Sunday, March 13, 2005

I was surprised to find Daniel Pinkwater, a regular NPR commentator & author of about 100 (!) books, in a writers' chat room I popped into last night. He writes the kind of absurd, humorous children's books I especially love, and the books he reviews on the radio become bestsellers. Another writer and I chatted with him for more than 3 hours! It was absolutely fascinating, not to mention entertaining--I felt like I'd gone to a private writing conference. He shared lots of stories and advice, and I found it heartening that even after 35 years as a children's writer and plenty of ups and downs, he was still interested enough in writing to want to discuss it in the middle of the night. One statement he made resonated with me enough that I asked if I could quote him on it, which he said I could: "Seeing your name on a book gets old really fast, but trying to make one that sings all the way through can be endlessly interesting." Now that is something I look forward to, and it also reminds me to keep raising the bar on my own expectations for my writing! Be sure to keep an eye out for his next novel, The Artsy Smartsy Club, which he thinks is possibly his best work yet.

In other news, my 6-year-old, Ryan, created his own little vanity press the other night. He set up a "writing stand" in our living room. The rest of us were supposed to come there and write stories with the pens, pencils, & paper he provided. Then he would make a cover, illustrate the stories, & bind them with staples. (Amazingly he decided not to charge for that service, though he charged 5 cents apiece for sharpening pencils, and managed to need 4 of them sharpened for his illustrations.) It was challenging to write a story on demand while he waited, especially one that would be very short and easy to illustrate, but I wrote an extremely low-conflict story about a pig's journey to Jupiter, with too many pages, and he patiently illustrated the whole thing and made a color cover with the title written in a "fancy font". Too funny! (And knowing Ryan, within a few years he may have invented his own printing press to do the job right!)

Also, my brother in Hollywood is a "featured extra" in an upcoming episode of the TV show Las Vegas. He plays a crook who gets chased through a casino, and he creates a diversion by throwing a stack of $100 bills in the air. Only they aren't ordinary $100 bills--they have his picture on them, and they actually made up fake bills with my brother's picture on them! If my brother ever comes up with a list of 10 things he's done that most people haven't, it would put any list of mine to shame.

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