Monday, October 25, 2010


Boo! Yes, Halloween is creeping up on us. All the decorations and costumes floating about have me thinking about superstitions (in addition to ghosts and goblins, tricks and treats). I don’t consider myself superstitious, but in honor of Halloween, I thought I’d share some confessions that might prove me wrong.

To begin with, I rarely discuss what my work in progress is about. Okay, a few people close to me know what I am writing, mostly because they have to listen to me rant about the snags and tangles that I encounter. In general, though, I keep the subject matter hush-hush, especially while the first draft is under construction. I suppose I am superstitious that I will jinx the work if I blab about the topic.

Also, I won’t revisit a manuscript once it is in my agent’s hands. Partially because I know that I will want to tweak and rework the thing. Also, though, I wonder if fussing with a work being submitted is bad mojo.

And, I don’t read my novels cover to cover once they make their debut into the world. I live in fear of finding a mistake that I can no longer fix. This may be more paranoia than superstition.

Finally, I always carry a flash drive with me. Mostly because I back up my work every time I type more than five words. I have never lost a manuscript (knock on wood), but there’s always the potential. And I’m pretty sure that this potential for catastrophe quadruples if I don’t have my trusty flash drive with me. Call it my good luck charm.

Enough about me. How about you? Do you have any superstitions?

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Recently, I had the privilege of reading a fantastic middle grade novel: DOGSLED DREAMS by Terry Lynn Johnson. Terry and I share a love of dogs and writing, so I was honored and thrilled when she asked me if I would be willing to read an ARC (an advanced reader copy) of DOGSLED DREAMS, due out in January of 2011. What a treat reading this novel turned out to be!

I loved Terry’s writing, to begin with. Crisp and vivid details pulled me right into her story about twelve-year-old Rebecca and her hopes of becoming a famous dog sled racer. And the first chapter includes an event that propelled me right into the second chapter despite the fact that it was long past my snooze time and I’d had a crazy schedule waiting for me the next day. Let me assure you that reading past my bedtime, especially when I know that the nasty alarm will be screaming too early, is an indication that I am very much into a story.

DOGSLED DREAMS kept me interested and flipping pages until the very end. I found this novel to be engaging, often exciting, and really funny at times. It is full of fascinating information about dog sled racing and some of the dogs that are a part of it. Rebecca and her wonderful pups came alive and brought me along with them on their adventures. What could be better? I loved it!

You can read more about Terry Lynn Johnson and DOGSLED DREAMS at

Happy reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A wonderful opportunity came my way this summer. I was invited to join the KidLit Authors Club. What is the KidLit Authors Club? A group of children’s book authors from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. These fabulous authors have published picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult books. Here are the profiles of everyone in the club:

What does this group do? Ah, this is the fun part. Kidlit Authors Club members participate in book signings, appear on panels, present writing workshops, visit schools, and more. Amazing, right? I am thrilled to be included as a member of this fantastic crew. This week, as a matter of fact, I am presenting with other authors from KidLit Authors Club for the first time. Two other members and I will be at the East Brunswick, N.J., Barnes and Noble tomorrow evening. Thursday evening, some of us will be at the Clifton, N.J., Barnes and Noble. Fun!

Promoting great books with great people? What could be better? To learn more about the Kidlit Authors Club, check us out on Twitter ( ) and on Facebook (

Happiness is sharing the wonderful world of children’s books with great people!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Bliss of Organization

I may have a file addiction. It began after hearing the wonderful Paul Fleishman speak at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s conference in L.A. The second he spoke a certain magic word, organization, I leaned forward in my seat. From that moment on, I ignored everything else. He went on to describe how he stays organized while writing a novel. I leaned even farther forward as he outlined how he creates separate file documents on his computer. Documents such as: a “work in progress” file, a “working it out” file where he outlines story problems he encounters and possible solutions, an outline file, and a back matter file for title ideas and people he needs to acknowledge.

I could not scribble notes fast enough. These files, I thought, are exactly what I need. I am happiest when I am organized. Yet, most of the information for my current work in progress was crammed into two humungous documents. And believe me when I confess that each file was a dump of tangled, knotted, piled together information. So, I decided to try out Paul Fleischman’s file ideas. Wow. What a difference.

I now have, in addition to my first draft document, a file for my characters, a revision file where I note what I will need to fix after the first draft is completed, a “to do” file, and a file of calendars and time lines. I also created a “darlings” file. Here, I stow copy that I adore even though it is not working in my manuscript. Writers are supposed to “kill their darlings,” which means nixing the copy that isn’t working, no matter how fabulous the writing may be. Hatchet murdering beloved sentences, phrases and even blocks of writing that came from blood, sweat, and tears, though, seems a bit harsh. Now, I send my darlings away to hang out in a cozy document. Much better than cold-blooded murder, I think.

Yes, I’ve been hitting the “new blank document” button on my laptop enough that I am wearing out the plastic key. Whatever. This is a small price to pay, I think, for the bliss of organization. Now, if I could only work this file magic on other disheveled elements of my life that often take a backseat to my writing. Yeah, those.

So, tell me: How do you stay organized?