Do Children’s Books Have to Be About Children?

My two-year-old’s current favorite bedtime story is about a sick old man who spends the day lying in bed. There are no kids in this story. None. And yet, this book won the 2011 Caldecott Award, the highest honor a picture book can receive.

Wait—what? No kids? Isn’t it the cardinal rule of children’s books that they’re ABOUT children?

Nope.

Stop . . . It . . . Now! (Only You Can Prevent Ellipsis Abuse)

Let’s talk about some little dots. Three (or four) little dots all in a row.

There’s something about writing fantasy fiction that compels writers to season their stories with these salty little buggers. They can bring out the flavor of your fiction, creating suspense when and where you need it, giving your characters distinctive voices in dialogue. (Sometimes it’s what your characters don’t say that matters just as much as what they do!) But just like salt, a little can go a long way—and when used with too much abandon, it can ruin the dish.

The worst offender?

What the TK?! (Or How I Cured My Case of Writer’s Block)

Whenever I don’t know what to write, I write TK.

It’s an editor’s habit: TK, editorially, is used as a placeholder for missing information. When I write up cover copy to give to the book’s designer, I often don’t know what the Canadian price is. So I write TK. Sometimes I don’t have the ISBN number handy. I write TK.

If you are a published writer, chances are you’ve stumbled across TK when reviewing your work, pre-publication, and maybe wondered what it was. The weird letter combo means quite literally the information is “to come”. The reason it means that, though, is much more mysterious.