Monday, April 28, 2008


Friends, Family, and Fellow Writers (or a mix of these), I'd love to see you this Saturday at the King's English Bookshop. Here are the details, straight from our press release:

Three Friends, Three Books

Rick Walton, Kristyn Crow, and Sharlee Glenn have been friends for years. When Kristyn and Sharlee were both fledgling writers, they turned to Rick, the granddaddy of picture book writing in Utah, for advice and encouragement. So when it turned out that all three writers had books coming out from national publishers within a few weeks of each other this year, they decided to join forces and celebrate by throwing a grand triple book release party.

The big event will take place this coming Saturday, May 3, from 11:00 to 1:00 at The King's English Bookshop at 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City.

Rick Walton is the author of over sixty books for children, including Once There Was a Bull . . . Frog, So Many Bunnies, and Bertie was a Watch Dog. In this new book, What Do We do with the Baby (HarperCollins), readers of all ages will revel in a loving family's enjoyment of having a baby in the house.

Kristyn Crow is a first-time author, but not for long! Cool Daddy Rat (G. P. Putnam's Sons), is just the first of her three books. Bedtime at the Swamp (HarperCollins) will be released in July of this year, and The Middle Child Blues (G. P. Putnam's Sons) is scheduled for a fall of 2009 release. Cool Daddy Rat is a snappy read-aloud that has received starred reviews from
Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal. It is full of energy from the jazzy text and animated illustrations, and will have kids snapping, tapping, and scatting along.

Sharlee Glenn, who was awarded the 2006 Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award for her book, Keeping Up with Roo (G. P. Putnam's Sons), will be celebrating the release of her fourth book on Saturday. In Just What Mama Needs (Harcourt), household chores are transformed into magical activities in a delightful Mother's Day book that showcases the days of the week and celebrates imaginative play, the mother-child relationship, and the joy of being just who we are.

All three authors will sign and read aloud from their books at Saturday's book release celebration at The King's English Bookshop. There will also be refreshments and activities.

Saturday, May 3, 2008 from 11:00 - 1:00
The King's English Bookshop
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, Utah


Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Novelist and the Picture Book Writer

I’m often asked, “Why don’t you write a novel?”

And the answer is, I’ve attempted it many times. I’ve started dozens of novels, but I don’t seem to have the endurance to finish them. Every time I make this attempt and fizzle, I become more and more impressed with Stephenie Meyer, Shannon Hale, Mette Ivie Harrison, and other authors whose books I love. I have a couple of novel manuscripts that I secretly believe might have real promise, if they were ever finished. I’m starting to worry that writing a novel is a marathon, and I’m a short-sprint runner. Not that picture book manuscripts are written quickly. But I can shuffle them around like cards in a deck. When I get tired of one, I can put it aside and work on another. That way I’ve entered an entirely different world, with different characters and rules--one I haven’t seen for a while and have missed. It gives me a renewed excitement for the piece which drives me along.

I’ve often wondered how a novelist does his/her shuffling, which I feel is essential to keeping the writing fresh. Does s/he shuffle chapters? Whole novels? That’s like shuffling whole packs of cards instead of individual ones. Do novelists start from the beginning and just write all the way to the end? The trouble I have with writing novels is that I get bored with what’s going on with my characters (the kiss of death). Then there’s an agony in the realization that I’ve got to start from the beginning and add a brand new character or event—a revision which will change the placement of the hundreds of dominoes I’ve already set up. And, sigh, they look so pretty the way they are, do I dare knock them all down?

Cards and dominoes. I must be in the mood for a good game.

If I could speak to Mette, Shannon, or Stephenie, I think that’s what I’d want to know. I’d ask them how they keep their endurance up. I’d want to know how they keep their characters from getting dull, and how they weave a story together so brilliantly and keep the reader enchanted. Oh, to know, to know.

Last year, I met author Dean Hughes, and he congratulated me on my books. He told me that picture books were the one genre of writing he hadn’t been able to break into. “It’s too hard,” he said. And I thought, Hurray! A real expert acknowledgement that picture book writing is tough. Saying as much as possible with as few words as possible is no easy task.

I’ve also known other successful novelists who’ve tried picture book writing without luck. So I wonder—in the writing world, do marathon runners become so skilled at the long haul that a 50-yard-dash becomes awkward? And do the sprinters get conditioned to these shorter bursts and fizzle out in the lengthier races?

If I train for a marathon, then, will I lose my sprinting technique?

Thoughts for a Thursday night.

P.S. I'm still missing the "P" on my keyboard. It's there but dead. Blasted thing. I've found this nifty way to compensate...using control "c" and control "v." Utter pain in the rump.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Snowman Destruction (?)

Curses. Foiled again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dead Letter

So, a coule of days ago my stepdaughter silled esi on my lato and now the letter on my keyboard which comes after “o” and before “q” is dead. I mean dead and residing somewhere in the heaven for defunct lato keys.

Now I can’t hel but be ainfully aware of the importance of one letter in our alphabet. (Hey, cool, Word is correcting some of my misselled words and inserting the missing “__” (letter after o and before q) for me. Sometimes.

Now I’ve been whining to my husband, “I need a “___.”

And he says, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

And I say, “No, no, no…the letter “____” doesn’t work on my keyboard. I need a new lato.”

He says, “A new one? Why don’t you just get it fixed?”

And I say, “So, what…I’m gonna call some dude and tell him my “_” isn’t working?”


It figures. Only writers understand the ain of losing access to a single letter of the alphabet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dreams 'n Things

Yesterday I got to walk into a Barnes and Noble and buy a copy of my book, COOL DADDY RAT, right off the shelves. Lame, you say? Maybe. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into bookstores and dreamed. That was a long-awaited moment.

I’ve got a picture book workshop this Saturday that I’m putting on with author Rick Walton. It sounds like we’ll have an excellent group of writers, and even an editor and a librarian in attendance. The proceeds will go toward a picture book project we’re doing to help newly-diagnosed kids with juvenile diabetes. Rick has a son with the condition, and I have two. We’re hoping a book for very young kids will be comforting to them during an extremely confusing time.

I’m looking outside right now, and there's a blizzard. That’s right. A blizzard. So much for the vanishing snowman. This means war.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writing and (Gasp) Rejection

I’ve decided that one of the hardest things about writing for publication is exposing oneself to rejection.

Let’s face it, rejection is no fun. It hurts. It’s the realization that “something about me, or something I’ve created isn’t good enough.” And deep down, everybody wants to be good enough.

Since my children are in a blended family due to divorce, I often find myself on weekends or holidays dropping them off for visitation. Today I was marveling that I still occasionally feel an emotional sting as my children run off to the arms of their other parent. As I drove away this afternoon, I wondered why. Since I’m happily married and secure in my kids’ love for me, why do these drop-offs continue to be uncomfortable? As I thought about it, I realized that it’s the reminder of the rejection--the reminder that at one time, I somehow wasn’t good enough.

When we write, we spend countless hours encapsulating thousands of our thoughts into organized typed symbols. That’s a strange process, when you think about it. We capture ideas floating in brain space and arrange them into tiny lines and shapes on a page or screen. And as mechanical as that is, there is a whole lot of our spiritual essence which goes into that work. So of course it hurts to get a manuscript rejection. Sheesh, it even hurts to read that some random citizen gave your book only three stars out of five on a public book review website. (Grumble grumble.)

But rejection is an opportunity to re-evaluate. We should ask ourselves if the criticism can give us a clearer picture of things. Is it valuable information we can apply toward revision? Are we targeting the wrong market, or do we need to polish, restructure or re-think? Could a little rejection keep us grounded--so we're still seeing eye-to-eye with everyone else?

Remember that another person’s opinion of our work may be off-base or just plain wrong. That dismissive editor or agent may not have grasped the overall vision of the piece, or maybe she was just having a bad hair day. And let's face it, we can't please the world. There's always somebody out there who will disagree with us or misunderstand what we're trying to do. Either way, we can let it be an occasion for greater resolve. We can resolve to get tougher, work harder, and prove to ourselves we can do it. We can resolve to keep moving forward in the direction of our dreams, step by step, until we arrive. We can't be successful writers and let rejection fester too much.

(Now as for you, Mr. Snowman, you can just plain give it up.)


Kristyn Crow
President, Snow Haters Club of America

(If I had to scrape another windshield I probably would have died.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Advertising Madness

As you can see, I'm still doing the marketing thing. Today I'm sending off these postcards to independent booksellers, jazz and music stores, etc. Gotta get the word out about the book! I've hand-addressed more than two-hundred so far. If I didn't have carpal tunnel before, I might now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

O Agent! My Agent!

Last Monday I was able to give a picture book presentation at Weber State. That was a fun experience because I shared, in detail, the story of COOL DADDY RAT’s publication. That manuscript definitely went on a rough ride.

For example, I talked about the awful experience of sitting across from an agent (not mine) who was reading the story with a confused look on her face while she started to chuckle. In my hopeful, wanna-be-published mindset, I tried nervously to determine whether her chuckles were good or bad. Suddenly she handed me back the manuscript and said, “WHO sent you to me?” And then, looking up into the air, she whispered to the listening universe, “Why do they always send these people to me?” (Hmmm. Not sure who "these people" are or how I unwittingly joined the group.) Anyway, I was dismissed from her presence, crushed. The reason I had the meeting with her in the first place was because a well-known children's book author had recommended my story to her, and set up the appointment for us. So I had ventured into that room with great hope.

Fortunately, the second time I showed the manuscript to an agent, she loved it, and signed me on as a client. It just goes to show that with agents, it’s all about finding the right match. Is there an "e-harmony" for literary agents?

I found this cool review on line: COOL DADDY RAT ROCKS!

YES! I love it when readers can feel the groove.