Monday, November 30, 2009

Keeping Up with the Joneses, I Mean... the Kids!

One of my favorite commercials growing up was this:

A ten-year-old boy goes off to sleep-away camp. His parents are home crying. The neighbor asks, "What's the matter? Do you miss your son?" They answer, "No, we can't program our VCR without him!" CUT TO: Parents go out and buy a new easy-to-program VCR. CUT AGAIN: Kid is reading a letter at camp and starts to cry. Friend says, "What's the matter? Are you homesick?" He answers, "No, but my parents don't need me anymore!"

This commercial really hit home! Time and time again, I would ask my Dad to tape a show only to come home and find out he had accidentally set it for AM instead of PM or he had had the TV set on the wrong channel and had recorded fuzz.

Now, I am the ancient imbecile. My kids are way ahead of me. At three and a half, my daughter had to show me how to take photos with my cell phone. And now, in kindergarten, she not only has a blog, but she got a vlog up!!!!

Boy, I'd better get with the program!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to Spend an Advance (that You Don't Even Have Yet!)

I've spent my advance five times over already. Yes, the advance that hasn't yet come. That one.

But now that I know it is coming (at some point!)

I made a list...

1) dive trip to the Caribbean
2) fancy new web site and book trailer
3) Highlights Foundation workshop
4) piece of original picture book art
5) publicist for the Ninja Pigs launch!

Too bad for me, my advance barely covers one of those things!

Being impulsive and unable to wait for 1, 2, 3, or 5, I picked a piece of art from Tyrannosaurus Drip, by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts. This book is bloody brilliant! (Naturally, it's created by Brits)

So, I will soon have the final spread of T-Drip hanging on my wall where I can see it every day!

Now I need to sell four more manuscripts, so I can splurge on the other things.

What are you going to do when you get your first/next advance?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bad Habits Sometimes Pay Off

Aside from refreshing email every two seconds, checking stat counter to see how many blog hits I've received, and viewing my blog for new comments, I have two other bad habits that Lisa and Laura may not have developed yet. (1) I constantly check my Amazon sales ranking, and (2) I google my name and/or my book title. These activities, when done in tandem, can sufficiently waste an entire day. So, often, when my husband comes home from work in the evening and asks what I did with my day, I have little to report.

But not this time! Today, between routinely reading blog comments and wondering why my monthly traffic has been at its lowest since July, I googled "Hop Plop Schwartz' and I made an exciting discovery! Bloomsbury has a new web site up. (This in and of itself is not exciting). Since Bloomsbury now owns Walker, they include a Hop! Plop! page... and under awards, it says: "Bank Street Children's Books of the Year- 2006." This was big news to me! (It was never on the old Walker site)

So, now, when David gets home and asks, "Did you accomplish anything?" I can say, "Yes. In doing research, I've uncovered a whole new marketing tool for my book!"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Shout Out to the Pre-Pubbed

There have been a lot of shout outs lately. Shout outs to the newly agented (Elana, Katie, SF, etc.) Shout outs to the newly contracted (Lisa, Laura, yada yada...).

Well, this is a shout out to everyone else! It can be hard to hear everyone's good news.

I know... I was 35 when I met my husband. Of course, I was happy for all my friends who were getting married, but it was incredibly hard not to envy their good fortune. I wanted it for me too!!! Where was my knight in shining armor? (Incidentally, I now know. He was on JDate looking for someone ten years younger than me!)

So, for all of you who don't have your first book deal yet, here's to good news in the near future. It can all change in a day! It only takes one call. One person to read your work and fall in love with it. One person to share your vision. That person is out there!

Scott Hoffman, from Folio Literary, recently said:
If you're a writer who has received personal attention or an 'encouraging' rejection from even one reputable agent, this is a good indication that publishing has become a numbers game for you. It's now just a matter of finding the right agent or editor at the right time. I'd strongly encourage you not to get even a little bit discouraged until you've received 50 - maybe even 100 - rejections on the project in question.

Hope all your dream come true in 2010!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Behind the Scenes Look at Joey Fly, Private Eye!

Did you ever think of trying a new genre? Aaron Reynolds did. He jumped from picture books to graphic novels and his debut book, Creepy Crawly Crime (Joey Fly, Private Eye), was just released by Henry Holt.

I was very curious to hear about how the two experiences compared. After all, a graphic novel is really kind of a PB for older peeps, right?

Welcome, Aaron. Did you and Neil Numberman communicate more than typical author-illustrators who are working on PBs?

Though we have talked some since the book came out, we never spoke once – no phone, no email, no nothing – prior to its release. There was no communication whatsoever, except between our editor and us. I have learned that sometimes the word COLLABORATION means letting go and trusting this fellow artist who is just as gifted as I think I am. It’s all still collaboration, even if I don’t have my hands in his paints.

Did Neil do anything that surprised you?

EVERYTHING Neil did was a surprise. I HATED his character interpretations when I first saw them…the main character has no freakin’ pupils, for crying out loud! How do you do a 96 page graphic novel where the main character has no pupils?! But, as often is the case, I came to see just how brilliant and wonderful and cutting edge his interpretation of my characters was. And as I saw more and more sketches of this world he was creating for these characters, the more I fell in love with everything he was doing. He was SOOOO the right person to illustrate this series.

How did the process of writing a graphic novel differ from the process of writing a PB?

The writing is much different, because I don’t write a manuscript, I write a script. Like, for a play or a movie. It looks like this:

Caption: And I was about to dig into a day-old corned leaf on rye, extra mayo…

Sammy: You gonna eat that?

Joey: Slow down, dustbuster. I haven’t even started yet.

Sammy: Just asking.

(A shadow blocks our view)
Caption: …when a shadow fell across the table.

Shadow: You are Mr. Fly?

Caption: The shadow was eight-legged and fuzz-covered.

Caption: It had the stench of death…or maybe it was the week-old aphids on the all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s so hard to tell the difference sometimes.

That’s a sneak peek from Joey Fly 2: Big Hairy Drama. I write the whole book like that, including stage directions and details about the action along the way. Then I break the scenes into panels, the way I think each shot makes sense for the telling of the story.

So, the writing is much different than a picture book. I rarely use an outline…I might walk into the writing with a couple key twists or specifics in mind, but usually the story just unfolds for me at the keyboard. After the story is done, I hand it off to my editor and we do a few rounds of revisions, just like with a picture book. Then she hands it off to the illustrator.

That's fascinating. Thanks for visiting Aaron!

For anyone who missed the super-fantastic trailer for Joey Fly, you can see it here. And come back later this week for a Joey Fly giveaway!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sneak Peak at Joey Fly!

I've been a little MIA this week. Thing 2 and I are both sick. The virus is definitely affecting my brains so forgive me if I am a bit incoherent.

Thing 1 managed to get a new blog post up though. She's so cute when she dictates. She says, "One time Junie B said... uh... Mommy, don't write the uh. I was just thinking."

Anyway, stay tuned. Tomorrow is the 19th stop on the Joey Fly, Private Eye blog tour. I'll be talking to Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman about their first graphic novel. Since I already gave Aaron a shout out for his charming picture book, Chicks and Salsa, I feel it is only fair to give Neil one too! Neil wrote and illustrated Do Not Build a Frankenstein, a funny and clever book with fabulous art.

From Publishers Weekly:
There's a new kid in town, and he's a walking cautionary tale. As his peers listen raptly, he launches into a series of flashbacks, all designed to reinforce the lesson of the title. Sure, he says, a monster of one's own is fun at first (it turns out monsters are not averse to wearing drag when playing dress-up), but pretty soon the monster's enormous strength and relentless energy make it clear that emulating Victor Frankenstein is never a good idea (“He'll chase away your friends... and your pets... and he'll break all your toys”).

Okay, before I go back to bed, here is the trailer for Joey Fly, Private Eye! This sets the bar for book trailers! I am saving up to hire whoever made it. It is all kinds of awesome!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is Fifteen Years Too Long?

To wait to get published? I'd say so. To wait for true love to call? That is the question of this song.

David and I met on the beach in Dec 1985. His roommate, Steve, and my roommate, Carolyn, were brother and sister. They lived in Miami, and David and I were both down visiting for winter break. A bunch of us ended up on the beach one afternoon. I have no recollection. He has a photo to prove it.

David called me in November of 2000.

For our wedding, he had this song written:

Monday, November 9, 2009

November Anniversaries and a Giveaway

I have quite a few anniversaries in November.

Nov 3rd- This is the day I got engaged. My husband proposed to me in 2001 on the beach in Miami because that is where we met for the first time.

Nov 13th- This is the day I wrote my first blog post in 2008.

Nov 16th- This is the anniversary of the day my husband and I met for the first time in 2000, unless you count that time we met on the beach in Miami in 1985. (But that is a whole other story!)

So, anyway, in honor of my blogiversary (and another secret anniversary that I can't talk about yet! :) I am giving away a signed copy of Hop! Plop! Just leave a comment to be entered. Drawing will be Nov 13th at 11:00 PM. (U.S. residents only)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Me and My Big Mouth

Okay, I let the last cat out of the bag a bit too soon. I knew I couldn't be trusted! If you have secrets, do NOT tell them to me. Everything is fine, but I had to temporarily pull the previous post. My agent issued a gag-order!

In other news... Lisa and Laura are giving away a Kindle! Yup. Leave it to those two to come up with the best contest prize ever to celebrate the sale of their first novel, The Haunting of Pemberly Brown.

Um, how am I going to compete with that?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The First Cat is Out of the Bag!


Lisa and Laura, everybody's favorite writing sisters, have a book deal!

From Publisher's Marketplace: Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker's A Kate Lowry Mystery: THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN, a quick-witted mystery starring a private-school sleuth with attitude and pearls, who receives an email from her dead best friend, to Daniel Ehrenhaft at Sourcebooks, for publication in Spring 2011, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (NA).

How was I privy to this information before the rest of the blogosphere? Well, stalking comes with its benefits. (Also, if you spill secrets to people, they tend to feel obligated to spill some back:)

I encourage you to check out Lisa and Laura's blog. They are hilarious and... they are planning a we-just-sold-our-first-book-so-we're-giving-away-one-really-super-amazing-prize contest. Who would want to miss that?

And come back soon if you are interested in seeing what other cats pop out around here.