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

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 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:
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

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.

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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 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

Monday, March 7, 2016

Resources for Diversity in Children's Literature

I'm preparing for an SCBWI Shop Talk on diversity in children's literature. This is the list of "Resources for Diversity" I developed. It is certainly not all-inclusive, but it has places to start. I'm posting it here so that people who attend the talk have live links all in one place. And anyone else is certainly welcome to browse or share!

Resources for Diversity:

Chris Eboch’s blog post has links to all of the sites below: 

SCBWI has a page of Diversity Resources including blogs and websites, awards, organizations and articles:

SCBWI also has grants to promote diversity and children’s books:

The Children’s Book Council CBC Diversity shares news encouraging diversity of race, gender, geographical region, sexual orientation, and class: 

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog often touches on diversity or links to articles about it. Her Exploring Diversity page links to book lists about many religions/races, with relevant interviews: 

Multiculturalism Rocks! is a blog celebrating multiculturalism in children’s literature, with many useful links: 

We Need Diverse Books promotes changes in the publishing industry to produce literature that reflects all young people: 

Disability in Kidlit examines the portrayal of disability: 

Author Lee Wind’s blog lists books with gay teen characters or themes, interviews with agents seeking diverse stories, videos on gender identity, and more: 

DiversifYA “is a collection of interviews that allows us to share our stories, all of us. All sorts of diversity and all marginalized experiences.” 

Reading While White, a blog by librarians, has interesting blog posts on children's lit subjects, and a page of "Resources for Further Research":

This post on the SCBWI blog links to articles regarding A Birthday Cake For George Washington:

Mitali Perkins often touches on diversity subjects on her blog: 
A particularly valuable post is “The Danger of a Single Story, Once Again”:

“You Will Be Tokenized”: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing by Molly McArdle has voices from the front lines: 

“We’ve Been Out Here Working”: Diversity in Publishing, a Partial Reading List has many links on the subject: