Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Writers Wednesday

Many of the writers I meet at workshops or critique groups are teachers who were inspired to write a story that relates to their area of curriculum interest or expertise.  These educators often struggle with finding an appropriate venue for their work once it is completed. 

Today's guest post is by Kathryn Starke who has founded a successful company that targets the market for educator/writers. 

Kathryn Starke

            Each day in my position, I motivate children and teachers to enjoy the writing process.  I am an urban elementary school literacy specialist, children's author, public speaker, freelance educational writer, and the founder of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, a global educational company based in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I have my BS degree in elementary education and my Master's degree in Literacy Culture from Longwood University. I have been in the field of education for a decade, but I have been writing since I was a very young girl. I never imagined that I would become a children's author and be able to share my passion with readers of all ages.

            Having taught in Title I and inner city schools, I realized that engaging and educational literature is necessary for my students to learn to read, and in turn, read to learn. I wrote Amy's Travels, a multicultural children's book based on a true story, to teach the seven continents to my second graders. I originally started Creative Minds Publications to publish and market this trade book to schools in Virginia. This spring, Amy's Travels was released in its second edition and is used in schools on six continents. Our mission is to ensure quality literacy instruction for all students, which is why CMP publishes books written by educators; all our books are complete with curriculum and comprehensive guides to use at home or in the classroom. Turtle Without a Home is an example of environmental literacy, written by educators in northern Virginia, which is also published under the Creative Minds Publications imprint.

            From presenting at reading and writing conferences, I have met so many teachers that have an idea for a title; I now use my experiences to help fellow educators become published authors. I'm never looking for any particular topic, but the story has to match an objective that can be utilized in school curricula. They also have an illustrator or graphic designer ready to take on the project. My clients come to me as unpublished writers simply sharing a manuscript and goal for themselves and for their work. I am most impressed by a story that readers can make a personal connection to as well as learn a life lesson from; a story that makes you think long after you finished reading is a plus. And remember, your target audience is children, so you must use a simple sentence structure that can be read with ease. Many people have a wonderful story idea but do not present a great children's book because there is too much text on a page, which is overwhelming for children and the vocabulary is far too advanced. Think about how you would speak to a child in conversation or teach a child in your class and write that way.

            Thus far, all of my authors have come to me with their own educational materials to match their book, which is very characteristic of teachers. Creative Minds Publications is able to develop and write lesson plans and book guides for any titles published through us or through a publishing company in which we have a partnership. For example, Brandylane Publishers in Richmond, Virginia, publishes nonfiction materials, and we create materials or programs to complement the book to be used in schools or institutions. Danger on My Doorstep is a Holocaust story written for middle schoolers and published under Brandylane's imprint; Creative Minds Publications markets and distributes the book and programs in the educational realm, which is my expertise.  Keep writing, and do not get discouraged by what others may express about your work. Everyone has a story to tell, but it's how you present and market your manuscript or book that truly makes the difference.

For more information about Kathryn Starke and Creative Minds follow these links:

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