Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Is today Firday?

It is not that I forget to blog on Thursdays but that I forget what day it is. Besides, I caught that cold that lingers, making my mind foggy.

I am blogging today, Friday, to give two thumbs up to three organizations:

Oregon Literary Arts:

It's Arts & Lectures series is bringing to Portland Edwidge Danticat (April 22) and Isabel Allende (May 11). I am hoping to be able to interview Allende so I can write a book about her.

Nothing better than sitting at a bus and reading poetry from the well-known to students. This Literary Arts program is called Poetry in Motion.

My biographies of César Chávez and Diego Rivera have been finalists of Oregon Book awards. If you are a finalist, you go on tour in Oregon to talk about your books. This year I went to the Oregon Coast.

I have applied to Literary Arts' Fellowship many times. I had no luck, until this year. The money will allow me to go to Málaga, Barcelona, and Paris to research Picasso.

But to me the best program of Literary Arts is Writers in the Schools. It places writers in high schools for students write. At the end of the year the students read their work at a cafe and some get published in an anthology. Actually, if their works get published they get to read it in places such as Powell's City of Books.

For more information visit: http://www.literary-arts.org/

Whidbey Island MFA Program:

This is a low-residency program, meaning that you go to Whidbey Island,Washington for ten days in August and ten days in January and the rest of the semester is online. The program teaches most genres. Students are required to take courses outside of their genre. For a writer of books for children this is ideal because poetry, short-fiction, and non-fiction are important in our field. I actually sat in a poetry craft class taught by Carolyn Wright, and boy, did I learn!

Each afternoon during the residencies we have famous authors speak. Virginia Euwer Wolff will be one of them in August.

This program is so nurturing that its alumni can't stay away. The faculty is planning a course on teaching writing just for them.

For more information visit: www.writeonwhidbey.org/mfa

Multnomah County Library:

It's 13th Annual Children's Author Lecture is bringing us Jane Yolen on April 12.

For more information visit: www.multcolib.org/kids/lecture


1 + 1 =5...really!

What a happy day it was last week when I found a package on my front porch containing a hardcover copy of my next book
1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions
. And what a long wait it has been!

It was over seven years ago when I began to brainstorm all the different sums you could get when you added 1 + 1:

1 set of triplets + 1 set of twins = 5 babies
1 octopus + 1 starfish = 13 arms
1 decade + 1 century = 110 years

It was a fun puzzle (and I love puzzles), but I didn't know what to do with the ideas, so I let them sit. And they sat in my legal pad for years, until I happened to stumble upon them again. They still held my interest so I decided to put them into a book dummy. I knew illustrations would be important in conveying the concept, so I created a fully illustrated black and white dummy which I sent to several publishers.

I was pleased as punch when Meredith Mundy at Sterling sent me an email saying she was very interested in the story. Although she chose Brenda Sexton (who did a beautiful job!) to be the illustrator, I did have a lot of input into the final illustrations, the most I've ever had for any of my books. And after a few more years of waiting, an actual book appeared at my house.

The waiting isn't entirely over yet; the books won't appear on bookshelves until this summer, but for now, 1 long stretch of waiting + 1 small package= 1 very happy author!


Don't whine

…well, maybe just a little. Busy week. I’m preparing a keynote address, a breakout workshop, critiquing manuscripts, and doing double-time on existing projects before leaving the studio for several days. The great thing is that I get to meet our own Edie (who is busy organizing the Maryland SCBWI conference as I write). I'm making an attempt at time management, so instead of a thoughtful blog-post, I will let others speak.

Several authors, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, share their personal dos and don’ts.

Here are a few snippets to entice you:

Michael Morpurgo
It is the gestation time which counts.

Andrew Motion
Think big and stay particular.

Joyce Carol Oates
Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

Al Kennedy
Remember you love writing. It wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.
Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.

Margaret Atwood
Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.