Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Back to School for Writers

Now that the kids have gone back to school, why don’t you? If you find yourself filled with ideas for children’s books and would love to write picture books, middle grade or young adult novels – what’s holding you back? Do you have a manuscript in the works, but you’re not sure if you’re helping […]

Backstory Basics

Backstory can be essential to understanding a character and his/her journey. It can deepen conflict, reveal motivation and elicit sympathy for a hero or secondary character. But… Nothing can kill pacing faster than an info-dump of backstory, especially in the first half of a novel.  So when and how best to include it? Here are 5 […]

Manuscript Mentoring: The Children’s Lit Fellows Program

“What I need is someone who will make me do what I can.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Would you like to finish a middle grade or YA novel, or complete four picture books by the end of next year, and start submitting to agents and editors?  What if you could be mentored by award-winning children’s […]

Is it YA or Middle Grade?

Many aspiring children’s book authors are confused about the difference between young adult (YA) and middle grade novels.  Aren’t all teens and pre-teens young adults?  But within the industry, middle grade and YA are two totally separate genres, and it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two, to know where your manuscript fits […]

Secondary Characters

Whether your manuscript is a picture book or novel, it can be tempting to create a wide variety of supporting characters to help tell your story.  But too many characters can be hard for young readers to keep track of, and can dilute the focus.  So how do you decide which secondary characters to keep? […]

Editing with a Jewelers Loupe

I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing middle grade and YA author Maryrose Wood last night for our Wednesday night Writers Speak series at Stony Brook Southampton. Maryrose is everything you might wish the author of a delightfully satirical and superbly written series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place to be… smart, witty, […]

Pay No Attention to That Writer Behind the Curtain!

One of my favorite speakers at the 2013 SCBWI winter conference was Mo Willems. No surprise, he’s also one of my favorite writers, and illustrators. Among the many witty, wise and irreverent pieces of writing advice he shared was this: “Be Invisible.” Hard to believe, but apparently, Mo once received a review that spoke of […]

The Series Series, Part 5: Tracking Settings

In the last post, we looked at building, developing and maintaining the continuity of characters within a series. Now let’s look at the same thing with respect to setting. The key to creating an evocative setting – whether real or fantasy – is to incorporate the senses. Many writers describe only what can be seen […]

The Series Series, Part 4: Continuity

Despite scrupulous editing, some of the most successful series of all time feature notable inconsistencies.  For example, in Eragon, book one of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, the character of Murtagh has brown hair – but in Eldest and Brisingr, he has black hair.  J.K. Rowling is the first to admit to the many discrepancies in […]

The Series Series, Part 2: Starting a Series

It took us thirteen drafts to figure out the best way to start the Very Fairy Princess series: with a “day in the life of…” establishing story.  Once we had introduced the character and  her world, other story ideas seemed to flow more easily.  The first book in the Dumpy the Dump Truck tells the story of […]

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