Writing Novels

Some writers don’t know what’s going to happen next when they sit down at their computers.  Others follow their outlines religiously.  Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Disc World books, compared his process of writing novels to wood carving on his website: You find the lump of tree (the big central theme that gets you … More Writing Novels

The Call

While acceptances from children’s magazines usually come through the mail, acceptances from publishers usually come in the form of a phone call from the editor or the author’s agent.  Struggling writers often wonder if they’re ever going to make it to that point.  Eight writers from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency have joined together to start … More The Call

The Missouri Mentorship

I don’t remember how I heard about the Missouri Mentorship for the first time.  It could have been a mass email.  Or the announcement could have just come in an article for MO SCRIBBLES, Missouri’s newsletter for the local chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).  But when I found out about the opportunity … More The Missouri Mentorship


Sometimes books are challenged in libraries.  There might be a word, phrase, character or situation that people object to. But one parent really took objections to the next level when he paged through a book by Dan Gutman.  Mr. Gutman wrote about this surprising correspondence in an article for School Library Journal. (Note: Link updated.)  His experience … More Self-censorship?


I spent last weekend at a revision retreat sponsored by the Missouri SCBWI (Society of Book Writers and Illustrators) at the YMCA’s Trout Lodge.  Randi Rivers of Charlesbridge was the guest editor.  An incredibly nice aspect of this retreat was that she met with each participant twice.  Writers sent in a manuscript back in February. Randi … More Retreat!

Writers of Oxford

Fuse#8  posted 26-30  in her Top 100 children’s novels.   THE DARK IS RISING was on the list.  When I found out that Susan Cooper had attended lectures by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, I thought briefly back to the ghost tour of Oxford that I’d taken back in 2001. A few books later, ALICE IN WONDERLAND popped up.  Lewis Carroll was … More Writers of Oxford

Climbing Stairs

Katrin, my current main character, needed to race up to the fourth floor.  I’ve run up flights of stairs any number of times, including the time that my daughter and I went on what we called the Chicago diet.  (Climb up and down the 2o flights of stairs to our hotel room and eat absolutely … More Climbing Stairs

A Ruth McNally Barshaw Original

During the first weekend of October, the Michigan SCBWI put together a lovely conference at the Yarrow Golf Course near Augusta, Michigan with a number of talented speakers from the children’s publishing world.  I noticed that  several other participants had specially decorated nametags, and I recognized the artwork.  It came from the distinctive pen of Ruth … More A Ruth McNally Barshaw Original