Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Late Spring Release

After what seems like months and months of waiting, Zero,Zilch,Nada:Counting to None is scheduled to be released in late April/early May. Hooray! After the excitement settles down from having a timetable, the worry sets in about how it will be received. As long as the kids enjoy it and maybe learn a little math, I will be happy.

Speaking of math - wow, I am learning so much from my time in second grade. I wish I had learned math the way these kids are learning it. I try to apply what I am learning when I go grocery shopping. I can now do all the math in my head and just write down the total so I don't forget it. I used to write every addition down in order to add it. OK , I admit, math and I haven't always been friends , but we are working on it, big time!

The quandry over the agent question continues, however I now have gotten some professional input and have more of a focus on how to proceed. That is, proceed with making the decision if I need/want an agent. My research continues in that area.

The first draft of Chapter Two of my early reader fantasy is saved. I always seem to begin writing in one direction and the characters take me in another. It is amazing how they solve the problems I can't figure out! I actually think it is my dragons that are writing this story:)

Getting ready for nasty weather tomorrow - may be a good day to read, write and sew!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Too Dark!

It is only 5pm and I am sitting looking out at the lights across the river because it is completely dark outside! I try to cheer up my husband by telling him in a few short weeks the days will begin to get longer. It doesn't work.

On the writing side of things, I now have a bit more time to devote to my many ideas. Last week I submitted a manuscript to a regional publisher, so the waiting begins. Today I have been researching publishers for two other manuscripts and I will probably be sending them off this week. I am also looking forward to a phone call from my editor to catch up on the new book.

On the actual writing side, I have been working on my first fantasy story and am beginning to learn more and more about the main character. He has a lot to learn, but he has a good heart.
I am also working on a story about a boy who doesn't think he needs to know how to read. We all know where that is going to go!

The second grade class is teaching me so much, especially about math. I sure wish I had been taught math the way they do it today - I might actually like it! Every week I find myself using a method or skill the second graders have been working on - whoever heard of "friendly" numbers? Some definite writing ideas coming out of this experience. Thanks, kids!

Enjoy the holiday season and take time for yourself - read and write a bit - slow down and enjoy your loved ones. And don't forget - A Isn't For Fox makes a great holiday gift for a special little one:)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Falling with the Leaves

I am firmly convinced that the universe had a massive case of indigestion in October and is still hiccupping a bit! At least my universe did. But I am slowly regaining control of my world and am happy to be back writing.

I have received a color copy of the the cover for Zero etc. for the spring catalogue from Sleeping Bear Press. We are moving in the right direction and I am eagerly looking forward to more color spreads as the winter progresses. After a wild ride trying to get the main concept pages correct, we are finally moving forward. I continue to develop my school visit presentations with the new book and now have a flannel board manipulative to use with the kids. A big thank you to my second grade friends who are willing to try things for me:)

I have finished a first draft of my first fantasy - a possible early reader series. And , of course, it includes a dragon! I have actually been writing steadily during the universe's hiccup, but not polishing or submitting. I will be devoting time to these areas over the next few weeks as they are actually quite time consuming. I am constantly flip flopping over trying to get an agent or not. If anyone out there has any opinions on this, please share them.

I will be at the Dike Newell School Book Fair on Thursday, November 19th at 6:30 pm. A friend and local author, Frances Bloxam, and I will be reading from our books and signing them. Our books make great holiday gifts for youngsters, so stop by and get some shopping done and help out a great school.

Turkey Day is almost here - eat more pie!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back to School

Last week I began my volunteer work in second grade. I don't remember knowing as much in second grade as these students do! They are also, however, still innocent in many regards and that is refreshing. They love to laugh and are quick to see the humor in everyday life. A valuable trait to retain if you can manage it. We began with a math lesson and it was so interesting because it wasn't the math that gave them trouble, it was the language used to communicate the problem that caused us to stumble. A valuable lesson for an author working on math related stories!

My second day was spent working in the writing center. I was surprised at how young the idea begins that we don't have anything to write about. But by posing questions regarding an experience, they soon were writing away and adding great illustrations to their stories. We think are lives are ordinary and uninteresting, but to others our lives are unique and different. We can all write about something!

Well, I received a final version of Harry - the bunny who is the star of the next book. He is a very friendly and innocent rabbit and I am quite pleased with his final form. The cover sketch is fun and will surely catch the eye with its bright colors. You can start looking for Zero, Zilch, Nada:Counting to None sometime in spring 2010.

I have now added the ability to receive an online brochure of my school visit information. You can email me and I will email back an attachment with the brochure. I will let everyone know when the brochure for the new book is available and when those visits can start.

Enjoy these beautiful fall days!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Beautiful Fall

We have been enjoying beautiful weather here in Maine for the past several weeks. After a short taste of the summer that wasn't, the first coastal frost is forcast for tonight. The tomatoes never turned red, so I guess fried green tomatoes are on the menu!

Last weekend I attended a workshop for published authors focused on school visits and marketing. It is amazing just how much time must be devoted to promoting and marketing, as publishers now consider your willingness to do that in deciding whether to accept a manuscript for publication. I know I spend many hours researching publishers, bookstores and book events.

I have received the third set of sketches for the next book and am creating a visual literacy unit to offer to art classes as well as my regular presentations. There is a great progression from one set to another allowing for discussion surrounding why changes are made and how consistency must be maintained. For the younger grades, I am creating math related activities, as well as writing process fun. We hope that the publication process will speed up now that the most technical concept pages have been finalized. It is so hard to wait!!!

"Fox" received a nice blog mention on the blog of Heide Kaisand. Heide is a nationally known quilt personality who gave several presentations at our shop. She has a son and twin girls, so we presented her with a signed copy of "Fox." She posted a nice blog entry and picture about the book. Thanks, Heide! Her blogs about Bath, ME and Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop were quite fun, also.

I begin my second grade volunteering next week and am quite excited to begin. I haven't met any of the kids yet, but hope to write about them as we explore writing and math together this year. They keep me grounded in what it really is like to be growing up today.

I must go out now and bring in the plants - I never know where I am going to put them. Until next time, read, write and enjoy life:)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Book Title and Fox Honor

Well, it has been a while since my last post and I apologize for that. This summer has been quite full of quilt shows and travel. Even the writing took a back seat for the last month or so. But today feels like fall and even though I don't return to school to teach, the same old feelings of "getting back to work" have surged.

The title of the next book has been finalized - yeah! Start looking for Zero, Zilch, Nada : Counting to None in bookstores next spring. The color paintings look great and Harry is a very loveable - though math challenged - bunny. We are hopeful that it will be released in time for some spring time school visits.

A Isn't For Fox has been named to the Delaware Diamonds Booklist for the school year 2009-2010. This is a children's choice award program in the Delaware schools. Last year "Fox" was also named to the Keystones to Reading program in Pennsylvania and was on the short list - but not the final ballot - for the Charlotte Award in New York state. Exciting and humbling, to be sure.

I continue to research early Boston - around the 1770's -for a middle grade historical/fantasy novel set around the Boston Massacre. The more I think about the story, the more I realize how many different details I need to research to make it believable. Ultimately, a trip to Boston to visit the site and the graveyard will be in order. Because of the story line, I am also researching the life of early Irish immigrants in Boston.

Hopefully in the next months there will be good news regarding another picture book which is being considered for publication. Keep your fingers crossed!

This year I will be sending my school visit brochures out to Kindergarten/1st grade teachers in the middle of September. Hopefully by that time they won't get lost in the start of school mail pile. If there is a teacher/librarian you think I should send one to, please email the information to wendyu272@gmail.com. My fee is quite reasonable and there are other sources of funding than the regular school budget. My visits have been funded by parent groups, assembly/enrichment grants and even by anonymous donors. We can be creative, work together and not let the economy rob our kids of new experiences.

Enjoy what is left of summer and start getting ready for a beautiful autumn. Write about it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Catching Up

The ever present question once again raises it head- where does the time go?

Last weekend I had a signing at the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport, ME. It was the debut appearance of Izzy - an iguana puppet who had a great time interacting with the kids and the parents. It was a very successful signing and I hope to return for a holiday event in December.

We received the first color illustrations for the new book. Laura's sketches always amaze me, but her paintings are just fabulous and so right for the characters and the story. I can't wait to see the next ones.I am most grateful for having a great editor and illustrator.

I will soon begin my mailings to schools for 2009-2010 school visits. Last year I sent the mailings to school librarians, but I believe this time I may send them directly to grade level teachers. If you know of any elementary teachers who may be interested, please ask them to check out the blog and contact information. The spring visits can be focused around either of the books - A Isn't for Fox or Counting to None - or both at different grade levels. Parents and teachers can check out an activity guide for A Isn't for Fox at www.sleepingbearpress.com.

After some major problems with our current email provider, I am considering changing my email. This is something I have avoided as there are many things to change along with the email address. I will post the new address as soon as it is set up.

Until next time - read and write a little each day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain, rain go away!

Tomorrow is the official beginning of summer and we are either in sweatshirts or rain coats or both. Hopefully a new month will bring a new weather pattern.

I have finished my time in second grade for this year. I am so thankful for the time I have shared with Sue Michaud and her class at the Dike Newell School in Bath, Me. Her students have endured being the guinea pigs for the test drives of school visits with the next book. They have been most helpful with suggestions from better ways to lay out worksheets to visuals that help the presentation. I will miss them and wish them well as they move on to third grade. I treasure the fingerprint "people" picture they made for me.

Events are slow this time of year with a signing at L.L.Bean on July 11th the only scheduled event. I am working on several projects at one time and sometimes it seems like I am not getting anywhere! I wish I knew why the ideas mostly arrive at 4am when my brain seems especially active, but my body has trouble getting up and moving.
The suggestion to have a notepad by the bed doesn't really work when your husband is sound asleep and doesn't appreciate a light going on and the sound of a scribbling pencil:)

I hope somewhere it is warm and dry and those who live there are enjoying it. Rainy days are, however, are great days for reading and writing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Home again, home again jiggety jog!

There is nothing like going away for two and a half weeks to totally disrail any structure you had in your life! Not that I had much to begin with. But I wouldn't trade those two weeks for anything, well, maybe a Caldecott:)

My sister and I visited 12 quilt shops and generally had a great time just being together. I learned a bit about how to get around the Twin Cities and enjoyed the beautiful parks and lakes. On Wednesday evening we headed to The Red Balloon Book Shop to check it out and check on the Saturday schedule. If you love children's books, you cannot miss this store if you are anywhere near St. Paul. The location is fun - on Grand Avenue in the midst of great shops and restaurants and beautifully restored old homes. The selection is amazing, from board books to YA to puppets. Yes, they carry fabulous puppets, including an iguana who now lives with me. Izzy, the iguana, insisted on becoming the mascot for A Isn't for Fox and has really taken on a life of his own. Scary!

On Saturday we returned to The Red Balloon for my book event. The staff is one of the most warm and caring booksellers I have worked with. They went out of their way to make the event fun and comfortable for me and for the families that attended. Their generosity was overwhelming and I will revisit them whenever I am in St. Paul.
My editor and her little boy also attended the event. This was our first face to face meeting and we enjoyed getting to know each other during lunch. We discussed the next book - some surprises there - and I hope to have a release date soon. It looks like it will be early 2010. And yes, another puppet travelled home to help during school visits with the new book.

Now I am trying to regroup, but not really succeeding. One day at a time is too long to think about, so let's try one minute at a time. That might work. Read on!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In Minnesota

What a week it has been! I left Maine last Sunday and drove to Pennsylvania to Mt. Gretna. On Monday I had a school visit at the Cornwall Terrace Elementary School in Sinking Springs, near Reading. Because there were four classes in each grade, I saw two classes in each 30 minute session. I wasn't sure how it would work, but I tweaked some new ideas I used at the Saccarappa School last week in Westbrook. ME. Incidently, the Saccarappa School was awesome! Back to this week. That evening I had dinner with an old friend who was the babysitter for my girls when they were little. We had a great time catching up, talking about education and about authors. We then headed to the Spring Township Library and had a very fun time with storytime. The kids asked great questions, the cookies were good and I was surprised by a former student of mine from Maine.

I spent Tuesday visitng family and enjoying being "home." On Wednesday I headed to Pittsburgh and picked up my daughter and a friend at the airport. The next few days were long and fun and full of quilting related activites. I had a great time and I hope my daughter will take me along again next year. But since it is in Minneapolis, we already have our rooms reserved and I don't see how she could say no:)

Today I made my way to St.Paul where I will be for the next week visiting my sister and her husband. On Saturday I have the storytime and signing event at the Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul. I am hoping to meet my editor for the first time. It will be nice to have the week to slow down and catch my breath.

Read a good book, then share it with a friend.

Monday, May 4, 2009

School Visits

I travelled to Wilton ME last week for a day of fun and writing poems at the Cushing School. We wrote some great poems about bugs and Earth Day - and I learned an interesting fact about blood which I need to research. I was
interviewed by three(!) papers that day and viewed the articles online the following day. I don't know how long the articles will be available, but if you're interested, check out www.dailybulldog.com and www.sunjournal.com (Franklin county.)The third paper, The Franklin Journal, is print only, so I hope I receive a copy.

Tomorrow I am off to Westbrook, ME to visit the Kindergarteners at the Saccarappa School. A day with 5/6 year olds is always fun and exhausting!

I can't believe I am finally leaving on my big trip this Sunday. I am eager to visit my family in PA and MN, attend my first Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, do some shopping:) and have a few book events. It will be a great 16 days and it will take all of June to recover.

As the school year draws to a close, it is a great time to think about author visits for the fall. If you belong to a Parent/Teacher group, put it out for discussion now. There is never a bad time to think about enrichment for our children.

I'll keep you posted as I move about the country. Enjoy the flowers, singing birds and budding trees.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Learning, learning, learning...

This past weekend I attended a conference for writers and illustrator's of children's books. It is the annual Northeast Region's conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. If you write for children, you need to belong to this group as it is the leading professional organization for children's writers.

The keynote speaker on Saturday was Cynthia Lord from Brunswick, Maine. Cynthia wrote Rules, A Newbery Honor book. Don't miss a chance to hear her speak as she is a wonderful presenter and quite inspiring. The workshops were some of the best I've attended at this conference and I now have some direction for some of the projects I have in mind.

The big trip is coming up soon. After two more school visits here in Maine, I will be off to Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The school and library visit in PA are all set and I have Googled all the directions from one destination to the next. Now the question is - what to wear?

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kids and Books - love them!

What a wonderful time I had last week at the Tremont Consolidated School in Bass Harbor, Maine. The students were eager participants in my visit and kept me smiling -and on my toes - all day! We wrote wonderful poems together and they asked very insightful questions. This is a very involved school. The day I visited, scientists from the Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor were working with the second grade finding germs in their classroom and a visiting artist was teaching dance with various other grades. As I left the building, older students were preparing the compost bins and gardens for the growing season. Thanks, Tremont, for a great day!

A little news from the second grade class where I volunteer: they won this year's Read-a-thon and were each awarded a gift certificate to the Bath Book Shop. They walked up to the book store yesterday and stopped to see me at the quilt shop on the way back to school to show me their purchases. I am so proud of them!!! Kudos to their teacher, Mrs. Michaud. It is an honor to help in her classroom.

I am off to a writer's conference next weekend and look forward to learning more about writing for children in the current economic climate and about marketing. It is always inspiring to be around other authors and to hear about the projects they are pursuing. I recently purchased a digital voice recorder and am finding it quite useful. I "write" as I am walking and the results are encouraging. Now to save up to buy the software that will convert it to text. Right now I must listen and type - not very efficient the way I type!

We have been enjoying beautiful spring days, I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New York, Too!

Another unexpected email bringing another unexpected surprise! The New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award committe has selected
A Isn't for Fox to be included on the suggested reading list which they will promote along with the Charlotte Award ballot. The actual ballot will be released April 1st. The award is named for the spider in E.B.White's classic children's book, Charlotte's Web. It is rather humbling to have two states choose your book as one they want the young students in their state to read.

In the writing room there are several projects in process. Using a new voice recorder, I am "writing" early chapter drafts for an adult novel - don't hold your breath! I continue research for a middle grade novel and have several magazine stories and picture books at various stages of revision.

I am excited about returning to Mabel Wilson school this Thursday. Word has it that the kindergarteners are learning about poetry - I can't wait.

A saying my mom was fond of at this time of year:

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris'
I wonder where the birdies is?

Enjoy the warming temps, the tips of bulbs and the smell of spring.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"March"ing into Spring

Although there is still snow in the yard, we can see the dirt driveway again and there are bulbs poking their heads up through the ground. Dare we hope that spring is really on its way?

The next few months are filling right up with school visits in Maine, tentative ones in PA and a book signing in Minneapolis! This month I will be returning to the Mabel Wilson School in Cumberland, Maine. I had a great time there last year and look forward to meeting this year's kindergarteners. In April I will travel to Tremont Consolidated School in Bass Harbor and at the end of the month to the Cushing School in Wilton, Maine. In early May I will be visiting the Saccarappa School in Westbrook and then leaving on a three week trip. After several days visiting family in Mt. Gretna, I will head to Pittsburg to meet my daughter for the Spring International Quilt Market. This is my first trip to "market" and I am excited! From there, I will travel to St. Paul to visit my sister and to do a signing at The Red Balloon bookstore. I also hope to meet with my editor face to face:)

I am going to learn more blogging skills in the next weeks and hope to add some links to favorite web sites - both book and quilting related. Enjoy the slow awakening of the earth and take some time to refresh yourself as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ready for Spring!

As I watch the sun rise this morning through a forest of white, I realize that despite the beauty of the scene, I am ready for spring. I am beginning to return to my 5am rising, after two months of sleep-in hibernation. It was just too dark to get up!

Of course, that hibernation has put me behind schedule in everything from submissions to house repairs and quilt orders. Maybe I should get up at 4am for two months to catch up. I don't see that happening!

Mother Nature decided to interfer in last week's book signing at LL Bean, sending snow and rain throughout the day and keeping the shoppers home. But we did have a fun storyhour and I met some great folks from Maine and from away. I did manage to finally forget my red ant tablecloth at a signing and will have to return to Bean's to pick it up. But that is OK as I have a gift card to use:)

Much to do - think spring!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009


The calendar for spring is beginning to get filled in with school visits and signings. This Thursday, February 19th, I will be reading and signing at the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine. The storyhour begins at 10:30am and I will be there to chat and sign books until 1:30pm. If your school vacation plans include a trip to Freeport, come on down on Thursday and stop by to say hello.

Other school visits are lining up and I look forward to returning to see friends and to make new ones. A trip to Pennsylvania and Minnesota is shaping up for May - more about that in a future blog. Good luck to my sister as she makes the big move to St. Paul this week - travel safely!

I am certainly enjoying the education I am receiving each week as I spend time in second grade. What a refreshing view they have of the world and I just love their honesty and curiosity. I am learning!

If you live here in New England, enjoy the school vacation week. There are still school visit dates available for spring, so please suggest a visit to your child's teacher or to your parent group. It is always fun to do something different in the spring after the long winter!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Award Shortlist!

Don't you just love opening your email and receiving a totally unexpected surprise? Today was that day for me. A Isn't for Fox has been selected for the nomination list for the 2009-2010 Keystone to Reading Book Award! Students in grades K-6 in the state of Pennsylvania (home state for both Laura and I) will read the nominated books during the 2009-2010 school year and vote for their favorite in March 2010. The winning author will be honored in October 2010 at the Keystone to Reading Association meeting in Hershey, PA. Like they say at the Oscars - just to be nominated is enough. Big smile!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Today was one of those days as an author when you get a little present which makes you realize why you write. What was that present? The first sketches for the counting book arrived today and they are wonderful. Laura's critters are perfect - exactly how I imagined them to be! They have so much character and each is perfect for his/her role in the story. I am so thankful to be teamed with such a talented illustrator who shares the same vision as I do for our book.

I also began volunteering today in Mrs. Michaud's second grade class at Dike Newell School in Bath, ME. I will be helping during reading time twice a week. I want to stay in touch with children and with teachers to hopefully better understand how to write for both. It is quite amazing what they already know and yet are still so innocent in other ways. I believe I will be the one being educated!

I hope everyone is warm out there. After 18 inches of snow last weekend and a return to single digit temperatures coming this weekend, I think we are all ready to shed some layers and head for warmer places. But since that isn't possible, let's just enjoy the beautiful snowscapes, the birds at the feeders and the sea smoke rising over the river.

Don't forget to ask your favorite teacher about a school visit this spring - we still have some open dates.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Too Long!

Happy New Year! Well, this was definitely way too long between postings. I'm not sure where December went, but it was certainly busy with writing, quilting and family. January started with a bout of sickness, but I am now getting back on schedule.

I spoke on the phone with Laura Knorr, the illustrator for A Isn't for Fox and for the new book which we think will be released in about one year. We got to know each other a little bit and had fun discussing and deciding on the basic ideas for the new book. I have never had the opportunity to be part of the illutration process this early in a book's production. It was fun and very educational to learn the issues the illustrator must think about when conceiving a book's look. I can't wait to see the early sketches.

My new publicist, Audrey Mitnick, has been busy working on a signing at L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport. I will be there during school vacation week, on February 19th at 10:30 am. There will be authors in the store most days that week and many activities going on for the family. If you aren't jetting off to Florida, stop in for a visit.

I have been sending out manuscripts and have others in the hands of my reader/reviewers for comments. I am also doing research for a middle grade novel set during the Revolutionary War and working on a book to follow up the new one that is in production. There are not enough hours in the day - if I just didn't have to sleep!!!

There are still dates available for school visits. My fee is reasonable and can often be covered by the school's parent group. As spring begins to arrive, it is always good to break up the long routine of winter with a visiting author or other type of guest. Education comes in many forms and fashions, and visitors help keep the students engaged and interested.

Take care, be careful in the snow and enjoy the beauty of winter.