The death of a friend

Bridget Zinn, a dear friend of mine and one of the best people to have ever walked the earth, died today. In honor of her, I post the following poem by W. H. Auden, with apologies to the author's memory for changing the "he" to "she" and the "I" to "our." Whenever I eat chocolate or cupcakes, go on a dreamy flaneur-walk, or see a pair of awesome red boots, Bridget I will think of you. Meanwhile, we grieve.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotten gloves.

She was our North, our South, our East and West,
Our working week and our Sunday rest,
Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song;
We thought that love would last forever: We were wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


What's been up

Since I last posted eons ago, I have come up with a handy new reason not to blog. It's called graduate school. That's right, I've joined the masses pursuing their MFAC. Since it is conveniently within a five-hour drive, I chose Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota as my alma mater-to-be. Even though it's a tremendous amount of reading and work, I keep pinching myself, wondering why I didn't do this a lot sooner.

Why am I crazy-happy to be pursuing my degree? What wouldn't you give to sit under the tutelage of such famed writers as Gary Schmidt (yes THE Gary Schmidt)? The lovely Anne Ursu? The talented Marsha Qualey? Kelly Easton? Jackie Briggs Martin? Mary Logue? Liza Ketchum? Phyllis Root? Not to mention such guest speakers as Gene Yang, Deborah Wiles, Elizabeth Partridge, Swati Avasti. And the list goes on. Much to my glee and eager-to-pinch fingers.

This summer I was also named to the board of the Friends of the CCBC. If you have never heard of the CCBC, it is also known as the Cooperative Children's Book Center and is run by the amazing Kathleen Horning. Check out the CCBC at: Serving on the Friends' board has so far proven a wonderful experience. Yes. It. Has. For instance, I got to have dinner with Susan Patron and hear her say "scrotum." In public. Can it get better than that?

I think not. And now you know why I have been lured away from blogging.

Many of you have mourned my recent failure to post photos of kidlit luminaries' shoes. I hang my head in shame. But never fear! A new batch will be winging its way to this site in the near future.

Meanwhile, here is a sneak preview of the lovely Bridget Zinn, for whom my shoe gallery is named, in some hot red boots. Hot. Red. Boots.

Viva les bottes! And stay tuned for more!


Whoa--it's been way too long since I posted. However, I have some awesome new shoes to post about today, so here we go.

First, I attended the Wisconsin SCBWI Spring Luncheon a couple weekends ago, and snapped several tres interesting pairs of footwear. Our speaker,

the lovely Mollie O'Neill of Katherine Tegan Books, a HarperCollins imprint, wore some fab black sandals.

As always, Thelma Godin (far left) and Emily Finke (far right)

did a bang-up job hosting the lunch. Thelma, ever the fashion diva, wore fantastic gator-green vintage pumps.

For more shoes, go to my updated shoe gallery.

This past weekend, three of my buds (Judy Bryan, Pam Beres & Jamie Swenson) & I traveled vast distances to attend the Iowa SCBWI conference.  My camera was on the fritz, so Judy very kindly took photos of several pairs of shoes for me. Thanks, Miss Judy. The first pair was worn by Allyn Johnston, editor extraordinaire of Beach Lane Books. It must be noted that she wore these with flair.

Author/illustrator Marla Frazee had the most awesome shoes on--they played off spats. So creative.

Finally, I had a great time chatting with (l to r) agent Ammi-Joan Paquette, HC editor Laura Arnold and author Lisa Graff at the wine-and-cheese reception while Judy snapped their shoes.

I'm exhausted, so this will be it for now. But stay tuned for breaking news on my brand-new WIP. I'm afraid I'll be bidding adieu to my wonderful werewolves--at least for a while.


Rejection. It's such a huge part of being a writer. You wouldn't think so, since writing is basically a solitary activity. But, aside from acting and perhaps door-to-door or insurance sales, it's got to be one of the most ego-destroying things you can do in life.

This week, I was rejected twice, both times first thing in the a.m. That's the time of day I, not being a morning person, am at my most vulnerable. So, even though I managed to get back on the horse both times, it felt particularly crushing.

Today I ask myself: Why do you put yourself through this again and again? You pour yourself into the characters on the page, into the revision, into the writing itself, so you know beyond any doubt that you are going to take it personally when the work is rejected, no matter how kindly that rejection is couched. So what makes you sit down at your computer every day and keep at it? What makes you lie in bed at night and listen to what the characters are telling you, then get up the next morning and do it all over again?

Unfortunately--or maybe fortunately--the answer to that one is another question: What else would I do? At my core, I'm a writer. That's settled. No going back. Signed, sealed and delivered.

Not even rejection can change that fact.

Madison Vampire Coven reading

One thing I definitely don't do enough of is attend readings by local authors. I intend to remedy this situation, and took my first step tonight by attending a reading by the Madison Vampire Coven, aka (l to r) Alex Bledsoe, Fred Schepertz and Jordan Castillo Price.

They all, of course, write genre fiction, but share a tongue-in-cheek approach. Jordan writes gay-friendly novels and stories. You can check out her PsyCop series at Fred's first novel is called "Vampire Cabbie." Go to for a closer look. Alex has published several novels, the latest of which will be released by Tor on November 10 and is called "Burn Me Deadly." Watch trailers of all his books at And read these fabulous Madison authors--it's the perfect season for it!

The group's mascot for the reading.

And oh yes--Fred is quite the "shoeman" (ok, you can groan; I am). No really, I am adding his lovely zoot-suit pair to the shoe gallery. But here they are in all their shoely glory:

Top 10 Things I Learned at the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat

This must be the year of the conference for me. SCBWI-NYC, WISCON, ALA and now (drumroll, please!) the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat.

Let me say up front that, while I am completely prejudiced in favor of the Wisc. SCBWI chapter, this was one of the best events I've ever gone to. With editorial faculty like:

(L to R) Abigail Samoun of Tricycle Press, Krista Marino of Delacorte, Lauren Hodge of Little Brown

and  Karen Kohn of Carus

 PLUS the so-side-splitting Lisa Yee (and her traveling companion Peepy), the chicken chick herself, Tammi Sauer,

and the smart-and-sassy Marsha Qualey, how could it be anything but brilliant?

And, of course, with the Dynamo Divas themselves--Miss Pam Beres (left) and Miss Judy Bryan--at the helm, you know you're in for a wild ride (one with plenty of wine and chocolate).

Other people far more coherent than I have posted about the actual contents of the retreat elsewhere, so I will go my own way and post the top 10 things I learned. A-hem:

10. Tammi Sauer does not walk around in that chicken hat. Can you believe it? That was a complete surprise to me. I mean, who wouldn't walk about in that lovely headgear as much as humanly possible? It's so, well, chick.

9. Lisa Yee's Peepy needs a pair of stilettos. Badly. Note how Lisa has to cover Peepy's bare little piggies with a hand (below). I plan to rectify this sad stiletto gap ASAP.

8. Feed a Peep some Wisconsin cheese (or make her wear it on her head, as above), and she will make every attempt to remain here in the Dairy State. And, if caught, she'll lie about it and insist that the ARA of the Wisconsin chapter tried to kidnap her. For shame, Peepy. You know Judy Bryan would NEVER do that. Right?

7. It is very easy to spot a writer who just experienced a positive critique from an editor or published writer. They bob along about 3 feet above the floor with an angelic grin plastered on their face. And then they drink a boatload of wine. (And yes, Thelma, I'm talkin' about you.)

6. Never take just one of Roxanne's homemade gingersnaps from the bag on the snack table. They will be long gone when your body starts screaming for more. It's worse than heroin withdrawal. I mean it.

5. Editors have a life outside of publishing. "WHAT?" you screech. It's true. For example, Abigail Samoun keeps bees. Yup. It's a fact.

4. It's important to follow M.J. Diem around as soon as she arrives because that big cardboard box clutched to her chest contains CHOCOLATE! And not just any chocs. This year, she made chocolate-covered caramel-crisps sprinkled with flavored salt. On second thought, it's probably an even better idea to lie in wait in the parking lot until M.J. arrives and just make off with the box yourself. More for you. (Her photo's below for easy skulking and identification.)

3. Writers name the oddest things. Such as belts. Belts named Sheldon (see below).

Why, Lisl, why?

2. Even if an editor says in her Friday-night talk that she is tired of werewolves, it doesn't mean she won't love YOUR werewolf book. She might even tell you to put the swears back in. Hee, hee, hee....

1. Writers have a real thing about shoes. You'd think it would be gloves, wouldn't you? But no. And they really, really like the person with the camera to take photos of their shoes. Lots of photos.

So, in honor of our shoe fetish, I offer the latest addition to the Bridget Zinn Honorary (note the name change) Cool Retreat Shoes Gallery. Enjoy! These shoes represent some of the strangest, funniest and greatest people I know.

And now--on to stuffing the swears back into my werewolf novel!


How beautiful it is to go to a convention to be surrounded by bunches of nutty folks who love books and the people who write them! How much more beautiful is it to go to said convention and meet a ton of one's favorite authors, some fab editors and even an agent or two--PLUS get free books and ARCs?

There is just no way to go wrong at the ALA convention.

Miss Judy (pictured above with her oh-so-chic Chicken Dance hat and author Tammi Sauer) and I zoomed off in her silver van very early on Saturday morning, had the usual difficulty finding the correct entrance to the event's parking, and eventually paid our 25 buckaroos and entered the ALA exhibit floor. I'm telling those who did not make it: You are missing a gigantic treat to yourself. Next time it's anywhere near you--GO!

We spent an awful lot of time standing in line to have books signed by lovely author-types (and illustrator-types, too). Somehow, this didn't bother me (care to weigh in, Judy?), even though waiting in line is not my favorite thing to do. Even waiting 2 hours for Neil Gaiman's autograph was no big whoop. Everyone in line was so great!

Did I mention how lovely these author-types are? Just take a look at my ALA gallery to see all the kind folks who let us snap their photos, both with and without us in them. Among these so-approachable writers: Libba Bray (you crazy redhead, you!), Holly Black, Mo Willems (who mentioned hanging around Madison with "Kevin," ie, Kevin Henkes), Ingrid Law, Melina Marchetta (she loves my first name & named her new character "Georgie," short for "Georgia"), Mo Willems, Tammi Sauer (who is really, really crazy--good crazy, not scary crazy), Patricia Wrede, David Levithan and John Green. Even Mr. Gaiman, who had a HUGELY long line, took time to talk while scrawling a lovely headstone with "Georgia" written on it inside my copy of "The Graveyard Book." I hear other people got a hand protruding from a grave.

Ah. Life is good. So good. Even from the POV of a headstone.

Lest you all be torn asunder by heated jealousy, I will not mention the fabulous, longed-for ARCs scored by yours truly. Suffice it to say I feel very, very sorry for you who did not attend.

Very sorry.

I was particularly pleased to see my dear friend Kashmira Sheth receive the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature honor for her lyrical picture book, "Monsoon Afternoon." The illustrator, Yoshiko Jaeggi, was also there to be honored.

The laudable and equally dear Ann Bausum, author of "Denied, Detained, Deported," had a nice long line of fans waiting for her to sign their books. That girl writes with such an eye for the truth and humanity--she is amazing.

Congrats to you both!! I look forward to reading your next works in crit group.

Undoubtedly, seeing Neil Gaiman receive the Newbery Medal was thrilling. He's so funny and yet tender--loved his story about his son and how Neil finally impressed him by holding his own with Stephen Colbert on the Colbert report (to see him in action, go here: Keep your eye on youtube for his Newbery speech.

Okay, despite the risk of jealousy, I just have to list a few of my top scores: Geektastic pocket protector, "Pieces of Georgia" postcard (author: Jen Bryant), Going Bovine, Geektastic, Sucks to be Me, Liar and Forest Born. And many, many more. Here's a photo of some of the stuff -- squee!

This post has gone on much too long, but I hope you enjoyed it. And remember to check out my ALA gallery of stars! I've uploaded some photos; more to come!

Bridget Zinn Auction!!

I'll bet you're itching to donate to an extra-good cause. Like helping someone with stage 4 colon cancer pay for her treatment? If you are a good-hearted person, love to read, love writers and are in a position to help, please visit the Bridget Zinn auction site to bid on a great variety of way cool services and stuff! Bridget is a great person, fab writer and friend. Plus, she's a redhead. How can you resist that combo?

If you would rather give Bridget a gift of cash, please contact me here and I'll tell you how to do that. Meanwhile, visit Bridget's own web site/blog at

And check out the Bridget Zinn auction at


WisCon 33

Hey, all of you feminist sci-fi/fantasy writers/readers out there. I hope you're planning to attend WisCon 33 in Madison, Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend. I know I am. Why attend? Well, you'll meet many others of like mind, who read like fiends and actually think about intriguing subjects such as politics, religion, feminism, the environment, ethics...Along with plenty of chat about books, books, writing, and more books! How can you pass up an opportunity like that?

But wait! That's not all! You have the chance to meet me (you're just champing at the bit to do that, aren't you?). Along with Wisconsin authors Deb Jacobs and Patricia Cumbie, I'll be taking part in a a WIP reading on Friday from 2:30-4. We will also host a book drawing and share some chocolate with attendees. On Saturday, the wonderful Sarah Prineas joins us twice as a co-panelist. The first panel on the "Unspunky Teen Protagonist" goes from 10-11:30, and the second, on breaking into the YA market, goes from 2:30-4. Hope to see you there.

To sign up for a mere $45 (can you believe that?), head on over to You won't be sorry if you come. But you might be if you don't.

Here's my favorite book by Deb:

Here's Patricia's book:

Here's Sarah's first book: