Showing posts from January, 2008


One of the hardest things about writing and trying to sell manuscripts is waiting. I just found out that the sketches for my latest sale won’t be available until spring. This is to be expected with a fabulous, very busy illustrator. But I feel like a kid during the holidays, wondering every night if tomorrow is Christmas. Can you hear the crickets chirping?

Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep.

I’ve got several manuscripts being looked at right now and I’m waiting for responses. I’m also waiting for my first two books to finally be released. And although the time is slowly drawing closer, it has honestly felt like an ETERNITY of anticipation. I remember finding out I had sold Bedtime at the Swamp three years ago. A phone call, and three years of waiting. Three years that feel like a decade.

Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep. So what should a writer do, to release the stress and anxiety that comes with all this waiting?


Cheep cheep.


Using Illustration Notes - Put Down the Megaphone

It’s important that new children’s book writers understand the correct way to use illustration notes in their manuscripts. I think one of the main reasons new writers misuse them is because they have a skewed perception of the role of the illustrator in the creation of a children’s picture book.

For example, at a writer’s conference I attended recently, we were listening to a celebrated illustrator discuss some of his techniques. A woman raised her hand and said, “I’ve got this manuscript I’ve written about a little girl, and in my mind I picture her a certain way. She has blonde hair and freckles, and a crooked little smile. How can I explain to the illustrator exactly what I want?”

And I thought…oh my.

The illustrator kindly said, “Well, if she needs to look a particular way for a certain reason, like if she needs wild, curly hair because a bird builds a nest in it, write it into the manuscript or use an illustration note.”

She replied, “Well, her appearance doesn’t really matter for th…

Snow Way

It's been snowing. A lot. Yesterday I was trapped in my vehicle for a few hours, spinning in circles. It had snowed all night and we had several feet of the stuff everywhere, and no plows in sight. In these kinds of situations, I wonder what in the world we ever did before cell phones. My husband came to the rescue in his patrol car, but soon was stuck himself, and even worse for him, he was blocking the intersection. It was the Crow comedy show. We tried digging out, spinning, revving, pushing, but no, we were hopelessly stuck. Both vehicles. I called the city, but dispatch whined that the snow plows were "a little busy" at the moment. Finally a neighbor in his monster truck (well almost) towed us out.

Here's a picture of what the snow plows finally did. It's a snow mountain, twelve feet high. That tree you see is not off in the distance, it's actually coming right up out of the snow.

There's not a whole lot anybody can do with all this snow, except may…

Dissecting SpongeBob

There’s a very important question that all children’s book writers should contemplate. It is this: What makes SpongeBob SquarePants so appealing?

To answer this question is to unlock one of the secrets of the universe. I mean, who could have predicted that a yellow sponge with a whiny voice and googly-eyes living at the bottom of the sea would end-up revered by kids everywhere? I believe it’s imperative we figure this guy out. He's not only popular, he's a multi-millionaire. And as much as he might sometimes annoy us grown-up folk, we’d best become familiar with the distinguished Mr. SpongeBob if we want to create our own characters for children that have lasting appeal.

I’ve decided I could write a treatise on SpongeBob, but I’ll just share a few observations:

1. First of all, he’s child-like. He not only looks innocent and gullable, but he also approaches things like a kid. This is an important trait for the main character in a picture book, in my view. After all, children don…