Teaching Through Books with Molly Nero

What captivates our young people these days?  Stories.  Yes, stories, but not the stories in books like we remember.  Kids today are enamored by the digital device that is held in their hands or sitting in front of them as they play games to a STORY!  Every video game made has some kind of plot, conflict, characters, and our kids are in charge of creating the outcome by the video “ability” they possess after hour upon hour of “gaming”.  Fight it if you want, but I think relating it to stories you read in books is much more productive.  You are creating a bridge between the “old school” reading and the “techno” gaming of today.  Teaching lessons through books helps validate their importance and value.

Books give us an amazing teaching tool, especially when dealing with social issues.  I’m a big advocate of creating purpose for skills being taught by relating them to real life experiences kids can connect to.  Books help you in this process.  When teaching the skill of cause and effect, the youngest learners can grasp this concept when reading a story about a boy who jumps on his bed.  You ask something as simple as what happened because he jumped on his bed?  The answer is he fell through the floor.  You have a story that kids are hooked into because what kid doesn’t jump on his bed?  But the follow through with the skill is taught through the story; therefore he fell through the floor.  Books offer such enrichment to a lesson with their pictures walking the children through a story depicting a needed skill.  Social issues, friend problems, acceptance, and rejection are all subjects easier for kids to learn and process with books, since you are reading about someone else and someone else’s problems, not theirs.  Teaching division?  Drawing cookies on the board is okay, but reading about a boy sharing the cookies on his tray as more and more friends come is relatable to your students.  Every kid has to share at some point and who doesn’t want to share with their friends?  Another great book helping you teach a difficult skill with a story.

Stories are a huge part of our kids’ lives though media and gaming.  Books need to be as predominate, so use them to teach with.  No matter what the skill; there is a book to help you teach it.

About the author: Molly Nero loves to sing, dance and read. She spent over 18 years teaching elementary school. Reading to her own children, she was inspired to write. The second book in the Smarty Pig book series Smarty Pig and the Test Taking Terror releases in Spring 2012.

Smarty Pig is the only one in the pig family who hasn’t given up on school and doing her homework. Although she is teased, her report card shows her hard work, while the others fail. The other pigs reach out to her and she becomes their tutor, by creating games in their home. They all realize learning can be fun and that it’s not just for school, it’s for life.

Get a sneak peek of the book at  http://youtu.be/E2L_NS2QqgM

You can find out more about Molly Nero’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/MollyNero.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Nero and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

To Cap or Not to Cap

A couple years ago, I participated in an impromptu editors’ discussion (via email) on the rules for capitalization of titles. We were trying to reach a consensus in terms of our in-house standard (we all worked for a small publisher).

Titles such as president and secretary general can cause much confusion over whether or not to capitalize. However, The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) contains explicit guidelines on the topic. For instance, consider the president of the United States. The following lists the correct usage of capitalization (or not):

-          The president of the United States (unless used formally, such as in a citation or an introduction)

-          President Barack Obama

-          Barack Obama, president of the United States

-          U.S. president Barack Obama
Another variation might be “the president Obama,” although I doubt that particular phrase is ever used.
Now let’s look at Captain Crunch (just for fun). If used as a substitute for Crunch’s name in a direct address, “Captain” is capitalized, e.g. “Hand me the spoon, Captain. We’re taking on milk.” But in general reference, he is simply “the captain.”
One aspect of the online debate that generated some discussion was the question of parents, e.g. when and if you should capitalize “mom” and “dad.” In the end, we agreed to treat the terms as titles. By that standard, when “mom” or “dad” was used in place of a person’s name in direct address, it should be capitalized. By contrast, if a term was used in indirect reference, it should not be capitalized.

-          “Hey, mom, where did Sarah’s Dad go?”  INCORRECT

-          “Hey, Mom, where did Sarah’s dad go?”  CORRECT
The CMS contains several pages of examples that can answer most capitalization questions…and any other usage and style questions you might have. The 16th Edition is currently available from Amazon.com for less than $36 US. That just might be the best $36 you spend this year.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.

How to Write and Publish Your Own eBooks with Jim Edwards

I'm a big fan of creating your own information products, as long as it's one of your writing goals, or if it can be profitable. And, while simply writing an ebook is pretty easy, to make it become profitable is another story.

I don't recommend products too often, for ONE primary reason: I have to trust the author of the product. Meaning I have to know the individual provides quality information and fulfills his/her promises.

The second reason I limit my recommendations is I need to make sure the price is reasonable (to the majority of us) and what you receive is worth more than what you pay.

I've been following Jim Edwards, reading his content, attending his webinars, and have purchased his products - he delivers on his promises.

So, I'm recommending How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook… in as Little as 7 Days V2.0

Click Here! to see all the information Jim will teach you on writing, publishing, and selling your own ebooks.

And, here's a bit on Jim's qualifications:

You need a proven expert to guide you straight through the process… with no bull. Jim Edwards has helped well over 1,000 authors write, publish and promote their ebooks, print books, and audio books!

Jim is a 10-year veteran newspaper columnist and author whose reputation for writing and promoting ebooks online is legendary!

•    Just one of Jim’s ebook info-products made him $45,000 in only 3 months!
•    Over the last 14 years, Jim has published several best-selling ebooks – including “Selling Your Home Alone”, “The TEN Dirty Little Secrets of Mortgage Financing”, and “Turn Words Into Traffic”.
•    Jim recently made $7,704.37 in one week with a single ebook… and what makes that even more amazing is he didn’t even promote it – someone else did!
•    Authors have paid Jim as much as $6,000 to consult with him about their ebooks and info-products!
•    In fact, an ebook-based information product Jim created went over $90,000 in sales in less than 5 months!
You need step-by-step details spelled out quickly! … by a real-world expert who can teach you the ropes.

Over the last 14 years, Jim has written, created and sold *millions of dollars* in ebooks and info-products online.  He has helped thousands of authors.

ClICK HERE TO CHECK OUT How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook… in as Little as 7 Days V2.0

While I have my own ebook on 'how to create and sell ebooks,' Jim has lots and lots more information, instructions, and tips to effectively teach you how to quickly and profitably turn out your own best selling ebook through this ground-breaking, completely revised NEW ebook course!

For a more in depth information on what you'll learn and to get your copy now,

This is an introductory offer of $29, and I'm not sure how long it will last. The regular selling price will be $49. So, if you're thinking about it, buy now.

To check out my writing and marketing ebooks go to:

eBooks on Writing

eBooks on Marketing

Learn about writing and marketing with Karen Cioffi at http://karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com. Sign up for her free newsletter, A Writer’s World, and get TWO free site-related e-books for subscribing, and ONE more just for stopping by. For professional and affordable writing services (for businesses and individuals) check out http://dkvwriting4u.com

My Life as a Writer

My Life as a Writer

by Nancy Carty Lepri 

My biggest dream has always been to become an author. An avid reader since a toddler, books have been a constant, a friend and an escape. I cannot comprehend living without the written word. To me, reading is second only to breathing. From cereal boxes to fiction, I devour everything and anything I can get grab. I read in the morning while eating breakfast to at night before going to sleep. Some of my favorite genres include contemporary women’s novels and thrillers. 

I guess this love of books is what propelled me to become a writer. The fact that I am always talking, thinking and plotting does not take away from this ambition. I have a need to create and to put into words feelings, thoughts and desires. 

To me, books should present a diversion from the stresses of everyday, a way to relax and unwind. We are filled with horrors around us. Just pick up a newspaper or turn on the nightly news and realize crime is rampant. Novels can carry one away to another place, to forget, for a short time at least, all that is going on in life. Any type of reading stimulates the brain and give a change of pace. Children require fantasy and play, and adults also need a break from reality. 

An author’s career is lonely and often times tedious. Writing requires discipline and perseverance, a thick skin and the knowledge of the difficulty of getting published. For every wanna-be writer, many give up or fail. I kept trying with the burning desire to succeed, and I could not go through life wondering "what if." I needed to try. 

My first writing experience started as a freelance reporter for a small, now defunct, tabloid. Almost twenty years ago, the newspaper, “The Tightwad Times,” was introduced to southeastern Massachusetts where I had lived. I submitted two articles for each of the three months the paper was published. The first month, I was assigned to cover a bridal show and write an article on how to prepare an elegant, yet inexpensive wedding. Some other commentaries with the exception of one were written from telephone interviews. Two local Cape Cod newspapers gave me assignments for various topics, and realized this is an excellent way to get one’s feet wet as a writer. I found reporting is gratifying, but recognized this was not the type of writing I wanted to pursue. 

My goal was to write fiction. Whether creating short stories or "the great American novel," I enjoy make believe and conjuring up fictitious people and tales about their lives. Though I prefer genres geared to adults, I decided to try crafting a children’s chapter book. I first started working on this in 1995, writing by the seat of my pants. After reading the extremely rough draft, I recognized the text was a mish-mash of information haphazardly thrown together which was too much for children to digest. I broke up the ideas, planning to turn them into a four-book series. 

Unfortunately, life took over with the need to shelve the work for a while. After my husband and I moved to North Carolina, I returned to reporting, receiving several assignments for the “Wilmington Magazine” and two national and international food-trade magazines, which proved to be monetarily rewarding. 

Nevertheless, I kept returning to the children who wanted to have their story told. The desire to polish and submit the manuscript for publication. I fortunately become a member of a wonderful critique group that offered support as well as excellent suggestions. Tiny Angel, a chapter book geared to ages 8 – 12, was accepted by Guardian Angel Publishing and released in November 2009. The sequel, Tommy’s Amigo is almost completed for submission, and to this, I hope to add two to three more to this series, though all books can stand alone. 

Meanwhile, four unfinished adult contemporary novels are calling to me, and I plan to get to them one day. Between writing, reading, reviewing and being with family I enjoy a busy and fulfilling life. I may never become well-known, but my dream is satisfied. I encourage anyone who desiring to write to “just do it.” 

If you enjoyed my article, please check out my website: http://nancycl.webs.com and feel free to make a comment.



Fulfilling your dream of being a professional writer can be especially difficult when you feel pressured to live up to other people’s expectations or desires. Well-intentioned parents and teachers often tell their children how to think, feel, and act in an effort to help kids fit in and avoid life’s disappointments. For example, youngsters are often told things such as “You are the pretty one and your sister is the athletic one.” As a result, the child who might have grown up to be an excellent basketball player instead focuses solely on maintaining her physical appearance. Or maybe your mother always wanted to be a lawyer but never seized the opportunity. As a result, mom relentlessly attempts to live her dream through you, even though you are now fifty years old and have no interest in attending law school. These unrealistic expectations that we feel pressured to live up to are frequent triggers for emotional paralysis, writer’s block, and life dissatisfaction. One of the first steps in fulfilling your inner writer is uncovering and releasing the expectations of others and reclaiming your own life.

We have tiny voices in our heads that repeat instructions and warnings we learned a long time ago. Some of these voices implore “Money does not grow on trees:” “Writers are poor and long suffering.” or “Nothing good comes easy.” Often times these old tapes play in our heads and prevent us from living spontaneously and learning new things. These voices may have served us at some point in our lives but often become ways that hold us back from living the inspired ,meaningful life we desire. This week, make a list of ten statements that you tell yourself that no longer serve you or support your writing goals. Replace each item on your list with a new belief that you want to incorporate into your life. For example, perhaps you were taught “People who are wealthy do dishonest and deceitful things to get rich.” Discard this old belief and replace it with a new one such as “When I am living my purpose, money flows easily and effortlessly into my life.”

Now take the list of the ten statements that no longer serve you and hold it in your hands. It is important that you remove this list from your life to make room for your writing project to unfold. A great way to do this is to bury the list or burn it in a safe manner. Or you may choose to attach the list to a helium balloon and release it into the sky. As you watch your list disappear from your life, feel the weight of other’s expectations being liberated from your soul.

Aileen McCabe-Maucher is a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist and registered nurse who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. Aileen has fifteen years of experience providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. She is a graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Widener University, University of Delaware, and The Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia at Bryn Mawr College. Aileen studied yoga and the chakra system at The Yoga Lifestyle Center in Paoli, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the book, The Inner Peace Diet, which was published by Penguin/ Alpha Books and released nationwide on December 2, 2008. Aileen can be reached via email at innerpeacediet@gmail.com

A sample of Aileen's first book,The Inner Peace Diet, can be found here:



Self-editing is something every writer should do, but it means knowing how to do it. Every writer should have a good book in their library, but it shouldn't just sit on the shelf. Get it out often and use it. I like to get my book down and go through it every so often whether or not I'm doing any self-editing just for reinforcement.

A good book on self-editing will tell you not to do any editing until you have your first draft completed. Because writing and editing are two different mind sets, it's hard to concentrate on both at the same time, hence causing you not to do a complete or proper job of either process. So the right order is to write the first draft of your book first and then do your self-editing.

A thorough self-editing includes it all: grammar, punctuation, structure, dialog, point of view, interior monologue, beats, tributes, rhythm voice, and characterization. Are there any conflicting areas in your manuscripts? Do your characters sound and feel real? Do you have areas where you tell when you should be showing? Does your plot flow and have the ability to hold the readers' attention? And do you have a balance between your narrative and dialogue? I could probably think of some more points/questions you should ask yourself, but these are enough to give you an idea of the point to self-editing.

Now I know what you are thinking. But I have an editor to do my editing for me! That's true in most cases, but your book will be more polished if you edit your manuscript yourself first and then let an editor go over it again. A first-time author will sound less amateurish , and an experienced author will sound like the experienced writer he/she is..

Sound like a lot of work? You bet it is! But it could pay off in the long run.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of To Tell the Truth
Upcomng books: The Bible Murders
                           Sarah's Secret

Six Tips for Keeping Active

Keeping active is not only good practice for health-obsessed silver surfers but also for aspiring writers. And just as students of all keep-fit disciplines exercise daily, so writers should also do their daily dozen.

  • Keep on top of those verbs. Active verbs are the strongest muscle you have when it comes to powerful writing. Replace verbs like come and go with a stronger verb to give a more precise definition of the movement: march, stride, race, sidle scuttle, pace.
  • Use stronger verbs. It will do away with any temptation you have to insert adverbs willy-nilly to clarify your meaning. I'm not advocating a blanket ban on adverbs but I am stamping my high heels cruelly onto the pernicious advice which encourages beginners to use phrases like  in a quiet voice instead of simply saying quietly.    
  • He spoke in a quiet voice? What's the matter with whispered, murmured, muttered...or just looking up a thesaurus?  
  • Look out for word echoes. All writers have favorite words. An unusual and well-chosen one used once or twice creates a desired effect. Overused words like overused utensils just wear out, lose their effectiveness and in the end clutter up manuscripts so badly that the reader loses interest.

  • Prune the adjectives. Adjective banks built up of triples are a huge hurdle for the reader to clear. The slim, intelligent, green-eyed blonde does nothing for my imagination  and when she enters the gloomy, ancestral, awe-inspiring banqueting hall, that makes me feel pretty gloomy too. To misquote Animal Farm--two adjectives,good, four adjectives disastrous.
  •  Avoid weak verbs.  Those like seem, feel, think, and the verb to be are reliant on following adjectives and phrases to complete their meaning. He was furious. In grammatical terms, the adjective furious is known as the complement because it completes the meaning for the verb to be.

  • Take care when using passive verbs. Active verbs like people are vigorous and energetic. They keep your writing moving along at a good pace. With an active verb, the subject (the person or thing you are talking about) performs the action. The teenager hurled his schoolbooks to the ground. With a passive verb, the subject does nothing. The subject suffers the action. The teenager was hurled to the ground by the earth tremors.

 Six more tips to follow next month to complete the daily dozen.

What tip would you share as the most useful in your writing keep-fit routine?

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

Do Writers Need Brands?

To brand or not to brand? That is the question.

If you are a writer, branding might seem to you like the most disturbing proposition.

After all, you are not a box of cereal residing on a shelf, fighting for consumer’s loyalty and attention.

Some time ago, when I was working in an ad agency, my creative director said to me “Products live on shelves; brands live in people’s minds.”

And this is where branding starts to get interesting for writers.

Brands live in people’s minds because they are nothing less than good stories.

Dear writers, it is time to for you to acknowledge that of all business professionals out there you possess the most rare and dangerous of talents – writing good stories.

Now, to go back to the “branding yourself” question – this is where branding starts to get challenging.

Yes, writers can design good brands (or write good stories) for other businesses, but can they do the same for themselves?

And most of all, do they need to?

The answer is it depends. It depends on how aware of yourself or rich and famous you want to be as a writer.

It is important to note here that branding can bring you more awareness of yourself without being rich and famous, but it won’t make you rich and famous without the awareness.

Personal branding has become quite the buzz word lately. Personal brands are similar to product brands in a sense that they undergo a process of simplification and systematization (which is why many authors abhor the “B” word as the antithesis to everything complex and meaningful).

However, personal brands differ from product brands on one fundamental level – spiritual alignment. Many large corporations suffer misalignment with their product brands for a variety of reasons – failed promises, poor management and customer service.

Solopreuners, on the other hand, have to be able to live the credo of their personal brands. You, as a writer, are not a product. But you can offer products. In fact, you get to define your products consciously, and carry out their messages with conviction and elegance on an everyday-basis.

Three years ago, the Financial Times published a study which showed that only 9% of professionals have a job in line with their personalities.

Personal branding will help you align your talents with your services.

Apart from elevating you to a place of high awareness, branding can work other wonders for you as well. It can make you more money. But remember, the order in which it works for personal brands is: awareness first, money next.

The reason why I stress personal awareness so much is because it will help you carry out the following commitments:

1/ Financial commitment:
In order for your brand to truly graduate to adulthood you will need to treat yourself as a business operation. If you as a writer are content to live from a project to project and take whatever job comes your way, then branding shouldn’t concern you as much. Many freelancers set up shop literally for free, in order to be flexible and “bail out” easily if needed. On the other hand, brands invest time and money into their operation and expect serious return on that investment. They also develop systems of marketing, bookkeeping, sales tracking, strategic planning and graphic design.

2/ Focus commitment:
If you want to be perceived as “THE ONE” in a certain area of writing style or expertise, then by all means, start thinking about a brand. That means one specific expertise, one audience. Do you want to be known as the ghost writing specialist, the “underdog” writer, the “high-brow intellectual” writer, the fresh opinion writer, the journalist? Yes, I am talking about a niche.

Because the modern marketplace is such a crowded room where nobody can hear each other, the simpler and focused you are, the easier for clients and audiences to find you and trust you.

Authors with a particular focus of work are Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jodi Picoult, Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, Seth Godin just to name a few.

These commitments could be very trying and stringent for creative people like writers indeed. Some of you simply won’t have the upfront capital to invest in business and personal branding. Some of you may have already started to invest, but have stopped because of depleted resources. Or you might think that applying the principle of one niche kills the creative instinct. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re right. Branding is a reductive, and therefore quite limiting in its choices endeavor.

But most businesses fail not because they didn’t undergo the rigorous schooling of branding, or because they didn’t hire an accountant, or an expensive graphic designer for that matter. They fail because they lack the awareness seed, the alignment with the product or services they offer.

So don’t sweat about the technicalities of branding. But do sweat about that story which you will center your brand and services around. If you have an idea about the story of your personal brand, then everything else will fall into place.

Ignite your passion of storytelling, your intimacy with the journey of the archetypal heroes that have been populating the human mind for centuries. Pick an archetype for yourself, try it on, and see if it fits. The Hero maybe, or the Sage, the Trickster, the Mentor, the Sapeshifter, the Threshold Guardian.

Switch them around. You can evolve as a personal brand just as often as any hero of the writer’s journey.

Recently a famed journalist writer with a distinguished brand, Gene Weingarten, wrote an article “How branding is ruining journalism.” In a curmudgeonly manner, which has become his signature, he denounces personal branding and likens it to marketing Cheez Doodles.

“Newspapers used to give readers what we thought they needed. Now, in desperation, we give readers what we think they want. And what we seem to think they want is happy, glitzy, ditzy stuff.”, he says.

As a graphic designer and a writer I had to disagree with him, until I read the last line:

“When I was a hungry young reporter in the 1970s, I thought of myself as a superman, an invincible crusader for truth and justice… My goals, however, were unambiguous, and heroic: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. Note the order. First came the work.”

I realized that what he fusses and wails about is not the creative act of brand-making. He revolts against the insidious results branding has on society when performed without spiritual alignment.

It also makes sense that Gene Weingarten didn’t have to fight for the spotlight of his brand back then. Back then the marketplace was a different beast.

But I dare to imagine that who he is today has to do less with any external circumstances, and more with that “superman” journey he adopted on the first place.

Fani Nicheva is a graphic designer and a writer. She co-founded Bigfish Smallpond Design studio
with her partner in Santa Cruz, CA. Creative branding, typography, book design, comparative literature, mythology, storytelling, logos, websites, introspection and lollygagging are her favorite activities.

5 steps to a successful giveaway

I love giveaways. My books would forever live in a cyber black hole if it weren't for the book giveaway. At first I wasn't too keen on the idea of giving away my literary masterpieces; I mean I spent a lot of energy on my work, why should I give them away? Because its necessary. So, let me just get to it, here are 5 steps to a successful giveaway.

1.Write a basic inquiry letter. You remember those from back in the day when you were trying to get an agent.Put it on your desktop for easy copy and paste. It should have some very basic information such as your name, the isbn# of your book for easy reference, the genre of your book, an introduction of your book, the number of books you want to giveaway, your website or blog link, your book trailer link,and a big fat juicy kiss.

2. Bloggers! Bloggers! Bloggers! This is a partnership. They need writers just as much as we need bloggers. The two go hand and hand like Oreos and milk. So don't be intimidated. When sending your inquiry to bloggers always greet them by name and include something specific about their blog so they know you didn't just send them a form letter. Make sure to read their "about me", and their "review policy", you'll find most of the information you need there. You want to make sure the blogger is in your book genre too.

One of my rookie mistakes were sending queries for my "realistic" YA fiction out to bloggers who were only interested in "dystopia" or "fantasy" books. There should be a blog directory for different genres. I put my YA book blog directory on my bookmarks for quick reference. When the bloggers email you back be prepared for either an author interview or to share information about the book or yourself that they'll post on their blog.

3.Book giveaway sites. Let your search engine do the work. Google the words: book giveaway and a treasure trove of information will come up. Goodreads.com is one of the best sites for giveaways; you're allowed to enter the number of copies and the dates of the giveaway. There are sites available that cater to authors and publishers looking to giveaway an ARC or (Advanced Reading Copy). But never pay for a giveaway, I stumbled upon a site where they were charging an author $100.00 to post on their site. That's not necessary.

4.Don't forget to send out the book. I know this should go without saying but sometimes you can forget. I usually send out the book to the winners within 24 hours. Don't forget to autograph the book with a little note using the winner's name. They aren't just winners, they're potential customers. And BTW: keep your giveaways in the U.S. and Canada. Trust me, you don't want to get sticker shock when you go to the Post Office. I spent $12 to send a giveaway to Brazil, that's more than the book costs.

5.Nurture you fans. There are readers and then there are fans. I'm so happy to say that I have fans. And its the coolest feeling in the world. I only have 7 of them right not, but they're my fans none the less and I give them the royal treatment.

My fans email me and tell me how they love my books and for that, I reward them with free copies, book marks etc... Your fans will eventually become a part of the "word of mouth" machine that's so powerful and you can depend on them to write good review too. I have one fan who's 13 years old and in middle school, she sent me the sweetest email about how she could relate to one of my characters in the book because she's going through the same thing. It made me emotional. It's email's like these that makes me realize my writing is a gift to be shared. When I read email's from my fans, all the mess of marketing melts away because I made a connection.

Writing Challenges for Picture Book Writers

Are you a picture book writer who is having trouble staying motivated?  Sometime we just need a little outside push to keep us working.  Having something to share with my critique group helps keep my but in the chair and keeps me writing. BUT…a good critique group can be hard to find and  a poor fit can cause more harm than good.  If you don’t have a critique group that works for you but need some outside motivation to keep you working, consider joining one of the following picture book challenges.

  • 12 x 12 in2012 Challenge  - Write one new picture book each month in 2012.  You don’t have to come up with a final draft…but what good start.  To officially participate you need to join by January 29th.
  • Picture bookmarathon – Write 26 picture books in the month of February.   This is for someone who wants some serious butt kicking in February.   
  • The annual Kidlit Picture Book Dummy Challenge has already begun, but you can still jump in.  The point of this challenge is to prepare one picture dummy for submission by July 1st.   This is a great challenge for the writer-illustrator.  
Many of these challenges are structured with community support through either emails or Facebook.  You can join the community or just work on your own.  The idea is not to necessarily end up with perfect manuscripts but to get you started working on the process of developing your story.  For other suggestions for children’s authors check out Starting a Career as a Children’s Writer by Annie from WOM.

Happy Writing!

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist.  She helps clients push through their blocks, envision their path and take the necessary action to live their True North.

For more information check out  www.donorth.biz
or folllow her at:

Do You Want to Be a Writer?

How does one begin a career in writing? I asked myself that same question. I’ve had an idea for a children’s book for several years, but didn’t know how to start such a project. Following are five suggestions to help you take those first steps on the road to becoming a writer.

  • Sign up for a class. Last summer, I discovered my local community college was offering a creative writing class. It was for half a day and inexpensive. The instructor taught us how to capture the reader, build and develop stories, and write an ending that will inspire the reader to recommend our books to others.
  • Register for an online writing conference. The instructor of my class handed out some recent issues of a popular writing magazine for students to take home. From one of those magazines, I read about a free, interactive online writing conference, WriteonCon, http://writeoncon.com/. Members of the faculty for WriteonCon are professionals from the book publishing industry: agents, editors, authors and illustrators. The three day conference is held every August. From a fellow attendee, I learned about the Muse Online Writers Conference, http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/. This event, held for one week in October, covers a variety of genres, with workshops taught by professionals in the field.
  • Start an idea box and a vision board. My idea box is filled with articles, magazine photos, and a notebook, where I jot down my thoughts and ideas for the children’s book I am writing. On my vision board (poster board), I have pasted magazine photos of people, places, animals and objects. These photos are helping me to develop my characters and the world in which they live.
  • Read about writing, book marketing, and the publishing industry. There are many books, magazines, websites, Facebook pages, newsletters and blogs that are helpful to the budding writer. Some newsletters and magazine articles are free. Libraries are great places to find books on how to write. Begin with those and then purchase the books and subscriptions that you find truly helpful. Over time, you can build your own reference library.
  • Join a writer’s group. There may be one that meets at your local library or bookstore. Some of these groups are independent; others are local networks of international organizations, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), www.scbwi.org.

It’s important to do your homework first. Read, research, study, ask questions, get involved, and have fun!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

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