Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sand and Snow

From the window here in snowy Denver I can see the white capped mountains to the west. We arrived in a snow storm and it has snowed on and off since. The local news is filled with school closings to the south and stories of the main highway to the east closed from the airport across the plains to Kansas due to snow and high winds creating white out conditions. What a dramatic and different children's world and life style here from the world we just left in sunny Florida.

As a children's writer I think of these differences children readers face and consider how weather conditions affect their experiences and what they might choose to read and their reactions to it.Today after school in Florida children might play soccer and tennis and bike in the park. In Colorado they are sledding down a nearby hillside or skiing down the slick mountains. Maybe they are also helping to shovel snow.

What fun it is to be a children's writer and to construct stories that center on the universal similarities of a child's life to appeal to all children readers but to also color a specific book's plot with intriguing details of a very different place from where most children dwell.

  Also, what an important job too, as a children's writer, to bring a story to life that will touch children's lives in all areas of the country and to address their common concerns and cares, whether they are swimming and helping to sweep the sand out or skiing and shoveling snow.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Giraffe Stuck in the Drawer

Editorial rejection has infected me like a demotivating virus.   I have let it drive me from my office, until I rummaged in cupboards for Tylenol, tea bags and re-organization projects.

My ‘giraffe’ manuscript has languished for a few months.  I know I should send out the manuscript to several new and different editors. Yet, I have had trouble pulling it out of the file drawer.  It’s like my giraffe has entwined itself among the hanging files and is holding the drawer shut.  I know if I coax him out, we may be able to find him a home.  If he stays in the drawer, well...

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Who's Going to Star in the Movie?

If you missed my publishing news from my December post, it goes something like this:

Squeeeee!  I have a book deal!!*

In the interim between the initial excitement and the editorial letter, there's a kind of a "did that really just happen" limbo.  Luckily, I spent some of that time with family and friends but the following is a smattering of the (sometimes) bizarre reactions to my book news.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mo Willems - "Why Books?"

Mo Willems and his pigeon. Smile material. Masterful picture books!
In 2011, Mo was invited to give the prestigious Zena Sutherland Lecture. He titled his talk "Why Books?"
Here are some highlights:

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Staring at a blank page (or screen)

As I was brainstorming for my blog post, I was determined to write a post that was relevant, interesting, inspiring, and witty. I had no trouble deciding between multiple ideas. Because I had absolutely no ideas to choose from.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Crazy of Writing a Sequel

The Paper Wait is thrilled to welcome Anna Staniszewski for this awesome guest post! Anna is busy preparing for the launch of her upcoming book, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail.

Now that my second book is almost out in the world, I can safely say that, in my experience, writing a sequel is a marathon of crazy. You find yourself having extreme, often-opposite feelings simultaneously during pretty much every step of the process. Here are some examples:

Scenario: You find out you’ve sold a sequel to your publisher.
Reaction 1 - Yay, I get to write another book!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, I have to write another book.

Scenario: You send the first draft to your editor.
Reaction 1 - Yay, I’m one step closer to having this book be done!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, I hope my editor doesn’t realize she’s made a huge mistake.

Scenario: You get a fan letter from a reader who can’t wait for the next book in the series.
Reaction 1 - Yay, people are reading my book and LIKING IT!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, what if readers are disappointed by the sequel?

And on and on and on. With each tiny accomplishment comes a dose of self-doubt and pressure—oh, the pressure! Of course, 99% of that pressure comes from you, but that doesn’t make it any less…pressuring.

Do I have any advice for how to deal with this crazy rollercoaster? Sort of. I have to say that digging into the manuscript and watching it grow stronger with every revision helped quell some of my fears. (It also helped that I had people like my husband reassuring me that if my editor hated my book, she would probably let me know.)

I think what really freed me up after the first draft was finished was the realization that I wasn’t having enough fun with the story. I wrote the first book in the series as a break from other projects, not thinking it would ever get published. Writing the second book under contract was a hugely different experience. If I could recapture some of the fun of the first book, maybe I would feel better about the second one. And you know what? Once I unleashed my inner wackiness, it helped make the process of writing the sequel a lot more enjoyable.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I haven’t been truly appreciative for the opportunity to take my characters on more adventures. Or that writing the sequel has been a horrible experience. It’s certainly been a lot of work, but it’s been work that I’m quite proud of. And guess what? Now that the sequel is all ready to go, I get to (have to) do it all over again with the third book!

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.
Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. Her first novel, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in November 2011. The sequel, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, is coming on March 1, 2013. Visit for more info.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Adverbially Speaking

In the last year or so, two adverbs have crept into common English usage: "famously" and "arguably." One cannot read a column or news article without seeing them. "As Shakespeare famously said..." or, "Julia Child, arguably one of the world's best..." Any day now I expect to see "George Washington, arguably the first American President..." Both words add nothing to any sentence in which they are used.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Wrongs and Writes

Like many writers, I suffer from a dreaded writerly disease: trying to write it right the first time. I agonize over sentence structure, search my thesaurus for the perfect synonym, and doubt every plot line.

So when I came across this New York Times Magazine Article that reminded me how important it is to be wrong -- and "to be wrong as fast as you can," I considered once again how overrated right is. In the article, Hugo Lindgren reviews a list of ideas he's had throughout the years and wonders why he hasn't written them. He recounts a Charlie Rose interview with Pixar's John Lasseter:  

Pixar’s in-house theory is: Be wrong as fast as you can. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process, so get right down to it and start making them. Even great ideas are wrecked on the road to fruition and then have to be painstakingly reconstructed. “Every Pixar film was the worst motion picture ever made at one time or another,” Lasseter said. “People don’t believe that, but it’s true. But we don’t give up on the films."

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