May 23, 2010

It's been three weeks since I posted, but I have several good excuses (good at least in my mind). My last post was about baby cardinals and trying to write a picture book a day. And did I mention that we were in the midst of a painting project?

The cardinals have fledged. I managed to write a rough draft of seven picture books, but the painting goes on. Home improvement projects seem to become more complicated as they progress. We started with walls that needed a new coat of paint, which led to touching up the baseboards and woodwork, which led to new switch plates and heating vent covers. Then the scratches and stubborn drawers on the old dresser glared out at us from the lovely new walls and a new project has begun. We're almost at the finish line, when we'll put everything back together, retrieve clothes and shoes from the living room, hang new pictures, and clean out all the unnecessary "stuff" we've discovered lurking in the dark corners of the closet.

Redecorating is much like manuscript revision. I finish the fourth or fifth draft and realize that my new ending doesn't make sense unless I go back to insert passages and characters, and as I make the necessary "fixes," I realize that other aspects of the story have gone wrong. Somewhere along the line I've changed a character's name or changed the sequence of events so that it no longer makes sense. Each time I read through I find something else that needs sprucing up or a fresh coat of words or action that needs some scratches removed. And, finally, I clean out all the unneeded "stuff" that clutters up the story.

I've just finished "redecorating" HANNAH'S LEAP and have sent off queries to a group of agents who seem interested in middle grade historical fiction. I believe the new HANNAH'S LEAP is the new improved version. I hope an agent agrees to give it a try!

May 2, 2010

Baby Birds and Picture Books

Yesterday we discovered three baby cardinals in the nest outside our kitchen window. Their parents are busy filling those hungry mouths with mushy morsels of worms and other delicacies.

On the same day I began participating in National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee), an undertaking for nutty children's writers. The challenge is to write a picture book a day for one week, beginning May 1. So far, I'm on schedule.

Apparently, so are the cardinal babies.