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Writing Advice: Write Your Kryptonite

By Cindy Williams Schrauben

We’ve all heard the advice, “write what you know.” Sure, that strategy requires less research and results in a smoother experience, but I submit that there is also value in “writing what you want (or need) to know.” The passion involved in doing so takes you deeper and results in a ‘real’ and more personal narrative. Although I didn’t set out with this in mind, working on my new picture book This Could Be You (illustrated by Julia Seal and published by Cardinal Rule Press) taught me a great deal about myself as an author. Yes, I wrote this book to empower kids with a growth mindset, but it quickly became more, forcing me to look in the mirror. I have to wonder if that is the reason this book was ultimately published; I was speaking to myself, as well.

The growth mindset qualities featured in my book empower kids with the following beliefs:

  • When I fail I can get back up and learn from my mistakes.

  • I can turn ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’t, yet, but I’m still trying’.

  • I will do my best and not compare myself with others.

  • Practice makes better.

The further I dug into the growth mindset doctrine, the more I realized how crucial this outlook is for authors (or anyone striving for a dream).

  • Those agent and editor rejections? – ‘the perfect opportunity to learn and improve my story and/or query.’

  • Hard-to-take critiques? - ‘I’m not there yet, but now I know what isn’t working.’

  • Imposter syndrome? – ‘Published authors were in my shoes once.’

  • This story stinks. I might as well give up? - ‘I will keep trying.’

Writing This Could Be You forced me to engage in some needed self-reflection. “What do I want the reader to hear” quickly became, “what does everyone (including me) need to hear?” I am certain that this realization led to a richer, more meaningful manuscript. Sometimes, stimulating a growth mindset is as easy as evaluating our lives through the lens of a new vocabulary. Plus, just think about the impact we can make by setting a good example for kids. After all, kids are our focus, right? It is much easier to “tell” kids what to think, but “showing” them is much more effective. Hey, “show vs. tell” – we’ve heard that before, too. So, look at your manuscripts and see how or why they speak to you – you might be surprised.

The kidlit community has been extremely generous in my journey to publication. I know for a fact that I would not have persevered long enough to accomplish this goal had it not been for this amazing group of people – the blogs, contests, discussion sites, critique partners, and organizations like Rate Your Story have been invaluable. I am thrilled to now be in a position to give back and encourage others to get there and developing a growth mindset is an important first step. I will tell you what I tell kids after reading my book – look in the mirror every day, state your goal, and tell yourself, “This could be me!” Better yet, “This WILL be me!”

BIO: Cindy Williams Schrauben lives in Michigan where she writes books for kids that range from the truly serious to the seriously silly.

Before embarking on this path, she held positions as a preschool administrator, teacher, and assistant director of a children’s museum -- always striving to empower kids.

When not writing or honing her craft, Cindy might be found dissecting her grandsons’ shenanigans for story ideas, reading on the floor in the bookstore, or eating ice cream… ideally all at once.

You can connect with Cindy at or

Buy This Could Be You HERE:

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Author Cindy Williams Schrauben and her Editor, Adam Blackman of Cardinal Rule Press, will be our Guest this Sunday April 3, 2022, at 6:30 PM EST at Rate Your Story's Mentor Text Talk. Join our Mentor Text Talk Update Group HERE (updates, information and last-minute cancellations would be posted here), then join us on Zoom HERE. We will be reading Cindy's book and both Cindy and Adam will be available afterwards for Ask An Author / Ask An Editor Q & A. We hope to see you there!

As always, we request that you support our Guests in a variety of ways: Buying the Book, recommending the book to a friend, leaving reviews on and/or, gifting the book, ordering a copy into your local library, sharing your delight over this Mentor Text Talk on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram, and in your critique groups.

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