Answering Your Writing Questions

It has been a while since I’ve gone question-fishing, but as we get into the fall, I want to make sure that I’m covering topics you’re interested in. This blog is about you, after all, and not just my blah blah blah. (Though there’s a lot of that, too! 😂)

What are your writing and publishing questions?

Please leave your most pressing children’s writing and publishing questions in the comments, below, and I will pick some to answer in the coming months on the blog!

(If you’ve never commented before, your comment will go into my moderation queue. Don’t worry—it has been received and will be posted, even if you don’t see it right away.)

13 Replies to “Answering Your Writing Questions”

  1. Hi, Mary. I hope you and your family are well. I think I remember that you mentioned when using a question in internal thoughts, it should be written like:
    Did that really happen, thought David? (Italics for the first four words.)
    Did I dream that up or it that the way to handle it?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Mary,
      My picture book is about dolls who are given away to refugee children far away. So all the action happens to them. I try to tell the story in a 3rd person omniscient POV so I can show their emotions. I switch gears midway and the action is now in the foreign country as the Syrian girls have to leave their dolls and country behind. Could that work in a picture book? Everything hangs on this possibility. Many thanks for your expertise, Mary.

  2. Corinnne Humphrey says:

    I’m looking for mentor texts, specifically Picture Books using parallel structure. Any suggestions?

  3. Nancy Lopez says:

    Hello Mary,
    My question is how young can a Y a novel start ?
    I know agents prefer 1617 which is the norm but if I want to write a young why a novel can my character be 15 and going on 16 but with a young energetic voice ?

  4. Nadine Rajeh says:

    Hi Mary
    What are your thoughts on self publishing in the Middle Grade book market these days? What advantages and challenges do you see for writers heading down the self publishing route?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. Bonnie Staring says:

    Hi Mary,
    I’m writing a contemporary YA, and I’m concerned that what used to be normal (my novel is centered around a high school musical) is now something prohibited and not happening currently due to COVID-19. The story is told in present tense, so I’m not keen on back-dating it to 2019 and switching to past tense. Any advice on this would be appreciated. Thanks!

  6. Is it true that Meta-fiction picture books are not being accepted anymore? Why is that so? they are so funny! Is it a bad time to query such manuscripts?

  7. When writing in third person close, how do you show (make clear)the pov character’s ineriorority vs the narrator’s voice?

  8. I know for NF you need a strong platform, but what if you’re not a teacher? What sort of platform do you need for NF in the MG and younger age range?

  9. Naya Williams says:

    Hi Mary!
    I don’t really have a question but I wanted to drop a line to say I LOVE YOUR BLAH BLAH BLAH! Your blog has inspired me as a writer, advised me, set me on the right path, and I feel optimistic because of it! In a world where things are so uncertain, it feels so amazing to be able to find just the right post to answer a writing concern or quirk, or just to be able to come on over and read your insights on the industry and life in general. I really appreciate your blog, and I hope you and yours are hanging in there while the world goes bananas! 😀

  10. Joan Rudloff says:

    I’m sorry. I don’t have a reply. I have a question. I don’t know how to ask it anywhere else at this time. I have a picture book that I illustrated and wrote that a publisher wants to see. I don’t know how to put it together. I don’t want the words wrapped around the pictures. I want the picture on the left Page and the writing on the right so you open it up and there you are. I have word on my computer. But it doesn’t seem that it will do that especially since my title page is a picture. Please forgive me if this was out of line. I don’t know where else to ask my questions. Thank you

  11. Hi Mary!
    I hope you and your family are well.
    My question is about short prologues (200-300 words) for a space fantasy middle grade book.
    I know in your excellent book you advise against Prologues, but I have heard a few sci-fi/fantasy writers say that setting the worldbuilding stage with a brief intro can be useful.
    I know this is a big general question, but would love your current thoughts about Prologues and middle grade fantasy openings.
    Thank you!

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