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The Craft of Writing for Children


Kidlit Distancing Social #38 Replay – Chris Tebbetts on Middle Grade That Gets Kids Reading… and Laughing

 
 
This week on the Social, meet Chris Tebbetts, a successful middle grade/YA author who has mastered a compelling, humorous approach…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #34 Replay – How Two Unagented First Time Authors Got Published

 
 
In this episode of the Social, meet two debut authors who got their publishing contracts without an agent. If you think you can’t…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #33 Replay – Newbery Honoree Steve Sheinkin on Making History Exciting

 
 
In this episode of the Social, we welcome Steve Sheinkin, author of Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Bomb: The Race…

Continue Reading

Kidlit Distancing Social #32 Replay – An Evening with Author/Illustrator Lea Lyon

 
 
In this episode of the Social, we welcome author/illustrator Lea Lyon.
 
Lea is the co-author of Ready To Fly: How Sylvia…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #31 Replay – Ask Laura & Jon Anything!

 
 
In this episode of the Social, Jon and Laura from Children’s Book Insider answer a slew of viewer questions about writing, publishing…

Continue Reading

Kidlit Distancing Social #28 – Nicole C. Kear on Writing Across Age Groups & Genres

 
 
 
This week, you’ll meet a writer who is making her mark across multiple genres and categories – and learn how you can do…

Continue Reading

Kidlit Distancing Social #27 – Teresa Funke on the Steps You Can Take Now to Become a Successful Author

 
 
 
This week, we welcome back the inspiring Teresa Funke (Dancing in Combat Boots, V for Victory, 10 Things All Successful…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #26 Replay – Lyn Miller-Lachmann on Writing Historical Fiction & Creating Inclusive Characters

 
This week, we have a really fascinating guest – author, translator and sensitivity reader Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Gringolandia, Surviving…

Continue Reading

Kidlit Distancing Social #25 Replay – Brian Weisfeld on Writing Books that Promote a Passion & Deliver a Message

 
This week, we welcome Brian Weisfeld, author of The Startup Squad series (Macmillan), is devoted to empowering girls with an entrepreneurial…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #24 Replay – Brooke McIntyre on Finding, Joining & Getting the Most of a Critique Group

 
This week, we welcome Brooke McIntyre, the founder of InkedVoices, a platform for writing groups and an online space for writers. In our virtual…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #23 Replay – Tracey West on Chapter Books, Movie Novelizations & Books w/Licensed Characters

This week, we welcome Tracey West. Tracey is the author of more than 300 books for children and young adults, including the Pokémon chapter books,…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #22 Replay – Candice Ransom, Author of 150+ Children’s Books

 
 
This week, we welcome the amazing Candice Ransom. Candice has written more than 150 books, including 18 books for The Boxcar…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #21 Replay – An Evening with Legendary Children’s Poet David Harrison

 
 
This week, we welcome a children’s book legend – poet David Harrison, who is about to see his 100th book in print. He is Drury…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #20 Replay – Tod Olson on Writing Creative, Exciting Nonfiction

 
 
This week, we welcome Tod Olson, a writer with a knack for making nonfiction topics come alive with excitement and vibrancy. Tod is…

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Tuesday August 25: How to Add Emotion, Compassion & Heart to Create a Truly Magical Picture Book Manuscript

Think about the picture books that have truly touched you and the children in your life. Now think about what they have in common.
 
It’s “the…

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How to Tell if Your Story Idea is Good Enough

 
Most writers find it very difficult to judge the merits of their own story ideas. In this excerpt from a workshop taught by the prolific and…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #19 Replay – Laura Backes on Crafting Great Opening Lines & Scenes

 
 
This week, it’s time for a writing craft geek-out session! Join Laura Backes, founder & publisher of Children’s Book Insider, the…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #18 Replay – Bad Kitty Author Nick Bruel on Creating Subversive – and Hilarious – Characters

 
 
This week, we welcome Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books.
 
Nick has created…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #14 – Eileen Robinson on Middle Grade Fiction for Boys

 
On this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, we welcome Eileen Robinson, publisher at Move Books, a small press that focuses on middle grade…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #13 – Josh Funk on Creating Successful Kidlit Series

 
On this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, author Josh Funk – who has created one successful children’s book series after another – shares…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #12 – Laura Backes on What Picture Book Writers Need to Know About Illustrations

 
On this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, CBI Publisher Laura Backes discusses the interplay between words and illustrations in picture books,…

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children's book genres

Understanding Children’s Book Genres

Published children’s books fall into distinct book genres, each with its own format and targeted age range. These formats evolved for several…

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how to deal with critical feedback

How to Deal with Critical Feedback on Your Work

by Suzanna Henshon

 

Have you ever received criticism? Yikes, it usually feels quite painful, particularly when it pertains to a story or poem…

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Story Ideas from your own life

Mining Your Life for Story Ideas

 

by Jane Choate

 

Occasionally, the well for new story ideas runs dry and we must mine for fresh ones. We all know to look in…

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How Middle Grade Author Ellie Sipila Turned a School Assignment into a Series

To say that Elizabeth “Ellie” Sipila is just a “writer” would be like labeling Emeril Lagasse as merely a “cook”. Like a master chef,…

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Crafting Scenes with Emotional Intensity

by Suzanna Henshon, Ph.D
 
 
Have you ever fallen deeply into a story and emerged changed forever? There are probably moments in the…

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Kill Your Darlings – Editing Your Manuscript to Remove Overused Words & Phrases

by Jane Choate
 
We all have them. What are they? Our darlings, those words, phrases, or even chunks of description that we use over and over,…

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Building a Fiction Series

Many authors, whether they’re published or not, would be thrilled to find out their latest manuscript is headed for a contract. If the publishing…

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Critique Fear: How to Handle Negative Feedback

Have you ever received a critique on your work that pointed out substantial issues?
 
Yikes, it usually feels quite painful, particularly…

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Persistence Pays Off for Middle Grade Author Erin Teagan

by PJ McIlvaine

 

This is excerpted from an interview that appeared in the June 2018 issue of Children’s Book Insider. Click here to…

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Author Brings Neurodiverse Characters to Middle Grade Fiction

This is an excerpt from an interview that appeared in the March 2018 issue of Children’s Book Insider.
 

by PJ McIlvaine

 

The…

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35 Years a Writer, 35 Lessons Learned

by Jane McBride

 

 
 
 
(Note:  This article is from the new January 2018 edition of Children’s Book Insider, the…

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Writing for Children & Teens: Simple Steps to Understand Your Readers

by Jane Choate

 

In various writers’ groups over the years, I have heard a number of writers who say, usually with a certain degree of…

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how to write dialogue in a book

How to Write Dialogue That Flows

How to write dialogue? That’s something that should come naturally. After all, most of us spend at least a portion of each day in conversation with…

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Book Categories for Children from Picture Books to YA

Kidlit is a vast market, including book categories ranging from books for infants, with cardboard pages designed to be chewed on, to gritty YA novels…

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Watch Your Tone!

by Jane McBride
 
Tone and voice are sometimes confused, the terms even interchanged. While voice is who we are, tone is an attitude toward…

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Grand Slam Debut for Picture Book Author Nancy Churnin

by PJ McIlvaine
 
This is an excerpt from an interview that appeared in the March 2017 issue of Children’s Book Insider.
 
From…

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Visiting Book Fairs and Conference Exhibit Halls —Why, Where, and How?

by Lionel Bender
 
As a regular visitor to many major conference exhibit halls, book fairs, and publisher exhibits over some 28 years, I…

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Create a World with Your Five Senses

by Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D

 

How do you start a story? Does the vision of a character enter your mind, or do you start with a plot? While…

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A Fantastic Example of ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

The advice “show, don’t tell” is certainly one of the most overused pieces of writing instruction.  But it’s overused for a very good reason:  It’s…

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Laura Backes on Writing Picture Books- Full Webinar Replay

 
 
Here’s the complete webinar from July 7, in which Children’s Book Insider publisher Laura Backes reveals her biggest insights on…

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Get Started Writing for Kidlit Magazines

What’s old is new again. The saying is never truer than when it comes to writing for children’s magazines. Did you think that magazines for…

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Dan Santat

The Adventures of Dan Santat: A Conversation with the Caldecott-winning Author & Illustrator

This interview originally appeared in the March, 2016 issue of Children’s Book Insider, the Children’s Writing Monthly. To learn more about this…

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Writing Is Easier When You Stop Trying So Hard

 

by Noelle Sterne

 

I usually know when I’m trying too hard in writing. When I review one of my pieces toward revision or…

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Author Alice Kuipers on How Writing Picture Books Makes Her a Better Novelist

Alice Kuipers, the award-winning young adult author, sat down with Laura Backes to chat about her transition to picture book writer, and how writing…

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Ask Writer Alice: Three Top Picture Book Writing Mistakes

Best-selling author Alice Kuipers reveals the three mistakes you should avoid as an aspiring picture book writer. Sign up for Alice’s monthly writing…

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Teens Review What Works, What Doesn’t in New Books

In this article from School Library Journal, five reviewers from the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library, ranging in age from 12 to 15, give their thoughts…

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Writing the Modern Fairy Tale: Use a Twist

by Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.

 

How do you update an old story?  Fairy tales have been popular for hundreds of years, and recently Red…

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Dealing with (and Learning From) Rejection

by Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.

 

Have you ever received a rejection letter?  At some point, every writer has her work rejected.  Madeleine…

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Why Teachers Make Great Children’s Book Writers

by Laura Backes

 

You’re a teacher. You spend your day around kids, reading to them, teaching them how to write, helping them find books…

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Latest Posts

Kidlit Distancing Social #38 Replay – Chris Tebbetts on Middle Grade That Gets Kids Reading… and Laughing

Meet Chris Tebbetts, a successful middle grade/YA author who has mastered a compelling, humorous approach that gets even the most reluctant readers glued to the page.

Chris partners with superstar author James Patterson to create the bestselling Middle School series, and with Survivor host Jeff Probst for the Stranded series. His solo titles include the Viking series and the novel Me, Myself, and Him.

Join us to learn about creating middle grade books with humor and plot that appeal to readers across the board – especially reluctant readers – and the ins and outs of building a successful series.

Kidlit Distancing Social #37 Replay – Darcy Pattison on Self-Publishing & the Path to Success as an Indie Author

This week, meet Darcy Pattison, a prolific kidlit author who has found great success self publishing her own work. Darcy’s authored dozens of books – some with major publishers – but has seen her career truly take off after starting her own independent publishing company.

Darcy describes her journey, and discusses why other authors should consider self-publishing. If you want to be truly empowered to share your words with the world, Darcy is the perfect person to inspire you!

Kidlit Distancing Social #36 Replay – Kirsten W. Larson on Writing Nonfiction/STEM Picture Books

This week, meet Kirsten W. Larson, author of over 25 kidlit nonfiction titles. Her picture book biography ‘Wood, Wire and Wings’ was just named a 2021 Best STEM Book by the National Science Teaching Association.

Kirsten shares her thoughts on writing compelling nonfiction picture books, incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into picture books, and discuss her success writing for the school and library market. STEM and the school/library market continue to provide tremendous opportunities for kidlit writers – so you’ll want to hear what Kirsten has to say.

Kidlit Distancing Social #35 Replay – Rethinking Book Marketing: Michael Schein on How Any Author Can Become a ‘Micro Celebrity’

This week, meet Michael Schein, President of MicroFame Media & author of the upcoming book ‘The Hype Handbook’ (McGraw-Hill). The subject: creative author marketing.

Michael is an expert on fame-generating tactics, and has studied history’s greatest self-promoters to discover what they have to teach us about gathering attention in the modern media climate.

Can “hype” be used for good? Michael believes it absolutely can, and that any author can break through to generate and cultivate a fan base. Can “hype” be used for good? Michael believes it absolutely can, and that any author can break through to generate and cultivate a fan base. We know that book marketing and author promotion are overwhelming issues for many writers, and this episode will give you a new way to look at the subject.

Kidlit Distancing Social #34 Replay – How Two Unagented First Time Authors Got Published

Meet two debut authors who got their publishing contracts without an agent. If you think you can’t get published on your own, Cori Cooper and Risa Nyman beg to differ! Cori is the author of contemporary middle grade book Bake Believe and Risa is the author of Swallowed By a Secret, a middle grade mystery. Find out how they captured the attention of their publisher – and get inspired to follow in their footsteps!

Tonight’s Kidlit Distancing Social Has Been Postponed – But We’ll Be Back Next Week!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Holly Hatam won’t be able to join us tonight for the Kidlit Distancing Social. We’ll reschedule Holly as soon as we can. We’ll be back next week with another all-new Kidlit Distancing Social!

Kidlit Distancing Social #33 Replay – Newbery Honoree Steve Sheinkin on Making History Exciting

In this episode of the Social, we welcome Steve Sheinkin, author of Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.

Steve’s hugely popular books make history accessible, fun and exciting for young readers. With wildly diverse topics – from Jim Thorpe and Benedict Arnold to Daniel Ellsberg and the women pioneers of aviation – Steve proves that history can be massively entertaining. And his Time Twisters series bends time to allow for wild adventures – like Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler.

A Writing Opportunity That’s Too Good to Pass Up

Learn about the School & Library Market, and how it offers nonfiction writers tremendous opportunity, with little need for promotion, getting an agent or endlessly querying publishers.

Kidlit Distancing Social #32 Replay – An Evening with Author/Illustrator Lea Lyon

In this episode of the Social, we welcome author/illustrator Lea Lyon, co-author of Ready To Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina (HarperCollins), and illustrator of seven books including It Rained Warm Bread (Henry Holt) and Lailah’s Lunchbox (Tilbury House). 

Among her honors are a Teachers’ Choice Award, ILA-CBC Children’s Choices list, Skipping Stones (twice), and Moonbeam award (twice.) If you’re an illustrator, a writer who wants to learn more about illustration or just a kidlit fan who enjoys learning about the creative process, Lea is someone you absolutely want to meet.

Kidlit Distancing Social #31 Replay – Ask Laura & Jon Anything!

In this episode of the Social, Jon and Laura from Children’s Book Insider answer a slew of viewer questions about writing, publishing and marketing a children’s book.  There’s a ton of great info, advice and insight here!

In fact, his A Kid’s Book About Belonging was just named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2020!

Kevin has some big things to communicate with kids, and he has a fascinating approach that should make every kidlit author stand up and take notice.

You absolutely don’t want to miss this one!

Kidlit Distancing Social #30 Replay – Kevin Carroll on Communicating Big Ideas to Young Readers

Kevin Carroll has led a remarkable life – and he’s just getting started. Head athletic trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers, Nike’s first-ever “creative change agent”, an in-demand speaker with multiple Ted Talks and now, a successful children’s book author.

In fact, his A Kid’s Book About Belonging was just named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2020!

Kevin has some big things to communicate with kids, and he has a fascinating approach that should make every kidlit author stand up and take notice.

You absolutely don’t want to miss this one!

Kidlit Distancing Social #29 – Lynne Marie on Knowing When You’re Ready to Submit to Publishers

Get some great revision tips from Lynne Marie, who is the author of five picture books including Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten (Scholastic), The Star of the Christmas Play (Beaming Books), and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Beaming Books), and the owner of RateYourStory.org. Lynne Marie will help you answer the immortal question “Is my manuscript ready to submit to publishers?”

CBI Editor Spotlight Excerpt: Eileen Robinson of Reycraft Books

Excerpted from the November 2020 edition of Children’s Book Insider, Eileen Robinson, executive editor of Reycraft Books, talks about the new imprint and offers her best book marketing tips.

Kidlit Distancing Social #28 – Nicole C. Kear on Writing Across Age Groups & Genres

Meet a writer who is making her mark across multiple genres and categories – and learn how you can do the same. Nicole C. Kear has published two chapter book series, a middle grade novel, a highly acclaimed memoir and dozens of articles in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Good Housekeeping. Nicole is the model of a modern working writer, whose built a fascinating, rewarding career.

Kidlit Distancing Social #27 – Teresa Funke on the Steps You Can Take Now to Become a Successful Author

This week, we welcome back the inspiring Teresa Funke (Dancing in Combat Boots, V for Victory, 10 Things All Successful Authors Do). Teresa will help you get on – and stay on – the path to becoming a successful professional writer. She’ll share the things you can do write now that will pay big dividends down the road. If you need some inspiration and confidence – this is the Social for you!

10 Things That Get Kidlit Manuscripts Rejected – and How to Avoid Them

An all-new workshop led by Deborah Halverson, editor at Harcourt Children’s Books for ten years, and author of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, Writing New Adult Fiction, the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, the picture book Letters to Santa, and three books in the Remix series for struggling readers. Deborah is the founder of the popular writers’ advice website DearEditor.com.

Kidlit Distancing Social #26 Replay – Lyn Miller-Lachmann on Writing Historical Fiction & Creating Inclusive Characters

This week, we have a really fascinating guest – author, translator and sensitivity reader Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Gringolandia, Surviving Santiago, Rogue). Lyn talks about writing historical fiction, writing books with international settings, and the difference between a sensitivity reader and an expert reader (and when you should use each one).

Kidlit Distancing Social #25 Replay – Brian Weisfeld on Writing Books that Promote a Passion & Deliver a Message

Brian Weisfeld, author of The Startup Squad series (Macmillan), is devoted to empowering girls with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can realize their potential. In this episode, Brian gives his advice for authors seeking to change the world with their writing. If you have a passion or cause you’d like young readers to know about, Brian will help you understand how to create books that teach while entertaining.

Kidlit Distancing Social #24 Replay – Brooke McIntyre on Finding, Joining & Getting the Most of a Critique Group

Brooke McIntyre, the founder of InkedVoices.com, a platform for writing groups and an online space for writers, joins us to talk about finding your own critique group, getting feedback on your work and providing feedback on other writers’ work. This is a super-timely topic, and you should definitely check it out.

Kidlit Distancing Social #23 Replay – Tracey West on Chapter Books, Movie Novelizations & Books w/Licensed Characters

Tracey West is the author of more than 300 books for children and young adults, including the Pokémon chapter books, the popular Pixie Tricks series, and the brand new Dragon Masters series. She talks about her first love – writing chapter books – and how she’s built a career writing movie novelizations and books with licensed characters. Tracey is a real pro who will open your mind to new ways to make a good living as a full time writer.

Kidlit Distancing Social #22 Replay – Candice Ransom, Author of 150+ Children’s Books

Candice has written more than 150 books, including 18 books for The Boxcar Children series, The Time Spies series and the Sunfire series. She wrote the Dungeons & Dragons novel, Key to the Griffon’s Lair. Her work includes picture books, easy readers, middle grade fiction, biographies, and nonfiction. Laura and Candice discuss her fascinating career, and then open the floor for a freewheeling “Ask Us Anything” session!

Kidlit Distancing Social #21 Replay – An Evening with Legendary Children’s Poet David Harrison

This week, we welcome a children’s book legend – poet David Harrison, who is about to see his 100th book in print. He is Drury University’s poet laureate. David Harrison Elementary School in Springfield, MO is named for him, and he was recently chosen to receive the first Laura Ingalls Wilder Children’s Literature Medal for his body of work.

Kidlit Distancing Social #20 Replay – Tod Olson on Writing Creative, Exciting Nonfiction

Tod Olson is a writer with a knack for making nonfiction topics come alive with excitement and vibrancy. Tod is the critically-acclaimed author of middle grade narrative nonfiction series Lost and How to Get Rich, and Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain (all published by Scholastic). He talks about finding that creative, exciting story within the nonfiction topic, and gives some research tips.

Tuesday August 25: How to Add Emotion, Compassion & Heart to Create a Truly Magical Picture Book Manuscript

There’s a magic ingredient that makes an editor take notice, stops an agent in her tracks and makes a delighted child say “Read it Again!” What if you had this magic ingredient at your fingertips, ready to sprinkle it throughout your next picture book manuscript? How different would your writing career be?

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