Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Prepares Children for Storms

     Storm season has arrived, and so has a book by Tony LoPresti that will help prepare children for the serious storm, a tornado: Storm Sentinel. Illustrations by Jeanne Conway help make a normally frightening subject less scary as Fred tells his story:

     Hi! My name is Fred. I am a tornado siren. Oh, you don’t know what a tornado siren is? My friends and I watch over people. We let them know when a tornado might be coming. When you open the pages of this book and read my story, you will learn I am a Storm Sentinel.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Time Management, Organization, and Your Writing

Contributed by Karen Cioffi

When I first started out in my writing career, I began to think more and more about organizing my writing. But, I was in what I call, slow mode.

I worked on my stories with the intent to eventually... hopefully get published. However, I was in no rush; writing came after everything else I had to do.

That changed.

Being a former assistant controller for a manufacturing company, I knew what commitment meant. So, I decided to make writing my second career.

Suddenly, I was writing and illustrating a book my family decided I should self-publish. That meant researching companies that offered print-on-demand service along with working on the book itself.

While in the process of doing this, I was writing other works and submitting them to publishers and agents. As with most of us, I received rejection after rejection.

I also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This site has tons and tons of helpful writing and publishing information from new and seasoned writers. In addition to this, I joined a critique group.
Writing clubs were on my mind too. I found a good one at the time and that was when my writing took on more depth and I entered the business of writing.

At the time I joined the writing club, my book was in the process of going to the printing stage of publishing. So, I had to broaden my writing arena to include learning about marketing and publicity on a very low budget. I also became a member in several children's writer's groups online. Juggling all these things was a true challenge, one that I didn't always live up to.

In addition to all this, I tried to participate in every teleseminar and teleconference I came across as well as doing research on writing and marketing. To add more on my plate, I became a co-moderator in a very active critique group, and I created a website and a blog. At times, it felt very overwhelmed.

What I finally realized, out of necessity, is that I had to create and enforce a time management schedule.

This came to a boiling point when I received a letter from an agent requesting three chapters of my short story along with a 3-5 page synopsis.

I was so overwhelmed at the time, I didn't immediately respond. Okay, it was also because I didn't have a 3-page synopsis ready. Because I was so frazzled I sent the agent the chapters she requested, but told her if she still wanted my synopsis after reading the chapters I would love to send it.

I still cringe at my stupidity when I think of this . . . at the lost opportunity.

After this long, long lead in, my advice is: don't wait until you become so frazzled by an overwhelming workload and lack of organization that you become your own stumbling block to success.

If you're reading this now, and don't have a time management schedule in place, MAKE ONE TODAY and try your best to stick to it.

This article was originally published at:


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

To get monthly writing and book marketing tips, sign up for The Writing World – it’s free!

 And, you can follow Karen at:


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Attend that Conference

         All professionals attend conventions, conferences, in-service, or workshops to increase their knowledge in their field, to reinforce what they know, and to learn how to manage their business efficiently. This need to participate in conferences applies to writers as well as doctors, CEOs, and teachers.
         I am attending a conference this coming weekend (the OWFI conference, named one of the top conferences in the Southwest) the first of May, and I want to share why I attend conferences.

Why Attend a Writing Conference?

          Writing conferences increase the possibility of attendees improving their skills, gaining confidence, and building a better presence in their field.

         Most writing conferences have sessions over writing skills. At the LexiCon Writers Conference (several years ago), I presented a session titled “How to Write That Children’s Book.” According to feedback after the hour’s class, attendees discovered how to begin and to write their stories, some things they hadn’t realized were needed. A few said they didn’t realize action was required in a children’s story. At the Oklahoma Writers' Federation Inc. (OWFI) conference, I attended a session concerning romantic suspense given by best-selling author Merline Lovelace . I learned how to balance the two components and follow the writing arc.

         One session covered creating and keeping an effective blog. One of the tips concerned limiting categories used. Another, encouraged bloggers to post regularly. A tip that caught my attention, a blogger should be aimed toward the desired audience, rather than to others in the same profession. Therefore, the need for a new blog.

         A problem area for most writers includes the need to treat their profession as a business, when in today’s publishing world, it must be. Part of the business needs included promotion of the writers’ product: books. Sessions by social media and public relations experts gave suggestions and solutions that allowed attendees to better understand how and why to address their business.

         Other benefits of attending conferences include networking and opportunities for writers to "pitch" their manuscripts to agents, editors, and/or publishers. Being able to interact with other writers helps authors understand the challenges they face aren't only theirs, that others have those obstacles, also. Networking allows writers to learn from others and to help others. Friendships develop that last a lifetime. However, networking and pitching need articles of their own.

         Once a writer gains more knowledge, or reinforcement of what they already know, and learn how to better manage their business, their confidence increases. As a result, writers are better prepared to face their writing world. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Readers' Favorite 5-STAR Review for WHERE DID PANTHER GO? by Vivian Zabel and 4RV Publishing

I don't post often, but I knew Vivian wasn't going to brag-up her book, Where Did Panther Go? and it's recent 5-Star Review from Readers' Favorite, so I decided I would.

Where Did Panther Go? is an adorable book based on a real-life circumstance (I was actually the one who encouraged Vivian to turn it into a story). Panther is such a character, himself, soon his antics led to other story ideas. So expect to see more of Panther's adventures soon. Carrie Salazar has already started work on the illustrations for book 2: Panther's Snowy Christmas - A Panther Adventure.

To give you a glimpse of the back cover blurb for Where Did Panther Go? ...

Available in paperback and hardcover

Review Rating: 5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review!
Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

Katie and Panther are good friends. Uncle Chris gave her a kitten for her to feel better, and Katie named him Panther. She knows he will become a big cat. Panther grew and Katie petted him, fed him, and gave him treats. She plays hide and seek with him. Panther never goes outside unless Katie is with him. One day Panther slips outside when Katie’s mother opens the door. Hours pass and there is no sign of Panther. Katie waits and waits for Panther to come back. She is scared that something might happen to him and decides to search for him. Will Katie be able to find Panther?

Where Did Panther Go? by Vivian Zabel is an adorable story of unconditional love and friendship, and is a story that all animal and cat lovers will enjoy reading. Carrie Salazer’s illustrations are delightful and charming and capture the camaraderie between the cat and the girl beautifully. The Fun Cat Facts at the end of the book are interesting, and the Panther’s Song can be sung or played. That makes the book interactive and fun to read out in classrooms. All children who have cats at home will be able to relate to Katie and her love for Panther. It is a good story for parents to read out to their children at night, especially if there are cats because, like the Panther song, children can come up with their own musical creations for their pets.

As far as reviews go, and from such a reputable source, that's as good as it gets.

Be sure to follow Vivian Zabel, Carrie Salazar, and 4RV Publishing online to keep track of special sales, dates, and events:
Author Links:
Illustrator Links:

Art Director & VP of Operations

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What Are Your Writing Challenges?

When you visit the 4RV blog, you're bound to find helpful writing and marketing tips. We strive to provide information to develop your skills and grow your writing business. Here are some of my favorite articles:

Websites That Work Part 1 and Part 2

But, maybe you have a burning question. Maybe it's something we've talked about and you are looking for more in-depth information. 

Please share your questions in the comments below and we will share our answers in future posts.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Plan Ahead for Seasonal Articles to Earn Extra Writing Income

I spent thirteen years working in retail. One of the hardest things to get used to was the timing for displaying seasonal merchandise. In the dead of winter, the store featured short-sleeved shirts and gardening equipment. During the summer heat, winter coats and shovels made their way into store aisles.

The same can be said for writing seasonal articles. The lead time to submit seasonal material can be several months in advance. If you want to write an article about Valentine’s Day, you need to make sure you have time to perform your research, write the article, and edit it to your satisfaction so that you can submit it by August. Articles with a Christmas theme might need to be submitted by June. Always check submission guidelines to be sure.

Getting used to writing seasonal articles so far in advance can be a challenge, but a simple calendar can make all the difference. Pull out your desk calendar and find each holiday, then back up six months and write “Consider (name of holiday) articles” in the notes section. You can also use Google Calendar or Outlook. In Outlook, you can set reminders that pop up each time you check email, and at regular intervals, until you complete the task and dismiss the reminder. You can also set a reminder on your smartphone.

Seasonal articles are often in demand. If you pay attention to submission deadlines, it’s possible you could choose a new slant for a previously written article and use it to submit to online markets, which typically have shorter lead times.

A good thing to keep in mind, too, is that you don’t always have to focus on major holidays. Back-to-school season is a great time for articles about calming first day fears, helping kids choose what to bring to show-and-tell, or tips on how to write that dreaded “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay.

With careful planning, seasonal article writing becomes a way to earn extra writing income.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at