Hi. My name is Ken. I'm a member of SCBWI. I'm your tour guide into Brianwoods, a blog dedicated to my children's writing endeavors. Thanks for stopping by.

Just for a minute, close your eyes and imagine you're walking along a forest trail. Listen to the forest animals, as they call out to greet you. Welcome to Brianwoods!

This blog includes some of my other writing and details on my published materials.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Inspirational Trip to New York City

New York City is known for many things, the Empire State Building,the New York Stock Exchange,Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, and Grand Central Station, to name a few. But it's also the location for the majority of publishing houses in America. Yesterday, part of our family went to New Haven, CT and took the train into New York City to experience the holiday festivities. I find trips like these great for coming up with new story ideas for my writing. This isn't anything that I force though. There is so much to experience and see in the city that it seems there's never enough time to do everything. Sitting in Grand Central Station, I came up with two different story ideas while we were eating lunch. As we walked by the Lego Building and Rockefeller Center, another idea came to me. Things were very busy in that area last night. At times I felt like I was in a cattle drive, but it was fun. If you happen to live in the area, I think it's a worthwhile adventure to try. Now that I'm more familiar with the route, I expect that we will try this again. Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Last Leaf

I have been tweaking my rhyming PB story for a while now. It started off as a ms for the Highlights for Children Fiction Contest a long time ago. I even adapted it to a children's play, but I had to change the content to match that form. It was fun to do it. I tend to get inspiration for my writing by doing illustrations, which helps me get into the story. Above this post is an example of one of my illustrations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I started the PiBoIdMo a little late this year. To be honest, I haven't done it in several years. The last time I participated was about 2 years ago when it was held during the month of February. Anyway, I'm trying to catch up after starting on November 5, five days late. That's okay. I've written quite a few stories already and have a bunch of  ideas jotted down in my writing notebook, which should make it somewhat easier.

Good luck to all the other PiBoIdMo'ers out there.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing Edward Egads, Environmental Eye

Edward Egads is the main character in a series of stories I am in the process of writing. He is a 10-year-old boy with a photographic memory and an intuition well beyond his years. He cares deeply about nature and all creatures that live in it. With the help of his beagle, Rory, and several friends, Edward finds himself getting involved with solving unusual problems related to nature and the environment in and around his hometown of Bolton Mills.

Writing and Savants

A number of years ago, a friend of mine experienced a period where he couldn't sleep for many days and it affected him adversely. But several months later, something positive emerged from that experience. He started to have this surge of energy and motivation to write. Before that difficult period, he had enjoyed writing fictional stories in school and even for his high school newspaper. But something had changed as a result of the experience. It was as if his brain had somehow been reprogrammed to be more creative. A roadblock had been smashed through and now the only thing that could quench this thirst was to write... anything.

Savants are known for having extraordinary mental and physical skills while not being able to do some of the most basic of tasks to be independent. I read that not all savants are born this way. Some people become gifted after experiencing some sort of head trauma. I was recently reading about brain research when I discovered an article that suggested that a musician's brain functions change during the creative process. It's like part of the brain shuts down so that the energy can be redirected to the creative side.

I sometimes wonder if my friend's sudden desire to write can be explained by this phenomenon. I'm curious to know if anyone else knows someone like my friend?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Ant Story

Here's an excerpt from a story I wrote for the Highlights for Children's Fiction Contest several years ago.

The story was entitled "Grandma's Cookies". The main character is a carpenter ant that lives with an elderly couple.

I often hang out in Grandma’s kitchen and sample the different batches. This can be hard though because the bowls and plates are high up on the table or counter. One day while watching Grandma from on top of a chair, I slipped and almost fell head first into a bowl of chocolate chip batter. It’s not easy being the smallest in the family. But these treats are worth the effort.

Sometimes I get lucky and find pieces of cookies lying around the kitchen. If it’s near dinnertime, I don’t want to get in trouble for ruining my appetite so I won’t eat them. I’ll hide them in a secret place and save them for dessert.

Every Christmas Eve, Grandma leaves me two special cookies with some milk.  But I have to make sure to eat my snack before the old, white bearded guy in the red and white suit appears. He thinks those cookies and milk are for him.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Manuscript Makeover By Elizabeth Lyon

I recently visited my local Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Manchester to see what books I could find to enhance my writing skills. Armed with a bunch of B&N gift cards from last Christmas, I wandered down aisle after aisle looking for just the right books to buy. There was some additional mystery in this journey because I didn't have a clue as to how much each gift card was worth. I had about ten cards so I figured there should be at least 75 dollars there.

While checking out the literature reference section, I found Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover book. Now I have a number of other reference books, but something in the first several pages caught my eye and I had to have it. Also, I decided to get the 2014 Writer's Market. I have 6 different Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (CWIM) books, but I decided to try something different. I probably will break down and get the 2014 CWIM book at some point in the near future though.

I've only read the first 75 pages, but there's a lot of good information in Part One about "voice" and making revisions. It's getting late so I need to sign off for the night. Take care and happy writing!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Highlights for Children to Announce Fiction Contest Winners for 2013

By now, if you are like me, you know that the winners of this year's contest won't include you. This simple fact is clear because the editors would have contacted you by now. So another year goes by without getting recognized through this contest. Seems like enough reason to throw in the towel and say, "What's the point of entering this contest in the first place? I never win." I submit that this attitude is way off target.

First, you have crafted another story to add to your growing portfolio. Second, you lived the dream that just possibly you might have been one of the winners. You know the old lottery saying, "You can't win if you don't play." Third, something's learned every time you enter a contest, which might help you later in your writing career.  Just reading the winning entries in the magazine provides clues to what Highlights is looking for. However, it appears that the company hasn't updated its website lately to include what magazine issues include the winning stories from the 2010 and 2011 contests yet. I wish they would soon.

So even if you didn't win this year, don't dwell on it too long.  Get right back at writing and keep optimistic about your writing. You could be only one acceptance away from success. And if you did win, CONGRATULATIONS!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hello, Germany!


As you probably know, Google blogs allow the creator to see where the traffic to your website comes from on a daily basis. I had twenty hits yesterday from Germany. That's quite a few so I figured a greeting was in order. Also, I have a few questions for you. Where are you from in Germany? Do you write? Do you maintain a blog too? I'm interested so let me know by leaving a message.  Don't forget that there is a translation component to my blogs now so you can convert the text to any language. Thanks!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Pitchapalooza. What's It All About?

I try to read as much as possible about writing, whether it's books, magazines, newspapers or on-line forms like Twitter, Blogger, Facebook etc... On December 30, 2012, I was reading the Hartford Courant, the local newspaper in this area and found something interesting. In the Arts section of newspaper, there's this part entitled Books. This usually contains information about literary activities in the area, author presentations, book festivals, and other similar things. The part that caught my eye was a piece entitled "Pitchapalooza". What the heck is a Pitchapalooza, I thought?

It's a free event characterized by many as the "American Idol or The Voice for books". These events have a unique format, where writers from all genres, published or unpublished, prepare a one minute book pitch and place their names in a hat.  Literary Agent, Arielle Eckstut and author, David Henry Sterry, co-founders of The Book Doctors, randomly pick twenty lucky names out of the hat. Those individuals then get to make their pitch in front of Arielle, David, several other editors or agents on a panel, and everyone else at the event.

After all twenty of the writers have done their pitch, the panel picks one winner, who gets an introduction to an appropriate agent or publisher.  But don't worry about the odds here. I understand that anyone who buys the The Book Doctor's publishing book, "The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It. Sell It, and Market It...Successfully." gets a twenty minute personal consultation. 

The Book Doctors have been running these free events across the country for several years in local bookstores and libraries to promote their book. I checked out YouTube and found a number of videos on these events. There's actual recorded pitches set up by The Book Doctors and some of them are winning pitches. Several people interviewed on some of the videos indicated that although they didn't get chosen to pitch their book idea, they thought attending the event was extremely informative, especially because the panel gently critiqued each one.

I consider these events just another opportunity to enhance my writing. I plan on attending the Hartford Connecticut event on March 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford. It's right next to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Check out the Hartford Public Library website at and The Book Doctors website at 

Happy writing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Waiting Begins

On January 31, 2013, I took the day off from my regular job. I spent the morning polishing my entry for this year's Highlights Fiction Contest. Around 11:30 am, I went down to the local Staples to make a copy of my entry since my printer/scanner/copier stopped working. Shortly thereafter, I mailed my entry at the post office after getting it postmarked since it was the last day entries are allowed to be submitted.

My entry is a little different this year. Rather than writing a typical fictional story like I've done in seven previous attempts, I juiced it up a bit. Here's a clue to the content of my story, it involves a canine food critic.Now we all know that dogs tend to eat almost anything so it's kind of a paradox to have a dog food critic.I imagine that all food establishments would prefer to have such a critic with the certainty that the report would be quite complimentary.

Now it's time to wait. But I already have too many other writing projects in the works. I intend on keeping busy and trying not to think about the outcome. The winning entries won't be announced until late May or early June. That's a ways off.

Bon appetite!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Highlights for Children-2013 Fiction Contest

It's that time of year again to compose a great fictional short story for Highlights' fiction contest. This year the publisher has opened things up a bit by not having a particular theme. The contest rules state that all genres are acceptable (mystery, historical fiction, sports, humor, holiday, friendship, etc...) Also, all submissions this year must be under 500 words, for kids ages 6-8, and not contain crime, violence, or derogatory humor.

I've gotten a late start on my entry this year. With so many options, I'm having a hard time narrowing down what genre and story to use. This year will mark the eighth time I've entered the contest. I really enjoy entering and it's free too.

Over the past several years, I've been reading and rereading the winning entries for inspiration. I believe there are clues in these stories that can help me actually place in the top three. I just have to figure out what they are and apply them. It's like trying to find Waldo, except a lot harder.

Entries need to be postmarked by no later than January 31, 2013. Good luck to everyone that enters the contest.