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Writing for Children:
Where to Go When You are Desperate for Information or Help
"Musings" for August 2005

by Margot Finke

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It doesn't matter if you are a beginning writer, or a writer who calls many editors by their first names. Either experienced or inexperienced, there will be times when you desperately need to find a reliable source of information. It might be about publishing, or agent's commissions, an annoying grammar question, or a plot dilemma. Or you might need to find a critique group, ASAP, because you need help, and you need it NOW.

What follows is a selection of websites that will help you find answers to your writing questions. I have listed websites that offer writing help and services, insightful interviews, plus helpful publishing news. These websites treat writing for kids as serious business -- the real deal. If you can't find what you are looking for, there are sure to be links to other sites that will be able to provide the answers, advice, or information you seek.

ONLINE CHILDREN'S WRITING BOARDS:

Why bother with a writing board? Why not just sit down and write that kid's book?

Because, if you want to become a published writer, networking is the name of the game. The more children's writers you know, the better it is for you. Joining an online board introduces you to your peers. You can ask questions and get answers -- fast. Beginners can avoid many writing pitfalls by taking note of what the advanced and published writers on these lists have to say. It is also a good way to let of steam, vent rejection frustrations, and celebrate the arrival of that contract -- finally! Critique members can also be drawn from writing board members. 

All sites listed are YAHOO sites. If you want to find more, go to GROUPS, on the Yahoo front page, and check out the other writing lists.

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Subscribe: NFforKids-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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Subscribe: ChildrensE-bookPromotion-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

PRIVATE WEBSITES:

The writing wisdom and advice in the web sites below comes from published writers who remember what it was like to be a beginner. Many learned the writing game the hard way -- by trial and error. These websites brim with basic advice, expert help, and loads of the "right stuff" to help you hook an editor.

The Purple Crayon -- Harold Underdown's Homepage offers links to the information his site contains: everything from interviews with authors and editors, to the tools you need to write a wonderful children's book. The Purple Crayon is the #1 place to begin your information search. If you want to become a published writer, read Harold's, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books -- 2nd Edition." It's a must read for serious writers.

 Margot Finke offers a Critique Service -- personal guidance at reasonable fees. Her "Secrets of Writing for Children" gives self-editing and writing tips Stop Press for new "stuff." WAHOO celebrates the good writing news of others. See Books and Down-under Fun. Link to Margot's monthly "Musings" column.

 Verla Kay's Website - Verla is a multiple published author and a terrific writer. Surfing her pages will enlighten and educate you about the craft of writing for children. Forums & Links introduces you to her weekly Live Chat segment. This is where you join in and chat with guest editors, publishers, agents and writers. She also has a message board. It all happens here.

SmartWriters.com -- Roxyanne Young's website holds a treasure trove of information. Her SmartWriters Journal, is a must! Bursting with the information every writer needs, Roxyanne's website can help you become a published author. She will help you set up the perfect website for FREE, and the maintenance only costs pennies per month. Her Smart Writers Children's Writing Competition has gone from strength to strength -- Publishers & editors take notice when Roxyanne Young runs her W.I.N Competition.

Jan Field's Website - And if you want to write for a kid's magazine, the guidance and information in Jan's Kid Magazine Writers will be a great help.

Write4Kids WebSite - Jon Baird offers links, helpful advice, and writing news from the publishing trenches. His newsletter, the "Children's Book Insider" is a great weapon to have in your writing arsenal. Its news about editors, agents and publishers, is of particular importance. The monthly subscription is worth every penny. Surf this site to find the writing tools you need.

Cynthia Leitich Smith -- Cynthia's Website is chock-full of helpful information and links to other great sites. Her books and her insights are well worth the trip.

Yellapalooza.com - This is a delightfully designed site, specifically for those who write and illustrate children's books. Helpful tutorials for writer/illustrators, and lots of links. Coming soon is News and Reviews.

Aaron Shepard's Website is a treasure trove for kids and writers alike. His Treats & Resources (on Homepage) help you discovering "stuff" for kids and adults. Surf over to Aaron's place, and take the kids with you.

PUBLISHING AND OTHER INFORMATION:

WRITING CLASSES:

If it has been a long time since you went to school, you might benefit from a refresher in Writing101. Or, maybe that pile of picture book rejections makes you wonder if you are doing something wrong. . . Or your dialogue and plots feel stilted and unbelievable. Whatever the reason, there are a bunch of classes and workshops out there in cyber-land that you can easily fit into your busy schedule -- some are free, and others offer payment plans. 

Recommended Writing Classes - my Critique Service page lists a selection of terrific writing classes. Check them out.

Writer's Market - Writer's Digest's W.O.W. Their online classes for children's writers do a great job. Check their web site for details about the many services they offer.

The Institute of Children's Literature ( ICL ) -- Take the aptitude test, and then choose the class that fits your needs: there is a slew of them to choose from. Surf their web pages for details about the instructors, payment plans, and more. Many writers speak highly of the ICL classes and instructors.

Sally Odgers is an Aussie writer who offers online workshops on writing for children. Go to her Website to read about Sally, her books and workshops, her life, and the very affordable fees she charges for her workshops.

Writers.com -- Writers on the Net, offer a huge array of writing classes. Uma Krishnaswami is one of their many instructors, and she comes highly recommended. Check out their list of instructors, plus the huge volume of information, on their WebSite.

Susan Taylor Brown has writing workshops and so much more. Surf through her site to discover the cost, the times, and what Susan offers.

Gotham Writers' Workshop - This New York based workshop has a huge program. They offer in person, as well as online classes. Check out their Website for classes, fees and extras.

Union Institute - Vermont College, in Montpelier VT, offers an online course in writing for children. Vermont College is the home of the esteemed MFA Writing for Children Program. Go to their Website for further details.

CoffeeHouseForWriters -- Kathryn Lay teaches three online courses in children's writing -- Writing for Children, Writing & Marketing Personal Experiences, and Writing for Magazines. Check their Website for fees, and further information.

Fast Track E-mail Tutorials - The NSW Writer's Center (Australia) offers a host of writing tutorials. These are designed so you can work at your own pace - other writing classes also available. Check it out.

Professional Writing Classes by Scribe & Quill - Sue Bradford Edwards is the facilitator for their Children's Nonfiction Writing Class. Many other classes are also available from them online.

Suite101.com has their own Suite University and offers a huge variety of classes. Scroll down to "School of Writing & Publishing," and browse through the classes they offer. They do not give individual instruction, but this is great for the budget minded, because all the classes are FREE.

Sheila Seifert offers detailed and personalized workshops for writers. Browse her pages and decide what will help you the most.

Universal Class features instructor Margaret Shauer. She teaches three great classes about writing for children.

NOTE:

The pressure of other writing business limited the time I had to search out and review suitable sites. However, the Internet hides countless amazing children's writing resources. They are out there, simply waiting for you to discover them. Use Google to surf your specific areas of interest. 

Happy writing, mates!

Margot Finke's biography and index to Musings.



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