I'm moving

I've decided to move my blog over to Blogspot if anyone cares to follow me over there. Too much spam here but I'm hoping to keep in touch with everyone through facebook. 2011 is time for super changes!

Spam

All of a sudden I'm getting spammed through LJ? Anyone else having the same problem? I'm getting spam emails and the only responses I get are spam. I'm thinking perhaps the end of the year will be the end of LJ for me.

Friday Five or However Many

I've been so busy I've found it hard to keep up my blogging, even just my Friday Five. So today, I'm catching up and posting the Friday Five or however many it takes to bring me up to speed.

I had a great trip to Florida and it was the first time I brought my netbook with me so I could write. I only used it on the plane ride to and from but I'm glad I did. I managed to work on several projects that I just couldn't find the time to do at home. Florida reminded me that it was one year earlier that I was sitting on the beach with my girlfriends writing limericks for my joke books. Today I received the cover scans for these two books that will be published in February of 2011.



I have so many fun activities planned for school visits with these.

So when I returned from Florida it was crazy getting everything ready for Thanksgiving dinner. That Friday I attended my 30th class reunion. I had a great time seeing everyone including our favorite principal.

I spent last Friday and Saturday at the New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference in Long Branch. It was the first year I presented a session and I have to say it was a lot of fun. It was also nice catching up with all of my author friends and making new friends. I was tired after the two days I think mostly from watching all of the librarians race from session to session both days.

And now Christmas is just around the corner but I'm happy to say that thanks to the great deals on Amazon I was able to get most of my shopping done without having to drive all over the place. Speaking of Amazon, Amazon.com today announced that authors who use Amazon’s Author Central service (http://authorcentral.amazon.com) can now view Nielsen BookScan’s weekly geographic sales data for their print books for free. I only looked at it briefly this morning but it looks like a great feature.

We all know that deadlines happen whether it's vacation time or the holidays. I'm working on completing the second three titles in my new series "I Love My Dog" which reminds me this cute little guy who is spending his first Christmas with our family




Merry Christmas and best wishes for continued success to everyone in the New Year!

Nonfiction = Fiction

I like to get some of my writing ideas from my own backyard. When I do school visits I show the kids these photos and explain how I wrote a nonfiction story or article that I then turned into a fiction story.



Well this green anole wasn't exactly in my own backyard, he was a pet. But green anoles can be found in many backyards in the south. I think I even took a few photos of green anoles during our visit to Charleston, SC. I then turned this guy into a girl and she became the main character in my short story, "The Case of the Missing Lizard."




I discovered these adorable bunnies in my flowerbed one day and they were so cute I wanted to know if I could touch them. I went online and did research on wild rabbits. After I found out that many people take wild rabbits thinking they've been abandoned by their mother when they're not, I wrote a nonfiction article about them. It wasn't long before this bunch of bunnies grew in numbers and into my picture book, "Too Many Bunnies."




And this is my favorite photo in this series. Two ducks appeared in our pool one spring. In an attempt to scare them aware we bought all different inflatables and floated them in the pool. As you can see, the ducks didn't mind at all and I think they actually enjoyed the company. It wasn't until I went online did I find out they were using our pool to mate and
there's a lake just down the road from us! Of course, my research turned into a nonfiction article and this picture was used to add a scene in one of my early chapter books still in progess.

So, for today's inspiration I'm going through old photo albums to find my next treasure of an idea.

Happy November!

PiBboIdMo
30 days of inspiration and motivation created for picture book writers thanks to
taralazar


I'm excited to be participating this year and the timing is just right. September and October tend to be the least productive months for me. With the kids back to school, dance school starting, sports, and volunteering I don't tend to get a lot of writing done. I've learned to let it go (not altogether but better than before), and do what I can until things settle down and I have more time. So, I'm very excited to be spending the next 30 days cooking up some new picture book ideas. I'm going to try to keep a journal of where my ideas come from each day and post updates on my Facebook page.

On your mark, get set, go!

Friday Three Because I Don't Have Five

1. I thought alot about comic books after Comic Con and even read a few that I picked up at the show. While browsing through a box of old comics at a dealer table, my earliest memory of comic books came back to me. It was rainy weekends at our lake house. My parents would take myself and my two brothers to the store and we were allowed to pick out a few comic books. Unlike my brothers, I always had a book to me, but comic books were special because I don't remember being able to buy them when we were home. So, my earliest memory of comic books is Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica, Josie and the Pussycats, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch on rainy days at the lake house. What's your earliest memory of comic books?



2. Yesterday I met with Officer Shawn Meade and his K-9 Lucky to present him with a copy of my book, Police Dog Heroes in which they are both featured. It's been nearly two years since we met and I interviewed him for the book. It was very kind of the principal of one of the elementary schools to allow us to do the presentation for a large group of children and the mayor even joined us. I hope they had as much fun as I did!



3. I'm reading Winter Garden (an adult book!) with my book club which I think we decided on an official name, The Page Turners . I'm enjoying the book so much it's probably the quickest I've read an adult book in a long time. Does anyone have any suggestions for other good book club books?

NYC Anime/Comic Con

My teenage daughter has been an anime fan for years. She loves to read it and does some fantastic illustrations. Just this past year she started going to anime cons. This is something new to me, but she has a group of friends that travel near and far to attend the cons and they've been kind enough to include her. These kids sometimes spend weeks sewing their own costumes and I've even purchased a wig or two from China. Well, this past weekend was the Anime/Comic Con in NYC. Although we didn't have the time to spend the weekend, I agreed to take my daughter and her friend in on the train on Sunday. So I attended my first comic con and although I was exhausted, I had a lot of fun. Here's me posing with a Lego display.



I enjoyed strolling Illustrator's Alley looking at all of the great artwork being displayed and watching everyone sketching. What I didn't realize was that Comic Con offers some great professional panels. I sat in on a few about writing comics.



It was great comparing what I know about writing children's books and what I learned about writing comics. This panel, in particular, had a great sense of humor. Throughout the day what I heard over and over again was to READ, READ, READ! And not one genre (who knew there were different genres of comic books?) and not to write just one genre. Nothing new, right?
And just like children's books these guys don't usually illustrate, they write the text, unless of course they happen to be writers/illustrators. So am I going to start writing comics? Probably not. But I may play around with the idea and see what happens. My first thought was that I haven't picked up a comic book since Archie and Jughead.

I also walked the floor and who can come home from Comic Con without at least a photo or two of this superhero:



I picked up a few gifts and had a great day exploring the world of comics and superheros.



Now it's back to reality!

New Fall Books!

Look what I just got! Copies of all of my new books from Amazing Working Dogs series and Imagining the Future series (except for one that isn't in yet). Brody was checking them out.



Since it was a rainy Sunday, he did read all of them and gave them all a paws up. But when I asked which was his favorite one, he sniffed around a bit...



But then he chose this book as his favorite:




Brody often gets mistaken for a puppy Portuguese Water Dog like Tuxedo, who's on the cover of the Therapy Dog book so it's no wonder that he chose it.

Friday Five

1. It started with a school visit that during lunch I was going to meet with their book club.

I wanted to be able to talk to the kids about the book they were currently reading, so prior to the visit I read the book myself.

2. At the end of the book were some random interesting facts, one of which gave me an idea for a new picture book.



3. That idea sat in a drawer for over a year while I was busy with my freelance work.


4. I signed up for the Picture Book Marathon and committed to writing one picture book a day for one month. I needed thirty ideas, so it was the perfect time to pull lots of old stuff out of that drawer.



5. On Monday, Brody and I will take a walk to the mailbox and mail it. I'll let Brody lick the envelope for good luck although I know he would prefer to rip apart another flip flop.



So, when it gets published, I already know a book club that it will be dedicated to!

This week

While I was in Red Bank this week it just so happened that the public library was the only library that had a particular book I needed for research for my new picture book. Normally, I would just have the book transferred to my library, and this would take some time, but since I was in town I figured it was the perfect opportunity to save time and pick it up myself. So, I asked the kids if they knew where the library was and it turned out it wasn't very far away from the school. When I pulled in the driveway this is the view I saw. Since I happened to have my camera with me, I couldn't help but take a few photos.







This same view can be seen from inside the library that boasts large glass windows. Now wouldn't you want to just sit and stare out the window all day? So, not only was I excited to find the perfect resource, I was able to put the finishing touches on my manuscript.

Thanks to the wonderful librarian at the Air and Space Museum who took the time to help me with my research. I know how swamped they are with requests.

I'm happy to say that a new story will be going out in the next week or so and hopefully it will find a nice home. It feels good when you've had an idea brewing for quite some time and you finally find the time or should I say "make" the time to turn that idea into some real.