Category Writing Tips

How do you deal with writer’s block?

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Excellent question!  Writer’s block and the fear of the blank page is sort of the ‘common cold’ of a writer’s life.  Since I’ve experienced creative blocks numerous times, I’d like to pass along a few thoughts in the hope that at least one will help you should you ever run up against this particular brick wall in your writing:

  1.   “I don’t have writer’s block,” the voice in your head says, “I’ve just been busy!” Denial isn’t a solution for writer’s block but it sure is a sign that writer’s block has reared its ugly head.  If you find yourself fixated on cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush, or running errands that take you far, far away from your work space for days on end…you might just be blocked.
  2.  Admit i...
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Introducing MOO-seum: A COW FOR A CAUSE.

Imagine my surprise when Jennifer Cloward, director of the Paso Robles Children’s Museum ( and local artist Cindy Burnside contacted me to let me know that the main character in my picture book MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS, AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, had been lovingly re-imagined as a cow sculpture for the San Luis Obispo, California CowParade. Using artist Kathleen Kemly’s wonderful renderings of Molly Williams for the book as her inspiration, Cindy worked her own magic bring Molly to life in an udderly different form.

First, a little background on this unique program: CowParade™ is an international moo-ving public art exhibit that has been featured in 75 major cities since its inception...

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SIMPLY MOO-VELOUS, BY GOLLY! The heroine of my picture book, Molly Williams, transformed for the Cow Parade by artist Cindy Burnside

Inside Story about the MOO-velous Molly, by Golly! Makeover

The Cow Parade has come to town, and this author is thankful that Jennifer Cloward, director of the Paso Robles Children’s Museum in San Luis Obispo County, California, reached out to artist Cindy Burnside to create a mini-moo cow sculpture based on Kathleen Kemly’s fabulous illustrations from my picture book about America’s first female firefighter for the year-long program designed to raise funds for local charities in a very fun way!

All of the cow sculptures are on exhibit at various locations throughout San Luis Obispo County, and voting is underway for the ‘best in show’.  To view and vote for the Molly, by Golly! MOOseum cow, go to

But first, some Q & A with...

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Welcome to the NEW


The name is the same, but has a brand-new look. The focus is still on ‘all things kidslit’ including manuscript critique and editing services for aspiring writers of all ages. Check out the book reviews, and upcoming author events, too. We’ll be adding new blog posts, photos and useful literacy resources as we move forward. I hope you’ll visit again as my author website continues to grow!

Please follow and like us:
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To Blog or Not to Blog


That is “the question” facing pretty much all of us involved with the world of books today. Although I’m pretty good at maintaining an author website…it remains to be seen if I could maintain the large commitment of energy and time required to make a splash in the every-expanding universe of the internet blog-o-sphere. Since I working on the answer to the question myself, I’m tossing it out to those who have bravely gone where this writer is just now treading. Some of the answers are below. Kudos to all those who have pulled off this balancing act in their business and creative lives!

Cynthia Leitich Smith

I believe that blogs are having a steadily increasing impact on sales, though I’m not sure how we could quantify it...

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Basic Toolkit for Children’s and Young Adult Writers


Best organization to join for information on craft, marketing, and publishers in the field is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators,

Your national membership enables you to connect with other writers and/or illustrators via online chats, through-the-mail critique partnerships, and regional conferences.

There are hundreds of websites devoted to or including information about writing and marketing stories for young readers. Here are a few internet addresses to start your discovery process.

Margot Finke:

The Purple Crayon:

Verla Kay:

Cynthia Leitich Smith:

Write 4 Kids: ht...

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Sample Query Letter

Sample Query Letter

(First step:  use business letterhead with your complete address, phone number, email)


Editor’s Name (Make sure it’s spelled correctly!)
Editor’s Title (Is it the most current job title…assistant editor, editor, senior editor, etc.?)
Imprint Name (Doublecheck spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.)
Publisher Name (Ditto the above…get it right!)
Address (Is it complete, with street, city, state, zip code?  Is it up-to-date? Don’t trust old information. Even if you’ve submitted to this editor or publisher before, look it up in the latest directory or market guide. Publishers move and merge all the time.)

Dear Mr. or Ms. (fill in the blank):

(Provide this information in roughly this order)


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How to Play the Writing Game


Much like brewing the perfect cup or coffee, there’s more than one way to write something and get it published.  You try different methods until one works for you.

So, in an effort to augment my own advice given in this section, below are some other sources for what I think is pretty good guidance from others in the business.  Check back from time to time for additions to the ‘starter kit’ selection below.  And, please email me at if you stumble across a source that you think would be worthwhile to add to this list.

From Rick Rishman, book marketing expert, on the top ten mistakes authors make in the submission process as posted on Kathleen Gage’s ‘Street Smarts Marketing’ blog: http://www...

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