Writer, Editor, and Creative Strategist

children's book author, writer, social media coachWelcome!

I’m Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan. I’m best known as a children’s author and freelance writer. Clients work with me when they need:

  • Business writing and blogging
  • Editing and e-book production
  • Creative consultation and promotion
  • Social media coaching

As a runner and triathlete, I have a great work ethic. In my experience, a tough physical challenge is a great way to spark incredible ideas.

As a mom, I know the value of humor and patience. My own children keep me on my creative toes and offer endless inspiration. Need help with grumpy kids? Picky kids? Grab a book below!

Contact me at 412.837.9499 or onesweetwriter[at]gmail.com if you need:

My writing appears frequently in magazines like Family Fun and AppleSeeds as well as Writer’s Weekly, Children’s Writer, and Kidsburgh. I have won awards for my fiction and poetry with my most recent flash fiction story appearing in Leading Edge Literary Magazine.

I have my MA in American History and have been a science educator, stage performer and worked with non-profits for over 10 years. When I’m not training for an upcoming road race or triathlon, I’m exploring the world with my husband and three children. I’ve been to 31 out of 50 states and 3 continents and counting!

I tackle each writing assignment with enthusiasm and would love to apply my skills to your project.

I encourage you to review my extensive writing samplesview my testimonials, visit my Amazon.com Author Page, and visit my LinkedIn profile.

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

More tips for picky eaters!

Boy eating whole wheat bread

Boy cannot live on bread alone.

Looking for more tips for picky eaters? If you have a picky eater in your family, you are probably familiar with the feeling that you’re in the middle of a food fight. You’ve prepared food but your picky eater won’t try a bite. Let the battle of wills begin! But I found that getting into a food fight with my picky eater left us both feeling defeated and angry. I want my children to have a healthy, curious attitude about food. And I don’t like arguing at every meal. So I looked into ways to work with my picky eater.

One important change was the creation of My Food Notebook. Not only did it help my child remember what foods he had tried and liked, it helped me remember if he liked foods prepared a certain way or with a certain condiment, which we call a “Flavor Buddy.” I also did a lot of research on techniques to that make it easier for kids to try new foods. Some of those tips are available here. But if you need additional ideas, here are five more tips to help create a win-win situation at your dinner table, too.

 

More Tips for Picky Eaters

1. Family Style – Instead of giving each person the same size serving and preparing plates in the kitchen, bring your food to the dinner table in family style bowls or platters and let your dining companions, young and old, choose the size of their serving. You may be surprised how many vegetables your children consume when they are allowed to serve themselves. And for those picky eaters, starting with a smaller portion is a lot less intimidating that facing a huge mound of spinach.

2. Choices – Whenever possible, I offer two or more vegetable choices at our family style dinners. I remind my children that a healthy meal includes some protein, some carbohydrates and a large serving of produce, then I let them choose. I highlight the nutritional benefits of each vegetable in language my kids can understand. We talk about Vitamin A in carrots and how it helps your eyes and Vitamin C in sweet potatoes and how it helps you fight off germs. But giving them a choice usually means they will eat more of their chosen food than if I have forced them to eat a certain vegetable.

3. Sticks – Putting food on sticks is like waving a magic wand for many picky eaters. Foods on sticks, whether it’s a kebob stick, a toothpick, or a really cute bento box mini-fork seems to make trying that food so much more fun.

4. Faces and fun – Since kids eat with their eyes and many children prefer to touch their food before putting it in their mouths, I often let them create faces and have a little fun with certain foods. Especially if we’re building a salad, creating a little monster face or cartoon character out of the salad ingredients can take the pressure off of trying new foods.

5. Be consistent –  There will be times when your picky eater is completely resistant to all tactics. Maybe they just aren’t hungry or aren’t in the mood to have fun. That happens here, too. But we don’t let our kids off the hook, they are required to have one bite of a vegetable – any vegetable they choose – at dinner. We call it our hop-down bite. You can’t hop-down from the table until you’ve taken the bite. And we never waver on this rule. Stick to it and the arguments and testing will fade. Do not give in. Not even once.

My Food Notebook helps picky eaters

My Food Notebook helps picky eaters

Once you’ve started using these tips to work with your picky eater, don’t forget to keep track of the foods they’ve tried in your very own copy of My Food Notebook. And let us know what foods become favorites – or not.

Check out MORE tips for picky eaters here!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Pinterest Helps Writers

I have often wondered if Pinterest helps authors.  As a self-published author, I do use Pinterest to promote my three books. But is it more of a distraction or an inspiration?

I wrote an article for the Children’s Writer newsletter called “Turn Procrastination to Productivity” that explores this idea. After some careful thought, I think it can be helpful for all kinds of writers.

And I’m not alone! I asked other writers on the NaNoWriMo forums and heard back from many writers.

Response 1

“I started using Pinterest for April Camp NaNoWriMo, collecting images and quotes and things that reminded me of the story that I was writing at the time. Then I created a board called “Writer’s Must Write” for writing tips and things about the writer life, and I now have 100+ followers!

For this year’s official NaNoWriMo I am doing the same thing, and it’s been a great help in terms of getting the looks of my characters and setting down. Once you start using Pinterest for writing, it opens up a whole world of writing boards that make me incredibly happy :D”

Response 2

“I am using Pinterest to show places that I write about. I live in Istanbul, so there is a lot to show. I also have a board for my NaNo text for this year, with ideas (so I use it for planning). I have a board with writing stuff. http://www.kathrynizgi.com”

Response 3

“I love Pinterest for writing! I just used it today actually. I use it to do visual research. I’m setting my novel in a castle, and I did a search for castles and now have a diverse group from which I can pick and choose different aspects. It’s especially good for things like seeing different parts of the world that I will never be able to go to. And there are plenty of great writing quotes that give me the kick I need to get writing.”

Pinterest writing ideas

Productivity not Procrastination

I have three boards dedicated to writing: Writer’s Resources, Magazines (To Read and Write For) and Worth Reading. Here I add pins that give me tips on writing, quotes from great writers, children’s books that push me to write my own stories and images that strike a chord with my imagination.

I will continue to promote my books via Pinterest, but one important thing to note is that prices are no longer displayed as a small ribbon across the top left corner of the pin image. Prices will now appear as a small bubble in the upper right of “pins with more information” or “rich pins.” Creating product pins from your website now requires adding tags to your website. You can get more info on rich pins here.

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

NaNoWriMo 2014

I'm all in!

I’m all in!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Five tips for picky eaters

tips for picky eaters

Won’t take a bite

Dealing with picky eaters is one of the most frustrating experiences for parents or any caregiver. So whenever I present My Food Notebook at parenting conferences or schools, I make sure I let the audience know my hidden secret: I have a picky eater, too. Sometimes, all three of my children are picky eaters!

But instead of just arguing with my children all the time I decided to change my approach. (This isn’t the first time I’ve had to make some parenting adjustments.) Part of my adjustment included creating My Food Notebook but it also included changing how food is served our house.

In order to work with my picky eater (and I always use the phrase “work with” because it is work that you have to do together), I have done a lot of reading and talked to a lot of other parents. From all that reading and talking I’ve put together a simple list of tips that help parents work with their picky eaters.

 

Five tips for picky eaters

1. Senses –  Remember your picky eater child doesn’t just shovel food into their mouth. They smell the food, see the food, often touch the food. And don’t forget how some food sounds when it squishes, splats or hits the plate with a thud. I try to pay attention to how food triggers my picky eater’s senses. I know he prefers things that are cubed or in distinct pieces and can’t handle anything too mushy.

 

2. Shopping – For some of us, grocery store time is the only time we get alone. But make sure you take your picky eater grocery shopping so your child can see the food you are selecting. Not too many people really like mystery food that just appears on their plate.

IMG_6545

Cooking together helps

3. Cooking – It’s not possible in my house to have my kids help me with every dinner, but I try to get my children (all of them, because each of them is picky about one thing or another) involved in cooking. This is important for breakfast and lunch, too, not just dinner. But seeing how the food looks at the store, bringing it home and preparing it, watching it transform on the stovetop or in the oven, helps my children and many children, take that first bite at the table. Not only are they more familiar with the food but they are also proud of their creation.

 

 

 

4. Gardening – Just like grocery shopping, being there when the food is acquired can help many children try something new. Imagine how they might feel about a new food that they have grown and cared for from a tiny seed, watched it blossom and then produce its fruit – it’s like magic! That is how I encouraged my pickiest eater to try his first eggplant. Even a small home has space for some small fruit and vegetable plants.

5. Role model – You have to eat it yourself, too. It’s as simple as that. You can’t ask them to eat it if you’re not eating it, too.

My Food Notebook helps picky eaters

My Food Notebook helps picky eaters

Once you’ve started using these tips to work with your picky eater, don’t forget to keep track of the foods they’ve tried in your very own copy of My Food Notebook. And let us know what foods become favorites – or not.

Check out MORE tips for picky eaters here!

 

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

New articles published

I am excited to announce a few new articles are now published and ready to be read!

In August, my article “Make Your Open House a Hit” went live on PTOToday.com.

In September, my article “Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in School” went live on SchoolFamily.com.

And in October, my article “What to Do With Poo” came out in the November 2014 issue of Odyssey Magazine.

Odyssey magazine

Attention grabber!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

The Mom Con in Pittsburgh

the mom con Pittsburgh

Nov. 15 – Don’t miss this!

There’s buzz, no doubt about it, surrounding The Mom Con happening in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15, 2014! It’s going to be a great event this year and although I’m not able to attend as a vendor for family reasons, I have to say I’m excited to still be involved and learning from the organizers.

The theme for this year’s event is “Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering” and frankly I’ve felt all of those things even before going to the event! I’ve been learning about the businesses and vendors that will be there and I’ve been inspired by the founding moms. I’ve connected with other moms at pre-Mom Con events. And I’ve felt empowered to reach out and try some new events outside of my comfort zone.

Check out this list of speakers  and the schedule. There are still tickets available and if you haven’t gotten yours, I suggest you get them soon!

 

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

NaNoWriMo 2014

It’s almost November! And you know what that means? NaNoWriMo 2014!

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is only a few days away and I’m itching to get started. I had two ideas in mind for this month’s project.

Project Ideas

1. “Sweetie” is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in Depression-Era Baltimore.

-or-

2. “Buyer Beware” tells the story of a self-centered middle school boy finds an old iPod at a flea market that gives him the ability to hear people’s thoughts.

I asked my kids and they voted unanimously for Story Idea #2. Which one would you like to read?

How will I prepare?

Once I’ve settled on my project idea, I’ll work off an outline. I’ve already laid out the basic 15 beats for Buyer Beware based on what I learned from the wonderful Save the Cat workshop presented by novelist Jessica Brody. So that pre-work is done. If I go with Sweetie, I’ll have to take the time in the next few days to lay out those 15 beats.

Preparation also includes clearing my calendar of all unnecessary lunch and coffee dates, setting times for workouts that don’t interrupt the whole day, and making sure that I note which days I have to go over the recommended daily word count. We will be traveling in November and I’m attending the WPA SCBWI conference this month, so there will be several days when it will be really hard to hit my word count goals.

What’s my plan?

I’d like to hit 2,000 words a day in the first two weeks. That means “BICFOK” or “butt in chair, fingers on keys” will be my mantra. I’ll shove that inner editor aside and work to tell the story. I’ll rely on dialogue a lot, because that tends to be my strong point. I’ll also see if I can add in some character-development scenes, setting description scenes, and work to include sensory information that I often leave out of first drafts. I’m not trying to do these things just for word count but also to strengthen my first drafts and think about including elements that make a good story right from the beginning.

Are you tackling NaNoWriMo this year? What’s your story idea? Good luck!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

How to Find An Agent For My Novel

critique groups

Drafts & Revisions

Earlier this year, I finished the first draft of my middle novel, Dare Club. Once the draft was done, I dedicated the rest of the year to revision and to find an agent for my novel.

I knew that it would be tough to find an agent for my novel wasn’t going to be easy and would need the strongest possible manuscript, which is why revision was a huge part of ths. In order to tackle the revision process, I downloaded Kate Messner’s book Real Revision. I attended a writing retreat hosted by the Western PA region of SCBWI. I worked online with Margo Dill, a.k.a Editor 911. And I put in hours at my desk and laptop alone.

With revision underway, I needed to get out there and meet agents, both in real life and online. In May, I attended the Pennwriters Conference and pitched to four different agents. At the writing retreat, I put my first chapters in front of an editor. In September, I participated in Brenda Drake‘s Pitch Wars and in her Twitter-based #PitMad party.

And I crossed my fingers.

And somewhere along the line I realized how pitching and revision go hand in hand when it comes to writing the best possible book and in the search to find an agent for my novel. When I wanted to really hone in on the essence of my story and create a compelling pitch, I thought long and hard about if the 50,000 words on the pages actually told that story.

I sent my queries out there and posted my pitches on Twitter and got some interesting, thoughtful feedback that will help me revise even more and hopefully help me not just find any agent for my novel but to find an agent for my novel that is the right one. 

Have you ever sent a query out? And gotten a rejection back? I’ve received tons of rejections but I thought I’d share the ones relevant to my novel here.

Rejection 1: “Thanks so much for sending your novel along and for your patience while I considered it.  I’m sorry but I’ve decided to pass.  I think the concept is really strong, but I wasn’t drawn in by the writing, which felt a little too young in a way.”

Rejection 2: “Thank you for the opportunity to consider DARE CLUB. Though I really love this premise and you show a lot of talent as an author, I didn’t quite buy into the relationship between Tony, Inky, and Mara—the dynamic felt, at times, a tad too flat, and I’d like to have known more about Mara in particular. I am afraid that I don’t have the vision for this project—but I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and a publisher for DARE CLUB. It’s a great premise, and with the right editorial guidance I think you could have something here.”

Rejection 3: “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to choose DARE CLUB. In this case it really came down to voice, and I just wasn’t personally connecting.”

Rejection 4: “Thank you for sharing your Pitch Wars entry with me! I received a lot of submissions, and unfortunately, I didn’t choose yours to mentor.I really enjoyed your entry, which made this a tough decision! You’ve got great MG voice, strong writing, and an intriguing concept. I think the one thing I wanted more of was Tony. He’s narrating the story, but I couldn’t get a good grip on who he was as a person (besides the fact that he likes challenges and hates his nickname). It might help to add a few more thoughts/emotions on his part as he narrates in order to shed more light on him as a character — things that give insight into his family, things he likes to do, other friends, pets, goals/desires (aside from getting to know Mara better, that is! ;) You definitely don’t want to info-dump this kind of thing, but just adding a little here and there as it relates to the conversation or Tony’s observations would help flesh out his character. I hope that helps! I definitely think you should query this (if you haven’t already started), and enter it into some more contests. You should also consider doing the #pitmad pitch party on Twitter on the 9th–you’ve got a great hook, which is a must-have to get agent attention in 140 characters. :) Best of luck to you.”

Something amazing just happened as I read those rejections in the process of posting them here to help inspire fellow writers to keep working on their dream novel. I felt inspired again. I wanted to let other writers know that rejections aren’t always filled with negative comments or with cursory dismissals. Rejections can help, especially when the agent or editor provides a useful critique! I know that’s rare enough these days so these kinds of rejections should be treasured all the more.

I’m still trying to find an agent for my novel. And I’m not giving up yet!

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Too Many Critique Groups?

critique groups

Drafts & Revisions

Are you a in a critique group? I am – actually three critique groups! I think critique groups are truly invaluable to any serious writer and not just for works of fiction.

I meet regularly with a friend I met through NaNoWriMo (coming very soon!) to discuss non-fiction queries, article ideas and fiction ideas. We also discuss whether certain writing contests are worth the effort. Having a writer friend as a sounding board is a great asset, and it helps when the writing friend has a different approach than you.

In addition to meeting with my friend, I also meet regularly with two formal critique groups but both have different vibes.

Last summer I learned about the Society for Children’s Books Writers and Editors and attended their summer “critique-nic.” This picnic plus critique group combined my love of food and writing perfectly and following that event I joined an SCWBI critique group in Cranberry. This has been my most successful, continual critique group ever. We have a great chemistry and really work hard to help each other produce our best work.

Joining this SCWBI group has kept me on task and provided good moral support. This group was especially helpful after I had a negative experience at a writing retreat and was accused of being a rude, harsh, inexperienced critiquer. (I’ll have to share more about this story later.) After the retreat, I returned to my familiar group and shared my unhappy story. They reassured me it was probably a misunderstanding or a just a really negative person. This group is a great mix of writers with diverse experience, too. I definitely want to be in this group.

After attending – and loving – my first Penn Writers conference, I learned about a critique group very convenient to my neighborhood and requested to join. I was pretty surprised to learn I had to audition to join this group! I sent off my writing sample and felt very lucky to be accepted. They keep a strict six-person membership limit and while the group meets for an epic 5 hours once a month, they work very hard to give detailed feedback and stay on topic.

I’ve had one meeting with this group and found it to be really engaging and informative. I’m excited to bring my MG novel “Dare Club” and work on revisions with the help of this group. Each person is writing something so different, I also feel like I will learn a lot from each of their works. I definitely want to be in this group, too!

There’s a third critique group that’s still in the growing stages trying to meet every other Wednesday at  Coffee Buddha, a coffee shop also in my neighborhood. Growing a critique group can be pretty hard when people haven’t made the commitment to clear the space on their calendar and prioritize being there. New critique groups are always working out who the leader is, how many people are needed to meet, how often to meet and working to build a comfort level with each other. This is probably the hardest one for me to commit to, since it’s still growing. But I feel responsible for it some reason!

I think two critique groups plus a writing mentor is enough, but three is too many. But I can’t let go of the guilt of abandoning a group of writers looking for support in their community!

Do you belong to one or more critique groups? What’s the best part? What’s the worst?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Kids Ebooks Project

kids ebooks dinosaurs

Kids roar for dinosaurs

I’m working on a new kids ebook project and it’s part bucket-list, part platform builder. I’ve created kids ebooks before, but for this project I felt it was important that the ebook exist as a standalone app and not get buried in an e-reader. I’ve also always wanted to create an app and I’ve had several simple ideas but I don’t have the skills needed to program an app. To be honest, I also didn’t want to spend the time to learn how to program an app using even the simple toolkits available online – and there are some good ones! I’d much rather learn the steps overall process but have people really skilled in certain areas complete the tasks and pay attention to details I would overlook.

So, here are the steps I’ve taken in creating my new kids ebook project.

 1. Identified the topic. I’m working with dinosaurs because my oldest has loved them since he was a baby and because lots and lots of boys and girls throughout the world love dinosaurs. I like kids ebooks that utilize take a familiar children’s song or tune, so I started there and added a dinosaur element. I brainstormed three ideas and then started doing some research on artists, copyright law, musicians, and app developers.

2. Commissioned the artwork. Finding the artist came quickly. I’m working with artist Felix Eddy and her unique creations are both reasonably priced and beautifully done. She created the initial seven images I asked for to start the book. Right now she is on hold while we decide file formats and how many additional images I need to complete the project.

3. Learned about copyright law. So, my first ebook idea is had to be taken off the list. I can’t do a work based on the Hokey Pokey because that song is owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing and the idea I had was a derivative work, not a parody. Big publishing houses have the resources to use copyrighted material in kids ebooks, but not self-publishers like me. So I’m exploring options two and three which I think are also strong.

4. Find a musician. Thanks to a conversation with my friend Shawn, I was connected with Scott Imblum, who owns a music school and also worked with the Pittsburgh Technology Council. He is ready to help me with the audio portion of the ebook as soon as I get to that stage. And he also helped an incredible amount with finding a developer!

5. Developers are tough to find. They are out there, but this is a small project and not likely to earn a lot of money, so I’m looking for the perfect combination of a developer who’s willing to work on kids ebooks for a rather small amount of money but still has the skills I need to create a really great user interface. So far I’ve talked with two sets of people who connect me with developers and I have a phone call with a third person this coming week.

In a future update, I’ll share some of the simple app development toolkits that developers have shared with me and talk about the Kindle Kids Book creator program. I’ll probably use that to release a version of this book and see how easy or hard the process is.

What projects are on your bucket list?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.