Realities of the Writing LIfe

16 03 2015

writingMost writers rack up rejection slips as they dream of the day that they’ll sign with an agent. Once they get the call and sign with their dream agent, most authors discover they’ll need additional edits on the manuscript they’ve already worked to death. And except for a lucky few, a long wait follows while the book goes out on sub. Then there’s the wait for the book to make it past the acquisitions committee.

Finally comes that glorious day of signing a book contract–one of the pinnacles of an author’s life. But wait…

You can’t tell anyone your fabulous news until it’s officially announced. So you spill the secret to a few trusted friends and family members and wait impatiently for the day you can shout it to the world. Then you bask in the congratulations and eagerly await the day your book heads to publication. Soon you’ll hold your baby in your hands! Yay! Um, no…

monkey reading

Although some days it may feel as though a team of monkeys is tearing apart your baby, in the end you’ll find the book has greatly improved.

It’s time for more waiting… For the editorial letter(s). And the REAL work begins. You thought your gem was finished? Sorry, the editor has plenty of requested changes. Then the copy editor. Then the proofreaders. And then is it ready yet?

Not yet. Next is waiting for the illustrator if it’s a children’s book. Then galleys, F&Gs, ARCs, final printing. Is it a book yet? Finally, yes. But there’s still waiting for release day.

And if you thought you were done working when you turned in your final draft, you’re discovering you’re working harder than ever — promoting your book, working on the next book, setting up school/library visits and bookstore signings…

But the upside of all this is that at least you can quit your day job and totally focus on your writing. Um, no…

Is This What Librarians Are Really Like?

Noooo!!!

Even if you got a six-figure advance (which most authors only dream of), you haven’t made much money yet. Don’t believe me? Check out agent Jennifer Laughran’s post about author advances, REAL TALK: $ix Figure Book Deal$, for the truth.

So you’ve gone through all of this and still need to keep your day job? Wouldn’t you have been better off working a second job for minimum wage? Probably. But why did you do this in the first place?  If it was for LOVE or to touch lives or to increase literacy, you’ll have the joy of seeing your book in reader’s hands. And nothing is more valuable than that.Children

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Chocolate Book Blog

12 07 2014

When I agreed to do this blog, I wondered how I could possibly combine books and chocolate. First of all, I LOVE way too many children’s books to choose favorites and second, I’m not a fan of chocolate. Now before you run in the opposite direction screaming at such sacrilege, perhaps I should explain.

choc house I used to be a total chocaholic in my early years. Then I got the ultimate job ever at age 16 – working in the Chocolate House at HersheyPark. After eating chocolate cake for breakfast, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup topped with chocolate whipped cream for lunch, and following that with a chocolate milkshake and candy bars for my afternoon snack every day for months, I cured myself of my chocolate addiction.

But I never managed to cure myself of my book addiction. After I learned to read, I always had a book with me — a practice that grew into a 30-book-a-week habit from 4th grade on. I hid books in my desk at school and read while the teacher talked. I read with a flashlight under the covers at night. I read while my friends watched TV or played outside.

Of course, I grew up to become a librarian and later an author. So now in addition to reading, I’m also always writing. Or illustrating. Or spending time with other writers and illustrators, who share my passion for the written word. So choosing favorite books is even more difficult at this point in my life. So for every book I list here, there are hundreds or thousands of others I wish I could include. I went back to my childhood bookshelf to choose the books that had the most worn and dog-eared pages.

littleprincesspicturebook1I’m going to start with the book I reread most often: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved Sara Crewe’s journey from pampered rich girl to abused servant girl (a reverse rags-to-riches story).

I dreamed of being just like her — staying happy and cheerful even in the worst circumstances. In the end, Sara receives her reward when she’s rescued by her father’s partner and once again becomes a wealthy heiress. But no matter what occurred in her life, she remained a princess with a big heart. From her, I also learned the power of imagination.

 

Because one of Sara’s triumphs over the nasty headmistress was when she spoke fluent French to the language teacher, I chose a chocolate eclair to pair with the book.

eclair

wrinkle in timeMy second most-read book was Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time. It transported me to another time and place. I reread the whole series multiple times and dreamed of someday becoming a writer as skilled as L’Engle.

The whole trilogy intrigued me, but I have to say my favorite of the three was A Wind in the Door, when Meg had to fight for her brother’s life.

It was in this series that I was first introduced the Francis Thompson quote, “Thou canst not stir a flower / Without troubling a star.” That made me appreciate the vastness of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life. I realized the impact even tiny acts of kindness can have on the world around me, and to this day, I can’t pull weeds without feeling a vast sadness. I’d rather have an overgrown garden than remove a plant, any plant — even a weed.

Because this trilogy deserves something out-of-this-world, I chose a Milky Way.

1280px-Milky-Way-Bars-USUK-Split

Moving back to very early childhood, two Little Golden Books that were worn ragged were The Poky Little Puppy and The Color Kittens.

Poky puppyJanette Sebring Lowrey‘s Poky Little Puppy was a slowpoke, but rather than learning the lesson to be on time, I realized it was better to procrastinate because the poky puppy ended up with more desserts and freedom than his siblings who arrived home on time. That turned into a lifetime habit of procrastination, and although at times, it causes problems, most often I find procrastination has many benefits. So I can thank the Poky Puppy for that life lesson. And the illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren, who also illustrated The Shy Little Kitten, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, many other Golden Books, instilled a deep desire to illustrate children’s books when I grew up.

 

Color_KittensThe Color Kittens, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Alice Provensen and  Martin Provensen, introduced me to the world of mixing colors. I spent hours trying to accomplish the color mixing with my box of crayons. Back then I determined to master the intricacies of colors, a goal I’m still trying to achieve in my art classes.

Margaret Wise Brown also proved to be an inspiration in my picture book writing. Someday I hope to be as prolific as she was.

For childhood dreams and coziness, I think a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows puddling on top sipped in a rocker evokes the warmth and joy of these picture books.

cocoa

My list wouldn’t be complete without my favorite heroine, Pippi Longstocking. I thrilled to her adventures and travel and independence. In a time when so many girls were portrayed as gentle and mild-mannered, Astrid Lindgren‘s Pippi jumped off the page, did what she pleased without adult supervision, and lived life on her own terms.Pippi She said what she thought without fear of consequences.

Pippi taught me to challenge authority and to never fear being myself, even if it meant standing out from the crowd. From her striped stockings to her wild red braids, Pippi demonstrated what it meant to be true to yourself.

In keeping with her tropical environment, I paired Pippi with my favorite coconut treat, an Almond Joy. And the fact that it contains nuts makes it a perfect match for Pippi’s zany nuttiness.

1280px-Almond-joy-broken

 

 

 

So who do you have to thank for all this chocolaty goodness? Eileen Moynihan of Childhood Books asked me to participate in this Chocolate Book Blog started by Karen Hall. You can read Eileen‘s and Karen‘s Chocolate Book Blogs by clicking on their names. The next person who’s handed the baton has to write a blog post naming 6 of their favourite books and linking one kind of chocolate to each book. Luckily for me, I found a chocolate lover in Monette Pangan, who’ll be bringing you more mouthwatering books and chocolate next Saturday.





Celebrate Children’s Book Week

11 05 2010

I’m lucky enough to be part of this illustrious group of authors who will be celebrating Children’s Book Week at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC. Here’s a press release about the event:

CELEBRATE CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK WITH SEVEN LOCAL AUTHORS

Chapel Hill, NC, May 16, 2010—Join seven local children’s and young adult authors for a reading, question-and-answer session, and booksigning. Hear excerpts from David Macinnis Gill’s award-winning Soul Enchilada (Greenwillow); Bonnie J. Doerr’s eco-mystery Island Sting (Leap Books); Carolyn McAlister’s retold folktales ¡Holy Molé! (August House) and Brave Donatella and the Jasmine Thief (Charlesbridge); Maryam Tabibzadeh’s poetic Persian Dreams (Dream Books); Laurie J. Edwards’ biography of R&B singer Rihanna (Lucent) and thriller/romance from the anthology Summer Lovin’ (Wild Rose Press); Adrienne Ehlert Bashista’s picture books on Russian adoption, When I Met You and Mishka: An Adoption Tale (DRT Press); and Anne Runyon’s seasonal picture book, The Sheltering Cedar (Portal Press).

Attendees will be treated to a sneak peek at two of Leap Books’ most recent paranormal releases: Freaksville by Kitty Keswick and Under My Skin by Judith Graves. These teen novels have unique graphics and illustrations by Canadian artist Val Cox.

Leap Books, a newly launched publisher of teen and tween books, is sponsoring this Children’s Book Week . Featured authors are all local members of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), an international organization that provides networking, education, and support for authors and illustrators of children’s books at all stages of their careers.

The American Booksellers Association began Children’s Book Week in 1919. In 1944 the Children’s Book Council (CBC) took over the role of promoting reading and literacy through Children’s Book Week activities. Each year in May, CBC sponsors a nationwide week of events to encourage children and teens to read. A list of these events, as well as related online activities, can be found at the CBC website.





Love to Read?

1 12 2009

Then check out the 2010 Debut Authors Challenge. Blogger Story Siren has a great post with 30+ covers of books coming out next year by first-time authors.  And these covers look great. They make you want to dive right in. Why, oh why, do we have to wait until next year to sample these treats?

One consolation: January is only 1 month away!!