Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Writing for Children Ropes - 8 Tips

 


By Karen Cioffi

Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed writing. I wrote poems, short stories, even songs. And although I enjoyed writing, I never thought of publishing my work or making it a career until around 2007. As a novice, I figured it'd be a breeze – easy-peasy. I mean how difficult could it be to write simple children's stories? 

Since I always felt comfortable writing, I thought it be a natural transition. Writing was something I always went to when in awe, when being inspired, or during struggles. And, I was always able to think of things to write about. So, I began the process of actually writing children's books with the intent of having them published. 

 My eyes were quickly opened. Another world sat before me, one filled with a lot of hard work, time, road blocks, and rejection letters. 

While I minored in English Lit in college, it had been many years ago. Along with this, it's not really the background specifically needed in writing for children or writing to get published in the market at the time … or now. 

To write for children … 

- You need to know what the current market wants. 

 - You need to know techniques such as the Core of Threes and having the protagonist solve the problem, not the parent or grandparent. 

 - You need to know showing is a must, and telling should be limited. 

 - You need to have the right sentence structure along with proper grammar and punctuation. 

- Your words and dialogue must be age appropriate. 

- You need to have an age-appropriate plot. 

- There should be only ONE point of view, one main character. 

- Your main character needs to grow in some way as a result of his journey. 

 - You need to watch out for blind spots in your writing. Spots where you know what you intended to be conveyed, but the reader won't. 

 - You need to understand and utilize words such as tighten, good voice, focus, point of view, hook, and lots of other writing elements. It goes on and on and on. 

Well then, just how do you learn all the information needed to write for children, especially if you don’t want to get a degree in children’s literature or are unable to enroll in a school specifically geared toward this subject? 

The answer is the internet. Sounds easy, right? 

Well, think again. Since I've gotten my Bachelor's degree, I've taken a few college courses and other courses long distance and online and I can tell you that learning a subject in a classroom is much easier than learning through other means. 

And, learning on your own with the internet is even more difficult and very time consuming. 

Why is it so hard? 

The reason for the difficulty is there are thousands and thousands of websites and blogs that offer children's writing information. 

You'd think this is a good thing, but not everyone online knows what they're talking about. For this reason, it's important to use common sense when searching for information. 

Make sure the site is current and posts content regularly. Another must is to research the blog owner. Does she have published books? Traditionally published? 

 Is she in the business of writing or a hobby writer? 

Another difficulty is that finding good sites can be time consuming. 

If possible, get recommendations from other authors or writers in your writing groups. 

So, what can you do to ease into this? 

 1. Writing Groups 

Your first order of business is to join a children's writing group. One of the best is SCBWI Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). There are new and seasoned people in the business of writing there who are willing and able to help. This is also a good place to network. 

 2. Critique Groups 

 Next on your plan should be to join a children’s writing critique group. You'll be able to find one in SCBWI.  

3. Writer Conferences 

If you're able, it'd be a good idea to make it a priority to attend a writer’s conference. 

Some of the bigger ones are: 

SCBWI Annual Conferences 

The Highlights Foundation Workshop Retreats 

Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference 

Northwestern Christian Writers Conference 

You can also do a search for others. Just be sure to look at dates. I've found a number of sites that list events that are outdated – by years.  

4. Writing Workshops and Webinars 

There are also a number of sites that offer online writing whether workshops, zoom meetings, or others. 

 MasterClass 

SCBWI 

WOW! Women on Writing 

JaneFriedman.com 

WritersDigest.com 

Gotham Writing Workshop 

The workshops and sites mentioned in this article may not all focus directly on writing for children, but they will offer great writing information.  

5. Blogs 

Another source of advice is children's writing tips from children's editors, publishers and agents' blogs. Often, you'll get super-useful tips and information. Find reliable and well-established sites. An excellent one is GoodStoryCompany.com and KidLit.com with Mary Kole. 

Here are a few others: 

Steve Laube Agency 

Caitlin Derve Truby's Writing Studio 

Children's Book Insider  

Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi 

The Write Practice 

Writer's Digest 

Writers Helping Writers.net  

6. Books on Writing for Children  

Below are a few:  

How to Write a Children's Fiction Book by Karen Cioffi 

The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein 

The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard 

How to Write a Children's Book by Katie Davis and Jan Fields 

Yes! You Can Learn to Write Children's Books by Nancy I. Sanders  

7. Read, Read, Read  

Read writing books and books in the genre you want to write. 

 As you read, pay close attention to the books in your genre. 

What do you like about the book? How did the author convey emotion? How did the author hook you? How were the sentence, paragraphs, and chapters written? How was the dialogue written? How did the story flow? Who was the protagonist? How did s/he grow through the journey? 

Pick up on everything you can.

 8. Industry Standards Matter 

Keep up with the industry standards. What are traditional children's publishers and literary agents looking for? What's being published? What are the standard word counts for the different genres? What books are winning valid awards? 

This matters whether you're traditionally publishing or self-publishing. You want a professional book. One that screams that the author knows what she's doing. 

While the world of writing for children can feel overwhelming, it can also be very rewarding. Take the time to learn the ropes so you can create a publishable book. And, create a time management plan. 

Keep on learning; keep adding tools to your writing toolbox. 

With hard work and perseverance, you can write a children's book that you'll be proud to be the author of and one that will be publishable as well as marketable. 

This article was first published at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2021/03/28/the-writing-for-children-ropes-8-tips/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Karen Cioffi
is an award-winning children’s author, a successful children’s ghostwriter with 300+ satisfied clients worldwide, and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For children’s writing tips, or if you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

You can check out Karen’s books at:
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/

 

MORE ON WRITING

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Good Things Come in Fives

Think Beyond Bookstore Sales


 

 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Writers: 3 Must-Have Tips

Here's a sample of what you can do with Canva

How can we writers come across information to make our lives easier? First stop, organizations set up to help us. In my town, Albuquerque, I belong to the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and our own local Southwest Writers. Both organizations offer conferences, workshops, and resources to help guide our publishing journeys. Second stop, books such as the award-winning How to Do it Frugally Series, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Howard-Johnson's books are chock full of helpful information that will keep you on top of what you need to know.

Fellow authors have introduced various companies to me that have become indispensable. Canva, a design company that you can use for free to create terrific-looking banners, posters, and more. The illustration in this post was designed by moi at no charge. Dropbox stores content in the Cloud, offering no size limits, and a terrific way to share your files with anyone. And bitly, a software company that offers transforming long URLs into short ones which you can use in your social media posts. 

Canva

Here’s your chance to be an artist! All for free!

First, create your account, and then explore.

Choices of the types of designs are many, including Video, Presentation, Logo, Instagram Post, Flyer, Resumé, Poster, Certificate, Brochure.

Canva Pro offers a lot fancier types of design, starting at $12.99 for up to five people. Check it out!

I wanted to create a banner—the illustration for this post—and settled on creating a Facebook Cover. It was a good choice because I’ve used this banner in my email signature and other places besides Facebook.

Here’s how it goes: Click on Facebook Cover. Find a background by either looking through templates (on the left side of the page) or uploading a photo from your computer, such as a landscape scene or flowers that you’ve taken. Note: Backgrounds with a crown icon are chargeable. There are plenty of free backgrounds to choose from.

Upload photos from your computer that you want to display, which will be kept in a Canva file and is easily assessable. In my case, I uploaded the front covers of my books, photos of myself, etc. Drag the uploads into your design. They will automatically conform to the size you need. Use the Text button to add a title and text. I added a title to my design at the top of the page. This helps you find it easily in your Canva upload file.

Canva automatically saves your design and adds it to your uploads. I downloaded my designs into a file on my computer. This helped with cropping.

Crop from your download for the correct size of your design: I found that the background was too large for my use. Downloading the file was key. I cropped the design from my download file. If you need to go back to your original design on Canva to make any changes, no problem. Make the changes, and save the file with a new name. The result of my latest design (which I put together today in about 15 minutes, though my upload file was already in place) is the illustration for this post. 

The same design will be used for social media with the addition of my photo.

DropBox

There is a charge for DropBox. I pay $9.99/month. It’s well worth it. At first, I used DropBox to save files in the Cloud in case my computer loses the files. Then I shared files while working with the illustrators for my books. After that I’ve used it in many other ways, such as sharing text files with editors and critiquers, and photos shared for my books, and also photos for my personal life.

Recently, I joined a guitar jam group. We share our songs in a file that everyone uses on their iPad when we meet once a week. The organization of the songs is terrific, with an alphabetical list on the left side, and the piece of music on the right, which you can maximize.

bitly

On Twitter, in books, and in many other places I saw URL addresses using bitly. I didn’t understand what it was for a long time. I decided to Google it and the rest is history. 

Bitly is free, though for more sophisticated users, there is a charge for upgrading the service. But for the need to simply shorten a small number of URL’s, there hasn’t been a charge for me. I have only a few URL addresses I need bitly for, such as my website, my author page on Amazon, and the individual pages for each of my books. It’s a terrific service, especially for giving URL addresses on Twitter.

For quite a while I resisted looking into these types of companies and services. Signing up with, exploring, and learning about them takes time away from writing. But once you start marketing your books, networking, and doing all the other myriad things you need to do to sell books, you find that these types of services are part of writing. Besides, they’re loads of fun!

https://bitly.com 

https://www.canva.com 

https://www.dropbox.com/official-site

DropBox organization
for songs--terrific!

·        Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Sign up for Linda’s quarterly giveaways. Choose your prize! 

Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Tools for Organizing Your Freelance Writing Business

by Suzanne Lieurance

The better organized you are as a freelance writer, the better able you’ll be to run a successful business.

Part of being organized means having the proper forms, templates, and other items on hand.


Here’s a partial list of the kinds of items you need to run your freelance writing business:

Professional Resume – You’ll need this when applying for writing jobs. Your writer’s resume is a bit different from a traditional resume. Potential clients need to be able to tell, at a glance, if you’re the person for the assignment they have to offer.

Short Professional Bio – Many times publishers will ask for a short bio to run with your articles or to put on the back cover of your books. There are all sorts of other uses for your bio, so it’s good to have this on hand, although you may customize it just a bit each time it’s used. And remember, the bio you send to clients and publishers should be written in 3rd person.

Weekly Marketing Plan & Work Schedule – With a plan and schedule in place each week, come Monday morning (or whenever your work week starts) all you need to do is follow the plan and stick to the schedule.

Contract and/or Letter of Agreement – A letter of agreement is needed for speaking engagements and author visits; a contract is needed for all sorts of freelance assignments (sometimes the client will provide the contract, but many times you will need to provide it). The more detailed your letter of agreement is for speaking engagements and author visits, the smoother those events will go and the easier (and quicker) it will be for you to receive payment.

Proposal or Estimate Form or Template – When you have a regular form or template to use, it’s easy to write up a proposal or give a potential client an estimate for a project.

Invoice Template – A template makes it simple to invoice clients. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to spell out your assignment and the terms of this assignment, including how much you will be paid for it and the date payment is due.

Client List – You need to keep track of clients & their contact information, plus other important details that will help you serve them better. Include editors, publishers, business clients, etc.

Query & Submissions List - This is a MUST for keeping track of all the publications you send queries or manuscripts to. You can keep this list in an online file or in a looseleaf notebook—whichever works best for you. I prefer a notebook because I can look through it without using my computer.

Sample Confidentiality Agreement – Some clients may want this, and a template will make it easy to personalize the agreement for different clients. When potential clients ask about your services, let them know you’ll send them a confidentiality agreement for their review before you start working together.

These are just some of the most basic forms, templates, and other tools you’ll need to run your freelance business. Make sure you have these items on hand to keep your business well organized and running smoothly and efficiently. 


Many of these tools are available (free) in our Private Resource Library for Writers when you join the mailing list at writebythesea.com.

As a subscriber, you'll also receive The Morning Nudge.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 40 published books and a writing coach. 

 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

What Drives Your Publishing?


By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin

Few people talk about this truth of publishing: it is hard. I’ve been doing it for decades and it is still hard. There is a reason it is called work. Yet thousands of new books are published every day. These books join the millions of books which are already in print. Yes the field involves lot of competition yet there are also huge opportunities for writers.

Since I was a small child, I have always loved and appreciated many different types of books. As I wrote about in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, a high school English teacher pushed me toward joining my high school newspaper and beginning to write stories. It is a path I’ve walked for decades. I have spent (and continue to spend hours) learning the craft of storytelling. I study publications, publishers and agents to learn what they need then deliver it. I continue to build reader and audience connections. I care about the details of editing and understand the need to rewrite (especially if the editor needs something else). I’ve only given a few items in a lengthy list related to publishing. The reality is publishing is a complex business with many twists and turns. I’ve been continually studying it for decades.

As I’ve traveled the publishing journey, I’ve met incredible people and had remarkable experiences. For example, twice I’ve received six-figure advances from traditional publishers. I’ve also been fired and had book contracts cancelled.  I’ve experienced the thrill of success and the dismal feelings of rejection.  I’ve stayed at my computer sometimes all night to keep my fingers on the keyboard and meet a deadline.

Why do it? Why invest such effort into this challenging work which is filled with many “no thank yous” and rejection? My motivation is rooted in my personal experience from years ago. Books change lives and I know this fact firsthand because a book changed my life.  

For the first year and a half I attended Indiana University to study journalism, I rebelled from my Christian upbringing. You can read the details in this magazine article, Two Words ThatChanged My Life. During this period, I wandered in a Christian bookstore two blocks off the campus to look at their cards and posters. I found a book called Jesus the Revolutionary by H.S. Vigeveno (Regal Books). The title and cover caught my attention. This book changed my life and I saw a different side of Jesus than I had ever seen in church. I began a personal relationship with Jesus and changed the direction of my life. Instead of journalism, I spent ten years in linguistics and missionary work before eventually I returned to my writing and my first book was published in 1992. The printed page has the power to change lives and I know it from personal experience. These memories motivate me every day to be involved in some aspect of publishing.

Now that you know my motivation, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your motivation. Can you capture it in sentence or two? Or maybe like my story, you have an experience about a changed life. Publishing is complicated and full of hard days as well as good one. My motivation to change lives is foundational as to why I fight through the hard experiences and keep on going. What motivates you? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable:

What drives you to publish? According to this prolific writer and editor,books change lives. Learn the details here: https://bit.ly/3sLhuEH #writinglife #pubtip (ClickToTweet)

________________________________________

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets ToSpeed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Word Choice Matters

 

Word Choice Matters
Sentences Build Paragraphs 

by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Writers need to develop a strong vocabulary for building up the many facets of storytelling and article writing. Word lists of favorite, unusual, fun sounding words to compose a selected topic helps. Test the flow of sounds and experiment using some for creativity in your next piece. Expand your reading collection with classical, by-gone authors, to become familiar with how they expressed dialogue and scenes in their day, or lyrical stories and poems. Jot down words of interest. Note them in your Commonplace book, and create a collage of word pictures to describe scenes.

Enlarging your vocabulary with lively and interesting expressions, and writing like your natural speaking voice, is engaging. It’s a good way to empower your articles or poems.
Just write, remembering we always follow with revision and polish to honor clarity and communicate well with readers.

My Commonplace book includes a long word list of random words I’ve noticed while reading—including ones I am not familiar with, seeming unique, especially in the way used. These can be a welcome addition to my usual; for example; sweet Elysium (paradise), rose-colored visions, desecration, petitions, syncopation, provincial, and sexton.  You might also, choose topical words for particular projects, such as tranquility, shelter, botanical or courage.
Try it. You’re sure to be inspired!

Writers Read!

Sentences Build Paragraphs:
Effective communication elements: Clarity, Coherence, Control, and Credibility are key.
Points to Consider:
1.    Clarity—Help your reader by telling them where you are going, the information you plan to present, and offer your conclusion.
2.    The three-part paragraph structure gives a map for topic, development & resolution.
3.    Coherence—Paragraphs help to contain your thoughts. You may have several points in a paragraph, but in a unifying theme, each sentence supports that focal point.
4.    A natural, coherent flow to a paragraph begins with the first sentence; so, reorder the sentences of your paragraph if needed. A logical order of things leads to what comes next.
5.    Control—You are in control of the pace of your piece. Use paragraphical emphasis: longer is slower, shorter is faster.
6.    Credibility results from several things: language, knowledge of the subject, word choice, and your writer’s voice.
7.    The better you know your audience, the more successful you will be in delivering your information.

Write Sentences
Think in Paragraphs

Revision & Polish Tips:
1.    Keep the focus, the theme, of the piece consistent throughout,
2.    Sentence structure: a subject—a noun or pronoun, and a predicate/verb that explains what the subject is doing,
3.    Use nouns rather than adjectives and remove over used adjectives such as very,
4.    Verbs are where the action is—choose strong ones,
5.    Avoid adverbs that diminish the strength of a sentence.
6.    Vary sentence length within the piece.
7.    Make it personal and professional, convey the message, be specific.

Helpful Tools:
Melissa Donovan’s 10 Core Practices for Better Writing https://www.writingforward.com/books/10-core-practices-for-better-writing

Mastering the Craft of Writing by Stephen Wilbers 
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Craft-Writing

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 My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   
Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:
https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Lyn-Stanley/
& https://books2read.com/b/valuestories



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Friday, May 13, 2022

Writers: Be Organized, Be Productive

At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.
                                                                                                   --Rose Macaulay

Have you taken an honest look at your work habits lately? I’m one to talk. That’s why I didn’t clean up my office before I took the photos for this post. If I’m working on a project non-stop, I’ve been known to walk around the mess on the floor of my office, place my notebook ON TOP of the pile on my desk, and keep working until the project is done. THEN I clean up. I wouldn’t recommend this method. Though to be sure, some chaos feeds my process. I do try to keep the chaos to a minimum, because I believe that to be productive one needs to be organized.

Tips of the Trade: My Method

I’ve found that I need to write OR organize. I can’t do both at the same time. Hence the mess I sometimes get into while working on a writing project.

My Tips:

Clean up your office.

Put papers away.

Collect various projects in folders and file the folders in a metal incline sorter or the like.

Label everything.

Keep your computer files sorted and easy to find.

Got a problem with feeling torn between household projects and errands vs writing? We all do.

Treat writing time the same way you do appointments and errands in your calendar. Designate a certain number of hours a day/week to work on writing, write this in your calendar, and stick to your plan.

Take part of your project and/or paper and pen/pencil everywhere you go. It’s amazing what you can get done in small snatches of time.

If I’m especially stressed to get household chores done, I set my manual kitchen timer for one hour. I run around and get as much housework done as possible. I do the same for writing time. The ticking clock reminds me to stay motivated and keep going. I do that as long as I can throughout the day until I simply must stop and finish either the household chores or writing for the day.

Try getting up super early. I struggle with this but when my alarm goes off at 5:00am, if I make myself GET RIGHT UP, I’m good. Those days I allow myself to take a short nap. 😊 Though I’m an early riser, if you’re a night owl, the same principle holds true.

At the end of a writing session, write yourself a note with where you need to start working the next day. This helps me get started faster than searching around for where I left off. I do the same thing for running my household. This helps me get a lot done in shorter amounts of time than if I didn’t plan ahead.

Add a good measure of throw-it-all-to-the-wind chaos to your work. I suppose being too organized might tend to be boring. I wouldn’t know because as much as I try, I never truly reach that pinnacle of true organization!

BONUS: Allow yourself to feel satisfied with the work accomplished each day. Feeling satisfied with the work accomplished each day has actually re-energized all aspects of my life, which in turn, as we writers know only too well, adds the fuel that feeds our writing!

Your take: I hope in some way your own creative process has been helped by this post. Please leave a comment with your thoughts. We would love to hear from you.

I couldn't let you go without seeing
the rest of my office.
Clean up time anyone?!

 Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.





Monday, May 9, 2022

Featured Productivity Tool: Networking Goals

I know what you are thinking: Networking is a tool? Yes, it is. You see, you can't reach your goals on your own. You need your community of resources, champions, and connections. Your friends may not always be your ideal reader or client. But everyone has their own circle. Your community grows multi-fold every time you grow your community. 

The challenge with networking is it takes time and energy. The best way to stay on top of networking is to set networking goals.

Here Are Networking Goals You Can Set Each Day, Week, Month, Quarter, and Year

1. Each Day: Set a 15-Minute Active Networking Appointment. During this time:
- Connect on LinkedIn with new friends
- Send an email or message to check in on a friend or peer   
- Post, comment, and reply on social media

2. Each Week: Attend 3 Events 
- One mixer
- One education event (Workshop or CE)
- One one-on-one with someone you met at one of the first two events to continue the conversation

3. Each Month: Create New Content
- Post on your blog. Ideally, you want to do this at least once a week, but better to aim for something feasible and achieve that goal
- Guest on Someone Else's Platform. It could be a blog guest post or interview, live show, or podcast 

4. Each Quarter: Refresh Your Online Presence
- Make sure your website bio and LinkedIn profile are up-to-date
- Make sure your profile photo still looks like you
- Bonus points for updating your banner image

5. Each Year: Attend at least one Live or Virtual Industry Conference
- It's one of the best ways to make new connections, solidify relationships, and learn new things in your area of expertise

Final Thoughts 

Until you prioritize networking - and focus on making real general connections - you never know what good will come of it!

* * * 
For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Twitter and Linkedin! 

* * *

What's your best networking tip? Please share in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Valentine's Gifts: Sometimes Words Fail Even a Writer

  He Won’t Write You a Love Letter By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writer...