SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

New Resources for All Children’s Book Writers to Check Out!

2 New Resources for Children's Writers

2 New Bloggers to Check out This Month!

I am excited to feature Brooke Van Sickle and her website, JOURNEY TO KIDLIT, and Linda Skeers and her collaborative website, NONFICTION NINJAS. Both of these websites offer a plethora of information for children’s book writers.

Are you a new children’s book author that wants to know more about the children’s book industry?

Brooke Van Sickle states on her website, Journey to KidLit, “I believe every story deserves a spot on a child’s bookshelf, if you write it well enough. That includes YOUR STORY!” With that in mind, she offers tips about plotting, character building, choosing the right age for your book’s audience, querying, deciding on the right publishing house, attending writer conferences, finding a writing group, and much more on Journey to Kidlit.

As an active member on her site, I sat down for a virtual interview with her to ask about her blog and what we can glean from her site. Here’s what she had to say:

Me- Who can benefit from your website?

Brooke- Journey to Kidlit is for people that want to know how to write and publish children’s books. Depending on where you’re at in the process, the site will be there to offer you different information. Tips include writing, publishing, and marketing, as well as, important resources for all writers.

It’s a FANTASTIC resource for writers that are just starting out and are not sure where to start but know that they have a story to tell.

Me- What information can people find on Journey to Kidlit? 

Brooke- The site is broken into 4 main topics outside of my personal journey: writing tips, publishing tips, marketing tips, and extra resources that will help you become a better writer. New articles are posted 3 times a week and each post works to cover the basic questions of “How do I become a published children’s book author.”

As the site grows, there will be more information available including insights from other authors describing their journey, agents/editors giving insight into the industry, new ideas to help you make children’s writing a focus in your life, book reviews, and video tutorials.

Me- Why did you create Journey to Kidlit?

Brooke- I decided to launch this site after I quit my job to write full-time. I’ve met so many new writers through writing groups and events that know they have an idea but aren’t sure what to do with it. Plus, I remember my first time ever submitting and ALL the mistakes I made. I knew there needed to be a resource to answer the questions we all have, but that would talk on our level and feel like they understood what we’re going through. 

I write in an approachable language and work to make my posts relatable. Because they are! Even though our paths might not all look the same, we all experience similar struggles and are excited to celebrate new wins. Journey to KidLit is meant to be an online community that understands what writers are going through.

Me- What is the benefit of being on your mailing list?

Brooke- The mailing list is where we go deeper with tips on writing and publishing children’s books. Not only will you be the first to know when new topics are posted, but you’ll get extra insights that I learn throughout the week. I inform my list of webinars I’ve attended and what I’ve learned, any new subject I’ve read about, changes in the KidLit world, submission opportunities, upcoming contests/Twitter pitches and so much more! 

As we move further into the year, I’ll start offering writing challenges, free printables/guides to help improve our writing, and webinars for live interaction. This is a great time to join the mailing list, as there’s only more coming in 2019! Anyone interested can join the list here. 

Me- How did you choose the name Journey to Kidlit?

Brooke- It was definitely a process to decide on a name! I wanted to choose something that expressed the topic of writing books for kids yet be something easy to remember or recognize. The site is all about how to go from having a story idea and turning it into a published children’s book. As many of us know, this isn’t a linear process and we each have our own journey. Thus Journey to KidLit was born.

Me- Is there anything else you would like readers to know about Journey to Kidlit?

Brooke- The book in your mind deserves a place on the shelf! I’ve been in this writing world for almost 5 years, and I’ve read so many fantastic books by other writers. I know that if writers follow the right steps in writing and submitting their books, they will see an offer for publication in their email. And I want to help in any way I can.

Me- What inspires you to write?

Brooke- So many things around me! Last week, I conceptualized three new picture book ideas based on new inspiration I found watching an animated movie, thinking about Fairytales in another way, and turning a common phrase into a book idea. Although they’re not ready for submission, any new idea is a start. Inspiration is all around us if we start looking for it. 

I also learned a trick from Mike Allegra. He suggested that writers keep a journal of misfit ideas that could be a story later–like a funny picture, a random conversation you overheard, some funny thing your kids did, etc. You look through the book when you’re searching for new ideas and normally the things you’ve written down will spawn something. 

Me- What is your advice to people just starting their writing journey?

Brooke- For every new writer I meet, I suggest two things: Join SCBWI and find a writer’s group. Even though we may do our writing alone, we need other writers around us to read our writing, teach us new things, and to be there for us throughout the process. Because writers are the only people who truly get what you’re going through. 

By using these two resources, you’ll not only have amazing sources of information and opportunities for submissions/conferences, but you’ll have lifelong friends.

Visit Journey to Kidlit and Connect with Brooke Van Sickle

You can learn more about Brooke Van Sickle and her blog Journey to Kidlit by visiting https://journeytokidlit.com/.

Are you a Non-Fiction Ninja? (Or at least hoping to be?)

Linda Skeers is a contributor to the website Non-Fiction Ninjas. The website states, “The Nonfiction Ninjas are eleven nonfiction authors who met at a retreat at the Writing Barn in Austin, TX. We each bring a unique set of life experiences and writing skills. We have now teamed up to offer courses, book giveaways, a blog, and more.”

The Ninja Notebook provides encouragement to nonfiction writers, explains ghostwriting, discusses work-for-hire, offers page turn tips, and more.

I also virtually sat down with Linda Skeers to discuss her site and how it will benefit those of us who write non-fiction. Here’s what she had to say:

Me- Who can benefit from Nonfiction Ninjas?

Linda- Hopefully anyone interested in writing for children — no matter the genre. Our website posts offer tips, suggestions, motivation, and other helpful tidbits about all aspects of writing for children.

Me- What additional information can be found on Nonfiction Ninjas?

Linda- Helpful posts, publishing news, information about book giveaways — we’ll keep adding to it as we go along. If you have questions or suggestions for topics, just let me know. You can contact me at skeerswriter@gmail.com.

Me- How did Nonfiction Ninjas begin?

Linda- Two children’s nonfiction writers were frustrated that they couldn’t find a retreat or conference just for nonfiction writers, so they created one! They invited other nonfiction writers that also teach and do presentations (11 in all), and we got together in Texas. We had an amazing time sharing information, teaching sessions and critiquing manuscripts. We bonded and decided to keep working together as a group to share our experiences with other writers with a blog.

Me- How was the name Nonfiction Ninjas chosen?

Linda- After a LOT of brainstorming! A “ninja” is someone with a special skill or expertise and we all bring our different talents, techniques, writing styles and ideas to the table. We’ve discovered 11 heads are better than 1!

Me- Is there anything else you want readers to know about Nonfiction Ninjas?

Linda- Nonfiction writing is just as fun and creative as fiction! Don’t think of it as writing a report or just presenting facts — it’s evolved into a whole new and exciting genre!

Me- What advice do you have for people interested in writing children’s nonfiction?

Linda- Give it a try! Don’t let the idea of doing research scare you off — it’s fun and addictive! Even fiction writers should get used to doing research to discover the perfect details that will take their manuscript to the next level.

Go to your local library or bookstore and sit down with a huge stack of new nonfiction books. You’ll be amazed at all the different formats and topics. Kids are curious about EVERYTHING so the list of possible subjects is endless!

Visit Nonfiction Ninjas and Connect with the Nonfiction Ninjas

You can learn more about Nonfiction Ninjas and each of the Nonfiction Ninjas by visiting https://www.nonfiction-ninjas.com/.

Linda Skeers is the author of multiple books including Women Who Dared, Tutus Aren’t My Style, and The Impossible Patriotism Project. You can learn more about Linda and her books on her website at http://www.lindaskeers.com/.


These interviews were conducted by our Cedar Rapids chair, Brigitte Brulz. A special thanks to her for organizing this wonderful information for us! Be sure to check out both websites and share it with your writing groups. And get writing!