Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Wren Lea Trindade, our first Blue Rose Girl Baby!

Yes, one of the Blue Rose Girls had a much more eventful Thanksgiving than the rest of us. While I was playing Barbie Dream House with my niece, Anna brought the beautiful Wren Lea into this world! Let's all give a collective awwwwwwww for the adorable baby!

Since Anna is going to be a bit busy, we're having a guest blogger fill in for her during the month of December. So, please, also welcome our December Guest Blogger Rebecca Sherman!

Rebecca is a fabulous agent with over 9 years of experience at Writer's House. Her clients include Lunch Lady author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, the Scott O'Dell Award Winner Matt Phelan, Caldecott Honor Illustrator Brian Pinkney and Blue Rose Girls Anna Alter and Grace Lin (moi! The photo one the left is from the Newbery Banquet).

And not only is Rebecca a wonderful agent, I'm happy to say that she is also a friend. I knew we were going to get along great when during a visit to NYC we went to dinner and I couldn't decide on what to order. "All the appetizers sound amazing!" I said. "Then, let's just get all of them!" she said. And we did.

So please welcome the new girls to our blog and we hope you look forward to hearing from them (though Wren's words may need some Mommy-deciphering in the beginning)!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What do editors do at conferences?

As readers of this blog will know, I go to a lot of conferences. Some are writer's conferences (usually SCBWI), others are trade conferences. I was considering posting about my time at NCTE, but thought it might be a little more helpful if I talked about trade conferences in general, what they mean to publishers and editors, and what my role is.

Most publishers go to six main conferences a year. Two American Library Association (ALA) conferences: Midwinter and Annual--the former is generally in January, the latter in June or July; the International Reader Association (IRA), generally in May; BookExpo America (BEA), generally  in June; The Texas Library Association (TLA), usually in April; and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference, followed by the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) workshop, always the weekend before Thanksgiving in November. There are a few other regional or smaller conferences that we might attend as a company, but these are the biggies.

Our school and library marketing department (a department of two!) coordinates all of the above conferences except for BEA, which is handled mainly by our publicity department. A ton of preparation goes into each conference: it's a lot of event planning--researching and choosing venues for various breakfast, lunch, and dinner parties, booking hotels, making travel arrangements for staff and the authors and illustrators we host, coordinating the booth: designing the banner, the set-up, signage, scheduling and ordering materials for giveaways, etc. Thankfully, I have basically zero involvement in any of this. All I have to do is find out when I'm needed to arrive and stay through, book my flight, familiarize myself with my schedule (and fill in any gaps if wanted), and that's it in terms of preparation.

Most of the conferences have two main aspects: the convention floor, and programming. Publishers have booths that highlight their upcoming and recent books, have giveaways, and generally have author signings throughout the conference. There are also panels and talks by industry professionals going on elsewhere in the convention center, and depending on the criteria of the conference, we'll try to get our authors on the program in some way.

My main duty while at conferences is author care. I'll usher authors from place to place so that they don't have to worry about anything logistically-speaking, and generally make sure they're happy. For example, on my schedule it will say, "Meet Bryan Collier and Andrea Pinkney in the lobby of the hotel. Bring them to the convention center, room B, then after the program bring the to the booth for their signing" or whatever. I sometimes have to bring authors from booth to booth to booth if they have signings at different publishers. Depending on the city and the convention center, there can be a lot of taking cabs from venue to venue, or making sure I orient myself and know where I'm going beforehand if walking.

When I was a junior editor, I was always eager to attend the conferences, not really knowing what to expect. My first conference was IRA in San Francisco (back in 2001 or 2002), and I had a BLAST. Attending these conferences is a great way to connect with other publishing professionals, authors, agents, illustrators, editors, publicists, etc. It's also a great way to get to know librarians, teachers, reading specialists, booksellers, etc. And yes, I was pretty happy to be getting a trip to San Francisco on the company dime!

We generally try to send at least one junior editor to each conference to help with set-up and break down of the booth, and do booth duty. Working the booth means a lot of opening of boxes, stacking of ARCs (sometimes in pretty swirls), making sure everything looks neat, appealing, and presentable. It can mean fetching bottles of water and snacks to have in the booth. If an author is signing, it can mean selling books, keeping the line in order, handling Post-Its for personalized books, or making sure each book is opened to the right page for the author to sign (generally the title page). But what booth duty mainly entails is speaking to the teachers/librarians/booksellers, answering any questions they may have (usually something like, "What's the age range of this book?" or "Do you have any historical fiction?" etc.), and basically just book talking all of our books. It's usually pretty fun (although being on your feet all day can be tough--reminds me of my days as a bookseller!), and I love familiarizing myself with all of our books, not just the ones I've read or edited.

As a more senior editor, I'm usually assigned to fairly light booth duty (depending on need), and given time to attend the programming or walk the floor scoping out the competition when I'm not doing "author care."

We also host various events at these conferences. These will generally be lunches or dinners (sometimes breakfast), and are  an opportunity to introduce some of our authors to the conference attendees, to help the books make a greater impact on these often influential professionals in the hopes that they may eventually buy the book for their school/library/bookstore. My role at these events is to get to know the attendees, talk about our books, and make sure the attendees all get an opportunity to talk to our authors and illustrators. Oh, and we always choose a lovely venue with delectable cuisine--how could I not mention the food?!

Once I know I'm attending a conference, I might also reach out the others I know may be attending: agents who aren't based in NY, for example, editor friends at Chronicle or Charlesbridge or Candlewick, author or illustrator friends from out of town, etc. There isn't always that much free time, but generally we can find time in our schedules to meet up. I also like meeting authors I've worked with, sometimes for the first time. For example, I met author J.S. Lewis (co-author of The Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles #1, The Brimstone Key) for the first time in person at ALAN, and it was great to be able to sit down to dinner and get to know each other better.

These conferences are exhausting, especially if they occur during a workday and I'm also keeping an eye on my work email, but I love going to them. I generally attend 3-5 of the conferences each year (on top of 2-3 writer's conferences annually). I consider conferences to be one of the perks of my job. I love traveling, I love meeting new people, getting to know people better, eating great food, and talking about books.

Of course, playing catch-up afterward is no fun at all. I got back from Orlando last Tuesday evening, came in to the office for the half-day before the Thanksgiving break to catch up (and ended up staying all day, of course), and still have a ton awaiting my attention this week. Can I please have another day off?

For some wrap-ups of past conferences, go here, here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

from the BRG archives: Score 1 for quiet stories

Over the years, one of the comments I often get about my work is that it is quiet. It is an interesting label to ponder, particularly because we live in such a "loud" culture. It seems to me, we are surrounded by loud. Tv's are loud, traffic is loud, advertising is loud- there are very few moments in the day when we sit calmly and do something quietly, reflectively, thoughtfully. What more perfect for quiet reflection than reading a book? Of course I love adventures and thrilling plot lines as much as the next reader. But I am drawn to making books that satisfy another need, books that offer depth read after read, that let you breathe page to page.

It is a challenge for sure, some (not all) publishers feel that if a book isen't "loud" enough to scream its way off a book shelf then it won't sell. With that in mind, I get particularly excited with art with a "quiet" aesthetic is commercially successful.

Okay, so its not quite a book I'm thinking of, but it relates to storytelling so I'm including it on this blog anyways! This weekend I saw 'Little Miss Sunshine,' and it made me really happy. If you had to describe the plot in a short sentence, you could say it is about a family on a road trip to a beauty pageant (don't worry- I won't ruin it for you if you haven't seen it). In a world of movies (and books) about wizards and ghosts and kids being shrunk down to ant size, it is just really refreshing to see a story with very little plot at all that is just as funny and witty and entertaining. The story is essentially an exploration of the characters and their relationships with eachother, its revealing and touching and I felt really captured the essence of being a kid in a complicated family.

Now this is not a kid's movie per say, there is a lot of swearing and pretty inappropriate kid subject matter. But my point I guess is that I just find it really inspiring when directors and writers find a creative way to say a lot with a little, to get a big point across without over the top plot wrangling. Like any good book, the audience is allowed to be an active participant in the unveiling of the story, that feels like it tells itself.


Originally published Aug. 22, 2006

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Poet, A Poetry Panel, A Poetry Stretch, An Original Poem

I’m a member of the NCTE Poetry Committee. Last Friday at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando, our committee voted for the children’s poet who will be the 2011 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. I am thrilled to announce that J. Patrick Lewis will receive the honor! Next year at the NCTE Annual Convention, Pat will accept the coveted award—of which he is most deserving.

J. Patrick Lewis

Poets & Bloggers Unite
Last Friday morning at NCTE, I was also one of seven participants in a session titled Poets and Bloggers Unite: Using Technology to Connect Kids, Teachers, and Poetry. Lee Bennett Hopkins, Marilyn Singer, Pat Mora, and Jame Richards were the poets on the panel; Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children, Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect, and I were the bloggers on the panel.

Sylvia Vardell & Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Marilyn Singer

Jame Richards

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Pat Mora

One of the things we talked about during the Poets and Bloggers Unite session was Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretches at The Miss Rumphius Effect. I’ve participated in a number of the Poetry Stretches. They’ve been a way for me to actually “stretch” my creativity and experiment with writing different types of poems and poems about specific subjects. Through the stretches, I’ve learned to write clerihews, triolets, centos, and tankas. In addition to bloggers, a number of published children poets--including Jane Yolen and Julie Larios--often take part in Tricia’s poetry challenges.

Earlier this year, I wrote a poem for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch—Shoes.

I really enjoy writing mask poems--and imagining what it might be like to be an animal, a character from a book, an historical figure, an inanimate object, or an element of nature. I decided to write a mask poem for the stretch from the point of view of the soles of a pair of shoes.

Sole Song

We’re the well-worn soles of shoes
reading all the sidewalk news.
As we go along our way
we broadcast headlines of the day:
dots of rain
wad of bubblegum
bright stain
of cherry popsicle
that bled
its sticky sweetness
cool and red
concrete cracked
by root of tree
telltale clue
of injured knee
ghost of ant
whose remnants lie
flattened from a passerby

Our bugaboo!
We just stepped in doggy do!

Click here to read the rest of the Poetry Stretch Results—Shoes.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have Two Poems Two Ways. I rewrote two of my "things to do" poems as mask poems. I'd like to get people's opinions about which version of each poem they prefer.

Jone has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check It Out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There are two me’s. The real me (the one you’d meet in person) is definitely opinionated, but pretty much keeps her opinions to herself, except with her closest friends. She loves a good discussion has never got in a real argument. Never screamed. Never shouted. Never stormed out of the room. Never turned bright red.

I HATE confrontation. Here’s an example. My new roommate who lives on the other side of the wall (we share the kitchen) keeps opening the kitchen window WIDE open. It’s not summer anymore! It’s bloody cold! In comes the freezing cold air and I get cold really easily so I start shivering anytime I go in there! She even opens it when it’s raining! So I’ll shut the window and she’ll just come into the kitchen and open it again. She will open the window and then leave for the day. Or open the window and then go to bed. There’s no rhyme or reason to this behavior other than she must be obsessive compulsive. She already admitted that she’s obsessively clean. Okay, I already got that. And I do know that if the landlady finds out that she’s keeping the window open all the time when it’s cold out she’ll throw a fit. So what do I do? I’m so fearful of confrontation that I close the window but when I hear her coming home I’ll run over and open the window so that she’ll think it was open the whole time! I know, I know, it’s nuts. But I hat arguments. Huh? That’s right, I hate them. In person ones anyway.

Then there’s internet me. Internet me isn’t fearful of arguments or confrontation at all. After all, I can’t see the person who I’m talking to! Perhaps this is a way of pushing back at all those bullies in junior high. Perhaps this is a way of dealing with the fact that all day at work the “customer is always right” and I have to be ABUSED by them nonstop! Customers can be so rude. You have no idea. And I can’t say anything back! They take out all their anger on us retail workers. It’s sad, really, that people have as much anger as I’ve seen. I’ll give you a quick example: a customer asked to have 4 of her gift cards put on one card. I told her that we couldn’t do that. She insisted that we could. I said that we couldn’t. She said that another cashier said that we could (this cashier never said this). The woman demanded to see a manager. The manager said that we couldn’t put the gift cards on one card. The woman said that she was never shopping in the store again and was going home to promptly cut up all of her gift cards. Ummm. Really? Because she can’t combine her gift cards she is going to be THAT angry that she is going to throw her own money away? She is going to throw a fit in the store and waste 15-20 min of hers and 4 employees’ time? And what do we get to say back? “Have a nice day.” This stuff is CONSTANT. So perhaps the internet is my chance to not fade away and run from people. It’s my chance to face confrontation head on.

But anyway, if you meet me I’m not like that. Not at all. So really if all you know of me is what you read on a blog then you are getting a very false impression of who I am. I think many people have problems with emails and various internet misunderstandings. I’ve seen it plenty. I don’t think there’s an easy fix to this problem but I do wonder if types like me tend to be misunderstood more than others. It’s funny, but even my photos were misunderstood by one (who thought I was taking photos of abused women, which I would never do!).

The internet and blogs and email are all both good and bad. I LOVE email! I don't know how I'd live without it (I hate using the phone). But blog posts and even people responding back--especially anonymously--can have its bad points. I must balance my need to show people that it's not all roses and rainbows and my hatred for self promotion with the fact that I can go too far and doing so will portray someone other than myself.

Happy Thanksgiving to all -- and which image?

As Meghan mentioned, I'm trying to get better at photography. If you had to choose one, or two, of these images for a local paper (as I do), which would you pick?

Writing an article for a newspaper, especially an online paper, is really different from writing a book, especially a picture book. The length is about the same: under 1,000 words, as much under as the writer can manage. In my experience, though, writing a picture book takes too many rewrites to count. As the artist changes the paintings, the text of course has to change -- and the time is measured in years, including one year from completion of work to books in hand. A newspaper article is handed in, edited (I was lucky: I got to edit the edits!), and posted.

Completing something so quickly is deeply satisfying. I hope I'll remember that long and intensely enough to use it to finish my current novel. (Something about that reminds me of the song:
"Being chosen as this month's Miss August is an honor I'll remember for as long as I can!") But I think I will remember it and act on it, too.

In the meantime: happy Thanksgiving to all! I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I hope all of you do, too.

One last thing -- I won't be eating any turkey. No promises, but fish is about the highest I feel like eating on the evolutionary scale, at least for awhile.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Last Saturday, I was at Chicago Public Library's Bookmania event. There was a lot of books and a lot of mania, let me tell you. There was an incredible list of events going on, including meeting character Frog and Toad and a Golden Books Art exhibit. But I didn't get to see any of it because it was so busy where I was situated, at the THANKING THE MOON booth.

Not only was it incredibly busy, it was a lot of fun. My booth had the bunny lantern craft available for all to the kids to do:

which they made beautifully:

There were even glowsticks for everyone, so the lanterns glowed at night!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm away...more later

I'm in Orlando at the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)/ALAN  conference and can't post right now. But more later! For now, I leave you with a few images. I'm in Disney World!

Cinderella's castle 

It's a Small World!


Mickey waffle!

Wendy Mass

Kate making a tower of ARCs in the booth

Saturday, November 20, 2010


My post the other day got me thinking about working on putting up some of my photographs... and working on my photographs... and my OCD kicked into high gear in a major way. I can literally sit ALL DAY and work on something if I get really into it. Nothing will pull me away, not having to go to the bathroom, not pain, nothing. Not even having to go somewhere else (this is what gets me into trouble). Anyway, I got really obsessed and decided I just HAD to put up my new "movie" series. Below are some samples:

Soooo, I got all excited to put this all up on my website. And I did. And you can see the whole thing here:
Don't worry, it's not attached to anything yet!

There are 4 movies involved thus far: Carrie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Mommie Dearest, and Ghostbusters. So yeah, I get excited to put these things on my website. It's not like I ever sell prints or anything so I don't know why I bother. Maybe one day I suppose. I am thinking about getting a better printer. I would LOVE to have a gallery show... or to pitch my photography to a small press or something. I don't know.

Okay, I'm slowly getting to my point here! I used to put everything up on my website without a care. Then I started doing school visits. Then I started noticing that kids were going to my site. Then I started noticing that I was getting popular. Eeek. I recall a while ago that a nice librarian warned me that a B&W photograph I had on my site had a bad word in the background. I quickly removed the photo the minute I got home!

So. Are these photos too much for kids? In Carrie she doesn't actually have real blood on her - in the scene kids dump paint or cows blood or something on her at a school dance and she goes home and soaks in the tub. But yeah, in my photo it looks gross. So is it bad to have it on my site? If the answer is yes, what if I put up a disclaimer in front of the section or a warning?

This is hard for me because I really have a lot of artistic passions and I want to display them all. But how to do it? Or rather, how to safely do it?


Going through it together

Lately I've been thinking about how much the BRGs have gone through together: all the big things of life -- a VERY big one is happening this weekend but I will let The Party Most Concerned tell about that when it's over. We've been to each others' weddings, and a husband's funeral. We've counseled each other through serious illnesses and injuries. We're there for each other about lighthearted and happy things, too -- choosing dresses is just one of many. Sometimes we email each other several times a day.

We help each other: not just about our books -- Meghan has been coaching me with photography,

(her very helpful comment on this one: "The photo of just the trees and grass has really nice lighting but there's not focal point to it. I may have walked closer and zoomed in on one of the trees or something like that. Or turned the camera and centered the grass walkway in the middle of the shot.

I really like the close-up of the turkeys. The only problem there...." I was and am incredibly grateful for these comments and will post more pictures and the comments on Thursday.)

To continue with the list: we send covers for comments; read each others' mss.; get each other invited to shows and conferences (thank you Elaine for the one that all of us except Alvina attended in Massachusetts), and advise on everything. When I bought my new glasses, I took pictures and sent the choices to the BRGs and got their votes before deciding. Luckily. Without them I would have chosen these:

(And yes, I do have blue glasses but much smaller ones.)

I honestly don't think I'd keep writing without the BRGs: it would be too isolating....but because we email each other so much (and see each other, too, but that's more rare), I don't feel like I'm doing this by myself. I'm NOT! We're going through it together.

And if this is as boring as some award speeches are (where they thank everyone): sorry! But I really do feel grateful for the friendship and support we have, and wanted to put it in words: we're lucky. I'm lucky. Few people ever achieve anything in the arts alone. Without the help, it wouldn't happen: even people we usually think of as working alone (like Jane Austen) had incredible support -- in her case, from her family. I hope everyone reading this has people supporting her or him: and if you don't, start a writers' or illustrators' group! There was one where I grew up that eventually boasted, with good reason, everyone in the group sold something to a major publisher. Everyone in the town was incredibly proud of this writer's group, as you might guess from the fact that I'm posting about it decades later.

But even if the sales don't happen, the support and the friendship are still there -- and count for more in the end anyway.

BRG go skating.

I got into a big project tonight because I am trying to go through all of my photographs and put them into folders because I can't find any of them when I want them! (I am working on my movie series).

I came across a nice photo of the BRG, which I tweaked a bit. I thought I'd post it since everyone looks so happy. We had gone out for an adventure--rollerskating. I had a great time! We should do it again sometime.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

and the winner is...

Yesterday, I forgot to announce the winner of our Comments for Books & Cookies Contest. Ooops! So very scientifically, I asked my Sasquatch husband to pick a number from 1-28 (we had 28 comments) and he chose 16, so....


Jen, please send an e-mail to bluerosegirls@gmail.com with your mailing address and we'll send you our books and cookies (gingerbread or vanilla/chocolate? let me know!).

Thanks to all that commented and hope you keep reading and joining in our discussions!

PHOTOGRAPHY: applying it to your author photos, etc.

Libby has become quite interested in photography as of late. She's gotten herself a new gig (go Libby!) writing and photo taking and asked for some pointers on how to take good shots. As some of you may know, I love photography. In school at RISD I toyed with the idea of making that my major. In fact, during photo classes, I was urged to switch majors. I didn't, however, but sometimes I wonder what if.

Gone are the days of the dark room and with it are some major losses. Especially when it comes to B&W photography. But the coolest things are cropping up for ipod and iphones in the form of applications. I just found a few new ones. One is called SwankoLab, where you can "mix" your own chemicals and come up with different combinations and looks for your photos. I think this is great for B&W stuff! Unfortunetely, this app will not let you keep high res photos and it changes them to 72 dpi, which is kind of useless. It's a start, though.

I was stuck at the doctor's office for over a hour yesterday getting an IV treatment so I had lots of time to play with this new app. Here are some of my creations:

The first batch is from my movie photos called "crazy women in the movies," which is a spin off from my painting series.

These are from my "enchanted forrest" series:

These are from my coney island series:

This is from my brooklyn building series

And here we have another application I have found. This is great for fun author photos! It mimics old photo booths! It's called IncrediBooth. And yes, the first strip was taken in the doctor's office. It's a darn good thing he didn't catch me doing it or it could have been embarrassing!

This last shot was mixed with the SwankoLab. It makes nice B&W shots, with or without the aged look.