Subject: [Children's Writing Update] We've Got a BIG Secret To Tell You!





The Children's Writing Update 

edited by Jon Bard


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1.     Can You Keep a Secret?  Because We've Got a Doozy For You!




Actually, we've got two secrets for you -- but I can only hint at the first:

1. We've figured out a path to writing success that anyone can follow, and we'll be reinventing The CBI Clubhouse ( to reflect this discovery.  Get ready for some jaw-dropping stuff, including webinars, action guides and some amazing experts who will be at your disposal.  The handful of publishing insiders we've shared this concept with have all been knocked out by what's coming, and I know you will be too!   That's really all we can say for now, so stay tuned!....

2. Now, for the other secret -- one that I can share with you right now:

For the next week only, Updaters can sign up for the CBI Clubhouse and purchase an 18 month membership for the price of a 12 month (already discounted) membership! 

The Fightin' Bookworms!

As an active Fightin' Bookworm, you'll be right in line to access all the exciting new features the second they come on line, and you'll also get 18 months of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers, packed with market listings, how-to articles, top author interviews and much more.

We haven't offered anything like this to Updaters in close to two years and, honestly, I'm unsure if we ever will again.  So, seriously, jump on it before the offer expires on October 1.

I've give you your secret link in a sec, but first, if you don't know what the CBI Clubhouse is all about, take a moment to visit and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

OK, here's your link (and it IS a secret -- this is for Updaters only and is not transferable.  So please, don't blog or Tweet it.  Thanks!)

18 months for the price of 12:


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2.   LeVar Burton to Launch RRKidz



Those of you nostalgic for the wonderful PBS show Reading Rainbow will be happy to hear that the former show's producer and host, LeVar Burton, is launching RRKidz, a line of digital interactive children's books. RRKidz will be available as a subscription service through a free app for the IPad and select Android devices.

What's really exciting is that the list of titles (300 to start, with 45 added each month) will be curated by Burton himself, making it easy for parents and kids to find eBooks they like. The titles will be a combination of offerings from publishers and original content. Look for RRKidz to debut toward the end of 2011 or early 2012.

One goal Burton has for RRKidz is to raise the profile of quality backlist titles that might otherwise not get turned into digital formats by their publishers. You've got to love any venture that keeps great children's books alive and brings them to the attention of parents and kids.

It's still in pre-launch, but you can sign up to receive updates now by going to


3.  Bestselling YA Author Jay Asher Shares Writing Tips


Jay Asher


Laura and I had a chance to catch up with bestselling young adult author Jay Asher (12 Reasons Why and the upcoming The Future of Us) on his jaunt through Colorado.  He had some great advice to share with budding authors:

* Don't try to "think like a teenager" when writing for that audience.  Teens, he says, go through the same thought process as adults when encountering different situations.  They just react differently after having those thoughts.  So focus on teenagers' reactions (they may be more rash and more dramatic than an adult, for example), rather than treating them like a different species with different ways of thinking.

* Use parents sparingly in your story.  Jay says that adults tend to overemphasize their roles in teens' lives.  The real action, he says, happens away from the house, when teens are gathered with their peers.  Don't bring in adults to solve problems or drive the story -- let the main character and his or her peers take control.

* Have multiple writing projects going so you can always write with passion.  Forcing yourself to slog through a manuscript that's not getting you excited at the moment is a sure path to a boring story.  Put it aside and work on something that gives you more pleasure right now.

* When your first draft is complete, ask a few friends to read it -- one at a time - and note their thoughts, comments and objections.  Jay says he has four people read for him:  a friend who's strong on plot, one who's strong on voice, one who's strong on grammar, and his mother (because she'll always tell him "it's beautiful!".

And here's a bonus:  On the CBI Clubhouse, Laura interviewed Jay who had much more to say about how he became a #1 best seller with his first book.  It's a great listen and, just for Updaters, we're taking the "Members Only" restriction off so you can all hear it and learn from it.  Our gift to you!

Here's the link:


4.  Come Hang With the Fightin' Bookworms -- and Get Our Entire Step-by-Step Writing Course Free!  



The CBI Clubhouse Fightin' Bookworms


The CBI Clubhouse is rocking!  We've got lots of new members who are meeting one another on the message boards, plenty of new videos and audios, our free children's writing course (The CBI Challenge), exclusive publishing opportunities just for our members and much more.  

And all of it is free for paid subscribers to Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers!


Here's what Fightin' Bookworm Irene Roth has to say:

Before I joined the CBI Clubhouse, I was completely lost as a freelance writer. I knew that I wanted to write for kids, but I didn't have the first idea about what I should do to achieve this.

I sent out a few articles to magazines, and they all got rejected. This went on for two years. I was devastated and ready to give up! Then I was talking to a friend of mine who suggested that I check out the CBI Clubhouse.  I did. And I have never felt better in my whole life as a freelance writer.

There are weekly instructional videos by Jon Bard on different aspects of the writing process. These are invaluable. There are also videos by Laura Backes.  She has become my personal mentor. I listen to her videos every few days. Some videos I listen to over and over again.

Then there is the CBI Challenge. It is absolutely chock full of information on finding your passion in writing to the nuts and bolts of publishing. I am on Module #2 and I have learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, you can email either Jon or Laura at any time. They are also willing to help and are encouraging. Finally, I don't feel so alone as a writer!

So what are you waiting for?  Join the CBI Clubhouse for a small, small fee every month. Skip one latte and you have your monthly membership which will give you a lot more value that your latte.

Join The CBI Clubhouse now (for less than the cost of a latte each month) and you'll get:

  • a fresh issue of Children's Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children's Writers
  • audio interviews with top authors
  • video tutorials about every aspect of writing and submitting children's books to publishers
  • a slew of exclusive articles
  • free ebooks
  • message boards and chatrooms 
  • The Complete CBI Challenge -- our exclusive step-by-step children's writing course!

...and much, much more!


All 20 modules of the CBI Challenge are online, and waiting for you to explore, learn and master:

MODULE 1: Finding Your Passion as a Children's Writer
MODULE 2: Developing Your Story Idea
MODULE 3: Making Time to Write
MODULE 4: Laying the Foundation for Your Main Character & Plot
MODULE 5: Building Your Protagonist
MODULE 6: Creating Your Antagonist
MODULE 7: Ignite Your Plot with a Catalyst
MODULE 8: Perfect Your Pacing
MODULE 9: Build a Strong Middle
MODULE 10: Create a Strong Subplot
MODULE 11: Crafting a Powerful Ending
MODULE 12: How to "Show, Don't Tell"
MODULE 13: Working with Point of View
MODULE 14: Build a Writing Lifestyle
MODULE 15: Sharpen Your Strengths
MODULE 16: Get Feedback On Your Work
MODULE 17: Get Ready to Submit!
MODULE 18: Assembling the Perfect Submissions Packet
MODULE 19: Sail Past Rejection
MODULE 20: Master the Art of Promotion

If you're at all serious about writing children's books and getting them published, you really need to hop on board with the Fightin' Bookworms of The CBI Clubhouse.  All the education and inspiration you need to make it is waiting for you for just pennies a day.  Plus, we have lots of fun while we're at it.

Here's the link to the Clubhouse!

And remember - until October 1 you can get 18 months for the price of 12!  Here's the magic link:

See you 'round the Clubhouse, future Fightin' Bookworm!


5. What's in October's Children's Book Insider?  

Children's Book Insider

If you're new to the Update, you may not know that we publish a monthly subscription-only newsletter for aspiring and working children's book writers that's jam-packed with market leads, advice, inside info and much more.

It's called Children's Book Insider, and we've been sharing it with subscribers across the globe since May, 1990! (And remember, every subscriber to Children's Book Insider gets total access to the incredible CBI Clubhouse website AND The CBI Challenge step-by-step children's writing course!)

Here's a look at what's in the current issue of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers:

► Major New Imprint Seeks Writers

► Publisher Seeks Female Biographies
► Fellowship for Working Writer in Need
► Magazine Seeks Outdoor Topics
► Marketing Opportunities for Authors
► Workshop to Feature 3 Major Agents 

► Avoid Cookie-Cutter Characters
► Break Habits That Are Holding You Back
► Social Networking 101: How NOT to Approach an Editor
► 4 Ways to Start Your Story Off With a Bang!
► Out of This World! Writing Science Fiction

If you enjoy the information offered in this e-mail update, wait 'til you see what we've got in store for you each month in the pages of CBI! 

A subscription to CBI and full access to the CBI Clubhouse and CBI Challenge costs about the same each month as a latte!

(And much, much less if you take advantage of our secret offer @


For more information and to order, go to

"If you are "thinking" about subscribing, DON'T!!! Just do it. I waited for almost 2 years before I did, now I'm wondering why I waited so long"  Frederick Claus 

"I won a subscription to CBI at a conference few years ago. I've been renewing ever since -- 450 magazine and 4 book credits later! Thanks for the best information published. I rely on your newsletter!" Lorri Cardwell-Casey

"I knew if I was going to keep getting published I'd need some help so I did some research and discovered your newsletter. It seemed made to order so I ordered it! Five books and over thirty-five articles later, I'm still subscribing and finding Children's Book Insider as useful and inspiring as ever. " Lynne Stover

If you're not sure whether joining CBI is the right move, consider this: I got a book contract from a lead on the first page of my very first issue of CBI! How's that for results? Marci Mathers

And remember - until October 1 you can get 18 months for the price of 12!  Here's the magic link:


6.  Seth Godin's New Effort: The Domino Project


Domino Project


If you already know who author and media guru Seth Godin is, I needn't tell you how smart and prescient the man is.  If you don't know him, it's time you did.  The guy is a true visionary.

So when Godin teams with Amazon to create his own "publishing concept" with goal to "change the way books are built, sold and spread", you know I'll be listening.  You should be too.

Go visit the site at and sign up for Seth's e-mail updates.  He's been right about most everything up to now, I expect he's right about what's going to happen next.




7.   How You Write Depends on Your Audience

by Nancy Allen, author of The Munched-Up Flower Garden and Trouble in Troublesome Creek


Munched Up Flower Garden


In order to communicate clearly so readers will enjoy and understand the story, we have to recognize the differences in age groups. The writing should be appropriate for the age group of the target audience. Emerging skills and changing interests of children require different writing for different ages.

Before writing the first word, determine the age group of the reader. Understanding the interests and abilities of the audience helps us adjust our message of what we say and how we say it. We should also consider the interests of the age group so we can develop a character with which the reader can identify. Younger children respond to child-centric books and to concepts reflecting their life experiences. Most kids like to read about characters their same age or slightly older. Boys like to read about male main characters and girls will usually read books with either male or female characters.

Toddlers are concrete learners. They explore books to learn about the world around them and accept the information at face value. Concept books with the themes of counting, colors, and objects are appropriate. Bedtime stories and books about family and animals are favorites, as well. Toddlers enjoy picture and novelty books (board books, cloth books, flap books, and pop-up books). Most of these books, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, have bright colors, few words, and illustrations that are easily recognizable.

Preschool and primary grade readers enjoy picture books and early readers. They love nonfiction as well as fiction and are interested in reading about sports, animals, school, family, and the world around them. Joke books and books with humorous main characters are popular. The easy reader group begins to read independently so the sentence structure is shorter than most picture books. In Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey, the dogs play while the family’s away. Humor abounds with the hounds. How Many Fish? by Caron Lee Cohen provides the beginning reader with repetitive verse which helps the child learn to read.

Readers in the upper primary grades enjoy chapter books, which are longer and more complex than beginning readers. These books have short chapters with a few illustrations. They deal with common subjects, such as friendship, pets, sports, and school. These readers want characters with which they can identify, characters that are ordinary kids placed in surprising and unexpected circumstances where they display extraordinary behavior. The books should reflect the things that are important and real to them. The Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald is filled with humor and stories about school and family. Judy isn’t perfect, but she is funny, and kids relate to her.

The world of middle grade students is expanding and so are their interests. This age group is focused inward, and the conflict in these books mirrors this. Short novels and longer nonfiction appeal to 8-12-year-old readers. Interests cover a wide range of subject areas including books dealing with how-to topics, biographies, autobiographies, history, sports, animals, crafts, jokes, magic tricks, humorous poetry, and science. The narrative should reflect this. Fictional characters are riveting and complex, flawed but loveable, and usually show some degree of independence. Carl Hiaasen has skillfully incorporated these character elements in his novel, Hoot.

Young adult novels have plots that explore the issues and challenges of teenage life. These books often take on heavier subject matter, including dating, sex, swearing, drugs, and dysfunctional families. The fictional world of teens pushes the boundaries beyond the safety of home and school to the world at large. Supernatural thrillers (ghosts and vampires), romance, fantasy, and action stories are interesting reads. Suzanne Crowley’s historical mystery, The Stolen One, centers on intrigue and romance in Tudor England. Vampires rule the day in Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.

The reader defines the writing. Word choice should be exact and purposeful, and we must engage the child in the story if we expect the message to be understood. Writing children’s books is all about audience.

Some books to study:

Toddler Books

Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming

Hug by Jed Alborough

Baby Shoes by Dashka Slater

Don't Want to Go! Shirley Hughes

Picture Books

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Once Upon a Dime by Nancy Kelly Allen

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! By Jonah Winter

Early Readers

Cat the Cat, Who is That? by Mo Willems

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Oliver by Syd Hoff

Zach’s Alligator by Shirley Mozelle

Chapter Books

Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the Meow Society by Betsy Byars

Horrible Harry and the Green Slime by Suzy Kline

Danger Joe Show Growling Grizzly by Susan Schade

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Middle Grade Books

The High King by Lloyd Alexander

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

Young Adult Books

Stitches by David Small

First Light by Rebecca Stead

The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman


Nancy Kelly Allen writes fiction and nonfiction for young children. Visit her website at, and her writing workshop blog at



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October 25, 2011

Children's Writing

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