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The Craft of Writing for Children


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

 
On this episode of The Kidlit Social, meet illustrator, explorer and children’s book author Katy Tanis. Katy’s work bursts with color,…

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Writing Nonfiction for Children – Where the Opportunities Are Right Now

 
 
Here’s a meaty excerpt from The Children’s Nonfiction Market: How To Break In & How to Succeed, a Writing Blueprints workshop…

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Kidlit Social #62: Our First Live Editing Session!

 
On this episode of The Kidlit Social, we have a special treat for you: our first ever live editing session! We chose seven works in progress…

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

 
On this episode of The Kidlit Social, meet Nathan Bransford, author of the Jacob Wonderbar middle grade series, the writing guides How to…

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

Picture book biographer Beth Anderson (“Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses, Lizzie Demands a Seat, Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle) describes…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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:…

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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…

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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…

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Kidlit Distancing Social #40 Replay: Jennifer Swanson, Melissa Stewart & Cynthia Levinson on Why Kids Love Nonfiction a *Lot* More Than You Probably Think

 
 
This week’s Kidlit Distancing Social is, as they say on TV, “ripped from the headlines!” 🙂
 
In January, when we saw…

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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 #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…

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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…

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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 #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…

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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 #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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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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