Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rest in Peace - Dan Fogelberg

One of my favorites singer-songerwriters, Dan Fogelberg, passed away this morning from Prostate cancer. You can check out more of his work at
Nothing to do with writing for children, but his songs are like stories and his music has always meant a lot to me.

These are the lyrics of one of my favorite songs...

Same Old Lang Syne

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve
She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried
We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged
We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie
I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw doubt or gratitude
She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly but the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how
We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence, another 'auld lang syne'

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out and I watched her drive away
Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned in to rain...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carus Publishing Company, part 2

Sometimes chance encounters can make life interesting. My aunt and uncle met President of Carus Publishing Company Jason Patenaude through a mutual friend. Through this chance meeting, I was invited to contact Mr. Patenaude. At first I was nervous – do I write or call?
What should I say? Could I avoid sounding like a babbling idiot?

I endeavored to do what any aspiring writer would do…consult the boards (specifically the “blue board” at, and the folks on the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Yahoo Group). Both groups were happy to provide helpful opinions and suggestions, though the results were a dead heat between the “write” camp and the “call” camp.

In the end, I did both. I wrote first to introduce myself and provide a memory cue, and then I called to follow up. I wasn’t sure what to expect – after all he didn’t know me from any other writer (or writer’s relative) he might meet any day of the week. After several minutes on the phone, Mr. Patenaude invited me to visit the home of Carus Publishing in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He also indicated that there might be an opportunity to meet some of the editorial staff. After silently composing my inner “squee,” I graciously accepted the invitation.

For those that are not familiar with it, Carus Publishing Company ( publishes 14 magazines for children ranging in target age from birth through high school. The Peterborough office publishes six non-fiction titles for 4th grade and up including Cobblestone (American history), Calliope (world history), Dig (archeology around the world), Odyssey (science), Faces (people, places and culture), and Appleseeds (general social studies for grades 3 and up). The Chicago office produces the “bug” line including LadyBug, Cricket, Spider, and Cicada, among others.

Jason Patenaude is a thoroughly approachable and likeable man. He was warm and friendly, and gave me realistic and helpful insight into the publishing industry from the children’s magazine perspective. He bought me coffee at a coffee shop across from his office and we spent a nice hour talking about the trials and tribulations of writing for children (and writing in general). He was encouraging and treated me like a professional writer.

After our meeting, Mr. Patenaude had arranged for me to meet with Lou Waryncia, the Editorial Director of the Peterborough office. Mr. Waryncia spent an additional hour with me talking about the magazines under his auspices, as well as the children’s magazine and book markets in general. He gave me samples of his magazines, and the handout from his recent presentation at a writer’s workshop. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to spend such a considerable amount of time with these two impressive industry insiders.

After my meetings with these two generous and insightful men, I admit that I’m as motivated as ever to continue writing. I know that the market for picture books is tough to break into. I will continue to aspire to that lofty goal. However, in the meantime, I’m going to query Cobblestone with a proposal or two for upcoming issues. Their themes and deadlines are easily located on their website for all to review. It would be an honor for my work to be associated with professionals such as Mr. Patenaude and Mr. Waryncia.

I hope to run into the staff from Cobblestone again at the April SCBWI conference in Nashua, NH. Who knows what chance encounters might happen there?
My advice for anyone who might find herself in a situation where a friend or relative says “I’ve got a publishing contact for you” – don’t merely think about writing or calling, just DO IT!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Carus Publishing Company

Through a relative, I made a contact with the president of Carus Publishing. Located in Peterborough, New Hampshire, I've been invited to visit the company next week. I have a short story submitted to one of their several magazines, and I'm hoping to get some feedback on that manuscript.

I'm looking forward to getting an inside view into the publishing industry.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Still waiting...

I've gotten a few things done this week - I sent my bio into the agent that requested it (and of course, the manuscript!) I've got my fingers and toes crossed.

In the spirit of not "putting all my eggs in one basket" I've queried a couple of other agents as well. With the nibble from the one agent, I feel like I'm refining my query letter.

I also got a rejection from an editor...oh's not the first, and it won't be the last.

I'm also working on revising my book about the molasses flood.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Author Bio, part II

I'm learning a lot about writing an author bio. Some things I've learned so far:

1. it should be in the third person (i.e., The author graduated with honors from Central State with a degree in basket weaving...)

2. If you have unique or interesting facts about you, include them.

3. it should include snippets of personal and professional information that will compell the reader to want to read your work.

4. it should provide enough interesting information to convey to anyone reading it that you would make a fascinating interview subject (make marketing you easier.)

5. Oddly enough, it seems as though there are several types of bios out there - ranging from

Anne Mini's website provides some useful information ( I also found some great threads on the message board at Verla Kay's website (

Friday, November 16, 2007

Author Bio

One of the agents I've queried has asked me to send my manuscript, and an author bio.

I've been frantically researching the methods and means of such a thing over the past 24 hours. Since my writing credits are few, I want to impress her with my exciting life. Only, as one can imagine, life is not so exciting in the suburbs with a 4-year old (read my post about birthday parties about in mid-October if you doubt it!)

Professional, yet brief. Compelling, but truthful. Personal, but not too personal.

Something that will help them sell the story. This is harder than writing the story!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Waiting Game, part II

At least while you're waiting, you can pretend that editors and agents are loving your work and only keeping you waiting while they craft their glowing acceptance.

I've received several rejections this week -- editors and agents. Three of them were personal - which, from what I've read, is fairly rare. I should be thankful that my work was good enough to warrant a personal rejection.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Backing up your work

I've experienced a miracle tonight - you're not going to believe this one.

I keep all my files on a flash drive (aka finger drive - it's one of those little mini things that plug into a USB port.) This works for me for a variety of reasons, but basically all my files are with me all the time. Last fall, I made a fatal mistake in not backing up the drive, and so when it crashed (or whatever it is they do when they don't work anymore), I lost a ton of stuff. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I was able to recreate some of it from email files, but I lost a lot of data (including some manuscripts) that had never been emailed to anyone.

Now I back up my files monthly (or thereabouts). I learned my lesson, but as of this evening, I hadn't made my back-up for November.

I was just changing a load of laundry, pulling clothes out of the washing machine, and what do I see at the bottom of the drum? My flash drive. It was in the pocket of the skirt I wore today. I was feeling all riteous for doing laundry in the first place. A number of choice words flowed through my head (and a few came out of my mouth). The drive is now nice and clean -- mind you, full load of laundry including water and detergent.

I must have suffered enough today with the car trouble I had (my rental was the size of a roller skate -- I've never been so glad to have my Honda back again, but that's a different story.) I just plugged the drive in, and would you believe it worked! It doesn't look like any data was courrupted (I'm knocking on wood right now).

Needless to say, I just made my November back-up.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Waiting Game

As my daughter likes to say "I caaaaannnn'ttt waaaiiittt!"

The waiting is the hardest part. Especially if you're anticipating something good or exciting. For a four-year-old, that something might be leaving the house to trick-or-treat. "Why can't we leave now?" she might ask.

I'm waiting on hearing back from an agent that I'm hoping will be interested in representing me. I've followed all the "rules" and submission requirements. Basically, though, it comes down to whether or not he/she likes my writing. I've also entered two writing contests this fall, and I'm waiting to find out if I've placed. And, of course, I've submitted my work to a couple of magazines and publishers, and I'm waiting to get my rejections....I mean, their replies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

1st Draft Finished

I've finished the first draft of my first non-fiction chapter book. It's a historical piece about the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. I'm having a little trouble thinking it feels too much like a term paper!

Anyone interested in the disaster should check out Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide ( -- it's a great read!

There are a lot of internet resources, but nothing for the mid-grades about this particular american disaster. So...I've written something. It's needs critiqueing -- look out Renee, Tracey, Carolyn and Mary!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Yesterday (Saturday), I attended a one-day workshop entitled "Encore" sponsored by the New England SCBWI. It was wonderful! I'm inspired, awed, and ready to write!

The first presenter was Mark Peter Hughes - author of Lemonade Mouth and I am the Wallpaper ( His session was on Plotting - he gave us several exercises to work on - I actually have some great ideas for my YA novel based on his session.

The second presenter was John Bell ( - an active member of the NESCBWI and, from his blog, a writer and reader of fantasy literature for children. He is the editor of Oziana, creative magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, and an Assistant Regional Advisor in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. His session focused on puncuation and dialogue tags - and also gave me some great insight into ms formatting.

The last presenter was Sue Burgess, who taught a variety of children's literature courses at Framingham (MA) State College. until her recent retirement. A long-time member of the SCBWI, Sue was designated Member-of-the-year in 1985 for her service as New England RA and critique group leader. For the last 15 years she has been the SCBWI's Work-in-Progress Grant coordinator. Her presentation was about "Voice" - a harder concept to grasp, but I found her to be inspiring and

Monday, October 15, 2007

Write the Damn Book

Why should it be so hard? The title quote is attributed to Jane Yolen - can't remember where it's originally from, but I love it. The trouble is, which book? I'm working on several different ideas, and can't seem to focus long enough to finish any of them!

I'm in revision mode on a couple of picture book manuscripts; creation mode for my non-fiction mid-grade chapter book; and

Critique Group

In an effort to keep this blog relatively timely, I'm going to try to post at least weekly in the odd event that anyone is actually keeping score...

As a writer, I have found that being a member of a critique group has been so invaluable (shout out to Carolyn, Renee, Tracey, and Mary!) -- before finding my most recent group, I posted to where I found lots of helpful critters to review my work.

If you write, I highly recommend finding yourself a group that can read your work and provide feedback and suggestions.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I've registered for the "Encore" workshop scheduled for October 20 in Salem, NH. It's sponsored by the New England SCBWI -- I'm really looking forward to meeting other people writing in the area and hopefully to get some inspiration from the experts.

I started writing a non-fiction chapter book for early grades. It's about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 in Boston. I'm also working on revising my picture book manuscripts. I've queried a couple of agents, and I'm waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to hear back from them as well as a publisher, and two magazines.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Princess Peony the title character of one of my picture book manuscripts. She covered in mud, and is certain princesses do NOT have to take baths...

Thanks to Kevin Collier who published an early draft of the story on his story blog (StoryBox Library Online - last fall and who has also created a beautiful depiction of Peony (see above illustration).

Monday, September 10, 2007

My first blog

I really started my writing journey in high school - I wrote daily in a spiraled journal about life and (ahem) love. Mostly about how I didn't have either!

In college I wrote scripts and short stories for class. In my career I've written mostly memos and letters and some small blurbs for college publications.

For the past two years, I've been writing children's stories. I'm working toward publication.