Thursday, November 12, 2009

Its Rightful Place

The Incomparable Stephanie Perkins posted two great videos on her blog Natural Artificial that both made me laugh very hard. And then...

And then.

She pushed--no reached--too far. She posted a third video that she claimed, let's see, ah yes...


Aforementioned video is entitled "Then he kissed me - Jim Sturgess". Feel free to find it through the above link for comparison or to drool if you're into Hot British Men. Stephanie is, admittedly, the HBM Connoisseur and Writer of Good Words but apparently expert on best video of all time she is not.

I am throwing down the children's book blog gauntlet right now. Certainly if ever such a GREATEST VIDEO EVER (etc, etc) existed it would have two components. FIRSTLY, it would have a timelessness to it (sorry Sturgey) and SECONDLY, it would have Christopher Walken in it. And THIRD, wait there was no third, THIRD, it would be THIS video. Which unfortunately I'm afraid you'll just have to click on through the link because the embedding feature has been disabled.

So there Stephanie Perkins, do your worst. This gauntlet is certainly directed AT YOU! Now if there ARE any other combatants, err, GREATEST VIDEO EVER (etc, etc) claimers, let's have it. Pipe up.

PS Congratulations to Stephanie and my brother for kicking butt in their NANOWRIMO endeavors to date. I wish you the best. Love to hear more success stories for the rest of us writing schlubs.

And finally a photo op from a sorta recent meeting of the minds. Another chapter in the saga of the Watson Brothers take on the children's book publishing world. Amazing what a few late night beer brainstorms will help you come up with. Ninety percent of which would be unfit for children or any civilized society of any sort. But who's counting. We certainly weren't.

Brother collaboration. 34 years in the making.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catching Up

So I've obviously been a little behind. Perhaps some of you have noticed. Perhaps some of you have even started an online petition to get me writing again (ahem, Jaime!). Well all of your kind words is deeply appreciated and also motivating. Wonderful to feel missed.

THE Stephanie Perkins at Natural Artificial has sad a lot of very nice words about me and my book. Stephanie, AKA, The HBM Connoisseur And Writer of Good Words was the last poor soul to get Dubbed. Thank you so much Stephanie. ANYBODY who has or has not yet checked out Stephanie's amazing blog should quit this one and RUN at the speed of DSL over there right now. Wonderful, hilariosity. Thank you Steph. Did I mention that Steph has her first of two novels coming out next year? Already on my Good Reads list (I think, better check).

My pops. Ricardo Jesus Watsonius. Or Richard Jesse Watson did a very nice post about a certain missing blogger son so he put up some of his(my) kid art. Sorry no naked pictures of me in the bath as a baby, but you get the picture. Thanks Dad for reminding me why I write. I appreciate it dad. Thanks pal.

The immortal Effeminator, and high-up member of the Children's Book Cosa Nostra did a very generous and kind post about me. Also known as Jaime, Jaime is starting another really cool looking blog-thing or msn superfan site called Bound, which I haven't completely figured out though did look at it and it is really cool like EVERYTHING Jaime does. Highly encourage you to check out that too. Jaime has a wonderfully hilarious and wicked sense of humor. Enjoy and thank you so much Jaime. By the way, if any of authors are ever doing book signings in Seattle, Jaime's your gal. She has a business helping authors do their book tours, even including muffins. It's called First Edition Media Services and like I mentioned before, Jaime's connected up the yin-yang. I've heard of editors giving Jaime lip before, they had union problems within the week. True story (you know but completely fictionalized).

I'm sure I'm missing some but these will do for now. Really cool guys.

Big News


Hello there blogging pals. Have you missed this mug? I've sure missed you. I'm reading a book right now by Humphrey Carpenter called The Inklings that I borrowed/stole from my dad. How does that relate to missing you?

Well, the Inklings were a group of Oxford professors and other pals, mostly of C.S. Lewis, who got together to read stuff they were writing or to have discussions about all sorts of things. One of these pals was J.R.R. Tolkien and another was Charles Williams amongst a small group of others. They'd read their poetry aloud and Tolkien regularly read from his new hobbit book (not The Hobbit but the sequel of sorts). There was mostly beer, tea or stronger stuff involved and it usually took place in Lewis' Magdalen College rooms or at the "Beer and Baby" pub amongst others.

What I'm getting at is that I've always envied this group of incredibly talented writers that were able to hang out, share things they were working on with each other, and above all, encourage each other as writers. They started off as an informal literary group, and perhaps that was always at the core, but ultimately it was really just a group of sort of like-minded friends all passionate about literature and writing, particularly the idea of mythopoeia, or the making (and power) of myth. "On the other hand there is, the belief shared by Tolkien and Lewis that myth can sometimes convey truth in a way that no abstract argument can achieve: a very important notion behind both men's work, and an idea that was certainly shared in some degree by Williams." (Carpenter, p. 157)

"Blessed are the legend-makers with their ryhme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight..." Tolkien from Mythopoeia

Writing is a solitary battle. Sure there is joy and discovery, but it is also hard work and the promise of daunting criticism and rejection. Which is why I've envied the Inklings. And yet, through this funny thing called the internet, I've found (or been found by) my own Inklings. While it may not be JUST as good as getting to see you in person and shoot the breeze, drink good beer and or/coffee (or tea I suppose) and read our stories aloud to each other, it nearly is. And who knows, maybe we can even have a beer night where we toast each other and submit a piece of anything. Who knows. And for those who don't drink, coffee, ginger ale, or tea work fine too. Maybe this will happen soon. Let me know what you think.

BUT, All this is really saying that I have missed you all and am very glad to be back now.

And in HONOR of the occasion of our reunion, I have brought a tasty piece of news with me for you. You didn't think I'd come back empty-handed did you? In fact, I've sort of been waiting to post until I could share this with you.

The long and short news is that Amy is prego. Yep. The bun is in the oven, her eggo is prego. Been hard keeping that secret, though a couple of you might already know. She just had an ultrasound done (for free love ya Canada) and she's about eight and a half to nine weeks (or so) along. Accompanying the two inch (or so) baby, apparently the boob fairy and the nausea fairy have also visited, though the nausea fairy is much less welcome.

Now, I'm not saying I'm suspicious or anything. But I'll just add that our baby better not come out with a tail and golden fur.

We were very surprised and now are very excited. We, especially me, were still getting used to the whole concept until I saw this.

That pretty much did it for me. This is happening. Whew.

And Amy's reaction after she heard I put her uterus on the world wide web?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09/09/09 09:09 Day

So today in honor of Studly Super Spouse Jarrod's visit on the last comment section and all other awesome spouses of our writing/illustrating community, I have an idea. Let's face it. We just couldn't do it without your encouragement and support. So today on 09/09/09 09:09 day, I'm opening it up to all of you. Tell me about your hunk-a-burning love, your confidant, your best pal. For those not hitched or attached at the hip an any way, tell us about your best pal anyways, whoever they are even if not the romantic kind.

To get us started on this special day, here's something to get us started. Yes I did post a link to the trailer a long time ago, but here's a refresher. Not the best, if you want that I recommend this link here and load the high def trailer. But that's just me. (Dangit just watched the imbedded clip and I think it's cropped a little for some reason. Go to the link for much better preview.)

I'll start.
My best friend also happens to be wife Amy Irene Watson. Well, best if we're excluding our dog, because otherwise they kind of have a co-best friend status with me. Don't worry, the other night Linus and Amy were on the couch (yeah) and I was on the floor (yeah) next to them and she says, "You're the love of my life," in that cute sweet lovey-dovey way. I didn't even have to look to know who she was talking about. After she was done cuddling with Linus, she leaned back on the couch and gave me a "hi, what's up" look. As I gave her my, "you know damn well what look" the lightbulb went on and she gave me a big hug and said, "well, you are too!"

Right. Linus and I know where we stand. Son of a bitch, literally. (this joke never gets old cuz if you don't know and I don't know how you couldn't unless this is your first visit, Linus is our dog-son).

Amy is my live-in writing coach, editor, boss, best pal, encourager, beautiful distraction, task master, gourmet chef, all-pro cuddler, hard ass, muffin ass (it's a Watson thing), goof ass, and resident go-go girl. Amy is a dancing queen and gets fully into it as she dances around the joint. She has a pretty good arsenal of moves too as she grew up as a figure skater. She has some pretty decent Michael Jackson moves. Linus is her dancing partner of choice. They're working on a ball room routine right now.

Amy's a bit on the shy side, though not at all at home or once you get to know her. She is mildly addicted to and The Dog Whisperer. She thinks Bobby Flay, Matt Damon and the Seahawks new tight end, John Carlson are all pretty easy on the eyes. And luckily for me, me too. It's the gap tooth smile, gotta be.

Amy is the best person I've ever known. She's humble and cool and I think we suit each other pretty dang good.

All right now it's your turn. Wanna gush about your stud-muffin or stud-muffin-ette. Now's your chance. Gush away. If you want to include a picture I will post them on the next post. You can email me them at or put them on your own blog and give me a link in the comments section and i'll swipe it.

So gush away. Romantic, interesting, whatever tidbits you want us to know, throw it in. Funny, even better. Happy 9 day everybody. Tell me/us about your lovebug.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


So it's not Saturday. It's Sunday. And I'm late. Deep apologies to those in need of their dubbing fix. Jaime. (yes she constitutes my entire dubbing fan base) Sorry Jaime.

This Dubbee comes all the way from the right coast and the land of Sweet Tea and Krispy Kreme (it originated there). Oh Sweet Tea how I miss you so. And Hot Now, what I wouldn't do to be there for you when you are turned on.

I found out about Stephanie Perkins from reading her comments on somebody else's blog (I think Natalie, a ninja star in her own right) and they drew me to her blog, Natural Artifical where I planned just to give it a glance and a peek but was instead "BVVVVVV tractor beam, sucked me right in." She is funny, very nice, passionate about writing and reading but especially about her HBMs. If you're going to get to know Stephanie you're going to have to also put up with all the HOT BRITISH MEN that are hanging all over her.

One more thing I like about Stephanie? She had the whole country to choose from but she decided to pick the best regional SCBWI conference to attend where she had one of those special magical connections happen with two people, Laini Taylor (you'll just have to read about it, really cool connection with these two, one more reason Laini is awesome) and an agent, Kate Schafer Testerman and so on and now is debuting as a writer with a TWO BOOK DEAL with Dutton (Penguin). Her first novel which I am incredibly excited to read is Anna and the Boy Masterpiece which will be released in Fall 2010 (because it just got bumped UP a year, SWEET!) and her second novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door which overlaps the first book but isn't a sequel. There will be kissing.

Stephanie's writing adventure is very inspiring to me and I encourage you to go read it if you want to feel good about getting published. She is refreshingly honest about her writing struggles over the years and gives some excellent thoughts about the process. And she was a librarian. And has a golden retriever (or is it two dogs?) and I think a cat named Mr. Tumnus... (is this true too?)

So to business.

I BJW, admirer of elephant-sized English Mastiffs and Hot Now gooey Krispy Kreme donuts, do with the deep admiration and another case of funny-clever writing envy, with a shared love of good movies and great books, under great illusion of my own importance and garish ramblings and with utter contempt for any suggestions for self-restraint...


The HBM Connoisseur and Writer of Good Words.

You've earned it. You are now The Authority. Your quest for the betterment of children's books and attractive Brits has enriched us all. We here at I, uh, think I killed my muse think that you very well may outshine us all. To say that I--err--we foresee good things in your writing/publishing future is an understatement. And if I was abandoned and stuck in a fully-stocked and cozy coffee shop for years and could only read ONE blog, out of the oh-so-many great ones that I love, I would read yours. I'm certain that I will enjoy your books just as much. Carry on HBM Connoisseur and Writer of Good Words, the future awaits.

Sorry fellas she's taken by this lucky guy. Though if you're really really good looking and a brooding sort and have the right sort of accent, she may be able to fit you in as a live-in imaginary boyfriend but you probably need some fame to boot. How, let's call him "Jarrod," managed to do this maneuver is beyond me. And yes, that is the Wienermobile.

I really like "Jarrod" and I've never even met him. Apparently he's this sort of guy.

And he rocks. Literally.

Another cool thing about Stephanie. She goes to Boston and the only picture she takes are next to Robert Mcloskey's ducks.

If you haven't yet read Stephanie's blog. DO IT! Warning, it is addictive and there's that tractor beam thing too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Hello long-suffering faithful followers. All right. Maybe no one's been suffering from me not posting since... err LAST Saturday! But I've missed you. I'm neck-deep in a deadline (and sinking!) but will try real hard to appease the masses (read myself).

I'll be back later for a decent dubbing but for now I've got some goodies to share.

First, you know Jim. You met last week at the public dubbing. Well he and Laini's Lip's Touch Three Times now have a book trailer. Enjoy. (let's hope this works)

Here's the coolest bike video I've ever seen. So stinking cool. I hope this works.

That's not a dog. THIS is a dog. - C. Dundee

I've always loved elephants. I blame Babar.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


For some reason, besides the Golden Eunuch (if he even counts), I have not dubbed a guy yet. That changes now.

Today's dubbee comes all the way from Portland, Oregon, one of Amy and I's favorite small-towns that masquerades as a big city. This absolute stud-muffin is sweet, kind, funny, doesn't suck to look at, is incredibly charming, possesses talent up the yin-yang, has great taste, is remarkably humble, hard working and, sorry single folks, happily married. And he's an illustrator.

There's a scene in Superbad (uh oh, just lost half my readers) where Seth tells Evan about a girl he likes, Jules, and why she's out of his league because of who she dated before. "And Matt Muir. Matt Muir? He's like the sweetest guy ever. Have you ever stared into his eyes? It's like the first time I heard the Beatles." That's Jimbo Jabber. AKA Jim Di Bartolo. Go ahead take a good look into his eyes. What do you hear?

If all that isn't enough, I dug up a little more history and found that to make sure that he would shame ALL the rest of us guys for good, he proposed to his wife in Venice.


In a canal.

On a gondola.

Thanks Jim, jerk. My wife used to think I was romantic.

Here's his blog and his website. HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check it out. Incredible artwork. Imagine a hipper, contemporary, comic-influenced NC Wyeth with a touch of film noir and you're getting there.

Jim has done a ton of illustration work for the likes of Arthur A. Levine Books, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Upper Deck Entertainment, White Wolf Publishing, Paizo Publishing and Pacific Bell amongst others (whew) , including the artwork for the incredible Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor who doubles as his awesome wife! And the sequel that I think is out or almost out now, Dreamdark: Silksinger as well as an incredibly cool sounding new teen book collaboration with Arthur A. Levine Books, Lips Touch Three Times by Laini and illustrated by Jim. This is Jim's description of Lips Touch from his website:

It is a collection of two short-stories and one novella written by my wife Laini Taylor. Every story is a tale of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the character's souls. The book is out on October 1, 2009 and has just been selected as one of six YA novels to be featured in the "YA Editors' Buzz Presentation at the Annual National BEA Conference.

Whew. Talk about hot, this couple is taking the children's book world by storm. Talk about buzz too, I hear when they go to conferences now, there is a long line of drool behind them from all the editors following them. Sorta like a slug trail, kinda rainbowey.

But they remain humble as ever, very approachable and just plain sweet. They even have a mellow dog named Leroy. Linus is a Leroy fan.

Jim has expanded his familial role now, but I'll leave that to both of them and their blogs to share all about that. But you can imagine what kind of a dad this wonderful person is.

So to business. It's time.

I, BJW, Murderer of Muses, and Dubber of Dubbees (not to be confused with doobies) do solemnly and with the full official support and endorsement of no professional writing organizations or the writing Gods themselves, do wholeheartedly and with great aplomb and little-to-no shame or any regard to customs or propriety and with great honor...

Do Dub Thee...

The Gentle Bad-Ass Bohemian Warrior Daddy. No one draws/paints guys like you. No
one. Your characters and creations are as tough as you are warm-hearted in real life. While you could certainly do some serious damage if you wanted to, you are a friendly bear and a fine human being and I'm glad to know you. Your illustrations have always strongly affected me and drawn me in. I just can't wait to see what you work on next.

PS I have not given Laini her fair share of public gushing here because this is all about Jimbo, but rest assured I will eventually. This is her blog and website.

Thanks to Jim for letting me swipe his photo and his amazing cover of his new book. Please go check it out yourself. This is the superhero that Jim made at the Superhero Factory. Even looks like him, 'specially the pork chops.

The Talking Potatoes

I'm pretty dang excited. The Talking Potatoes just reviewed our book, The Boy Who Went Ape. I don't care, call me a sucker. But I was more excited about this than maybe anything else that's happened as a result of getting published. Why? Because they're so dang cool. I love Ida and Small and think they're smart, nice, and wonderful. And they read like I eat Snickers. I had the pleasure of meeting the taters once and I can say they are just as charming in person as they are on the world wide web.

I was also very pleased to see the Potato's distant cousins Fry and Tot from Port Townsend review one of the books I loved, Superfudge by Judy Blume and also Bad To The Bone by Lucy A. Nolan. " 'Sup potato yo's" Go check out both of the awesome new Talking Potatoes book reviews. And while you're at it, become their follower. Why the heck not?

The girl book, boy book debate rages on over at Kirby's for the next few days. And promises to heat up, getting to the heart of the Great Debate that has been flying around the kid litosphere.

Stay tuned sometime this evening for the Great Dubbing. It is Saturday after all. And tip-of-my-hat wag-of-my-finger to, wait, that's taken, lick-of-my-finger and swipe-on-the-air-chalkboard to the Seattle Seahawks for having another preseason game tonight at 5. N0w, if you didn't already know, you do know. I'm a Seahawks junkie. Don't ever expect to talk to me on Sundays once the regular season starts. I will be busy. And in a bad mood when (IF) they lose. : )

Does Amy think this guy is really cute? Yes, yes she does. She thinks it's funny that he is a tight end too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hey kid you want a free book? How about a gender discussion?

I wanted to give everyone who enjoys free books a heads up. Kirby Larson is starting her panel on boy/girl books tomorrow around noon. I think she's going to post a portion of the discussion each day. To sweeten the pot, Kirby is also offering a copy of her Newbery Honor book, Hattie Big Sky, to the first person to comment on each post.

My very own signed first edition, to me! : )

Kirby, the book giver-outer and all star blog panel creator.

And some shameless Linus pics at the dog park.

He met Chester who he quickly became pals with. You can barely tell them apart.

Linus is in the back and usually has a ball (and blue collar).

I love dogs.

Why I had nightmares of burning crosses as a kid

I'm very proud of my big brother.

This was us a good while ago, more hair, less fat, less wisdom. Actually, Jesse has been playing soccer like a madman and surfing so much I think he's back to his Junior High weight. Me, I'm sporting the Chris Farley look. I guess that's what happens when you jack up your knee living in the lower forty-eight and work for yourself. Can't afford surgery, can't do any sports at all, or exercise much. So you get fat. Enjoy the rush of chronic pain. It's going on six years or so now. Then you marry a Canadian, move to Canada and voila, horrible, horrible free and excellent health care. Amazing. The same country getting criticized by the ignorant right now about their communist health care might just be my salvation from being chubby. And pain. Cool.

But I digress.

That's the cover of my big brother's new awesome picture book, called I and I.

This post is really about my brother Jesse and how he just had an incredible interview with the School Library Journal that I would encourage everybody to check out.

For any skeptical about Jesse's passion against injustice, I have a couple stories for you. Completely unapproved by said older brother too.

When I was a young boy I used to have nightmares about the KKK coming and leaving burning crosses on our front yard. It's true. Which is weird on a few levels because I'm a white boy, white family, and we lived in gold rush country in Northern California, between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. You wouldn't think I'd have to worry much, or even know much about the Klan. But I was pretty sure they were going to come for my brother.

Why would a young boy worry about such a thing? Well, read the interview and you'll get a much better picture. Before Murphys, we lived in Pasadena, California, where I was born. Jesse's best friend there was African American. And our grandma was a member and activist for the United Nations and a devout feminist. Side note: when we'd bring girlfriends to meet her she'd grill them about their ambitions and views. Thanks grandma.

When Jesse was in Junior High School or High School (forget which) our family watched Cry Freedom, probably prompted by Jess. After the movie was over, Jesse was so mad at the injustice he kicked a whole in the drywall with his Doc Marten combat boots (all the rage). I was impressed and still am. That's passion.

In high school, Jesse was arrested (yeah, you heard me) with his friend because a hotel in Angel's Camp (where our hs was) refused service to a black reporter from the Sacramento Bee and so Jesse J and friend posted signs and picketed out front, just the two of them. Small town cops don't like that kind of thing. Arrested him, threatened him. Read the interview. That's why I dreamed about burning crosses.

When I was in junior high and Jesse (four years older) in high school, our family went on a trip to the Middle East and Europe for two months, one month per. My dad was illustrating a picture book for Ruth Graham, Billy Graham's wife and they sent him to research it. While in Israel we saw both sides of the deep conflict. I think Jesse, being older and more inclined, was deeply affected by some of the camps we saw that the Palestinians were forced to live in. This was around 1988 I believe. We met many Jews, Muslims and Christians and heard so many stories. Our Palestinian guide, Elias, was a personal friend of Billy Graham. He was one of the original boys who found the Dead Sea Scrolls. A respected and honored man. Yet, as an old man he was told by a soldier to pick up rocks and refused, so beaten severely.

I have always looked up to my older brother for many reasons. His lifelong passion for justice and his courage to speak up despite consequences or fear is one part of him that I especially admire. I hope you go read this article and find out more about this great guy and passionate artist.

Here's Jesse's blog and his website. Love you jess. Very proud of you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


So where has the dubber been the last couple weeks? Passed out under a bench, on a top-secret-kid-book-paparazzi mission for Betsy Bird, or planning which children's book author/illustrator will be the next to be Punked (we try to spell correctly around here for fear of the Grammarian Gestapo)?

No. None of these things.

The Dubber was actually working as an indentured writer servant to the great Martha Brockenbrough.

But having cast those chains off, I am back and ready to dub! A hint: Above is my writer's digest shelf of writing books.

This week a certain Cocoa-flavored nom de plume has nominated someone to be thoroughly dubbed. Not just any someone, but a huge SOMEONE in our field. Nothing like aiming high. Here goes...

Alice Pope is a pillar in the children's book field. But it was not always so...

"When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I spent countless hours jumping around on my bed singing into my hairbrush along with my favorite Journey album."
- A.P. from 2006 CWIM

For those of you who haven't yet seen the Writers Digest Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, especially the brand-spanking new one, then drop whatever you're doing and go get one. NOW. Seriously. It's like a ten pound snickers bar, packed with all kinds of great information about publishers and agents, interviews with the best authors and illustrators, and tons of great articles on all kinds of topics. Contests, awards, grants, you name it, Alice Pope has it COVERED.

"Believe. Keep working and sending out your work. Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market is here to give serendipity a hand." A.P. from 2005 CWIM

She was also the guiding light of the SCBWI TEAM BLOG for the annual SCBWI LA conference.

So without further ado, it's business time. I, BJW, officially and with a little bit of rust after a two week hiatus, abiding all informal rites and regulations and with due pomp and circumstance, with zero humility and mass ego, by the powers in-the-vest-on me, with full admiration and plenty of anticipation of the next CWIM,

Do Dub Thee...

The Beacon. As in The Beacon that shineth its light into the seemingly impassable and treacherous waters of Children's Book Publishing. Just imagine the legions of kid's book stories that you have kept off the shoals and out of Davy Jones' Locker and the writers and illustrators you have saved from publishing purgatory. Maybe I should have dubbed you The Pope, or Her Holiness, but no. The Beacon it is, you are.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kirby's girl/boy book panel

Kirby Larson, the incredible northwest author of the Newberry Honor book Hattie Big Sky, has asked me to join a blog panel "discussion" about the boy book/girl book issue.

Other panel members are librarians Jerene Battisti and Nancy Pearl (yeah) and writers Erin Blakemore, Dave Patneaude, Rodman Philbrick, Jon Sciezka, Joni Sensel (WWA SCBWI!), Terry Trueman, and Tyler Larson (NYU film school grad, associate producer at HBO and Kirby's son!).

And me. Talk about out of my league! Whew. There's some pretty talented folks including the Ambassador of Young People's Literature himself, not to mention founder of Guys Read.

Quite an honor to be included in this discussion which should be posted on Kirby's blog in the next week or so. I will certainly link to it when it arrives, but stay tuned.

Hover boards and time-turners

Hey bloggeristas.

Long time no talk. I mean write.

I've been swimming through a couple of deadlines. But I'm back.

I feel like Marty in Back to the Future II, "I know you sent me into the future but I'm back!" Which, I would argue, is one of the worst WRITTEN sequels to one of the BEST trilogies.

Yeah I said it! The writing SUCKS. Oh Robert Zemeckis, why did you make Doc Brown frantically "TELL" us every silly scrap of information to US through Marty. All the fun relationship that happened in the first movie, the smooth flow of information through character and normal dialogue was shanghaied because you were lazy and wanted to concentrate on your hover boards (which are sweet) and Max Headroom Coke diners.

Did I still enjoy it? Yes! But less and less each viewing and cringe at the over-telling. Not to mention the time-trap writers fall into. You know, the don't-F-with-time one. It's like the writer just planted a mine field blindfolded and now has to walk back through it. In Back To the Future PART DEUX, Biff steals the Delorian and goes back and gives the almanac to young Biff. At that moment, time has changed.

But not in the movie. Not until Doc and Marty go back to find it changed. So if Robbie Z followed his own rules this is what would have happened. Instantly, there would be no time machine because in his alternate reality he has Doc Brown committed BEFORE he made a time machine, before he and Marty could be friends and before they could take the Delorian back in time. Or ahead to where Biff steals it. Confused? Me too. But we're just getting started. The future Biff would return to be the Biff who is a casino pimp, EXCEPT he wouldn't be able to because the Delorian would disappear like Marty started to (and his siblings in the photo) in the first movie as they were ceasing to exist.

Whew! Do you see some of the complications of dealing with time travel as a writer? Yet, it calls us like a big fat white whale. J.K. Rowlings couldn't resist the urge and what happened? Soon after they appeared she had the time turners destroyed in book five. I loved The Prisoner of Azkaban and all things Harry Potter, but I could've done without time-turners. Because as my clever nephew Clay said, "So why doesn't Harry go back and take care of Voldemort or why doesn't Voldemort go after the NUMEROUS time-turners instead of wasting his time with the prophecy which was MORE inaccessible in the Department of Mysteries. Why couldn't a lot of things happen like Harry saving or warning his parents before they were killed or God knows what else.

But, despite the implications that she was opening up, she did a first-rate job on her plunge into time travel. Then promptly abandoned it. So did Back to the Future I and the third.

What do you think? When has time travel been used well and when should it never have been attempted?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cuppa Dan Santat

Jolie Stekly, aka Cuppa Jolie, generously asked before the LA SCBWI conference if there was any questions that we wanted her to get to the bottom of.

She didn't disappoint. And neither did Dan Santat, Lisa Yee, or Jaime Temairik.

Check this out. But only if you want to laugh.

And yes, Dan does give a shout out to Darth Watson, his/my "little light saber pen" and his/my book with the Blue Sky Press. And if anyone hasn't heard yet, Dan and Lisa have a pretty cool book coming out with a pretty cool editing team (Cheryl Klein wasn't there but was the *CO-editor with Arthur Levine), Bobby vs Girls (Accidentally). I met Dan like five years ago at the LA SCBWI just before his The Guild of Geniuses came out (really fun book). I recently asked him to be a friend on facebook, and despite him being famous now and meeting thousands of writers, he still remembered me and even details about me. Cool guy. I also met Lisa Yee at the same conference, when I think Millicent Min: Girl Genius was winning the SCWBI Sid Fleischman humor award (well-deserved, loved it).

I highly recommend both of these cool people's books and blogs. Both are so funny. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wet yourself. Just see Dan's dance instruction, Comic Con trip and pictures or Lisa's pal Peeps, who attacks certain Editors (now agent) like Mark McVeigh (also really nice and talented guy) and slips manuscripts to editors under bathroom stalls.

* This is a correction from my earlier post. I mistakenly mislabeled Cheryl as the main editor, when Arthur was the editor too! Sorry Arturo!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rainy Day

I've missed the rain.

Too much sunshine makes us hermit-writers a little cranky.

My Tree Monster missed it too. He looks pretty happy.

If you missed it here's my Tree Monster post.

Oh, and I'm very happy about a new addition to an incredible family. You are a cutey-pie Clementine. Welcome to this wonderful world. There is sad stuff but lots of wonderful stuff too when you look around, like you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My contribution to science

Hello friends. Today I'm taking a minor detour from kid's books to share an amazing scientific discovery. I don't want to say that I'm following in the footsteps of Newton or Edison or anything, but I can tell you they both wear size ten shoes.

Does anybody else ever mix cereals? I know it sounds dangerous but I have discovered an amazing natural (sorta) phenomenon. Ready? Here it is:

1) Pour one half large bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios

2) Pour one half large bowl of Life cereal on top of it

3) Pour generous portion of milk (yes I do chew my fingernails too short)

4) Use spoon, take generous deep spoonfuls and eat

It usually takes about four-plus spoonfuls for the HN Cheerios and the Life to completely trade places.


And lastly, my obligatory, shameless Linus picture.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Country mouse visits the nuclear reactor Part four hundred and, I mean four

With so many of my pals heading off to their own awesome conference in LA that I wish I was attending, here's my next installment from Haystack.

Also because Jaime T so nicely and publicly reminded me before her interview with Marla that I said I would. Good call Jaime!

Marla Frazee arrived at the Haystack (Reed) conference at the end of the first day. Why the tardiness? Because she's a prima donna that insists on things like having exactly 432 blue M&M's in a crystal dish, laid on a peach towel with an embroidered silhouette of Michael Jackson on it and not arriving until exactly three-quarters of a day late?

No. Not her style.

She was late because she flew STRAIGHT from Chicago and the ALA convention, where she received the Caldecott Honor Medal, to Portland and our conference.

I was eating dinner when she floated in, two feet above the ground. Silver halo etched into the
air above her. Little permanent smile. Dreamy eyes. We all huddled around her table to hear every little detail which she shared in typical humble and honest Marla fashion, answering every single one like we were as important as Betsy Bird or Jaime Temairik.

We were so caught up, finally the Reed cafeteria did the subtle turn-the-lights-off thing. Marla's silver halo glow lighted our way.

Imagine a very hardworking and deserving dark, curly-haired Cinderella being whisked up from her writing studio with paint smudges still on her face by her fairy librarian, magically slipped into a beautiful gown with cool shoes (apparently that's important to girls because there were a ton of questions about those), with pumpkin limos, beautiful hotel rooms and, of course, a magical night to remember. It was all on her face before she said a word.

But as magical as the night was and how it seems so sudden by the pomp and the event, the truth is that Marla has been working very hard for a long time. It didn't just happen. She made it happen by working passionately at something she loves.

Marla doodles.

ALL THE TIME. She said that she's never been able to concentrate in lectures or anything unless she is doodling. Though I don't think you can really call it doodling. I could take Marla's notebook from the conference and sell it right now on the black market for oodles. Doodles for oodles. (no really, make me an offer, sale on the caldecott shoes too)

Doodling is contagious too. Sitting next to her I started doodling and she would be very nice and complimentary which felt great, until I'd look at her doodle. Yeah, humbling.

My bear.

Notice the fuzzy, insecure lines. Marla's were razor sharp.

And my attempt at my Maestro character I've toyed with.
As you can see, not working out.

So I turn to the Caldecott Honor recipient and somebody who teaches illustration at Art Center and other prestigious places for help with my doodle.

I hope this reads. But she wrote, "Bigger rounder head. No neck. Lower the eyes." Then did the two-second, light pencil sketch at the bottom right as an example.

What does she know right? So I tried.

Nearly there.

Voila. Maestro!

At the faculty reading, Marla shared a book that should come out next year (I think) that is amazing. I foresee very great things from this book. You heard it here first, I'm calling it. NY TIMES BESTSELLER.

But Marla was having a difficult time reading from the dummy and turning the pages.

Who, oh who, could rescue her? Who would be qualified enough to turn the pages?

Duh, de, de, daaaaah!

Our hero.

Yes, Patron Saint of struggling authors and page-turners, Arthur A Levine to the rescue.

Afterwards, Arthur gushed about how he didn't even have to look to know where the page turns were (note to pic bk writers). Arthur's opinion on the book was something rhyming with:
Freaking Awesome.

And then they snogged.

I figured this photo might be able to land on the children's book smut tabloids. But I don't think there are any. Besides this blog I mean.

At some point in the near-ish future, I am going to give a whole post just to Arthur and how much he helped me at the conference and as a writer.

This post is my attempt to share what a cool, wonderful person Marla Frazee is. She has selflessly shared with many writers and illustrators both praise and direction. Classy, talented, stylish, friendly and funny. I've been a fan of Marla for a very long time and consider her a friend. Real proud of her too.

She'll be at the LA conference and is not intimidating, except for being so pretty. If you have an avocado she'll like you even more.

If you haven't yet checked out Marla's books, you're in for a treat. And if you look at her website, check out her awesome studio underneath an avocado tree. Really touching story about that. But I really wouldn't do it justice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zombie and other Interviews

In case you haven't already heard, vampires are so spring 2009. What's the new rage nowa-today?
Zombies. Wonderful, wonderful Zombies.

As of today (and yesterday, come to think of it), Jaime Temairik , aka CocoaStomp, has left all other blogs behind by revolutionizing the art of the interview. Taking a page from the trendsetting Talking Potatoes, Jaime has raised the ante again with her SCBWI Team blog exclusive interview with the likes of Dan Yaccarino, David Weisner, Dan the man Santat, and the classiest artist around, Marla Frazee.

I laughed, I cried, I snorted. Clever-funny Jaime has outdone herself. Check it out.

Not to be outdone, Jolie Stekly at Cuppa Jolie, brought her own big gun out with another SCBWI Team blog interview with Newbery Winner Karen Cushman. Jolie is also nicely including any of us in her trip to the LA SCBWI conference by packing us in with her toothpaste. Right now she is taking any and all questions that we want her to hunt down while she's there. SCBWI in pj's? You bet! I'm in.

Kirby Larson is doing another excellent interview with Karen Cushman over at Kirby's Lane, A Place for Readers and Writers. Isn't that a great blog name? I love it. Makes me want to take my shoes off, drink some iced tea and stay awhile.

One more great interview, is by Amy Baskin at Euphoria. She's interviewing the talented and smiley author, Heather Vogel Fredrick.