Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good gracious. Here it is two weeks into 2013 and, I swear, we were all in a snit about Y2K just yesterday. How time flies when we're all so busy trying to make a living, get dinner on the table, and find something decent to watch on TV!

My old year ended badly when a precious friend unexpectedly died. I'll feel her loss for a long time to come, but she would want me to move past my sadness and celebrate all that's good in life, so I'm going to try and focus on that.

There’s a lot to celebrate! First off, I finally finished the rewrite of a novel I've been working on for two solid years. Secondly, after a long, exhausting stretch of self-representation, I've signed with Hartline literary agent Diana Flegal, the warmest, bubbliest person I've encountered in a long time. We met this summer, clicked immediately, and I'm looking forward to her guidance as we take my career into the fiction arena. What a transition to go from poetry to prose! Index cards have become my new essential writing tool as I try to keep track of hair color, eye color, middle names, favorite games, and repetitive words—ten chapters out!

Speaking of games, that's my third—and biggest—piece of news. En route to fiction, I took time out for a nonfiction project that sort of fell into my lap: my newest book, THE ART OF STONE SKIPPING AND OTHER FUN OLD-TIME GAMES comes out February 1st from Imagine Publishing, an imprint of Charlesbridge Publishing. The first review is a good one, so I'm crossing my fingers and holding my breath. Of course, if it never sells a single copy, writing it was a great experience; I had an editorial dream team (thank you, Charlie Nurnberg and Kate Ritchey!), the graphic artists totally captured the spirit of the text (thank you, Todd Dakins and Melissa Gerber!), the research was fascinating (who knew there's a World Egg Throwing Federation?!), and my sales reps are awesome.

We Girls Raised in the South (better known as GRITS) are taught from our earliest days that it's bad manners to draw attention to oneself, but in today's publishing world, there's about a 6-week window that determines if a new book will flop or fly, so I'm asking—in my most ladylike way, of course—for your help in making the most of that window. STONE SKIPPING is a collection of instructions and variations on every kind of game you can think of—from scavenger hunts and shadow puppets to jacks and Johnny on the Pony—plus all sorts of fun history and trivia in between. It’s a wonderful resource for schools, libraries, youth groups, Scout groups, teachers, activity directors, and families. Check it out at http://www.imaginebks.com/children/ArtofStoneSkipping.html,  at your favorite local bookstore, or at any of many online booksellers. If you think it sounds worthwhile, would you please spread the word to anyone you think might enjoy owning it or selling it? THE ART OF STONE SKIPPING AND OTHER FUN OLD-TIME GAMES is available in paperback ($14.95) and as an e-book ($9.99). Watch for it February 1st, pre-order it now, and if you're interested in doing a review, let me know and I'll get a copy in your hands.

I hope your year is off to a good start, too. Stay tuned; I have a feeling more great things are just around the pike!

P.S. If there’s a great bookstore, toy store, or gift shop in your town, ask them to contact me about a signing event!