Monday, August 10, 2009

MILO and his Editors

After a 2 month absence from blogging I am back. Wish I could explain away my lack of posting because of travels to mysterious and exotic locales - but the truth is I have been busy working hard on getting MILO into the kind of shape he needs to be shaped into.

I keep pinching myself about how lucky I am to be working with my wonderful team at Aladdin; Liesa Abrams, editor extraordinaire is helping me edit the story into a trimmer tighter tale. Not only is she brilliant at story, she is that rare breed of editor who is careful to couch any "cutting" comments with positive and sensitive spin. She couldn't possibly be more respectful of my story. 

I am also having a ton of fun working with Karin Paprocki, the art director on MILO. Together we have been redesigning the 4 main characters of the book and though at first it was really hard for me to have to reimagine what Milo looked like...

(old Milo designed on the adolescent "me" who lived this story)

...I am now really happy with what he looks like (see top of post!) The back and forth of sketches and the discussions that followed is not only helping define the look of all the cartoons but helped us see Milo as the kind of main character kids will relate to in a visual way. Sure it was hard to change how I saw the character - afterall, I'd been doodling him  for over a year. But again, I am blown away by the careful way Karin has been directing her comments to me about what makes one drawing work better than another. And like I said, the end result is wonderful.

What strikes me is how much everyone behind the book is BEHIND the book (and respectful of my process).

With publication just a year away and deadlines for final text and artwork coming soon - I am swimming in the fun part of making a book, my Milo!

Monday, May 25, 2009


I see the Snoopy dance in my head as I write this post. I just got the edit notes from Aladdin and feel like dancing in tight circles with my head in the air. Of course no one (and I mean NO ONE) wants to see me actually dance - so doin' THE MILO will have to express it for me.

I am so lucky. I have a wonderful agent who helped introduce MILO to the one editor he needed to meet. I am even luckier because that one editor is the most amazing, generous, intelligent person I have encountered in my travels in Book-land. Did I mention her love of Batman? Talk about icing on the cake!

I am still reeling from the notes. By the way, it's the good kind of reeling because I'm knocked out by the positive feedback and praise of my writing. And because this story is so personal to me - praise for the story is affirmation on a monumental level. A healing is taking place and it's a deep, deep wound.

I have nothing to complain about even the notes that say "lose this", "tighten that", "show don't tell"(ugh - I'm such a teller). Gracious. She is more than that because her notes also read "heartbreaking", "beautiful", "amazing". I know, it's like being back in high school where you scan the margins of your paper looking for the red check-marks, praying not to see the dreaded BLACK PEN. But Doin' The Milo means basking in the glow of being a writer and right now that means moving through the maze toward the next step - EDITING.

I have to just say that I feel so fortunate to be playing the part of the writer in this chapter of my life. I am also infinitely grateful for my agent and in love with my editor (platonic and healthy love that is).

Last - I'm just plain psyched and since you all can't see me - I might just do THE MILO right here and now!...Oh yeah!

Friday, May 15, 2009


How is it possible that it is now mid-May and my last post was in March? I think the answer is pretty simple: I was kidnapped by Zombie aliens who confiscated my computer and forced me to watch episodes of Nanny 9-11 until my eyes bled.

Either that, or I've had the blog-blahs. Symptoms of BLOG-BLAHS are easy to spot, by the way. Aching brain, calloused fingers, numerous deadlines safety-pinned to a shirt as constant reminder to HURRY UP AND DO all the things that need to be DONE!

The good news of being a writer is often the bad news: Open ended days filled with too many distractions and free wi-fi. The lack of structure is really no excuse NOT to blog (or to get any of my work done) and the thought does occur to me that building a "Blogging hour" into my day would actually resemble (gasp) STRUCTURE. Still, I go through periods when there's just too many hours in a day - and work that needs attention...and rather than my being able to attack that huge pile I get overwhelmed by it all and end up watching TV and wondering when the elves will appear to do the work for me.

But I forget that sometimes this "down time" (which can often stretch on and on) is actually okay. It's okay to let ideas live their own lives while I go for a metaphorical long walk (or an actual one!). Sitting idle is part of the life I've created. And when I raise my head above the water - I am able to see that the couch need not be a feared thing - but a necessary comfort. Idle hands is the devil's work - but an idle mind is often a writer's creative down-time when ideas simmer and gestate and often emmerge, if not fully-formed, but fattened-up and full of energy.

But I am looking on the positive side. I'm writing this post, and I'm not even doing it while on the couch, which means my brain is ready to rock and the creative vacation it took (while I was lost in the woods of worry) is now over. It's time to work again. To write again. To express myself and be part of the world again.

What I love about the writer's life is that it's a beautiful Friday morning and I am sitting in a wonderful Montreal cafe doing my "job". Letter by letter. Word by word. Off the couch and ready to embrace the world I've made!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Spring. A false promise when you live in Montreal where the groundhog shrugs in February and doesn't even bother checking on his shadow. Spring just lingers on the sidelines as the long days full of sunlight trick us into thinking the warmth will soon follow. And it will follow. But it will be in May.

Spring. A busy time for me. MILO is now in front of me and as I jump in with my fabulous editor at Aladdin, Liesa Abrams, I get to re-visit the story and fix my boo-boos and strengthen some of the connective fiber that feels a tad flabby.

What I am loving is getting my cartooning muscle back into shape as I add and fix the cartoons that make Milo the special project that it is. I love the feeling. And love how my narrative can stop and then a cartoon makes the punctuation mark. Like in this cartoon from MILO - where he and his friend Hilary have just had a heavy talk and then Milo sees some older kids and wishes he could be as cool and wear a wool cap all year long...

...and then back in the narrative Milo gets it. And vows to burn all his wool caps when he gets home.

Being busy is a good thing. And watching your work grow and bloom is a springtime gift even if I still have to wear my winter coat. It's springtime in my office. And for now, that's good enough for me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Exciting news! I just found out that the Thurber House has announced this year's Children's Author in Residence which means I must yield the crown I was lucky to wear this past year.

Hope Anita Smith - author, poet, recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for her book "The Way A Door Closes" will be moving into the attic apartment written about in Thurber's story "The Night The Bed Fell". It's also the attic where I spent four amazing weeks last summer - and though no beds fell on me, I fell in love with it.
I am excited to hear all about the advenures Hope has this summer while continuing the tradition that Shelley Pearsall, Sam Swope, Lisa Yee and I all shared. The Thurber House Children's Author in Residence is a truly unique experience run by such caring, nurturing people who do everything humanly possible to make sure you to use the time to fulfill your creative needs as a writer. The only obligations (I called them the bonus stuff) are the weekly writing workshops the resident gives to kids in the Thurber Writing Camp and the workshops at the Dowd Family Center.

Three cheers for Hope - May her summer be productive and filled with the magical sound of the summer cicadas as they serenade her muse as they did mine....oh yes, and may the Thurber ghosts welcome her with open arms too!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


For anyone who DIDN'T watch the movie I wrote on the Disney Channel - DADNAPPED - (and not having kids between 8 - 14 is no excuse!), the plot revolved around a famous author who writes books featuring a super-cool teen James Bond-type named TRIPP ZOOME.

A TRIPP IN TIME, ZOOME TIME/BOOM TIME, and TRIPP'S LAST TRIP are just a few of the books my Dad character wrote featuring the self-assured sleuth. These books are big stuff and fans just can't get enough of the former dentist's crazy plots and frequent use of dental floss as a deterrent.

What's been fun since the movie's been airing is I'm getting lots of searches for "Tripp Zoome Books". Seems kids are curious how they can read the same books that inspire my teen heroes in the film. Though the plot is light and silly - one thing I'm proud of is I created teen characters who love to read. Books are important to the story and okay - this movie isn't winning an Oscar, but "Reading Rocks" is definitely one of the messages.

Maybe reality should follow fiction and I should write the books that I wrote about in the movie...

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It's time. After 2 years - 4 drafts - numerous notes - and who knows how many hours in edit suites (probably tons) - the movie that I wrote for the Disney Channel will be airing Monday night at 8:00pm e.s.t.

It's exciting to know that the characters I made up and the story I plunked them into will finally be alive and in color and the subject of online debate and comments from tweens all over the world.

DADNAPPED began as a one sentence idea I had years ago: What if a girl had to compete for her father's attention with a fictional character that the father felt closer to.

In the movie - Melissa (played by the wonderful Emily Osment from Hanna Montana) despises that her father's success as an author comes from the series of books that feature Tripp Zoome, a super-slick teen James Bond type of kid who is so popular fan-conventions are devoted to him. Dragged along on a vacation with her dad, Melissa is confronted by her fictional nemesis, Tripp Zoome, when her father makes a "quick stop" at a Zoomer Convention, where he gets kidnapped by a bunch of teen fans desperate to prove they are Zoome Worthy!

Forced to prove she is just as clever as "Tripp" Melissa teams up with some Zoome-maniacs and figures out how to get her father back!

I haven't seen the movie yet - but the trailers look fun and the Disney Channel is promoting it as part of their "Night Of Stars". I'll be watching Monday night.

Hope you will be too!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Nuff said: It's C-c-c-c-old!!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009


In the spirit of a year that will no doubt be marked by CHANGE in many corners of my world (personal, professional and political) I sit freshly scrubbed in 2009 with an open mind and brain full of ideas just waiting to be played with.




In my wiser, older age I have found that my creative self is getting pretty good at setting goals and then working towards them... and actually (sometimes) making them come to life! These Frankensteinian shouts of "It's alive!" are becoming the part of the process I most enjoy because nothing feels better than writing something unless it's when that "something" actually gets produced, published, etc. But despite a short streak of actualizing my goals - I buck the new year trend by NEVER making year-starting resolutions that just seem to dangle over my head like sharp axe blades waiting to cut me down.

That is why I am happy to share with you all....

1) I will post daily in my blog
2) I will post weekly in my blog
3) Sometime during the month a blog post will be written and it will hopefully be written by me
4) I will wake up at 5:00 a.m. to write
5) I will wake up at 6:00 a.m. to write
6) I will stay up after everyone has gone to bed and write
7) I will go to gym every day
8) I will learn how to invest more wisely
9) I will eat only the foods that are good for me, my writing or my blogging
10) I will never ask the owner of my favorite cafe to stop playing awful music while I am trying to think (this because right now the Billie Holiday just switched to something akin to Hendrix)

Happy New Year to you all - and may all your own resolutions work out for you...or not!