Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Edie Hemingway's Literary Hope for 2009

I have begun the year 2009 with a number of resolutions, dreams, hopes, and a few fears.  The state of the economy has hit hard in my home, as my husband has been without a job for over two months now.  Many in our nation face these same dismal economic prospects, but I can't help but feel that my hopes for 2009, both on a national and personal level, outweigh my fears.

In September my first "solo" middle-grade novel, Road to Tater Hill, will be released by Delacorte Press, and I am anxiously awaiting the final product.  My personal road to Tater Hill (an actual mountain in western North Carolina) has been a long and winding one, starting as far back as the early 1960s with an autobiographical event.  Years later, I chose to write about the premature birth and death of my baby sister as a childhood incident that had a strong emotional impact on my life.  This memoir eventually evolved into the fictional story of 11-year-old Annie Winters, who, grief-stricken after the death of her baby sister, finds comfort holding an oblong stone she calls her "rock baby" and in the friendship of a neighbor boy and a reclusive mountain woman with a devastating secret.

An unexpected bonus in this winding road has been my involvement with the Class of 2K9, a group of 22 middle-grade and young adult authors whose debut novels will be released throughout 2009.  Like our sister classes of 2K7 and 2K8, we have banded together as a means of promoting our books more effectively nationwide and across Canada.  There is strength in numbers.  But through our frequent correspondence in the process of setting up our website and planning our seasonal launches, we have also cheered each other's successes, empathized with setbacks and more revisions, learned intriguing facts about our individual lives, and, above all, become fast friends in more than just our literary ventures.  We are reading each other's ARCs in order to be better able to promote each and every book and are planning a number of panel discussions and regional group events.  Please support our endeavor by visiting our website at http://www.classof2k9.com and asking for our books at your local independent bookstores and libraries.  Our first releases for 2009 are Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams, and My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald.

Another gem that I cannot fail to mention is my participation in this One Potato...Ten blog and the growing friendship with my fellow "potatoes"--authors and illustrators--each with something valuable to say about the writing life.  I have learned so much from you already.

So, my literary hopes for 2009 include all of my new-found fellow authors, my longtime writer friends, and all who write, illustrate, edit, publish, read, sell, and love books for children and young adults.  May this year be rich in possibilities and dreams-come-true!


Papas calientes: 2009 Resolutions from Whidbey Island

Caballero de Paris

2009 Resolutions

#1 My editor has to have Alicia Alonso's manuscript by the end of January. So after the residency at Whidbey Island MFA, I need to concentrate, concentrate, concentrate.

#2 I promised my editor to research Salvador Dali and la Virgen de Guadalupe.

#3 I will write a book on the Gentleman of Paris.

#4 I will go to the ALA summer conference.

#5 I will speak about my new book, Diego: Bigger Than Life.

#6 I will help my students as much as my mentors helped me.

#7 I will blog every other Thursday.

#8 I will update my website or design a new one.

#9 I will add my book covers to Facebook.

#10 I will enjoy my writing journey and learn when walking through every path.


Chasing Dreams

Creating books for children is my dream. Then why do I so often find ways to avoid doing what I most want to do? Even when I have an entire afternoon free, I often find it more imperative to wash the dishes or clip my toenails rather than work on my current manuscript.

As I enter the new year, here are ten reminders to myself as I continue pursuing my passion:

#1 Remember that creating books for children is my choice, not a chore. No one is making me do this; it's how I'm choosing to spend my time.

#2 Acknowledge that dreams are seldom realized without hard work.

#3 Be inspired by fellow writers who are just as busy (often busier) than I am yet still find time to write.

#4 Honor my own pace and process, even if it is slower than I would like (you are right, Christy, sometimes slow and steady does win the race!).

#5 Stretch myself by taking creative risks, trying new styles and genres, and attempting projects that I fear might be beyond my capabilities.

#6 Have fun. If I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, then why have I chosen this path?

#7 Take time to read (and don't feel guilty for doing so).

#8 Celebrate my accomplishments, even the small ones (revising a chapter, revising a sentence).

#9 Forgive myself for not being as hardworking/creative/productive as I would like.

#10 Remember how very lucky I am to be able to pursue my dream career.

Here's to a new year and all the opportunities to achieve our dreams!


No stopping

Making resolutions is about introspection and hope. I look at my life. I see behaviors that are not helpful and resolve to change them. If I don’t have this hope as I live each new day, why not just lie down now, roll over and call it quits?

Every year I treat myself to a Japanese calendar. I’m particularly drawn to its format, narrow and deep with sumi painting and a proverb in calligraphy for each month. Last year when I turned to February I read, “Don’t be afraid of going slow, just be afraid of stopping.” It’s appropriate that this encouragement appeared when the zeal of early January resolutions was beginning to flag.

Aesop gave us a wonderful reminder in The Tortoise and the Hare, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I’m definitely a tortoise in my pace. Decades have passed since I decided at age ten to become an author-illustrator. This year, 2009, I win a dream-come-true with the fall publication of my first picture book as both author and illustrator, The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan (Lee & Low).

I am bursting with many more writing ideas and often eager to run like a hare, but I have responsibilities (earning a living, daily chores, and a family). Life slows me down. There is a popular myth that REAL writers and artists have an all-consuming passionate relationship with their work leaving no room for anything else. Do we want to believe that balance and creative expression are incompatible? I can’t/don’t choose to eliminate aspects of my life that interrupt my creative time. It all means that I must accept a slower pace. This year I resolve to plod on, do what I can, keep my eyes on the goal and continue moving.


new year, new issues

It seems like every year I wake up January 1, ready to change my unorganized ways. And sometimes, for the first week or so, I actually succeed before slipping back into old habits. So then I declare the matter over and done. But this year I hope to do it differently. Yes, I already had big plans of writing on my WIP at least 1500 words a day. I already blew that. But rather than declare the entire year a loss before it's even a week old, I'm revising my plan.
Yes, I would like to climb back on the wagon and stay there, but that is unrealistic in my world. I will have good days and bad days, like every other year. I will have 1500 word days and 3000 word days and many, many 0 word days. But, eventually, they all add up.
So that's my resolution. To accept the good writing days, but also accept the bad. Because they are all part of the writing process.