Monday, October 31, 2011

Tomorrow is the Start of Picture Book Month!

November is my favorite month of the year for many reasons.
1.  I love fall!
2.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.
3.  My birthday

I am so excited about the new challenge upon which I am going to embark. In my October 24th post I told you all about the contest where you come up with a new picture book idea for each of the 30 days of November.

I, however, am a VERY impatient person, and my creativity got the best of me.  I started early.  I already have 10 new ideas!  Hopefully, by the end of November I will have at least 40 new picture book ideas.  Now that doesn't mean all of them will become best sellers (although that would be REALLY nice), it simply means that I now have ideas to work on.  This will get me back to my laptop and writing.  While I truly love most of the manuscripts that I have already written,  I am definitely ready for some new stories.

I will be posting on my blog everyday how my journey through this contest is going.  I will be keeping my ideas to myself, but I will keep you posted on my progress.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interview With Dian Curtis Regan

For my first interview, I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing author, Dian Curtis Regan.  
Dian is a long-time member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a former "Member of the Year."
She has been inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers' Hall of Fame and has received a "Distinguished Medal of Service in Children's Literature" from the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers.
In 2001, the library at Escuela de las Americas in La Lecheria, Venezuela, was dedicated to her and became the "Dian Curtis Regan Library." Her manuscripts are being archived in the Education Library at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Dian is from Colorado Springs and lived in Colorado for many years. After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she taught school in Denver before becoming a full-time author and speaker.
Besides Colorado, Dian has lived in Texas, Oklahoma, and Venezuela. Presently, she lives in Kansas and will be moving back to Colorado in 2012.

Please visit Dian's website at  

1.    Why do you write? What motivates you to write for children?
I think a true writer can't NOT write (to use a double negative—bad, bad….)  It's in the blood.  Even when I'm telling myself I'm taking time off, I still daydream story ideas.  The urge to create is a strong one.

2.    How do you feel about ebooks for young children? Do you feel that they are changing the way that children are learning to read?
They ARE changing the way children learn to read, but to me, it's all good.  E-rights are automatically part of every book contract now.  And I am very eager to usher back into e-print all of my out of print books.  I still get emails and requests about/for them, so I am on board.  The part I don't like is the unfair author/illustrator e-royalty rates right now.

3.    Do you tend to follow a specific process when you are writing a story?  What stage of your writing process do you most enjoy?
I have a ritual when starting a new project.  I suspect most writers do.  For me, once the bug has bitten hard enough, I buy a new binder to keep the research notes, ideas, and a hard copy of a manuscript all in one place.
Author, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, recently blogged about beginning-a-new-book rituals.  Scan down for my input—and a photo of the colorful binders of projects-in-progress.
The stage of the process I enjoy most is the completion of a rough draft.  That is when you have clay to mold into form.  That is when you figure out what your story is really about.  A stage when all things are possible.

4.    Do you have any advice for up and coming writers?
1. Read
2. It's HARD.  Hard to find time to write, hard to figure out a complex plot without taking the easy and expected route, hard to deal with rejection, hard to find a publisher. 
If you know that going in, but refuse to fear the difficulty; refuse to allow yourself to give up or be discouraged by delays, and keep listening to honest criticism and learning from your attempts, you WILL have success eventually.
Case in point:  an unpublished writer in my local critique group had been writing for ten years, and working on a novel (that we had been reading and critiquing) for six years.  She was turned down by agents, but persisted and finally got one.  She was turned down by publishers but persisted and finally got one.
Finally, last fall, her first novel was published.  We had a launch party to celebrate her long-awaited success.  And then?  Three months later, that novel won the Newbery Award. 
If she'd been in a hurry to dash off a novel and try to get it published, her work would not have grown into the complex and compelling story it became.
3. Read.

5.    What is your favorite picture book of all time? Why?
 May I mention two?  One is All the Lassies by Liesel Moak Skorpen. When I taught writing, it seemed like every beginning writer had an 'I want a pet' story.  One of my first published pieces was also an 'I want a pet' story. To me, All the Lassies is the quintessential story with that plot.  If you can come up with a better one, then write it!
The second favorite picture book is Carmina, Come Dance by Mary Whittington.  It's a wonderful fantasy story with such lyrical language, it invites you to read it over and over again.


Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 50 books for young readers, ranging from picture books to young adult novels. Titles include Princess Nevermore, The World According to Kaley, and Barnyard Slam. New books this fall include The Snow Blew Inn, a picture book from Holiday House, and Rocky Cave Kids: The Dragon Stone, a chapter book from Marshall Cavendish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


November is Picture Book Month!

Personally, I hold picture books very near and dear to my heart.  Not only do I love to write them, but I love to read them!  What could be better than snuggling with a child, a stack of picture books, and time to read?

PIcture books are a child's first doorway into the fabulous world of reading.  As I discussed in a previous post, however,  I do believe that there is a place for ebooks.  After all, as a society we need to do whatever it takes to get a person to read.

Yet, it is amazing to see the look on a child's face when they first learn to turn the page.  Discovering the story on the next page is exciting!  The colors, the words, the feel of the paper in one's hands.  All of this is an experience that is becoming lost in the digital age.

Do yourself a favor throughout the entire month of November, pick up a picture book (or 2, or 3, or more), find a child (or you can enjoy the books yourself if you don't have a child handy), and read.  Enjoy the adventures that you will discover in books!

Here is a link to the Picture Book Month website.  check it out!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Contest!

I just found out about this fantastic contest for anyone who is interested.  Picture Book Idea of the Month!

I am going to do it, I hope that you will too!

Recipe for a Picture Book

I have taken a brief hiatus from writing as my family just celebrated my oldest daughter becoming a Bat Mitzvah this past weekend.  I am so proud of her!  She was poised, confident, strong, and most importantly, happy with herself.  As a family, we couldn't have asked for a nicer weekend.

I wrote a small speech that I delivered to my daughter during her service.  Interestingly enough, it was the easiest piece that I have ever written.  Now the writer in me is trying to analyze why I had to do very little editing.  It was a completely different writing experience than I had ever had, and I believe that it was some of my best work to date.

The answer is easy.  The best writing comes from the writer's heart, and this speech most certainly did.  I sat at my computer, and my speech was written in 15 minutes.  I knew exactly what I wanted to say.  My daughter was my inspiration.  She was my topic as well as my audience.  While I read the speech in front of others, I was only telling the story to her--it didn't matter what others thought of my story to her.

As picture book authors, how do we define our target audience?  Are we writing for the adults who are reading the books to their children, or are we writing for the children only?  I think that this is a tough question to answer.  As a parent, I tend read to my children with less emotion if it is a story that does not interest me.  However, as an author, I have a message that I want to share with children and I want to do it on their terms, not necessarily their parents'.

Based on all of this, I have come up with a simple recipe for a picture book.  Please follow below, and as my grandmother alway said, 'adjust to taste.'

2 cups-- topic
dash-- editing
1 cup-- parent audience
2 cups-- child audience
as much as you have-- inspiration from the heart

Mix well.  Share with others.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Something startled me out of bed just as the sun began to rise. As I put my feet on the carpet, I found out that there were a couple of my children who obviously had spent the night next to my bed.  As I tiptoed around them I felt something cold slip between my toes.  Melted ice cream!

As I ran to the bathroom to get a towel, I could see the chocolate footprints fading with each step.  Even thought the chocolate was no longer visible, my feet felt sticky.  I washed them off, and decided to attempt to go back to sleep for a little while.

As I climbed back into the comfort of my bed, I looked over and noticed the empty ice cream carton next to my pillow! At that moment, I realized the dream I had last night, was not a dream. I must have been sleep walking again! 

Going back to sleep was no longer an option!  I got up and quickly flipped on lights throughout the house.  I needed to see what else I had done in my sleep.  With all of my banging around, my daughter began to stir.

The saga begins. . .

Here is the latest update on our collaborative story.  Keep up the good work!

Something startled me out of bed just as the sun began to rise. As I put my feet on the carpet, I found out that there were a couple of my children who obviously had spent the night next to my bed.  As I tiptoed around them I felt something cold slip between my toes.  Melted ice cream!

As I ran to the bathroom to get a towel, I could see the chocolate footprints fading with each step.  Even thought the chocolate was no longer visible, my feet felt sticky.  I washed them off, and decided to attempt to go back to sleep for a little while.

Looking for a new book?

Have you ever wondered about why your child can't pull their nose out of their latest book?  Find out!  Scholastic has put together a list of children's books that adults should be reading.

Click on the link below and enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Story Starter Update

OK folks, only one person has participated in this story.  Time to add on to it.  Below is what we've got so far.  I have added some more myself.  Get your creative minds working!

Something startled me out of bed just as the sun began to rise. As I put my feet on the carpet, I found out that there were a couple of my children who obviously had spent the night next to my bed.  As I tiptoed around them I felt something cold slip between my toes.  Melted ice cream!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Check out this blog!

I have had the great fortune of being connected with Geralyn Broder Murray, a very talented writer.  Take a look at her 2 blogs and see if you can relate.  I know that I can!

HTML Stands for How To Make Lunch

Recently, as I have been sharing with more and more of my friends that I am working on publishing children's books, I have been asked what I think about e-books for young children.

I don't have a simple answer for this.

I am really a traditional person when it comes to communication.  While I don't use a stone tablet and a chisel, I do miss the card catalogue when I visit the library.  My Day Runner calendar is filled with post-its, and while I do have a smart phone, I only use it as a phone and for email.  I ask my kids to help me with the computer, and to me HTML stands for 'How To Make Lunch'.

Getting back to the topic. . .

I am in favor of anything that can get a child to read.  Whether it be a magazine, the label on a candy bar, a dictionary, a picture book, or a sign along the freeway, reading is an invaluable skill that can only lead to amazing adventures.

I have always loved books!  The feel of getting into the story by turning the pages to see what will happen next is exciting.  I enjoy watching my bookmark move closer to the end of the book.  As a parent, sitting with a child and teaching them how to turn the pages for the first time, how to make sure that they are holding the book right side up, and teaching them to follow the words with their fingers is a mind blowing experience.  Right before your eyes, a whole new world of learning is discovered!

However, today's kids (and many adults) prefer the digital age.  I guess that it is time that I join the 21st century.  If we can teach our children to read the e-books and not only have the e-book read the story to the child, then I think that they are great.  E-book publishers have developed so many ways that children can interact with the stories and can challenge their imaginations.  I do believe that adults do need to make the extra effort to encourage our children to make the best use of these applications and to actually do the reading-- to explore the story rather than to allow the electronic device of their choice to do all of the work for them.

It saddens me to see so many book stores either changing their structure or closing down.  Just the other day, I was in our local book store and a large quantity of book shelves had been removed and replaced by toys.  Educational toys, but nevertheless, toys.  In fact, to even arrive at the children's book section of the store, one must first walk past the toys.  If you were 6 years old where would you gravitate towards in a store-- the books or the toys?

I would like to make a promise to everyone, and I hope that you will make this promise too.

I, Sandi Hershenson, do promise to make every effort to help children to enjoy reading.  Whether they read with a book in hand or on a digital device, I will encourage them to read.

Now I am going to go read my cookbook on HTML.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Please Participate in this Story. . .

I had this idea to help get all of our creative juices flowing.  It is the start of a new season, and we are all ready for a jump start.  I thought that I would post a story starter for everyone to participate in.  I will write the first sentence, and each one of you can add to it as you wish.  I will continue to post updates all week long, and let's see where the story goes!  I hope that you enjoy it, I know that we can write a fantastic story together!

Here it goes:

Something startled me out of bed just as the sun began to rise.


As a new member of the blogging world, I am doing my best to make my blog user friendly, interesting to my readers, and helpful to those in the business of writing for children.

I am asking for your help. . . what would you like to see on The Write Stuff?  How can I better publicize the site?  I am open to any and all feedback.

Just let your fingers to the typing, and share with me!