Archive for ‘Editing’

November 14, 2011

Free Books! Seriously.

Today I’m donning my editor hat because I have something really fun to share with you, reader friends—especially you mommies and anyone else who loves picture books.

A few weeks ago, I met with the founder of a pretty cool new digital picture book platform called uTales. It’s a subscription-based picture book service, kind of like Netflix, kind of like Spotify. The cool thing—okay, there are lots of cool things—is that you can not only read picture books, but you can create them, too. The books on the site are not ones you’re going to find at your library or local bookstore. They were created on the site, and while they may be published in print in the future, currently, they’re only digital.

Lest you be wary about the quality, as I initially was, know that there is an editorial panel—of both professionals and hand-picked “uTalers”—who determine which books are worthy of being “published”. From what I’ve read thus far, probably a dozen of the 150 titles, there are a few punctuation issues, but the stories and illustrations are top-notch.

So where do the free books come in?  Well, having met with the founder (fingers crossed that I find a place on the editorial panel in the future), he offered me a free 15-day trial to share with you!

This isn’t a contest; there’s no limit to the number of people who can take advantage of it. It’s simply an effort to get the word out about this new take on what “picture book” means and how readers interact with them.

Here’s the link for the free sign-up:

I really encourage you to give it a shot. The books work on computers, iPads, and iPhones. The site just launched at the beginning of November, and the more people who try it now, the more the folks behind it will know about the public’s interest. I currently have no professional association with them, I just think it’s pretty cool. So does Jacob. To him, it would only be better if I let him press the buttons on the computer.

Happy reading, reader friends!

P.S. You can also buy individual titles. For now, ignore the “Buy” buttons under the titles. The free trial really is free, and the entire library is open to you!

P.P.S. This one’s for you, Uncle Michael:

July 12, 2011

Dancing Home

Today is a very special day in my life as an editor.  The first book I edited—Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and her son, Gabriel M. Zubizarreta—was published today by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division.



Dancing Home is a story for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12) that alternates between the perspectives of Mexican-American Margie and her Mexican cousin Lupe.  Margie has finally convinced the kids in her California school that she is one-hundred percent American, just like they are. But when Lupe comes to visit and attend school with Margie for a year, everything changes.  Margie resents the effect Lupe’s arrival has on her family, her friends, and her life at school.  Meanwhile, Lupe is struggling to learn a new language and find her place in a new school.  Both girls are in need of a friend, and with the help of a special Mexican dance, they find one in one another.


The book is being simultaneously published in English and Spanish (I helped very little with the Spanish edition, Nacer bailando—majoring in German really wasn’t practical).  Although I did the majority of the editorial work on the English edition before I left S&S in November, there was still plenty of work to do by the other incredibly talented people at Atheneum.  I recently got advance copies of both editions, and let me tell you, they did a beautiful job.


Clearly this book has a special place in my heart, and I was delighted to find that trade review journals liked it, too!  Here’s what they had to say:


“The third-person narration shifts its focus gently from girl to girl, allowing readers access to their thoughts and feelings…. Although sometimes wise beyond their years, Margie and Lupe will charm readers as each girl struggles for belonging and acceptance in this realistic novel.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS, June 1, 2011

“This story will assist readers in embracing their own heritage and developing an appreciation for their classmates’ backgrounds. It’s an enjoyable offering (and a great read-aloud) that will capture readers’ attention and have them rooting for the cousins and their friendships and family relationships.”

School Library Journal, July 2011

“Ada, the author of many multicultural titles, including Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection (2006), and Zubizarreta write knowingly of the difficulties of a life lived in two cultures. A subplot involving Lupe’s father (who came to America illegally and later abandoned his family) is also well handled, as is the inclusion of a Ruben Dario poem, “To Margarita.” Give this to fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000) and Becoming Naomi Leon (2004).”

Booklist, July 1, 2011


Next time you’re at a bookstore or the library, stop over to the children’s section and check it out.


Congratulations to Alma Flor and Gabriel on the publication of their book!


May 12, 2011

Why I Love Being a SAHM

For the record, I think the acronym “SAHM” is silly.  It’s not easy to pronounce, as an acronym should be, and the “A” for “at” seems grammatically incorrect to me.  But this is a blog on the internet, where this kind of speech reigns.  When in Rome, right?

When I finally made the decision to stay at home with Jacob, I was not entirely at peace with the choice.  I knew it was the plan John and I had agreed upon when we got married, and I knew that it was the right thing for our family.  Still, I loved my job very much, and the sea of unknowns that come with being home with a newborn threatened to overwhelm me.  I was bummed that John got to work and have those interactions with adults, be intellectually stimulated, build a career, etc. and also had a baby and a home to come back to at the end of the day.  I felt like he had the best of both worlds and the better end of the deal.

Eight months later, the tables have turned in my mind.  Now I wonder how in the world he gets up every day and leaves us to go into—dun, dun, dun—Manhattan!  I can’t imagine not being here for so many special moments in Jacob’s life (even if a good number of his “firsts” come in the middle of the night).  And by God’s grace, my freelance business is steadily growing, so I continue to have interaction with adults, intellectual stimulation, a growing career, etc.  And there’s so much more!

I am reading like crazy—almost a book a week.

I am writing every day—here and otherwise.

I am eating healthier foods—having a full kitchen at my disposal at mealtime, rather than stuffing lunch in a bag is a great blessing.

I am in better shape—scooping up a nearly twenty-pound baby who knows how many times a day and walking everywhere I need to go beats sitting in a cubicle any day!

Basically, I am doing all the things I love every day—being with my baby, praying, reading, writing, editing, eating well, and exercising (even if it is disguised as a trip to Target).  Oh, how mysteriously God works in our lives!

I often get the impression that some folks wait to have their lives in order before they have babies.  In my experience, life got started once I had a baby, not the other way around.

It’s just another example of the tremendous fruits of trusting in God.  His grace is abundant, and despite the new daily stresses my life has taken on, I feel His mercy raining down on me all the time.

I know every mom makes the decision that is right for her and her family.  I only mean to make the point that I am better, I am more complete because I am a mom.  And I am so very grateful for this gift.

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