Thursday, December 3, 2009



Time flies, eh? I said I'd blog more so, technically, even though it's been two weeks...It's still more!

I've been working on my mid-grade novel today and wrote a chapter that I know works. It's a point in the book that really needs to be poignant and I've written a couple of earlier versions of the scene that were technically fine...but, when you really came down to it, were just words on a page--but TODAY! Today...finally...I nailed it. Hopefully, I'll still agree with this assessment tomorrow. That's the real test--24 hours!

Hurray! Better get back to it!
Merry December!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Katherine Paterson??? Are you kidding me???

Brad and Angelina WHO???

Okay. In a world of people who seem to love celebrities, I have to admit that I don’t care about them most of the time. Seeing a close friend trumps anyone you’d find on the front of a magazine any day….But, of course, there are exceptions…There always are…

I have wanted to meet Katherine Paterson…since…uh…forever? To me, she is a superstar! I LOVE her books and, as a teacher, I know that kids love them as well. She has a true gift for writing emotional truth—and conveying that emotion in a way that is understated yet powerful, which makes it feel all the more real. I didn’t read The Great Gilly Hopkins until I became an adult (Yes…I truly am!) and I was so blown away… Some would argue that was the case because ole Gilly and I have some similarities ….Fine…I admit it…I chew gum, too…

Well, the universe was once again stepping in to work these things out for me in freakish sorts of ways… I DID have the opportunity to meet her! Oh…my…God…

I have to admit that I worried on the drive there. I mean, what if she wasn’t what I held her up to be all these years? Maybe my imagining would be better left to its imaginings…(What does that mean exactly???)

Well, when I arrived, I learned two things. One: Your palms really do sweat when you’re nervous and Two: I never had anything to worry about…

So, I walked into the room, spotted her immediately, and decided I couldn’t go over. I soon spotted a lady that looked safe enough…so I walked over to her…

I asked her if she worked for Scholastic (It was a Scholastic event!) and she said she did not. Then I asked if she was a librarian or a teacher. Negative. A little awkward silence ensued before she told me she was a children’s writer. Me, being withdrawn and shy, slapped her lightly on the arm and exclaimed, “Me, too!” So, we chatted and she was so, so lovely and nice to chat with. I was calming down…

So, me being me, said, “Oh my God I have always wanted to meet Katherine Paterson…” and then went on about my worries of blabbering incoherently or swallowing my tongue if…IF…I even got to talk with her. I mean I was just so happy to be there to hear her speak…

<< ring, ring >> “Hello? Universe? Lynda calling… Help me out here??? Whataya say??? >>>

The woman says, “NO need to worry. Katherine is just lovely. Actually, we’re close friends. I drove her down from Vermont…” And before I could take breath, she turned and waved, “Hey, Katherine! Come on over here and meet Lynda!”

Ms. Paterson, who was talking to someone else, excused herself and walked over to us—and thank God she carries smelling salts…

Okay. I didn’t pass out but I gushed like a fool. No…I really did. I’m practically a fool now just thinking back on it! And because she had been summoned to us, I think others thought I was “somebody” because we were undisturbed for at least ten minutes. I asked everything I could! And she asked me stuff, too, about my family and my writing--my book’s title and what it was about and said she would look for it! A little surreal, I have to admit! I told her I’d love to send her a signed copy when it gets picked up for it never would have been written without her inspiration….

She is…an over-the-top-talented writer but also so gracious and kind. She’s full of wisdom and warmth and intellect. I teared up listening to her descriptions of children who’ve approached her at school visits and asked heart-breaking questions about Bridge to Terabithia and Gilly. I laughed aloud at her jokes and listened intently to descriptions of her own journeys—as a child, a mother, a wife, and a writer…And as a champion of children! Love that!

Too bad no one sells action figures of Katherine Paterson…I’d buy one for sure…

SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, 2009

Photo L to R:

Jennifer Rees, Senior Editor, Scholastic Books

Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Author/Illustrator

Anna Webman, Agent, Curtis Brown

Sarah Shumway, Senior Editor, Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Printz Award winning author, Ellen Wittlinger

Hey, All!

Well, as director of the SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, I'm gearing up for another year...And apparently, many others are as well!

The retreat's weekend slots were filled in about two days and the "day slots" are going quickly! Overall, I'm pretty excited! As always, it's lookin' like a nice group of people--some old friends with some new people folded in (Ouch! Sounds painful!)

As I head into another year, I always think back on past ones... Last year was a blast! Above is a pic of our 5 mentors and they were terrific! Such talent and professionalism and tons of laughs!

I'm always nervous going into the weekend. Those of you who've organized events such as this know that you plan for months and months and then pray it goes off well. True—I have to have my ducks in a row, but in the end, a retreat like this is only as good as its mentors--so this retreat was pretty great! Pretty great…

Ahhhh, though…It’s time to look to the future! With the lineup we have this year, the future is looking pretty dazzling! The future’s so bright I gotta pull shades…

Forgive me for I know exactly what I do….

Monday, November 16, 2009



Just posting today to tell everyone how excited I am about my forthcoming, professionally done website! Some things should really be left to the experts. Apparently, in my case, websites are one of those things! ;-) I'll also be posting here A LOT need to toss and turn at night, wondering when I'll will be soon...

I'm also feeling grateful...incredibly grateful...

I spent this weekend in the mountains with some talented, hysterical writer friends. We "wrote" which means we sat up until 3:00 am talking, went antiquing, ate delicious food and drank incredible wine and pretty much completely enjoyed ourselves! We did talk about writing a lot and helped each other focus on what--exactly--we should be working on for most of us have mulitple ideas...Not such a bad problem to have! Personally, with all of the voices in my head lately, I feel like an answering machine...They are all so distinct, though, so it's almost like listening to different languages...

So, today...I'm grateful...I'm a blessed woman. My writing community is...incredible...

Until next time,

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gango Retreat. Portland, OR, 2009

Gangos: (FR) Joan, Tam, Colin (BR) Kathy, Laura, Cynthia, Susan, Dawn, Zu, Erin, Lynda (Ruth and Conrad are missing :-(

It is a rare thing when such a happening comes along. When you connect with people in a matter of days....And leave as close friends...

As Erin's newest client, I decided to be brave and fly out to Portland, Oregon, to the 3rd annual Gango Retreat that Erin holds for her children's writers every year. Even though I am the greenest Gango, it seemed important to make an appearance. And I wanted to meet Erin in person. You know, to see if she was as amazing as my intuition told me she was. And I wanted to meet some of her other clients as well.

WOW! Erin, Joan (EMLA's new and fabulous associate agent) and the "Gang of Erin" (as ourselves :-) are not only more than I expected, but more than I could have imagined. As the "newbie," I was folded in immediately. There were no lines between published/unpublished, newbies/veterans. I found the group to be not only kind, welcoming, and hysterically funny...but also supremely talented!! The writing talent of these people...And their generosity in helping some of us who aren't quite so experienced...yet!

And Erin is a perfect match for my work. Not only a perfect match for my characters...but a perfect match for me, as a writer. Erin's level of respect for her clients--and theirs for her--is obvious. And, along with some healthy doses of friendly ribbing, there's plenty of affection there as well.

I just blessed. So blessed indeed....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kid Inventors on the Ellen Show LINK


I found a link to a Youtube page that has the Kid Inventors segment from Ellen! :<)

Hollywood Adventure with Ellen Degeneres!

Hey All!

Well, we just returned from the time of our lives! Our son was chosen as a “kid inventor” for The Ellen Degeneres Show out in Hollywood. We were flown out (thankfully, in an airplane) put up in the Universal Studios Sheraton Hotel, and got to hang around the Ellen Studio for about six hours. We met lots of amazing people (the producers are super great!) saw a thousand amazing things, and made a million great memories! We also met a couple of other kid inventors and their families who we really enjoyed hanging out with!

Here is Kyle on the plane after he was offered flying lessons from the pilot. His lesson: “Pull back and the houses get smaller. Push forward and the houses get bigger. Push all the way forward and the house get real big real fast.”

We packed a lot into a few days! We started off at Hollywood Blvd. Talk about an interesting place! Since my poor husband could not go with us because he had to work, I decided it wasn't prudent to hang around with the kids at night but we saw some funny things! Kyle, who is a huge Harrison Ford fan (Star Wars and Indiana Jones!?) dropped to the ground (yuk) for a picture as soon as he spotted this! As you can see, we were also caught by some scoundrels!

We got to the beach before the taping at the Ellen Show. The Pacific Ocean is gorgeous!

So, finally, we got the the set of the Ellen Show. A lot of security to get through before we actually got there...but we got there!

We hung out in the GREEN ROOM! Which, isn't green! Lots of good food, drinks, nice people, flat screen TVs and a pool table...

Ellen introduces the "Kid Inventors" segment:

Meanwhile, Kyle gets prepped. First, he gets his hair done by a Hollywood Stylist!!! Which, of course, is just like home...

Then he gets wired for sound.... (How many eleven year old boys really need this???)

FINALLY! It's time to tape!

We really had an incredible time! Hollywood sets are just as you may imagine! But the producers were not like you may imagine (from the way they are often portrayed in movies and such!)--They were really approachable, incredibly kind, generous, and gracious! They put the kids at ease immediately! Here is one of our favorites...but I don't think I should include her name since i don't have permission...

A million THANKS to ELLEN (who was very generous with the kids!) and "her people." :<) See? I'm already using that Hollywood lingo!

The ONE false Random Thing...

Hey, Folks!

Here's the answer to the ONE false Random Thing: <>

#13! I was never caught in the stocks in Sturbridge Village. Congrat's to Mary who guessed it!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

25 Random Things


I know people are doing this on Facebook (and so did I) but I'm cheating and listing it here as well, since I've been meaning to do an entry. Life's been busy.....

25 Random Things About Me:

1. My family nicknames as a kid were “Lulu” and “Imp.”

2. I am a decent juggler. I learned during finals in college after a fruit basket was delivered. It was late at night; I was afraid I’d fall asleep on my desk, so I got up, started trying it and by dawn, I could juggle. (Yes, I think the final went okay!) I think everyone should learn to juggle. It’s a good lesson in dealing with frustration and perseverance.

3. I married the best guy ever! We are coming up on our 19th wedding anniversary, but it really feels like a lot less time! We met at the age of 15—the age our daughter will be in two weeks! EEK!

4. As a teacher, I knew that I would love having children of my own. However, I never knew HOW much I would love being a mom. How much I just totally love and enjoy these two great kids!

5. I needed braces when I was young, but finances were an issue. As a last ditch effort, the dentist pulled 13 teeth in one afternoon (4 adult and 9 baby teeth) After receiving “laughing gas” I kept telling the doctor that “I am unique—unlike any being ever born before.” Ain’t THAT the truth, huh!?

6. I miss my Mum calling me at 9:32 AM on my birthday—the very minute I was born.

7. Originally, I was going to do this list by listing 24 completely plausible but fictitious items, with the last one being, “I like to make stuff up.” One of my cousins beat me to a similar concept—must be in the blood!

8. I absolutely LOVE the ocean. Not only the serene beauty of it but also the crashing of the waves and swirling of the salt water and all the things that go on below the surface. And with all the exotic places in the world, I still love Cape Cod and Maine the most.

9. As a child, I used to hitchhike to church.

10. When I was 12, I had a ticket to see Shaun Cassidy (eat your hearts out, ladies!) sing at the Harford Civic Center. Two weeks before the concert, the roof fell in. I never saw him sing, and to this day, have felt a deep, unquenchable void…

11. I had one of those long, fake fur coats in the seventies. Were they popular or was I the only one??? At the age of ten, I went skiing wearing aforementioned fashion statement. While riding the “J-bar” up the hill, I waited too long to “unboard.” The “J-bar” went up my back to my shoulder blades and lifted me into the air by the coat, carrying me into the woods. They had to stop the J-bar to get some guys—and a ladder—to get me down.

12. I often wake up in the morning with a song in my head. It usually lingers and usually means something; it stays there until I figure out what. My favorite song when I was eight was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” My husband is baffled by this.

13. When I was in the fifth grade, we went to Sturbridge Village on a school trip. I “volunteered” to go in the stocks as a demonstration. The girl (new employee) put an antique padlock on the thing only to find there was NO key! It took over an hour to find a saw and get me out. Because of our unit on the Salem Witch Trials at school, I developed the nickname “Witchy Poo.”

14. I had always wanted to watercolor paint but never bothered to try. About four years ago, I signed up for a $15 class and found that I do paintings that don’t look like I drink heavily of paint with a blindfold! Not like I’m Monet or anything, but I’ve completed several of them and I love it!

15. My son had a febrile seizure when he was three. It was far and away the scariest moment of my life.

16. My brother, Michael Eric, died from asthma when he was three and I still think of him every day.

17. “Welcome to our World” is my favorite Christmas Carol. Also, I have a very strong faith in God. It wasn’t always that way, though.

18. I have a beagle named “Bagel;” she is my favorite carbohydrate.

19. When my brother, Rick, announced he was going to law school, I loudly proclaimed, “Well, I’m going to be a prostitute!” This is one of the few times I remember my family being silent. I had confused “prostitute” with “prosecutor”—a very common mistake, I’m sure! :<)

20. For the fun of it, I write stories. For hours. And hours. And hours. Love it! Would love to publish a book someday!

21. I have over 60 first cousins.

22. I spent a summer with my Godmother, Dotsie, and her family when I was eight. It was the best summer I ever had as a kid—truly a family filled with love and laughter. They served as a model for me as I became an adult and started a family of my own. Still think of that VW bus!

23. My office is filled with color and child-like things. I have a collection of kaleidoscopes (one handmade by my aunt Margaret—my favorite!), antique gumball machines, snow globes, colorful glass balls, stuffed dolls of famous scientists and artists—my favorite of them being Albert Einstein, paintings done by my kids, pics of the people I love, and a 3-D pic of Times Square. I LOVE color!!!

24. As far as I know, I’ve never had a fever. When I was four, I had asthma and went into respiratory failure. I was placed on a machine that lowered my body temp to kill the bacteria (opposite of a fever!). I remember being able to hear everything people said but could not move, open my eyes, or speak. Very strange experience! I was not supposed to survive but I did.

25. While sledding as a child, my sled went farther than expected and I went into a river (Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life?”). My sled broke through the ice, but my brother, John, pulled me out, wrapped me in his coat, and pulled me home in his sled.

26. I once dug up the neighbor’s plants, put them in a wheel barrow and pushed them to the center of town to try and sell them. No pots or anything--just balls of dirt. A marketing genius from an early age, eh?!

27. ONE of these things is not true. Can you guess which one???

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year, Fellow Writers!

Hello all! Happy New Year!

As we all sit at the table of contents this year, let us not be spineless. My proposal is that we enter this chapter of 2009 with a strong voice, writing the wrongs of the past when we may have felt a tad double-spaced.

Be an agent of your own success; you’ve got it covered! During this period, take the utmost care of yourself so that your colon doesn’t become a semi-colon. Also, keep your appendix intact even if editors tell you it isn’t necessary. After all, to some publishing houses (you know the type) you are but an indented servant (okay—that was bad) and so your hair may not fall quite right (that was worse). But, that’s okay because our sentences as writers are short in the big arc of things—why any shorter and they would be a fragments.

If it makes you feel better, take this period to chart your progress; make a graph. In fact, make a para-graphs, if you’d like! But, above all else, I must punctuate the idea of beating yourself into submission this year. Do it...and it could be…a novel idea! :<)

Wonderful wishes to you all for the New Year! And I do apologize for this message…sort of. :<)

Yours truly,
Cal Decott