Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Best Answer is Always the Simplest...

I almost enjoyed Memorial Day weekend. 

I say "almost," because the entire weekend I practically bit my fingernails off, convinced that my blog had been "deleted" or "suspended" or "marked as spam" because I couldn't log in. I panicked, sent Blogger and Google nearly a dozen emails, wondering why I got an error message every time I tried to access it (and fix a few glaring typos...).

Turns out, I just needed to clear my web browser's cache.  Everything was fine.  Sorry, Google techs.  I'm dumb.  Everything was fine, as it should be.  My computer just wanted to play tricks on me, and I believed what I wanted to believe: that I was DOOMED.  Funny how we always assume the worst.  The most complicated.  We invite drama.

But my blog lived happily ever after.  The End.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Additions to Our Home

Recently we welcomed two new ones into the family!  No, I didn't have more kids...we adopted two kittens in need of a good home.

Welcome to our home, Rosella (Zella) and Doggy!

Obviously, we let our children pick out the names.  Our two-year-old insisted, laughing, that his kitty would be named "doggy."  So we let it be.  Who knows, maybe a future picture book?

We're having a great time with our new furry friends, and I enjoy the late-night companionship when I'm writing or curled up with a book.  We'll see how I am in a few weeks when it's time to remove hair from the couches...

Do you have pets?  Are they named for other animals?  Or did your children come up with other creative names for them?  I want to hear!  Post your comment by clicking below!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Few More Books!

This week I went to the doctor, and she asked me how I was doing.  Great! I replied.  I told her about my books (all 23 of them), and she was amazed.  "Wow, you've been busy!" she said.

Yes, that's true.  I have been busy.  But it's funny (and a bit overwhelming to me) that the publishers of my books all chose the same time to release them.  I think I need an agent, or at least I assume than an agent would help control the gradual release of books to avoid author (and fan) overload!

Well, I can't say that I plan to slow down writing for awhile, but I'm a bit more motivated on picking up where I left off in my research on getting a publishing agent.  It's really hard to send 23 Facebook announcements without getting marked as Spam by someone! 

Anyway, the newest "I Like" titles released by GrasshopperApps.com (and written by yours truly!) this week are:

(Ironic how I Like Summer came out the same day I posted "Waiting for Summer" earlier in the week.  Guess books really can take you to faraway places...like where it is actually warm in summer!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing About What You Know...And Love!

One of my high school English teachers always stressed "write what you know."  But sometimes, when a trendy idea (like Princesses) pops into the realm of popular children's book I forget...I don't know many name brands, I hate pink, and I'd trade a tiara for sweatpants any day.

So last week, I threw out all my ideas (note: ideas, not manuscripts) that had to do with Princesses who were "Princesses."  Instead, I decided to spend my time writing about something I loved (and knew about), even if it was probably the topic farthest from any trend in America or children's books in general.

I have authored my first Squidoo lens.  What's it about?

The village of Njau, Gambia. 

Probably as un-trendy as it gets.  In fact, I'm guessing most of you have never heard about it.  But I know it.  And I love it.  And though I'm not paid to write about it, I can't stop!  Now, if I can only find a way to turn my knowledge of  and love for remote Gambian villages into stories that the public will buy, we're all set.

Until then, take a minute to enter a place I know and love.  Where is Njau, Gambia, anyway?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Waiting for Summer...

I should be prepared.  Or at least feel forewarned.  After all, I was born in (and consciously chose to move back to) Wisconsin.

My city's nickname, The Frozen Tundra, sounds much better it echoes among the roar of a 70,000+ crowd at Lambeau Field.  But when it's almost June and I'm sporting thick tube socks, sending my daughter to school with a winter coat and debating about tucking mittens in her bag...it's a little depressing.

I've always found it difficult to write on really nice, sunny days when I want to play outside with my kids.  But cold weather when it's supposed to be nice is even worse.  The sun is out, but it's windy and freezing for late May.  The weather is snickering at me inside my head, making it impossible to think.  I'll make a deal with you, Wisconsin.  Warm up and I'll only spend half the day outside, and the other half writing.  Or maybe I'll just write outside.

For now,  I'll go read Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith again for inspiration (my son's latest pick from the library and one of the longest books he can sit through without fidgeting).  It's about a boy who tames the weather with his hootin-hollerin-cowboy yell.  Although, in his case, he wrestles a tornado.  I need a character who can teach an old sun new tricks.  Sit.  Stay.  All Day - in Green Bay.

Sounds like a writing challenge.  Here I go...YEEEEE-HAW!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quote from Stephen Leather

Today I read the article "After the Book Deal" by Dianne Moritz in my SCBWI May/June Bulletin.  In it, she describes how being an author can be dangerous:  it's only a matter of time before everyone floods you.  But not for your autograph–for your "advice" on how to get some story they wrote published.

So far, seven.  That's the number of friends, colleagues, or family members (sometimes on behalf of their children, too) that have asked me so far.  My answer?  Become a good writer rather than focusing how to get the one-book-they've-ever-written published (or the three books they've never shown anyone except their cousin).  I don't want to sound demeaning.  If your dream is to be a writer, go for it!  Dream big...but work hard.

Here's what Stephen Leather had to say about the new trend of everyone self-publishing their own work, from a Guest Post at Joe Konrath's Blog,  A Newbie's Guide to Publishing:

 "If you have written a book then you deserve a pat on the back. Well done you. But just because you’ve written a book doesn’t mean it’s good enough to be published. And just because you’ve been published doesn’t mean that people will buy it. It seems to me that the rush to embrace self-publishing means that the quality of the work has become secondary to the marketing of it."

Read the entire post.  Then, read a lot more about writing.  Then write.  Then write more.  Then revise it.  Then revise it more.  Then, start the process of getting your work published.  You might regret what you've released to the public otherwise, and the people who bought your first, terrible book, might never forgive you enough to buy the second.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Success Breeds Success

When I first began writing books for children, I remember being so excited when any of the other writers I knew shared their good news.  Their success was encouraging!

Now, I have a little news of my own.  I just learned today that iStorybooks not only made Amazon.com's Top 100 Android Free App lists, but ranks #52.  Since my first children's book for iStorybooks came out yesterday, I'm excited.  Hope you'll all share in the success and find encouragement to keep on writing!

If you haven't yet seen my latest book, a retelling of The Three Little Pigs, check it out for FREE at iStorybooks!

(Oh, and I should add...I still get tickled pink whenever I see another author post good news!  So share yours with me...and keep all of us motivated to keep on writing.  Comment button is below!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Where is Miranda? With Her iPad 2...

If you've been wondering where I've been for the last few weeks, this post will answer your question.

Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who got an iPad 2 about a month ago.  That's where I've been hiding - and downloading Apps and iBooks.  Book lover + iPad = dangerous combination.

(By the way, my picture books were released for the iPad very recently).

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of likes/dislikes:

Wi-Fi connects easily and fast even when you go somewhere else (i.e. coffee shop or bookstore)
Strong enough that my 2-year-old hasn't broken it yet
Keyboard is large enough (horizontal/landscape display) to actually type with correct fingers
Camera on front and back!
The Apps "Stack the States" and "Stack the Countries" are hands down the best for kids
The million free apps that aren't too bad - like flash cards and drawing for kids

What the heck is FaceTime? 
Where's my NORMAL-looking Skype? (Free, ahem).
Pages App - No "Track Changes" feature  - as an editor, I'm extremely disappointed that you can't make margin comments, notes, or automatic edits with tracking in the Pages App.  APPLE CHANGE THIS PLEASE!
Annoying pop-up to get me to subscribe to Apple's cellular Data service (hello, I will when I want to!)

So, that's all for now - back to iPad Land, which is almost entirely a happy place.

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