*UPDATE* E came out of a nearly 10 hour surgery with flying colors! Thank you to everyone who prayed and sent positive thoughts! She’s continued to amaze her cardio team. I saw her about an hour post-op, and she was asking for a drink of water. They have a long road ahead, but a huge hurdle down. For those curious, she was born with hypoplastic left heart.

This is my sweet friend E in the red hat. She’ll be four in June. I was lucky enough to snap some beach pictures of her and my daughter last summer.

We’ve known Miss E’s parents going on 15 years.
They’d love nothing more for you to be praying for her Friday morning at 7:00 AM (CST) as she undergoes her third major heart operation.
Because we’d love more days like this.
Thank you.

An Author Talk

Last week I schlepped the kids to the library to hear children’s author Carla Killough McClafferty. I met Carla a year ago at our state’s SCBWI spring conference.

I have to say, she does a bang-up job of presenting.
Here are my kids. We were several minutes early. I’m one of those neurotic people that cannot stand to be late. Anywhere. Yeah, I was a front rower in college. But you know what? It worked out well because I met my husband (who came in very late, unshowered. But we don’t talk about that.)
I let the kids check out books to read in case her talk ran a little long. (To be fair, she writes for the 5th grade and up crowd.) Let me just say, with all the dropping and picking up of, arguing over whose book belonged to whom – I’m just grateful Carla didn’t show us the door.
My nine year old was interested in her book on Marie Curie. She told us stories of how women in the States, the Radium Girls, painted radium on watch faces for their glow in the dark effect, but these women would also paint their jewelry and buttons. Never realizing, of course, the danger of exposure.
My son loved seeing the photos of Marie Curie’s laboratory, which Carla visited on a trip to Paris.
By this point, the two year old was melting down and the three year old was break-dancing, so I rummaged through my bag. Writerly types will know a writer always has a notebook. Well I sacrificed said notebook for the sake of the talk.
Pages of purple highlighter. Saved the night. And my eyeballs because I was coming really close to jabbing them out. (Nothing to do with Carla, mind you.)
This is the book we came home with. I had NO IDEA an American journalist helped rescue more than 2,000 Jews from pre-WWII Germany. Some of those Varian Fry rescued? Marc Chagall and Heinrich Mann.
Carla’s next book is about George Washington. He did not have wooden teeth. One of my boys asked. 🙂

Do the Write Thing

My oldest was born in Tennessee, so I have a soft spot for the state. The homeless population has especially been on my mind this week. Between the flood and the oil spill, a lot of folks are in need.
Writers, take a look at the bidding for Do the Write Thing for Nashville started by my friend, YA author and Nashville resident, Myra McEntire.
The auction items are amazing:
*A Signed Copy of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, and an early ARC of The Lost Saint.
*Signed copy of Down On The Farm by Merrily Kutner.
*Ten page critique of your MG/YA novel by Josh Adams of Adams Literary
*Agent Mary Kole, a query critique
*30 minute phone call with Chris Richman of Upstart Crow
You have 3 days. Happy Bidding and God bless.

When to query

From ABLA agent Mary Kole,
I tell people at conferences the same exact things (are y’all listening out there from Dallas?!). If I ask to see something, or I am even remotely interested in what you’re doing, you will not lose my interest. They probably got some ideas at the conference. They will probably go home and do revisions. They should take their time and query me whenever, because I’d rather see something good than something unpolished that comes quickly. Let’s just say I prefer slow, gourmet food to fast food, because it takes a lot of time and care and craft to cook really delicious fare.
I don’t know about you, but I’m busting out the slow cooker. 🙂

I’m Not Jealous

Really, who’d want a room like this with PICTURE BOOK ART on the walls?

Who needs an insanely colorful collection of recycled, found objections and spunky, one of a kind pillows? Me.
A painted red gate for a headboard? Me.
R. E. A. D. spelled on the wall? I raise my hand.
An old pull-down map on the back of the door? You get the idea.
Did you see the adorable metal basket full of favorite picture books right beside the bed? (I spy with my little eye: Miss Nelson is Missing!) It’s totally ridiculous.
And overwhelmingly charming. I’d be right at home. So, Meg, if you ever need to recreate this room, say in another house, I have just the home for you. I’ve got the books, just not the vision.
Thanks to Liz @ Mabel’s House for the introduction.

My First Page Problem

Being the indecisive creature I am, I have eight, count them 8, varying versions of my first page. I have a first page problem. Some of it stems from a deep rooted perfectionism or competitiveness. I’m always trying to one-up my last attempt. But most of it is pure indecisiveness.
For instance, I am horrible shopper. I try on these adorable red shoes. Perfect for ballgames in the South. But oh, wait! Those bright kelly green ballet flats will be cute this spring with a flirty skirt. But what about these brown sandals? They’re more practical. Because let’s face it, I run carpool and go shopping for groceries more than shoes.
So, my CP’s will be happy to hear I’ve decided to put my first page on hold until revision. But in my research, I’ve stumbled across some great pages on the first page. I thought I’d share. So you, too, can be as indecisive and first page challenged as moi. You’re welcome.

How to Grab Them on Page One.

I’m Back

I took a week off to play with my family.

We headed to the mountains and had some serious fun.
Now it’s back to reality and loads of laundry.
I took my laptop but never pulled it out of the bag.
Funny how that works sometimes.
It reminded me of a post by Maggie Stiefvater where she says “we are observers of the world, writers, and we can only make so many biscuits out of one batch of dough. . . Go somewhere, do something new, see someplace different. . . I’m a writer, yes, but it’s also crucially important to me to keep being a musician, a composer, an artist, a mother, a wife, a dog-walker, a fast driver, a nature-lover, a horseback rider, a — fill in the blanks. Everything that I do other than writing, things that are me.”
So that’s what I did last week.
I lived.
Hugged on my kids.
Dodged two snowstorms. (Thank You, God.) Laughed with my husband. Shopped with my mom. Bemoaned sore muscles. Inspected snowflakes with my oldest. Wiped the runny noses of my two youngest.
Cheered on my middle.
And read Treasure Island for the first time thanks to countless hours in the car.

Book Cover Design

Want a behind the scenes look at an amazing job that requires a lot of savvy?

I don’t know about you, but often times, I’ll pick up a book based on the cover alone. After reading the flap copy or the first few paragraphs, I’ll make a decision on whether or not to purchase. But the cover is usually what grabs me – if I haven’t heard anything by word of mouth.

Agent Kristin Nelson posted a video last week on the making of the cover for BLAMELESS—Gail Carriger’s third book in the Alexia Tarabotti Parasol Protectorate Series.

Watch closely to see how the designers caught a mistake.