Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: The Three Ninja Pigs

Once upon an exciting time,
I purchased a new picture book.
A "ninja pigs" story
by my good friend Corey.
You'll love it! Just give it a look!

I promise, your kids will adore it
and you'll be impressed by the rhyme.
The language and meter
could not have been "sweeter."
This book's worth your money AND time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What to do while waiting

I have been on a bit of a querying frenzy with HOUSE OF BONES for the past few weeks. And it has paid off... somewhat. My beloved novel-in-verse is currently in the hands of two brilliant agents who were wise enough to request the full manuscript (that's four requests for the full so far). In addition, I'm waiting on a couple of other agents who have yet to respond. I won't mention the one who sent me a form rejection yesterday...oh, too late. But, who cares? One less that I have to wait for, I say!

I don't mind waiting. Honestly. But sometimes I can get preoccupied with the waiting, obsessed with checking email, frantic with the "what ifs" that race around in my brain.

So I have to do something. But what?

I could write. But my latest project is slow going, only revealing itself to me a few lines at a time, which reminds me of how long the publishing process can take, which reminds me that I'm waiting to hear back from agents, which leads to checking email and chasing away the "what ifs."

I could doodle. But doodling makes my mind wander, and a wandering mind leads to ideas, and new ideas lead to thinking about old ideas that led to finished projects, which reminds me that I'm still waiting to hear back from some agents.

I could revisit an old manuscript. But revising makes me wonder how much revising an editor or agent will want me to do on HOUSE OF BONES, which reminds me that I'm still waiting.

I could play Scrabble or Words with Friends. But word games always make me think of writing, and thinking of writing reminds me of waiting.

I could read. But reading a great book reminds me that I hope to be published some day, which reminds me that I really want to land an agent, which reminds me that I haven't heard back from a few agents yet.

I could scrub the bathrooms. But scrubbing grime makes me think of cutting the junk out of a manuscript, which reminds me of all the stuff I cut and tweaked in HOUSE OF BONES to make it as polished as it could be, which makes me think of how marketable it is, which makes me think of how I just need to find the right editor, which reminds me of how much I need an agent.

You get the picture. I'm obsessed. There is only one cure for this obsession, I'm afraid.

I need an agent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Avast, me hearties!

*updated 9-22-12*

It be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

If ye don't know what I be ravin' about, inspect this here web site.

What'r ye waitin' fer, ye scurvy land lubbers? Grab a cup o' grog and join in the fun! Here be some pirate-themed booty fer ye t' enjoy:

Fer those who like t' read:

How I Became a Pirate and Pirates Don't Change Diapers, by Melinda Long, fer the little land lubbers.

Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC, by June Sobel, for those hopin' fer a simple but fun alphabet book.

Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, fer those wantin t' test their sea legs.

Captain Hook poem, by Shel Silverstein.

Fer ye movie lubbers:

The Goonies


Pirates of the Caribbean, parrrticularrrly the first 'un.

Muppet Treasure Island

Treasure Planet

The Princess Bride

And here be somethin just fer laughs:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I don't do book reviews because...

I feel too bad about it when I dislike a book.

Recently someone loaned me a book to read. It was one that I had seen at stores and book fairs, and had picked it up often, but always ended up choosing something else.

It's good that I never bought it, because I would have been disappointed about having spent any money on this book that I had a hard time even finishing.

Why didn't I like it?

It could be that it was outside my usual favorite genres. But I can love any story, in any genre, if it is told right.

It could be that the voice was annoyingly inconsistent. At times the narrator seemed to be the right age, and at other times she sounded like a 40-year-old school teacher. But even this hurdle, as distracting as it was, may have been overcome if I had loved the story enough.

It could be that the story lacked any real depth, and that the narrator had to spell out for the reader exactly what she had learned and how she had grown through her experience. It had potential for great character development, but, in the end, it felt flimsy and shallow. But even shallow stories can be fun to read if they are engaging enough.

It could be that the intriguing blurb that drew me to the book ended up being misleading. I thought I was reading a story about A, but it turned out to be a story about B, with A being only one incident in the book. But as disappointing as that was, I would have gotten over it if the story drew me in.

It was really a combination of all those things.

So, authors, do your readers a favor. Keep your characters' voices consistent. If your MC is a fifteen-year-old skater boy, he should act and sound like it. He shouldn't sound like a skater boy in one paragraph and a high school English teacher in the next.

Don't be satisfied with a flimsy, fast-moving plot with shallow characters and insubstantial character growth. Reading a book like that is like eating undercooked bacon. Such potential, but hard to get into!

Your book blurb should tell us what your book is about, not what one of the cool parts in your book is. If your character has to slay a dragon, that's awesome, but don't tell us that your book is about a girl who goes on a quest to slay a dragon if that is only one of her stops along the way. That would be like saying The Fellowship of the Ring is about Frodo's encounter with the Nazgul on Weathertop.

If more authors would apply this simple advice, maybe there would be more books for me to love in the world.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Don't you just love surprise finds? I had one of those moments over Labor Day weekend, when we decided to just get in the car and drive along one of Nebraska's scenic byways. I'll admit that there wasn't much to see besides small towns, rolling fields, and farm houses. But we enjoyed our afternoon, and these little yellow gems helped make it worth the gas money.

Daughter #2 just happened to be wearing a shirt that matched the flowers!

What surprises have you enjoyed recently?