Quotes About Writing

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

writing“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Madeleine L’Engle the author of A Wrinkle in Time


“I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is.”

Anne Lamott author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

Lisa See author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


“A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.”

Ernest Hemingway author of For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea


 “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Muriel Rukeyser author of The Book of the Dead


“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”

Ray Bradbury author of Zen in the Art of Writing


Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.

Lee Martinez author of Monster and A Nameless Witch


“If you’re silent for a long time, people just arrive in your mind.”

Alice Walker author of The Color Purple


“I wasn’t born to cook or clean, but to read and write, if you don’t like me the way I am, then go fly a kite.”

Besa Kosova author of Rain Drops


“Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Stephen King author of Misery and Carrie


“Your only responsibility as a writer is to be true to the story that has chosen you as its writer.”

Jean Little author of Little by Little and Stars Come Out Within


For more quotes from published authors check out https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/writers


Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

challengeToday is National Dare Day and I have a challenge for you.  I DARE YOU to stop what you are doing and “write about your writing.”

First condense your story down to a story in a sentence. Then, write a one paragraph sound bite.

A sound bite is a few sentences that capture the essence of your story and entice the reader to want to know more.  It should take about 15 seconds to recite. Basically, it adds more information to your story in a sentence.

Here is some Advice

When writing your story in a sentence think about answering these questions: who, what, when, where and how.  (If you get stumped, try starting with who and what.)

If you are not sure how to write your sound bite, go to your favorite book store and read the back copy of books that are similar to yours.  Write down the back copy of three books that interested you.  Now, condense what you copied for each book into one paragraph.  Using these as a guide, write your book’s sound bite.Lynda Pfleuger

Join in the Fun

Please share your “writing about your writing'” (stories in a sentence and sound bites) by posting them in the comments section of my blog.  I can’t wait to read them!

Happy Writing!




My Writing Process

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Writing tipsMany times, I am asked about my writing process. I usually skirt around the question, because my process changes almost weekly.  I just keep trying new things. Today, I discovered something.  I do have a writing process and it is working!  So here it is:


I listen to piano music on the Kindle Fire. My favorite is a CD entitled “A Thousand Years” by the Piano Guys.  I downloaded the music for free from Amazon.  When the music stops, I take five minutes for a restroom/coffee-tea break.  Unless, my dog has decided to it is time for me to take him for a walk.  And yes, he is listening for the music to stop.

A Plan

Roses by Lynda Pflueger

This is probably the most effective thing I do. Before I stop writing, I decide what I am going to next.  I admit it, I don’t write every day – just most days.  I try to have at least a three hour stretch dedicated to my writing and my writing sessions are actually sitting down and writing not researching, reading, using social media, etc.  That means I have everything organized for the next session.  This usually takes about ten minutes.

My Writer’s Cove

I am also an artist, which means there is a constant war going on in my office between my writing and my art projects. (I have accepted the fact it will never end).  So, I developed my writer’s cove.  In a corner of my office, I have my computer, printer, and a place where I can turn my chair and access a flat writing surface.  I have good light and one of my file cabinets is right beside my writing surface.   I cannot see my art stuff from my writer’s cove.  This keeps me from being frustrated.


Now, tell me about our writing process, please!

Stories in a Sentence

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

What is your story

A great way to stay focused on a writing idea is to condense it into a story in a sentence.  Plus, creating a story in a sentence helps prepare you to tell people about your work.

Here are some ideas:

Let’s say, you are at a luncheon and someone at your table asks what are you working on? Which one of these answers might grab their attention?

1) I am writing about a concert pianist whose music impressed me when I was learning to play to piano.

2) I am writing a biography of Van Cliburn, a concert pianist, who helped end the cold war with Russia.

Now, let’s say you are at a conference and the person next to you asks what you are working on (later you find out he’s an editor). Which one of these answers might grab his attention?

1) I am writing about a Civil War photographer.

2) I am writing about Alexander Gardner the Civil War photographer who took more photographs of Abraham Lincoln than any other photographer.

Getting Started

Before writing your story in a sentence determine what genre (fiction, nonfiction, picture book etc.) suits your idea, what age group you are writing for, and give your idea a working title. The most important decision you have to make is the genre. Your story structure depends on it.  Then while writing your story in a sentence think about who, what, when, where, and how? Start with who and what.

Happy Writing!

What are your stories in a sentence? Please share!

Heads Up – The March/April Issue of Writer’s Digest

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

LikeOnce again the editors of Writer’s Digest have published timely articles for children’s writers. In fact, in their March/April issue they have devoted a whole section to Writing for Kids + Teens.

In the first article, 10 Picture Book Pitfalls – and How to Fix Them, Marie Lamb points out the benefits of condensing your story into a sentence.  She notes that by forcing yourself to craft a one liner, you will prevent your story from going nowhere. Lamb also advises writers to imagine their story as told only in pictures and “if a more visually engaging story emerges, see how you might revise your manuscript accordingly.” Since I am also an artist, this comment gave me a lot to think about.

Regarding the middle-grade (MG) and young adult (YA) genre four agents answer four questions in the article 4 on 4.  This cleverly formatted article contains a lot of information.  The agents talk about the most important differences between MG and YA, what makes a standout writing for MG readers, and the common mistakes they see in the manuscripts submitted to them.

Ammi-Joan Paquette in her article A Whole New World talks about world building in MG and YA fantasy stories.  She advises writers on how to develop a “rich literary landscape for kids to get lost in.”  At the end of her article, she lists eleven books that in her opinion have excelled “in world building.”

In Get Schooled Teri Brown talks about author’s school visits.  In her article she advises authors on what makes a successful school visit and how to “get in the door.”  According to Brown, the first step is to find the appropriate contact at the school by calling the school office.  Then send the contact person an introductory email (sales pitch).  In the email Brown advises you to introduce yourself, tell them what you can offer, and direct them to your web site.


Mary E. Pearson Talks About Writing for Young Adults

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Mary E. PearsonI was fortunate to hear Mary E. Pearson speak at the SCBWI/SD February chapter meeting about Juggling the Art and Business of Writing: Craft, Tips and Realities.  Mary told the group that she once sat in their seats at chapter meetings and absorbed everything she could about writing for children. Then she added it was “like coming home” to speak at them.

Mary writes for young adults and has published many award winning novels – including her latest trilogy “The Remnant Chronicles.” She talked about proposing the trilogy to her editor, wresting with unexpected writing challenges, and keeping the passion alive for 1700 pages.

One of Mary’s concerns when she received her contract was her deadlines. She confessed she was not a fast writer and started researching fast writing tips so she could write smarter. She recommended Rachel Aaron’s book 2,000 to 10,000 words per day.

During her talk, Mary gave her audience some well thought through advice. Below are a few of her nuggets:

* Your first draft is you telling yourself the story.

* There is magic in writing. Enjoy and trust the process.

* Be your own best critic.

* Understand your weaknesses.

* Make yourself grow. Dig deeper.  Challenge yourself.

* Adopt the mantra: YOU CAN DO THIS!

* Don’t let doubt get in your way.

* Writing leads to more writing. Keep going!

* Just get it down on paper. You can’t revise a blank page.

My favorite is Mary’s last nugget.  I have printed it out on a large post-it and stuck it to my monitor.  No more stalling when starting a new project.

Check out Mary’s website www.marypearson.com and visit her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

No New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions for my writing in 2016, I decided to take a friend’s advice and try a new approach. I wrote down what worked and what didn’t for me in 2015.social media


  1. Blogging
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Seeking Reviews

Didn’t Work

  1. Blog tour
  2. Pinterest
  3. Goodreads
  4. Reviewing Books

Due to blogging, the activity on my website increased steadily over the year. My most successful blogs were about pitching your manuscripts to agents and editors and writing in general.  Blogs about historical trivia and book reviews were the least popular.  Setting up a blog tour took a great deal of time and was only minimally successful.

Joining Facebook groups dedicated to writing and sharing my blogs and other interesting information about writing resulted in a lot of activity on my website.  I joined Twitter in November and began sharing writing tidbits and my blogs. Creating a Tweet is short and quick and fits into my life style.  Goodreads was time consuming and sometimes confusing.  Although I like Pinterest, more of my pens about drawing and painting were repined than anything about biographies.

I was successful in obtaining reviews for my books simply by asking for them.  It was a time consuming process, but I received six 5 star reviews from Amazon reviewers and Debbie Alvarez, The Styling Librarian highly praised my biography of George Eastman on her blog.


My GoalsSo do I have a New Year’s Resolution? No!  But I do have goals.  What are they?  Keep doing what worked.  So I will continue blogging, making friends on Facebook, Tweeting regularly, and seeking more reviews.  Plus, I have two new goals for 2016.  I want to carve out more time to work on new projects and develop a workshop for writers on pitching their work.


What are your goals for 2016?


My Picks – People to Follow

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

LikeKathleen Merz

Kathleen Merz is the managing editor for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers and she writes a column entitled “From the Editor’s Desk” once a month.  Her articles are informative and well written.

(Eerdmans books for Young People also has an official blog entitled “Eerdlings.”


Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes about the publishing industry. Her column is entitled “Business Rusch Publishing Articles.”  I have learned a lot about the publishing industry by reading her column.  She tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar coat anything.  Be sure to read her column “Trust Me.”


Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman worked for Writer’s Digest as their editorial director for nine years. She teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia. Plus, she is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. In her recent blog, “Feeling Like an Old Geezer at the New Social Media Party,” she writes about new social media networks:   Snapchat, The List App, and Periscope. They offer opportunities to explore.


(Look for Jane’s recent column in Publishers Weekly. Check out her post on “The Library Market: What Indie Authors Need to Know.”)



Writing for Children – My Favorite Books

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Jump froggiesJump, Froggies! Writing Children’s Books: 89+ Beginners’ Tips 

I wish Edith Hope Fine’s book had been available when I started writing for children.  With her typical uplifting and informative style she covers everything from learning the craft to publication.  My favorite tips from her book are:

Keep a writing journal and track your goals, progress, discoveries, daily notes, ideas, etc.

Don’t be overwhelmed.  Take it one step at a time.

Join the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators and find your local chapter

Take writing classes and attend conferences.

Send out only your best work.

Fine’s book is filled with quotes from prominent writers.  My favorite is from Gary Paulsen, the author of Hatchet. “Read all the time, and turn of the television off.”

 Anatomy of Nonfiction:  Writing True Stories for Childrenanatomy of nonfiction

Thanks to the Common Core directive, nonfiction is HOT!  In their book, Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas (a mother and daughter team), provide a road map for writing nonfiction for children.   They cover hands on research, interviewing essentials, finding a marketable idea, designing a compelling plot, query letters, etc.

Their motto is “write what you are curious and passionate about.”  They also advise that in writing children’s nonfiction you need to:  1) Find your focus.  2)  Know your audience.  3) Think like a child.

My favorite chapter in the book is about writing biographies. They point out that a biography does not have to be written about famous people.  Some of the best stories are “about ordinary folks who did extraordinary things.”

Ann PaulWriting Picture Books:  A Hand On Guide From Story Creation to Publication

If you want to focus on picture books, this book needs to be sitting on your desk.  Ann Whitford Paul covers everything a writer should know about the genre from building the framework of your story, creating compelling characters, writing the fabulous first line, basic plotting with the three-act structure, and much more.

My favorite chapters are about writing rhyme and making music with prose.   Ann points out that “writing your picture book in prose does not mean you can abandon poetry entirely.  A picture book does not need to be a poem, but is must be written poetically…”

I Want to Write for Children, Where Do I Start?

Friday, September 11th, 2015

SCBWI badgeThe best place to start your adventure in writing for children is by joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide and it is the largest children’s writing organization in the world. The benefits of joining the group are extensive. I have been a member for 30 years and can attribute much of my success as a children’s writer to the organization.



Mem FoxOne of the highlights of my summers is attending the SCBWI National Conference in Los Angeles. This year, I spent three days listening to editors, agents, authors, and illustrators talk about their work. For me, the highlight of the conference was Mem Fox’s keynote address. Fox is a retired Associate Professor Literacy Studies and Australia’s highly regarded picture book author. REading MagicHer goal is “to give wings to children so they can fly with words.” She does not use a vocabulary list. But chooses the right words and uses them at the right time. Her books have rhythm and contain child friendly trouble. Fox mesmerized her audience while reading from her book “Hattie and the Fox.” I left the conference with the book she wrote for parents entitled “Reading Magic.”


The Book

Another benefit of joining the organization is a publication entitled “The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children.” New members are mailed a copy and existing members can request a copy for just the cost of printing and shipping.  “The Book is an invaluable source of up-to-the minute information on market surveys, social media, creating book trailers, schools visits and much more. The Book (or my Black Book as I call it) sits on my desk and is filled with notes and book marks. It is the first place I go to for market information.


Regional Chapters

SCBWI has over 80 regional chapters around the word. When you become a member you automatically become a member of your local region. Regional chapters hold events throughout the year. I am a former Regional Advisor for the San Diego Chapter and we hold workshops, illustrator schmoozes, critique groups, retreats and nine chapter meetings each year. A list of regional chapters can be found on  http://www.scbwi.org/region-map/


Membership in SCBWI is $80 per year and well worth the investment!


Next Month, My Favorite Books about Writing for Children.