Tag Archives: children

Rules Beginning Writers Should Never Break

We often talk about the “rules” of writing for kids citing proper page lengths and

story types for different age groups. A better term would probably be “guidelines”;

these rules exist only to tell you what, in general, editors like to see in the

manuscripts sent to them. And, of course, for every rule there are numerous

exceptions. But while we’d all like to think our book is strong enough to override the

guidelines, this is usually not the case. Here are some rules that shouldn’t be broken

until you a best-selling author:

 

Write Within Designated Word Lengths

No editor is going to turn down a terrific book just because the text length falls

outside the average guidelines. If your young adult novel is complete in 100 pages,

there’s no sense padding the manuscript simply because most YAs are longer. But

length guidelines are there for a reason — publishers have determined about how

much text kids of different ages can read, and so it behooves you to try to stay as

close to those guidelines as possible.

 

Don’t Provide Testimonials in Queries

It’s nice to have lots of neighborhood kids read your manuscript and give you

positive feedback, but your potential editor doesn’t want to hear about it. Frankly,

editors don’t give much credence to testimonials from readers who may be family or

friends of the author. Also, don’t clutter up the query letter with ideas for why

children need your book or what they’ll learn from it. This is up to the editor to

decide. (One exception: You’ve written a nonfiction book and can show that there

aren’t any other books in print that cover the same subject.)

 

Keep your query letter tight, brief, and to the point. Provide an intriguing plot

synopsis or nonfiction outline, relevant information about yourself, and enclose a

self-addressed, stamped envelope. Sell your book, not your reasons for writing it.

 

Don’t Write a Series Before Selling the First Book

I’ve critiqued many manuscripts from authors who say, “I’ve got six more books

written with these characters. Should I mention that to the editor when I submit my

manuscript?” My answer is always no. Unless an editor is specifically looking for new

series proposals, and the books were written from the start to form a series, this is a

bad idea. Realize that series are created as a group of books that are bound

together by some sort of hook; in fiction, it might be a club the main characters

form, a neighborhood they all live in, or a cause they champion. In nonfiction, it’s a

topic (natural sciences, biographies) and an age group. Rarely do you see picture

book fiction series. What does happen is a character may become very popular with

readers and the author is asked to write another book featuring the same cast.

These fiction “series” actually grow slowly one book at a time.

 

So, unless you’ve conceived your books as a traditional series and are able to

send a thought-out series proposal to the editor, stick to selling one book. When an

editor sees you have numerous manuscripts featuring the same characters and

similar plots, she may feel that you’ve spent too much writing new material and not

enough time revising what you’ve already got. And remember, each book — series or

not — must stand on its own. It needs a strong beginning, well-developed middle,

and satisfying end. No fair leaving the ending unfinished with the intention of

continuing the story in the next book.

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Meeting and Exhibition

Saguaro Books, LLC  and Aquitaine, LTD will have a table at the American Association of School Librarians • 18th National Conference and Exhibition, November 9-11, 2017 at the Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ.

Hope you will visit us.

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A Girl Named Mary…A Review

A Review on Amazon…

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Mary’s tale will attract and hold the attention of young readers – and even this adult (and demanding) one. The story begins on the eve of Jesus’ birth, then backtracks to that of Herod’s excesses, and the struggles of Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim. We are there for Mary’s birth, girlhood, and adolescence, and witness her development into a virtuous yet occasionally rebellious and questioning adolescent, which gives her character depth and believability. She initially rails against her arranged marriage to the much-older Joseph, but at length accepts it with good grace. No angel of Annunciation serves as the harbinger of the special nature of the child Mary is to bear, and in fact her wedding day and the period that follows is very much presented as a typical Jewish marriage of the time. (It is a visiting blue-eyed Roman legionnaire who presents the only inkling to young Mary that she may be destined for greatness, an interesting and even arresting touch in the narrative.) Period details and Hebrew terms and customs are deftly integrated into the narrative, and Mary herself is presented as an intelligent, spirited, kind, and most of all, thoughtful actor in the immense drama she is central to. It takes ability and imagination to breathe life into a story as well-known as this one, and the author rewards every moment spent by the reader, providing a fresh, vital, and oftentimes surprising retelling of one of history’s most revered personalities.

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A Girl Named Mary

A Girl Named Mary tells the story of Mary, the Mother of Jesus as a young girl. Though she has a much older sister, she’s raised as an only child. Her cousin, Rebekka, is her closet friend and confidant. Together they grow and learn how to maneuver in a culture that is steeped in tradition. One that looks backward instead of forward for solutions to problems. Mary cares about others, helps the sick and disadvantaged and is a voice, albeit a young voice, for women.

At twelve, Mary was betrothed to an older man who had sons her age. She resisted this arrangement strongly. She argued with her parents against the betrothal with every bit of logic and strength she had but found this tradition beyond her ability to fight. The marriage took place and she was rewarded by the birth of a beautiful baby boy, Jesus.

Pre-order from Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G7RXEJ8

A Girl Named Mary 3D Book Cover-1

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The Exclamation Mark

The exclamation mark (!) is used in place of a period to add emphasis. The exclamation mark is used to express surprise, disbelief or extreme emotion and can turn a statement into a powerful one. It is used to grab your attention, and is used primarily in dialogue text to indicate excitement or astonishment. (“No!” he yelled. “I want it now!”)

The exclamation mark is used in place of a question mark to end a rhetorical question when no answer is expected. (“Isn’t she adorable!”)

The exclamation mark can be used following a single word to express intense feeling.

(Congratulations!) When using the word “oh,” an exclamation mark can be used to follow the word to add emphasis. (“Oh!  I didn’t see that!”)

The exclamation mark is used with words that describe sounds. (All day long the dog’s woof! could be heard in her garage.)

To add extra emphasis, a non-standard punctuation mark called an interrobang (^), which was created in the 1960s, merges the question mark with the exclamation mark. This punctuation mark was first used in publishing and advertising firms, and was not readily available on a typewriter. Therefore, it did not become a standard punctuation mark. Microsoft has it available in their Wingdings 2 set of fonts.  In some publications, you will see a question mark followed by an exclamation mark. (“Can you believe what he’s done?!”)

Many publishers do not use the exclamation mark at all, claiming strong writing will make it unnecessary and down-right distracting.

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VOLUNTEER READERS NEEDED

Saguaro Books, LLC

Low pressure—read and react. Ideal for individuals still in college or at home with children or family, looking to add experience within the industry to their resume. Also perfect for new or emerging writers looking to learn about the industry. Please indicate your strengths and background: BA/BS in English or Creative Writing a BIG plus. Visit www.saguarobooks.com
Contact: Ms. Mary Nickum, CEO, mjnickum@saguarobooks.com

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Advice for aspiring writers:

“Read, read, and read some more! Make sure you read a wide variety of stories: fantasy stories teach you about making up completely new worlds, crime-solving stories teach you about handling a complicated plot, stories with lots of characters teach you how to describe relationships. Also, write as many stories as you can, even if no one else reads them. And remember that the best inspiration comes from what’s around you.” —Erin Hunter

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