Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yes, We Are Real Writers—An IVY AND THE MEANSTALK Giveaway

IVY AND THE MEANSTALK is here—hooray! In the year+ since Ivy’s first adventure (IVY’S EVER AFTER) made its way out into the world, I’ve been blessed with some pretty incredible experiences. Getting a starred review from School Library Journal was pretty darn cool, as was having IVY’S EVER AFTER named a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year this past April. And, of course, being invited to be a part of Project Mayhem, because let’s face it—one of the best things about middle-grade writers is what a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie we have.

I’ll be celebrating MEANSTALK’s release with a giveaway below, and please don’t forget that you can read chapters from both IVY books—and watch the book trailer—at my newly updated website,

But first—on to my blog post:

“When are you going to write a book for adults?”

I get this question a lot. I bet many of you do, too. It’s not that people think that writing for children is bad, but often there’s a mindset that writing a book for kids is somehow less of an accomplishment than writing a book for adults. After all, writing a children’s book is easier, faster, and less work, right? You get to use smaller words and less sophisticated vocabulary. Your chapters can be shorter—your entire book, too, for that matter. And aren’t most children’s book writers only using it as a stepping stone to break into the more substantive, more important realm of adult literature, anyway?

Such attitudes don’t give us children’s writers enough credit. We face definite challenges that writers for adults do not. Writers for adults are writing for other adults. They’re a member of their own target audience. Writers for kids, on the other hand, must attune themselves to an audience that they’re not a part of. This means we have to be particularly imaginative and creative. We have to find a way to connect to young readers, to put ourselves into the shoes of characters far younger than ourselves. We have to have very rich inner children.

And yes, we are more limited in our choice of vocabulary. And sometimes—but not always, especially with the ever-increasing length of children’s fantasies—our books must be shorter. This means we face the added challenge of economy of language and length. We have to tell an enticing, fully developed story in less space and with less word choices than are available to adult works.

And I wish the people who think being a children’s book writer is easy would realize that we, like those who write for adults, face the same long publication journey. We write the same query letters, get the same rejections. We have to have the same dogged persistence in the face of very challenging odds.

Yes, we are “real” writers—give us the credit we deserve!!

Your thoughts? I’ve got a couple of signed copies of IVY AND THE MEANSTALK to give away. Ah, heck, I’ll throw in a signed copy of IVY’S EVER AFTER to the winners, as well. Please leave your comments below for a chance to win.

All my best,

-Dawn Lairamore


  1. Dawn, sometimes I shy away from telling people I'm a writer, just because I don't want to get caught up in trying to explain about writing children's books. People think it's so easy anyone can do it, and sometimes they even ask me how (so they can whip one up on the weekend).

    Your books sound great, and you're sweet to have a giveaway. I'd love to be entered, if you include Canadian entries.

  2. Oh man. This is such an unfortunate stereotype. It's completely unfounded, but still prolific. Most people have absolutely know idea how much work it takes to write a novel, even a children's novel, so I suppose we can't blame them for their assumptions, but this is a big part of why I personally don't talk about being a writer.

    This, and the fact that I'm not published, LOL.

    Also: congratulations, Dawn!

  3. Congratulations! I love Ivy's Ever After and would love to win the next one. :)

    And I am with you . . . growing up, my mom was always reading YA and MG, so I didn't even realize that adults read different stuff until I got to High School and they started assigning us to read it. I was shocked the first time I heard someone express that attitude about children's authors.

    Perhaps because of my background, I've never worried about what others thought of my subject of choice. Children's literature ROCKS!

  4. Great post. I get so tired of people that say it's easy to write children's books. Anybody can do it. Right?

    Love the title of your new book!

  5. I adored Ivy's Ever After, and would LOVE a copy of the next part of her journey! Ivy's awesome :) Love the post on writing for children~ it's definitely a common stereotype that writing for kiddies is easier. It's soooooo not ;)

  6. I think most middle-grade books are completely suitable for adults. I know loads of adults who can't get enough Harry Potter, Redwall, Fablehaven, etc. Usually people who say that, don't read a lot of kids books. Silly rabbits! ;)

    Dawn, congrats on Ivy 2!! We are all super happy for you! My niece has Book I and now I can finally get her the sequel!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  7. What bothers me most about this question is the implication I hear behind it: children don't deserve my best. Writing for them is just "practice" for something bigger.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

  8. When I say I write middle grade most people assume it is because I have a bunch of kids. But I agree with Hilary, I know many adults who are just as addicted to Wimpy Kid or Percy Jackson as their children.

    I think it's harder to write MG because of its audience.

  9. Congratulations! I get the real book comments too, but I just figure we are part of a secret club those people don't know about. In the spirit of middle grade writers everywhere, I say, "Neener, neener!"

  10. Aw, congratulations! Can't wait to read Ivy's newest adventures! And yes to what Caroline said. I don't get these comments about writing-for-children being less-than somehow, or at least I don't notice them. I couldn't imagine writing for any other audience!

  11. I give no attention or thought to such questions. Those who understand writing, and reading, don't ask such questions. The rest is noise that I tune out.

  12. Thanks for the congrats, everyone!

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who has heard comments about writing for children being easy. I think that most people who make such comments don't read children's literature and don't understand what's involved.

    Ah, well. Hooray for those of us who do love children's lit and embrace it and all its wonderfulness :)

  13. Not the best pep-talk for an aspiring MG writer but I wasn't thinking it was going to be easy, just more fun. This giveaway would be great for me as I'm just in the beginning stages of aspiring so I'm doing a lot of MG/YA reading so any books I can get my hands on would be golden.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!