Sunday, March 28, 2010

Interview with Daniel Errico, Children's Author & Founder of

Daniel Errico graduated from Villanova University in 2005 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working at a mechanical contracting firm and an investment bank, he decided to devote his time to the only passion that ever mattered to him: children's literature. So he founded the website with the principle that children's literature is not just another form of media. The goal of is to make access to new and original stories as easy as possible. (But in no way, Daniel clarifies, is it meant to downplay amazing programs and resources already available, such as public libraries.)

And kids (and lovers of kid lit) are flocking to the site. currently receives an estimated 15,000- 20,000 hits per month, and those numbers are expected to rise when the new site design launches in the near future. In the meantime, Daniel has recently launched an app for the iPhone, "The Journey of the Noble Gnarble," which you can download here. There are a few more apps in the works including an interactive animated app that sounds very exciting.

As you can imagine, Daniel Errico is an extremely busy individual, but he was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions. Read on for Daniel's take on the importance of reading, his own favorite children's books, and why rejection is actually a sign you're doing something right.

Why is reading so important?

Reading allows you to have a more active role in the world around you, and connects you to people past and present. Literacy gives you access to an almost infinite amount of knowledge and ideas. Most importantly, without reading I'd have to find a different job!

Why did you start

When you submit to traditional publishers it can take months to hear back, so I accrued a backlog of stories. At the rate I was going (and without an agent at the time), anything I wrote would not be seen by an editor for years. That forced me to evaluate why I was writing, and shifted my focus to reaching as many kids as possible. This meant using the internet to cut out the middle man, and speak to my readers directly. The stories are free because children are more than just a market, and any child that wants to read should be encouraged in every way possible.

What has been the best part? The most difficult part?

The best part is doing live readings and interacting with kids. A preschool class painted characters from my story "The Three Brothers of Maladime." It pretty much made my year.
The hardest part has been trying to perfect the website. Currently, the site is being re-designing to accept stories from the public. The difficult part for me is not being able to help more in that process.

Are there any life lessons you have learned through starting this endeavor?

A hundred setbacks can be erased by a single positive moment if you're doing something you care about. Also, try not to insult the intelligence of kids.

What are your favorite children's books/stories?

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, are among my favorites. The Butter Battle Book was the first book to make me realize the lasting affect that children's literature can have on a reader, and was my biggest inspiration.

Do you have any advice for young people who want to become writers?

Writing is a personal and subjective form of art. Nobody can say what your work means to anyone except themselves. If you truly believe in your writing, don't ever forget that.

Surround yourself with creative minds as often as possible. Don't get too attached to a story, an idea, or even a sentence. It will limit you.

Every single rejection is a big step forward, so walk with your head high.

Oh, and of course, post your work on my new site!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bedtime Stories Tradition

A "bedtime story streak" is a wonderful challenge to take on with your children. Watch this video from and prepare to feel inspired!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Young Poets! This post is for you!

The Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition

Highly recommended free contest for high school students in the Washington, DC region offers two winners an honorarium plus reading at Rock Creek Park with an established poet. Send 5-6 poems, published or unpublished. Sponsored by The Word Works, which also runs a prestigious manuscript prize for adults.

Leonard Milberg '53 Secondary School Poetry Prize

Deadline March 29th! Free contest sponsored by the Princeton University creative writing program offers prizes up to $500 for unpublished poems by 11th-graders (high school juniors). Submit 1-3 poems, any length. Contest is judged by the Princeton University creative writing faculty, which includes such acclaimed authors as Jeffrey Eugenides and Joyce Carol Oates.

Sarah Mook Memorial Poetry Prize for Students

Offers prizes up to $100 in four age categories for unpublished poems by students in grades K-12. Submit 1-3 poems, any length. Optional $5 entry fee will be donated to St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, SD, which serves the Lakota (Sioux) population. This contest is sponsored by David Mook in memory of his daughter, a young writer who died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm when she was in third grade.

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival's Young Poets Competition

Free poetry contest for Connecticut high school students. Four to six winners will be published in a special-edition chapbook and be invited to read their poems during the "Night of Fresh Voices" in August at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at the Hill-Stead Museum. Send 1-5 pages of unpublished poetry and completed entry form by mail or email.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Markets for Young Writers

Thanks to Writer's Gazette for calling my attention to these markets for young writers! (Note: I am not endorsing these publications in any way. But they are opportunities to check out if you are interested!)

* Benchmark Group
We want talented young writers who speak clearly to their generation. Following the guidelines doesn't necessarily mean that you will have a publishable manuscript that will be accepted. Some things can be taught about writing, but we believe that there is a definite gift that all good writers have. We are looking for the best young writers we can find. Our editors will have final say about whose work we publish. (If it comes to our attention that one of our authors or a potential author is involved in any immoral or illegal situation that is of their own choosing, we have the right to pull their published book(s) and/or to not publish what is being considered.)

* Young Christian Writers
PAY: $10 - $20
We are interested in short stories, articles, poetry, and book reviews written by Christian students (ages 12-18). To be considered as a book reviewer, please send us a sample of a book review that you have already written. Then if we are interested in your work, we will contact you with the title of a book that we would like you to read and review for our magazine. Also, see our Book Reviews page for important tips. Your work should be guided by Christian themes such as: truth, honesty, humility, love, kindness, faithfulness, purity, courage, service, obedience, honoring parents, Creation, sanctity of human life, and the sovereignty of God.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Your Support Helped Write On! Win

About a month ago I shared that Write On! was a finalist in the Glamour Magazine/Sally Hansen "Best of You" contest. I would like to thank you all for your kind words of support and for taking the time to vote for me on the contest website. I was blown away by your amazing and positive response.

I have been informed that Write On! is one of four grand-prize WINNERS!!!!! The prize is a generous grant for Write On! projects plus a three-day trip to NYC to visit the Glamour headquarters and be in a photo shoot that will be featured in a future issue of the magazine. This will be such wonderful exposure to help spread the word about Write On! I am absolutely thrilled.

Also, we helped raise more than $5,000 for DKMS, the world's largest bone marrow donation center. Thank you!!

Have a wonderful week! I'll be giddily dancing around my living room! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interview with Kevin McNamee

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, NY. He primarily writes for the children’s market. His work has appeared in Beyond Centauri and he has several children’s picture books being published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. His first book, If I Could Be Anything, is available at, or ask your local bookstore. Look for other titles by Kevin including The Sister Exchange, The Soggy Town of Hilltop, Lightning Strikes, Papa’s Suns, and more.

When Kevin isn’t writing, he spends his time playing hide and seek, at the insistence of his five year old daughter, and at his day job, at the insistence of his wife. When time permits, Kevin also enjoys fossil hunting, home-brewing beer, and gardening. He is currently engaged in an epic battle against roving gangs of crazed squirrels who are digging up everything in sight. (The squirrels are winning.)

Kevin was kind enough to take time out of his busy day to answer some questions about his life as a writer!

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

Somewhere along the way, I stopped doubting my ability. A rejection of my manuscript ceased to be a rejection of myself. A rejection letter became an opportunity to send my manuscript somewhere else. Comments and criticism became opportunities to strengthen my story, revise something unworkable, or something to ignore altogether if it didn't fit with my vision of the story. I was able to refer to myself as a writer without feeling self conscious and … oh yeah, someone was willing to pay me for what I wrote.

What are your future goals for your writing?

I've been focusing primarily on picture books and I would like to branch out to middle readers and Young Adult novels. I have two middle readers in various stages of completion.

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical writing day for me. I try to do something writing related every day. But what I'm doing may vary. Sometimes I'm writing new material, sometimes I'm revising, sometimes I'm critiquing, sometimes I'm researching, sometimes I'm promoting. Due to the demands on my time, I've needed to adopt the philosophy of doing what I can, when I can.

Why do you write?

I first started writing in the second grade. I wrote a poem that was displayed outside the classroom and I liked seeing my poem and my name in public like that. I found that I took to writing naturally. Growing up, I was a constant daydreamer and would construct stories in my head all the time. Eventually, I started writing them down. Throughout my teenage years and throughout adulthood I always felt compelled to write. Although there were many, many times that I put creative writing on the back burner, I found that I was still writing at my day job; memos, procedures, proposals, requests, and I was receiving recognition for it. I realized that writing had been a constant in my life, but I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. Now I make sure that I write what I want as well.

What writer most inspires you? Why?

I would say that the writers that I meet both online and in person inspire me the most. They all share the same passion and dedication as I do. They understand the struggles and sacrifices involved in being a writer.

Thanks, Kevin, for stopping by today!

To find out more about Kevin, visit his website at or visit his blog at

Tour with VBT-Writers on the Move. New and famous authors, plus useful information.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Gotta Keep Reading" Video

Here is a fun video to start your week off on a bright note!

I can't figure out the embed code, so here's a link to view it online.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Opportunity for Young Playwrights

VSA Arts Playwright Discovery Program invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of playwriting. Young playwrights with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a script. Scripts may be based on real life experience or fictional, and may be any genre: comedy, drama, even musical. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a group or class of students.

The winning play will be professionally produced or staged at the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts; winning playwright will receive $2,000 and a trip to Washington, DC to see the play performed.

See website for complete guidelines and application. NO FEE. VSA Arts Playwright Discovery Program, 818 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 600, Washington, DC 20006,

Receipt Deadline: April 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Essay is Featured on the WOW! Women on Writing Blog!

My essay "From Almost Famous ... to the Cutting-Room Floor" is featured today on the WOW! Women On Writing Blog as part of their "Friday Speak Out!" series. I am very honored and thrilled. Here is a little teaser:

Soon, my face will be on that big screen, I thought, as the plush theater seats steadily filled around me for the red-carpet premiere. I’ll be famous!

Okay, almost famous. Or, maybe, recognizable. Possibly. Around campus.

“Why are you here, dear?” asked the Versace-dressed woman beside me in the center-aisle VIP second-row seats.

I tried, but failed, to hide my smile. “I’m in The Movie,” I said, excitement overwhelming any small dose of humility I possessed.

Read the rest at:

WOW! Women on Writing is an amazing community for women writers everywhere. WOW! is a global online magazine designed to support women's creativity, energy, blood, sweat and tears, throughout all stages of the writing process. Its aim is to be a favorite watering hole for professionals, the up-and-coming writers, and avid readers everywhere. Sign up for the free WOW! newsletter at -- you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Essay Published in "The Litter Box" Online Literary Magazine

I am very excited to share that my essay "A Love Letter to Norwich, England" is now up on The Litter Box website! The essay centers on my experiences studying abroad for a semester at the University of East Anglia in the beautiful coastal town of Norwich, about two hours away from London. I only lived there for six months, but I have a feeling that no matter how many years pass, Norwich always feel like a "home" to me. It's amazing how the places you travel can really become a part of you!

Here's the beginning of my essay:

A Love Letter to Norwich, England

The number 25 double-decker bus threads its way through the narrow two-lane streets. Coughing and burping without a hint of embarrassment, it carries us from the train station, with its cheerful round clockface and neat front of red brick, over the weeping-willow-lined river and up the road, past the Tesco and Superdrug and a handful of pubs, past the castle and the mall and Poundland (my favorite store because everything only costs a pound.) Climbing the stairs behind the bus driver's seat and choosing a seat up top will remain a novelty no matter how many times I ride this bus. The front seat up top is best—the huge panoramic window makes me feel like I'm part of the sky, cloudless and carefree, tracing the peaked gray rooftops with outstretched fingertips.

The bus stops four times on its way through the city centre. At each stop, I peer down at the people walking along the cobblestone sidewalks: young mothers pushing bundled-up babies in prams; old women wearing small flowered hats pinned primly to their hair; groups of teenage boys, their legs lost in the billowing fabric of their trousers, hurtling their way toward the bus. The boys pay their fare and stampede upstairs. I don't look back, but I can picture them, each one sprawled out across two seats. "Joe, don't be a bloody twat!" one of them says. I can't help a smile from spreading across my face—the novelty of the dialect makes even curse words sound lovely.

You can read the rest at:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Great Places to Donate Books

Here at Write On! we are always looking for great places to donate books. Do you have some gently used books sitting on your bookshelves, read once and now collecting dust? Why not give them to others to enjoy?

If you do donate books in your area, e-mail me at and I'll add you to our book donation grand total on our Book Drive webpage!

Here are some great organizations looking for books:

* Soldiers' Angels

* Got Books?

* Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.)

* Reader to Reader

* Pages for Children

* International Book Bank

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Paws for Poetry" Contest for Kids

April marks the 14th anniversary of National Poetry Month. To help celebrate, budding Emily Dickinsons and Edgar Allan Poes are encouraged to participate in the 3rd annual "Paws for Poetry" Contest ( To enter, children ages 5-12 are to write a poem to, and provide a photo of, their favorite animal friend. The contest is co-sponsored by kids' virtual field trip Web site Meet Me at the Corner ( and Flash Light Press (

Original poems of any length may be submitted in one of two categories: Group One (ages 5-9) and Group Two (ages 10-12). One grand prize winner in each category will receive a prize package worth
$50.00. Two runners-up in each category will receive a $25.00 gift package. Children's author, poet, and Iraqi war veteran Thad Krasnesky, writer of the upcoming That Cat Cant Stay (Flashlight Press, 2010) is the contest judge.

In addition to the prize packages, winning poems and pet photos will be highlighted in an upcoming Meet Me at the Corner video podcast. The podcast will be videotaped at New York's Angellicle Cat Rescue Center. Local students will present the winning poems.

All submissions should be mailed to "Paws for Poetry" Contest, c/o Meet Me at the Corner, 20 West Del Norte, Colorado Springs, CO, 80908. The contest deadline is
April 15, 2010.

For more information, rules and submission guidelines, visit

Monday, March 1, 2010

Submit to Write On!

* Are you a young writer in elementary school, middle school or high school?
* Have you written a story, essay, short play or poem?
* Do you want to be a published author?

Write On! Books wants to read your writing! We publish anthologies of work entirely by young writers!

Go to to submit today!

You can also e-mail me at

Don’t have access to Internet? You can also mail me your work:

400 Roosevelt Ct.
Ventura, CA 93003

In your submission please be sure to include your:
• Name
• E-mail address
Mailing address
• Grade level

Compensation: If your submission is chosen:
• I will help you edit it to make it the best it can be.
• You will be a nationally published author!
• You will have the opportunity to do book signings in your community.

Submission period ends March 23, 2010.