Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


A Tribute to Beulah Campbell

I am posting tonight from Campbellsville, Kentucky, where I will be speaking tomorrow at the first annual Beulah Campbell Children's Literature Conference. Miss Beulah Campbell was my children's literature professor at Appalachian State University more years ago than I like to admit, and I am very honored to be invited as the featured luncheon speaker. Throughout her distinguished career, Miss Campbell (now 96 years old) collected original illustrations by American and European illustrators of children's books. The extensive collection is now shared between Campbellsville University and Appalachian State, and selected pieces will be on view tomorrow.

When I leave Campbellsville on Sunday, Doug and I will head through Cumberland Gap (retracing Daniel Boone's footsteps) to Tennessee and North Carolina, where I have school and library visits scheduled from Tuesday through Friday. The one I'm most excited about is at Hardin Park School in Boone, where they have read ROAD TO TATER HILL as their Family Reading Project. Forty families (over 100 people) participated this year in the project that kicked off five weeks ago. The dinner and discussion Tuesday night will be the culminating event! I'll have to post some picture next week.



In Puerto Rico we say, "Pa'lante" meaning, "Keep going."

Despite all the changes in the publishing industry, I have no choice but to keep going. I am a writer and I will keep on writing no matter what.

My Picasso book is coming out next fall. The manuscript for the Salvador DalĂ­ biography is due on May 15. I am really looking forward for this summer when I will be revising my novel. And I wrote a picture book. Can you believe that? A picture book by Carmen! It was hard to write, but my agent likes it!


Looking forward...

In the next year and a half I will have four (yes, four!) new picture books released. I've never had this many books come out in such a short time period, and I'm very much looking forward to celebrating each title. They include:

IT'S A TIGER!, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard, which will be published this summer,

HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS, illustrated by Mark Fearing, which will be published in the spring of 2013,

MOO., illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, which will be published in the fall of 2013,

and a book tentatively called ART ATTACK, which will be published in late 2013, and illustrated by...me!

I am currently working on the revised sketches for this book. Today was a day of frustrations, where the revisions came painfully and slowly. How can it take me so long to do one tiny cartoon sketch of a baseball poster? I think about how much work I still have to do with these sketches, my shaky confidence in doing the final art, and the shrinking time frame I have to accomplish it all, then I start looking forward to when it will all be done....

But that's not the attitude I want to have. Instead, I want to look forward to working on this book each day. I want to recapture my spirit of trying to make this the best book I can. I don't want this to be chore, and it doesn't have to be. So I'm also looking forward to reframing my outlook as I tackle a challenge that I very much want.


(the condition of a system in which all competing influences are balanced)

I'm not much of a scientist, but I vaguely remember lessons about equilibrium and disequilibrium. I found the following under a physics definition:

If a system is in stable equilibrium, small disturbances to the system cause only a temporary change before it returns to its original state.

I'm impressed with Stephanie's ability to hold so much in balance: writing a first pass of a novel, editing a novel in the works, and developing a whole new series, all while helping her youngest transition into a new phase of her life. What grace. She's a pro, for sure!

The introduction of disturbances—whether these are unexpected problems with pressing deadlines, or new ideas calling for development, throws off the equilibrium at least briefly. They compete for attention.

In the last 2-3 weeks I've been revising text and art for DREAMING UP: A CELEBRATION OF BUILDING which is my next author/illustrator project publishing with Lee & Low this fall, helping a local creator write a pitch and story for a new e-book app series, studying for the California test for wannabe teachers, rewriting my resume, filling out job applications, preparing/delivering presentations for my recently published book OUR SCHOOL GARDEN!, and going on college tours with my daughter. I'm in disequilibrium with competing forces and I look forward to a place of balance.

In the midst of this my writing is calling to me—back burner/old ideas and new ones. Once my current book is off to the printer I can return my focus there. I'm paraphrasing, but I remember a William Stafford interview where he said he would gladly give away (or lose) everything he's written for the chance to write something new.


I'm looking forward to...

This round is about things we're looking forward to. I've got a few. My current WIP is the sequel to The Compound. I'm looking forward to finishing the draft. For me, that's the worst part: the actual creating. Once the draft is done, I'm very happy to plop on my revision hat and go to town. But first I have to finish the book...
I'm also looking forward to starting in on my new middle grade series. I have a fairly detailed outline written for the first book, which I'm excited to dive into. Of course, I have to finish my other book first...
And in August, my latest novel comes out. It looks like this:

and I'm so excited to get the actual copies of the book. It was a tough book for me to write and I'm glad to be finished.

But actually, the thing I'm looking forward to the most is June 8, when my youngest daughter, Tanzie, graduates from high school. I'm not looking forward to her going off to college, but I am ready for the k-12 part to be finished. Here she is when she was about 3. We lived in Fergus Falls, MN, and my husband's project for the US Fish and Wildlife Service was to restore 300 acres of native prairie. Over the 7 years we were there, it went from a barn and some fields to the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Tanzie spent a good portion of the first 5 years of her life out there. I took this photo of her dipping a net into the wetlands, trying to catch tadpoles. Seems like yesterday.