Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Maggie Project

The Maggie Project (but not the blog) has come to a close.  I’ve achieved my goal:  I’ve submitted my picture book manuscript to 30 publishers and 15 agents, and I’ve entered it into five contests.  Though I’ve received rejections, the book has earned 3 awards and has earned positive feedback. 

Here’s the lesson.  Fiction is subjective.  It’s a personal taste whether an agent or an editor is going to like it or not.  I believe however, that writing and submitting Maggie and the First Grade Blues has not been a waste of time.  It’s helped me to improve my writing (character, voice, and plot) and to get in touch with agents I feel that one day may offer me representation.   It's helped me plant a stepping stone along the path to publication. 

I will continue to blog:  offering writing advice, reviewing books, giving details of my writing life, and sponsoring guest blogs.  I hope you will continue to follow and contribute.  The blog may be re-named.  Stay posted!  My sincere thanks goes out to all of my supporters.  I urge you all to continue to write, to submit to publishers even in the face of rejection, and to forever follow your dreams. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writer's News

photo by Lucas
Maggie and the First Grade Blues has been sent to thirty editors and fifteen agents. Though I've received positive comments and feedback, I've yet to find an interested editor or agent.  Here are the latest results:

I received no word from Sterling or KRBY creations.  Dancing with Bears Publishing editor sent me an email saying that the call for picture books is temporarily closed due to an enormous amount of submissions. 

I had little success with agents.  I received no reply from Paul Rodeen or from Jessica Sinsheimer from Writeoncon.  However, Red Fox Literary agent Karen Grencik sent a very nice email saying:

"I've now had the chance to read this outstanding manuscript, which I enjoyed very much. I can see why it has won so many awards. It is fresh, heartfelt, and it covers an important topic. It is the picture book you were meant to write."  She goes on to say that "The picture book market is so incredibly difficult right now. I don't know who would be the right editor for this; I must pass.” 

Her feedback, as well as encouraging comments from others, is rare and precious.  Nonetheless, I must put Maggie on the back burner.  I have written another picture book that I feel more passionate about and will focus my efforts on this project.  Please stay tuned for more on this new project and on the future direction of this blog. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sounds of Silence

You write an article, submit it to an editor, wait two to three months, and then...never receive a reply.  Has this ever happened to you?

As a writer, I make every attempt to pitch my articles professionally. Most of the time, I’ve been blessed with acceptances.  But occasionally, I get no response, not a word from an editor.  Oh, the silent rejection.  Granted, many editors have adopted the policy that no word means no thank you.  But I can’t help but wonder—Did an editor actually read my submission or is my submission lost in cyber-space?    

From the SCBWI Bulletin:
SCBWI President Stephen Mooser and Executive Director Lin Oliver feel that “Surely in this age of auto-response and other electronically sophisticated means, a quick and easy response click is readily available and would mean a great deal to writers who are trying to conduct their careers in a businesslike way.”

At least, I’m not alone.  Other (more important) people feel the way I do when it comes to responding to a submission.

After the waiting period, it is acceptable to send a follow-up letter to inquire about the submission.  Recently, I did just that.  In fact, an editor replied that my work was being considering for publication.  But a few more months passed.  No response.      

Writers must face the cold, hard facts: 
No word after the standard 2 - 3 months  = (usually in most cases) rejection.   

But don't let that discourage you.  Find other markets.  Keep submitting.  Persevere.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Waiting Game

You submitted an article to a children’s magazine. You’ve waited a month and no reply.  But you’re dying of curiosity.  Did the editor receive your submission?  If so, does she like it?  What is taking her so long to make a publication decision?

It can take up to five months before an author receives word of an acceptance at Stories for Children While other publications state in their guidelines that reviewing submissions take eight to twelve weeks, notification can drag on for a longer period of time if the work is being seriously considered for publication.  And again, we’re talking months.

Waiting to hear back from an editor can be agonizing.  What can you do?  Re-read the contributor’s guidelines.  Sometimes, an editor will modify them throughout the year.  The publishing house may have changed their submission policy.  However, if you have waited the specified amount of time as indicated, I would encourage you to send a follow-up email.  Keep the message short and mention the title and the date of your submission.  Politely ask the editor if she’s made a decision on your manuscript.

Here are some things you can do during the waiting period:
Start a new article.
Catch up on reading writer's magazines and newsletters.
Write posts for your blog.
Read books on the craft of writing.
Work on a piece for a writing contest.

Writers must be patient.  Waiting is part of the writing life.  Stay positive and stay busy as you play the waiting game.     

Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing in Rhyme

Karen Cioffi's bedtime picture book, Day’s End Lullaby, is based entirely on a rhyming poem/song that she wrote when her first born was about a year old.  Her baby had trouble sleeping, so Karen made up lyrics which were soothing and flowing—and rhyming so that it would hold her baby's attention and help lull her to sleep. It’s begins:
“Now it’s time to close your eyes my dear.
Beside you lies your favorie bear.
The sun has set; it’s out of view.
The moon’s now shining bright for you.”

While she admits she's not a rhyming expert, the poem/lullaby does the trick. It really does sooth little ones and helps them settle down for sleep.

Karen's advice on writing rhyming books:
Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words. This can begin as early as two-years old: cat-hat, mouse-house, poopie-boobie  (you get the idea.) But, to write a rhyming story—a well written rhyming story—is difficult.  You need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are:

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the formatting of grouped lines)
Sound (rhyme/patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:
Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

There are also many other bits and pieces related to writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds it all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

According to the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

Karen Cioffi is a published author, ghostwriter, and editor. 
You can find out more about Karen and her books at: (author site) (writing and marketing information and services) (Day’s End Lullaby information and reviews) (middle-grade fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls)

Karen’s newsletter, A Writer’s World, offers useful writing and book marketing information and strategies. Subscribe today and get two e-books on writing and/or marketing.

You can find out more about Karen Cioffi’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at
There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Karen and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

 In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Karen Cioffi about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Karen will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 21, 2011 at 2pm EST.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Glimmer of Goodness

It doesn’t take much
to bring a writer down:
a rejection,
no response to a follow-up,
few markets to pitch a nicely-written piece.

At times, the world of writing seems grim.

And yet, through it all
a writer emails you
an image,
(no words)
just an image of candles
burning so brilliantly you can almost
feel the warmth of the glow—
a  heartfelt Diwali greeting,

or, another writer sends a comment:
she likes your latest post
(the one you spent hours
getting the words down
just right).

No doubt, there are days when the writing world is grim
yet sometimes, sometimes, a glimmer of goodness
shines down, spreads its warmth
when you least expect it,
when you need it the most.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Entering Contests

Maggie and the First Grade Blues has won three picture book awards.  That said, you’d think I’d have editors knocking down my door to publish my book.  Not so.  It takes more than winning writing contests to get a picture book published—it takes a lot of love.

This is what I recently discovered after attending Editor’s Day in Lexington, Kentucky and WriteOnCon online.  An editor has got to go gaga about a book if she wants to publish it.  She’s got to love it so much it pierces her heart.  It’s the kind of love that impels her to gush about it to everyone she knows.  If she is not passionate about it, she won’t recommend it to the acquisitions team, no matter how many awards it’s won.

At first, I felt discouraged.  Why bother to enter contests if a manuscript fails to interest editors?  But then I realized there are many advantages.  Here are a few benefits to entering contests:  

Offers writers a challenge
Encourages writers to create an outstanding piece
Puts a writer’s work before a judge
Requires a writer to follow the guidelines
Can build a writer’s resume

These five benefits may prepare you before submitting your work to editors.  So what are you waiting for? 

Look online or in writer’s magazines for a listing of contests.  Search for a contest that charges a small fee, something like twenty-five dollars or less. Find a contest with a deadline that is far enough in advance so that it allows you time to perfect your work.  Then, go to it.  Strive to write an  exceptional piece or edit another one you have in the works.  Have a trusted friend read your work to guarantee it is free of grammar mistakes.  Double check those contest guidelines. Submit your entry. 

Consider submitting to more than one contest.  Enter the same manuscript or create a different piece.  Regardless of the result, know that you’ve accomplished an important goal that will help you in the future.  One day your manuscript just may capture an award and quite possibly, capture the heart of an editor.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Writer's News


photo by Lucas 


It's been a little over a year since I first began submitting Maggie and the First Grade Blues. Here is the update on my picture book submissions:

I submitted to Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Peachtree, Chronicle, Star Bright Books, and Harcourt Children’s Books.  After the standard three month waiting period, I received no word and conclude that these publishers have passed on my book.  Kira Lynn with Editorial Department of Kane Miller responded that my picture book was not right for their list. However, Maggie Lehrman with Abrams Books liked the voice, but felt that the market was crowded with school stories. 

As for agents, I received no reply from Sanford J. Greenburger and Mark McVeigh.  On the other hand, Marietta B. Zacker with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency sent a kind, personal note:  [This is] “ an endearing story with a fabulous message, but admittedly, I didn't quite connect with Maggie the way I know you need me to.” Emily van Beek with Folio also sent a kind, personal note.

Recently, I submitted to Paul Rodeen Management.  I also submitted to Jessica Sinsheimer with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, who encouraged me that she’d take a look at my picture book.  I’ve also submitted to Sterling Publishing Company and KRBY creations.  These last four bring me to my goal—30 publishers and 15 agents.  I will report on the outcome in a few months.  In the meantime, I am writing a new picture book, editing another picture book, and researching topics for nonfiction articles.  But I will keep my eyes open for other opportunities for submitting Maggie and the First Grades Blues

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tips for Writing Picture Books

Today, Maha shares suggestions for writing a picture book.  Her tips are intended for self-publishing.  Keep in mind that traditional publishers usually don't require illustration notes or page breaks.

Word count
First thing I learned is that picture books are 500-1000 words, 30 pages long. Remember that the 30 pages include the title, dedication, and the copyright pages, which leaves you with only 28 pages.

Illustrations and description
When you write a story, you would think you need to describe your scene in detail. Not so in picture books. The illustrations describe the scene. I deleted a lot of description before the illustrations, but when the illustrations arrived, I found out that I could delete even more. When I wrote my second and third stories (not published yet), I took that into account from the very beginning. What I did was to keep the description between brackets for the illustrator's benefit. This will give the illustrator an idea of how I want the scene to appear. I made another copy without the descriptions to keep count of the words.

Make a dummy
I made a dummy of my book, When Monsters Get Lonely, by adding the illustrations to the text, exactly where I wanted them to appear in a word document. I then clicked on view > full screen reading to render it in book form. I made sure the page turns left the reader wondering what’s coming next. This is the way I sent my book to the publisher to show them exactly where I wanted the text in relation to the illustrations.

Word choice
I struggled with word choice because I’m not used to writing for kids. I tried to make my words as simple as I could. This was not easy, because the idea I was trying to convey in When Monsters Get Lonely is not simple. In the end, I felt that my words were descriptive and sensory enough to engage a child. Parents will read a book if they like its theme.

Read it out loud
One of the tips I read when I was writing my book was to read it aloud, and I did do that not only to myself, but to my husband and my sister-in-law. It helps you get an idea of how it will sound to the kids.

Plot and theme
All good books must have a climax and resolution. I’m afraid that my editor gave me a really poor critique, which was an education to me. I rewrote my story and revised my plot to include the all important climax and resolution. It didn’t change what Grams wanted to teach Hannah, but it handed Hannah a way to find the solution herself. Hence, Grams didn’t sound like she was preaching and it made for a much more interesting story.
The main character must have strong traits and resolve the problem. By resolving her own problems, Hannah’s character naturally developed and emerged as a strong and intelligent child despite her fear.

Maha Huneidi says she learned quite a lot when she wrote and self-published When Monsters Get Lonely. She thinks you can learn from the mistakes she made and corrected along the way.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing Opportunities

Sometimes when you least expect it, a writing opportunity may present itself.  Because I volunteer at Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, several employees know that I’m a writer.  Recently, the education coordinator asked for my help.  In a few weeks, the Arboretum will be sponsoring the annual fall festival.  Volunteers will dress up as woodland creatures and plants and greet young children.  They will give short talks that describe who they are and what they contribute.

My job was to spruce up the old scripts of a deer, a spider, a sunflower, a skunk, and a tree.  The education coordinator envisioned livelier speeches. She wanted the scripts written in first person and kept to 300 words.  Then the rest was up to me. 

I decided that each script should have a hook, which would create interest and engage the audience.  Though I had a restricted word count, I still wanted to make sure that I had a beginning, a middle, and an ending.  (My nonfiction writing has taught me well).  I conducted a little more research, added it to the passages, and rearranged the order of paragraphs for clarity.  Lastly, as with any nonfiction writing, I tied the ending to the beginning.  Beforehand, these pieces ended abruptly.  With the new endings, the speeches had a more satisfying conclusion.

I suppose the biggest challenge was getting inside the heads of the animals and plants—come on, what would a tree think and say?  But actually, it was quite fun.  In fact, my tree had a bit of an attitude.

It's nice taking a break from writing nonfiction articles and picture books and trying something different.  Maybe you'll have an opportunity to attempt something new, too.  But you might ask: What’s in it for me when I share my writing talent with others?  Perhaps you’ll find it offers you practice and inspiration.  Maybe it will lead to another assignment.  It's a given it'll showcase your skills and quite possibly, help to get your name better known.  For me, writing these scripts fueled my imagination and made me feel good about helping a worthwhile organization.  How about you?  Are you willing to help others with your writing talent?  Are you willing to take advantage of the writing opportunities that may come your way?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Rewards of Volunteering

Kentucky Children's Garden
Nature Center in the Children's Garden

I volunteer at the Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky.  My “job” is to read picture books in the Children's Garden.  My “work place” is inside the Nature Center—a breezy, three-sided cozy structure.  The entrance is flanked by Greek Doric columns.  The side yard contains barrels brimming with scarlet and purple flowers.  Nearby, two raised vegetable gardens are teeming with tomatoes and peppers, lavender and sage.     

Map of the Children's Garden at the Arboretum

My guests arrive: in strollers, hand in hand with moms, or carried by dads.  Ashley, the education coordinator, hands me Frog and Toad Are Friends.  Before I begin to read, I give a short discussion on the differences between frogs and toads.  Then I read two chapters from the book—the average age of the children is about two or three years old so we're talking short attention span.   

Halfway into the reading, several young toddlers are distracted.  They want to explore the waterwheel, chat with other children, and touch the glass cages containing caterpillars.  Nonetheless I read on, trying to emphasis my words, trying to add as much drama as I possibly can to entice the children to listen. 

But others huddle close, their eyes fixed on me and on the pages of the book.  Some want to help turn the pages, while others lean their heads on my shoulder.  In a small way, I’m connecting with them.  Story time becomes  meaningful.    
What do I get out of it?  On a professional level, I like to think that this experience is preparing me for the day when I’ll read my very own picture book to a small group of children.  But I don’t focus on the future.  For now, I spread burlap bags for seating.  I sit upon a bale of hay and read a classic picture book.  And afterward, I receive smiles and thank-yous.  I receive parental requests: “When will you be reading in the garden again?”  I receive hugs from the tiniest members of my audience.  It touches my heart to share books at the arboretum.  What more can a story-time reader ask for?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Value of Critiques

This past June, I attended Editor’s Day in Lexington, Kentucky.  Registrants could submit an entire picture book for a critique by Abrams Books Editor Maggie Lehrman.  Since Maggie and the First Grade Blues had won several awards, I submitted In Search of Awe. 

On the positive side, Ms. Lehrman liked the language and the descriptions.  She mentioned that I had a real knack for details that infuse a landscape with character.  However, she thought that the story was too quiet and nostalgic and that the plot was too subtle and interior for young readers.  She wanted to know more about my main character so that readers will invest in the story.

Overall, she thought that the story could serve as a scene in a lyrical middle grade novel.  She challenged me to edit the piece for an older audience.  I have great respect for Ms. Lehrman's  opinion.   Looks like I have lots to think about in terms of developing plot and character should I follow through on her advice.       

Here’s my thought on critiques:  If you have the chance to go to a writer’s conference and submit a manuscript for a critique, do so.  Usually, only a limited number of manuscripts can be accepted, so be mindful of the critique deadline.  It usually costs less than fifty dollars, but it is well worth the fee. 

You will most likely receive positive comments on your work as well as criticism on the elements that require improvement.  In addition, you may be offered suggestions on character development, plot, language, voice, and marketability. Most of all, you’ll gain insight into what an editor looks for in a manuscript.  If you take the advice and follow the “inside tips,” you just may create a manuscript worthy of an editor’s attention.    

Monday, September 5, 2011

Writing Tips from Fiona Ingram

Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others—the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my book because I visited Egypt with my two nephews and wanted to write a short story to help them remember a special time. To my surprise, the short story turned into a book, and then a book series. So, you never know what’s going to happen once you begin!

Any good story is composed of two important elements: a really gripping plot and realistic, believable characters.

·      How to Choose a Great Story Topic:
Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.

·      How to Construct your Storyline:
Structure is very important, otherwise your story will fall to pieces. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …?); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points, you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next.

·      Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible:
Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.

·      The Hard Part:
If you love what you’re writing about and you trust your imagination, then writing will be as fun and exciting as you can imagine. However, two important elements must never be forgotten: research and grammar.

Research will be necessary whether your story is set in the real world, or if it’s an imaginary, fantasy, or sci-fi land. Make notes before and during your writing process. Your heroes are likely to be around your audience's ages, so think about how they are going to get places and achieve things. If they are travelling, are they alone (not likely) and will they need assistance (possibly)? If they are in a foreign country, then make sure your facts are accurate. How did they get there, who are they with, and how are they going to accomplish their task/challenge? If it’s a fantasy setting, then make sure you don’t lose track of your characters and the various places and items found in your fantasy world. Make your own research notes relevant to your fantasy land.

Grammar is very important, otherwise your readers will never get through the first few pages. Make sure you use your spelling and grammar check on your computer (if you’re using one) and your dictionary and style guide (if you’re writing by hand).

A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed of.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Advice on Advice

Let’s say you’ve posed a question to an online forum about submitting to an editor.  How do you handle the advice?  Do you follow the suggestion?   Or do you question the advice? 

Recently, I read a question concerning how a writer should go about getting the attention of a publisher.  Though it was posted on a respectable writing forum, one piece of advice shocked me.  Someone suggested that the writer should forget sending a query and try to “stand out” by sending the publisher freshly baked cookies.  Little did the advisor know that most editors think that sending "gifts" will make you stand out—in a negative way. Luckily, another person responded with sound advice: join SCBWI and attend conferences to learn how to approach publishers more professionally.

There’s a lot of advice to be had on the Internet.  Your job is to filter out the bad advice and find the good advice.  Iyou ask a question on a writing forum, read all of the replies.  Find the reply that best speaks to your heart.  But how can you be sure when there are many differences of opinion? Join SCBWI and attend conferences, as mentioned above.  Join a critique group or take a writing class and approach the attendees with your questions.  Read many books on the art of writing for children.  Read books on how to market your work.  Once you have a feel for what is expected of an author, you’ll have a better understanding of how you should approach a publisher, and with luck, stand out.

From time to time, I’ve sought answers to questions that were not available in books.  So I’ve asked published authors questions online and they’ve usually answered me promptly with great suggestions.  Other times I’ve attended conferences, where I can ask agents and publishers questions face to face.  I can trust these sources.  As for online writing forums, you may not know if the responder is truly creditable.  So with that in mind, I caution you to be careful of the advice that you seek.  You know the phrase:  Buyer, beware.  Here’s another: Writer, be wary.

Here are some books with tips for making your submission stand out:      
How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Picture Books, by Jean Karl
Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul
Book Markets for Children’s Writers, edited by Marni McNiff
Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market, edited by Alice Pope

Monday, August 22, 2011

Avoiding Rejection

I hate delivering rejections.  I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.  But last week, I had to reject two pieces.  The first submission was a short article for 7 – 9 year olds.  The second was a personal essay.   

Our magazine guidelines state that the word count for 7 – 9 year olds should run 400 – 800 words.  The writer had not achieved the correct word count that we require.  In addition, the concept and language were too advanced for young children.

The second submission was a first person narrative.  Most nonfiction articles that we publish are written in 3rd person or in some cases, 2nd person.  Though well-written, we simply don’t publish these kinds of pieces.  

All is not lost however, for the two writers whose articles were rejected.  My assistant and I offered them advice in terms of editing and marketing their work.  But what two things could they have done to have avoided rejection?  I have two suggestions:  follow our contributor guidelines and read a few published pieces from our magazine. 

By studying the guidelines, these writers would have known exactly what we expect from our contributors (topics, formatting, word count, etc.)  By reading a few sample articles, they would have gotten a feel for the voice and tone of our published pieces. 

There is no guarantee these two suggestions will garner an acceptance.  Every editor has her own likes and dislikes.  But when writers follow the guidelines and read sample copies, they can reduce the chances of getting a rejection.  Writers will be better equipped to offer an editor an article that she's more likely to publish.     



Monday, August 8, 2011

Helpful Tips on Writing from author Tal Yanai

After seventeen years of studying and practicing spirituality, I decided to write my first book, a short spiritual guide for the road of life. In my head, I had clear sets of thoughts and ideas I wanted to share. However, the first attempt to put them into a book created a stack of papers resembling anything but a well organized book anyone would be interested in reading. It was then that I realized there is much more to writing a book than few good ideas.

Let more than one person edit your book

You need an editor for grammar and such, but it’s a good idea to let someone with knowledge on the subject matter read it, too. When a reviewer would ask me what I meant when I wrote this or that sentence, I knew I had to do a better job conveying the message because others would ask the same questions. This give and take with people that I trusted greatly improved the clarity and quality of my writing.

Know who you are writing for
Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store started as a spiritual guide for all ages. However, as the project moved forward, reaching teens became the main purpose of the book. It meant I had to go back and change some of the writing. I had to think in terms of what issues teens deal with or are bothered by. I also had to change the examples I used in the book to fit their environment and talk about things such as peer pressure and challenges teens may face in school. Changing the target audience during the writing was the right decision, but a time consuming one, too.
Always take notes when you have new ideas
Over the years you may have had many inspiring ideas crossing your mind, but for different reasons you let them go. You will do yourself a big favor by starting to write them down as they come to you. Those are the seeds of your writing and the gifts the universe has sent to you. Always have something you can write with. Later on you will have time to develop it further.

You are the most original part of your book, so show it

Whatever subject you write on, and whatever story you tell, most likely it has been told before in one way or another. What makes your book unique is your prospective, your personality. Be passionate; let the readers see your version of something they heard about before. For example, when you read Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store, you’ll feel that the book was written as a personal journey coming from the heart. It is so because I decided to connect with the readers on that level.

Finally, have fun writing

It takes time and money to publish a book, and it’s not always easy to remember, but going through the process means you are realizing a dream. Look around you.  How many people are actually doing that? Very few, if any at all. It is of no use at all to be sitting there twenty years from now telling anyone who is willing to listen that you once wrote a book. Live in the present and enjoy the moment!

In a nutshell, one of the main topics in Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store is learning to enjoy life without causing pain to ourselves and others. The book explores the idea of living a joyful life by connecting to a higher power and finding a more meaningful purpose for life. By changing one’s prospective of life, one can walk on the road that leads to an emotional and spiritual freedom. Realizing that, you will see that living even a small dream is a step in the right direction.

About Tal Yanai
At the age of twenty-three, Tal Yanai moved to the Los Angeles where he found solace in a higher power and started on a spiritual path.  It led him to align himself with his soul’s essence and mission. Since that time (1993), he wanted to share his story with young people, hoping it will give them the tools necessary to overcome the pain and frustration they may experience.
Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store

Tal Yanai's book Life Is Not a Candy Store: It's the Way to the Candy Store is a spiritual guide for teens. It is an introduction to basic spiritual principles that can help teenagers deal with daily issues they may face. Too many fine young people end up hurting themselves and others close to them when they are unable to resolve situations involving anger and frustration. This book gives teens who feel trapped the tools to let go of the anger and overcome difficulties.

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