Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hoppy Easter Day

Yesterday, the 13-yeqr-old found the eggs I had hard bpiled and colored them herself last night without telling me.  She even cleaned up after herself,

Now, all I have to do is hide them before she wakes up.  (yes, she still wants an Easter Egg Hunt.)

Above -- our eggs.
Below -- eggs I would love to be able to make.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bringing History to Life

ONe of the talks I used to give to students (and teachers) was -- Bringing Dead Guys to Life.  It was basically about writing biography and how to make the people real -- to come to life in my writing.  (Nowadays, I focus more on the fun and adventures of doing the research for my books.)

Well, one of the important books published last year for high schoolers and adults was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Here's a talk she gave recently which she calls -- Bringing History to Life. How she was able to discover the facts and the emotions behind the facts of the story she told.

Do click on over to discover what she says.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Your backlist will follow you forever

What is your backlist?
Publisher's backlist consists of all the books they've published.  By looking at their backlist you can figure out what they stand for and what kinds of books they are looking for to publish next.

But what is YOUR backlist?
You've never published any books?  But if you are reading this, you do have a backlist. It's everything you've put forth on the internet.  People say that the Internet is forever.  I'm sure it's not. However, at the present time, anything you put on the Internet is going to be out there for a long time -- until forms of communication change.

So, this is why we keep telling kids -- Don't put that stupid picture of you out there for everyone to find -- because you're gonna be embarrassed to know that future employers or future college admissions people will see it and perhaps get a very wrong impression of you.

There's a good article about this at Emma Dryden's blog.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trip to Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs.
Doesn't that sound like a green place with bubbling water and springs?
nope -- that doesn't describe Borrego Springs, California.

Borrego Springs is a high desert surrounded by barefaced mountains over 5,000 feet high. 

Poet April Halprin Wayland, photographer Sara Jane Boyers, and I visited author Ginger Wadsworth and her husband at their house in Borrego Springs this past weekend.  As usual when we get together, we talked and talked and talked. And ate. (I had picked up one of the famous Jullian pies for desert.) 

We took walks on the desert (I really enjoyed the hot weather -- San Diego weather has been in the 50s and 60s and the 90 degrees felt good), and saw a rattlesnake.  Luckily it was traveling AWAY from us and was a small one.  Ginger was surprised that it was out so early in the year, but the area had been unusually hot for so early in the spring so that probably woke the snakes from hibernation.

The drive from San Diego through Jullian (at over 5,000 feet) down to the desert was very hairy -- with me worrying that my breaks were going to give out while going down that steep, curvy road -- worse than anything I have driven in West Virginia. It seemed scarier mostly because the road had a cliff down on one side and a cliff up on the other and was more narrow with steeper curves than I was comfortable with.

I drove back on Sunday using a different route with gentler curves and vowed to take that route the next time I came. This one also had amazing vistas as well.  In fact, at one point I pulled over at a pull-over place and discovered I was taking a picture of Borrego Springs valley right over Ginger's house.  (it's that teeny pale blob way below, I told my family.)

Their house is a couple of miles over dusty dirt roads from the town of Borrego Springs, on an unmarked road.  We stayed in town and had to be guided to it by a native guide (Ginger's husband) every time we came out.

Naturally, Sara Jane took photographs. Since I had gotten a new camera at Costcos (similar to my granddaughter's) I practiced using it.  It's a fascinating place and a mecca for artists of all kinds.  Several well known scientists have vacation homes here as well. Since Ginger is a nonfiction writer, she says she loves getting together with them and learning from them.

I was fascinated by the tall mountains surrounding the desert -- no greenery growing on them at all.  And took a lot of photographs of them. It was as if I were seeing the bones of the mountains.

I was not happy traveling on Sunday from the 90 degree desert back to 65 degrees at the coast.  Even the mountains were warmer than San Diego, and usually they are much cooler.  When I passed the Santa Ysabel Native American casino, I stopped for a quick sandwich -- and managed to resist any temptation to put money in the slot machines.  

Now back to preparing my lecture for the SCBWI San Diego writer's retreat next weekend.  
-Wendie Old

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Publishing news from Harold Underdown

If you  are a children's book writer and haven't discovered The Purple Crayon, Harold Underdown's website, then you are in for a wonderful surprise.  It's THE basic place to go to find out everything.  Here's his latest newsletter, complete with links to the various articles on his site:

Hi folks,

I've finally done my annual review of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, which has some significant changes for 2013. See the review here.

My Manuscript Format Basics article has been updated, most notably with videos by Andrew Karre, as he demonstrates the clean-up work a publisher has to do with a manuscript that hasn't been setup in the ideal way.

And Eileen Robinson and I have started taking signups for the YA workshop we are doing at the end of April. More information here.

Thanks for your support! Please stop by for a visit.

Harold Underdown
This is a message from The Purple Crayon mailing list, announcing news about the site.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Interview with the Newbery Medal Winner

Click on over to School library Journal and read Betsy Bird's interview of

Katherine Applegate!!!

Author of the 2013 Newbery Medal winner -- The One and Only Ivan

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Watch out for Horrible Book Contracts

Here's a link to a post by award-winning Nancy Werlin on her blog called Whatever where she discusses, "A HORRIBLE AWFUL TERRIBLE APPALLING DISGUSTING CONTRACT WHICH IS BAD AND NO WRITER SHOULD SIGN IT EVER." 

Okay.  You heard her.  Not only is this contract bad, bad, bad, but some publishers are beginning to also offer this Horrible, Terrible, Very BAD type of contract.
As bad or worse than one from a self-publishing or Vanity Press or other so-called-publisher who takes advantage of newbe writers.

Darn it.
It's from Random House,
so you'd expect a difficult contract that you'd need an agent or a writer's lawyer to help you with, but this one is so one-sided, so pro-publisher and anti-author ,.....
(insert sputtering here)

So --
If you receive a contract anything like this -
RUN, don't walk away.

Click on over to Nancy Werlin's blog and learn what to beware.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Women's History Month

March already.
I spent the last week(s) getting my taxes ready for the accountant, and now that's done. (whew)

All of a sudden, It's March.
And March is Women's History Month.

During March, click on over to the Kidlit Celebrates blog, where they are Celebrating Women's History month with essays from well known women about the 2013 National Women's History Project theme of Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Now in its third consecutive year, the blog was founded by two librarians and brings together distinguished authors and illustrators of books related to women's history with librarians and bloggers from across North America. 

Each day features a new essay, commentary or review by some of the most noted writers in the field of literature for young people. Contributors for 2013 include Jane Yolen, Sy Montgomery, Roger Sutton, Tanya Anderson, Michelle Markel and Tanya Lee Stone, among others; a complete line-up of contributors can be found on the site.

Sound great.  My hats off to the organizers!