PiBoIdMo Day 13: Jane Yolen Does the Work She Was Meant To Do

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Picture book stories are everywhere – just waiting to be told. Thanks to Jane Yolen for sharing!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

janeyolen© 2013 by Jane Yolen

I have a Muse who works overtime, or at least that’s how it looks from the outside. But I think about something my late husband once said. An ardent birder and, in his retirement, a bird recordist whose tapes now reside in both the Cornell Library of Natural Sounds and the British Natural History Museum, he was known in the birding community as “a lucky birder.” That meant he seemed to find more rarities and more hard-to-see birds than anyone else. But his response was, “I show up.” And that’s what I think the Muse actually is: the writer showing up every day and doing the hard work of writing.

If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on…

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Book Review: Vintage Connor, The Blonde in the Lotus Elite

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Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite

Robert Baty

Published by R. J. Buckley Publishing


311 pages

$19.00 Hardcover

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Murder Mystery

Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite, Robert Baty’s debut novel, roars out of the gate with the force of a nitro fueled engine. Ray Connor, retired police officer, has two weaknesses, vintage cars and an undeniable attraction to Evie, the woman who walked out of his life over twenty years ago.

Evie is back, asking Ray to help find the person that murdered her 21 year old daughter, Janey. The police are convinced it is suicide and don’t appreciate an ex-cop from a different precinct asking questions. Bodies are starting to pile up and Ray’s quiet life of acquiring vintage cars for rich clients is about to take a wrong turn down a dead end street. To add to Ray’s misery, someone stole his vintage silver Porsche 911.

Baty has a great voice for this novel. Noir often sounds like an over-the-top attempt to be a gangster from the 50s. Not so with Baty. The novel is about fast babes and faster cars, but he flawlessly sets the mood with realistic dialog and descriptions that pull you right into the scenes.

I love the rumble of a big block engine, a tough guy that is soft when it comes to women and a good mystery. This book has them all, and was a fast, fun read. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Girl in the MG in 2012.

Copyright © 2011 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Manuscript mailed – let the nail biting begin!


Yesterday was a day of writing. I made sure my children’s picture book was as tight and perfect as possible. Then I polished the synopsis that I wrote last week. My bio was tidied, my resume was updated.

The last thing to prepare was the answers to questions requested by the editor. I have been jotting information for about a week to add, then created a document with the answers (hopefully) that were needed. Part of the instructions for the proposal packet asks how I would promote my book if it were to be published.

There are so many ways now to get the word out about a book debut. You are reading one of them! Blogging is a great way to promote your work. Twitter, GoodReads and FaceBook are all vehicles to spread the word about books, short stories, magazine articles … anything you write can be written about.

The world is changing so fast these days. What happens on one side of the world can be seen and heard just about anyplace else within minutes if not seconds.

I don’t think social media can replace face to face contact with readers, but would argue that it really holds an important place in today’s promotions.

If my book is picked up, I was brainstorming out of the ordinary places I might market it.  Because it has puppies in it, I am thinking pet events like pet parades, pet adoption events and maybe even pet stores and veterinary practices may be a connection.

Thinking outside the box could get my children’s picture book out to places that are unusual and interesting.

And classrooms! I love being in schools. I worked in an elementary school for over ten years and loved the kids and their enthusiasm. It would be such a great honor to be able to read my book to them and donate copies to the learning centers.

And libraries! I spent so many hours in my local library as a kid. I used to walk downtown at least once every 2 weeks to get books. When I was smaller, there was a branch library in my elementary school. Ah,the smell of books is better than perfume!!!! I know not everyone believes this,  but for me it is true.

I am getting way ahead of myself. Yesterday I compiled everything, had my fabulous husband proof all of the documents and sealed them in the envelope.

This morning I sent my manuscript off to the acquisition editor of a Chicago area publishing house along with all of the other info requested. The editor requested my manuscript, so I am fairly sure she will give it a serious read. While I bite my nails and imagining what may possibly happen if she likes it.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Seasons change and so do I….

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Maybe it is the change in seasons, but I feel like trying my hand at writing a different genre. Fall is just around the corner. In northern Illinois, we have distinct seasons. It’s a known fact that they may overlap one another, or flip like light switch. Yesterday it was in the upper 80’s and muggy when I went to work. After dinner last night it was in the lower 60’s and downright chilly. The good news is the air conditioning has been turned off again and the windows opened to let fresh air sweep through the house.

For the last year and a half I’ve been writing children’s picture books. I have four decent manuscripts (read no one has snatched one up yet). One has gone out four times. Another is the subject of a query letter I sent last week. Still holding my breath, awaiting a response. The other two are ok. They need to be awesome. I printed them out this AM and will be cutting them up to tape into mock-ups to see how they need to be tweaked hopefully tomorrow.

Getting back to the urge to change genres, I feel the urge to begin a middle grade or YA novel. Recently, there have been many requests on the websites I frequent for both of these. The idea has been rolling around in my head since last year about a young boy with an unusual talent that scares and fascinates him. I need to flesh out his character and see where he wants to go.

Aside from books, I am exceedingly pleased to have one of my short stories chosen for an anthology by Untreed Reads Publishing. It felt right to work on a humorous murder story. My voice seems to want to tell stories like this.

Perhaps I should shake the dust off of the cozy mystery I started a few years ago. It might be fun to see if I can run with it.

Like the crazy weather here, I am changing my mind every few minutes. So far I am planning three projects for fall.

Project 1: Punch up my picture books by adding action, making sure there are enough changes in scenes to give the illustrators wonderful visuals and cut out anything that doesn’t move the story forward.

Project 2: Flesh out the character in my head, decide if he fits better in middle school or high school (my instinct is middle school) and see where he takes me.

Project 3: Read through the chapters I’ve completed on my cozy and tear it apart. I know it has to be reworked, but need to see what is worth saving.

I don’t know what order I’ll proceed. But as I’ve told you all before, I am crazy when it comes to meeting self imposed (or other) goals. As with my knitting projects, my writing progress will fair much better once I have outlined my goals.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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