July 30, 2013

A Dozen Ways to Enhance Your Writing Career Today

I began this blog in July 2007.  Hard to believe it's been six years! 

Blogging takes time and energy, and this year finds me with MANY contracted commitments, including teaching creative writing to high school students, working on my next funny MG novel (Death by Toilet Paper comes out August 2014), etc.  I need to harness as much creative energy as possible for these commitments.

So, while Wild About Words is on hiatus, I leave you with a dozen blog posts that I hope will help your writing career reach new heights.

Thanks for making this endeavor such a joy!


1.  Links to interviews with industry professionals, including Wendelin Van Draanen, April Henry, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kate Messner, Tina Wexler, Cynthia Lord and others about a variety of writing topics.

2.  Sites and resources for young writers, especially helpful for those who teach writing.

3.  40 Reasons I love S.C.B.W.I.  (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)

4.  Marion Dane Bauer offers wise words in her blog about writerly issues.

5.  April Henry's mystery novels keep me riveted as does her excellent blog.  Here's a post she created about jobs for our characters and/or their parents.

6.  Laurie Halse Anderson has done this wonderful annual Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge each day in the month of August.  Here's a link to the first challenge post on August 1, 2012.

7.  Writer Unboxed is a must for highly professional, intelligent thoughts about all aspects of writing.

8.  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are the powerhouses behind The Bookshelf Muse, where you will find tools to help you with character traits, emotions and much, much more!

9.  Every summer, Kate Messner, creates a free on-line writing workshop.  Each day is a gold mine of ideas, lessons and insights about the writing biz.

10.  Cynthia Leitich Smith publishes the most comprehensive blog on the net about everything to do with children's publishing, including interviews, giveaways and more.  Take a peek at CYNSATIONS.

11.  Barbara O'Connor has a great blog about children's book publishing.  Here's her post about setting up your novel.

12.  I end every day looking at Cynthia Lord's thoughtful blog because it makes me feel good -- even when it makes me cry.   

Enjoy these links and feel free to add your favorites in the comment section below.

July 8, 2013

A Few More Great Resources for Writers:

1.  Pam Calvert's Picture Book University studies a different aspect of creating picture books each Monday.  To view today's lesson about storyboarding, click HERE.  Last Monday, she had a lesson about 10 picture book genres.  It's a fantastic resource for those interested in picture books.

2.  Looking for a contest to flex your writing muscles?  Look no further than Quirk Books -- a very cool publishing company based in my hometown of Philly.  (Hmm.  Makes me want a Philly soft pretzel RIGHT NOW!)

They are offering a $10,000 prize and publication for a novel-length work, featuring fresh, fun and strikingly unconventional love stories.  Deadline is October 1, 2013.

Read all about the contest HERE.

3.  Today, I'm the guest author at Kate Messner's Teachers Write free summer on-line writing institute.  If you want to make sense of sensory writing, click HERE.

Be sure to check out the other mini-lessons, Q&As, etc. from many authors.

Here's hoping your summer is going all write!

June 24, 2013

Great Resources for Writers . . .

1.  Get thee to Kate Messner's amazing virtual summer writing camp.  (No fees.  No fuss.  No muss.  Just a great community and lots of inspiring ideas and "visits" from guest authors.)  Click here to learn moreClick here for today's mini-lesson. 

2.  You MUST read this article about saying "no" to protect one's creative time, written by Kevin Ashton.  Excerpt:  "Time is the raw material of creation."  "Saying 'no' has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined."

 3.  Every one of Marion Dane Bauer's blog (Writing, Revision and Life . . . ) entries is an insightful look at an aspect of a writer's life.  Here's a post she wrote about cobbling together a living as a writer.  (If you have a moment, check her posts before and after this one.)

4.  CYNSATIONS is a fabulous blog by Cynthia Leitich Smith.  It's frequently updated and loaded with great resources, information, interviews, giveaways and much more.

5.  WRITER UNBOXED offers more writerly wisdom than you could shake a pencil at.  One of my favorite contributors is Robin LaFevers.  Her post, "Clawing Our Way Back to the Creative Center" resonates with truth and wisdom.  (Be sure to read Donald Maass' comment after the post, about the questions that will lead you to your next novel.)

6.  If you're feeling discouraged about the process of writing a novel or you find yourself going over the beginning again and again, you are not alone!  Check out Barbara O'Connor's blog, Greetings from Nowhere.  She's got tons of great posts about the writing process (and her dog's cute).

7.  Prolific author, Donna Jo Napoli, gives an excellent Tedx talk about why we writers for children must dare . . .

Wherever you are on your writer's journey, here's hoping these resources excite and inspire.

Happy writing trails,

June 21, 2013


Did you miss me?  I've been off having delightful adventures in Philadelphia.

Here are some phun Philly photos . . .

Our nephew's prom coincided with my sister's birthday.  Happy to be there for both occasions!

Ellen and Kyle

 Kyle's date, Marissa, was lovely . . .

I also had the great pleasure of visiting with my 10th grade English teacher, Myra Durlofsky.  We've kept in touch for over 30 years.  I so loved her that I made her a character in one of my novels.  Here she is . . .

Myra Durlofsky

Our family summer party took place during our visit.  Lots of laughing and swimming and baby cuddling and, of course, eating . . .

I had so much fun visiting with family and friends.  There were graduations.  There were celebrations.  There were wild Wii championships.  It was fantastic.

Then I had the great pleasure of spending a few days with my niece in the city.

Here she is on the steps of her new apartment . . .


She cooked great meals and was an excellent tour guide.  The first evening, we watched the sun set over the Schuylkill River, then saw the public art displays behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Donna and Nicole

 We hiked all over the city . . .

City Hall and the Love Statue

And visited LOTS of bookstores.

Bookstore cat getting cozy on a display of new books

One of my favorite parts was spending time in the library on Vine Street.  (Not the first library in the country, which was created by Benjamin Franklin, but the first library system in the country.)

Inside the Free Library of Philadelphia
Of course, we had to visit the children's department.

Along the walls were framed posters for Children's Book Week.  Here's one of my favorites . . .

This one is from 1964
I was marveling at the collection when I recognized one of the librarians.

"Did you use to work at the Northeast Regional Library?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

She's been in the system for 37 years (19 of which were at my childhood library, that I loved so much).

Donna and Irene R. Wright, Head, Children's Department

I told her how much that library and the people who worked there meant to me.  I told her that I became an author of children's books for Random House.

When I handed her a card, she said, "We have your books!"

And indeed they did . . .

Not all the places I saw were filled with joy.  When we drove past the Mutter Museum, one of the settings in my new book, I saw something that made me gasp -- the rubble of the building at 22nd and Market Street that collapsed recently, killing six people.

There were flowers and memorials placed along the side

Despite the sadness of this, it was good to spend time in my home city.  And wonderful to spend time with family and friends.

June 3, 2013

Adventures in Aventura!

My last event of the season was a doozy!

It's not every day one gets to hang out with FLY GUY and call it "work."

Lisa Blair, president of the Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership worked with Aventura Mall to create a SIX-hour event called The Book Shop.

We arrived the night before and were greeted by this in our hotel room . . .

A lovely gift basket, filled with all the essentials, including Sharpies, bottles of water and Mint Milano cookies.

When we went out to dinner, we found these signs all over the mall . . .

Riley Roam, Me and Janeen Mason near a sign, advertising the big event

And what an event it was!  There were books galore and authors -- Cheryl Holder, Lisa McCourt, Janeen Mason, Riley Roam, me and Lucia Gonzalez!

Lisa McCourt and Riley Roam

Janeen Mason and her assistant, Lin
And there were some real characters there, too . . .

Hi, Madeline!
And what's a book event without a giant dragon . . .

reading a giant book?!
The fun never stopped with the dynamic duo of PAGE TURNER ADVENTURES.  They emceed the entire event and provided stellar entertainment for over six hours!

They also performed THE GREAT PIZZA CONTEST . . .

One unsuspecting audience member wore a very interesting wig!

I got to be scorekeeper and only cheated a little.  It was for the children!
 The best part was the endless stream of families, celebrating reading adventures together!

Thank you Lisa Blair, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership, Aventura Mall and MANY hard-working employees and volunteers for creating such a fun event and for allowing me to help celebrate a love for literature!  Thanks a million to my handsome hubby, who helped out in many ways throughout the event.

Happy summer reading, everyone!

Even you, Fly Guy . . .

May 23, 2013


As summer approaches, I want to say a big THANK YOU for . . .

1.  Many memorable school visits . . .

2.  Fun Skype visits/Google Hangout, World Read Aloud Day . . .

Some of you have hosted me at conferences and festivals.  Some have made very generous donations to children's literacy organizations.  And one of you sent me an umbrella that came in very handy.  (You know who you are!)

Each of you has dedicated your time and energy to enriching the lives of children.  

What you do matters in ways you can't imagine.  You change lives.  You make this world a better place by being an advocate for the children you interact with every day.

You deserve a lovely, restorative summer!

If you've always wanted to write, check out Kate Messner's FREE summer on-line writing workshops for teachers.  Authors provide guest posts all summer and answer questions.  The writing workshop will be hosted on Kate's blog.  You can join the FB group here.

Or maybe you're looking for great summer reads.  Sign up for Jen Robinson's Book Page newletter, crammed with inspiring book recommendations, news and interesting links.

Or travel to exotic locations (or at least dream about them) by signing up for Travel Zoo's Weekly Top 20 Travel Deals.

Whatever you do this summer, have a wonderful time filled with the things you love best.  You deserve it!


May 21, 2013

Celebrating Young Authors!

This is the third year in a row I've had the GREAT pleasure of keynoting at the YOUNG AUTHOR CELEBRATION for students in 1st through 8th grades from St. Lucie County.

Here are some of the families streaming into the event as the doors open . . .

I love this event because the parents and grandparents are so proud of their children.  And they should be.  These students created beautiful, heartfelt/funny/scary books that were deemed tops at their schools.  It's an honor to be invited to this event.

Thanks to co-chairs, Erin Coppoletta and Lori Foley, for the hard work that goes into putting on such a terrific event for hundreds of attendees. 

Erin, me and Lori, before the event begins

And thanks to Debbie Remington for inviting me.

Debbie Remington and me, Young Author Celebration 2012

My favorite part, of course, was having a few moments with each of the students as they came up to have books signed, chat and have photos taken.  Some students asked me to sign THEIR winning books, which felt like such an honor. 

I was delighted to see Crystal and her parents at the event.  This is Crystal's third year in a row winning the honor of attending the Young Author's Celebration!

Here she is a few years ago, when she was my escort during a school visit . . .

Crystal, at Manatee Academy

She's grown much taller since then!

And a huge shout of THANKS to our youngest son, who helped me during the entire event.  He and I loved spending time with these sweet kids.  We celebrated when we were done by going out to lunch and this fancypants restaurant.

If there are any YOUNG AUTHORS reading this, please stop by this blog post to get resources for young writers, including places to send your work, excellent guidebooks, contests and more.

May 17, 2013

I'll Take Fun Skype Visits for $400 . . .

Lots of FUNtastic Skype visits this week.

Yesterday, a school book club from New York created a Jeopardy! board, which they used to ask me questions.  (Olivia Bean would have been proud!)

Aren't these kids precious?  (Half a dozen book club members forgot to show up.  But they're all getting signed bookmarks!)

And this sweet crew from Massachusetts, who had excellent questions for me . . .

My first Google Hangout was with 50 middle schoolers at a public library in Indiana.  What fun!

A student sits in front of the camera to ask a question.

And finally . . . the biggest, zaniest Skype visit I ever did was with Deb Tyo's amazing students from Ohio.

Here's a small portion of the students.

Some of the students created a video invitation for me to Skype with their class during World Read Aloud Day.

But nature had other ideas.  School was cancelled that day because of snow.  I suggested everyone fly down to Florida, but some people were too busy playing in the snow . . .

Photo courtesy of Deb Tyo

We made up for the missed Skype visit today.  These kids were so enthusiastic and well-prepared!  When they asked about my new book and I held up my finished manuscript for DEATH BY TOILET PAPER, the toilet paper went flying . . .

It was so much fun visiting teachers, librarians and superstar students in four states this week without ever changing out of my slippers.