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? Want to dance with a dinosaur? 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.

Being Thankful for the Good and the Bad

turkey plateFive Bad Things I’m thankful for:

  1. Writer’s Block – because I wouldn’t have it if I wasn’t a writer
  2. Spelling Errors – because they give editors like me a job
  3. Bad Days – because they usually make better stories than perfect days
  4. Traffic jams – because I can brainstorm
  5. Tough critiques – because I can do better

Five Good Things I’m thankful for:

  1. Sharp pencils and blank paper
  2. Generous friends and family
  3. Long runs
  4. Hot coffee
  5. Sequels




About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Planning for NaNoWriMo 2015

So a year ago I put out a tweet asking people what story I should work on for NaNoWriMo 2014. I got more votes on the second project and have put the first project aside for awhile (but it’s still in the back of my head).


2014 NaNoWrIMo Ideas

For this year, instead of waiting until the last minute to write a novel off of the top of my head, I decided on my NaNoWriMo project well before November 1. And I started getting to work on the backstory! My planned project was going to be about two young lovers in Pittsburgh during the Civil War who both want enslaved people to be free and to keep their country whole. But they believe there are different ways of doing this. So are a part of my planning, I started sketching out scenes. I named characters. I described my characters. I ordered books about Civil War era Pittsburgh from the library. I went to the History Center and located original documents and learned how to access records of newspapers from the time period!

WHEW did I plan.

Then I spent October 18-21 at the Highlights Foundation learning how to write page-turning non-fiction for middle grade readers. While it was only a few days, when you’re in a small group workshop all day, for all meals, you learn a lot about people. And the instructor of the workshop, the wonderful Deborah Hopkinson, took the time to listen to my idea for my NaNoWriMo project. She pointed out some flaws and asked good, hard questions. I’m interested in writing a book during NaNoWriMo, but I’m also interested in writing publishable, marketable books. Then she asked me a very important question: why wasn’t I writing a book about running?

I admitted that I felt it would be self-indulgent and selfish. I worried it wouldn’t be marketable. I worried I couldn’t write it in a way that shared how important running has been to me as a woman and writer. She pushed me a little more and we discussed a possible character and the story arc. I felt overwhelmed and emotional. I felt exhilarated. I left the Barn (where we had our classes and meals) and I walked to this spot on the trail and I cried a little, overwhelmed at the idea that I could write this story about a girl who comes of age and unlocks the secrets to happiness thanks to running.

Where I decided on NaNoWriMo 2015

Where I decided on NaNoWriMo 2015


This novel is a lot more of a pantser project than my first idea, which is nice and planned. But maybe this is a good thing! Maybe I write one with emotion and on the fly and I write the second (the Civil War one) after NaNoWriMo when I can really read info and add in the important historical details.

I know I can do this. Thanks to my experience as a runner, I know it’s all about putting in the work daily. And running isn’t just a theoretical part of my writing. It’s a practical part because  I think through plot, flesh out characters, and sketch scenes in my brain during every workout.  I can write both of these stories. I have already written full manuscripts for The Forest of Dreams, Runner’s Luck, and Dare Club. I have completed two big revisions on Dare Club. I can write both my planned story and my pantser story. 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

New Kids Ebook Dinosaur Boogie Now Available!

New kids ebook now available!

Order your copy of Dinosaur Boogie today

and get your little dinosaur lovers dancing!

dinosaur boogie book

Get on the dance floor and roar!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

12×12 Picture Book Writing

It’s November and like many writers, I’m at the early stages of NaNoWriMo. I love NaNoWriMo because it helps me produce one big project, a 50,000 word novel in a specific period of time. But I’m not only writing novels. I write magazine articles throughout the year and try my hand at short stories here and there. But I also have a goal of writing a publishable picture book, fiction or non-fiction.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 3.06.32 PM

To work on achieving that goal, I was really excited to learn about Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 project. This website encourages writers to produce 12 picture book drafts over the course of the year, one per month. The drafts do not have to be perfect and you don’t even have to show the draft to anyone (but I always take mine to critique groups). But for each draft you complete, you can earn a badge on your profile on the website. Writers can also earn a badge for revising a picture book manuscript in each month. Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 4.09.10 PM

I love the gamification aspect of this site. I also enjoy the forums as a place where writers can discuss questions and Shel SILVERstein members (my level) can also share the first 250 words of their manuscripts in the forums and request feedback from other members. For good karma, members are encouraged to leave feedback on two or three manuscripts for every one we submit for feedback.

Gold members pay a higher fee and have the chance to submit their manuscripts to agents or editors. There is a bronze level that doesn’t allow you to post 250 words but does give you access to the forums and chance to participate in webinars.

Thanks to 12×12, I’ve been really productive on my picture book manuscripts this year. I have a decent one I plan to bring to an intensive critique at my local SCWBI conference this month. I produced at least one throw away (The Snow Fort) and one possible magazine story (Santa’s Best Friend). I also revised a story that was purchased by a magazine and that feels like a great success! And for three months in a row I drafted completely different stories based on one basic idea.

It doesn’t take long to produce a picture book draft. Mine are typically under 1000 words so that’s less than an hour of work a month! Get those vague ideas into words and see how they feel. Then for the rest of the month massage the words, revise the words, adjust and alter the words. If it’s not feeling great, let it go at the end of the month because you know you will produce something new.

I’m thinking I will renew my membership next year because I like the accountability that comes with knowing I’ve paid for a membership and I should use it. It’s interesting that I don’t have a lot of trouble generating queries for non-fiction magazine articles. But there’s usually a deadline associated with non-fiction query ideas, so that is my accountability!

What helps you be productive when it comes to picture book writing? Do you set goals and work to fulfill them? Do you need some kind of external structure to keep you focused?



About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Make a Picture Book Draft

I’ve been trying to make a picture book draft once a month, every month, this year. I’m a member of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 and the focus on productivity and creativity – the art of creating – has been really useful. I know I can come up with an idea once a month and it doesn’t take long to make a picture book draft. These drafts are typically less than 1000 words so it doesn’t take more than an hour to sketch out the first version.

The drafts that seem to work, that could possibly morph into a story for a children’s magazine or perhaps something to bring to critique group and then later to a writer’s intensive at a conference get revised.

As part of the revision process and to test the strength of the story I’ll make a dummy. A dummy is a more detailed draft of the picture book story, laid out with illustrations. Dummies help you see if there are page turning moments, if each set of words can be illustrated, if your story is droning on or getting repetitive.

I’ll also bring my drafts to children to read and critique. My kids are used to being honest about what they like and what they don’t. My kids are also used to seeing picture book drafts that don’t have pictures. But other children aren’t. That’s another good reason to make a dummy.

Make a Picture Book Draft

When you make a picture book draft or dummy, you are working on storyboarding. I have experimented with three different ways of making picture book dummies and storyboarding my tales.

The first is very visual, a traditional storyboard approach. I used this format a lot when planning out the text and illustrations for Dinosaur Boogie.

make a picture book draft

Just needs a story.


The second way is a bit more traditional. The instructions come from Ann Whitford Paul’s book Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication. She advises you take four pieces of paper and cut them into quarters. Staple them together and you have the pages you need to lay the text and illustrations for a traditional 32 page picture book.

Make a picture book draft

Long and short stories.

Following Whitford Paul’s advice I created books of different sizes and orientations to accommodate different amounts of text. But I innovated a little with this method and used scrap paper. Yes, that means I can’t write directly on these pages, but I can write text on post-it notes and move them around inside the book pages easily. I can also scribble something on a post-it regarding illustration and move that around, too, and experiment with a little bit of graphic design. Do I want the text above the art? Below? Around the side?

Which leads me to my third method that I use to make a picture book draft or dummy: InDesign. I’m no expert, but I can get around in InDesign. So I will create a document with lots of pages, put my text in and then search on Google for free images. I’m not going to use these images for a profit so I could probably use images that aren’t free, but I like to keep things honest. Then I print out a simple version of an illustrated dummy. These are the versions I take into my favorite test classrooms and try out on kids that aren’t mine.

picture book draft

Ready to read.

Not too shabby! And I find bringing illustrated dummies to classrooms helps me get a sense of the kids’ real reaction to story instead of them being confused about where the pictures are. And they love learning the phrase “picture book dummy.”

So how do you go about making a picture book draft or dummy? Do you have a favorite method? Are you hi-tech or old school?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Chapter Titles in Scrivener Compile

Scrivener is great, isn’t it?

Scrivener is really hard to learn, isn’t it?

I can’t really learn and retain lots and lots of information just by reading it one time. I need to use the information in some way or else I find I have a problem and learn by finding the solution. My most recent problem was that the chapter titles for my novel manuscript weren’t appearing in the Compile document. I struggled with this for awhile. I did Google searches. I asked people on Twitter. I asked two smart, curious people who are good at problem-solving and debugging. I did more Google searches.

(In the middle of researching this problem, I stumbled upon the answer to another problem! How to populate the project status bars!)

Finally, after some continued struggle and putting the question away and then coming back to it, I re-read the block of text at the intro screen within Scrivener. Turns out I needed to not work in folders. Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 2.18.04 PM

I didn’t want to make multiple scenes. I just wanted to write chapters. So I thought that meant write in folders. But that was wrong. Based on the intro screen info, I needed to create text files and move those text files up to the chapter level.

Scrivener Chapter Titles


Within each text file, I also selected the boxes on the far right that said “Include in Compile” and “Page Break Before.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 2.18.12 PM

So I went through every chapter and created a text file, copy and pasted the words into the new file, then deleted the folder. Then I went to the Compile screen. Guess what!

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 2.18.42 PM

All of the chapter titles I wanted were highlighted in yellow! WOOO!!! I hit Compile. And when I checked out the document, all of my chapter titles were right where they should be!

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 2.19.06 PM

So my whole problem was answered right in the main screen. For reference, here’s the info:

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 5.31.24 PM


While I really enjoyed using Scrivener to work on my novel manuscript I am by no means a power user. There are so many features I haven’t even begun to explore. I’m about to work on a non-fiction picture book proposal and I believe I will learn even more about the features of Scrivener as I encounter problems or want things to look a certain way and then learn how to make it happen.

What feature of Scrivener did you learn through problem-solving? Which feature is your most favorite?




About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Magazines that Use Freelance Writers

magazines for freelancers

Check out the inside

Are you looking for magazines that use freelance writers?

In early october I spent some time sending emails to new magazines that accept submissions from freelance writers. How did I find these magazines? I can tell you I didn’t spend any time browsing the glossy magazine display at the supermarket or my local bookstore. While I have had articles appear in those magazines, they are far and few between. So here’s a list of some of the places I look for magazines that use freelance writers.

Pennwriters – as a member of Pennwriters, I received their newsletter The Penn Writer. The back few pages of the newsletter typically highlights several unique and varied publications that accept queries or works on speculation.

The Renegade Writer – Linda Formacelli offers both an extensive list of trade publications and the instruction and guidance on how to research and pitch articles to a variety of magazines that use freelance writers.

Freelance Writing – This website sends out a weekly email of online and print publications that accepts freelance writing. The site owner even hired some freelancers recently. What I like about this one is that it also lists places that seek and are paying for fiction writing.

SCBWI – I love the advice provided by SCBWI for children’s writing. But they also do a quarterly publication called The Kite that highlights recent publication credits of SCBWI members. I read those announcements and use them as jumping off points to research new places to send my writing. I consider it a little ‘pay it forward’ from successful writers to seeking writers.

When you do compile a list of magazines that use freelance writers, absolutely make sure you take some time to research what kind of writing style and topics they prefer. But don’t hesitate to send a letter of introduction or query even if you’ve never written on their focus topics. Do your research, conduct interviews and show your best work and get that writing out there.

Where do you find magazines that use freelance writers?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Highlights Foundation Workshop, Day 1 

  I’m here in Cabin 10 in Boyds Mills at my first ever Highlights Foundation Workshop. First thing I notice: it’s quiet. So, so quiet. It’s creeping me out! I’m used to working and writing surrounded by the constant noise of happy and unhappy children. Also, I don’t hear any cars. Or birds yet, but it is night. There’s not even the hum of the heater, but my little cabin is warm and snug. But the quiet is partially why I came here, right? To get a lot of writing and learning done in three days with nothing else to worry about or distract me. Im here to focus on learning how to write page-turning non-fiction for middle grade readers and up. 
That’s my name on the door. I belong here, right? I was worried. I doubted I was ready to attend a workshop like this. Sure, I’ve written several non-fiction articls for kids. I haven’t written a book though. And I wasn’t sure I was Highlights-quality yet. But I have ideas. I have lots of ideas. And I’m open-minded. I’m willing to learn. I love reading non-fiction and I know what kids like to read. I belong here. 

I am a little intimdated to show my first pages tomorrow. I have two ideas that I thought would make great magazine articles. In fact, one was almost accepted by Highlights a few years ago. But after studying the books of some of our instructors for this week, including Deborah Hopskinson and Steve Sheinkin, I now have some great ideas on how to boost these stories into quality, non-fiction biographies that could be really exciting for kids to read. I hope. 

I can’t help believing a little bit in karma. Part of the reason I signed up for this workshop (which I’ve been wanting to try for awhile) was the fact that Highlights recently bought one of my submissions, a small science-based craft. But I took it as a sign that I was ready to try this next level of my craft. And when I arrived, as I flipped through the guest book in my cabin, I saw a familiar name. Alexis O’Neill stayed in this cabin! She writes excellent non-fiction and I loved her class at the 2014 SCBWI Conference in Pittsburgh. There’s some karma here. 

Time to get to work!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

What Books Made You Cry?

What books made you cry when you read them? For my oldest son, I think the first book that made him cry was the story of Ivan, a gorilla kept in a cage at a mall. In this book, it was the death – and treatment after death – of Ivan’s one friend that brought my son to tears.

My oldest often has a little trouble expressing his emotions, especially when he’s upset. But when characters he loves die, he really feels this deeply. I remember when he was watching the old school Transformers and he got to the part when Optimus Prime died. My husband and I were outside doing yard work when we heard him screaming and crying. He rushed outside, tears streaming down his face, telling us Optimus was dead. It was a horrible, beautiful moment. When I was his age, I specifically remembering crying my eyeballs out thanks to two books about the death of animals, specifically dogs.

The first is Sasha, My Friend. This book is so old it’s no longer being printed so you’ll have to get your hands on a used copy. But it’s a wonderful book and I cried for good reasons.

The second book I can specifically remember crying while reading was A Dog Called Kitty. Both this story and Sasha, My Friend involve the main character building a friendship and then losing the friend. I know that’s kind of a spoiler, but I already told you these books made me cry, so you can’t be too surprised.

Right now I’m reading a biography of Barack Obama to my youngest who is in Kindergarten. It’s his choice of book, I didn’t tell him what to read. His older brothers devour chapter books so he wants to read them to and he picked this one. We just finished the part where Barack visits his father’s grave in Kenya and cries. I noticed my son wiping his eyes and looking away. He felt so deeply for Barack he couldn’t help himself from crying. I think this is quite possibly the first time my youngest cried during a book.

As you know, I’m writing books for children (and adults who like to read children’s books). Some of the best advice I received about telling a good story is to work hard to make readers burst into laughter as well as to tears.

Most of the adult books I read today explore the horrible things happening in the world, but I really believe the books that made you cry as a child explored the simplest emotions of love, friendship, loneliness and loss. I can’t think of a book for adults I’ve read that’s made me cry as hard as Sasha and Kitty tore my heart apart. But I do remember losing it during the movies District 9 and Hero. I’m not sure Hero counts though, because I was pregnant at the time and full of hormones.

I have a book planned out in which the main character, someone I hope readers will not like very much at the beginning then grow to love, dies. This sounds horrible, but I hope some readers will cry when as they read my (future) book. It’s not being mean, it’s a hope that I can someday write a character so real, so meaningful, so worth caring for and loving, that I touch readers in their heart.

What books made you cry, as a child or adult reader?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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

Pitching Your Writing

pitching your writing

Every day should be Coffee Day!

Pitching your writing doesn’t come easy to every writer. In fact, I have a friend who just shared on Facebook that she recently sent out her first query in a long time and “didn’t die.” Of course she didn’t die. Sending out queries should not be life threatening. But for many writers, pitching your writing is super stressful and not something that can be done everyday.

I don’t pitch every single day, but I try to pitch something every week. And sometimes I get on a big tear and pitch a lot of things in one week that keeps my monthly average high. For instance, September was a mighty busy month for me. I submitted several non-fiction pieces to children’s magazines, my novel manuscript to some carefully selected agents, and finalized my new children’s ebook for it’s October release.

Maybe you like pitching your writing is something special, that you should save up and do it big, do it right.

But I suggest you think about National Coffee Day. National Coffee Day happens once a year. If I treated National Coffee Day like some amazing holiday, I might plan a huge party, decorate my house, invite my closest friends, raise my expectations and demands to incomprehensible levels. And when the day finally arrived, if the roast was a little weak or the water not quite hot, or no one showed up at all, I could be sorely disappointed. Hopes dashed, coffee grounds strewn across the counter, stumbling around blinded by my caffeine-headache in despair.

Which is why I drink coffee every day. I don’t wait for one special day a year to enjoy it.

And that’s why pitching your writing should be an every day, or at least every week event. It doesn’t have to be the most perfect cup of coffee/article idea you’ve ever written. It should be GOOD. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggested you go about pitching your writing crap. But you shouldn’t wait for that perfect moment. Work on it as often as you possibly can. Pitch frequently. Pitch to new places. Pitch to your old favorites. Put it out there.

You need to pitch often for one important reason: so you can practice. Because pitching your writing isn’t something you’re going to be great at the first time. And if you don’t practice you’re not going to get better. I certainly was not any good at pitching when I started back in the early 2000s. But I’ve experimented, learned, practiced, learned more, taken classes and practiced even more. And I force myself to write pitches even when I’m not sure the editor is going to bite because the act of practicing pitching your writing is an essential part of being a freelance writer.

(Just like you have to practice running to get better).

So if you don’t want to send out what you think are weak pitches to editors, send them to your writing partner. But send them. Force yourself to hit send. Then celebrate with a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice. And get ready to pitch again tomorrow!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

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