Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Query Tracker's Fault

My husband wants to know why I got nothing done yesterday. I blame it on Query Tracker. Is it my fault that they ran an Anagram Contest to celebrate their second anniversary and I had to spend most of the morning and the afternoon deciphering 15 writing and agent related anagrams? I got 13 of them fairly easily, but the longer I spent on the last two, the more I had to continue. I couldn't just give up, because then I wouldn't have been eligible for the prizes. Yeesh! What a waste of 10 hours that would have been!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Cool Is That?

I went to a wedding in Philly this weekend. It was at the Please Touch Museum- how cool is that? But that's not what this post is about. The groom, Allen, is a friend of mine from high school. (He actually took me to his senior prom) It took him forever, but he managed to find his perfect match. The bride let him play the Rocky theme song when they made their grand entrance. How cool is that? But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about the wedding favors. Guess what they gave every guest as a gift? A copy of Allen's novel, The Accidental Spy! He self-published it for the wedding. It's a pulp thriller. He is still pursuing agents and hopes to sell it to a big publisher. But 225 of his closest friends each now own a special wedding edition. How cool is that?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Maybe I Just Have Terrible Taste?

Okay, another week. And still no word from Editor X. I will see her at the NJ SCBWI Conference on June 5th. (But I don't know if I will even have to the nerve to ask her about it there.)

In the meantime, I need to come up with a clever ending for Rat. That whole story poured out of me during NaPiBoWriWee until I got to the very last stanza. Then I was stuck. I hadn't even planned the Cat-napping. It just wrote itself. That has honestly never happened to me before. I wrote the entire story "JOP" style. I just kind of wrote as quickly as possible, without worrying about things like perfect meter. (Of course, I tried this technique again during NaPi week with no success)

Anyway, I sent MelissaPEA a new story (She's the friend who's identity I was trying to protect in my last post, but she outted herself in the comments). It's called Maddie and Mae and it is my latest PB with Becky. Melissa loved it. I myself don't particularly care for it and I can't figure out exactly why. I like the premise. I like the tight structure. I just don't feel any emotional attachment to it at all.

Becky and I subbed it to our online critique group and we got this as our first response:

Okay, I have just about 4 words to say: GET THIS TO SUBMISSION! It is peerless, fabulous, and utterly publishable. Seriously. It totally rocks! I put a few notes throughout, but really there's very little to say. I love it!

Can't really hope for a better reaction than that. So why aren't I excited about this story? Is it possible that I just have terrible taste in picture books? That would explain a lot. It would explain why no one wants to publish Shoo, Scoot, Skiddoo which I absolutely LOVE. It would explain why I can't stand a lot of the best selling PBs out there. Perhaps my mistake for the past several years has been trying to write stuff that I find appealing. Perhaps I should be trying to write stuff I hate?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Picture Book Don'ts

Came across a post on Blue Rose Girls today that was very apropos. It's titled Picture Book Don'ts. In it, Alvina explains what words, subjects and images fall into the category of "taboo or too risky" for picture book content.

This has been a topic of great discussion in my critique group lately after my most recent PB submission.

I wrote a PB during NaPiBoWriWee that I was really excited about. I thought it was funny and irreverent. (just what most agents are looking for!) My family loved it. Then I showed it someone in my critique group who basically said, "Have you lost your mind???"

It was inspired by Shelli's Rat story.

Okay, maybe I went a little overboard. A Cat gets held hostage by a Rat and the SWAT team has to be called in. But... no one gets hurt! (Cat is completely unharmed and they are all friends in the end.) And in Little Red Riding Hood, the Grandma gets EATEN by a wolf! There are plenty of PBs with much worse content. Mine is meant to be comical in a ludicrous kind of way.

My friend's counter-argument is as follows: "Mommy, what's a hostage?" "Oh, it's when a criminal takes a person to use as a bargaining chip in negotiations, sweetheart. Pleasant dreams..."

Ha! Yes, I have funny friends. But is she right? Or are we all becoming a bit over-sensitive?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bridget Zinn Auction and a Question for the Ethicist.

Thanks to Kimberly who purchased two copies of Hop! Plop! to raise money for Bridget Zinn and who was also kind enough to say lovely things about the book on her blog!

The Bridget Zinn auction has been heating up. If you haven't been there yet, please go check it out.

I have been outbid on at least five or six items, but there is one that I want to win so badly! It is an author and editor team critique. Dori Chaconas, who is well-known for her article on writing in rhythm and rhyme, will critique a picture book manuscript and will then give your final revised draft to her editor at Candlewick.

I am a huge fan of Dori Chaconas. We've read her One Little Mouse so many times that I can recite most of it by heart.

One little mouse
took a look at his house
deep in the woodland ground.
"This nest is too small.
Not roomy at all,
There must be a new one around."

It is very hard to get good feedback on meter and rhyme. A lot of talented writers don't have that particular skill. I would LOVE to hear Dori's comments

Obviously, I am not the only one! I starting bidding on this item when it was at $45. It is now up to $225!

So, here comes my question. The auction ends on May 30th at 11:00 PM. Is it unethical for me to go bid at 10:59? My family members say, "It's fine. That is the nature of online auctions. You are not violating any rules or procedures." But I feel that this is not eBay. This is a community of writers getting together to support one of their own. One of the best things about blogging is the sense of community and support that we generate and that kind of behavior does not seem very sportsman-like. As much as I want the critique, I just don't think I can live with myself if I get it that way.

Any thoughts?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Waiting to hear back from Editor X.

Met her at a conference on March 29th.

Submitted on March 31st.

May 11th - no mail.

May 12th - friend gets back a "no" from Editor X.

She submitted April 18th. I do the math. Does this mean Editor X is giving mine serious consideration?

Run and check mail. Nothing.

May 13th - check mail. See a business size envelope addressed to me. Heart skips a beat. Not from Editor X. Phew!

May 14th - check mail. Still nothing.

May 15th - mail hasn't come yet. Check cover letter. Yup. Sent March 31st. Perhaps X is taking story to an editorial meeting? Must be. Unless manuscript got lost?

Must exercise instead of sitting by window all day looking for mailman.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother is....

The kids made the cutest Mother's day books at school. They had to fill in the blanks and illustrate each page.

My mother's favorite food is________
My mother and I like to __________

My favorite was Joshy's answer to "My mother is _________"

Would he say pretty? Funny? Nice?

Nope. None of the above.

My mother is Corey.

Can't argue with that one.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

NaPiBoWriWee Days 5-7

Day 5- Totally fried. I have a tendency to run out of steam. My husband makes fun of me. I will decide to clean to my closet. I'll dump all the contents on my bed and put 70% back. Then I'll feel burned out and call it a day. He cannot understand it at all! To him if you start a job, you finish it. No if's, and's, or especially but's. He's flabbergasted that I'll clean 80% of the kitchen and then take a "break."

I don't even attempt to write a PB on Tuesday. My son's allergies are back and he is up all night coughing for two days straight. I am barely functioning. I get a call at lunch time, "He has thrown up. Come get him."

Days 6 and 7 are worse. I have the school book fair ALL day which I am co-chairing. I've got a mother-in-law in the hospital. I am exhausted and stressed. Writing a picture book from scratch is completely out of the question.

So, I end the week with one picture book I love and two ideas with potential. I am pretty happy with that.

I can't wait for next year's!

Monday, May 4, 2009

NaPiBoWriWee Progress

Day 1
Completed a draft of a rhyming picture book that seems to have real potential. (ELATED)

Day 2
Finished two different stories but decided to count only the second one because the first was pretty pathetic. (SATISFIED)

Day 3
Brainstormed and wrote nothing. Now I have to count the crappy concept book from yesterday. (FRUSTRATED)

Day 4
Came up with a decent idea. Couldn't figure out how to execute it (Becky, help!), but jotted down a super rough draft anyway, so that I could count it as PB#4. (PROUD)

Anyone else participating? How's it going?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Books to Benefit Bridget!

Fellow blogger and children's writer, Bridget Zinn, needs our help!

Three things happened to Bridget in February:
1. She got an agent for her young adult novel.
2. She got married.
3. She found out she had Stage Four colon cancer.

Many people in the Kidslit community are raising funds to help defray the cost of Bridget's huge medical bills.

I'm selling signed copies of Hop! Plop! for $15.00/each and giving ALL profits to Bridget.

Hop! Plop! was selected by the Eric Carle Museum as a "Picture Book of Distinction in 2006."

It is a great read aloud for kids 5 and under. It is also an excellent book for 5-6 year olds who are emerging readers.

So if you'd like one for your kids, or as a baby gift or birthday present, send me an email at

Friday, May 1, 2009

One Down, Six to Go!

I can't believe it. I am participating in NaPiBoWriWee, and I actually succeeded in writing a picture book today! It's fairly miraculous, given my history. I certainly don't expect to be able to keep it up!