Tuesday, November 18, 2008

That's Punny: Part II (Sorry!)

Here's part II if you can stand it!

  • Never lie to an x-ray technician. They can see right through you.
  • With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
  • When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
  • Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.
  • You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.
  • He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.
  • A calendar’s days are numbered.
  • A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  • If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
  • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
  • A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.
  • Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  • We were so poor when I was growing up we couldn't even afford to pay attention.
  • It was an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.
  • He bent over to pick up a sieve and strained himself
  • The professor discovered that his theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.
  • The dead batteries were given out free of charge.
  • If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.
  • A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.
  • A will is a dead giveaway.
  • Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
And this one describes ME:
  • She had a photographic memory which was never developed.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jelly Fingerprints

Most children's authors are not famous. I'll say it again; most children's authors are NOT famous. For every well-known children's book author, I'm guessing there are probably a thousand wonderful authors who will never make those big bucks or see a media frenzy with each new book release.

If you are an aspiring children's writer, or even a published one, does that information bother you? Come on. Be honest. Does it bother you even a teeny, tiny bit? It's OK if it does. After all, what children's writer wouldn't want to have beautiful books published that are loved by children around the world, and make tons of $$$$$ doing it? There's nothing wrong with that, but money should never be the motive for a children's author. If it is, I believe that author will lose his or her focus. What's our focus? Reaching children.

Those persistent, marvelously talented, yet unknown authors do have books published---books that often go out of print after the first print run, never to be seen in a bookstore again. "So why try?" you ask. "What's the point if my book is a flash in the pan?" For what it's worth, here's my answer---

Never forget that the end of a print run
doesn't mean the end of the story.
Those books can live on in the hearts and minds
of the children who cherish them.

Those are the children who may grow up to be avid readers. The internet, computer and video games have snatched books from the hands of kids. Perhaps your book will be one to help pull them into the love of reading.

Treasured books have sticky jelly fingerprints on the covers, and crayon marks on some of the pages. They're worn and torn, and the edges are frayed. Kids don't care who wrote their favorite book, they just know they love it. You don't have to be famous for them. I consider those authors (of which I believe I am one) to be fortunate. Not famous, but fortunate. Their words touch the lives of the audience they love. Isn't that the reason we write?

Some of our books will be handed down to children and grandchildren. They'll bring back sweet memories of childhood. Think back to just one of your favorite childhood books. How did it make you feel when you read it or when it was read to you? When you grew up did you pull it from a dusty cardboard box in the garage and gasp when you saw it? "Oh! I LOVED this book when I was little!" Has that ever happened to you? It's happened to me and I feel like that little girl again when I turn the pages.

I like what author Catherine Woolley (Jane Thayer) said in her fabulous book Writing for Children:

"Most children's authors are famous to no one but librarians and teachers and the children who write to you or hear you speak. Children often know the title of a book they love but not the name of the author. You will not be famous to the general public except sometimes in your hometown. Pay it no mind. Be amused."

So, if your book didn't make you a bundle of money, but has jelly fingerprints all over it, and is pulled off the bookshelf before being tucked in at night--- consider yourself fortunate. And be amused (o;

Copyright 2008 Sheryl Ann Crawford

Friday, October 3, 2008

Does Your Manuscript Stand Out in the Wrong Way?

Only good writing will make your manuscript stand out in the right way from the mountainous slush pile. Below is a list of things editors DO and DO NOT like to see. They've seen everything on this list and more!


Don't assume the manuscript submission information in your current Writers' Market Guide is current! By the time you're ready to send your query, proposal letter, or manuscript to the submissions editor, the information could be outdated. I know it's an exaggeration but I like to say that publishing houses have been known to change editors like we change our socks! It gets the point across.

Do go to publishers websites for the most recent guidelines and the name of the editor currently accepting submissions. Up-to-date guidelines and information on editorial changes can also be obtained from The Children's Writer, the SCBWI Bulletin, and The Children's Book Insider.


Don't send brightly colored (or even pastel) envelopes meant to draw attention to your manuscript. Decorated envelopes with stickers, drawings of smiley faces, or cute sayings are not acceptable.

Do use a plain white #10 envelope if your manuscript is four pages or less. Fold manuscript and cover letter into thirds. I like to use a 9 X 12 manila envelope for longer manuscripts. Include a SASE.


Don't send your manuscript Express Delivery. It will not get your manuscript to the top of the slush pile. A "better" and faster package does not mean a better manuscript. It will only frustrate an editor because the guidelines were not followed.

Do send your manuscript in a plain envelope with the correct postage.


Don't fax a manuscript unless guidelines tell you it's acceptable. That rarely happens. Faxed manuscripts are difficult to read.

Do follow the manuscript submission guidelines. Very few accept fax or e-mail submissions. Most require snail-mail.


Don't send art samples with your manuscript unless you are a true professional illustrator. This is a surprise to many new writers who think they must find an illustrator to go with their manuscript. The same goes for sending drawings from your sister-in-law, best friend, or anyone else who you think is a pretty good artist. Pretty good doesn't make it. Professional does. The standards for book illustrations are extremely high. Publishers have their own set of illustrator guidelines for professionals. Illustration decisions are up to the publisher.

Do write a manuscript that lends itself to visual pictures. Editors are pros at envisioning imaginative illustrations for a great story. Occasionally it may be necessary for you to describe a scene of it's not self-explanatory. Here's how you do it---describe the scene and put it in [brackets].


Don't staple your manuscript together. Do not bind your manuscript in any way to make it look like a book.

use a large paper clip.


Don't use fancy or an extra LARGE font.

Do use the generally accepted fonts in black: Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier. Don't try to squeeze in more words by using a 10 or 11 font! Font number 12 is easy to read and the accepted font size.


Don't try to squeeze as much as you can on each sheet of paper by leaving extra small margins. Nothing less than an inch will do. Don't use single spacing in your story. Use double.

Do leave good margins of an inch on each side and about an inch and a half on the bottom of your manuscript. Do use double spacing in your story. Follow complete manuscript format samples found in most how-to-write for children books.

I'll save info on writing cover letters and queries for another post (o:

Your manuscript needs to look professional. It will give you some credibility and perhaps a second look from an editor!

Copyright 2008 Sheryl Ann Crawford

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Four Rights!

After FOUR years of praying and not giving up on one of my book ideas, it finally found a home! God was gracious. It's been a looooong dry spell since my last book was published. Now I'm getting ready to sign a contract with Scholastic Professional Books!

As the saying goes, timing is everything. Remember the FOUR RIGHTS. It's the...
  • right book
  • at the right time
  • for the right house
  • with the right editor who has your vision.

GOOD manuscripts make the rounds...sometimes for years until your book---like a puzzle piece---falls into place perfectly.

Do NOT give up! It took 5 years of nicely written, encouraging rejection letters for my book Psalms for a Child's Heart to find a home. They were lovely. Really they were. In fact I was beginning to plan my living room decor around rejection-letter-shabby-chic-wallpaper.

Ever heard of Dr. Seuss? Are you kidding? His children's book And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected TWENTY SEVEN times before being accepted by Vanguard Press. 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27
Did you get that? It's success was spectacular.

Let that be a lesson to you (and to me) to never give up. Now pick up that pen, writer, and keep going! And forget about using those rejection letters as wallpaper. The don't stick. (o;

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That's Punny! Part I

Some punny stuff. Enjoy (o;

  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Acupuncture: a jab well done.
  • A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

  • A circus lion won't eat clowns because they taste funny.
  • A backward poet writes inverse.

  • A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France and resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

  • A plateau is a high form of flattery.
  • When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.
  • There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn't control his pupils.

  • Somebody was running a flea circus but a dog came and stole the show.
  • Tennis players don't marry because love means nothing to them.
  • Those who watch too much football will wear out their end zone.
  • When the plums dry on your tree, it's time to prune.
  • At a pet store: 'buy one dog, get one flea'.
  • When they bought a water bed, the couple started to drift apart.
  • He bent over to pick up a sieve and strained himself.
  • In the winter my dog wears his coat, but in the summer he wears his coat and pants.
  • Police were called to a day care, where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.
  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
  • When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.
  • A thief who stole a calendar… got twelve months.
  • A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.
  • Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.
  • When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U. C. L. A.
And last but not least----
  • Seven days without a pun makes one weak. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Be Amused

In her helpful book, Writing For Children, Catherine Wooley (Jane Thayer) said this:

"Most children's authors are famous to no one but librarians and teachers and the children who write to you or hear you speak. Children often know the title of a book they love but not the name of the author. You will not be famous to the general public except sometimes in your hometown. Pay it no mind. Be amused."

Is your goal to reach children or to be famous and rich? Most likely you and I will not be famous or rolling in cash because of our writing. So, if after knowing this harsh reality you still want to write---YOU are a true children's writer and in mighty good company! Some of the finest writers of children's books and magazine stories are not famous or wealthy, but their stories are dearly loved by children. Now THAT should make you feel like a million $$$!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sad News to Share

It is with deep sadness that I share some news that some of you may not have heard. Sue Alexander, author of such books as Whatever Happened to Uncle Albert?, Behold the Trees, and One More Time, Mama, passed away suddenly and in mid-conversation on July 3, 2008. Sue helped create, sustain and guide the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for over three decades — her passion and pride has left an indelible mark on what children read to this day---and what she has taught should serve as hope to children in the future. Visit her wonderful website at www.sue-alexander.com

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Educators' Top 100 Children's Books

The following list was compiled from an online survey of educators in 2007. If you're a children's book author (or hope to be) reading these books is a must! Leave a comment and tell me which books are your 5 favorites.
  1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  5. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  6. I'll Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
  7. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  8. Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss
  9. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  11. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
  12. Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  13. The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss
  14. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  15. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  16. The Mitten by Jan Brett
  17. Crunching Carrots, Not Candy by Judy Slack
  18. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willlems
  19. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  21. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  22. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  23. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  24. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
  25. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  26. Tacky the Penquin by Helen Lester
  27. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  28. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  29. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  30. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type Doreen Cronin
  31. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  32. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
  33. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
  34. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  35. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  36. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  37. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
  38. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
  39. The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
  40. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  41. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  42. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  43. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  44. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  45. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  46. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
  47. Olivia by Ian Falconer
  48. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  49. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  50. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  51. The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
  52. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  53. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  54. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  55. Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  56. Bunnicula by James Howe
  57. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  58. Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise
  59. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  60. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  61. Frederick by Leo Lionni
  62. Frindle by Andrew Clements
  63. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
  64. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  65. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
  66. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
  67. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  68. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  69. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
  70. Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino
  71. Jan Brett’s books
  72. Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr.
  73. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  74. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  75. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  76. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  77. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
  78. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  79. No David! by David Shannon
  80. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  81. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  82. Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch
  83. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  84. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  85. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner
  86. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
  87. The Empty Pot by Demi
  88. The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop
  89. The Giver by Lois Lowr
  90. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  91. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  92. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  93. The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements
  94. The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  95. The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
  96. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  97. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  98. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
  99. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  100. The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book by Keith Faulkner
It was a tough choice but mine are I'll Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch, Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskeym, Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann, and Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Happy reading (o:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Thought to Ponder

"Only those who will risk going too far
can possibly find out
how far one can go."
T.S. Eliot

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rewrite these---PLEASE!

Just for fun---how would YOU rewrite these REAL L.O.L. headlines?
Yes, I know these have absolutely NOTHING to do with writing for children.

* Stolen Painting Found by Tree

* Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Line

* Include Your Children When Baking Cookies

* Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax

* Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

* Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

* Eye drops off shelf

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rhyme Time

Need some help with rhyming? Go to this great site for help: