Tips On Tuesday – 7 Important Things To Know If You’re A Children’s Writer by: Marsha Diane Arnold

Hello everyone.

I must apologize. I have lost my calendar of all of my guest bloggers. *boo-hoo* LUCKILY Marsha Diane Arnold remembered when her date was and has graciously reminded me. 🙂


Now, I hope all of you get some great tidbits of things she is sharing. Please leave a comment or question and we will get back to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best wishes,


7 important things to know if you’re a children’s writer

by: Marsha Diane Arnold

Marsha Diane Arno

My birthday was this month, a bit of a milestone birthday. It was July 7th. 7/7. In honor of that birthday and the fact that I’m still flapping around in this big wonderful children’s lit world, I shall share 7 tips, 7 things I’ve learned or things that have been reinforced since I entered the children’s publishing fray in the early 1990’s.

#1 “Writing is a moral act. What you write has a real effect on others, often to a rather surprising extent.” So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of 60 plus books including the popular No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. No, he’s not a children’s author, but if he believes writing for adults is a moral act, then how much more must it be in the children’s writing world, a world where we’re writing for developing minds and young spirits seeking guidance. So, whatever you do, write the stories that care for the heart.

#2 Treasure your editors. I’ve had some fabulous editors in my time; I am so grateful for them. When two of my editors left publishing, I was like driftwood being tossed in a rough sea. It has taken a long time to right myself, with an agent who believes in my work and now a new editor. So when you finally get your dream editor, sing a song of thanksgiving.

#3 Treasure your writing partners. Before we went our separate ways, my first writing group was known by some editors as “that famous Sebastopol writing group.” We were each starting out in the children’s lit world. We went through rejections, successes, and learning together. Without their support, I may never have been published. I’m in two new writing groups now, one in-person and one online. When you find the right writing group for you, sing a second song of thanksgiving.

#4 Patience is a virtue. Patience is useful when waiting for answers from editors, for contracts, for checks, and for that best-selling book we all hope for. Publishing remains a relatively slow industry. Most other professions would not put up with the time lag we do. Patience is a good quality for writers to possess.

#5 Listen to your internal authority. There are so many external authorities, so many tips and blogs and advice to read. These can be a distraction; writers need focus. Yes, tips and advice can be important and helpful to your progress, but beware. You can spend every minute of your day reading and studying other’s advice and forget about what your true work is – to create wonderful stories for young readers. Beginners need guides and rules, but once you’ve graduated from school and had a bit of experience, remember that your truest authority is you. Listen to your internal authority, your inner voice, and realize that the most important question is, “Does it work?”

#6 Persevere. As I tell students when I visit schools, “It only takes one YES to be on the way to where you want to be.” I had 13 rejections for my first book, Heart of a Tiger, before I got that one wonderful “yes” from an editor who loved my story as much as I did.

Study a fast running stream. When the water hits a rock, it doesn’t stop and sulk in a puddle. It looks for a way around. You should do no less. Persevere.

7) Stop comparing. I’m still learning this one. It’s so challenging, but it’s the healthiest way to pursue your writing dream. Along with this is the understanding that no matter what type of story you write, there are bits and pieces of you in your stories. Treasure those bits and pieces. They are what make your story unique.

So, go be unique. Listen to your inner voice. Persevere, be patient, be polite, and be pure. And may the luck of the 7s be with you.

Marsha Diane Arnold has been called a “born storyteller” by the media. She has authored eleven picture books ranging from the soulful Ridgway award winner Heart of a Tiger, to the Smithsonian Notable The Pumpkin Runner, to the uproarious starred review Roar of a Snore, which was also a Dolly Parton Imagination Library selection. Her latest picture book manuscript was just bought by Neal Porter Books. Marsha also has a digital storybook, Prancing Dancing Lily, about a spunky dancing cow who travels the world. The trailer and links are at:

Marsha travels nationally and internationally as a speaker and writing workshop leader for schools and conferences. She has taught aspiring authors privately, with the Institute of Children’s Literature, online with and the Picture Book Academy, and on faculty for writing workshops. Her e-course, Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books can be found at the Picture Book Academy at

A Few of Marsha’s Books:

Dancing Prancing Lilly

The Pumpkin Runner

Heart Of A Tiger

Links for Marsha:

  1. Marsha’s website –
  2. Like Marsha on Facebook: MarshaDianeArnoldAuthor
  3. Follow Marsha on Twitter: @MarshaDArnold
  4. Marsha’s blog: Storymagician Blog at
  5. Marsha’s Prancing Dancing Lily app:
  6. Want to do more with The Pumpkin Runner? Here’s what one elementary school did – StoryMagician
  7. Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books with Marsha Diane Arnold – Picture Book Academy
  8. Audio/Video Interview about Prancing Dancing LilyProgressive Dairyman

8 thoughts on “Tips On Tuesday – 7 Important Things To Know If You’re A Children’s Writer by: Marsha Diane Arnold

  1. Love your point about patience in our field vs. others. I put #7 at #1, because that can be a number one distraction.

  2. #7! I’m ALWAYS comparing self to other writers and Self NEVER measures up. But doggone it all, I’m good and getting better every day. So thanks for this and itty-bitty pieces of me ARE in some of my stories. *waves*

    Tracey, hahaha, you sound like me. I’m up on July 30th and I believe you’ll need it a week or more early? I plan on getting it to you by the weekend??

  3. Yay for the 7/7 ers!! My bday is 7/7 also. Great post, I really enjoyed it. I could use the stream hitting the rock visual since I got a rejection today. But it was a very kind and helpful one, which is rare these days it seems. So around that rock I go…..

  4. FYI McCall Smith is writing a chapter book series about the very young Ladies No. 1 Detective! I also find it interesting how for each author the weight distribution of these points varies. Great post, Marsha and Tracey.

  5. Hmm iit appeafs like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote
    and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any points for rookie blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

  6. If I could give one good pointer, it would be to find your niche.

    It may or may not be obvious. It could take a while before you figure it out too. If you haven’t already. Once you do though, you will find a following and enjoy what you are doing.

    Good luck!

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