After the Ecstasy, the Editing

Author Christina Uss offers some insight into “Mind Games Writers Play On Ourselves” after getting that first book deal.

EMU's Debuts

Everything editors, agents, and authors have told me at SCBWI conferences has turned out to be true, particularly the things I didn’t believe would be true for me.

For example, I’ve been told that getting a book deal will not magically transform me into a permanently satisfied, optimistic, and resilient human.  When SCBWI folks said stuff like that, I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m sure that’s true for the other pre-published writers here, but not me. Once I get a book deal, I may still be an easily-exhausted anxiety-prone weirdo, but then I’ll be that weirdo WITH A BOOK DEAL AND THAT WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.”

Nope. Sigh.

After the ecstasy of getting “the call” in 2016 from my darling agent and connecting with my talented editor to begin the publication journey for my debut middle-grade novel, I expected to wallow in utter contentment for a long time. Years of…

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Summer Is Coming and It’s Time to Write!

The UCLA Extension Summer catalog has recently come out! This summer, the Writers’ Program is offering two courses in writing for young readers:

Writing Picture Books for Children: A Beginning Workshop, taught by Sherry Shahan (online course).

Writing the Young Adult Novel, taught by Lilliam Rivera (on-campus course).

For a complete list of all writing and journalism courses being offered, click HERE!



NaPiBoWriWeek–My Turn!

Today marks the halfway point in Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee, and it also happens to be my turn as a Guest Author. So, here’s the tease…Want to learn something about me that only a handful of people know? (seriously, only my family knows this and some of them even raise an eyebrow at it).

Read my interview on Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee blog. I’m also chatting with participants so stop on by!


Using a Mentor Text to Figure Out Picture Book Plotting

Laura Purdie Salas gives an excellent demonstration on how to use a “mentor text” on her blog. Enjoy!

Mentors for Rent

All of my trade published picture books are either nonfiction, poetry, or a mash-up of the two. I want to write fiction picture books, too, but I struggle with plot/structure. Over the past year or so, I’ve analyzed many fiction picture books and typed out a bunch of my favorites, too, hoping to absorb their secrets to success. I was trying to use them as mentor texts by osmosis, I guess. (“Mentor text” is a term from the education world for a text that you use as an example for some element of writing that you ask your students to study and then incorporate. If you go to my website at http://www.laurasalas.com and type in “mentor text” in the search box, you’ll find some other things I’ve said about using mentor texts in writing.) But osmosis just wasn’t working.

Recently, I tried something new. I literally used a picture book…

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FREE Book Giveaway! (I mean, BOOKS)

Today, the a-mazing (no, make that A-mazing with a capital A) Kirsten Cappy of Curious City is launching a FREE STEM Story Hour Kit, designed especially for educators and librarians, to use with MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN. To get a look at this beautiful kit, just buzz, hop, flutter or dawdle on over to her website HERE.

And today, Curious City is starting a book giveaway (yes, as in FREE, F-R-E-E) to kick off the celebration of this gorgeous STEM Story Hour Kit. CC will be giving away 22 copies of the book! (special thanks to Tilbury House, my publisher, for donating the books). For details in how to enter the giveaway, click HERE.

But don’t dawdle too long–winners will be announced on May 8, on the Curious City DWP page. Please share this any educators or librarians you know!


Clever Disguises…What Scientists Call Camouflage

“There’s a surprise in clever disguise…”

This a repeating line in my latest picture book, MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN.

But what is the surprise in clever disguise? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out! (hint: the answer is below)

In the meantime, here are a few other “clever disguises”–also called “camouflage”–that animals use to blend in to keep themselves safe from predators.



































Could you spot them all?




You can read more about camouflage HERE.