Guest post: Writing Tips from Children's Author Constance Corcoran Wilson

I have been writing for pay for 58 years.  I've written for 5 newspapers and 11 blogs. I now have 15 published books (some of which are out of print.)

When I was 10, I was sent out to interview a man who owned a farm in the center of the state of Iowa and someone  who had built his own telescope. I had no idea what I was doing, but you learn by doing.  I learned how to do it by doing it. I had good teachers and a good basic grasp of the mechanics of the language, and I was creative. It was a learning curve, but a learning curve I was willing to take a stab at perfecting.

At 18, while in college,  I interviewed Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Since then, I've interviewed David Morrell (3 times), Anne Perry, John Irving, William F. Nolan, r. Barry Flowers, Joe Hill, Jon Land, Valerie Plame (in October),  Australian mystery writer Adrian McKinty and a host of lesser-known writers.

When I decided to switch from Journalism (my original major) to English, I also decided I would try to keep writing. I became the Film and Book critic for the Quad City Times in 1970, my first year teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts in Silvis, Illinois.

I continued as a writer for the Times until 1975, when I began interviewing local celebrities for the Moline (IL) Dispatch. In 1985, I quit my job as a junior high school teacher to become a full-time Educational Writer for PLS (Performance Learning Systems, Inc.) of Emerson, NJ, penning their book Training the
Teacher As A Champion. (1989). Somewhere around that time, I was named one of the "Ten Most Creative Teachers in America" by TAB Scholastic Books in a contest for which I had to send in a unit I had written. ("It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's SUPER-LEMON!: Ad Campaigns in the Classroom.")

In 1986 I founded the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and most of my writing was centered on the business, such as writing articles on ADHD for "Family Focus" and hostessing a live radio show  ("Saturday at Sylvan.")

In 2003, when I sold my 2 businesses (I had also started a Prometric Testing Center in 1995), I returned to writing. I pulled together all of my published pieces as a humor columnist ("The Write Stuff") and anything that had ever been published and put out Both Sides Now.

I've now spent 10 years learning about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. I've written a science fiction novel, 3 volumes of ghost stories collected driving from Chicago to Santa Monica, California on Route 66; a 3-novel series of thrillers entitled The Color of Evil (Red is for Rage, Khaki = Killer); 2 volumes in a short story series entitled Hellfire & Damnation; 1 nonfiction book on movies, It Came from the 70s; 2 books of humor (Laughing through Life and Both Sides Now) and 2 illustrated children's books, the Christmas Cats series, undertaken for my granddaughters.

Some would suggest that I still don't know what I'm doing.

I would maintain that "you learn by doing." While my work for newspapers and blogs  is  well documented (I was  Yahoo's Content Producer of the Year 2009), I'll keep on practicing until I get as good at fiction and children's books and anything else I choose to take on as I became at nonfiction writing for newspapers.

As Steven Tyler of Aerosmith once said, "Fake it till you make it."

Amen to that!

About the author

Constance (Connie) Corcoran Wilson writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. She was named one of the Ten Most Creative Teachers in America (33 years) by TAB Scholastic Books and has channeled that creativity into an illustrated Christmas Cats series ( written for her four-year-old twin granddaughters.
Connie is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MS + 30) and Berkeley and has been writing for pay since she was 10 years old, with 15 books, to date and stints as film and book critic for 5 newspapers and 11 blogs. She was Content Producer of the Year for Yahoo (2009). Read more about her other books at
She has two children born 20 years apart , has been married 46 years, and lives in East Moline and Chicago, Illinois with husband Craig.
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