1—Read! Every author started out reading, and then decided that they wanted to be the one to write the stories that other people read. Read books that you like. Read something different, something you wouldn’t think of picking up. Read magazines, comics, cereal boxes, billboards.
2—Learn as much as you can. It gives you more things to write about.
3—When you get an idea, write it down so you don’t forget it. Write down your dreams, and interesting things that you hear about.
4—Make a list of words that are fun to say. Like giggle, noodle, popcorn, butterball, wiggle, macaroni, zip, clap, fizzy...
5—Listen to music. It gives you a sense of rhythm and pacing. (Just for fun, did you ever try writing different words to a song that you like?)
6—Keep a journal, or diary. Write down things that happen to you or around you. Write down how you feel about things.
7—Write about things that you know—your pet, where you live, what you like to do. You’re an expert about these things because you know a lot about them.
8—Try sonmething different! Write down an original joke, or recipe. Write about things that you don’t know anything about. Research something that you’re interested in. Read as many books or articles as you can find about something, and become an expert on that topic. Then write about it in your own words.
9—Read your stories out loud to see how they sound.
10—Add some surprises. Be silly sometimes. Most of all, have fun with your writing!
1—Write your story or article or poem until it’s the best it can be. Writing includes re-writing. When you feel that you’re satisfied with what you’ve written, put it aside for a week or two, then go back and read it again. If you still feel it’s as good as it can be, then get ready to send it in!
2—Look for the right place to send your manuscript (a manuscript is a written piece of work). Read magazines and books. Find the places that publish the kinds of things you write. Then submit your manuscript to them. Fantasy magazines aren’t looking for true stories. A magazine or publisher who publishes only non-fiction won’t even look at a piece of fiction. Do you write poetry? Does your poetry rhyme, or is it free verse? Look for places that publish the type of poems that you write. If you write jokes or puzzles or recipes, look to see who publishes those in their magazines and submit yours to them.
3—Follow the rules if they have them, and stay within the word count they ask for. Their space is limited, and even an extra 25 words in your story can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.
4—You don't need to get fancy when you send something in --just type it neatly on white paper. And be sure that your spelling and grammar are correct.
5—Don't worry about rejections-- there are many different reasons that good stories and articles are rejected. Just keep trying!
Publishing Opportunities for Young Writers & Illustrators
There are a number of opportunities for young writers and illustrators to have their work published.
Look in magazines that you read for contests and submission guidelines.
Check local colleges for literary magazines that accept submissions from young writers and illustrators.
Check your library for the "Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market" book edition from 2009 or earlier. Look at the section called Young Writer's & Illustrator's Markets. It lists places that publish the work of writers and illustrators under the age of 18.
When did you start writing?
I wrote stories and poems when I was a little girl, but I never thought about being an author until much later. I read so many books to my children that I thought I would try to write some of my own. My children liked my stories, and I finally got brave enough to send them out to children's magazines, and then to children's book publishers.
What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
My favorite book when I was a little girl was a Little Golden Book called Nurse Nancy. I'm not sure if I liked it so much because I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up, or if I wanted to be a nurse because I loved that book. I remember that it had a page of real bandaids at the back of the book.
I also liked Little Red Riding Hood. My mother made a red skirt and a red hooded cape for me that I wore on Halloween.
When I got older I read all of the Nancy Drew books, and the Sue Barton student nurse books.
What are you working on now?
I've been working on polishing up several manuscripts over the last couple of years. Those include a book about some animals with very unique teeth, which combines a fun poem and facts for each animal; a Halloween poetry collection about characters who are a bit like us when it comes to Halloween; a pirate story; and an early reader about Dr. Bones, a little witch, and a cat. And I'm always thinking about new ideas!
My picture book, TOAD IN THE ROAD, just won the 2015 Society of Children's Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) award for a Work-in-Progress. This is an award for a book that an author or illustrator has worked on very hard, and might be ready to be published or is very close to being ready.
Here are some answers to other questions that I have been asked:
I make less than a dollar for every book that is sold.
My dog Snickers inspired me to write my book, NAME THAT DOG!
She was born in 1999, and died in 2011
She weighed about 70 pounds.
Yes, I am younger than 80.
If you want to know how old I am, here are some clues:
I was born on the same day as our 16th president.
Have you figured out the month and day? How about the year?
In the year that I was born bread was 12 cents a loaf and a postage stamp was 3 cents.
Television shows were only seen in black and white.
There were no frisbees and no velcroe shoes.
Harry Truman was president.
Kids watched the Howdy Doody show on TV for the first time that year, and Miracle on 34th Street was a big hit at the movie theater.
The NY Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. It was the first time the World Series was seen on television.
The doughnut was 100 years old.
Cat litter and the microwave oven were invented that year.
Did you figure it out? Now subtract that year from the year we’re in now, and you have my age!