Saturday, September 25, 2010

Laughable Author Photos!

OMG!!! I stumbled across the funniest blog post I've seen in months. posted a bunch of hackneyed author poses. It seems that authors tend to do the "Thinkers Pose" with a hand propping up their chins (hiding saggy necks?), or pose at their writing desks, with pithy gazes, or--yick--pose with a smelly cigarette dangling from their lips. Do you have an author's photo on your jacketflap?
If so, what photo crime are you guilty of?
I'm a genius and I know it
Deep, tortured thinker
My studio is way cooler than yours
I'm a mess and that's awesome
Pretty Polly
Downer Debbie
Arrogant Adam
Keep scrolling down to see every category and get your daily belly laugh!

writing community

I went to an event for writers last week - a chance to chat and mingle with other children's/YA lit writers, all of us at varying stages of our careers/projects, etc. It was really nice to talk to other writers to feel like I'm not alone in this crazy publishing endeavor. In fact, it made me think of what I advice I would give to writers just starting out - what advice I would give to myself years ago. Here are a few thoughts:

* Join a group like SCBWI, especially a regional chapter. Attend conferences.
* Connect with other writers online. Read blogs, friend people on facebook, follow them on twitter.
* is another good resource - writers swear by the message boards, which offer a wealth of information about writing.
* Start a critique group. Workshop your writing.
* Other places to find readers:,

Mind you, I'm still struggling with putting myself "out there" in this way. It's difficult to keep up with all of the online stuff. But I can really see the value of it now. Writers need each other for encouragement, and for help promoting each other's work, and spreading the word about new books, in general. Even if you're just starting to write, that doesn't make it too early to become a part of the community. And if you do - look for me!

And if you're a teenager, there are a bunch of publications that accept ONLY submissions from teens. I created a list of them on my blog:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

monster in the box

Hi all - sorry for the long hiatus. My day job has conspired to keep me away from all things extracurricular this summer, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things!

That said, I'm contending with a different kind of monster at the moment - the monster of my current draft. I've been away from this project for a while now, and it's time that we meet again. It's time that I print out my novel-in-progress and sit down with a red pen and start diligently making notes about what I should fix and rework. But wait - I have to do laundry. And buy groceries. And maybe this evening I'll bake a batch of cookies for no apparent reason...Yeah, I think you get the picture. There are some real life issues that keep me away from this book (My full time job for one, plus a distracting little book entitled Mockingjay) but that doesn't entirely solve the issue. Were all things to miraculously disappear from my schedule and I was packed off to some writer's retreat in a sufficiently pretty woodland region with nothing to distract me - well, I would be thrilled, but I think I would also be terrified of what I would find on the printed page. The words that are trying - and failing - to evoke what I see in my head.

So, I think I'll give myself a deadline: one week to get my act together, get back to blogging regularly (mea culpa) and then get on with it. And now I've made this statement public so I'll have to stick to it. Or else bake more cookies. It's really a toss up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Visiting an old friend: A Wrinkle in Time.

I've been rereading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, reacquainting myself with the awesomeness of this book. L'Engle does so many things in those pages that must have been pretty unusual in her day. Some of them are STILL unusual. For one, her heroine isn't particularly attractive, though she is saved by having "dreamboat eyes." Otherwise she has unruly mousy hair and garish braces on her teeth. Even better, she is clumsy, recalcitrant, unfriendly, and disliked. Remember, this was written when people were watching almost nothing but "model families" on TV. Imperfection was most often hidden away, but L'Engle celebrates it, showing how Meg's stubbornness is the very thing that is most needed to save her father, who is being kept imprisoned on a distant planet by an evil entity.

When I was a kid I must have read this book about ten times. I read all kinds of books all the time, but this was the one that kept me coming back. There's something comforting about Meg's family life, a nice escape when my own family life seemed less than wonderful. I was a kid who often felt awkward and unsettled, like I didn't fit anywhere, like I could do nothing right, so to see a heroine like Meg in a book made me feel so much better about being me. What a gift L'Engle had! She wrote thrilling, imaginative stories that were somehow also enormously reassuring.

L'Engle died a few years ago at a ripe old age, but I still think about her from time to time. She's not the only reason, but she's a big reason why I write for kids. I don't know how successful I am, but I always try to write books that will make kids feel at home, and will also make them feel better about being the gloriously imperfect people they are. Thanks, Madeleine, for being such a good writing teacher. And thanks, A Wrinkle in Time, for being such a good friend.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Yay! A Girl's Best Friend Debuts Today

Today is more than the first day of September, it’s the debut of A Girl’s Best Friend the book I wrote for the fabulous, new Innerstar University series from American Girl. You’ve heard of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” tales, where you interact with the story, and have a say in where you venture off to. Traditionally, most were adventure stories aimed at boys, where it was a matter of creeping into the snake-infested cave, or choosing to stay on the path, only to be confronted with a snarling Grizzly.

A Girl’s Best Friend is more about friends and school and figuring out what it is to be really loyal. All, of this, with a scoop of pure fun… and a snaggle of puppies—cuddly, drooly and dashing off faster than you could ever catch them.

Innerstar University has an online gaming aspect too. There are more than twenty endings, which was a challenge to write—like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle. Some of the endings go online, where the party continues!

Don’t take my word for it, dear readers, explore for yourself.

I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival, in the vendor section (because we signed up too late to be in the author group *grumble, grumble* ), on Sunday, September 12th, so come on down and say hi, and check out A Girl’s Best Friend, while you’re there.

How might I bore you today?

Too much time has passed since my last blog post, and that's because I have nothing interesting to say. So, for your edification, here is a list of complaints:

1. My cup of green tea turned out disappointingly weak.
2. I'm almost out of olives.
3. I forgot to buy avocados at the supermarket Monday, and now all our sandwiches are dull.
4. I'm not exactly sure how crazy to make my protagonist.
5. I would love to be writing outside, but CURSE MY FAIR SKIN!!!
6. I wish I could write like Margaret Atwood. 
7. I dug up all our carrots yesterday and spent the afternoon freezing them. Now, for the next six months, I have to concoct soups and stews that will require frozen carrots.
8. When I turn to the left, my neck pops. I consider this to be a harbinger of my eventual desiccation and demise. This is probably why I am a writer.
9. I had not read Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire until last night. It was good. This isn't really a complaint. I just needed the filler.
10. I have not met my page quota yet today. I would give you more of this. I know you're sitting on the edge of your seat. But I have to go.