Monday, April 1, 2013

My Heroes are Children's Writers

Not too long ago, Kamaile asked if I would be willing to speak at their school on Career Day.

Maile: It doesn’t matter that you’re just a housewoman.

Me: Housewoman? Housewoman?! I’m a writer. 

(Okay, I want everyone to note how even though I was irritated, I managed to exclude four-letter words here.)

Maile: Oooh . . . yeah. Or you could talk about that, I guess.

But the thing is, I actually said, “I’m a writer.” Aloud.  For the longest time, I’d never considered myself a writer. You had to be good at writing to call yourself a writer. You had to be published to call yourself a writer. I wasn’t either one of those.

From the time I was in the third grade, I wanted to be a pediatrician. Doctors were my heroes. I wanted to help children. I was going to save kid’s lives! So I went to college and took all the pre-med requirements. I became an E.M.T. and during my first night in a Philadelphia emergency room, as I was helping to stuff a tube down a man’s throat, I thought, “This man could die. If I become a pediatrician, children could die.” The idea paralyzed me. How had I been so unaware of this reality before? So I abandoned the thought of becoming a pediatrician, and let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into med school anyway.

However, I recently realized on a very personal level how much potential there is for writers to save the lives of children. My oldest daughter Kea is extremely shy. She can barely look at people when they talk to her. As much as Kamaile loves the spotlight, Kea can’t stand it. Kea has always felt different. She’s the boy we never had. While I don’t care that we go straight to the boy’s section to buy her clothes, other kids her age do. They care that most of her friends are boys and that she loves fishing, playing sports, video games and skateboarding.

You’d think I’d be thrilled to have pre-teen who doesn’t spend hours gossiping or texting. But I’m not. My heart is broken. As much as I tell her I love her, it's not my opinion that counts. I have a daughter who tells me she’s shy because she’s scared people will find out who she really is. I have a daughter who tells me there are people who seem like they want to be friends with her, but she doesn’t reciprocate. And she doesn’t reciprocate because she’s worried that those children reaching out to her will get made fun of once others realize she’s friends with them. She tells me how devastated she is that the one friend, who stuck up for her, just moved to Florida a few days ago. So my daughter reads. And reads and reads. Her friends are characters in books. Her heroes are authors.

For the past few years, one of Kea’s favorite authors has been Matthew J. Kirby, who also happens to be a dear friend. The other night as I lamented about my daughter’s situation, Matt offered to write my daughter a personal letter. He has the power to influence my daughter in ways I never will be able—and not just through his letter but through his books. Children’s writers are heroes. They have the potential power to save lives. I may never impact a child in the way other authors do, but I am proud to call myself a children’s writer.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let's Get the WIFYR Party Started!
Registration is now open for the 2013 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference (WIFYR), held June 17-21, 2013 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. The workshops fill quickly, so those interested should apply soon.

Continuing its tradition of providing helpful instruction from published authors and illustrators as well as presentations by industry professionals, this year’s conference features a keynote address by Utah's Poet Laureate Lance Larsen, workshops by national authors Matt Kirby, Martine Leavitt, Sharlee Glenn, A.E. Cannon, Carol Lynch Williams, J. Scott Savage, Cheri Pray Earl, Kris Chandler, and illustrator Steve Bjorkman. New this year: a full novel class with Mette Ivie Harrison and day-long mini workshops covering a variety of topics including an accredited teacher course, publication for the discouraged writer, and screenwriting. Afternoon-only registration is also available. This year editor Alyson Heller (Aladdin Books),  agent Ammi-Joan Paquette (Erin Murphy Literary Agent), and agent Steven Fraser (Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency) will present at the conference.
Another exciting event this year is the WIFYR Second Annual Writing Contest and Award. The prize is $1,000 and this year, in addition, the winning manuscript will be considered publication with Familius.
For more information, go to

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Wanna Be a Billionaire

So my parents are currently gallivanting around Japan until the end of the year.  They call it a church mission. I call it an extended vacation. Po-tay-toes; Po-tah-toes.

Anyway the other day, my dad sends me this email asking me if I’m a billionaire. He says that he and my mom both need new cars and a beach house in Hawaii.  In his email is this link saying the college I went to ranks 2nd (behind Harvard, of course) for the number of billionaires it has produced.

Bad news: Mom and Dad aren’t getting new cars or a beach house.
Good news: I’m keeping everyone humble by not being a billionaire.

If I'm ever that rich, I think I'm going to buy a really cool robot. And maybe an invisible jet. And Taylor Kitsch.

Also, two things:
1) The latest blog post for the New Visions Finalists is up.  You can find it here.

2) Come to the Dark Days tour at the Provo Library tonight at 7:00pm. BFF Brodi Ashton will be there along with Claudia Gray, Lauren Oliver, Dan Wells, Kiersten White, and Debra Driza. Fun, right?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Revived from the Dead: Showcase Friday

Yes! It’s back: Showcase Friday.  But first, some business. It turns out that my last post with the title XXX-Rated is now the most popular post. That’s a sad state of affairs for our nation.  I can almost hear the disappointment from people who click on the link only to discover that it takes them to my website.

Also, the next blog posts from the New Visions Finalists is up, so you can check it out here. It was actually up last Tuesday, but I am running behind as always.

Anyway, on with the show.  Found this on the kitchen counter.  Silly daughter.  If anything is personal, you should never leave it in the open, or mom will put it on the blog. What I can promise you about our piece today is that she will never speak to me again once she finds out what I’ve done.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Now that I’m sort of getting back into blogging again, there are a few things I’ve learned.

A little while back, I started to get comments that were obviously spam. Thus, I changed the settings so that I had to approve each comment.  Did anyone else realize that this means you have to go in and actually hit this little button that says “approve” before the comment shows up?  Yeah, okay, I knew.  But I keep forgetting.  Sorry if your non-spam comments are not showing up.

But here are some other things that I didn’t know:

1)  I’m fairly popular in Russia and the Ukraine
2)  Most popular post (aka the post that gets the most views) is “Male Strip Show Thanksgiving.” So I’m guessing a lot of pervs out there are doing searches and that particular blog post comes up.  To test the theory, I’m going to name this post “XXX-rated” and check the stats next week.

3)  One of the referring sites to mine is a porn site.  Um, what? Is this because I posted something about a male strip show in which I make it clear that I didn’t actually take my kids to the strip show? How does this happen? How do I make it un-happen?

4)  And finally, I’ve learned that my website is way more popular than my daughter’s. Oh, yeah, baby.  I’m going to rub that one in her face every time she tells me how uncool I am . . . and then I’ll be really nice to her just in case she becomes famous one day . . . and also because I need her for my next book trailer.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why I Wear Waterproof Mascara

A few days ago, Tu Books featured one of my blog posts (check it out here!) They’re sharing information about the finalists, and I and Ailynn Knox-Collins are featured in Part I.  The rest of the finalists are featured here in Part 2.

I can’t tell you how many of my writing friends and authors shared the link via Twitter, Facebook and their own websites. (Sydney Salter, AnnCannon, and Ann Dee Ellis/Carol Lynch Williams. Check them out!) Sometimes I think about my acknowledgements section (if I ever happen to get published) and it’s pretty overwhelming.  I worry that if I write it the way it should be written, it will be as long as the novel itself.

There’s something about the Utah children’s writing community that is amazing.  I’ve never been a part of the writing community anywhere else, but I’d say that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more supportive group. Shannon Hale brought me onto the Writing for Charity conference committee. Ann Cannon has mentored me from the very beginning. Sara Zarr has personally introduced me to many authors. Sydney Salter drove me home from a conference in Idaho, so that I wouldn’t have to buy a flight back home. Matt Kirby has given me many free hours of therapy. Ann Dee Ellis waited outside a door for an hour so she could hand the first pages of my manuscript to an agent. And to my writing group, The SIX (Bree, Brodi, Emily, Kim, & Sara) there are no words.

I feel tremendously obligated to pay it forward even if I never get published.  And if I ever do get published, please know that I will be a complete and utter mess at my launch . . . which will most definitely be at The King’s English because they are the most supportive bookstore I know.

In other news, the Utah Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers is open for registration.  I cannot recommend this conference enough for aspiring writers.