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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop celebrates what writers are working on or what they have coming up next. Welcome to my stop!

I was tagged by my dear friend from the 2004 Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautauqua, Kami Kinard, who is the author of THE BOY PROJECT. Last week she posted her Next Big Thing here and tagged me. I usually have several projects going on at any given time, so I'll write today about the book I'm closest to finishing.

1: What is the working title of your book? VAMPIRINA BALLERINA HOSTS A SLEEPOVER

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? When Hyperion asked for a sequel to VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, I brainstormed a list of possible scenarios, and then together with illustrator LeUyen Pham and our editor Kevin Lewis, we chose the sleepover idea.

3: What genre does your book come under? Picture book.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Gosh, I really haven't thought about that. Some readers have commented that Vampirina's family resembles the Addams family. All I know is that Vampirina is much, much sweeter than Wednesday Addams!

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Having become good friends with the dancers from her ballet class, Vampirina invites the whole crew to the castle to spend the night!

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? The book is being published in July by Disney-Hyperion. My agent is Linda Pratt of the Wernick & Pratt Agency.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first draft took about 20 minutes, but there have been about 40 revisions since then!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Some people seem to put VAMPIRINA BALLERINA on lists of Halloween books even though it really isn't a Halloween book, and I assume that may happen again. I did see a post from one reader who compared it to IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. Let me know if you figure that out.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wanted a book that would include all of Vampirina's new friends. A sleepover seemed like an obvious way to get them together. As my editor pointed out, in the first book, Vampirina enters her (human) friends' world. In this book, they enter hers.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? I think Vampirina has multiple points of entry: it's got vampires (and mummies and bats and skeletons), dancing, friendship, humor and fabulous art from LeUyen Pham.

Thanks for checking out what I'm working on! Another great friend, Madelyn Rosenberg, has allowed me to tag her for next week: Check out her Next Big Thing on Wednesday, March 6!

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It has been a number of months now since my fabulous agent Linda Pratt told me that Disney Jr. might be interested in the option for television rights of VAMPIRINA BALLERINA. So for months, I've just smiled gratefully and bit my lip whenever a friend mentioned that VAMPIRINA might make a cute animated show.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term "option," a quick definition: it doesn't meant VAMPIRINA BALLERINA is going to be a TV show. It means that Disney Jr. has the right to develop it if they wish, within a certain amount of time, and that we can't allow anyone else the rights to develop it.

I am so appreciative of all that my agent Linda Pratt and film agent Eddie Gamarra have done to bring this to fruition.

Vampirina_jkt-frnt copy

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This little project was, for me, a celebration of dancing and of good friends. I especially enjoyed putting in all the pictures of little girls who dressed as Vampirina for Halloween--but remember, Vampirina dances all year long.

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Talking with the wee ones . . .

Yesterday I visited Foundations Child Development Center. I had planned to read to the three-year-old classes and the pre-Kindergarten. But when the toddler teachers asked if I'd read to their students, too, how could I say no? Of course, I've read to toddlers before, but always in a mixed-age group, where there'd be older kids to ask and answer questions.

But what to say to a group of only toddlers? The concepts of "author and illustrator" or "feeling embarrassed" or "practice, practice, practice" would be way above their heads. Of course, I knew that if nothing else, I could just read, but I wanted to do more.

Luckily, I found my answer in the book. The book cover is pretty obviously three colors: pink, white and black. So color became Impromptu Theme One. And in the line, "Remember to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed," I found Impromptu Theme Two: body parts.

At the end of the reading, we stood up to plié and pirouette. THAT was a hit.


Thanks, Foundations, for a terrific visit with some adorable kids!!

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The day after Halloween . . .

When I was writing it, it never for a second occurred to me that VAMPIRINA BALLERINA was a Halloween book. Sure, it's about a vampire, but to me, it was always a ballet book.

That said, I'm absolutely tickled to hear that little girls dressed up as Vampirina for Halloween. Here are some photos:


VB2 pic


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This past weekend, I headed to Northern Virginia for my yearly trek to the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference. I wasn't speaking this year, but I was on the critique faculty. I like this; it gives me a chance to do something I think can be really useful, and it lets me meet new people.

Of course, the new people, the talks and panels, and the general atmosphere are a draw, but the biggest draw is seeing the friends I've been making over the last ten years. Yep, this was my 10 year anniversary of SCBWI-conference-going.

My first year, I sat alone the whole day. I enjoyed it, but I was definitely alone as I listened to authorities like Barry Goldblatt and Stephanie Lurie. The next year, I volunteered. And the friends started coming, in a trickle at first, but then conference after conference, year after year, I started collecting my peeps. And now, going to Mid-Atlantic SCBWI is like coming home.

Best of all, though, was a moment I didn't expect, a moment that left me teary and pulled at my chest. Karen Cushman was scheduled for the keynote, but an accident left her unable to come at the last minute and the conference organizers asked my bestie NBA-winning-author Kathryn Erskine to reprise her speech from last winter's NY SCBWI conference. Kathy was her usual charming and funny self as she flipped through her Powerpoint presentation on FOCUS. And then it happened. At the end of the presentation, she had a slideshow set up of book covers. A random person in the audience might have thought they were random book covers, or perhaps, some of Kathy's favorite books. But I knew better. Kathy was posting the covers of our friends' books, all published in, yes, the last ten years. There were books from Kristy Dempsey, Linda Urban, Loree Griffin Burns, Moira Donahue, Katy Duffield, Madelyn Rosenberg, Julie Swanson, Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren, Alma Fullerton, Sara Lewis Holmes . . . too many to list. Ten years ago, none of us were published. And now we are. You can see why I teared up.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Kathy, right before she went on for her keynote:

Linda Budzinski, Natalie Lorenzi, me, Laura Lowman Murray

Me and Madelyn Rosenberg

Agent Tina Dubois Wexler and her client, my friend Sara Lewis Holmes

Sara, me and Kathy

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