Write Diaries for Your Children 05

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Write Diaries for Your Children 05

Harvesting Passion and Peace

by Kelly Dumar, M.Ed.

This summer I spent of a lot of time in my father’s garden, gratefully picking the lettuce, tomatoes, acorn squash and other delicious vegetables he grows in super abundance there. Often, I would visit his garden just before dinner, to see what I would have for dinner, when the birds were noisy, the sun was still hot on my shoulders and a slight breeze would blow up to cool me down. One of my daughters would very likely be with me. (My contribution to the garden this summer was limited to taking an excess of produce off his hands, and occasionally returning with a zucchini bread.)

Most of the time my father would join me there as I picked, dropping whatever he was doing inside to pick along side me, filling my basket, pointing me in the direction of his best results, analyzing his disappointments, sharing his gardening lessons and theories, animatedly describing his future hopes and dreams for the garden. I thought about all the summers I have spent visiting my Dad in his garden. In spring, summer or fall, if he’s not inside, everyone knows where to find him. He’s in the garden.

The garden is a place of passion and peace for my father, I realized. It made me wonder about parenting places of peace. Where is my own place of passion and peace? Where do I naturally do my best parenting? Do my children join me there? Do they know about this “place” consciously? Do they know how to find me there? Do I spend enough time there? What do I and can I give them from this parenting place of peace that they don’t get from me anywhere else?

As I thought about it — as I wrote about it — I realized, of course, that everyone in my family knows where to find me. If I’m not in the kitchen, walking the dog in the woods, or driving a car pool, then I’m writing. I write many different things, but the diaries I keep for my three children are my parenting place of passion and peace. The diaries are my garden where I fill their baskets with stories and memories, where I point them in the direction of my best results(!), analyze my shortcomings and mistakes, share my lessons and theories, and yes, animatedly describe my future hopes and dreams for them. In the diaries, more than anything else, I harvest peace.

September Writing Prompt

Where is your parenting place of peace? Is it a real or imaginary place? Is it the woods? The living room couch? The yoga studio? The kindergarten classroom? When and how do you go there? Do your children know about this place? Do they go there with you? When and how? Are you spending enough time there? Open one of your children’s diaries and describe your place of passion and peace, and reflect on how and why you do some of your best parenting there.

If you can’t recognize, or haven’t discovered your parenting place of passion and peace, write an entry where you allow yourself to dream about or imagine this place. Writing about passion and peace is a way of finding it.

________________
Visit the website at https://diarydoor.typepad.com/our_voices/

Write Diaries for Your Children 04

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Write Diaries for Your Children 04

Diary Door Opener Writing Prompts for Parents and Grandparents 

by Kelly Dumar, M.Ed.

Expectant or Adoptive Parents

Often we encounter obstacles when we’re working to achieve something we want very much. Tell your future child the story about an obstacle you encountered in working toward bringing this baby into your life. Was there an expectation, a feeling or a belief that you needed to change or overcome in the process? How did you overcome this block? Who or what helped?

New Parents

This is not the time to have huge expectations about writing long diary entries to your new baby (or babies!). Give yourself permission to write a brief entry that may be a simple line or two about the most special moment of the day. Date the page. Use these brief entries to keep you connected to the diary writing process so that when you do have time for a longer entry you will have the diary handy and you won’t feel that you have to overcome a huge gap. Remember, “silences” during really busy times are a normal party of the rhythm of diaries.

Experienced Parents

No matter what time of day we sit down and pick up the pen, diary writing to our children can be a calming vacation. We make a cup of tea, we sit in our favorite writing spot, we open one of the beautiful blank books we’ve devoted to a child, we get ready to sink into the blank white of the pages of the diary, as refreshing as climbing between fresh, white clean sheets. This is a quiet time, a time to tune out the world around us and tune into our thoughts, feelings and memories about a particular child. We take a deep breath. Perhaps we smile, remembering a funny thing our child said earlier that we made a mental note to record. We write the date on the blank page. We don’t know what we’ll write next. How about this? Describe a moment you had with your child when you felt in harmony with him/her and the universe, when you felt uplifted and at peace with yourself and the world.

Parents of Teens

Write a diary entry that makes note of a physical change your teen has been going through and see what surfaces in your thoughts and feelings about this change. Is there a story you can tell your child about how this change is manifesting in his or her life?

Grandparents

Take out a photo of a family member who is not alive anymore. Open your grandchild’s diary, date the page, and tell your grandchild who is in the photo, when it was taken. What is the subject (s) doing in the photograh? Who is this person in relation to your grandchild? Who is this person in relation to you? Write to your child about everything that comes to mind when you look at this photograph.

________________
Visit the website at https://diarydoor.typepad.com/our_voices/

Write Diaries for Your Children 03

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Write Diaries for Your Children 03

The Wishing Well

by Kelly Dumar, M.Ed.

Expectant or Adoptive Parents

The Wishing Well: Sit down in a comfortable place, open your child’s diary, write the date, and imagine yourself pitching 3 pennies into your magic wishing well. What three wishes would you wish for the child coming into your life? If they are metaphorical or symbolic rather than real or concrete things, that’s fine – imaginative language can be revealing and inspirational. Do these wishes have to do with the present, the near future, or the distant future? Write to your child about the three wishes and reflect on why you wish these things.

New Parents

Inner Circle: Each of us has an inner circle of people close to us in our

lives whom we interact with regularly and from whom we draw support. Who’s in your child’s inner circle? Open your child’s diary, date the page, and write to your child about who these people or animals, friends and relatives are that form the child’s circle of support. Is there a day care provider you can describe for your child? A family pet who keeps an eye on him or her? Siblings? A neighbor? Describe a few of these circle members and show how and what they provide for your baby. As you write and reflect, you may become aware that there is someone missing. Mention this to your child, and think about how you might help your child fill that space in the future. Is there someone who lives far away who participates in the inner circle via phone, letters, e-mail or gifts?

Experienced Parents

“Come Close!” “Go Away! Every parent eventually has the experience of feeling pushed away and pulled closer by a child who is going through a growth spurt or entering a new phase of development, whether it’s learning to walk or starting school. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to you over a couple of days. Is your child rejecting help with something she always expected you to do for her? Is she clinging the next moment in a situation she previously approached independently? Sit down, open your child’s diary, and date the page. Tell your child a story about the “come close/go away” phenomenon you are observing. See if there is a humorous or light angle to approach this entry from. Are you finding yourself clinging and rejecting in return? Reflect on what changes in your child might be prompting this ambivalence toward you. Reflect on what changes your child’s changing may be prompting in you.

Parents of Teens

Shared Activity: Sit down in a quiet moment and open your child’s diary.  List three things you did with your teen in the past week that didn’t involve you doing something for him or her, but rather with him or her. Watch a TV show? Chat at breakfast? Play tennis? Attend a sporting event? Even if the this shared activity didn’t go perfectly, reflect on a pleasurable aspect of one of these encounters and write to your child about it.

Grandparents

Milestones: June is bursting with end of year activities for the grandchildren. You may attend at least one of these events, whether it’s graduating from pre-school, high school, college, or attending a dance recital or sporting event. Open your grandchild’s diary and describe this event from your point of view. Tell your grandchild what you observed, how you felt. What did this event remind you of from your own life? Was there someone special there to observe you during your milestone or achievement? If so, describe this person. What was going on in the country or the world then? Is there any perspective your age and experience has brought you that you can share with your grandchild?

________________
Visit the website at https://diarydoor.typepad.com/our_voices/

Write Diaries for Your Children 02

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Write Diaries for Your Children 02

For Parents

by Kelly Dumar, M.Ed.

Expectant or Adoptive Parents

As a mother in a recent workshop shared, sometimes the child we are expecting is not our first, but our second or third. Perhaps the enthusiasm about welcoming this new baby is dimmed by the moment-to-moment care taking requirements of the children already very actively in your life at home. Is there an entry you can write to this newest child that reaches around the chaos to put your finger on a moment of intimacy where you can focus on the one-to-one relationship with this future child?

New Parents

Diary writing to our children builds a bridge across the normal and exceptional separations we may experience with our baby, whether it’s an absence of a few hours, a few days, or more. Write an entry to your child while you are away from your child – at work, at play, on a vacation or day off, or during a separation such as a temporary or permanent loss of custody or a hospital stay. Tell your child what you miss about being with her or him in this moment, today. Tell your child what you hope to be able to say or do upon your return.

Experienced Parents

Siblings bless and curse each other. They will remember the curses without any help from us. But, they need to hear and attend to the blessings, and since we sometimes have a shorter memory for the positive things others say about us, we can help them remember that their relationship is grounded on love by listening for those times when they say something positive to each other. And write down the blessing in an entry, saving it for a time when they (or we) may really need to see proof of it later on.

Parents of Teens

How does your teen ask you for nurturing? Does she or he ask in a different language than she or he did at 1, or 5, or 10? Are you as attuned to your teen’s requests for nurturing as you were when she or he was younger? Is there a different quality to the nurturing you have to offer him or her today? Write an entry reflecting on how your teen asks for nurturing today versus in earlier stages of life. Similarities? Contrasts?

Grandparents

Imagine yourself reversing roles with your grandchild, and looking out through his or her eyes, at you. Write an entry from this grandchild’s point of view as if the child were introducing you to his or her friends. This is my grandma/grandpa _____________. She/He is _____________________. Don’t think about it – just put the pen on the blank page and write freely and spontaneously in the child’s words and see what surprises may be in store for you.

Read this month’s Diary Story Excerpt, an example of “The Poetry of Everyday Life” diary story in the “Share a Diary Story Parenting Gallery” at http://www.diarydoor.com today. It’s an example of how brief a powerful entry worth saving can be.

________________
Visit the website at https://diarydoor.typepad.com/our_voices/

Write Diaries for Your Children 01

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Write Diaries for Your Children 01

Preserve Memories, Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem, and Connect with Your Inner Wisdom

by Kelly Dumar, M.Ed.

Have you ever longed to ask your parents, “What was I really like as a child?” Some day, your children will ask this question of you. If you write diaries for your children as they grow, you will be preserving memories and saving your child’s unique stories to treasure for many years to come. In Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children , by Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., parents learn creative strategies for building their child’s self-esteem while connecting with their own inner wisdom through a unique writing process for parents I call “diary storytelling.”

Why Write Diaries for Your Children?

Diary storytelling is a creative way of preserving memories of our daily lives with our children while reflecting on our parenting choices, building children’s self-esteem, finding solutions to conflicts, and embracing the soul-enriching aspects of parenting.

What are Diaries for Children?

These are diaries that parents write for their children as they grow, detailing stories and experiences from their daily lives from before birth throughout their childhood years. Diaries for children blend diary writing, memoir, autobiography, and biography into a new and distinct genre with unique features. These living legacies are books of stories about children’s lives in their parent’s own words. They are saved and passed on to children when they leave home to keep as a treasured record of their childhood years.

Unlike personal diaries or journals in which your audience is yourself, diaries for children are written directly to children as if writing letters to their future selves. Your audience is your present child, your growing child, and your grown child all at the same time.

How Does Diary Writing Benefit Children?

  • Diaries Preserve a Life History – Just as you have probably longed to ask your parents – “What was I really like as a child?” your children will some day ask this of you. When they do, you can hand them the stack of diaries you have kept in your own handwriting to answer this question in exquisite detail.
  • Diaries Let Parents Be Storytellers & Children be Stars – children learn to value themselves as heroes on their own life’s journey.
  • Diaries Are Gifts that Keep on Giving – These diaries may be read and reread throughout the years just as classic childhood storybooks are mined again and again for meaning and pleasure.
  • Diaries Build Self-Esteem – diary writing allows parents to put the focus on each child’s unique gifts and development and create a unique and lasting bond. How Does Diary Writing Benefit Parents?
  • Children are Teachers – Our children can teach us everything we need to know to parent them well, if we are willing to watch, listen, and learn. They speak in metaphor, poetry, and story, always inviting us to see both the world we live in and our role as parent through their eyes.
  • Diary Writing Opens the Door to Inner Wisdom – gain the perspective of distance and the power of reflection when you explore the pleasures and problems of parenting through the diary door.
  • Lets You Slow Down and Savor the Moments – It’s easy to take the days for granted, letting childhood fly by without fully appreciating the beauty, wisdom, pleasure, and meaning of daily life. Diary writing offers us the gift of conscious awareness and appreciation of the moment.

Do You Need to be an Experienced Writer or Storyteller to Begin? No! We all have a voice that rises up from our hearts through our throats and says, “Let me tell you a story. . .” Diary writing for our children offers us a unique opportunity for developing that voice in the quiet, safe space of the blank diary page. Children provide the perfect audience for these stories of everyday life in which they get to be the stars.

What Kinds of Stories Can Parents Write Through the Diary Door?

  • Birth Stories
  • Milestone, Achievement, and Rite of Passage Stories
  • The Poetry of Everyday Life
  • Mischief and Adventure Stories
  • Conflict as Quest Stories
  • Family History Stories
  • Stories of Reconciliation and Amends
  • Car Quotes
  • And many more

When Do You Begin?

If you are an expectant or new parent, buy a blank book and begin writing today – before your forget. If you are an experienced parent, it’s never too late to begin. You don’t have to fill in for lost time, just begin writing to your child today – she/he will appreciate the stories you save whenever you start.

What Does a Diary Entry Look Like?

The first and only “rule” about diary writing is to write the date at the top of a blank page. Writing an entry for your child can be as simple as writing down something unique and beautiful your child says in the course of the most ordinary day. Your children will love reading quotes of the imaginative and ingenious things they said when they were younger. Here’s an example from one of my own diary entries for my daughter:

“To Perrin (age 2 ½), November 6, 1994

. . . A week or so ago, in the early morning, just after taking Landon to school, we were walking up to the house from the car when you saw the bit of moon over the house. You said: “When Daddy gets home he’ll get it for me, and I’ll hold it in my hands and I won’t break it.”

________________
Visit the website at https://diarydoor.typepad.com/our_voices/

Changes of Life

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Changes of Life

by Elisa Berman – age 15

The car collected $200 as it passed go. I could hear the car’s engine zooming around the board. Well, I almost heard it. I was playing monopoly with my brother. I just starred at him thinking how great life is, how great spring break was going to be, and how great summer would be. I was absolutely loving life for the first time in a long time.

As you know monopoly is a long game. My family and I had about 5 or 6 hours till we had to go to the Northeast to my uncles house for Passover dinner. My brother and I were excited because we were going to see our aunts mother and son, whom we don’t see too often. Monopoly was the best idea we had to keep us busy for all that time.

Unfortunately we didn’t get too far into the Monopoly. When the phone rang it interrupted my second turn. I was sitting next to the phone, so I picked it up. I didn’t even have a chance to finish saying hello before I heard my grandmothers voice. In a sad voice she said “Elisa put your mother on the phone.” I could tell by the tone in her voice something was wrong, so I handed the phone right to my mother. She didn’t have to tell me what was wrong. In the short time they were on the phone, I put all the pieces together. My grandmother was at the Saunder’s house (the nursing home my grandfather was in) visiting my grandfather. There was only one thing that would upset her that much. It was the one thing everyone dreaded.

My grandfather had passed away. He had been sick for a long time. As a matter of fact he had been sick all my life. It wasn’t till about 3 or 4 years ago that it became so serious. He has been in and out of the hospital over those last few years. My family and I visited him almost everyday of every time he was in the hospital. Even though my family was expecting this, it struck us so suddenly. My grandmother was with him when he passed away. She was hanging up the phone with my mother when she saw him take his last breath. She didn’t know it was his last breath till after she turned back around and he wasn’t breathing at all. She ran down the hallway to find a nurse. Once the nurse confirmed it, my grandmother got right on the phone to call my mom and uncle.

I had loved my grandfather dearly. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved my grandfather, so the night before the funeral I wrote something to say at the funeral. When I stood up to make the speech many of the funeral attenders were surprised. Ever since I was little I had been a quiet, shy girl. I didn’t actually talk much at all to anybody I didn’t know very well. That had changed.

It’s funny the way things work sometimes. The doctors predicted he wouldn’t survive the weekend on Friday, March 2, 2001. My dad’s birthday was March 5. My grandfather’s birthday was March 30. My mom’s birthday was April 1. My birthday was April 3. My grandparent’s anniversary was April 4. My grandfather passed away Saturday, April 7, 2001, the first day of the ten days of spring break. It was amazing how he waited for all these birthdays including one last for him and one last anniversary with my grandmother to pass before he passed away.

My grandfather passing away affected more than friends and family. Four days before my grandfather passed away I finished my favorite class with my favorite teacher out of my ten years of school. I had this class 3rd quarter. I had Miss Erb for theater. This class was an introduction into acting. Not only does Miss Erb teach acting, but she has been in several plays. She is a very good actress. She taught this class well for her first year of teaching. When this class started I would stand up in front of my fellow class mates frozen, unable to get any words to come out. At the end of this class I still wasn’t good at doing anything in front of people, but I had more confidence, and I didn’t dread it as much. I wasn’t that shy, quiet girl anymore.

When I try to remember as far back as I can I remember helping my grandfather walk to where ever he was trying to go. He was blind and had trouble with his legs, so he always needed help. This past summer before he went into the nursing home permanently I was too lazy to help him. I always pushed helping my grandfather onto my brother. After he passed away I was thinking about how selfish I was by not helping. I felt so guilty, but there was nothing I could do to change what I had done. This is when I realized small things do matter in life.

These ten days were the hardest ten days of my life. My grandfather’s funeral was three days after he passed away because Passover interfered. On Sunday my parents, grandmother, uncle, and aunt made the arrangements for the funeral. Since the funeral was grave side, the immediate family was given a chance to see my grandfather one last time. Both my brother and I wanted to see my grandfather one last time, so the seven of us headed up to the funeral home. When I saw him it looked like he was bones covered by skin. He didn’t look like the same guy who watched me grow my hole life. I was holding my brother when I noticed he looked a little pale, so I told my dad. My dad took him out side to get some fresh air, but on the way out I saw him fall to the ground. He had been so upset over my grandfather he fainted. The day after we saw my grandfather was the funeral. We spent the night of the funeral and the next two day sitting Shiva. The next four days we spent trying to start getting use to not visiting him in the nursing home or hospital. Every time I walked into my grandmother’s house I walk over to the chair he sat in all the time, but he isn’t there.

I had survived the entire spring break and I was glad to be back in school. As glad as I was to be back in school, I wasn’t happy. I know it is normal to be sad when someone close to you passes away, but I was upset about something else also. All my friends told me how sorry they were to hear about my grandfather, but that didn’t make me feel better. I told my best friend Renee about how Miss Erb helped me. She had Miss Erb for theater first quarter. As I was telling Renee about how Miss Erb helped me I realized I was telling the wrong person. I should be telling Miss Erb how I felt.

This day is one I will never forget. Miss Erb’s first block was next door to my first block class. I walked in the classroom and asked to speak to her privately. I told her about my grandfather passing away over spring break. I told her about the speech and how I couldn’t have done it, if she hadn’t taught theater as well as she did. As I told this to Miss Erb I could feel the wet tears falling down my face. Her eyes were filled with tears. She looked like she was about to cry. When I looked at her face I could tell she understood what I was telling her. She told me how much this meant to her.

I didn’t know if Miss Erb would care or not that she helped me, but it was worth it to take a chance. One thing I learned from my grandfather passing away was little things do matter in life. This was a little chance to take, but since she did care it became bigger than I had thought. Everytime I see Miss Erb I think of the wonderful man my grandfather was. I will always be grateful for her helping me. I will never forget her.

In Loving Memory of David Daroff: (1925-2001)
by Elisa Berman – age 15

Appreciated Words

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Appreciated Words

by Christina Marples – age 15

Famous authors may pretend to know how lucky they are, but do they really? Do they understand the desperate desires of others, like myself, who just want other people to read the words that were strung together so delicately by themselves? They can’t understand. Not anymore. Their ability to do that ended a long time ago. It ended that moment when a person walked into a bookshop and bought their book. That person was willing to read that author’s delicately strung together words and yet it is possible that the person who first bought the book did not appreciate just where that story came from. But one day someone did.

There’s always a little ‘bookworm’ amongst groups of people. There are the screaming three-year-olds with the one in the corner who could be seen reading an early edition of ‘Cinderella’. Or the boy-struck teenage girls with one who reads ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at slumber parties. It’s one of these odd ones who grew to notice books in a very different way.

The girl, of whom I speak, shall remain nameless for a name would be unnecessary. From a very young age the girl had loved stories. The number of places she could visit in her mind, when a story was read to her was what she loved. A Queen’s castle; a house that never existed; a meadow full of prancing ponies. The number of journeys she could experience when a story was read to her increased her love for them more. Through a wardrobe; flying on a broomstick or even meeting wolves. But all of these things, and more, increased when she read a story to herself.

And so the girl read. And she read…and she read. Her collections of children’s stories became somewhat amazingly close to the collections in large libraries and it wasn’t until the age of twelve that the girl’s love for ‘children’s stories’ started to cease. Thicker volumes began to appear on her bedroom shelves until they groaned under the weight. All of these were read several times until the pages were slightly frayed and the spines becoming detached. They were read at school, in the park or at any available opportunity or in any place that provided a place to sit.

Reading soon became one of the girl’s favorite things to do but, even after reading the hundreds of books she had done already, she felt there was something missing. She enjoyed them enough but still something was missing – still missing…

The girl entered her third year at High School and couldn’t help but give in to the spark that disturbed her mind about her future. All teachers talked about were future careers. What would she do? ‘Play to your strengths’…She had read that in a book. In fact, it was the very book that finally helped to explain that ‘missing something’.

Her mother had come home one day with a book. The girl had heard of it before but had never really considered reading it until she skimmed the first line, on the very first page. The words were so simple and yet the moment she had read them, something had awoken in the back of her mind. The story was by far the best she had ever read in her life and from those few words at the start right to the last line, she had been hooked. It was a genre she had had very brief encounters with but to this day, she doesn’t tend to read anything else – except fantasy stories. There was something about them that compelled her imagination and sent her plunging into the minds of the authors. The book her mother had come home with had been no exception.

She learned great many things from that book. It had taught her that there was an awful lot more to reading stories and it was at this point that she stopped to consider the writing. She lay in bed one night reading that book when she stopped and thought just how much effort the author had put into this story. Books came from inside people’s minds, didn’t they? So when you’re reading a book you must be…sort of reading a person’s thoughts and feelings. It was this idea that she clung to with every story that she ever read and she knew she’d never forget it and knew if it hadn’t been for that book her mother had brought home she would never have even thought of it.

The girl almost felt as if she wanted to thank the clever woman who had written that story (and the ones that followed). To thank her for helping the girl to understand the meaning of writing and why exactly people did it. She knew what her ambition would be. To write a book. To write her very own story that came from inside her own head and that other people everywhere would read.

So there was a person who understood the ‘delicately strung together words’ written by people all over the world and who knows, maybe there are others. However, the girl never forgot what she’d learned from books and I know this for a fact. I know this for a fact because the girl was me. One day you will read a book with my name on the front and you too can try and learn exactly what books are about – in exactly the same way I did.

The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors

Best-selling writers including John Green and Veronica Roth share their strategies for crafting authentic, relatable teen characters — even in fantasy worlds.

Young-adult fiction, commonly called “YA fiction,” has exploded over the past decade or so: The number of YA titles published grew more than 120 percent between 2002 and 2012, and other estimates say that between 1997 and 2009, that figure was closer to 900 percent. Ask a handful of young-adult fiction writers what exactly makes a YA novel, though, and you’ll get a handful of conflicting answers.

… read the rest of the article.

Mud Pies

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Mud Pies

For the Beginning Children’s Writer

by Teraisa J. Goldman

There is something magical about writing fiction stories for children. When you write, you are transformed into a child again, and you hear your own words as if for the first time — as a child would.

The first time I tried to write a child’s story, I sat at my computer desk waiting. I waited. Waited for something to hit me. How hard could it be, after all? It’s just a child’s story. When the story never came on its own, I forced one. It took about ten minutes. I hurried it out to the mail, just in time for the carrier to whisk it away… to rejection. I don’t think

I ever received a faster reply to any of my writing!

I wasn’t given a specific reason for the rejection; they weren’t interested.

Why not? “Writer’s Digest” had them listed as one of the top fifty markets to place fiction. I had a history of published articles, so why wouldn’t they want this story? I consulted with the experts.

My three kids were tucked into bed.

“How ’bout a story?” I asked.

“Yes!” they shouted.

“Once upon a time…” I read the entire story.

“Guess what?”

“What?” Again, in unison.

“Mommy wrote that story.”

“Oh,” said the oldest, “That’s great.”

“Would you like me to tell you another one?”

“No, thanks, mom.” The middle child answered for them.

I didn’t force the issue. They rolled over to sleep, maybe to dream of better dreams than I could write.

The following night, determined to find out what makes a good story, I asked my kids what they really love in the stories we read to them.

Princesses!” cried the middle child.

“I like the stories that are fantasy-like,” the oldest offered.

“Are dreams okay?” I ask.

“Yes, but not the obvious kind. Just slip into it.” Wise for her years, do you think?

The baby said nothing; we know she enjoys pure nonsense. Anything silly makes her squeal with delight.

They allowed me one more chance at storytelling. I promised to read them not one, but two books, if they didn’t like the new story.

Adhering to their advice, I came up with this story:


“When I Can’t Sleep”

Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep…
And I’ve tried counting sheep,
I close my eyes and become very still
And with all my will
As I lay in my bed
I suddenly see strange things in my head.

What if I, adorned all in white, littered in jewels
Was a queen or a king – delivering rules
And when broken, the punishment would
Be to sing
To me, the queen or the king?

And isn’t it odd that I am in a bath
Flowing with bubbles, making myself
Laugh
Because I am soaked from my head
To my toes
As well as my clothes
Surrounded by singing fish in the tub –
And a whale
Isn’t that swell?

Next thing I know, I am singing on stage
Accompanied by a bird in a cage
One that did not “coo” but actually
He could sing, too.

Then, all at once, we stopped all the singing
And looked at the light shining
So bright
Have to quickly close and rub my eyes
Until I dare open them up
Surprise!

I am in my bed
The night is gone, it is morning instead.

This may not be the story you had in mind for a book or a magazine. That’s the point! It wasn’t in my mind either, but it is what the children seem to enjoy. We can’t talk down to them, we can’t talk above their heads; we have to talk with them. We have to be as they are, see what they see, and dream what they dream.

For instance, have you ever taken a child that has waken from a bad dream, talked to them, and discover their sense of scariness is borderline hysterical, or that you wish when you had a bad dream, it was like theirs?

Kids are different than adults. They think differently, and each age or stage of development seems to be totally different from another.

Next time you decide to tackle a child’s story, get down on the floor and watch, listen, hear, and play with them. You’ll be glad you did, as you open your acceptance letter.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Published?

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

What Are Your Chances of Getting Published?

by Laura BackesWriteForKids.org

Most beginning children’s writers are curious about their chances of ever seeing their work in print. Editors have told me that a mid- to large-sized publishing house gets upwards of 5000 unsolicited submissions a year. About 95% are rejected right off the bat (most get form letters, a few promising authors get personalized notes stating why the manuscript was rejected). Of the 5% left, some are queries for which the editors request entire manuscripts. Others are manuscripts submitted in their entirety, and these go on to the next stage of the acquisitions process (get passed around the editorial department, presented at editorial meetings, perhaps looked at by sales staff to get a sense of the market for the book). The end result is that 1-2% of unsolicited submissions are actually purchased for publication.

But, you ask, if so few manuscripts are bought from the slush pile, why are so many new books are published each year? The unsolicited “slush” comes from authors the editors have never worked with before: new writers and those who don’t have agents. Experienced writers and those who have already published with that house make up the rest of the list.

Before you trash your computer and take up knitting, let’s put this all in perspective. Most manuscripts are rejected because they’re just plain bad. The stories are trite, the characters wooden, the endings predictable. The plots may smack of didacticism or patronize the young reader. Authors who don’t understand the basic rules of grammar or who can’t send a properly formatted manuscript won’t get a close look. Those who submit their work to every publisher listed in Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market instead of taking the time to target publishers appropriate for their work add substantially to the glut of publishers’ mail (and the eventual banning of unsolicited submissions by some houses).

If you take the time to learn how to write a strong story with multifaceted characters, your manuscript will rise to the top. If you study the age group for which you want to write, and keep the length and content appropriate for your audience, your work will stand out. If you watch the current market and find a niche you can fill, an editor is more likely to give you careful consideration.

One more point: General fiction is the most competitive genre in any age group of children’s books. It’s also the most subjective, meaning your manuscript has to appeal to exactly the right editor. If you have any interest in nonfiction and can approach a topic in a unique, entertaining way, you’ll be a bigger fish in a much smaller pond. Or, try narrowing your niche so your work stands out from the ocean of fiction: write historical fiction for beginning readers, funny mysteries for middle grades, science fiction for young adults. Stretching your writing beyond general fiction will give you a “hook” and also help you zero in on publishers who want exactly what you’ve got.

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Copyright 2002, Children’s Book Insider, LLC

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