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You'll get used to it. I promise.

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Thoughts become books

I fell victim to the latest Oprah media hype by listening to that ridiculous fascinating book, The Secret. For the first thirty minutes, the author gushes in an excited British-accented whisper (with New Age Ravi Shankar-ish music in the background) about how you can have anything you want - the money of The Donald, the lips of Angelina Jolie, you name it - if you know THE SECRET. Okay, spoiler here. If you don't want to know what THE SECRET is, stop reading right here.

The secret, author whispers, is this: Thoughts become things.


Sorry. I just don't get it. I'm an aging hippie. I've done that cosmic-thinking-meditating-peace-love-and-rock-and-roll thing before. I was married to a man who had to consult the I Ching before he would commit to marriage. (Note: We are no longer married.)

But in one important way, I agree with THE SECRET - when it comes to writing. For me, a book starts as a teeny weeny little seed. And then I have to wait and wait and think and think and let that seed grow and swirl and simmer - before I am ready to sit down and write. (lsparkreader gave a great talk about this at last year's New England SCBWI conference.)

This is probably one of the most important stages of writing for me - the thinking part - particularly with regard to characters. I HATE doing character exercises - like listing what's in their backpacks or what their favorite color is. I just hate that. I never ever do that. BUT - I have to think about my characters so long that I know them thru and thru.

Sometimes this can be frustrating. I feel like I should be sitting down and starting the dern story - but I'm just not mentally ready. I was lamenting this stuff to my always-says-the-right-thing friend, Brian Lies, and he told me about an art school friend of his who refers to the stages of artistic creation as: The Sponge, The Egg, The Lightbulb, and The Paintbrush (that would be, collection, incubation, inspiration and execution). He assured me I should relax and recognize the importance of whatever stage I'm in. (I'm halfway between The Sponge and The Egg - I guess that would be The Spegg.)

So, what's my point here? Thoughts may not become Angelina Jolie lips for me - but they usually become books.

Thoughts Become Books.

Think about it.


Participated in an amazing authorfest yesterday in Winchester, Massachusetts. This is a traditional event that has been taking place for many years now. I've been part of it for about 4 or 5 years. They bring in authors & illustrators for every grade at every school in town - kindergarten to high school. This year there were 20 authors/illustrators! The authors each visit several schools. There is a luncheon at the town library. At the end of the day, there is a book fair & signing at the Town Hall. It's such a festive occasion - very community-spirited and family-oriented. It's great to see families come to the Town Hall to buy books. The children are all so excited.

The best part for me, however, is getting to connect with other authors. I got to spend time chatting with Mitali Perkins,(we discovered we're both computer geeks but I'm pretty sure she's geekier than me - I mean that in a GOOD way, Mitali)  Matt Tavares, Kevin HawkesLeslea Newman, and Steven Krasner, among others. And I got to catch up with good friends, Jackie Davies, Mark Peter Hughes, (we're both in review limbo, waiting on the same two reviews), Brian Lies, (with whom I just shared champagne the day before at our critique group meeting - celebrating his new contract and my new book)  and Darlyne Murawski, as well as my school visit agent, Janet Zade.

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

One of the worst parts of this gig - waiting for reviews. My reviews used to come to me via fax - and to this day, the sound of the fax machine sends my heart a-thumpin'. Now they sneak up on me in my emailbox.

Even though How to Steal a Dog has gotten very nice reviews from most of the big guys, so far, it's still nerve-wracking waiting. I made it into the next issue of  Horn Book, which pleases me a lot. (I heart kf). But I'm STILL waiting on School Library Journal and the Bulletin. I hate the waiting.....

I finally did it!

I called the owner of the lost dog that inspired HOW TO STEAL A DOG.

I've waited a long time (two years? yikes) for two reasons. First, I wanted to be able to give her a copy of the book. But secondly, and the more cowardly reason, is that I was dreading stirring up sad-dog-stuff for her. I am SUCH a dog lover. I just can't bear to think about sad-dog-stuff. Also, I knew when I called her that she would have one of those heart-stopping moments when she would think that I was calling because I found him.

This is the sign that inspired the book:

So I called the number and a woman answered:
Woman: Hello?
Me: Are you the person who lost a dog named Willie? [I know, I know - but I HAD to say that to make sure I was talking to the right person, didn't I?]
Me [really really really quickly]: I haven't found him, but I wanted to tell you blah blah blah

So I told her about seeing her sign and the inspiration for the book and all. She seemed to be thrilled that I had called and excited about the book. Sadly, she never found her little dog.  She told me losing Willie was the saddest thing that had ever happened to her. She said she had consulted two psychics and they both told her he was still alive. [waaah - this sad-dog-stuff is awful]  Since then, she has adopted two shelter dogs. (I might add, also, that I first saw that sign in 2005. Willie had been missing since 2003!!)

So I sent her the book and she loved it and appreciated that I had contacted her. (Phew!) She sent me a thank you note with a dog on the front that said "Pooches Gracias."

Okay, I'm off to watch My Dog, Skip.


We went to Cape Cod for Easter to an amazing buffet. I ate a dozen oysters. Don't even get me started on the dessert table:

We go there on Easter and Thanksgiving and every time this fabulous lady is there:

She had a purse with black feathers and white ankle boots with stiletto heels. She drank pink champagne thru a straw. She asked me what I did and when I told her I wrote books for children, she said, "I knew it! I knew you were a writer." When I asked her what she did, she said, "Buy clothes."

She's my new hero.

I lied

Writing a 500-700 word bio isn't hard, after all. I'm at 766 words and I'm still in college. Hmmm - too much information?


When I took the plunge yesterday, Susan Taylor Brown warned me that I may never write again. I think she's right! So many friends, so little time. And me - I'm one of those obsessively nice people who feels the urge to write thank you notes for thank you I was trying to comment to the comments to my comments and, well... So - if I didn't comment about your comment to my comment to your comment - sorry. No further comment.

Now I have to write a 500 to 700 word bio for the Tenth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators. I hate that. First of all, that's a lot of words. So what do you say? I mean, all the really interesting stuff can't be shared in public and the rest is boring. And then, what do these folks really want to know anyway? That I'm a shining example for kids? All I ever wanted for Christmas was books. (not) That I traded my Barbie for a copy of Little House on the Prairie? (not) Or do they want to know that I'm a real person so any ole kid can be a writer, too? Like, that I TiVo Judge Judy and sometimes eat a whole bag of Goldfish crackers. (Oh, yeah, like you don't.)

I'm just glad I wasn't asked to be in the First Book of Authors and Illustrators. At least I have ten more years of stuff (50 more words, for sure).