Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gift

I grew up in a fun, loving, and fun loving family. Our Sunday night gatherings often included a meal with 15 or more seated around the table, most of us laughing so hard we were crying. Those meals, however, always began with us holding hands - including the little chubby ones of whatever small child was sitting in the old high chair - and singing our Moravian blessing. Be present at out table Lord, be here and everywhere adored. From Thine all bounteous hands this food, may we receive with gratitude. I don't know where that blessing came from, but I know where it's going.

Over the years , though the family is scattered from Minnesota to Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Maine, the blessing is always sung when any of us get together. So we, of course, continued to sing it in our family as our children grew up. Last year we were gathered at my daughter's house for a meal. Both daughters were there with their sons, Connor and Tucker. The boys were barely three years old and had been present at all our family meals. But this time would be different. We all held hands, bowed our heads, and began to sing. Now, if you have grandchildren, you know you keep one eye slit open to watch their faces during times like these. The boys were just watching and listening. We finished singing, dropped hands and then heard Tucker's little voice, "Again, sing it again." Through tears and smiles, we did just that.

There were double singings of the blessing for most of the family meals during the year. And Connor and Tucker were soon singing the words, despite not knowing what they meant. But through the singing, they were learning what family meant. Last Sunday the boys came with their moms to decorate a gingerbread train - perhaps a new tradition in the making? Before beginning we had a quick lunch. The boys were seated with their bowls of mac and cheese when Tucker said, "Mama, let's sing the Lord be present song." We held hands, we sang, and He was present in the gift of those two little boys.

May you, too, have a blessed holiday with your gift of family and friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Egads - eBooks!

I receive daily updates from Publisher's Weekly and lately they are full of the rise of ebook sales and the demise of traditional books. Now, I'm not a techno phobe - I use computers daily, have a cell phone and manage to navigate my way around these gadgets. But I'm not a techno enthusiast to the point of having the newest of everything whether it is needed or not. However as an author, this is one technological development I can't ignore.

I can see the advantage if you travel frequently of carrying one tablet size device rather than three books. I suppose if you lived in a space without bookshelf space, it might make sense, also. But, of course there is also the library, where they will shelve your "collection" of favorites. As I deal mainly in children's books, I didn't pay too much attention to the ebooks until I received an addendum to my contract for ebook publication. Apparently teachers can download an ebook to their computer and then project it on a SmartBoard and write over the text/illustration to instruct students in a certain concept. Most contracts from the traditional publishers now contain a paragraph refering to e rights.

But what about the thrill of opening the cover of a brand new book, smelling the new ink smell and feeling the texture of the paper? At first I thought maybe I felt this way because I love children's books. But no, I don't want to relax in my big comfy chair, with my hot cocoa and a view of the birdfeeder and turn on my e reader.
I want to open my book to where my tattered bookmark has saved the next part of my reading adventure. I want to balance the book in one hand as I sip my cocoa and not worry that a spill will do anything more than darken a corner of a page. I want my book.

This afternoon I am "attending" a web seminar on children's publishing and e books. Will it change my mind? I hope not. But it may help me figure out as an author where I fit into this new publishing sphere and how I can still hold on to my book.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Much to do!

I have received great feedback from my student editors. I collated all the comments and then categorized them into similar responses. From this process, I was able to determine the major weaknesses of the manuscript and make a plan for revision. Now I have so much research and revision to do, I don't know where to begin! During my last visit to the 7th grade class, I ran my revision ideas past them. I knew I was on the right track when their eyes lit up and they started nodding. Putting a piece out there and allowing students to be open and free with their comments - not having to worry about being tested,etc. - resulted in authentic feedback from an unbiased audience. Although it was scary, I would (and will) do it again. There is a chance a fifth grade class will still get to take a look at it also, as it was written for this grade level. Don't hold your breath to see this one - it will be a while, if ever:)

Don't forget, A Isn't for Fox and Zero, Zilch, Nada:Counting to None are great holiday gifts for a special child or teacher. School Visit brochures and Birthday Visit brochures are available by sending me an email request. The first surprise birthday visit was a great success!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Student editors

The small novel, The Boat Builder's Secret, is now in the hands of a 7th grade class and a 9th grade class. I was pleasantly surprised by their reactions to being asked to edit my story. They were rather shocked that an adult writer would want their opinion and were quite pleased to be the only classes chosen for the project. One freshman young man asked if he could say it "sucked?" I told him he surely could, but then he had to tell me in detail why it sucked! Everyone laughed and we were off to a great start. As I was finishing up my ideas, I looked around and they were already reading, so I stopped talking and handed the class back to the teacher. It will be quite interesting to see the first comment sheets.

I have started "teaching" more writing in the second grade class. It is amazing what they can do if given some confidence building and a little push. This week we worked on using "juicy" words instead of "blah" words in our writing. They amazed us when they began using words like agitated and disappointed to decribe how a certain situation would make them feel. We were all so proud of their writing at the end of the lesson.

As the weather turns cooler, my writing muse becomes more active. I am being called by a certain dragon to come back to work on his story and the number 10 is whining about having his own book. So on go the smart wool socks, turtlenecks and fleece and may the writing begin!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Once a teacher ...

Despite being no longer employed as a teacher, I find myself back in schools more and more. I am now in year three of second grade and loving it. I continue to work one day a week with math and the other day with writing. I was so impressed yesterday with how hard the students worked writing poems. Imagine not only trying to decide what you want to say, but not being able to spell many of the words you want to write! Their observations are quite insightful and imaginative, but ,oh, the patience it takes to help them through the frustration of trying to get it down on paper. After they were finished writing, we had a poetry reading and we finger snapped our applause.

Today I am meeting with the first of three teachers who have graciously agreed to work on a student editing project with me. I finished writing a short middle grade novel called The Boat Builder's Secret. Three classes - grades 5, 7 and 9 - are going to be my editors. I am hoping for honest feedback from the target audience to use as I begin rewrites. I am excited and a bit anxious about the project, but hope it will be as useful to the teachers and students as it will be for me. I will post updates as we work through the project.

My new brochure for giving an author visit to a single classroom to celebrate a child's birthday is now available. If you would like one, please email me and I will send one your way.

This Sunday I hope educators in Maine will join me at the Barnes and Noble in Augusta between 1pm and 3pm. As I mentioned last time, this store is a treasure chest of materials for educators and home schoolers. Come take advantage of their Educator's discounts and meet and greet with three authors. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moving forward...

The end of summer brings a re-assessment of where one is in the overall scheme of life. After several months of changes - wanted and unwanted - it is time to move forward.

I was notified a week ago that my editor is no longer with the publishing company. This was difficult to take in as she was the editor for all three of my books. I had actually visited with her twice and felt comfortable with her. Now she is gone and there is no contact and it leaves an empty feeling. It also leaves me with questions - am I back at square one, what will happen to the mauscripts the publisher is still holding, will I ever talk to her, again? Time to move forward. I will continue to write, research publishers and submit manuscripts. I will continue to file rejections and rejoice at acceptances.

The new school year has begun and I am in second grade for the third year - I am getting better at math! The economy continues to plague the schools with larger classes, dropped subjects and little funding for enrichment. Time to move forward. This afternoon I am picking up brochures for a new way to get an author - me, actually - into classrooms. The basic idea is to give my author visit as a gift to a single classroom to celebrate a child's birthday. The $60 fee includes mileage, reading two of my books, a group activity, Q&A and a signed book for the birthday child. Right now the program is limited to within a 60 mile radius of Bath, Maine. However, when I travel to PA the program would travel with me and include a 60 mile radius around Lebanon, PA. I will be sending the brochures to local schools and it will be available at the Bath Book Shop. If you would like a copy, send me an email and I can email the file to you or send you an actual brochure.

After Zero came out this summer, my publicist asked if I wanted to present at the National Council of
Teachers of Math convention. After I stopped laughing, I politely declined. So she set me up to do a workshop for homeschooling parents on how to use picture books to teach math. I researched, bought books, practiced and had a successful presentation at Barnes and Noble in Augusta at the end of August. And it was actually fun - talking about math - who would have thought? Time to move forward. I am now working on expanding the presentation to a workshop format to present for teachers. I plan to integrate hands on activities to use with specific books so there is an immediate "take home and use" aspect to the workshop.
More on that as it becomes a reality.

I will be at the Educators Event at the Barnes and Noble in Augusta, ME on Sunday, October 10 from 1 - 3pm. This store has invested more space and inventory for teaching than any store I have been in in a long time. There is plenty there for teaching or if you are looking for additional academic support for your child.

So it really is time to move forward and here I go!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wondering why?

This past weekend we attended the Newport Jazz Festival for the 7th time. It was all the great fun it usually is - spending time with friends in Jamestown, riding the ferry to and from the festival, enjoying the fabulous music on three stages, and being part of a cultural and ethnic melting pot brought together by the beat of jazz. It wasn't until the last performance late Sunday afternoon that I realized the real reason why I was at this festival. Chris Botti - my favorite trumpeter, next to my nephew Eric - was the final performer. I have several of his albums, with Italia being my favorite. Mr. Botti came out on the stage and in front of thousands of jazz fans, began his set with Ave Maria. Even the wind and the waves stopped for a moment to listen. It was amazing, but not yet my moment of awakening.

After several more tunes, Mr. Botti told an amusing, and inspiring story about a trip to Italy with his band. After playing for an Italian wedding reception, their violinist, a young talented woman, tripped and slit her fingers severly on a wine glass. A career ending injury. She was flown back to Los Angeles, underwent surgey and months and months of rehabilitation. After the story, she joined Mr. Botti on stage, violin in hand and began to play. As the trumpet and violin began to merge into one musical storyteller, the musicians disappeared, the crowd disappeared, there was only the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I wept, lost for that moment in what must have been a passing of angels through my soul. When it ended, I began to wonder why. Why had I allowed music, which had been my only world for so long, to be pushed to the bottom of my favorites list?

I will wrestle with this question, knowing it can't stay at the bottom any longer. But as I strive to achieve some sense of balance in my life, I know it can't ever return to the place of absolute dominance it once held. I will start a new song, with no repeats.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Birth" days

Since joining the Facebook community and getting birthday updates for my friends, I realized that shortly my birthday reminder will be infiltrating cyberspace. This started my thinking about birthdays and their relevance in society in general and in my life in particular. When I was younger, I loved my birthday. It was the one day that was mine and wasn't shared with sisters or friends. I fondly remember a birthday party at my grandfather's cottage at Valley Glen, PA. It was a very special day for me. But as I grew older, the act of marking the day I physically arrived here became less and less important. I began to wonder why. At first I thought it probably had something to do with not wanting to admit getting older - we all go through that phase, I believe. I began to realize that there were other times in my life that were "birth" days for me emotionally, mentally or spiritually. These times seem much more worthy of a celebration than a specific date on the calendar.

A few of my true "birth" days: the day I climbed to the ceremonial kiva at Bandolier, when I held my newborn daughters, the phone call telling me that Cowboy Billy was going to be published - and I would have rather have had my dad back than have the book, reading Cowboy Billy with my mother the first time, mesmerized by 120 students singing "Do You Hear the People Sing" and knowing at that moment we weren't teacher and students, we were family, hearing, "I love you, deva."

Although the calendar birthdays will continue to come and go, it is the other "birth" days that I will now celebrate. I look forward to many more moving and wonderful "birth" days as I travel through time.

Quick note, of course! I will be signing books at Books -n - Things in Norway, Maine, this Saturday, July 24th from 11am - 1pm. Stop by and say hello if you are nearby. A very happy Un-birthday to you!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Books in Boothbay

Although I am not participating in this event this year, I want to encourage readers in the midcoast area of Maine to attend. On Saturday, July 10th, Books in Boothbay will be hosting 40 Maine authors at the Boothbay Railway Museum from 12:30 - 3:30pm. Authors are from all genres - childrens to adult fiction and nonfiction. There is no admission fee and several of the authors will be doing readings from their work. All authors will be available to sign and meet and greet. You can learn more at

I will be signing books at Books-n-Things in Norway, Maine on Saturday, July 24th, from 11 - 1. This is my first visit to this western Maine town and I am eager to visit their shop and meet their young readers. We travel through Norway on the way to our camp in Bethel and every time through I mention I would like to explore the town. Now I will get my chance! Please stop by if you live in the area or are vactioning nearby.

My daughter and I have been reading and enjoying Michael Scott's series about the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I am calling it a historical fantasy set in contemporary times. Unfortunately, we are ready for the next book in the series, but it is not ready for us:( The amount of research Scott has done is mind boggling and how he has woven it all into a believable tale is fabulous. Oh, to have a mind like that!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Yes, Zero has finally arrived in the United States! After arriving in the publisher's warehouse in Michigan on Friday, it is now being delivered to the distributors and should be available on Amazon and in bookstores shortly. It's been a long trip, but worth the wait.

There are books, however, at the Borders in South Portland, Maine, where I will be reading and signing tomorrow. Storytime is at 11am and will be followed by a signing time until 1pm. If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello.

Yesterday I had a wonderful visit with friends from California that I had not seen in ten years. For part of that time, I didn't even know where they were living. We vowed that would not happen again! Time is too short and people are too precious to be put off until later. There is no later, there is only now.

Have lunch with a friend, write a letter to a loved one, phone home:)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Home Again, #2

Did you ever have a weekend that you thought was going to be so busy it would fly by and you wouldn't really enjoy it? But unexpectedly, time slows down and even though you do everything planned, the universe gives you precious unrushed moments to enjoy and cherish. That was my weekend!

The drive to and fro was smooth, with little delay for all the road construction going on this summer. I had a great visit with Grandma, who insisted on feeding me ice cream and strawberries and cookies and pretzels. Aren't Grandmas great? Thanks for my lunch money, Grandma. I bunked in with my youngest sister for the first time . She graciously took my MN sister and me in for the weekend, even though she was hosting a baby shower for her daughter on Sunday. She took me to two great places to eat, both in "downtown" Elizabethtown . Flavers is a restaurant where we sat out on the deck next to a little creek and enjoyed the atmosphere, great food and live music. Folklore is a coffee shop with free wifi, fabulous pastries and baked goods, plenty of drink choices, and the atmosphere tempts you to stay and enjoy one of those unhurried moments. Maybe, even, and unhurried life!

Elizabethtown has a beautiful library. The children's room is on the second floor and the reading space is in a round turret room. Perfect for any "once upon a time..." It was interesting reading and sharing both books with an audience that included small children, older kids and adults. But once again, the response was very positive. The little ones watched everything and the older ones really "got" the humor. When Harry began breaking the balloons the second time, one of the older boys threw his hands on his head and said, "Oh, no!"
These are the moments that keep you writing.

Saturday evening we headed to Mt. Gretna for a signing at the Gretna Emporium. I could write an entire blog about the happenings in Mt. Gretna, but suffice it to say that in the summer it is quite busy with the Playhouse, the Jigger shop, many cultural events and great music. Both books sold well and I had some interesting conversations with different folks that stopped by. I also visited with friends before going out to dinner with all three sisters and and other family members. Desserts at my sister's house - she should be on Food Network! Yum.......

Sunday was more family time and a quiet evening sharing the end of a wonderfully unhurried and delightful weekend. May you have one of your own very soon.

Saturday, June 12 - Book signing at Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop, 190 Front St., Bath, Maine. The event is from 11 - 1 and is sponsored by Mariner's Compass and the Bath Book Shop. Stop by and say hello:)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On the Road, Again

I am leaving tomorrow for a busy, but fun weekend in Pennsylvania. There is nothing better than being able to share important events in your life with your family. So this weekend I will share the new book with Great Grandma, three sisters and their families, perhaps an aunt and uncle and with PA friends.

I am looking forward to my Saturday morning reading at the Elizabethtown Public Library. My sister, Kyle, arranged this visit and has been an awesome publicity agent for the event. I may need to hire her for other events! Late afternoon on Saturday, I will be signing books at the Gretna Emporium in Mt. Gretna PA. We grew up in Mt. Gretna and having a signing event there is very special for me.

The latest word from the publisher is that the books should arrive in country on June 12th. So if you can't attend any of these early signing events, you should be able to get the book after that date. The next events will be June 12th at Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop in Bath ME and on June 26th at the Borders in South Portland ME. Both events are from 11am - 1pm.

I'll post pictures from the upcoming weekend next week on my Facebook page - Wendy Ulmer, Author of Children's Picture Books. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jog

What a fun, busy time in Minnesota. Big, big thanks and hugs to my sister and her husband for their hospitality and transportation! After two long days of driving I arrived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. As with the rest of the country, the temps were way above normal. Tuesday we visited Castle Elementary and had a good first visit with Zero, Zilch, Nada : Counting to None. The class of 23 did quite well and were attentive and tuned in to helping Harry count to none. Kindergarteners are much smarter now than when I was one!

I did receive a copy of the book on Friday before I left; however, my editor did not see it until Sunday at the book signing. It turns out that the books are still not in this country, but on a container ship between California and China. So they drop shipped books directly from China to Michigan where the publisher then sent copies on to the Red Balloon in St. Paul. They supposedly also sent books to Mt. Gretna, PA for the signing on June 5th. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anyway, my editor was quite pleased and amazed at how vibrant the colors printed. I realize I am biased and a bit excited right now, but it really is so much more than I ever thought a "math" storybook could be:) The books should be available by the second week in June which is good as we have a signing in Bath on June 12th.

So life with a new book begins. The highs of signings and visits, the hoping for good reviews and the moving onward to hopefully another inspiration. Enjoy the ride!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Minnesota, Here I Come!

Tomorrow is the day! Tomorrow I head out on another travel adventure across our beautiful country to St. Paul MN. My travel adventures will be a discussion for a later blog, because right now I am too excited about this one to do any justice to the memories of the other ones.

The car is half packed. Inside is the school visit bag for a Kindergarten visit at Castle Elementary in Oakdale MN on Tuesday, gifts for special people, and two beautiful quilts my sister made that I am returning to her - all quilted, trimmed and ready for binding. Today I will pack my clothes, a few snacks for the road, my to - do bag (like I am really going to work) and the all important directions. On the dashboard is taped a note from one of the second graders - very important.

So only the good byes are left. I kissed, tickled and enjoyed one grandson this morning and will hopefully enjoy the other one this evening. I have insured my husband numerous times that I am a big girl and will be careful. So I guess I am ready.

I will try to send a blog from MN and will certainly send one with pictures from the first signing event for Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None! Come see us at the Red Balloon on Grand Ave. in St. Paul on Sunday, May 23, at 2pm. If you can't be there, send us your good wishes, they are felt and appreciated.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


After a few unsettling emails from the publisher, the good news is that the books have arrived at the warehouse in Michigan. They apparently expected to have a shipping delay and were preparing to air freight books to the first two signing events. But yesterday books were shipped to the Red Balloon Book Shop in St. Paul, MN and to the Gretna Emporium in Mt. Gretna PA from Michigan.

I wonder if I will see the book before I leave for St. Paul? I have a feeling the book will be "out there" before I even see it. It has been a long wait, but I am getting very excited to finally see and hold Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None in my hands.

Although the process is long, it is full of gifts all along the way. The first gift is the gift of the muse which brings the idea. Then there is the gift of feeling it become a viable story. The acceptance by the publisher is a very high point in the process - I usually can't help but grin for about three hours after that phone call:) Then there is a wait for the first sketches and suddenly your characters appear before you and become even more a part of the realization of the dream. The biggest and best gift, however, is sharing each little gift along the way with family and friends who share the excitment with you. And then to place the book in their hands makes the wait totally insignificant. There I go - grinning, again.

So in one short week and a half, the gift of signings begins at the Red Balloon in St.Paul. If you are near there on Sunday, May 23, stop in around 2 o'clock and say hello. I still can't believe it - book #3!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Indie Shops

I love local, independent bookshops. Now don't get me wrong, I also believe there is a place for the big chainstores and internet sites. We don't all live in or near a community that has an independent shop and being able to go to an urban area to a big store or to shop online may be the only way to get our book fix. I also support libraries. But sometimes you just have to own the book, write in the margins, dog ear favorite pages and reread it until the cover has the soft patina of an antique table. But, I digress.

Independent book shops are like family. The people running the shops love books as much as you do, squeeze every second of reading in just like you do, let the clothing wrinkle in the dryer until the chapter is finished, just like you do. When you walk in your local book shop, there is a smiling face ready to tell you Jodi Piccoult's next release date, why your mystery reader will love the next Clive Cussler and how your toddler will ask you to read Mo Willem's new book every night for the next month. You say you want to try something new, your local bookseller will be glad to enthuse over the newest releases or best authors of historical fiction or gardening or whatever strikes your fancy.

If you live near an independent book shop, please check it out. And don't forget to seek them out when travelling on vacation this summer. These shops usually have a good selection of local authors and what better way to expand your reading horizons. After all, every author is a local author somewhere!

So give a shout out for your favorite independent shop and if I am ever nearby, I will check it out and hopefully find my books in their children's section!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As the publication date approaches of Zero, I find myself thinking about my math phobia. I know there are going to be questions as my "condition" is mentioned in the official publisher's press release. First, however, I want to thank the second graders who are teaching me strategies to work with my affliction. Most of them, thankfully, are free of this problem.

To this day, when I hand over a twenty to pay for an item, if someone were to say "What should the change be?"- I will panic. Any knowledge I have of how numbers and money works will immediately morph into a foreign language I have never heard. The blood will flood from my face, a 'deer in the headlight' look will shoot from my eyes, and my tongue will turn to stone. A blubbering idiot, I will quickly grab the receipt and change, clench my fist around them, stuff it in my pocket and quickly take the nearest escape route. Pathetic.

Another painful scenerio. We stop at a gas station on a trip. Unfortunately, I often seem to ride with gas mileage watchers who make it an extreme sport! Gas is pumped, odometer reading written down, number of gallons bought written down, paper handed to me - What is the mileage? See reactions above - followed by my comment - "Does it matter - we got here?"

In my defense - when left in isolation my math brain works just fine. I design and make quilts which are all based on math, I play the piano daily which requires understanding fractions in time and now I seem to be writing stories to help children understand and enjoy math. Go figure.

So please - read my books, snuggle under my quilts, but don't ask me how much change I should receive or how many miles per gallon my Beetle bug gets. Blue one!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It costs how much?

OK - let's be blunt. Unless you are J.K. Rowling or Lois Lowery, your books don't exactly pay the bills. And that is fine, that isn't why we write. But it would be nice to make a bit of income from the hours spent sweeping the cobwebs out of our imaginations and shaping them into something other than half the dream I remember from last night. One way this used to be possible was with author visits to schools and libraries. This however, due to the economy, is no longer possible for many districts. PTA's, once the champions of enrichment programs, are needed to help fund textbooks and school supplies. And thank goodness for the dedicated parents, grandparents and teachers who continue to keep these organizations running. So much for the problem - on to some ideas that may help.

I belong to a professional organization called the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It is considered THE professional organization for children's writers in the U.S. This month's issue had a great article by author Alexis O'Neill who lives in California - where schools are in very dire straits. Her article focused on finding funding through partnerships between schools/libraries and local community organizations, ie Rotary, Lions,etc. It also refers to places where the local Target/Walmart stores entered into partnership with schools to help fund enrichment programs. I don't think this should happen just for authors, this needs to happen for artists, musicians, dancers, poets, sculptors, actors, storytellers, etc. With the arts being cut in many schools, alternative ways need to be developed to insure some continued exposure to the arts for our children.

If you would like more information regarding the ideas in the afore mentioned article, please email me and I will send it to you. We all need to be creative about money these days. Funding enrichment for our children can happen if we all work together. I am currently exploring alternative time/pricing structures for my visits which would allow a single teacher to bring me in for a class as well as continuing the traditional all day visit to a school. If you have ideas or suggestions regarding this subject, please email them to me.

One last thought - I had two visits last year which were birthday gifts funded by individuals for their child's classroom. What better gift than a time of inspiration and sharing with a real live artist, author, musician, etc.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Much to Tell!

First of all, an apology for being out of touch for so long. No one excuse, just several life events interfering with time and concentration. I have also been trying to up my technological expertise and am not much further, but improving. With any luck, this blog should soon be appearing on my Facebook page. There will also soon be a Facebook page dedicated only to my books.

Speaking of books - Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None will be arriving in mid May and in the stores in June. The final layout and art work looks great and I can't wait to actually hold one in my hands. What a long birth this has been! Check the upcoming events section as there are already several events scheduled with the book - including a return to the Red Balloon in St. Paul, MN.

A Isn't for Fox is finishing up its year in two reading programs - The Keystones to Reading program in PA and the Delaware Diamonds program. It was an honor to be selected for these two programs in which school children read several chosen books and vote for their favorite.

Last, but not least, A Campfire for Cowboy Billy is supposedly going to be reprinted as a paperback, although we have yet to see a contract. But we (Ken, the illustrator and I) are excited to have been contacted by the current publisher who owns the films from the original printing. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Second grade is finishing up our Community Reads program. The students have done an awesome job interviewing our guests and writing their reports. We look forward to our celebration next week when we will present our community guests with copies of the reports and display our posters. Great job!

I am continuing my work on several math oriented picture books and also my early reader fantasy. Here's to a beautiful spring full of sunshine and inspiration. Read and write a little each day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I smell Spring!

OK - so maybe I am pushing it a little. But there have been times, like today, where it feels like there is a touch of spring in the air. The wind still has a nip to it, but the sun feels different and the earth smells fresher.

I visited the Kindergartens today at the Dike Newell School in Bath, Me. It was great fun and they wrote very informative poems about owls. I was impressed. This is the same school where I volunteer in the second grade. Our Community Reads program is moving along nicely and we are all learning quite a lot about the many different careers in our town. We are planning on displaying our poster gallery of community readers at the annual Art Show on April 1st. We are all getting excited!

I have applied to attend a writer's workshop at the Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Craft this summer. The teacher is Naomi Shabib Nye, a fabulous writer of both children's literature and poetry. I am crossing fingers and toes in hopes of being accepted.

Check out the catalogue at Sleeping Bear's web site. Click on catalogue, then go to the last page (273) and check out the last book listed. That's right - Zero, Zilch, Nada:Counting to None! Better last, than not at all:)
I am still awaiting notice that the illustrations are complete and it is going to press. It's best not to think about it too much and just move on to other projects.

I have been working on more concept books, especially using math in the story line. Those second graders are really teaching me new ways to think about math. I am actually beginning to enjoy numbers!

Time to get back to research and writing. Take a break and read a book - the work will wait!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year?

So we now write 2010 instead of 2009, but does that really make it a new year? I am thinking of having a different date to start my new year, maybe even change it each "year." I felt like last year I lost the first six months and I really don't think they should count, since I can't find them! So that would make July 1st the beginning of my new year this time around. The fiscal year for many organizations doesn't match the calendar year, so why should I?

According to reliable sources, the illustrations for Zero should be arriving any day! I can't wait to see it all together as a book rather than as random drawings and paintings. Perhaps I will be able to share the cover soon!

The second graders have begun their Community Reads program and will have their first community visitor and interview this week. They have worked very hard on how to ask good questions and are practicing doing interviews with their families. They continue to amaze me with their knowledge and insight.

School visit requests are beginning to arrive in my emails and I am scheduling for spring visits. Please let any teachers or librarians know about the blog or share my email with them. I will be traveling to St. Paul, MN. again in May and hope to schedule some appearances there.

Chapter Three of the fantasy is in progress. I now know the dragon speaks in rhymes and the big brother is a problem! We will work through it together and get this story told! Meanwhile, I try not to think about the manuscripts that are out there lying on someone's desk being ignored or worse. Just keep writing and submitting and it will happen again. Just believe!