Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding Children's Story Ideas

Sitting at the computer with a blank word document in front of you may be intimidating for a writer. You just finished one manuscript, or you’ve hired out to ghostwrite a story, or whatever the reason is, you need to begin writing a children’s story.

Hmmm. What should it be about? You think and think. You gaze out the window. You draw a blank.

Alexander Steele wrote a short article in the October 2010 issue of the Writer, “Where can you find the seeds of a good story?” It was interesting to read that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, had his own whaling adventures which he used to create a wonderful, everlasting story. Steele advices, “Probably the most fertile place to look for ideas is right inside the backyard of your own life.”

You might be thinking you don’t have close contact with children, so you don’t have any experiences do draw on. Or, you may be so busy living your life and raising your children that you don’t have time to stop and see all the amazing story opportunities that are right in your own backyard. Well, even if these scenarios fit, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

Finding Story Ideas if You Don’t Have Close Contact with Children

1. Turn on the TV. Yes, this is an excellent source for story ideas, as well as watching children’s behavior. While it may be in the confines of a scripted show, the writers of these shows try to keep it as real as possible. Take note of the situations, the attitudes of the actors, the scenes, and everything else. Even children’s cartoons have engaging storylines. It may be just the spark you need.

2. Go to a playground with notebook in hand. Watch the children play and listen to them talk. If you’re a professional writer (ghostwriter), or you’re already published, consider asking your local age appropriate school if you could sit in the lunchroom during lunch periods. A useful way to get a positive answer would be to first ask if you could give an author or writing presentation to the students. The principal would need to be sure you are a legitimate writer. Please note though, I don’t know if there is any legal aspects a school would need to consider.

Note: If you do go to a playground, be sure to inform parents/guardians of what you're doing. It'd be a good idea to bring a copy of one of your published books with you, so they feel comfortable that you are indeed a writer. It's a crazy world, always take precautions, and keep the safety of our children at the forefront.

3.  Read newly published children’s books, and reread ones you enjoyed as a child, then reinvent a story. This is a tip I took advantage of with my own children’s fantasy chapter book. I read an old Chinese tale and reinvented it for a children’s book. I was recently reminded of this story idea source by multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke, during a teleclass she presented.

Finke advised to study books you like; pay attention to why they work, then “craft an entirely new story.” She explained that, “quirky and fresh” wins publishing contracts today.

Finding Story Ideas if You Do Have Close Contact with Children

1. Study the children you do have contact with, whether your own children, your grandchildren, or other relatives. Children are an amazing source of inspiration and ideas. They have an innate ability to make you feel: just looking at a picture of children may make you smile; hearing a baby laugh can actually make you laugh.

Watch the children, notice their mannerisms, body language, movements, attitudes and emotions, speech, and their interactions with other children and adults. You’ll not only get story ideas, you’ll also get dialogue and ‘showing’ descriptions.

2. If you have regular contact with children, you really shouldn’t need any other steps, but if the age of your new story differ from the ages of the children you see, use the steps noted above for writers who don’t have contact with children.



Writing, Submissions, and Working with Editors
10 Basic Rules for Writing for Children


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Tip: Great Backup Tool

Don't leave the safety of your files to chance!

Today I want to share a great backup tool with you.


I recently subscribed to Dropbox. I opted for their free 2 GB of online data storage – so far I’m using almost 39% of my allowed space. I have to say I really love it.

I do my work each day, and when I’m done, I just copy the files to my dropbox files (right on my computer). You have no idea how relieved I feel knowing that my clients’ work is backed up.

In addition, I’m backing up all my manuscripts, articles, and posts.

What I especially like about Dropbox is that I save only the files I want to. I was a little concerned about having my entire hard drive backed up online because of personal information that is on some files. But, now I don’t have to worry about it.

And, what’s just as beneficial is that you can register your laptop, and other computers to your Dropbox account. This means once you save a file to the computer or laptop you’re currently working on, the updated file will be available on every other computer you listed on your account. Now, that’s impressive and makes life just a bit easier.

Since I think it’s such a worthwhile tool for backing up important files, and the 2 GB storage space is FREE, I’m promoting it.

Once you join, for every person you get to join up, you’ll get an additional 250 MG of space (up to 8 GB)

If you think it’ll be beneficial to your writing and work, give it a try - there’s absolutely nothing to lose. And, I would never blatantly recommend a product I didn’t use and didn’t think is great.

So, click on Dropbox or the link below and see for yourself.

Articles You May Find of Interest

Do You Have a Backup Plan?
Theme and Your Story


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writing and Marketing: Are You Making These Silly Query Mistakes?

Today I have a valuable artice from Beth Ann Erickson of Filbert Publishing.

Are You Making These Silly Mistakes?
By Beth Ann Erickson

Sitting on this side of the editorial desk is amazing. I hear stories about how hard it is to get published, all the while reviewing queries that cross my desk.

This unique perspective has vividly illustrated an interesting phenomenon in the publishing world: It's not hard to get published, what's evidently hard is writing something publishers need. Let me explain.

When it comes to queries and proposals, we rarely reject a manuscript due to sloppy writing. Writers tend to be an educated and talented lot. Nine times out of ten the problem lies in one of these areas:

The author hasn't read the submission guidelines.

We publish (maybe) one piece of fiction per year. Yet 99 percent of all queries received are for fiction. We're clear about this in our guidelines, yet the queries flow in. Of the remaining one percent, most queries are not in our genre. We probably receive one appropriate query every six months, if that.

Next problem, getting the name wrong. My name isn't “Bart.” Maury's name isn't “Mary.” Our name isn't “editor” either. Personalize the query for a better chance of getting it read.

Finally, we don't publish books over 100k words. We say this in the guidelines.

Yet, we receive queries for (up to) 250k words. That's simply too long. It makes for a big, expensive book that we'll have trouble selling.

Simple fix? Read the submission guidelines carefully before submitting. Your competition isn't doing this so you've got an automatic leg up.


Snail mailing a query without a SASE will usually not receive a response.

When I've got my marketing hat on, I know it's imperative to make it effortless for a prospective customer to respond to my offer. I slip in a SASE. I make the order form easy to navigate. I do everything I can to make the process simple because even one extra step can depress response by a LOT.

Not including a SASE is a big mistake. Some writers will include an e-mail address, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a response. That would require effort on the part of the publisher. I'm not saying we're a lazy bunch, but I can say we're busy and sending rejections is not fun. Any “not fun” activity gets put off until... well... until we've got a spare minute to craft a response, correctly type in the e-mail address, and hit “send.” And that spare minute can be a long time in coming.

Also, sending queries via e-mail can be tricky as well. More than once, I've received a frustrated e-mail from an author asking why I didn't respond to their query. Sometimes I didn't realize they sent a query.

Spam filters can catch your e-mail. Sometimes an overzealous “deleting” session can toss it in the “trash” unread. Who knows?

Follow up your queries with a polite e-mail or send it snail mail and include a SASE.

Not researching your target publisher

Know your reader. It's every writer's mantra. If you can touch your reader, you'll sell your work.

The same goes for the query process.

Capture the voice of your intended audience... the publisher. Read what they've published. Find out what they're looking for and give it to them. Ask yourself, “Who are their readers?” “How can I serve them?” “What can I do to make their readers' lives better, easier, more fun?”

Once you've answered these questions, you can better write a query that will literally knock off their socks. :)

Demonstrating no marketing knowledge

Most queries focus on the author. “I'm the author of...” “I've written...” “My education includes...”

Sure, this is important information, but there's a better way to frame it.
Whenever you write something... anything... always write directly to your reader.

This creates an interesting situation for you as a writer. Your article, book, whatever you're pitching should speak directly to your reader while your query should speak directly to the potential publisher about their readers.

Sure, you may hold an important degree in a particular subject, but why should the reader care? What's in it for them?

If you concentrate your queries on answering the all-important “what's in it for me” question that inevitably dominates all reader's minds, you've just increased your chances of making the sale.

When you concentrate on your reader, compellingly answer “what's in it for me,” you're demonstrating solid marketing knowledge. Your potential publisher will appreciate your marketing savvy.

Your book doesn't have a large potential readership

Publishing is all about readership, not authors. If your project has a limited readership, your work likely won't get published.

Now, don't get the terms “limited readership” confused with “niche.”

A niche consists of a small, targeted subjects, a sliver of overall readership. Dominating a niche is a good thing. Even becoming a leader in a sub-niche is good. Once you've mastered a niche, you've got it made.

“Limited readership” on the other hand, is selecting a readership so small that you can't drum enough readers to support your writing habit.

For example, it's been my experience that it's really tough for a poet to make a living as a writer, not because poetry isn't cool, it's an art form I truly admire, there simply aren't enough readers willing to shell out the dough to purchase poetry. Fiction runs a close second.

The late Gary Halbert said that to become a success in your market, “find a hungry mob, then build a hamburger stand in their path.”

I agree. Find a niche, become the resident expert, master rudimentary marketing techniques, carefully read the writer's guidelines, and most of all... have fun.

And that's when things get really interesting. :)
Beth Ann Erickson is the “Queen Bee” of Filbert Publishing. She’s also the author of numerous titles as well as the Creative Mindset Newsletter. Pick up the first seven copies today here. She’s also a busy copywriter, speaker, and publisher of Writing Etc., the free e-mag for writers. 

Related Articles:

The Elevator and One Sentence Pitch
Writing, Submissions, and Working with Editors
Fiction Story – What Makes a Good One?


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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Elevator and One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript

Your elevator pitch, or simply your pitch, is a very condensed, yet concise description of your story. It can be one to several sentences long; the idea is to grab the publisher, editor, or agent’s attention and interest with the core of your story in the span of under 3 minutes.

The marketing arena’s idea of the pitch is a one sentence calling card – you’re unique selling proposal or proposition. The idea behind the elevator pitch is to imagine that you get on an elevator and surprisingly you’re there with a potential client, or in the case of writing for children or writing in general, a publisher or agent. You are given just the time for the elevator ride, which was approximated at 3 minutes, to pitch your story. That’s the elevator pitch.

It may also happen that the time you have to pitch your manuscript may be under a minute. Suppose you’re at a conference and happen to get on the elevator at the end of the day with a frazzled publisher or agent. You want that very short span of pitching time to be as effective as you can make it, without annoying or further frazzling your target. It may be the only opportunity you’ll have for a direct, although very brief, uninterrupted pitch.

The One Sentence Pitch

The one sentence pitch, also known as a logline, takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to condense your entire manuscript into one sentence. Within that sentence you need to harness the soul of your story in a simple, concise, and hooking pitch.

The general writing consensus is to do your best and create one sentence that tells what your story is about. Once you have it nailed, expand it into a few more, adding only the most important aspects of the story. This is excellent practice for tight writing.

This way you’ll have two different versions of a micro pitch. It’s important to always be prepared – you never know when or where you may come upon an unsuspecting publisher or agent . . .  maybe you’ll have a few seconds, maybe you’ll have 3 minutes.

Here is an example of a one sentence pitch from RockWay Press (link is no longer valid):

Two brothers and their female cousin decide to track down a serial killer themselves, not realizing that one of them may be the very killer they seek.

Here’s another one from the blog at Buried in the Slush Pile:

The Emerald Tablet -- In this midgrade science fiction novel, a telepathic boy discovers that he is not really human but a whole different species and that he must save a sunken continent hidden under the ocean.

And, here’s my own one sentence pitch for my children’s fantasy chapter book. The 99 word version hooked a contract with 4RV Publishing:

Children 7-10 love fantasy and magic and Walking Through Walls has just that; twelve-year-old Wang decides he’ll be rich and powerful if he can become a mystical Eternal.

Obviously, if you have a scheduled pitch you will need to adhere to the publisher or agent’s rules. You may be able to provide a pitch with 100-200 words. But, it’s a good idea to have that one sentence pitch on hand for that you-never-know moment.

Related Articles

Focus Your Children’s Writing Site on Children’s Writing
Why Some Authors Fail
Fiction Story – What Makes a Good One?


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Friday, September 17, 2010

Focus Your Children's Writing Site on Children's Writing

Is your site on the mark?

Thanks to my children's writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance, I was reminded of the importance of creating a focused brand. Fortunately, during a teleclass on Tuesday night, she happened to pull up my site, and quickly noted a couple of errors that I let slip by.

But, let me backtrack a moment. The class was about setting up your website as a children's writer. I should have been more on the ball, but as we get caught up in our writing careers sometimes it's easy to forget to remain focused.

That's a no-no! It's important to present a focused brand and site.

Okay, so what were my possibly money costing mistakes?

1. Create a website or blog using your own name.

This one I let slide because I created my site before I became a member of Susanne's club. My first children's book, Day's End Lullaby, I co-wrote with Robyn Feltman. Without thought of future endeavors, I named this site Karen and Robyn Writing for Children.

I have since moved onto solo projects, and while I did change the header on this site, the url still reads "karenandrobyn." I am slowly . . . very slowly . . . leading traffic to my newer site.

Suzanne actually advised that I can redirect this site to another, but I don't know how, and don't have the time to find out. So, for now it remains as is.

The purpose of having your name as the site name is so you will be be easily found and eventually recognized.

2. If you are branding yourself as a children's writer, keep your site specific to writing for children. 

This is my big mistake. I've ventured into a number of writing arenas including ghostwriting, freelance writing, and even copywriting. Instead of keeping those areas separate, I brought them into my children's writing sites.

So, why is this a mistake? Well, because of dilution of expertise.

In my subheading to this blog, I mention ghostwriting and freelance writing. Now, this may not be too far fetched because I do ghostwrite children's books, but that shouldn't be the emphasis at this site.

If you are branding yourself as a children's writer, the focus of your site should be children's writing. If you promote yourself as 'doing this, that, and the other thing,' you'll become known as the 'jack of all trades and master of none,' - dilution of expertise.

If you are also involved in other writing arenas as I am, create a separate site for promoting yourself as an expert in those areas. I actually did this around 2 years ago with another of my sites, but I made the mistake of recently adding those other writing areas to my children's site.

Oh, the webs that we weave.

Steps Taken to Fix the Situation

1. When I learned of the importance of creating a site with your name, I did just that with the site.

2. I changed the subheading on the site.

3. I will have tweak this site a bit also, when I get the chance.

4. I will try to focus more on children's writing on this site. I will still include writing in general and marketing since those topics pertain to all writers.

TIPS for a Better Website/Blog:

1. Always have an about page on each of your sites, include a short bio and photo.
2. Be sure to have an opt-in box readily visible on your sites.
3. Be sure your visitors can easily find how to contact you - a contact page is a good idea.
4. Have a page for reviews of your books, excerpts of your books, testimonials, awards, etc. You can also link to interviews others have done about you.
5. Offer a resources and tools page.
6. Choose your niche for each particular site and remain focused.

Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes so you won't have too many webs to climb out of.


Karen Cioffi
Writing for Children

Monday, September 13, 2010

8 Very Common Word Usage Errors

In writing, we have all come across words that we’re not exactly sure whether or not we’re using properly. I thought I’d go over a few of the ones that had me baffled, and a couple that stiff do somewhat.

Off we go . . .

About vs. Around (in reference to time and numbers)

About (adverb, preposition, adjective): reasonably close (almost), in the vicinity (near),

Around (adverb, preposition, adjective): from one place to another, in every and any direction

Both words can mean with some approach to exactness (approximately).


The class starts about 10AM.
I gave it just about everything I had.

I’m gonna rock around the clock tonight.
It costs around $5.

I read something, somewhere that gave a much clearer understanding of using both words, but I can’t remember it. If anyone has an easier/clearer way to distinguish the two words in regard to time and number, please let us know. Boy, I wish my memory was better.

Affect versus Effect

Affect (verb): the conscious subjective of an emotion apart from bodily changes.

Effect (noun): basic meaning, intent, something that inevitably follows an antecedent, an outward sign, fulfillment, power to bring about a result, a distinctive impression.


Not knowing the skills needed might affect his chances of getting the position.
Getting an A might affect his parent’s future expectations.

The effects of the drug finally wore off.
Being punished had no effect on Timmy’s behavior.

I remember once reading that “affect” deals with the non-physical and “effect” deals with the physical. But, since one is a verb and the other a noun, that should be a helpful clue also.

All ready vs. Already

All ready:  done, completely ready.

Already (adverb):  by or before the given or implied time.


The students were all ready to go.
I already cooked dinner.

All Right vs. Alright

All right (adjective, adverb): satisfactory, safe, good.

Alright is a disputed variable of “all right.”


Is it all right to leave now?
All right, you can leave now.

Farther vs. Further

Farther (adverb, adjective): to a greater distance, extent, or point.

Further (adverb, adjective, transitive verb): farther, in addition, to a greater degree or extent.


He threw the ball farther than the last attempt.
The town is farther than I thought.

We need to research further for answers.
The more work I do, the further I get.

In a recent article at, an excellent description of the proper usage of both words is given:

“While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish ‘farther’ as physical distance and ‘further’ as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.”

Suppose vs. Supposed
Suppose (verb): to assume, to hold as an opinion, to ponder. According to the above mentioned article, “The correct way to express a duty is to write, “I was supposed to…”


Suppose I take the wrong turn, then what?
Do you suppose the green will look better than yellow?

He was supposed to have the job done already.
I supposed it would be done already.

Uninterested vs. Disinterested

Uninterested (adjective): not interested, indifferent.

Disinterested (adjective, transitive verb): unbiased, impartial.


He was uninterested in tennis.
The teen was uninterested and feel asleep at his desk.

The politician must be a disinterested party in making decisions.
Being disinterested allowed him to be fair.

Until vs. Till

Until (preposition, conjunction): used as a function word to indicate continuance (as of an action or condition) to a specified time (1)

Till (preposition, conjunction, transitive verb): the Webster’s New World Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary both list “till” as a variable of “until,” but I’ve been taught that it’s not okay to use it in place of “until.” If you think differently, please let us know.


He won’t get paid until he finishes the job.
The show doesn’t start until 6PM.

Provides definition, origin, examples, synonyms, antonyms, and even rhyming words
definitions, references, other languages

The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek


A Ghostwriter’s Uses – Part 1
How do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Copy Editing, Line Editing, and Substantive Editing


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Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Wild Soccer Bunch - Kids Will Love It!

Because my grandson is on a kiddie soccer team I decided to promote The Wild Soccer Bunch. It's also a good look at a promotional strategy to get massive involvement in a book release.

The Wild Soccer Bunch

The Wild Soccer Bunch is a wonderful children's book with some real time lessons for our kids. With so many kids and parents involved in soccer these days, I thought some of you might be interested in this book. It's The Wild Soccer Bunch, a brand new, fun and exciting kids' adventure book starring the only girl on a boys' soccer team.   It has been endorsed by the great Landon Donovan, star starof the LA Galaxy and US Soccer MVP in the World Cup. This book has already sold 9 million copies world-wide, and we want you to be apart of this best-selling phenomenon.

Kids around the world love The Wild Soccer Bunch!  The book motivates kids to get involved in team sports and supports values such as diversity, sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership and self-acceptance. The book exudes passionate storytelling and an equal passion for the game kids love:  soccer.  Kids who love The Wild Soccer Bunch will be inspired to play the game. You can find the book at and I wanted to share it with all of you (since we all know a kid somehow).

With all the excitement of the World Cup, this timely book is part of a soccer-centric middle-grade series that’s been making waves abroad is arriving in the U.S. Here's what it's all about:  As winter turns to spring, Kevin the Star Striker and The Wild Bunch hurry out to hit their favorite soccer field but find that Mickey the bulldozer and his gang, the Unbeatables, have taken it over. To win it back, Kevin and his pals challenge the Unbeatables to the most important game of their short lives. Will the Wild Bunch vanquish the Unbeatables or are they destined to lose their field forever? Can they achieve the unachievable? 

The kids are from wide ranging backgrounds and come together to take on their arch enemy.  Important life lessons are learned and strong friendships emerge as these determined kids face the impossible. Teamwork, respect and diversity are the hallmarks of this group of ragtag kids. This book, The Wild Soccer Bunch -  Kevin the Star Striker is the first in a series by Joachim Masannek, and follows the adventures of this young, coed soccer team with each book focusing on a different player.


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Ghostwriter's Uses - Part 2

In Part 1 of A Ghostwriter's Uses I went over a number of uses that an individual writer and/or author may have for a ghostwriter. Some of the uses mentioned might be applicable to a business also, but they are primarily geared toward the individual. Part 2 deals a bit more with businesses.

A Must-Have Tool for Marketers and Business Owners

A ghostwriter is a must-have business tool for marketers or business owners who need to provide regularly updated content on their site/s and for their newsletters. And, anyone selling a product online needs to offer pertinent, valuable, and updated content to create an effective inbound marketing strategy.

This is actually the busiest and is a more profitable aspect of ghostwriting (if the ghostwriter is charging enough for her time). Businesses hire a writer to write a set number of post/articles per week for anywhere from $10 to $20 to $30 and more per article.

If you are hiring a ghostwriter for this capacity, be sure she knows about using keywords effectively and SEO. The point of hiring someone to create valuable content for your site/s is to have that content picked up in the search engines, and have searchers (potential customers) find your site/s.

And, if the work involves rewriting articles, the ghostwriter must know the end product’s duplicate content score.

Maintaining and increasing visibility is essential to authors, writers, and businesses. Keeping up with blog posts and visibility is an important marketing tool for all writers, well at least for those who are trying to sell their works or services.

A Touch of Copywriting

Along with this the ghostwriter should know copywriting. While this is not essential for some aspects of a ghostwriter’s job, it is important incase a client needs projects such as product guides, product descriptions, landing pages, and emailing marketing. Copywriting is probably the most lucrative form of writing for hire.

If you happen to be interested in becoming familiar with this form of writing, there are a number of books available that are helpful, such as Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale, and Power of Persuasion by Michael Masterson. There are also e-courses available and a number of useful sites that offer valuable content on copywriting, just let your fingers do the searching.

Needs to be a Good Writer

Finally, a ghostwriter needs to be a good writer. If you are thinking of hiring one, you might ask for samples and/or testimonials. Note here: testimonials from ghostwriting clients may be difficult to come by . . . for obvious reasons. If the ghostwriter cannot provide any, it’s important to understand why.

Hopefully, this should give you a practical guide to know what to look for in a ghostwriter, and in what areas a ghostwriter can be useful.

If you missed Part 1 here's a link: A Ghostwriter's Uses - Part 1


Take Blogging Up a Notch (It’s more than just writing text)
The Number One Step to Powerful Email Messages That Really Lead to Opens and Conversions (The Welcome Message)


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Monday, September 6, 2010

A Ghostwriter's Uses - Part 1

A Ghostwriter, or writer-for-hire, is different things to different people, but no matter what the capacity, she almost always remains anonymous.

Write or Rewrite Your Book

A ghostwriter covers a number of writing areas. In one aspect she may be a writer who will take your idea for a children's book, novel, or nonfiction book (memoir, autobiography, self-help, etc), and turn it into a publishable, and hopefully a saleable book. She will work closely with the author, usually from an outline, and work to instill the author’s voice into the book.

This is an excellent means for would-be-authors, or new writers to reach their goal or desire to be a published author. And, with today’s publishing tools, such as Smashwords, Lulu, and Amazon, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to self-publish, if that’s the route you choose. The author might also consider doing the submissions route and finding a publisher or agent.

Another scenario may be that you have a story already written, but it’s not in any shape for submissions, or self-publishing. You’ve tried and tried, but you know it’s in dire need of help; a ghostwriter can rewrite your story and get it in the needed shape to move forward.

Write Content for Blogs, Newsletters, and Articles Directories

A second function a ghostwriter holds is that of a powerful tool for busy writers who need help getting their own work done. For freelance writers, and yes even busy ghostwriters, time is extremely elusive – often there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the scheduled work. This is where a ghostwriter will come in handy: writing your personal blog posts, writing content for newsletter, or writing articles for article directories to keep traffic coming to your site/s.

Spin Your Articles

This is a very useful tool for the busy writer - a ghostwriter can spin your articles for repurposing. Say you’ve written a number of articles but of late have become too busy to keep it up. You might think of hiring a ghostwriter to spin or rework your articles so they can be used as ‘new and original’ pieces.

You might be thinking that there are rewriting programs to do this, but they cannot create the same quality rewrite a good writer can.

Create E-books

E-books are becoming amazingly popular. You can offer them on your site/s as freebies as an incentive to subscribe to your site or as a gift. You can even sell them on your site, or on sites such as Lulu, Smashwords, and Amazon. They are an excellent tool for demonstrating your expertise in your area, and for creating visibility.

To gain even more visibility and make your ebook a more powerful marketing tool, you can offer reprint permission. This is a wonderful way to have more and more readers become familiar with your work.

To go to Part 2, click on the link:
The Ghostwriter’s Uses – Part 2


Freelance Writing - Don’t Overspice Your Copy
Freelance Writing – Giving Basic Writing Advice


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Friday, September 3, 2010

Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind Review

Title: Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind
Author: Margot Finke
Illustrator: K. C. Snider
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
ISBN (Print): 13: 978-1-61633-059-0
ISBN (eBook): 13: 978-1-61633-060-6
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind is a delightful children’s picture book that deals with a “big change” in a little girl’s life. And, with the first line the reader is immediately hooked: “Young Ruthie’s mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.”

What a great introduction to a children’s story. The stage is set, Ruthie’s “smiles slunk off in gloom.” Right there on the first page, in the first sentence you know Ruthie has a problem . . . a big problem.

Due to a family move, Ruthie had to leave her school, her neighborhood, and worst of all, her friends. Everything she was familiar with was gone. And, like most children, Ruthie was having a very hard time dealing with the situation . . . the loneliness . . . and the adjustment to new surroundings.

Then one day, out of the blue, something changes Ruthie’s mood: “A whimper came, and then one more. Frowns melted into smiles. A Magic Moment, swirling fast, zoomed in and worked its wiles.” This is great writing.

As the title depicts, Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind explores Ruthie’s unhappiness and resulting reactions in a lighthearted and amusing manner. With rhyme and vivid description, Finke brings the reader along on Ruthie’s plight of loneliness, sadness, and anger with a twist of silliness: “Her moods grew big and ugly, like some Hippo’s fat behind!”

In addition to a great story, the book is filled with outstanding full page illustrations that are bold, colorful, and full of life. This combination will have kids wanting to read it over and over.

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind is a book that children will absolutely love, and benefit from. To add to the value of the book, Finke includes a PARENT TEACHER GUIDE. This section offers useful tips and strategies to help children who are facing a “big change.” It also includes three links to websites that provide additional help and resources.

I am a huge fan of Margot Finke’s work, including Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind. With her expertise in rhyme and story telling, she has a knack for cleverly conveying what children may be feeling in a manner that engages, entertains, and is filled with humor. She also has a knack for magically weaving rhyming content into wonderful images that bring the reader on an amazing journey.

You can order your copy of Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind at Amazon:


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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

All About Author Donna McDine and The Golden Pathway

Well, Writers on the Move is back from hiatus, and we have a wonderful and talented group of authors and writers rearing to go. Today, it is my great pleasure to host author Donna McDine. Donna and I are members of a number of groups. She is a talented writer, as well as a warm and considerate person. And, NO, she didn’t pay me to say that. :)

To begin, let’s find out a bit about Donna:

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications, and her first book, The Golden Pathway, will be published through Guardian Angel Publishing as well as her second book, The Hockey Agony. McDine’s interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Ms. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center.

Q. Tell us something about yourself

A. Isn’t it amazing as writers we are anxious to get our words/stories on paper, but when it comes to talking about ourselves we come to a screeching halt (at least in my case). For some reason or another I find it much easier to be positive for others than myself, especially in terms of rejection letters. In an effort to overcome my insecurities I’ve teamed up with a fellow writer as an accountability partner and it keeps me more focused and positive. Of course the virtual slap upside my head from time to time helps.

Q. Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?

A. This has changed dramatically since I began writing in 2007. My past favorite authors were always the big names, Danielle Steele, James Paterson, Stephen King…you get my drift. Now I tend to gravitate to the lesser known author’s who have as much talent and to be fair for those of you who’ve I enjoyed over the last several years I’m not going to name names in fear of missing someone. Especially since my list is ever growing. And to pinpoint one specific would be impossible for the same reason. My apologies for being so aloof.

Q. Tell us a bit about your book?

A: Be transported through time to the Underground Railroad, where high-pitched screams echo each night. David’s cruel Pa always chooses the same victim. Despite the circumstances during slavery, David uncovers the courage to defy his Pa.
Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David leads Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by his Pa.

Q. How did you come to write about the Underground Railroad?

A. History has always fascinated me, even as a young child. And when I found myself taking up residence (as an adult) in the historical hamlet of Tappan, NY (Rockland County) I became even more enthralled. Coupled with my father’s involvement with the Rockland County Historical Society in creating artist replicas of the numerous historical locations throughout the county I found myself further drawn into the past. Then as a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature I jumped at the chance to develop a historical fiction story about a young southern boy against slavery.

Q. What do you think the relevance of the Underground Railroad is to today’s kids?

A. Overcoming adversity against immeasurable odds and that with determination success in achieving your dreams is possible.

Q. How did you go about doing your research?

A. Initially online, then visiting the Tappan Library and thoroughly researching the Underground Railroad.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. As to no surprise another historical fiction manuscript based around the USS Constitution and how boys (as young as 11) were kidnapped by the Press Gangs and forced into hard labor on ships.

Q. What do you want readers to take away from your book?

A. With conviction of knowing between right and wrong one person can make a difference.

Q. Any tips for aspiring writers?

Get involved in a writer’s critique group, whether at your local library, community center, or online.

Q. Any last words?

A. I want to take the opportunity to thank all who have helped me along the way in achieving my dream as an author. Of course beginning with my loving and supportive husband, Tom and daughter’s Nicole and Hayley, my parents, in-laws, extended family and friends, and the dear writing communities I’m involved with both online and in person. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a nurturing personal and writing community to birth an author. Thank you!

Boy, that was quite an in depth and informative interview – thank you Donna!

Now, here’s a bit about Donna’s book, The Golden Pathway:

Be transported through time to the Underground Railroad, where high-pitched screams echo each night. David’s cruel Pa always chooses the same victim. Despite the circumstances during slavery, David uncovers the courage to defy his Pa.

Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David attempts to lead Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by his Pa.

Since Donna’s interview with Peggy, The Golden Pathway has been released and here’s some pertinent info:

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-081-1
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-082-8

Get your very own copy of The Golden Pathway at:

Guardian Angel Publishing:

Amazon only offers a soft cover book; Guardian Angel offers the book in hard cover, soft cover, and e-book.

To learn more about Donna McDine, or to contact her, here are sites and email address: