Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Auction Item!

I just got word from Rach that my auction item is slated to go live tomorrow (Friday) in the afternoon.  Mine will be the 5th item of the day.  It will remain open for bids for 72 hours.

I don't want to give away what I've put up for bid, but you can guess it involves picture books!  And I've opened mine up to international bids.  I'll ship it anywhere!

If you haven't been over there already, I suggest you do!  There are awesome things going up every hour for 7 hours each day.  Pop on over to Write Hope and check it out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Takin' Care of Business

I am officially waving the white flag.  I surrender!  Life and work have become so busy, I think I'm going to have to take a brief blogcation.  I will try to post the occasional snippet, but for the most part I'm going to have to take the next week and a half off.  My "real" job is in the busy season (did you know regulatory filings had a busy season?) and my children are going to be on Spring Break next week.  So, I'm going to have to focus on my physical world at the expense of my virtual one.

I encourage you all to continue watching the Write Hope page as the auctions go live every day this week.  There is one coming up from me at some point!

I'll try to pop in to other blogs as time allows, but please forgive my silence when I'm absent.

I'll make it my goal to be back on my regular posting schedule the week of April 4th.  I appreciate you hanging in there with me!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend (er...Monday) Recommendation

So, I'm a giant slacker.  I read this book last week and was all excited to put it up for my weekend recommendation and then I blinked and it was Monday.  How does that happen?!

Well, if you'll forgive the lateness, I have a great picture book to recommend to you.  It is Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood.  Apparently this book has made it to my library shelf all the way from Australia, and with good reason.  It is an adorable book of friendship and comfort, new places and change.  It is always difficult to pinpoint why something touches your heart, but this book really got me.  I think it is a perfect example of when each and every word and picture are perfectly chosen to create feeling and emotion. 

Track this one down!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Write Hope

Overwhelmed.  That is the general feeling out there when it comes to the tragedy in Japan.  Everytime I'm faced with an image of the devestation, my heart is heavy and my mind is spinning.  How can a people and a nation face disaster of such astounding scale?  Too often in the past few years this has come up.  And we are often faced with the question - how can we help?

Some of my amazing blogger friends have decided to get active about it.  Marieke, Rach and Luna have put together a blog called "Write Hope" and they are going to be putting on an auction to benefit Save the Children's emergency relief fund.

Do me a favor and pop on over there.  They are in the process now of collecting donations and organizing the auction.  If you can contribute in any way, please consider it.  It is a great opportunity to come together as a writing community and put something positive out into the world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where are you inspired?

My writing time has been very hard to come by lately.  So, when I get a little bit (even a smidgen - I really love that word) I feel like I need to make the most of it.

95% of the the time I have no choice about where I write.  My children determine it for me.  I write in the living room during a video.  I write in their bedrooms while they play around and over me.  I write in the car waiting to pick them up.  I write during sports practices, during Sunday school, and in doctors office waiting rooms.  But there is a magical 5% of the time when I get to pick where I write.  On the few occasions when all three are in school and I'm not participating in anyone's classroom, it is all up to me!

And I have discovered that I can not write in silence.  It is just too foreign to me and my lifestyle to have quiet.  I find it horribly distracting.  So, my new favorite spot to write is a bagel/coffee shop.  It is sufficiently noisy, I can have a whole table to spread stuff out and - bonus - I can eat a bagel there too!  Yum!  : )

Monday, March 14, 2011

Still Time!

Last week's "My Favorite Picture Book" blogfest was a great success thanks to all you fine people!  I've had a few people join late and a few post over the weekend, so I wanted to just encourage you to keep checking them out.  There are a lot of great stories about fabulous books out there!  I've got quite a list for my next library run!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"My Favorite Picture Book" Blogfest!

The day has come!  The time is now!  My first blogfest is upon us!

I've had a great group of people sign up to bravely blog about their favorite picture book.  Brave, you ask?  Yes, brave.  Because I think it takes a certain amount of self-reflection (which is always kind of scary) to narrow down your favorite anything.  In fact, I admitted to Shannon O'Donnell over at Book Dreaming, that I had not managed to narrow down my choice and I'm the one who thought of this crazy idea!

And here it is Wednesday (as I write) and I'm still debating what to label as my "Favorite."  The picture book that re-ignited my love of picture books when I started writing ("Bridget's Beret")?  The picture books I love reading out loud to my children ("Bear Snores On" and "Llama Llama Red Pajama")?  The picture book that touched my heart as a family member was dying ("City Dog, Country Frog")?  The first picture book I could read all by myself and proudly brought to kindergarten to show off  ("Go, Dog, Go")?

While all of those would be good choices, I decided to go with the picture book that stands out in my mind as my "favorite" when I was a kid.  In fact, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of the first things I did was buy this book on eBay (because it is out of print).  It is "Popcorn", written and illustrated by Frank Asch.  This is probably not one of Mr. Asch's more well known books.  It is one of his bear books like "Milk & Cookies" and "Bread & Honey."  But "Popcorn" captured my imagination as a child.  It combined three of my favorite things as a kid.  Halloween and popcorn and mail! I've referred to the Parents Magazine Press book club before, and this book came in the mail for me one day when I was little.  Instant love!

In the story, Sam Bear invites friends over for a Halloween party when his parents go out and asks everyone to bring something for the party.  Everyone turns up in fun costumes and with popcorn.  When they decide to pop all of the popcorn, it fills the entire house.  I'm not sure why, but this appeals to my need for coziness.  Doesn't it sound cozy to be surrounded by popcorn?  All snug like a package being mailed?  No?  Just me?  Anyway, they have to eat their way out of the mess before Mom and Dad get home.  When they get back, Sam is in bed and they've brought him some popcorn for taking good care of the house!

Something I find interesting as an adult, is that this is basically a John Hughes-type plot.  Mom & Dad are out of the house, so a big party is thrown and gets out of control.  Very high school-ish.  Even though I never did this (I wasn't exactly a rebel), when I was small the idea of it delighted me.  There is something very liberating about reading a story where the "kid" does something independent of their parents and basically gets away with it.  The brilliance of this book is that even though Sam's parents don't catch him, he still learns his lesson because he and all of his friends have stomach aches and regret.  And then it is rubbed in when his "treat" is just more popcorn from his unsuspecting parents.  Or did they know all along?  : )

Now go read about other favorite picture books!

Monday, March 7, 2011

WriteOnCon Scheduled!

Please take note of my fun new widget on the sidebar!  It is counting down to one of the most helpful (and super fun) resources I have found for writing.  WriteOnCon!  It is a totally free and completely online writing conference complete with chats, presentations, forums and a huge helping of helpfulness.  So, everyone mark your calendars for August 16-18!  I'll see you all there!

Oh, and here's the link to it!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend Recommendation

Happy weekend, everybody!  Boy, I was really looking forward to the weekend.  It's been a long week.

I did get myself to the library this week though and that always makes me happy.  I had read everything on the "New Picture Book" shelf, so I went exploring in the general PB stacks.  I picked up a book from Barefoot Books simply because they are a publishing house I've enjoyed on Twitter and I love their overall philosophy (check out their website).  So, I was overjoyed to find a book that I just love.  It was I Took The Moon For A Walk by Carolyn Curtis and illustrated by Alison Jay.  This book is charming and a well-done rhyme (which is very rare, I find).  It would make a great bedtime book and the art is just dreamy.  Check it out!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inspiration from a lesson...but not

One of the first things you hear when you are setting out to write a picture book is, "Don't try to teach a lesson."  Kids see through it quickly and don't want it.  After all, as picture book writers, we are trying to instill a love of books and kids won't be eager to embrace another source of "do this, not that" in their lives.  I certainly don't read fiction to get a lesson out of it.  And kids aren't any different.

However, I've come to find this advice rather deceiving.  When you pick up just about any picture book, you can derive some lesson from it.  There are lessons about friendship, environmental respect, history, the nature of love, what to expect on the first day of kindergarten, what it means to be a big sister, and on and on and on.  Picture books are little introductions to the world.

So, what gives?  I think I have an idea.  Yesterday I tried to sit down and write a book with a lesson (it was an experiment in writing something for my church).  And it turned out SUPER BORING!  Not a little boring - like sitting around waiting for an oil change.  But mega boring - like listening to someone dictate binary code for hours.  I think the problem lies in the intent.  When I purposfully try to weave a lesson into my writing, it is obvious, forced and preachy.  When I try to tell a fun story, it is a fun story - lesson or not.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Read Across America Inspiration!

Remember when I posted about those amazing young authors who won the "Be A Famous Writer" contest?  No?  Click here.  Yes?  Read on!

Well, in celebration of Read Across America, is making a video of the winning stories available for free download on iTunes today! Mountain Dog, written by Briana Beebe, 8, from Colorado, and Lucky the Bamboo Chopper, by Bill Wang, 12, of Oregon, are read by Mrs. P (TV star Kathy Kinney).  

As a side note, Mrs. P is visiting Bill Wang today at his school to read his story to a school assembly today!  How fun is that?!  And Briana is being honored at her school as a "featured author" today too.

I'm on my way to go download my copy and I hope you'll do the same.  Supporting new authors is a vital part of the writing community, no matter the author's age!  What a fabulous celebration of Read Across America! 

Super-Snooper Blogfest

Here is my entry.  The goal is to convey a character by just describing their possessions or setting.  Since I write picture books, I'm trying to write up something that would help me in developing a child main character.  It is not in a format that I would actual put in a picture book, it is more a character study for myself to frame my writing.  Be sure to check out the other entries today too!

At first glance, the room seemed to be littered with garbage: empty tissue boxes, cardboard paper towel rolls, balled up paper, packing materials, electronic components that had been torn from their casings, torn wrapping paper, hardened Play-Doh, boxes of crackers and cereals whose contents had been eaten long ago.  But if you looked closer, the trash had been modified - cut, colored, attached and propped up into structures.  There was thought and purpose present here.  The tools for these creations were simple - children's safety scissors, rolls and rolls of tape, crayons, a small screwdriver, and "blueprints" drawn crudely on blue construction paper.  Traditional toys like action figures, cars and board games took up a small space in the corner.  The majority of the space was devoted to construction.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


When tempers flare
and strangers stare
You’ll get through it

When outfits clash
and the car is trash
You’ll get through it

When the flu sets in
and you’re snowed in again
You’ll get through it

When bedtime’s a fight
and nothing’s going right
You’ll get through it

When the new toy breaks
and no one eats what you make
You’ll get through it

When the house is a pit
and you just want to sit
You’ll get through it

Find a sympathetic ear
my blog is always open here
We’ll get through it