Sunday, February 27, 2005

Why I write books -- a seven year old perspective.

"Mom, I want to go to Hawaii!" J4 said.
"I want to go too," I said.
"I want to buy Hawaiian shirts and bring them back to people," J4 said.
"I want to sleep on the beach," I said, "and show you burning hot lava."
"You, Dad, me, J1, J2, J3 could all go," J4 said.
"We are not going to Hawaii," I said. "It's too expensive."
"But I actually want to go to Hawaii," J4 said. "I have never been there."
"But we can't afford it," I said.
"I just want to go to Hawaii!" J4 said.
"We don't have the money," I said.
"I mean later, when we have the money," J4 said.
"Where will we get the money?" I asked.
"Save your dollars," J4 said. "Is it called dollars or cents?"
"Dollars," I said. J4 is very picky about the technical details.
"When you get a 100 dollars, save it!" J4 said. Very good advice, yeah for the parent module.
"Who will give me 100 dollars ?" I asked.
"The library will give you a thousand dollars!" J4 replied.
"Libraries loan books not money," I said.
"How have you gotten money before?" J4 asked.
"I've sold books," I said.
"Do that again," J4 said. "Save the money, and then we can go to Hawaii."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Process

I like for my work to get away from me. To find a life of its own. When someone reads my words and says, "Ah, ha," and then gets something I never intended from what I wrote, I feel that I am finding success. My writing is more than I am. It's saying more than I can say. I don't specifically know how this happens, but I do know it happens in the process. Day after day, year after year, word after word, and the hidden meanings rush in and wrap around my stories. I sit back and laugh. My work has gotten away! What will happen now?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

My query letter guru

Read a great query letter article at It's an article by Roger Allen MacBride. I laughed so hard, I spit. I really think the store-brand of aluminum foil makes me safer from alien abduction. That should stop those rejection letters!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

No Time For Losing

Yesterday was a great working day! I was able to churn out 1000 words of my new novel, Prophet. I brought another novel through a full revision. That book is feeling very together.

I love the process of writing, cutting into the rough craziness of a first draft. The form is so free. It feels like processing clay into something you can work with.

I also love most of the revision process, sans grammar. Layering in depth by word choice is a favored job. Adding a phrase that just showcases my protagonist, facets my antagonist, strengthens the plot, reveals my theme -- I feel like I've done something cool like painted the Sistine Chapel or something. I'm putting the final touches on a work of art. The work is bigger than me. I've said more than I can know. Very cool.

"No time for losing, we are champions of world." It's that rush you feel after a great accomplishment.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fox in Sox, Sir.

I read Fox in Sox to my son the night before last.

He said, "We have a lot of Dr. Seuss books."

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." I knew these words before I knew much. It's the same for my kids.

I want to publish humorous picture books. I've even written a rhyming one. I just can't make the project fly. I've been working on it for ten years with no luck. Many editors have commented on the humor of my picture book but feel that the rhyme is uneven. I've done everything I know to make the rhyme work. It's not working. I'm going to a conference with Janet Wong in a week or so. She worked with poetry teacher icon, Myra Cohn Livingston, and is a wonderful poet. Maybe something will wear off and I will be able to close this chapter in my picture book writing. I do feel I have something special going in this story.

"But my tongue is numb, Sir."

Sunday, February 20, 2005


My website is less lame, but I have managed to avoid my stories all day long.
I wonder if I am afraid or just discouraged.

At the NY SCBWI Winter Conference, Jerry Spinelli mentioned that it might be a good idea to write 100 memories that have stuck with you over time. They must be something that will move you emotionally. I'm going to write that today, because I have lost heart for other things.

I'm glad tommorow is another day with no mistakes in it.


I don't wholly understand the writing business. It makes farming look like 'flash in the pan', quick work. I have 3 queries that have been out for more than a year each. I have a picture book that has been out for more than a year. I gave an exclusive to an agent for a month on a book, but it's been two months, and I haven't heard back. She did let me know in early February that she is still looking at my book. Still I don't like the selling piece of the writing business. I'm not a great salesman. I always feel uncomfortable, awkward, and just basically horrible at it. I haven't made a major submission since December. I've been writing a series of educational books, haven't had time for much else. I wish I had a magic wand that would show me the path I should take.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Follow the white rabbit.

I believe that procrastination is a fine art. It must be studied carefully to be wholly understood. It takes hours to perfect procrastination. I think blogging must be one of the tools that I have lacked in my perfection of my craft. With blogging, I can stop working. I can follow every white rabbit I want to.

On writing, going to submit to the Highlights contest again. This is the 10th time. I have lost soundly every time for 10 years. I anticipate losing again. Still I like my story.

Well, off to more profitable use of my time.

Follow the yellow brick road.

That seems like as good a place to start as any. I'm blogging. Honestly I've been doing this my whole life. I've been using the outmoded technology of paper and pen. It's time to step into the new millennium. I've been writing for children for about 10 years. I'm finally going to be published. My first books are coming out next month. I hear from a rather reputable source (big name author) that writing basal readers is really lame, alas I have written 2. I don't know -- it feels good to me. I'm currently taking a breather from my next set of basal readers. Does anyone out there have a clue what basal means? I sold all nine of these books the day I learned that I was cancer free. That was the day before Christmas. It was a very wonderful moment.

Hmm. I keep sending out manuscripts and hoping.

Favorite quotes:

There was never much hope, only a fool's hope. (Tolkien)
I can still hop. (Katherine Paterson)

Lots to say. Will meander through it all over time.