Wednesday, September 29, 2010

100th Blog Post!!!


It's been seven months and I finally wrote my 100th blog post!!! So how to celebrate? 100 random things about me? 100 accomplishments in my writing career? 100 picture books I've read? A mixture? Wanna take a vote? Too bad. I think I choose...a mixture! So here goes:
  1. In 1999, I received my BA degree in Creative Writing.
  2. I have a three-legged dog named Cocoa. She is a Treeing Walker Coonhound.
  3. During college, I also took four separate writing correspondence courses.
  4. Evelyn Coleman autographed a book for me.
  5. In 2007, I received my K-6 teaching license.
  6. I started collecting picture books during college, long before I had children.
  7. In the summer of 2009, I was bitten by the writing bug again.
  8. My older sister started it.
  9. In Sept. '09, I had an idea explosion.
  10. The longest I ever worked in one job was 6 and a half years.
  11. In Sept. '09, I started a blog.
  12. My other sister is an artist.
  13. In Dec. '09, I joined CBI, The Children's Book Insider, i.e. The Fightin' Bookworms.
  14. My third sister is getting married this Saturday.
  15. In Jan. '10, I joined a critique group.
  16. If I had to be locked in a room of a school for a day, I would choose the library.
  17. In Feb. '10, I made a second blog post.
  18. When I was a kid, my favorite colors were tan and pink.
  19. In April, I did my first Author's Visit.
  20. The best lightning storm I ever saw was in southern Wyoming.
  21. In April, I attended a writer's conference, the Children's Writer's Bootcamp.
  22. My favorite colors now are based on the object. Shoes, purses, dogs? Black or brown. Cars? Blue or silver. Flowers? Red, purple, orange. Clothes? Neutral colors, browns, greens, blues.
  23. In June, I joined twitter to be a part of Picture Books Only.
  24. I collect four-leaf clovers.
  25. When I was in the 3rd grade, my teacher would give me a seashell every time I found a four-leaf clover for her.
  26. I didn't visit the ocean until I was 16.
  27. In July, I had made a total of six tweets.
  28. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18.
  29. In August, I attended WriteOnCon.In August, I made four more tweets.
  30. I have hazel-green eyes.
  31. On Sept. 10, I mailed out my first manuscript!
  32. I tried sushi for the first time about 5 years ago.
  33. I LOVE barbecue eel sushi!
  34. Last week, I made my 100th tweet!
  35. I probably have 100 four-leaf clovers in my LUCKY box.
  36. I have 30 followers on my blog.
  37. I collect cool boxes and creative containers.
  38. I have 60 followers on twitter.
  39. I hope I publish 60 books before I die.
  40. I had 10 of you participate in my book giveaway contest.
  41. I'll probably have 10 more.
  42. I'm signing up with The Institute of Children's Literature to take the Advanced Writing Course.
  43. I am working on 7 books right now.
  44. One of my books is written in rhyme. Wonderful days for when I had time.
  45. Four of my books are set to songs.
  46. One of the 7 books is nonfiction. (Actually a lot more, just not working on them RIGHT NOW.)
  47. My husband may join the Reserves.
  48. When I was 7, my sister and I got yelled at for playing frisbee inside of Roses.
  49. I used to look in the floor for beads that spilled out from open packages.
  50. I never snuck out of the house.
  51. I've never tasted alcohol.
  52. I love to dance.
  53. My husband doesn't.
  54. I have passwords for about 70 different websites.
  55. I still want to finish my YA novel, even if it's never published.
  56. I wrote the first half during college.
  57. I'm a registered voter - unaffiliated. 
  58. I used to read the dictionary every day. I never made it through the A's.
  59. I have won at least 5 contests in my life.
  60. I tend to be a procrastinator.
  61. I love to run.
  62. I haven't run in nearly a year.
  63. I have run two full marathons (26.2 miles each). One was for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.
  64. I ran in the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10K (6.2 miles) in Charleston, SC.
  65. I collect seashells.
  66. I love living in the mountains.
  67. My favorite adult author is Lori Wick.
  68. I'd rather read a picture book than a chapter book, MG novel, or YA novel ANY DAY!  
  69. It's not that hard to be considered as part of the top 5% of unsolicited submissions.
  70. I already have activities planned for book signings and library visits for 7 of my books.
  71. I want to write a chapter book or a MG novel, but the character won't share his problem with me, or let me know where he belongs.
  72. My step-son, C.J., is 19 and is in the Army National Guard Reserves.
  73. My parents are divorced.
  74. My son, Shawn, collects insects.
  75. He's also good at gymnastics.
  76. My daughter loves to dance. Sometimes we all dance together.
  77. I'm a bicentennial baby.
  78. I don't know all of the Presidents.
  79. I've been to Alaska and Hawaii, but never New York, Florida, or Louisiana.
  80. I'm addicted to chapstick.
  81. I spend too much money on books.
  82. I'm a Latter-day Saint (i.e. "Mormon").
  83. There are over 40 LDS publishers.
  84. I don't wear make-up. It takes too much time.
  85. I only get my hair cut twice a year. I always wear it up.
  86. I know how to play Chess.
  87. I have a secret recipe for blackberry cobbler. One year, I'm going to enter it into the state fair.
  88. I wear sandals in the winter.
  89. I have only one pair of high heels. They're silver.
  90. I used to have a motorcycle. I sold it and bought a Kirby vacuum cleaner. 
  91. I have a motorcycle endorsement on my license. I used to sell Kirby vacuums (for 3 months).
  92. I own at least 30 books that I have never read.
  93. I am setting up my first online author visit with a school in CA via Skype.
  94. I RARELY watch TV.
  95. I had a poem published in the local paper when I was in high school. It rhymed. It was called "Machiavellian." The paper renamed it "A Poem About Politics."
  96. The first two lines are: "A poem of politics is a plate of pea soup/ Muddled and messy, all mushed into a group."
  97. I've written many stories that will never be published.
  98. I had to get glasses in the 8th grade.
  99. I never had braces.
  100. I have read over 100 picture books in the last year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ninety-nine Bottles of Sprite on the Wall

soda canThis title celebrates my 99th blog post. On Wednesday, I'll celebrate the 100th! All week long, I struggled with how to create a writing plan, a schedule, a routine, an action plan. I finally have a plan. And I'll try to share with you how you can map out your own.

First, how much time do you have available? Don't think daily, think WEEKLY. Since I don't work right now (hopefully I'll get a part-time job soon), I am giving myself 23 hours a week. Of course when I get a job, that will drastically decline to maybe 15 (hopefully that much).

Make a list of all the writing-related things you participate in. Your list may be completely different from mine. You may arrange it differently and include items in different categories. For me, I listed:
  • writing (includes revisions, ideas, research in the midst of writing)
  • blogging (includes my own blog posts, reading others' blogs, commenting on blogs, and other networking such as twitter)
  • critiquing (spending time to critique others' manuscripts in my critique groups, and of course the winners of my monthly picture book writing contest)
  • marketing (researching the market of publishers and editors by studying picture books, market books, websites, and catalogues; also time in libraries and bookstores count)
  • studying craft (reading picture books, copying picture books, studying picture books, reading books about how to write picture books, and reading about individual writing craft such as plot, character, etc.)
For all writers, writing should be the number one item in which you consistently participate. Next would probably be craft and marketing. Decide for yourself what is most important. Technically, I started this blog a year ago, Sept. '09. But I "changed" it to February, because that's when my second blog post was! So I have about four months until my Blogiversary! Taking a five-month break after only one blog post is hardly being consistent. The key to anything is consistency. 

Look at your schedule and see how much you can fit in each day. Plan it by the week. Here's my breakdown of hours spent per week and the percentage of the 23 hours:
  • writing 10 hours a week (43%) - 5 days
  • blogging 6 hours a week (26%) - 5 days
  • critiquing 2 hrs (9%) - 1 day (Tuesdays)
  • marketing 2 hrs (9%) - 1 day (Thursdays)
  • craft 2 hrs (9%) - 1 day (Wednesdays)
  • ...and a planning review session 1 hour (4%) - 1 day (Sundays)
Sundays - 1 hour
Mondays - 3.5 hrs.
Tuesdays - 5 hrs.
Wednesdays - 2 hrs.
Thursdays - 5 hrs.
Fridays - 3.5 hrs.
Saturdays - 3 hrs.

Most importantly, it's up to you to find a schedule that will work for you. Maybe you don't like schedules. I have been writing A LOT over the last year, and it's taken me this long to realize that I finally need a schedule. If you do too, I hope this helped. 

If you work full time, this is still doable. Write 15 minutes a day! Make it a top priority. Don't blog. It's time consuming. But if you love it and you can squeeze it in, by all means blog away! Spend 30 minutes a week EACH on marketing, and craft. I'd say that's minimum. Hopefully, all of us can find at least 3 hours a week to spend on writing and writing-related things. Think of each 15-minute session as another mile passed to reach your writing goals. OR you could count backwards: 98 bottles of Sprite on the wall... 


Book Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to all who participated. We had some really great words submitted. Much better than 'really' and 'great.' Ten participants entered the contest with a total of 15 entries. The winner is...Julie Hedlund! Congratulations! E-mail me (or send a twitter DM or other format of communication) with your address so I can send you the book! Stay tuned for future contests and more great prizes. Remember, you can still enter my picture book writing contest and win a free critique! Post on WRITING coming later today!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Picture Books Are Powerful

My daughter, Samantha, is learning to go to sleep without me. She sometimes says she's afraid of the dark. She's almost four. The other night, I put her in her bed and told her to not get up or her door would be closed for one minute. Later on, hubby tells me that she said, "Be brave, Samantha, be brave." I said, "She said that? Really? That's from a picture book! That is so funny and cute!" It comes from A Net of Stars by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Etta tells herself in the beginning, "This year I'll be brave." And in the middle, "Be brave, I say." And near the end, "I AM BRAVE."

I read a book to my son, Shawn, the other night that he didn't particularly want, perhaps because he did not choose it. He was positive it would be a "dummy-dumb one." But he still listened. When I tell you what book it was, you're gonna gasp. Weslandia by Paul Fleischman. On the first two pages, my son repeated, "it's just a dummy-dumb one," until I read, "Fleeing them was the only sport he was good at." My son loves to run. He loved the page that talked about the juicy purple fruits that tasted "of peach, strawberry, pumpkin pie." He loves juicy fruits. He especially loved the page where Wesley "sold small amounts to his former tormentors at the price of ten dollars per bottle." My son tries to sell me rocks every week. I bought one today for five cents. And finally he loved the eighty-letter alphabet, especially the picture in the back. He tried pointed out the S's, E's, G's, among others. I told him our alphabet has only 26 letters. He asked how there could possibly be 80. I said maybe there's a letter that makes the "SH" sound in your name, but it only uses one letter. We had a conversation that talked about lots of other sounds. We only came up with about 50 letters, or sounds. Anyway, hooray for Weslandia and how it transformed from a "dummy-dumb" book to a book that encouraged imagination and thoughtful exploration. No wonder it was awarded the PARENTS' CHOICE HONORS award. So read your child a book, even if they don't want it. They just might love it.

Happy reading! Oh, and of course, happy WRITING! Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Three-Minute Solution

I had about a dozen books checked out from the library. And renewed. Twice. I read them. And I read them to my children. And we reread a few of them. I hesitated turning them back in because I had been procrastinating the act of writing them in my reading journal. You know, the title, author, illustrator, publisher, year published, summary, and a quick "how'd I like it." Once I sat down to actually write the info down, it took me about 33 minutes to list the 11 books, three minutes per book. I asked myself, "So why do I put it off knowing that I'm going to create a 30-60 minute chore that will need to be done later?" And the solution is to take the one-two books that I read each night, and take 3-6 minutes to quickly jot the info down. Problem solved! No more hour-long sessions looking back through the adored books. And another plus is that my evaluation of each book is fresh in my mind. However, writing up a summary weeks later does offer the slight advantage of knowing whether or not the book has real staying power. These are the books I had. And the ones in bold are the ones we read more than once (minus a summary, here - sorry, gotta draw the line somewhere):

  • Moosekitos, A Moose Family Reunion by Margie Palatini; ill. Henry Cole; Hyperion Books; 2004; 
    • Lots of puns, rhymes, and synonyms. A perfectly perfect read aloud. (1002 words)
  • Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper; A Sunburst Book, Farrar Straus Giroux; 1998
    • Fun. A good read for fall, or a baking or sharing theme. (750 words)
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney; Viking Press; 1982
    • Kind of long, kids didn't want to read it. Adorable and timeless. (1243 words)
  • Matthew's Dragon by Susan Cooper; ill. Jos. A. Smith; Aladdin paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster; 1991
    • Kind of long, my 6-yr.-old loved it. (word count n/a)
  • Tuff Fluff, The Case of Duckie's Missing Brain by Scott Nash; Candlewick Press; 2004
    • Funny, different, silly, long, engaging. A wonderful mystery. (2060 words)
  • Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen; Random House; 2009
    • Cute, short, very fun to read, quirky, vocabulary-rich, told in nonsense verse. (555 words)
  • Pemba Sherpa by Olga Cossi; ill. Gary Bernard; Odyssey Books, a division of The Ciletti Publishing Group, Inc.; 2009
    • Based on a true story, long, shows strength of girls, and helping and humility, long. (1951 words)
  • Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman; ill. Ofra Amit; Carol Rhoda Books; 2008
    • So touching that I cried. That's rare. Long. (1391 words)
  • The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy; ill. Michael P. White; Peachtree; 1994
    • Lots of puns, word play, synonyms. Very fun. One of my favorites! (983 words)
  • The Magic Hat by Mem Fox; ill. Tricia Tusa; Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.; 2002
    • Short, good read-aloud, good for predicting (goes with page turns), uses a rhyming refrain. (305 words)
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox; ill. Julie Vivas; Kane Miller, a division of EDC publishing; 1985
    • Sweet, touching, timeless. And a little humor, too. (629 words)
So there you have it. Now I've got to read to my kids! Good night!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twitteriffic

Twitter is twitteriffic! Over the past weekend, I have followed over 100 folks since I finally figured out how to operate in the Twitterverse. I have lists that you can follow, too:
  • PB writers (the biggest list, of course)
  • Teachers
  • Writing (resources and writers)
  • BOOKS: readers of, lovers of, reviewers of, publishers of, stores of, agents of, and libraries
  • Rhymers (PB writers that also like to rhyme)
  • LDS inspiration and interesting news
I found a couple blogposts on why twittering is good and how to increase traffic to your blog.

Also, here is a list of 40 twitter #hashtags for writers. A hashtag is a phrase preceded by a # to signal topics that are often held at a certain time for chatting purposes, but not always. To add a reply to the #hashtag conversations, click on the little bitty square with a blue pen for a New Tweet. It's located at the very top toward the right. Make sure you add the #hashtag so your comment will appear.

And Coach Marla, a life coach for writers, writes how to use twitter to beat procrastination and boost your writing.  I used it yesterday, but I spent all day today looking for people to follow. Lame? Maybe. But I had fun, and I feel like my circle of writerly friends has grown considerably. You can use Marla's #bookending, or #amwriting.

To post a link in a twitter post, use tinyurl.com. It's a simple way to shorten the URL. Yes, it's an extra click and paste, but you can squeeze more characters in that way. You only get 140, and they go quick! If you want to follow me on Twitter, it's @ChristieWild.

P.S. HOW TWITTER AND BLOGGING HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE - I took a typing class in High School during my Senior year. On an actual typewriter. We learned to put two spaces after a period. Old habits die hard. When I blog, sometimes the extra space at the end of sentences wrap around to the beginning of the next line on the screen. And it makes it look funny, like an extra indention. Sometimes I go back and delete it. Then twitter got me deleting spaces just to finish a word in the post. So now, just today, I am consciously trying to adapt to only using one space after a period. It's hard, but it's beginning to become second nature. And that's how twitter changed my life. Simple, but MAJOR!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Critique or Bad Review

Okay, so I'm stretching the title of my post a bit.  But it's based on a quote I found on page 216 of Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books, A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication.
"Listen carefully to first criticisms of your work.  Note just what it is about your work that the critics don't like - then cultivate it.  That's the part of your work that's individual and worth keeping."  --Jean Cocteau
Ann Whitford Paul commented about this quote regarding her own stories and how the critics said her stories were too quiet.  But that's what she likes.  It's her style.  So she learned how to cultivate it by adding tension to every story, no matter how peaceful of a bedtime story they were.

A few pages later in her book, I learn that she received 180 not-interested rejections in a five-year time span.  She shares this to help encourage us.  She shares 3 tips to improve our odds of selling a manuscript.

  1. Write more stories.
  2. Revise each story to the best of your ability.
  3. Submit your story to a publisher you've researched and know is looking to do your kind of book.
Another famous author said it takes a writer 8-10 published books to become established.  I can't help but wonder when I'll get there.  My first rejection letter.  My first acceptance letter.  My first review. My first bad review.  My first book signing.  Until then, I'll write more stories.  And with the help of my awesome critique group, The Story Swappers, I'll revise to the best of my ability.  And then submit, submit, submit.  With 5 stories in the revision stage, I can only think that the best stories I can write will soon be submitted.  But of course SOON is very relative.  

So if you ever get a bad review, just think of it as a good critique.  And cultivate it!  Own it.  Make it work FOR you.  

Keep on keepin' on! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crusade Poem

I feel like a challenge today.  I'm going to attempt to write a poem that makes an announcement.  It will probably be dorky and very unpoetic.  But I'm sure it will be fun, nonetheless.

Rachael Writes
A blog about children's books
and publishing nooks
A crusade to join
Don't flip a coin
Just follow her today.
We're all on our way
to make the grade
of making writing our professional trade.
Link to her and make a comment.
This is my advertisement.
Writers need to flock together
no matter what the rejection weather.
So hook up with the crusade
and we'll all gain a little extra aid.

There.  Fun.  Dorky.  Forced rhyme.  No meter.  But now I'm sure you'll want to go check it out.

How's that for promotion, Rachael?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure

...in Pass-the-Paper style!  All of the stories are still unfinished, so choose one to contribute to as your Saturday writing exercise.  Or any time through the week.  Click here to choose your own writing adventure.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Timeless Wisdom and a Jingle

I've talked about balance and focus.  I even signed up for Coach Marla Beck's free 5-day e-mail seminar on how to be an organized and relaxed writer.  Her blog, The Relaxed Writer, is informative and inspiring.

Throughout my life, I've always been organized, positive, cheerful, optimistic, goal-oriented, and determined.  I have also always been slow, indecisive, a path-of-least-resistance kind of person, and bad with time.  My husband says I would be late to my own funeral.  So I'm going to use my being slow to my advantage.  I'm going to get more organized and write up a plan, which will include long-term goals and projects, short-term goals to reach those projects, a schedule, and a positive mantra.

Here's my plan.  Since being bad with time seems to be fighting against my very core of existence lately, and I really want to achieve balance and focus, I have developed a mantra.  It is based on the timeless wisdom, "Early to bed, early to rise; makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."  So my new policy, in jingle form, is...
Asleep in the bed by ten or eleven; Up and at 'em by six or seven.
I will begin tonight, so I only have 50 minutes left to write.  And I'm working my butt off.  I was up till 3 AM, so I slept a lot today.  I did work on organizing a Church notebook for Sunday for an hour and a half.  So at least I feel like I accomplished something.  It really needed to be done, as I had been working on it and putting it off for about two weeks.  I really feel like going to bed early, and waking up early, truly will ensure that I get enough sleep, AND have plenty of energy to work more efficiently.  I hope my hypothesis tests positively.

Remember to give a shout out for my little contest in the twittersphere for extra entries!  @christiewild  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Library Circulation Records

Molly O'Neill, Assistant Editor at Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins said that a library's circulation records on a book or an an author can affect the buying power of whether or not that library will buy more books from that author.


When I asked my local library about that, they said they do look at circulation records, but it doesn't necessarily affect if they'll buy another book by a certain author.  I guess it just depends on the library.  It IS a very small library, though.  Even still, I will always LOVE libraries, and bookstores.  


I was really excited when I learned that tidbit because I wondered how a library could help an author's career, to a point.  Now I know they can help EVEN MORE!!!


Today's Mission:  visit your library some time in the next week, and tell them "thank you" for all they do!

Book Giveaway!

When I was doing my student teaching in the 3rd grade, my cooperating teacher told me her favorite word.  I don't remember it now, but it was really simple.  Something like THAT, WHICH, WHO, WHAT, or something.  It was one syllable, and was not a verb, noun, or adjective.  Although that, who, and what all refer to nouns, right?  I thought it odd, nonetheless.  But she truly loved that word.

I recently realized that I purchased a copy of a book I already had:  Children's Writers's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner.
Children's writer's word book [Book]
Crazy me!  So, I'm hosting a book giveaway contest.  To enter:

  • Just follow my blog and leave me a comment telling me your 3 favorite words (or 3 words you really like, even if they're not necessarily you're favorite).
  • For a second entry, mention me on your own blog (and be sure to leave a link below).
  • For a third entry, tweet about the contest (and be sure to include @christiewild).
I will choose a winner on Saturday, September 25th.  That's 10 days!  By the way, my three favorite words are metamorphosis, onomatopoeia, and paprika.  What words do you love?

Contest is now closed. Winner posted in comments.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Balance for Writers

In yoga, one gains strength, flexibility, concentration, relaxation, and BALANCE.  I think I need Yoga for Writers.  I found a few websites.

  • Yoga for Writers explains how to do desk yoga - for writers and other desk-bound professionals.
  • Another Yoga for Writers, in New York, offers a course that helps you free your writing and creativity.
  • Yoga for Writers by the Zen Peacekeeper, Marianne Elliott, offers a $30 yoga course specifically for writers.  She is a writer and a yoga instructor and knows the postures that writers need to practice.
  • Yoga as a Therapy offers a course for writers that focus on carpal tunnel, back pain, vision, and more.
  • The Yoga of Writing is probably the most-matched to what I would personally need.  It offers yoga therapy workshops to help you apply the principles of yoga to the craft of writing.
And here I thought I was being original.  The one I think I most need is balance in my life.  I'm either focused on writing and not much else.  Or focused on church and not much else.  Or focused on mommy-hood and not much else.  A few weeks ago, it was all about the writing.  Last week, it was getting organized for church, as I am now doing something different there.  Today, well, let's just say that today lacked any kind of focus.  I guess I needed some down time.  I watched one TV show.  I played a computer game for an hour or so.  I helped my son with his homework.  Dinner was spaghettio's and cereal (one for each child).  When I am really in the writing groove, I am tuned in, focused, and zoned out from the rest of the world.  During WriteOnCon, I didn't even want to take a lunch break, or a bathroom break.  That's how I get.  I'm starting to think it's very unhealthy, but I think I don't know how to control it.  If I could just find a way to have more balance in my life so that I can actually get into the writing zone and get something accomplished, AND be in the real world for the rest of my life, then I will finally have a good thing going.  Until then, I'm stuck with my extreme highs and lows of productivity and focus.  Perhaps the following tips may help me:
  • Take a full-hour lunch break.
  • Have a deadline.  When 3:30 rolls around, no more writing (until after bedtime).
  • Stretch more.  Exercise more.  Get up once every hour for 5 minutes.  Drink a glass of water.
  • Make goals and plans for other aspects of life.  Write it down.  Stick to it.
  • SCHEDULE down-time, such as games with kids, TV (which is really rare for me, actually), outside time, exercise, etc.
  • Make a to-do list each evening and prioritize ahead of time.
  • Set goals and take specific actions daily to work toward them.
  • Take time off between projects.  Allow the down-time.  (Maybe that's what today was?  AND all weekend.  Since I just sent out a big writing project...) 
Anyway, balance is a delicate thing to manage.  And for me, I believe it is mostly a balance of my time, and a bit of commitment.  Now I just need to COMMIT to BALANCING my time.  

How do each of you manage this?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Waste of Money

Nobody ever enjoys wasting money.  It's unheard of.  But I am really hoping that the $2.58 I spent today becomes the best wasted money I ever spent.  That's how much the postage was for the SASE I included in my proposal package today.  My daughter and I went to the post office and we both kissed the envelope before we handed it over to the clerk.  Wish us luck and cross your fingers for me!  My first ever manuscript (the ms for the first book in the series is included as part of the proposal) is mailed out, as of today!!!  What an exhilarating feeling!  Now I have to wait for 8 whole weeks!  Or 10, or 12...  I am so excited!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

...And the Winner Is...



I have finally chosen a winner for my August Contest! And the winner is...


...Tanya Finestone!

Her picture book, No Sleep For Theo, is cute, clever, and funny.  Yes, the animals talk.  But it is oh so fun with lots of great word play!

Theo the sheep can't get to sleep.  All the barnyard animals give him suggestions, until he finally comes up with a surprising solution.

Congratulations, Tanya!  You can find your critique in your e-mail within two weeks!  I hope to see this on bookshelves one day!  

And I would love a quick shout out about my contest to everyone you know...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Need a Break?

If you need a quick break from your own writing projects, take a peek here and see which one you'd like to participate in.  Add on to any of them!  Lots of silliness going on.  And what better way to connect to being a children's writer, than to continue in your own silliness?!

PASS THE PAPER

To gain more participants, and liven it up a bit, you could even post a link to it on your own blog, or Facebook, or Twitter.  Just sayin'...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Favorite Bedtime Books

I own eight bedtime books.  Granted, ANY book is perfect for bedtime.  But the eight I have are precious to my heart, as I have read them numerous times to each of my children.  Here they are, and why I love them.

Wishes for You by Tobi Tobias, illustrated by Henri Sorensen
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Sparse text.  A mother talks to her baby about all her wishes for him:  to have shining moments of happiness, to have strength for hard times, lucky, curious, silly, adventurous, industrious, healthy, kind, loving, different, "love being alone sometimes," think for yourself, "always remember me."  It goes through all these wishes that every mother has, and includes different children, families, and grandparents.  Lovely illustrations, too.

If Kisses Were Colors by Janet Lawler, illustrated by Alison Jay
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2003
Rhyming text.  If kisses were colors, pebbles, comets, flowers, raindrops, acorns, snowflakes, and blankets.  The mother makes these comparisons as she expresses her love for her baby.  The text encourages hand motions (at least for me, it did - but I also did hand motions a bit with Chicka Chicka ABC), and lots of kisses.  The illustrations are FABULOUS!  The art was created using alkyd oil paint on paper with crackling varnish.  The pictures are old-timey and take you back to an era reminiscent of the 30's, 40's, and 50's (at least in my mind).  I also love the juxtaposition of the opposing images on each spread.  For example, "If kisses were pebbles, your beach would be lined" is on the left hand side with a giant pebble with arms, legs, and a face.  On the right hand side, "with stones by the millions, of all shapes and kinds."  The picture is of an elephant and a penguin picking up pebbles from a beach, and that picture is outlined with pebbles all around the edges.  Makes it a very enjoyable read time and time again.

Mommy's Best Kisses by Margaret Anastas, illustrated by Susan Winter
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Rhyming text.  Baby animals give kisses to their young in different ways:  "reach for my face...neck - it's my favorite place...five fingers that squeeze mine so tight...strong arms and you squeal with delight."  And on and on, until at bedtime it encourages, "And tomorrow we'll start all over again."  My favorite page is the one where the little boy is sleeping in his bed, snuggled up to all his stuffed animals (the same animals the book showed giving kisses earlier).  Very cute.  Definitely encourages lots of kisses, and teaching body parts, too.

Because You Are My Baby by Sherry North, illustrated by Marcellus Hall
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008
Lists wonderful ways a parent, whether a rock star or a geologist, could demonstrate love for a child.  Rhyming text.  My favorite line is:  "If I were a gardener, I would plant a trumpet vine, With blooms that croon a jazzy tune whenever you pass by."  I love that it still got printed even though it's a near rhyme (vine/by).  I also love the internal rrhymes of the second line (bloooms/croon/tune).  Just lovely.  The illustrations are beautiful watercolor on paper.  I like how the texture of the paper is visible, too.

To Everything by Bob Barner
Chronicle Books, 1998
Presents an illustrated version of the verse in Ecclesiastes which states that there is a time for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die.  The illustrations are rendered in paper collage, using bright and bold colors.  My son's favorite page is the lion, "A time for love, a time for anger."  My favorite is the lightning bugs, "A time to hold, a time to let go."  Lots of animals.  Beautiful!







He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
Dial Books for Readers, 2005
Goes through the four verses of the song.  If you love the song, you'll love the book.  Illustrations are awesome!  Mixture of pencil, oil, and watercolor.  Kadir created the kid drawings in the book by using his left hand with colored pencils.  My favorite image is for this text "He's got the sun and the rain in His hands."  The little boy is standing out in the rain wearing his bright yellow rainslicker jacket.  Red umbrella on the ground.  Rain pouring down on him and bouncing off his face.  He's looking upward to the sky with his eyes squinted closed and smiling real big.  You can even see the sun reflecting off his face.  Perfect juxtaposition of sun and rain!  Obviously, encourages singing!

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander, illustrated by Anna Vojtech
A Cheshire Studio Book, North-South Books, 2004
Beautifully illustrates this popular hymn.  Has lots of animals.  Shows nature and the seasons.  There are also two little mice on every spread.  It's fun to find them.  Encourages singing.  This is a favorite.











If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1997
Gentle prose.  Simply describes how various baby animals come into the world and what happens when a human baby is born.  Encourages discussion of life, animals, pregnancy, babies, and birth, even counting!  Beautiful illustrations of dry pastel on dark gray pastel paper, with lots of realistic detail.  Lots of fun animals included are the elephant, seahorse, porcupine, bear, snake, possum, cat, chicken, whale, and frog.  Very precious.

What's YOUR favorite bedtime book?