Writing Poems Kids Will Read

Guest Blogger Mary Harwell Sayler

To write poems children enjoy, these tips will help:

Get to know kids!

Being around children from preschoolers to teens lets you know what’s on their minds. Research their areas of interests and stages of development, and read the poems they like.

Keep each line in line with the age of your readers.

The younger the child, the simpler a poem needs to be. For instance, young children love a bouncy beat. When they’re learning words, they enjoy the sounds of rhyming words and alliteration.

Turn up the volume.

By repeating the first sound of a word within a line, the resulting alliteration will enliven the sound and tempo of your poem. For example, “Big, bright beads of rain wet down the window.” If you carry sounds to extreme, alliteration creates kid-friendly tongue twisters such as “Suzy sells seashells by the seashore.”

Use strong nouns and active verbs for rhyming pairs.

Five Reasons to Attend a Writing Retreat

Inspire Board Member, Robynne Elizabeth Miller

Every single time I attend a writing conference or workshop, I always hear the same thing:

“I love being with my tribe!”

“Can’t wait to get working on my project now. I’m inspired!”

“I wish there were more opportunities to get together!”

Writing is a solitary profession. Tucked away in a dark corner of Starbucks, or in our lonely home offices, we often crave the companionship of those who understand our mild obsessions with a perfect verb, and don’t judge us when we fawn over grammatically correct sentences.

Critique groups, like those offered through Inspire Christian Writers, are a wonderful antidote for the problem. Through them, you’ll get wonderful feedback, encouragement, and a chance to soak up some much-needed fellowship.

But not everybody has the ability to get plugged into a local critique group. And some of us need more connection time than even they can offer. Enter the idea of a Writer’s Retreat.

Here are some top reasons for attending one:

When an Author Loses Her Way

Guest Blogger Ginny L. Yttrup

My latest novel, Home, is about an author who runs away. But what does it look like when an author loses her way?

It looks a lot like this…

A Lost Author

Awareness comes slowly. The whirring of a fan. The rhythmic snore of a dog somewhere near my feet. Lids heavy, I open my eyes to darkness. No need to look at the clock on the nightstand, my internal alarm is set for 3:45 AM this week.

I tell myself to go back to sleep, knowing I can’t. Or won’t? It doesn’t matter, a shot has already sounded and my mind is off and running. A sprint toward something I don’t take time to define. Maybe I don’t want to define it.

Ideas spin, each more profitable than the last. My heart rate quickens.

Track It!

How to Use a Character Chart by Guest Blogger Sarah Sundin

What color were her eyes again? How long has he had this job? When did she break her arm, and is she out of her cast yet?

When we’re writing a novel, details threaten to swamp us. We waste time tracking them down. We waste time fixing them during editing. And when we mess up, we drive our copy editors—or our readers!—crazy.

A character chart can save time and headaches.

I use a simple table in Microsoft Word, but you can use Excel or Scrivener as well. The “search” or “find” feature in these programs allows you to quickly locate information. Since I write three-book series, I keep a running chart for the series to make sure I don’t duplicate names or overuse character features.

I set up the skeleton of my chart before I start the rough draft (I’m an outliner), enter information in the chart as I write the rough draft, then clean it up during the editing process. When I turn in my manuscript, I also send my character chart—the editorial staff at my publishing house loves this!

Here’s a snippet of the chart from my latest World War II novel, When Tides Turn, showing the main characters, Tess Beaumont and Dan Avery.

How to Annoy Others and Look Terribly Desperate Online

The Slightly-Snarky Guide to Getting Noticed by Guest Blogger Kathi Lipp

This post illustrates what not to do when building your online presence.

In it, I poke fun at the crazy things we do to get noticed online.

I know you feel the pressure of building your platform, but these tactics will keep you from getting published.

They’re not your friends.

You need to earn your platform every day.

Here’s how you destroy it with your own hands:

Count the Cost of Your Next Website

Guest Post and FREE WEBINAR by Laura Christianson

“How do I get started on social media?”

It’s a question literary agent, Karen Ball, gets asked a lot. In “Keys for Effective Social Media Use,” Karen states: “Have a quality website. That means a website that looks and acts professional. Which generally means don’t do it yourself unless you really and truly know what you’re doing on every front, including design, SEO, and other things about which yours truly knows very little.”

 Karen makes three excellent points: 

1. If you’re trying to build brand recognition on social media, START WITH A WEBSITE.

Social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube serve as a REFERRAL SOURCE – in other words, the links you post on social drive people to your website and blog.

Social networks drive over 30% of traffic to websites [Shareaholic]. That was back in 2014, the latest date for which I could find statistics. I’m guessing that now, referrals from social networks drive closer to 50% of traffic to websites. 

2. Your website must look and act professional.

So many DIY website builders assume they can slap something together and that’s all they need. But let’s peek into Karen Ball’s world. She’s a literary agent. Which means that every pre-published author on the planet wants to be her friend, in hopes that she’ll notice them and agree to be their agent.

The first thing Karen’s going to do when she meets a prospective client is check out their website and social presence. Let’s say Karen’s prospective client writes women’s fiction. Karen may already represent several women’s fiction authors – some of them, best-selling authors.

She wants to know what makes this unknown author’s writing and marketing skills unique and attractive to a large audience. If the unknown author’s website is non-existent or unprofessional-looking and Karen already has other women’s fiction authors in her stable who have professional, attractive websites, I’m betting that Karen will opt to work with the authors who’ve already laid the groundwork for a professional writing career.

The publishing industry–similar to most industries–is ultra-competitive. If your website doesn’t stand out from the crowd (in a good way), chances are that you’ll be overlooked. 

3. Don’t build your website yourself unless you know what you’re doing.

“But… but… but… I can’t afford to hire someone to build my website. It’s too expensive!”

I’ve made that same excuse. More than once! I cobbled something together, and it looked like “the cat threw up on it” (one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes).

I discovered I was operating under what Michael Hyatt calls a “scarcity mindset.”

I needed to stop asking myself, “How much will it cost if I hire someone to build my website,” and start asking, “How much will it cost if I DON’T?”