Friday, February 18, 2011

superstar molly shannon

Image via EW's Shelf Life (Jeff Christensen/AP Images)

I love Molly Shannon, so I was super excited to read that she's written a picture book called Tilly The Trickster (Abrams) scheduled to be released in September of this year. In an interview with EW's Shelf Life, Shannon talks about being raised by a funny dad who encouraged goofiness, and says she feels it's important to pass on a sense of fun and silliness to kids. She also talks about how writing a picture book was harder than she thought, how it took a lot of trial and error, and that it's important to keep it simple. If you've ever tried writing a picture book I'm sure you can relate (I can) because you may have a spectacular idea, but that means nothing if you can't make it fit within 32 pages and make it compelling and unique.

On a personal note, I saw Molly Shannon once, a few years ago when I lived in New York City. I was at a restaurant/bar near the Hudson River, eating a hot dog and drinking beer, when she zipped by out on an afternoon run. I started laughing when I saw her - you know how some people make you laugh even when they're not doing anything at all? - well that's how adorable she is. I wanted to run out after her and say hi, but that would be scary and weird, so instead I told all my friends but nobody had seen her except me!

Anyway, now we all have something funny to look forward to in September. And if you want to read more about her inspiration for the book - like how when she was little she told other kids waiting for the school bus that the bus had already come so they walked to school while she rode an empty bus - then read the full article here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

a day of love

My good friend is moving back to New York City. It's always so sad when a friend moves away, especially to a place so far. But I'm happy for her and excited to see what the next step in her life brings. Above is a special piece she created for Valentines Day.

Today is about smiling, being happy and sending out love....and giving Sadie as many belly rubs as she wants.

Monday, February 7, 2011

sadie cakes

It's time for a new picture of my little animal that I talk about so much, don't you think? Here's Sadie from this morning. This face either means, "Give me food" or "Stop kissing me mom!" Either way, she's pretty darn cute.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

overused ideas and themes in kid's lit

I'm sure we're all guilty of at least one of these - both newbie writers like myself and the more distinguished - the overuse of common ideas and/or themes. Oh, don't raise your eyebrow at me Dwayne Johnson, you know what I mean!

(Yeah, sure. There's a character in my book who raises an eyebrow. He peers over his spectacles, too. And he calls them spectacles, not glasses. So what!)
Photo: Dwayne 'The Rock" Johnson. Google Images

I've been meaning to post about this topic since I read a very informative article in the SCBWI bulletin called, "The New Red-Haired Best Friend" by Joelle Anthony. In one year, Anthony read 3 to 4 books a week and was struck by the common themes threaded throughout most YA or MG novels. She says the idea behind the list was "to point out areas where authors seem to think they are being unique, but actually aren't."

In my own reading and critiquing, this is something my writing buddy and I point out to each other all the time. For some reason it's so easy to fall into these cliche-traps, but we all do it. Sometimes people will even unknowingly offer up suggestions to revise a manuscript so that it follows one of these overused patterns. There's a lot of the same out there - book ideas can be like fashion trends, once they catch, they spread like wildfire... to use a cliche.

So what are some of the overused ideas that topped the list? (below, as shown in the Nov/Dec 2010 SCBWI article):
- Stories of irresponsible parents with main characters who end up paying bills, cooking, cleaning, etc.
- Main characters who hate math. (Guilty!)
- Mean cheerleaders.
- Main characters who are the only ones in the world without a cell phone.

Are you guilty of any of these? Want more? The list goes on. Read all about it over on Anthony's red-haired list, here.

(Joelle Anthony's debut YA novel, Restoring Harmony, was released in 2010).