A Step in the Write Direction
June 10, 2013
Update: This has been a good catch-up week! Last Sunday my sister left for her summer cottage in Michigan and will be gone until September, and on Tuesday our youngest daughter left to visit her sister in Oklahoma for 3 weeks, so it’s been quiet here. No one to go out to lunch with. But it’s given me time to finish the father/grandfather anthology. Have finished the sections on “Like a Father/Grandfather” and “Grandfather,” and am now on the Father section. Hope to be finished and to the publisher’s by the end of the week. Had a huge problem when I accidentally deleted many emails with photos that contributors had sent for the anthology cover. But, thank the Lord, AOL came through and retrieved all my emails for the past 7 days! …. Not sure what I’ll do after I finish this book. I’m still thinking seriously of a book titled Devotions, Prayers, and Practical Hints for Caregivers, with an emphasis on the practical hints as there are already many devotional books out there for caregivers. Will do what God leads me to do.
Thought for the Day: “Do little things as though they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us and who lives our life; and do the greatest things as though they were little and easy, because of His omnipotence” (Pascal, Pensees, 553, Section VII).
Laugh for the Day: (why commas are important): Seen in print: We spent most of our time sitting on the back porch watching the cows playing Scrabble and reading (from Sheila Heil Gospel Greats newsletter, June 4, 2013).
Writer’s Tips: A reader sent me a children’s book a friend of hers had self-published. I read it and sent the following suggestions. If you’re thinking of writing a children’s book, this may help. (I might mention that the only children’s books I’ve sold so far is a devotional book for 8-12 year olds back in the middle 70s and a few months ago I sold a book titled Rhyme-Time Bible Stories for Little Ones, 12 Bible stories all in poetry.) Here are the hints:
* Go to the children’s section of a local bookstore or library; look for books aimed at this age, and see who the publisher is. Then go to their Web site and look for their guidelines on how to submit. The bookstore owner or children’s librarian can be a help in this too.
* Get a copy of the Writer’s Market from the library (don’t know if you can check them out or not, but if he’s going to do a lot of writing, he should buy one. An alternative to buying a new one is to go to a used bookstore and see if they have an older copy), and look at the publishers who publish children’s books. This book doesn’t have room to give a lot of information so, again, he’ll want to get their Web site address and look up the guidelines.
*Attend a conference with children’s book editors on the faculty and make an appointment with one or more. Because some publishers don’t accept anything unsolicited, often this is the best bet.
Other Hints on Writing for Children:
* The biggest thing to consider when writing for children is to zero in on the age you want to write for. Years ago (especially with religious publishers) it was broken down into preschool, kindergarten, primary, junior, and teens. Now it’s 2-3 year olds, 4-5, 6-8, 8-11 (’tweens), junior high, and senior highs.
* Get to know children this age and their vocabulary. Writer’s Digest has a book out (don’t know the exact title right now, but it’s something like Children’s Word List and it gives the vocabulary for each grade). This doesn’t mean you can’t add new words and give their definition in a glossary or in the context.
* Read your manuscript to that age group and get their response. When I wrote a children’s mystery book (still unpublished; needs a lot of work) to my then 10-year-old granddaughter, she protested, “Grandma, kids my age don’t talk like that!” Good to know!
* And lastly, READ as many books as you can in that genre—not to copy other authors’ writing style, but just to see what publishers are buying now.
I have a whole chapter on Writing for Children in my Step in the Write Direction—the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers. A student edition with assignments is also available.
Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page!