Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Summer's here

The catalpa trees are in full bloom and yesterday after a nice shower, a carpet of white blossoms lay under each one. I always associate those blossoms with my daughter's birthday, which is this week. They were blooming when she was born and a friend brought a bouquet to the hospital.

I had a yoga retreat last weekend and that was a wonderful transition from working with hundreds of young authors to focusing on what I want to do this summer.

A new picture book is close to being ready to send off and I'm continuing to revise a YA novel. I'm also going to Printer's Row Book Festival this weekend in Chicago where I will be on a panel with Barry Lyga, Stephanie Hemphill, and Daniel Kraus. I am eager to hear what they have to say.

And I'm pleased I will get to be with my sister who lives there on the day my mother would have turned 80. We will tell stories together and think about all the ways her love of books and words is part of us.


Summertime Blues? No Way!

As a stay-at-home dad my routines follow the school calendar, which means: it’s summer vacation, baby! 

What will my ten-year-old son and I do with our time?

We’ll run errands, do the household shopping, keep the house clean, tend the yard and perform whatever other chores need to be done.  But we’ll also cook dinners for Mama, hang out with buddies, read books, play online math games, go out in the yard or to a park and toss a football or baseball, or kick around a soccer ball.  We’ll ride our bikes to the library or the small local bookstore (which just happens to be located across the street from an ice cream shop!).  We’ll go to the beach and search for driftwood “blasters.”  We’ll have driftwood “blaster” battles.  And then we’ll go sailing with Mama!

Two desperadoes holed up in a driftwood fort
Summer certainly means less Daddy Time, but for me the tradeoff is worth it.  The more I interact with and experience the world through a ten-year-old’s eyes, the more I feel inspired to continue pursuing my dream of writing books for children.  Time on the boat also provides a break from my usual routines, which ensures I will get “unstuck” from any ruts I may have fallen into over the long wet winter.  And on days when we are home I can still work for a few hours, and I still hope to achieve my goal of picking a picture book and/or chapter book project from last year and actually finishing the thing in the next few months!

It’s been four years since I finished (read: submitted) a novel-length work.  I’ve had a couple shorter things published in the interim, but I feel like it’s time again to see where my work and studies have brought me.  Maybe this time will be “the” time.

If not, school begins again in a few months and I’ll return to my regular schedule and keep typing away….


Busy Summer

On my day to post, my busy summer had already begun. I was in route to the Outer Banks of North Carolina where I will spend this week with all my family--both children, their spouses, and all six grandchildren. Before I left, my brother flew in from Colorado to stay with our parents, so I can be worry free this week!

This morning I am ensconced at a desk with a view of the ocean to the east (the only reason I can see right now is that the early morning sun is hidden behind a cloud) and, if I walk to the other side of the room, a view of the sound to the west. There's even a captain's watch (a small deck on the roof of the rental house), which last night offered a spectacular view of the starry night.

On Monday I start teaching an 8-week online writing workshop through McDaniel College's graduate certificate program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. My students have already been introducing themselves online, and I think I'll have an enthusiastic group to work with. I am planning to give myself the same schedule of writing my students will have, with the hope I can finish the first draft of my novel-in-progress.

And when I'm not caught up in teaching, writing, and family events/obligations, I am overseeing a 2-day SCBWI conference in July with an amazing line-up of speakers, which include award-winning authors Richard Peck, Deborah Wiles, Sally Walker, and Bobbie Pyron, illustrator Jaime Zollars, and an array of editors and agents. I'll be sure to post some photos from this amazing conference in mid-July.

To round out the summer in August, I'll be attending the huge annual SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. Diane, maybe we can meet up again this year?

Mairin, Annabel, Aria, Piper, and Gareth are clamoring for a walk to the beach, so I'll close for now. Happy summer!