Posted in Craft, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme

Rhyming in picture books is great if the rhythm and rhymes are perfect. But forced rhymes or rhythm can spoil a story. Ann Whitford Paul says, “Rhyme without rhythm is like bread without butter.” Or maybe butter without bread! Many editors say they hate near rhyme: cat/path, box/blacks. Awkward sentence structure to force a rhyme makes for awkward reading. And the text has to make sense.

I like what editor Paula Morrow says, “Poetry is an art form requiring a lot of discipline in language. It’s two different ways of writing, and the successful rhyming story requires both: First the heat of inspiration, then the cool control of revising and refining.”

Since I don’t write rhyme, I thought I’d share some great resources.

Good Story Company founded by former literary agent Mary Kole has this post:

How to Write a Rhyming Picture Book

Picture book Author Josh Funk has a number of posts about writing picture books. Here are a few on this topic:

Don’t Write in Rhyme

Rhyming Is All About Rhythm

Picture book Author Laura Bontje has a number of helpful posts:

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Rhyming Picture Book

Taking the Stress Out of Metre and Stress

Do Rhyming Picture Books Work Like Songs?

Author and Publisher Brooke Vitale has this interesting post:

How To Write a Rhyming Children’s Book in Perfect Rhyme!

Journey to Kidlit has this post:

3 Musts When Writing Rhyming Picture Books

Poet and Author Joy Moore blogs” about poetical structure often using picture books for examples.

And finally, I thought I’d share some rhyming picture books that I’ve enjoyed:

Leo Loves Mommy

American Desi

Federico and the Wolf

A Hippy-Hoppy Toad

My Hair

What are some of your favorite rhyming texts?

Image by SarahCulture from Pixabay

Posted in Business Side of Writing, Guest Post, Market Prep, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

How to Start Querying an Agent

letterbox.jpgguest post by author Jan Fields

First, of course, you need to find an agent you feel good about and learn what the agent wants. My favorite place for this is by Casey McCormick. If you look on the left-side column on Casey’s site, you’ll see agents grouped by what they represent. She’s spotlighted many agents and looked at what each agent represents and how the agent wants to be contacted. It’s really a treasure trove of help.

Now, after you’ve picked an agent. Try a Google search with just that agent’s name. Sometimes you can pull up even more information to help you really know what the agent wants to see from you (and sometimes the agent even has a blog where she/he puts queries that really snagged his/her attention. These are really priceless examples because they show how to effectively pitch to that agent. If the specific agent you’ve chosen doesn’t have that…poke around in Casey’s list to find some who do. It’s invaluable to check out examples.

Now, in the query/pitch itself, you can find wonderful, wonderful help on Nathan Bransford‘s site. Nathan isn’t agenting anymore but he has spent a massive amount of time helping writers to do this stuff right.
Here’s his query formula.
And help with formating an email query.
Really, you’ll find a ton of help on Nathan’s site.

Former agent who has given tons and tons of help is Mary Kole who has a site called There she has: help with queries and more.

Agent Jennifer Laughran has a great bit about your author bio that goes in your query.

So, that’s a good bit of reading but it should really get you going on your agent hunt. Good luck!

Jan’s Brief Bio

“Since my first magazine publication in the 1980s, I have been steadily writing for money in some form. Today I have over twenty books in print and still more in the pipeline – books for children and adults. I’ve also written for magazines, educational publishers and even a toy company! Writing is the only thing I’ve ever done really well that didn’t eventually become more like work than fun.”
To read more go to Jan’s site.

Jan is also the editor of the Writing for Children blog from the Institute of Children’s Literature. If you aren’t getting it, you’re missing out!

Thanks to Clarita on for the above image.