Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A (Seven Question) MEME in Times Square

Well, well, well. It appears I’ve been tagged. And since Bill at Literate Lives gave COOL DADDY RAT such a rockin’ review, I can’t resist joining the game. So here’s how it goes:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player then tags people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.

4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

So, let’s begin:

What were you doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago my oldest son had just been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age seven. It was a life-changing event for our family. It’s strange looking back on those days, since today my two sons with the disease are almost entirely independent in their care. But back then I was watching the clock and testing my boy’s blood sugar, filling syringes with insulin, and injecting him four times a day, while also caring for a preschooler with autism, and a toddler. My then-husband and I had planned a fabulous second-honeymoon to Spain, and almost canceled it after the diagnosis, but my in-laws insisted upon learning the regimen so they could care for our kids and rescue the trip. Europe was an experience I’ll never forget, filled with castles, fountains, and sidewalk cafes. Little did I know it would be the swansong of the marriage. It was like standing on the deck of the Titanic, watching the beautiful sunset dance on the water and thinking everything couldn’t be more perfect.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Ride my new Mother’s Day bike, fill out insurance paperwork to switch health programs, call the local elementary school about my daughter’s birth certificate, take my fifteen-year-old to the orthodontist, clean the house. Fun stuff like that.

What are some snacks you enjoy?

I am a chocoholic. Although lately I’ve developed a thing for Lays spicy jalapeno potato chips. Bad, bad news.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Buy a house with a whole lot of land and a wrap-around porch--a little bit like the one in Forrest Gump-- and make a really great writing office with a gorgeous view. Right now I write at my dining room table, since the kids have overtaken whatever semblance of an office I once had. I’d also hire 24-hour housekeeping, laundry, and landscaping service. I’d get myself a zippy car and then I’d donate a whole bunch of money to breast cancer research, autism research, and juvenile diabetes research. I’d buy everybody in my extended family a new hybrid car.

What are your bad habits?

I’m a diet Pepsi addict, a LOST fanatic, and I let the laundry get away from me.

What are five places where you have lived?

Inglewood, California; Rolling Meadows, Illinois; New York, New York; San Diego, California; Layton, Utah

What are five jobs you have had?

Sandwich maker, waitress, Assistant to the CFO of Columbia University, BYU Secretary, Picture book author.

What people do you want to tag?

Macky Pamintuan
Mette Harrison

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memory of Abraham Lincoln

For some reason, our family has really been into Abraham Lincoln lately. I happened to watch this fantastic documentary on the History Channel about our sixteenth president and was so moved, I determined that my kids needed to watch it-- that every American needed to watch it. I mean, you can't really be an American and not know this tragic, powerful story from history. Right? Just call it one of my bizarre motherly crusades. So I bribed my kids with Hagen Daas and said if they watched the whole thing, we'd go out to ice cream. They moaned and groaned a bit, but the ice cream was a good lure. In no time they were absorbed. We've since had many spontaneous discussions about the great Abraham Lincoln, his assassination, and the hangings that resulted. So many interesting facts. For example, we often discuss the awful plight of Mary Surratt, hung for conspiracy to commit the President's murder based on evidence that was questionable at best. Just prior to her execution, she is pictured with the police shielding her from the sun with an umbrella, to prevent her from getting heatstroke.

Here's my third-grader, posing as Abraham Lincoln in his recent biography fair.

I also want to mention my mother today, a wonderful example of love, service, and devotion to family, who died on February 15, 1994 in Los Angeles, California, from breast cancer. She was softspoken, she loved lilacs, and I remember she liked to eat chocolate orange sticks. I loved her laugh, and she was an amazing typist. She always corrected my grammar. In her final days, she lay in her bed and said, "I am not afraid; I know what lies in store." Oh that I could have such courage! I miss you, Mom.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


In my childhood there were fireflies. Magical flecks of illumination and wonder.

I would sit in the grass and watch them flit and fly, trying to guess when the next one would light up. I was a born dreamer--a child who constantly imagined. I talked to trees and named them, invented stories about the squirrels, and believed there was an invisible moat surrounding my back yard. I envisioned the hill by our house was the place the king of trolls spoke to his followers. And I dreamed about my future.

One of the gifts I’d like to give my children is the power to dream. I hope they see their future selves creating, dancing on a stage, designing, building, writing, researching, parenting, and doing what they desperately love. My desire is that they start to envision it now—whatever they hope for. Too many children today don’t know how to dream, or even believe they have permission to do it.

Every kid should know the joy of watching fireflies flit around the back yard on a summer night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Westmore Elementary School is WAY Cool!

Last Thursday, I had a terrific experience. I got to do an author presentation for a whole bunch of fabulous fourth graders. When I first arrived at the school, I was standing in the hallway when a student approached me and said, "Hey, aren't you Kristyn Crow?" Then a few other kids said, "There she is!" I couldn't believe it. I mean, it's not often I'm recognized by strangers. The teachers had prepared their students for my visit by viewing my website together as a class on their big screens. So after receiving a warm welcome, I talked about how I became an author, what picture book authors do, and how picture books are made.

I also got to visit individual classes, where we invented identities for the "fat cat" in COOL DADDY RAT. Some of my favorite suggestions were that his name be "Toothpick Bob" and that he could be both a sumo wrestler and the president of a jell-o factory. Great, creative stuff. In one class we had enough time to design our own picture book characters and introduce them to each other. When my visit was over, I marveled at how well things had gone. I can't wait to do more school visits! Next fall, I'll have two newly-released books, which should make things that much more interesting.

Westmore fourth graders, you ROCK!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The 28th Drawing Board

Sigh. BIG sigh. I am now starting my 28th version of a manuscript I’ve been working on for eighteen months. Yes, that’s right. This is a picture book manuscript for young kids, and it will be my 28th complete re-write of it. But I’m motivated, because it looks like there’s some serious interest in it. I won’t give you the details about the story at this point because it’s both on the chopping block and under the microscope. (Hey, neat--two clich├ęs in one sentence.) But imagine trying to reconstruct all the motivations of a certain character, and doing that within the confines of a precise rhyme scheme and meter. I’ve got to put every “at” “to” and “but” in the right place, and get all my stressed and unstressed syllables just right, saying what I need to say within a few beats per line. That’s the task at hand. My brain is a little bit fried.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Westmore Elementary School in Orem, Utah. Should be fun. You never know how these things will turn out, but I’m looking forward to it.

ALSO—this Saturday the 17th of May is the Provo Children’s Book Festival, at the Provo, Utah Library. If there’s any way you can make it, you should…I mean, hey, SHANNON HALE is going to be there. (My daughter can’t wait.) And I can’t forget to mention Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Jessica Day George, Sara Zarr, James Dashner, Mette Harrison, Sharlee Glenn, Rick Walton, Nathan Hale, Ann Cannon, Guy Francis, Kim Justesen, Michael Tunnell, Sherry Meidell, Ken Baker, Laurel Brady, Will Terry, Anne Bowen, Kristen Randle, Randall Wright, Chris Crowe (my alter-ego…jk) Ron Woods, Carla Morris, Ann Dee Ellis, Julie Olsen, Mark and Cara Buehner, Becky Hall, and more. These are fabulous authors, and I am just one lucky duck to be hanging around in their (sniff) company. They’ll be reading, signing, and answering questions. (Me, too.) Lots of fun stuff planned for the kids, so bring ‘em. I’ll be there reading at 11:00 a.m., and signing most of the afternoon.

To read more about it, and to see the "presenter bios" (authors who will be there) click here:

Provo Children's Book Festival

See you there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Here I am at today's "Authorpalooza" book signing at the Orem Barnes and Noble. (Thanks, Sara Zarr, for taking this picture.) Book signings are fun--I really enjoyed getting to know some of the other local authors I hadn't met before, especially Wendy Toliver, Sara Zarr, and Jessica Day George, whose brains I got to pick. I asked them, "How do you work past the middle of a novel when you're burned out?" And, "How long does it take you to finish a novel?" They wanted to know how long it takes me to finish a picture book manuscript. We had lunch together, about twelve of us, and that was nice. My family came in droves, and I really appreciated their support (even when mashed potatoes and beans were being discussed loudly at my table).

It's always a little humbling going to these things, because I'm a newbie, whose book just got released. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've been given to hang out with such intriguing people, and to do something with my life I really love.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Just had the Coolest Dream...

When you’re an unpublished writer, you dream of your first book release.

You imagine walking into any random bookstore, and immediately a band begins to play. There are balloons everywhere you look. Confetti is flying. A crowd has gathered and the line winds around the perimeter of the store. Each person is clutching a copy of your book and salivating for you to sign it. The manager of the bookstore comes waltzing over and rolls out the red carpet. You’re offered a frothy drink with a little red umbrella. There are whisperings of …will there be a sequel? When will it be available? Can I order an advance copy?

No writers will admit they dream this, but we all do.

And here's the bad news. Only five out of every quintillion authors get to experience it.

So sometimes it's good to think about why we write. It's not really about achieving super-fame and fortune (or is it)? No. Don't we write because we hope to captivate, inspire, touch, terrify, transfix, enlighten, move, amuse, and surprise people? Even little four-year-old people with dirty faces? Isn't it the impact on the individual reader that we're seeking? I think, for me personally, it's the idea that somewhere out there a parent and child are sitting together, holding a book, enjoying an experience outside their reality. Cool.

Although, the frothy drink with the little red umbrella sure sounds (sigh) lovely.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sombreros and Stuff

My son’s elementary school called me this morning and asked if I’d teach a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders about how picture books are made, and anything else I'd like to say about writing. They want me to come tomorrow, and the Friday after that, and the Friday after that, and the Friday after that—an hour each day. Good grief. So here is my tentative agenda: First Friday: powerpoint on what picture book authors do, and how picture books are made. Second Friday: Talk about characters, how to make really fun picture book characters and put them in cool settings. Third Friday: Dance around in a Sombrero, do the chicken walk, play bingo and tic tac toe. Fourth Friday: Do impersonations, jokes, and sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Okay, so I have no idea what I’m doing the last two Fridays. I’ve been preparing school visit material for a long time, so I’ve already got stuff for the first two lessons. But I never thought I’d need four hours worth of instructional material. Time to get some creativity going.

And on the topic of creativity…I submitted a new story to my agent a couple of days ago. We’ll see whether it’s a go or no.

I had my first book signing last Saturday at the West Jordan B & N. I really enjoyed it...especially interacting with my friends (and fellow authors) Sharlee Glenn, Mette Harrison, and Ken Baker, and chatting with the intriguing Brandon Sanderson. My family and my good friend from high school, Sue Wilkes, came to wish me well. Sue even endured several hours of babysitting my four-year-old. Now that's devotion.