“On my desk is a stack of books. Some people call them mentor texts; I call them guardian angels. These are the books that guide me with a whisper of words, inspiring me to find my own voice as I write. They give me the knowledge and wisdom of what good-quality writing sounds and feels like.”
– Georgia Heard,
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction
There is a plethora of books on the craft of writing, but these are my guardian angels. The books I go to time and time again.
WRITING PICTURE BOOKS-A HANDS-ON GUIDE FROM STORY CREATION TO PUBLICATION, by Ann Whitford Paul is the bible of writing for children. The author helps you to develop the skills needed to create a well written picture book. Ms.Paul walks your through generating ideas, creating characters, identifying your point of view, crafting attention grabbing beginnings, plot, word count and tackling rhyme. At the end of each chapter, you have an assignment that will help build your story layer by layer. This is a MUST HAVE if you want to write picture books.
ANATOMY OF NONFICTION – WRITING TRUE STORIES FOR CHILDREN, Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas and FINDING THE HEART OF NONFICTION – TEACHING 7 ESSENTIAL CRAFT TOOLS WITH MENTOR TEXTS, Georgia Heard.
These two books are my nonfiction go to advisors. ANATOMY OF NONFICTION delves into the nuts and bolts of research, and finding the voice of your story (Extremely important!). The authors also walk you step-by-step through submission and different avenues to pursue for publication.
Like the Georgia Heard quote above, FINDING THE HEART teaches you how to use mentor texts as a “guardian angel” to guide your writing so that your topic reads like a traditional story book, not a dry emotionless book report.
Several other books that guide me are Martha Alderson’s WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS and SAVE THE CAT , Blake Snyder, and SAVE THE CAT WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.
Next topic? How about my favorite websites? One thing about the kidlit community is that they are the most generous and kindest people around. Most of these author/writer websites or blogs offer contests, advice, and writing challenges. If you find anything helpful on these sites, please let them know by either writing a review or purchase their books.
In no particular order-
- SCBWI.org If you want to be a kidlit author, joining SCBWI is the best money you will ever spend.
- Kidlit411 your one stop information shop for children’s writers and illustrators. They also list upcoming contests, information of writing query letters, marketing, courses, and the list goes on. You’ve got to visit to see everything!
- Susanna Hill – offers fun contests, critiques and the Art of Arc courses
- Manuscripts & Magnolias – great interviews with debut authors a year after their books are released. You get some great insight from newly published authors.
- Vivian Kirkfield #50precious words contest, critique services, author interviews, giveaways
- Julie Hedlund founder of the 12X12 Challenge (awesome writing community!), Complete Picture Book System and Picture Book Summit
There are hundreds of other great websites out there. The more you connect with the kidlit community, the more you find!
I want to leave you with one more resources that has helped my writing tremendously. The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas, offers on-site and online courses. I completed a course in the fall with award winning, nonfiction author Nancy Churnin. The course was about breathing life into your nonfiction work. The classes were small and we met online once a week. It was almost like having a one -on-one mentorship with her. It was, hands down, THE best writing course I have taken.
I hope that these resources will help you as much as they have helped me. I’d love to hear your favorite resources, so please leave me a comment and share my blog so that it may help others on their journey to publication. Also, Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can be notified of my next post which is all about a really fun, free and informational crash course in writing nonfiction!
“An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.”
-Anne Lamont, Bird by Bird