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Posts Tagged ‘Edith Hope Fine’

*Warning! Shameless plugs and gushing ahead!*JumpFroggiesfinal

Here is a riddle:

By the pond you spot a sign: Writing for Children. In the pond, three frogs sit on a log. One decides to jump.

How many are left on the log?

Three–because there is a difference between deciding and doing.

Author Edith Hope Fine has written a wonderful book for beginning authors and veteran authors as well.

Here is the description:

Do you dream of writing for children but don’t know where to start? Jump, Froggies!: Writing Children’s Books is the perfect book to start you on your path to publication. Award-winning children’s book writer Edith Hope Fine takes you on a step-by-step journey through the world of children’s book publishing. From writing techniques to jump-start your creativity to how to submit your work, from getting your work published to marketing yourself and your projects, this book includes more than eighty-nine practical tips, plus journaling ideas for aspiring writers. Jump, Froggies! is a must-have for anyone beginning a career in children’s books.

*Shameless plug #1* My blog buddy Sarah Tomp and I each contributed to the eighty-nine practical tips.

*Shameless plug #2* I designed the cover and interior art for this book.

Here comes the gushing part: Jump, Froggies! is a must-read for all budding authors. Edith Hope Fine is a genius, she delivers a wealth of information in a clear and concise manner. The tips are sometimes humorous, sometimes thought provoking, but they are all very helpful. This book will be on my recommended reading list.

So go out there and start writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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Today it is my great pleasure to feature Edith Hope Fine! I met Edith through the San Diego chapter of SCBWI. She is warm, funny, and a natural born teacher – she has this uncanny way of making me want to be better…. a better writer, but also an all-around better person. I guess you could say she makes me want to grow!

Her latest book, Water, Weed, and Wait is the result of a collaboration with another local author, Angela Demos Halpin.

Edith’s bio:
Edith Hope Fine is a teacher-turned-writer, with numerous magazine and newspaper credits. Her award-winning books include science, grammar, picture books. Titles include Water, Weed, and Wait, Under the Lemon Moon, CryptoMania! Teleporting into Greek and Latin with the CryptoKidsArmando and the Blue Tarp School, and the Nitty-Gritty Grammar books. She’s also written biographies of Gary Paulsen, Barbara McClintock, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks, science curriculum, and Can-Do Cursive, a handwriting workbook for students covering grammar, Greek and Latin roots, and writing.
Edith lives near San Diego and is lucky enough to have her four grandkids close by. She’s active in the San Diego Chapter of SCBWI, a book group, and a critique group. Veggies grow happily in the front yard, but raccoons have (temporarily?) put an end to her trench composting. Her website is www.edithfine.com.
Author Spotlight – Edith Hope Fine
WOTS: WHAT WAS THE SEED OF INSPIRATION FOR WATER, WEED AND WAIT?

EHF: Angela Halpin and I belong to the same book group and she started the garden at her three sons’ school in San Diego. When a San Diego Master Gardener told us that teachers needed a book to read to their kiddos about building a school garden, the idea sprouted.

WOTS: HOW DID THIS STORY GROW? FOR INSTANCE, COULD YOU SHARE YOUR PROCESS FOR COLLABORATION?

EHF: Like all writers, we checked to see what was out there about school gardening. The answer: zero. Voila! There was that hole on library, school, and home bookshelves that writers seek.

We’d meet for delicious editing sessions at the Pannikin in Del Mar, passing the manuscript back and forth on the big wood bench outside BookWorks, so all the loose words running around inside could come out to play.

A collaboration bonus—our Tricycle editor sent us a sampling artists’ online portfolios for our input. What a privilege. We love Colleen Madden’s whimsical style and the sorbet-hued palette she chose, a perfect fit for our light-hearted, can-do take on school gardening. (www.greenfrographics.com)

WOTS: WERE THERE ANY WEEDS OR OTHER PROBLEMS ALONG THE WAY TO PUBLICATION FOR THIS BOOK?

EHF: Knowing how the word “underwear” makes kids giggle, we first used “Mr. Grumpy Drawers” as we searched for a name for Pepper Lane Elementary’s grouchy neighbor. But kids today only equate “drawers” with places for shirts or silverware (or underwear!). We renamed this central character “Mr. Barkley,” nicknamed “Mr. Barks-a-lot” by the kids.

For me, tracking changes online with our editor was a prickly process. Sometimes there’d be seventeen blobs attached to one sentence or phrase and I wanted to reach for the weed killer! A slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. I still prefer to edit by hand. There’s something about holding that pen . . .

At first, we wrote far more detailed information on school gardens for the back of the book, but soon realized that soil conditions, temperature, school size, number of volunteers, and many other factors differ so widely nationwide that it was crazy (impossible) to cover it all in a picture book. Plus great info and resources for school gardens are easy to find online. We did include web sites and you can see Before and After photos from Angela’s school. Look for Master Gardener groups—these enthusiastic gardeners do consulting for schools. A great way to get started. (www.mastergardenerssandiego.org)

As always, getting from idea to holding a finished book in your hands takes longer than one thinks humanly possible. You pull one weed and another one pops up. Reading the manuscript aloud was the key to hoeing out the extraneous words and keeping those word furrows straight.

The hardest news came in November when our lovely editor called to say that Random House was closing Tricycle Press. RH will keep the Tricycle books on their backlist, like my CryptoMania: Teleporting into Greek and Latin with the CryptoKids and our Water, Weed, and Wait, but fans of the remarkable Tricycle team are pained to see this quirky, high quality, daring children’s imprint vanish from the scene.

WOTS: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WRITING?

EHF: I love the moment when I feel that shivery frisson, knowing that an idea is unique, and fresh and just waiting for me.

Visiting schools is fun. Both of us come from teaching backgrounds. Angela was a natural at her first-ever school presentation. We’ve been startled at how little the kids we’ve met seem to know about how things grow. Few youngsters could tell a lima bean seed from a radish seed. The obvious exception is at schools with active school gardens.

As a friend says, “Today’s kids live so far off the ground . . .” with computers, Wii, and an increasingly techie and potentially isolating world. Like Michelle Obama and other leaders in the school garden movement, we want to see students outside, getting their fingers dirty.

On one school visit, I showed a PPT slide of a red potato with eyes that had grown out. I walked the aisle with this potato and they kept asking, “How did you DO that?” meaning how did we make the potato grow eyes? Neglect in a cool, dry place! Just cut said potato into pieces and plant. There’s nothing like new potatoes from your yard for dinner.

The funniest thing that’s happened with Water, Weed, and Wait was at the launch at San Diego Botanic Garden in September. When Angela read the part about Mr. Barkley’s head popping over the playground fence so he see what all the noise is on clean-up day, she looked out at all the kids gathered for the story and said, “Show me your grumpy eyebrows.” A total hoot. Where was our camera?! We’ve used that line every time since.

I must also add my fellow critiquers. Our subjects vary widely, but to be with other logophiles who can offer, specific insight and support is incredibly valuable. The mysterious chemistry works. And I’m active in our San Diego Chapter of SCBWI, another reliable source for inspiration.

WOTS: WHAT MAKES YOU PROCRASTINATE?

EHF: What doesn’t? I’m much better off, workwise, on tight-schedule days than loose days. If I didn’t create fake deadlines for myself, playing with grandkids or reading or walking or making soups or or swimming or Sudokus or even laundry can take over. Angela teaches full-time so she gets extra kudos for squeezing out the moments to co-produce Water, Weed, and Wait, her first book.

WOTS: DESCRIBE YOUR WORK SPACE FOR US.

EHF: I had to laugh reading Anne Mazer’s WOTS interview, because my office matched her description. But this November I decided to give myself a Christmas present and really worked hard to toss old papers, duplicates, irrelevant materials, long-published manuscripts, grocery lists, coupons from 2004 . . . So now I could actually Skype with classes from here without being totally embarrassed. A friend, spying the change, asked sweetly, “Were these counters always here?”

WOTS: ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY NEW PROJECTS THAT YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT?

EHF: In my writing file I have five manuscripts on the front burner and about twenty-one simmering on the back burner. Some queries are out, but even though I’ve written fifteen books, it can still feel like starting from scratch when trying to sell a new piece. I’m quietly working on an adult novel, too. It hasn’t told me where it’s going yet—I’m waiting in hope while it percolates.

WOTS: WHAT’S ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

EHF: Like our fictional characters, we all have secrets. Most of mine will remain mine, but not too many people know I’ll try to root any plant from seeds, bulbs, cuttings, leaves (try coleus), a la my college botany class. Three-toothpicks in a sweet potato, peanut butter jar, water? I grow them, then plant in the yard. A pineapple top! Sure—and it’s now big with long spikey leaves. I’ve got blueberries, lemons, arugula, and a bunch of volunteer Sweet 100 tomatoes pop up each year.

I still find the most extraordinary cloud shapes. And when I go to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, I can spread my arms out and almost match that ape arm display!

There's Edith peeking out from the back - and with the longest arms!

EHF: That’s getting to the root of our new book, eh? Hope you’ll get out there with your favorite kids and water, weed, and wait.

Thank you to Edith for this peek into the creation of Water, Weed, and Wait, a truly charming book that makes a fantastic read-aloud. This book is the perfect gift for an aspiring gardener – and for every teacher.  And be sure to read her other books as well. Her picture books are truly written for children, but can help their grown-ups grow as well.

Sarah Wones Tomp
Writing on the Sidewalk


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One of my biggest fears when signing books is making a mistake or misspelling the recipients name. I try to take precautions and have them write the name on a post-it note. I even mentally spell out the name before putting pen to paper. I also try to take it slowly so that I am not rushed. Unfortunately mistakes happen.

At a recent San Diego SCBWI meeting veteran author Edith Hope Fine stated “I have two copies of “Under the Lemon Moon” one made out to Emily and one to Samantha. So if you are an Emily or a Samantha, I have some books for you.”

This comment not only brought a collective chuckle to the room but reminded us all that even veteran authors are human too.

So following Edith’s example I’d like to say that I have a copy of “Grandma’s Pear Tree” made out to “Juliama,” so if any of you know a “Juliama” tell her I have her book.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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My very first SCBWI meeting was some time in the year 2000. I managed to sneak away from my three babies – feeling terrified the entire time I drove around looking for USD, looking for parking, looking for the right building, then the right classroom until I finally snuck in the back at least a half hour late.

And was completely blown away by Jean Ferris.

The whole experience was exhausting, humbling – and inspiring!

The San Diego chapter of SCBWI is a busy one. They have monthly meetings – a point of pride since many other chapters are not able to provide such a consistent source of support and information. These meetings are packed! And in a much bigger classroom than the one I visited so long ago.

My Super Blog Buddy and I presented our “lessons learned” at Saturday’s meeting – Sue has already posted our tidbits of info regarding our WIP, this blog. The lineup of speakers is a prime example of how the powers that be for our local chapter (most prominently Janice Yuwiler, Patricia Buckley and Debra Schmidt) manage to draw on the varied experiences of local authors.

During the short but informative presentations we heard about:

For all the aspiring authors in the room looking to get published, Edith had a magical card that summed up the key to success: PERSISTENCE.

And really, in their own way with their own particular focus, that was the same lesson everyone shared. Thanks to Edith for making it crystal clear.

My own writing journey has been a long roller coaster – but SCBWI has helped in oh so many ways.

San Diego SCBWI is hosting a conference in February. Check out the lineup! Wow.

Sarah Wones Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

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When my picture book RED, WHITE AND BLUE GOOD-BYE came out, I was lucky enough to be invited to make several school visits. Each experience was a little different but most of the schools I visited were impacted by military deployments – although it might be safe to say this is probably true of most schools in San Diego. We’re a big Navy and Marine town. But also, this makes sense considering that my book is about a little girl who doesn’t want to say good-bye to her daddy when duty calls.

The title of my book lends itself to fun decorations – I was often greeted with lots of reds, whites, and blues!

I love school visits – the students are always fun and thoughtful and their teachers are appreciative and curious.

This experience has influenced the stories I write. When a new picture book idea comes to me, it has to pass the school visit test: Would I want to talk about this book in front of an auditorium of energetic kids?

I recently attended a dinner and discussion meeting of San Diego SCBWI published members.

Our gracious host, Edith Hope Fine – whether she wants the role or not – is also our leader, mentor, Mama-bear, Queen, and all around dynamo of inspiration.

Edith had asked us to bring any extra yarn we might have to help with her project of knitting hats for preemie babies around the world. Besides knitting them herself, Edith takes yarn and a nifty-knitter gadget with her to school visits. There she teaches a student how to make a stitch, then that student passes the nifty-knitter on, teaching the next person how. Each and every person contributes and makes a difference.

I love this! So simple, so profound… and, so very practical. I’m sure this helps to keep the students focused, engaged and excited.

AND, it is a perfect tie-in to the book ARMANDO AND THE BLUE TARP SCHOOL, which Edith wrote with Judith Pinkerton Josephson. This lovely book is a fictional tribute to the work and inspiration of David Lynch who is dedicated to teaching children who live near the Tijuana dumps.

From Edith’s website: 

When I’m not writing or reading, you’ll find me swimming or walking, baking, or making soup. In between my plants and flowers, I grow vegetables! I watch old-timey movies, have fun with my family, email pals around the country, do Sudokus, compost and recycle (call me the “Recycling Queen”), and work toward fairness and justice for all on this small blue marble we call home.

Obviously, Armando’s story is something Edith feels passionate about. Edith is also smart and funny and articulate – but her passion is why I would love to see one of her fabulous school presentations. If you are an author planning a visit, check out her guidelines for schools – it’s a great how-to  as well.

Can’t wait to see her new book coming out this summer: WATER, WEED, AND WAIT. And to hear about her tie-ins to this one!

Sarah Wones Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

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Feeling motivated today!

One reason is thanks to the (totally rocking, incredibly over-achieving) San Diego chapter of SCBWI.

Next month’s meeting focus is on POLISHING YOUR MANUSCRIPT.  As in working on something that is DONE. Attendees will have the opportunity to work in small groups on their preferred genre.

Check out the wealth of talent, knowledge, and absolute fabulousness that will be available to lead the groups!

ILLUSTRATORS: Joy Chu, who seems to be a bundle of knowledge and expertise, has some hands-on activities planned for you. I wish I was an illustrator!

PICTURE BOOKS: If you have a picture book that is ready to toddle out into the world, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to work with the amazing Edith Hope Fine. Edith is gracious and passionate about children’s books and I’m certain she will make you work. Really work. And you’ll love her for it. Guaranteed.

MIDDLE GRADE: Opportunity here is named Carolyn Marsden. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Carolyn up close and personal for years. She is smart and tenacious and creative in all the best ways. Her middle grade novels are beautiful and open your eyes and heart to the wide world around you – whether you are a middle grade reader or an adult. Or anyone else. Middle grade authors, you are lucky.

YA: Mary E. Pearson. Wow. Have you read her books? That’s about all that needs to be said. Except that I was lucky enough to hear her speak (to the same SD SCBWI mentioned above) and she was amazing in person as well. You can’t go wrong with any of these authors but Mary is my personal motivation. I will be there, ready. With my FINISHED, as in DONE, manuscript.

Gotta go write!

Sarah Wones Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

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