Showing posts with label Children's books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children's books. Show all posts

Lexile Reading Levels for Self and Small Publishers of Children’s Books

 Lexile Reading Levels for Self-published and Small Publishers of Children’s Books

Did you know children’s books should be “leveled” for reading classes? Yes, most teachers and libraries check the Lexile level of books before purchasing. Why is that? A Lexile level is an approximate reading level for a student, which may vary from the grade level.  You have probably seen statements such as, “This book is recommended for children ages 6-8.” Publishers find age information is by having the Lexile level ( determined to include this information in their book listings for authors on sites such as Amazon. It is easily found where the page numbers, IBNs, and so on are found on book sales pages. Self-published and smaller publishing houses may also take advantage of reading levels assessed by the Lexile Framework for Reading. Authors may have to add Lexile levels to Amazon and other online book descriptions themselves.

Lexile Reading Levels for Self and Small Publishers of Children’s Books is a rather extensive site and so here is an explanation of the different site sections. A parent page, educator page, education companies & publishers, and the departments of education page can be found using the menu. Also, books may be looked up in the find a book area. Lexile level grade-level charts, an analyzer, growth planner, Lexile career database, Wordlists, and a Measures manager are included. Listening levels are a new feature on the site. Spanish book levels are also available on the site.

Many States Have Memberships for Their Residents

Because reading levels are critical to student understanding and success, many states have already joined the site. I live in Minnesota, and my membership is free. A teacher friend of mine lives in New York and also has a free membership. The annual cost is only about $18 if an author lives in a state without a membership. Even with a free membership, though, the site offers an extensive amount of information.

The reasons authors should be aware of this site while writing includes the following:

1.     An author may copy then paste up to 1000 words in the analyzer to determine the Lexile level. Full sentences should be entered before clicking the analyze button. A Lexile level range will be given, although not certified and is only an estimate. The overview column will list the longest sentence and recommended books at the same level. The indicators column will include decoding, vocabulary, and patterns. The vocabulary column will select up to ten words from the text that can help inform instruction. See this page for more information. (

2.     Leveled word lists may be downloaded from the site and used to inform authors as they write.

3.     If an author creates curriculum or teacher resources for his or her book, the teacher assistant area provides state standards. I can look up Minnesota state standards. I have written two math storybooks and created student work pages for them, so I check the math standards information.

4.     Lexile Tools for Find a Book allow searching by author, keyword, ISBN, grade level (easy, just right, and challenging), or by measure (a number) or a Lexile Range.

5.     When looking for comp titles to submit a manuscript, this site is also beneficial for finding such titles.

6.     Book level labels may be downloaded for books placed on “my shelf” and printed, if interested.

The Most Important Reasons to Consider Using Lexile Measures

However, an important reason for an author or small publisher to use this site is to get their books leveled. I did so and received levels for about $35 a book. For another $10, a vocabulary list is provided. At the beginning of each book sales page description, I added the Lexile Level number so teachers will see that first. Many teachers and librarians will look for Lexile levels first thing.

The second important reason for authors or small publishers to seek Lexile Levels is because the books are searchable online and in school and library catalogs. A member may make a bookshelf on the site and add books. I  put the books I authored on my bookshelf, although they may be searched by individual title. Links may be shared in blog posts, social media, and press releases.

I hope you found this information useful!

Thank you for reading, Carolyn Wilhelm

Author and Owner of The Wise Owl Factory

Carolyn Wilhelm is the curriculum writer and sole owner of 
The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MS in Gifted Education, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12. As a retired teacher of 28 years, she now makes mostly free educational resources for teachers and parents. Her course about Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning is available on UDEMY. Her children’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel sites.

Work-Made-For-Hire Writing: Five Reasons Writers Should Do It


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Over the years I've written several articles about Work Made for Hire contracts (follow this link to see some of them). Many writers run away from such work and refuse it. These people believe they are protecting their rights and want to publish royalty projects instead of selling all their rights to someone else.
My literary attorney has told me that I've signed more Work Made for Hire agreements than anyone she knows. I've also been a working writer in the publishing community for decades. The truth is sometimes it is better to earn the money upfront from a publisher rather than hope for royalties (which may or may not happen).
In this article, I want to give five reasons to write Work Made For Hire projects. I call them projects because they are not always books. Sometimes they are articles or white papers or any number of other types of writing. 
1. You Get Immediate Work. Often in the publishing world, you have to write your article or book with the hope that you will find someone to publish it. With Work Made For Hire, you have found paying writing work which you can do right away—and get payment.
2. You Get Paid for Your Work. Depending on what you negotiate in a Work Made For Hire agreement, often you get half of the money upfront. This fact helps your cash flow as a writer—especially those of us who write full-time.
3. You Can Build Your Reputation and Get a Writing Credit. Some Work Made For Hire is ghostwriting (no credit). On other occasions, my writing is credited. Sometimes this work appears in the tiny print on the copyright page. Other times my name appears on the title page of the book and not the cover. On other books where I've co-authored the book for someone else, my name appears on the cover as “with W. Terry Whalin.” To the publishing world, this “with” credit indicates I wrote the book. If you are new in the publishing world, this credit can be an important part of building your reputation in the publishing world.
Several of the children's books that I have published were Work Made For Hire. The finished children's books had high quality illustrations and were a beautiful finished product. In some cases my name only appears on the copyright line (small print) but in other cases, my name appears on the cover. How it turns out for you is all about watching the details of the agreement. Several of my devotional books which I wrote as a Work Made For Hire have sold over 60,000 copies (which is a great credit for any writer—and something I use from time to time). 
4. Provides A Way to Work for a Publisher. For many new writers, it's a challenge to publish with traditional publishers for your own work. Sometimes publishers need a writer to complete a manuscript in a short amount of time. Years ago I wrote a book for a publisher in a short amount of time and exceeded their deadline. My name is in the small print on the cover of this book and it continues to sell. When I checked a few years ago, this book had sold over 100,000 copies. As the other examples in this article, I wrote this book as a work made for hire and haven't been paid anything additional but it is a great credit for a writer.
5. In a hard environment, provides a way to seize an opportunity. I know some publishers are making cautious decisions about what to publish (for a number of reasons including the pandemic). This caution has made it hard for writers. Work Made For Hire is writing that will always be needed and is a way for you to seize the opportunity, get published and get paid. If you find it, my encouragement is for you to seize the opportunity.
Do you write Work Made For Hire or have you avoided it? Let me know in the comments below.

This prolific editor and author gives five reasons to write Work Made For Hire. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to SucceedOne 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

A Workshop on School Visits with Caroline Starr Rose

Make sure all students are included.
Much helpful information on school visits can be found online from experienced children’s authors who so generously share their experiences and advice. But in my book, there’s nothing better than learning the ins and outs in person. Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a workshop, “Lasting Connections: Planning and Preparing School Visits,” offered by Carolyn Starr Rose, award-winning author of May B. and Blue Birds, both historical verse novels, Ride on Will Cody!, Jasper, The Riddle of Riley’s Mine, and Over in the Wetlands.

Caroline has taught social studies and English, which I think helped her create her terrific program for students and teachers. A browse-through of Teacher Resources on her website is an education in itself on how to reach children through the content of our books.

In this post, I would like to share the highlights of Caroline’s approach to conducting successful school visits, learned by trial and error, which hopefully will save those of us just starting out some of the challenges she has encountered.

Where to Begin?

  • Read articles by children’s author and guru of school visits, according to Caroline, Alexis O’Neill, in SCBWI bulletins.
  • Visit author’s websites and see how they handle school visits. We broke into groups, studied author’s websites, and jotted down what we liked or disliked, then shared our findings with the group. Our author-choices included: Kate Messner, Dan Gutman, and Don Tate, who includes a Core Curriculum State Standards guide.

Decide: What Do You Have to Offer?

  • Work/life
  • Personality strengths
  • Writing focus or knowledge: Caroline emphasized that above anything else, students want to learn about the writing process. Under the list of presentations that she offers is “The Writing Process, From Idea to Publication.” On slides that she shared at the workshop, she includes close-ups of drafts of her WIP, with cross-outs and editor’s comments, excellent for students to realize the work that goes into revision.

Choose: Content from Your Book to Present to Students

  • What subjects from your book would make good teaching material?
  • What grades is your content suitable for?
  • Learn what works best in small classrooms or large groups.
  • Create ways to capture and hold attention: Photos and images, props and activities.
  •  As a retired teacher myself, I recognized the activities Caroline shared at the workshop, as ones frequently used in the classroom. Note to self: to gather ideas, you could browse a teacher’s store and look for teaching ideas online and incorporate them into your own uses. 

Here are a few of Caroline’s ideas that she shared with us:

  • Mingle Game (from May B.): On card stock, write a Fun Fact from your content (Caroline wrote her facts on one side and put the cover from May B on the other, and laminated her cards. Cards are small, about 3" x 3", perfect size for small hands and I loved the size, too). Example: “Chores: Men’s chores included clearing fields, planting crops, constructing houses, caring for livestock, and hunting.
  • Class monitors pass a card to each student. Students break out into small groups of two or three, read the Fun Fact from their card, first silently to themselves, then to the others in their group. Then students go around the room and read their Fun Facts to each other. 
  • Teacher claps, sends students to their seats and asks What Did you Learn? Students can raise their hands and tell the class what they learned.
  • String activity: Have students measure out with brightly-colored string the size of the space a frontier family lived in, the typical dimensions of their beds, etc.
  • What Did you Learn? How does a person have privacy from the way they lived, etc.
  • Act it Out: Choose volunteers to act out parts of a story.

Caroline’s Helpful Tips 

  • Find out who to speak to and what the school’s policy is on author visits, and where to go when you first arrive.
  • Be professional: draw up a one-page contract stating what you’ve agreed to do and what the school has agreed to do and have it signed by you and your school contact. Be gracious to your contact, teacher/librarian. Have contact name memorized.
  • Have materials prepared to send to your contact and include your request to have the students read your book and send you their written questions ahead of time. Find out what other books children are reading.
  • Ask that the teacher stay in the classroom and participate. Clearly state in the contract that teachers stay to be engaged and to redirect distracting behavior.
  • Find out if school will provide technical equipment, such as a projector and screen. (Caroline uses her own equipment to avoid problems, including taking an extension cord).
  • Arrive fifteen minutes early, come prepared and be flexible (go with the flow). Keep in mind that there are often glitches with every visit. Organize props and materials ahead of time. Give yourself time to set up.
  • Connect to curriculum.
  • Practice your presentation—normally it takes longer than it seems.
  • Keep visit simple and easy. Do a quick introduction. Establish rules ahead of time. Use school’s quiet signal and practice it together. Remind students to listen and save questions for the end.
  • Talk to booksellers, teachers and librarians. Follow teachers on social media and share information. Check what SCBWI has to offer. Caroline has invited a bookseller to come along to sell books.
  • Is a business license required? Find out.
  • You can offer a special reward: a "Meet the Author" lunch and book signing session with students chosen by your contact.
  • Should you get paid? Yes! But you can start by offering a limited number of short visits at no charge. Skype visits can be offered at no charge.
  • As a thank you to the school, volunteer for Battle of the Books, Literacy Night, etc.

Remember: there will be good and bad visits. Take it all in stride.

Photo: By Linda Wilson
Visit Caroline at 

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at

The Value of a Good Editor

There is an Appropriate Hat for every Story
Photo by Linda Wilson
One of my writing pet peaves is that authors often get credit that their partnership with their editor(s) is due. Perhaps, if you wade through the "Acknowledgements," you might appreciate the number of people it takes for the author to arrive at the finished/polished product. I confess, I read the
"Acknowledgements," but really, how many readers can be relied on to do that?

Preaching to the choir a bit here, but, we writers know how valuable an editor's opinion is, from pros to critique groups, family and friends; and for children's stories, kids. Others' ideas and opinions open up worlds that may not have been considered. One of my instructors once told me one doesn't write a book, one re-writes a book.

Start by Changing Hats
It is crucial to keep your writer's hat on to revise as much as possible before asking someone else to read your work. If you're a beginner, you may need more advise than a more experienced writer. I know I did and still do. So, if what you offer is the best you can do, after running through your own checklist(s), then be satisfied with that. An editor once told me that I am going to "make it." You know why? No matter how much she finds that needs revision, I'm grateful for her insights and always work to improve by considering her advice. The writers who never give up, she says, are the ones who succeed. For it is well known (to quote the lovely phrase read often in Alexander McCall Smith's books), the best way to learn to write is to: Write!

When it's time to don your editor's hat, run through a checklist to make sure you've covered as many bases as possible. Start with a standard list and add to it as you become more experienced. My list has blossomed into a folder and encompasses the three types of writing I've focused on so far: articles, short stories and now, children's novels.

Basic checklist for a children's story
Make sure your story has:
  • an intriguing title
  • a beginning, middle and end
  • each paragraph that contains a beginning, middle and end
  • a beginning and end that compliment each other. A common way to view this is that your story has come full circle; your ending circles back to the beginning
  • a story arc: the action builds to a climax and ends quickly
  • an intriguing story problem
  • a main character who grows and changes by the end
  • REAL CONFLICT, which is the basis of a good story
  • action that is not predictable
  • age-appropriate names and content that is appropriate
  • everything explained clearly
  • "kid friendliness"--cut "adult" words and references
A Peek at Editor Know-How
Back in the day (in the '90s), I dipped a toe as a correspondent for our local newspaper. My very first published article, now framed and resting on my wall, suffered losing my beautiful, well-thought-out title to a drastic editor-knows-best change. After that, my poignant summaries and heartfelt endings in many articles suffered the last and sometimes multiple paragraph cuts at the end, for lack of space. Most painful, was the cut in pay (pay, you say? Yes, those were the days when newspaper correspondents got paid) I suffered at the lens of my husband, whose accompanying photograph made one-third more than my article. It's how I grew my first layer of skin. The bonus: I learned to enjoy editors' economy of words. I wouldn't call our exchanges conversations, exactly, but in the editors' rushed and few words, I understood what was expected of me; and learned to skip-the-chit-chat, easy with even a glimpse at the volume of paper on my editors' desks.

Today, it is doubtful that any local publication can pay its writers (hopefully some do), but writing for them for free still gives writers the benefit of working with an editor (and getting published). Just for fun, here is a short list of some of the ways editors have helped my pieces and stories see print
(albeit, not without some degree of pain):
  • For one of my short stories the editor cut off my ending and ended the story "early"--inwardly a move I didn't like; but I held my tongue and once published, I saw the wisdom. Lesson: it's best to be agreeable with your editor unless her change, in your opinion, compromises your story's intregity. In my case, her idea improved the story a great deal.
  • In another story, the same editor asked me to add an ending and suggested what she'd like to see. It took me about two minutes to add the ending she suggested. She emailed me right back and was delighted with what I had done, and amazed that the change came so quickly. I chalked the speed of my reaction up to a rapport we had established and her expertise at knowing how to take my story where it needed to go.
  • For an article I researched and interviewed over many months time, my editor loved the piece, but the competition at the magazine was so fierce that she had to fight to get my article published. The outcome is one of my proudest pieces, to date.
  • Saved the best for last: one prominent children's magazine bought three of my articles, paid me, and yet hasn't published one of them so far. It was great to get paid, but I'd really rather see the articles in print. Go figure!
Next month: Critique Group Do's and Don'ts

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has
published over 100 articles for adults and children and six short
stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's
online fiction and picture book courses. She is currently
working on several projects for children. Follow
Linda on Facebook.

Revision, Part 1: An Early Fiction Checklist

My backpack-on-wheels travels everywhere with me. In it I schlep my old, heavy laptop, my iPad, if I stack them right quite a few books and my Kindle, at least one three-ring binder and my trusty pencil bag, which includes a highlighter, pencils, erasers and a pencil sharpener; different color pens, a mini-stapler, small post-its for note-taking, a flash drive, and paper clips. I'm ready to work, either electronically or on paper, at the drop of a #2 pencil.

Writing on the Run
Deep in the throes of revision while having to go on a recent short trip, I had to face that writing time would be hit or miss; normally squeezed in whenever there's a free moment. To really dig in, though, I wanted to take more than could possibly fit in my catch-all bag: a dictionary, my thesaurus, reference books, as-of-yet unread writing books, etc., etc. Knowing this was impossible, I took a break to think about what I could realistically get accomplished on the trip, sat back and read an article, "4 Tips for Writing Scenes," by Ingrid Sundberg,

Sundberg's article changed everything. Maybe I couldn't have all my tools, but I was at a place in my story where a preliminary check would be helpful. After a cursory look at my WIP with Sundberg's advice in mind, I made a startling discovery. The drama and emotion I thought I'd poured into my draft--heart, gut, and soul--didn't have the impact I'd envisioned. An editor might even call my scenes downright flimsy! I chose three areas that Sundberg suggested need to be present in each scene and decided not to wait until the end of the entire draft to consider them, but to review them early in the draft and see what would happen.

Three Scene Booster Musts
I backtracked to Chapter One and evaluated each scene according to Three Scene Boosters suggested in Sundberg's post. In each scene, I isolated these three areas:
  • Significant Emotional Change: Does your character go through some sort of emotional change?
After a thorough scrubbing this is what my I came up with: In Chapter 1, my character is sleepy and bored after starting out in the wee hours of the morning on a long ride home from a camping trip. Her grandfather's VW Bug starts to pick up speed. She stiffens as his car careens down a narrow mountain road, faster and faster. She is thrown side to side clinging to her stuffed animal, her only comfort.  Her short life flashes before her, like the car's headlights that are sweeping ever faster past a thick forest of trees. These minutes--seconds--could be her last.
Revised emotional change: I needed to show a starker contrast between my character's boredom and fear.
  • Dramatic Action: What action does your character take to get out of the bind she finds herself in?
Her grandfather shouts, "Hold on!" She grabs the door handle. He taps the brake but the wind whistles even louder past her ear. She shouts, "Quick, do something!" He pulls up on the emergency brake--the skinny little lever next to her seat--and the little VW Bug shudders and shakes. Her palms are slippery but she hangs on, with only her stuffed animal for comfort.
Revised dramatic action: As the car picks up speed, I needed to show how frightened she is more clearly, which was to show how helpless she feels. 
  • Scene Summary: What is the main action in the scene? At the end of the scene go back and look at your character's main action(s).
Stuck in the car; realizing it's out of control flying down a narrow mountain road. All she can do is hang on to the door handle, her palms slick, her arms hurting from holding on so tight.
  • What is your character's main emotion(s)? Fearing for her life.
Though likely not my last run-through, these early scene boosters have strengthened my scenes by looking for my character's emotional change, how dramatic her action(s) is, and giving her the maximum emotional punch. This technique has helped make my scenes more exciting and dramatic. The bonus? This effort should save time later during the final editing stage. That will be when most of the polishing is complete and each run-through is to make sure all the other essential story elements are in place.

Just think, if another short trip comes along I won't have to take so many writing tools in my backpack. All I'll need is a pencil, eraser, colored pen, post-its, and extra paper. Oh, and a book to read in my spare time!

See if this plan works for you: In coming months more revision highlights will be explored to help narrow down important areas in your manuscript, one at a time.

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction course. She has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is currently developing several works for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Writing for Children: 3 Tips to Make Your Books More Appealing to the Library and School Markets

Writing for children is a very competitive business. And while most children's authors are available for book signings at libraries, bookstores, and schools, there are a couple of additional things EVERY children's author needs to do in order to make their books more appealing to the library and school markets. After all, teachers and school librarians account for a great percentage of children's book sales. Why not cash in on these ready markets?

Here's how:

1. Before you even write your book, figure out several ways it can tie in to the school curriculum for your intended readership.

2. Teachers and librarians also love to be able to use a tradebook to teach content ACROSS the curriculum. If you write a book about the Civil War, for example, it's pretty obvious how educators can tie the book to the social studies curriculum. But figure out ways they can also use your book to teach other subject areas like science, math, language arts, etc.

3. Create study guides for your books and post them to your website, where teachers and librarions can download them, or offer to provide the guides for teachers or librarians who purchase your book(s). Again, guides that provide activities across the curriculum will be very appealing to teachers and school librarians.  Educators will also expect the suggested activities in your study guides to align with state education standards (common core standards), so go online to your state's Department of Education to get the common core standards for all subjects at all grade levels. Once you look at these standards, you'll get some ideas as to the types of activities you can create for your study guides.

In today's competitive world, children's authors need to do everything they can to widen the appeal of their books. These 3 tips will help you do that.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

Lieurance helps children's book authors and illustrators get the word out about their books through the author showcase at the National Writing for Children Center.


YOU KNOW THE PHRASE, "IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY?" It is certainly true with new authors that are not celebratiers already.

I strongly recommend that you give your book away to as many people as you can–particularly people of influence.
Not everyone likes the idea of parting with their books for free, but the majority of consumers buy books based on recommendations from media, peers, friends and family. Giving books away is a great way to launch a word-of-mouth marketing campaign.
Please don't give a book to everyone you meet, because not everyone has influence. But you should give them to media professionals including reporters, editors, and producers. You should also give them to bloggers – these folks have more influence than ever before. Bloggers with a loyal audience can have tremendous influence when recommending a book. For children's booksI recommend mom blogger sites.

To reach the right influencers, spend time on Google searching for key contacts (or hire a smart virtual assistant to do this for you). Find contact information for reporters who cover topics related to your book as well as radio and t.v. shows that report on similar topics.

It's wise to send an e-mail first. This gives me a chance to establish a rapport, which can go a long way when it’s time to follow-up. It also ensures that I’m not sending out copies that end up in the recycle bin.

Using a service like Smashwords, you can give away ebook editions by creating a coupon for 100% off.

Not every review copy will result in publicity, but the ones that do can make up for all the rest. A feature article in a major media outlet or a recommendation on a popular blog can propel a book to all kinds of success.

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy Stemke has published over one hundred articles in directories, magazines and on websites. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Stemke is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.
Award winning author, Kathy Stemke’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  

Interactive eBooks: The Next Generation of Children’s Books?

During the past few months, I have been forsaking many of my writing related activities to explore the possible future of children’s books.  My publisher had asked me if I would like to create interactive eBooks for Apple’s iPad.  I had no idea what went into creating an interactive eBook.  But the idea intrigued me, so I said yes.

Lest you think that this may be some normal, run of the mill request that a publisher might make of an author (cause it isn’t), allow me to give you some background.

I have several children’s books published with Guardian Angel Publishing.  I also have a background in IT.  Unfortunately, being an author still requires that I maintain a day job, but little did I know how my two careers would mesh.

My picture book, The Sister Exchange, was built on an iPad using an app builder called Demibooks.  You don’t need to be a programmer to build a book with this app, but you do need to have a good understanding of graphic layering and how different commands will affect an object.  There was still a pretty big learning curve for me.  I went through about twelve different drafts of this book before I could consider it complete enough to hand over to my publisher.  But I absolutely love the results.

There are plenty of features to this book including, movable graphics, sound effects, music, animations, and author readings by yours truly.  There are also bonus features such as a jigsaw puzzle and hidden autograph page with a personalized message.  I even got my daughter involved; she provides the sounds effects for the characters on the illustration pages. 

So if you have an iPad and you would like to see the possible future of children’s eBooks, boy do I have the book for you!  The link to the iTunes store is below.

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet.  His other books include: If I Could Be Anything, My Brother the Frog, Lightning Strikes, The Soggy Town of Hilltop and What Is That Thing?    

To find out more about Kevin, please visit his website at or his blog 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, 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, 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),

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.

Writers on the Move’s Authors’ Books for the Holiday Season

Ring-a-Ding. Ring-a-Ding.

Yup, the holiday season is just about upon us and many, who think ahead and have already started their shopping, are now looking for great holiday gifts for the adults and children in their lives.

Since Writers on the Move has very talented authors who offer everything from poetry to children’s books to mysteries to anthologies to historical fiction to non-fiction how-to books available as amazing gifts for just about anyone and any age, we’ve put together a list of MUST HAVE BOOKS to give you some ideas.

So, please scroll down to the bottom of the list and be sure to click on the links to find out more about each book.

Off we go.

Writers on the Move’s Authors’ Books for Holiday Season Gifts

Walking Through Walls
Children’s middle-grade/young adult fantasy adventure
Amazon Link 
Book Info Link:

Day’s End Lullaby
Children’s bedtime picture book with sheet music to lullaby included
Amazon Link
Book Info Link:

Karen Cioffi


Dancing With The Pen
A collection of today's best youth writing -- this groundbreaking anthology features stories, poems and essays by more than 65 kids and teenagers from all around the world. For each copy sold, a new book will be donated to a disadvantaged child through Write On! For Literacy.

3 a.m.
Award-winning collection of short stories has been featured on the PBS book talk show "Between the Lines" and has been acclaimed by both teenagers and adults.
Amazon Link

Dallas Woodburn, award winning author


State of Wilderness
Book 1 of 50 in the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Ma America, The Travelin' Maven (Elysabeth Eldering)


The Cancer Prayer Book
Self-Help: A wonderful and meaningful gift for a loved one or friend going through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It has chapters on Diagnosis and Waiting, Family, Self Image, Healing, Seeking Wisdom, Keeping the Faith, and more.
ISBN: 978-1-4507-2599-6

Terri Forehand RN, author


Children's picture books: These wonderful books keep children laughing and learning with each turn of the page.

Martha Swirzinski, M.A.


Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
 By Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball
Cover watercolor by Vicki Thomas
"This volume is full of delight." ~ Margaret Fieland, author
Discounted in quantities of 25 or more (for use as holiday greeting cards):

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program
The Frugal Book Promoter ( ) :
Web site:


Repulsion Thrust
Poetry: "Wonderful. The work covers a lot of ground while keeping a poetic sensibility, which is hard to do. We need more singularity-aware art." Ray Kurzweil
Buy it at Amazon

Sleep Before Evening
Literary fiction: Marianne is teetering at the edge of reason. “Buy this book. And relish every moment of it.”
Buy it at Amazon

Magdalena Ball


The Golden Pathway
The struggle against slavery with no regard to one's safety - age 8-12


The Women of Camp Sobingo
Historical fiction, WWII era

The Unexplored Heart
Victorian era, Historical romance/adventure

Forces of Nature
Suspense, Natural Disaster

Once a Brat, Always a Brat
Memoir with contributions from other Military Brats

Marilyn Celeste Morris, Author
Buy Link: 


Trouble on Earth Day
Children's picture book by Kathy Stemke
Purchase at

More info on this author and Free monthly newsletter sign up:


Cowgirl Dreams
Western historical fiction: Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention with dreams of becoming a rodeo star. Based on the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl
B&N Nook Edition

Follow the Dream
Sequel to Cowgirl Dreams: Life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and challenges to Nettie’s family and lifelong rodeo dreams.
Kindle edition 

Heidi M. Thomas


We're sure you'll find something from the books above that will be the perfect gift for this holiday season!

You’ll get two e-books on writing and/or marketing if you do!

And to be sure you don’t miss any posts here, simply subscribe to my blog (RSS feed).

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Editor, Inbound Marketing Instructor

The Ten Commandments of Book Reviewing with Mayra Calvani

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani, who is currently doing a virtual author tour, was asked to share some tips with us today on doing book reviews as part of her World of Ink Tour. Mayra not only writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine and a...Mother. I couldn’t think of a better person to motivate and inspire us today. 

1.     Thou shall have no other gods before the reader.
The review is not about the author, nor the publisher, and especially, not about you, the reviewer. Reviews are all about the reader. Don’t try to impress with pompous words in an attempt to glorify yourself or appear scholarly. Give readers simplicity and clarity. They’ll appreciate it. If they want verbose and fancy, they can read Shakespeare.

2.     Thou shall not lie.
Honesty is what defines your trade. Without it, you’re nothing but sell copy. When you give facile praise or sugarcoat a book, sooner or later readers will take you for what you are: a phony. Furthermore, if you give facile praise to a poorly written book, you are perpetuating a bad writer's career, lowering the chances that a good writer may be published instead.

3.     Thou shall not offend the author.
Just as honesty is important, so is tact. There’s no need to be harsh or mean. A tactfully written, well-meant negative review should offer the author insight into what is wrong with the book. Instead of saying, “This is a terrible novel!” say, “This book didn’t work for me for the following reasons…”

4.     Thou shall not eat the evaluation.
Some fledgling reviewers write a long blurb of the book and leave out the evaluation. The evaluation is the most important part of a review. A summary of the plot is not an evaluation. Saying, “I really liked this book” is not an evaluation. The evaluation tells the reader what is good and bad about the book, and whether or not it is worth buying. 

5.     Thou shall not reveal spoilers.
Nobody likes to be told the ending of a movie before having watched it. The same thing is valid for a book. If you give spoilers in your review, not only do you lessen the reader’s reading experience but you also risk being sued by the publisher or author. 

6.     Thou shall honor grammar, syntax and punctuation.
Don’t be one of those reviewers who are more in love with the idea of seeing their name online than making sure their reviews are well written and thorough. Your reviews may hang around on the internet for years to come and will reflect on your level as a writer. Run a spell check, edit, revise and polish your review as if you were posting a short story. Get a good book on grammar and punctuation, take an online course or listen regularly to podcasts such as The Grammar Girl

7.     Thou shall honor deadlines.
If you join a review site where the turnaround for reviews is 3 weeks, then you should respect that agreement. If you promise the author to have the review ready in two months, you should honor this too. Be honest and straightforward from the beginning. If you’re so busy your turnaround is six months, make sure to let the person know. If for any reasons you cannot meet the deadline, contact the person and let him know. It’s your responsibility to maintain a doable schedule. 

8.     Thou shall not be prejudiced against thy neighbor.
Don't assume that a self-published or small press book is poorly written. Give it a fair chance and let it speak for itself. Likewise, never assume a book published by a major NY house has to be good. You'd be surprised by the high quality of some small press books by unknown authors as opposed to those written by big name authors whose titles are often in the bestseller lists. In general, most subsidy books are mediocre, but there are always exceptions. If you've had bad experiences with subsidy books, then don't request them nor accept them for review. If you decide to review one, though, don't be biased and give it a fair chance.

9.      Thou shall not become an RC addict
RC stands for Review Copy. Requesting RCs can get out of control. In fact, it can become addictive. You should be realistic about how many books you can review. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll be drowning in more RCs that you can handle. When this happens, reading and reviewing can change from a fun, pleasurable experience into a stressful one. If you’re feeling frazzled because you have a tower of books waiting to be reviewed, learn to say NO when someone approaches you for a review and stop requesting RCs for a while. Unless you’re being paid as a staff reviewer for a newspaper or magazine, reviewing shouldn’t get in the way of your daily life. 

10.              Thou shall not steal.
Remember that the books you request are being sent to you in exchange for a review. Requesting review copies and not writing the reviews is, in one word: stealing. You'd be surprised at the number of 'reviewers' who, after having requested several books, suddenly 'disappear.' These people are not legitimate; they're crooks, plain and simple. If you have a valid reason for not reviewing a book, let the review site editor, author, publisher or publicist know. 

The same goes for piracy. Do not risk being fined for posting a full eBook you have received on any site whether for free downloads or resale.  This is theft and the law is quite specific.  When you receive an eBook it is meant to give you the right to read it only, but it does not imply that you have the right to rob the author of future sales by your actions.  This labels you as a thief.  Using electronic transmission is only another way to send a book, like getting one in the mail, which would not give you the right to reprint it for sale or distribution. 

Integrity is part of the code of honor of a legitimate reviewer.

About Mayra Calvani: The author of 12 books, Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults.  Her nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, co-authored with Anne K. Edwards, was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published. She reviews for The New York Journal of Books and Visit her website at For her children’s books, visit

Frederico the Mouse Violinist Blurb:
Learn the parts of the violin with Frederico, the Mouse Violinist!
Frederico is a tiny mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?

ISBN Number: paperback 9781616331146, hardcover 9781616331139
Publication Date: December 2010
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Publisher Website:

Honoring Your Voice

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