A Book’s Journey

Going from an idea to a book, Stan Morris shares how Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure came to be.

A Book’s Journey
By Stan Morris

It is late at night, and I am not asleep.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, and neither is what happens next.  A vision forms.  In this instance, it is of a girl/woman, maybe twenty years old, maybe eighteen.  I hope she’s at least seventeen, because she’s not wearing any clothes, and her hands are tied behind her back.  Continue reading


Writing Picture Books: Tips from the Top

By Susan Hughes

“Oh, you write picture books? I have a great idea for a children’s story. I’m planning to write it one day — and maybe get it published — when I have a little more time.”

What picture book author hasn’t heard these sentiments expressed time and time again? On the one hand, they are a nice reflection of the longing shared by so many people to tell a story, to participate in the creative process, to turn a spark generated by a moment or an image or a feeling into something memorable and lasting.

On the other hand, they seem to underestimate, and under-appreciate, the complex synthesis of effort, inspiration, dedication, skill and delicate reworking required to create the precious, compact world that is a picture book. Ask any of us who do write picture books, and we’ll tell you: It might look easy, but it ain’t!

So what’s the magic formula? How do you write a picture book story that lifts off the page into the world of possibilities? How do you write those words that will be transformed by visuals into a book that captures the imagination of young readers?

Well, it turns out there isn’t actually a magic formula; however, in this month’s column, five well-known authors of award-winning picture books, Dan Bar-El, Ruth Ohi, Hazel Hutchins, Monica Kulling and Cary Fagan, generously share writing tips and suggestions. Hope you learn lots. I know I did!

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Ten words to cut from your writing
by Shanna Mallon

As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

His point? Strong writing is lean writing. When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need – such as the 10 included in this post:

1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.

2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.

3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it. Continue reading

Magazine Writing Leads to Book Publishing


“If you want to publish books, I want to encourage you to take a different course of action. As an editor, I read many other publications and I looked for writers who could also write for me. If I write an article, it reaches many more people than my books. On the average a book may sell 5,000 copies. Certainly some books turn into bestsellers but with more than 50,000 new books a year–many books are fortunate to sell 5,000 copies.

With one article, I have reached millions of people. For a period, I was Associate Editor of a publication which reached 1.8 million people each month. The greatest feedback that I’ve received has been for my magazine writing. I’ve written for more than 50 publications over the last 15 years. Writing for periodicals will build your reputation as a writer with the editors. As you write for magazines, it will give you increased confidence that you can write for publication, meet word limits and deadlines. There are many benefits from writing for magazines.”


By Terry Whalin

Read the full article.