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New Year's Resolutions!

It's that time again for making New Year's Resolutons! My resoluions always seem to be similar to the ones I made the previous year. But if I really think about it, they're a step up, and I've at least learned from my good intentions. Or maybe I'm just making excuses!

In 2010 I will-- or at least I intend to do-- the following:

Read one children's book and one grown-up book a month.
Submit a manuscript to a magazine or book publisher each month.
Finish the picture book manuscripts in my  Read More 
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Christmas Greetings!

December always flies by so quickly! Decorating, baking, and remembering those who mean the most to us feels good. Part of the joy in celebrating Christmas includes my friends who write for children. I belong to two writers' groups. One meets every month and the other every other month. Both groups always meet in December with lunch or dinner followed by critiques.

Sharing gifts at these meetings has become a tradition. But not just any gift.  Read More 
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Name That Dog! F&G's

An early Chritmas gift came in the mail this week from Dial Books. I received the F&G's for my newest picture book, NAME THAT DOG! F&G's, meaning 'folded and gathered,' is the un-bound cover and pages of the book. I love the pictures, the lay-out, the names of the dog breeds on each page! But I especially love the cover. Portraits of different dogs from the book, the little dog on the front looking up and his portrait on the back, the bone after my name, and the pawprints on the spine and back cover. "The A to Z Guide to Perfect Pupy Names!" is the caption over the puppy portrait on the back.

Available for pre-order at stores and online, NAME THAT DOG! will be out in less than four months.

Thanks, Liz, for bringing my book to life! And thanks, Stephanie, for the great artwork!  Read More 
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Christmas Greeting to My Friends Who Write for Adults!

December always means special meetings with friends who are writers. Writers from the past as well as the present. And those who write for adults as well as for children.

I recently had lunch with some friends from the very first critique group that I belonged to, back before my first picture book ONE OF THE FAMILY was published. It was a group for writers of all genres, and not many in the group wrote for children.

Eventually a few of us decided to branch off and start a separate critique group for children's writers. It was good to have someone critique our work who understood the difference between writing for children and writing for adults. Adding more description, flashbacks, and detailed background are good in books for adults or older readers, but not for children's picture books. Rich details in fewer words work best in picture books. We learned together about writing for children in our group. Many writers came and went. My friend Karen and I stuck with it all the way, and now belong to two grops for children's writers.

Over the years we still keep close ties with some of those who write for adults, and I'm so glad that we do. It's nice when we can get a group together again, like we did last week.  Read More 
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Student Questions

I love it when kids ask questions when I visit their school. I was at Westville Elementary School and talked about writing to the students in the book clubs there earlier this week. I forgot my camera and couldn't take any pictures, so I thought I'd share some of their great questions with you instead.

How long did it take to write your picture book, TURKEY SURPRISE? It took about one year before I was happy with the final version. I do many, many revisions before I'm satisfied with how it reads. I also read my story out loud to my critique groups, and they offer comments on what is good in the story as well as what they think could be improved. It's wonderful to have writer friends who will give me their honest opinion. It doesn't hurt my feelings if they tell me something could be improved.

Who chooses the illustrator for your books? The publisher decides who will illustrate my books. However I did have the opportunity to say who I thought would be a good choice.

Do you like the illustrations in your books? The illustrations aren't always the way I pictured them in my head when I was writing the book, but I love the illustrations in all of my books! Actually, they are much better than the way I had pictured them!

Have you ever met the illustrators for your books? No I have never met them. I also haven't had any telephone conversations, or e-mails from them. Thor Wickstrom put a little yellow dog in TURKEY SURPRISE, and I was excited about that because I had a little yellow puppy. But he didn't know that.

How many books have you written? My 4th published book, NAME THAT DOG!, will be out on April 1, 2010. But I've written hundreds of books! Some are in my file folders waiting to be finished, or for me to re-write them until they are good enough to send out to publishers.

Do you work on only one book at a time? Usually I work on a book for awhile, then put it down and work on something different, like poetry or non-fiction. Then later I go back to my book with fresh eyes. I can see things in my book more clearly then that should be changed or re-written. And there are times when I'm busy with some non-writing thing, and it might be easier for me to work on a poem, because a poem isn't as long as a whole book. So I'm always working on something.

What kind of books do you like to read? When I was young I liked to read fairy tales and Nancy Drew mysteries. My favorite book was Nurse Nancy. Now I read all kinds of books but I still love to read mystery and suspense books, and I like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Thanks to all of the students and teachers and librarians for their wonderful questions!  Read More 
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