Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gettin' JAZZED about READING!

Every once in a while I open up my email and get a wonderful surprise. Last Monday I heard from Ritt Henn, a professional jazz bassist from New York City. He often performs at elementary schools to help promote music and literacy in the community. This year, his group, the JAZZMEN, chose COOL DADDY RAT as their featured storybook. They read the book, played their instruments, and even turned the scat lines into call-and-response bits for the children. Oh, how I wish I could have been there! What a way to get kids "jazzed" about reading!


Pictured left to right: Frank Wagner, Jerry Sokolov, and Ritt Henn. (Photo by Isabella Caputo.)
The Jazzmen received letters from the children, and they shared a few with me:



A big thanks to the Jazzmen for sharing my book with children in such a cool way.
If you'd like to read more about Ritt Henn, here is his website: http://www.ritthenn.com/
And here's a website for Frank Wagner: http://www.modalmoods.com/







Thursday, April 9, 2009

Words and Bricks

Writing can be a tedious, frustrating task. I think it's a little like laying bricks. You start to build up a few words, which build upon more words and more words. Days, weeks, or months later, you've got structure. You've got something to look at, something to design and plan. You keep going, not knowing exactly how the thing will turn out, but you have hope. So you dig in. You try staying focused. You take breaks because you start to go a little bonkers. And finally, voila! After a lot of hard labor, you've got a creation to be admired, and also scrutinized.

But oh, you are not finished. This is where feedback comes in. You get some people to inspect your work--people who know all about brick laying, design, and layout. And they examine what you've done very carefully. Now imagine if EVERY time they do this, they tell you that something needs reworking. This is what happens in writing. You've done well, and bravo for your efforts, but you've got to fix some things. Maybe many things. And sometimes the bricks that need fixing are at the bottom, near the foundation. You've got to rip apart that whole section and rebuild it, brick by brick.

Which is why many people want to write a novel, or a picture book, or a chapter book, but don't ever accomplish it. It's just well, darn it, FRUSTRATING to tear down and rebuild. Again. And again.

It's why authors are a little eccentric, a little bizarre, but somehow, driven. We don't have the good sense to stop. We can't; we won't. Thank heaven for that.

And curse it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Smiling Ladybugs

I’m very happy to learn that Bedtime at the Swamp is a 2009 Ladybug nominee. It’s in the company of some very delightful books, and I’m thrilled to have it be considered. To read about it, click here.


My kids are all packing up to leave tomorrow for spring break. All, that is, except my youngest. (She’s the only one who escaped the awful “musical houses” fate.) Things are going to be very quiet around here, so you’d think I could get some writing done. But sometimes it’s even harder to work when my youngest is all alone without her siblings. She needs LOTS of attention.

I’m working on a novel, but I have such a bad habit of second-guessing myself! I get going , and then I’m really on fire, when suddenly I decide that the whole premise is stupid. I start thinking of new novel ideas, and talk myself out of the current one. Bad news. Having a great idea is half the battle sometimes. I wish I were Stephenie Meyer, and that I could dream something fabulous to write about.

I submitted a new picture book manuscript to my agent(s) – this one is quite a departure for me. I am really curious to get the response. I’m predicting they won’t like it, since it’s a little wacky, but I’ve been wrong before. It’ll be interesting to find out.

My SKELETON CAT editor is requesting more revisions. Yipes. It’s back to kitty bone-picking, my friends.