Writing Tips from Author Chris Eboch

"If it's a good book, anyone will read it. I'm totally
unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood."
                                                     J.K. Rowling
Chris Eboch, author of over 60 books for children and author of novels of suspense and romance for adults, as Kris Bock, presented a workshop recently, "You Can Write for Children: Share your Stories with Young People." Chris’s books for children include, The Well of Sacrifice, Jesse Owens: Young Record Breaker (Childhood of Famous Americans), and The Eyes of Pharaoh. She is also the author of You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

Our New Mexico Regional chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, is fortunate that Chris stays active, currently leading monthly ShopTalk informational meetings, and shares her expertise in many other ways. Treat yourself for a look at www.chriseboch.com and Chris’s Amazon page.

Chris geared the workshop to people in our community who have thought about writing for children and would like to learn how to go about it. And though I’ve published articles for children, a handful of short stories, and have middle grade stories and novels in various stages of completion, I bought her book, You Can Write for Children; her book coupled with the workshop provided me with invaluable nuggets to help me in my work.

Want to Write for Children? Begin at the Beginning . . .

  • Think up a Catchy Title: The Genie’s Gift, Chris Eboch
  • The Dead Man’s Treasure, Kris Bock
  • Whispers in the Dark, Kris Bock

Make the Beginning Dramatic
  • Introduce the main character, MC, with a problem and a goal which your character wishes to achieve.
  • Grab your reader’s attention with action, dialogue, or a hint of drama to come.
  • Set the scene
  • Indicate the genre and tone (in fiction)
  • Each scene needs to have a goal; MC works toward achieving that goal.
  • Start in the middle of something happening.
  • Establish the time and place; hint of the “world” in your story early on.
  • Immediately establish the type of story: humorous, mystery, adventure . . .
  • The beginning reflects what the story is about.
Move Story Forward with a Solid Middle
  • The plot involves the MC working to solve the problem/reach the goal.
  • Builds to a climax—a do or die situation.
  • MC must change due to what he or she has learned; something they didn’t expect.
  • Theme becomes apparent, though it is not stated. As MC learns the lesson of the story, change comes from this. Trust your readers to discover the theme: example can be that your novel helped your reader to never give up.
Wrap up the Story with a Satisfying Ending
  • The ending can circle back to the beginning, not that it necessarily has to. 
Chris’s Tips that I’ve Found Most Helpful

  • GMC each chapter:
  •  Goal: What does your MC want or need?
  • Motivation: Why is it important?
  • Conflict: Why is it difficult?

Stories that begin with PLOT:

  • Come up with a challenge; a difficult situation for someone.
  • What kind of person would have the most trouble in that situation?
  • The problem must be difficult, as in The Genie’s Gift: A shy girl, not adventurous; has never left the family circle; wants to be strong; needs to learn how to deal with people; in the end, she doesn’t need the Genie’s gift, she found what she needed from her own journey.          

  Stories that begin with CHARACTER:

  • Write a brief character sketch: what your character likes, dislikes, fears, what                               would challenge them the most.
  • Chris’s brother has a fear of heights, but he went on a difficult hike.
  • Chris has a fear of suffocating because she has asthma.
  • Indiana Jones hates snakes, yet gets dumped into an underground chamber                                  filled with snakes.
  • What are you afraid of? Me? Speaking in front of people. Playing the piano in front of people.  What are the sensory details that happen to you physically when faced with                                your fears?

Write this on a Card and Prop it on your Desk
Chris's book, You Can Write for Children, offers a thorough explanation of her approach, much more than she could squeeze into a workshop. I highly recommend it. Here's an example:
  • In Chapter 11 on Dialogue and Thoughts, Chris mentions a suggested pattern, from Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon: stimulus (thing happens)--reaction/emotion (physical reaction)--thoughts (thought reaction)--action (what MC does next). This simple pattern has helped me flesh out areas that I found missing in my manuscripts.
While writing one of Chris’s HAUNTED series, The Ghost on the Stairs, The Riverboat Phantom, The Knight in the Shadows, and The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, Chris came up with the question: Why should MC help the ghost? What’s the penalty if she doesn’t help him? The MC’s sister had died. If she were to meet her ghost, she would want to help her. That gave her the desire to help the ghost in the story. And for Chris, while writing the book, that revelation made all the difference.

My experience is as an elementary teacher, and like so many of us, I fell in love with children’s literature while teaching. I’ve taken courses on writing for children and learned most of what I know from those courses. I found Chris’s approach on helping up-and-coming authors understand how to write for children refreshing and down-to-earth, and very helpful. She is a delight to know, and look out. She will make you fall in love with the spectacular sunsets, azure skies and diversity of people in New Mexico. To quote part of her bio on Amazon: “Her BFA in photography is used mainly to show Facebook friends how lovely the Southwest is.”
Image courtesty of: www.clipart-library.com

One of my writing buddies
loves to hear stories

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Tips for Online Magazine Pub series #10

Last time we talked about tips for selling essays to magazines, including personal essays. (1.25.2019) If you are interested in more about personal essay writing, “Crafting the Personal Essay” by Dinty W. Moore might be one for your to-read stack. It is in mine.

Publishing in magazines, in print and online, is a great way to connect with your audience and grow your platform. In each article, be sure to include a short bio with your byline.

Today let’s talk about publishing online.
Opportunities for publishing online include:
•    Magazines in print with an online division have similar submittal requirements for both
•    Online only magazines often publish multiple times a month and may pay less
•    Blogs: Companies use blog post writers as part of their marketing strategy -- Best format = Tip lists or “listicles” are often key formats
•    Blogging entities open to contributing authors allow your byline and media links as your remuneration

Research the magazines and blogs that grab your interest, and choose with whom you want to associate, and then be willing to start without pay swapped for a byline and links to your website.

It takes time to find the right fit for publishing your topics and areas of importance. You might find a match in the categories I’ve noted above.

Useful Links:
The Write Life freelancing hints and leads:

Upwork matches the freelancer with those posting jobs:

Content Marketing - quality content always works:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life .

Write clear & concise, personable yet professional.
Know your reader.

Keep Experimenting to Sell Books

By W. Terry Whalin

I've never met a book author who didn't want to sell more copies of their work. It doesn't matter if they are published through one of the largest publishers or Podunk Press (I don't believe there is such a small publisher named Podunk Press but maybe since there are many of them).

I've interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and spoken with hundreds of other authors. If you bring up the topic of selling more books, almost every author has a story about something they tried yet failed to work. Often these stories are filled with the author blaming someone else for the lack of sales. They blame:

their publisher
their publicist
their agent
their editor
the wrong title
the wrong cover
the missing endorsements
_____ you name it

It's rare that I hear the author blame the real culprit: themselves. Yes, it's hard to admit but it is the first step toward selling more books and understanding who bears the true responsibility for selling books—the author.

In Jack Canfield's bestselling title, The Success Principles, How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, he begins the book with some fundamentals for success. The first principle is: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.

For book authors, you can easily take the word Life and substitute Book: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Book. It's amazing how your attitude will shift if you take this simple step.

Many authors long to have their book appear on the bestseller list. For some authors they equate getting on the bestseller list as their benchmark of success for their book. Years ago, I read Michael Korda's Making the List, a Cultural History of the American Bestseller 1900–1999. Korda at the time was the Editor-in-Chief at Simon and Schuster, one of the largest publishers. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

In the introduction, Korda writes, “The bestseller list is therefore neither as predictable nor as dominating as its critics make it out to be. Plenty of strange books get onto the list and stay there for a long time…at least half of the books on any given list are there to the immense surprise and puzzlement of their publishers. That's why publishers find it so hard to repeat their success—half the time they can't figure out how they happened in the first place.” (Page xv) I love his honesty. There is no magic bullet and it is different for every book. The author is key.

Some books start slow and steadily sell then catapult in sales. Other books begin strong then sales drop to nothing. There is no consistent pattern.

My encouragement is for you to keep experimenting with different methods to sell your book. Each author has a different experience.
Recently I spoke with an author who had sold 8,000 to 10,000 copies of his self-published books. He had held over 300 book signings for his book. For many authors book signings have yielded almost nothing but not for this author. He regularly speaks at schools and service clubs and even AARP meetings.

If you aren't speaking much as an author, I encourage you to get a copy of Barbara Techel's Class Act, Sell More Books Through School and Library Appearances. This book gives step-by-step help and is loaded with ideas where you can take action.

What proactive steps can you take to learn a new skill or try some new way to sell books? It doesn't matter if your book is brand new or has been in print for a while. Keep the experimentation going until you hit the elements which work for your book.

What new actions are you taking to sell more books? Let me know in the comments below. 


As an author, you must be experimenting to sell more books. Get resources from a prolific author. (Click to Tweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers.

How and Why to Get Clear about Your Ultimate Career Goal

As a writer, it can take quite some time to come up with an ultimate career goal.

After months, even years, of writing and submitting, many writers decide the writer’s life is not quite the beautiful dream they thought it would be.

In fact, it’s really just a lot of hard work and, well, a lot of writing.

Other writers decide to stick with the writing, but they change focus along the way to the career of their dreams.

They suddenly “get” how they can narrow the focus of their writing, yet attract more readers, customers, and clients.

As they gain more publication credits, they branch out and search for more opportunities for public speaking, too.

The key to realizing your ultimate career goal is to get really, really clear as to just what that goal is.

After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly figure out how to get there?

Here are a few questions for reflection.

Use your Success Journal to write down these questions and leave a page or so for each of your answers.

1. What is your ultimate career goal (what would your ideal writing career look like)?

Try to describe this in as much detail as possible.

Include what your writing schedule would look like.

How much would you be writing?

What would you be writing?

Where would you be writing?

How much money would you be earning each month from your writing?

Would you be doing any public speaking in addition to writing?

If so, where would you be speaking? Who would you be speaking to?

How much income would you earn each year through speaking?

2. What would be the big advantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?

List as many advantages as you can think of. Money shouldn’t be the only advantage.

3. What would be the disadvantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?

List as many disadvantages as you can think of – even fame and fortune have disadvantages.

4. How do you FEEL when you think of the disadvantages of your ultimate career goal?

Are these feelings keeping you from really striving to reach your ultimate career goal?

If so, do you need to change your goal or simply learn to overcome any negative feelings?

5. Take a look at all the actions on your marketing plan or to-do list.

Are these actions leading you to the ultimate writing career you’ve described in your answers to these questions?

Why or why not? Explain in detail.

Your answers to these questions should help you get clearer about your ultimate career goal.

With increased clarity, you should be able to create a more targeted marketing plan to move toward this goal.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance lives and writes by the sea on Florida's beautiful Treasure Coast. She also coaches writers.

For more tips and resources for writers visit www.writebythesea.com and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge to receive a short email for writers every weekday morning.

Random Writing Prompts: Winter Edition

Bored of winter? Sick of the snow? Or, in my case, completely over what counts as winter in Southern California? It's cold and rainy weather, by the way. 

You don't need to go outside to have a great adventure. Write one. Take a few minutes - take an hour - and start on a new story.

Here are three writing prompts designed to get you through the winter doldrums.

1. Spring Fling. Nothing says "change of seasons" like a party to welcome spring. Plan an elaborate "to do" from the guest list and invitations to location, food, and activities. Then, jump on in and have a ball, and then write about it. You can do this as yourself or a new character. 

2. Summer Fun. Time for a summer vacation ... in February ... on paper. If you could go anywhere, all-expenses paid, where would it be? Why? Sky's the limit, so what are you waiting for. Don't forget to tell us all about it. Write it as a letter, a fictional travel essay, or as a treatment for what could become a much more in-depth story.

3. Fall Frenzy. You didn't think these would all be good, did you? Think ahead to the end of summer/beginning of fall. You are getting set to start the new school year and something happens ... then something else ... and something else. Pile on the problems, and write your way out of it. It's fictional, so there really is no such thing as too outrageous. Besides, with all the fictional problems you create, the last thing you will be thinking about is bad weather.

There''s nothing like writing to get out of the slushy snow and on to warmer thoughts. You never know. One of these writing prompts may spark a new novel, essay, or screenplay. Have fun and see where your story takes you.

Where will you go on your fictional winter adventure? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Writing – Time Management and Organization

As this is the first time in over 10 years that I missed my publish day, I though this article appropriate.

When I first started out in my writing career, I began to think more and more about organizing my writing. But, I was in what I call, slow mode. I worked on my stories with the intent to eventually... hopefully get published. However, I was in no rush; writing came after everything else I had to do.

That changed.

Being a former accountant, I decided to make writing my second career.

Suddenly, I was writing and illustrating a book my family decided I should self-publish. That meant researching companies that offered print-on-demand service along with working on the book itself.

While in the process of doing this, I was writing other works and submitting them to publishers and agents. As with most of us, I received rejection after rejection.

I also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This site has tons and tons of helpful writing and publishing information from new and seasoned writers. In addition to this, I joined a critique group.

Writing clubs were on my mind too. I found a good one at the time and that was when my writing took on more depth and I entered the business of writing.

At the time I joined the writing club, my book was in the process of going to the printing stage of publishing. So, I had to broaden my writing arena to include learning about marketing and publicity on a very low budget. I also became a member in several children's writer's groups online. Juggling all these things was a true challenge, one that I didn't always live up to.

In addition to all this, I tried to participate in every teleseminar and teleconference I came across as well as doing research on writing and marketing. To add more on my plate, I became a co-moderator in a very active critique group, and I created a website and a blog. At times, it felt very overwhelmed.

What I finally realized, out of necessity, is that I had to create and enforce a time management schedule.

This came to a boiling point when I received a letter from an agent requesting 3 chapters of my short story along with a 3-5 page synopsis.

I was so overwhelmed at the time, I didn't immediately respond.

Okay, it was also because I didn't have a 3-page synopsis ready. Because I was so frazzled I sent the agent the chapters she requested, but told her if she still wanted my synopsis after reading the chapters I would love to send it.

I still cringe at my stupidity when I think of this . . . at the lost opportunity.

After this long, long lead in, my advice is:

Don't wait until you become so frazzled by an overwhelming workload and lack of organization that you become your own stumbling block to success.

If you're reading this now and don't have a time management schedule in place, MAKE ONE TODAY and try your best to stick to it.

This article was first published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

Check out the DIY Page while there!

And, get your copy of Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China. Honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award).


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