Blog

After signing up for the course, ICL student Kimberley Moran pitched A View from Inside, a series chronicling her experience. Read her series to learn what it's like to take the course Kimberley took, Writing for Children and Teens

Every Thursday, our fabulous ICL contributor, Jan Fields writes our Rx for Writers posts. But you can get more tips, links, and resources from our newsletter which Jan also edits by clicking here.

On Fridays don't miss Writing for Children, the ICL podcast, and make sure to subscribe on iTunes or Android!

Would you like to be a guest blogger? Click here for the guidelines.

 

 

At this point in my writing career, I have never won any prestigious awards, but I do make a living from my writing so I feel pretty successful. Success means something different to each of us, of...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
In any story, a character must do something. A character who just bobs along on the current of everyone else's actions and decisions isn’t worthy of being in your story, and definitely isn’t worthy...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
Recently I've been reviving an old love for drawing and sculpting. I'm never going to make a living at it, but I enjoy it. Connected to this hobby, I've also been looking at YouTube videos about...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
All writers, whether brand new or seasoned veterans, get stuck sometimes. Even those of us who outline extensively before we begin sometimes realize the plot is simply not working and a new approach...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
At this point, I have sold well over two dozen mystery novels for adults and have written and sold mysteries for children, both as short stories and chapter books. In fact, many of my adventure...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
Most of us know that how a story or book starts is extremely important. It is with those first words that an agent decides whether to consider representing you, whether an editor decides to read with...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens
One of the most valuable things writers can do in our society is tell the truth. But the truth requires facts and facts require research. We have all kinds of valuable research options both online...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
Many people decide they must be picture book writers because 1.    they think all books for young children are picture books, and/or 2.    they want to write short things, and/or 3.    they...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens
The New Year is galloping toward us at an alarming rate. Are we ready for new challenges and the work to meet them? For many of us, preparing for the New Year means setting goals. Now, goal setting...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, time management, writing for children and teens
There are some mistakes editors see so often that they've become sore spots, things they simply think writers ought to take the time to overcome. Every single one of them is something I've done at...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
Ultimately, the nature of plot is problem. The main character faces something that must be overcome or completed or defeated or endured, and the efforts that main character makes to do just that...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
(Not Using Your Past Year to Beat Yourself Up) For many of us, as the end of the year creeps closer, so does the inevitable assessment. How did I do at meeting my goals? Where did I fall...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, time management, writing for children and teens
It’s the end of the year when it's difficult to find time to write, and nearly impossible to write every day. Sure, some people can manage it. But if you can't, that makes you just like many other...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, time management, writing for children and teens
Writing for a living can be scary, frustrating, exhausting, and just plain hard. And things like rejection or lack of support from the people around us can cause us to lose sight of all the wonderful...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
There is nothing like the thrill of finishing a story or article or book. You're worked hard on it, you know it's the best you can do, and you're probably still a little in love with it. Now all you...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
Hopefully this'll work...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
From Inspiration to Publication Lessons Learned
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
Many writers know that we're not always kind to ourselves. We can be scathingly self-critical. We can take temporary setbacks as proof of our status as failures. And we can prioritize negativity. All...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
From Inspiration to Publication Kimberley answers more of your questions!
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
Snagging the attention of a reader so that he or she will sit down with your short story or book can be challenging. We all know that short story illustrations and book covers play a part in grabbing...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication Kimberley answers your questions
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
One of the things editors often find in the slush pile is the "lesson" story. The point of a lesson story is to teach children a moral or courtesy lesson. In fact, often the lesson is all the story...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication Be an Original
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
People writing for children will find that the number of agents, publishers, and contests open to receiving electronic submissions has continued to grow. On the one hand, this is great. You save...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication Observe Life, Write Better
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
There is one thing I often notice when I'm reading query letters or cover letters with an eye toward improving them: when writers don't know how to submit to an editor it's often because they don't...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines, Writing nonfiction for children
From Inspiration to Publication How to Brainstorm Article Ideas
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
In my September 1, 2016 post, I wrote "Will Someone Steal Your Idea?" and I talked about theft of just an idea. Now I want to ask you if you have you ever worried about someone stealing your writing? ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication Learning the Language of Publishing
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
One of the most requested genre for short stories (and a popular one for books as well) is adventure. So many writers will put the word "adventure" in the title or the query letter of a piece that is...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication Why Take a Writing Course
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
If you want to know how to win a writing contest, take it from someone who has judged a lot of writing contests? (Yes, that would be me). Here are four things that will almost automatically get you...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication When Life Gets in the Way of Writing
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
Do you know what you have written? Because it's amazing the number of times people will pop up to say, "I wrote a book for kids, now what should I do?" Answers to that question can be hard when I...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Life as a Working Writer
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
I have author friends who love revising. They love the process of carving really good prose out of potentially questionable prose. For me, revision is more of a necessary evil, and one I must...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Raising Strong Characters
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, craft, writing for children and teens
Writers sometimes worry that someone will steal their idea. Though rare, this isn't a totally invalid theory. If a publisher sees an idea that suits their publishing line and is executed really well, ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication How Writing is Like Climbing a Mountain
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
I like writing stories for children that are a little scary. It's one of the reasons I like writing mysteries. But I really prefer a story with a little more peril than a Sherlock Holmes type...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Connecting the threads of your characters
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
At the novel contest webinar, there were some questions that I wasn't able to get to even though we ran over a bit. One was about viewpoint and I actually have thought about and written about...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Things are not always how they seem
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
I'm presently working on my 85th book. Well, actually I've started more than 85 books. I've even finished more than 85 books. But this is 85 books that are either published or soon to be published. I...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication The 30 Minute Success Story
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
Every day people do things that are funny or sad or frustrating, and later go home to tell the family about these things. And the "performance" of the telling can be fascinating or engaging, but...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
From Inspiration to Publication The Research Assembly Line
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
Creating a one-of-a-kind and well-rounded character is only the first step in building a story. A character can be fun and exciting. And in some books (especially picture books, Olivia, for example)...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Insecurity vs. Determination - Who Will Win?
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
Setting is the key to making the world of your story feel real and three dimensional. Setting can be as simple as a classroom, a school bus, or a backyard. It doesn’t need to take pages or even...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Blossoming into the Writer You Were Meant to Be
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
Here's My Heart. Go Ahead. Stomp on It. How to deal with rejection - It's not about you.
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Podcast, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
One struggle many writers have comes from character creation. How do you make characters who feel exciting and real? This is a common struggle. How do you make characters who don't all sound alike? ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication Notebooking for the win
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
This week I've been doing a lot of research. I've been reading about the voyages of Captain Cook. I hadn't thought about Captain Cook since I was a child, and then he was just a name on a history...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
The Difference Between Wordy and Concise I don’t love what I’m writing, I love that I’m writing.
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
For the past several years, I've traveled to Pennsylvania to co-lead a Highlights Foundation Workshop in the late spring or early summer. I enjoy these workshops, and it's nice to be forced from...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
From Inspiration to Publication Through Thick and Thin
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens, writing for magazines
Is laughter really the best medicine? I don't know, but I do suspect that laughter is a great way to get published. If you spend much time listening to acquiring editors or librarians or agents, ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
From Inspiration to Publication To Trust or Not to Trust the Process? That is the Question.
Read More
Filed under: Blog, Lessons, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
Handling social media is as individual as the writers who do it. So I thought I'd ask writers, how do you handle social media? What tips would you give about promotion? What do you do to build your...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, book marketing
From Inspiration to Publication Kimberley Gets Serious About Writing for Children and Teenagers
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
For many writers today, the one word certain to strike fear in their hearts is "platform." You must have platform. Platform is the key to success. Without platform, no one will want your work. But...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, book marketing, marketing
I’d seen the ad before: “Take our aptitude assessment and if you qualify, one our instructors––all of whom are nationally published authors––will be your personal mentor on every single assignment in...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, writing craft, craft, writing for children and teens
The Power of Words (Guarding Your Social Media Reputation) by Jan Fields I recently realized something very important -- "Everything you say can and probably will be used against you." We live...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields One of the best ways for any writer to grow is through feedback. One simple truth of writing is that figuring out what's wrong with a manuscript is tough. We know what we meant to...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
by Jan Fields 1. Practice saying "I am a writer" into a mirror until you can say it without sounding tentative. Too many children's writers describe their profession almost apologetically. A...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields Every year I end up having dry summers creatively, funneling my energy into family instead. By the end of summer, I'm restless. Then when autumn rolls around, I'm swamped with...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields I once heard someone bemoaning nastiness, elitism, and envy in the writing community. Since this was a situation where people of all genres gathered, I made a light-hearted remark...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields 1. You can't sell a book unless you have platform, contacts, or a bestseller already. On the surface, this lie can be comforting because it means that failing to sell isn't our...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft, marketing
by Jan Fields Writing for publication is chock-a-block with challenges. You have to find the time to write, often with little or no support from the people around you. You have to hone your...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields The main problem with short stories for most writers is that they're short. When you're given from 100 to 1000 words to build a story, it can seem like a daunting task. For many, ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
by Jan Fields When I was in college, I took French and I was horrible at it. I hadn't had French in High School (I had taken Latin) and every other person in my college French class were...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from Once Upon a Memory: How to… infuse lyrical language and meter create a guessing game with compelling questions and predictable rhyme...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields   The writer's task list tends to look like this: Project Research Improving Skills Writing Revision Market Research Social Networking    Multiple tasks...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from Boats for Papa.   How to… *infuse a meaningful, subtle message in an underlying way *rely on animal characters to soften a deep topic...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields Time management isn't really one of my great gifts. Basically, my life is full of things that nibble at my time and energy and I only chase them off when deadlines demand I do...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from Whose Hands Are These? A Community Helper Guessing Book     How to... Infuse a story with the perfect mix of mystery and...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields Rejection letters make no one giddy with joy, but most of us get far more than we could possibly, ever want. Most of us. Actually, I've been told that Paula Danzinger sold her...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
by Jan Fields The struggle to fit creative pursuits into a full schedule is something nearly every creative person knows well. So many demands on your time simply cannot be put aside. And when...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from…     How to…   *craft a successful all-dialogue text. *keep the text sparse and still make every word count. *leave room for...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
What writers and Illustrators can learn from The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus...   How to... Create a biography that fully engages the reader and involves the common core. ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields When I was in elementary school, we lived about four blocks from the school. It was a straight shot from the schoolyard to my house. No turns. No problem. Starting in second grade, ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from Found.     How to… * capture the heart of a character in such a way that the reader will envision him/herself as the main character. *...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields Last week, I talked about writing things that were sure to make a sale for me, sure to give me that reward. One of those things for many writers is nonfiction. Nonfiction has...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
(How Psychology Showed Me How to Push Through) By Jan Fields Long ago, researchers were studying how creatures react to reward. They learned that if you put a "reward station" in a rat's cage...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
What writers and illustrators can learn from You Nest Here With Me...   How to…   * create compelling nonfiction that begs to be read repeatedly.   * combine a bedtime story with...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
What writers and illustrators can learn from…     How to... * craft a character-driven storyline. * create characters that sing, each in their own unique way! * channel...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By Jan Fields Many of us begin our writing journey with a firm vision for exactly what we want to write or what we'll be able to write. We have goals connected to that idea. And goals are good, ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
I’m privileged to join Carrie Charley Brown in identifying stellar books that help us learn how to become better writers and illustrators!   What writers and illustrators can learn from Finding...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
As writers and illustrators, we can learn a lot from mentor texts.  But, what IS a mentor text? For picture book writers, it’s a picture book that exhibits stellar examples from which we can...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
By  Jan Fields 1. Do you like the idea of being part of a book partnership, where the end result belongs as much to the illustrator as it does to you?  If you answered "yes" to this, then...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields I became a writer mostly because it was something people had always told me that I did well. I knew that if a day came when I didn't love writing, I would do something else. That...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields The new year is a good time for self-evaluation, as much as it is for planning and goals. To really understand how best to plan for your writing adventure for 2016, it's a good...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Field Someone once asked me if I ever considered log lines for my stories. Naturally, I said, "Hunh?" Then I learned something. A log line in “Hollywood script-writing” terms is a kind of...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields My husband is a woodworker. As a result, our garage is filled with things that can be really dangerous if you don't know how to use them or if you use them too casually. Since I'm...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields Stories for very young children tend to come in two flavors: the story with a plot and the story with a purpose. Now, a story with a plot can also have a purpose, but if you don't...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields Crafts are one of those things I don't write often, but when I do, I almost always make a sale. The magazines that use them, need a steady stream. The reason crafts are a staple...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields This is a time of year when many of our enews readers are thinking about thankfulness. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that I have work. I’m thankful for my health. But...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
By Jan Fields It's been my experience that one of two things happen this time of year. Editors work in a white-hot frenzy to clear out all submissions before holiday break (so things you've...
Read More
Filed under: Blog, craft
Are You Stuck, Stuck, Stuck? How often have you been working on a story and suddenly, you have no idea what to write next? You're stuck, and you wish you had someone who could help you out. ...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
When editors ask for characters that grow and change, they aren’t asking for a story about life’s lessons. They don’t mean they want a lecture on manners disguised as a story. What they want is for...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
Word of mouth can be a wonderful thing. I learn about new markets that way. I learn about cool books I haven't read yet that way. I learn about resource websites that way. But I also read a lot of...
Read More
Filed under: Blog
If you've tried writing fantasy in any form -- picture books, magazine story, chapter book,  or novel––you know that a key element of fantasy is that things happen in the story that cannot happen in...
Read More
Filed under: Blog

Great Read!

By Mara Kim Amazon review, Verified Purchase

"This is another great read from [ICL]... When I saw this particular one, I grabbed it immediately ... This book is a great addition to a writer's (whether published or not) shelf ... I highly recommend their writing courses. You receive feedback on your work from published authors. You will be encouraged but also pushed to make your story from good to great."