Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sailing the High Seas of the Publishing World

The following is an excerpt from a talk that I gave at the SCBWI-LA Writer’s Day in 2006.

I know almost nothing about sailing and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a sailboat. But one thing that has always fascinated me is how boats manage to sail against the wind. It’s easy to see how one sails with the wind–you simply stick out your sail and the wind pushes you forward. But how do you get back where you came from–or how do you reach a destination that is in the opposite direction?
The answer is that you tack. You sail across the wind in a zigzag pattern. You reach your goal by aiming elsewhere. And sometimes, as you are zigging and zagging, you make new discoveries along the way, like the ancient Polynesian navigators who sailed in one direction from their homeland in central Polynesia and found Hawaii, and went in the other direction and discovered a tiny speck of land now called Easter Island, or Rapanui.
Tacking against the wind also has its application in writing.  Whether one is an already published writer or hoping to be published, the most direct route to your next book may be to change your course and try something new. It could be something fairly simple such as changing your point of view or writing for a different age group, or it could be a more drastic change such as adopting a while new format or genre.

Today, nearly ten years after I gave that talk, the publishing world continues to evolve. The key is to evolve along with it, while staying true to yourself.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coloring Page: Desert 6:00 AM

Tap-tap, tap-tap! Tap-tap, tap-tap!
It is an early spring morning in the Sonoran desert. A Gila woodpecker drills a hole in a saguaro cactus. The tall plant will be a good place to build a nest. On the ground below, a coyote looks for a place to rest.
You can read more about plants and animals that live in the Sonoran Desert in my new book A Day and Night in the Desert. Find out which animals are awake during the day, and which animals are awake at night.

Click HERE to go to download the picture as a coloring page.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

GO WILD WITH READING: Talk at Summer Reading Celebration at the Braille Institute, Los Angeles, CA

Last Wednesday I was the guest speaker at the Summer Reading Celebration at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. I gave my presentation to a room full of eager children and their parents as well as to many adult readers. All of them were avid readers and prizes were awarded to those who had read the most books. In some cases, they had read books in braille, and in other cases they had listened to audio books. I learned that many of my books are available in the Braille Institute library. The theme for the summer reading program is Go Wild With Reading so I emphasized my books about animals and took the children on a "Lion Hunt." A presentation was also made by Leslie Fuentes from the National Park Service who took the audience on an imaginary dive to the ocean floor and then invited the children to see and touch various objects found along the seashore and take home an abalone shell. I thank Library Director Dr. Henry Chang and Materials Development Coordinator Ivan G. Johnson and his hard working committee for organizing the wonderful celebration. A gift of a beautiful orchid will continue to remind me of a very successful visit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Black Bear Coloring Page

Black bears are North America’s most familiar and common bears. They typically live in forests, although they can also be found in more open areas. A mother bear gives birth to her cubs in late winter and by spring they are following her around as she searches for food. The cubs stay with their mother for a year or more. You can download a coloring page of a mother bear with her cubs HERE.
Find out more about black bears and other forest animals in my book A Day and Night in the Forest.