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.

The Joys and Challenges of Writing for Children

Guest Post by Award-Winning Children’s Book Author Crystal Bowman

When people find out I’m a children’s author, their response often goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.”

Writing a children’s book seems to be something on their bucket list‒like zip lining in the rain forest or sky diving on their 50th birthday. Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy.

I often get emails from writers who ask me to critique their work, but most of what I see is not ready to send to a publisher. I see great ideas, but not great writing. Why? Because the writers haven’t taken the time to learn how to write for children or for publication.

If you want to write for children, here are a few tips on how to get started.

Why Should Authors Invest in School Visits?

An Author Interview with Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome

Authors are encouraged to know their target audience and connect with the readers who will be buying their books. These tasks become a little more complicated for the writers of children’s books. Their readers may not be able to buy their books, or attend the industry standard book launches or signings.

Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome are three authors who understand the need to reach their young audiences in creative ways.

This year, they’ll be putting their books right into the little hands of their readers by participating in an Author Day at a local elementary school.

Marci Seither, the organizer of this fun event, has written hundreds of articles for local and national publications, including Guideposts magazine. She is also the author of The Adventures of Pearly Monroe (2014), Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight (2014) and Pumper John

.Marci Seither - Author Photo by Ocean - June 2014     Marci Seither - Book Cover - Pearley Monroe

Inspire Member Spotlight: Jenny Lundquist

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I’ve been a member for several years.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I first began attending Inspire several years ago when there was only one group meeting at Warehouse Christian church. But my younger son was still a baby and not sleeping through the night, and by the time the critique group started (it was held at night) I felt too exhausted to really engage. So I dropped out.

Then a few years ago, I woke up one morning and really felt like I should pray for God to bring more writer friends into my life. After I finished, I checked my email and saw a message from Beth Thompson that a daytime group was opening up in El Dorado Hills and would provide childcare. My son was in preschool by this time, so for me the Inspire group was a direct answer to prayer.

When did you first know you were a writer?

I don’t know that I had an “ah-hah” moment when I realized that, yes, I am a writer. It’s taken me a while to be able to claim the title of writer. But I did have a moment when I was at a birthday dinner for a friend and someone gave her a journal. Something in me just “clicked” that night, and I remembered how much I liked to write as a child. Soon after I started writing, and I haven’t stopped.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

The low point was finishing my first novel and realizing that, although it was decent first try, it wasn’t good enough for publication. The high point? Getting the email from my agent that Seeing Cinderella had sold, definitely. It’s hard to describe how incredible that felt.

Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

That’s sort of like asking me which of my sons is my favorite. I love each story uniquely. My first novel occupies a special place in my heart solely because it was my first try. Seeing Cinderella means so much to me in terms of the storytelling, and I love my third novel, Plastic Polly, just as much as the first two.

Describe receiving your first book contract.

Exciting, confusing, overwhelming, and thrilling. It was—and continues to be—an emotional roller coaster. But one I’m so incredibly thankful to be on.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

My first novel is gathering dust. It’s been condemned to the dusty recesses of my hard drive. Someday I may want to pull it out and try to rewrite it, but for now it’s moldering away in manuscript purgatory.

What’s next for you?

I just finished revisions on my second novel, Plastic Polly. It’s about a girl who’s the second most popular girl in her middle school. Many of her classmates call her Plastic Polly behind her back. It’s inspired, in part, by a phrase I heard a lot growing up, which is, “She’s so fake.”

That statement has always intrigued me, because what does that even mean? To an extent, we all wear masks, and yet we’re all authentically who we are, and so I wanted to write a book from the perspective of the girl many people didn’t like in middle school.

But, I also need a lot of fun in my projects, so Polly ends up having to coordinate a talent show competition between her middle school and their rival school. She finds out that only the popular kids (as opposed to the most talented kids) are being selected to participate in the competition, and she has to decide what she’s going to do about it.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

So much. My favorite verse in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10 which is, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When I finish one project, I’m always asking God, what is the next “good work” He has for me? Right now, He has me writing mainstream middle grade novels, and I’m excited to see where He’ll take me—and take all of the Inspire writers—in the years to come.

Was there a book that changed your life?

The Harry Potter series had a huge impact on me. I read J.K. Rowling’s work and I’m mesmerized by her ability to develop a world so completely. She makes me want to be a better writer.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice I ever received came from Laura Jensen Walker who told me I should, “Make my writing fit around my life, not the other way around.”

I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such an established author. And as I navigate through launching Seeing Cinderella this month, finishing revisions on a second book, and drafting a third, I realize how true her words are.

I’m really lucky to be where I am, but my family has to be first, and writing has to be second. Some days that’s hard to remember with all the deadlines and “to do” lists on my desk, but I’m trying.

You can connect with Jenny at her website.

Mark your calendar for:

Seeing Cinderella Book Launch Party
March 31, 2012 1-3pm (Saturday)
Barnes & Noble
6111 Sunrise Blvd
Citrus Heights CA 95610
RSVP on Facebook if you want

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle Now Available!

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is now available for the iPad on the App Store for only $2.99.

Grab your cape and join the fun! Aiden is just an ordinary kid—loves costume play, watching clouds pass by, seeing castles in the sky… and he doesn’t like vegetables.

In The Prisoner of Carrot Castle Aiden’s imagination transports him to a far away place where he finds himself a prisoner in a cell made of carrots. What will he do? Must he face the angry King? Will his hate for vegetables get him in trouble? Come along and help Aiden as he tries to escape from Carrot Castle.

When Aiden gets stuck, kids play a role in helping him move ahead in his adventure. The story comes alive as the text is read. Find silly animations and sound effects as the action unfolds.

Through creative storytelling, kids learn that eating vegetables is good—it can actually help them.

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is an original story written and illustrated for the iPad. Targeted for kids 3 to 8-years-old, the story’s interaction and games help them develop fine motor skills.

Download your copy of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle, please tell your friends, rate it and write a review.

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.

 Editor’s note: Here’s your chance to help a fellow writer with a product launch. Let’s help Chris get the word out. Use your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogs to let people know this app is now available.

From Picture Book to iPad App: Step 9

You might be thinking by now that the steps to developing an iPad app never end. Well… it sometimes feels like that to us too. Since none of us have ever done an iPad app before, there’s been a roller coaster learning curve and unforeseen setbacks in the schedule. Each of us on the team (Kate, Nur and myself) moved. Kate moved completely across the country last summer and I moved over Christmas.

Step Nine:

A. Beta Test
Now we’re back on track and actually in beta. For those who think I’m referring to a vitamin, a beta test is when your product moves (look at that.. even the app moved) from in-house testing to actual user testing. I have volunteers with young children using the app to see if they encounter bugs or any speed/performance issues needing to be addressed before we go to launch.

Preliminary input from our testers look good on the bug front—no crashes or obvious errors. I few tweaks have been suggested to make the user experience more satisfying.

B. Fix and Upload to App Store
Based on input from our beta testers, we’ll fix any problems that came up, adjust a few details in the presentation and tweak a few activities (I have a list). Then we upload it to the App Store for approval and launch.

C. Tell the World
Then I get to work contacting reviewers, telling everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, notifying  newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and alerting my writer’s network to spread the word to their contacts and on their blogs.

You can help by going to Purple Carrot Books and signing up to get an email when the launch happens.

Do you have experience at spreading the word about a good product?

What’s your best technique to get something out there for the “world” to know about?

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.