August 31, 2012

Writer's News

Today Children’s Writer’s World shares publication news and two worthwhile links.  I will be taking a vacation this Monday.  Have a happy and safe Labor Day! 

Dancing With Bears Publishing:
This August, editor Bobbie Shafer announces DWB Publishing will no longer produce picture books.  The website has yet to post this new policy.

Guardian Angel Kids e-zine:
Here is a link for the e-zine’s 2013 theme list:

Horn Book
Promoting good books for children and young adults is the heart of The Horn Book’s editorial mission. Archived here are annotated lists of recommended titles.

August 27, 2012

Don't Give Up

As I look over my nonfiction submission log for Stories for Children Magazine, I see that a few writers received a rejection.  When I send a rejection, I give those writers ideas on how to improve their work.  Writers are encouraged to send their revision to me.  Yet, these writers rarely submit again.  And I can't figure out why.

Maybe they feel totally discouraged or they feel that it would take up too much time to revise. What they fail to understand that if an editor has taken time to make suggestions, they should try again.  Giving up should not be an option.  Writers have some choices. They can revise their article exactly as suggested.  They can use some of the editor's suggestions to make their work stronger.  They can submit the piece to a different editor, revised or not.   

Keep in mind that many times, rejections are subjective.  And, few writers are immune to them.  Famous authors like J. K. Rowling and Theodor Geisel had their share of rejections.  Rejection rarely indicates that your work is not good.  In some cases, a rejection just means the editor already has a similar piece on hand.  Other times, a writer might receive a rejection if the concept is too advanced for the intended age group.   A rejection might be given if the article has failed to meet the guidelines.  

The key to remember when you receive a rejection is: don’t stop writing.  Writing for children means you've got to persevere.   After the sting of rejection has worn off, get back to work.   Learn from the rejection, especially if an editor has offered ways for improving the piece. Strive to improve and submit your work again.   

August 20, 2012

Writing and Inspiration

Today, Children's Writer's World presents a guest blog by author Maggie Lyons.

Sometimes, asking writers what inspires them is like asking people how they got their big toes. They don’t know. The toes just sprouted. Some ideas fly in from outer space. Other ideas pop up if I ask the what-if questions: What if he did that? What if she said that? What I can tell you with some certainty about my middle-grade adventure story Vin and the Dorky Duet is that I wanted to write a quest story, that very old genre describing the exploits of an optimistic adventurer who sets out on an apparently impossible mission. I’m addicted to challenges—which I admit I don’t always meet.

I was trained as a classical pianist and music has always been my favorite language, a refuge. Vin, my twelve-year-old main character, is learning to play the trumpet, one of the most difficult musical instruments. So he is battling with a challenge from the start, long before taking up his sister’s challenge to befriend a nerdy boy he doesn’t like and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother. 

As a writer, I’m challenged to encourage reluctant readers to turn a few pages. I’d be thrilled if my books succeed on that level because enthusiasm for reading as a child is critical to success as an adult.  I’ve always loved words, so perhaps it’s not surprising I would eventually try stringing a few together. I started out as a nonfiction writer in the business world where inspiration wasn’t an issue. I wrote on whatever topic marketing and public relations demanded. I got the urge to write fiction for children because I’ve always been fascinated by the humor and creative freedom that bubbles out of children’s literature.  I hope my stories reflect that exuberance too.

About Maggie:

Maggie Lyons is a writer and editor who was born in Wales and crossed the pond to Virginia. With no regard for the well-being of her family and neighbors, she trained as a classical pianist. Then came a career of putting rear ends on seats—that is, orchestral management, marked by reams of marketing and fundraising writing and program note scribbling for audiences whose first priority was usually to find their names in the donors’ lists. Editing for academic publishers also brought plenty of satisfaction. Maggie admits she has a fondness for nerds—but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book miraculously appeared in Stories for Children Magazine and knowonder! magazine. She hopes her stories encourage reluctant young readers to turn a page or two.

Her books:
Vin and the Dorky Duet is a middle-grade adventure story available as an e-book at MuseItUp Publishing’s bookstore (MuseItYoung section), on Amazon  at , and as a paperback at Halo Publishing International at Another middle-grade adventure story, Dewi and the Seeds of Doom will be released as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing in October. Halo Publishing International will release the paperback. More information at:, and


Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win FREE books! There will be up to 3 winners during this Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway*.  All you have to do is enter the giveaway below.

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About the book: Magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters erupt when an inventive seventh-grader meets a challenge to win a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey if he can befriend an unsociable nerd and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother.

August 13, 2012

Editorial Calendars

You're dying to write an article for children.  But you don't know where to begin or what to write about.  You're stuck.  Brain freeze sets in.

Relax.  Let me offer you a good place to start:  take a look at the editorial calendars of potential markets. Editorial calendars are usually found on the guidelines page of a publishing company's website.  Here you'll find a list of themes and the month and year in which those themes will be published.  In some cases, editors have listed possible topics.  Take for example the theme “Age of Exploration” as listed for Appleseeds Magazine.  The editors state they’d be interested in seeing ship builders, sail makers, map makers, and explorers.  Think of all of the possibilities just from this one theme!

When I glance at the editorial calendars from different magazines,I find that many of the themes are broad.  For instance a couple of years ago, Appleseeds Magazine listed  “horses” on the editorial calendar.  You could write about a particular breed, horses in history, horses helping people, and so on.  But the key to catching an editor's eye is to find a specific and a unique facet of the topic.  In this case, I found a unique subject—a candy-loving Kentucky Derby horse. This unusual horse and his story impressed the editor and I was awarded a contract to write the piece.  

An editorial calendar gives you ideas that you may not have thought of before.  When you review the themes, think about a topic that interests you and has the potential to interest kids.  Ponder how can you make this topic exceptional.  Consider how you’d research the topic.  Afterward, think about where you will submit such an article.  You can pitch to the publication that has presented the theme.  Or you can use the topic for a piece that can be submitted to a different magazine.

If you’re not quite ready to begin researching, writing, and submitting an article, simply keep a list of all of the topics for future reference.  Check the editorial calendars throughout the year to see if any have been updated.  Review your list and brainstorm other closely related topics.  In time, you’ll never be short on ideas.

August 6, 2012

Give an Editor Your Very Best

You've written a great picture book story.  You've had it reviewed by a writing partner or by a critique group.  Are you ready to submit it to a publisher?  Probably not yet.  Your work must be carefully edited.  Everything has to be just right.  You must use good grammar and have no punctuation mistakes.  Your story must have good pacing, sound structure, and a unique plot.  The story arc should blend voice and characterization with strong writing.  

If you’ve met these goals, you’re probably ready to approach a publisher.  But if you’re not sure if your manuscript is good enough to submit, you might need to invest a little money and time.  Here are four ways to help you improve your manuscript before you send it to a publisher:   

1. Invest in grammar books like The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White and a thesaurus like The Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner.

2. Take classes that focus on writing for children, either locally or online.  Writer’s Digest offers some amazing webinars.

3. Read books about the craft of writing for children. For starters, check out Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.

4. Familiarize yourself with books that you’d like to write.  Read them for enjoyment, to be inspired and to help you hone your craft.

Editors are looking for your best work.  They expect you to carefully edit and proofread your submission.  They expect you to submit a piece that is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Most editors maintain that manuscripts with punctuation and spelling errors, or otherwise poorly written or edited submissions will not be considered. 

Unless you have a special relationship with an editor who is willing to help you revise your manuscript, it’s up to you to edit your work.  So learn as much as you can about the craft of writing for children.  Be patience and persevere.  Then give an editor your very best.