Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Book Big Laughs

This Brian Regan clip made me laugh. His delivery is so great. Note 1: With this kind of supremely-basic baby book he's referring to, in real life the author is probably also the illustrator, so s/he created not only the text but the whole book concept. Either that, or a staff writer or editor chose very simple text for a specific type of baby book the publisher wanted to make. Note 2: To my (somewhat limited) knowledge, there is no millionaire out there whose claim to fortune was writing the text for board books at two words per page. Unless he owns the whole publishing house, too. Note 3: Owls absolutely do say "hoot." You just have to listen really, really, really hard, at night, in a forest surrounding a dark medieval castle.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


"Then OUT of the darkness stomped my dear old MA! She burst through the cattails and she cried, 'AHA! I've been tryin' to get you children home to bed, and I find you a-hidin' in this tree instead!"

(If you haven't read "Bedtime at the Swamp" you won't get that.) Anyway, we went camping this week and slept in a tent by a number of enormous ponds, where dragonflies darted around and frogs croaked, catfish slurped, and cattails grew. Kinda swampy.

It was a fun getaway from everything...and kinda strange to only have one child in my charge instead of seven. Although, my youngest daughter can be quite the drama queen at times. Five kids in one.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hangin' Out Wid Da Peeps

This is the cool crowd of authors (and one editor) I got to hang out with at the "Writing for Charity" conference at the Salt Lake City Library. (Thanks, Shannon, for letting me copy this photo from your site.)

Front row from left: Kimberly Heuston, Shannon Hale, Chris Schoebinger, Brandon Mull.

Middle row from left: Ann Cannon, Me, Sydney Salter, Becky Hickox, Anne Bowen, Laura Hickman, Mette Harrison, Ann Dee Ellis and baby-to-be.

Top row from left: Scott Francine, Wendy Toliver, Mike Knudson, Tracy Hickman.

So I went to Barnes and Noble today, to look for Bedtime at the Swamp. Wasn't there. On their computers, it still says "Not Available, Pre-Order," which means they don't even have it at their warehouse yet. Hmmm. So much for these release dates. I've learned they don't mean a whole heckuva lot. That's okay, though, because when B&N realized I was the author of the book they made arrangements for a story time/book signing. Fun!

The Provo Library gave Cool Daddy Rat a very nice review. To read it, click here. I'm also planning to do a reading there at some point. Spoke with the director at the ALA conference.

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Widget will Self-Destruct in One Hour

I remember it was about three weeks before Christmas, 2005, and I was sitting in my living room decorating the tree, when the telephone rang. It was a long distance number--looked like California--but I wasn’t sure.


It was my agent, with her distinctive voice that I knew about as well as Charlie’s Angels know the voice of their boss. (Like the angels, I still have no face to put with the voice.) “Merry Christmas,” she said, and I thanked her…thinking she was just making a friendly call. But then again, she’s far too busy for friendly calls. “I just sold Bedtime at the Swamp to HarperCollins,” she said, and told me the amount of the advance. I was absolutely stunned. “That’s wonderful!” I said, my voice cracking with emotion. “Oh my gosh…that’s just wonderful! Thank you! Thank you so much!” I heard her voice respond with a bit of emotion, too. Afterwards I came into the kitchen, crying, and hung up the phone. My husband hadn’t heard my conversation and immediately felt fear—that I must have received some awful news. I told him what happened, and he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Soon we were dancing around the house. What a wonderful Christmas gift.

I hope this book will be a fun read-aloud where children can echo the refrain back to the reader. I’ve just purchased some cool rhythm instruments and hope kids can bang and clank out a fun beat to the story. I cannot believe we are down to the end of this ticker widget, just hours from release time. I’m curious what the widget does at the zero hour. Explode with confetti? Turn black? Just say, “In stores now?” We’ll see.

If you do get a copy, thank you, and…enjoy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Writing For Charity a Wheelin' Success!

Today was the writing for charity conference at the Salt Lake City Library. It was great! There were about 100 people in attendance. We started out sitting together as authors for a panel discussion where Shannon Hale guided us in some questions about writing, getting published, and dealing with writer’s block. Then we broke into workshop sessions based on our particular writing genre. It was fun hearing the conference attendees read their manuscripts and giving each other feedback. I had a touching moment where I read a manuscript written by a young girl—I’m guessing she was twelve or thirteen. Her manuscript was quite good, especially considering her age. She had these beautiful eager eyes and I could feel her dreams of being an author beaming through. It reminded me of the dreams I had as a young girl. Oh how I hoped I would be published! Her mother was right beside her, supporting her in every way. I will be very surprised if she doesn’t have all her wishes come true.

Today’s conference earned approximately $5400 for the Wheelchair Project. Shannon Hale is planning another conference next year, perhaps for another charity. I’d be thrilled to be a part of it.

Afterwards I had a great time having lunch with many of the authors who came. The only bad thing was walking down the sidewalks of Salt Lake City in 98-degree heat, wearing high heels, and carrying a 25-pound bag of picture books. SOMEBODY (initials RW) lead us to a defunct address and we were hopelessly lost in the city. Earlier I had considered bringing my luggage bag on wheels, but thought, no--I'll just be parking right at the library. Never could have imagined a ten-block sauna trek. The lovely Wendy Toliver helped me carry my massive bag, spelling me by switching off with me every other block. She is a true sweetheart! Thanks, Wendy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Writing for Charity - THIS Saturday!

THIS Saturday, come hang out with a whole bunch of children's book authors!

If you haven't registered yet, just show up and pay at the door. This is a fabulous opportunity for anyone interested in writing for children, and it's all for a good cause--The Wheelchair Project.

When: Saturday, July 19, 9 am to 1 pm
Where: Salt Lake Main Library, 200 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: $45 (should be tax deductible!)
Event breakdown:
9:00 am -- Registration
9:15 - 10:15 am -- Panel discussion in the auditorium
10:30 - 11:15 -- Break out discussions in topic groups
11:30 - 1:00 -- Small group workshops


Realistic fiction: Mike Knudson, Sydney Salter, Anne Cannon
Picture Books: Kristyn Crow, Rebecca Hickox, Anne Bowen, Rick Walton
Fantasy: Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, Tracy & Laura Hickman, Mette Harrison

Monday, July 7, 2008

First Bedtime at the Swamp Review

I was excited to find the Kirkus review today, and wanted to share:

"Sitting in the moonlit swamp with his West Highland white terrier, a boy hears, "Splish splash / rumba-rumba / bim bam BOOM!" and knows it's a swamp monster. He high-tails it up a willow, but his sister comes to tell him Ma wants him home for bedtime. When they hear the monster again, she joins him up the tree. Each time a relative arrives to fetch him home, they end up in the tree. Even the monster is frightened into joining them by the strange sound-and then Ma herself appears to march her brood off to bed. They all go "splish splash" in the bath, "rumba-rumba" with their toothbrushes, "bim bam" up the stairs and "BOOM!" into bed. Crow's rhythmic chant and rhymed text are nicely brought to life by Pamintuan's bright, swampy, expressive art, the clean lines and colors making the most of the absurd situation. Bedtime and monsters haven't gone together so well in years. Worth a second copy to have on hand for storytimes on either topic." (Picture book. 3-6)

Pamintuan's "bright, swampy, expressive art (with) clean lines and colors...worth a second copy..." Congratulations, Macky!

Two Weeks 'till Bedtime at the Swamp!

I just looked at my countdown widget and I can't believe we're two weeks from the release of Bedtime at the Swamp. I remember when that widget showed hundreds of days. Time really flies! As far as I know, we still don't have an official review of the book. Reviewers must be incredibly busy. COOL DADDY was reviewed months before its release. It'll be hard to compete with the two stars that book received, but hopefully all will be very positive. I think Macky is incredibly talented.

At the ALA conference I made some contacts and am planning to do some local readings and signings this fall. I'd love to arrange some school visits, too. I'll post a schedule when I have one.

If you're interested in writing for children and want to meet with local authors to get tips, manuscript feedback, and all kinds of publishing advice, please sign up for the "Writing for Charity with Shannon Hale" event on the nineteenth of this month. It's not very expensive--and every penny goes to charity. These are the kind of events that get you closer to publication. Sometimes a professional can give you that one suggestion that will turn everything around and send you off in the right direction. It happened to me. Here's the link to my post that explains things in detail:

Writing for Charity with Shannon Hale