December 28, 2008

Not All Angels Look Alike....

On this journey with Tonight You Are My Baby, I have been enormously blessed to encounter angels. They may not look alike or even do the same things, but surely they are angels to me. These are some of the angels that believed in Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary's Christmas Gift. This is, by no means, a complete list. I am blessed with an abundance of angels in my life. Hugs to all my angels who helped Tonight You Are My Baby fly !

* Angel - my husband, Peter, who took over childcare , laundry, cooking and a myriad of other every day household duties. Every successful author/mom needs a partner to cheer her on and pitch in when times are crazy.

* Angels - my children, Shane and Quinn, who helped me design a Powerpoint presentation, asked me about my school visits, helped sell books and understood when I had to miss their special events for December.

* Angel - my editor, Catherine, for taking a chance on a first-time author and lending me support every step of the way.

* Angel - my friend, Annmarie, who sold close to 150 books on her own through literally knocking on doors.

* Angels - the schools who donated the book sale proceeds to At Least Kids. Your generosity is overwhelming and greatly appreciated by the At Least Kids Foundation. 100% of the proceeds go directly to CHOP for pediatric brain tumor research and financial assistance to needy families. Your donation makes a huge difference in the life of a child.

* Angels - the coordinator at each school that worked darn hard to organize the Author Day. Every school, without exception, was gracious, prepared and organized. A true thrill for this author. The coordinators included teachers, principals, librarians, directors and curriculum coordinators.

* Angel - my dad who worked with me at MMR school on his birthday and was so proud that his daughter was following in her mother's footsteps.

* Angel - my sister, Dee, who was the first to go on a selling spree - literally selling books out of her car.

* Angel - my sister, Maliz, who made the long, early morning trip to watch Quinn in the Christmas pageant - to alleviate my mother's guilt for missing it myself.

* Angel - my brother, Bill, a very successful author himself - for his constant, unbridled enthusiasm.

* Angels - to all those friends/family who sent out emails encouraging others to buy the book and spreading the word - literally around the world.

You are all angels to me.

ANNMARIE - Great friend, literary agent and book angel !

My friend, Annmarie, is my book angel ! She hosted a book signing party, coordinated a visit at her church's ladies Christmas gathering, contacted the preschool director, called staff writers of local newspapers to suggest a feature article and visited Barnes and Noble at least once a week to be sure the book was properly placed. All this resulted in close to 150 book sales! YAY Annmarie !!! To all those debut authors out there....I hope you have a friend like her ! Many thanks also to Annmarie's husband, Frank, for patiently adding book orders on Amazon - and then trusting he will be paid! I'm adding an angel to this photo of Annmarie and me....

Thanks to Varner's Christmas Tree Farm

Many thanks to Varner's Christmas Tree Farm, a family-owned farm and forever preserved for agricultural purposes. Varner's is down the road from our house and stocked Tonight You Are My Baby in their lovely gift shop. A great place to visit at Halloween and Christmas. Treat the family to a horse-drawn wagon ride! Thanks to Varner's for supporting a local author.....

Sacred Heart School - Christmas spirit shines !

Wow, wow, wow! Sacred Heart School generously donated $220.00 to At Least Kids from the sale of Tonight You Are My Baby. I am very thankful to this little school with the big heart. Sacred Heart was my last school visit before Christmas and it was a fantastic way to end. Many thanks also for the lovely sign outside school, announcing my visit. I had hoped to take a photo, but on visit day it was sleeting, raining and snowing. A crazy mix of weather that day, and we were fearful that the schools would be postponed/cancelled. The perils of scheduling author visits here in the Northeast. Many thanks also to Terri McKendry, V.P. of the PTO, who organized the event. Fantastic job!

Messiah Community Preschool

Messiah Church/Preschool has been so gracious. I was invited to speak earlier this month at the ladies cookie exchange/afternoon. I also read to the preschool kids - a great group. Messiah Preschool generously donated $75.00 to At Least Kids from the sale of Tonight You Are My Baby. Thanks Messiah for your true Christmas spirit and to Pam Cohan for coordinating the visit!

Fairview Christian Preschool

I was fortunate enough to be part of the annual Christmas sing-a-long at Fairview Christian Preschool. A lovely event for students and parents! The little ones looked adorable in their Nativity costumes. I loved this book-reading angel that the Preschool arranged next to my table for the book signing. Many thanks to Marcia Hartman, Preschool Director, for the lovely morning.

Coventry Christian School

When I arrived at Coventry Christian, the students were practicing for their Christmas concert. Wow! I could feel the energy and the spirit in the room as the teachers led the singing and the kids sang at the top of their voices. There was no doubt that this is a happy, happy school. I presented to grades K-4, a very large group, and those kids were terrific! Everyone was very attentive and asked great questions. I predict several future bestselling authors among the group. My preschool friends came in later for a reading, and they were excellent listeners as well. One interesting note - outside each classroom, each teacher had their photo and fact sheet about themselves. I thought that was a great idea. Many thanks to Mrs. Myers (Gr. 2) for coordinating the event!

December 27, 2008

Providence Christian Preschool

Thanks to my friends at Providence Christian Preschool - a fantastic school! The little ones sat in their circle and listened very closely. My pre-K friends asked terrific questions and were very excited about chatting with an author. This is a fun preschool - on visit day, there was a moon bounce in the auditorium !

St.Mary's School

Loved visiting St. Mary's School ! The school is very warm and inviting. Many thanks to Mrs. LaGuardia for the lovely arrangement of coffee, muffins and bottled water for this author. Very thoughtful and very much appreciated ! Gestures such as these make a big difference in an author's day! I signed 40 books and loved meeting all the terrific kids! Thanks also to Mrs. Sozda for emailing me these photos...

The most wonderful time of the year !

December was crazy, hectic and wonderful ! Just checking in now with blogs as I was out every day with a school visit. Every school was gracious, well-organized and enthusiastic. More to follow about each school...

Gwynedd-Mercy Academy

Great day at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy ! The students asked fantastic questions and welcomed me most warmly. Many of the kids wrote in my website guestbook, which really made me excited to visit. The teachers did a terrific job introducing the kids to the book - resulting in 90 books signed that day. Many thanks to Jessica Cressman and Karen Czarny for for all their hard work and coordination.

December 3, 2008

St. Teresa of Avila

Thanks to St. Teresa of Avila for hosting my author visit yesterday. Gosh, those kids were good listeners and asked terrific questions too! St. Teresa is a small school with big school spirit. Many thanks for the order of 46 books ! Lovely school staff and students....

Mary, Mother of the Redeemer

Many thanks to MMR for hosting a book signing at their Home and School meeting. MMR graciously donated their portion of the book sales to At Least Kids - raising $175.00 ! A great Christmas present for the foundation and very much appreciated - particularly in these economic times. Special thanks to the following: Librarian Joanne Greco who worked darn hard to promote the book and helped with the many sales. Joanne declined the donation to the library, and chose At Least Kids instead. A heart with true Christmas spirit! My dad, who worked hard in carrying books and even gave up his birthday dinner to count books ! Happy birthday to my dear dad! And finally thanks to Monsignor Ricci, pastor of MMR, who upon receiving a copy of the book, asked the school to have a signing. Monsignor holds a special place in our heart, as he drove into the city and came to CHOP to bless Quinn and our family the day of her surgery. We needed the prayers that day, and he was truly doing God's work. Miracles all around.....

Great display at Barnes and Noble

I think every new author dreams of seeing their book on the front table at Barnes and Noble. We made a special trip right before Thanksgiving - and there it was! I'm am so honored and excited! I'm sure no one could tell I'm a debut author as we snapped photo after photo! Shane and Quinn were good sports about getting in the photo... Thanks to friends and family who have called from all over the country to say they saw in it their local Barnes and Noble and Borders. And to those who have moved the book to a better spot :)

Clinton Books, NJ - signing

A GREAT bookstore in a lovely village. Clinton hosts Dickens Days the weekend after Thanksgiving. Rob and Harvey invited me to join their fabulous selection of authors/illustrators that are always visiting the shop. Great shopping district, carriage rides, Dickens carolers - the real deal! Shane and Quinn lucky enough to have their photo taken with the real Santa - starting off the Christmas season on a festive note!

Sunrose Books - Ocean City

Thanks to Rosalind and Nancy at Sunrose for hosting a book signing on Black Friday. It's always fun to be in Ocean City for Thanksgiving, and the weather this year was beautiful. Here is a photo of my dad, usually the shutterbug, but this time willling to take a photo with his lucky daughter.


A blue ribbon to my friend Annmarie, who went above and beyond to promote Tonight You Are My Baby. Annmarie hosted a book signing party, called everyone she knew, went door-to-door in her neighborhood and took a copy of the book with her everywhere. She sold 127 copies! Did you ever hear of that kind of success? I'm still in shock. I met the nicest group of ladies at the book signing party and had the chance to visit with most of them. Annmarie has also arranged for me to speak at her church's ladies Christmas luncheon and I am doing an author visit at the church preschool. Big thanks also to Annmarie's husband, Frank, for the endless ordering on Amazon in preparation for the party (and for his willingness to put it on the credit card!). And to their children - Daniel, Anya and Jamie for cleaning the house and putting up with their mother's ever-expanding "book order goals". Good sports they all are - and I nominate Annmarie for literary agent! A photo to come after the ladies luncheon next weekend....

St. Mary's Church

A huge thank you to the parishioners of St. Mary's - my fellow parishioners. Everyone was so supportive of the book and bought 65 copies! Lots of community spirit at our parish, and we have made many friends....

November 21, 2008

St. Basil's Author Visit

Such a great school ! Thanks to St. Basil's for inviting me to speak and sharing part of their day. Many thanks for the book orders. And WOW! A very generous gesture....presenting me with a check for At Least Kids. Here are those adorable kids giving me the check.....

Visit Trappe Book Center !

A "shout out" to Trappe Book Center for their help with ordering all my books for the school visits. They are a professional and knowledgeable staff - very helpful for a first-time author. When you visit, congratulate them on recently celebrating their 18th anniversary! .

Children's Book World

A great night at Children's Book World, Haverford. Lots of author/illustrators and many famous ones! An exciting night for me - meeting Jerry Spinelli. And Shane even got the Eggs book signed by Jerry. I was hoping to take a picture, but an 11 year-old boy is not about to allow that! Eggs is a great book - I highly recommend it. Thanks to the staff at Children's Book World for hosting the night....

Thanks to Holy Family School

Many thanks to the generous students/teachers/parents that bought Tonight You Are My Baby during the author visit. A total of 152 books were bought! Most importantly, Holy Family donated part of the book proceeds to At Least Kids, raising almost $500.00 for pediatric brain tumor research ! In this season of Thanks and Giving, I am most appreciative for their generosity.

November 9, 2008

HFS Author Presentation

A fabulous two days at Holy Family School for the author presentation. The kids were just terrific and asked great questions. The school donated the book proceeds to At Least Kids, our foundation to support brain tumor research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Thanks to their generosity, over $400.00 was raised. Thanks to Mrs. Bachi, HFS librarian, for coordinating the event and making me feel so welcome. Yay HFS students!

October 31, 2008

Review by Reader Kids Views

A great review by the toughest of critics - a child! This website, Reader View Kids, publishes reviews written by children or (for the little ones) the parent comments on the child's reaction. A nice comment by the parent, "A wonderful story about the true meaning and miracle of Christmas." Read the review:

October 29, 2008

Interview in "Sprouts" Magazine - NJSCBWI

An interview about Tonight You Are My Baby recently appeared in the latest Sprouts journal. Sprouts is the journal published by the NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The talented Shannon Hitchcock wrote the article. Thanks Shannon! Any aspiring writer/illustrator should join SCBWI ( and attend as many workshops/first page sessions as possible. The website discussion boards have fabulous information for newbies and published authors both. The workshops are chock full of information and it's worth the price of admission to have a manuscript critiqued by an editor.

October 13, 2008

Ocean City Book Signing

Thanks to Sun Rose Books for the great day on Saturday. We had a table of seven authors/illustrators during the one-mile block party. It looked like the middle of July on Asbury Avenue! The sun was hot and the crowd was buying! A terrific day of sales for Tonight You Are My Baby. Thanks Roz and Nancy - Sun Rose owners.

October 3, 2008


Tonight You Are My Baby is finally out there! October 1st was the official day - and I'm happy to say it's flying off the book shelves at Amazon. Many thanks to my good friends and family who have pre-ordered the book. So many of you were kind enough to call when the books arrived in the mail on Wednesday. Such fun! Amazon had to restock before the day was out and now they are restocking for a second time. Don't I have great people in my life? Lucky, lucky me!

September 29, 2008

Monday Mornings...

I think this photo is a perfect example of how we all feel on Monday mornings! I have to say though , I jumped out of bed this morning. It's finally here - the week Tonight You Are My Baby will be released! Yay! The big day is on Wednesday.....

September 22, 2008

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Meeting

Great time at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers meeting in Cherry Hill, NJ. I was at the HarperCollins booth, signing Tonight You Are My Baby. Met lots of great people who are definitely excited about books! I was excited too - not only to be signing, but I also met Jackie Urbanovic, author/illustrator of Duck Soup and Duck at the Door. Her books are such fun and I am in awe of illustrators - an amazing talent! I managed to get a signed copy of her latest book for my kids. Many thanks to all those Indie bookstores owners who told me they will be stocking Tonight You Are My Baby! Music to this author's ears!

September 17, 2008

Magazine Articles

Many authors (and aspiring authors) supplement their income and practice their craft while
writing magazine articles. It's also an excellent way to get published. Adding writing credits to your query letter shows an editor that you are serious about your craft and good enough to be accepted by a magazine. Many local magazines/newspapers pay well and the article can result from a fun family outing. I recently submitted a magazine article on "Lucy the Elephant" in Margate, NJ. Lucy is the world's largest elephant. She was originally built as a tourist attraction and has since served as a tavern, private residence and hotel. I haven't visited Lucy since I was little, and I wanted my kids to see her. A fun family outing turned into an article! Be sure to take photos when submitting your article. Most magazines want the author to write a first-hand experience.

September 9, 2008

Where did the summer go?

In a blink, the summer is gone. I'm definitely behind on my blog updates, but we spent the last few weeks enjoying everything summer has to offer. I can't say I regret it for a minute! Our days were filled with biking, playing and swimming. Even though the summer is always busy, I find it restorative. We spend so much time outside and the days are so long. I wish summer came twice a year! Some photos of the kids as they looked most of the summer.....

August 14, 2008

Support your independent book stores!

Don't forget your local bookstore. There's a huge advantage in visiting "your neighbor". I have found the local stores to be very valuable in research and information. They are always willing to order for me and my book club receives a discount on the purchase price. Two of my local bookstores are helping me arrange school author visits and provide a discount for the school. Visit and for more information. Support your local economy!

July 23, 2008

Advance copy of the book!

I just received an advance copy of Tonight You Are My Baby. I am thrilled! Tim Ladwig, the artist, did a fantastic job with the illustrations. Several months ago, I saw the cover and one interior spread -this is my first peek at the entire book.

Tonight You Are My Baby dedication:

For Peter, Shane and Quinn - my greatest gifts.
For Mary and my mother, Kay - who taught me strength in motherhood.

Thanks to those family and friends who have pre-ordered the book. You all are there in the difficult times and the first ones to celebrate the good times!

July 7, 2008

It must be easy to write a children's book...

How hard can it be to write a children's book? Unfortunately, this is a common misperception among those who have never actually tried to get a book published! You write a few rhyming lines, think of a simple story, send it off to a publisher and voila! Writing for children is a craft, and like any other craft, practice makes perfect. And while it may seem easy to write in "kidspeak" - for most of us, that means going back in time. Often decades have passed since most of us have thought like a kid. Brooke Shields was recently on the Today show promoting her new children's book, published by HarperCollins. I'm happy to report that she pronounced writing for children was "more difficult than she had ever imagined." The trick with children's publishing is that the author could possibly be writing for three markets: the child, the parent who will be reading the picture book to the child (perhaps hundreds of times if the book is a favorite - "Goodnight Moon" anyone?) and possibly a different person who is buying the book as a gift for the child. A picture book author must also write with thoughts of the illustrations: is there enough action in the book to provide 16 pages of illustrations? Is it varied? Will it be believable? Has it been done before? And, of course the inevitable rhyming issue. As parents we love to read verse to our kids - it's fun. Kids love to read books in verse too. But, do editors love verse? That's another post.....

June 22, 2008

Highlights Magazine Wish List

Highlights Magazine just published their "wish list" for magazine articles. This list of current needs comes out several times a year. It's a great tool for writers hoping to break into the market. The list is available on their website . You can also sign up for an email alert when the next wish list is published. One of my articles is currently under consideration - "Vote A Turkey Into The White House". This article focuses on the annual Presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey each Thanksgiving. Now the public can vote online for the turkey names. If you are hoping to try your hand at magazine writing, check out the wish list for ideas.

June 10, 2008

SCBWI-NJ Conference

I attended the New Jersey SCWI conference this past weekend. The coordinators do a fabulous job. About 20 editors and agents representing top houses/agencies provide manuscript critiques/market information/Q & A. Most of the publishing houses are closed to manuscript submissions, but these conferences allow a writer the opportunity to submit. That's worth the price of admission right there! Any serious children's writer knows it's almost impossible to submit to top houses without an agent. And it's extremely difficult to get an agent without a published book! It's a chicken vs. egg theory. I always feel inspired after attending any of the SCBWI conferences - wherever I am in my writing career. If an aspiring author, it's a great way to learn the market and gain insight. Now I attend with the intention of sopping up the valuable experience of established writers and editors. Check out the link of the NJ chapter and the editors/agents that attended.

May 14, 2008

Helpful Links For A Writer

It's taken me almost two years to find some great links that helped me with my writing - thought I might share a few: submitting a bibliography for a magazine article you wrote? Has it been a few years since you were in high school? Check out this website, type in your information and voila! Easy bib can format online sources, newspapers, email interviews, you name it! Things have sure changed since I was last writing bibliographies. writing a book in verse? Can't think of a word that rhymes with "amazing"? Type in your word and rhyme zone will give you rhyming words - even offering you syllable choices. Maybe it's a dictionary you need or a thesauras - get it here. As a writer who often finds herself writing in verse, this site has saved me hours of frustration. You have a great idea or a terrific title, but wait a minute....are there similar books already on the market? The Amazon site can tell you. Some of the books even offer text stats such as word count, etc. The Institute of Children's Literature offers great tips online and also a newsletter. The RX for Writers is free. Archived interviews and articles are also available. Harold Underdown is an editor who offers a terrific website for aspiring authors. He has recently published the third edition of An Idiot's Guide to Publishing. Also good tips on choosing a reputable agent. The SCBWI bears mentioning again. A great organization of writers (published and aspiring). The website is a valuable tool and the workshops offer a writer the best chance of meeting an editor.

May 13, 2008

Tonight You Are My Baby now on

very cool - my book is now available for pre-order from That was certainly a fun surprise - although I'm not sure it will pay me as much as I have paid Target over the years! My husband will readily agree. Tonight You Are My Baby is also available for pre-order from , and Pre-orders are available at a discounted price. Do some early Christmas shopping!

May 11, 2008

How does an author get ideas?

Ideas for children's books are all around us. The beauty of being a mother is I get lots of ideas from my children. After all, I'm living with the readers of children's books. Or the kids say something funny and "Eureka! That would make a great title!" The ideas are the easy part, writing the book is the difficult part. My latest manuscript idea actually came from our dog, Harry Potter - who we usually call Harry. He is a 75 lb. mutt (mostly English Setter, hound and who knows?) that we adopted from Above and Beyond English Setter Rescue. As Harry was trying to squeeze onto my lap one day, the kids said "Harry sure would like it if he was a small dog." Another Eureka moment! My manuscript is now with my editor and I'm awaiting word on it being acquired. Take a look around...ideas are everywhere. Be open to the possibilities...think like a child...look at a situation from a different perspective. Your next great manuscript could be right in front of you! Oh, and if you are interested in adopting a wonderful dog, look on or adopt an English Setter from . The dogs in my life have served as best friend, running partner, babysitter, guard dog and couch potato. These incredible creatures get a second chance in life and you gain a lifelong friend.

May 2, 2008

Tonight You Are My Baby

Yay! The cover of Tonight You Are My Baby is posted. I'm thrilled with the cover and the illustrations. As strictly an author, I have no input on the illustrations. The publisher chooses the artist they feel is best suited for the book. The artwork is exactly what I had in mind when I was writing and I'm very thankful to Tim Ladwig for his talent. The book itself looks like a Christmas gift - beautiful colors with gold trim. Tonight You Are My Baby is available for pre-order on

April 24, 2008

Author Day

Great group of kids! I read Tonight You Are My Baby and we spoke about what the kids would draw if they were the illustrator. The groups of kids also wrote rhyming stanzas for my next book. Very creative!! Thanks for the fun day!

April 20, 2008

"Soar to a Cure"

The "Write" Reason - At Least Kids is a foundation that my husband, Peter, and I started to assist/support kids with brain tumors. When our daughter, Quinn, was four years old she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In a moment, our bubbly little girl was one of the 3,000 kids who was diagnosed each year with a brain tumor. Blessedly, it was benign and in thanksgiving for the wonderful health of both our children, we started At Least Kids ( Part of the proceeds from Tonight You Are My Baby will be donated to the foundation. The mission of At Least Kids is two-fold: donations are made to the neurology division at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for innovative research into gene therapy and a tumor bank initiative to determine the cause of pediatric brain tumors. At Least Kids also provides financial support, through referral of CHOP's social workers, to families in the neuro-oncology clinic who are on this difficult journey with their children. These children are incredibly brave and our hope is that someday all kids will have the same wonderful diagnosis as our daughter. All kids "At Least" deserve a carefree childhood - a chance just to be a kid. I'm honored that Tonight You Are My Baby can help kids in some small way. A "shout out" to my editor, and HarperCollins, for promoting At Least Kids on the book jacket.

April 14, 2008

Such fun!

On Thursday, I was invited to make an author visit to a first grade class at Holy Family School. The kids were fun - great questions and very good listening skills. I read the Tonight You Are My Baby manuscript and explained how an illustrator has to create the pictures from the words. The kids told me what they would draw - very creative! I also read another manuscript, about animals in nature, and had the kids work in groups to create new stanzas. I was impressed with the kids' imaginations. I predict some talented authors/illustrators in bloom! Thanks to Ms. K for inviting me!

April 3, 2008

Creative Writing Class Valley Forge Christian College

Great class to speak to last night. Generally, my audience is the preschool-second grade kids, so this was a change. The creative writing class was a great mix of male/female, college age/older student. They asked a lot of good questions on the writing process, how the book gets published and method. I enjoyed speaking with them and thanks to the professor who invited me. Thanks also to Marianne, a member of my local critque group, who took a photo for the blog. I'll be posting it soon.

March 24, 2008

Write What You Love

At conferences, aspiring children's book writers always ask editors what is the hot topic right now. And the editors' answers - don't write to fill a niche - write what makes you excited to write. If you wrote a book based upon today's current "hot topics", by the time your manuscript is acquired and illustrations are complete, it could easily be two years before your book is on the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble. Your topic should be your passion - something that will make you excited to sit at your computer day after day, writing, researching, revising. It has to be what you love, or you will lack the energy to bring it to publication. An author's enthusiasm shows in her writing and story. Tonight You Are My Baby is based on a mother's love for her child - I tapped into my own feelings that are fierce and passionate. The other two manuscripts that I recently submitted are are also based on my experiences. My book about a big dog that wishes he was small, is based upon our current 75 lb. English Setter/hound mix, Harry Potter, that is sure he is a lap dog. I have always been crazy about the big mutts that have been a part of my life. What fun it is to write about them now! As a child, I also spent hours exploring with my dog in the woods and fields around our house. (Those were the days when kids were free to explore and check in for dinnertime.) A natural choice for my next manuscript was based on animals in nature, and the homes that God provided for them. Each manuscript was a joy to write and flowed easily. They may not be the current "hot topic", but I'm hopefully that my passion will show in my writing and result in another acquisition.

March 17, 2008

SCBWI New Jersey Workshop

Several weeks ago, I attended a mentoring workshop through the New Jersey region of
the SCBWI. These mentoring workshops are a really valuable tool for aspiring writers. If you have the opportunity to attend these workshops, or one in your area, I would certainly encourage it. Kudos to Kathy Temean, NJ regional advisor, for coordinating this service. Several editors from various publishing houses attend and critique the writer's manuscript. This is your best chance to get in front of an editor, receive their input and improve the manuscript. It's also an excellent opportunity to network and gather new ideas. It was through a NJ mentoring workshop that my manuscript was acquired. I had submitted the first page of Tonight You Are My Baby for a "first page session". In this session, workshop attendees anonymously submit just the first page of a manuscript. Someone will read the first page aloud and the editors will spend several minutes critiquing the page. I was hesitant to submit Tonight You Are My Baby, as I wasn't sure it was the right forum and it wasn't quite ready. As my editor said later - what a fateful decision! After that reading, an editor from a different publishing house asked me to submit the entire manuscript. It was eventually declined from that house and several months later I attended a mentoring workshop with my editor. She asked me about Tonight You Are My Baby, and in a matter of months I had a contract! Yay! Tip for the day: you never know where your opportunities will arise. But the more you network, and attend workshops, the better your chances of getting published.

March 12, 2008

Ten Tips for Aspiring Authors

The following are tips that, I believe, are essential in writing for children and landing a contract:

1. join SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) - this is THE professional organization for children's writers. The SCBWI offers international chapters, state/regional chapters, great workshops, online resources/newsletters and the latest news in the industry. As a member of SCBWI, it lets an editor know that you are serious about writing (

2. write often - many aspiring authors have "real jobs" or are at least lucky enough to have spouses with good jobs and health benefits. In our daily lives, full of responsibilities, it can be difficult to carve out the time to write. Writing often, however, is the only way to improve your writing skills and keep you focused. Find the time that works best for you: an hour in the morning before the kids rise, late at night when the house is quiet, a half hour of your lunchtime. Find what works for you and work it in to your routine. Remember, this is an investment in your future.

3, Read! This seems obvious, but particularly in children's writing, it's important to study the books that are getting published. Visit the children's library, study the best-seller shelves of Barnes and Noble, chat with your local indie bookstore employees.

4. Join a critique group - this can take place through an online group or a small group of writers in your area. The regional SCBWI often has groups that are looking for new members or guidelines on how to start your own. I belong to an online group and an area group. I find them both valuable. A good critique group will read your manuscript and help you prepare it for an editor. What are the strengths of the manuscript? Are the characters believable? Is it too long/too short? A writer can become so immersed in her manuscript, that sometimes we can no longer see the obvious. In turn, you will help your comrades with their manuscripts. A critique group is also a great way to network and make new friends. Your family will be happy to have a break from reading each revision too!

5. Revise - most of writing is, rewriting! A good writer must be open to revising and an editor will be much happier to work with you. We sometimes become "married" to a line or character in the story. But sometimes it simply isn't working for the story. As a writer, it's important to say, "How can this be the best possible book?". After my manuscript was acquired, my editor asked me several times for revisions. Each time, the book became better and better. Even when we thought the revisions were complete, and it was given to the illustrator, the story needed to be moved around. Trust your editor. This is her job and she wants the best book too.

6. Attend workshops/conferences - they are sometimes expensive, but well worth it. My manuscript was acquired through a New Jersey SCBWI workshop. This is your opportunity to have your manuscript seen by an editor. Some of the publishing houses are closed, unless you have an agent, so this may be your only way in. It's also a great way to get editorial advice on your manuscript.

7. Give your manuscript some time - don't be in such a rush to get it out to publishers, that you lessen your chances. Sometimes it's important to put your manuscript down and work on something else. When we give ourselves a break from writing on one project, we tend to see it more clearly. Allow your work to go through the critique group several times, mull it over and go back in a few days or weeks. You can keep busy starting other writing projects and you will be refreshed when you return to your manuscript. You really only have one chance to have the manuscript considered by an editor, so being in a rush, can lessen your chances of being acquired.

8. Be professional - be sure that your query letters are free of errors and you have correctly spelled the editor's name. At several SCBWI conferences, several editors mentioned how often mistakes are made. That doesn't say much for your writing. Take the extra time to be sure.

9. write what motivates you - don't try to follow the current fad. Picture books take several years to be published, so chances are the "current fad" will be over. Write what excites you and will take you to your desk each day. Your love will show in the writing.

10. Don't give up! It's easy to become discouraged when the mailbox is filled with only bills and rejection letters. Remember that all writers (even the highly successful ones) have experienced rejection many times over. Having your first book published will make it seem all worthwhile!

March 10, 2008

March 9, 2008 Welcome

Thanks for checking in to my blog. Welcome! This is a new experience, so bear with me while I work out the details. A little about me: I have a great family which includes my husband, two children and a big mutt. I am a children's book author with my first picture book, Tonight You Are My Baby, available in Fall 2008. Tonight You Are My Baby is an intimate portrayal of Mary and Jesus on Christmas night. Mary speaks of her love for her baby with simply a mother's love. The most powerful love that all mothers feel. Moms will enjoy snuggling with their own little ones and reading of the miracle that took place long ago. Tonight You Are My Baby is published by HarperCollins Children's Books. In this blog, I'll be addressing how a new author gets published, networking, the process of the book going to print and other helpful tips for writers. Check back soon.....happy writing!