Sunday, May 24, 2009

Congratulations, MIKE!

I just learned that MIKE LESTER won the National Cartoonists Society Award for Book Illustration for COOL DADDY RAT! BRAVO! BRAVO!

Read about it here:

Congratulations, Mike! I am honored to have had access to your amazing talent. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication on this book!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Today I had a terrific time gathering with fellow authors at the Provo Children's Book Festival. Pictured above are: (From left) Anne Bowen, myself, Carol Lynch Williams, Emily Wing Smith, and Ann Dee Ellis. If you can name the mysterious man hiding in this picture, I will send you an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice). That is, if you're the first one to respond correctly. (Rock canyon writers excluded.)

The read-aloud was fun--especially reading to my neices and nephews. I feel very blessed to have family members who are so supportive. I thought, man, these kids have heard my stories so many times, do they really want to hear them again? But they listened and played along with me. It was great! The festival had face painting, puppet shows, classes, readings, free books, food, and more. There was a bit of frustration for everyone when the fire alarm was pulled by a child and the whole building flashed and screamed like it was WW IV. The alarm kept going for quite some time and I thought I might have to try to read in sync with the loud bursts of angry noise.

I feel very privileged to have met Laura Vaccaro Seeger in person. I had seen her before when she received the Caldecott Honor award at the Caldecott banquet in Anaheim, California. It was nice to talk to her today, even just for a few minutes.

At the festival there were banners with the author names hanging high on the walls. Each one had our book covers and a fun fact. My fun fact said: Her husband was on President Obama's Inauguration Security Team. So when Steve came to pick me up and saw that tidbit written about him on my banner, I noticed there was an extra bounce in his step.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Broken Glass and Potential

This picture was taken at the Provo Marriott Hotel on Saturday, April 25th. It's hard to tell, but that's me speaking to a group of writers about picture books. Sharlee Glenn and I prepared a presentation to help picture book writers self-critique their manuscripts. Speaking and making appearances is something I never really thought about when I dreamed of getting published. I am so grateful for the advice I received from some seasoned writers who told me that, while I was waiting for my first book to be released, I should begin working on some presentations. PowerPoint is a wonderful thing. I really enjoyed the conference and got to see a few old friends that I haven't been in contact with for many years. I also sold enough copies of Bedtime at the Swamp and Cool Daddy Rat that I depleted my personal supply. Sometimes an author doesn't sell too many books from these events, so I was pleased.

I have my first return school visit this Wednesday, which should be fun. And I am now officially part of the SKYPE AN AUTHOR network. That means schools can project me into their classrooms via the internet. An author visit without the travel! To learn more about this, click here.

I will be at the Provo Children's Book Festival on Saturday, May 16th. It takes place in the grand Provo Library, with authors, illustrators, activities, read-alouds, food, puppet shows, and more. It's an absolute MUST if you live anywhere in the area and have kids who like to read. They have free books to give away, too.

It's fun to think that I once lived across the street from that massive library, when it was an old decrepit "academy" building, with busted windows and satanic symbols spray painted on the walls. My front door faced the old eyesore. I was across the street in a tiny apartment with old green carpet and a homely kitchen. I used to marvel at how frightening the monstrosity looked; it was a haunted mansion. A spooky place to be at night. Yet if you looked carefully enough, there was potential for it to be something more.

All it took was a little bit of vision and lot of hard work, and that building is now a fantastic, shining library with gorgeous rooms and staircases, where people can delight in good books. And there I will be, walking around inside it, with an identity makeover of my own. Different last name and family dynamic, new strengths and weaknesses, and so much to believe in.