I'm calling this page Snippets, though its real name is "Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails, but spelled Tales" — (my son's creative mind at work, not mine). All those words wouldn't fit on the fortune cookie header though, so Snippets it is.

I envision this page will be "bloggy" in nature, but I've never blogged before, so it might not look like a blog to you. I plan to share bits of news, updates, and thoughts on anything and everything… the angst of sending a son off to college; the excitement of having a book published… But what do they say about the best laid plans? Perhaps instead I'll be posting favorite fortune-cookie fortunes, the newest addition to my push-puppet collection, photos of my dog... stay tuned…

Channeling an eight year old

July 19, 2011

Now if you’re reading these Snippets of mine, it means you’ve found my website. Hurray! Creating it was fun, though I’m still trying to figure out how to use it -- this Snippets page, for instance. Initially it was going to be Cinderella’s Blog and I was going to write in her voice. Here was the introduction, in fact:

            “Some people have diaries and some people have journals, but I myself have decided to have a blog. I’m not exactly sure why it’s called that, but I think maybe it’s a combination of the word log, like what captains of ships keep, and some ‘b’ word. Like maybe ‘brag’ because you’re all the time talking about yourself or maybe ‘boy’ because the first person who did it was a boy. So maybe I should call mine a glog which is short for a girl-log, but that sounds kind of gross. Oh wait! I just had an AHA! which means a very, extremely good idea. I’ll call mine a Clog – Cinderella’s-log! But also, a clog’s a kind of shoe and shoes are a big part of my life, so there!” 

Before I started the blog however, I had two realizations. One, kids probably wouldn’t be the ones visiting my website. And two, adults might weary of me channeling an eight year old. So here I am, sharing snippets of my life, and especially my writing life.

Next in Promotion 101, galley copies and reviews… 

What Cinderella Smith didnít look like

July 18, 2011

When you sign a contract with a publisher, you sign over the right to choose the artist. At the time it didn’t feel scary. I was so excited my book was being published that I didn’t think about much else. As the manuscript was polished up though, I did start to worry. Though I didn’t know what Cinderella looked like exactly, I knew what she didn’t look like.

My editor must have understood how I felt because she let me have a glimpse inside the process of finding the right artist. She sent me to the various websites, but none of the artwork I saw felt right. Then one morning an email arrived with five black and white sketches. They were magical. For the first time ever I was looking at Cinderella and her world. Her expressions, her clothing, her shoes – perfecto! Who was this brilliant artist? It was Diane Goode. Caldecott Honor Winner Diane Goode! I had to start pinching myself all over again.

I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate or not, but I sent Diane an email introducing myself and telling her how thrilled I was that she’d agreed to illustrate Cinderella Smith. She emailed back and we now have a wonderful email friendship. She is warm and generous and tremendously helpful. I couldn’t have navigated the next step, promoting the book, without her. 

The first lesson in Promotion 101, a website…


Better, stronger, faster, (bionic-man-ish even)

July 17, 2011

So now I have an agent, wonderful Marietta Zacker with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. She sends my manuscript out to potential editors, gets many “no’s” and two yeses. TWO YESSES! I only have eyes for one of them, though. She is the editor of one of my idols, Beverly Cleary. I choose Barbara Lalicki and HarperCollins in a heartbeat.  

The first time Barbara and I talk, I alternate between pinching myself and scribbling down notes. She has terrific ideas on adding a stronger arc and getting rid of superfluous characters, scenes and words. We go back and forth, once by snail mail, then several times electronically, until we’re both satisfied. People ask me how I felt about the editing process – the answer is GREAT! The story is so much better, stronger, faster, (bionic-man-ish even), thanks to Barbara.

Now we need to find an illustrator…


An absent minded niece and her wayward shoe

July 16, 2011

It’s July 16th, the middle of summer, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Outside my window it’s gray and the ground is wet. The good news? I won’t need to water anytime soon. The bad news…where’s the summer? Is it late or are we going to skip it all together this year?

Spring was wonderful though. Not the weather, mind you. It was gray and cloudy and wet, just like this summer so far. But my first book, Cinderella Smith, came out and that colored everything. As a first time author I had no idea what to expect. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. And since it’s pouring right now, I think I’ll retrace the thread of having my first book published. That’ll be way more fun than bemoaning the weather. 

The first step to doing anything is gaining the necessary skills. In this case, writing classes, lots of them. The next step is an idea -- in this case, an absent minded niece and her wayward shoe. Writing and revising and critiques and more revising followed.  Finally, a finished-ish manuscript and the courage or naivety to send it out.   

I bought The Guide to literary Agents, poured through it, and chose 20 agents to send it to. I got back 18 rejections, 1 maybe and 1 yes! Hurrah! And if you’re really interested, you can read the full story here:

 Next time…finding an editor.