Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Write a Great Mystery for Children

Last week I shared an article on writing mysteries, first published in Writer’s Guide to 2012. Here’s another section of the article, focused on writing mysteries for children and teenagers.

Starting Young

Children may become mystery fans at an early age. Juliana Hanford, Senior Editor at Kane Press, says, “I vividly remember the very first time I was reading a mystery on my own and had that ‘can’t put it down!’ feeling. I think that feeling can make kids not just mystery lovers but book lovers for life!”

 “I guess children enjoy reading mysteries for the same reason adults do,” says Mara Rockliff, who writes a humorous chapter book mystery series under the pen name Lewis B. Montgomery. “They’re fun, they’re exciting, they’re full of surprises and suspense. And a mystery series offers the chance to keep coming back to characters we love.”

As a bonus, mysteries stretch the way kids think. Of her Milo & Jazz Mysteries, Rockliff says, “Kids read these books for fun, but teachers like them because the detective lessons teach critical thinking skills. For instance, setting a trap for a culprit equals predicting and testing; circumstantial evidence equals making inferences. And the back of every book includes puzzles and games to help the reader hone those skills.”

Mysteries for kids aren’t quite the same as mysteries for adults, of course. “Practically all adult mysteries are murder mysteries, but in a realistic chapter book, you can’t have kids knocking each other off,” Rockliff says. “One of the big challenges is thinking of new crimes that are serious enough to be investigated but not too serious. If it’s theft, it needs to be a funny and unusual theft, as in The Case of the Stinky Socks or The Case of the Missing Moose. Or it might be something off the wall: figuring out how the public pool turned purple overnight, or trying to prove a pet psychic is a fake.”

By the time readers reach the teen years, fewer crimes are off-limits. Sara Beitia wrote The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon, which she calls “A noir-ish contemporary Young Adult.” She says, “In reality, kids can and do encounter the heavy stuff – love and death and people with bad intentions – and like anyone, they mull these things over and try to digest the implications. And they expect to encounter the heavy stuff in literature, too. Perhaps it helps with the digesting. In dealing with these darker matters, it’s rather amazing what can be covered in kid lit [and] kids often shock adults with a frank interest in the lurid. Still, everyone has an opinion as to how much kids can and should be exposed to in books.”


Most children’s book publishers are open to mysteries, but don’t specialize. Brian Farrey, Flux Acquisitions editor, says, “I’ve heard from countless librarians at the American Library Association conferences that their teens are looking for more mysteries, to the point where librarians direct them to adult books to satisfy the need. [Therefore] my ears perk up a bit if I’m presented with one in submissions. But I don’t acquire based on fads or trends.”

Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced PlottingLearn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Murder and Mayhem, Crime and Clues: How to Write a Great Mystery

This article was first published in Writer’s Guide to 2012.

People like to know the answers, but they also love a mystery. Mystery books allows readers to ponder options, follow clues, test their wits – and ultimately learn the answers.

The mystery category contains many sub-genres, from gritty Hard-Boiled to light and humorous Cozies. Some fans read across sub-genres, but many have favorites. Claire Eddy, Senior Editor at Tor/Forge Books, says, “I am a sucker for a well crafted noir tale. Also historical mysteries, but only if the author has really done their research.”

Robert Kresge wrote Murder for Greenhorns, about a young schoolteacher and a Texas cowboy who join forces to solve a murder in 1870 Wyoming. “They say ‘write what you know.’ So with 30 years in the CIA, should I be writing spy novels? It can also mean ‘write what you read the most of.’ I found myself reading or listening to [historical mystery heroes] Brother Cadfael, Marcus Didius Falco, Amelia Peabody, and Phryne Fisher.”

Mystery or Suspense?

Whether historical or modern day, mysteries can feature heroes ranging from police officers and private eyes to nosy amateurs or innocent victims who get swept into trouble. Thrillers and suspense novels may also be considered mysteries, even if the hero isn’t trying to solve a crime in the traditional sense.

For example, my Southwestern adventure The Mad Monk's Treasure features the heroine and hero trying to elude villains while they hunt for a long-lost treasure. Romantic suspense novels like these find favor with many mystery fans if they have enough action.

Each sub-genre has its particular challenges. “Dealing with romantic suspense means fitting a mystery or a suspense into the romance reader’s expectations,” says Terry Odell, author of Where Danger Hides. “In mystery series, relationships can develop over the course of many books; in romantic suspense, it’s one.”

Aspiring authors better know the genre’s traditions. Cozies tend to avoid sex or on-stage violence. Hard-boiled mysteries delve into the seamy side of life. Police procedurals must get the police work right. Techno-thrillers focus on the latest technology. Reading widely in one’s chosen sub-genre is the best way to identify these differences.

But genres, like rules, are made to be broken. Pari Noskin Taichert calls her Agatha Award-nominated Sasha Solomon series, “Whodunits – with a humorous New Mexican flair. They’re not your standard cozies because they have an edge to them. Some of my readers think they’re beach reads while others find the deeper themes. I’m happy to satisfy both ends of the spectrum.”

Mixing genres can be fun for the writer and the audience, but may also make it harder to sell the manuscript. Kresge received about 200 rejections for Murder for Greenhorns, often hearing, “This is just a Western and we don’t publish Westerns.” He was about to give up, when he found a small local publisher that shared his vision. Murder for Greenhorns became a finalist for the 2011 Bruce Alexander Award for Best Historical Mystery of the Year.

Putting It All Together

A solid mystery requires a clever and believable puzzle. Noskin Taichert says, “For me, with traditional mystery series, there are three big challenges: telling a really good story; making the puzzle interesting and believable enough that the reader wants to work with my amateur-sleuth protagonist to figure out the crime; and not giving too much away with the hints I put in the story.”

Odell lists the keys to a good mystery as “Providing clues, being fair to the readers with red herrings, and, for anything current, keeping on top of the latest technology. Things are out of date before you finish writing, and the public has a skewed perception of reality based on television.”

But a good puzzle is not enough. Editors judges mysteries by the same standards as other books. “What I’ve seen a lot lately is a great premise, a terrific pitch, and then a mediocre manuscript,” says Brian Farrey, Flux Acquisitions editor. “Having that great premise is meaningless if the writing is phoned in and reads like anyone could have written it. I look for authors who have a pronounced sense of voice.”

At Kane Press, Senior Editor Juliana Hanford says, “We always look for great characters. And when authors can balance humor with nail-biting, on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, and can come up with a final twist that surprises even the readers who think they know everything, then we’re sold!”

Libby Sternberg, Editor-in-Chief of IstoriaBooks, says, “We look for the same thing we want in all submissions: a good story, well-told. Do I want to keep turning or clicking through the pages, and do I want to keep hearing this author tell me the story? I know that seems simple, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to write a page-turning story that has a great ‘voice’ attached to it.”

Playing Fair

Sternberg notes, “With mystery, I’d also add this requirement – the mystery itself must be well-constructed with a resolution that does not rely on a deus ex machina, or anything similar – I hate reading mysteries where, suddenly, a strange character, never encountered in the story previously, shows up and turns out to be the criminal. The reader should be able to reread the story and see how the clues add up to the denouement.”

“In writing mysteries, one has to come up with a crime, figure out who did it, create a sympathetic sleuth or sleuths, manage subplots, plant clues, play fair with your readers, and – usually – come to a satisfying conclusion,” Kresge says. That’s in addition to the challenges present in all types of fiction: “Creating and sustaining believable characters, plotting, pacing, setting, research. Piece of cake juggling all those elements, right?”

How does a writer deal with all these challenges? Noskin Taichert says, “I’ve written all my life. That’s part of the way I’ve developed it. Reading voraciously is another. Studying writers – the popular ones who tell stories really well – makes a difference in my own writing. I’ve also taken a few workshops here and there, but the biggest result has come from committing to writing, every single day.”

Writing a great mystery that is also a great book isn’t easy, but it has its rewards. Sternberg says, “I’ve read various reports that indicate the mystery market remains strong. Certainly, its fans are loyal and intelligent, always willing to look at new authors and material. Well-written mysteries take a tremendous amount of talent, and what I love about mystery fans is that they appreciate the skill level of mystery writers.”

Finding an Audience

Mystery fans show great loyalty to favorite authors, but reaching potential fans can be a challenge for newcomers. E-publishing is providing new opportunities. Eddy has noticed a jump in e-books sales for genre fiction, especially science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries. “As the devices proliferate I think we will see this continue,” she says. “People love to read about murder and mayhem – the way they read them might change; the desire for the genre will still be there.”

“It also gives authors a way to keep [out-of-print] books alive,” Odell notes, “and to get things published that straddle or cross genres, or don’t fit into the narrower confines of traditional publishers.”

“I’m launching an original e-book mystery soon,” Noskin Taichert says. “More and more writers are taking this chance partly because of economics, but for me it’s mostly about artistic freedom and control. If I write a protagonist who editors at the major publishers say mystery readers aren’t ready for – like my new one who can communicate with insects and other non-humans – I have the freedom to give her life even though she may not fit the mold that New York City houses are looking for right now.”

The time has never been better for mysteries, whether for children or adults, traditionally or independently published, and in whatever subgenre. As Hanford says, “Good mysteries never go out of style!”

Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues.  Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page

Monday, April 25, 2016

Writing Workshops with Author/Teacher Chris Eboch

Online, in May: I'll be teaching an online workshop on Advanced Plotting: Keep Those Pages Turning.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Many books and workshops teach the basics of plotting: conflict, complications, and climax. Now learn advanced techniques that will make a decent plot dynamic. Start with a “grab you by the throat” opening to pull readers into the story. Learn how to pack the plot full by complicating your complications. Control your pacing through sentence and paragraph length. And finally, cliffhanger chapter endings ensure late-night reading under the covers. Learn techniques to make any story or book better. Novelists will benefit from these insights, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience.

COST:  $125, which includes weekly assignments and individual feedback from the instructor. This class will be conducted through a Discussion Board, with the opportunity for students to ask questions and post homework samples.

BUY NOW: Advanced Plotting with Chris Eboch (4 weeks, starting 5/4/2016) Limit: 15 students. Early registration is recommended.


New York, in June: I'll present three workshops at the 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference. The conference is June 10-12 at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. To learn more about the conference, visit the website.

My programs are:

Children's Nonfiction 101: Friday Intensives (an optional extra three-hour intensive): If you are new to children’s nonfiction publishing, or want a refresher about the current terminology, markets, and acquisition process, this intensive will be invaluable. Presented with Caryn Wiseman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) and Michelle Bisson (Capstone).

Show Me the Money: What can an author earn? Learn how writers are making a living, through original book projects, work for hire books, magazines, test passages and more. Explore how to reach some of the less obvious markets, and discuss the attitude changes that need to happen to turn writing into a business.

How to Find NF Work: Where can you look? How do you follow up leads? Learn where and how best to connect with publishers, book packagers, and digital developers at conferences, book fairs, and exhibitions. Presented with author Jennifer Swanson


August, in North Carolina: I'll present two workshops at the Writers Who Run Retreat, August 3-6 in Fontana Dam, NC. You'll enjoy three full days packed with a morning 2-mile trail run (optional), breakfast, two 2-hour intensive workshops focused on craft and the business of writing, lunch, roundtable critique groups, free writing time, dinner, and a fun social event each evening. Learn more at the website.

My programs are:

Plotting Techniques: Are you struggling to plot your novel, or do you have a plot that  isn't working? Chris will help you learn how to plot like a pro.

Revisions that Sing: Revising and editing looks easy when Chris shows you how. Learn lots of tips and tricks to help tighten your manuscripts


If you wind up at any of these events, please be sure to say hi!

Chris Eboch is the author of almost 50 published books. Her writing craft books include Advanced Plotting and You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. She has sold over 60 writing articles to Writers Digest, Children’s Writer, and the annual Writer’s Guides.

Chris’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series. Her recent nonfiction titles, published under the name M. M. Eboch, include World War I Battlefield Medicine, Native American Code Talkers, A History of Film, and Chaco Canyon. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page.

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Ghost Miner’s Treasure from Spellbound River Press

What do you do when a ghost needs your help?

Thirteen-year-old Jon and his eleven-year-old sister, Tania, are typical kids – except for the fact that Tania can communicate with ghosts. Their mom and stepdad are producers of a ghost-hunter reality television show, but they don’t know about Tania’s gift, and Tania wants to keep it that way.

Jon can't see ghosts and didn't believe in them, but things are getting too crazy for any other explanation. And if softhearted Tania wants to help the ghosts, Jon will have to protect her and try to keep them both out of trouble.

In The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, Jon and Tania travel with the ghost hunter TV show to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The crew visits an abandoned mining town, where the ghost of an old miner is still looking for his lost mine.

Tania is determined to help the old miner move on. But to do that they must resolve the problem keeping him here, which means helping him find his mine. And that means taking the TV crew deep into the rugged land of deserts and canyons.

In the words of an old fortuneteller, “Many dangers you face on this quest. Many trials.”

But they could hardly have imagined the trouble this adventure would bring! 

"The action never lets up in this fast-paced story, with something exciting happening in every chapter." – Reader Review

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster released the first three Haunted books in 2008. Now The Ghost Miner's Treasure is back in print from Spellbound River Press.

School Library Journal said of the series, “Haunted is a fun read with some thrills and chills and has the added bonus of some genuine, compassionate personalities.” 

A reader review noted,"What I loved most of all, was the way my 4th grade daughter got sucked into the story. She’s a reluctant reader so it was a joy to see her completely absorbed in a book; she immediately started the second book in the series when she finished, and can’t wait for more." 


Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with several novels for ages nine and up. In Bandits Peak, a teenage boy meets strangers hiding on the mountains and gets drawn into their crimes, until he risks his life to expose them. The Eyes of Pharaoh is an action-packed mystery set in ancient Egypt. The Genie’s Gift draws on the mythology of 1001 Arabian Nights to take readers on a fantasy adventure. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference

The 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference is the interchange for everyone connected with Children’s Nonfiction … publishers, authors, illustrators, educators, librarians, and digital developers. This weekend of workshops, publisher panels, open-table conversations, and social gatherings provides excellent opportunities to learn and connect with people at the leading edge of this field.

June 10-12 at Iona College, New Rochelle, New York.
Conference details are at www.21CNFC.com


I'll be presenting three workshops:

Children's Nonfiction 101
If you are new to children’s nonfiction publishing, or want a refresher about the current terminology, markets, and acquisition process, this intensive will be invaluable. Topics include: The categories of nonfiction for different ages; Does nonfiction have to be 100% true?; The difference between trade and educational publishing; Work for hire books, magazine articles, and test passages; Identifying markets and targeting your work to specific markets; What publishers look for in samples or submissions; and Writing nonfiction that reads like fiction.

Presented by: Caryn Wiseman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency), Chris Eboch (Author/Instructor), Michelle Bisson (Capstone)

Show Me the Money
What can an author earn? Learn how writers are making a living, through original book projects, work for hire books, magazines, test passages and more. Explore how to reach some of the less obvious markets, and discuss the attitude changes that need to happen to turn writing into a business.

Presented by: Chris Eboch (Author/Instructor)

How to Find NF Work
Where can you look? How do you follow up leads? Learn where and how best to connect with publishers, book packagers, and digital developers at conferences, book fairs, and exhibitions.

Presented by: Chris Eboch (Author/Instructor) and Jennifer Swanson (Author)

This is only a small sampling of the great programming at the conference. Please join us if you have the chance, and say "Hi" at some point during the weekend! See the complete faculty list and schedule here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#Free Romantic Suspense in the Southwest

Whispers in the Dark is romantic suspense with archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. 

Reviewers give it a 4.3 star average: “This book was a delight from start to finish!”

Get your Kindle copy today, Free! March 22-25.

Whispers in the Dark


Kylie Hafford craves adventure during her southwestern summer. She doesn’t expect to fight for her life.
After an assault in Boston, the young archeologist heads to the remote Puebloan ruins of Lost Valley, Colorado, to excavate. Her first exploration of the crumbling ruins ends in a confrontation with a gorgeous, angry man who looks like a warrior from the Pueblo’s ancient past. Danesh proves that Kylie’s body is ready for love, even if her heart isn’t. If only he weren’t so aggravating. Then she literally stumbles into Sean. His attentions feel safer, but she suspects he's not the simple tourist he claims to be.
The summer heats up as Kylie finds mysteries – and surprising friendships – among the ancient ruins. Mysterious lights, murmuring voices, and equipment gone missing plague her dig. Kylie tries to play it safe, but when someone threatens her research, she must take action. She has more enemies than she can possibly guess, and she’s only begun to glimpse the terrors in the dark. She’ll need all her strength and wits to survive. Everything becomes clear – if she wants to save the man she’s starting to love and see the villains brought to justice, she can’t run away again – she must face her fears and fight.

"Wonderfully detailed scenery and diverse characters combine with a clever, well-defined plot in Whispers in the Dark to create an exciting, hard to put down story. Well written and quite enjoyable!" - Reviewed By Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite 

Whispers in the Dark Excerpt

A shout slashed the air. I twisted so fast I tumbled onto my backside.

I gaped up at the man towering over me. Bare chest, muscular and bronzed. Black hair pulled back from a face full of sharp planes and angles. Dark eyes fierce under scowling brows.

My heart jolted painfully. I’d come face to face with an ancient warrior. He was gorgeous.

And furious.

At me.

“Don’t you read signs?”

I blinked at the apparition. “Uh....”

He gestured back at the main path. “The signs at every turn saying ‘Stay on the path’? The notice at the entrance telling you to leave artifacts alone? I could have you arrested and fined.”

Oh. I felt color flooding my cheeks. My pounding heart refused to slow yet, and the rush of adrenaline turned my arms and legs to jelly, but I rose steadily enough. I tried to ignore the heat in my face and the queasy feeling of panic in my stomach, which hadn’t yet accepted the message that I wasn’t in danger. “I’m Kylie Hafford,” I said coolly. “The archaeologist. Are you Danesh?”

I saw a satisfying flash of surprise and then guilt. Or maybe I had just imagined it, as his face settled immediately into a neutral mask. “Yes, I’m Danesh.” He hesitated before adding stiffly, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure’s all mine.”

He must have caught my irony, because he almost smiled—I think. He said, “I’m sorry I startled you. I wasn’t expecting you yet, and....” He shrugged. “I’ve been noticing scuff marks in the ground, off the trail where tourists aren’t supposed to go. I figured someone was poking around, maybe looking for treasure.”

“And you assumed I was your treasure hunter?”

Buy Links:

Reader Praise for Whispers in the Dark:

“All in all, a great read, with a strong plot line, and likeable characters! I highly recommend this author!”

“The glimpses of life in the southwest and the ruins of the Ancient Ones were fascinating. The main character's emotional journey is well-drawn and satisfying. A quick read that should please plenty of readers!”

“Whispers in the Dark has a hefty dose of adventure and mystery, as well as a strong main character. I highly recommend this author!”

“The southwest setting and attention to authentic details will make the reader feel like he/she knows the place once the book is finished.”

“It has mystery, suspense, action, drama, romance, and some comic moments. The setting is unique and interesting.”


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon pageSign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. 




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Editing Your Novel during #NaNoEdMo – Editing Tips

In honor of #NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month), I'm sharing some advice from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and TeenagersTwo weeks ago I offered advice on “big picture” editing. Last week I covered Fine Tuning. Here are some final quick tips on editing to help you through NaNoEdMo.

Editing Tips:

Don’t try to edit everything at once. Make several passes, looking for different problems. Start big, then focus in on details.

Try writing a one- or two-sentence synopsis. Define your goal. Do you want to produce an action-packed thriller? A laugh-out-loud book that will appeal to preteen boys? A richly detailed historical novel about a character’s internal journey? Identifying your goal can help you make decisions about what to cut and what to keep.

  • Next make a scene list, describing what each scene does.
  • Do you need to make major changes to the plot, characters, setting, or theme (fiction) or the focus of the topic (nonfiction)?
  • Does each scene fulfill the synopsis goal? How does it advance plot, reveal character, or both?
  • Does each scene build and lead to the next? Are any redundant? If you cut the scene, would you lose anything? Can any secondary characters be combined or eliminated?
  • Does anything need to be added or moved? Do you have a length limit or target?
  • Can you increase the complications, so that at each step, more is at stake, there’s greater risk or a better reward? If each scene has the same level of risk and consequence, the pacing is flat and the middle sags.
  • Check for accuracy. Are your facts correct? Are your characters and setting consistent?
  • Does each scene (in fiction) or paragraph (in nonfiction) follow a logical order and stick to the topic?
  • Is your point of view consistent?
  • Do you have dynamic language: Strong, active verbs? A variety of sentence lengths (but mostly short and to the point)? No clich├ęs? Do you use multiple senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch)?
  • Finally, edit for spelling and punctuation.

(For detailed editing questions, see my Plot Outline Exercise. It’s in my book Advanced Plotting or available as a free Word download on my website.)

Editing Description

For each detail, ask:

  • Does it make the story more believable?
  • Does it help readers picture or understand a character or place better?
  • Does it answer questions that readers might want answered?
  • Does it distract from the action?
  • Could it be removed without confusing readers or weakening the story?
  • For illustrated work, could the description be replaced by illustrations?

Use more details for unusual/unfamiliar settings. Try using multiple senses: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the feeling of touch. Especially in picture books, use senses other than sight, which can be shown through the illustrations.

Editing Resources:
Print/Ebook
Advanced Plotting, by Chris Eboch
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King
Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, by Jodie Renner
Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon
Novel Metamorphosis, by Darcy Pattison
Revision & Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell
Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, by Jessica Page Morrell

Online
I haven’t tried this, but the “Hemingway App” is designed to identify overly long or complicated sentences, so it might be helpful in learning to simplify your work for younger audiences:

Grammarly is a free app that claims to find more errors than Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar check option, including words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly:

Resources for Writers, by editor Jodie Renner, list several of her editing books as well as blog posts on various writing topics.

The Plot Outline Exercise from Advanced Plotting helps you analyze your plot for trouble spots. (It’s available as a free Word download on my website, in the left-hand column of this page.)

Middle grade author Janice Hardy’s Fiction University blog has great posts on many writing craft topics.

Author and writing teacher Jordan McCollum offers downloadable free writing guides on topics such as character arcs and deep point of view.

In “A Bad Case of Revisionitis,” Literary agent Natalie M. Lakosil discusses when to stop revising.

Subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback. Advanced Plotting also has advice on editing novels.

Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with over 30 traditionally published books for children. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. Sign up for Chris’s Workshop Newsletter for classes and critique offers. 

Chris also writes novels of suspense and romance for adults under the name Kris Bock; read excerpts at www.krisbock.com.