Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ten in '10 - Final Check In

Okay, back in the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself-  write ten picture books in 2010.  (Some of you even said you would join me!)

For those of you who missed it, the motivation for this goal came from the realization that a good picture book author sells approximately one in five PB manuscripts.

My goal was to write ten, so that I could sell two.

Well, it is the end of the year.  How did I do?

I wrote six manuscripts. (and, BTW, that is a HUGE record for me!)

It may be four short of my goal, BUT ... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I might have met my ultimate goal.   GOLDI ROCKS sold and I think my CINDERELLA story will sell as well.  

So, for me, I consider 2010 a writing success.  (Don't ask my parenting or exercise goals, though!)

How did you guys do in 2010?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Megan Bickel wrote a post this week about embracing your mood, whatever it is, and using it to write.  If you are grumpy, write about a grumpy character. "Carpe Grumpy!" she said.

Well, I have been freezing for days.    I feel like there is no circulation in my hands.  I get back under the covers instead of changing and going  to  he gym.  I take a hot bath, instead of working on story revisions.  (Who can type when they can't even feel their fingers?)

But today, I am going to take  Megan's advice and think freezing.  Carpe Cold!

Coldilocks and the Three Polar Bears?  (Can't do it, already have a Goldi story)
The Three Skiing Pigs? (Can't do it, already have a pigs story)
Shiverella?  (Can't do it... yeah, got one of those too!)

I'll go make a hot chocolate and keep thinking...

ADDENDUM:  Just got another one... Little Red Gliding Hood

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Got an Easy One!

I'm in love with my new baby!  I'm not ready to reveal the hook yet, so I will just refer to her as CINDERELLA. (She was previously known as idea #11 :)   She is an angel.   So cooperative!

GOLDI ROCKS was never this well-behaved.  She fought me tooth and nail the entire way through.  She had endless time outs!  A lot like Thing 2.  Cute, but naughty.  Always testing.  Several times I considered putting her up for adoption. (Fortunately, my agent wouldn't allow that)

But not CINDERELLA.  She is every mother's dream.   Easy, easy, easy!

Wishing all of you out there one easy one!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Season of Shivering and Sobbing

Oh, how I wish...
that I was born a bear
so I could spend the winter
hiding in my lair.

Snuggled, warm and cozy,
I could hibernate.
Oh, to be a bear,
wouldn't that be GREAT!

I have a bad case of winter blues and it's not even mid-December!  I just want to crawl under the covers and not come out till March.

Unfortunately, my husband has vetoed that plan.  He also said a move to the Caribbean was "out of the question."  (Gosh, what a killjoy, he is! :)

So, if I can't escape physically, I'll have to escape mentally.  Anyone have a good book to recommend that is not at all depressing?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Joey Fly 2- The Bugs are Back in Town!


If you liked Joey Fly, Private Eye- Creepy Crawly Crime, then you will love Joey Fly 2- Big Hairy Drama. Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman team up again to bring you another installment of this funny, punny graphic novel series.

          LIFE IN THE BUG CITY. HOT. WET. AND WICKED.
A cold snap has blown into town like an unwanted house pest. But there’s only one guy in the bug city with the power to put crime permanently on ice: Joey Fly, Private Eye. He’s always on the lookout for trouble, and he runs into it when he meets Harry Spyderson, proprietor of the Scarab Beetle Theatre and director of the much-anticipated Bugliacci.

Greta Divawing, the four-winged, long-legged leading lady, has gone missing. Harry hires Joey Fly and his assistant, Sammy Stingrear-- oops, tail, it's Stingtail--to crack the case. Can they find Greta in time to save the show?
It has intrigue.
"What about Fleeago? Did you hear him threaten her in any way?"
"Wait a minute!  You think Fleeago did this?
"Just answer the question. Did he say "You'll pay for this!" or "Mwaa-ha-ha!" or anything like that?"
It has word play.
"You are a lover of theater, I see?"
"Well, I was in my second grade school production of A Lice in Wonderland. I'm no theater bug, though."

It has bathroom humor!
I eat poop, okay?  So I am not exactly what you'd call a discriminating eater.  But there are still some things that should go uneaten.  I'm just saying...
What more could a kid want?

Aaron Reynolds is a human, not a bug, but he often writes about bugs. He is the author of Chicks and Salsa, Superhero School, Buffalo Wings, and, of course, the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novels.

Neil Numberman is a termite currently residing in New York City. Joey Fly, Private Eye is his first graphic novel, but he is also the author/illustrator of the picture book Do NOT Build a Frankenstein.


And for every 10 comments, one random winner will be drawn to receive a bug caricature done by Neil!.  Many thanks in advance, Neil!

Friday, December 3, 2010

From the Trenches

Okay, so I was interviewed yesterday over at Julie Hedlund's blog.  The topic was "How I Got My Agent."  Julie and I agreed to cut one question (because the interview was getting long and I was afraid of putting everyone to sleep) but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to answer it..

Has your writing process changed since signing with an agent?

I am dying to hear other how other agented writers would respond this question.  For me, the answer is a resounding YES.  I hadn't really expected it to change.  I assumed I would send her a manuscript and she would give me feedback, not unlike the sort of feedback I was always got from my critique partners  She would tell me what was working for her and what wasn't, and I would revise accordingly. (That is pretty much what happened with my first agent)

But that's not at all how it worked with my current agent.  I'd write a manuscript that I thought was funny and clever and cute, and I'd send it to her, and I'd get a reply to the effect of, "It's well-written.  But I just don't care for the premise."

In those cases, it seemed like no amount of revising in the world was going to her change her mind. This was totally devastating at first.  But after several of these experiences, I realized (or actually, my husband forced me to recognize)...  I HAD to change my process.

So, now.. when I get an idea, I write up a two or three sentence pitch.  I email it and I wait to see how she reacts.  If she is on board, I move forward.  If she isn't, I keep brainstorming.

I hope one day we can revisit some of my "drawer-ed" manuscripts, but for now, this is the way I need to proceed.

Anyone else care to share their answer?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PiBoIdMo Wrap Up

My recent attitude has been.... why write a blog post, when there are so many good ones out there that I can just link to? This has not just been pure laziness (though it is hard to find time to blog with 19 games of Scrabble going simultaneously on Facebook). It is more a matter of practicality. (The wheel really doesn't need to be reinvented)

So, instead of sharing my last few words of wisdom on PiBoIdMo today, I present you with Julie Hedlund's post.

Julie really nails it with her three bullet points:
  • Trust your instincts
  • Stamp out censorship
  • Be alert
To this, the only item I can think of adding is...
  • Keep your list going
Don't put aside your list now that PiBoIdMo is over. Keep it on your desktop or some other easy-to-access place. (I'd say if it takes more than two click to get to it, it is too far. Oh, wait... not everyone is as lazy as I am!)

Every time you get even the smallest inkling of an idea, add it to your list!

I still pull out my PiBo 2009 list and look over the 56 or so ideas that accumulated throughout the year. In fact, my best idea this November came from something I jotted during the year. I had the title, but not the "hook."

Okay, gotta go. 19 games of Scrabble don't play themselves!

Happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What a Feeling!

I've got my next big idea. #11 on my list. The title came to me last year, but I didn't have the real hook until PiBoIdMo 2010 started. My agent is on board. My husband says, "It's as good as sold!" (Ha! Gotta love that guy. It doesn't even have a rhyme scheme yet!)

As Tammi Sauer said in her Guest Post today, "Oh, the thrill! Oh, the pressure!"

I think only writers know this particular feeling. That mix of "I've got a surefire winner!" and "What if I can't pull it off?"

What a feeling.
Bein's believin'.
I can have it all, now I'm dancing for my life.
Take your passion
and make it happen.
Pictures come alive, now I'm dancing through my life.
What a feeling.

Excuse me, while I go throw up.

Friday, November 19, 2010

PiBoIdMo- Another Word of Advice

Last year during PiMoIdMo, I was obsessed with coming up with another fractured fairy tale. I had dozens of variations on the Goldilocks theme. But I had other fairy tales as well.

Goldilocks and the Three Pirate Bears
Scoldilocks and the Three Naughty Bears
Coldilocks and the Three Eskimo Bears

Okay, I'm kidding. (None of these titles were actually on my list, but I can't keep citing the same examples over and over :)

Anyway, this year I am obsessed with dino-titles.

And after accidentally stumbling upon Brontarina on Amazon (well, Ballet-a-saurus now has to come off my list) I was reminded of how important it is to do research!

There is no such thing as a new idea! This doesn't mean you can't do something that has been done if you put your own unique spin on it, but... it is good to at least know what exists on your topic.

It would be a shame to write a beautifully crafted "Dinosnores" only to discover that there is already a very popular book with that title by the well-known Kelly DiPucchio.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Social Media Revolution

One of the sessions at the Rutgers one-on-one conference was a panel on the use of Twitter and social media. They showed us a video that included mind blowing stats such as "If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world."

If you ever had any doubts about whether or not you need an online presence as an author, this video should immediately put them to bed:



Incidentally, this might be a good time to mention that I have a new Facebook page- Three Ninja Pigs :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Couldn't Have Done It Without You!

This week marks my two year blogiversary. Though my posts have been very infrequent of late, I never forget where my blog has gotten me. Many writers sing the praises of blogging- it creates friendships, support, sense of community... but for me, blogging has led to even more than that.

For me, blogging has directly led to a publishing contract!

Don't believe me? Check my PiBoIdMo Guest Post at Tara Lazar's blog.

Without participating in PiBoIdMo in 2009, I would never have had the idea for GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS.

Without whining on my own blog about how pathetic my idea list was, I would never have realized that this idea was actually a gem! And I would never have gotten this comment on my post from Beth Coulton:

I LOVE the Goldi-Rocks one! Want to collaborate?

Beth later emailed me with a one paragraph synopsis, and I was immediately sold on the idea!

So, thanks to all my blog followers and commenters. Without you, I would never have written GOLDI ROCKS which is now under contract with Putnam. (Well, almost... the ink hasn't quite dried yet :)

A toast to you all!
Cheers,
Corey

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hijacked


I had dinner at a lovely restaurant last night with Katniss and Peeta. They weren't invited, but they came anyway. I was so worried about how they would make it out of the arena alive that I couldn't focus on anything my husband was saying.

Our friends Jackie and Dimitry chatted about the new baby they ware expecting. "What name do you like better- Kira or Sasha?" they asked. Have you considered Katniss? "We hope it's a girl so Nika can have a sister," Jackie added. Just be happy they'll never have to go to a reaping.

Kudos to Suzanne Collins for commandeering my entire evening It takes talent to do that!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thing 1 and Thing 2- Big Book Plans

The other day, we saw hundreds of birds flying and had the following conversation:

JOSH: Those birds are flying to Florida
ME: You're probably right sweetie. A lot of birds fly south for the winter.
JOSH: They fly faster than we drive.
ME: Well, not too sure about that. We'd have to Google and see just how fast birds can fly. But my guess is they couldn't keep up a rate of 60 miles per hour.
JORDAN: Well, they'll get there faster than us if we took a plane.
ME: Nope, quite certain that airplanes move WAY faster than birds.
JORDAN: But, Mommy, we'd have to go to the airport and WAIT for the plane. They could just go...

This got us thinking...

JOSH: Let's write a book. WHO WOULD WIN THE RACE?
A bird or a car?

JORDAN: Or... a car or a plane?

ME: Or... a bird or a tiger?" A shark or a whale? A bird or a dolphin?

The possibilities are endless.

My kids are now wondering if Kendra will rep them. Ha!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Creativity- It's in the Genes

How can there be only three posts for October? I wrote tons more than that... or was that all just in my head?

This was a crazy busy month. We had a surprise party for my dad's 70th and most of my creative energy went into creating the content for his birthday video titled "70 Things We Love About Pa!" (Feel free to steal the idea... it makes an amazing gift!)

The party wasn't a total surprise though. Josh whispered something to Jordan and my dad her reply "Joshy, not until the guests arrive. " Then she spotted my dad a few feet away and said, "No guests. There are no guests."

Jordan got the "spill the beans" gene from me for sure. I am TERRIBLE at keeping secrets. That's because I am an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs scale, and we're notorious for "speaking before we think."

Fortunately, Jordan got some good genes from me as well.

The other night she wrote her first poem in bed, and I am proud to say, the meter gene lives on!

Sally's Pearl

Sally is a little girl,
and Sally has a little pearl.
She loves her pearl very much.
And Sally loves to touch, touch, touch.
When Sally goes to bed at night,
her pearl gives her a little fright.
Boo!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Every Word Matters

Sometimes my husband comes home and asks me, "How was your meeting with your writing partner, Becky?"

And I say, "We spent like an hour arguing over one word."

That may seem insane.

But Janet Reid has an amazing post about how the placement of one word can make all the difference in the world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Okay, so... I am a very blunt critiquer. I try to warn people ahead of time, don't ask me for my opinion unless you can take it. Ha! I mean what is the point in asking for criticism unless you want honest feedback.

So, when Becky and I finished a draft of our new story BW, of course, I wanted to hear what people really thought.

THE GOOD
M- I like the concept and you should keep playing with it.
J- I like the idea of the story (just nothing that you've done with it)
B- It's a good premise and it is worth pursuing

THE BAD
M- Too similar in style to How I Became a Pirate, voice is too old
J- There is no voice (Yikes! But doesn't that contradict M?)
B- The ending doesn't work for me

THE UGLY
J- I hate it. It's BORING. This story should be hilarious, but there was NOTHING funny in it. I would never want to read it a second time.

Ouch!

(Okay, in J's defense, she was talking to her own mom, so she shouldn't have to worry about tact.)

Ha.

I think I'll go crawl under a rock now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Joy of Reading


My son read his first book this week. I use the term "read" loosely. He did a tiny bit of decoding but relied heavily on pictorial and context cues. (The book had a simple repetitive pattern which would allow even a toddler to pretty much recite it from memory.)

I'll never forget the look on his face when he was done. Such a sense of accomplishment!

ME: Joshy, I am so proud of you!!!
JOSH: Can you tell all your friends on Facebook?

Ha! Not sure if that line says more about him... or more about me?

(But if you were ever confused about the difference between showing and telling, there is some excellent showing for you!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Have to Draw the Line Somewhere

Okay, so Friday night I took the folding chairs out of the garage. I opened one up to sit on it, and Oh. My. God.

Inside were four tiny newborn mice! (Maybe five... I didn't stick around long enough to get a good count)

I ran off screaming.

My kids stared in complete fascination. They tried to guess how old the mice were. A few days? A few hours? Their eyes were not even open yet.

We discussed what to do with the babies.

I was not about to go anywhere near the little guys, so we waited for David to come home and we agreed that he would fold the chair back up and put it exactly where we had found it.

Yup. Dumb and dumber here. We're supposed to get mice out of our homes, not bring them in.

But I was worried the mom wouldn't be able to find her babies to nurse them.

I may be a plant murderer. But I cannot have a whole family of mammals on my conscience.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finishing Touches

I bought a plant at Ikea today. Not sure why, since the one plant that I already own is always in a state of near-dead. I guess I just felt the kitchen was missing something. When we bought our house four years ago, we completely renovated it. Everything is brand new... cabinets, appliance, counter-tops, everything! It's gorgeous. But yet, we never put the little finishing touches on it. To give it that warmth. Like a manuscript- when the plot arc is totally in place, but it still needs a little something to make it feel complete.

Gosh is there anything that can't be used as a writing analogy?

Becky and I are are at that point right now in a our new picture book manuscript. We have a draft finished, but we can't agree on how to wrap it up in a way that feels entirely satisfying to the reader. Sometimes it's those little threads that weave through a story and give it that feeling of perfection. A short line that repeats. A minor theme that recurs. We'll get it eventually.

Now, if I can just keep this plant alive.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beep Beep Beep

My kids love Alvin and the Chipmunks- The Squeakquel. They quote lines from the movie all the time. One of their favorites is... "I don't mean to toot my own horn, but... beep, beep, be-beep, beep!" (Okay, sounds much better in a little squeaky voice)

Anyway, one of my blogger friends went to a conference in Spokane, Washington. She attended a session by agent, Kendra Marcus (who represents yours truly). It turns out that Kendra mentioned THREE NINJA PIGS in her presentation as an example of a very clever picture book!

So... beep, beep, be-beep, beep!

Okay, now that I got that out, your turn? What do you have to toot about this week?

Please share.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Such Thing as a New Idea?

Good thing this cartoonist didn't decide to be a picture book writer!



I found this cartoon after writing THE THREE NINJA PIGS! (Putnam, 2012)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bedtime Monster- Road to Publication (Part 2)

Here is the second half of Heather's fascinating journey. And a huge congrats to her on the release of her debut picture book, BEDTIME MONSTER.

Guest Post- Heather Ayris Burnell


Bedtime Monster was illustrated and put into the Spring 2009 catalog. Unfortunately, there was still more waiting to come. Raven Tree Press sent the illustrated book out on an initial test and the results came back negative.

WHAT? Publishing houses run focus groups??? (I've always said they should, but never knew they actually DID!)

Readers found the illustrations too dark and scary. Luckily, they liked the story, and Raven Tree Press believed in it, so they set out to find a new illustrator with an eye towards Spring 2010 publication. I was a bit shocked.

Holy cow! Wouldn't it make sense to do some initial tests earlier? Like... before an entire book is illustrated?

I didn’t know these sorts of things were done, but I was also pretty glad about it. I hadn’t taken a real liking to the initial illustrations myself. I mean, they were good. The monster was monstrous. But it was certainly not a sweet rendition of a bedtime monster as I had imagined. It was more of a big kid scary type of monster, and Bedtime Monster is a story for younger children in the learning to go to bed period of their life. I didn’t want them to be afraid of the monster, I wanted them to relate to him.

So, here we are in October of 2008, and I decided to take the opportunity to speak up about how I saw the illustrations, soft and having a sweet and innocent appearance. They listened. In March ‘09 I found out that Bonnie Adamson was illustrating Bedtime Monster when I received the cover illustration. I was thrilled. The color palate was soft and colorful. The shadow was mysterious. I looked up Bonnie’s website. Her illustrations were adorable. I couldn’t wait to see what Paul looked like.

In January 2010 I interviewed Bonnie for my Illustrator of the Month feature on my blog. She sent some sketches of Paul the boy and Paul the monster. I was delighted because he was adorable! Bonnie told me the illustrations would be completed by the end of February. In the interim, I was sent edits on the manuscript. A few things had been cut so I suggested some additional changes. We also developed activities to go along with the book and those extra sorts of things needed for promotion.

April 9th brought a new surprise. My editor stepped down from her position. I was told I was going to be left in capable hands, but wasn’t specifically told that my book was still going to be published so, as a natural-born worrier, I worried! Luckily it wasn’t too long before I was reassured that Bedtime Monster was still a go.

April 22nd I was emailed my proofs. June 9th I received my galleys to proof. June 14th they were approved and sent to the printer. I received my glorious box full of Bedtime Monster books on September 8th. Bedtime Monster releases on September 16, 2010.

That's today, folks! I'm off to order it right now!!!

Phew. It’s been an interesting ride. Hopefully I’ll get to go on another one soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bedtime Monster- Road to Publication



There is nothing more interesting to me than reading about someone's publishing journey! I love getting the inside scoop. How many drafts. How many months? How many queries?

So, I was thrilled to receive a guest post from Heather Ayris Burnell on her Path to Publication.

Heather's story is long, so I will split it into two parts... and her timing is great. This will save me from canceling another week of posts. Hurray!

Here is Heather's story (in black) with an occasional comment from me (in red):


Guest Post-
Heather Ayris Burnell

My road to publication has been a lot like the dirt mountain road I live on, bumpy, with a few rocks to dodge, but ending up in a pretty good place. It all started in 2005 one night after I finally got my reluctant four-year-old son to bed. He’d been going through a time when he just didn’t want to go to bed and, well, he had been acting a bit monstrous. My husband and I tried all sorts of things to get him to bed. We rocked him. We sang to him. We made him warm milk. It was a struggle.

After the house was quiet one of those nights, I lay on the bed and thought about how he was acting. It was like he turned into a little monster at the words, “time for bed”. Then I thought about him turning actually turning into a little monster, tail and all. It made me laugh.

Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?

I wrote the story down. Entertained myself with it a bit (also known as revising), then stuck it away in my filing cabinet, which is a bad habit I have. I thought of the story from time to time but didn’t look at it again until the next year when my critique partner, Amanda Noll, had a great monster story called I Need My Monster (Flashlight Press, 2009).

Oh! She's your critique partner? Her road to publication can be found here.


It reminded me that I had a monster story too, so I dug through the filing cabinet and put it up for critique. The feedback was pretty positive so I did some revision and sent Bedtime Monster to one publisher. (Obviously, I am not a submission powerhouse.) I got one form rejection. Then I sent a query out and waited. While I was waiting, I heard that Raven Tree Press was open for e-subs and it seemed to me that Bedtime Monster might be a good fit, so I sent the manuscript in for consideration in October of ’06. The same day I was told they were interested and was asked if I would send the story again in February when they were sending manuscripts out to readers. What a whirlwind that was. I wasn’t used to hearing back so quickly on anything let alone positively!

In January ’07 I received a letter about the query I’d sent to the other publishing house. The editor wanted to review Bedtime Monster. I was thrilled. It was my first manuscript request from a query—another milestone moment. I sent the manuscript out to both houses, and waited.

In March ’07 Raven Tree Press emailed me with an offer for a contract. I got a little bit excited! (Bwah-hahaha!) I called the other publisher to let them know. No, I was no good at any of these things. I’d never even been to a writer’s conference at this point in my life, but I called that publishing house and talked to the editor. She ultimately passed, but it was okay. I did have another offer, which I accepted (obviously). Then I waited some more.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Whole Week of Posts- Canceled!

I have not been able to blog for days. I write... delete. Write... delete.

Maybe it's because this week marks a new year on the Jewish calendar and that makes me overly reflective. (and unfunny)

In any case, this has happened to me before. Luckily, I have already have a handy dandy list of ways to cheer myself up when I am in this situation.
  1. Go see what shenanigans Lisa and Laura are up to.
  2. Read my latest story with a British accent (Always sounds bloody brilliant that way).
  3. Tell my husband, "Honey, I'm late," and watch the sheer panic that comes over him. (This might seem mean, but if you saw the look on his face, you'd laugh too)
If all else fails, I can always watch this video (for the thousandth time):

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Boss Baby

Once every few years, a picture book comes along and I say, "Holy ^%$@^%$, why didn't I write this???" (sob, sob)

Well, that is what precisely happened to me today when I read The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee:

From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss.

He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule, with no time off...

It's friggin' hilarious! And it is so exactly my experience! If your household is- or has ever been- run by a little creature who can't even talk yet, you have got to check out this book!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Fractured Ballad

One of the things I liked most about my husband on our first date was that he had a creative side. He is a scientist by training and profession, but he told me over dinner that he had written a screenplay and was making a mockumentary for his sister's wedding. "Cool," I thought. "Someone who works on artistic projects like me!"

Well, this is his latest endeavor... starring Thing 1 and Thing 2, of course!

Lawyers, Guns, and Money - A Knucklehead Production

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Waiting Place

I stole this off Linda Carter Dimmer's Facebook page (the embellishment is hers)

Dr. Seuss was right. "... a most useless place, The Waiting Place...Waiting for... the mail to come, or the rain to go, or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow, or waiting around for a Yes or No, [or waiting around for an e-mail to show]. Everyone is just waiting."

If you look at the book, Seuss goes on to say "Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance."

Kind of makes you want to write your own, huh?

Waiting around for your garden to bloom, or waiting in line for the little girls room. Waiting your turn to go up to bat, or waiting for Mom to read Cat in the Hat. Waiting all year till your birthday is here, or till June when school's out and your classmates all cheer...

This is fun. I could go on all day!

But what I am really waiting for is for my agent to call with news!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Creative Description

We went to my parents house in the Berkshires this weekend. They're on a lake and the kids love it up there. The only downside to visiting is that it is a three and a half hour drive. One of my Mom's friends asked my five year old, "How far away do you live?" I was very curious to see how he'd answer, since three and half hours can feel like a life time to a kid trapped in a car. Josh didn't even hesitate. "Two whole movies," he said. Ha! Guess that's how kids measure time.

That got me thinking about description in books. Kristin Clark Venuti, who I talked about once before, came up with such creative ways to describe things in her novel, Leaving the Bellweathers. The one that particularly stood out to me was her description of Heyboy, Spider's Endangered Albino Alligator, who from snout to tail was "the length of a Cub Scout and a half." Ha! She had so many choices there. Six feet. Two meters. A kayak. The shortest NBA player. The possibilities were endless.

Wow! Every choice we make as writers is an opportunity to be creative. Suddenly, I feel totally overwhelmed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Novels You Shouldn't Give Up On

Okay, I kind of avoided blogging this week, because if I did... I would no doubt have had to mention how happy I am about the Prop 8 ruling and that would surely have opened a big can of worms.

So, let's see... if I can't talk about politics, what can I talk I talk about?

Uh, books? That's somewhat safe.

Sometimes you really have to struggle to stay with a book in the beginning, but it totally pays off in the end. I found this to be the case with A Thousand Splendid Suns. Very slow for the first 100 pages, but I ended up loving it!

I am sort of dealing with that now with Life of Pi. I am having trouble getting into it, but from what I have heard, it is worth sticking with!

What's one novel that you are really glad that you didn't give up on???

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Stories

It was the best of times.

My son said something about karate and an idea popped into my head.

The Three Ninja Pigs!

I wrote it. I revised. I subbed to agents.

An agent fell in love with it.

She said, "It will sell."

It sold.

It was the best of times.

It was the worst of times.

Agent asked, "What else have you got?"

I had nothing.

I thought and thought and thought and thought and thought.

I had some dumb ideas...

My blog followers had to convince me that one idea wasn't so dumb after all.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.

I revised and revised and revised and revised an revised.

I showed Agent.

She said, "Needs a LOT of work."

I revised and revised and revised and revised and revised.

Agent said, "Needs a lot more work."

It was the worst of times.

TO BE CONTINUED

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What to Do When You Feel Like Throwing In the Towel?

In which I state the obvious, and more of the obvious.

So, we all get to that point now and then when we get one too many pieces of bad news and think, "This industry is just too darn hard for me. I can't take it anymore!" The question is... what do you do when you get to that point?

Well, you can...

1. Eat yourself into oblivion.
2. Drink yourself into oblivion.
3. Mope around the house for days.

But I don't recommend any of these options. (Trust me, it may seem like a good idea at the time, but the five pound bag of chocolates will not make you feel any better about your writing career!)

So what other choices are available to you?

4. Vent to your writing friends.

I really don't recommend this option either. Though I ADORE my writing friends and they are extremely supportive, the more you talk about writing, the more you are thinking about writing, and therefore, the more you are languishing in your own misery.

So, what's left?

5. Read some good books (I recommend that you read books that are not in your exact genre to ward off feelings of "What? How did this crap get published when my clearly far superior manuscript did not?") Read to ESCAPE. Get lost in someone else's problems. A sure way to get your own woes out of your head.
6. Watch great films (see #5)
7. Exercise
8. Hang out with non-writer friends.

In other words, take a vacation from all things writing. Oh, and for those of you who like to shop., try getting a kick ass pair of new shoes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reasons to Go to Conferences- Part 3

REASON #3- You Get the Inside Scoop on What Editors Want

For this one, I bring you Meg Wiviott, author of the beautifully written picture book, BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS. The following is Meg's story in her own words...

Guest Post- Meg Wiviott

Successful writers don’t just wake up one morning and decide they are going to write a picture book. At least I didn’t. I got the idea for BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS roughly eleven years ago at an NJ-SCBWI conference when a well-known editor from a well-known publishing house said the one project he’d like to see come across his desk was a picture book on Kristallnacht. The gasp in the room was audible. A picture book on the beginning of the Holocaust – how does one do that? It took me about seven years to figure out how.

That is not to say that I thought constantly about this project for seven years. It stayed in the back of my mind and occasionally I would pull it out, play with it, mull it over and then push it back into the recesses of my mind. I finally decided that the way to do it would be by staying neutral, by just presenting the facts. My first attempt was a poem (Yikes!), outlining the events of the infamous night of November 9, 1938. My idea was to tell a simple narrative story and use sidebars to give the historical facts so that younger children could enjoy the story and have the facts available to them when they were ready. I took Version #1 to my critique group, who in their always kind and supportive way, said it was boring. Without there being a character readers could latch on to and sympathize with, the story had no heart. They were right. They suggested I tell the story from the point of view of a child. But I couldn’t do that.

Kristallnacht is not a happy story. It does not have a happy ending. I did not want to tell the story from the point of view of a Jewish child because the end is so ambiguous. Nor did I want to tell the story from the point of view of a German child because I did not want to get inside the heads of the German parents. Instead I came up with the idea of Benno the cat (although he was originally named Kater, which means tom cat in German). A cat is a child-like character who allows the reader to see the unfolding of events without expressing emotion. Benno simply observes. His lack of understanding and confusion allows the child reader to be confused herself and to ask, Why did this happen? Which, ultimately, is the message of the story. In this version of the story, I still used sidebars to present the historical facts. My critique group was much happier with this version. So was I.

I sent the manuscript to the well know publishing house, but I did not send it to the well-known editor who’d originally asked for the story. Instead, I sent it to a young editor with whom I’d had dealings with in the past. After about nine months of silence I sent a letter to follow up. I got an email from a different editor telling me that the editor to whom I’d sent the manuscript was no longer with the firm, but he was taking over all her work so if I wanted to send it to him he would “put in on the fast track.” Which I did but he didn’t. After another ten months of silence, I asked the second editor to return the manuscript. There were other houses I wanted to submit it to and at the time I was still doing exclusive submissions. I then sent the manuscript to another editor who responded that although she liked the idea, it was too graphic. She was right. So I took it back to my critique group and toned it down and then decided to attend the November 2006 Jewish Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference. At this conference, I signed up for a 15-minute critique session with Judye Groner, Editor and founder of Kar-Ben Publishing. Having attended several similar editor/agent critique sessions, my experience was that the person giving the critique usually had a lot to say. But Judye had little to say, so I came out of it feeling quite sorry for myself. The next day I got an email from Judye encouraging me to make the few changes we had discussed and resubmit to her. I submitted the revision and Kar-Ben, six months later, bought the story.

My road from concept to contract was particularly long. Mostly because of the time it took me to figure out how to tell such a difficult story. But, I needed that time to sort through the ways of telling such a difficult and sensitive story.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Am Obsessed with Butts

I am still totally shell-shocked by the visit from The Bear. I don't think I could have been more surprised if a giraffe knocked on my door wearing a suit and tie. I mean, bears don't just casually saunter by when you live in central Jersey! It's surreal.

Anyway, I tried reading Jordan my latest PB manuscript to see if it had kid appeal, but she wasn't too helpful. No matter what I read her lately, her feedback is, "Change animal X to a puppy, and make him a she." Ha! She is obsessed with dogs. Guess I need a new six-year-old beta reader.

She did think the underwear line was hilarious though. This got me thinking... why do all my PBs mention undergarments and tushes? Rump, butt, caboose, tush, behind, rear, panties.... they appear in nearly every manuscript I write! Hmm... perhaps I need therapy?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Squirrels and Chipmunks and... Bears? Oh My!

We live in the suburbs. My son knew the word "deer" before he knew "dog." We have a lovely little rabbit who eats all our strawberry plants. We've even seen a fox or two. But NEVER did I ever think I would look out my window and see this:



Holy friggin' cow! My heart hasn't raced like that since I let a hot Israeli guy talk me into going up in a two-seater plane with him.

I may never recover.

Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 Check In

Okay, so some of you may recall that back in March, I said I was going to write ten picture books in 2010. (And some of you even said you would join me in this goal!)

Well, since we have recently passed the halfway mark, I thought it would be a good time to check in. For those of you who are giving it a try, how are you doing?

Technically, we should have five manuscripts done by now. I've got four. I'm not too worried. Still plenty of time to catch up. (and truthfully, if I get to eight by Dec 31st I'll be very pleased)

For those of you who don't write PBs, how is it going with your 2010 goals?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are You a Writer or An Author?

Sudipta Barthan-Quallen started off her PB workshop by saying, "There are writers and there are authors. Writers write for the pure joy of writing. They write what they love. Authors write to get published. They know the market and they write to it. There is nothing wrong with being either one, but you should know which one you are." (Okay, she may have said it a little better than that, but you get the gist.)

I knew the answer.

I started out as a writer who thought she was an author. I wrote cute, sweet little stories with great language. I happened to get lucky... I got a contract for Hop! Plop! in 2003.

In 2008, I became an author. I know the exact moment when it happened.

I subbed a PB manuscript to Stephen Barbara.

He wrote back saying, "I can see the Dr. Seuss influence here and the fine and playful grasp of language you have. I’m concerned though that this may not be quite a big enough concept in this difficult picture book market. Are you working on anything else?"

And I suddenly got it.

I had received five years of rejections saying, this is charming and we love your rhythm and rhyme, but we have to pass. But in that one line from Stephen Barbara, I got the gestalt. Something clicked. I finally understood that if I wanted to get another book published, I needed to WRITE SOMETHING BIGGER.

Something high concept. Something with mass appeal. Something with a strong hook.

Shortly after, I wrote THE THREE NINJA PIGS. I knew immediately that this one would sell. And it did.

Which category do you fall into? Are you sure?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happiness is....

Watching my kids board the camp bus together in the morning (and knowing they won't be back until after 4:00!)

Being asked by Tammi Sauer if I would like a review copy of Mostly Monsterly? (Like one? I'd love one!! I feel so honored :)

Hearing my six-year-old say, "Mommy, I thought of a great blog topic!"

Collaborating on a clever project

Listening to my kids play "Wiener the Superhero" in the bath tub. (They crack me up)

Drinking a Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino.

Being told by Joshy, "If Astro Boy is too hard, we can play Mario. I'll teach you Astro Boy when you're older."

Reading a fantastic manuscript written by a friend! (Pssst, Melissa has a winner! You heard it here first)

What's your happiness today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We've Turned a Corner!


When my kids were like two and three, I would tell my husband, "I think we're turning a corner," and his response would be "Yeah, just like we're turning a corner in Iraq!"

He was right. I was trying to convince myself that things were getting better, but they weren't.

But now.... we really have turned a corner!

Our kids are five and six and we had the best weekend with them. Not to jinx myself, but they played so nicely together and I got to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest while they swam and made up games involving a crazy mixture of horses and Jedis.

Have I mentioned that they are SO cute?

Now if only I had their imaginations, I could go write a great book!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Lightbulb is On

I haven't had a light bulb moment in... uh, pretty much my whole life. (I think my only light bulb moment ever might have been to write THREE NINJA PIGS.) So imagine my astonishment last night when I suddenly figured out how to turn a "blah' story into something that may actually have a hook?

Last May ('09), I participated in NaNoPiBoWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) The goal was to write one picture book manuscript per day for seven days. Let me tell you... this was quite a challenge! I only wrote one decent story the whole week. The story had some fun elements- a unique structure, inventive word play, and some irreverent humor. But something was severely lacking. It fell flat.

It needed a whole other dimension and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what.

That was over a year ago. I never showed the manuscript to my agent because I was a bit embarrassed by it. And yet, there were components of it that I did not want to go to waste.

Then last night, while brainstorming ways of addressing another abandoned manuscript, I had my "aha!" moment.

My Muse seems to sleep way more than most Muses, but boy am I glad she woke up and decided to turn on the light.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Waiting

Waiting
Waiting
Waiting...
It's excruciating.

How I hate
this awful wait.
I think I need sedating.

I was going to post on how torturous it is to wait while you're out on sub, but Mandy over at Writing Out the Angst already did it so much better than I could have, so just go on over and check out her post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's the Story?

Okay, so we have a new favorite game at our house. I've been having trouble coming up with an idea for a new picture book, so I figured "Why not put my kids to work?" It's not like they help with laundry or dishes. They've got to earn their keep around here somehow.

So, I made up a game. It's called "What's the Story?" I give them a title and then they tell me what happens in the story.

The first title I gave them was ROSCOE TO THE RESCUE.

Jordan said, "Roscoe is a raccoon and he thinks he has super powers, but he doesn't (Clearly, the movie Bolt is a favorite at our house) He goes around trying to rescue all sorts of little animals. Then at the end, his mom gives him super powers." (She lost me with the last line, but up until that point, it was sounding like it had potential. )

Joshy said, "How about a story about monster trucks?" (Okay, he hasn't really grasped the game yet)

But I plan to keep playing! Sooner or later, one of them will give me my next big idea!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reasons to Go to Conferences- Part 2

REASON #2- You Could Get a Contract (or Two)

If getting an agent at a conference is like getting a four-of-a-kind in poker, then getting an actual contract is a straight flush. It is hitting the jackpot. The only thing better would be to get a Royal Flush like picture book author, Karen Rostoker-Gruber. Karen got TWO book deals from attending one conference! Here's the story in her own words:
_______________________________________________________________________

Back in 2001 I wrote a book called "Food Fright." I thought it was really
good, so I sent it in to Dial Books. (This is relevant by the way--later,
much later, in the story.)

1 month later I got a "we don't take unsolicited manuscripts" letter back
in my mail box from Dial--no surprise there!

That same day, I drafted a query about "Food Fright" and I resent it to
Dial Books.

I didn't hear back from Dial and the due date for the RUCCL was coming up.
Knowing that that was my best book, I sent it into the conference.

1 month later someone from Dial told me to submit the whole manuscript to
them and mark it "requested material" and send it directly to Karen
Riskin.

I immediately did as told and sent "Food Fright" to Karen Riskin at Dial.

In August I heard that I had gotten into the RUCCL conference and was
sooooo excited.

Two nights before the conference, I had a dream that I got Karen Riskin at
Dial as my mentor.

I freaked out. What if that was true? What if I got Karen Riskin as my
mentor at the conference? Would she be upset that she came all that way
to read something that she had already read and possibly rejected at Dial.

I called my friend Edna the next day. "I'm not going to the conference,"
I told her.

"What? You have to go!"

I told her about my dream and my feelings. She told me to stop being
strange, bite the bullet and come to the conference. She also said, "What
are the odds that Karen Riskin was an editor that was even invited to the
conference. And, if Karen Riskins was invited as a mentor to the
conference, what are the odds that you'd get her. Plus, if even you did
get Karen Riskin as your mentor, maybe she wouldn't be angry with you for
submitting the same work to her as you did to the conference and maybe she
hadn't even read it yet."

I thought about it. I knew Edna was right. I needed to go to the
conference.

Soooooo, I'm at the conference breakfast. (This is where you go through
your folder to see who you are matched up with.) I look down the
list.....L M N O P Q R......

Rostoker-Gruber...................

.......................................Karen Riskin

I almost DIED right then and there. Freak-out city is what I'd call it.
I tried to calm down, but it was hard. My dream was becoming a reality
and I wasn't sure if it was going to be a good or bad thing, but it was
most def a thing.

As it turned out the meeting with Karen Riskin was the most amazing
one-on-one I have ever had.

As soon as we sat down this is what she said:

"I can't believe that I got you as a mentee because just yesterday, at
Dial, I read you manuscript "Food Fight."

(Now I am really beginning to freak-out, as this was exactly like the
dream that I had had.)

.........and then this morning I opened up my folder and there was "Food
Fright" again. I just want to tell you--and I hope that you don't mind,
but I gave it to my good friend, Kelli Chipponeri, at Price Stern and
Sloan. Do you have anything else for me to see?"

Did I have anything else for her to see, I had a whole folder filled with
wonderful manuscripts. That was when I gave her "Rooster Can't
Cock-a-Doodle-Doo."

After a few rounds of changes (over the course of a couple of months after
the conference) Karen Riskin bought Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" and
Kelli Chipponeri at PSS bought "Food Fright."

It was unreal!

All I am going to tell you is this: if you get into the conference, you
are a really talented writer. I didn't know that the three times that I
had gotten in.

Now, being on the other side, I know it is true. The competition is
fierce and there are sooooo many applicants that are worthy, but we can
only pick 75 to 80 mentees each year--space issues.

The editors don't get paid to come to this conference. They are coming on
their own time. They know that we have quality mentees and that is why
they continue to attend this conference.

If you get in, just know, it may change your life!

K

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reasons to Go To Conferences- Part 1

Okay, we all know there are TONS of reasons to go to conferences. But it is always nice to hear specifics rather than generalities.

REASON #1 - You could get an agent

Tracey Adams was critiquing conference manuscripts. Most of them were pretty crappy. But then she picked up one called LEAVING THE BELLWEATHERS. She read the first paragraph:
It is nighttime in the village of Eel-Smack-by-the-Bay. All is quiet except for the chirp of crickets and the occasional moist ribbit of a bullfrog. A slanted yellow patch of lamplight shines through a window and rests softly on the grass. Certainly there is nothing in this peaceful scene to hint that pandemonium is likely to break out at any moment. On the third floor of the Lighthouse on the Hill an upright man sits in an upright chair. at an upright desk, up writing in his diary.
Tracey knew on the spot that she wanted to represent this writer, Kristin Venuti Clark!

She sold this fabulous quirky novel to Regina Griffin at Egmont, and the sequel THE BUTLER GETS A BREAK is now out.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rutgers Deadline Looms

Eek! The application for the Rutgers One-on-One Conference is due June 15th! (Last year, the deadline wasn't until July 8th, so I thought I still had plenty of time.)

Luckily, my friends know that I am totally ditzy and disorganized, so one of them emailed me to let me know. Thanks, Melissa!

Not only have my friends saved me from many fiascoes, but my preschoolers have occasionally done so too. (Hey, Mommy, you know today is a half day, right? WTF? No, I had no clue!)

Anyway, when I heard, I debated about whether or not to apply. One of my friends said, "You just went to SCBWI. And you have an agent, so why bother?"

I replied, "It's like the lottery... you have to play it a lot in order to win. It only takes ONE meeting with the right editor to get a book deal."

And, poof. I convinced myself. Gosh, I'm persuasive.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Entitled Little Narcissists

They're cute as can be
but they fight endlessly
and they constantly whine and complain.

They gripe and protest
"I don't want to get dressed."
They're driving me truly insane.

They kvetch and they moan
When I talk on the phone
My, gosh, I can't hear a thing!

They want to be served
Boy, they've got some nerve
They think they're the queen and the king!

They drop trash on the floor
and demand "Get me more!"
With no "thank you's" for goodness sake.

You two, I adore you,
but please. I implore you!
Give your poor Mommy a break!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Conference High

Nothing like a kids birthday party to ruin a post conference high. Yesterday was agents, and editors, and pitches. And today was spilled apple juice and screaming five-year-olds.

I came home last night with my head buzzing. Keynotes. Critiques. Cool contract anecdotes.

"ItalkedtoSteveMeltzerandStephenBarbararememberedmeandShaunaFeyreallylikedGoldiRocks!" I yammered to my husband.

Two full days at the Princeton Hyatt schmoozing with writers and publishing professionals. I was flying.

I could get addicted to this conference thing.

Then, I woke up this morning and scrambled to get the house ready for Josh's baseball birthday bonanza. Had a dozen little boys running wild, dueling each other with huge inflatable bats.

363 more days to the next annual NJ SCBWI Conference. Maybe I'll see what New England's got cooking?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Have In Common with a Big, Green Ogre

Goldi is not the only thing giving me a Great Big Headache lately. My kids are doing a pretty good job of that themselves. Jordan can't put away more than two things in her room, without asking "Can I take a break now?" (Yes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) And Josh wakes up every morning and says, "I hope the lice are back so I can stay home from school!" Did I mention we had lice a few weeks ago. N-I-G-H-T-M-A-R-E.

Maybe that's why I've been too exhausted to blog. I even have Guest Posts ready to go and I can't manage to get them up. (Did I mention the tree?) My laziness knows no bounds.

But then, this past weekend, I saw Shrek. Shrek has it all. A nice home. A beautiful, loving supportive wife. Three precious little baby ogres. And you know what? He isn't happy! He misses his carefree days when he didn't have all the responsibility of a family. So, he makes a deal with the devil (Rumpelstiltskin) and he almost loses it all. It is only then that he comes to appreciate what he had.

Not sure my kids even understood the film, but boy... did it hit home with me.

My kids are ADORABLE.

Who else would say, "Mommy, today we are going to a burrito farm." (arboretum?)

OR "Mommy, I have a new system. If I back up when I pee, I don't hit the wall."

Gosh, I love those two!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Procrastination Post- and a Picture Book Update

I need to take a speed pill today. I have done nothing all week. By "nothing," I do not mean "no things." I mean, no things that I needed to do. I did watch Lee Dewyze singing Hallelujah 150,00 times on You Tube. I also spent several hours composing emails in my head that I will never send and debating whether or not I should go to the gym. But as for laundry, shopping, and general housekeeping... nada! So, now I have to run around like a lunatic and get ready for my in-laws who are coming tomorrow.

But first, what's new and exciting in picture book land?

Well, Tiffany has an illustrator for Ollie and Claire! Matthew Cordell will be bringing her charming characters to life. I can't wait to see what he does with them. The interesting thing about picture books is that sometimes authors don't even specify what kind of critters their characters are! Will they be a hare and a mongoose? A porcupine and a prairie dog? Anything is possible!!!

Ame Dyckman landed Dan Yaccarino for her picture book, Boy and Bot (Knopf, 2012). This is another one to watch out for! This sweet, adorable story is on my very short list of "Picture books I wish I had written." Hurray, Ame!

And, last, rumor has it that the talented Aaron Reynolds, of Chicks and Salsa fame, just sold a PB called Evil Carrots! Ha! The title alone cracks me up!

Okay, off to slave away. Or maybe I'll just play one game of Scramble on Facebook first?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Should Have Been an Agent

I'd probably suck at negotiating contracts, but I sure can pick a winning manuscript!

My friend Tara wrote a manuscript last year called The Monstore. "It's a winner!" I said immediately. "It's cute and clever and high concept." She was excited, but when she didn't get into the Rutgers conference with it, she started to have doubts. "Maybe it isn't that good after all?" she said. "TRUST ME, it will sell," I told her. And it did! Last week, her newly acquired agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, sold it to Simon and Schuster. Look for it in the Summer of 2012!

My friend Tiffany (who I sometimes refer to as T or S or F) wrote a picture book called Ollie and Claire. This story is essentially The Pina Colada Song for kids. I love it so much that I may have to have another kid just so that I have someone to read it to every day! "I have NO DOUBT it will sell," I told her. She subbed it out to editors and agents. Everyone loved the concept, but some had issues with the execution. "Don't change a thing. The execution is brilliant!" I insisted. Well, Tamra Tuller at Philomel agreed! She fell in love with it and will be releasing it in the Spring of 2013.

What's my point? I don't have one. No, actually, I guess my point is... if you have a PB manuscript and you want to know if its got a good chance of selling, just send it to me.

But only if you can handle the truth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

One Sentence- Plummet

There are no greater highs and lows than the ones on the writing roller-coaster.

Suzyhayze
has started a one-sentence tag game. Write a one-sentence post and link back to her.
Tag, you're it!

Friday, April 30, 2010

My Mojo is Gone

I don't know what happened to my blogging mojo, but somehow I lost it. It's gone.

I've looked for it under the huge stacks of paper on my desk and in the dusty archives of my computer files, but it is nowhere to be found.

What do I do? Do I just wait for it to turn up one day while I am folding laundry? Do I force myself to blog without it?

The good news is... my writing mojo is still here. Goldi gave me a Great Big Headache, so I am working on something new with Becky. Kendra's biggest complaint about our stories is that the "characters don't pop" so this time we started with a character and developed the plot around him.

We're still in the honeymoon phase where we are enamored with it. Just thinking about this story puts a goofy smile on my face.

Maybe I am just one of those people who can't focus on more than one thing at a time? In any case, I hope you won't all ditch me if I am not around as much as I used to be!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Take a Speed Pill

I always thought I'd be one of those fun, creative moms. The kind of who makes a game out of everything, instead of yelling and lecturing. Sadly, I more often fall into the latter category, but one of my best, most innovative moments was when I invented the Speed Pill.

We woke up one Friday morning at the usual time, and as I was getting the kids ready for school, I suddenly realized that I was supposed to bring in the Challah and treats for that morning. (Joshy was the special Shabbat child of the week and I had to be there for the celebration, so being late was out of the question) I went into a complete panic. I asked my husband if he could take the kids to school while I ran to the store and he looked at me like I had three heads.

So, the Speed Pill was born.

I opened an invisible bottle and poured out three magic pills. We each devoured one and then we got ready with lightning speed, raced to the supermarket (which is NOT on the way to school) and zipped through it in record time. My kids thought it was hilarious and behaved like true super heroes.

We miraculously got to school at our regular time.

A friend of mine sold her picture book on October 21st, 2009. I remember the date because it was the exact same day I sold NINJA PIGS. Her signed contract just arrived last week, six months after the offer.

Sometimes I wish I could tell this whole industry to Take a Speed Pill.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh Boy! A Surprise!

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. - A.A. Milne

Yup! Like the five coats I discovered in Joshy's school locker today.

Milne is a genius. (And thanks to Tiffany for bringing that quote to my attention.)

What exciting discoveries have you made lately?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Jordan has been outsmarting me pretty much since she's been old enough to talk.

For example, there was this conversation we had when she was four:

JORDAN: Mommy, I can't eat my chicken.

ME: Why not?

JORDAN: Because I don't like chicken nuggets without Ketchup. And... I don't like Ketchup.


So, I was pretty darn excited the other day when I got the best of her.

JORDAN: Mommy, I don't like the mac cheese tonight. The restaurant made it different this time.

ME: Let me taste it. Tastes exactly the same as always to me.

JORDAN: No, it tastes terrible. Something's wrong with it.

ME: It's the same as always!!! Joshy and Daddy think so too. Just eat it.

JORDAN: I can't.

ME: Okay, I'll get you a new one.

(Get up. Walk over to waiter. Whisper, "Can you stick this in the microwave for ten seconds and bring it back.")

ME: Here you go, sweetie. A nice new one.

JORDAN: This one is much better.

SCORE

Jordan- 368
Mommy- 1

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Those Were The Days

My mom emailed me last week and said, "I miss your blog posts."

Wanna know what I miss? I miss my flat stomach! I looked good in a bathing suit until I was 41. (That's after having my second child) Then we moved from the city where I walked at least three miles a day, to the suburbs, where I usually let my husband get the mail to avoid making the trip to the end of the driveway.

And now I permanently look like I am entering my second trimester. Ouch. Sad, but true.

Ah, to have that bikini body back!

What do you miss?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Long and Winding Road

Okay, .... everyone says, "Don't blog when you are angsty." So, I have been avoiding the blogosphere for the past few weeks. Goldi is driving me nuts. If PIGS was a 100 yard dash, then GOLDI is a friggin' marathon. An endless 26 mile struggle. But when I get to the finish line, it will be worth it, right?

I mean, I always tell my kids, "Easy is boring. Do something to challenge yourself?" So, I should take my own advice, shouldn't I? (You can tell I am trying convince myself, but not quite succeeding)

My agent and I are having artistic differences. There. I said it. Hope the blog police don't ring my bell in the next five minutes and take me away.

I am trying to tackle the issues one at a time, but it's kind of like thinking you were on mile 24 and then realizing... nope, just mile 14.

Loooooooooonnnng way to go.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March Picture Book Madness & Round Up

Okay, so... it's not that I don't have ideas for what to blog about. I have tons. I started six different blog posts yesterday alone. It's just that I don't like the way any of them are coming out! (Yes, one of those weeks again where all posts have been canceled)

So, I am just going to bring you a Picture Book Round Up. Now, I am going to have to cheat a little. I could only find one great post actually written in March. And that was from.... drum roll... Brianna Caplan Sayres at The Paper Wait. And before I include the link, a huge congrats to Brianna on selling her first picture book! WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT is going to be published by Random House. This rhyming story was sold by Brianna's fabulous agent Teresa Kietlinski of Prospect House, the very same Mystery "T" who sold two of my friend Tiffany's manuscripts in one week! (More on that to come!)

Okay, now on to the links.

Rebel Without an Eraser? Brianna discusses some of the rules for writing picture books and which ones she dared to break in her road to publication.

And now for the cheating part... the next two were not written in March. But I found them in March. So, I say... good enough.

The Hard Thing About Writing Picture Books
StoryQueen explains how hard is it to sell text without accompanying illustrations and poetically sums up, "Selling the text of a picture book is like trying to sell a dream."

The Least You Need to Know: How to Write a Picture Book Jacqui's nuts and bolts rules/suggestions/thoughts are a must read for those just starting out in this challenging genre.

If I've missed any great March picture book links, please let me know!

NOTE: I have another GREAT one to add. Thanks to Julie for this excellent post on the perils of writing a picture book in rhyme: Toil and Trouble.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When Did I Become So Ditzy?

I have been extremely ditzy lately. I'll pre-heat the oven and then 20 minutes later, my kids will say, "I'm hungry. Where's dinner?" and I'll realize that I completely forgot to put the chicken nuggets in! Is it because I am past 40? Because I am obsessed with my WIP? Because I play musical beds all night? Probably all of the above.

But, if I am going to be totally honest, the ditziness really isn't new. I have been this way for at least a decade. How do I know?

Here's how...

When David and I got married in 2002, our friend, Steve, (the guy who introduced us) asked if he could read some emails from David aloud to our guests. "Sure!" we said.

These are the first few emails:

MAY, 2000

DAVID: Hi, can I get Corrie's number?

OCT 2000

DAVID: Hi, can I get Cori's number again? Never called her.

JAN 2001

STEVE: How's it going with Corey?

DAVID: Pretty good, I think. There seems to be someone very bright under that ditzy exterior.

Ha! So, there you have it. I've been ditzy for at least as long as my husband has known me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Content Generators


Quote of the Day, JOSH- "Mommy, today we learned about non-fiction and on-fiction. Non-fiction is true. And On-fiction is made up."

What am I going to do when my kids grow up and they no longer give me good material?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Missing the Boat

I have this recurring nightmare. There are no bullets or bad guys. I simply go on a vacation and I "forget" to go scuba diving. Doesn't sound so awful, right? It's not like I get eaten by a shark. But I am devastated.

Diving is my favorite thing in the world and out of sheer stupidity or laziness I have blown it. I either forget to set my alarm and "miss the boat" (How's that for obvious symbolism?) Or I get on the boat, but forget my mask back in the hotel room.

It's clearly a "missed opportunity" dream.

But why exactly do I have this dream? Have I missed opportunities to get published? Missed opportunities to promote my first book? I can't quite figure out where all the anxiety is coming from.

In five minutes, I have my "marketing" call with Shelli. (I won her contest and the prize was a 2 hour consultation on marketing)

I hope I don't blow it!

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Fear Tank is Full.

Everyone is blogging about fear these days and I am jumping on the bandwagon.

I recently had this conversation with my husband...

ME: Honey, terrible news! I told Kendra my idea for Goldi Rocks and she LOVED it.

POOR BEFUDDLED HUBBY: Uh, sounds like great news to me!

ME: No, I feel sick. I think I am going to throw up.

HIM: Sweetie, this is what you want! You have a terrific idea and your agent is excited about it! Everything is going great. You should be ecstatic!

ME: It's horrible. I never should have shown her the outline. Now she is going to be so disappointed when the execution doesn't live up to her expectations. Why didn't I just wait till I had a draft to show her?

I am totally terrified. I need to remind myself to follow Jordan and vote with my hope!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Double SQUEEEEEEEEE!

Getting your first contract is a big deal!

So, I was ecstatic for my friend "F" when she contacted me last Friday to say she had sold a picture book!

I jumped and screamed and did all those cliche things that one does when feeling super excited. I composed congratulatory posts in my head and planned surprise celebratory gifts.

But then F contacted me again on Tuesday.

Are you sitting down for this?

She sold ANOTHER picture book!!!

TWO sales in one week.

Is that INSANE????????????

I can't reveal names, titles, or houses yet, but she got two deals in four days!

Holy cow.

I am speechless.

She is a Sudipta in the making.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pros and Cons of Using Google Docs

Google Docs is awesome. It allows you to share and collaborate in real time. It automatically saves every change you have ever made, so work is NEVER lost. It allows you to access your docs no matter where you are!

There's really no downside. Unless you are an idiot like me.

In that case, you might accidentally name your final draft the same name that you gave your very first draft. Then you might "Share" a draft with that name with your agent, only to realize and go into a panic because you think she is reading your first very rough, choppy, sloppy, disastrous mess.

And then you might have a complete freak out and make it worse by writing to her to try to explain it, when it fact, you actually sent her the correct final draft all along.

So, if you don't want your agent to think you are a lunatic, it might be better to avoid Google Docs altogether.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ten in '10

Okay, so Sudipta got me inspired. I am going to write ten picture books in 2010!

Anyone else in?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Losing at the Numbers Game

I went to a fabulous picture book workshop a couple of weeks ago led by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Let me tell you, Sudipta is one impressive cookie. She puts me to shame.

We both starting writing PBs around the same time. We both got our first contract around the same time. (Mine was in 03 and I believe she said hers was in 04.) Our debut books came out the exact same month- April 2006. (Mine was Hop! Plop! Hers was Tightrope Poppy)

Okay, are you read for this? I just got my second contract. Sudipta just got her 15th!

How does she do it, you ask? Well, to answer that would probably take up several posts, but let me start by saying, she WRITES. I talk about writing. I think about writing. But Sudipta actually writes.

I average about one solid picture book manuscript per year. Sudipta averages ten.

So, I've written around 10 manuscripts and sold two.

She's written around 75 and sold 15.

Guess what? Same exact hit percentage. We are both selling approximately 1 in 5!!!

It's a numbers game, people. And she is winning!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

“Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t Stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.” —Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Cheers to Theodor Seuss Geisel, my idol and inspiration. And cheers to all the exciting things that are going to happen this year!

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's Official

For anyone who missed the big news last fall...

Move over big bad wolf!

The Three Ninja Pigs are coming to town!

G.P. Putnam's Sons will be releasing it in 2012 or 2013.

And the new announcement is that it will be illustrated by the fabulous

Dan Santat

Friday, February 26, 2010

February Picture Book Round Up

A couple of weeks ago, my friend called and said, "Congrats! You got a shout out on the Verla Kay Blue Boards! Someone asked for recommendations of picture book blogs. And a responder listed Thing 1 and Thing 2 as one of their favorites."

"Really?" I asked in surprise.

I was all smiles.

Until I realized, I am not one of the best picture books blogs in the blogosphere. I am one of the ONLY picture book blogs.

So, I have decided to do a Picture Book Round Up. Kind of like Shelli's Marketing Round Up, but for picture books (and not as frequent).

Here are the best posts I found for February:

If You Want to Be a Picture Book Writer - Pam Calvert, author of Princess Peepers, talks about her struggle to learn the art of the picture book. In this fabulous post, Pam shares what she learned from Anastasia Suen's PB Intensive.

Saying a Lot with a Little: - Anyone who knows anything about picture books knows that less is more. But Tara Lazar doesn't just tell us this. She shows us using Kathi Applet's PB as an example to demonstrate economy of words. Take a look and see what Kathi leaves unsaid.

Okay, that's all I've got! (Told you there weren't many blogs focusing on the PB genre)

If you've got any good links that I missed, please let me know and I'll add them!

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Fair!


Okay, if my son ever grows up and decides to read his mom's old blog posts, he is going to get a complex. My precious girl has had more than her fair share of mentions. And, we all know how siblings keep track. So, here is a little round up of Thing 2 quotes on the subject of sibling feelings:

After Jordan flawlessly read a picture book to all of us at bedtime, "Terrible, Jordan. Terrible."

DAVID: (kidding around) Joshy, who do you like better, Mommy or Daddy?
JOSHY: Well, first of all, of course, I like myself best. Second, I pick... Jawden.

Josh's teacher overheard him in the hall saying to one of his buddies, "Sometimes, I need a bweak from my sister. I wish I had a bwother."

After Jordan cracked an egg for French Toast, "Terrible, Jordan. You're terrible at cracking eggs. " (Getting the picture here? :)

In bed one night, out of the blue, "Sometimes I hate Jordan and her stupid mustache."
ME: Where did Jordan get a mustache?
JOSH: From Sophie's dad.

Boy, you can't make this stuff up!

Becky and I are struggling to capture these conflicting emotions of sibling love/worship/hate/envy in our picture book, Rescuing Mae. Tomorrow I meet her to work on draft #37. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Post is Cancelled (AGAIN!)

Okay, it's another one of those weeks where I keep writing a post. And then deleting it. Then writing another. And deleting it. Does anyone else do this?

I write something and then I feel that it just isn't entertaining enough. It's too serious. Too unfunny. I guess everyone has their fears. Fear that people will perceive them as overweight. Or as unintelligent. Mine is that people will think I am BORNG.

What adjective are you afraid of?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vote with Your Hope


I should be in a better mood. The long, cold, bleak month of January is over. And February with its light, frivolous holidays is half done. Despite the fact that Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow, spring is still around the corner.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 came home from school on February 1st talking about groundhogs and predictions. "We had to vote on whether or not we think he'll see his shadow," Thing 1 explained.

"What was your vote?" I asked her.

"Well, I think he is going to see his shadow, but I hope he doesn't" she said. "So, I voted with my hope."

So, why do I feel so melancholy? Is it because I thought by now I would have made more strides with my current WIP? Is it because I think it will never be as funny or as clever as NINJA PIGS?

Why can't I be more like Jordan and vote with my hope?