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The Give and Take of Mentoring

by Jane McBride Choate


The World Book Dictionary defines a mentor as “a wise and trusted adviser.”

So what does mentoring have to do with writing? Serving as a mentor can enrich an experienced writer’s life by allowing the exploration of the craft of writing from a teaching perspective.

How to Find People to Critique Your Work


Form a writers’ group. Find other writers who are also working on children’s books and critique each other’s work. You can network at local conferences or classes (go to for your region’s Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), post an announcement at your library or local book

Exercise: Getting Unstuck

Sometimes we get stuck developing a character, creating a setting, or deciding what happens next in the plot. Here are two exercises to help open the flow of ideas.



Clustering is a diagramming method for gathering and organizing ideas that you do on paper, a brainstorming method

Exercise: Is Your Protagonist Worth Writing About?

Part One: Spend a few minutes with a notebook in a public space where children and families are present. Simply write down a few notes about some of the children you observe, what they’re doing, and who they interact with.

Part Two: Pick one of the children to be your

“Show, Don’t Tell” Exercise # 2

Take a character from your book and place him or her in a familiar setting (your character’s room, classroom, backyard, etc.)

Write a scene in which your character moves through that setting, and show that he/she is angry without ever using the words “angry” or “anger”. Now place your

The 5 Minute Writer


Writers have other lives. We must schlep our children to orthodontist appointments, attend Little League games, and make sure the laundry is done. This is often in addition to holding down a full time job that pays the bills. So where does writing fit in?

100 Words a Day for 100 Days

by Jane McBride Choate



Like most writers, I need the association of other writers and belong to several writers’ chapters.  One group issued a challenge of writing a hundred words each day for one hundred days.


When I accepted the challenge, I was dubious.  What could such

Find Your Passion

Your first step as a writer, before you ever type those first words of your manuscript, is to discover what you love. Only then can you begin incorporating that passion into a book idea. So how will you find your passion? Read. I know this sounds almost too simple to work, but reading children’s books is one