Last month, I found myself in the fortunate situation of attending the annual Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Los Angeles. I also had the more fortunate opportunity, in a post-conference workshop, to find myself sitting next to Newbery Award-winner Susan Patron. When such an author (who’s also an esteemed librarian) highly recommends a book, you find a copy right away.
When I was a kid, I fell somewhere between tomboy and Barbie, but rarely hit either of the extremes. I loved watching weekend wrestling and football and playing street games, but dolls? Not for me. When it came to comic books, though, I usually grabbed Archie over Superman, but regardless of which, I loved them.
I sometimes feel a sense of loss, I guess you could call it, when I finish a book and turn it in. Don’t get me wrong. The joy and pride and feelings of accomplishment are all there, too. But somewhere inside that celebration is that niggling ache of letting go.
You’ve gotta love The Terrible Two, a funny, funny middle grade novel by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrations by Kevin Cornell. (Release date: 1/13/2015.)
Don’t be scared. Don’t turn away, feet running, arms flailing, voice screaming in terror. Though I am about to type, and you’re about to see a word that strikes terror into the hearts and minds of some writers and readers alike, you can get through this. So brace yourself. Here it comes. (math)
I really don’t need to say it, but I will anyway:
It takes so much more than words on paper (or a screen) to create a book …
which is why so many authors insist on an acknowledgment page.
Too many people skip that section, but if you’re reading this, chances are, in this new book, there’s an implied thanks to you. And there’s also a bit of explanation why Gollywhopper 2 came out more than 6 years after the original.
“It was the first day of second grade and Billy Miller was worried. He was worried that he wouldn’t be smart enough for school this year.”
The Year of Billy Miller (Greenwillow/HarperCollins) sucked me in with that opening paragraph. Why? I totally related to it. Mine were not the same worries as Billy’s, but my worries weighed just as heavily on me. Like the first day of kindergarten. How would my mom know when to pick me up? Or in first grade. Would my friends remember me when I returned to class after a week at home with the chicken pox? Or what if I said my old lines instead of the new ones I was given for the 4th grade play?
I’m here today, bringing two sets of two worlds together …
Adult non-fiction & middle-grade fiction
The world we live in & the universe on the other side.
Let me make some sense of that.
It was a truly magical experience where authors and readers of all ages got together, where many of us spoke of deeply personal experiences in a safe and nurturing environment. It was the Less Than Three Conference.
(In celebration of turning Gollywhopper 3 in to my editor yesterday, and in hopes that book will pass this test, I bring you a reprint of the July 2012 post I did for the Smack Dab blog. Wishing you fireworks in your reading and writing.)
I always wanted the fireworks to last longer when I was a kid. It didn’t matter that it was hot or that I was sticky and stinky from bug spray or that I ended up half off the blanket and half on the ticklish grass. I wanted more.