Blooming toward fall

Hi everyone,

Has this been a good year for blooming plants where you live? Ours has been so sensational we’re already dreading the end of the season and trying to decide which plants we can save and how. The hibiscus have grown so much during this second summer we don’t know how we’re going to fit them into the breakfast room again but we’re determined to try. The geraniums, at least some of them, need to be saved. Maybe we’ll try that trick of hanging them upside down in the garage and maybe this time we’ll remember to water them during the winter. A pair of palms are headed for the dining room. The coleus may have to fend for themselves, same as last winter. We thought they had died but this spring they suddenly came out of the soil bigger and better than ever. We have thirty plants in pots around the patio this year. They are thirsty all the time but they have repaid us handsomely. Does anyone else take plants in for the winter?

Adding a new voice to the tool box

Hi everyone,

In my thirties I published picture books of fiction. To wided my range I added picture books and full length works of nonfiction. In my fifties I added poetry to reenergize me and hone my writing skills. In my sixties I began co-writing books for teachers.

In my seventies I told you in one of my posts that I wanted to see if I could successfully write middle grade novels. My first story, placed in Peru’s Amazon rain forest, was rejected by editors who said they liked the story but didn’t relate to the voice. I revised the manuscript and tried again. The editors liked the story but didn’t relate to the voice. I revised again. One editor liked the story but wouldn’t accept it because of the Our Own Voices movement: I wasn’t a Peruvian. Other editors said they liked the story but didn’t relate to the voice.

I wrote a second middle grade novel. It takes place in the Arizona desert. Editors so far have said they like the story but don’t relate to the voice. I’m midway into a third middle grade novel but have put it on hold until I figure out how to “fix” my voice. To me both stories are told well, but that’s the danger of being your own critic. Su Hutchens has read both manuscripts and provided wonderful input, a true gift from a true friend. I’ve read a handful of middle grade novels by friends who write them well and thought I’d learned from their examples. I think my next step is to read a LOT more of them.

One thing I won’t do is quit. I’m frustrated but challenged, and that, after all, is one of the main reasons why we all keep trying.

Rolling with the unexpected

Hi everyone,

I was right when I said on Monday that this would be a good week. I finished the proposal for ALA by the Tuesday deadline and yesterday I received an invitation to speak at a book festival next year. I’m keeping dates open for the conferences I might like to attend as a speaker in 2020, including Texas Library Association in Houston (March), National Science Teachers Association in Boston (April), American Library Association in Chicago (June), International Literacy Association in Columbus (October), and National Council for Teachers of English in Denver (November). I don’t mean I’ll go to all of them but odds are I’ll make two or three.

This past week I worked on two stories, a fiction picture book that has been in the works for a while and a science picture book that’s been several months taking shape in my mind. I wrote the first few pages of the new one, trying for an elegant prose style, which I rather like so far. But then, for no reason I can explain, a voice speaking in dialect jumped in and wanted to take over the story. I don’t know where the voice came from or what he/she is supposed to be. It almost sounds like I’m channeling a character from The Lion King, maybe the monkey with the staff. Or it could be someone from a book I read somewhere. Or it could be me just fooling around. Whatever is happening, I have felt compelled to write the story twice, once the way I began it and again the way my guest story teller wants to tell it. At this point I know I’ll complete two stories and then decide what to do with them.

Coming in 2020

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I got a peek at the full digital copy of my next book, a partnership with Jane Yolen that got its start here on the blog. It was one of those days when I posted something that amused Jane, who responded in kind, to which I answered, etc. until we took our game off-line and turned our play into a book. I can’t show you any of the wonderful art by Anjan Sarkar, but I’m delighted by the whole thing and look forward to seeing this one in print come April or so of next year.