Pittsburgh Creative Writing Camp for Kids

This past summer, I had a great time hosting a Pittsburgh creative writing camp for kids ages 5-12. I didn’t plan to have such a wide age range, but lots of things in life happen different than we plan!

Before the class started, I had a pretty decent curriculum planned for kids ages 9-12. I was prepared for this age group, because I also host an after school writing club at our elementary school. But when I saw I had young kids in this camp, I had to REVISE the entire thing that first afternoon.

Luckily writers are familiar with revision.

I feel pretty proud of the new version of the camp. It’s perfect for pre-literate kids who want to write books. We review mentor texts  – many books with little or no words! – then create our own. It’s a little bit of STEM, a little bit ELA, a little bit ART, and a lot of fun.

I’m planning to host a camp at a local bookstore this summer, so stay tuned!

Submissions, Acceptances, and Rejections 2016-2018

 

In a previous post on submissions, rejections, and acceptances, I discovered I had a yearly average just above 10% as an acceptance rate. Also, I noticed my submissions aren’t consistent throughout the year. I’m OK with that! Everything ebbs and flows. I’m really happy with the past year (2017) in terms of WHAT I submitted and how much I earned, especially for fiction writing. One acceptance isn’t quite the same as every other. In 2017, for instance I had my first fiction story appear in Highlights!

But I still love tracking this data. I’m eager to see what I can accomplish in 2018.

Visit The Brown Bookshelf

February is Black History Month.

But wait. It’s November. Why am I writing about reading books about black history?

Because black history is American history. And I love reading and writing about American history. I especially love learning the stories in history.

Have you read Lift Every Voice? This beautiful book is by Pittsburgh author Kelly Starling Lyons. She’s a contribute to The Brown Bookshelf, a blog where you can find even more information about black voices, especially those creating for young readers.

ALL young readers.

I first learned about Kelly’s books thanks to my local bookstore, Riverstone Books. Local bookstores are the heart and soul of the story-telling world.

No online book seller hosts meet the author events.

No online book seller brings authors and illustrators to your town to meet children. 

Only local bookstores help children see someone who looks like them, telling stories about them.

Support your local bookstore. Visit The Brown Bookshelf and find a new book to love.

New Picture Book Publications: Sea School and Picky Penny

I’m so proud to share these two books that I wrote for KPS Storybook Development in South Korea!

I had a lot of fun writing about the main characters, Janine Sardine and Picky Penny. Each character faces a problem that children in grades PK-2 often face. I love the final illustrations.

Unfortunately these books aren’t for sale in the U.S., but if you stop by, you can read my copies!
two picture books Sea School and Picky Penny

New Publication: Count Me In and the Great Backyard Bird Count

This month, I’m particularly proud of my new article in the October 2019 issue of Muse magazine “Count Me In: Participate in Important Scientific Research Just by Counting Birds.”

With the bird population declining by 29%, and the threat of state birds not even being able to live in their “home” states, paying attention to birds is more than just a hobby. It’s an act of awareness and conservation. I’m really excited to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this coming February and hope to join in other bird counts as well.

photo of magazine article about great backyard bird count

A “How to” Flow Chart for Writing Picture Books

I’m wondering if a “how to” flow chart for writing picture books would be helpful. I sketched out a quick draft of a flow chart, but thinking it would be faster to just type up a Q&A.

I see a lot of questions in different writing groups from people who have written a picture book and just aren’t clear on the next steps. It got me thinking that a flow chart, or set of instructions, might be helpful. I jotted down this draft, but I’m not sure it’s the best format for presenting the info. And there are many more questions to fit into this chart, like “when should I take a class?” or “do I need a website for my book?” or “this company says it will print my book for me, it costs $10,000, should I do it?”

I want to help people who are just starting out writing picture books, but I also know there are many non-traditional paths to follow in this process. Would a chart like this be helpful or limiting? Even discouraging?

I mean, who says we have to follow the rules? But maybe these aren’t rules, just an outline of the typical paths people follow when writing picture books.

Writing picture books is both difficult and stressful but also wonderful and fulfilling. Let me know if this chart idea is worth doing or not.

Children’s Book Academy Graduate!

I’m so pleased to be a Children’s Book Academy graduate. I had a great five weeks of learning from Mira Rosenberg and her incredible faculty.

Thank you Mira!

The Morning Rush – a Poem for Busy Writers

So You Want to Be President of the United States

Cover of the non-fiction book for children called "So You Want to Be President of the United States"So You Want to Be President of the United States! (Capstone, 2019).

Wanted: Someone to be the face of America. The president is responsible for signing laws, making sure the laws are followed, and figuring out the best way to run the country. Find solutions to problems. Clean up natural disasters. Meet with other leaders. It’s a big job. Do you have what it takes?

Order your copy:

 

Writing Non-Fiction for Children Resources

Writing non-fiction for children is one of my favorite kinds of writing.

In the past year, I’ve written three non-fiction books, one large non-fiction text book chapter, and numerous non-fiction magazine articles all for young readers. I have at least three non-fiction manuscripts waiting for the right publisher to fall in love with them.

Non-Fiction is an essential and exciting part of children’s literature.

It’s also a great way to develop your writing career. If you are interested in making a living as a children’s writer, non-fiction is a great place to start.

And if you’re like me, it’s an easy way to keep learning about the world around us.

I was so grateful that SCBWI offered so many session for non-fiction writers at the annual summer conference in Los Angeles. During the conference, I connected with other wonderful non-fiction lovers!  And, I also learned about some excellent websites for non-fiction writers. I have added these to my weekly “to read” list. You should, too!

Check out Melissa Stewart’s Science Books and Non-Fiction Teaching Resources

Don’t miss The Classroom Bookshelf from School Library Journal.