Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Advice

Also, I like to think that chalk came up with this on his own. 

Like, it was late, and chalk was bored / couldn't sleep, and the sign said 
something super lame about oil changes and so chalk wrote this instead.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


According to their website: "Children’s books play a vital role in every Jewish home, classroom and library. Hachai Publishing is dedicated to producing high quality children’s literature with Jewish themes. Our books promote universal values such as sharing, kindness and charity, and teach Jewish history and tradition. We feature the work of exciting new authors and artists to create books that you and your child can enjoy over and over again."


Mildly related sidebar: My four year old daughter asked if we could carve our Christmas tree into a dreidel. Her request is under review.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Book Advent Calendar

How cute is this idea? I totally stole it from my friend Denise. 

As described on the http://www.instructables.com website: "The Christmas book advent calendar is a collection of 24 Christmas books to read each day during advent. Select books based on your family's age and interest… Once you've made your book selections, you could wrap them up and open one each night during advent. You could display them on a shelf or mantle, or choose to collect them in a special basket."

You mean I get to buy picture books AND a special basket? I'm so in. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All Broken Up

This past weekend I learned about kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold tinted resin. Right then I had a deep-person moment. Like, Gandhi deep.

I am the bowl.

I have cracks – many from writing-related rejections. Rejections have shredded my confidence, confirmed my worst fears, and sent me spiraling down into three-day Nutella binges*. And you know what? I am better for them. My drafts are cleaner, my characters are richer, and my heart is stronger. So march on baby writers. Be the bowl.

(* I actually don't mind the Nutella part)

Monday, December 16, 2013

How To Get An Agent

First, find a large wooden box and about ten feet of rope.

Ha, ha! Just kidding! That’s creepy. Don’t do that.

There is no clear path to agent-hood, just like there is no clear path to publication, thin thighs or well behaved kids. This stuff takes time and effort, and above all else, PERSISTENCE. 

However, as my one year agent anniversary is approaching, it seems like a good time to share how I signed with my agent, Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She is such an amazing lady. And friend. She is my lady friend. I digress.

When I began querying agents, I only had nine names on my list. Right up at the top was Kathleen. She passed, but offered to review my work in the future. This is agent code for “I think you can do better with more practice.” And, as always, Kathleen was right. I kept writing and editing and writing and editing and writing and editing and, well, you know. 

I subbed poems to magazines, sent stories to blogs, and collected rejections like my grandmother Mimi collected buttons.I also sent a manuscript out to a few slush piles. Then (drum roll please) I got an email from Sterling Publishing! They liked my book. I responded by running out into my driveway screaming and sobbing. That’s normal, right?

Anyway I eventually calmed down and contacted Kathleen with the news. She offered to read more of my stories. And then more. And a couple more. That same day we talked on the phone. She was brilliant. I was babble-y. She offered representation. I accepted.

Kathleen then worked with Sterling on my behalf (seriously, she swooped in there like some literary paratrooper, all business and awesomeness), and obtained a wonderful contract for me. We are now working on a second book.

For you numbers people, it took about six months to find an agent. I queried nine of them. Two showed interest. And one was perfect. 

And for you list people, here are some tips that helped me:
(1) Research your agents - my list was short but solid. (Like me!) I used Verla Kay's Blueboards and Publisher's Weekly, and did many, many Google searches.

(2) Pass the time between rejections WRITING. Not weeping. Well, you can weep a little, But write too.

(3) Join groups like Julie Hedlund's 12x12 and PiBoIdMo to get motivated and build your portfolio of work.

(4) Have at least five polished manuscripts before you query.

(5) If you are subbing to publishers while querying, don't use the same manuscript.

(6) Be prepared to actually to speak to an agent. Thankfully I had a list of questions for Kathleen that I'd compiled from Blueboard posts. The list kept me (slightly) calm and on track.

(7) Do. Not. Give. Up. If your short list doesn't work out, find more agents. Write more. Research more. Send out a few more magazine subs. Revise your query. Do. Not. Give. Up.