Thursday, May 1, 2008

More on the Coshocton Writers Conference

I promised, I would write more about the Children's Writing Session with Dandi Daley Mackall. I can not state enough that this speaker was fascinating, she is a true story teller, which is why she has so many books published.

Dandi writes fiction and non-fiction in both children's and adult books. Her books are many as are her words, but she is concise and interesting. She supplements her point with anecdotes.

Dandi talked about how persistence pays off, offering her long courtship with Art Linkletter for a follow up book to his Kids Say the darnedest things. Finally, she wrote to the little l and little s, that followed his signature. (I apologize if I got the initials wrong as this is coming from memory.) This culminated in several books for Dandi with introductions by Art Linkletter.

Dandi talked about where do her story ideas come from. Often they come from her life, as with her story, A Boy Named Dan. She said that she began writing childrens books when her kids were little. The age group she wrote for increased as her children aged.

She spoke about the various forms of children's books. There is a world of possibilities in Children's writing.


  1. Before Birth Books- baby books, parenting books and articles for the parents to be.
  2. Board Books-hard pages (0-3) and chunky boards (3-5)
  3. Manipulative's-pop-ups, sense books-touch/sound, die cut
  4. Concept Books-(0-3 and 3-5) teaching colors, shapes, ABC's, counting, etc. First experiences, animal babies, etc.
  5. Picture Books-fiction and non-fiction (all genres) Usually under 800 words, 32 pages, you get 24-29 of them for the story. Illustration dependent-think visually in scenes. Publishers don't want writer/illustrators. They get their illustrators from a pool.

Some things to consider: If you can imagine your story with one illustration it is a magazine article. Don't let your grown-ups star in your books. And never talk down to the kids.

Formatting your story for submission:

(How Dandi does it) and since the stories are so short: Type the first page, double spaced, then double, double space and type the next page, double, double space, etc. 10-12pts. in times-roman 0r such.

Don't forget you only have 29 pages of text in a picture book. How many words? Fewer than you have. You must cut, and then cut some more. Use descriptive words. Avoid weak words such as Oh!, very , words ending in -ly, little , many, and weak phrases such as: The important thing started to..., as_____as he could. Use strong words like active verbs such as shuffled or scampered. Make every word count. Don't describe, the illustrator will do that for you.

You must get a new copy of Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market, because the market is changing frequently.

Pay attention to promotions at the publishers. The new editors wants to find new authors to establish themselves. Get the name of the publisher-this makes it more personal.

That sums up the Children's Writers Have More Fun Workshop. If you have questions write to Dandi at or post a comment for me and I will try to answer them. Though I am a novice.-Rita

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