Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


How Do I Write?

BIC= But in Chair:

I write one word then another then another until I have a sentence.
I write a sentence and then another then another until I have a paragraph.
I write one paragraph then another then another until I have a page.
I write a page then another then another until I have a chapter.
I write a chapter then another then another until I have a book.
But notice that I start with a word.
If I don't put that word down, I won't have a book.

Then the editor says that I have to make the book shorter. :(

I delete one word then another then another.
I delete one sentence then another then another.
I delete a paragraph then another then another.
I delete a page then another then another.
I delete a chapter then another then another.
Do I end up with a book?
Yes, I end up with a better book.


The Luddite's Dilemma

In Christy's last blog entry she expressed her frustration with all the technological distractions that tempt us from doing the work we want to do. Boy, can I relate!

I try to avoid checking my email until I've finished my quota of writing for the day, but often I'm lured into going online by noon, "just for a break." Before I know it, an hour or two has passed and all I've done is weeded through the daily spam, viewed the latest photos of my great niece, and sent an email to my sister who I'll be seeing face to face in a couple of days.

So far I've resisted joining Facebook, though other authors have told me they've found it a good marketing tool. But do I really need another excuse to keep me from following my dream: creating children's books? What's the good of marketing if I'm not writing?

When is it wise to embrace technology and when is it wise to say no? I don't own a cell phone (do I really need to be connected to the rest of the world when I'm out for a walk around the lake?). Then again, when I see all the cool things the new I-phones can do, I wonder if I'm missing out on all the fun. I haven't turned on my television in months, but at times I feel like I'm clueless as to what the rest of the world is talking about (just who are all those people like Jen and Jon and Brad on the cover of People who keep getting married and divorced?). I wasn't even sure what a Wii was until a librarian explained it to me last month (it seems the senior citizens at her rural library love to go Wii bowling).

If you haven't read M.T. Anderson's Feed, by all means do. It's a gripping YA novel about a future where people choose to have computer transmitters implanted in their brains. The young people who have this operation become pawns for every mega-corporation's advertising department. The few who resist are ostracized by the rest of society. It's all too frighteningly believable.

Am I smart to keep my life simple, or am I simply a Luddite (I had to look up that word on my Internet dictionary because I couldn't find it in my paper one). Do I need more self discipline to stay focused (in the process of writing this blog entry, I ended up watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog...don't ask me how I got there), or do I need to be more adventuresome and welcoming to new technology?

How do I find the right balance. Frankly, I don't know.


Two Hats, Two Minds

Writing and illustrating necessitates seclusion. I have interactions with family and friends, the occasional outing, but mostly I am alone. As I step into the author role for a first time with a September publication, I feel nervous about taking on a public persona. Must I toot my own horn, schmooze, and pretend I’m an extrovert? Nowadays this is required for the success of a book. I have so much to learn! Presumably I will need to set up as many signing and presenting events as possible. So, how will I get anything done in the studio if I am not there?

Lately I worry about adult ADHD. My whole life I’ve taken pride in my ability to multi-task, to bear down and focus as needed . . . but now, not so much. What has changed?

An illustrator friend sent me an invitation to join Facebook last summer. After hearing lots of buzz about the importance of social networking, this seemed a handy way to reach out of my studio while remaining in my studio. However, between the bouncing icons and sounds alerting me that I have new e-mail, instant messaging, and now Facebook interactions, I am constantly interrupted in my work. So far I am resisting Twitter. Communication just gets faster and faster, more and more invasive. Tweet, tweet!

Some recommend avoiding e-mail and Facebook while working, but since I live on the west coast and deal with publishers on the east coast I feel compelled to begin my day by signing on and addressing communications. I avoid Facebook, but when an e-mail notification alerts me that someone has made a comment, I am lured to Facebook despite my best intentions. My plans for quiet writing time are frequently derailed. Yoo hoo, discipline, where are you? I have to fight my tendency to respond immediately to everyone else’s demands.

I would love to hear from other people about how they manage tension and balance, their interior life as creator and subsequently, the exterior life when the work is delivered.



As a writer, and a pseudo-pessimist, I tend to focus on the challenges of the craft most of the time. At this time, we have a few fellow potatoes going through some life challenges, which makes me realize writing is just writing, not life, and I need to focus on the blessings in my work too. Here's a short list of some recent blessings related to my writing:

1. I just got a great invitation to be part of a summer author series at a university in Arkansas. So I'll be heading down there in July for a couple days, all expenses paid.

2. My picture book Babu's Song is in the second grade language textbook from McGraw Hill, and I received some fan mail last week from a second grade class in Bellevue, WA. Always fun.

3. Last week at BEA, I was a guest of Brilliance Audio at the Author Breakfast ( with Julie Andrews, very cool! I tried not to break into song.) along with my wonderful agent Scott. We don't get the chance to meet in person very much, and it was wonderful to sit between him and the remarkable Tim Ditlow, discussing my next novel The Gardener, which is, like The Compound, with Feiwel and Friends and Brilliance Audio.

4. Later, I got the chance to meet many of the people at Feiwel and Friends during the Macmillan dessert party at Dylan's Candy Bar. How fun to hear people have such great things to say about The Compound. I'd met my editor Liz a few times before, since she was also my editor for Elizabeti's Doll a decade ago, but we'd never had a picture taken. ( She is also an editor of John Coy's, a fellow potato.)

5. Today I'm having a bookcase installed. Which means I finally get to unpack all my books. And I will be ready when the 75 pounds of books I shipped home from BEA arrive via UPS. Yes, much to be thankful for all in all...