Today’s Post

Today’s post on paper engineering is suffering from the vagaries of the electronic age.  Posted 11/27, it is displayed under 11/24 here.  Please take the time to click on the link — I included two awesome videos.

My apologies for the goofiness of the computer world — a world in which I seem to have very little influence.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

What am I thankful for?   The list is long and includes my family.

  • Thank you to my husband who is supportive about my staying home to write — a choice which means less income but a great deal more sanity and happiness in our home.
  • Thank you to my son who firmly points out to his friends that YES his mother really is a writer and who has only corrected a teacher once about what it is that writers do.
  • Thank you to my sister who agreed to host Thanksgiving this year and didn’t ask me to bring anything at all.  That said, I don’t think she’ll turn down a hostess gift.
  • Thank you to all of you who read this blog and are part of my writing family!  Your words of encouragement mean so much.


Give Thanks for Innovative Ways to Connect Kids and Books

I am grateful whenever someone does something creative to help kids connect with good books. Thank you to Donna Bateman for bringing “A Story Before Bed” to my attention.

This company let’s you record a bedtime story, selecting from a number of books including Donna’s Deep in the Swamp and Jeanie Franz Ransom‘s What Really Happened to Humpty Dumpty. These ladies are part of my Gordian Knot critique group and their books are both with Charlesbridge.

A Story Before Bed advertises their service as one that enables you to read a bedtime story to your child or grandchild even when you cannot be together.  What an opportunity when you are on the road, deployed overseas or live in a different part of the country.  My mother-in-law used to send my son books for Christmas along with a tape of herself reading them.  This company makes the technology just a bit easier.

And for that, I thank them!


Give Thanks for Paper Engineering

Paper engineering fascinates me.  I’ve even managed a couple of simple pieces.

By far my favorite paper engineer is Robert Sabuda.   If you ever get the chance to hear him speak in person, take it!   Until you have that opportunity, check out this video.  You’ll have to copy and paste the URL since I can’t embed a Wall Street Journal video.  Just watching this makes me want to run down to Main Street Books and get one of his books!

Then I found this awesome trailer on the blog of  agent Janet Reid .  Pop-up style art finds stop motion video.  Awesome!  If they’re doing this kind of work in New Zealand to support their authors, I may be packing my bags!


Give Thanks for Our Ability to Laugh

What am I thankful for?   I’m not only thankful for the fact that I get to work in an industry I love, I’m thankful that writers possess the ability to laugh at ourselves and what we do.

In that spirit, check out “Tom’s Glossary of Book Publishing Terms.”  This dictionary is full of humorous takes on various elements of the business from Galleys to Letterhead and Trade Paperbacks to Self-Publishing.

Deadline:  Something that virtually assures a day composed of computer problems.

Submission:  The step that must be taken before that embarrassing typos reveal themselves.

Working from Home:  A process which makes you the easiest person in the family to find in the event of a non-emergency.

Any one else care to write one?

Thank you to agent  Janet Reid for blogging about Tom’s Glossary.


Goals — Plugging Away and Adding a New One

Wow.  I got a lot done last week although it wasn’t of the “cross it off the list variety.”

I worked through the Q&A (goal #3) and am awaiting a bit more info before finalizing it.

I submitted #4 on Monday and got a nice, big assignment which is due December 7th.

I cut 100 words from the picture book in goal #6.

I did some research for the picture book in goal #7.

I rewrote the astronomy picture book — goal #8.

I want to work on #8 and #10 (the chapter book this week but I have to work on the assignment that resulted from #4.  Hopefully I’ll manage both!

Good luck to you and I both on our writing!


Friday – Support Your Local Indie

The latest haul from Main Street Books.

As long as I’m talking about book buying, I thought I’d chat for a moment about my favorite book store.

Last Saturday my family popped across the river to our favorite independent book store, Main Street Books.  Popped.  As in 20 minute drive.  Why do we make this trip?   Better yet, why do we drive past the mall that houses a major discount chain store?

As we browsed the shelves, I realized that the man who had just entered wasn’t another customer.  He was an author there for a book signing.  It seems like most weekends this store hosts a signing or is taking part in some event  such as the recent Missouri SCBWI conference for which they stock the sale table.  This service is a huge help to conference organizers and one that many bookstores will not provide for us.

Sure, you have to pop out to another shop to get a cup of coffee but when you buy books, you are supporting someone who will support you.  In my opinion, you can’t do much better than that.


Book Sale and Craft Fair

Being able to request library books and buy books on-line has cut down on something that I truly love to do — browse through books.  What treasures will I find if I give myself the time to poke through stacks and shelves of books?

Here are two of the treasures I found at our church craft fair and book sale a few years ago.


The top image is Character Sketches of Romance Fiction and Drama, published in 1892.

The lower image is a bound series of Harper’s magazine, 1855.

They were both donated when a member had to sort through her mother’s library and estate.  The bindings are virtually non-existent so no dealer would touch them, but for a book hungry writer and historian they were a must have.



(That was for my husband just in case I come home with something new this weekend.)

If you have some free time Saturday, why not drop by Florissant Presbyterian Church sometimes between 9 am and 3 pm. You never know what we might have and there’s always  something interesting.

Unless I beat you to it!


Wednesday, Floyd Cooper

A few of Floyd's books.

I know that a lot of writers are hesitant to attend conference sessions led by illustrators but I was happy that the organizers of the Confluence Conference gave Floyd Cooper a keynote session.

Floyd is an author/illustrator who creates illustrations through the subtractive method.  Initially, he removes pigment from the working surface to reveal the white underneath.  Only after this is done does he layer in color and details.

Floyd joked about how he hates it when the UPS man arrives, because he (Floyd) is never done with his illustrations on time.  How many writers are also like that, finishing a manuscript just to e-mail it to their editor in the nick of time?  I work that way and it isn’t always minor tinkering that I’m doing 24 hours before something is due.  Nope, I’m shifting  material from one section to another and completely rewriting the beginning or the end.

When I hear someone say that it took them 10 years to write their novel, I wonder, “Could you have done it faster if you knew the UPS man would be there to get it at 5:00?”  I have my suspicions!


Leslie Wyatt

Leslie Wyatt, the author of Poor Is Just a Starting Place, was one of my fellow speakers at the Mo SCBWI Confluence Conference on Saturday, November 7.   Her session was at the same time as my own, but I would have loved to hear her speak.

One of the things she talked about did got back to me “through the grapevine.”  Leslie told attendees that there are times that they need to break the rule “show, don’t tell.”


If I never read another blow-by-blow account of a character getting out of bed, eating breakfast and/or getting on a school bus, I will be content.



There are things the reader doesn’t need to know.  These transitions can be passed over quickly.  We know how to unlock a door, make a pbj, and brush our teeth, so unless any or all of the above are integral to the plot or reveal something about the character through the quirky way that he does something, such as spreading the peanut butter with a tongue depressor, than we do not need to read about it.  Just tell us that so-and-so made his lunch.

Then, please oh please, move on to more important things.

The reader will thank you.