July 30, 2012

In No Particular Order

The bibliography is one of the first things I look at when I receive a submission.  I review the sources used and check how well the bibliography is formatted.  Recently I received a submission with a bibliography that shocked me.  The author submitted a nonfiction article with a strangely composed bibliography.  The sources —titles only—were listed in random order.  Come on.  A bibliography has to have order.  It's called alphabetical order.

This is not the first submission that I’ve received that had a poor bibliography.  Many times, authors are careless in writing the bibliography.  Words are misspelled; titles are not capitalized; punctuation is missing; formatting is incorrect.  These errors however, are more common than a bibliography composed in no particular order.

In most cases, nonfiction submissions for children’s magazines are required to include a bibliography.  Stories for Children Magazine only requires three sources, two of which can be Internet sources.  So, composing a short bibliography is not hard.  Still, even with only a few sources, the bibliography has to be formatted correctly.

Most magazine editors make their preferences known for formatting in their guidelines.  Some editors prefer the Chicago Style.  The University of Chicago Press has created the Chicago Manual of Style, which provides guidelines for citing sources as well as for formatting papers.  Other editors like the MLA Style (the Modern Language Association) which is used primarily for subjects related to the humanities and liberal arts, such as literature, mass communications, and media studies.

When writing nonfiction for children, always include a properly formatted bibliography with good sources. It may be the first thing an editor looks at. If you've spent time researching and writing an article, make sure that an appropriate bibliography accompanies your work. Visit the MLA organization's website on the Internet or refer to a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style if you have doubts about citing sources.  With a little practice, you'll be formatting bibliographies with ease and perfection.

July 23, 2012

Letting Work Die, All Yellow

As nonfiction editor for Stories for Children Magazine, I keep a log of all submissions.  The log is divided into months and each submission is color-coded.  Green is for a Phase I acceptance, blue is for a Phase II acceptance, and magenta is for the most-sought after Phase III acceptance.

More colors describe various points in the submission process.  Orange means the submission is still being considered.  Red is for rejection (there aren’t too many of these!) and yellow means that a Phase I or II acceptance is likely if some edits are made. 

As I glance at my log, I have many green, blue, and magenta submissions.  But I have way too many yellow submissions, the ones that need just a little editing.  And yet, most of these submissions have remained yellow for months.  Many writers don't revise and re-submit.

The yellow-highlighted submissions have promise, and I’d like to see them published. But if a writer refuses to edit, then it's a waste of time for the both of us—the author has spent time researching and writing the piece and I have spent time reading the submission and making thoughtful suggestions.

Editing is an important part of writing for children.  Most of the suggestions I make are easy to implement.  I might ask to correct grammar.  Or, I might like to see another source.  So it's hard to conceive why anyone would walk away from work that was once deemed worthy of submission.  It's a shame letting a submission "die" all yellow on my log.

July 16, 2012

Out and About at the Zoo

Today, Jo Linsdell reveals the story behind her picture book.

Like most kids, my son loves animals. I got the idea for my children's picture book Out and About at the Zoo after taking him to the zoo for the first time. He'd been asking me why I hadn't written a book for him and I figured he made a good point. I decided to make the text rhyming as they were his favourite types of books.

He was a big help throughout the whole process. As you can imagine of a 4- year old, he wasn't shy about giving feedback. He was also an eager audience when I needed to read through the text. He loved being able to be involved in my work for a change and asked a lot of questions. It was actually really helpful as it made me think about the project from a different angle and kept my target reader as the focus of the book.

He helped me with the illustration part, too. He had great fun helping me create the animals for the book. We researched together to find pictures of the animals I needed, using our own photos from our trip to the zoo and pictures we found in books and on the Internet. Every illustration included in the book was given his seal of approval... and trust me he was very demanding. If it didn't look right to him it was re-drawn.

Involving my son in the project made everything more fun. He would often ask "Mummy did you finish that picture yet?" or "Is the book ready now?" which was great for motivating me to work on it. This book definitely holds a very special place in my heart.

Synopsis:  Rhyming text and colourful pictures accompany this fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.
About the author:
Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer, author and illustrator. Originally from the UK, she now lives in RomeItaly with her husband and their two young sons.
Author website: www.JoLinsdell.com
Release Date: 1st June 2012

Product details:

ISBN/EAN13: 1477446591 / 9781477446591
Page Count: 32
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6" x 9"
Language: English
Colour: Full Colour with Bleed
Related Categories: Juvenile Fiction / Stories in Verse

Purchasing Links:

Contact details:
Email: webmaster@jolinsdell.com
Reviews: 5 Stars: "Out and About at the Zoo is a cute book that describes a child's memory-filled trip to the zoo. Are you heading to the zoo and you would like to tell your kids what animals they will see there and what they might be doing? Then Out and About at the Zoo would be a great choice. Easy to understand and easy for children to read along with. It is filled with simple yet colorful pictures that even help my one-year old's attention. Would also make a good gift for young readers who are just beginning to read!
By Virginia L. Jennings, author
5 Stars "Out and About at the Zoo by Jo Linsdell is a delightful story set in rhyme about a boy and his mum.  The two spend the day at the zoo and meet many animals along the way. Your child will enjoy reading this book time and time again. The colorful illustrations make this book a joy to read. Pick up a copy of this book and share a day at the zoo memory with your little one."
By Kate Mueller, Author of Bella's Birthday Surprise  

July 15, 2012


Writeoncon is a great way to learn more about the craft of writing for children.  This year, the conference features literary agents Cheryl Pientka, Daniel Lazar, Peter Knapp, Michelle Humphrey, Mollie Glick, Emily Keyes, Sarah Davies, and Katie Grimm.  This program will have industry professionals in the forums, looking at query letters, pitches, and anything else they want.  And it's free!  I participated last year and loved it.

The online conference will be held on August 14 - 15.  For more information check out:

July 9, 2012

Blog Tip and Writer's articles

Today Children’s Writer’s World shares two articles and a blogging tip.  Enjoy!

Horn Book June 26th:
Profile of Kadir Nelson author of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Writer’s Digest June 24th
 “4 Keys to Writing Un-Put-Down-Able Middle Grade Adventure”

Blogging Tip   http://savvyblogging.net/5-simple-seo-tips/

July 1, 2012


As stated in my blog earlier this year, the Maggie Project has been completed.  I submitted my picture book Maggie and the First Grade Blues to 30 publishers and 15 agents.  I also entered the story in 5 contests.

Though it had received three awards, had been favorably critiqued, and had piqued the interest of a publisher, I’ve decided to put the story on the back burner for the time being.  I will be working on other stories that will be submitted to literary agents and editors.

The blog that will replace the Maggie Project Blog is: 
Children's Writer's World (www.childrenswritersworld.blogspot.com)
I will blog about writing projects and writer's news, offer writing advice and insights from the viewpoint of an editor and as a writer, review books, and host guest blogs—all devoted to writing for children.  Please leave a comment if you're interested in writing a guest blog or if you have suggestions for future blog posts.

Writing for children is a journey of twists and turns.  It's a path of challenges (editing, rejection, writer's block) and surprises (acceptances, publication, awards).  It's a journey that writers lovingly embrace in order to give children good stories to read and to enjoy.  I invite you to tag along.