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“Everyone starts with bad writing. Every single writer, every single time – no matter how long they’ve been doing it. You can’t avoid your own bad writing. You can’t go around it or over it or under it. You have to go through it. Just get it onto the page or screen. You can always fix it later! Don’t let the fear of bad writing stop you from writing. Remember: you can’t fix what isn’t there.” – Troy Wilson.

“Write what you want to write, because as you move through the publishing process, it will become incredibly important for you to truly believe in your work.” – Anna Lazowski.

“Comics should be fun for both the creator and the reader, so make sure to enjoy the process and don’t stress out about getting it right the first time.” – Ken Lamug.

“Write anything and everything.” – Jake Maia Arlow.

“Read lots and write lots. Whenever I feel at a loss for ideas or creativity, I find the best way to refill that well is to read.” – Graci Kim.

“Sharing your experiences from a place of authenticity helps in creating a story that will educate as well as entertain.” – M.O. Yuksel.

“Have patience, work hard, show your work, look at art, explore life, challenge yourself, communicate with a group of people you admire. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.” – Hatem Aly.

“Read widely across genres, even ones you don’t think you’ll enjoy. Some of my favourite reads in the past have been ones I never thought I’d like, and some of my best ideas have come from being inspired by things other authors have written.” – Graci Kim.

“Picture books are visual storytelling, and it’s helpful to be knowledgeable about illustration even if one doesn’t illustrate.” – M.O. Yuksel.

“I think the best work comes from the heart and writing about what you care most about in the world. My advice is to write about what you are passionate about – write the books you want to see in the world.” – Charlotte Offsay.

“My advice for young illustrators: spend as much time drawing and developing your craft as possible, but also make time for other hobbies and interests as these will inform your work, too!” – Katie Rewse

“Write from the heart. Find the thing you are passionate about and write that story. When you write with passion, people usually get it!” – Chrystal D. Giles.

“READ. There is a world for you out out there. Books can help you connect with it, even if you’re feeling closed in and isolated. Books can also help open up your mind.” – Kevin Sylvester and Basil Sylvester

“Read across lots of different genres, styles cultures, and eras. What made an impact on you – what kept you entertained? Is it description? The way characters speak? Humor? Remember how you felt listening to those stories (or reading them) and let those feelings inspire you when you start to write.” – Eden Royce.

“Keep drawing! every day you draw, paint, or sketch, you get better, and it really does show after a time.” – Joelle Murray.

When picking a topic for picture books, always keep the age of your reader in mind. If you’re writing about a particular issue, choose issues that connect with their age group experience. – Shelli R. Johannes.

“If I could give advice to young writers, I’d tell them to be patient, to read a lot, and to just live life in general — it provides great inspiration!” – Christina Li.

“Writing is not like Math. There are skills to learn, yes, but writing is NOT right or wrong. It doesn’t need correcting. It needs polishing so that your stories shine, and others can enjoy them too.” – Erin Dealey.

Getting blocked or struggling with a scene? Think about the emotional truth of the scene. What emotions is the plot driving towards? – Christina Li.

“My main advice: just keep going. Believe in your work because only you can do work like you. Practice, network and get your work out there – you will be found.” – Ellie Arscott.

“Don’t talk about writing a book ‘someday.’ Make writing a priority. Someday is NOW.” – Erin Dealey.

“There are only TWO things you need to know if you want to be an author: 1. The alphabet, and 2. How to tell a good story. That’s it.” – Josh Funk.

“Be supportive of others and you’ll find that you’ll have a family of colleagues; before you know it, they will equally have your back along the way.” – Ellie Arscott.

“Write what is meaningful to you whenever you can. Your heart will show through the words. When a piece of writing isn’t working, put it aside and do something else. Your mind is always at work, whether you realize it or not.” – Sue Lowell Gallion.

“I think it is always more important to focus on what you draw, instead of how to draw~ introduce your own favorite things to the audience, you will grow your technique along the way.” – Lisk Feng.

“…We all must do battle with the nemesis that intends to bring us down. But word by word, line by line, we can persist. That is no small thing.” – Karla Valenti.

Know that your dreams can come true….even if people say it’s a long-shot. I’m living proof. – Marcie Colleen

To young illustrators: pursue an illustration style that inspires and excites YOU. Not everyone will appreciate your style of work, and that’s ok. Keep exploring, keep drawing, keep experimenting. – Shannon O’Toole

Persevere. You never know which query will hit on the right time, right publisher, right theme. Meanwhile, research publishing houses and educate yourself on the industry. Join groups like CANSCAIP and SCBWI. – Caroline Fernandez

“Write about things you’ve personally experienced. These are the things you can best and most authentically write about, and that you are likely more interested in working through. Your deep knowledge and passion will come through to agents and editors.” – Bev Katz Rosenbaum.

“If you truly love to write, you should keep writing no matter what because you can never predict when you will published.” – Teresa Robeson

“Don’t be afraid to fail (epically)! You grow by trying new things, stagnate if you don’t.” – Paul Coccia

Stay positive! There are so many naysayers who will tell you why you can’t do something or how hard it is to get your work published. Don’t be one of them. If this is what you want to do, this is what you do. Period. – Pat Cummings

“Keep your eyes on your own page. In this business, it can be so hard to keep that green-eyed monster in check. Remember that rejection is part of the game. Celebrate what you can. Also, remember that if you’ve published something, you’ve changed someone’s life.” – Bev Katz Rosenbaum.

Our job as writers isn’t so much about telling kids how to get somewhere but rather that they CAN get somewhere; they just need to keep going. – June Smalls

Do things that invigorate and scare you. Travel. Meet new people and listen. To be able to write interesting stories, we have to LIVE. – Nikki Barthelmuss

Never stop reading picture books. Picture books enable us (as writers) to study the craft of writing at an essential level. – Frank Murphy

Work at it. Just write or draw…or both! And don’t be afraid of being awful. – Sarah McGuire

Make sure that your promotional pieces and imagery on the web are narrative and directed at young readers. – Pat Cummings

Have an abundance of discipline and imagination. Once you learn the tried and true way of doing things, you start to see little crinkles of opportunity along the straight and narrow. – Fred Koehler

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. One question can make all the difference. – Nancy Tupper Ling

Read good books! Read good books that are like the kind of books you want to make. Then draw or write as much as you can. It all comes down to absorbing good stories, good art, and then practicing your own writing and drawing. – Jen Betton

Write. All the time. The more you write, the better you will get. Don’t expect your work to be good – no one’s beginner work is much good. But what can you perfect if you have nothing on the page to revise? – Helaine Becker

Don’t be afraid to be weird. – Kari Maaren

If you are just getting started, practice by drawing anything you like! Experiment with all different types of media. You don’t necessarily know what your style is until you’ve teased it out by drawing all you can, and your work is recognizable. – Dow Phumiruk

Seek out kind, caring people with similar interests and share your work with them. – Jarrett Lerner

Personal connections in the industry are important. Nurture them. – Andrea Offermann

Read like crazy! Nothing fills you up with ideas like reading books. – Aaron Reynolds

My advice for young writers: read a lot, write a lot, and live a lot. – Lauren McLaughlin

Stretch yourself, push yourself, and above all….write. – Rob Sanders

Form a writers’ group and set self-imposed deadlines for producing work. – Pat Cummings

Read big and write. – Danielle Younge-Ullmann.

READ. I read as much as, if not more than, I write. Encountering other people’s ideas is a surefire way of getting your imagination searching for ideas of its own, and books are an amazing place to find other people’s ideas – typically people fill books with their very best. – Jarrett Lerner

Don’t hold onto a project too long. Sometimes, it’s time to move on. – Kate Blair

Persistence and patience are invaluable in this business. – Pat Cummings

Be patient, define success by your growth, and enjoy the journey. Remember that you are making the world a more beautiful place with your art! – Dow Phumiruk

Keep learning. Write. Read. Take classes. Find a critique group. No matter how good of a writer you are, there will always be more to learn. – Melanie Florence.

Meet other authors. No matter how shy you are, it’s worth getting out there and interacting with the kidlit community. – Heather Camlot

Don’t just focus on one story. Keep writing! – Jackie Azua Kramer

Immerse yourself in picture books if you want to learn how to write and illustrate them. – Maral Sassouni

Play and have as much fun as you can with your art. Experiment and search outside your comfort zone. – Ana Aranda.

If you don’t know what to write about, write about your socks. Keep going. You’ll find out what you wanted to write about. – Megan Maynor

Write anything and everything….submit all kinds of writing to all types of publishers. Sure, it’s good to hone your craft, but don’t limit yourself to one genre and style. – Nancy Tupper Ling

If you love writing, WRITE. Not a day goes by when I don’t write. It might just be a few scribbles in my notebook or a letter, but it’s still writing. – Vijaya Bodach

Get comfortable making creative mistakes, and then to go out and make a whole bunch of them. – Jarrett Lerner

Never be afraid to seek advice or ask questions. It’s how we learn. It’s how we succeed. – Marcie Colleen

Enjoy the process. Play with words and paint. Tell that story or draw that illustration that only you can do, and share it with others. – Sylvia Liu

Don’t worry about coming up with the most original idea in the world. As long as you write from your own experiences and from the heart, your story will be different enough. – Dorian Cirrone.

Even if you don’t think you want to be a writer, aim to write well. Writing is all about communicating and the more effectively we’re able to make ourselves understood, the more successful we are in relating to other people. – Ruth Spiro

Get to know people in your field and show them the best of YOU. – Andrea Zuill

If thinking about stories and writing them down makes your inner self go ‘squee!’ then that’s all you need. So ignore those who say you can’t. Charge forth and just have fun; it’s where you’re meant to be. – Nicole Winters

Carefully study your favorite artists & writers, see how they do what they do. – Kevin Sylvester

Every writer needs to take some basic business and sales courses. As a writer, you’re the sole proprietor of a business. – Helaine Becker

Experiment with different types of art and writing. Have an art/writing smörgasboard! you never know what sort of art or writing style you will love and shine in until you try it. – Jaime Temairik

To really make it in this business of writing, it takes more than talent. It takes a determination that overcomes all those feelings of failure. – Christina Farley

Research is paramount. Our facts need to be as accurate as possible – kids will carry the information you give them for the rest of their lives. – Helaine Becker, on writing nonfiction.

Dare to dream, especially when life throws curveballs. – Ann Marie Meyers

Don’t get hung up on rewriting one story over and over. You’ve got to write, and write a LOT. – Rob Sanders

If you get stuck while writing, write ANYWAY, even if it means writing about how stuck you are. Just write whatever comes to mind. – Kat Yeh

While it’s important to learn and refine your craft, it’s just as important to find your own unique voice. – Jodi Moore

Make your decisions, all of them, for a REASON. – Samantha Berger

Be open to the vision others have for your book. – Vijaya Bodach

For non-fiction writers: Fact-check everything. Not only do mistakes undermine a story, but they misinform rather than educate the reader. – Heather Camlot

Learn how to see the first solution but then set it aside until you’ve had a chance to explore other possible solutions. Tthen pick the best option and run with it. – Molly Idle

Let everything else go and write with great joy…and a pen. A pen definitely helps. – Donna Gephart

Go to the library and check out stacks of children’s books, study the pacing. There is a heartbeat and rhythm that great books share, no matter when they were published. – Brian Won

Writing is hard work – but so is everything else. If you’re willing to work at it – and throw out whatever doesn’t fit, a hundred times in a row if need be, eventually you will create something of value. Be brave. BE determined. And at all times, be close to chocolate. – Helaine Becker

Everyone has her or his own path. – Christian Trimmer

Don’t believe your reviews — either good or bad. – Jane Yolen

Seek a balance in your creative work and daily life that’s not only sustaining, but life-giving. – Eliza Wheeler

It’s really about discovering who you are, and what stories you want to tell. – Patricia Storms

Try different styles, genres and voices. Find what works for you. – Rob Sanders

Figure out what makes you unique, interesting, weird, and you. Use as much of this as you can in your writing and art. – Matthew Cordell

Learn from other artists, connect with them and support them. They are your tribe. – Kate Parkinson

The First Rule Of Writing is: Butt In Chair. This is the rule from which all careers stem. – Kevin Sands

Explore! Drum! Skate! You never know where your interests will lead you! – Trisha Speed Shaskan

Create honestly and bravely. – Jodi Moore

Persevere. Pat Zietlow Miller received 126 rejections before she sold her first book. 

Pay attention to everyone you already know. They will show up in your writing. – Lauren McLaughlin

Five letters, sound like “light”…WRITE! Do it every day. Do it for fun. – Christopher Cheng

Be an immovable force. My middle-grade novel Bog took ten years from conception to published book. I lost my way and doubted my story many times, but I never stopped trying. – Karen Krossing

Write about or draw the things you feel most deeply about. – Lee Wardlaw

Learning about writing is good but in the end, you have to WRITE. – Rob Sanders

Making progress isn’t about achieving instant perfection in one fell swoop. It’s about daily baby steps and planting a small seed that grows gradually. – Eliza Wheeler

Read a much as you can, for pleasure and for craft. – Cheryl Rainfield

Don’t start out trying to be totally unique and breaking all the rules. Sure, it might have worked for someone else but it’s a tough row to hoe just starting out. Give yourself a break and take it slow. – Andrea Zuill

Always find time to PLAY and HAVE FUN when you write. – Samantha Berger

Picture book writers & illustrators: look at foreign picture books. If you don’t know the language of the text, all that much better; you’ll experience the book the way a small child would. – Maral Sassouni

Write something every day. – Jane Yolen

Keep a sketchbook or notebook with you at all times to jot down all your ideas. No ideas are too silly or simple. – Joyce Wan

Invest in your writing career. Take classes, buy the books you need, join or form a critique group, and never forget to give thanks for having a writing life. – Vijaya Bodach

Own your truth, speak your truth, and become brave enough to write about the things that terrify you the most to talk about. – Samantha Berger

You never know when and from where an idea for a story will pop up. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open at all times for those ideas. And write them down because ideas are slippery little buggers. – Heidi Stemple

Challenge yourself. – Jodi Moore

Share your stories with a few people or join a critique group. The fresh eyes and ears can help you find problem areas in your writing, and act as a great support network when the self doubt and fear start creeping in. – Russ Cox

Heart on the page. – Jane Yolen

Don’t just study writing. Go out in the world and work, travel, meet people. When you find yourself having to earn a living doing something other than writing, embrace it. Learn from it. – Lauren McLaughlin

Don’t compare yourself to others. Simple focus on YOU: what you have to say and how you want to say it. – Lee Wardlaw

Young children are born naturals at noticing and observing. As writers, we need to nurture that skill. Our job is to go beneath the surface, beyond labels and first impressions. – Tricia Springstubb

Set regular, realistic deadlines for yourself. – Joyce Wan

Write every day. Revise your work. Be patient. Don’t give up. – Laura Boldin-Fournier

Don’t dumb down words or ideas. Respect language. It’s incredible. – Samantha Berger

Get out there and meet other writers and creators. The camaraderie and support of a network of peers is invaluable. – Lisa Dalrymple

Embrace rejection. It is okay to hear “no thank you”. It helps light that creative fire and you learn from it. Not everyone is going to love your story. – Russ Cox

Learn from the masters, but then respectfully ask them to leave your studio. – Alice Ratterree

Know that books are not just written, but rewritten. – Jane Yolen

Write what you’d want to read. – Josh Funk

All you can do, and all you must do, is to write the stories only you can tell. – Lauren McLaughlin

Get honest feedback from other writers. – Cheryl Rainfield

Go outside. Inspiration comes out “out there” more often than not. – Maral Sassouni

Rejection is part of the job. It’s one reason I have a picture of a ballerina on my office wall. It motivates me to remember how much hard work is required to be a professional. – Kate Dopirak

Try not to be too obsessed with what is selling in ‘the market.’ – Patricia Storms

You never know unless you try to write. – Timothy Young

Do your best, and then relax. Let this process loop and loop. Enjoy the journey. Because, really, why else are we doing this? – Maple Lam

Write about things that matter to you. – Patricia Newman

Write the emotional truth of what you want to know. – Donna Gephart

Turn off the modern world and go outside. There are stories outside your house and studio waiting to be heard and told. – Russ Cox

Readers need to be able to care about the subject of the book. Always put yourself in a reader’s chair and ask yourself the questions that a reader might ask. Then answer them. – Helaine Becker

Get your first draft done. Accept that it’s a process. It’s okay that it’s not perfect. You’re making building blocks and you don’t know what pieces you need yet. – Arree Chung

If you’re going to be a writer, you gotta write. – Greg Pincus

I think creative people often feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by self-doubt and the emptiness of a blank page. THINK BIG, ACT SMALL, but ACT nonetheless-ONE STEP AT A TIME towards your goals. – Joyce Wan

Join a critique group that provides a safe environment in which to share new ideas, ask those silly questions, and learn about the industry. – Susan Del Rizzo

There are days where we all feel like untalented hacks. All of us. And it’s really important to remember this.. – Samantha Berger

Don’t listen to the “no”-it-alls. Only you can tell your own story. And the world needs to hear it. – Jodi Moore.

No matter how unfair and just-plain-wrong the comments from your critique partner/agent/ editor seem to be—there is usually truth in every critique. It’s your job to pull out the ‘why’ of their reactions. – – Hélène Boudreau

Never stop honing your craft. – Henry Herz

Find your voice … how do you do that? By drawing and learning and imitating and seeking critique and then finally becoming unconscious of your style. Then you have found your illustration voice. – Hazel Mitchell

Read widely and wildly. Never condescend. – William Alexander

You positively, absolutely have to be a reader to be a writer. – Claire M. Caterer.

Let people critique your work (and I don’t just mean your mom). – Chelsea Pitcher.

Write with emotional honesty, hope and respect. – Stephanie Burgis

Get through English class but know that the real world just wants a good story, and isn’t as worried about brilliantly placed semi-colons and properly argued theses. – Tim Federle

Don’t get too hung up on what you think is your first truly viable/sell-able manuscript. – Audrey Vernick

Stop wondering what they want. Stop looking at other people’s work. Make the art that is YOU. The art that you were born to make. – Kelly Light

No matter how good you think your idea is—the next one could be better. – Hélène Boudreau


Events

Debbie is available for virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her presentations and workshops can be adjusted to suit all age levels, from kindergarten to college students to educators and other professionals.