I’ve just returned from the 2011 SCBWI-Michigan fall conference and even though this was my 6th fall conference with this group, I am still in awe of their comraderie, support and skill. If you are a children’s book writer and/or illustrator and you haven’t joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, do it today ( So many members swear it is what has kept them going during long, dark rejection nights, taught them how to improve their craft, and pointed them in the direction of publication.  Join up, go forth, and conquer!

As George said, “Stay the course.”

The SCBWI-MI listserv group is discussing motivation and rewards. How do you keep yourself going during writing and revision? If you are like me, a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are the ticket to keeping my BIC (butt in chair). Refer to photo to the right. 🙂


So I decided to jump on the Twitter bandwagon because I wanted to see what the fuss is about. After one intro session, I learned it is easy to get immersed in twittertopia for too long — so many people, so much sharing! — but there is a ton of helpful information there. For instance, check out this post by agent Mary Kole at Two signs of overwriting and why it’s a problem:

What do you think? Do you need to simplify your writing?


I can now say there are few better feelings in life for a writer than to see actual drawings for her debut picture book. Even in the sketch phase, Christina Wald ( has drawn what I pictured in my mind as I wrote — without any conversation between us — and I’m in awe of her talent.  I cannot wait to see the finished work and to share it with readers.

I also appreciate being kept in the loop by my editor. An author herself, she must understand how wonderful it is to see a new book come alive.

Nothing Like a Road Trip

I love a good road trip. Family togetherness, lots of peanut butter and honey sandwiches at roadside parks, sampling gas station restrooms across the country…3,784 miles later (from northern Michigan to northern Montana and back) and we’ve all grown – and I don’t mean just larger kiesters from sitting. We heard hoary marmots whistle in Glacier National Park, saw eagles soar across the faces of presidents at Mount Rushmore, and tasted freeze dried pad thai at a mountaintop cabin. It was a wonderful way to fill the mind with new images — and story ideas!    

Wait! What happened to the month of June and half of July?

Life. That’s what happened. Travel soccer, family visits, trip planning, ongoing negotiations with teenaged daughters over curfew and car use…just life. BUT, early every morning before all the summer mayhem begins, I’ve been writing. Danny, Emilio, Rafael, Father Timothy, Cookie…they are all living larger in my brain and on the pages and I’m excited to share them and their story with others.

I’ve also been reading Deborah Halverson’s Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and finding it quite useful ( She has a knack for breaking down complex ideas in to bits that can be absorbed and put into use right away. Well done, Deborah.

Words of Wisdom about Nervousness

For those of you about to do something that makes you nervous (public speaking, sending out your first manuscript, doing a book signing, etc.) Maria Sharapova, tennis star, has this to say, “If I’m nervous, it means I had to work hard to get there, whether it’s playing in a tournament or speaking at an event. So I try to stop and be proud of getting to live in that moment.” (from Oprah Magazine, June 2011)

I can see the butterflies flying away right now…

It is official! Sylvan Dell to publish WARM IN THE WINTER TAIL!

I’m thrilled to announce Sylvan Dell will publish my fiction picture book, Warm in the Winter Tail.  The scheduled release date is fall 2012 and Christina Wald will illustrate. Her work is beautiful and I can’t wait to see how she interprets the text. In addition to their reach into trade and educational markets, Sylvan Dell Publishing is at the forefront of digital books.  From their website: Award-winning picture books that integrate Science, Math, and Geography . . . plus interactive eBook technology and
Spanish Translation.

Check them out!   


Cheryl Klein’s book about writing: Second Sight

I hestitate to share this info because every person who reads this book will become a better writer which creates more competition for me! Luckily, good triumphs over evil today and I’ve decided to pass along a recommendation for Cheryl Klein’s new book on writing called Second Sight. Cheryl (see how I’m on a first name basis with her since I read her book?) is senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books (edited the Harry Potter series among other wonderful books), a highly successful imprint of Scholastic. Here is a blurb about Second Sight from her website:

Whether you dream of writing a book for children or young adults, or you want to take a finished manuscript to the next level, it always helps to get a fresh point of view. Try a little Second Sight. In this collection of talks, a professional editor offers insights from the other side of the publishing desk on a wide range of writerly topics:

+ Terrific first lines and how they got that way
+ What makes a strong picture book manuscript
+ Why the Harry Potter series was such a tremendous success
+ Worksheets and checklists for building characters and bolstering plot
+ Finding the emotional heart of your story
+ The Annotated Query Letter from Hell
+ And an Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right

Go ahead and read it — if you must.