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Saturday, May 4, 2013

What I've Been Reading

Confession: Sometimes I am afraid to read books that tell you How to Write in fear that I'll find out that I am doing it all wrong.

Really.  It's true.

But I was browsing in Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago (yes, people still browse for books in a bookstore!  It still happens!  Please save our brick and mortar stores!) and I stumbled upon HOW TO WRITE IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT by Mary Kole.  Mary Kole is a literary agent who runs a blog called which I enjoy reading.  I remember when her book came out, thinking that I might check it out, but I was a little scared--what if I found out that my method for writing children's literature is all messed up?  (Okay, really I am not this insecure about my writing all the time, but I have my weak moments.  And right now, I can't afford weak moments.  Weak moments usually involve a pity party with some form of chocolate, or maybe french fries, and walking around my house in a my-writing-stinks funk.  I am beginning some new projects and funks can kill a project dead.  Like BANG! POW! YOU ARE DEAD, NEW PROJECT!)

So, with trepidation, I put down my bag, sat on the Barnes and Noble carpet, and cracked open Mary's book to give it a test run.

Three pages in (and a quick thumb-through), I stood up, picked up my bag, and shelled out the $19.99 cover price.  (Yes, I probably could have ordered it on-line and saved some money, but I had to have it right THEN!  Also, see above^ Save our brick and mortar stores!)

I don't want to tell you too much about her approach, for I think you need to read it for yourself, but I will tell you that she does two things that I really, really liked:

1.  She gives the opinions of other editors and agents about what they find compelling in children's literature.

2.  She gives examples from real, actual children's books which reinforce what she is talking about.

In other words, she tells you what is important, she tells you why it is important, then she gives you some great excerpts, as well as suggested readings.

Well done, Mary!  YOUR book is irresistible, too!
I think this is a great book for writers who are just now discovering the desire to write for children as well as folks like me, who have written for kids for YEARS, but want to examine their own methods and delve deeper into their craft.

Highly recommend.



Natalie Aguirre said...

I interviewed Mary when her book came out but haven't had time to read it yet. Thanks for reminding me I need to .

Caroline Starr Rose said...

It's on my shelf! I need to crack it open.

Kelly Polark said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, Shelley. Always looking ways to help me hone my writing.

Julie Dao said...

I saw this exact same book when I was browsing at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago!!! Thanks for the recommendation, Shelley!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I trust you and like Mary Kole's blog, too. *goes off to buy book*