Archive for September, 2013


Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

“Melissa Manlove at Chronicle has bought two beginning readers from Laurel Snyder, in a debut series called Charlie and Mouse, a collection of stories about the daily adventures of two curious brothers. Publication is set for spring and fall 2015. Tina Wexler at ICM negotiated the deal for world rights.”

I am very very very very excited about this.  Mose (Charlie) and Lew (Mouse) are pretty thrilled too!!!

The inspiration for these stories (besides the boys themselves) came from my friend Susannah Richards. She was here, taking a walk with me in my very special neighborhood, Ormewood Park.  She had just finished taking a picture of a Little Free Library when  she said, “You should write about this place. We need neighborhood books”

It had been in the back of my head to try to write about the boys, but somehow, her comment shook something loose in my brain… and THIS was what happened.

One super cool thing about the deal is that the editor, Melissa Manlove, was cool enough to suggest that we let the boys pick their own names.  A way of including them in the process.  Isn’t that awesome?

So, yeah.  Remember when I took off this summer, to scribble some picture books? Well, sometimes a little time off is a good thing!!

The empty minute…

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

In a few days, I’ll begin my fall travels, and life will get hectic. But for the moment I’m without deadlines, and I find myself staring at the dog, asking her, “What should I write next?”

I have the beginnings of a chapter book trilogy.  About two kids who MIGHT have found a magic tree. They aren’t sure.

I have the beginnings/outline to a novel. About ten kids living alone on an island.

I have a secret research project, which will maybe result in a  picture book, but will also probably require actual travel/archival research.

And then there’s season five of West Wing…


Please, universe, tell me what to do?


Wednesday, September 11th, 2013


In was September 11, 2001.

I’d moved back from Manhattan about a week earlier, my tail between my legs. I hadn’t lasted 6 months in NY. I was ashamed, but also relieved to be back in Iowa.

I was crashing at Chris’ house, but he and his roommates were gone, playing some shows at Jimmy Buffet’s place (weird detail, huh?) in Florida.

So I was alone in the house when I woke up, turned on the TV, and saw that the world had fallen apart.

I’d been at the WTC a few weeks earlier, for a Laura Cantrell show, and somehow that detail drove me nuts. As though somehow, listening to country music, I should have been able to sense what was coming. As though any of us ever know what’s coming…

I called my family.  My friends in NY.  I was able to get some of them on the phone.  I was scared for everything.

That was also the summer I published my very first bit of prose in an actual magazine (No Depression).  That was the summer Chris and I decided to “make it work.”  That was the summer a lot of things happened.  Only none of them seemed to matter much after that day.  In the retelling.

I don’t listen to Laura Cantrell  anymore, but I can’t stop thinking about her today.

Let’s be honest.  There have been lots of horrible events since that day. Millions have died. Natural disasters and terrorist actions. This single event is not bigger than those events.

And yet, in my own memories, it always will be. Bigger.

I felt safe, and then I didn’t.

It wasn’t until later that I found out a classmate of mine had gone down in Pennsylvania, on flight 93.  Liz. We danced in the school plays together.  I was horrified.  That part still feels unreal, impossible. Trying to imagine that plane. “Let’s roll.”

Nobody I knew died in NY. Still, it’s still the towers I see in my mind.


And yet, I can’t help thinking today… how much worse it could have been.  As awful as it was, the world did NOT end that day.  Here we are, drinking our coffee, hugging our kids, avoiding our work in favor of a blog post…

The American dream.

Love to all.

L’shana tovah!!!

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Life is sweet,  and heavy.

Not unlike my Grandma’s apple cake.

Happy New Year!

I have a feeling 5774 is going to be a good one.

Nancy Raines Day joins the WIK Blog Tour!!!

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Today, as part of the WIK (Writing and Illustrating for Kids) Conference, organized by the SCBWI Southern Breeze Chapter (Go, Breezers!), I have a special treat for you.  An interview with picture book author, Nancy Raines day!

In case you’re wondering, Nancy looks something like THIS:

And her books look something like THIS:

Pretty nice, huh?
But enough of that.  You’re here for the INTERVIEW, of course.  So maybe we should begin at the beginning.  Nancy, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?  When did you start writing?

Growing up, I was lucky to have Mary Ann Hoberman (who recently was children’s poet laureate) as a neighbor. Watching her grow as a children’s author was inspirational, and I thought from a young age that would be very cool to do.
At about age 10, my best friend and I “published” a newspaper. That was before copiers, so we wrote out ten copies (our total circulation of friends and family) by hand. In sixth grade, my teacher chose me to help her edit a collection of the school’s best student writings, and I was hooked. Senior year, I was Editor of my high school’s yearbook. I studied journalism in college and grad school. I only wrote nonfiction magazines, booklets and books for adults–until I was a mom. Then I switched to fiction for children, my lifelong passion.

You grew up in CT, and now live on St Simons, you lucky thing.  Is place something that informs your work?  Does the landscape affect your writing?

In between CT and St. Simons Island, I lived in San Francisco and Sonoma wine country for 26 years–nice places all! But none of my picture books is specifically set anywhere. except Flamingo’s First Christmas had to be in Miami (where I hadn’t even been until after I wrote the book). On a Windy Night was inspired by the sound of wind rustling corn, which my husband grew in our backyard in CA, but could have been anywhere.

Now, on St. Simons, I spend a lot of time on the beach, which has inspired some of my upcoming titles, “Way Down Below Deep” and “Sand and Sea.”
I feel like the rhythm of wallking and waves does find its way into my rhyming books.

Picture books can be tricky little beasties, and my own notebook is full of false starts. I’m wondering what percentage of the things you start out to write actually end up feeling finished?  I think sometimes people assume that once you’re published and agented, you just have to spit out work What’s the process like for you, in terms of deciding what to send out?

Part of my process is to get feedback from my Savannah writers’ group, as well as my awesome online group. Between my own radar and theirs, I usually have a good idea when it’s ready to go. And my longest-term editor let’s me know when she thinks a manuscript is close, but could be closer !

I have only recently signed on with Tricia Lawrence at Erin Murphy Literary Agency, so I’m looking forward to some help deciding which projects are most ready for prime time. A few of my ideas have fallen by the wayside, whether I’ve lost interest in pursuing them or can’t quite put my finger on what they need to make it out there. Of those I start, I probably do get 75-85% of them finished, though. Some flow right out of me, and others may take a decade, but I am a very persistent person!

What are some of your all time favorite books by other people? What about them appeals to you?

A Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss is my all-time favorite picture book. No matter how many thousands of times I read it, both as a child and as a parent, I never got tired of it. It makes me laugh–and think. Even today, surveying my less than tidy office, these words come to me: …this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!

Now THAT is writing!

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?

If you feel you have to write, just keep doing it. Join a critique group, and learn all you can. Be patient, and don’t give up.

I’m curious about your involvement with SCBWI. Has it been a part of your path to publication? When did you get involved?

SCBWI has been key to my success since the beginning. I went to my first regional meeting in San Francisco, and was blown away by the talented and generous people I met. To get to my first national conference, my family camped in Malibu (I was hugely pregnant at the time) to save the hotel bill. My critique groups were great support during the ten years it took to get my first book published. Directly or indirectly, I’ve met all my editors through the SCBWI network. In my work critiquing manuscripts for others, I always tell writers that joining SCBWI will the smartest investment they ever made.

And what will you be talking about at wik13?  I’d love a sneak preview of your session!

We’ll discuss the garden variety pitfalls in picture book manuscripts–trimming excess verbiage, letting adults take over, letting the truth stand in the way of a good story, and more–using real-life examples. Attendees should come away with the tools to prune their own picture book manuscripts closer to perfection.

I’ll also explain what a freelance editor/”manuscript doctor” can do and when using one might help.

That sounds great, Nancy!  I’m sure our readers can’t wait for WIK! Thanks for joining us.

Thanks so much.

Nancy Raines Day is just one member of the impressive faculty for the 2013 Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK) conference, taking place October 12 in Birmingham, AL. WIK is a great place to get inspired, get tips on your craft, and learn about the business of children’s publishing. It’s also an opportunity to meet editors, agents, and an incredibly supportive network of working writers and artists. This annual conference is hosted by the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). To find out more or to register, visit


You can meet other members of the conference faculty by following the WIK blog tour:

Aug. 28            Author Matt de la Peña at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews

Editor Lou Anders at F.T. Bradley’s YA Sleuth

Aug. 29            Author Doraine Bennett at Jodi Wheeler-Toppen’s Once Upon a Science Book

Author Robyn Hood Black at Donny Seagraves’ blog

Aug. 30            MFA program director Amanda Cockrell at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog

Illustrator Prescott Hill at Gregory Christie’s G.A.S.

Aug. 31            Author Heather Montgomery at Claire Datnow’s Media Mint Publishing blog

Editor Michelle Poploff at Laura Golden’s Just Write

Sept. 3             Author Nancy Raines Day at Laurel Snyder’s blog

Author Jennifer Echols at Paula Puckett’s Random Thoughts from the Creative Path

Sept. 4             Editor Dianne Hamilton at Ramey Channell’s The Painted Possum

Author Janice Hardy at Tracey M. Cox’s A Writer’s Blog

Sept. 5             Author / illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy at Stephanie Moody’s Moodyviews

Agent Sally Apokedak at Cheryl Sloan Wray’s Writing with Cheryl

Sept. 6             Author / illustrator Chris Rumble at Cyrus Webb Presents