Pitching Your Manuscript: How and Why

October 12, 2016

The day after I recorded my class video with Julie Kingsley for The Manuscript Academy, I realized (with horror!) (or just annoyance) that I’d forgotten to talk about pitching. I almost called Julie and told her to come back so we could record more, but then decided, hey, I’ll do it myself. It’ll be a bonus video.

Pitching! It’s super important, and also kind of scary. In this video, I talk about five reasons you need to write pitches:

1. A pitch is a mission statement for your story.

2. If you are having trouble writing a pitch for your story, it means there’s a problem with the story.

3. A pitch gives you an answer to the question, “What’s your story about?”

4. You’ll need a pitch for social media pitch events.

5. Your agent and editor can use your pitch in submission letters and promotional materials.

And then I talk about the formula (SECRET FORMULA!) (or not secret at all, actually) I use for writing pitches, and give you some examples.

I hope this helps any of you pitchophobes out there. And if you like this video, you’ll love the class I did for The Manuscript Academy, which is me sitting on this same couch talking in the same way, but for way longer, and with better lighting and done with a much better camera.




August 31, 2016

I was asked by the amazing Ounce of Prevention Fund to join the #ShareYourWords campaign. The Ounce of Prevention focuses on early childhood education and “gives children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life by advocating for and providing the highest-quality care and education from birth to age five.”

Watch the video to see what my favorite word is, and then make your own video and let me know what your favorite word is!


CATEGORIES: books, Uncategorized

VIDEO: Snappsy is the perfect book for every occasion!

June 24, 2016

Have you been wondering if my book Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) is the right book for you? Or for your horse-loving nephew? The neighbor kid who wants to be in the CIA? Your son who loves baseball? That 8-year-old you know who is planning on joining the circus? Your farmer uncle? Your aunt the accountant? The college professor you always see at the bus stop? That weird old guy on the corner who threw an apple at you once?

The answer to all of these is YES. Don’t believe me? Look here:

(Many many thanks to my children, Sherman’s Books in Portland, and Josh Christie for helping me with this silliness.)


CATEGORIES: books, Snappsy

Video: The Truth (or Not) About the Writing Process

April 6, 2016

When I meet with students, I try to convince them that being a writer is not easy. That I don’t sit down at my desk and words flow from me effortlessly. I also try to convince them that I’m not rich. I don’t have a butler. I don’t live in a mansion.

They don’t always seem convinced.

Mostly I tell them all this because I didn’t know it when I was a kid. I thought authors were magical fairy wizards who lived in castles made of jewels. Or, I guess, mostly I thought authors were either dead or millionaires.

I didn’t know writing was something anyone could do.

Want proof of what the writing life is really like? Here’s a (mostly true) video about how I came up with the idea for Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book). It involves a lot of coffee, terrible story ideas, and procrastinating.


CATEGORIES: Snappsy, writing

We Love Picture Books!

July 10, 2013

A week ago, we were lucky enough to be featured on Candlewick’s year-long We Believe in Picture Books video project!

Want to know what books we’re grabbing for? They are, in order:

Baby Penguins Everywhere by Melissa Guion

Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

The Pet Project by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

PSSST! by Adam Rex

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

Steadfast Tin Soldier by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jen Corace

Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex

How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure

Betty Bunny Wants Everything by Michael Kaplan, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird, illustrated by Brandon Dorman

I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Thanks to Carter Higgins, Betsy Bird, and Rosemond Cates for putting our video on their blogs!


CATEGORIES: books, Julie

Henry and Eli make a video

August 13, 2012

So, what do you get when you add two Star-Wars-obsessed kids, Legos, and a video camera? This. (Also: I feel the need to mention that they haven’t actually seen any of the Star Wars movies. So this is their version of Star Wars via, you know, book learnin’.)



Happy Birthday, Zuzu!

June 14, 2012

Today we fete Zuzu, who is now 4 (and also celebrate this fun brief time when, until August, we have kids who are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old). We are making cherry cupcakes today, since apparently cherry cupcakes mean birthday. For her birthday dinner she requested:

  • meatballs
  • broccoli, for the people who want broccoli
  • carrots, for the people who want carrots, not me though, make sure you put down ‘NOT ZUZU’
  • smoothies
  • berries
  • salad for the grownups
  • bread with butter.

Sounds good to me. And I’ll leave you with this, which you’re going to have to view as a rare white unicorn glimpsed in the forest (I used to say “it’s like seeing Snuffleupagus” until I found out that now everyone can see Snuffleupagus). Zuzu often picks up a book, and reads it to herself in this incredibly hilarious (to us) fashion, making up the story based only loosely on the pictures and more on what people are saying near her at the time, and whatever else might be going through her head. We all, all of us, here, love watching her do this, BUT…if she knows she’s being watched, she stops immediately. Last week I saw her reading to herself in this manner, and tried to get a video, but I was too far away, and next to the humming aquarium, so you can’t really hear her. But you can get a sense of the drama involved, perhaps. (The drama of her reading, I mean.) (Though also maybe I mean the drama of stalking my children as I hide amongst the furniture, careful not to disturb them in their native habitat.)



Ramona’s birthday recap

May 30, 2012

Here’s Ramona (and Zuzu) on her birthday, playing with her excellent new trolley bus toy that my mom got for her at the Clark. She also has a new yellow bunny from Susan and the best, softest, cutest doggie ever from Rope Swing Studio.

And what better way to celebrate a dog-loving girl’s birthday than with a dog-shaped cake? Thanks to Martha Stewart for the recipe (cake here and frosting here) and templates and to Adriane for the extra-large pastry tip.

In retrospect, this cake was a bit much. It took the better part of the day to make and, as you can see, is the size of an actual dog. Still, it was kind of fun. And yummy.

And how old are you, Ramona?


CATEGORIES: Julie, Ramona


November 30, 2011

Here’s Zuzu, in response to “how old are you?” I’m also posting this video so you can all think, “Oh, at least my house isn’t as messy as hers.”


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It’s all about the nod

November 18, 2011

There is something so, so cute to me about pre-verbal toddler nods and head shakes. They’re so excited, so happy: “I can tell you what I mean! I can say yes to milk, and no to socks!”

I wanted to get a video of a Ramona nod before the opportunity passed me by and she was suddenly 15. I’m still subtitling Zuzu, but she’s way more understandable than she was in January.


CATEGORIES: Ramona, Zuzu
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