Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bit about Work for Hire

As a writer of work-for-hire, nonfiction books, I’ve been involved in fourteen books for the school library market. Eleven of those are available (if you're interested, click on the "my books" tab above). I look at these projects as truly a team effort, between my editor, a content consultant, the design team, and me. All the players are equally important in making a high-concept, interesting, and visually exciting final product.

The whole project starts with the assignment. Once I accept and sign the contract, I get the author guidelines. These guide me, as I research and write the first draft.

Truth be told, I’m always a little nervous turning in that first draft. I’m not an expert on the topics about which I write. I’m a researcher and a reader. I follow the writer’s guidelines to craft a book that introduces kids to an interesting topic at their own level.


The revision part is where things get interesting—as far as the team process. I’m usually holding my breath to make sure I haven’t made myself look like an idiot to the editor and consultant. Editor notes usually come back via comments and track changes in Word. Usually I see things like, “make this section longer,” “add a sidebar here,” “move this section to chapter four.” Sometimes the suggestions are more extreme. A couple of times, editors have changed mid-stream. In that situation, there might be more significant changes after the first draft, especially if the new editor has a different vision.

You might get specific, easy-to-follow instructions for changes. That’s great. On the other hand, you might get a vague suggestion, and it’s up to you to figure out what to add. On one book, I was asked to write a paragraph that kids would have to paraphrase as part of a “try this” activity. The book was about how to research; the paragraph ended up being something about volcanoes—not at all the content I was writing.


My best advice for revision for work-for-hire is to remember that this is a paying gig. This is not your pet novel. Make the changes as suggested, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Change the content based on what the consultant says. If you disagree with any of the suggestions, by all means, talk to your editor and work it out. But, by and large this is a team effort. Be a team player and don’t be a diva, and you’ll get more assignments.

I'm happy to answer questions...I'm away for the weekend, so I'll respond to comments next week!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Building Bridges

I'm over at YA Stands today talking about Building Bridges...and no, not the kind that span rivers.

It's all about networking, baby!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Golf Tip Tuesday: Attitude

I'm going to be bringing back my Golf Tip Tuesday series in anticipation of Spring and golf season. This is reposted from November 15, 2011. It's all still true.


I've always been a glass half-full kind of gal. But hitting a crappy shot into the water on a short hole is enough to bring out the worst in the best tempered person. Let alone anyone with a short fuse. I've seen guys bash the ground, throw their clubs, and generally get pissed off.

But here's the thing. It. Doesn't. Help.

It doesn't help to get mad at yourself, or jealous of the other guy's shot, or talk about quitting the game. You just have to move onto the next shot. Practice. Practice. Practice. Take a lesson if you have to from a Pro. Practice some more.

Think you can transfer this advice to other things? Writing maybe?

It's about having a positive attitude. Finding (or making) the time to practice your craft. Take a class. Write some more. Read.

I know it's sometimes hard not to get pissed off. And we all slip. I've slammed the club on the ground too, and cursed myself, my ability to focus, my swing. (My dedication to my writing, my inability to string two words together sometimes, etc...) But you've got to get back out there and practice.

Now, off to hit some balls. Or, um, revise my manuscript.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Massachusetts Kid Lit Meet Up

We're having a Meet Up!

When: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.

Where: Aprile's European Restaurant, No. Chelmsford, MA

Who: Anyone interested in Children's Books--authors, illustrators, librarians, booksellers, Agents, Editors, get the idea.

If you're interested and/or have any ideas for future locations, please let me know!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I got the idea for “Currently…” from Katy Upperman who borrowed it from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here.


Loving: My agent. There, I said it. :) So exciting to be working on revisions.

Reading: MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY by  Rachel Harris. Totally my type of book. Sweet, time travel, half contemp/half historical. LOVE it!

Listening to: The soundtrack from Disney's Lemonade Mouth, which is based on Mark Peter Hughes' middle grade book of the same name. It's on in the car. Whenever a certain kidlet is in the backseat. Apparently she's the target audience, though I'll admit it's catchy.

Thinking About: All the writing and revision I have to do. Working on a work-for-hire assignment while simultaneously pondering novel revisions. KNOWING that I'm a real writer and feeling immensely grateful for the work I have to do.

Anticipating: Vacation. In Harry Potter world. Soon. And the SCBWI National Conference in February. Also, going out on submission soon. Eep!

Wishing: that the publishing industry fairies would throw some fairy dust on me.

Making Me Happy: "Locked out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars. For some reason it brings me back to the late 80's...sounds like classic Police (shout out to Sting!) to me. Must be the beat.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year!

So far 2013 has been great, and we're only two weeks in.

The blog is still languishing. I need to set a schedule for myself, come up with some regular posts. Since I'm focusing on middle grade right now, I'd like to spotlight some great middle grade. But it's all still in the brainstorming phase.

I can tell you that my resolution of reading a few minutes every day seems to be paying off so far. I've finished Nova Ren Suma's IMAGINARY GIRLS and Richard Newsome's THE BILLIONAIRE'S CURSE. I also started Rachel Harris's MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY. I've got two book club books that have to come next: Peter Heller's THE DOG STARS and Rebecca Skloot's THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS.

Also, these came this week:

 You can read more about them here.

Here's to blogging more regularly in the new year! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My agent news for the New Year

I will be back online with my blog soon. In the meantime, I just wanted to be sure anyone stopping by noticed the news over there, next to my picture.

I got a great Christmas present this year! I'm thrilled to announce that I'm now represented by Tara Gonzalez and Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of the Larsen Pomada Agency.

I'll post a "how I got my agent" story at some point, but until then...let's enjoy a fancy beverage.