Monday, June 30, 2014

NJ SCBWI Conference - Recommended Picture Books

I had the best weekend at the NJSCBWI Conference. My brain is so full, I can barely make sentences... but it only takes basic zombie skills to type up a list of the books I heard recommended by editors and agents.  I'm sure many of you are looking for summer reads, so enjoy! (I'm actually looking for some brains to eat...isn't that a weird craving?)

Picture Books By Author/Illustrators

Green, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora

The  Twins Blanket, by Hyewon Yum

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown

Penguin and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon

Zombelina, by Kristyn Crow

Island: A Story of the Galápagosby Jason Chin

LittleTug, by Stephen Savage

All Kinds of Kisses, by Nancy Tafuri 

Crankenstein, by Samantha Berger

Awesome Dawson, by Chris Gall

Pirate, Viking and Scientist, by Jared Chapman

Me, Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
I came home with this beauty from
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

The Best-Ever Bookworm Book, by Alice Kuipers

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Songby Andrea Davis Pinkney

Picture Books By an Author and an Illustrator

Be Good to Eddie Lee, by Virgina Fleming and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Bear has a Story to Tell, by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead

Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (one of my FAVORITES)

My Snake Blake, by Randy Siegel and illustrated by Serge Bloch

if you want to see a whale, by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead.

Besos for Baby, by Jen Arena and illustrated by Blanca Gomez

The Dark, by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Once Upon a Memory, by  and illustrated by Renata Liwska

Duck, Duck, Moose by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Noah Jones

Chicks Run Wild, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Ward Jenkins

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, by Laban Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Heroes of the Surf, by Elisa Carbone and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

President Taft isStuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Chris Van  Dusen 

Whoa! That was ever so slightly more work than I had imagined, and my fingers are aching. Gotta go get some brains in this zombie to refresh!

I'll post MG, YA, and writing book recommendations in the next post. 

If you were at the conference, did you write down any other recommended books? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Writer's Path

I'm in a frantic period right now - combination of school almost out, summer fun beginning with camping this weekend, and my NJ conference next weekend. For me this is a peak time, where I push myself on revisions, start thinking about summer submissions, and daydreaming about sharing book-love with an agent.  

But with the excitement of a conference comes the post-conference-collapse-on-the-couch. And with the excitement of submissions often comes the dreaded-rejection-letter. So I needed to take a moment this morning to remind myself of the journey I'm on and embrace its peaks and valleys.

With the help of Sharpie, I present:

I had no idea when I wrote that first word what an exciting adventure writing would be! Yes the lows are totally turds-in-the-pool, but the highs make it worth the swim. (Not my best metaphor, but successfully explains the high rates of cholera among writers.)

Ahh, take a deep breath, focus on the long term, and write on!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Waking my Creative Self on an Imaginary Tractor Ride

My kids hosted an inspiration session yesterday for me which was much needed to break up the routine of prepping for the NJSCBWI conference in two weeks (squee!!) Sometimes my anal-nerdy-financial-analytic self takes over, and I make binders, research agents, prepare my journal, etc. These steps are important, but if I forget to feed my creative self before a conference, well then it's all for naught.
I was sitting in the living room, minding my business, when I realized I was on a tractor ride.

"You should buckle up," my 4yo said. "Can you do it by yourself?"

"Um, yep. Click. Click. Hmph. I can't get this last buckle."  I had slept 9 hours the night before for the first time in months, so I put a little more into my role play than usual. 

"I'll help you. Click. See? It was easy."  4yos have a way of letting you know you've been condescending in the past.

"Thank you. Where are we heading?"

"To see the hippos, of course." She opened her Ranger Rick magazine to show me.  "They like water."
Tractors and African animals weren't connected in my mind, but why not. 

"How about a big hug?"
(by sveres via
"I think I'd like to hug a hippo.  Unless he was yawning."

"If I had to kiss a shark, I'd kiss him on the cheek not on the lips," she said still using Ranger Rick as tour support.

After visiting three animals, I had to unbuckle and grab some paper.

"Remember when we saw these ca-coons in Mexico?"  (she meant raccoons  to refer to the coatis, but ain't she cute?)

"I have zebras on my farm."

"Slow down, sweetie.  Mommy can't write down all these ideas that fast."

"Here comes a bump," she said and threw a pillow at me, which caused a chain reaction of spilling coffee and the ideas-in-marker bleeding across the page.

But it didn't matter. She had woken my creative brain.

And I learned a valuable lesson about drinking coffee on tractor rides through animal sanctuaries.

How do you keep your creative mind awake through all the not-so-creative tasks which publishing involves? 
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