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 on: March 19, 2015, 02:39:29 PM 
Started by jfields - Last post by Nanlisa
I also spend my Saturdays here at the Haverford Twp. (PA) Free Library, where I'm sending you this message from, and get my stories out. That's another way that I'm trying to get some extra money into my house as well.

 on: March 19, 2015, 02:36:04 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by Nanlisa
My main focus right now is finding me a job, but I try to manage to squeeze in my writing. And that is usually after midnight.

 on: March 19, 2015, 02:32:43 PM 
Started by jfields - Last post by Nanlisa
Like I said earlier, do my writing after midnight. I have no job to go to in the morning, and that's the best time for me to write.

 on: March 19, 2015, 02:30:41 PM 
Started by Nanlisa - Last post by Nanlisa
I find it much easier for me to do my writing after midnight. And why not? I have no job to go to in the morning, and I spend my days looking for another one. And besides, I feel more comfortable doing it after midnight.

 on: March 19, 2015, 11:06:57 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by jfields
If I wrote character driven novels, I would think a lot more about theme -- but I'm really a plot-driven, genre writer so theme is something that grows out of the premise and sometimes the subplots. I just tweak it a little to make it clearer (without being still takes some thinking about as it won't be stated overtly in my books.)

 on: March 19, 2015, 10:21:50 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by salex
Whew! Thanks Jan. I thought I was the only one who tried to determine the theme upon revision.

 on: March 19, 2015, 04:32:50 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by jfields
Usually I don't even know I HAVE a theme until the revising stages. It just happens as I explore the premise I created for the story. Then I consider what the theme might be, and when I see ways to tweak it in revision, I do.

 on: March 19, 2015, 04:30:30 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
Children's Writers eNews
March 19, 2015
"The Write Words to Read"
The Institute of Children's Literature
Editor: Jan Fields --

"You guys know about vampires? You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There's this idea that monsters don't have reflections in a mirror.  And what I've always thought isn't that monsters don't have reflections in a mirror. It's that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn't see myself reflected at all."
-- Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
1. News
2. Online in Rx
3. At the Writer's Retreat
4. What's New at Kristi's?
5. Market
6. Cool Site
7. Special Opportunity
8. Essay
9. Good News
10. Note to subscribers
1. The winners of ICL's Children's Poetry contest will be announced in next week's issue!
2. In the Rx
10 Tips for Wowing Editors with Your Verse
I know many of our readers write in rhyme so here are some tips on how to turn the love of rhyme into verse that sells.
3. Are You On The Writer's Retreat?
We're about to jump into March, and the discussion of the month will be "Tips and Tricks" -- we'll be just talking about a potpourri of little things we do to make our writing better.

4. What's New at Kristi's?

Friday, March 13: "Stage 3: Taking Action"
At this stage you're past making excuses, procrastinating and fearing change. It's time for action steps on the path to your goal.

Tuesday, March 17: "Stage 4: Maintaining Long-Term Success"
Without a plan, we allow a setback to permanently stall our success. Setbacks are simply momentary lapses in our new successful routine. We need to learn to be tough enough to last.

5. ODYSSEY and MUSE Magazines merging
ODYSSEY will be folding into MUSE with editor Johanna Arnone.
The merged MUSE will include articles about "unexpected subjects" related to science and culture.
MUSE is a nonfiction magazine. They do not accept manuscripts. Query with resume and clips.
6. Trimming Excess Words
We always need good tips of keeping our writing snappy and within word count -- and Nancy includes a market in every post of her blog as well.
7. Picture Book Workshop Discount!
The Highlights Foundation is offering a special coupon to Children's Writers eNews subscribers who are interested in writing picture books.  You can get $200 off the cost of either of these:
PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz [April 23-26]
Writing from the Heart [June 21-28]
Learn more and register online with the coupon code “200icl”
or call Jo Lloyd at 877-288-3410
Note: Tuition includes all meals and private lodging, plus airport shuttle if needed.
8. It Begins with an Idea

Before you write your first word in a children’s or young adult novel, you have to have an idea. For some, this begins with a question: What was it like to be an American sent to a prison camp simply because of your ethnic heritage? What would happen if you invented a machine that could answer any question – ANY question? What would happen if you thought your family was perfectly normal, only to discover they were actually as far from normal as possible? What does it mean to be an American?

An idea is a great thing, but it's not a book. No matter what idea you explore, someone else has either already explored it or is thinking about exploring it or is writing the book right now. But that's okay. Ideas are not books and it's the book that matters most. But how do you know if your idea will be enough to base a book upon? All by itself, it's probably not. After all, the idea could probably be summed up in a few sentences and the book will be over 25 thousand words (at the minimum for kidlit). It begins with an idea, but you're going to need a lot more.

You’re going to need:

Characters we can care about who grow and change and come into conflict with other characters throughout the book. If we don't care, we won't read. If the characters never change, the book will be boring. If there is no conflict, the oomph of the great idea will eventually sag and grow dull and flat by the middle of the story. So you're going to have to inhabit your idea with people we want and need to watch.

A plot that feels purposeful, organized, and compelling. This can be a SERIOUS problem if your idea is about "showing" us something. If your motivation can be summed up by "I want to show kids what life was like in Colonial America" or "I want to show kids that drugs can ruin their lives" or "I want to show how to deal with bullies” then the ONLY way to make that idea work is to then match the idea with a compelling plot that has a STRONG forward progression. The reader must be hanging on, wanting very much to know how this all works out, and it's through plot that we do that. Don’t let your desire to teach something with your novel make you forget to have an actual novel, a compelling story that grips the reader and makes him/her anxious to know how it all works out.

A sense of depth. Many stories that are motivated by an author who wants to teach something can end up feeling very surface-y. The characters will feel a little too convenient. The villains will be motivated only by their badness. And stereotypes will be the fall back method of creating the characters. Depth means that ALL your characters have honest motivations – that they are doing things for reasons that make sense to them, that feel right to them. Depth means that nothing in the plot happens because it's convenient for the author, but because the logic of the plot and the people in it DEMAND that event.

Do you want to test your story to see how it's working in the depth department?

Make a list of every character (this might include very brief characters. You can exclude folks like the postman who just happened to say hi as he handed the main character a letter. His motivation is clear. But a character who only enters the story to slap your protagonist in the face – HE needs to have clear motivation.) Beside each person’s name, list three characteristics about them that are shown in the book (if the person is the afore mentioned postman, he might not be on the page long enough for three characteristics, but I bet he's there long enough for one.) Then list every major action of the character and why they did it. If you cannot do this, then you have some flat characters. Plump them up.

Outline your plot. You've written the book, now get out your notecards and make one card for every scene. Make a list of what happens in the scene. Then take a set of cards and write out every non-scene narrative event (this is any place where you tell us stuff). In each non-scene narrative event card, list everything that's told. And how long the narrative event lasts (a paragraph? A page? Two-pages?) Now, ask yourself: what is the plot arc for this story? What are we moving towards? Which of these cards best support that arc? What reader-gripping things do all the other cards do? You may find that all your cards work toward the building plot (I know this is true when I write mysteries for kids) or you may find some of them build toward something else compelling. But you may find some of them don’t do anything except slow down time and inform the reader of things you think they should be told. Teach through the story. Never stop the story to teach.

So, if you've got a great idea for a book – good for you. But understand, tha'’s only the very beginning of the journey. It's making it to the end that counts – good luck!

9. Good News

Martha Deeringer: My new YA novel, "Speak of the Tiger", is just out from Fire & Ice Books, a YA imprint of Melange Books.  It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both print and ebook editions. It tells the story of a ninth grader who gets more excitement than he bargained for on a school field trip to the YO Ranch in south Texas.

Rachelle Burk: My middle grade science-adventure novel The Walking Fish has just been released by Tumblehome Learning. Filled with exploration, humor, and exciting science, it comes with a classroom guide (Common Core standards for grade 5) downloadable from the publisher's and author's websites. (PS. The author is available for awesome school visits!)

Toni Rhodes: My educational activity book - "The Writing on the Walls: Discovering Medieval and Ancient Graffiti" - will be published in May this year by Prufrock Press. More details at my Website:

What's Your Good News? Send to -- be sure to put "good news" in the subject line since I get a lot of book announcements due to the review work I do. So I don't want your good news to slip through the cracks.

10. For All Subscribers

Many of our eNews issues are being blocked from getting to all of our subscribers. It can be difficult to convince your email provider that you truly want to receive this eNews. Therefore we've created a list of directions to make it easier for you find the exact steps to ensure the eNews always makes it to your inbox.

Please, check out this link for specific directions to ensure you get every issue of the Children's Writers eNews.

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 on: March 18, 2015, 12:45:34 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by judyr
You have such a way with words, Jan. That does sound like a good way to pitch.

Do you try to build up your theme while writing? In the writing books I've read, authors seem to discuss expanding on the theme while writing or revising to enhance the story. Does anyone here try to use theme, or does it just sort of hang out in the background? It seems like screaming out the moral of the story to me.

 on: March 18, 2015, 09:23:15 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by jfields
Sounds like the theme might be "true friendship overcomes fear" or maybe even "real courage is protecting others even when you're afraid." The theme of any book is something universal so it won't include the character's name if you state it baldly like that.

So "MC puts her fears aside to help others" hints at the book's theme but it's a statement of part of the plot as well - which is probably just fine.

But it you wanted to state the themes more overtly but don't know exactly how to say it, you'd can something like, "With themes of friendship and courage, "Title" blah, blah, blah..." (as you add in some totally none them related stuff.)

Or you state the theme flatly like, "MC discovers that true courage means protecting those you care about, even when you're afraid."

I generally don't state my themes that explicitly, I usually tuck them in with the finally cheerleading blurby statement in something like "Exploring themes of friendship and courage, "Title," contains action, mystery and more than a few chills."

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