March 20, 2019

Writing Takes a Team

I sit at my desk writing with only the sounds of nature (and an occasional car or phone call) interrupting my thoughts. 
However, writing is a team effort. I certainly can't do it alone. And if you're a writer, you shouldn't try to do it alone either. 
Most published writing is a team effort. (Some self-published authors work with a team. Others don't. Usually it shows if they don't have a team.)

We need help! 
Students demonstrating a writer's team.
Students demonstrating a writing team during a Facts Are Fun author visit.

Professional writers get feedback from critique groups/partners and editors. The publisher hires a designer and/or illustrator to make all the words look great on the pages and art to go with the book. Then it's sent to a printer. Finally, book sellers get books to readers! 

Readers can even recommend their favorite books and/or authors to help their friends read more great books.

Student writers have a similar process. They get feedback from their classmates and teacher before publishing their stories.

Writing is work, but it's always worth it.

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January 13, 2019

Writing for the Educational Market

A lot of people want to write books. Few have the persistence it takes to study the industry and then draft, revise, (and revise again and again) a manuscript (all after years of learning the craft) that will hook a publisher into paying for the book. It sounds discouraging, but that's not the only way to write books for children.

Are you a children's writer? Would you like to break into the publishing market? Or earn additional income writing? Then consider the educational market. It's how my first (and second, third...) book was published.

What is the educational market?

Educational publishers like ABDO and Capstone create books, curriculum, assessment materials, and more to be used in educational settings like schools, libraries, and churches. They pay writers--like you--to write about their ideas for their audience. It's called work-for-hire (WFH) so the copyright typically belongs to the publisher. WFH assignments are also available in the trade market.

December 31, 2018

Professional Accomplishments of 2018

Writing is hard work. Unfortunately, writers must wait and wait to see the fruit of their work. But sometimes, if we look hard enough, we'll see our success, just as the flower buds before the plant blooms. In writing, faithfulness in the little things matter, just like in all of life. Today I'm sharing my professional accomplishments, many of which are small successes.

I'm part of a writers' group that is helping the participants look at the past before setting goals for the future. Children's author Julie Hedlund challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to posts successes on our blogs this year. She believes New Year's resolutions often come from a place of negativity--of what wasn't accomplished during the previous year. I appreciate how she helps us set goals which build upon our achievements from the previous year. So...with her nudge, I'm sharing my writing and professional successes of 2018 here.

• I completed Africa and North America manuscripts (which were assignments).
• With their publication this summer, I now have five books published since 2016.
• I completed the assignment which will be Sunday school handouts of Bible stories.
• I figured out the structure of a picture book manuscript I'd set aside for a year.
• When I shared that picture book manuscript with an editor at a conference, she invited me to submit it to her as a series with almost no changes.
• After applying, ACSI invited me to present at their educators' conference in Philadelphia. It was great! I've created workshops for educators and writers this year.
• I visited some fabulous schools with author visits. I also did my first Family Literacy Night.
• Chicago Review Press offered me a contract for a companion guide to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Currently, more than 41,000 words are completed of the manuscript. It's due in the spring.
• I began critiquing a bit for other writers.
• Cecil County Public Library invited me to their book festival. It was my first!
Highlights accepted three pieces from me. One was a STEM activity. The other two were crafts.
My research trip to the Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone/Burke, New York was incredible. (This is more a success for me because I went. It was incredible because of the volunteers at the farm.)
• I had an invitation to write Sunday school curriculum for the same publisher I wrote the Bible stories for. Unfortunately, I had a conflicting deadline and had to turn it down. But I was glad they liked my writing enough to ask me to do even more.
Happy 2019, friends! Thanks so much for reading!

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November 8, 2018

Resources and Tips for Children's Writers

Some days I'm amazed because I get paid to write books for children. Other times I recognize the hard work I put into every manuscript I write. It really is work. BUT I love my job. It's a blessing!

Maybe you've likely considered writing for children, too. Always the teacher, I have some suggestions for new writers.
I created a list of resources for children's writers. These are the books, websites, and online groups I repeatedly suggest to my writing friends, both new and experienced.

I also created a list of tips for new writers. Often writers submit to publishers before their manuscript is ready. I hope my tips will prevent that!

Also, the educational market is a fantastic way for writers to break into the publishing industry. Instead of pitching your book ideas to editors, the editors come to you with writing assignments (books and other resources).
I also teach multiple workshops for writers!

If you're ready to learn even more, consider attending a workshop or conference. SCBWI and the Highlights Foundation can get you started!

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