W & P Q #6, and no, I didn’t know my voice could go that high

Random fact: I sing alto. If I have a cold, my voice goes even deeper, pitching down into Lauren Bacall range. But apparently, under the right circumstances, my voice climbs the octaves until I sound like a very small mouse or someone who has spent too much time around helium balloons.

The “right circumstances” being a phone call from those loverly, sweet, blessed people who sat on The Margaret A. Edwards Award committee for the American Library Association,. That’s right; I sounded like Mickey Mouse when I received “The Call.”

Want proof? Watch this adorable video filled with clips of lots of us who received The Call, including Jackie Woodson, Neil Gaiman, Kathi Appelt, Melina Marchetta, and Beth Krommes. I squeak briefly at the 1-minute point, then give a rambling extenda-squeak (showing no vocabulary depth whatsoever) at about the 3-minute mark. I had no idea my voice went up that high. I must say, it’s very fun to be able to relive the moment with this video. Thank you, AGAIN, ALA!

Speaking of Margaret A. Edwards, you might want to read this wonderful story about the legacy left to the readers of Baltimore by one of Ms. Edwards’ protégés. Inspiring!

You wrote: Lately I’ve been going crazy with literature directed at authors (Like guides to the markets, writers’ monthly publications, etc.) and I find them very helpful, but I’m never sure if the advice I’m getting is any good. Were there any guides or books that specifically helped you become a better author? Or perhaps a particular strain of advice?

When I started writing I was a faithful reader of Writer’s Digest magazine. I still have a number of article about craft that I cut out of it filed away. Note to self: must consult these again! I read every book I could about the process of writing and publishing. I also read many biographies of writers, hoping to glean hints about their process.

I mentioned Harold Underdown’s book earlier this week. It wasn’t published when I was starting out, but I sure wish it had been. The other two books about writing I recommend are Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott and On Writing, by Stephen King. I also found the creativity exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way useful.

Best advice? It’s OK to revise over and over again to make your book as good as possible.
Second best advice? Don’t worry about trends.

The frozen waterfall off the back porch finally came down, but it slid off so slowly I didn’t notice. Sort of like a wave kissing the shore.



I’m not sure how to explain this video. Um….

It’s a bit of pre-Newbery/Caldecott dinner madness combined with Project Runway reactions. So it’s kind of silly and fun and you might get a charge out of watching it. The masterminds behind the piece are Maria van Lieshout, Jim Averback, and Betsy Bird helped, too.

They also posted longer bits from their interviews with people like Ambassador Scieszka, Mo Willems, Roger Sutton, Linda Sue, Park, Betsy Bird, John Green, Yuyi Morales, Matt Faulkner (who illustrated THANK YOU SARAH, and INDEPENDENT DAMES), Brian Kenney, Don Wood, Nathan Hale, Sid Fleischman, Ellen Hopkins, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Susan Kusel and Jen Robinson, Samantha McFerrin, and Mark von Bargen. Very, very fun! Thank you Maria and Jim and Betsy!

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: silly.

Today’s prompt: Write a picture book. You have 16 two-page spreads and 500 words in which to tell a story. You need a character, a conflict, rising tension and resolution. Oh, and a beginning, middle, and end. The character needs to solve her own problem. Don’t spend much time describing how things look – the art will take care of that. Focus on action and dialog. Hint: verbs are your friend today.

Do not despair if it takes longer than 15 minutes to do this. My picture books take months and months. But you can get started today!


ALA Photos, Round Three and A Hero

We’ll start tonight’s picture show with the gorgeous smiles of Kevin Lewis and Holly Black.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Yes, he’s Holly’s editor, too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic If you’re a teacher or librarian, you want to know the good people of TeachingBooks.net. TeachingBooks ” is a time-saving portal to thousands of online resources you can use to explore children’s and young adult books and their authors.” It has loads of terrific material about authors and their books. I particularly adore the Author Name Pronunciation Guide.

But the absolute highlight of the conference was an unexpected, serendipitous meeting with an author whose books are among my very favorites. As I walked on the conference floor, the loud speaker announced that this Incredible Author was about to give a reading from her new book. I sprinted, sending librarians and publicists scattering like bowling pins. (I do apologize for an injury or loss of dignity I may have caused.)

The new book?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Quakeland (for grown-ups, this time).

That’s right folks, I met Francesca Lia Block!

ALA Photos, Round Two & Historical Trivia

Before I start with the photos, I want to make sure that you know that on today, JULY 2ND!, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was actually signed.

John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, the next day, saying “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

So why do we wait until the 4th to celebrate? There was a little editing done, and the final, final version was completed on the 4th. Writers everywhere will understand.

Onto the second round of photos from ALA. We’ll start with this glam shot:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Me and my Simon & Schuster editor, Kevin Lewis. I do all my historical books with him.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Teri Lesesne professornana taking a picture of me taking a picture of her, while Ruth Cox Clark has a good laugh about it. Teri posted her version of the shot.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I ran into Sandra Payne, YA Librarian Goddess of New York City, outside the convention center.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Came across Jay Asher, who did not write the book he’s holding. He wrote 13 Reason Why… but!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic He is actually IN the mermaid book, making a rather fetching mermaid. This explains why Jay’s blog is called Disco Mermaids.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Tanya Lee Stone and I got VERY LOST trying to find the blogger party.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic While we were lost (for what seemed like hours) we came across this sign by the elevator. Our favorite line: “Fire alarm sounds like: Whoop Whoop.”

We eventually made it to the party which was loads of fun. My pictures didn’t turn out so good, but Betsy Bird has a lot of it on her YouTube video. If you look carefully, you’ll see my new favorite shoes, too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I was honored to meet Nikki Grimes at the S&S booth. Be sure to look for her new book, Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope when it comes out next month.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I attended an illustrator’s luncheon and listened to incredible artists discuss their work. Along with this fellow, my illustrator, Matt Faulkner, I heard Kadir Nelson, David Small, Robin Preiss Glasser, Stephen T. Johnson, G. Brian Karas, and Brian Floca. Amazing.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic At the Simon & Schuster party, I had a great time scheming with M.T. Anderson as we planned an expose that will detail the warped details of our childhoods that led us to write books about epidemics and Colonial-era slavery. Half of the world thinks that were siblings. We might as well be. Here is M.T. talking to Holly Black, with Mr. YALSA, Ed Spicer, in the background.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic We all sang “Happy Birthday” to Walter the Giant Storyteller.

The Newbery/Caldecott speeches were unbelievably good. Astoundingly good. So good, the two winners should get another medal.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicAt the banquet, I sat at the table with Neal Shusterman (you want to read Unwind) and his two sons.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Before all the speech-excellence, I met Cynthia Kadohata.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And Ashley Bryan, who made me gush and say silly things because I admire him so much.

On that fangirly note, I’ll wrap it up. I’ll post a few more photos tomorrow, including the author-highlight of the conference for me. I hope to make a short video over the weekend.

I’ve done my 15 minutes (well, two hours) of writing. Have you?