A lot of my writer friends suffer from some form of anxiety. Maybe that’s because as writers, we’re always imagining possibilities for our characters — the worst possibilities. And we do it in our own lives, too.

This morning, I couldn’t find the cat while some contractors were removing the most awful vinyl known to man from our kitchen. I’d taken the cover off of one of the kitchen air vents. Thus I convinced myself, for the better part of three hours, that the cat had fallen into the vent and disappeared into the furnace forever.

This way of thinking is good for writing. But it’s lousy and exhausting for living.

So one of my goals for this year is to remember Occam’s Razor, my husband’s refrain for my assumptions. I’ll try to find the simplest reason, the simplest explanation. (In this case, it would have been: the cat’s probably hiding in the basement, which is where I finally found her.)

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Hot Tea Month

January is Hot Tea Month.

spoonAnd okay, sure, it’s one of those holidays that’s made up to give the industry a boost, much like National Pickle Week (which is in May) and National Grapefruit Month (February). But if you’ve been outside on the East Coast today, you’ll find it’s a holiday well worth celebrating. As you can see from this Heather Ross illustration from How to Behave at a Tea Party, Julia and Charles celebrate tea every single day.




My own favorite tea choice: Earl Grey.

Honey or sugar? Sugar.

One lump or two? Three.

Favorite Tea Cup? I’m actually more of a mug person than a tea-cup person. My favorite is an old, faded mug that’s at my mom’s house. My brother and I fight over it every time we’re home.  favoritemug

Coffee or Tea: The only type of coffee I drink is Vietnamese iced coffee. Otherwise, it’s tea, both cold and hot.

Favorite Tea-Related Television Show: If you guessed this was an excuse to mention Downton Abbey, you are correct. It occurred to me while I was watching last night that Julia has a lot in common with Carson.

I’ve been collecting tea-related items over on my Pinterest page. Check them out if you are so inclined! Because what tea celebration wouldn’t be better with a Lionel Richie, hello-is-it-tea-you’re-looking-for tea pot?

Posted in downton abbey, heather ross, holidaze, hot tea month, how to behave at a tea party, lionel richie, tea, Tea Party | 2 Comments

Writing Resolutions

I always make loads of New Year’s resolutions – multi-page lists, covering everything from the external (I will not leave my pajamas on the bathroom floor after I take a shower) to the internal (I will yell less; I will learn to breathe deeply; I will have the fortitude to drive in Washington, D.C.). When I saw Woody Guthrie’s list from 1942 floating around the internet a few years ago, I adapted his method, drawing little sketches and making sure I covered mind, body and art. My favorite on his list is No. 18: Stay glad.

Resolutions on writing are a big part of my list, too, and I’m always interested in the resolutions my friends make. Author Wendy Shang (The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, The Way Home Looks Now) sent me hers weeks ago, in an e-mail that said, My writing resolution for this year: Go there. I immediately envisioned her words framed on my office wall. And because my walls are never full enough, I checked in with some other kid-lit authors to find out their goals for 2015. They’re pretty useful, whether you’re a writer or not.

Gigi Amateau (Come August, Come Freedom, Macadoo of the Maury River) I resolve to approach each page with a sense of wonder. Why? Because I rush around too much elsewhere in my life.

Molly Burnham (Teddy Mars, Almost a World Record Breaker) My resolution is to have have a blast writing the third and last book in my series!

Cece Bell (El Deafo, Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover) Resolution: to continue working while standing up at my drawing table.

 Kathryn Erskine  (The Badger Knight, Mockingbird) Last January, even though it sounds a little hokey, I made a “vision book,” which included the vision for my writing. I found pictures that symbolized three books I wanted to finish and submit. As usually happens with me, I kind of forgot about the vision book until December when I realized that I had, indeed, finished and submitted three books (two of the ones from my vision book and a third, different book, but still … 3 books!). So I’m doing the same thing this January. I’m envisioning the books I want to finish and I hope to report next December that it worked! Even if I forget to look at my vision book for 11 months. :0)

Sara Lewis Holmes (Operation Yes, Letters from Rapunzel) When she found out that Wendy’s resolution was only two words, Sara thought about trying to one-up her with a one-word resolution, “begin,” before offering the following: Seriously, I don’t like New Year’s resolutions and always seem to rebel against the idea that something drastic has to change in each new year. It’s kind of like insisting to a tree: Grow! It will grow—if it has sunlight and water—the trick is noticing such slowly evolving change. So, um…mine is less a resolution (which also means an ending, of course) and more of an openness to revolution ( a charged word that can mean just a simple turning about something central, but can also be, of course, a radical upending or new beginning).

Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm, Nerds) My resolution is not to have people roll their eyes when they hear my resolutions.

Jacqueline Jules (The Freddie Ramos series, The Sofia Martinez Series) To focus on the privilege of being able to spend my days writing at this time in my life. To be grateful for the joy and purpose writing gives me. I love playing with words and discovering what they have to tell me. Putting words together in just the right order may not be always be lucrative, but it is always satisfying.

Marfé Ferguson Delano (Master George’s People, Explore My World, Butterflies) My writing resolution for 2015 is to continue writing daily “morning pages”:  3 pages of longhand, stream-of-conscious writing done first thing in the morning. I started doing this in early September, when I started a 12-week workshop based on Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” and so far I’ve only skipped one day. The practice has yielded unexpected treasures, in addition to giving me a great place to vent.

Miranda Kenneally (Breathe, Annie, Breathe, Catching Jordan) My New Year’s resolution is going to be learning how to focus, focus, focus! *abandons writing to read book* *abandons book to go find wine* (Originally a tweet, but M said I could repurpose it for this post=)

Danielle Ellison (Follow Me Through Darkness) I resolve to keep going. I want to keep giving 100% to something, even when I’m not seeing results I want. I usually tend to give up (especially on things that scare me or are for myself) but this year I want to keep going. To not let minor setbacks keep me back and to end the year knowing I tried everything to the absolute best of my ability…

Marty Rhodes Figley (Emily and Carlo, Clara Morgan and the Oregon Trail Journey) My resolution for this year is to write from the heart.  If an editor takes a shine to my work, then that’s icing on the cake.

Meg Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Tia Isa Wants a Car) 1. Buy my own copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. 2. Start a middle grade novel.

Anne Marie Pace (Vampirina Ballerina Series, A Teacher for Bear) To write more consistently than I did last year, whatever that means.

Jama Rattigan (Dumpling Soup, Jama’s Alphabet Soup) I rarely make resolutions, but here is an ongoing goal of mine: I resolve to explain less and trust the reader to get it.

Madelyn Rosenberg, aka Me (How to Behave at a Tea Party, Nanny X) To think like a detective or, to be more pithy about it, to shake it like Sherlock. My goal is to consider the motivation of each character I write more closely, and to keep, foremost in my mind, the question, “Why?”

Linda Urban (The Center of Everything, A Crooked Kind of Perfect) I’ve found that for me, making grand, year-long resolutions is futile. I’ve learned to set small, attainable goals and to celebrate the process rather than the product.  I’ll start January with another daily writing goal (time, not number of words) and see what happens.

A.B. Westrick (Brotherhood) My writing resolution for 2015 is to finish my work-in-progress (a YA novel). I hope to get a contract on it in 2015!

What about you? Do you have any writing resolutions for 2015? If so, I hope you’ll leave them in the comments. And I hope that you have a fabulous new year.

Posted in kidlit, Mission Possible, writing | Tagged , , | 7 Comments


Yes, it’s that time again, when the Shameless Self Promotion Department reminds me that while I love writing books, I actually have to sell them if I want to be able to publish more books. And so:

Did you know that One More Page, my supportive, local indy bookstore, can ship out personalized copies of my books? Just call and order, and I’ll go in and sign them before they ship them out. Or if you want a sticker, let me know that you’ve bought a book and I will put a sticker in the mail to you. (If you live in town, of course, just call: I’ll come over…) Details are here.

You know what would go well with How to Behave at a Tea Party? A tea set.

Nanny X + a secret decoder ring (check out the International Spy Museum to find one) would also make a groovy, gadgety gift. Or Dream Boy paired with a dream journal.

Mother Reader has the best, comprehensive site for giving books as gifts that I’ve ever seen before with 150 ideas. Be sure to check them out!

Posted in marketing, Mission Possible, world domination | Comments Off

Window Shopping

All I do when I walk through NYC is look at the windows in shops — not just during the holidays, but year-round. Which is why seeing this window at Books of Wonder (thanks, Heather Ross!) just makes me super giddy.


window at books of wonder

Posted in how to behave at a tea party, tea, Tea Party | Comments Off