Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Fall already slipping away...

It seems only days ago that fall was just on the horizon, and now suddenly we're into October!

In early September, I made a weeklong trip to North Carolina for three school visits and a talk in an Appalachian State University children's lit class. Last Monday night, I participated in a panel discussion on The Art of Children's Literature following the screening of the award-winning documentary film, "Library of the Early Mind" as part of Hood College's annual Colloquium. And what an amazing film it was! This past week I've also been a "visiting" author for an online ALSC course entitled "Connecting With Tween Readers." The students are twenty-one librarians from across the country.

Unfortunately two school visits have been cancelled, due to lack of funding--a sad result of today's economy. I have another coming up in a few weeks and am keeping my fingers crossed it isn't cancelled.

In my other life as a regional advisor for the MD/DE/WV region of SCBWI, I've been busy planning a tri-regional conference to be held in Gettysburg, along with the two Pennsylvania regions over the weekend of Nov. 11-13. We have an amazing line-up of speakers, including Patricia MacLachlan, Jim Murphy, and E.B. Lewis, as well as a number of editors, agents, and an art director. If you're interested in details, here's a link to the conference.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention our family celebration of my father's 90th birthday on September 24th. Seventeen of us gathered at a large house on the salt marshes of Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

I do try to squeeze in writing time around my busy schedule, as well as some relaxing evenings around the campfire.


Pumpkins and Tigers and Ghosts, Oh My!

Like the other Potatoes, I am having a busy fall.

The visiting author season has started and I've already been to several schools, with plenty more scheduled throughout month.

This past week I've been working on some final tweaks to a new picture book that is scheduled to come out in the fall of 2012 from Chronicle, IT'S A TIGER! Jeremy Tankard who creates wonderful images with the computer will be the illustrator.

I've got several more book signings this month to celebrate my latest picture book, THE HAUNTED HAMBURGER AND OTHER GHOSTLY STORIES.

The Children's Theatre in Minneapolis will be presenting The Wizard of Oz and I'll be leading a book discussion after one of the performances.

Of course October means pumpkin carving. I carved my first pumpkin of the year last month at the Northwoods Children's Book Conference in Hayward, WI. More pumpkin carving events are slated for the end of the month.

And I am frustrated that I can't find the time to work on a new picture book that I am both writing and illustrating, ART ATTACK. Deadlines are approaching and I'm starting to panic. I haven't scheduled any school visits for November or December, and having some long stretches of time to work on this book sounds very welcome.

And though I feel overwhelmed, I am also grateful to have so many interesting projects to keep me busy. But the beautiful autumn weather we've been having makes it difficult to stay inside and work on them!


I'm just an URL who can't say no . . .

This fall I'm finishing up illustrations and design for two books soon to be published: Our School Garden! (Readers to Eaters, spring 2012); and The Forgiveness Garden (Fiewel & Friends, fall 2012). I've been in wait-wait mode for almost a year to get going on my next author/illustrator project with Lee & Low, Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building. I'm eager to have this book published, so I hope to hear from my editor soon. I have a few design and art direction projects and a few upcoming author visits, but I need to drum up lots more of everything.

I have no shortage of ideas for stories, illustrations, craft books, classes, presentations, consulting, commissions, curriculum development, and more. However, when I go to pitch my ideas I need a stronger web presence to back me up and showcase my work. Life=URL.

I designed my site years ago, so it is outdated and due for an overhaul. The last couple of weeks I've been refreshing my knowledge of Adobe Dreamweaver, preparing photos and content, creating new template designs, reading forums on specific html coding, and obsessing for way too long about Spry collapsible menus (comparative samples of collapsed and expanded menus shown below). I live in the heart of Silicon Valley where designers must be able to tackle more than print design. I will not be put out to pasture quite yet. I hope to share my revamped site in the next month or so. It's turning out to be an enormous amount of work.

Meanwhile I'm reading about flash fiction, creative non-fiction, short stories, and poetry, while simultaneously trying to write something longer. Go figure.


A Full Fall

I was hoping that once school started for my college sophomore and high school senior things would quiet down for me. Alas, a peaceful autumn was not to be. The past few weeks have been a scramble as:

1. My new novel The Raft went to copy edits, so I had to review those quickly and make any last changes I wanted before the ARC's went to print. I'm so excited that it is just about "done", always a moment to celebrate. The book is due in June, and I got a peek at the cover. I'll show as soon as I'm allowed, and it is FABULOUS.

2. I'm finishing up the draft of what will be my fourth novel with Feiwel and Friends. My working title is The Margin, but that will change. I am hoping to hammer out the end in the next week or so, get it off to my trusty reader, and then get it to my editor before fall is over.

3. I'm working on a synopsis. It is hard and I don't like it. Enough said.

4. I leave tomorrow for school visits in Connecticut, where my novel The Compound is on the 2011-12 Nutmeg Award List. I'll be in middle schools in Orange and Bloomfield. Two weeks after that I head to Colorado Springs to speak at a middle school where my novel The Gardener is up for Book of the Year at their school. I love that there are schools that have a competition for Book of the Year.

5. On a personal note, my college daughter will be meeting me in CO for her fall break. Her boyfriend is stationed in the Army there, and is being deployed to Afghanistan a couple days after we get there. This is not a political blog, but may I say, I wish we were not sending our young men to such a war.

6. The thing on my mind the most this fall? Volleyball! My high school senior is libero on the varsity and they are having an amazing season. This photo was from one of the three tournaments they've won. ( My kid is the white jersey) This weekend, I watched them come back from a 20-8 deficit and win. I had to watch through my hands as my kid started serving when the score was 24-20, which means every serve was game point. But she did it. ( She did not get her composure from me, that's for sure. There must have been ice in her veins.) They're ranked #3 in state, so I will have a full blown case of bleacher bottom by the time the season is over...

Here's to a productive fall for us all.