(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 


For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at www.storycatcherpublishing.com)


Staying Connected in a Disconnected World

by Lori Degman


Thanks, Donna, for asking me to write something for your Feel Good Fridays series!  It’s such a great idea! I’ve definitely had my share of sad and lonely times over the past month.  Not being able to see my mom, kids and grandkids has been really hard, but we Facetime and Skype often to keep in touch.  I also do Zoom meetings and Hangouts with different groups of friends and that has helped!

One thing that’s been discouraging for me is that my newest book, Travel Guide For Monsters, comes out April 15th and I’m not able to share it with kids.  I had five bookstore events and six school visits planned to help celebrate the book and of course they were all canceled.  It has made the release of this book feel so much different from the others – there’s just not the same energy and excitement about it.

I was encouraged when I saw some authors had made videos of themselves reading their books.  I loved the idea because I really wanted to connect with kids, but I was nervous about doing it.  I knew they wouldn’t be perfect – and they’re not!  But that’s ok, because kids need to see adults making mistakes too!  Now I have Youtube videos for each of my six books and I hope people are enjoying them.

Another thing I’m doing is virtual visits with students.  For one school, they weren’t able to do anything “live” so they sent me questions from the students and I recorded and shared my answers with them.  I’m also scheduled to do readings and Q&As with classes on Instagram Live and Zoom.  I love interacting with kids so, if any teachers reading this would like me to join your zoom classroom sometime, let me know.  You can email me at Lori@Loridegman.com.

Thanks again, Donna!




Lori book


Taking your monster on a road trip this summer? Or letting your favorite beast tag along on a family beach vacation? Wherever you and your monster are traveling, Travel Guide for Monsters is full of essential tips to help you both enjoy the sights from coast to coast–and avoid monster-related mishaps.

Available on Amazon and other online retailers.




Lori Picture


Lori Degman is the author of the award-winning books: 1 Zany Zoo, Cock-a-Doodle Oops, and Just Read, as well as Norbert’s Big Dream, Like a Girl, and Travel Guide For Monsters.  She was a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education.  Lori lives in Vernon Hills, Illinois, where she spends her days writing, visiting schools and playing with her grandkids (once this quarantine is over).  You can find her online at http://www.Loridegman.com.


Writerly Wisdom: Lori Degman



Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. Today’s author is someone I met back in 2013 and have cheered on her successes ever since. You can find Lori Crusin Degman at her website (www.Loridegman.com) or on Twitter at @loridegman.

A Genre By Any Other Name
By Lori Crusin Degman


In doing research for this post, I discovered the categories I had always thought of as “Genres”, were really “Formats”. I figured, there must be a lot of other writers who thought the same thing. So, I would like to share with you the different formats and genres and help you determine which are best suited for your style of writing.

First, you need to determine in which format you prefer to write and then, within that format, which genre appeals to you (many genres cross formats). Here is a list of the different formats in children’s literature:


Format: Picture Book
32 pages;
less than 700 words
4 – 8 years old
Text and illustrations used equally; main character is a child who solves his/her own problem; concepts or events common to children


Format: Early Reader
48 – 64 pages;
2 – 3 page chapters;
up to 1,500 words
6 – 9 years old
Illustrations on every page but more “grownup” looking; events to which children can relate


Format: Chapter Book
2 – 4 sentence paragraphs;
3 – 4 page chapters;
up to 10,000 words
7 – 10 years old
lots of action and humor; events to which children can relate


Format: Middle Grade
80 – 190 pages;
longer chapters;
20,000 – 40,000 words
9 – 12 years old
conflict driven; main character pursues goals and faces obstacles


Format: Young Adult
40,000 – 60,000 words
12 + years old
teenaged main characters; coming of age; multi-themed; authentic voice


Format: Graphic Novel
48 – 64 pages
all ages
comic book format with more pictures than words


Format: Novel in Verse
10,000 – 20,000 words
12+ years old
similar to young adult novels but written in free-style verse; each poem should stand alone and capture a moment or scene


Once you’ve decided which format you prefer, you need to determine which genre in children’s literature best fits what you enjoy writing. To help you do that, I’ve developed this short test.

Which phrase would you most likely choose to complete this sentence:

Yesterday, my friend and I . . .

A. climbed on our zongos and rode to the edge of floxium.
B. ate a steak and kidney pie.
C. helped Paul Bunyon find his ox.
D. spoke on the telephone for the first time,” Thomas Edison announced.
E. landed on the planet Neptune.
F. began this personal journal.
G. signed up to fight against the Yankees.
H. pulled out our iphones to take pics of the cutest boy in school.
I. looked for clues at the murder scene.
J. climbed off our horses and mosied over to the saloon.
K. realized we have been madly in love for years!

Match your choice above to the genres below:

A. Fantasy
B. Poetry
C. Folklore
D. Nonfiction
E. Science Fiction
F. Biography
G. Historical Fiction
H. Contemporary Fiction
I. Mystery
J. Western
K. Romance

No matter in which format or genre you write, there are basic rules that apply to writing for children – though rules are made to be broken so don’t feel compelled to follow them to the letter:

Your story needs an arc – a clear beginning that sets up a problem for the main character, a middle in which the main character makes attempts to solve the problem (usually three attempts), and a satisfying ending in which the main character finally solves the problem.

Create genuine characters to whom your readers can relate and feel some kind of emotional connection – love, hate, fear, admiration . . .

Read as many books as you can in your genre – not to imitate, but to learn what types of things work well and what things you should avoid doing – based on your reactions to the books you’ve read.

Be ready to rewrite, reword, revise!




Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holidays. She lives in a northern suburb of Chicago with her husband and two dogs. Her picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and a mini version was distributed inside 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios. The hardcover was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Lori’s latest book, Norbert’s Big Dream, was published in 2016.







Title: 1 Zany Zoo

Author: Lori Degman

Illustrator: Colin Jack

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Ages 4-8


“While YOU stood here waiting, with nothing to do
I snuck through the gate and into the zoo.
You’ll never believe what I saw–what I heard.
I swear it’s the truth–every last word.”


One small boy sneaks into what he thinks is a quiet little zoo…only to discover the animals inside are anything but ordinary! All it takes is one fearless fox with a key to unlock all the cages and soon it’s one wild menagerie of rollicking, frollicking animals partying all day long! How will the zoo keeper maintain order in the one zany zoo?

Why you should read it:

I will be the first to admit I LOVE rhyming books. It may be that it calls out to the child in me but give me a story with a lyrical, rhythmic tone to it and I just melt. Ms. Degman manages to do just that as she takes her readers on a fantastical journey through a zoo as one clever fox not only stays one step ahead of the zoo keeper, but also manages to show us what it’s REALLY like when humans aren’t around! Children, young and old, will love the whimsical illustrations by the talented Colin Jack and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those children start asking to visit the zoo soon!

Like-O-Meter Rating:

5 out of 5…Grab it!

**Rating scale**
5 out of 5…grab it!
4 out of 5…think about it.
3 out of 5…take or leave it.
2 out of 5…maybe not for you.
1 out of 5…forget about it!


Author Profile Pic

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.