Monday, October 04, 2010


On facebook I posted some of my favorite artists "...who have influenced you and will always stick with you." That's a tough job! I invited others to do the same.

This was my list:

Gary Baseman
Monte Beauchamp
Benjamin Gudel
Maurice Sendak
Tom Friedman
Gary Panter
Chuck Close
Grant Wood
Wayne Thiebaud
Charles Adams
Roy Lichtenstein
Mark Ryden
Eric White
Clayton Brothers
Jules Feiffer
Mercer Mayor
Edward Hopper
Norman Rockwell
Henri Roussaeau
Philip Guston

Then my friend posted this:

"Jeebus. Are these all men??!! Seriously? C'mon, lady!" Oops! How could I do this? Don't I LOVE any female artists? Apparently not many. I came up with ONE to add: Marjane Satrapi - Now mind you I'm not adding photographers and all of that, when I say "artists" I'm just doing illustrators and painters and that sort of thing. I can't get into photography and all of that or the list will be a mile long. The "rule" was supposed to be "Fifteen" and I already broke that.

anyway, my question to you all is this: Do I just like the type of art that is done primarily by men or are the trendsetters mostly men? Are the edgy/comic-booky type people mostly men? What is the deal here? I did add some old classic folk like Hopper, Guston, and Wood... but still, all men. I don't WANT all of my favorites to be all men! I don't WANT to be sexist! But I guess I like who I like. I've heard people mention before that the Caldecot winners are rarely women. Does this hold true here too? Do women just suck? Ooh, yeah, I said it!!!

... but I didn't mean it.


Sunday, October 03, 2010


I want to know what your studio looks like. Please show me! And can I please collect it and put it on my website? Every time I flip through an artist book or magazine I stop at the studio part and get mesmerized by it. I figure, why not collect a whole bunch to look at all of the time? Maybe other people are like me and will want to look at my collection. So please help me to make this work!


Friday, October 01, 2010

The Crocodile's Toothache by Shel Silverstein

For your viewing pleasure today, I have a video of The Crocodile's Toothache--performed by its author Shel Silverstein.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original poem titled Cotton Candy.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Bibliophile this week.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

San Francisco adventures and a book signing

We are at last getting settled in our new city! Its so gorgeous here, I could spend hours wandering around the different neighborhoods taking it all in. I love that gardens are still in full bloom... there seem to be rose bushes and nasturtiums and bougainvillea everywhere.

This is the view from a nearby hilltop, looking north towards the Marina. The hill we hiked to get there was so steep it had stairs!

The architecture around here is just amazing.

Here are some shots from a recent hike around the Lincoln Park area; China Beach, Lands End, and the Sutro Baths.

This Sunday I'll have my first book signing for Disappearing Desmond, which just came out last month. I'm excited to get to know some west coast book stores and read the book to kids for the first time! If you're in the area please join me. Here are the details:

Sunday, October 3rd
11:30 am
Kepler's Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 324-4321

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

rubbing elbows

So I was incredibly honored to be one the authors at the Boston Public Library's Literary Lights Event this past Sunday:
One of the best things at this event was something that Jerry Spinelli noted in his speech, it was an event where there were more children than adults:
Which made it wonderful. Also what made it quite wonderful was that I got to rub elbows with literary greats such as Karen Hesse, Neil Gaiman (!!) and the aforementioned Jerry Spinelli.

See how happy I am?
They were extremely nice to me, especially considering how awkward I felt during certain star-struck moments. Thank goodness for the the children and everyone involved who helped smooth things out for me for the rest of the event, making me feel like I wasn't quite akimbo next to the other authors. I think this is the first time where I can honestly say my hand did get tired from signing. Never has a muscle cramp caused such happiness! Ha ha!

And with that, I will leave you with the little speech I said upon receiving my lovely award:

When I asked what they’d like me to talk about in my five minutes, they said any tips or advice that would be helpful to a young writer.

Well, I like to think I am still a young writer but I guess according to the actual calendar I am not. I remember one of the first stories I wrote. It came to me like magic, as if the gorgeous rainbow the sky ended at my brain. The words poured out of me like a fountain and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. When I was done, I knew it was great. It was best story ever.

And because it was the best story, I decided it should be published. I sent it to a publishing company and waited for them to make it into a book.

Instead, I got a rejection letter. “We’re sorry, we cannot offer publication of your story,” they said. “Well, what did they know?” I thought and I sent it to another publisher and got another rejection. And then another publisher and another rejection, again and again.

Finally, I put the story in a drawer and, this is very, very important, I wrote another story. And I wrote another story after that and another after until over ten years later, I am now here at the Boston Public Library with my stories being honored alongside Jerry Spinelli, Karen Hesse and Neil Gaiman.

So, recently, I opened that drawer with my first story in it. And I read it. And you know what?

It was absolutely awful.

No wonder it wasn’t published. Reading it was like 1,000 raining clouds inside your bedroom while you are trying to sleep. I was so, so embarrassed that I had thought it was the best story ever.

So when I was trying to think of advice for young writers, I came up with this:

Be humble. Know that what you have written is not the best.

But, also, be confident. What you will write will be better.

Monday, September 27, 2010

SCBWI Carolinas

This past weekend I flew down to Charlotte, NC for the SCBWI Carolinas conference. We all promised not to blog or tweet any details, so instead I'll just post a few pictures and say that it was a truly exceptional conference. I personally learned a lot from the wonderful faculty, including Dial Senior Editor Liz Waniewski (who started as our intern in the Boston office 10 or so years ago!), Art Director at S&S Laurent Linn, and author and marketing guru Shelli Johannes-Wells.

The audience during the First Pages session
Liz speaks about Dial
me and faculty member author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba

Elizabeth and my delicious (and partially eaten by this point) red velvet cake
Shelli's decadent chocolate dessert (yes, I had a bite...or two...)
The pool!
Shelli sharing marketing and publicity wisdom
Some of the faculty on the last day.
L to R: Authors Steve Watkins, Fran Cannon Slayton, me, Shelli, author Alan Gratz (top), agent Chris Richmond, and Liz

It was really great getting to know everyone at the conference--my only complaint is that I didn't have more time to spend and actually see the city. Oh well, I'll just have to go back again someday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

For the love of mice

Last night a four-year old I babysit for exclaimed, angrily and dramatically:
"For the love of mice!"'
Then he said he wanted to whisper something in my ear:
"For the love of Christ!" (His mother swears sometimes, and his father really disapproves.) He added, "But we're not supposed to say that."
He looked up, worried:
"Is it all right to say 'for the love of mice'?"

This reminded me of how senseless many adult things are to kids - and also of how logical children are, in their own way. Their logic is pretty unhampered by knowing the reasoning behind things, so it's sometimes hard to see. I always feel like I've solved a mystery when I spot it.

This is a better example. Another child I babysit for always wants to walk on the double yellow lines in the middle of the street, and gets really mad when I won't let him. The other day, the penny dropped: I had just watched him cross a street at the crosswalk, stepping only on the white-striped lines (not the black spaces between them). The next street had no sidewalk, and once again, he wanted to walk on the double yellow lines in the middle of the road.
"But why not on THOSE lines?" he said and that's when I got it. (And explained what they were for. He hasn't asked to walk on them since.)

I love child logic -- when I can spot it -- and it doesn't often appear in books. Lewis Carroll uses it-- not one of my favorites NOW, but as a child I did like Alice. I liked the way she reasoned things out and thought she was really smart. The idea that her reasoning was funny never entered my mind. I actually don't find it funny now, either, but I know it's supposed to be.

Maybe that's why children's logic isn't written about more: children would approve of a character who displayed child logic, but not find her funny. Adults might -- but they might also find it boring or silly. What *I'd* like to do is write a mystery that used child logic -- their logic could solve the case. Adult readers might find the kids' thinking funny at first but then (as in all the best mysteries) everything would tie together and make sense at the end -- including the kids' thinking.