Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MY DAD, MY HERO by Ethan Long

Dads can be heroes... but maybe not in the superhero type of way. In MY DAD, MY HERO, Ethan Long shows us the ways one boy's dad is like a superhero. Not!

So dad has his own way of leaping tall buildings, his super strength is lacking, and shooting webs out of his wrists is pretty impossible. Why is dad still super and why is he a hero? Well, he might be able to see through walls, but the real reasons are the ones all kids can identify with.

The illustrations in MY DAD, MY HERO are funny! And they're done in a style that makes them jump off the page which adds to the comic feel of the story. It's a fun read for Father's Day--or anytime. Reading this one definitely makes me want to check out Ethan Long's other books! And I love ZE FRONK!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pimpin' my Peep!

If you live in the Bay Area, tomorrow you must drop everything and get yourself to Walnut Creek to see the stupendously amazing Mike Jung! He's going to talk about how to not be a pinhead. He will also have some stuff about building an online presence before a book deal. Okay, that's mostly what it's about. Probably. But maybe not. I hear there is going to be heckling, and heckling by proxy, so who cares what it's about right? Anyway, Mike's debut novel, GEEKS, GIRLS & SECRET IDENTITIES, is under contract with Arthur A. Levine Books and he already has a multitude of adoring fans so no matter what genre you write in Mike will have some great advice to share.

Mike will stun the world with his awesomeness from 2-4pm at:
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
1924 Trinity Avenue
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

*If you do go, I am in dire need of a proxy confetti thrower!!!  Just bring a big bag of confetti and shower Mike with it at inappropriate times. Heckling with tiny pieces of paper! You could write tiny notes to Mike on it too--okay maybe that's pushing it. See Mike's blog for proxy and event details!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monster List of Picture Book Agents--Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Lit

Casey McCormick has done a great Agent Spotlight on Stephen Fraser at Literary Rambles that encompasses most of the great stuff you can find about Stephen Fraser online, but I wanted to add Mr. Fraser to the Monster List since he represents picture books and sounds like a great agent to work with. I found a few recent and interesting posts that you also won't want to miss.

There's a current, in depth interview with Mr. Fraser at Humor Me. I would highly recommend reading it if you're interested in querying Mr. Fraser. He says he adores picture books!

Stephanie Theban shared some conference notes at Stories. Read 'em. Write'em.

There's also a good interview at Joyce Shor Johnson's blog.

You can find submission guidelines for Stephen Fraser at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Wrote a Book, Now What? (#2) --Market Research

I did post #1 in I Wrote a Book, Now What? about critiques and revising. But, if you're looking to get published there's a lot more to it than that. You've got to learn about the market, what it wants, and how to approach it.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books 3th (third) edition Text OnlyThere are some really good books on writing for children (and writing in general) and reading a stack or two of them will open your eyes to a lot of things. If you aren't sure where to get started I recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold Underdown. He's really knowledgeable about the children's publishing industry and his book covers all the basics. Harold's website is a great place to learn too.

And I would definitely recommend you join Verla Kay's Blue Board. It's a great place to learn, keep up to date, and "hang out" with writers.

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators offers lots of opportunities for learning about writing and the market. They have conferences and a monthly magazine plus lots on online info on how to go about all sorts of things that children's writers need to know. You can find them at http://www.scbwi.org.

Get educated on what the market is publishing by reading tons of newer books in the genre you are writing. Learn how to approach the market (Harold Underdown's book covers this nicely.) Learn the standard way to format a manuscript (Cynthea Liu's site will show you how.) Little steps like these will help you make a good presentation when you're ready to submit a manuscript.

Okay, so maybe all of this talk of research sounds dry. Lucky for us children's book writers, research is fun! For my research today I read a bunch of TumbleBooks at my library's website. I could do that type of research all day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My First Critique Week Giveaway!

I've been wanting to do this for a while so I'm just going to go for it--Critique Week. I'm going to give away a picture book critique! Come all my fellow picture book writers and enter!

(As a side note, I've been thinking of how I can have a giveaway that includes all of my writer friends and all of the many genres they write in. So, the next giveaway will be for a query critique. When? When I have time, of course! I'll let you know around the net.)

As for this week's contest, here are a few guidelines:

  • Up to 1000 words (but 700 or less is preferable, just like for most publishers)
  • No rhyming (it's not my cup of tea a.k.a. I'm not good at it)
  • Fiction or nonfiction is okay
  • The winner should email me the manuscript within 3 days
  • I will finish the critique as soon as I possibly can, but I cannot foresee my future from day to day so be a little patient with me

Just put a comment on this post to enter. Entries are open up through May 16th. I'll announce the winner in the comment section of this post on Tuesday, May 17. Extras are fun, so one extra entry for each. (Please let me know in your comment):
  • follow my blog
  • tweet
  • facebook
  • blog
  • share it some other way--maybe there are social networking sites I don't even know about...maybe. :)
*disclaimer--I am not a picture book editor or agent, but I have done a lot of critiques! I will point out the things in your manuscript I see that can be improved and will give you an honest critique. I can promise nothing more than that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bee Books!

Since my family is keeping bees the kids and I have, of course, been reading picture books about bees. You can learn a lot about bees from picture books! Here are a few of our favorites:

THE BEEMAN is about a boy and his grandfather who keeps bees. It's a really great introduction to beekeeping as it goes through the entire process from the smoker used to calm the bees to the different types of bees in the hive to the honey on the table. There's also a great nonfiction section at the end.

BUSY BUZZY BEE is interesting because it shows closeup photos of the inside of a hive and how the grubs grow into bees. My kids liked being able to see all the details so closely.

ARE YOU A BEE? does a nice job of showing how bees grow and live in the hive as well as how they collect pollen and what they do with it. The illustrations are really nice and it's a good read aloud.

As with all MAGIC SCHOOL BUS books, there is tons of fun stuff to read in INSIDE A BEEHIVE!

Check out one or all of these books and you're sure to know a little more about the world of bees, even if you're a grownup.

Monday, May 2, 2011


This winter my family decided that we wanted to keep bees. The world needs bees and they are disappearing at alarming rates due to pesticides and such. It's really quite scary to think about a world without bees. I don't even want to think about it, really. But I read about it because we started the project like we start most projects--by checking out lots of books and reading up!

We studied and ordered supplies and built hives from some blueprints that we found. The kids painted the hives and helped put together the honey frames. They were especially excited. Then we waited for the spring shipment of bees to arrive from California. It was a long wait, especially for the excited people in the family.

Another beekeeper in our area picked up the bees and drove them five hours to meet us. We met at the park and exchanged packages. The thing is, they'd already stopped and set their bees up, and a few had "gotten away" and were clinging onto the outside of the boxes. We had to drive eight long miles with them inside our car. We were a little worried, but needn't have been. The bees were totally mellow. They just wanted to stick together, and I have to admit, I felt kind of sad for the few that got left behind at the park. They no longer had a hive. My poor little pets!

The bees came in this box. There are about 3,000 of them in there I'm told. I'm not going to count though.

We set up the hives at an orchard in the valley since it's still so cold and flowerless up on our mountain. I find it amazing that the hives can be so close together yet the bees will only go to their own hive. Should be fun bringing the hives home in a month or so when it warms up. They're already reproducing. That means over 6,000 bees in the car. Eep!

It was a little bit scary when the cage was opened up. That's a whole lot of bees!

The queen is kept separate in a little teeny cage. She has to be removed first. Check out the man, no gloves or anything. Before the queen's cage can be placed in the hive a little cork has to be taken out and be replaced with a marshmallow so the bees can eat it and release the queen. With the first queen the cork was really tight and accidentally went inside the cage. It could have crushed the queen, but she escaped--onto my husbands hand!  Amazingly, he removed the cork from the cage, got the queen back into the dinky hole (without being stung) and stuffed the marshmallow in. I still can scarcely believe that fantastic feat!

The rest did not want to come out of the cage, silly bees! They actually had to be shaken and they plopped out in big clumps. We didn't even use smoke to calm them. I think they were tired out from their trip!

While the bees settled down into their hives my husband actually scooped some clumps of stragglers off the ground with his bare hand and put them on their hive. Why? He didn't want them to get left behind. And he's brave--very, very brave. After about fifteen minutes the bees had burrowed down into the frames so we put the lids on, filled their feeders with sugar water, and talked about how the workers look so different from the drones and how amazing it was that no one got stung and how long it would take before they would make honey; cool beekeeping stuff like that.

If you didn't notice, I'm not in any of the pictures. Like I said, I'm the helper and, well, there just wasn't much to help with. I guess pictures are helpful and hey, I was working! I mean, there's got to be a picture book story in here somewhere.

This was our favorite book that we found on beekeeping.