You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2009.

Let’s start with the visible brains. Allow me to present: A fish with a transparent head.

Nikki McClure makes beautiful paper cuts.  And now, she’s made a book with Cynthia Rylant that I can’t wait to see. Thanks to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for the heads up.


Another book that I can’t wait to get my hands on is Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. The story sounds very intriguing, and I am smitten with the cover.


Do you crave true adventure and have a block of time available for globetrotting?  How about joining The League of Adventurists on a Rickshaw Run, or their next event- the Africa Rally?  It’s like the Amazing Race, but without a film crew.  Or a prize.  Or a cushion of heavily insured safety.

Bad ass, ludicrous fun for charity!

Joni Sensel is giving good revision advice as a guest blogger over at Darcy Pattison’s blog.  

She’s also launching a book.  A great book, as a matter of fact.  Yay, Joni!


Do you know how revenue from a book is broken down?  Here you go.

Speaking of book buying… do you do it?  How often? And what do you buy? One of the agents in that Poets & Writers interview mentioned that a writer who does not buy books is a hypocrite.  If you want to be published, and you want people to buy your books, than you should be buying debut novels and new releases.  

Do you agree?  

I do, but I admit that I don’t buy many debut novels.  I buy friends’ books, and books I’ve been excited about, but the majority of my reading material comes from the library.  I’m going to make a resolution to buy more new releases.

My mom gave me a mug when I was a kid covered with a tumble of elephant outlines.  A friend of hers grabbed it one day and pointed out that the elephants on the mug were engaged in a wild, elephant orgy.  They laughed about it, and a few days later I secretly studied the cup.  

I forgot all about that little inadvertent sex ed. until Dan Santat posted about his parents, and the souvenir they lovingly brought him.

Mac question:

I have to quit and reload Safari ALL THE TIME because pictures don’t load and website formatting goes all wonky.  Does anyone have a solution for this?  Safari crashes a lot, too.  Anytime I mention it to a Mac-using friend they look at me like I’m some crazy impostor just posing as a Mac user to spread evil lies and tell me they’ve never had that problem.  I get it.  It’s me.  But, how do I fix it?  It’s had this problem from the beginning.    The geniuses at the Apple bar can never fix it.  I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled Leopard.  I’ve tolerated it for two years, but it’s gradually getting worse.  Any suggestions?  Please?

They tested me for mono!  I genuinely thought it was something exclusive to teenagers.  I just remember it as the kissing disease, and pity the kid who caught it.  I haven’t been kissing any sickly strangers, so it was a little perplexing.  It’s just a cranky sinus infection that I can take out with some antibiotics.  Yeehah!  I’m eager to breath, and have energy, and spend long hours in my shed.  

Oh, I miss my shed.

Speaking of which, no sooner had I publicly declared a state of writer’s block that it started melting away, and new ideas popped into my head.  I’m neurotic like that.  Before New York I tried to diet, and actually ended up gaining weight.  I’m a stubborn, neurotic brat, is what I am.  Maybe I’ll work on some sort of reverse positive affirmation experiment.  I’ll start the day by looking in the mirror and declaring, “You are a wretched writer!  You won’t write a word today, and if you do it will be terrible.  Eat the fattiest, starchiest things in the cupboard.  And don’t even think about exercising!”  Maybe it will kickstart a new phase of skinny creativity! Hmmm.

The Cybils were announced!

I think I might swipe an idea from Mo Willems.  I’m not changing the protagonists in my book into an elephant and pig, but I may just make a chalkboard room.  

Publishers Weekly interviewed Lisa Yee.

T.S. Ferguson likens publishing to dating.

And, last but not least, Laini Taylor has revealed the cover of her new book, Silksinger!  Can’t wait!

Too sick to blog.  

I’m going to the doctor later today, so hopefully there is a magic potion to kill this everlasting cold and I will be back soon.  

In the meantime, why don’t you go see what Holly Cupala says about applying for a grant from SCBWI.  She know what she’s talking about, having won and all.

I’m also suffering from a little writer’s block, which I don’t really believe in too much, so I’m blaming it on the cold cooties.

Sorry for the lack of posts, our family has been under the weather.  And by under the weather I mean fighting the Phlegm War of ‘o9.

Let’s not dwell on that.

There was either a possum or a dog ghost in the garden last night. How do I know, you ask? I let the dogs out, went back inside, and returned to the yard to check on them.  Through the dimness I watched a pale, shaggy rump root around in the bushes.  I assumed it was P.J., until he ran into the house from the other direction.  A couple of hours later he went out again and made an unholy racket, so I assume the dog ghost/possum was still lurking around.

Let’s review the possibilities.

We know it wasn’t P.J.


So, that leaves either

a) Ghost dog.


b) Possum


You be the judge.  For the record, I think possums should be outlawed within city limits.

I missed the SCBWI Western Washington meeting last night on revisions and social networking.  I could use some help with revisions (Boy, could I!).  But with Facebook, this here blog, and now my website and Twitter– I’m not sure I could squeeze any more social networking in.  Maybe I could have learned how to tweak my site. My husband linked the blog to it, but the links in my blogroll still open within my website, which looks a little like plagiarism.  I’m either going to have to figure out how to fix it, or take out the blogroll.

I like My Cardboard Life by Phillippa Rice.

And I want to try making my own handwriting font to with the free font program that Dan Santat blogged about.

Betsy Bird posted a fabulous list of good graphic novels by reading level.

I somehow missed the first pages blog that Editorial Anonymous started.  Behold, the Anonymati.

When you read a lot of manuscripts, you start to notice common problems.  Coe of The Longstockings points a few out.

Whenever a story comes up about racial tension between high schools (like here),  it REALLY irks me.  I went to high school in Albuquerque, where the freeway and Route 66 divide up the town into distinct quadrants of racial and socio-economic differences.  I lived in the poorest, brownest section of town and our high school rivals hailed from the richest, whitest section.  There were big differences between the schools.  We had crumbling walls and water-damaged textbooks.  They had covered parking and a food court.  You’d think they would just leave us alone and go about their business parking their fancy cars out of the sun and deciding between tacos and paninis.  But that wouldn’t be teenager-y, I guess.

The big football game between the schools seemed to be going alright, until halftime. Our cheerleaders shook their pom poms,  and their side of the stands launched tortillas like frisbees.  I’m surprised they could organizing such a massive tortilla-ing before the days of Facebook and Twitter.  The field was covered and everyone was fighting.  The newspaper reported that our students had instigated a brawl, but I think if someone throws a tortilla at you it authorizes a good smack in the chops.  I remember that a few of our students were suspended for fighting, while theirs were not.  There were more oh-so-clever-hijinks that year, but the tortilla incident is the one that still stands out.

I’ve been told my past lends me a treasure trove of rich material to tap into, but if there’s a way to write about shit like that without it reading like bad fiction, I haven’t found it.

p12900212New York is a fantastic place.  I had a great time.  Alice Pope blogged like a calm, stylish maniac all weekend, so you can read all about the conference here.  Here are just a few of the standouts from each day (for me).







Laurie Thompson and Joni Sensel

Laurie Thompson and Joni Sensel

  • People rave about Fran’s salted caramels.  The president himself finds them to be his most favorite of all candies.  I don’t usually like caramel, but these are really, really, really, really, good.  I pick up a few to give away to helpful friends in New York.
  • Our flight from Seattle to New York was cancelled due to an east coast ice storm.
  • Another flight was available! Icy runways be damned!






Wednesday: p12900171

  • We had to cancel a couple of morning appointments with upcoming conference faculty,  due to the delay.  Bummer.
  • The Grand Hyatt lets us check in very early.  Hooray!  We freshened up and went out into the-
  • SLEET.  There is a slushie machine in the sky, and it is malfunctioning. Icy puddles! Sopping clothes! Polished, professional appearance-kaputz.  
  • Secret meeting at Scholastic for top secret project (From now on referred to as TSP and having nothing to do with any of my books ever being published.  So don’t ask, because it will be awkward.).
  • Rice pudding at the Jaime Temairik recommended Rice to Riches in Soho.  I recommend the mascarpone with cherries.
  • Evolution!
  • Tea with a mystery editor, who will be visiting us in Seattle later this year.



Laurie & me

Laurie & me

  • Blue skies!  Dry streets!  New York is a town capable of plowing and salting unlike say, err, Seattle.
  • Meeting at the New York Public Library for TSP with Betsy Bird.
  • More meetings with upcoming faculty for the conference in May, and down the road.
  • Inside Random House we happened across pictures of Kirby Larson and Sundee Frazier and squealed.
  • FAO Schwartz!  I love toy stores.  The Enchanted Forest in Soho was my favorite, but FAO is no slouch.
  • Dinner with SCBWI friends.
  • Bed, sweet bed.




Joni & me with the lovely security guards at Harper

Joni & me with the lovely security guards at Harper


  • Great Scot!  I signed up for the writer’s intensives, didn’t I?  My critique group can tell you, I’m not so crazy about sharing my work. And with editors, agents, and strangers no less?!?  Egads.
  • Uh oh, remember that upcoming faculty member we stood up on Wednesday?  He’s leading my first intensive.  Hope he’s not still annoyed…
  • Wait a minute, that went well!  Great feedback, positive reception, spot-on ideas for revisions.  Super!
  • Another great intensive full of praise and constructive feedback.  Yay!
  • Cocktail party!  This was A LOT of fun.  I got to catch up with far away friends, meet awesome people, and be merry.  There was a lot of TSP action, too.  It went by really fast, but then Betsy Bird and Cheryl Klein had the foresight to schedule an after party right across the street.  More fun!
  • Late night diner food.  Yum.



Diner food!

Diner food!

  • The conference starts! Lots of editors talk about what they’re looking for.
  • Jay Asher gives a fabulous keynote address.  Funny and inspirational.
  • More editors talk (See Alice’s blog.)
  • TSP with mystery art director.
  • Dinner with Washington peeps.




Holly's agent telling 1000 people how awesome Holly is.

Holly's agent telling 1000 people how awesome Holly is.

  • Lots of talented artists win awards.  Alice has the scoop on this, too.
  • Bruce Hale gives a great keynote.  And he sings!  How many keynotes have you been to with a singing keynoter?
  • An insightful agent panel.  Edward Necarsulmer gives an example of coming across an exciting new author at last year’s conference- and it’s our very own Holly Cupala!   
  • Back to Seattle just in time to have dinner with my son, the birthday boy.  



And that’s the whole enchilada.

What did we learn?  

  • Flavored rice pudding is delicious.
  • Editors are heavily guarded.  We went to a few differerent publishing houses, and there was A LOT of ID checking by big security guards at various checkpoints.  
  • There are people out there who are unclear about the difference between advisors and agents, and will try to pitch you in the elevator.  My sympathies, agents.
  • New York is awesome!


And, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who helped with the TSP.  

All will be revealed…..much later.

I write stories for kids while volunteering as the Assistant Regional Advisor and Conference Coordinator for the western Washington chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

I live in Seattle with my family and a small zoo of animals. I drink copious amounts of coffee and assign complicated life stories to passing strangers. I'm currently working on a middle grade novel.

There's a wee bit more on my website. You can also follow me on twitter.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.