Sunday, December 21, 2008

Editor Quote: Allyn Johnston

Editor Allyn Johnston joined Simon & Schuster this year to begin her new imprint, Beach Lane Books. She is known for her caring and expert work for 22 years with Harcourt Children’s Books where she rose to the position of editor in chief.

Ms. Johnston’s quote comes from the 2009 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market guide.

The question is: How would you describe the most important thing you do as a picture book editor? Part of Ms. Johnston comment is this, “Authors and illustrators are our most important resource. Without them none of us would be here. Our primary job in the editorial department is to maintain—and build—strong, trusting, collaborative relationships with them so they keep bringing their projects to us.”

Bravo, Ms. Johnston! I appreciate your honesty.

To read the complete interview, you’ll need to get a copy of the 2009 CWIM guide. The new edition is available, and you’ll find it is chocked full of information for picture book writers.

Until next time, keep your typing fingers warm . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Author Quote: Anita Riggio

Here is another quote from CBI's "In Their Own Words." Anita Riggio is author/illustrator of "Wake Up William" and gave this interview in May 1995.

About emerging writers and illustrators, she said, “Writing and illustrating is an act of courage. Unless you tap the emotional core, it will be fluff. In order to do that you have to dig deeper, become vulnerable. That’s where the good stuff is. Children know if you’re writing or illustrating on the surface. You have to be open to yourself and let others in as well, which is scary. Those people who are writing and illustrating because they can’t help themselves—they can’t stop themselves from doing it—will be successful!”

These are encouraging words for us who are not published or not book published, but have magazine credits.

I fine my heart aches when I stay away too long from working on a story. I can't not write!

Until the next Author Quote, let's keep our fingers warm and work!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shedding My Adult Skin For Snow

I live in snow country. Not too much snow, but enough to want to grab my trash can lid and look up at the sky and wait for it to come.

For me, snow will be an opportunity to shed my adult skin and become a child again.

It is always good for anyone to think like a child for a moment in time to remember the simplicity of life. It is necessary for the children's writer. It's part of our job. It is not an option. It is . . . Oh, well, you get my point. Writers need to shed their adult skin and let their child-self emerge.

Why? You may ask. Simply because if we are to write for children, we need to remember what it felt like to be a child. Remember the bad stuff and the good.

I love to do this by getting on the floor and playing with my grandchildren. Or picking flowers and smelling each one. Or, to remember that time I stood among my relatives looking at my baby sister's casket on a cold December day.

This weekend, I get to play in the snow and remember what it was like when my five siblings and I ran to be first to grab the trash can lid and slide down our hill.

Happy sliding!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Author Quote of the Week:Walter Dean Myers

I'm starting something new. Once a week I will quote an author, a tidbit for us writers to think on.

Here is a quote from Walter Dean Myers out of "In Their Own Words: The Best of CBI's [Children's Book Insider] Interviews" from November 1993. He speaks of his experience working at a publishing house. "I saw what was wrong with most of the manuscripts that were coming in. The structure was bad. The writing can be bad and they'll publish it, but if the structure is bad, they won't."

I'd like to encourage comments on this one. Is this still true today? What do you think Myers meant by structure?

My belief is that it is still true.

I've had good compliments on the storytelling of my MG work-in-progress, TALKING MAMA HOME, by the Ones Who Should Know. But my structure is not working for them. I'm working right now to correct that, and when I found Myers quote it touched home for me.

Until next week on Author Quotes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

After A Holiday


I've been gone for nine days and settling in is not easy. Where do I start with all the work at home and at my desk?

I've learned over the years that fretting gets me nowhere. Procrastination gets me nowhere. I have to just start. Somewhere. Just now, I made myself stop checking emails and do what I feel needs the most attention. My blog.

I hope my readers had a restful Thanksgiving with much visiting. We worked a lot, which was a good thing, helping out family that needed a rest. I brought my laptop with my air card for Internet, but it was a bad reception in the house where we stayed. And I found no time in my head for writing work. But, that was okay.

I didn't stop reading the book I brought with me, "Jacob Have I Loved", by Katherine Paterson. Not the first time I've read it and I enjoyed it once again.

Now that I'm home, I'm grateful I'm not eating all that Thanksgiving pie. I got to where I couldn't take another bite. I'm eating light meals with wholesome foods again.

On the trip to and from California, which takes us about 14 hours of driving time, I worked on my MG work-in-progress, TALKING MAMA HOME. Now, I have an article for our local paper that needs rewritten, so I'll tackle that.

I find I am not an every day writer. I wish I were. Don't get me wrong, there are seasons in my life where I write every single day on projects I want to work on. And especially if I have a deadline project for an editor. I do my best to please them. I've come to realize, I thrive on time crunches. I can even tackle life's problems in between my writing.

I'd like to see comments on how others ease into work at their desks after a holiday.

Now! (as I rub my hands together) I'm ready to write, which is always a glad time for me.