Pam Halter & Kim Sponaugle Part 2

Pam Halter headshot

Pam Halter has been a children’s book author since 1995. She has published two picture books, Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes (Concordia, 2001) . She was selected to attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy, May 2010, received Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, and won the Reader’s Choice Award in a short story contest hosted by Realm Makers and Brimstone Fiction in 2015. Pam also is a children’s book freelance editor and the children’s book editor for Fruitbearer Kids. http://www.pamhalter.com

 

Kim Sponaugle head shotKim Sponaugle is a graduate of The Art Institute of Philadelphia and began working for David C. Cook Publishing designing children’s curriculum and products. But she soon found her heart’s vocation in children’s illustration. In 2001, Kim illustrated her first picture book series Beatrice Loses Her Doll and Beatrice’s New Clothes with Concordia Publishing House. In 2007, Kim started Picture Kitchen Studio and has had the pleasure of interacting and working with both traditional publishers and self-published authors. She has illustrated more than 60 picture books is also a children’s book cover designer. http://www.picturekitchenstudio.com

Now, as promised last week we are sharing here our advice for anyone who is considering self-publishing a children’s picture book.

* Make sure you hire a good freelance editor. It’s not easy to write for kids. You have to take a 10,000 word kind of story and tell it in 700-800 words.

* Spend time with kids. You can’t write a story that will hold their attention if you don’t know what they like.

* Read LOTS of current picture books (public libraries are great for this). See what’s out there already. Figure out how you can tell the same old story in a fresh way. Get ideas for fresh and wonderful artwork.

* Spend the money for GREAT illustrations. Pictures are every bit as important as the story for a children’s book. Don’t skimp on them. If you don’t have enough money, wait to publish your story until you do. You won’t regret it.Storytime 3

* Read your story out loud. Have someone read it out loud to you. Picture books are meant to be read out loud. You’ll be amazed at what you hear.

* When you’re sure it’s ready, read it to a group of children. Kids are blatantly honest. My 7-year-old grandson thinks Willoughby is a wimp. Ha! But I’m not upset or worried. I know my story isn’t for every child.

* Writing/illustrating is mostly a solitary activity. Find or form a writers or artists group. There’s nothing like hanging out with creative people to help your writing and illustrating. It’s also good to have others you trust to bounce ideas off.

Willoughby cover - frontRemember that Kim and I are planning to offer mentoring workshops and weekends for picture book authors and illustrators. We’re hoping to start this fall.  Subscribe to my blog or Kim’s blog for updates.

www.pamhalter.com

www.picturekitchenstudio.com

Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch is available through Amazon and at Fruitearer.com

How to Write Short Stories

51tt3quw5zlHow to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career (Kindle Edition) by James Scott Bell. Published by Compendium Press in 2016.

In high school and college I enjoyed reading short stories immensely. I still do. I like taking on projects that I can complete in a short time, and then move on to the next. Maybe that’s why I enjoy short stories and shorter books like YAs and MGs. I’ve always had difficulty getting through great literary works of 500, 600, 800 pages.

So, as a writer I’ve wanted to try writing short stories. One BIG problem, though. I’ve been unable to get a handle on what exactly IS a short story? What is its structure? Other than its length, why is it a short story?

So, I couldn’t resist buying and plunging into James Scott Bell’s short book How to Write Short Stories… Again, I read most of it—the first seven chapters—in one sitting. The last five chapters are famous and successful short stories. I enjoyed reading them. But they also helped cement for me Bell’s definition and explanation in the first seven chapters.

The goal of this book is to “give you a key that will make it easier for you” to successfully write short stories. Bell emphasizes that this will can accomplish two things: 1. Stretch your writing muscles and build endurance (like wind sprints) to improve everything you write. 2. Provide quick sources of small income and get you needed exposure for your longer works.

Bell reviews the history of the short story and discusses some of America’s most famous story-tellers in this genre. He also devotes two chapters to publishing for Kindle readers and maximizing your marketing efforts with short stories.

Bell succinctly gives the distinctives of successful short stories—what separates them from other literature. He discusses length and structure, and that little something that makes short stories pack a wallop. BINGO! That is what I wanted to know.

I highly recommend How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career. I bought my Kindle copy at Amazon. It’s available at other online book providers, too.

Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way

51wewkwlxglRhyming Picture Books The Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard is the second book in the Children’s Writer Insider Guides that I have read. It follows the same short and sweet format as Picture Books The Write Way. I like that. The ten short chapters are all focused on ten common problems writers have when writing rhyming picture books.

An Introduction, then ten chisled chapters helped me examine specifics about the rhyming picture book manuscripts that I am working on (either creating or selling.)

Also, every chapter is loaded with links to helpful websites and to author pages for the picture book examples Salas and Bullard use. I’m taking my Kindle with me to the local children’s library so I can read as many of these examples as I can find.

Aside: I have another list gleaned from Tara Lazar’s website Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). A list of NEW picture books. In Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way Salas and Bullard continually remind the reader (AKA ME) to read current picture books if I want to write in a way that appeals to current readers.

Okay, I’ll stop rambling now. Here is the long-awaited list of chapters in Rhyming Picture Books The Write Way:

  • Are You Targeting the Right Audience?
  • Is Your Manuscript Too Wordy?
  • Is Your Meter Imperfect?
  • Can You Do Even More With Meter?
  • Do You Use Rich Poetic Elements?
  • Have You Thought About a Refrain?
  • Is There More There Than Just Rhyme?
  • Is Your Message Heavy Handed?
  • Does Your Verse Sound Natural?
  • Have You Considered Nonfiction?

lisa-lauraSalas and Bullard give clear and specific ways to challenge my manuscript and correct whatever problems I find. For example, the chapter on Poetic Elements clearly explains rhyme, fresh rhyme, near rhyme, sensible rhyme, internal rhyme. Then provide examples of picture books (with links) that do the job well.

Thanks for reading here at On My (Kindle) Shelf. I hope some of the writing books that are helping me will also help you. Are they?

Hmmmm…

That question begs an answer from YOU, dear reader/writer. So, can you leave a comment here telling me if any of my summaries have helped, and which ones?

Or send me a msg on FB please at Jean Matthew Hall Author. And follow me there, please?

I’m trying to do this marketing/PR/networking/social media thing the best way possible. However, I think I’m still on the first page of that chapter of my life.

Blessings!

Jean

 

Called To Write-Part 2

Called To Write: Biblical Truths For Bloggers and Authors

By Rev. C.M. Logan and K.M. Logan

Has it been a while since you signed a writing contract?called-to-write-logan

You know, for that incredible novel on your hard drive? Or for your adorable picture book? Maybe a magazine article? Devotional?

Me, too.

It’s not difficult to become discouraged and feel you are just wasting your time. Or maybe thinking that you must have misunderstood God’s call to write. I mean, being called to write DOES mean being published, doesn’t it?

Ready to quit?

Then you need this little FREE Kindle book.  Called To Write: Biblical Truths For Bloggers and Authors is a concentrated dose of the reality of God’s call to write and the purpose for which He calls us. A quick read that was a welcomed reminder of what-in-the-world-am-I-doing thinking I can write! And did I tell you that it is FREE?

Don’t give up. Rush over to Amazon and get the Kindle book Called To Write: Biblical Truths For Bloggers and Authors. It will remind you, inspire you and get you out of the mulligrubs, and back into rhythm with God’s call for you as a writer.

 

Called to Write-Part 1

called-to-writeCalled to Write: 7 Principles to Become a Writer on Mission

By Edna Ellison and Linda Gilden, published in 2014

Called to Write: 7 Principles to Become a Writer on Mission identifies seven key competencies required to become a writer on mission for God. Each competency is explained in its own informational chapter. Then readers are challenged in a “how to implement” section for each skill.

I found this volume to be a quick read, but I’ve been practicing writing for publication for almost thirteen years now.

 

(My goodness! Has it been THAT long?)

I think Called to Write is a great book for Christians who are fairly new to writing for publication.  Both Linda and Edna are experienced authors and writing coaches. Their advice is solid.

On My Kindle Shelf

I have more than one book shelf, you know. One is tangible—I love its ready accessibility and it’s physical beauty.

But the other—my Kindle Shelf—is so mobile and convenient that I love it, too.

Several of the books on my Kindle are for writers. I’ll chat about three of them which are by the same Christian author, Ed Cyzewski.

All three are quick reads that lead to some serious thinking.

faith-bloggerChronologically the first book is Become a Better Faith Blogger. The title pretty much sums up the purpose of this little book. Cyzewski share ten tips about becoming a better blogger while living out your faith. He offers inspiration, practical ideas and advice borrowing from ten notable people of faith who have successful blogs.

The biggest drawback of this little book is that it was copyrighted in 2012, and blogging has come a changed enormously since 2012.

 

 

The second volume is Pray, Write, Grow published in 2015. This book “offers life-giving practices that will help you grow in both prayer and writing and shows you how the two can work together…” Cyzewski’s premise is:

“If you want to improve your prayer life, try writing.pray-write-grow

If you want to improve your writing life, try praying.

The two require many of the same practices, disciplines, and virtues.”

That sounds simple. But Cyzewski’s words were provocative to me. I highlighted numerous passages that spoke to me regarding both my prayer practices (especially the practice of being silent before the LORD) and my writing practices.

 

 

contemplativeIn The Contemplative Writer Cyzewski weaves the practices of prayer, meditation and writing together. He emphasizes the calling of writing and the persistent, regular practice of writing as communication with one’s self and with God. He offers a “life preserver of sorts to writers of faith who perhaps feel like they are drowning. He defines contemplative prayer as resting in God and offers suggestions for making that happen.

This perspective was thought provoking for me. It made me mindful of using writing as a way to focus on my spiritual condition, improve my spiritual relationship to God, and use my writing as a gift of gratitude back to God.

Each book is a quick read—60 to 90 minutes—but offer plenty of things to think about for a long time.