So this is pretty random

I missed a deadline.

Boy, do I hate when I do that.  No excuses.  Except…could I tell you all about how I was copy editing/proofreading/fine-tooth combing Dolphin Girl?  Or about how Whatcha’ Reading Now? launched their sports issue last week?  Or about how I had family come for a visit?  Or how I’m beta reading an incredible novel for a critique partner?  But it all comes down to the same thing.  Excuses.

Are you wondering what deadline was missed?  Last week’s Random Acts of Publicity campaign–which is such a truly awesome idea–that’s what.  If you know about Random Acts of Publicity skip ahead.  But if not, here’s the scoop. Every year Darcy Pattison runs this on her blog and the idea is we’re supposed to celebrate our friends’ books by blogging, tweeting reviewing, linking–you get the idea.

I love the idea of helping other people, especially other authors.  So because I missed the deadline, shoot I missed the whole week, I think my shout outs here are hyper-random.   Here goes:

Kai Strand  — Recently I judged a global contest for e-books (I think that’s probably another post) and I read Kai’s book The Weaver, which was so well-written and an incredibly unique premise.  The main character, Mary, lives in a little town of word weavers, a population of people who specialize in storytelling.  She suffers because the skill doesn’t come naturally to her.  The thing that I really loved about this book was how Kai wove multiple stories into the main story and the entire work had an original fairy tale feel.  Kai doesn’t know me from brussel sprouts, which ups the randomness of this shout out.

Janeen Mason — If you don’t know Janeen or her books, you really need to look for them.  I swear she’s going to go all Caldecott on me one day.  Beautiful, beautiful illustrations.  This year alone she’s had two incredible books:  The Gift of the Magpie, which is an adorable story about birds and a love of shoes that she both wrote and  illustrated and Fish Facts, the latest of her ocean themed non fiction picture books.  Janeen and I share a love of the ocean, so I’ll be adding this one to my collection.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez — I was so blessed to have been a beta reader for Christina’s debut novel The Red Umbrella.  Recently it was selected by for the Common Reading Program by FIU for the incoming freshman class.  It’s the beautiful and heart wrenching story of Operation Pedro Pan, the exodus of children from Cuba to the U.S. in the midst of  Castro’s revolution.  I’m anxiously awaiting her second novel, A Thunderous Whisper, which will be released in 2012.

Rhonda Stapleton — For a long, long, long time I was a lurker on Verla’s Blue Boards, which is a forum for aspiring children’s book writers if you haven’t been there.  Now I post every once in a while, but way back when I read comments by all these other brave souls who were actually sharing the results of their queries and rejections in pursuit of their agent and publication. Rhonda was one of those brave souls and I cheered (to my-cowardly-self) when she got her book deal and I was finally able to read her books.  Recently, I ordered Pucker Up, the third and last book in her Stupid Cupid trilogy.  These books are funny and sweet, so read ’em if you haven’t yet!

Laura Murray — At my very first SCBWI, in my very first critique group, Laura read a picture book about a mischievous gingerbread man who during the first day of Kindergarten takes off to explore the school.  Along the way the gingerbread man meets some pretty important people in the school–the cafeteria lady, the school nurse, the coach, and, of course, the principal.  It was absolutely adorable when she read it and so I was thrilled for Laura when she sold it to Putnam.  The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School is fresh off the presses and new and fun and has adorable illustrations.

Danielle Joseph — In South Florida we are very fortunate to have an incredibly tight SCBWI chapter and writing community, which centers around a critique group run by the talented teacher Joyce Sweeney.  During my first class/group with Joyce, Danielle read the first chapter of Dead Air, which was later re-named  Shrinking Violet, a story about a shy girl who loves music and wants more than anything to be a DJ. Ultimately, this book went on to become Danielle’s debut novel and, now, Shrinking Violet has another name — Radio Rebel, a Disney made for TV movie which will air in January 2012.  Not only that, but Danielle has a new novel–her third–Pure Red.  I pre-ordered for my Kindle and it’s coming on October 1.  Can’t wait!

Donna Gephart — Somehow I missed reading Donna Gephart’s debut novel when it first came out.  Then, it won the Sid Fleischman award for humor.  Then, I met Donna in January and she is one of the sweetest people ever. Then, as if I needed to be hit repeatedly on the head with a hammer, I read As If Being 12 3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough (My Mother Is Running for President). It’s so funny, but filled with big heart too.  So, right now I’m excited that her second novel How to Survive Middle School is in paperback and I’m especially looking forward to Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen.  The reason? I know it will be funny, but also because I kick a$$ in Trivial Pursuit and am particularly obnoxious when watching Jeopardy. 😀

Okay, that’s it. One shout out for every day of the week.  And, if you’re wondering why the list is in the order that it is, please rest assured that I don’t play favorites.  In the spirit of all things random, names were drawn from a coffee mug by my eleven year old.  And if you’re wondering why it’s Wednesday instead of the beginning of this week, well, we launched the Whatcha’ Reading Now? blog yesterday, but I know, I know, I promised.  No more excuses.


September 14, 2011. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Authors Helping Authors

One of the things I’ve always loved about the writing community is how generous its members are.  When I decided to take my writing seriously, act like a professional, and attend my first SCBWI conference , I never would have guessed how many veterans would be willing to hold out a helping hand.  I had thought of writing as this solitary activity.  You know, be independent; be disciplined.  Yes, it’s important to be those things, but not in the absolute way I had envisioned.  I still remember the moment I read an author’s acknowledgments and realized how many writers knew and supported each other.

I don’t have to do this alone.  That was a powerful idea.

After that, I joined a critique group (or two) at my first opportunity and went through what I refer to as my Goldilocks phase—too hard, too soft, and finally just right!  Even the ones that weren’t quite right showed me how much I didn’t know, which, incidentally, was a lot.  And later still, feedback from agents and editors refined my writing even further. Then, finally, after gaining experience  I was in the position to help others.

So, I volunteered for SCBWI and created the Whatcha’ Reading Now? web-site with a couple close writer friends—Kerry O’Malley Cerra and Jill MacKenzie.  Helping out with SCBWI was and still is a way of giving back.  The site, on the other hand,  started out as a way to engage readers and get them excited about books.  But one huge side benefit has been to help authors have one more way to touch their existing readers and hopefully reach some new ones too.  And, while Whatcha’ Reading Now? feels like a lot of work sometimes (most especially last night as I worked on getting our webmaster the content for our 12th issue),  it is gratifying work.

So, my community of children’s writers is so big-hearted.  So kind.  But, really the story goes beyond this one community…

A little while back, I read on another blog about how veteran author  Joe Konrath  helped a Scott Doornbosch, a long-time friend of his, self publish his first novel, Basic Black.  The reason?  Scott is fighting cancer, and although hopefully he’ll win, what if he didn’t and ran out of time?   If you’ve ever read this blog, you’ll know what makes it remarkable is that Konrath seems like a pretty hard-boiled guy, but the truth of the matter is that he’s more generous than, than, than…The Average Joe.  If you’re at all interested in the full account of this generosity, be sure to visit the blog here.  Then this week, he did it again for author L.A. Banks.  A benefit to help her offset medical bills.  He makes my pay it forward efforts seem pretty puny.

I mentioned in an earlier post of mine (here) how I believe volunteerism is a personal responsibility for each of us.  Whether it’s being a room mom, a youth sports coach or someone’s mentor we are meant to help each other.  And sometimes when we do that, we help ourselves at the same time.  Some people call that karma.  I call it doing the right thing.

Who has helped you recently?  Why not give them a shout out in the comments!

August 10, 2011. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

%d bloggers like this: