Tag Archives: Children’s literature

Tips for author etiquette (a shared post written by editor Jon Bard)

Today I am sharing a post written by Jon Bard and posted on his blog. Jon is one of the editors of Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers. He wrote an interesting article – actually a rant – to which he received a deluge of responses. Because of requests to share it, he gave permission to do so through tweeting or blogging, so here it is. I thought you might enjoy it also. You can also check out his blog here.

Sorry folks, but I’ve *really* got to vent about something


Note: This rant is almost assuredly not about you, dear reader.  It’s about a small percentage of folks who are really getting under my skin.  But even if you’re not in that group, please read on — just don’t take it personally!  :-)

If you spend a fair amount of time online, perhaps you’ve noticed it:

People are becoming ruder.  And angrier.  And more entitled. 

Really, I’m simply amazed at some of what appears in my e-mail inbox.  Folks with whom I’ve never corresponded are sending me demanding messages such as “SEND ME THE EBOOK!!!!” and “I WANT TO GET PUBLISHED. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

People (non-customers) send us long, detailed questions out of the blue and expect immediate responses.  If they don’t get one, we often receive an abusive message as a follow up.

And then there’s the magic words that many people seem to be using as a justification for curt, nicety-free missives:

“Sent via my iPhone”

Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin.  So I raise this not to prevent my feelings from being hurt, but rather as a cautionary message about how *not* to sabotage your writing career.

As a 21st century author, your ability to communicate is paramount to your success.  Editors, agents, bloggers, book reviewers, distributors, promotional partners and readers are just some of the people who are important to your career.  For goodness sake, treat them with more respect than “Here’s my new book. Write a review!”.

Here then, are my tips to help you be seen as a courteous author worthy of consideration:

  •  “Dear”, “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sincerely/All the Best/Yours Truly” aren’t archaic leftovers from the distant past.  They’re still as important as ever.  Use them. Please.
  • Composing a message from your phone or tablet is not an excuse for overly-direct curtness.  If you have a business message to send, wait until you have the time to write it properly.
  • If you’re contacting someone for the first time, make the effort to introduce yourself, and clearly state the purpose of your message.
  • If someone doesn’t get right back to you, don’t fire off an angry e-mail accusing them of ignoring you.  Perhaps the message got lost.  Maybe they’re on vacation.  Perhaps they’re ill.  Calmly send another friendly message restating your request or comment.
  • Remember that you’re dealing with human beings.  In our case, every piece of e-mail is read either by me or by Laura.  We don’t have a building full of underlings to take care of that for us.  When you send us kind words (and many of you do — thank you!), it feels great.  When you’re rude or angry, it stings.   Treat me with respect — I think  I’ve earned at least that.

The vast majority of you are nothing but gracious in your communications with us.  That bodes well for your future success.  Keep at it, and gently work to correct those who aren’t minding your manners.

For the few of you who may have let your etiquette slip, please take heed of the points I’ve laid out, and make a resolution to make the online world just a little bit more courteous.

That’s it — venting over!  :)     Onward….

What is your opinion on what Jon Bard had to say above? Most of you will not be in his job situation, but do you find people are more impatient in today’s modern methods of communication? Tweeting, texting, and emailing are quick. Do you find people to be more demanding of you, or do you find yourself waiting for a reply and getting impatient when it does not come immediately?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂



Book Review: Watching Jimmy – by Nancy Hartry

Book: Watching Jimmy
Author: Nancy Hartry
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: September 11, 2012 (reprint edition)
Genre: Historical Fiction for young people (age 9 and up)
Pages: 160; paperback
Price: $9.95
My Rating: exciting and absorbing from start to finish

I received this book from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review.

This little book was a surprise. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to be so big for its size. By that I mean, this book may be small but it is jam-packed – in such a nice way.

Nancy Hartry grabbed my attention right away with how she began this tale. She set the scene in chapter one, then hit with a gut-wrenching punch in chapter two. Even so, this interesting – yet painful – story that’s easy to read, easy to follow, easy to understand, is hard to put down until the end. And once there it evokes a satisfied sigh and leaves the reader thinking it all over.

Carolyn and Jimmy were best friends. When Jimmy got hurt, Uncle Ted’s story was that he fell off the swing. What nobody knows is that Carolyn saw the whole thing, but who can she tell? And what good would it do?

This story is set in 1958, after World War II, during a time of struggle and recovery in Canada, a historical time that will change the nation. Nancy Hartry writes in a way that illuminates that era without the reader realizing there is a history lesson being presented.

This book is well worth the read. It is very believable and captures the reader for a step back in time to learn what life in Canada was like then, and what it means to be courageous, dedicated, and truthful.

Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, and the Ontario Library Association’s Golden Oak Award.

If you enjoy historical fiction you will certainly appreciate Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry.

You can find Watching Jimmy listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! and thank you

Before today is gone forever I want to mention the famous and talented Dr. Seuss – Theodor Seuss Geisel.

He was born March 2, 1904 and lived until September 24, 1991. That’s 87.5 years.

I read somewhere that sometime along the way one of his teachers or professors told him he couldn’t draw and his art would not catch on.  hmmm  I guess somebody was wrong!  That goes to prove that you should never give up if you are passionate about your talent. It may be just what the world is waiting for.

If you would like to read lots of information about Dr. Seuss, go here.

No doubt everyone reading this is familiar with something Dr. Seuss wrote. Two books that I particularly enjoyed reading to my daughters are

Green Eggs And Ham                          and

Horton Hears A Who!       

It was a fun challenge to read those long connecting thoughts without stopping to take a breath, and I could never begin to tell you how many times those books were chosen as bedtime stories! I got really good at reading Dr. Seuss – with great enthusiasm! 🙂

Now I’ll join with the throngs of captivated children and admiring readers, writers, illustrators, and everyone else who loves his books, and say:


What Dr. Seuss books were the most popular in your house?

Is there one Dr. Seuss book in particular that you wish you had written?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Book Review: Can’t Sleep Without Sheep – by Susanna Leonard Hill

Book Review: Can’t Sleep Without Sheep
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrator: Mike Wohnoutka
Genre: Children’s picture book
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company
Released: September 2010
Price: $16.99 US
My Rating: Gorgeous in words and illustrations, funny, wonderful for
children of all ages


Some back-story to this review: All during January I was participating in Month Of Poetry (M.O.P.), and one of the poems I wrote (during and after a night of very little sleep) was about counting sheep. The first of its thirteen verses goes like this:
I want to sleep, I cannot sleep
My brain won’t understand
I count some sheep, then count more sheep
Enough to fill the land.

I tell you that to tell you this: Almost four weeks later I read a post on This Kid Reviews Books, where Erik reviewed a book by Susanna Leonard Hill, and at the end he mentioned a couple other of her books. This one, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, grabbed my attention for the above-mentioned reasons. Then when I watched the trailer for it I absolutely had to have this book! It is funny, adorable, exquisitely illustrated, and so fun to read.

Ava has a hard time going to sleep, her mind is just too busy, so she counts sheep. The problem is that it still takes Ava so long to get to sleep that the sheep complain they are getting too tired jumping the fence so she can count them. They quit! Not wanting to leave little Ava without something to count on, they try to find other animals to replace them, and what happens next is hilarious. Pigs, horses, penguins, and the list goes on. So very enjoyable.

The day my husband brought Can’t Sleep Without Sheep in from our mailbox, I couldn’t wait to read it. When I read this book through for the first time I also read it to my husband because I wanted to share it with him, and I laughed out loud at the antics, the surprises and the amazing and hilarious illustrations. It’s even better than the trailer reveals. I have to say, the author and illustrator are a great team for this story.

This is a completely gorgeous book. An added bonus is that if you go to Susanna’s website: http://www.susannahill.com/books.html you will find activities that go with the story and that you can print off for children to do.

When I ordered Can’t Sleep Without Sheep I had in mind that I would keep it for my grandson to read when he is visiting us, but as much as I hate to part with it (and may yet buy a second one for myself) I will be giving this copy to my little guy for Valentine’s Day. In my opinion, he just has to have this book! I hope he loves it as much as Grandma does. 🙂

You can find Can’t Sleep Without Sheep listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


PiBoIdMo is over, but for me it has just begun

PiBoIdMo is the other challenge I took on for the whole month of November. I learned about it in 2010 and first took part in it then … but let me explain …

PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month – is the brain child of Tara Lazar. Check her out here: http://taralazar.wordpress.com/about/

The challenge is to write an idea a day during the 30 days of November.  The idea can be as simple as the name of a character, or the title for a story, or as complete as the whole outline for a story, or something in between. Thirty ideas in thirty days. Sound daunting? I thought so.

In 2010 I did both NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo, and succeeded in both. It was exhilarating, exciting, tiring, fun. This year, I tried both again, and if you read my last post you will know that I didn’t get a win in NaNo, but I’m pleased to say that I did again meet the goal for PiBoIdMo. Yay! I got 40 ideas, maybe more depending on how you count them up.

I didn’t think I could do it. Some days the idea well ran dry, but on some other days I got more than one idea for a story so that by the end I had passed the target. whew!

Again, if you have been following my blog, you will know that life has changed a lot for me. Because of that I really wasn’t sure I could dredge up enough creativity, but I very much wanted to try. And I am so glad I did.

Tara Lazar, if you are reading this … Thank you (again) for a fantastic 2011 PiBoIdMo! 2010 was great, but I don’t know if this one was better or if I was more open to seeing more, but … wowsers!!

Last year I took the pledge, read all the daily posts, commented on some, gleaned a little here and there, completed the challenge, and then I put it all aside. I didn’t even get one story pulled together, so I guess in all actuality I broke the pledge. 😦  Sorry, Tara. (Really I should be apologizing to myself as it is not hurting Tara that I did not follow through, it is my own loss.)

This year I took the pledge, read all the daily posts (and was moved to tears a few times – what was that about??), commented on most, absorbed more this year, completed the challenge, and then … then?  Then wow! I had a personal revelation, an awakening in my hopeful heart.

I don’t know ‘where I was’ last year in all of this, but this year… this year! … I realized Tara is making the way for me to move forward as a writer of children’s books. She is giving me all the tools to draw out what I need and what I need to do, and THEN .. after the 30 days were over she didn’t stop there. Just as she had guest bloggers write pre-PiBoIdMo posts this year, she had a few more guest bloggers post for several days afterward. wow!  And somewhere in there I got it. I see now.

I took on PiBoIdMo in 2010 for the challenge and fun of it. I learned things, I worked at it, I succeeded in meeting the goal, and I was delighted that I had some nice story ideas that were worth developing … some day. This year, all of the same things but with one major exception. I have to complete by honouring the pledge. And I think I should do it twice .. to include last year, too.

I realized that this is not just fun and games. If I really want to write children’s books then Tara Lazar has handed to me all I need to do just that! duhhh!

This year, I got it, Tara. I understand.  That is what the tears were about. That is what PiBoIdMo did for me this year. I am learning how to be the writer I want to become. Thank you.

And one of these days I may just say, “Hello, my name is Lynn, and I am a writer.”  One of these days ..  🙂

How about you? Have you had any personal revelations or awakenings lately that have had an impact on you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Is the book as we know it disappearing?

I have been observing.  There is a lot of discussion in all arenas about the traditional book eventually disappearing from use.  This is mainly because of e-books – those online electronic books you can download to read, and whatever else technology will – and has already – come up with to simplify things for us.  Just to let you know … I am not educated in that because I love books as they are and have been for centuries!  Well, the scroll was a little difficult to handle and pack around, maybe, but .. you get my point.

I am not interested in reading a book on a hand-held device, nor am I excited about sitting at the computer to read one on the screen. I am all for holding a made-from-paper-and-ink writing, turning those pages and flipping back and forth as I need to, underlining or highlighting (did I hear a gasp?) when the occasion calls for it – which is rarely because I also use bookmarks and sticky tabs.   I fill my bookcases with old favourites (some saved from my childhood), and soon-to-be-loved stories.   I have books all over the place, a few in the living room and our bedroom, many in my publishing room, my ‘computer room’, the main room downstairs, and even packed away in boxes in our storage room.  My husband, not a voracious reader, also has a few titles on hand.

Most of my children’s storybooks I have kept, and my grandson now enjoys those. I have books that made me laugh out loud, made me cry (and hide behind), pulled me in so deep I didn’t hear anything going on around me.  I have books the Lord used to teach me something important. And there are many volumes in my collection which I have yet to cuddle up with and appreciate their written pages.   Somehow, I doubt very much that I could enjoy an electronic book the same way, it would even be annoying to me.

I don’t get to the library much at all anymore.  There was a time when I would take my daughters there to pick out books for their extra reading, and that was fun for us.  I borrowed several for myself when I was taking a writing course and wanted to read the ones mentioned in it.  But I prefer to own the books I read, I like to gather them and add them to my own personal collection.  Would I feel the same way about having them filed in a little electronic device?  I doubt it!  It is NOT the same thing!

So, is the way of the traditional book one of antiquity?  Is it disappearing?  Will my great-grandchildren not even know what it is to own a printed-on-paper book, to smell its ‘bookness’, to experience the thrill of a page-turning story on paper filled with bright pictures and powerful words?

Now I ask you …. what do you think?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂