Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Line Contest

Jump here http://cherstinieveen.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/first-line-contest/ and enter the First Line Contest sponsored by the 2011 Writing and Illustrating for Young Reader's Conference in Utah.  You'll be glad you did!

Friday, March 25, 2011


My daughter and I have a frequent discussion over which superpower is best.  My daughter's recurring, never-changing desire is to fly.  My husband echoes this wish.  "You can't beat flying," he says.  My son vascillates between the ability to time travel and the gift of super-stinky flatulation (he's 10 years old, if you couldn't guess).

Me, I want to to be invisible.  Hands down.  Now, I could go into all sorts of reasons why I would like to be invisible.  Some are more noble than others, but mainly, it would allow me to be the penultimate observer of humankind.  Haven't you always wanted to eavesdrop on a conversation unnoticed?  See what people do when they think know one else is watching?  (And hey...this is a blog by a children's writer...don't go creepy on me). 

As a sometimes-therapist in my social work profession, I try to become invisible.  I remove as much of myself from the conversation as possible and let people reveal themselves little by little.  If I'm a blank, non-judgmental mirror, the results can be dramatic.  But what would I witness if I were completely transparent...a fly on the wall, so to speak.  Would I want to see?

Alas, I'll never know.  I'll have to settle for my too-solid life. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing Takes a Backseat (to Reading and Submitting)

I know I need to write every day.  I totally agree with everyone who has preached this.  I agree 100%.  But I have failed miserably every time I've tried.  So I've decided to love myself a little more and criticize myself a little less.  I've turned for a while to reading and submitting.  And to atone for my lack of writing, I hereby blog about both... 

My latest read: The Search for WondLa.  Now, I bought this book for my 9 year-old son.  The cover looked lush; the sci-fi-nish of it seemed like a shoe-in for his affection; the author, Tony DiTerlizzi, was well-known.  However, after a few pages, he put it down and declared he wouldn't read anymore.  What's a parent (even more, a parent who writes children's stories) to do, except to read it for herself. 

I think the idea for the book was fascinating: a girl who has lived underground in a sanctuary her whole life is suddenly thrust above ground in a race to discover her roots and her place in a world previously unknown to her.  While it took me more than a few pages to get into the story, eventually I did, and followed Eva Nine happily to the end of her first book with some satisfaction.  The book will definitely click with most young readers...especially girls, probably, who would see strength and courage in the main character.  (Maybe the girl as main character was why my son put it down?  I'm not so sure.)  I've seen some reviews which stated that the descriptions and adjectives were a little heavy-handed.  This didn't bother me so much, although I do think it could have been trimmed.  What I did notice, however, was that I didn't connect with the characters as much as I wanted to.  In a gripping scene at the end that would normally have me bawling, I read right through it without a tear.  Maybe it was my head cold...yeah, it could have been that.  But I would still recommend it as a read for 8-12 year olds, especially girls.  And the illustrations are beautiful.   

As for the submitting, I don't know about some of you writers, but it feels good to get some submissions out.  While I try to target most of my submissions very carefully and craft all of my cover letters with precision to show that I am familiar with an agent's or editor's preferences (and pet ownership), I admit to rarely (please emphasize that word in your mind) sending out a submission that is, well...not ideal.  And I know why. It's because I've worked so long on a story that I can't think about it anymore.  And the only way I can get it out of my brain is to send it on an extended vacation to an editor or agent.  Then it's out of my hair for a while, and I can get on with my life.  Please forgive me o' ye editors and agents who have gotten these woeful step-children in the mail.  I only meant that no harm befall them in my agonized state.  Not that I've done any of these recently (cough, cough).  I have actually sent some very good submissions lately, and I'm happy to report the number of personalized rejections is increasing in number. 

So, do you take a mental break every now and then?  Do you need time to fill the tank?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kristen the Dragonfly

I am thrilled to show off my caricature of me...as a bug, done by children's illustrator Neil Numberman.  Thank you so much!  I don't think I've ever looked better!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


In case you didn't know, the deadline for the Barbara Karlin grant through SCBWI for unpublished picture books is due March 15!  Hop over to http://www.scbwi.org/ for rules and forms.