Peg366's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Learning to Write.

« on: August 28, 2010, 01:11 PM »

Whenever I am feeling like I should just stop writing, I come across something like this that renews my desire to write. It is nice to know that even the great writers have those times when it didn’t come easy. This appeared on Verlakay’s site and was posted by Stephanie Theban. Thanks Stephanie for sharing this.

I heard Phyllis Reynolds Naylor speak today.  She said that she used to say she had received a thousand rejections, and then she felt bad about it because she didn’t know if it was true.  She had her secretary go back and count them.  there were actually over 10,000. 

Ten thousand rejections.  She read a series from one editor who said things like, you don’t understand how to construct a story, I hate to see you spend so much energy on stories that won’t work, you can keep sending stories to me, but I won’t publish any of them until you learn something about story.

And as she said, a lot of acceptances.

It was a great reminder to perservere.


Stephanie Theban aka Leeth


On Tap Today:

It’s my humble opinion, of course, but one could learn alot from subscribing to this newsletter. I know I do.

Subscribing to a good newsletter is a great way to acquire the skills needed to grow as a writer. The reader has the opportunity to benefit from the journey of a more experienced writer. With a newsletter it comes right to your email. You can print it off and take it with you to read at your leisure or you can put it in an email file to look at later.


Darcy Pattison ( on behalf of Darcy Pattison (

  Medium risk
Sent: Thu 6/03/10 4:21 PM
Can you say that in a novel?

Are there untouchable topics in literature? No, of course, not. But there are topics that are difficult to do well, or it feels like you are preaching.
You know the ones: alcoholism, abortion, medical ethics, underage drinking, etc. These are hard to put into a story or novel and have it work.

Dealing with Flash point, Difficult Topics

I’ve been listening to Mary E. Pearson’s novel, The Adoration of Jenna Fox and she does a stunning job of addressing medical ethics. It’s reminiscent of Peter Dickinson’s 1989 novel, Eva, but takes the discussion in new directions. Here are some of the things she does right as an author treading lightly.

Character. The novel works because the character is front and center. This is above all a character novel, with all the ethical dilemma from the medical “miracle” taking place within the character. She IS the ethical problem and has to resolve how she feels about herself. So, it’s not a theoretical issue; it’s an issue of identity.

Voice. Written in first person, the character’s voice is stunning. First person was a good choice, because it allows the reader to experience the dilemma along with the character. The voice never falters, it’s flawless.

Backstory. The bane of any sort of difficult topic is the mountain of data, the historical arguments, the cultural context. It is a trap, though, for the unwary author who tries to insert all this back story into the novel. Pearson walks that fine line between planting necessary information, but putting it in naturally.

All sides are presented fairly. Pearson populates the story with a variety of characters who represent the various points of view about this question of medical ethics. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do in a novel dealing with issues that set off fireworks in our culture. It’s easy to include stereotypes, believe cliches. Instead, Pearson creates fully developed characters who are passionate about issues, but are conflicted by the dilemma that confronts them. The grandmother, the friend at school, the mysterious next-door neighbor — each has a life perspective to bring to the story that enriches the conflict, without cheapening it.

Are you passionate about some topic facing our culture? I’d recommend you read this book just for pure enjoyment of Pearson’s language and storytelling. Then, re-read it, study it, as an example of how to do it right.

It’s sold movie rights: we can only hope they do the novel justice.
Also see the website for the book, Who is Jenna Fox?

How to Write a Picture Book. Ebook, immediate download. $10.

Frugal Mommies

Frugal Living: I have a post over on the Mommies Network blog today about living frugally.

How to Write a Picture Book. Ebook, immediate download. $10.

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 In the WORD processing program, you click on “Tools” then on “Word Count.” That will show the number of pages, words, characters, paragraphs and lines in your article or story. But to check the reading grade level, you have to FIRST set it up in the “Options.” Click “Tools,” then click “Options,” then click the “Spelling and Grammar” tab. Put a check mark in the “Check Grammar with Spelling” check box there, and also put a check mark in the “Show Readability Statistics” check box, then click “OK” to close the box. After that, start the Spelling function in Word by clicking “Tools,” then “Spelling and Grammar” and start the spelling/grammar check process. When it finishes, it will display a box about readability, with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level at the bottom.

I love reading a great rhyming picture book. They are what is really attractive to me but alas, I am not a rhymer. Just ask some of my fellow critique members. I can handle a line or two but that is it. This is an excerpt of a great article on rhyming. To read the rest of the article go to

by Dori Chaconas
“Please, no rhyming stories.”

I heard it at conferences.  I read it in the market guides. What?  No rhyme!  But I love to write in rhyme!  What about all those beloved nursery rhymes?   Surely they had laid the foundation for rhyming picture books.

I put the ideas for rhyming stories on my I’d-Better-Not-Do-It list, and there they stayed until I became involved in a good critique group. The writers in that group started to sell their stories, and those stories were written in rhyme.   And it wasn’t just an occasional rhyming story that sold.  They sold consistently.  Like magic, within three years, members of the group sold a total of thirty-six books.  Twenty-seven of those were written in rhyme. Then I sold three picture book manuscripts—all written in rhyme.

Even the most prolific of writers occasionally have difficulty coming up with an idea for a pb. I have found that sometimes the ideas come from the least expected source. With an open mind and a little imagination, the writer’s world is full of inspirations for ideas.

Yesterday, as I helped my eight and eleven year old nephews clean up their bedrooms, my youngest nephew had to have his snake on his bed. He told me all about Snake and their history. He created an elaborate timeline with a multitude of details.  For me, it sparked an idea for a pb.

As we picked up their old and broken toys and placed them in a box, another idea came to me out of the blue. By combining some of the broken pieces together, a character came into being.

Sometimes it is look that they give me. Other times it is what they say.  For those writers who have kids in their lives, like myself, I have learned to expect the unexpected.

l’d love to hear what pb writers feel about a backstory in the pbs that they write. Attended a recent SCBWI conference with one in a pb they talked about. I loved the idea. Make a great pb…  even greater. Let me know what you think.

I would love to have your comments. You can leave them here.


I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

February 2019
« Dec    

My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

Kathi Appelt *

Tedd Arnold


Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

Bonnie Becker

Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

Janie Bynum *

Eric Carle

Pam Calvert

Nancy Carlson

Beverly Cleary

Kevin Scott Collier

Sharon Creech

Doreen Cronnin

Tomie dePaulo

Kate DiCamillo

Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

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