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Your Personal Journey to Success

Kidlit Social #61 Replay: Tracy Sue Walker on Folklore, Myths & the Stories We Tell

On this episode of The Kidlit Social, meet writer and storyteller Tracy Sue Walker. Tracy Sue is the author of the Kids for Truth about…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #54 Replay: Becoming a Full-Time Writer with Shannon Anderson

In this episode, meet Shannon Anderson, award-winning author of 14 kidlit books.
Shannon just quit her 25-year day job as a…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #43 Replay: Overcoming the Obstacles that are Holding You Back

This week, Laura welcomes our friend Dani Alcorn of Writing Academy to discuss the things that block writers from finding true…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #39 – Overcoming Self-Doubt & Finding the Courage to Put Your Work Out Into the World

This week on the Social, meet Jennifer Vassel, an inspiring self-publishing success story. Jennifer is the author and founder of “I…

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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,…

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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…

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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 #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 #16 – Sean McCollum on Following Your Passion & Living an Exciting Writing Life

On this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, we welcome Sean McCollum, an award-winning author who has built a career based on following…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #10 – Emma Dryden on the Changing Landscape of Children’s Publishing

On this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, Emma Dryden, founder of drydenbks, freelance editor and former Publisher of Atheneum Books for Young…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #9 – Gabriela Pereira on the Power of Community

This week on the Kidlit Distancing Social, Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIYMFA, joins us for an inspiring discussion on the power of community for…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #8 – Writing in Rhyme w/Julie Hedlund

This week on the Kidlit Distancing Social, Julie Hedlund, author and creator of 12×12 Challenge, joined us to chat about one of her specialties -…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #7 – Tips for Getting Your Book Published w/Mary Kole

This week on the Kidlit Distancing Social, editor Mary Kole of joins us to talk about submitting your work to editors and…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #6 – Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Books w/Dani Alcorn

This week on the Kidlit Distancing Social, author Dani Alcorn joins us to chat about writing young adult books.


Laura also checks in…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #5 – Ask Us Anything – The Sequel! w/Laura Backes & Jon Bard

In part two of our Ask Us Anything extravaganza, Laura answers a slew of questions about writing and publishing.


Laura also checks in…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #4 – Ask Us Anything! w/Laura Backes & Jon Bard

In this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, Laura answers a slew of questions about writing and publishing.


Laura also checks in with an…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #3 – Magic Is All Around You w/Teresa Funke

In this week’s Kidlit Distancing Social, Teresa Funke, kidlit writer and author of Bursts of Brilliance, joins us to inspire you to find story ideas…

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Kidlit Distancing Social Bonus Webinar: Connecting With Your Creativity in Difficult Times w/Alice Kuipers

An inspirational and educational webinar, presented by author Alice Kuipers, on how to find your creative muse under even the most difficult of…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #1 – Celebrating the life of Tomie dePaola w/Katie Davis

We kicked off our new weekly series – The Kidlit Distancing Social – by welcoming author/illustrator Katie Davis (with a surprise cameo appearance by…

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A Message to the KidLit Writing Community

Hi folks, it’s Jon from Children’s Book Insider & Writing Blueprints.


In uncertain times, the best of humanity always manages to…

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No More Fear. It’s Time to Finally Tap Your Writing Potential.

Many writers, myself included, have had the experience of finishing a book, sending it in, seeing it published, and thought, “Well, it was okay, but…

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How One Man’s Simple Idea Changed the Way the World Reads

Is it possible for one “regular” person to truly change the world? To bring hope and connection to millions?


When Todd Bol built a…

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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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‘The Best Things in Life Are on the Other Side of Terror’

If fear is holding you back from pursuing your dreams, listen to what Will Smith has to…

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The Surprising Benefits of Rejection

 by Jane Choate
“We are all failures. At least the best of us are.”— J. M. Barrie, author
Most working writers have…

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Why You Matter — and Why the World So Desperately Needs You

Happy 2017!
As writers, we can often feel frustrated, and even overwhelmed, by our perceived smallness.
We look at bestselling…

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A New Way Forward for Children’s Writing

There are two important things I want to tell you today.  This post may take a few minutes to read, but I promise it will be worth…

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Why Every Writer Needs a Purpose — and How to Discover Yours

by Jon Bard & Andrea Woolf

You are standing at the end of a massive field.  In front of you is a giant, steel ball.

You are told…

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Five Minutes to Change Your Life Forever

I recently heard something that has impacted me in a profound way.  I wanted to share it because it might do the same for you.
It’s from an…

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Trick Yourself into Finding Time to Write

by Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.


How do you find time to write?  Many people struggle through their day-to-day lives, only to discover at…

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A Simple Technique for Writers to Cope with Information Overload



Overwhelmed with writing instruction, market leads, helpful tips and “to-do” tasks? Jon has a quick, cheap and effective way to…

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Finish the Book Already!

by Christina Hamlett


Have you ever wondered if the characters in your unfinished novel will ever get so tired of waiting for you to wrap…

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What to Do with Your Crazy Ideas

From her Great Ideas Giveaway series of videos, Teresa Funke offers steps to help you test the ideas you worry might be too “crazy” to launch,…

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Take a Moment and Look at This — It May Change the Course of Your Life

While we may often point to external circumstances as the cause of successes or failures, the truth is that what we achieve in life is largely the…

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A Writer’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

In this quick video, Author/Writer’s Coach Teresa Funke offers tips on how to maintain your creative energy during the stressful holiday season.…

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I Was a Serendipitous Children’s Writer

by Noelle Sterne


I was as surprised as anyone at how I came to write and publish a children’s book. It all began . . .…

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Turn Your Inner Critic into a Wise Editor

by Helen Landalf


Every writer I know has an inner critic. Even successful authors must put up with the nagging voice that pesters them…

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A 2 Minute Master Class in Time Management for Writers

Feeling stressed? Can’t get everything on your “to do” list done?  Spend a minute or two with this infographic and start changing your relationship…

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The Successful Children’s Writer: Many Eggs, Many Baskets

We’ve been working with children’s writers for 25 years, and we’ve discovered that what separates successful authors from also-rans isn’t…

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How to Accept Feedback on Your Writing

Getting feedback, whether it’s from a writer’s group or a professional editor, is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a published author. In…

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Top Editor Emma Dryden on Working with Editors and Acting Professionally

Emma Dryden is one of children’s publishing’s most accomplished editors, having worked on  hundreds of books for young readers, including board…

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writing children's books - black belt

How to Get Your “Black Belt” in Writing Children’s Books

Successful authors have done one single, simple thing that has helped them vault to success writing children’s books.  In this video, Jon…

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10 Declarations for the 21st Century Children’s Author


It’s time for a fresh start.


For the moment, forget apps and ebooks.  Forget query letters and page counts. Let’s focus…

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Winning the Mental Game of Writing

Being a writer is not a task for the faint of heart.   Dealing with rejection, criticism and self-doubt has been part of the literary landscape…

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Struggling With Your Writing? Don’t Quit! Watch This Instead….

Say hello to Teresa Funke — children’s author, writing coach and entrepreneur. Teresa’s a real pro, and she’s seen the ups and downs of a writing…

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To Change the World, First Become Fearless


Fear is indeed a powerful emotion.  Left unchecked, it can paralyze you, stop you in your tracks, and suck the life out of you, leaving…

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Latest Posts

Kidlit Social #63: Writing Books w/ STEM Tie-Ins & Crafting Realistic Animals

Meet illustrator, explorer and children’s book author Katy Tanis. Katy’s work bursts with color, and a true love for every creature on land, in air and under sea. In this episode of The Social, Katy talks about her writing/illustration process, and gives her advice for aspiring illustrators. She also touches on the necessity for authors and illustrators to do their research and accurately reflect the behaviors of animals in children’s book texts (fiction and nonfiction) and illustrations, as well as the environment.

Katy gives some examples of how to do that research, and why this accuracy is important since so many publishers are looking for books with STEM tie-ins (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Kidlit Social #62: Our First Live Editing Session!

It’s our first ever live editing session! We chose seven works in progress from CBI subscribers (both fiction and nonfiction) and we invited award-winning author and editing wizard Bonnie Johnston (instructor for Manuscript Magic and author of The 30 Day Novel Workbook, The 30 Day Romance Novel Workbook, and The Writer’s Guide to Getting Organized) to edit each submission live and in real time!

This is a tremendous opportunity to really understand the “inner game” of editing, and pick up some valuable tips for editing your own work.

Kidlit Social #61 Replay: Tracy Sue Walker on Folklore, Myths & the Stories We Tell

Meet writer and storyteller Tracy Sue Walker. Tracy Sue is the author of the “Kids for Truth about Magical Creatures” chapter book series from Scholastic, and an award-winning storyteller. (Among her proudest achievements – she was Champion Liar at the Georgia Tall Tale Contest!)

On the Social, she shares how ancient, universal characters and stories can inform your writing, and how having skills as a storyteller can help liven up any school visit. (Plus you get a bonus story from an amazing storyteller!)

Kidlit Social #60 Replay: Nathan Bransford on Finding Your Story’s Hook

Nathan Bransford, author of the Jacob Wonderbar middle grade series, the writing guides How to Write a Novel and How to Publish a Book, and a former agent with Curtis Brown Ltd., joins Laura to talk about hooks: What is a hook, and how do you know if your manuscript has one? If it does, how do you present the hook in the query letter? If it doesn’t, should you abandon the idea, or can it still find a market?

Kidlit Social #59 Replay: Beth Anderson on the Changing Face of Picture Book Biographies

Award-winning author Beth Anderson joins us to discuss the wonderful category of picture book biographies. Laura and Beth talk about the “new” picture book biographies and how the genre has changed, and what types of approaches are most appealing to editors today. If bringing history to life for young readers excites you, you need to meet Beth!

So, What Do Our Members *Really* Think Of Us? 🤔

We asked some of our loyal CBI Insiders to share their opinions on Children’s Book Insider. Check out what they told us….

Kidlit Distancing Social #58 Replay: An Evening with Chapter Book Legend Debbie Dadey

What do you call someone who has authored or co-authored over 180 books that have sold more than 40 million copies?

Legend seems like the right word.

On this episode of the  Kidlit Distancing Social, we spend an evening with Debbie Dadey, author of The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series and one of the most widely-read chapter book authors ever.

Debbie joined Laura to talk about her remarkable career, what makes chapter books so special and the upcoming graphic novel adaptation of her book Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots. It was truly a memorable session.

Kidlit Distancing Social #57 Replay: Shakirah Bourne on Infusing a Manuscript with Magic & Authenticity

This week, meet an exciting new voice in middle grade and young adult writing: Barbadian author and filmmaker Shakirah Bourne. Shakirah shares the impact Caribbean culture has had on her work, how she infuses her books with magical realism and how understanding three act structure from films translates to writing novels.

Kidlit Distancing Social #56 Replay: Aimee Jackson on How Indie Authors Can Publish Successfully

This week, meet Aimee Jackson, Owner and Editorial Director of Book Bridge Press, a company that helps independent authors take their work from manuscript to published, illustrated book. BBP specializes in children’s books, and Aimee Jackson is an accomplished children’s book editor and publishing professional with more than 20 years experience in trade publishing.

In this episode of the Social, Aimee provides her top tips for independent authors to give their books the best shot at success in the areas of craft, design and marketing.

Kidlit Distancing Social #55 Replay: Lauren Ranalli on Author Marketing that Really Works

This week, meet Lauren Ranalli, award-winning children’s book writer and marketing coach for aspiring & self-published authors. In this episode, Lauren quizzed attendees’ about their marketing styles, and then gave advice for different marketing and social media strategies based on their answers. Really beneficial to anyone struggling with marketing and promotion!

Kidlit Distancing Social #54 Replay: Becoming a Full-Time Writer with Shannon Anderson

In this episode, meet Shannon Anderson, award-winning author of 14 kidlit books.

Shannon just quit her 25-year day job as a teacher to become a writer full-time. She joins us to talk about creating an author brand, when to know it’s time to quit your day job, what mindset attributes writers need to make it as a full-time author and more.

Kidlit Distancing Social #53 Replay: Violet Lemay on Helping Young Children Find Joy in an Unpredictable World

In this episode, meet author/illustrator Violet Lemay. Working primarily in the board book category (for ages 0-4), Violet has illustrated forty books, six of which she also wrote. She’s worked with such publishers as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, duopress, ‘Magination Press, and Free Spirit Publishing. Violet has a special mission: to take events happening in the world and help young children process them – and find the joy that’s always present.

Kidlit Distancing Social #52 Replay: Sneed B. Collard III on Nonfiction & Writing Mysteries for Middle Graders

In this episode, meet Sneed B. Collard III, award-winning author of more than 80 books. He’s best known for his science-based nonfiction for readers ages 5-12, and his middle grade and YA mysteries and thrillers. In 2006, Sneed was the recipient of the Washington Post Children’s Book Guild Children’s Nonfiction Writer of the Year Award for his body of work. In 2010, Sneed sought to address the shortage of quality regional children’s books by launching his own publishing company, Bucking Horse Books.

Kidlit Distancing Social #51 Replay: Author/Illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch on the Dance Between Words & Images in Picture Books

In this episode, we welcome Julie Rowan-Zoch (author/illustrator of I’m a Hare, So There! and illustrator of Louis, written by Tom Lichtenheld) to chat about the interplay between words and images in picture books. We also talk about developing a range of styles as an illustrator, how illustrating her own words compares to illustrating texts written by other authors, and what she’s learned about the market from working at an independent book store.

Kidlit Distancing Social #50 Replay: Michelle Schaub on Concept Books, Picture Books & Poetry

In this episode, we chatted with award-winning children’s author & veteran teacher Michelle Schaub about two fascinating topics: How to make concept books come alive by building layers, and using poetry to boost literacy.

Kidlit Distancing Social #49 Replay: Teen Readers Tell Us What They Like (and Don’t Like) in YA & Middle Grade

This week, a panel of teen readers tell us what they like – and don’t like – in middle grade and young adult books. They’re joined by Sallie Lowenstein, award winning author/illustrator of children’s and young adult books.

Kidlit Distancing Social #48 Replay: Crafting Speculative Fiction & Graphic Novels w/Jennifer Brody (a.k.a. Vera Strange)

In this episode, we welcome Jennifer Brody (a.k.a. Vera Strange) the award-winning author of ten books, including The 13th Continuum trilogy, the Disney Chills book series, and the Stoker Finalist graphic novel Spectre Deep 6 and 200 with Eisner-winning artist and syndicated cartoonist Jules Rivera, prompting Forbes to call Brody “a star in the graphic novel world.”

Laura and Jennifer talk about writing speculative fiction for middle grade and young adult, and what’s happening in the exciting graphic novel market.

Kidlit Distancing Social #47 Replay: Building an Effective Author Platform with Jennifer Swanson

In this episode, we welcome Jennifer Swanson, award winning author of over 40+ books for children (including Parent’s Choice Gold Award winner Save the Crash Test Dummies! and Beastly Bionics). The subject: the do’s and don’ts of creating an effective author platform (i.e. your online presence that enhances your ability to reach potential readers).

Kidlit Distancing Social #46 Replay: Jean Daigneau & Gloria Adams on How to Get Your Manuscript Submission-Ready

In this episode, two veteran kidlit authors share their best self-editing tips to help you get your manuscripts submission-ready.

Kidlit Distancing Social #45 Replay: Middle Grade Author Carmella Van Vleet on Creating Character-Driven Stories

In this episode, meet Middle Grade writer Carmella Van Vleet, author of the Christopher Award-winning “Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter” (Penguin Random House), and the upcoming “Nothing is Little” (Holiday House). Laura and Carmella delve into all things Middle Grade, with a particular focus on creating dynamic character-driven stories.

Kidlit Distancing Social #44 Replay: Picture Book Author Tameka Fryer Brown on Rhythm, Rhyme & Celebrating Community

In this episode, meet picture book writer Tameka Fryer Brown, author of Brown Baby Lullaby (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), named by Parents Latina Magazine as one of the Best Latino Children’s Books of 2020 and one of NPR’s 100 Favorite Books for Young Readers.

Laura and Tameka talk about using rhythm and rhyme to pen stories for picture book readers that celebrate family and community, and how Tameka’s books showcase diversity in a way that is accessible and relatable to any reader.

Kidlit Distancing Social #43 Replay: Overcoming the Obstacles that are Holding You Back

This week, Laura welcomes our friend Dani Alcorn of Writing Academy to discuss the things that block writers from finding true success – and how to overcome them. This is a *very* powerful session that is a must-see for any writer seeking to move forward in his or her career.

Kidlit Distancing Social #42 Replay: Book Marketing Expert Colleen Noyes

This episode features Colleen Noyes, founder of Itsy Bitsy Book Bits Promotions. Colleen is an expert of getting attention for new books in a very crowded marketplace. In this episode, Colleen shares her tips on the types of promotion authors can focus on during these socially-distanced times, and which are most effective.

Kidlit Distancing Social #41 Replay: Publishing Attorney Mary Flower Answers Your Questions on Copyright, Contracts & More

Meet one of the most experienced publishing attorneys in the industry, and hear her tips on copyright, negotiating contracts and other key legal issues impacting writers.

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