Lots of people ask me lots of questions about writing for children. Below are the questions asked most frequently, and the answers. I am also adding a few helpful bits of information and some links to websites that should serve as excellent resources. 

1. How long have I been writing? 
I have always been writing. Even as a young girl I enjoyed writing poems and stories. When I was in college I took several creative writing courses. My professor encouraged me to submit some of my work. At the time, I was writing short stories (not children’s stories). During my senior year at Simmons College I submitted two of them to a collegiate magazine called Sidelines. I was pleasantly surprised when both were published and one of the stories won an award! 

2. When did I start writing for children? 
After I graduated from college I took a job in radio. Over the next several years in my spare time, I continued to take creative writing courses whenever I could— sometimes at a local college, sometimes at a local bookstore that offered writing workshops. One day, I saw an advertisement for a writing workshop offered by children’s book author Jackie Greene. Writing for children was something I had not tried, but the ad sparked my interest. I took that course, then another and another…and well, you know the saying…the rest is history! Eventually, I joined a writers group led by Jackie (who I consider to be my mentor and a very good friend). Jackie is an accomplished writer and the author of dozens of books for children including picture books, historical novels, and many non-fiction series. (Visit her website at www.jdgbooks.com). 

3. Do I have an agent? 
Yes. I am represented by the wonderful Linda P. Epstein at the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, check out Linda’s blog TheBlabberMouthBlog.com. 
WARNING: A reputable agent would and should never ask for any type of fee up front! 
Agents earn their fee when a manuscript is sold. 

4. How did I choose my illustrator for my picture books? 
I didn’t. Choosing the illustrator is the job of the publisher. Lots of people think that when I submit a story or manuscript to a publishing house that I send illustrations with it. That is a big no-no. Unless you yourself are the illustrator, you never submit illustrations with your story. Once your story is accepted, the publisher will find an illustrator for it. 

5. Can I critique your stories? 
A lot of people ask me if I can provide feedback for the stories they have written or are working on. Unfortunately if I were to read and critique every story that I have been asked to review, I would need an extra 24 hours in each day. Writing for me is my full time job so between my work, promoting my books, school visits, making sure I get to the grocery store, vet, dentist, swim practice, walking the dog, and feeding the cats—not to mention feeding my kids and my family, I simply do not have the time.  

6. I’m working on a story how do I get it published?
It is very important to hone your writing skills before you submit your stories to publishers. Take a writing course! Learn how to create strong characters, and exciting plots. There is a technique to writing for children.
Join a writer’s group.  It is very important to have other writers who know what to look for critique your work (your mother and best friend do not count…unless of course they are writers too!) 
VERY IMPORTANT!!! Join SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).They have a national chapter as well as regional chapters. SCBWI offers an enormous amount of resources, and opportunities to meet other writers, attend workshops and conferences, and to keep you in the know as to what is going on in the world of children’s publishing as well as the children’s book market. Their website is www.scbwi.org. 
Read, read, read and read some more children’s books! If you are writing picture books, read picture books. If you are writing middle –grade chapter books, read middle-grade chapter books…you get the idea! 
Keep in mind that writing for children is a business. While the process is creative, publishers want to do business with “professional” writers. Most mid- size publishing houses receive thousands and thousands of submissions each year. A manuscript or cover letter formatted incorrectly screams “I don’t know what I’m doing!” Go out and get yourself a book called You Can Write Children’s Books (Tracey Dils). It will give you the info you need to format your submissions and cover letters correctly. The Business of Writing for Children (Aaron Shepard) is another excellent book to own. Both are very user friendly and full of valuable information. The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market is a terrific resource for writers when it comes to submissions to publishers. A new updated version comes out every year and is available at bookstores and also online. Your library may also have copies. It is full of helpful writing tips and information and has a list of publishers and an index that tells you who is publishing what. 
Be persistent, be positive, and most of all, love what you do. Really. You have to love the writing process or there is no other reason to do it. Great stories get rejected all the time, so don’t take it personally. Rejection is part of the process and believe it or not, it will actually make you a better writer. I always say, in hindsight it was a good thing that it took me so long before I published my first story because look at all the practice I got and all the time I had to really hone my writing.

Helpful Books
Children’s Writer and Illustrators Market
The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Children’s Books (Harold Underdown)
The Writer’s Guide to crafting Stories (Nancy Lamb)
You Can Write Children’s Books (Tracey Dils)
The Business of Writing for Children (Aaron Shepard)

Some of my favorite Blogs and Sites for  writers of children’s books
There are dozens and dozens of wonderfully informative blogs and sites out there. 
Here are three excellent places to start:
www.VerlaKay.com  (the message board is a GREAT resource)

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