Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Evolution of...GOLDI ROCKS

Okay, way back when... I posted a before and after stanza from THREE NINJA PIGS to give you an idea of how rhyming picture books evolve.

I thought it might be fun to do the same thing for GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS. 

GOLDI was much more of a struggle than PIGS.  It went through many more incarnations. 

In the first draft, I just try to get the skeletal frame down.  Roughly what content will fall in each stanza.  I do try to make it rhyme, but I don't worry about the meter at this stage.

Perfecting meter can take hours tweaking.  I don't want to take the time until I know I have the content right.  Stanzas may have to combined or cut completely.  So, I wait until I can take a look at the big picture.  I may LOVE a stanza on its own, but it may not work within the larger context of the story.

Here is Goldi entering the Bears' house:

She heard the bear's stereo blaring
Without hesitation, she knocked
"It's such a great oldie!
"I'll join in," cried Goldi.
She soon found the door was unlocked.

We later realized, we didn't want Goldi to be enticed by music. So it turned into this:

She spotted their quaint little cottage.
"Oh what a sweet house!" Goldi cried.
She rang the front bell
Is that porridge I smell?
"I'll just take a small peek inside!"

The story turned out to be too long, so we had to combine this stanza with the previous one in which the bears set out to find a singer.

They set out to find a soprano
Soon after they left, a girl knocked
"Is that porridge I smell?
Gee, that would be swell.”
She checked and the house was unlocked.

We save all drafts. You never know when you might want to return to an earlier rhyme (knocked, unlocked)

Sometimes when you are revising, you have to kill your darlings. My favorite stanza in the whole story got cut :(

The Bears kept on ruling out singers:
"Too fancy." "Too dance-y." "Too plain."
While they judged in the square…
a young girl with blond hair
was wandering down the Bears' Lane.

I could see the three bears sitting at "The Judges" table like Paula, Randy, and Simon!  I loved it, but I had to let it go! 

We have dozens and dozens of drafts.  And we are not done.  Goldi sold to Putnam, and our editor will no doubt want at least one more round of edits.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Buried in the snow
with no where to go
the kids keep fighting
can't do any writing
I'm playing referee
I'd much rather be...
     Buried in a book

Actually, I'd rather be watching Lost, but that didn't go with the buried theme :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's an Idea Worth?

We all know what a picture is worth.  But what is an "idea' worth?  An agent once said to me, "Ideas are cheap."   The context was "Someone gave me an idea.  Therefore, they deserve a co-author credit."  (And a percentage of whatever is earned.) 

The agent felt that ideas are everywhere.  They have no value unless you have the talent to execute them well.  I don't agree.  It's hard to quantify, I think they are worth a lot. If one person comes up with a fully developed idea for a PB and another did all the writing,  I might view it as equal contributions.

Recently, I gave a couple of ideas away.  (Not fully formed ideas.. really more like titles.)  I handed them over to friends who I thought might be a better fit for them than I was.  Will I end up have giver's remorse?  Maybe... if the stories sell :)

What's an idea worth to you?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And the Winner is...

Before I post the name of the contest winner, I just want to say... not a single person guessed that Beth's Amazon ranking would go up.  What a lovely, optimistic group!

Her rank bounced around... at one point it was down in the 500's, at another up in the high 800's.  But at precisely 3:00 PM eastern standard time, Across the Universe was ranked at #608, giving the win to Kristin Lynn Thetford with a guess of #622.

Congrats, Kristin!

And don't feel bad if you didn't win.  You'll get another chance in February.  I'm going to run the contest again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Across the Universe Giveaway

Okay, anyone who has a book out knows how tempting it is to check your Amazon rank every hour or so!  This can be a dangerous addiction.  Fortunately for me, my Hop! Plop! rank has gotten so pathetic that I now only check it once every day or two.  Ah, what to do with all my spare time?  Check the rank for Across the Universe!

This book has amazingly sky-rocketed to #637.   No tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.   Beth is in the triple digits, people.  And I want to get her into the double digits.

So, I am having a contest.  Guess what Beth's ranking will be at 3 PM tomorrow. (Thursday, Jan 20th)

The person who comes closest will win a copy of the book.   But you have to enter by 10:00 AM eastern standard time so as not to give you too much of an unfair advantage.

To qualify you must be a follower of my blog (you're on your honor here) and you must live in the U.S.

Good luck.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dedicated to Beth Revis!

In my early days of blogging, the blogosphere felt like the bar Cheers.  You could name a person, and I could tell you the name of their blog, the genre and subject of their WIP, and how many kids they had.  I knew if they were agented or not and what nickname they used when referring to their hubby.  I basically read their blog every time they updated and commented on every post.  I miss those days.

Of course, I have met many new and wonderful writers in the last two years, but there is something very special about those first bloggers buddies.  A special bond that forms from following each other's journeys so closely. (Now I'm like "What???  I follow a blog called Out for Blood?)

So, it is with that in mind, that I send out a HUGE congrats to one of my first blogger friends- Beth Revis.  Congrats on the launch of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.   I know how much love and sweat she poured into this book and I am so excited to be holding a copy in my hands!

Beth, we love you!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Type of Present!

My mother-in-law asked me if I would like a Pandora bracelet for my birthday.  I was pretty sure the answer was "no" but I asked "What's that?" just to be polite.  (I have zero interest in jewelry.)  The first chance I got, I whispered in my husband's ear, "Kindle!" 

And yesterday... my brand new shiny Kindle arrived in the mail!  Now this is my kind of gift!  I had a hard time deciding what to download first.  I got lots of suggestions from friends on Facebook, but after some consideration, I chose Savvy by Ingrid Law.

When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he'd caused it.

Is that a killer first line or what?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Me and My Menopot

So ... I have a big-ish birthday coming up and I am a little freaked out. Okay, a lot freaked out.  I mean... I have a kindergarten-er and a first grader.  That makes me like 32... 33 max, right?  Not 45-with-50-on-the-horizon, right?  That just isn't possible!

To make matters worse, I have a black tie wedding next weekend and when I pulled my fancy dress out of the closet, it became abundantly clear that  I was not going to be able to get it zipped.

I called my mom and she said, "Don't worry.  I have a stunning dress you can borrow.  It's gorgeous.  You'll love it!"   She brought it over last night and guess what?   No, it wasn't hideous.  (Well, it was a little hideous, but in a pretty kind of way)  I couldn't get it zipped!   My mother's dress.  Now that is just sad. 

So, now here I am... an almost 50-year-old with a menopot. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thing 2's Greatest Hits

As a writer, it is important to get inside the minds of your audience.  So for those of you who write PBs, here are my five-year-old's best quotes from 2010:

Feb '10

(While visiting, Charlie, a neighbor's new puppy)
JORDAN: Charlie is smarter than Grandma's dog, Rosie.
JOSH: Well, Rosie is smarter than Sarah Palin.

March '10

ME: Josh, when is the last time you washed your hair.
JOSH: December

April '10

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

June '10

(During Monopoly)
JOSH:  I read the word "Indiana"...without even looking!

Sept '10

JOSH: Mommy, come here. I need you.
ME: I can't right now, sweetie. I'm cooking something
JOSH: Can you pause?

Oct '10

ME: Josh, I am so proud of you. You read your first book!
JOSH:  Can you tell all your friends on Facebook?

Dec '10

ME: Josh, did you play Mario with your friend, Spencer?
JOSH: Yeah, but he hadn't played in a long time, so he was a little dusty.

Happy 2011, everybody!  Hope my kids still have a few years of good material left in them!