Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tag---I'm It!

I'd never heard of "8 Things Meme" until this morning, when Gregory K. swept me into the game (oh, the things people will do to play on the internet!). Here are the rules:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

So, for all of you who are just dying to learn some tidbit factoid about me (and I know there are tens, perhaps teens of you), here you go:

1. I've hiked from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney in one trip (5 weeks), and of course, kept a daily journal.

2. I once knocked out a 2nd Degree Black Belt at a Women's Self-Defense Seminar (this was before I took any TKD lessons).

3. I hate math. Just seeing math problems makes my stomach "go acrobatic."

4. I kiss cats (but not stranger cats, just those in my family).

5. Dinosaurs fascinate me.

6. I have a stuffed monkey who screams and whoops when I squeeze his paw. I only squeeze it when I get a contract offer. He's a good luck charm from my husband.

7. My favorite time of day to write is between 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM, in my dimly lit office, with a cup of hot coffee in front of me and my cats snoozing away nearby.

8. I can cook one mean Thanksgiving dinner. Rachael Ray, watch out!

Okay, here's the hard part--hmm...which friends do I want to list? I hate doing these kinds of things, which is why you should never send me a chain letter (another fact to know about me). Let's tag (see how I made it plural, incorporating readers into it, like it's beyond my control), Robin and Mary at Shrinking Violets Promotion, and of course, Greg Trine (AKA, Melvin Beederman), and Kristen Kofsky (who just recently started her blog--welcome, Kristen!). That's only four, but oh well!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Blackberry Bush By Any Other Name

One of the reasons I started this blog was because in January I sold a picture book manuscript, The Blackberry Bush, to Sylvan Dell Publishing. I thought it would be interesting to journal, via a blog, what will happen AFTER I sell a story. So today I'm going to give an update of what's happening with my manuscript (and I apologize for putting all of this in one post--I should have been doing this all along).

In March, Donna German (my terrific editor at SD), emailed me that they had chosen an illustrator for the book. Her name is Lisa Downey, the illustrator of Happy Birthday to Whooo? I'm quite excited about Lisa doing the illustrations, as her animal paintings are just lovely and should be a perfect match for the story.

In April, while reading the story aloud to a friend, I found a spot where my tongue caught in my mouth. I found this odd, considering that I always read my picture books mss aloud many times to check for flow and fluency. I put the ms away for a week or so, and read it aloud again, and once more my tongue tripped. I emailed Donna with a single word change and she made the change for me. Phew! Can't have readers tripping over words now, can we?

Sometime around March, Donna had asked me for some possible titles with a bit more "umph" than The Blackberry Bush. With the brainstorming help of my fabulously creative critique group, I was able to give her quite a few choices, including my personal favorite, "Drinking the Blackberry Vine" (ha-ha, silly me had to throw that one Donna's way, just for a laugh). Last week, I heard that the final title and pub-date have been determined. Drumroll, please...............

Blackberry Banquet! Spring 2008.

So, that's where we stand, four months into the project. Lisa is busy working on the illustrations, we have a title and pub-date, and this summer I'm going to start laying some groundwork for setting up possible book signings in the Pacific Northwest (home to a kazillion blackberry bushes). This translates into going to bookstores, introducing myself to the owners and telling them about my upcoming book. Wish me luck!

That's all folks! Stay tuned for more feasting to come...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hats Off to Teachers

Authors receive many letters from students—there’s nothing new about that. We love hearing from kids. They are, after all, who we write for.

What I like about the following letters is that both students talked about their teacher, Ms. Lowry. Perhaps because this took me back to my former grade school teachers whose influence still resonates in me today. I’ll always remember Mrs. Barnes, who invited students to her home over summer vacation, so she could finish reading a novel she’d begun at the end of the school year. Or my fifth grade teacher who taught us simple conversational Russian, during the time of the cold war, when the USSR was considered “the enemy.” She modeled respect for other cultures by exposing us to the language and the people (wow--what a great lesson to learn!).

Teachers are some of my most favorite people, and there are many excellent ones out there—influencing our children for the moment and for the future, laying the groundwork for their lives with care, creativity, dedication and countless hours beyond what their contract dictates.

Many teachers are now counting—not as in counting with their students, but counting the days til summer vacation. It’s almost upon us and I hope all teachers enjoy a well-earned break. It’s their time to rev up, recharge and recreate!

Here are a couple more letters I received from students:

Dear Ms. Pierce,

Hello, my name is *** ***. I’m in Ms. Lowry’s class. I think she is one of the best teacher’s ever. Every day is different with Ms. Lowry. She can talk in five different languages. What you will like the most about Sequoia is the staff.

What I like about TWO TALES OF HAWAII is that you didn’t exaggerate at all. I also liked GOOFY KNOCK-KNOCK JOKES. I liked it because all the jokes are funny. Next, I liked [PET] JOKES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HOWL because they’re jokes about pets. Finally, I think that you are going to have fun with the staff.

Your friend,
*** ***

Dear Ms. Pierce,

I just want to welcome you to Sequoia School. I think you’ll like Sequoia because it is different from other schools. My name is **** ****. I’m a fifth grader in Ms. Lowry’s class. It is fun in this class. Ms. Lowry read your stories to us. My favorite story was Two Tales of Hawaii because I learned a lot from it. I can’t wait til you come to my school.

**** **** ♥

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Joke Book: A Real Jokefest!

Who’s there?
A nutter.
A nutter who?
A nutter joke book!

A few posts ago, on April 13, I talked about mistakes in the publishing business and then went off on one of my silly mind warps :-}. It all started when I saw my name listed online as a co-author of a joke book of which I’d never heard. Well, as it turns out, I was the one who was mistaken.

The book, A Little Giant Book: Laughin' Jammin' Slammin' Jokefest (A Little Giant Book), co-authored with Jacqueline Horsfall, is a joke collection of jokes and riddles from previously published books by Sterling Publishing Co., the same company who has published my other three joke books (I guess they just forgot to inform me about this new collection). So, to this little author’s delight, I’ll have a fourth joke book coming out in August of 2007. Wow! Talk about a gift! A new book and I didn’t even have to write any new material for it (maybe this will make up for all those rejection letters and other frustrations that come with this business...hmm...nah! Not even close!).

So, keep those eyes peeled (and potatoes and bananas) in August, for the next collection of humor, ala Terry (and Jacqueline).

Friday, May 18, 2007


I get such a kick out of hearing jokes from kids. A child's sense of humor is so uninhibited and fresh when it comes to creating jokes. And I love it when a child tells me a joke because they tell them like they're being told for the first time in history (even if its an old favorite). Telling jokes helps kids to develop confidence, engage in dialogue, develop a sense of timing with speech, and validates the fact that they can have something positive to offer to others.

When I was a Montessori teacher, my kindergarten students loved the knock-knock joke about the banana:

Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Banana who?

Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana again?

What was so funny though, was that they'd never get to the orange part. The kids would double over in laughter at the thought of a banana knocking on the door. Who needs a punchline with these kids? But then a year passes, and suddenly, kids start to "get" jokes.

On that note, I’d like to share some (unaltered) jokes that students recently gave me while I was visiting elementary schools.

What part of the chicken is the most musical?
The drumstick (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha).

Where did the pig like to drive?
Weaner Schnitchel!!!!!

What did the pig like to drive?
A ham-burghini (ha!)

What is a teacher’s favorite food?

Why was the broccoli embarrassed?
Because he saw the ranch dressing.

Very funny, very cute! Keep it up, kids!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

KRA Young Author Fair: What's Right In Our Schools

Last week I had the privilege of participating at the Kern Reading Association’s Young Author Fair, in Bakersfield, CA. In three words, What a Blast! Not only did I enjoy spending time with other folks who love children’s books (students, fellow authors, reading enthusiasts, librarians, educators) but I had the joy of visiting four fabulous schools—Columbia Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, Franklin Elementary and Sequoia Elementary. The event culminated with the Young Author's Fair, where thousands of student-written books were displayed at Standard Elementary School. This truly was a happening event that highlighted many, many outstanding young authors.

The things that struck me the most about my week in Bakersfield were the amazing students and their dedicated, hard-working teachers and staff. Children were courteous, enthusiastic and eager to hear my stories and ask questions about writing and being an author. Educators had prepared their students for my visit, thus creating an atmosphere of interest and excitement (one school had been reading my jokes over the loud speaker during the various times of the day—since January!).

I saw school staff bending over backwards to insure that books were placed into the hands of children. I was particularly touched to hear about the students of a high-poverty level school who were paying for their books with coins they had scrimped and saved—surprising the school staff and clearly showing that children are thirsty for books and will do what they can when the opportunity presents itself to them.

At the KRA Author Dinner on Friday night, each author had to give a brief talk about our week. I shared a statement that night that I’d like to repeat here—people who say that the public school system is failing our children have clearly never been to Bakersfield. And I know this concept is not limited to Bakersfield. Amazing things occur in classrooms throughout the U.S. every day. I only wish other folks could see the magic firsthand.

One class wrote me some letters and I’d like to share some of them on my blog (with their permission, of course). So, here is the first one:

Dear Ms. Pierce,

Hi, my name is *** *** and I’m from Sequoia Elementary School. Also I love all your books, especially the joke books. I think you will really like Sequoia because I know I do! Our library is the funnest! We have a school song and cheer. I hope you have a really really great visit. We also are going to have so much fun reading all your fun books. So I really do hope you have a nice visit at Sequoia Elementary School.

*** ***

Friday, May 4, 2007

FRIDAY FUNNIES: And the Winner Is...

After careful consideration and consulting with two other judges, I’m happy to announce the winner of the “Belly Laughs from the Blog” adult joke writing contest. Drumroll, please...

Rebecca Langston-George!

Congratulations, Rebecca. Your autographed copy of Greatest Goofiest Jokes is on its way to you. Here is Rebecca’s winning entry:

Q: Why did Captain Ahab lose his personal injury lawsuit against Moby Dick?
A: Legally speaking, he didn’t have a leg to stand on.

Very clever—incorporating humor and high literature are just the ticket for this kind of contest!

I’d like to thank the other “closet-comedians” who submitted jokes. You certainly gave the other judges and myself something to think (and chuckle) about.