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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Writing on Assignment with Children’s Author Shari Barr (and a GIVEAWAY!)

There are many paths to publication. And today, I’m delighted to have children’s author Shari Barr as my guest, sharing her experience writing on assignment. I found her post so encouraging and I hope you will too. Thank you, Shari, for sharing your experience! (And thank you, also, the giveaway opportunity!) Take it away!

My First Big Break—Writing on Assignment

by Shari Barr

Breaking into traditional publishing isn’t always easy, but there are lesser-known ways to get your foot in the door. Many major publishers develop series in-house and then hire authors to write it. I landed my first fiction deal in a work-for-hire agreement.  

Not only was it great fun, I also learned tons about the publishing world and walked away with four books to my credit.

Several years ago I learned about Barbour Publishing’s new Camp Club Girls mystery series through a Christian newsletter I received. After contacting the editor and expressing interest in possibly writing for them, I was invited to submit a sample chapter and subsequently contracted, along with five other authors, to write the 24-book series.

Each writer was assigned one of the six main characters in the series. My books were all written from the viewpoint of McKenzie Phillips, a witty, thirteen-year-old from Montana. Each writer was given a brief synopsis of our assigned books, but we were able to make each one our own. Since I’m a farm girl and saw the need for more farm related stories in children’s literature, I created McKenzie’s character to fit the mold of a modern farm girl. Of course, a few plot elements were inspired by some of my most memorable childhood stunts, except I made her a lot more fun. 

The characters in the series meet while sharing a cabin at church camp. In book one the roomies use their individual skills to solve a mystery they’ve encountered at camp. In each of the following books, two girls meet at various locations around the country to solve a mystery. The remaining four girls help sleuth by using cell phones and computers. Oh, and I must give credit to Biscuit, the wonder dog, who uses his canine detective skills to provide clues.

My first three books of the Camp Club Girls series, McKenzie’s Montana Mystery, McKenzie’s Oregon Operation, and McKenzie’s Branson Brainteaser released in 2010 and 2011. McKenzie’s Montana Mystery was reprinted in Get a Clue! Camp Club Girls, a special 3 stories in one volume, and released in 2012. Camp Club Girls: McKenzie released April 1, 2019, a four-in-one volume containing all McKenzie titles, including my fourth book, McKenzie’s Iowa History Mystery.

I may not be a household name, but when fan mail comes in from little girls, it’s all worthwhile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Shari Barr always dreamed of being a writer. She was raised on a farm spending many summer days hiding in her treehouse, reading her stack of library books. When her pile dwindled (usually the same day she checked them out,) she made her own adventures, unknowingly creating plot elements for future middle-grade novels. She has published numerous articles and devotions and wrote Sunday school and Vacation Bible School curriculum for David C. Cook. In addition to the Camp Club Girls series, she wrote Memory Maker Bible Crafts for 2nd and 3rd Grades, published by David C. Cook in 2008.

She and her husband live on a farm in in southwest Iowa not far from where she grew up. Since their son and daughter are grown, she spends her free time taking photographs of farm life and spoiling their stupendously handsome and intelligent mutt, Hank.

To view her photography, feel free to follow her Facebook page “Mama Barr’s Farm” at


Shari has kindly offered one copy of her newest book with Barbour, “Camp Club Girls: McKenzie” to one lucky winner. If you’d like a chance to win her book, let me know by leaving a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Wednesday, 7/17/19 at 12:01 am EST. The giveaway is now over.

28 thoughts on “AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Writing on Assignment with Children’s Author Shari Barr (and a GIVEAWAY!)”

  1. Loved reading this post and learning about Shari’s path to writing such a fun series! Thank you both for sharing another path on writing.

  2. So much fun to see my talented author friend, Shari, featured here! I already own (and read) all four of the books in her Camp Club Mystery series, so no need to enter me in the giveaway. I highly recommend them!

  3. Love the bio, Shari! It’s always great to read anything you have written, my friend! Thank you for sharing your gift with future generations. May God bless you!

  4. WFH (=work for hire) is the bread and butter of many if not most writers. Though I haven’t done it, it was a revelation (through writing friends) how much of their income comes from WFH, including titles they didn’t get credit for. Thank you Shari for sharing, and Laura for hosting.

  5. I would highly recommend work-for-hire. It’s a great way to learn the tricks of the trade plus it helps build a resume. Thanks so much for your comments!

  6. Hi Shari. Congratulations on all of your great work. I was able to read a couple of the books my mom has.

  7. I was blessed to grow up in the same rural community and am so excited that Shari is using her experiences to enrich the lives of her readers. I have two granddaughters and can’t wait to read the books to the girls! So proud of you Shari!

    1. Thank you so much, Paula! That means a lot to me. I hope your granddaughters will have as much fun with them as I did writing them . So glad you could stop by!

  8. Thanks for sharing, Shari. Your books sound like lots of fun! Also, I’m wondering, is the Christian newsletter where you found the WFH lead one for writers? If so, could you share the name of it?

      1. Hi Sara. Thanks for popping over. Several years ago I belonged to HACWN (Heart of America Christian Writers Network.) This is where I found the work-for-hire opportunity, The opportunity wasn’t listed in the newsletter. However, the woman who organized the network mentioned in an article that she had been hired as editor for the new CCG series. My writer’s mind started working overtime so I contacted her, asking if she knew whether the publisher would be hiring writers. She gave me the name of a woman to contact, and from there I was asked to write a sample chapter. I haven’t been a member for several years now, so I’m not sure if they still have a newsletter. But you can check it out here: Newsletters and writing organizations are great places to find publisher’s needs. Also, market books are a great way to find if publishers need WFH. Hope this was helpful.

  9. I would love a chance to win her book. I have known Shari for years and she is an amazing
    woman. I wish her all the best and look forward to her next book.
    Thank you

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