The Weekly Peek

Hello, and Happy Monday! How was everyone’s weekend? I had SO MUCH FUN at ILA16 on Sunday. After a brief travel delay (thanks AGAIN, Amtrak), I attended a great lunch hosted by Abrams, where I rubbed elbows (and talked about The Bland Sisters) with some esteemed educators and amazing Abrams authors — shout-out to Erica Perl and her new picture book Ferocious Fluffity, and Jonathan Auxier and his latest tour de force, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard.

After lunch, I hustled over to the convention center, where I had my signing for The Infamous Ratsos at the Candlewick Press booth. You guys, I signed EIGHTY BOOKS. A pretty great turnout, considering my signing wasn’t on the official ILA schedule — many thanks to the good folks at Candlewick for getting the word out! As I signed, I got to meet some wonderful educators from all over the country. And it was my first Candlewick event I attended as an author — pretty surreal, and pretty great!

When my signing ended, I grabbed some coffee and found some time alone to recharge. Then I hopped in a cab and met up with my former picture book partner-in-crime Scott Magoon, renowned (and hilarious) author-illustrators Ryan T. Higgins and Matt Tavares, and literacy wunderkind Dylan Teut. As you might imagine, the jokes (and puns) were flying — much to the delight, I’m sure, of the other restaurant patrons. Later, we met up for drinks with local super-librarian Jennifer Kelley Reed, and the hilarity continued. Whew! I barely made the last train home, and fell into bed just after 1am.

I think I might go and take a nap now — but not before I share a few things happening with me this week:

I’ve combed through my editor’s notes on the second Bland Sisters story, and am now making my way through revisions.

We are attempting to nighttime train our toddler. It’s a soggy process, but we persist, as ever.

Over the weekend, WE BOUGHT A GRILL! I don’t know why we’ve put off this purchase for so long, but I am SO EXCITED to take summer to the next level. Got any great grilling recipes to share?

That’s it from me.What are you up to this week?

The Weekly Peek

Hello, friends, and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? If you attended ALAAC2016, I will try to contain my jealousy. I can only hope I’m invited next year (hint hint, lovely publishers).

Here’s what’s going on with me this week…

I spent all last week finalizing the seminar I delivered at Lesley University yesterday (it went really well, btw!), which means I kinda let the rest of my daily responsibilities go, which means my house is a TOTAL MESS. Time to do the dishes and fold the laundry and go grocery shopping. Oh yes, the writing life is très glamorous.

This past Friday, I received three treasures: a finished copy of The Infamous Ratsos, the first round of sketches for The Infamous Ratsos 2, and my editor’s notes and suggestions for Book Two of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. No official titles for these sequels yet, though I’m thinking Infamous Ratsos 2: Electric Boogaloo and 2 Bland 2 Furious. In any case, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

To that end, this week, I’ll be reviewing and responding to the Ratsos sketches, reading my editor’s notes and suggestions for Bland 2 and formulating a plan of attack for my revision. I’ll also be revising my new chapter book, which I hope to send to my agent early next week.

It’s my grandmother’s 95th (!!!) birthday this Sunday, so I’ll be headed to Connecticut for a little celebration.

I probably won’t post here on Monday, since it will be the 4th, and my family and I will be on the beach, weather permitting. But I promise to post some shots of our fun in the sun on my Instagram account (click here if you’d like to follow me).

What’s up with you this week? Any big plans for the 4th?

 

The Weekly Peek

Hello, and Happy Monday! If you celebrated Father’s Day yesterday, how was it? My husband was away on his annual four-day, dudes-only canoeing trip (our Father’s Day gift to him was this time away, along with some new shorts and outdoorsy shoes, and a big bag of manly camping food (including bacon jerky, sriracha potato chips, and bacon-cheddar popcorn). My kiddo and I enjoyed our time together, and spent yesterday in Mystic, CT with my uncle and cousin. This year, I made the very wise decision to hire our babysitter to  hang out with the little one in the late afternoon, when my husband normally comes home from work to relieve me. Friends, it was bliss. I used that time to get a pedicure, buy myself a case of rosé, and read Raymie Nightingale. (What a lovely book. You know, I think this Kate DiCamillo lady is really going places.)

A few other things as we head into the week:

My kiddo started summer camp today! Feeling proud and nervous, but mostly proud.

These days, I’m spending most of my time getting ready to deliver my picture book seminar at Lesley University. It’s free to the public, so I hope I might see you there this Sunday!

I missed “Game of Thrones” last night (I wanted to wait until my husband got home from his trip, so we could watch it together) and I CANNOT WAIT to see the “Battle of the Bastards.” NO SPOILERS, PLEASE!

Will you be attending the International Literacy Association (ILA) conference next month? On Sunday, July 10th, I’ll be signing advance copies of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina at the Abrams booth (2307) from 10am-12pm, and I’ll be signing actual printed copies (woohoo!) of The Infamous Ratsos at the Candlewick Press booth (2225) from 2:30-3:30. Hope you’ll stop by and say hi, and pick up a book or two!

What are you up to this week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekly Peek

Hello, friends. I was going to blog about my lovely weekend, about the new bookstore I visited, and about how hopeful and happy I felt after my writing group session yesterday.  But all of that seems frivolous. Because after my lovely Saturday and my happy and hopeful critique experience yesterday, I read the news. And I was horrified and saddened, and then rageful. Something has to change in this country — specifically, our gun control laws. You can be sure I will be voting (and encouraging others to vote) with that goal in mind in November, and doing whatever I can to help the victims in Orlando in the meantime. Check out this link if you want to find ways to help, too.

In the meantime, my heart goes out to the victims, to their families, and to all of my friends who might be hurting today. I am horrified and sad and angry, but ABOVE ALL, always, I love you.

The Weekly Peek

Hello, and Happy Monday! If you attended #BEA16, how was it? Hope I’ll be able to make it one of these years.

This past weekend, we bought a couch! (Kind of like We Bought a Zoo, but with fewer animals or Matt Damons.) We’ve had the same one for more than a decade, and it’s developed an unsightly and irreparable rip in one of the cushions, so it was definitely time for a fresh start. It’s also the first big house purchase we’ve made in a while, so we’re feeling very accomplished and ADULT. In addition, we got a new chair for our son’s room, and we’ll be giving away the rocking chair that’s currently in there. We got a lot of use out of that rocking chair. Initially, it was meant as a reading chair for my office, and potentially for a nursery when we were trying (and failing) to get pregnant. When it didn’t look like that was ever going to happen, we gave it to my best friend when she got pregnant…and then she gave it back to us a year later when we discovered we were in the family way. That chair has had quite a journey! But now that our son is about to turn three (!!!) he needs something a little less rockin’, so we think it’s time we thanked it for its service and moved on. Now we just have to wait for both items to arrive — eight whole weeks! I promise to post some photos when they are both finally here and in situ.

Other stuff going on this week…

Check out my Pick of the Week over at The Little Crooked CottageE-I-E-I-WHOOOA!

As I wait for feedback on a few other projects (and for the aforementioned new furniture to arrive), I’m revising a new chapter book this week. I like to keep myself distracted (and productive), otherwise the waiting makes me cray-cray. What are you working on?

I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Friends, it’s so resonant, it’s painful. More thoughts on this book once I’m finished.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

The Weekly Peek

How was everyone’s weekend? And if you celebrated Mother’s Day, how was it? My husband and little one took me out to lunch and had me go out for that pedicure I was not-so-subtly desiring. It’s a pretty sweet deal, to be thanked for taking care of one little one with some time to pamper my ten little ones (toes, that is).

Other stuff going on this week…

I’m taking care of my other little one this week, as final pages for The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina have just come my way! You guys. YOU GUYS. The art is absolutely incredible. I bow to the awesomeness that is Jen Hill.

I’ve decided to give Blue Apron a go. I love meal planning, but I just don’t have the time or the inclination these days. I figure we’ll try it for a month and see if it’s worth the $$$. Have you ever tried a meal service? If so, how did it work out (or not work out) for you?

An Infamous Ratsos galley giveaway!

Just confirmed: I’ll be be teaching a one-day seminar at Lesley University on June 26th called Funny-Ha-Ha, Funny Strange, Funny Uh-Oh: Humor in the Modern Picture Book. I’m pretty sure anyone can attend, so if you’re interested and in the neighborhood, check back in my “Events and Appearances” section over the next week or so (or just email me) and I should have more details.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

The Weekly Peek

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? For those of you lucky enough to attend the NESCBWI conference, how was it? I hope you didn’t have TOO much fun without me; I was very sorry to miss it, though I missed it for a very good reason — my (LaReau) family reunion. It was so nice to enjoy a little time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

So, here’s a little bit of news, as we head into the week…

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a COVER REVEAL! Come on over to The Little Crooked Cottage and see the cover of my very first novel, The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina. I think you’ll agree that illustrator Jen Hill is a genius.

The Infamous Ratsos received its first review! Kirkus says,

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Bagerton’s hat. Chad Bagerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louis and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Bagerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Not too shabby, eh?

I’ll be doing a regular story time (at 11am, on the first Saturday of every month) at my neighborhood toy store, Henry Bear’s Park. If you’re nearby and available, I hope I’ll see you (and your kiddos) there. Be sure to spread the word!

Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

 

I’m Back, Baby.

Well. I’ve taken a really, really long break from blogging. It’s a shame, because I’ve had a lot going on to talk about, with an ever-growing, ever-on-the-go toddler and more than a few projects in the works. But I haven’t had time to blog for those very same reasons! In any case, here’s the nutshell version of what I’ve been up to:

  1. Putting the finishing touches on The Infamous Ratsos, a new chapter book series about two brothers, who happen to be rats, who want to be seen as “tough.” I am so, so excited for this launch, because the book looks absolutely amazing (thanks to genius editor Sarah Ketchersid, designer Kristen Nobles, and my new BFF, illustrator Matt Myers). But it’s also my first book with Candlewick Press, where I worked as an editor for nearly a decade, more than a decade ago (I cannot believe I started there in 1997. Whoa.) Coming soon to a bookstore near you on August 2, but you can grab a galley at any of the upcoming industry shows (BEA, ALA, et al), along with some very cool HANG TOUGH temporary tattoos, which I insist on calling “rattoos.”
  2. Putting the finishing touches on The Infamous Ratsos 2 (snappy subtitle to be revealed soon!)
  3. Putting the finishing touches on MY FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEL, The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina (book 1 of 3). Oh mah gah. I wrote a novel! Actually, I have made NUMEROUS attempts at novel-writing over the years, most of them woefully unsuccessful — but trying and failing (again and again…and again) is what the creative process is all about, amirite? This trilogy of middle grade stories follows two sisters named Jaundice and Kale Bland, homebodies who would rather stay home and eat cheese sandwiches (on day-old bread) than do just about anything else. Unfortunately, they make the mistake of answering a knock at their door, and end up being kidnapped…by lady pirates. While I am pretty proud of this first installment, I am downright AMAZED by Jen Hill’s artwork — with many thanks to Abrams/Amulet editorial director Tamar Brazis and designer Pam Notarantonio. The Jolly Regina is due to set sail in January 2017, though galleys are already available.* In fact, Publishers Weekly named The Jolly Regina and The Infamous Ratsos as “galleys to grab” this season!
  4. Writing The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: Book Two (this one was a doozy — more on that process later this week)
  5. Writing a new picture book (and my very first rhyming text!), GOODNIGHT, LITTLE MONSTERS, due to pub with Scholastic/Cartwheel (illustrator and pub date TBD)
  6. Mourning the sudden passing of our beloved cat, Pearl. Don’t know if I’ll ever recover from this one. 😦
  7. Writing three new picture book texts, all rhyming (WHAT?)
  8. Writing a new chapter book, which just went off to my agent last week. Fingers crossed.
  9. Discovering that the lingering cough I’ve had since…oh, October…was actually pneumonia, and taking the appropriate antibiotics (I am almost back to “normal” now).
  10. Attempting to keep my house clean-ish, doing seemingly-endless loads of laundry and dishwasher loading and unloading, preparing three meals a day for the fam, and shuttling the kiddo to and from preschool.
  11. Looking for freelance writing side jobs, particularly IP (licensed publishing) work. Know anyone who wants to hire a gal who can write and multitask like a mutha?
  12. Exercising (um, this almost never happens).
  13. Staying up waaaaay too late while binging on all manner of amazing TV (um, this almost always happens).
  14. Potty-training my almost-three-year-old. (We are in the midst of this now. In fact, my sweetheart of a husband gave me the morning off so I could sit in Starbucks and write this.)

This might sound like a lot, but it has been a LONG time since I’ve written any sort of blog entry. By next week, I’m sure I’ll have nothing left to tell you, other than what I’ve eaten for breakfast (which is usually oatmeal, btw).

And speaking of next week, I’ve decided I’m going to try posting three times a week — Mondays will be “catching up” posts (i.e. news and other bits of relatively-useful or interesting info), Wednesdays will be posts about “creating” (i.e. whatever I’m working on and how I’m feeling about it), and Fridays will be all about “curating” (i.e. books and other stuff I’m loving). In theory, this seems as if it will work — but as with all things in life, and especially my life, time will tell!

COMING UP THIS WEEK…the challenges of writing the second story in a trilogy, and a book that’s teaching me to face shame (in a good way). Stay tuned!

*Interesting factoid: Galleys for the first Bland Sisters book were printed with the title The Booty Myth. Unfortunately, this title proved too, er, bootylicious for some, so it will be hereafter be called The Jolly Regina.