A.'s Reviews > From Inspiration to Publication: How to Succeed as a Children's Writer: Advice from 15 Award Winning Writers

From Inspiration to Publication by Pamela Glass Kelly
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Feb 23, 12

bookshelves: to-re-read
Recommended for: hassan abdeen
Read from August 28, 2010 to February 23, 2012, read count: 2

I remember the librarian recommending this book for me before I published my first children book. I borrowed it, read a bit and returned it.

At that time, I had no experience with publication and very limited experience with writing. I used to write for myself only. Much of what I read in this book, at that time, did not make any sense to me.

Now, after going through two different experiences with publication, every word in this book makes sense. Today, I'm at the eighth page and is already in love with it. I added it to my wish list at Amazon.com, and I highly recommend it to who ever think of making books for children. Sunday, March 30, 2008

I had to return this book to the library and mark it as “to re-read, to buy”. I think this is a book every writer, who writes or intends to write children book, should own. Sunday, April 06, 2008

The book is mine now and I'm starting all over.
Thursday, November 05, 2009


I couldn't finish it during the month of Feb.2010, so I moved it to the Unfinished shelf...Later :)

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after publishing my third book, I'm starting all over with this book. I hope this time I'll finish it (Saturday, August 28,2010)
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Finally, I finished it, but I have to admit that i skipped through some paragraphs that had repeated ideas...also close the end I started skipping the talk about the nonfiction.

I took away one star because many ideas were repeated and sometimes it did not hold my complete attention.

In general, this is an excellent book for whoever wants to publish a children's book.

(Thursday, February 23, 2012)

I'm sure I'll need to reread it soon
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Quotes A. Liked

“We as authors sign a pact with our readers; they'll go on reading because they trust us to play fair with them and deliver what we've promised.”
Pamela Glass Kelly, From Inspiration to Publication: How to Succeed as a Children's Writer: Advice from 15 Award Winning Writers

“Whatever beginning goals you set for yourself, following through on them will build momentum and a sense of achievement and those small success will point the way to bigger ones”
Pamela Glass Kelly, From Inspiration to Publication: How to Succeed as a Children's Writer: Advice from 15 Award Winning Writers


Reading Progress

11/05/2009 page 6
2.4% "Writers write :) I agree!"
11/05/2009 page 20
8.0% "I like the closet idea. I still don't have the writing spot I desire :("
11/16/2009 page 33
13.2% "I don't like how she keeps referring to her books...assuming everyone read them?"
12/07/2009 page 52
20.8% "I'm still not sure about the idea of playing fair with the reader. Who decides if it's fair or not?"
12/10/2009 page 53
21.2% "I like "Staying on Course" notes. I agree with most of them."
01/25/2010 page 60
24.0% "When she talks about her books, I slip out of this book :("
08/28/2010 page 3
1.0% "The legendary children's editor Ursula Nordstorm was once asked what qualified her- a nonlibrarian, nonteacher, non parent, and noncollege graduate"- to publish children's books. She replied, "Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing.""
08/28/2010 page 5
2.0% "The secret to feelings like a writer and being respected as one by friends and family is merely to write. Often. Even daily."
08/28/2010 page 7
3.0% "The very persons who took away my time and space are the ones who have given me something to say (by Katherine Paterson)"
08/28/2010 page 11
4.0% "My own writer's notebook is divided into sections for character details, dialogue, setting descriptions, article leads, themes, and scary plot twists...smaller notepads in my purse...write on only one side of the page....simply cut the notes and tape them in the proper section of the large notebook."
09/02/2010 page 14
6.0% "Ray Bradbury once said, "Find something you love to do, and you will never have to work a day in your life.""
11/08/2010 page 17
7.0% "In fiction, the age of your main character determines the age of your readership. Children want to read about someone who's their own age or a little older and see what they might become in a few years-"
11/08/2010 page 18
7.0% "Preschool(listeners)- ages 2-5
Beginning(primary graders)- ages 6-9
Intermediate(middle graders)ages-8-12
Adolescent (young teens)- ages 10-14
Young adult(older teens) ages 13-18"
11/08/2010 page 18
7.0% "It's important to imagine a child at the upper limit of that age range reading your manuscript. Will she be interested? Will he think it's babyish?"
11/13/2010 page 19
8.0% "If you give 6 to 9 year olds to many facts leading in diverse directions, you'll overwhelm them."
11/13/2010 page 20
8.0% "Intermediate readers(8-12) like sifting through the facts and drawing their own conclusions....They especially like yucky topics that make adults cringe"
11/13/2010 page 20
8.0% "10-14 year old don't like to think of themselves as kids any longer. They want to confront adult problems and find solutions...Adolescents crave intense situations. They want to find ways to save the world,and they're willing to learn anything that will help them achieve their quest."
11/13/2010 page 21
8.0% "writing effective nonfiction is at heart a matter of matching readership to topic"
11/13/2010 page 24
10.0% "Adolescents (10-14)Their bodies are telling them they're adults, while the rest of the world is telling them they're still children. As a result, they want to read about characters who confront dramatic situations and prove their adulthood in the process"
11/13/2010 page 25
10.0% "Young Adults(13-18)It's difficult to write fiction for them b/c most of them read from adult shelves. They want to read about complex issues that don't have easy answers."
11/13/2010 page 26
10.0% "think back to your own childhood...those vivid years probably signal the age level you'll write for most often. The deep emotions in your memories will make your writing resonate with young readers who share the same passions, fears, and hopes you experienced at their age."
12/12/2010 page 33
13.0% "Character is destiny-The author doesn't decided what's going to happen; the characters do...that's why the title says "characters come first""
03/24/2011 page 31
12.0% "If the main character learns something, so does the reader...A strong internal conflict should be an outgrowth of the protagonist's personality; it can't be chosen at random. That's why you need an individualized main character with definite personality traits rather than a generic one....in life it's our doubts and fears, our insecurities and weaknesses that creat most of our problems"
03/24/2011 page 32
13.0% "conflict is also shaped in part by the protagonist's motivations"
04/09/2011 page 42
17.0% "what keeps readers on the edges of their seats is the desire to find out what becomes of the characters. And for readers to care about what happens to the characters, they have to care about the character themselves...100s die in earthquake in Central America x next door neighbor"
04/11/2011 page 46
18.0% "I just started writing, riding my joy for the words I was creating and my enthusiasm for the topic. I ended up with a non-story that was three times too long for the market I'd targeted."
04/11/2011 page 46
18.0% "young readers will sense when a writer has a definite game strategy...In a sense, we as authors sign a pact with our readers: they'll go on reading because they trust us to play fair with them and deliver what we've promised."
04/11/2011 page 46
18.0% "Not only does outlining my plot help me maintain control over what happens in my story, it also helps me control it's length-often a vital matter in writing for young readers."
04/11/2011 page 48
19.0% "For most writers, the germ of a story plot is a single, simple idea that starts things rolling...ideas are limitless, and they can't be copyrighted"
04/12/2011 page 49
20.0% "For many children's writers, a story plot may begin with an imagined main character...In a case like that, I try to generate a problem situation...then I add a degree of internal conflict based on the character's personality traits."
04/12/2011 page 49
20.0% "divide all plots into three motivational categories; survival, love and achievement."
04/13/2011 page 53
21.0% "Coincidences weakens a story-keeping your cast of characters small will help your plot stay focused-Adult characters should keep a low profile-A narrow time frame is a boon to tight, suspenseful plotting- The scenes you plot should allow for variety of pace and intensity-Varying your settings will add interest and mementum."
05/15/2011 page 57
23.0% "Point of view refers to the way in which one of your characters, almost always the main one, provides a window into your story"
05/15/2011 page 63
25.0% "if you keep looking inside every minor character who appears on the page, you'll inevitably discover and reveal much less about your main character, meaning that your readers will be less committed to the person who is most important to your story."
05/17/2011 page 67
27.0% "3rd person limited-(1)You may find yourself revealing something your main character doesn't know, or looking at your perceiving character from the outside (2) you may find yourself remaining on the surface of your story as though you were observing the events through a remote camera lens rather than through your main characte's thoughts"
05/17/2011 page 70
28.0% "Most picture books are like icebergs; 10% above the surface, 90% below. If they show their tips effectively enough, readers supply the other 90%"
11/14/2011 page 71
28.0% "begin on the day things are different for your main character"
11/14/2011 page 74
30.0% "The first few paragraphs should create a setting, a character, and a problem."
11/14/2011 page 79
32.0% "the language indicates the speaker's age and often educational level and geographic origin, even his or her place in time."
11/14/2011 page 79
32.0% "Each character in a story needs to have a unique voice. Then readers can tell who's talking even without the tag lines"
11/14/2011 page 80
32.0% "Avoid repetition and long monologues they are as boring in books as in real life"
11/14/2011 page 81
32.0% "have your character do something while he or she talks, but not just any something. That action should show characterization, scene, description, and move the plot along."
11/18/2011 page 86
34.0% "As the hero learns, readers learn too"
11/18/2011 page 93
37.0% "A main character's movement toward maturity is often the heart of a children's novel."
11/18/2011 page 95
38.0% "your first page is the most important page and your first sentence is the most important line in your whole novel"
11/18/2011 page 98
39.0% "the beginning isn't the place to explain. It's the place to excite, to intrigue, to involve your readers."
11/18/2011 page 99
40.0% "It's important to lay the the subplot's foundation early"
12/10/2011 page 108
43.0% "the pile of pasta on your plate is the research you've collected. The one strand you wind onto your fork is the focus you pull out of that pile of facts."
12/10/2011 page 110
44.0% "let curiosity and memory work for you"
12/10/2011 page 112
45.0% "Look for ideas close to home or at your job"
12/10/2011 page 116
46.0% "rhymed verse fails so often because the author tends to force the rhymes or use awkward phrases and unusual words that are never used in ordinary conversation"
12/10/2011 page 118
47.0% "I always start my research in the children's section of the library because I want to know what's been written. if the books on my topic are outdated, I make sure my own book will have something new to add...if they have the same focus as mine, I know I'll have to look for a different angle"
12/10/2011 page 118
47.0% "don't hesitate to call any expert for information"
12/10/2011 page 119
48.0% "If you can't explain your idea in a short paragraph before you begin your book, chances are your focus may still be fuzzy...you may not be focused enough to send your idea to an editor in a query letter"
12/10/2011 page 119
48.0% "the more you read the more easily you'll learn to recognize the focus on an article or book"
12/10/2011 page 121
48.0% "Shaping information into a non fiction article is a dynamic process"
12/10/2011 page 122
49.0% "not recipes with precise measurements and instructions, but guidelines to the possibilities"
12/10/2011 page 126
50.0% "why the human mind love the number three"
12/10/2011 page 127
51.0% "get a historical character to speak directly to them, or startle them with an unusual fact"
12/10/2011 page 134
54.0% "neatness does not count, handiness does"
12/13/2011 page 135
54.0% "Like good fiction, good nonfiction tells a story"
12/13/2011 page 135
54.0% "Almost every field of knowledge contains tales of people struggling to overcome obstacle or solve mysteries. Find the story of your story and tell it as such, with a plot, chronology, and character."
12/13/2011 page 135
54.0% "when I get stuck trying to explain a difficult concept..I make myself explain it to a hypothetical sixyear old in a simulated conversation...If I can't do this, I'll know that I don't understand the subject myself...I can always make it more sophisticated if thats called for. Making it simple is what's hard."
12/13/2011 page 136
54.0% "Professional writers write to fit"
12/13/2011 page 137
55.0% "to finding a lead is to use the best most dramatic anecdote from your story. Maybe you were saving it for the climax. Don't you need it here or the reader will never get to the climax."
12/13/2011 page 138
55.0% "Read through the piece using topic sentences only. Can you make sense of the story using just those sentences?...your topic sentences don't have to make a perfect tale in themselves, but beware if they seem to jump from theme to theme."
12/13/2011 page 139
56.0% "Explicit transitions help your readers see where the story is going"
12/13/2011 page 143
57.0% "Sidebars are typically self-contained subjects that relate to the main story but work better on their own."
12/13/2011 page 145
58.0% "Children's nonfiction is an underpopulated field. It needs strong writers. Give it your best and your work will find a warm welcome."
02/13/2012 page 176
70.0% "skipped chapter 11 & 12"
02/13/2012 page 176
70.0% "for every success story, there are 10 failed manuscripts taking up space in my attic"
02/13/2012 page 182
73.0% "Nonfiction picture books need to hook their readers and set up a kind of contract, a promise of what's to come."Once, a long long time ago, someone took the whole wide world and split it into seasons""
02/13/2012 page 182
73.0% "a good beginning hooks the reader,but a great picture book hooks on every page"
02/13/2012 page 183
73.0% "Save a little something for the end-a twist, an irony, an unexpected resolution"
02/22/2012 page 186
74.0% "No matter what you're writing, never use language that talks down to your readers. Choose words because they sound right, not because they're cute."
02/22/2012 page 196
78.0% "These days, many editors do more acquiring than editing"
02/22/2012 page 198
79.0% "Remember that kids-and many adults- are used to the TV's remote control and the computer's mouse as they surf the internet. Both allow them to zap away from anything boring with the flick of a finger."
02/22/2012 page 198
79.0% "A fiction opening, too, should arouse curiosity"
02/22/2012 page 199
80.0% "Inexperienced writers frequently start a story too early...rewriting a slow opening can be the key to a creative revision"
02/22/2012 page 200
80.0% "Too much backstory and you'll lose the focus of your character's problem in unimportant background details...also slows the pace of your story and when the pace lags, you're in danger of losing your reader"
02/22/2012 page 203
81.0% "If there's a mistake on the very first page, I assume there are mechanical errors and typos all through the manuscript. I don't have time to do that kind of editing"
02/22/2012 page 204
82.0% "The purpose of tag lines is to help the reader keep track of who is speaking. They shouldn't draw attention to themselves; in fact they should be almost invisible in the reader's mind"
02/23/2012 page 207
83.0% "One of the best ways to improve any kind of writing is to use active verbs that express the motion you're describing"
02/23/2012 page 207
83.0% "If you refer to events that happened before the story begins, be sure to use the past perfect tense by inserting the word "had""
02/23/2012 page 210
84.0% "No matter how hard you work on your writing, don't fall in love with every word. Writing can always be improved, and sometimes that means cutting large chunks of it"
02/23/2012 page 211
84.0% "I'd worked as a children's book editor for more than 15 years, but still I felt uncertain. Did I have what it took to be a writer, or would I just make a fool of myself?"
02/23/2012 page 217
87.0% "Think of a query letter as an invitation to the editor...nothing turns off most editors faster than query letters with melodramatic leads-" what would you do ....""

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Monica (new)

Monica Amazing, Amal! I didn't realize you're a published writer!!


message 2: by Monica (new)

Monica Do you know Abigai A.?

She's brilliant and currently doing a survey of Children's Lit http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/42...


message 3: by A. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A. Monica wrote: "Amazing, Amal! I didn't realize you're a published writer!!"

if before 2005 someone told me I'd publish some books, I'd never have believed them...I still don't believe what I'm doing...lol

To me the whole experience is just an adventure. I don't see myself as a real writer or a dedicated author...more of a curious person who jumps from one island to another :)


message 4: by A. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A. Monica wrote: "Do you know Abigai A.?

She's brilliant and currently doing a survey of Children's Lit http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/42..."


No, I don't know her...I looked @ her page but wasn't able to see any link to her survey.

Is she a published author as well?


message 5: by Monica (new)

Monica The survey she's doing is in her reviews. I believe she is an academic.


message 6: by A. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A. Monica wrote: "The survey she's doing is in her reviews. I believe she is an academic."

That's interesting. I'll check her reviews. Thanks :)


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