Monday, December 26, 2011

winter scene writing prompt for the 500 Club

It's not exactly 500 words, but I've been up since 4 a.m. and I'm completely jet-lagged, so I'm cutting myself some slack. I have been reading headlines of weird news stories today to get ideas for stories. Then I remembered my friend Amy's site: The Parking Lot Confessional, and the challenge to write to prompts.

So, I checked out the prompts for this week and went for it.

This week's prompt (the one I chose): Describe a winter scene without using the words winter, cold, snow, ice or frozen.

It took me fifteen minutes just to bundle up. We hadn't had a storm like this since eighth grade. I braced myself and opened the front door. It was a good quarter mile to the mailbox. Why couldn't we have a mailbox at the end of our walkway like normal families did? Or better yet, one of those convenient slots in our garage door? No, we had to live in "the country". We were one notch above having an outhouse in the backyard.

Crap. I could see the top branches of the pines bending. This was going to suck. I started down the porch steps, holding onto the rail so I wouldn't slip. Trudging down the path took every bit of my energy and I could already feel my socks getting wet inside my boots. This had better be worth it. The wind was slapping at my face and pulling hair out from under my hat and swirling it around in front of my face, making it hard to see. It bit through my gloves, threatening to turn me back around the way I came. Squinting to keep the chilled air from drying out my eyes, I wished I'd worn my ski goggles. Finally, I reached the mailbox. I stood there for a minute, staring it down, half expecting it to laugh at me for coming all this way for nothing. Who was I kidding, anyway? No one in my family had ever gone to college. I held my breath and opened the little arched door. I fumbled three pieces of mail with numb fingers. A bill for Mom from Target, a plea for funding from the Democratic National Committee, surely signed personally by the President, and the letter. It was here. All I had to do now was open it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amazon, Marshall Cavendish, and me

Wow. I was at my desk at eBay yesterday when the publisher of Marshall Cavendish sent through a press release about their sale of the Marshall Cavendish Children's Books line to Amazon. Wow.

The release was pretty vague, so of course I had about 63 questions after reading it. I touched base with my agent to see if she could distill any more from it and she said she had as many, if not more, questions than I did. She knew as much as I did, of course. My wonderful Cavendish editor invited me to call her to find out more. So I called her this morning.

My takeaway is complicated, my feelings complex, and leaves me (and I think all Cavendish authors) in an interesting position.

On the one hand, I am sad.

Sad for the wonderful booksellers of the world. But I'm sad for them for 2 reasons. One is that I'm reading that now they will 'never buy another Cavendish book' for their stores again. Basically, as an FU to Amazon. I totally get that, and understand and empathize with their anger. But then, how many amazing books will your customers miss out on because of this boycot? (I'm not saying this to toot my own horn - Cavendish books won several awards this year). Will booksellers be doing their customers a disservice to not carry MCCB books, just to take a stand against Amazon? Again, I don't fault them for feeling this way, as I might do the same thing. In my humble opinion, it's all about that personal touch and being able to recommend that perfect book for a child, and maybe that perfect book won't be on their shelves because they refuse to buy from Amazon.

Sad because I fear that my editor may have to change roles, not be my editor anymore (down the road), or even perhaps at some point be out of a job. Then I will be assigned an Amazon person who has never acquired or edited a children's book as my 'point of contact' within the behemoth company.  That makes me a bit nervous.

On the other hand, I am a little bit excited.

Amazon has reach like no other company out there. Where Cavendish had a small marketing staff and essentially I was/am my own publicist, perhaps Amazon may promote my books to their enormous customer base. Maybe my book will be in homes I could never have reached myself because I am simply one person and don't have the manpower or funds to tour the world.

They will likely make my book an eBook - which was only an inkling of a possibility before. It could be a color eBook for the new Kindle Fire. I like the idea of having a print and electronic version of my book.

Maybe I'll make more money with Amazon, and maybe not. But as I said to my agent today, no authors get into the children's book industry to 'make it rich.'

All I can hope for is that my books will still be relevant - to bookstores, to parents, and to children everywhere. I hope booksellers don't unintentionally punish the hardworking authors and illustrators who had no say in this decision. I hope with all my heart that my local bookstores - at least - will still allow me to do events in their stores, because I am still me.

I just want to keep sharing my books with children. Because that's all that really matters in the end. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review of my top 10 fave picture books right now

I was asked to write a round-up of my favorite picture books right now. It was a fun project and I was so happy to be able to spread the word about some of my favorite books - old and new. Check it out here at Circle of Moms. 

Reading to your child every day is easy when you have a stash of wonderful books on hand. To help you build a library of winners, we asked children's writer Sue Fliess, author of the new picture book, Shoes for Me!, to list her all-time favorites. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Favorite blog posts from my Livejournal blog

I recently changed over to blogger, and since there appears to be no easy way to transfer a livejournal blog (or any blog for that matter) to a blogger blog, I've decided to scan my old blog posts and choose some of my favorite posts.

Ending one, Starting another: Top 10 (er, 12) of 2010

parking lot confessional story prompt


My Bullying Story- in support of Young Adult Authors Against Bullying

SCBWI Asilomar Conference report

It's been a great two weeks



It's been a supercalifragilistic autumn!

photo video - hope this works...

Susie Stinkadora

SCBWI L.A. - FINALLY blogging about it

Hippos with shoes

Top 10 Reasons To Finish Your Novel

small views on death and heaven

One pair, two pair, three pair, seven...Shoes for Me, 2011!


Just in case you needed a laugh

Rutgers Conference and Surviving October

2008 Barbara Karlin Grant award

lots of activity

Independent Bookstores

Follow up notes really DO matter!


A little good news: Barbara Karlin Grant Letter of Commendation

Say No to Pea Soup

If you are interested, feel free to read my other posts at

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This is my new blog. I have 2 posts.

I've blogged for several years, but just set up this Blogger blog. Forgive me for the limited number of posts! I am trying to figure out how to transfer my blog posts with another provider over to Blogger, but the process has been wonky. Clearly I'm still figuring it out. Silver bullets welcome! Seriously - I need help. I may live in Silicon Valley, but that doesn't mean I have engineers on speed dial. 

If you know an easy way to transfer a blog, I'm all ears. 

Finishing the Bridge

My family just went camping for 3 days in Sequoia National Forest. We saw a mule deer, a garter snake (not poisonous, much to my 8 year old's dismay), lots of water (rivers and waterfalls), magestic mountains that seemed to rise out of nothing and never stop, sequoias that wouldn't fit in my camera lens, and a black bear. I'd never seen a bear up close, and fortunately, this one was quite a ways up the hill from our campsite. But I've now checked it off the list, too. 

But one of the best things I saw was before we even arrived at Dorst Creek. We were stopped at one of those construction points along the road where they have one lane closed, and they put up a temporary light, so that one lane of traffic can go through. Then your light turns green and it's your side's turn. 

We were in pole position at the red light. I watched an older man pull over, get out of his car with a small piece of cardboard, about 9"x12", and prop it up against the construction sign. He put his hands on his hips, adjusted the sign a bit, then stomped back to his car. On the cardboard, scratched in black pen was "Finish the Bridge!"

My husband and I laughed, recognizing that this bridge must have been under construction for an eternity - and still is - and this is a local guy about as sick of this section of road as he can get. 

It got me thinking about unfinished things. Unfinished projects...unfinished manuscripts. I have a novel I've been working on for a year now. It's more like a chapter book, but I like to call it a novel because I feel like the word 'novel' can give people the impression that it is very, very long, and that is why, of course, I have not finished it yet. The truth is, I'm just not applying myself to it like I should be. I'm the lady in the orange vest on the side of the road, directing traffic, sipping on a strong coffee, waiting for someone to finish the book for me. I mean, the road. Did I say book? 

I thought to myself how great would it be if I had someone standing over me, watching me write my novel, occasionally putting a sign up: Finish the book!

I think that I would. And I think that I will.