“Big News”: The post everyone wants to write

SigningContract2018There are a lot of milestones you might dream about in life — getting your first job, getting engaged, having a child, etc. For a writer, one of the biggest milestones of all is getting your first book contract.

After submitting manuscripts to agents and editors for over ten years (part-time…I do have a full time day job as a teacher and a parent to two kids after all!), I’m thrilled to announce that my debut picture book, THE GREAT HOLIDAY COOKIE FIGHT, will be published by Pelican Publishing Company.  I don’t have a release date yet, but since it’s a book for the winter, a friend recently asked if it would be out in time for her Christmas shopping this year!  If you know anything about the publishing industry, you’ll join me in a big laugh about THAT one!  Long story short…I’ll let you know!

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How to Make Friends and Influence People: PB Reviews

20180908_123424We’re back to school, folks! That means my book review posts may be slightly less frequent as I focus time on my teaching and steal away a bit for writing and submitting. However, I carved out a bit of time this weekend to read some fabulous new books– most out within the past few months! There’s a thread of similarity running through them as they all have to do with relationships, emotions and fitting in– highly appropriate themes for back to school! Enjoy!

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I got this! Picture Book reviews for the insecure writer…

books27aug18As a teacher, I head back to school Wednesday for faculty meetings and training. It’s been a great summer with lots of reading, writing and adventures with the kids from our annual “Summer Fun List.” I even spent time cleaning out the basement! While I adore teaching, it’s always hard to fit everything in once things kick off, so here’s another set of PB reviews before it’s truly crazy. In today’s batch I focused on books by authors who do NOT illustrate their own works. As it happens, these books also serve as some great mentor texts and inspiration. Seeing all those talented author-illustrator combos can sometimes be intimidating, but it’s not the only way to succeed. We’ve got this! Enjoy!

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8 Things I want you to remember about my Daddy:

FrankBigLakeThis weekend we held the memorial services for my Dad, Frank Manzer, who died last week after many years of ill health. I know this blog is usually about the craft of writing and language, but writing is also about memories and emotion. So I thought I would share the words I delivered at his service yesterday, because my Dad taught me a lot about the craft of writing, both explicitly, and by giving me a childhood filled with the kinds of experiences which have provided a lifetime of writing material:

When I was a little girl and we visited “Gramp Manzer,” my Dad’s dad, he was always sitting in a chair being gruff and quiet. I heard stories about how active he had been– he was a “good man, once,” people joked, but it was hard to believe of someone so frail. Meanwhile “MY DADDY” was a Paul Bunyan of a man (though much shorter), who could do anything. Years later, at the end of his life, I knew my own dad had become that same frail man to his grandchildren. So there are a few things I’d like you to remember about my Daddy– some things you might not know about him if you just knew him as a grumpy old man sitting in a chair watching Gunsmoke and the Red Sox. (Cause he certainly was that, too!)

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Writing your Culture: Products, Practices, and Perspectives

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Ever seen an asparagus peeler? (The tool, not the person). Father & son peel white asparagus during ,,Spargelzeit”–an important season in Germany.

Being both a language teacher and a writer, I’m thrilled about the momentum of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and  #ownvoices movements. Just as kids deserve to see themselves on the page, we all deserve to learn about new experiences, foods, and ways of interacting with the world! That’s why most of us grew to love reading in the first place.

The tricky bit is writing about a culture in a way that makes those within that culture feel validated without alienating others. How? Read on…

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Beyond Disney : Five Grimm Fairy Tales you probably don’t know.

3887437683_429851956b_z‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ – Albert Einstein

I’m taking a slight departure from picture book reviews today to talk about fairy tales. As a German teacher, and former college professor, I’ve spent a lot of time with fairy tales — teaching the history of the Grimm brothers and their collection of the folk tales handed down in oral tradition as well as the literary fairy tales of the Romantic movement with their intricate tales of madness. Then of course, there are the Disney adaptations with all the blood and violence stripped out, and the marvelous modern re-tellings which turn expected norms on their ears and put familiar characters in diverse new settings.

I read aloud to my kids every night and we’ve done Harry Potter, Narnia, Percy Jackson and many other series, but I thought I’d take a break and pull my “Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales” off the shelf. The boys appreciate hearing a story from start to finish in one night (another perk of picture books!) and I’m ashamed to admit I never read the boys many fairy tales when they were little. We’re avoiding the old standby tales like Snow White and Cinderella (even though the original Grimm versions are much more exciting and bloody) in favor for a few of the obscure ones I discovered in graduate school and often use in my teaching.

So come with me and explore a few stories which deserve way more attention than they’ve been given by “mainstream media:”

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