Chick lit for tweenies. Ten tips to get you started

Generally speaking, tweenies are kids in the 8 -12 age group. But in the world of children’s books, the category is tighter. Somewhere along the line, astute marketing execs identified a subset. These are kids aged about 10 -12, and their needs and interests are complex, often contradictory. As most parents will tell you, a couple of…

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Want to be a writer? Six reasons you should stop reading

Okay. I’m in badass mode. Advice to aspiring authors, 101: Read, read, read! Over and over, that’s what I hear published authors hollering. They say read voraciously, read widely, read like your life depends on it. Great advice. Fantastic advice. Up to a point. If you’re an aspiring author, I would add, please, please, please, don’t…

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Eight reasons I hate writing

Warning: This post is a rant. If you don’t like rants, click off. That’s what I said. Click. Off. Don’t write and say, ‘I hate rants, Jen, and now I’m offended.’ Just go find some knitting tips and leave me to vent. Okay.  I rant.  But I don’t tell lies. No. I. Don’t. So occasionally…

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Shining on the slush pile (revisited)

The following is a transcript from an early Q and Q Friday (Questions and Quacks). You can read the transcript or you can scroll down and watch the video. Yay! If you subscribe to girl and duck you’ll receive a Q and Q video like this one, every Friday. Straight to your inbox. Free! Dear…

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Book Week costumes and another TV appearance!

Lights! Cameras! Book Week! I LOVE dressing my characters. Over the years lots of readers (and their parents) have sent me their Truly Tan pics from Book Week. I’ve compiled my own little parade to give you some ideas. See below.  Scroll down for other costume ideas, too! Plus a little bit about my next…

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Want readers to sigh over your work? Try this

Universalities. Those little pearls of wisdom… In literature, universalities are statements that apply to everyone or to the human condition. Sometimes they’re accurate, insightful and give readers, young and old, a lovely ah-ha moment. Sometimes they’re grossly inaccurate. Famous universalities in literature include: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a…

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How to survive school visits

If you write for kids, you’ll be asked to visit schools from time to time. Some authors relish this and seek it out. Others find it exhausting. If you’re an introvert, like me, you might find this side of things gruelling. Remember, being an introvert has nothing to do with self-esteem and shyness. It just…

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Who said what? The importance of tagging dialogue in kid lit

I’ve read loads of manuscripts that start out funny or entertaining or full of potential. Then the dialogue kicks in and, quite frankly, it’s a birdy’s breakfast. Nothing will baffle an editor faster than poorly tagged dialogue. Do not overlook this if you want your manuscript to win friends and influence people. If you want editors and publishers…

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Behold! The children’s book industry. Here’s how it works

Is there a hierarchy in the children’s book industry? You betcha. If you’re just entering this dog-eat-dog world, think of it like a school. A large, grey bugger with high fences and lots of asphalt. The picture book creators are kept inside, in a rarefied, humidity-controlled, tastefully decorated sanctuary. Busy finger painting. Will speak to fairies. No one else. The…

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Here’s where writers often stuff up. (Part Two of yesterday’s post)

When I worked in publishing, I was surprised by the number of unsolicited manuscripts that had wonky tense. Not the occasional transgression. They crop up in most manuscripts. I’m talking about tense that was a bit like time travel. Totes all over the place, girlfriend. Past, present, here, there, everywhere. Now, when I teach IRL (in real life),…

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