Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ALA 2010 Part 2

Some of the 2,498 authors and illustrators I ran into (in no particular order)...

This year's Newbery winner (When You Reach Me), Rebecca Stead:

Rebecca Stead (right) and me

Paul Zelinsky was wearing a vest made from fabric that has his artwork on it. Totally cool.

Paul Zelinsky (right - duh) and me

I finally got to meet author Sara Lewis Holmes. She gave out little plastic army guys at her signing for Operation Yes, is uber cute, and has a darling little Southern accent. How could I not love her?

Sara Lewis Holmes (right) and me

I was so glad to meet agent Linda Pratt, of Fogelman Agency. She represents my good friend, Augusta Scattergood:

Linda Pratt (left) and me

Another online pal I finally got to meet was Kim Norman. Kim makes you want to hug her immediately (which I did):

Kim Norman (left) and me

A highlight for me was chatting with the amazing Karen Cushman. I don't think I've raved about her latest book nearly enough. I'm a big big big big Karen Cushman fan. (And she gave me the scoop on how to score Kirby Larson's arc.)

Karen Cushman (left) and me

Another highlight? Getting to hug my friend, Grace Lin, this year's Newbery Honor winner, on one of the most exciting days ever. The Newbery banquet was that evening (alas, I did not attend). She is beautiful through and through. (And I guessed correctly which dress she was going to wear to the banquet.)

Grace Lin (right) and me

Eric Rohmann was at the Macmillan dessert party with Candace Fleming (who said I could call her Candy cause we're good friends, like that, now) and is kind of hilarious.

Liz Hartman of Macmillan (left) and Eric Rohmann

And last, here is a giant wreath of bar stools. Just cause I like it (and no, I wasn't trying to sit on them and order a Cosmo):

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ALA 2010 Part 1

I have lots of photos of ALA.

The first night started with a lovely dinner.

(l to r) Liz Hartmann, Executive Director of Publicity/Marketing at Macmillan, author/illustrator Peter Sis, me

Next it was lunch with my fabulous editor (FSG), the grande dame of children's book publishing, Frances Foster:

Frances Foster (right) and me

Then Frances and I headed over to the Convention Center:

The first person we ran into was David Small! He illustrated the cover of my first novel back in 1999. He wrote me a lovely note, which I still have in my scrapbook. It was great to be able to finally chat with him in person.

David Small (left) and his wife, Sarah Stewart

That night, Macmillan hosted a lovely dessert party. I finally got to meet my friend, fellow author Monika Schroder. Monika is the librarian at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. I felt like I'd known her forever. She is charming and smart and funny and likes me despite my Cafe Francais addiction.

Monika Schroder (left) and me

I scored some great swag. Here are my favorites. Monika's new book with FSG, Saraswati's Way, Kirby Larson's new book with Scholastic, The Fences Between Us and a beautiful elephant bookmark given to me by Monika.

Then I dashed over to the Scholastic booth to see my pal Kimberley Griffiths Little's new book, The Healing Spell. Also fun to see Debbie Wiles's Countdown and Cindy Lord's Touch Blue. (And I apologize if your book is in this photo and I didn't draw a red arrow over it. I'm sure I love it, too.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

ALA Annual Conference

I got home from ALA last night.

Pant, pant, zzzzzzz.

I have lots of pics.

Will post soon.

Three words:

It was fun!

The Healing Spell Trailer

Check this out from the uber talented Kimberley Griffiths Little. I TOLD you the setting is amazing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ALA Annual Conference

ALA Annual Conference
Washington, DC

I'll be signing at FSG Booth #2816 on Sunday, 11 to 12

Hope to see you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


My unproductive writing day:

I hate first drafts.

The Healing Spell

If you've never been to the bayous of Louisiana, buckle your seat belt and read The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

Talk about setting!!!!

Talk about sensory details!

Talk about rich characters!

Fascinating reading by an author I adore.

Read it.

Reviewed by Abby the Librarian.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Skype visit...

....with Dover Plains Middle School in Dover Plains, NY.

Book Trailers

I've made book trailers for my last three books (Greetings From Nowhere, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and my upcoming The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester).

Because I had no idea how to make a book trailer, I put a lot of time into learning how.

For any authors who are fiddling around with making one, I thought I'd pass along some of the things I learned:

  • I use iMovie. If you're a Mac lover, you'll like using it.
  • You need to have permission to use images. Even though they are "royalty-free", you still have to pay a fee to use them. This usually averages about $100 or so, for me. (I used the small size resolution.) I used the following sites for images.
  • I've used a variety of sources for music. For Greetings from Nowhere, I paid the composer for his original music. I paid a fee from for the music for The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. For The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, I used music available (free) on iMovie.
  • You may be inclined to make your frames shorter (time-wise) because it feels too fast. Don't. Slow it down a bit. The viewer needs time to absorb the image and read the text. (It's like when you read out loud and you tend to go too fast.)
  • If you publish your trailer to YouTube, be sure you also publish to TeacherTube. Many (most?) schools block access to YouTube.
  • Test your site on YouTube using the private setting (i.e., not public). Sometimes, parts of the trailer will be jerky. I have no idea why. A couple of times I had to change a "moving" frame to a still frame because I couldn't get the jerkiness out of it. A smarter person probably knows how to fix this.
  • Your publisher may be able to have your trailer posted on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. But these sites prefer that you not have a pub date or an exterior web site reference.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another great book trailer.

This one from the uber talented Lisa Graff for her adorable Sophie Simon Solves Them All.

I LOVE this book. For anyone looking for funny reads for the younger set that will appeal to both girls and boys, look no more.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I love kids

From a fan:

Thank you so much for signing my book. I will treasure it for a while.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bats at the Ballgame

I'm delighted to present the book trailer for Bats at the Ballgame, the new picture book by author/illustrator/friend, Brian Lies

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rhythm again

You know how rhythm is really important to me?

Here's a rather mundane example that happened to me today:

I wrote:

Big, crooked red letters with long drips of paint that ran down the fence and ended in splattered drops on the gravel.

I wanted that word crooked in there as far as description.

But it didn't fit the rhythm.

It got the axe.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grackle cackle solution

In case you're interested, the hanging CD solution is pretty darned effective!

Who knew?

Here's the deal:

Grackles love to nest in pine trees. They are meticulous about keeping their nests clean.

The baby grackles leave "fecal sacs" (I know, I know....eeeeyew) that the adults then carry away.

They are attracted to swimming pools because they have an instinct to look for water. (Supposedly, at one time, they mainly nested by rivers.)

So they leave the fecal sacs in or beside your pool!!

The good news is that the babies are only in the nests for about 18 days.

Now, see? You learned something today.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thanks, Abby!

Just wanna give a little shout-out and a thank you to my friend, Abby.

Love the How to Steal a Dog poster!

I give you an A+++++!

She did a great interview with me and posted the Q&A's on the other side:

Friday, June 11, 2010

My writers' group celebrates!

Here's my writers' group (which started TWENTY YEARS AGO) celebrating Brian Lies's amazing new picture book, Bats at the Ballgame. Just WAIT until you see it!

Brian gave us all Bats at the Ballgame baseball caps and a set of adorable "bat cards."

(l to r, standing) Mary Wisbach, Brian Lies, Delia Weikert, me, Valerie Kerzner, Weisy MacMillan; (seated) Kim Marcus (not shown: Deanna Garland, Leslie Guccione)

(l to r, standing) Mary Wisbach, Delia Weikert, me, Valerie Kerzner, Carolyn DeCristofano, Weisy MacMillan; (seated) Kim Marcus

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One Book One Community

In a few weeks, I'll be visiting students at Dover Plains Middle/High School in Dover Plains, NY - where I'm proud to say they have been using How to Steal a Dog for their One Book/One Community project.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ta da! My new trailer!

So, today is the world premiere of the trailer for my upcoming middle grade novel, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester.

It's also featured over on Macmillan's MacKids blog.


Grackle cackle

So, we have this grackle problem.

I used to not mind the grackles. I find them sort of humorous.

But this year, I've changed my mind.

They are here in hordes and their favorite thing to do is to swoop over our swimming pool and leave deposits (if you know what I mean.)

Deposits everywhere.

In the pool. On the deck. On the patio furniture. On my favorite Adirondack chairs.

So we Googled the problem and, of course, everyone in the universe has a solution.

Since I couldn't find a Mr. Flip...

....we chose the next most popular solution. Hanging CDs in the area.

Yes, CDs.

It's a lovely look.

It's sort of a Hillbilly Country Club.

But will it work?

I'll let you know.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm a mind reader

I'm working on a new novel.

I just wrote the following:

Gerald's mother came out the next morning and painted over it but the words still showed through, pale pink on the white fence.

A year from now, a copyeditor is going to want to insert a comma after "it" (...painted over it, but the words...)

I know.

And I will agree.

But I won't like it.

Because I don't HEAR that comma.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fans of The Dog

I recently received some great letters and drawings from these terrific students in Iowa:

Thanks, y'all!