Setbacks and Need Advice

Confession: Children (specifically the 3 teenagers down the street who were seen breaking into my home in broad daylight yesterday) aren’t necessarily always the best people in my book.

Among the few thousand dollars worth of stuff stolen, was my laptop, which idiotically I didn’t back up anywhere. Admittedly I’m most upset that all my pictures and videos of my son are now gone, but readers, I’d like your advice on how to handle the intellectual property theft of my stories. My MG novel (Princess Amelia and two sequel sketches)and many short stories are gone. Conveniently, I also saved a list on the hard drive of publishers and agents to check out.  As hubristic as it may sound, I admit I’m concerned about seeing something *I* wrote, get published under some stolen property buyer’s name.

Any advice on managing/preventing this situation is appreciated.

And to those of you out there who have raised or are raising non-punks… thank you. Your kids are the ones whom I hope will love my books someday.

April Fool, Phyllis! (The World Tour Edition)


My house was among the first stops in Susanna Hill’s fabulous book tour:

It’s not the Susanna herself that’s going on tour though, just the book.  All of the publicity, and none of the jet lag.  So we reviewers are all signing our names, locations, and weather coordinates to the book.  I’m also going to make sure Phyllis mails Susanna a postcard before she Priority Mails (cheaper than flying coach, plus no hassles from TSA!) to Los Angeles.

In April Fool, Phyllis! we meet again with Punxsutawney Phyllis, the first female weather groundhog from a very long line of Punxsutawney Phils. 

Sensing a blizzard coming on April Fools’ Day, Phyllis tries to let her family know – they need to cancel the Spring Treasure Hunt so people can stay safe inside!  But they all laugh at her “joke”, which inspires a few more April Fools’ pranks of their own.  Then while out on the treasure hunt, the blizzard hits!  Will the little groundhog kids make it home on time?

Of course they will; this is a children’s book after all. But Ms. Hill gives the reader just enoguh time to get worried before Phyllis saves the day (in a way that could inspire a more inquisitive child to want to learn more about trees).  The groundhog children get home in time to enjoy a sweet surprise, and Phyllis’s real April Fool’s joke.

Kids will also like the section at the end talking about the history and international traditions of April Fool’s day.  (And by “kids”, that can mean “adults who’ve been 28 for a few years now, who submit a fake doctor’s note to their boss, stating they’re now to bring their notoriously ill-behaved cats to the office as service animals”.)

The pictures are the best sort -detailed enough that they could double as wall art and/or tell the story themselves.  Jeffrey Ebbeler is the sort of artist who makes me wish I’d paid attention in Art class, so I could have the proper terminology to describe how great his drawings are.  See if you can spot the Bilbo Baggins homage in the background, the bundled-up bees exhaling “smoke” into the snow, or the bespectacled, mustached goldfish.

All in all, Susanna (and Jeffrey!) get a 5/5 for not only a great story and pictures, but a fabulously creative book tour idea.

In Defense of the Audiot

Audiotn. One who, instead of reading an actual book like a literate human being, listens to them on tape practically nonstop. See Vidiot.

At the November 2011 Writers’ Day of the awesome SCBWI Cen-Cal chapter, a piece of advice was given to the effect of, “The first step to becoming a good writer is to read, read, read.”

After an almost 30 year love affair with, and the GDP of a moderately wealthy country invested in, books, I could not agree more.  Any excuse to keep fattening my library, right?  It’s a great thought until you have a husband, child, and an insanely cool temp job that you’re hoping will become permanent.  The only physical books I’ve read since giving birth were of the board variety, and lately, increasingly focusing on funny noises and gross-out humor.  I just don’t think I have any boad books in me, so that doesn’t really help me as a middle-grade writer.  And days like today, it took all I had to stay up to watch The Office.

So this week in the car ride between my son’s school and work, I’ve been listening to the first book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.  Like most quirky but brilliant middle grade semi-fantasy novels, I wish I’d written it myself.  And like with many audiobooks, I wonder what cool illustrations I’m missing. 

But it does beat NPR and Raffi.  And if it helps me as a writer too?  I guess that’s just a sacrifice I’ve got to make…