Monday, March 26, 2012

To Copyright Or Not To Copyright?

Last week, I sat in on a short workshop geared for high school students that discussed what it takes to become an author.  I am always interested to see what other authors talk about, especially when their message is targeted at children.  The facilitator of the workshop informed the students of many basic steps one must take to become an author.  As I listened to his presentation, the thing that jumped out at me most was his emphasis on copyrighting.  He told the students that it is imperative to copyright their work before they send it out because it is possible for a publisher to like their work, take their work, and publish it through someone else.  Further, he used an example of Sophia Stewart, an author who claimed that she wrote the Matrix and that it had been stolen from her.

After doing a little research myself, I only found conflicting information about whether Stewart’s claim is true or not, and whether she did, in fact, win a lawsuit concerning her claim.

With all that said, I remember hearing somewhere, some time ago, that writers don’t need to copyright because since their idea is theirs, it belongs to them.  But after hearing this facilitator’s message, it has made me question, is it necessary to copyright your work before you send it out to editors, agents, and publishers?

 What do you think: To copyright or not to copyright?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Full Heart

As an unpublished picture book author, I am blessed to have a job that allows me to go into classrooms and read to children.  And so, in the spirit of “Read Across California” month, I stepped into two classrooms to share my love of reading.  I read “Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t)” by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley, and of course one of my all time favorites, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka.  The children enjoyed it!

Oh, did I mention I read two of my own manuscript too?

Yes!  I read some of my own work as well.  And students made comments like “I really liked that!” and “I hope you get published”, not to mention “You’re gonna be famous!” 

My heart is full.

I finally stepped out of my comfort zone.  I guess I was a little intimidated by the idea of sharing my work with children, before it was published, because it kind of felt like sharing an unfinished project.  But instead of thinking of it that way, I have decided to use it as a learning experience for myself and the children I read to.  
I started off by asking the students if they liked writing.  Many of them would raise their hands and say that they did.  I told them that I did too when I was their age, and now that I am older, I still do—so much so that I want to write children’s books, and am in the process of doing so.  Then, I told them that it’s important to listen to their teachers when it comes to editing papers, because that’s a skill they will use their whole lives, especially if they want to write books one day.  Next, I showed them what a manuscript looks like, and I held it up next to a published book and ask them to compare (what is different between a manuscript and a published book, besides the obvious that one is published and one isn’t).  After that, I told them that since my manuscript didn’t have any pictures yet, that they get to close their eyes and make their own pictures in their minds. 

And guess what...they sat and listened contently to the whole story—and really seemed to enjoy it!  Man did that feel like a success!

I also told them that as long as they work hard on their education, they could be anything they want to be, even an author!  Last, I showed them a Highlights for Kids Magazine and told them how one day my poems would be in the magazine since I had sold two poems to Highlights.

One of the teachers said he really enjoyed my talk, and that it’s great for students to hear my message.  So, I now plan to use opportunities to read to children as a way to share my love for reading, to teach, and to confirm that they really can do anything they want to do! 

Nothing like kids to perk up your spirits and reaffirm why you do what you do!  I can’t wait to share this message in the future while holding one of my own published picture books!

So, if rejections are like 's on my path to publishing...


reading to kids would be like finding areminding me of my destination.

On I go!  Forward!  Forward!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blogging in March

Oh me! Oh my! It’s been too long!

You know how sometimes, life feels like it’s moving so fast—full speed like a carousel spinning and spinning and spinning and you hope that the horse that you are riding doesn’t come un-poled and send you flying off into oblivion.

Yea, it’s kind of been like that lately.  But, it feels so good to be back on my blog.

Although I have not heard any new publishing news over the last month and a half (man, has it really been that long?), a couple cool things have occurred pertaining to my publishing path.
1.      An exciting picture book idea popped into my mind.  That’s always a good thing!  I am working to finalize it so I can send it out as soon as possible.  I am feeling very good about it.
2.      Rosi (one of my wonderful picture book critique group family members) and I are working quite hard on our poetry book.  We have a collected a nice amount of poems, and we are moving closer and closer to completion and submission.  Yay!
3.      I received an incredibly informative interview from fabulous children’s author Sue Fliess, and not to mention copies of her fun books “Shoes For Me!” and “A Dress For Me!”.  You’ll find her interview on my “Points from the Published” tab.
4.      I celebrated Read Across America Day as well as the birthday of one of my idols, Dr. Seuss, with books and children—I’ll post a separate post about that.

So, as days go by, I keep to my path, with my heart full of hope, and my eyes to the sky. 

Keeping it moving!

Past Points from the Published-- Marsha Diane Arnold

From January 26th, 2012
Marsha Diane Arnold
I am so happy that I had a chance to communicate with the talented Marsha Diane Arnold.  She and I came in contact through the NorCal SCBWI e-mail group, and I am already learning so much from her!  Here are her answers to my "Points from the Published" interview questions.  Enjoy!

1.  What was your path to publishing a book? 
As I tell students at school presentations, “I always loved to read, but I never thought of being a writer until I was grown with two children of my own.”

Indeed, it was my children who inspired me to write.  I started with a weekly newspaper column, “homegrown treasures.”  I wrote it for ten years.  Being on deadlines (I like to call them lifelines) and having to come up with something new and creative every week was very good writing practice. The column was well received, had a limited syndication, and won three Local Columnist awards from the California Newspaper Association.  It’s very encouraging when people like your work!

During this time, I started to write both fiction and non-fiction stories for kids’ magazines.  But my heart’s desire was to write a picture book.  After I wrote the manuscript for my first book, Heart of a Tiger, I started submitting it to NYC publishers.  It was rejected 13 times before I found the editor who loved it as much as I did.  Yes, for most of us, becoming a writer takes patience and perseverance.  But it’s worth it.  Heart of a Tiger has touched the hearts of many children and adults and has won more awards than any of my other books.  One was the Ridgway award for “Best First Book by a New Author.”  I was on my way.

2.  How long have you been in this business?  When did you start?  When did you get your first book published?

Thank you to Marsha Diane Arnold for taking the time to answer my “Points from the Published” questions.
Heart of a Tiger was published in 1995; I started writing my column, “homegrown treasures” in 1985.
3.  What inspires you or motivates you to carry on?
It was my children who inspired the “homegrown treasures” column.  Truly, I’m inspired and enthralled by so many things.  The difficult part is to choose and to focus on one idea at time.

I’ve been lucky.  My books are well-loved by children and parents alike.  When they ask me about my next book, I always feel I need to go home, sit down at my computer, and write another book for them.

4.  Do you have another job or is writing your only job?

Let’s see…I’m a gardener, a yoga enthusiast, a line-dancer, a photographer, a hiker, and a bird watcher.  Sadly, none of those pay me for my efforts!

I am a writer, and as with many writers, I do author visits throughout the year.  At first I was terrified to stand before a crowd of 200 or more, but now I enjoy it.  I’ve traveled all over the world visiting schools and giving presentations and writing “funshops”.  You can see where I’ve been on my website here:  I also speak at conventions, young author’s festivals, and enjoy being on the faculty for writing conferences.

5.  Do you have an agent?  If yes, what steps did you take to obtain one?

Yes, my agent is the amazing Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. 

I sold all 11 of my published books by myself, but in today’s publishing arena, I believe having an agent is important.  I was lucky that when I approached Karen last year, she loved my manuscripts and agreed to work with me. 

I learned about agents through SCBWI, the Internet, and books at my library.  After reading about different literary agencies and agents, I decided which to approach.  It’s important to have the right agent for your personality and style.  My agent, Karen Grencik, is discerning, supportive, and a wonderful cheerleader.  I think we are a good match!

6.  What advice would you give to a new writer?
Know that becoming a published author can take time.  In today’s world, there are many roads to becoming published, but the road I know is that of traditional publishing.  My publishers are Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), Random House, and Abrams, all fabulous publishing houses.  The editors I worked with are fabulous as well.  But, it took me a long time to become one of their authors.

When I decided to write picture books, the first thing I did was go to the library.  Of course!  I read all the books I could find on how to write a picture book as well as books on the business of writing.  Then I joined SCBWI; they provide so many of the answers. SCBWI will connect you with other writers.  They are constantly organizing conferences, where you can meet editors and agents and learn the basics as well as the details. I started a writers’ group.  Writers’ groups are great for sharing your stories with others, getting critiques, and supporting one another on the journey.

With the launch of my revamped website, I’ve decided to start offering manuscript consultations.  So once your idea has been developed into a picture book story and has been written and rewritten and rewritten, I’m available for input.  You can read more about my consultations at:

Most important, write about what you are passionate about, be professional, and enjoy the journey!  Now stop reading about me and go be the Creative You!

Here are some of Marsha Diane Arnold's wonderful books:

You can learn more about Marsha Diane Arnold at:

Past Point's from the Published--Mira Reisberg

October 8th, 2011

Mira Reisberg
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Dr. Mira Reisberg while participating in one of her full day workshops.  Dr. Reisberg has illustrated several books including Uncle Nacho’s Hat, Where Fireflies Dance, and Baby Rattlesnake, to name a few.  Below are her answers to my “Points from the Published” interview.

1.      What was your path to publishing a book?

 “Like many things, I fell into it.  It’s an unusual story.  A publisher saw an exhibition of my artwork.  She’d been looking for illustrators for a book about change, and had a hard time finding one.  My art was intense and colorful, and told stories.  The publisher, named Harriet Rohmer, was the founder and publisher for Children’s Book Press.  She asked me if I wanted to do a book and I said yes so I illustrated my first book Uncle Nacho’s Hat.  The book has been reprinted in many languages, was a Reading Rainbow book, got a Unicef Award Citation, and was one of the first bilingual and multicultural children picture books.”
2.      How long have you been in this business?  When did you start?  When did you get your first book published?

“I have been in the business since early 1988.  Uncle Nacho’s Hat was published in 1989.”

3.      What inspires you and what motivates you to carry on?

“It isn’t the money!  I was raised with the prime directive to help make a better world, and I do that with my art, teaching, and children’s picture books.”

4.      Do you have another job or is writing your only job?

“I am a writer and illustrator.  I also do picture book consulting through Skype with people from all over the world.  I teach classes, like this one, and online classes like Hero Art Journey that teaches people how to draw and paint.  They learn about multiculturalism, world mythology, personal growth, and children’s books in fun ways.  I’ll be teaching my first online class on illustrating children’s picture books sometime next year.”

5.      Do you have an agent?  If yes, what steps did you take to obtain one?

“No.  A part of me would like one, but I’d have to find the right person.  I’ve heard horror stories, but it’s getting harder and harder to submit without an agent.”

6.      What advice would you give to a new writer?

“Read as many picture books as you can; buy Dr. Mira’s Children’s Picture Book Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Workbook; joins the SCBWI; read books on the craft; take courses; refer people to and  Also, you need to be persistent, have a good product, have patience, and make a beautiful journal called ‘Reflections and Comments’ and put a big heart on it.”
Thank you to Dr. Reisberg for taking the time to answer my “Points from the Published” questions, and giving me permission to post your answers! 

Here are some of Dr. Mira Reisberg's books!

 You can learn more about Dr. Reisberg and the vast knowledge she offers by visiting her websites: