How Do You Punctuate Dialogue?

Quotation Marks

Dialogue can be a bit intimidating. All that punctuation. But it’s really not that complicated. The usual practice is to put dialogue in quotes and place an attribution after it, separated with a comma inside the closing quote mark. The attribution will not be capitalized, because it’s part of the same sentence:

“Hello,” he said.

The only thing that’s a little weird is if the quote is a question, you still don’t capitalize the attribution, even though it sort of looks like you should:

“How?” he asked.

When using a character’s name, it’s best to place the name before the verb, as in

“Hello,” Mark said.

This has fallen out of style:

“Hello,” said Mark.

 You can also put the attribution first:

He said, “Hello.”

 That’s really about all there is to dialogue punctuation.

The other important rule is to change paragraphs each time you change speakers. This would be confusing:

“Hello,” he said. “How are you?” she asked.

But this isn’t:

“Hello,” he said.
“How are you?” she asked.



Settings – How Much Detail?

by: Jo Anne Fontanilla

Every story takes place at same point or points in space and in time. It is incumbent upon the writer of fiction to “place” his story in space and time, as early as possible in his narrative, so that you will begin making the proper associations with the setting. The setting also presents a share of technical difficulties, but most novelists embrace them gladly. The novel is a prose form and emphasizes realism: its style ought to be, for the most part, terse and transparently plain. Whatever poetic impulse the novelist may have is likely to be frustrated: only the setting provides him an outlet for it; for in his descriptive writing he is allowed to express his feeling for beauty and create a scene in lavish hues, if he wishes.

The degree of elaboration with which setting is depicted depends upon a number of considerations, all of which the astute writer keeps in mind. Perhaps the first consideration is the importance of the setting in relation to the other essential elements in the story—plot and character. In some stories— especially contemporary stories that take place in surroundings that are familiar to most readers— the element of setting can be safely minimized. The particular setting, moreover, is not indispensable to the conversation that constitutes the body of the story, although the weather not only furnishes its title but also points symbolically to the problem raised by the slightly developed plot.

Another consideration for the conscientious writer is the probable familiarity of his setting. If the setting is one that is likely to be familiar to most of his readers, the writer needs to depict it in detail; he may assume that the details he selects will give his readers that pleasure of recognition that is one of the special values of familiar material. For example, although millions of Americans have never visited Coney Island, most of them are so well acquainted with the appearance and nature of the resort that the writer using this setting in a story for an American audience need feel no compulsion to present this particular setting elaborately.

With a setting that is remote from most readers not only in space but also in time, a different problem arises. A writer may safely assume that contemporary London will be much more familiar to most of his readers than Elizabethan or eighteenth-century London. If his story takes place in either earlier period, the writer will have to build up his setting out of appropriate details. Such a treatment involves information concerning the houses, the costumes, the manners, and the types of work and play characteristic of the period. Since the development of literary realism, readers become increasingly critical of the accuracy of historic settings, and the contemporary writer runs the risk of annoying his readers if he indulges in such conspicuous anachronism as the Elizabethan audience allowed its dramatist when they used settings remote in time and place. In the use of settings much less familiar than New York or London—such as ancient Persia or medieval India—the contemporary writer may content himself with a minimum of specific details—so long as the details he chooses and emphasizes are appropriate—since every few of his readers are in a position to challenge the historical accuracy of such details as he offers.

Finally, the treatment of setting, like the treatment of character, will depend on the mode in which the writer is working, whether it is classical, romantic, or realistic. What we have said concerning character in this connection is equally true of setting. In classical stories—in Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas or Voltaire’s Candide, for instance—the setting is usually sketched in broadly. In romantic stories there is a greater attention to detail, the writer may fall back on elements in setting that have been accumulated by generations of romance writers. The Romantic Age brought in a passionate sense of identification with nature, and the idealization of it. It is soon reflected in the novel. In realistic stories, the writer must consider seriously the accuracy and fullness of his details, since it is one of the tenets of realism that setting should be depicted with a high degree of circumstantiality. Faithful adherence to this tenet resulted in the development, in the middle and later nineteenth-century.

The most richly regional story in this collection is Faulkner’s “Was,” and the very detailed presentation of setting, atmosphere, and manners is justified not only because the place and the time of the story are unfamiliar even to most American readers, but also because the details are intrinsically interesting and amusing.

In contemporary realism, however, the reader is likely to find a rather less circumstantial treatment of American settings than the realistic fiction of the nineteenth century. This less particularized treatment is due, on the one hand, to the writer’s assumption that readers have now become familiar with the flora and fauna of regional America and, on the other hand, to a change in the conception of the technique of effective description.

In the more expansive form of the novel, the writer may feel free to devote a proportionately greater amount of space to the depiction of setting in and by itself than the constricted form of the short story will permit.

Most authors’ delight in turning out lengthy passages of description, “set pieces” with lavish strings of adjectives. However, by now that belongs to a past fashion. Today’s readers are impatient and skip solid pages or even paragraphs that do not advance the story. It is best to insert description as unobtrusively as possible, an image here, and the next—after dialogue, or a bit—or scatter pictures of the physical background, just as a dramatist artfully handles his “exposition.”

Percy Lubbock observes that paring a novel bare of most detail is occasionally good, but not very often. The consensus is that the factual inventory can be carried too far, is it is by Hugh Walpole and Theodore Dreiser, who compile altogether too much insignificant data; but that is merely abuse of a method. Too few externals can also be an error. To most of us, clothes and houses are telling clues, and the novelist owes it to us to report how his characters dress, and vividly where and how they live. At the same time, he fulfills his role in a larger degree as a social historian. But, besides this, as professor Lathrop suggests, the setting has become ever more important in contemporary fiction, because we increasingly recognize a man’s background as one of the factors that has shaped him. The active pressure of environment in forming personality is widely acknowledged now. “The setting is seen as a ‘force’…The plot is often presented not as a thing in itself, but as something caused and conditional, possible and characteristic only in its milieu. Hence, the greater demand to have the setting authentic, realistic. A thin or inadequately studied setting is not acceptable today.”

Ultimately, the kind and amount of background detail one likes in a book depends on its subject and aim, and no less on the temperament of the author and each reader.


Reading Fiction: A Method of Analysis with Selections for Study by Millett, Fred
Benjamin ,Harper; New York 1950

The Art of Reading the Novel by Freund, Philip
Collier Books; New York 1965



Make Your Writing More Active

Passive writing is boring. Here’s a simple change you can apply to every sentence you write to make it more interesting. Simply look for the word “was.” For example:

The house I grew up in was in Los Angeles. It was a low, ranch style house with some modern touches. It was designed by my father. But maintenance was a challenge. After only a few years the plumbing was rusty and paint was peeling from the outside walls.

That’s really boring! Here’s what it looks like if we change all those “was” passive verbs to something more active:

I grew up in Los Angeles, in a low, ranch style house with some modern touches. My father designed it, but he didn’t realize how hard it would be to maintain. After only a few years plumbing rusted and paint peeled from the outside walls.

Quite a difference, isn’t it? The changes were minor, but now it is active and interesting. It even got shorter!

Try eliminating “was” from your writing and see how much more interesting it becomes! (If you write in present tense, look for “is” instead.)


Best Children’s Books of 2016

Here’s the New York Times list of notable children’s books from 2016:

Picture Books

DU IZ TAK? Written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. (Candlewick, $16.99.) In this enchanting tale of bugs who build a fort in a plant, only to see it toppled by a spider, Ellis presents an imaginary land of stylish insects who speak their own made-up — but easily understood — language.

FREEDOM OVER ME. Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life. Written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, $17.99.) Basing his work on an 1828 document he found, Bryan has created dignified, heart-rending portraits of 11 slaves who were put up for sale, imagining their individual voices and the details of their lives.

I AM PAN! Written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. (Roaring Brook, $18.99.) An exuberant look at the irrepressible yet often overlooked Greek god Pan that “seems to owe as much to Old Hollywood as to modern graphic novels,” our reviewer, Maria Russo, said.

Continue reading the main story

THE JOURNEY. Written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna. (Flying Eye, $17.95.) This heart-stopping, visually sophisticated story of a happy family suddenly forced to flee their home because of war evokes the dark danger of fairy tales to present the stark realities and enduring hope of modern refugees.

LEAVE ME ALONE! Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol. (Roaring Brook, $17.99.) This clever, witty tale of a beleaguered grandma who just wants to knit in peace “manages to feel both classic and ultracontemporary,” according to our reviewer, Michael Ian Black.

MY NAME IS JAMES MADISON HEMINGS. By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Terry Widener. (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99.) This soulful book honestly explores the predicament of a sensitive, inquisitive boy — the son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings — who spent his life “owned” by his father, a founder of our democracy.

WE FOUND A HAT. Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Candlewick, $17.99.) “A masterpiece of honest feelings, emotional tension and poetic restraint,” our reviewer, Sergio Ruzzier, called this third of Klassen’s hat-themed books, about two turtles who find a hat they both want to keep.

SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. By Adam Rex. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, $17.99.) A funny, unexpectedly touching look at how awful the first day of school is for the school building itself, until, helped by a kind janitor, it starts to enjoy the exuberant children and their learning.

THE THANK YOU BOOK. Written and illustrated by Mo Willems. (Hyperion, $9.99.) Willems’s beloved Elephant & Piggie series comes to a fitting close with the two winningly mismatched friends finding a way to thank everyone who has helped them, including their loyal readers.

THEY ALL SAW A CAT. Written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. (Chronicle, $16.99.) A cat walking through the world looks mighty different to various other creatures, such as a fox and a goldfish, as this delightful, ingenious book shows.

THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK! Written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. (Chronicle, $16.99.) This clever and lovely celebration of reading — and of picture books themselves — features a picture-loving duckling who ends up transported by the power of words, too.

THUNDER BOY JR. By Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) “Soaring,” our reviewer, Minh C. Le, called this playful story about a Native American boy who, tired of sharing a name with his father, seeks a suitable new one for himself.

Middle Grade

THE BEST MAN. By Richard Peck. (Dial, $16.99.) An 11-year-old boy has to learn some new lessons about masculinity and family when his uncle marries another man in this touching and insightful novel from the beloved Peck.

GHOST. By Jason Reynolds. (Atheneum, $16.99.) Trying to outrun his own painful memories and personal challenges, the budding track star who narrates this National Book Award finalist is “worthy of a place alongside Ramona and Joey Pigza on the bookshelves where our most beloved, imperfect characters live,” our reviewer, Kate Messner, said.

THE INQUISITOR’S TALE; Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. By Adam Gidwitz. Illustrated by Hatem Aly. (Dutton, $17.99.) This delightfully twisty tale of traveling children — are they saints or heretics? — wanted by the King of France in 1242 is “dense with literary and earthy delights,” our reviewer, Soman Chainani, said.

MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY. By John David Anderson. (Walden Pond, $16.99.) This story of three troubled boys’ devotion to an exceptional teacher who somehow gets through to each of them, but falls ill and has to leave the classroom, is tragic, funny and uplifting all at once.

PAX. By Sara Pennypacker. Illustrated by JonKlassen. (Balzer&Bray/HarperCollins, $16.99.) “Truly remarkable,” our reviewer, Katherine Rundell, called this resonant story, which alternates between the points of view of a boy and the pet fox he is forced to set free when his soldier father goes off to war.

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE. By Kate DiCamillo. (Candlewick, $16.99.) A girl in 1970s Florida who is abandoned by her father tries to lure him back home by baton-twirling her way into the newspaper in this heartbreaking, utterly enchanting novel.

WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER. By Grace Lin. (Little, Brown, $18.99.) This National Book Award finalist about a girl’s search for her grandmother is the last of a trilogy that incorporates traditional Chinese tales, which our reviewer, Emily Jenkins praised for its “surpassing wonder and emotional weight.”

Young Adult

THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER. By Tim Federle. (Simon & Schuster, $17.99.) A gay aspiring screenwriter coming to terms with his sister’s death and his own stalled romantic life is at the center of this “moving tale about grief that’s also laugh-out-loud funny,” our reviewer, Ali Benjamin, said.

THE PASSION OF DOLSSA. By Julie Berry. (Viking, $18.99.)“Magnificent,” our reviewer, Marjorie Ingall, called this absorbing, elegant novel about a young medieval gentlewoman on the run from an obsessed friar who wants to burn her at the stake for heresy.

SALT TO THE SEA. By Ruta Sepetys. (Philomel, $18.99.) This devastating literary thriller about a group of young refugees fleeing Stalin’s troops at the end of World War II is set against the worst maritime disaster in history, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, which cost over 9,000 lives.

THE SERPENT KING. By Jeff Zentner. (Crown, $17.99.) Zentner manages to blend humor, optimism and ominous Southern-style moodiness in this tale of three devoted teenage friends who help each other face violence, family shame and the difficulty of breaking out of the trap called home.

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO. By A. S. King. (Dutton, $17.99.) Our reviewer, Jeff Giles, praised King’s “beautifully matter-of-fact use of the supernatural” in this hypnotic and insightful tale of a teenager who meets her future selves as she struggles to make her way through a dysfunctional present.

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. By Nicola Yoon. (Delacorte, $18.99.)Jazzy, romantic and philosophical, this novel’s main action takes place over the course of a single day in which a Jamaican girl about to be deported meets and falls for a Korean-American boy.


Give the Gift of History — Yours!


As the holidays approach, our thoughts turn to gift giving. When I look at advertising, so much of what I see being touted as great for gifting seems thoughtless and shallow. I like to give truly personal gifts that will create emotion in the heart of the recipient. So here’s an idea for something that I would certainly love to receive as a gift:

Give your family the gift of your own history. Sure, you might occasionally tell a story that amuses them, but what if they had a book, memoir or journal that captured your entire life? Not only would they understand the journey you’ve made, but it would become a treasured family keepsake to be shared with future generations.

I’ve made it easy to create your own personal history with my online class, Write Your Life Story, from Writing Academy.

And there’s another way to give the gift of history, too. Consider giving a class about writing a life story to the senior members of your family. It will make it easy for them to share their memories with you, and you’ll learn things about them that will bring you closer together.
This is the perfect time of year to begin a life story, because there’s time to get it into print for the holidays. And it’s the perfect time of year to purchase the class Write Your Life Story as a gift, because I’m offering it at 75% off for the next few weeks.

This course shows you how to create an exciting and engaging biography or autobiography to share with friends, family and the world. Hundreds of students have taken this course and rated it 5 out of 5 stars! Enroll now!

Special 75% Off Deal

Right now you can enroll in Write Your Life Story, or purchase it as gift, for 75% off. Simply use the special link below to receive this life changing experience.…

I’ll see you there!

P.S. My new book, also called Write Your Life Story, is available from Amazon. It makes a great gift, too!


NaNoWriMo: Creating a Novel in 30 Days

November is National Novel Writing Month, when authors can sign up at and receive encouragement as they work to create a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Hundreds of my students have successfully used NaNoWriMo to complete their first draft, so it’s a valuable tool.

It sounds like a lot of work, but you may be surprised how easy it is to create a novel in a month — if you approach that goal with the right strategy.

Here are my tips for how to succeed at NaNoWriMo:

  1. Don’t just start typing. If you do, you will get lost, hit a dead end, and give up. You must start with a plan, prepared even before NaNoWriMo begins.
  2. Start with a scene list. If you have a list of 50 to 100 scenes planned to get you from start to finish, then it’s easy to start writing each day, because you know exactly what you need to work on.
  3. Your scenes need to flow, so create them within a three-act structure. The easiest way is to use the nine checkpoints I teach in all my writing classes.
  4. To create a checkpoint structure you need to know your characters, especially your protagonist, so start by designing that character. Most importantly, you need to understand the flaw your protagonist must overcome to achieve the goal that drives your novel.
  5. Steps 2-4 may sound familiar. If you work through them in the opposite order — from character through checkpoint structure to scene list — you are following the path I teach in all my classes. With that done, success is just some dedicated effort away.
  6. So how much dedicated effort is that? If your scene list is ready to go at the start of NaNoWriMo, then you can focus on writing. 50,000 words is about 1700 words per day for a month. But you should write more than that, because Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or having relatives to entertain are all likely to get in the way as the month draws to a close. Plan on 2000-2500 words per day.
  7. How much writing time is that? Even if you can type very fast, you probably can’t “write” faster than about 20 words per minute. The great thing is that even if you can’t type very well, you can still probably write about 20 words per minute! That means you need to dedicate 90 minutes to two hours per day to writing during November. If that sounds like a lot, think about how much time you spend watching television. The easiest way to succeed at NaNoWriMo is simple: don’t watch any television in November!

If you follow these guidelines you’ll have a finished first draft by November 30.

Then what should you do?

Put it aside and enjoy the holidays. Then, on January first, create your own NaNoEdMo — that’s National Novel Editing Month! Polish it into a second draft and you’ll be ready for publication in February.

I’ve listed some course links with great discounts below, specifically for NaNoWriMo. The first three will get you ready for NaNoWriMo, and the last one will get you published in February.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo:

Novel Writing Workshop at 90% off (just $19)

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy at 84% off (just $49)

Young Adult Fiction Writing Workshop at 90% off (just $19)

Publishing Your Finished Novel:

Publish Your Book Now! at 60% off (just $19)

Sign up today and you’ll have a completed novel on November 30th!


Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts


I’ll try to keep this list updated. Please let me know of any good or bad experiences with these by dropping me a note at [email protected]


Baen Books (Adults) Submission Guidelines

Baen Books is a science fiction and fantasy publisher. It accepts unsolicited manuscripts for all books and prefers electronic submissions through its manuscript-submission form. Baen is very accepting of new authors and has a large e-publishing department.

DAW Books (Adults) Submission Guidelines

DAW Books is the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Penguin Books. It accepts unsolicited manuscripts and prefers them in paper form. It will respond in about three months and will not consider simultaneous submissions.

Chicago Review Press (Adults) Fiction, Nonfiction, Memoirs

Dream Big Publishing (Adult Novels and Short Stories) Submission Guidelines

Dream Big Publishing is looking for fiction works. Full length novels – 20,000  words and up, 120,000 + words, if applicable for the work, may be split into separate novels.  Short stories are acceptable. No non-fiction.

– Romance
– Historical
– Dystopian
– Erotica
– Paranormal
– Zombie
– Fantasy

Harlequin Romance

Joffe Books (Adult Novels)

  • Thrillers, Mysteries, Detective, Romance, Horror, Suspense, and Literary Fiction are favorite genres
  • Great books which say something interesting about the world as you see it
  • We prefer full-length novels

Kensington Publishing Corporation (Adults)

Zebra:  Kensington’s flagship imprint publishes nationally bestselling women’s fiction, romantic suspense and bestselling historical, paranormal and contemporary romances.

Brava:  Publishes popular contemporary romances.

Pinnacle:  Publishes bestselling thrillers, westerns, horror and true crime titles.  Among Pinnacle’s western bestselling authors is William W. Johnstone, the country’s most popular western writer.

Citadel is Kensington’s non-fiction imprint.  Citadel publishes acclaimed memoirs and books about popular culture, past and present.

Aphrodisia:  Launched in January 2006, Aphrodisia publishes an extremely diverse and popular line of erotic romances, ranging from historical, to paranormal, contemporary, ménage, bdsm, and more.  Quality writing, a fascinating variety of sexual relationships, and a willingness to push the boundaries of explicit content far beyond those of traditional romance is what Aphrodisia offers the adventuresome reader.

Dafina:  Launched in the fall of 2000, Dafina is the leading publisher of commercial fiction written by and about people of African descent.  The word Dafina, which is Swahili for an unexpected gift or treasure, reflects the imprint’s mission:  to share the gift of storytelling.  Dafina Books has established itself as a publishing home for dynamic stories for adults in genres as diverse as women’s fiction, street lit, romance, and inspirational fiction.  In 2006 Dafina expanded its program to include books for teens.  Dafina Books publishes over eighty books a year in hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and eBook.

KTeen Kensington:  Launched in the spring of 2011, Kensington Kteen focuses on publishing a wide variety of exciting, commercial teen fiction with positive messages, cutting-edge stores and all the drama, humor, and fantasy teens love.

KTeen Dafina: Under the imprint Dafina Kteen we publish romance, mystery, paranormal, and street lit for teen readers.

  Launched in the summer of 2012, eKensington is a digital imprint that publishes in many genres, including:  women’s fiction, romance, urban fantasy, thrillers and mystery among others. eKensington offers a new platform for Kensington’s established authors and a fresh way to launch authors and introduce readers to burgeoning new talents in all their favorite genres.

Rebel Base Books: 
Not for dudes only!  But guys really seem to dig these manly books, which gleefully push the limits of taste, humor, and snarkiness.

Lyle Stuart Books: 
Learn how to win at poker, blackjack, and more with advice from the pros, including Gus Hansen, John Vorhaus, and Lou Krieger.

Holloway House: Holloway House publishes legendary street lit fiction that has set the standard for the genre.
They feature material that is both edgy and provocative in any era.

Lyrical Press: Founded in 2007 by Renee Rocco, Lyrical Press offers readers a rich catalog of titles ranging from tender contemporary romances and edgy erotic paranormals to suspenseful thrillers and shocking science fiction. Authors can expect a personalized publishing experience from Lyrical Press, where the relationship between the author and publisher is understood to be symbiotic. When the authors succeed, the house succeeds.

Koehler Books – (Adults)

Imprints: Battle Flag, Beach Murder Mysteries, Cafe con Leche (Coffee with Milk), High Tide. They offer a booklet about all aspects of publishing, including self-publishing and offering paid services:

NCM Publishing (Adults)

NCM Publishing publishes all genres of fiction, non-fiction, self-help and young adult fiction.

Regal Crest Non-Fiction (Adults)

Topics of interest to both alternative (GLBTQ) readers as well as mainstream readers including, but not limited to humor, popular culture, current events and politics, psychology, erotica, education, health, sports, travel, pets, biography and memoir, social issues, and history. We are also interested in anthologies and How-To books (such as writing instruction), and depending upon the approach, we may also be interested in topics in the fields of business, sociology, and religion.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications (Adults)

Sky Horse Publishing (Adult Non-Fiction)

Poets and Writers Small Presses Database for Poets and Writers (Adult)

Search for small publishers who publish poetry or collections of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction (memoir), etc. You can filter the genres and it will show you your choices.

Adults and Children

Arthur A. Levine Books (Adults and Children)

August Books (Adults and Children)

Adult books about storytelling and collections of folktales.

Children’s books – Original folktales

Chronicle Books (Adults and Children)

Chronicle Books were not recommended by Preditors and Editors. I think it wise to research the internet for complaints and decide  for yourself before placing judgment.

Free Spirit Publishing (Children, Teens, Parents, Educators, Counselors)

Free Spirit Publishing publishes high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children, teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people.

MuseItUp Publishing (Adults and Children)

Romance – everything from: romantic comedy, contemporary romance, fantasy romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, western romance, sweet romance, sci-fi romance, time travel romance

Paranormal – Fantasy –  we love vampires, ghosts, witches, werewolves and shape shifters…and dragons

Mystery – Suspense -Thriller – captivate us with the pacing of your novel. Hint: we love cozy mysteries

Young Adult – we’re big fans of the Potter & Twilight series but seeking a unique voice for this target group

MuseItYoung – this division is for our tween crossover chapter books for 10 – 14 year olds – NO PICTURE BOOKS

Horror & Dark Fiction – scare the living daylights out of us with your settings, dialogue, and characters – not with blood and gore and missing human parts. Use the power of your writer’s voice to draw images that will leave readers sitting at the edge of their seats.

Science Fiction – do you have a fantasy/romance/paranormal/etc. set in another planet? Fleshed out your otherly world? Then give us a shout.

Peachtree (Adults and Children)

For children’s picture books, send full manuscript.

For all others, send either full manuscript OR table of contents plus three sample chapters.

Peachtree does not accept query letters where no manuscript is included.

Peachtree currently publishes the following categories:

Children’s fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, middle readers, young adult books

Education, parenting, self-help, and health books of interest to the general trade

PublishingHau[5] (pronounced “publishing house”)

Publishing startup focused on publishing non-fiction Kindle books and providing web-searchable versions to Google to make their content more findable by readers.

Sky Azure Publishing (Teen, Young Adult, Adult)

A small independent publisher based in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. We are a traditional royalty-paying publisher, accepting electronic submissions now from authors, irrespective of previous publication history or genre. They are not accepting non-fiction (Feb.2016).

Sterling Publishing (Adult and Children)

Woodbine House (Adult and will consider Children) (Marketing Plan)

Mostly publishes books for parents of special needs, but said they would look at submissions for children’s books, too.


Albert Whitman & Company (Children)

Picture book manuscripts for ages 2-8.

Novels and chapter books for ages 8-12.

Young adult novels.

Nonfiction for ages 3-12 and YA.

Art samples showing pictures of children.

Boyds Mills (Children) Can’t find an updated listing of guidelines. I’ll contact them and see.

Boyds Mills is a publisher of children’s and young adult books that accepts unsolicited manuscripts. It is looking for fiction, nonfiction and artwork submissions. It prefers submissions by regular mail, rather that email, and says it will respond within three months.

Charlesbridge (Children)

Charlesbridge offers free activities and downloadable items.

Curious Fox (Children)

Curious Fox does not publish picture books

Dawn Publications (Children)

Dawn publishes “nature awareness” titles for adults and children. Our picture books are intended to encourage an appreciation for nature and a respectful participation in it. We are seeking to inspire children as well as educate them. An inspired child is a motivated.

Dial Books For Young Readers (Children)

Flashlight Press (Children)

Flashlight accepts only picture books.

Guardian Angel Publishing – Children

Kane Miller EDC Publishing (Children)

Just Us Books and Marimba Books (Multi-Cultural Children’s books)

Click on Contacts and scroll down for submission guidelines.

Lee & Low Books (Children of Color)

Lee & Low Books publishes books for children and young adults with a multicultural theme. All manuscripts must be aimed at children of color, with an authentic voice. They accept submissions from new authors through regular mail. They accept no email submissions.

Little Pickle Press (Children) Middle Grade and Young Adult

Mighty Media (Children)

Onstage Publishing (Children)  chapter books, middle grade novels and young adult novels

Saguaro Books, LLC (Middle and Young Adult)

Saguaro Books, LLC is a publisher of middle grade and young adult fiction by first-time authors. They also accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Sky Pony Press (Children)

Tall Tails Publishing House (Children)

Small independent children’s press, Krystal Russell, Phone: 918-770-9923,


Creating Your Author Website – A Checklist

What authors should have a website? Every one of them. But a writer or illustrator should have a website that contains information of value. Simply having a book⏤whether publisher or in-progress⏤listed on an author’s website is of little use to the viewer. Having information to support that book adds value.

One of my students compiled a list of what she found most useful on author websites and sorted it by category. It looks like this:

About the Author
Author info
Media info and photos

Good site name
Social media links
Press release
Press coverage (clippings)
Mailing list subscription
Gift shop

Effective us of color
Mobile Friendly
Use of images
Use of thumbnails
Child / Adult oriented design

Chapter preview
Artwork info
Other Services

Bibliography (list of books)
Where to buy books
E-book option
Audio Book option
Signed Copy option
Other works (paintings, etc.)

School visits
Library Programs
List of Public Events

For writers
For adults and teachers
For parents

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Pros and Cons of Joining a Critique Group


Nearly all writers have a need for support and constructive criticism during the writing process. They want to make sure they’re on the right track, and that their results will meet the interests of agents, publishers or readers.

The feedback provided by a group can help avoid time wasted in rewrites and editing.

And positive feedback can help overcome self-doubts that often arise.

A critique group can provide the guidance and encouragement that makes the writing process more productive and more fun.

In a critique group, “works in progress” are shared with other members, either in writing or via oral readings. The members offer constructive criticism and suggestions for revisions. It’s important to avoid bruising egos during this process. But it’s also important to offer concrete suggestions, not just a pat on the back.

Still, beginning writers need to prepare themselves, because a good critique group will tell you what you need to hear, which is not necessarily what you want to hear.

One of the best things about critique groups is they afford the opportunity to interact with others who speak your language and share your passion for great writing. But this can also be a problem if some group members have very different ideas about what direction your story should take or how it should be written. So at some point you need to decide which advice to take, and which to ignore. There are no black and white answers to most literary questions.

Critique groups may also provide you with contacts such as editors or agents, or connect you with illustrators if you’re working on a children’s book. And members may have experience in promoting books that you’ll find valuable once you’re in print.

But critique groups can consume a lot of time when you could instead be generating written output. In addition to the meetings, you’ll need to spend time seriously analyzing other members’ work.

The best groups meet regularly in person, although online groups can also be very productive. In person groups often meet in bookstores or libraries. The notice boards in such facilities offer a way to find them. Online searches can also turn up groups in specific areas.

One very large online critique group is

If you’d like to interact with writers who are all on the same page, there’s a Google group of my former students. There you will find hundreds of members who are writing using the same techniques you’ve learned in my classes:

You can just click the Join button, you don’t need to contact the admin. Then you must acknowledge that you understand the postings may contain mature content, and that you are 13 years or older.