Thursday, May 15, 2008

ICL chat with Harold Underdown

Harold Underdown will be guest speaker with reknowned interviewer Jan Fields at The Institute of Children's Literature for an online chat called "Down the Publishing Path" on Thur. May 22 from 8-10 p.m. Eastern.
Go here to join in the chat or to find out more info: chat page.
Email any advance questions for Harold to
The 3rd edition of Harold's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books comes out this month.
I recommend this book everywhere to new writers; I think it's the most useful publication for beginners on how to write books for kids. It's helpful for non-beginners, as well.
I've bought a few copies of it. Mine keep going out on loan.
And -- Harold's an awfully nice guy, very helpful with advice. I've "known" him online for more than a few years in a few writer communities (he's one of those kindly-instructor types: Patient, helpful, never pompous or overbearing), and I remember how excited everyone got when he announced he was writing this book. We all knew this book was desperately needed by the new writer community.

Go to Harold's Purple Crayon website for more detailed info on his book and also for up-to-date information on the children's books publishing industry.

Interested in finding out more about kids' books writing? Check out the amazingly overflowing ICL chat transcripts from years of interviews with experts and experienced writers: Very useful stuff here.

And, check out the transcript from my chat with ICL, about humor, here: Humor in kids' books. It's humorous but informative.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Working on my studio

The current problem: The studio's too small, too cluttered, and too disorganized.
The plan: Reorganize it. I have two days to make it work, before I need to return to the various works in progress.
The process: Write out my "Wish List," all those things I really want the studio to provide, accommodate, and be. Then figure out what needs to be where. Then move everything into place.
The obstacles: A million other projects, the voice in my head that says to work on something more concrete, limited time, tight finances, tendonitis, Snood.
The rewards: Substantial. No more embarrassment about how the studio looks. And a return to those distant happy days when I loved my studio and found it easy to do any kind of work in it.
The progress: To be announced.

Catching up

I've been working on a new book, and lots of author presentations, and trying to keep up with my kids' busy schedules.
The end of the school year is always so crazy...

Next week I'm off to camp with the fourth graders. I don't expect it to be a vacation. (I'll post the sketches)

Here are a couple from last year's camping trip:

That's me in the bottom right corner, completely exhausted from hiking in the dunes.
Unfortunately I am not in much better shape this year.

Oh, this is too funny. See the date on that last sketch? 2005? It should have been 2007. I guess I really was tired! Funny that nobody apparently noticed. These sketch composites were copied and distributed to the kids who went.

Other Kid Stuff:
My 10-year-old won a local school district writing/illustrating contest. I took a hands-off approach to her entry, because I didn't want to use unfair influence. Besides, she didn't want me involved. She barely let me read her entry.
I'm so proud of her, and how much work she put into her book! She tells me she wants to be a singer when she grows up, but I know her real aptitude is for writing and illustrating. I'm trying to let her discover that for herself.

Tonight my son's fiancee showed me her wedding gown. I'd post pics here (I sketched it and also took photos) but I'm supposed to keep it a secret from him. I won't jinx their happy life, so I'll just say this: It's beautiful. So is she.

My oldest daughter is having a baby in Sept/October, and we've found out it's a girl. Her 5-year-old son is nonchalant. He was hoping for both a boy and a girl, both -- so they could play with each other and leave him alone.
He has a funny sense of humor. He told his teacher he wanted to change his name to Tylenol. He doesn't even know what Tylenol is. I guess he just likes how it sounds.

My middle daughter is home from college. It's fun having her around. She heads back in a month for summer classes. She's hoping to buy an old car, soon, so I don't have to keep driving her. If you have a lead on a cheap car, let me know.

For Mother's Day two of my kids (the middle ones) wrote long letters that made me cry. (Joy, not pain) And the youngest wrote a lovely song which she sang and played many times on her cornet for me. She also gave me a long list of coupons (backrub, clean house, mom/daughter time, all sorts of goodies!). And she made me a beaded bracelet. My oldest bought a game for us all to play on Family Night, and she
brought a balloon that plays You Are My Sunshine (amazing what balloons can do, nowadays). That was our song back when she was 2. My son gave me a new digital camera -- I accidentally broke the LCD screen on my fancy camera last month, to my great distress. My future daughter-in-law gave me a necklace. They all took me out to dinner -- Chinese, our favorite.
I am sure I have the best kids in the world, but I'll try not to brag, because it will only make you want to borrow them, and I like having them here.

Author Stuff:
I've done some fun school visits this spring. Elms Road Elementary in Swartz Creek, near Flint, sold 155 copies of Ellie McDoodle! Amazing!! After signing, my hand hurt for a week.

My work-in-progress is officially submitted and looking for a home. It's hard to type with fingers crossed.

My critique group writer friends and I have begun a group blog,
here. Most of them have separate blogs also, and they're very entertaining.

More later. Off to bed...