Author Annette Whipple Has Two New Books and Here’s a Chance To Win a Copy Of One.

Today it is my pleasure to feature author and fellow member of the KidLit Author’s Club, Annette Whipple who has two new non-fiction books that recently debuted.  THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS (Rockridge Press) and THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION ( Chicago Review Press). Here’s Annette to talk about them:

  1. Tell a bit about your “work-for-hire” the Wright Brothers and how it came about.

My first five books were all work-for-hire (WFH) projects for the educational market (for schools and libraries). WFH means a publisher’s editorial team comes up with ideas. Then they hire writers to write them. Writers typically introduce themselves to the publisher, and if they’re a good fit AND the time is right, they get an assignment. The Story of the Wright Brothers was a bit different because I had not heard of the publisher (Callisto Media/Rockridge Press) prior to them contacting me. My editor really helped me to develop the story to be one children (and even teachers) would appreciate. The Story of the Wright Brothers will also be found in bookstores instead of just schools and libraries which excites me even more.

Wright Brothers (3)

For curious writers, I have a whole blog post about the educational market/WFH. I even teach a class about it to help other writers get started. I call WFH the publishing world’s best kept secret.  This is the post.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder is the beloved author of The Little House series. Were you a fan as a girl? What is it about the series and author that prompted you to write the bio?

I was a fan of the Little House books as a girl, but I never had my own copies until I was preparing for my first baby. Then I bought the set! I appreciate the stories even more as an adult.

LIW Companion Cover 2

It was my children and a guide to the Chronicles of Narnia who inspired the idea for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. Whenever we listened to Little House audio books or I read them aloud, my kids were full of questions. I knew young (and old) fans of the Little House books would enjoy learning more about American pioneers and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also loved the idea of developing lots of activities for each of the Little House books. I included 75 activities in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion. I’ve been hearing lots of great feedback about the “Fact or Fiction?” sidebars within the book, too!

3. What draws you to historical non-fiction?

I was never a strong history student, but I love diving deep into my research. As I say when I visit schools, “Facts are fun!” I love exploring science and history especially when I can get hands-on.

4. Was there anything that surprised you about Laura as you did your research? Please share some of your research process.

Long before I officially researched for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion, I learned more about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder as a fan. For that reason, I don’t think much surprised me. The more I learned about Wilder, the more I appreciated her as a person and as a writer.

I think my biggest surprise was learning that something that had been reported as fact for many, many years was questionable. All of the books I had access to while researching stated Almanzo Wilder’s birthdate as 1857. (Now the book Prairie Fires has explored the discrepancies.) Even his headstone said 1857. So where was the question? It was with three consecutive census records. They indicated Almanzo Wilder was born in 1859. I thought this was interesting and included the evidence as well as my conclusion in the book (and this blog post):]

5. Why should kids care and learn about the lives of historical figures? What makes LIW still popular?

I think it’s important to learn about people who are different than us. I think historical figures and historical stories can teach us a lot about the past. We can learn history and learn from their successes and mistakes, too!

I think Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books are still popular today because the family is relatable—though far from perfect. Laura Ingalls Wilder shared about a time in history that many lived through but few experienced. I think her writing talent shows through because the stories still resonate with readers today.

6. Any final thoughts?

Facts are fun, right? Well, the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Wilbur Wright were both born in 1867 interested me! They were both American pioneers—but of two very different kinds. Wilbur and his brother Orville designed and flew the first airplane. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on the American frontier as a girl. Their childhoods were so different! Wilbur Wright’s home was full of books. Laura Ingalls’s home had few books, but they were treasured. Both families valued education and learning—and it showed in how Wilbur and Laura grew up.

But sometimes facts make us sad or angry. The Ingalls family lived in “Indian Territory” in Wilder’s book Little House on the Prairie. When I researched more about American history and the Native American Osage Nation, many emotions flooded me as I learned more about the fate of that nation and all Native Americans. Though I knew Native Americans had been forced to reservations, I did not understand the depth of it nor the later ramifications of the reservations and the many broken treaties. I included some tough stuff in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion because Wilder herself wrote about those complicated times. I wanted to help readers better understand the history and consider both sides.

Today we have many tools to help us learn more about people who are different from us and even become friends. Books are just a beginning!

Both of these books help readers connect with history, but in September I have a completely different book coming out. It’s Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls! It’s full of beautiful photographs and information about magnificent owls. It’s available for pre-order from your local bookstore or online.

OWL cover Lo Res

I celebrate curiosity and inspire a sense of wonder in readers while exciting them about science and history. I’ve written eight books—and The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (Reycraft Books), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press) are new in 2020! I love chocolate chip cookies and bake them a bit too often for my husband and three children. I also love to read and enjoy the great outdoors of Pennsylvania where I live. I love to visit schools (even virtually) and help writers of all kinds find the joy in writing. You can get to know me more at or

Annette at Almanzo

Annette at Almanzo

Here’s my (Darlene’s) endorsement for THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS:

“An entertaining, informative, and engaging story of the pioneers of aviation. A perfect blend of history and science. Question sidebars, a quiz, and a glossary make this an excellent classroom resource for elementary level students.”

****** If you’d like a chance to win a copy of THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, leave a comment below sharing some of your favorite recent non-fiction picture books. One winner will be drawn at random from those entered and announced later this month.******


Winner of PB Critique From Vivian Kirkfield.

On January 28, I had the pleasure of hosting PB Author Vivian Kirkfield as she talked about the collaboration that took place between author/illustrator for her upcoming picture books. Vivian was gracious enough to give away ONE critique to a random person who left a comment. SEVENTY-ONE  comments later (it has been the most popular post on my blog to date), I am happy to announce the winner:

Drum Roll Please……drums

Congratulations, JODIE PARACHINI. Please send Vivian your email address so she can be in touch with you.

Thank you Vivian, and all you wonderful writers out there who responded  with warmth and enthusiasm to Vivian’s success. She’s an inspiration to us all!

Loner in the Garret: A Guest Post by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The upside to freelance writing is that it’s self-directed. You decide what to wear, where to sit, what music to play, when to start and when to stop, how much to do in a day. All those things that a day-job employer controls are in your own hands when you freelance. (Once you start signing contracts, you have deadlines to meet. But you still choose how you’re going to meet those deadlines, and how much to do each day.)

And the downside to freelance writing is that it’s self-directed. If the choices are yours, the responsibilities are yours also. You can get feedback, but it won’t be consistent: The ending that seems abrupt to one reader will strike another as dragging and drawn out. One reader will call your plot fresh and original, while another considers it predictable. And you will have to decide whom to listen to, what to change. You have the responsibility of sitting down and starting, of revising once more when you’d rather be done, of motivating yourself and coping with the rejections that come.

It can get lonely in the writer’s loft. Without a circle of writer friends to share the experience, I might not have the fortitude or the attitude to sit down and face the blank computer screen again and again. And so I decided to produce a “writer’s companion” in book form, addressing these very ups and downs.      LonerintheGarret_Ebook

Loner in the Garret is a series of short discussions on all aspects of writing and publishing. Ideally, it’s meant to be read a page or two at a time, perhaps before a writing session, focusing on whichever topic you most need to read at that moment. But of course, you can read as much or as little as you want, in any order. You’re the boss … which is your challenge and your reward.

Synopsis: Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is not coming up with a plot or the perfect turn of phrase. It’s getting motivated to sit down and start, or having the confidence to go forward, or finding the courage to move past the sting of rejection. Loner in the Garret: A Writer’s Companion provides inspiration and encouragement for that mental and emotional journey. Covering topics as varied as procrastination, the inner critic, fear, distractions, envy, rejection, joy, and playfulness, it charts the ups and downs of the writing life with honesty, gentle suggestions, and a dash of humor.

For more:       biopic2

Bio: Jennifer R. Hubbard is the author of three novels for young adults, several short stories, and a nonfiction book about writing. She lives near Philadelphia with an understanding husband, a pile of books and chocolate, and a   melodramatic cat.


2015 marks the 17th year of The First Line.  This online publication gives writers an opportunity to see one of their stories in print using the format of the same first line.

Here are the new first lines for 2015.

Spring 2015: Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls.   (Submissions due February 1, 2015.)

Summer 2015: Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was everyone else she lied to.   (Submissions due May 1, 2015.)

 Fall 2015: The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.   (Submissions due August 1, 2015.)

 Winter 2015: George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”(Submissions due November 1, 2015.)

The First Line is available on Kindle:

Calling All Teen Writers!

The third annual One Teen Story Teen Author Contest opens today! Please tell the teen writers in your life that we are excited to read their work.

For the contest, we are seeking unpublished fiction written by teens (age 14-19). The winning story will be published in the May 2015 issue of One Teen Story. Honorable mentions will be chosen in three age categories: 14-15, 16-17, and 18-19-year-olds.

This year’s judge will be Tara Altebrando, author of OTS issue #12, “Soundproof Your Life,” as well as several young adult novels, including The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, Dreamland Social Club, and Roomies (coauthored with Sara Zarr). Her newest book is the middle-grade novel The Battle of Darcy Lane.

To kick off the contest, we’re offering a special subscription rate. Get or give a year-long subscription of One Teen Story for just $15. Use promo code CONTEST to get this fantastic rate, and you’ll get this year’s contest winner, “Helen” by Claire Spaulding, as a bonus.

The deadline for the contest, and for this offer, is June 30, 2014. Visit our contest page for complete details.

Good luck!

Patrick Ryan

One Teen Story
232 3rd St. #A108
Brooklyn, NY 11215


Calling Young Writers Grades 1-8.

The Society of Young Inklings, a non-profit with a mission of empowering young writers, publishes an annual anthology of the stories and poems of talented young writers–this year we are holding a contest to see whose pieces will be included. We are looking for fresh new voices to publish in our anthology.

Young writers in grades 1-8 with stories or poems are encouraged to enter the contest. Submissions must be in final draft and students must commit to completing an editing process if their piece is chosen. For more information on the contest please check HERE.

We’re looking for bloggers who might want to do a guest post about the contest to help us reach students who may not otherwise know about the opportunity. We also have an email specifically for educators in case anyone wants that to pass on to a teacher/librarian. If you’d like that email to forward on, email me directly, and I’m happy to forward it to you.

Here are some Q and A’s about the contest.

Q: Who is the Inklings Book Contest for?

A: All young writers who are ready to take their writing to the next level. Writing is just one part of the creative process. Just as it’s important for actors, musicians and dancers to perform, it’s important for writers to have their stories read and enjoyed. We learn new things about ourselves as writers when we prepare our work for readers, and also when we hear feedback about our published pieces. All writers, regardless of their age, need access to that kind of essential feedback. Plus, it’s inspiring to hear that a reader loved our story, and it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Positive feedback sends writers back to their writing desks to create again.

Q: How will I know if my story is ready to submit?

A: One excellent way to prepare a story for submission is to read it out loud to a friend or a group of friends. Ask for feedback about what’s working and what questions your friends may have. Aside from being a huge confidence booster, you’ll also find out what additions or changes may help your story be more clear and more engaging. Notice where people laugh, in particular, and see if you can magnify that effect. Humor often comes in threes. If you have one funny moment that’s working well, you can build on it by repeating the moment with a small change. On the Young Inklings website, you’ll also find a checklist to help you check the fine details of your story just before sending it in.

Q: Why do you ask all of the writers to revise for the Inklings Book?

A: When professional writers send their work into a publisher, they have the opportunity to work with an editor who helps them refine their work. At some point in the writing process, writers need an outside eye. This person helps us read the story from a new perspective: the perspective of someone who doesn’t have all of our personal memories, experiences and passions. We learn what we might need to add or change to help a reader experience the story fully. Some writers are worried about revising with someone else, because they feel their story shouldn’t be influenced by anyone but themselves. All artists are influenced by many factors, though. Our writing is influenced by the books we read, the experiences we have, the voices in our communities, and many other sources. When an editor provides us with outside perspective, this is just another way to make our writing even more spectacular.

Q: Is it a real, published book?

A: Yep! We’re thrilled because the Inklings Book is not going to only be available online, but also in the fabulous independent store, Hicklebees. Young writers and their mentors will all be contributing authors for the book, so the final product will be a collaboration of many creative minds.
Naomi Kinsman

Executive Director
Society of Young Inklings

Thanks for helping me spread the word to deserving young writers!




Got a Story To Tell? Here Are 2 Ways to Do It.

Today’s post features two children’s book authors who traveled a less traditional route to publication by self-publishing their Picture Books.  The first one is OSCAR HERNANDEZ.  Here’s his story.

When looking into publishing (or self-publishing) a kid’s book, I quickly realized that the options are surprisingly complicated and really tough. Children’s book authors don’t have the technical prowess to create their own book that is modern, competitive with the market, and provides the feedback that they need. Lil’ Readers, is a children’s bookstore app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  Lil’ Readers allows you to bring high quality, beautifully illustrated and animated children’s books with you wherever you go. Essentially it’s a mobile bookshelf. It’s not an apple IBook, but and independent app through apple. I currently have 5 books in the app. I am still teaching in the classroom where I get to see all the reactions on kid’s faces from reading my books to my students.

                               Oscar book cover

I started writing mini plays for kids; some were good some were bad. Most of them made me laugh, so I kept writing more. Eventually I met a person that inspired me to write a lot; that person was Dr. Joe Robinette. Down to earth, but full of attention to detail, he made me love the art of writing. The writing didn’t have to be a long story; it didn’t even have to be a book. Often it was a two minute skit performed in front of about eight to ten children.   He knew how to make stories come to life, but most importantly he knew what the reader wanted to see. By carefully placing words and phrases in a certain order he would capture a reader and an audience. For all that he taught me, I thank him a million times over.

 Fast forward to my epic writers block and how my first book was born. I was thinking too hard one day, and so I continued to stare at a blank piece of paper. Five minutes went by, my phone rang, ESPN came on and my dog had to potty. The perfect storm of writers block and distraction forced me to put the pen down and go for a run. While on my run I came upon a dog. I also came upon its owner, who was yelling at me NOT to run! Now, I don’t know if you know anything about running for exercise; but running is a huge part of it! Long story short, the dog as old as he was, started to chase me. Luckily for me I was wearing my really, really short- shorts and was able to get a longer strides, leading to my escape.                         runningtailscover

 While on the same run I met another lovely dog, and then another! I couldn’t wait to get home. I started telling that story to people and then it hit me. Stories shouldn’t be forced; it’s not how crazy they are. They are about relating to someone and taking them away into your story as they read it. As it turns out, I’m writing children’s books now. Some are good, none are bad, most of them make everyone laugh and so I will keep going. It hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done but it’s one of greatest things I will leave behind. My latest book “Just Us” was illustrated by the 2013 finalist of Doddle for Google. The Book came out fantastic; I can’t wait to see where my pen takes me next.

You can contact Oscar at the following:  Facebook- Oscar Hernandez lilreaders  

Instagram-  oskhernandez             email-       Twitter- @osk_hernandez

Here are the books:

The second story comes from ADAM GIANFORCARO:

Adam Gianforcaro is the author of the poetry collection Morning Time in the Household, Looking Out and the children’s picture book Uma the Umbrella. He has had several other works published in print and online magazines, his most recent work forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review. Gianforcaro works as a writer in Philadelphia and lives in New Jersey.                                                        adam G


I began writing Uma the Umbrella as an assignment in a class called Writing Children’s Stories at Rowan University. I wanted to portray a story of someone— or something— not fitting in, but finding his or her way somehow, someway. It’s quite an unoriginal idea, but it’s a feeling that is relatable and difficult to accept as a child. The main moral I wanted to portray was that there is no set way of doing things, no set way of living, no set way to find happiness and be content with who we are inside or outside. I can’t remember why I chose an umbrella, but I suspect it was raining that day, and I was likely walking to class clasping the handle of my own umbrella.

When the class adjourned at the end of the semester, I filed the story away on my computer. I found it two years later when I was rummaging through old files. I sent it away for publication to several places to no avail. I was not used to writing for the children’s market, and it was difficult for me to find its way into publication. Ultimately, I went through Halo Publishing International who helped me find an editor and illustrator for my work.                     COVER.pdf-page-001

The book is available in paperback or e-book through the Halo website,  Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.





Calling All Young Writers

If your child loves to create stories, there are two websites that will encourage this skill by publishing the effort.

1. At   young writers pick a story start and then make Chapter Two their own.  Other children vote on which second chapter they like best, and so on until the story is completed.  Then the finished books are available to purchase.

2. Writers and Artists are invited to submit to the print magazine STONE SOUP.  This magazine publishes the work of children aged 8-13.  To learn more and read some of the stories visit:

3. Older children might want to check out THE SLAM feature of CICADA Magazine. Writers submit their poems to the online forum and have them critiqued by other readers.  The best ones make it into the magazine each month.

Storytelling 101

Do you have children who love to make up stories?  Are they always creating characters and acting out scenes during imaginative play?  Here is a website that allows children and teens to write stories and have them published online to share with others.  Check out  and let the storyteller in your family go to work.

Interview With MG Fantasy Author T. M. Wallace

This month’s interview is with children’s book author and publisher Theresa Wallace Pregent.  I met Theresa in an online critique group called “Critique This” where we exchanged manuscripts with several other writer’s and received feedback on our own works in progress.  One of Theresa’s manuscripts that I had the pleasure of reviewing was the MG fantasy UNDER A FAIRY MOON (UFM).  UFM was one of the winners of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2010. The book was published by BROWNRIDGE PUBLISHING and has received numerous awards: it was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in 2010, a recipient of the Canadian Christian Writing Award (Young Adult) 2012 and the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award (Fantasy) 2012.  Brownridge is the publishing company founded by Theresa and her husband.

Thanks for joining us Theresa.                                        theresa photo

Where did you get the idea for UFM?

First of all, thank you, Darlene for your introduction! I wrote the book from my imagination, fueled by experiences from my childhood. When I was five years old, my parents and my brother and I moved to a small town in the country. I was fascinated by the forested area beside my house, particularly a little hole in the evergreen bushes on the edge of our property. One day I decided to see where the little hole led. Crawling through the little hole in the bushes I emerged on the other side of them – inside a beautiful young forest with a canopy of leaves overhead. I was enchanted. I felt like I had stepped into a fairyland, and I went on to imagine many adventures there.

When I wrote Under a Fairy Moon, my main character, Addy, also moves to a small town and is drawn to explore her neighbor’s beautiful garden. In that garden, she discovers  another enchanted world, just like my five-year-old self!

What has surprised you most since its publication?  Tell us about its success and recognition.

I was certainly surprised to be a quarter-finalist, when the book was still only an unpublished manuscript. After the book was published, it was amazing to see it go on to win two other awards within a short space of time. When I won my award from the Word Guild, it was at the International Word Awards Gala in Mississauga, Canada. I attended because I felt honored to even be nominated. I had no idea that I was going to win – I hadn’t even prepared an acceptance speech!

In addition to writing children’s books, you launched your own publishing company – Brownridge Publishing – in 2010.  How did this come about?               fairy moon

When Under a Fairy Moon became a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, it was given a favorable review from Publisher’s Weekly, and my husband and I began to suspect we had something special to offer. We decided to form our own publishing company to get the book published and promote and sell the book ourselves. We didn’t want to stop there, however. We wanted to publish other good quality, wholesome books – the kind that get rejected because they are not “trendy” or raunchy … the kind of book that helps a child grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally as well as being a great source of entertainment.  As a publisher and editor, I get to nurture other talented writers and make their voices heard.

What kinds of books does Brownridge publish?  Tell us more about the business end of writing.

Brownridge publishes wholesome, family-friendly fiction for children and young adults. We are finding that there is a growing market for books with old-fashioned values, for books that inspire a child to wonder and dream … books that have positive messages in an increasingly violent world. We market mostly to libraries – both the school and public libraries – because that is where children most often find books.

What project(s) are you currently working on?  

I am currently writing the final draft of the sequel to Under A Fairy Moon and will hopefully be releasing it this summer.

How did you come to the field of writing for children?

All my favorite books are children’s books and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. My inner child comes out to meet me when I write … it is a beautiful process. I have also been an elementary school teacher for many years, and so I feel very comfortable talking to children. They are certainly wiser and more interesting than a lot of adults!

Do you have any advice for those looking to break into the field as either a writer or publisher?

I think these are great times in the publishing industry. The large publishing moguls are crumbling, and this is a very good thing. For too long they have monopolized the industry, propagating a very narrow idea of what good literature should be. Now the writer has much more choice … he or she can self-publish, or consider publishing with a small, dedicated publisher like Brownridge. Either way, more voices will be heard. The down-side of course, is that with a lot more books entering the market, writers need to self-advocate. They need to be the biggest fans of their own work and believe in it to the point of advertising and doing school visits and virtual book tours.

Where can we find out more about your books and publishing company?

You can visit our website:

Authors interested in submitting to Brownridge should send an e-mail ( outlining the premise of the book, length and genre plus the first ten pages of the manuscript in an attachment (.doc or .odt format only.) In the subject line of your submission, please include the words: AUTHOR SUBMISSION. Please allow up to three months for a reply. Simultaneous submissions are okay, only please let us know this in your query letter.
We are accepting books of the following genres: Picture Books, Middle-Grade readers, Historical fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult fiction (only wholesome submissions, no “edgy” or “mature” teen novels,) Educational Books, How-to Books, Spiritual/Christian books.