Archive for December 2007
2008: I Can't Wait
I love anticipating new books. Here are some I REALLY can't wait to see in 2008:
by Emily Jenkins (and illustrated by Pierre Pratt!)
You never know if they're going to be worth the wait, but I'm hoping these are all winners.
Oh, wait- I forgot one:
Yes, I think 2008 is going to be a GREAT year for picture books!
My favorite movie of the year:
I. Loved. This. Movie.
I laughed. A lot! I thought, "How clever!" and envied the person who wrote it (Bill Kelly, you're a genius. And I bet you had fun writing this!) I laughed so hard I cried. And I left the theater smiling.
THAT'S a good movie.
p.s. It also has a cool website!
Holidays, 2007 version
I started writing for kids in February 2005 and when I get interested in (okay, obsessed with) something, I can get fairly, um, we'll say single-minded. Once I wrote my first manuscript, I was hooked. Writing usurped every waking minute that I wasn't at my real part-time job or taking care of my kids. Well, to be honest, I'm a great multi-tasker, so it even usurped a lot of my energy DURING the taking-care-of-kids time. I wrote while they were in the bathtub, I brainstormed at dance class and drum lessons and I used the "We have to go to the library" excuse to pick up new picture books to feed my insatiable research habit.
I got my first book offer in November 2005 and sailed through the holidays high on writing. I even bribed my dear husband to do a lot of the dinner prep-work during the day on Christmas Eve because I had an idea I just HAD to write. I locked myself in a bedroom and scribbled away for a couple of hours and it was a good thing- that manuscript was my second sale. Christmas was kind of a blur though.
For the 2006 holidays, I was even more obsessed, if that's at all possible. That fall, I went to my first conference and had a fabulous manuscript critique and the editor told me she wanted to take it to her acquisitions board! They didn't buy it, but I'm the hopeful sort. I had a lot of other promising things out there and was working on several other ideas and the holiday flew by. In the blink of an eye, as they say.
But this year, whether it's because I was seriously wrapped up in website-building for over four months, or because I haven't sold a book in over a year, or because I've had a bit of a problem with Writer's Block (or as I like to call it, Writer's Doubt) lately, or any number of other reasons of which I may or may not be aware (or willing to acknowledge-ha!), I have let the obsession slacken a bit. And the wonderful by-product of this is that I'm enjoying the holidays this year. Baked some cookies. Had one-on-one shopping dates with each of the kids. Got shopping out of the way early so this last weekend is spent having fun, at home, with my family. Reading. Games. Crafts. Laughing. I just might even remember this Christmas-ha!
However, I must say, an idea is simmering, so don't get between me and my keyboard on January 3rd. We have a date and we're going to write something GREAT! Unless, of course, I get an even better idea on Christmas Eve...
Merry Christmas everyone!
Not Crooked, Just Perfect
As I've said earlier, I don't do book reviews. I'm not good at them. I do, however, accost people in a frenzied manner, when I have read a book I love, and STRONGLY suggest they read it. And I would say that the word "suggest" is one which can be widely interpreted in a number of ways, really. I at least (usually) try not to injure the suggestee, lest they be rendered unable to read the book I am STRONGLY, um, suggesting.
If you know what's good for you, go read this book:
It is funny, sweet and real. It is smart. It is so well-written, in a wonderful, natural, understated way, that although I recommended our library purchase a copy (so I could check it out), subsequently checked it out, read it, then special-ordered my own copy at the bookstore which shamefully does not have it on the shelves, it scared the idea of writing another chapter book/MG right out of me as I could never write anything so terrific. Back to the picture book trenches. Sigh.
So, go read it already!
[Disclaimer: I don't like the cover, though. It doesn't represent the heart of the story, which (I'm bad at reviews, I told you!) I didn't even describe. You can read about it here
though. You can BUY it there too. Hey, I'm just suggesting...]
When I originally named this blog, "Life In The Book Lane" popped into my head and I went with it. I'm bad at titles. But the more I thought about it, I realized it wasn't very apropos. Because everyone knows the publishing business is s...l...o...w..., don't they? So my cute little title meant, what? Stuck In Traffic? That IS what it feels like, but I don't know if I want to glamorize that aspect of it-ha! I love the children's publishing business and hope to be a part of it till the day I die, but the waiting part is not my favorite part.
Children's writers are more like children's waiters, truth be told. We wait on editors and acquisitions committees and become overly-familiar with our mailmen, our e-mail programs and our answering machine. When an offer finally comes after months or years of writing and submitting and waiting, we wait for contracts and advances and illustrator news and editor revisions and proofs and, finally, our BOOK. Mine will be two-and-a-half years in the waiting.
And I'm getting okay, finally, with the waiting. Because in two-and-a-half months, I'll no longer be stuck in traffic. I'll be, finally, on the bookshelf!
So while it may be a bit premature to title this blog Life On The Bookshelf, since the only bookshelf I'm currently on is my own (see photo above), I'm almost there. And I can't wait-ha!
Today at school, my son's class brainstormed famous poets to list on the board. He's in sixth grade and they are starting their first real unit on poetry. The list they came up with:
Wow, if that didn't make my day!
Now, to be honest, my son was the sweetheart who suggested me, but several of the kids who concurred were in his class last year and they were guinea pigs for the first "author visit" I've ever done. Which was a total hodge-podge of my path to getting published and as much of my book (a typed manuscript) as I had available at the time. They were totally cool guinea pigs and overlooked my ineptness and nervousness and the-fact-that-I-bored-them-to-tears and made me feel like SOMEbody and then they had me back another day to read picture books of my choice. Reading PBs to 10-year-olds is really a lot of fun. People assume that age is too old for picture books, but they aren't. They understand more multi-layered humor and they can appreciate word-play and foreshadowing better. I read Piggie Pie (among other books) that day, and have never read it to a more appreciative audience. It was great fun. But I have digressed, haven't I?
I'm not really a poet. I write in rhyme, but I wouldn't say I wrote poetry. Shel Silverstein and William Shakespeare WROTE POETRY. So, even though I in no way, shape or form BELONG on that list, the class put me there. How cool is THAT??
Miss Marttila's class rocks!
*****The Best Snowflake*****
There are two more days to bid on the snowflakes in the last round at Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure
However, you'll need deep pockets to bid now on the best one.
Kelly Murphy's "The Great Crab Hunter" is almost at $1000!!!
In case you live under a rock and haven't heard, she's the fabulous
illustrator of my
book! Check her O-U-T! I'm in awe...
Right now, for the first time since I started writing, I'm not in a critique group. I've been in several groups along the way and learned different things from each one. I've been in terrific groups, and not-so-terrific groups. In my first group, I saw for the first time what unpublished books for kids were like. I'd never been a "writer", so I'd never seen writing outside a published book that I could check out of the library. It was an eye-opener. I read manuscripts that deserve to be published (but might not ever be), manuscripts that will be published (because they have since been bought) and manuscripts that will, sadly, for many reasons, never be published. I have quite a few of those myself...
I also, in that first group, met my crit partner, Deanna. We had a weirdly instantaneous connection that has gotten us through the insane ups and downs of this business. Neither one of us would have come this far without the other to lean on. So I'm VERY grateful I was ever in that crit group. But I didn't stay in it very long because I also learned about finding the right group for yourself, which that wasn't.
I was in groups that were highly motivated and ones that weren't. I learned to receive criticism and that it hurts the most when the critiquer is right. I learned the importance of a support-network in the children's writing biz. I learned that I don't always play well with others. I learned that I don't articulate my thoughts very well and tend to give a rambling-big picture kind of crit because I don't have the patience to line-edit (although, if you need a spot-on line-editor, I know a great one down in Texas ;) And I learned just about everything I know about writing picture books.
I'm not in one right now, because I've been wrapped up in this whole website/blog/promotion thing, but critique groups are a good thing. And lately, I've been kinda missing mine...
As they say up here in snow country, it only snowed twice last week. Once for three days and once for four.
We're up to 22 inches so far this season. White Christmas? Check.
It can stop now...