Teaching Kids about Writing

Head down, office door closed, the last couple weeks of September and into October have been full of work. With seven books to wrap up, two magazine articles to write and travel queries to send out, there hasn’t been a lot of spare time.

Okay, maybe a little spare time… but not a lot!

So when I received a request for a school program late last week, I had to turn it down.

Not!

I jumped at the chance to talk writing while soaking up the positive energy that comes from a roomful of kids. It didn’t matter that taking another afternoon out of the office meant working late that night, those two hours were full of excitement and interest – and I think the kids enjoyed it, too 😉

Spending an afternoon with these keen kids wasn’t a chore, it was a privilege. Pushing my ability to multi-task when my plate was already full showed me that I was capable of more than I thought. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

3 Tips for School Presentations:

  1. Start strong with a hook. I began telling the kids how I wanted to write a novel full of adventure and drama when I first started writing. The problem was that I wasn’t any good at writing fiction. I pulled out a copy of my first Reader’s Digest article and read a paragraph of Marianne trapped on a ledge, yelling into the wind at her rescuers in the distance, and watching the lights disappear. I wasn’t good at writing fiction, but I was skilled at writing non-fiction. They were hooked!
  2. Circulate. I always make sure that there are several hands-on activities for the kids to do. Instead of twiddling my thumbs at the front of the room, I wander through the groups, offering suggestions and answering questions. The kids enjoy the one-on-one time.
  3. Break it up. Be sure to build in bathroom and stretch breaks. Everyone will be happier and better able to focus.

New books, new books!

Love coming home from a travel adventure to find hardcover proof that I do have a job! Four new children’s non-fiction books arrived from Crabtree while I took 10 days to decompress and dip into a little of Cuba’s charming culture.

The first two books explore the world of writing. “How to Write Science Fiction” reviews the elements of science fiction and guides young readers with step-by-step instructions on how to compose their own, out-of-this-world science fiction stories. “How to Write Drama” follows a similar pattern.

Two new books in the Text Styles series from Capstone. (Credit: M. Kopp)

Two new books in the Text Styles series from Crabtree. (Credit: M. Kopp)

Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Many people credit Ghandi with this saying and it is the cornerstone for Crabtree’s new series. My two books, “Be the Change for the Environment” and “Be the Change in your Community” offer a blueprint for young readers to follow and become active citizens. Can’t wait to present them to a local school!

Caring for Earth is everyone's job. (Credit: M. Kopp)

Caring for Earth is everyone’s job.    (Credit: M. Kopp)

Helping others helps you. (Credit: M. Kopp)

Helping others helps you. (Credit: M. Kopp)

What do you use as a yardstick for measuring your “success” as a freelance writer? Leave a comment below!

50! Kid’s Books Under This Author’s Name

By: Megan Kopp

I finally sat down this week to update my list of published books and – surprise, surprise! – I’ve hit 50 titles bearing my byline. True, six are still in various stages of the publication process, and I’m awaiting author copies on a few more, but they should all be out in 2015.

A few of my books! (Credit: M. Kopp)

A few of my books! (Credit: M. Kopp)

Now here’s a not-so-secret secret: these books are all non-fiction, work-for-hire (WFH). What this means is that a publisher comes to me with a series or a topic and I write the book. The idea belongs to the publisher, but I still get a byline as the author.

Pros of WFH

  • Editors approach you with an idea
  • Guaranteed income
  • Format established
  • Artwork (pictures, maps, illustrations) is completed by the publisher

Cons of WFH

  • You don’t own the copyright
  • You don’t have any control over artwork
  • You must follow a set format
  • The editor has the final say on content

After 50 books, it’s safe to say that WFH works for me. That being said, I plan to take a walk (or dogsled ride – hint!) on the wild side and write my first, completely author-driven children’s book this year. Stay tuned!

Resources for Writing Children’s Non-Fiction and WFH
Evelyn Christensen’s Educational Markets for Children’s Writers (website)
2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (book)
Children’s Writer’s E-News (email newsletter)
NFforKids
(Yahoo group)

What writing project(s) are you working on in 2015?

New Kid’s Books

Between travel, hiking and writing kid’s books, there’s been little time for updating blogs. But I’m sure that will all change now that fall is here. Well…

Maybe it will change once hiking is done for the season… or after a trip to Turkey… or just before the snow flies and ski season is upon us… or…

Okay, maybe I’ll just share what I can when I can. These treasures poured out of the big box that arrived in the mail today – proof positive that I do work hard when not out on another adventure!

New books

Book Review: Understanding Native American Myths

Google alert – if you’re a writer and you haven’t set an alert for your pen name, what are you waiting for? It’s an easy and effective way to find out about reviews of your work, among other things.

Up pops an alert in my email this a.m. – Understanding Native American Myths was reviewed by Jennifer Prince for the Ashville Citizen-Times. Apparently the book is now available in the Buncombe County Public Libraries. How cool is that?

The review gives the two titles mentioned (mine being one of them) a thumbs up. 

IMG_5325

“These titles are great for older elementary and middle school students.”

Thanks J.P and the Ashville Citizen-Times!

 

 

A room, a book, another idea

Ta da!

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work this writer goes!

Yes, the office is back to its new norm with flooring in place, fresh paint on the walls, and too many years of collected scraps of paper sorted and saved or recycled.

In the midst of the renos, I met my deadline by wrapping up the final edits for a kid’s book on NASCAR drivers (who knew that Jimmie Johnson gets carsick when not behind the wheel of a moving car). If you say you can’t write because you don’t have the space or there’s too much distraction, you’re just not trying hard enough. Proof positive right here.

I also re-discovered a half-baked project idea buried in the depths of the storage closet. The question was what to do with those files. The idea was to explore the fine line between art and craft. I had brainstormed the project with a friend who is an artisan. She had the hands-on knowledge and I had the writing background. It seemed like the perfect partnership, but other commitments got in our way.

With this newly-found idea still percolating through the recesses of my mind, I happened to pick up the September issue of Writer’s Digest. In it was an article about blogging your way to a book. Our idea would work well as a series of blog posts.

I think I like that idea. Time to call Sus and see what she thinks!

Are you blogging about a topic that has book potential? If you stuck with it long enough to build a solid platform to support a book, would you consider traditional marketing of the idea, write an e-book, or look at self-publishing?

Before writing, think a lot.
After writing, erase a lot.”
– Carlos Herrar Alvarez