Free eBook – 11 Steps to Writing Your First Children’s Book


At Children's Book Insider, we've been helping regular folks get started writing children's books for more than two decades. 

Now, for the first time, we're giving away the simple 11 step method that has helped countless authors get published!


Here's just some of what the eBook includes:

  • What it takes to become a children's author.  
  • From toddlers to teens – how to identify your perfect age group.
  • How to develop a great story idea and bring it to life.
  • How to get expert feedback on your manuscripts.
  • Researching and submitting your manuscript to the right publisher for you.                                                 

                                                                             …and much more!


This isn't the same old outdated information you may have seen elsewhere.  This is real, actionable, up-to-the-minute advice
from the most trusted name in children's writing — Children's Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children's Writers.


And, for a limited time, it's 100% free!


Get it now at


The Writer’s Toolbox: Part 2

There are some amazing tools available today to help you create and edit your work — if you know where to look. In this two-part series we will gather some of the best of the many choices for your review.

D. Offer writes for Write4Kids. Offer manages the popular Facebook emoticons and Facebook smiley website Emoinstaller can add hundreds of additional Facebook chat emoticons into your Facebook account in just a few clicks.

Word Processing Software

There are still writers who use electric typewriters and even pen-and-paper, but today the word processor has become the norm for most writers. A good word processing program is the first, best tool in the writer’s toolbox, and fortunately there are some great alternatives available. The flexibility and productivity that a word processing program can bring to editing and revising your work is a nothing short of amazing, making it a must-have app for any writer who is serious about their work.

Microsoft Word (Windows / Mac) $102 to $120

Still the most popular word processing software on the market since it stole first place from Word Perfect way back in the 1990’s, Microsoft Word is clearly one of the best word processing programs available. Word offers some amazing tools that go way past simple word processing, including the ability to manage longer documents, apply styles and themes to your work, and is even capable of creating a self-updating Table of Contents and a detailed Index.

For most writers, however, most of the features are over-kill and are not really needed. Your publisher doesn’t need you to submit with the degree of formatting that is available in Word, in fact most discourage the practice. Also there is the problem of the price. The standalone version of Word is going for about $102 while you can pick up a copy of the Microsoft Office Home & Students edition for about $120 if you do a little shopping. The Home & Students edition includes the popular Microsoft programs Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote (we’ll talk about OneNote later), and if you have a use for them the package deal offers more bang for the buck.

You can also test drive the suite for free if you want to see if you think it’s worth the money through the Office website. We’ve included it here because despite the cost, no list of word processing programs would be complete without an entry for Word.

LibreOffice (Windows / Mac / Linux) Free

LibreOffice Writer is a free, open-source Office application that offers an entire suite of productivity programs designed to compete directly with Microsoft Office. Just like the Professional version of Office, LibreOffice offers programs that can handle word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, etc.

Writer, the word processor that comes with LibreOffice, is a full-featured program that offers almost everything a writer could want in a word processor. It does take slightly longer to load than maybe we’d like, but if you’re looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office without spending your hard-earned money, then Writer is an excellent choice.

FocusWriter (Windows/Mac/Linux) Free

One of the problems many writers have with programs like Word and Writer is that they are cluttered with features that are completely unnecessary. In response, the developers of FocusWriter have developed a distraction-free, word processing program that lets you stay focused on the writing. They do, however, provide you with the core set of features most writers will find handy.

You can set FocusWriter to fill your whole screen so that only thing you can see is the page, with options to change the appearance to one that works for you. The features it does offer have been developed with the writer in mind. You can open a number of documents at once utilizing a tabbed interface that makes the documents available without cluttering up your screen.

One feature unique to FocusWriter is the ability to set and track a daily goal for how much writing you want to accomplish each day. You can define your goal in terms of time spent writing or word count, depending on which works best for you, and FocusWriter will track your progress for you. It works even when you spread your writing out over the course of an entire day, and the software saves your results so you can review your progress against your goal at any time.

Second runner up to the Daily Goal tool in terms of its overall coolness is the ability to add typewriter sounds that give the user the illusion that they are working on an old Royal typewriter, complete with the familiar ding as you pounded each key as well as that wonderful sound that marked each time you hit enter to return the ribbon at the end of each line. The sound-effects are so amazingly realistic that you’ll have a hard time remembering you’re not using a real typewriter. It adds no real value, but it is fun to use.


DropBox (Windows/Mac/Linux) Free

One way to make sure you have copies of your work for years to come is to make you have a place to back-up your documents, and DropBox is a great cloud-based solution for document storage. A free download installs a DropBox folder that you can access just like any other folder. The DropBox folder is then synced with your DropBox account on the web and your files are stored on the DropBox servers. The free account gets you 2GB worth of document storage with more available for lease each month.

The app is so popular blogs are posting new ways to use DropBox to trick out your desktop, and there is a music player under development. A website login also lets you access your files from anywhere with an internet connection, meaning you can write anywhere without missing a beat.

Internet-based companies continue to appear by the dozens, and many of them are offering excellent tools and apps that can help you create, and edit your work. We’ll continue to keep our eye out for the best, and report back soon.


Free Kindle Download of Writing Fiction for Dummies

From November 15-19, 2010, Amazon is offering a free download of the Kindle edition of Writing Fiction for Dummies. And if you don't have the Kindle e-book reader, you can download a free app to read the book on your Mac or PC here.

This offer is only good for Amazon customers in the United States.

Of course they're doing this to offer you other products (such as Dummies' author Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Pro novel-writing software). I've not read Writing Fiction for Dummies (though I was Technical Editor on Writing Children's Books for Dummies), but a deal's a deal, and you never know when that one piece of advice will put your writing over the top.


Unique Tool For Writers: Wordle

Wordle is a free online tool that takes any text and creates a “word cloud”.  The more a word shows up in the text, the larger it appears in a cloud.  Here’s a Wordle cloud I created using the text of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

I can think of a few  interesting uses for children’s book writers (or any writer, for that matter):

  • Run your manuscript through it to see if you’re overusing certain adjectives.  If a word that has nothing to do with the theme of your story is larger than those that do, perhaps it’s time to take out the thesaurus and vary your word choices a bit.

  • Need to write a plot synopsis, but you’re not certain what to say?  Let Wordle show you what the overriding themes of your story are.  It’s pretty clear what President Lincoln had on his mind while crafting his speech by examining the Worldle above.

  • Perhaps you can find a novel way to use one of these for storytelling purposes.  Maybe providing a Wordle of each chapter throughout a manuscript would be a memorable way of summing things up?  Or take the dialogue from each character and create their own Wordles and run them back-to-back.  I leave the possibilities to your own creative minds.

Have a look for yourself at


Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!


The new Children’s Writing Update e-zine is online – Go get it!

The new edition of the Children’s Writing Update e-zine is now available for your viewing pleasure. This issue features:

* resources for “mom writers”

* news about two major contests

* links to a slew of “how-to” videos for children’s writers

* an article by Laura Backes called “Writing Without a Map”…and much more.

It’s free!

Have a look at


Kirkus Reviews’ Best Children’s Books of 2008 Now Available

It’s the time of year when “Best of” lists start making their appearance, and, in the world of children’s literature, few such lists are more prestigious than The Kirkus Reviews’.

If you want a crash course in what’s happening in kids lit, head over to Kirkus now and grab the just-released list.

Here’s the link:


Write a Picture Book – Free eBook Tells How

We’re offering a great little ebook called Getting Started Writing Picture Books as a bonus for signing up for our free eZine, The Children’s Writing Update.

To claim your copy, just click here


Today (Friday) Only — Free Writing Software

We just stumbled across this:  Until midnight tonight, you can grap a free copy of Liquid Story Binder XE, a “uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and novelists.”   It’s being given away at



How to Find Free Wi-Fi Connections

One of the great things about being a writer is that you can do it pretty much anywhere. 

Charge up the laptop battery and you’re ready to go.  But to really go mobile, a “wi-fi” connection to the internet is the only way to travel.

These days, scores of coffee shops, bookstores and even fast food joints offer wi-fi service to their customers.  The tricky part?  Finding them.  I’ve looked at a bunch of directories, and I’ve found this one to be very comprehensive and reliable:

And here’s one that shows locations on a map:

Happy wi-fying!


How to Make YouTube Kid-Safe

Sure, YouTube is filled with great stuff for kids to view.  It’s also packed with videos that, well, aren’t too great for them to view.  How to keep a young surfer on a safe path?  Try TotLOL, a monitored front-end to YouTube that offers only G-rated videos for the young ‘uns.  It’s free!


Interested in writing stories and sending them to children’s book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

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