Workshop Transcript

Writing UP, Not Down, to Kids

with Linda Smith

Suzy-Q sets mic up for Linda Smith.

Verla: two minutes to workshop time.

Suzy-Q: would you like lemonade or ice water Linda?

Verla: I want both, sq

Verla pushes Linda aside...

Suzy-Q: Verla behave!

Lyra_: play nice, Verla

Verla: darn

Verla: too many cops in here

Suzy-Q: Linda get first choice.

Verla: Linda...are you ready?

Suzy-Q: testing testing.......

Suzy-Q: yep mic is working.

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Writing UP, Not Down to Kids workshop in Progress

Verla: For the new people, we don't do any hellos or goodbyes or personal chitchat during the workshop hour

Verla: but we encourage participation in the topic discussion...and fun/joke statements are FINE

Linda: Let me get coffee!

Verla: yes, Linda

Suzy-Q get Linda a big pot of coffee.

Linda: Got it

Verla: Okay, Linda AKA Linda Smith, gave me some things to "cut and paste" for her, to make the workshop go a little faster/smoother.

Linda: Go ahead Verla, and thanks


NOTE: Linda Smith is talking:


Hi everyone. Most of you know me, but for those who don't, I'll bore you with a small introduction. My name is Linda Smith. I live in (but don't claim as my home) Dallas, Texas. I have eight children, homemade and adopted, three dogs (including a Chihuahua named Chrysanthemum, for my favorite Kevin Henkes character) and one husband who is my best friend. I have been writing since I was a small girl, filling up endless notebooks throughout the years, and am an avid reader.


I had the good fortune to have had a brother who passed this passion and his books on to me as a young girl, from Lolita to Catcher In The Rye. I rarely read children's books as a child, but fell in love with them as an adult, soaking in all that I missed as I read to my own children.


Though I have been writing children's light verse poetry for many years, I seriously began writing in prose about two years ago, and at the same time decided I would learn as much as I could about the art of writing picture books. The first true picture book I wrote was The Inside Tree, and it was also the first book I had accepted for publication.


Recently a good friend and fellow writer referred me to her agent, and his enthusiasm and belief in my writing paved the way for my first sale. I sold both The Inside Tree and a young adult novel, Nobody's Business, to Harper Collins a few months ago. Following those sales, two more picture books, one in verse, sold again to Harper Collins, all in a span of five and a half weeks.


Verla: Okay, are on.

Linda: This workshop is about writing UP not Down - something I really feel is important when we write for kids

Linda: Before we start, I just want to tell you that my phone Line is precarious and I might get booted. If I do, just carry on without me and I'll be right back...

Verla picks Linda up and starts carrying her offstage... "but why you want to be carried off is beyond me...and...OOOF! You are HEAVY, too!"

Linda: Not THAT heavy!

Linda: Have you ever read a book that had a marvelous passage in it that you just couldn't forget?

Verla: YES!

Lyra_: Unfortunately my memory loves a passage while I'm reading it, but forgets later

ClaraRose: yes

Linda: Verla...go ahead with the other cut and paste

Verla: okay


NOTE: Linda is talking:


At one of my Dallas critique groups recently, a new member showed up with a picture book for critique. After reading, there were many comments, but I sensed that none of us were being much help. He had an anthropomorphic wind playing with a little boy, and at the end of the day, Lady Wind rocked the child to sleep.


It was a cute idea, and a good one too, but he agreed that it might be "sweet" to the point of giving the reader a toothache. I wish I could have disowned my own tongue for what came out of my mouth next, but in essence, I suggested he take his story home and just...just...write it like a man.


Fortunately, he laughed. But later, on the way home, I realized what I had MEANT to say. I think every story I have ever loved reading to my kids, as well as their absolute favorites, have been written with an adult voice aimed high at a child. Here's a good example, from Amos and Boris, by William Steig;


"One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later lying on the deck of his boat gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all....."


When Steig aimed at his young readers, he sent the words flying. He didn't stop to think, as he wrote each word, if it was beyond a seven year old's vocabulary. He just wrote. And he told a good story. That's what this workshop is about, "Writing Up, not Down." Children spend their entire childhoods looking up to us. It only makes sense, then, that we should live up to their expectations when we write for them.


Lauriel: Since we, as writers, also think about the parent appeal of a book, do you think there is a danger in writing to the parent instead of the child while we try to write up to the child?

Verla: Oh...GOOD question, Lauriel

A-Suen: I think that the books that "work" appeal to more than one level, both parent and child

A-Suen: They have to have "layers," too, telling more than one "story" if you will, at once

Linda: yes, I think it has to appeal to both on the PB level

Linda: When I write a story, I do this

Linda: I think of the child when I start putting the basics of my story together

Linda: and then I don't think of the child again until I've told my story

Linda: That's when I start to revise

Linda: and think of simpler, more direct ways of showing my story

A-Suen: you write to the heart of your own experience then?

Linda: I let my characters tell the story

Linda: I have found they do a far better job than I could ever do

Verla: Like...what would the child enjoy hearing about?

Verla: What subject matter would this child like to explore?

Lauriel: When you read the book to your kids do you find it easier to tell if you've written words that are too sophisticated or a plot that's just too complicated?

A-Suen: are you more than one character in the story?

Lyra_: I find this interesting, since I write for older kids, I tend to write what I enjoy, not thinking of a child

Gail: But when I use a large word, such as Verla's example 'luminous', my critique partners always say it is too hard a word for the child. Change it.

Gail: And when I fail to explain something like appearance which will show in the pictures, my critique partners tell me to describe it more. When I describe it more, they say cut that, the pictures will show it. It is a no win.

Verla: Hey!

Verla: My picture books have VERY complicated words in them...

Verla: For instance, I have "Mucky, muddy, wet terrain" in one of them - and my editor told me that's one reason they bought them...because they had such fun, interesting words in them that "painted" a great picture for the kids

Verla: Terrain, falter, flounder, mucky, swelters, parched, frigid ... those are some of the "hard" words in my first picture book.

Lawhee: not always Gail

Lyra_: I've learned that you don't change the words like that in a picture book

Linda: Gail, I would never change the word luminous to something simpler, like glowing

Lyra_: And I don't change them for an older audience either

NOTE: In this case, "older" means middle grade and young adult stories.

A-Suen: how will they learn if you never use big words? My mentor told me to stretch their imaginations with language

whatever: yah.... seems to me that the only way to expand a child's vocabulary is to use words they don't know (yet)

Linda: The way a word is USED is so much more important to a child's understanding than the word itself

Lauriel: Seems like some words DO cry out to be changed, but not all the time.

Lyra_: I learned MANY words from reading over my head--of course I often pronounced them wrong

A-Suen: context clues, and the pictures help, too! :)

Lyra_: yes

Verla: And if you make the meaning of the word clear IN the story, then they can figure out what it means just by the context...don't want them to have to carry a dictionary around

Linda: You shouldn't write thinking you'll send a kid to the dictionary, but visual words like luminous are easy to understand

Verla: (I STILL pronounce a lot of words wrong. But I know what they mean!)

Lyra_: yup

A-Suen: and the picture book is a lap read - someone is there to explain it, too

Linda: Here is an example of beautiful writing

Verla: Ah...

Linda: From Peach and Blue

Linda: By Sarah Kilborn


Linda: The green of the moss

Linda: of the reeds, of the grass

Linda: the red of my skin, of the ladybug's back

Linda: the blue of your belly,

Linda: of afternoons sky

Linda: The brown of the bank, of eider ducks eye


Linda: The poetry is smooth and lovely

Verla: yep

Lauriel: kids hear the music in the words

Lyra_: It's interesting how fine a line it is between poetry and picture book/poetry

A-Suen: and the pictures are there for all to "see"

Linda: The words SAY what the author wishes them to convey, but they also SOUND in a way that explains everything

A-Suen: poetry is spoken music :)


Linda: When you write, I think it's important to feel you are writing for an equal

Lawhee: with an equal sense of humor as well

A-Suen: I agree

Linda: Kids spend their whole lives looking UP to us, and then so many times, we talk DOWN to them

Lauriel: If you think of kids as though sweet little ones instead of people you get into trouble

Linda: Here is what an editor told me in Florida at a workshop I attended

Linda: She critqued my piece and wrote

Linda: Your language is old world and beautiful, but

Linda: I'm afraid you were born in the wrong century if you want to be published

A-Suen: oh no!

Linda: Yes! and then she went on to say,

Linda: "study the market. Write for it. THEN try to slip some of this stuff past an editor

Linda: I was crushed and disapointed

KarmaWilso: Hey, you slipped FOUR books past the editor!!!

Lyra_: didn't slip BY an editor--they all wanted it!

KarmaWilso: Wow. :-)

A-Suen: I tried writing for the market. it never works!

Linda: and I DID try to write "for the market"

Linda: So true Anastasia

Linda: I couldn't either

Linda: Yes, that piece sold!

Lyra_: I wrote for the market when I was doing teen romances--that worked fine then

Lyra_: But it wouldn't work for picture books

Hollybyrne: How do you try to write for the market

Linda: well, there are trends, Holly, and because picture books are expensive to produce this editor felt no one would take a chance on anything TOO different

Hollybyrne: I can't imagine writing differently, then what just comes out

Lyra_: Bet she wasn't one of the editors who were vying to get your books!

Linda: Yes, the bottom line is, write from the heart

Linda: and only YOU can do that...from your own...and not someone else's heart

Hollybyrne: If everyone is trying to write with the trends, don't you think editors would want something fresh?

KarmaWilso: It's the writers that write "beyond" the market that become classics in my opinion.

A-Suen: I agree, karma

Lyra_: that's VERY true, Karma

Lyra_: My "market" books are already out of print

Verla: When I wrote my picture books, a LOT of people told me they would never sell...

Verla: Because a lot of the words in them were "too difficult" for kids to understand.


Linda: Does anyone have any favorite passages or lines to share?

Verla: YES!

Verla: One of my FAVORITE phrases is in Wish Magic...a beginning chapter book by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.

Verla: It's the beginning of the book.


Verla: "Don't blow up the house, Morris," said Mom. "It's not paid for yet. "

Moriss blinked behind the frames of his thick glasses. He was reading a book called, All About Combustion. "I'll try not to," he said.


Lyra_: I found a passage which is in a very old book about a young child

Lyra_: In this book, there's a part where the young girl (age 5 or 6) had hidden and no one could find her

Lyra_: The little girl was getting used to a new family after losing her parents and when they find her hiding in a tree, they ask why she didn't answer when they called, and she says...

Lyra_: "She bent her face down into the branch, and the tree rocked her gently. There was such silence in our woods you'd have thought every twig and grass blade was standing on tiptoe to listen. Then she turned up her face and looked at me. "This is the Mummy-tree," she said. "It's holding me on its lap."


KarmaWilso: Um, I have one. "This is NOT a very cozy arrangement." is my favorite picture book line.

KarmaWilso: It's in this great book called the Inside Tree

Hollybyrne: Mine too Karma

Linda: hahahha Karma!! Mr. Potter and I thank you

KarmaWilso: by a wonderful writer called Linda Smith.

KarmaWilso: She's a very close friend. *feeling important now!*

A-Suen: ta-da!

Linda: And that was TRULY Mr. Potter speaking...I just wrote the words

Hollybyrne: Do you know her Karma? Cool. Get her autograph


Lawhee: There's one from a silly book that we still quote all the time at my house. "This farm is a mess!"

A-Suen: touch magic and pass it on - jane yolen (from the book touch magic)

A-Suen: she was such a character!

Linda: I love her

whatever bounces :)

Verla: Jane Yolen's book, Sleeping Ugly:

"One day Princess Miserella rode out of the palace in a huff. (A huff is not a kind of carriage. It is a kind of temper tantrum. Her usual kind.) " ** this is an easy reader chapter book

Lyra_: I love SLEEPING UGLY...want to find it somewhere


Verla: Sid Fleischman's book...McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm starts out like that...

Lyra_: He writes very unusual stories

Verla: "There has been so much tomfool nonsense told about McBroom's wonderful one-acre farm that I had better set matters straight. I'm McBroom. Josh McBroom. I'll explain about the watermelons in a minute."

Lawhee: OOh Verla. I'm interested in reading THAT!

Verla:'s an early chapter book. Beech Tree Chapter Book

Lawhee: Thanks V


whatever: Now, granted, mine haven't sold yet, but I had three people tell me no one would buy my favorite story...... you just have to pretend you're deaf, I think.


A-Suen: does anyone remember grandfather twilight? a little ole man takes a pearl out of a case, and goes to the beach and sets it free, and it becomes the moon

Linda: Thats beautiful, Anstasia


Lawhee: one I remember from 3rd grade--a silver slipper of a moon


KarmaWilso: Owl and Pussycat.


ClaraRose: one of my favorites is 'A thistle can not grow where a rose is tended'


Lauriel: In All the Places to Love, I like the line "where ducklings follow their mother like tiny tumbles of leaves.


Gail: I like the Calico Dog and the Gingham Cat...Side by side on the table sat...

Hollybyrne: Gail, I love that one

Lyra_: I know that one, Gail!


Verla: I love the Winken, Blinken & Nod poem...

Verla: and that whole POEM is a treasure of "special" words

Linda: Yes, Verla, Eugene Feilds was a master at writing beautiful words


Linda: Does everyone own a thesauras?

KarmaWilso: Yea, it's on my word processor.

Verla: I do! I do! I use the Family Word Finder by Reader's Digest

Verla: (And I think it's a LOT better than Roget's, too!)

A-Suen: I call it my magic word book. I bring it when I teach poetry in the schools

Linda: That's exactly what this is all about!


KarmaWilso: Introducing words in picture books is perfect, because pictures can pick up and clue in on meaning.

Linda: and sometimes, I believe my children "get it" far better than I do

KarmaWilso: If a child sees a picture of a child parading, and the word says Promanading, they get the picture, no pun intended.

Verla: yep

Linda: One thing you will learn when you write picture books though

Linda: is that you have to leave ROOM for the pictures

Linda: so descriptive writing has to be kept to a minimal

Hollybyrne: My daughter once told me that the word "peace" meant "leave mom alone

KarmaWilso: LOL

KarmaWilso: Holly, that's hilarious.

A-Suen: if you write too much, the kids start to wiggle

Donnasmith: Sometimes its hard because you want to describe what you "see" in your head

Linda: Choose your words very wisely, and leave room for the pictures

Lyra_: I hate description...should have studied picture books earlier in my career

A-Suen: rewrite, rewrite rewrite

KarmaWilso: Chop, chop, chop, all those lovely words!

KarmaWilso: Flung away with the press of "delete".

A-Suen: Use them in another book

Hollybyrne: It's sad Karma

Linda: Yes! I have lost many beautiful words along the way and every one hurts terribly

KarmaWilso: Wonderful snippets, so close to my soul!

Lauriel: "Spose good description is like putting just the right amount of cinnamon in an apple pie, too much and you know it but sprinkle just the right amount and it's yummy

KarmaWilso: SOB!

Lyra_: Part of being a professional writer is letting go...I've let go of whole books

Linda: But then later, you can go back and "pluck" a passage that got cut and recycle it for another story

Hollybyrne: I spent 2 hours on one sentence for a story, and my crit group, suggested I toss it. AHEM

Lyra_: true, Linda

KarmaWilso: It's tragic Holly!

A-Suen: entire scenes from different books will reappear one day at your fingertips!

Lyra_: you never WASTE anything. My favorite saying is that writers are the ultimate recyclers

Linda: One time my husband left with the kids so I could write

Linda: Four hours later, he came back home and I had written ONE sentence

A-Suen: too quiet?

ClaraRose: Ha ha ha... no.. I think chewing on it...

Lyra_: but for a picture book, one sentence equals ONE chapter like my mid-grades

Linda: But what he didn't realize was that I had rewritten that sentence fifty times!

Hollybyrne: Sounds familiar Linda

Linda: Yes

Lawhee: but what if you don't write 'beautiful' words?


Verla: Putnam cut one of my FAVORITE verses out of Iron Horses...

Verla: Lurching, jerking,/Clickety-clack./Chugging, puffing,/Down the track.

KarmaWilso: Oh, the agony Verla!

Lyra_: you'll come up with a book for it, Verla (of course, it'll probably get cut again)

ClaraRose: I like that one... Verla

Katej: Verla, that does sound like a good verse for another book.

Verla: But they also wanted to cut THIS one...and I "cried" so loudly that they DID leave IT in...

"Black clouds skuttle,

Billow high.

Lightning crackles,

Splitting sky."

A-Suen: that's wonderful verla

Hollybyrne: Love that Verla

Lyra_: that's a good one, V


Linda: OK...put your thesauras away and we'll play a game

Linda: Everyone ready?

KarmaWilso: Yippee!

A-Suen: ok

KarmaWilso: Go.

Linda: In one word, describe the moon

Katej: luminous

KarmaWilso: Shimmering....

ClaraRose: bride

Lyra_: cheesy (g)

A-Suen: pearl

Verla: ONE word?

Verla: Auuuugh! That's HARD...Let me think ... how about ... silveryglowingorb

Lyra_: (that's cheating, V!)

ClaraRose: LOL.... cheating! Verla!

Verla goes into the corner for cheating

Katej: far

Lauriel: golden

Dani23: cold

Linda: Cheesy makes me hungry!

A-Suen: glow

Lawhee: silver

A-Suen: nightshine

SallyA: reflecting

Linda: So much better than saying the moon!

Harazin: barren

Verla: stardust

_MS_SASE: delicious

whatever: magical

Hollybyrne: skyball

Katej: holly... that's pushing it..

Hollybyrne: it's the best I could do

Linda: I called the moon a lantern light

Linda: and the kids had no question that the moon is what I was talking about

Verla: TWO words, Linda!

Lyra_: of course, Linda uses two words

Verla: You used TWO words

Verla: CHEAT!

whatever: yeah!

Linda: I'm wordy! Even at my own game!



Lauriel: so what is writing down to kids, anyway?

Linda: OK...that was the NEXT part of the workshop

Lawhee: forgetting that they are thinking beings

Lyra_: If you critique other's people work, you can see clearly where they are preaching to kids ; writing down

A-Suen: talking to them like they have no brains (sigh)

Lyra_: And then sometimes you even recognize it in your own work

Linda: Writing down to kids is when you use terms YOU believe only they are familiar with

Lyra_: Or when you write something as a LESSON for them, instead of entertainment

Verla: Kind of like reverting to the "Dick and Jane" style of writing?

whatever: lauriel: "And then daddy told them, next time you should pick berries with your FINGERS", and they all nodded, happy to have learned something." that's writing down. :)

A-Suen: save that for the educational stuff - textbooks, etc

Linda: OK....How many of you feel that writing picture books should be to teach a child something?

A-Suen: and even in textbooks, they want beautiful language

Linda: anyone?

ClaraRose raises her hand....

whatever: nooooooo.... picture books are for entertainment!

Verla: I teach in mine, Linda

Donnasmith: You should sneak a lesson in without them knowing

Dani23: sometimes

Lawhee: NO! It is for entertainment:_)

whatever: to get them interested in reading, or to lull them to sleep!

Verla: But...I teach without letting them know I'm teaching...

Linda: Verla, I think you teach with entertainment

_MS_SASE: They might, but that is not their first job

A-Suen: you always "teach" when you write, because you share your own experience

KarmaWilso: Not I.

Katej: I'm teaching in mine that I'm writing....

KarmaWilso: Unless you mean it should teach them to love reading. :-)

Hollybyrne: You just want them to think books are fun

Lyra_: that, too, Karma

Linda: The way we best "teach" in a picture book is by sneaking it in...

Lyra_: books ARE fun

Hollybyrne: Tell my son that

Donnasmith: Isn't learning supposed to be fun? :)

Linda: If something is fun and amusing, kids learn

whatever: well, you CAN teach by telling them what they want to know about a subject they want to learn about. science, history, nature, animals.... but only if they WANT to learn it :)

A-Suen: the character changes, that's a learning experience

Lawhee: Don't TRY to teach/preach

KarmaWilso: Many times the lesson will follow the story naturally, and the author will only realize it's there later..

KarmaWilso: IF they keep the story first.

Lyra_: non-fiction is for teaching...

Linda: and in fiction writing, the ONLY thing I try to teach, is a love for reading

Verla: Hmmm. What I do is tell an interesting story...but EVERY fact is accurate historically in my they learn a little about history while they enjoy the story.

Lyra_: (like whale bones, huh, Verla?)

Verla: Yup

KarmaWilso: As the character learns so will the child.

Lyra_: But you have subtle messages about life in your stories, Linda

Lawhee: Hooray for reading!!

A-Suen: fiction teaches life-lessons

Linda: yes...

Lauriel: For concepts books, Yes, but it must be done in a creative entertaining fun way.

Lawhee: kids can spot a lesson a mile away

Linda: Kids can smell a 'text" book a mile away too

A-Suen: even concept books have to tell a story

Lyra_: I've heard that some colleges study paperback fiction to learn about cultures

Linda: Preachy language is the worse

Hollybyrne: I wonder if those that write down to kids, don't have kids themselves. Or are too far removed from their childhood.

Linda: summing up at the end is awful

Donnasmith: I agree

Lawhee: I HATE those kind of books!

Verla: at the end of the story they tell the "MORAL" in the old Aesop's fables!

whatever: and the moral of this story is, hare today, goon tomorrow!

Linda: sermons are for Sundays!

A-Suen: I think it's an attitude too - I know more than you - I'm "better"

Lawhee: Exactly. Suen

Dani23: And so Sammy Squirrel learned stealing was wrong

Lyra_: ah ha!

Linda: Kids books have long been judged by adults for their "adult appeal"

Hollybyrne: Well, the kids think they know more than us. "Don't you know anything Mom?" is my daughters favorite saying


Linda: as if the kid wouldn';t have gotten it!@

Lyra_: they're smarter than adults think they are--and they know it

Linda: I think kids just want a good entertaining story...just like adults do

Lawhee: I think many writers don't realize it when they are moralizing

Hollybyrne: Maybe that's why the Dick and Jane stories are obsolete. Kids are different than we were as kids. They know so much now.

Lyra_: information is just a computer or TV show away--lots out there for kids

whatever: you didn't know anything as a kid?

Verla: I learned to read on the Dick and Jane books..they were BORING!

Lyra_: I didn't know what MY kids know...that's for sure

KarmaWilso: I think kids are the same, adults just realized kids HATE Dick and Jane.

KarmaWilso: :-)

Hollybyrne: No, I was naive. Kids today are much more wordly. TV, Computers, they know about everything

Gail: I don't moralize. I stick in facts. My fault!

Linda: When adults write for teens I notice the same things

Lyra_: Actually I kind of liked the Dick & Jane type books

Linda: adult writers trying to "sound" like a teenager

Verla: I remember reading those horrid phrases over and over and over...

Linda: Cool man

Hollybyrne: Sure, I did too, but my kids would find them way too boring

KarmaWilso meant no offense to Dick and Jane fans. *see karma apologize*

Lawhee: But verla, didn't you read between the lines? I had Dick and Jane doing much more than the words said. That family had adventures in my head!

Hollybyrne: Little kids are like small teenagers

Verla: Jump, spot. Jump. Jump fast. Jump fast, spot. Jump fast.

Verla: Jump. Jump. Jump.

Verla: YUK

KarmaWilso: Jump off the cliff spot.

KarmaWilso: Before I throw you!!!

Lyra_: nope, Karma, too hard of words for them (g)

Lyra_: I read the ones after Dick & Jane...did more stuff

Linda: I think what kids liked about Dick and Jane is that they were predictable and safe

Verla: lol

whatever: see spot run. run, spot, run!

Gail: I looked at Dick and Jane from the reading angle. Could I read the words? I so wanted to be able to read. I don't remember much about the story. My dad carried a lunchbox. The Dad in D & J carried a briefcase. I couldn't relate except to the WORDS.

Hollybyrne: Maybe thats why we are so creative, we had to make up our own stories about Dick and Jane

Lawhee: i liked the pictures

A-Suen: i just wanted to learn how to read. it was so magic!

Linda: So true!

Lauriel: Kids like predictability, but they like SURPRISE.

Linda: WE learned to write along with our reading skills

KarmaWilso: When I came across Where the Wild Things are I thought, Oh wow, this is how GOOD reading can be!

KarmaWilso: Max was my hero!

Lyra_: I enjoyed reading WILD THINGS to my son--he memorized it in first or second grade

Linda: Do you know it took five years to write Where The Wild Things Are?

Lauriel: there's an opera on Where the Wild Things are, that's great.

Lyra_: ah--he was slower than Verla (WILD THINGS)


Linda: Does anyone have any questions?


Lawhee: yes, I do not write beautifuly. I love words, but mine aren't pretty. Is there room for this in children's writing?

Verla: Lawhee, there is always room for a new point of view in children's writing. They need all kinds of styles to satisfy all children's taste. Yes! There is room for you, too.


Lyra_: My favorite advice is just to many kid books have you read this week?

Lyra_: This month? (Challenging everyone!)

A-Suen: this month! for work or for pleasure?

Lyra_: For work AND pleasure

Dani23: I read Ella Enchanted for the first time yesterday

A-Suen: for work - 70 (I'm writing again!!)- for pleasure - 3

Lyra_: Great, Anastasia!

Linda: OK everybody, I want to share a quote

Linda: Ready?

Dani23: yes

Linda: This is from The Letters Of Ursula Nordstrom

Linda: she passionately believed that children wanted "something more" in children's books

Linda: and changed the way writers viewed them

Linda: She was with harper Collins for years, one of the very first children's editors

Linda: she wrote

Linda: I want to produce good books, for bad children

Linda: Does anyone want to guess what she meant?

KarmaWilso: She wanted to write books that children could love, because they were about real children

Lawhee: LOL! She wanted books to be for and about ALL children

Lyra_: Yes

KarmaWilso: Children that enjoy playing in mud.

KarmaWilso: and getting berry juice on their face...

Gail: As you age you can speak your mind. You do not have to worry where a paycheck is coming from. I am there!


Linda: Here are some of the titles that were, in that day, considered groundbreaking

Linda: Goodnight Moon

Linda: Charlottes Web

Linda: Where The wild Things Are

Linda: Harold and the Purple Crayon

Linda: and The Giving Tree

whatever: ooooh. you're listing my favorites!

Lawhee: All classics!

Lyra_: Linda is destined to publish classics

Linda: all these books were considered daring

KarmaWilso: Especially Charlottes Web.

Linda: a spider had never before been written about as anything but "bad"

Lyra_: daring is just doing something different...not easy for publishers

Linda: but in charlottes web, she was a friend...and smart too

Dani23: Charlotte's Web is one of the few books I'd call perfect

Gail: I have a few spider stories.

Hollybyrne: Now we have Captain Underpants

A-Suen: not with their bestseller attitude nowadays

Lyra_: In fact I heard of an editor saying they she/he used to get to publish one book a year that SHE wanted...but not anymore

A-Suen: sad, isn't it :(

Linda: I think Good Books For Bad Chidren is a perfect way to sum up this workshop

Lawhee: I'm claiming that quote for myself, Linda. It's perfect!

KarmaWilso: Think of the alternative. Bad books for good children!

A-Suen: yikes, karma!

Linda: Don't write what you expect an adult THINKS a child will like

KarmaWilso: And yet, so many try just that.

Linda: and don't write like a child

Linda: write like a man!!!

Linda: or woman

KarmaWilso: Linda!

KarmaWilso: No sexism...

KarmaWilso: he he he.

Lawhee: don't write what is hot for the sake of 'being in'

A-Suen: write what YOU like! Trying to sell it is the trick

Lyra_: I always write what I care about, but I always keep the market in mind; hoping for a place to fit this book in

Linda: and write for your audience believing that they are more than little unformed globs of protoplasm to shape and mold

KarmaWilso: Write what the market has forgotten.

KarmaWilso: Fill a void.

KarmaWilso: That's what all those above mentioned books did.

Lyra_: When I wrote cheerleading books, I made the characters and stories things I CARED about

Linda: That's what I did too, lyra

Lauriel: You can't write in a vucuum but you can't write what's not in your heart, right?

Lyra_: I know...that's because I'm a big kid

Lyra_: If I wasn't a big kid I wouldn't have ridden a teeter-totter and hurt my tailbone

Verla: But you are writing series books, lyra..and that is a lot different from Picture NEVER write "down" to children in your books

A-Suen: no more tabla rasa

Verla: tabla rasa? What's that?

Linda: Does anyone have any final questions?????

Verla: What is tabla rasa?

A-Suen: an empty slate - latin or greek, I think

Linda:It's clearly pig latin Verla

A-Suen: ha ha

Verla: thank you, Suen


Lawhee: can I have your autograph?

Verla: I do NOT want Linda's autograph. Until it's in a BOOK of hers

Lyra_: I just mailed you MY autograph today, Linda

Linda: Yes! Dirty as the book may be!

Lyra_: dirty?

Lawhee: I can't wait to get my copy!

A-Suen: when does you book come out Linda?

Linda: My latest picture book is about an old woman who loves dirt

Lauriel: Ha, Ha

Lyra_: I'm first in line for Verla's, then we can fight it out for Linda's

Lyra_: ah--so you weren't calling my autograph "dirty"

Linda: I think The Inside Tree will be out next fall

Lawhee: Hey! I didn't see that one.

ClaraRose: that is fast!

KarmaWilso: Mine is about a cowgirl that can't figure out how to ride a horse.

Lyra_: Next Fall is VERY fast for pic books

Verla: Yeah. I wait YEARS AND YEARS for my first one...

Lyra_: Cute, Karma

Lyra_: If I sell again, Verla, I wonder how soon it would be out (g)

KarmaWilso: So, she rides mountain bikes instead. It's just a seed of an idea.

redtail: now there's someting i can identify with, Karma <g>

A-Suen: who is the illustrator?

Linda: Katheryn Brown

A-Suen: what else did she illustrate?

Linda: She did The Old Woman Who Named Things and many others

Linda: I don't have a complete list yet Anastasia

A-Suen: we'll just check amazon! :)


Verla: Hey, this was a GREAT workshop, Linda!

Lyra_: yup

Verla: Thank you zillions!

Verla: When is your next one, Linda?

Lyra_: APPLAUSE...requests for autographs...!

Linda: It was chatty! and I could hardly keep up, but such fun!

A-Suen: thank you! :)

Hollybyrne: Thanks Linda, can I have your autograph, too.

KarmaWilso applauds!!1

Gail: Very good, ladies. Keep on writing, all of us.

A-Suen: encore!

ClaraRose: Excellent Job!!!!

whatever applauds too

Verla: I have September 8th open, Linda...

Linda: You're all welcome.

redtail: clap! clap!

Lawhee: Lisa would whistle wildly if she could

Linda: Can I take a typing course first?

Hollybyrne: You gave me much to think about. Great stuff!

Gail: Clap, clap, clap.

Dani23: clap clap

Verla: lots of time to learn to type faster between now and then, Linda....

Lawhee: From one 'non-typer' to another. You did great!

Linda: Thanks Lisa

Verla: wonderful, Linda!

_MS_SASE: It was inspirational, thank you

Lyra_: just keep plugging on the YA, Linda, and your typing will speed up

Linda: Yes, if Harper Collins ONLY knew!!

whatever: there's typing games available these days. I learned to type with one... never took a formal course, but I type 80 words a minute :)

Linda: Linda can't type and they want a novel out of me!

Lauriel: Sorry if I jumped in on people, this chatting thing is kind of strange.

Lawhee: The problem isn't two finger's looking at the screen and then looking down to type

Linda: we're all strange Laurie

Verla: Oh, we ALL do that,'s part of being in a chat room

_MS_SASE: Shaaazam, whatever, I been working with a keyboard for 15 years and I'm not that fast

Linda: You fit right in!

whatever: don't look.... that's the secret. learn the keyboard with your fingers, so your fingers know where the keys are.....

Lauriel: I always say "Thanks" when someone tells me I'm strange

Linda: Me too!

Lyra_: I love to!

Linda: No wonder we're friends!

Hollybyrne: Strange friends

Linda: OK, Verla...I want a head count

Lyra_: Strange is nice...Very nice

Lyra_: It was a FULL room

Lauriel: Strange but true

Hollybyrne: Weird is better

Linda: If I didn't beat my agent's I'm gonna be MAD

Hollybyrne: And I've been called that before

Lyra_: Actually, it still IS a full room

Lawhee: LOL!

Lyra_: beat your agent?

Lauriel: What's the rule here, are we supposed to leave?

Hollybyrne: Who beats their agent

Linda: yes, in head count for the workshop Lyra

Linda: Holly, where is your mind?? haha

Lyra_: ah--I think Steven had the most...although a LOT here tonight

whatever: laurie: no, don't leave until you feel like it.

Lawhee: I called him, Linda. and left a message

Lyra_: Besides, you beat MY workshop, Linda!

Linda: OK..I'll bow to his greater authority then

Lauriel: I wrote a nasty note to an agent last night just for my own entertainment

A-Suen: 18 are on now, Linda

Linda: You guys are too nice

Lyra_: I think I had 17 people when I talked on agents

Linda: Karma beat us all!

Lyra_: good therapy, Lauriel

ClaraRose: I read it, Lyra

Lawhee: She's wicked with a paddle!

Lyra_: ouch! Are you coming to national, Lauriel?

Lauriel: It'd be awful if he read it, and he hasn't even accepted me

Lyra_: the transcript or the agent slam note?

ClaraRose: the transcript

redtail: Thanks,Linda--sorry I missed the first half

redtail: I'll have to look on Verla's page (for the transcript)

KarmaWilso: Linda you did wonderful!!




Verla Kay

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