mineral? Or, will this be a case they won’t be able to close? Find out in case #2 in the Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series-Mineral Mischief. Look for the various activities in the back of the book concerning rocks and minerals for added learning. Bubbling rocks, anyone?

My review: I found this book fun with a sense of true mystery. It will keep kids reading because of the story but it also has some teaching principles threaded throughout the story which provides science learning without being boring. The experiments at the end of the story and the extra activities offer fun ways for parents and teachers to enhance the learning standards while providing a fun environment. I think Ms Hand has done an amazing job of capturing characters that kids will love. She entertains and teaches in a way that kids will be hooked on. Kids will return again and again to get the next book in the series.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Author Renee Hand
Please welcome children's author Renee Hand to the blog today.

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a children's book author.

I’ve been writing for over 25 years. I have won 4 awards with 8 books published, and 2 more on the way this year. I started writing for children 3 years ago and I feel that it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I wanted to educate and involve my readers into my stories, not just entertain them. I found a niche, took a risk and went with it. I’m so glad I did.

2. Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.

My new release is book 2 in my Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Adventure Series called Mineral Mischief.

This story is about a missing mineral. The detectives must talk to each suspect, who all collect a specific type of rock and mineral, and learn a little bit about them to determine who committed the crime and why. The book is filled with extra activities including various experiments the reader can perform to further understanding, the rock cycle, terminology and a ‘Did You Know’ section.

My publisher is North Star Press. They have been a great help to me over the years and have not only believed in my stories, but also believe in me and my abilities as a writer.

The idea for this story was simple. The story for developing the series is much funnier. But for this book I wanted to make a connection with my readers and make it something that children will be learning about in school. Some children like rocks, some think their boring, some love to collect them. This story appeals to every reader because I approach the topic from various angles. I also incorporate a discussion about bullying, which one of the characters is involved with. The character also finds a solution to this problem which children can benefit from.

3. What is a typical writing day like for you?

I wake up early, go right to my computer and begin to write for a few hours. I will periodically write or review my writing throughout the day, if there is time.

4. What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

I love that I can make a difference in a child’s life. If I can make them laugh or put a smile on their face with my words or characters, then I did my job as a writer and it makes feel good about what I am doing.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

Making sure I keep the topics age appropriate to my audience and incorporating various levels of interest.

6. Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?

Marketing your book for an author is a full time job. There are new books coming out everyday, so to keep your book on everyone’s mind you must market it continually. I do many things to market my books all year long. My publisher, of course, does their job with it, but I do on-line marketing through hundreds of various blogs through other people, do interviews, reviews, press releases, author events, radio shows, TV shows, schools, giveaways, blog tours, writing workshops, my blog, my website, and lots more. I do various things to get my name out there to the public and all work well in their own way. I think no matter what you do it helps with getting exposure but nothing beats getting out to the public. People are buying you, not just your book. I have done over 250 events since my first book was published. I have 8 now.

7. Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.

I do author visits all the time throughout the year. My presentation all depends on the audience. I have 6 children’s books I go to elementary and middle schools with. But for this particular book, Mischief Mineral, I go to schools talking about rocks and minerals. I have samples of the rocks I talk about. I also do one of my experiments from the book, and will talk and discuss the book including the audience.

8. Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can listeners go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
My books are available through bookstores big and small, including Barnes and Nobles,, your local bookstore, and of course, through my website at I also have a book blog. I am a book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books and review books through them as well as through other publishers and authors. My blog has some of my reviews on there. I also include updates about all of my books on there as well.

9. What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on book 5 of my Crypto-Capers Series, The Peacock Diaries, which will be coming out in the Fall.

10. What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?

The best tip I can give is to know your strength as a writer and to promote yourself based on that strength and knowledge. The children’s industry is a dog eat dog world, and we find ourselves wearing milk bone underwear. Everybody wants to have the next big thing. Some writers get that dream, many more don’t. Lots of good writers get lost in the fray. As a writer you have to find out what works for you, your audience, and what makes you different from everybody else. Anybody can write a book now a days, but only the writer can make it stand out, be memorable and everlasting in the mind of its readers.

Thank you so much for the answers to often asked questions of award winning authors. Tune in tomorrow for a review of the book.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet Author Dacia L. Moore

Welcome to day one of Dacia L. Moore’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour. Grab yourself a cup coffee and sit for spell and enjoy the moment of getting to know Dacia L. Moore.

Hi! I’m Dacia L. Moore, and I am the founder of Second Wind Counseling & Consulting. I am also a Licensed Professional Counselor, trainer and motivational speaker. I have my Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance from Webster University and I am a National Board Certified Counselor. I am an adjunct professor teaching Master’s level courses at Webster University and I teach courses in general psychology at the undergraduate level at Penn Valley Community College. I believe in serving my community so I spend time as a Board Member for the Kansas City Chapter of the American Counseling Association and the Missouri Counseling Association.

I started Second Wind Counseling in 2003 in an effort to assist more women get unstuck and move forward in their lives. This is part of the reason I wrote Why Are So Many Students So Angry? Most teachers are women who feel hopeless and powerless when dealing with difficult, angry behavior.

My experience and expertise comes not only from my academic training in counseling but from my practical experience of working over 10 years in residential treatment, with my last job being the Vice President of Programs in the day treatment school. I saw first-hand how difficult student behavior equated to high teacher frustration and burnout. I believed that it is was my mission, ministry and role as a leader to help my staff find the most effective strategies to deal with students who had difficult diagnoses such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. I have also worked extensively with staff, parents, and students on topics such as De-escalating Conflict, Anger Management, Mediation, Conflict Resolution and Leadership. Having worked with a concentrated number of difficult to manage students and having to help my staff manage their frustration in working with this population gives me a unique and powerful perspective on how to be successful in today’s classroom. I found strategies and skills that helped my staff and me survive and thrive and I want to share them with others!

In my book I offer practical, research based advice for meeting disruptive, angry disrespectful students head on! These proven strategies were used and successful with difficult students, both male and female, from a variety of cultural backgrounds. I supplement the research with effective, practical, easy-to-use solutions that will help you make lasting change in your classroom and with your students. When I speak at trainings the most common evaluation comments say that my training is practical, easy to understand and applicable. I know you need strategies that you can put to work immediately.

This book is my contribution to the field of education. My hope is that through its’ use more teachers will stay in the field of education and help difficult students be more successful. I have also written Successful Choices - Anger Management Curriculum. I facilitate numerous training workshops around the country using the strategies in Why Are So Many Students So Angry? and would love to facilitate one for you!

Follow Day 2 of Ms. Moore's tour tomorrow at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meet Children's Author Alison Kartevold

Welcome to day one of Alison Kartevold’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and immerse yourself into the world of Ken Karta, Battle of the Onoxmon.

As a long time journalist, the thought of writing a book was not foreign to me, but honestly, I generally imagined writing something in the nonfiction realm. This book, KenKarta: Battle of the Onoxmon, and the world where it takes place would simply not exist without my daughters. They created creatures and characters that I then had to work into one world and plot line. They inspired me and prodded me. Together we got to experience what some people only get to dream of. By the sheer force of our imaginations and will, we created something. That is an experience I will never forget and a lesson that will stay with them their entire lives. The lesson to believe in your “Gifts” and learn to use them is mirrored in the novel.

It all started one night at two a.m. when my oldest daughter awoke from a bad dream and came to our bed seeking comfort. Half asleep, I told her the tale of a young girl and her talking horse named Dalminyo (that looked a lot like one she’d just ridden on a visit to Idaho). There was a growling sound in the dark, and I told her she had to get past the evil monster Dale-K (my snoring husband, Dale, sleeping next to me) to save her sister. I described her and Dalminyo running through a field of red flowers (a scene depicted in a large canvas I painted that hangs in our living room).

The next morning she asked if I could write down the story so that we would never forget. And could we please put all of our family in the tale, as they all live so far away and we rarely get to see them. Scooby, our cairn terrier couldn’t be left out, and my youngest wanted a purple cheetah, fairies and dragons. So, at their command, I began folding both the familiar and fanciful into their own private fairytale. That was the fall of 2006. My youngest was in second grade, and in the spring I was asked to come to her class and be the mystery reader. I only had a few rough chapters of the first draft, but we’d just been working on it and she wanted me to share. The teacher and students became so enthralled with my reading, that they missed going to music class. That’s when I decided that I owed it to myself and the girls to at least follow through and make this tale a complete story. Slowly, but surely, I stole away, to work and then rework the story into its current form.

Follow Day 2 of Ms. Kartevold's tour tomorrow at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meet Author Diane Kredensor

Welcome to day one of Diane Kredensor’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour. Enjoy your time with Ms. Kredensor as she provides a glimpse into her creative world.

Well, in my opinion there’s nothing better than sitting down with a good picture book, a child in your lap, and having their rapt attention while you read them a story. Picture books capture kids’ attention like nothing else I’ve ever seen. And the thought of being able to create something that could grab a child’s attention and imagination like that has been a dream of mine for a long time. Besides, I’ve always been a huge fan of picture books, as a child and as an adult. I’m drawn to the incredible artistry and variety of styles you can find in picture books. I appreciate the simplicity of being able to express one moment or story in 32 pages. I used to write and illustrate my own books as a kid, and I don’t think that passion for creating characters and stories ever left me. As a grown-up, I’ve been fortunate to create a career in Children’s TV Animation. While animation is a wonderfully creative and collaborative art form that I love and continue to work in, I wanted to challenge myself to try something new. Writing and illustrating a picture book is a whole new way to share a moment, a relationship, and a story. One of my favorite things to do is to create new characters. I love to come up with silly names, and then create a personality and a form that goes with that name. My animation experience has been invaluable in helping learn how to create a memorable character. Over the past five years or so, I’ve gotten more involved in creating and pitching TV shows and I’ve learned that character is key! If you don’t create a strong character, you’ve got nothing. The character drives the story. Once you’ve got a character that you know really well, you can put them in any situation—in the middle of a blizzard or the middle of a desert and you’ll know exactly how they’ll react.

Ollie & Moon came about while I was visiting my dear friend Sandra in Paris. Sometimes being in a new location stirs up the creative juices. I’d been toiling with two characters, two best friends, (they were actually a cat and a dog at the time) and I was wondering what would happen if they were in Paris together. I wanted to create characters that had child-like qualities that kids could relate to—like wanting to surprise your best friend with something or being overly curious and impatient and wanting to guess your surprise. I’ve also always wanted to try illustrating cartoon characters over photo backgrounds of real places around the world. Sandra makes her living as a photographer, so it was a natural fit. On my flight back to NY, I wrote my first draft of Ollie & Moon on some pieces of scrap paper I found on the plane.

Follow Day 2 of Ms. Kredensor's tour tomorrow at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meet Children's Author, Vikki Ford

I am thrilled to host day one for Children's author Vikki Ford:

Welcome to day one of Vikki Ford’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour. Enjoy your time with Ms. Ford as she provides a glimpse into her creative world.

For years I always wanted to write but never knew how. One day I was studying at Delphi University and I went into a deep meditation. Upon finishing the meditation, I had completed Angel Anya’s Adventures: Angel Anya’s Magic Heart. I suppose you can call that an inspired book from Spirit!

I wanted my family to be a part of this unique spiritual adventure so I utilized both my mother, Mary D. Ford and my daughter Anya’s incredible artistic talents. It is a three generational project of love and heart. Anya’s grandmother is in her 80’s and Anya is just 11.

We all worked on the book with my direction that I wanted the illustrations to look like a child had painted all of the photos. My mother is a gifted artist so she was able to do this along with my gifted daughter.

As a licensed Georgia attorney who has represented children in abuse and neglect cases and as the mother of two beautiful children, one an easy birth and one from the tummy birth, I felt the need to let children know that loves comes from within. They can have love no matter their circumstance.

Children are our gifts and we need to share with them that love gives them their value and their self worth. Regardless of whether they are in foster care, have separated family lives or have the greatest families in the world; they are love.

This book can be read by and shared with people of all religions and those who are spiritual in nature. One needs to know about love and this book helps to open up the magic within each child through their own individual love.

It is written for very young children and my daughter still enjoyed it at 11.

It also opens up the care and love for our animals, those creatures who cannot speak as we do but truly know how to communicate. Our children have these gifts and they need to know that they truly are unique and beautiful just as they are.

A portion of the book profits go to Maps Adoption Agency for they help children from Russia and American find beautiful homes.

My daughter Anya inspired me to write this book because of her heartfelt love for others even though her life started out not so joyously.

I want to write more adventures and eventually would love to have one of the books be about Angel Anya’s Adventures in Russia, a story of adoption. It would be sent to Russian children in their spoken language. Spirit will have to provide for this project I’m sure!

Follow Day 2 of Ms. Ford's tour tomorrow at

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 1 : Meet Children's Author, Donna McDine

I am thrilled to be hosting day one of the NWFCC's April Showcase of Children's authors. This will be one fun and exciting week. Please join me in welcoming today's author.

Welcome to day one of Donna McDine’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour.

Terri, thank you for hosting me on Day 1 as I kick-off my NWFCC April Author Showcase.

My road to becoming a children’s author took quite the different path, one that I wasn’t even sure at the time would lead me to writing for children, but it did. When I was a child, I enjoyed watching the television program, Lou Grant with my dad, and became mesmerized on how a reporter put a story together and I dreamed of becoming a reporter one day. For some reason or another, I did not follow this early dream and worked in administration for several Fortune 500 companies for many years. Not until I came across the Institute of Children’s Literature aptitude test in 2006 did my dream of becoming a writer reawaken.

As for how and why I came to write The Golden Pathway it came through my fascination of history even as a young child. And when I found myself taking up residence (as an adult) in the historical hamlet of Tappan, NY (Rockland County) I became even more enthralled. Coupled with my father’s involvement with the Rockland County Historical Society in creating artist replicas of the numerous historical locations throughout the county I found myself further drawn into the past. Then as a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature I jumped at the chance to develop a historical fiction story about a young southern boy against slavery. And here I am today several years later with my first published children’s book in my hands.

It’s been quite the roller coaster ride and one that I wouldn’t trade in for the world.

Read what reviewers are saying about The Golden Pathway - Http://

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Friday, April 15, 2011

L, M, and N are the letters I am behind on.....

The blog challenge has certainly kept me hopping, and I am behind. My word for L is life. Life seems to get in the way of my writing no matter how hard I try. Is it Satan trying to tempt me away from what I am called to do or is it family demands that just seem to get in the way. No matter, LIFE gets in the way. The important thing is to take life and those situations that postpone the writing time I have and turn them into stories.

 N  is for new. Every morning I can choose to start new writing projects, get a new look on the old ones, and begin a new attitude towards my writing. And some days I have to start over with new goals, a new approach, a new writing plan, NEW, NEW, NEW. Spring is a great time to start NEW things, but don't totally get rid of the old.. Some of those notes hanging around in your office might be the next best seller with just a tweak or two and a NEW approach.

M is for mastering the material. As authors we are the masters of our words. Those of us who are Christian writers answer to a higher Master and although that is a wonderful thing, even that can take us down a road we don't think we should travel. Do we master the subjects that we want to write or do we master material we may not be as familiar with but feel compelled to write and explore because of our Master's plan? Tough questions. M can also stand for money and material things which are also a big distraction for a writer. We are taught and coached to monetize, write what is marketable, and think about sales. Does all that thinking about money change who we are and how we write?

For me it does sometimes influence me. What I think will be a heartwarming children's story comes back critiqued as " there is no market for this type of story" or " put a spin on it to make it more marketable." All good advice but it changes the flow of the words for me when I am thinking about the market rather than the story.

Tips for today:
  • Life gets in the way. Make a way for that to get into your story
  • New ideas should be sought after and put a NEW spin on some of your old stagnant ideas
  • Mastering the material you want to write is important by honing your skills and writing what makes you happy, but marketing is part of the life of a writer.
Master marketing with writing new ideas about life and making every word count. Write for fun, write for money, and write what you are called to write. The three together will make a fascinating  writing career.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Family Movie Night Returns

Check out this movie trailer for Saturday Night Family Night. It looks like a great movie. And FREE. Try staying home this Saturday and spending time together. It might be relaxing and fun. SFC Blog: Families Matter: Family Movie Night Returns: " After a long week of activities, make Saturday night family night. Here is a great family movi..."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

K is the Letter for Today

K is for kids, grandkids, school kids, teenage kids, young adult kids, baby kids, and anyone in between. If it were not for my love of kids of all ages, writing would not be my passion. But I love to see kids of all ages get excited about reading or discussing a book. I love to watch them learn to love a character enough to imitate them with costumes, actions, or quotes.

Kids are why we write. They are what gives us the material to write about. They laugh, cry, and play rowdy. Boys, girls, it doesn't matter. Kids are so much fun to observe and their excitement for life is contagious.

If you are not blessed to have children, you can still write for children by reading about what they read and what they do.  Absorb any child that you come in contact with by making notes about hair, the way they smile, the things they like, and bits of age appropriate conversation and dialog. Teachers, librarians, coaches, all have the golden opportunities to observe and share so have conversations with others who are around children. And read. Read all kinds of books for kids of all ages. See what they read. Visit author websites for tips. Hone your writing skills with a class specific to writing for children, and then put your knowledge to work. Sit down and write. You will be surprised at how rewarding it can be to write for children. Kids love good books whether it is fiction or nonfiction. If it is written with fun and creativity, kids will read it. Publishers will love it, and you will succeed.

Kids are the best. Enjoy the process as you learn what it is that kids want to read. Have fun with it and be creative. Those are the stories that will win the hearts of kids, no matter what age they are.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

J is for Jounaling

Our A to Z challenge is continuing and I am really enjoying trying to focus the blog on a specific topic each day. Today the letter is J. J may stand for many words related to writing for children but I am choosing to have it stand for journal and journaling.

I think keeping a journal is key to being a good writer. Journals can be for writing your personal thoughts and feelings down and that is always helpful in gaining insight. But journals can also be notebooks a writer keeps with character names, funny characteristics the writer doesn't want to forget, quotes, and tidbits of conversation or dialog.

Journals can be organized with tabs for each topic or they can be pages and pages of random thoughts that you might read through when you feel writer's block coming on. I have several journals and not all of them organized. I am truly a creative type because I have random thoughts about characters and scenes at the most inopportune times. When that  happens, I write it down in whatever journal I have with me.

It can take some time to find what it is I need from my journals so I suggest being more organized than I. However, what form you choose to get those details down doesn't matter when it translates into a work of genius later on.

Start a journal today... random or organized. It doesn't matter. What is important is to validate your thoughts and feelings by putting them on the page. It will give you valuable information as you create those lovable characters in those heartwarming scenes later on.

J is for journal... go forth and write. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I is the Next Letter in Our A to Z blog

Illustration done by Award Winning Illustrator Dawn Phillips

I is for illustrations and illustrator. Illustrations enhance a story especially a picture book. Often the illustrations determine if the story will be a hit with the reader or not. If a reader doesn't like the way the illustrations depict the character or if the art work is not appealing, often the story will go unread. One illustration on a cover can make or break a book, and although sometimes that is not fair, often it is true.

What does that mean for the writer? When choosing characters and scenes for a picture book or a children's book that will require some illustrations, the author must picture what the words might look like with illustrations. The words and storyline need to stand alone but be enhanced with illustrations. The illustrations t must show action or give information that is not told in the story. The narrative and the illustrations work together to make the story come alive for the reader.

One of my favorite illustrators is Dawn Phillips. Her illustrations show vibrant color, demonstrate action, and are likeable. They hook the reader into staying on the page, turning the page, and joining the story. That is what good illustrations do for a story. A good illustrator understands what the writer is trying to tell and will work at making the words mean something on an emotional level with their art on the page.
Dawn Phillips is one of those illustrators that "gets it" and can enhance the words of the author. Her work can be seen at . Check it out and you will see what I mean. You may even want to consider her to help bring life into your next book.

 Visit her blog at . She is currently doing a 365 day illustration tour where you can learn even more about the illustration process. I know I learned quite a bit the will help me as a writer and it is such fun looking at how she develops those pictures. Leave her a comment while you are there too, because illustrators are really unsung heros in the book world.

See you tomorrow for the letter J.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Letter H of the A to Z Challenge ?

H stands for Henkes, Kevin  Henkes that is.

The letter H today stands for Kevin Henkes. He is an award winning children's author and someone every writer interested in children should know and follow. His newest book Little White Rabbit is simple yet charming. He is talented and does his own illustrations too.

 He knows how to write tight and to make every word count so he is a fabulous example of what new writers need to learn. His book Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse is another great example of excellent writing. Visit his website for all of his books and some great tips on writing. There is even a video of him illustrating The White Rabbit.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is the Next Letter in Our Challenge- Can You Guess What it Means?

G is for Good old fashioned luck. G is for graphic novels. And G is for the guidance you need to hone your skills, polish your writing,  get your self published, and yes, the good old fashioned luck may play a part in the publishing. Sometimes it is simply being in the right place at the right time.

Tips for success if you are not feeling the good old fashioned luck of the Irish:

1. Goals- Set them and work towards them
2. Guidance- Seek it and follow it, learn from it, and use it to make your writing better
3. Genuine- Be genuine to your self and to your readers
4. Gamble-  Gamble and take some risks with your characters and their actions. Write outside your comfort zone and be a little risky once in a while.
5. Grab- Grab your reader from the very first paragraph no matter if it is fiction or nonfiction. Make your reader care.

And pray for a little good old fashioned luck.

Writing prompt: write 200-400 words using these G words

grab, genius, gesture, glare, glide, glimpse, glitter, globe, gobble.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Letter F is for Fun

The letter F stands for FUN. When writing for children, there needs to be a sense of fun somewhere in the story. If the story is all facts, find a way to interject some fun fact to make it more interesting and less like learning.

If the story is fiction and on a serious topic, you may have more success if you add age appropriate humor somewhere in the story to make it more realistic. Life is serious too but there are periods of time where a little fun can make the moment more meaningful.

If you write for children make certain that you also keep the fun in your writing time. If you don't enjoy the process and are not having fun, it will show in your work.

Writing Prompt:
Use these fun F words to write a 200-400 word story for sixth grade readers. And have some fun with this mini-project.

fathom, ferry, feud, fidelity, flair, fleece, flirt, fluorescent.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Letter E is next....What Can It Mean?

Kids love excitement

Excitement is the word for the letter E today in our challenge. Excitement will show in your writing for children if you are excited about the topic you choose. Children like all kinds of new things but the words must be interesting, fun, active, and in a sense exciting no matter what topic you are writing on.

The challenge then for the author is to choose words that put excitement into topics that may be mundane. Grab words and put them on the page that make the topic jump off the page and into the hearts and minds of children. Kids do not want to be bored and books are competing with active video games, cell phones, and other techie items that will keep them away from reading unless your words are exciting. So today use the word prompts to write a 200-400 word story that oozes of excitement. Try it and see where it takes you.

Word Prompt: Use these E words to write an exciting story.

eclipse, east, earthquake, early, elephant, egg, egret, eight, energy, entrap

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Letter D in the Challenge- Dialog

Dialog or Dialogue depending on which spelling you use means conversation. This is face to face conversation or the written work in the form of conversation.

Dialog is a key element of stories written for children. Here are the tips about dialog that I am still learning to master:
  • Dialog must be realistic
  • Dialog must be purposeful
  • Dialog must move the story along
  • Dialog must be active or show action, emotion, and characteristics of the speaker.
  • Dialog must be strategically placed to not ruin or interrupt a story but to build it up and enhance the drama of the story
  • Dialog must be age appropriate and written like the character would be expected to speak in real life
That is a tall order for the author. A story for children must have conflict, a beginning, middle, and ending and now we have to write in dialog. Wow. And for my part, I like it to be written correctly so children reading it will learn from it.

How does a new writer learn this skill?

Read, practice, read, practice, and study how successful authors have accomplished this skill. It is not learned overnight. It does take a bit of learning. Practice writing dialog with your next story. Read it out loud to see if it flows and sounds natural. Put the piece away for a few days then re-read it to see if it still flows. Now check to see if it moves the story along. That's how you do it.

Ps. You must know your characters well to know how they will speak before you can attempt to write their conversations in the form of written dialog.

Writing prompt: D words for 3rd graders. Write a 200-400 word story with these D words and try to include a bit of dialog.

decisions, decorate, delight, diary, display, double,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to The Letter C of the Alphabet Blog Challenge

The picture is courtesy of a writer friend on Facebook. I hope he doesn't mind but cat is a C word and the picture is adorable.

Writing for children is no different than writing for adults when it comes to constructing a good story. Books for children need Conflict in the story to keep the readers interested.

 Conflict is my C word today because it is one of my areas of  "need for improvement" in my stories for children. It ranks right up there with writing bold. I imagine serious situations with intense conflict but I don't necessarily portray that intensity in my stories because of my lack of boldness. I again fear worrying parents, giving kids ideas they may not already have, and basically ( here I am inserting my boldness) don't want to piss off school board members if my stories should ever be in school libraries.

What is wrong with my thinking?
  • First, I don't even have a book in the school library
  • Second, I need to quit equating conflict for not being perfect. Characters have flaws. I have flaws. Life is not perfect.
  • Thirdly, and this is the most important to me. I need to get over my fears of ( here I go again with the bold thing) pissing people off including family, friends, or colleagues who might assume I am writing about them.
  • Fourth- I really hate using bad words. Somehow when they slip out of the mouth they don't seem as obnoxious as when I see them spelled out. I just don't like writing that way.
I feel so refreshed and ready to write bold with a good old fashioned conflict now that I have that spelled out in black and white. I still don't think I can write too many bad words though which might pose a problem because last time I talked with teens, they use words like that in every sentence. Wish me luck.

Writing prompt: C words for K-2 Write a 200-400 article or story with these C words from the Children's Writer's Word Book

creep, coyote, clay, claw, climb, catch, came, call, cap,cat,

Notice the action words in the list. See what you can do with this list and feel free to share it with us.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter B in Day 2 of the A to Z Challenge.


Is your writing BOLD. Are you afraid to write BOLD characteristics into your characters or storyline? How about a BOLD setting? The dictionary defines bold as daring, fearless, audacious, very free in behaviors, or impudent.

When I was young, if you were Bold it was compared to rude, being a trouble maker, or worse yet... a bad influence to be around. It ranked right up there with another B word that I will not use here.  To this day it takes work for me to make my characters BOLD. I get physically blocked when it comes to writing outside of my safe zone and into the BOLD side of the writing arena.

And here is the aspect of writing for children that is more difficult than writing for adults in my opinion. I do not want to be the author that influences a young reader to do bad things just because they read my words. It doesn't matter that the character needs to be in a dangerous situation or say a few naughty words to make the point of the story, it is still hard for me to put those things in black and white and on paper for my mother to see.

Wow, was that a confession or what? I think BOLD thoughts, and I imagine my characters in BOLD situations because I know that is real life... but I still have to make a conscious effort to write it that way. Yet in my heart I believe that I would be more successful in writing to the hearts of children if I could be BOLD when I write.

How will you add BOLD to your characters today?

Writing prompt for today:

Use these B words for the 4th -6th grade reading level to write a 200-400 word BOLD story.

brew, bravado, bonnet, bondage, bugle, bustle, brisk, brute,

I am going to go forth and write something BOLD.
Hope you are enjoying the challenge so far. Be sure to share your comments and email your stories so we can learn from each other as we hone our skills as writers for children.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A-Z Blog Challenge for April

I have seen this challenge on many writing blogs and I am not certain where it originated but I am tossing my hat in the ring to try to accomplish this challenge for all of my blogs and my website this month. What a great way to have a direction for posts, try to gather new followers, and be inspired to search for new ideas beginning with letters from the alphabet.

This blog may have lost it's focus in the past and readers may not be able to figure out what it is they can gain here. This month I will attempt to get a clearer focus for the blog so here goes.

A is for align. The meaning according to the dictionary is to bring into a straight line or to bring into agreement. How does your daily writing life align with your writing goals? A is also for accomplish and accomplishment. The dictionary defines that as to complete, or what has been completed. How do your writing goals align with your accomplishments?

Are you seeing a pattern here? This blog is for those who want to write and those who specifically want to write for children. The goal then for this blog should be to align the posts in a way that helps the reader write better to the hearts of children.

Seems simple doesn't it. The hard truth is that writing for children is one of the most difficult jobs to accomplish.  The other hard truth is that it is the most rewarding job a writer can do if their passion is to reach the hearts of children.

The focus of this blog will be to continue to feature great children's authors as examples of success. It will also be to offer tips, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration to those who write for children. I will have affiliate links to some great writing classes and clubs that I have benefited from and those that I think you may enjoy. I will offer writing prompts to spark your own writing. In general, I want to be another tangible source of information that you can take away to improve your writing life and to keep you inspired

Take a good look at how your writing life aligns with your accomplishments. Do you need to tweak things up a bit? Stay tuned for more ways to do just that.

Today's writing prompt: Use these A words to write a 200-400 short story for children.

Alpaca, ask, ate, aboard, addition, alarm, aid, airport, Arctic, avocado

These words are for grades 1-3 from the Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner. This is a wonderful resource for those who want to write for children and their grade level and reading ability. Everyone who writes for children should have a copy.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: World of Ink Tour For Children's Authors: Judy Sni...

Join the fun, click to read about Author Judy Snider and her new book for kids. SFC Blog: Families Matter: World of Ink Tour For Children's Authors: Judy Sni...: " Author, Judy Snider  Please join me in welcoming Judy Snider as our guest today. She offers a first hand look at how she writes...."


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