2013: What a year!

EMLA Client Retreat group photo

I haven’t posted here for way too long, but 2013 turned out to be quite a year. I did manage to squeeze in a few posts over at Emu’s Debuts, so I thought I’d share them here as a sort of roundup (and to partially explain where I’ve been since the last post)…
In July, I had the amazing experience of attending my second Erin Murphy Literary Agency client retreat, this time in Big Sky Montana. Words can’t really describe how wonderful these retreats are, but I posted a bit about it here.

EMLA Client Retreat group photo
The whole EMLA retreat gang (except me!)

Aside from that trip, I spent the summer writing, researching, writing, interviewing, writing, revising, writing, revising, revising, and revising to deliver the final manuscript for BE A CHANGEMAKER. I wrote a bit about the process here.
A screen shot of the developmental edit
Tracked changes in the developmental edit stage

Despite the mad race to the finish line, I feel really good about how it all came together. And here‘s a post about how it felt to get to THE END.
Then there was the dreaded author photo, which actually turned out to be sort of fun (and decent enough to share with the world, thank goodness!).

Laurie Thompson head shot

Other news and highlights from the year?

  • I got to see an early study for a scene from the picture-book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, illustrated by Sean Qualls.
  • The above book also FINALLY has a title, EMMANUEL’S DREAM!
  • I also got to see preliminary sketches for MY DOG IS THE BEST (sorry, I can’t share them here, but Paul Schmid‘s illustrations are ADORABLE!).
  • I finished another fiction picture book manuscript and it will soon be going out on submission (fingers crossed!).
  • I participated in and finished PiBoIdMo 2013.

Stay tuned for my next post on how I plan to tackle 2014. ūüôā

Email subscription changes afoot

As most of you know, I’m under a pressing deadline to deliver the completed manuscript for CHANGEMAKERS by August 1st. I have three chapters left to write, plus a plethora of bits and pieces scattered about and piles of notes to myself about things I still want to go back and fix… and only three weeks left to wrap everything up. So, what did I spend my day doing today? Making a new email subscription campaign, of course. (Gah! What?)
My brain seems to like having a burst of writing activity one day, followed by a burst of something–anything–else the next. I had an extremely productive day yesterday, so I pretty much accepted that today was going to be spent revising, tightening, expanding, twiddling, etc. Since I wasn’t in “flow” today, there was time for doing the dishes, putting away laundry, and catching up on some web browsing.
I happened to come across this article about the 10 biggest Internet marketing mistakes made by artists and creatives. I’ve been wanting to set up more of a newsletter for my email subscribers for a while now, so I’d already done some research on it and was planning on switching to using¬†MailChimp¬†instead¬†of Feedburner… someday. Well, Mark’s article spurred me into action today. After all, I’m a tech savvy gal… how hard could it be, right?
Well, it took longer than I thought it would to get all the pieces to fit together (a few hours), but I think I have everything all converted now. I think it looks more professional and it certainly gives me more options, so although my timing might not have been ideal, I think it was worth it.¬†If you were subscribed to my old Feedburner feed, I’ve moved you to the new MailChimp one. I hope you’ll like it better, but you can always unsubscribe if you’re not happy with it (MailChimp makes it easy for you!). From now on, any new subscriptions will go straight to the MailChimp list. ¬†(If you’d like to subscribe, just look for the MailChimp subscription form on the right-hand column just below my bio.)
Please let me know what you think! And, of course, let me know if you see any problems. Note that I might not fix them until August, though. After all, that deadline is still looming!

Another book deal: a how-to guide for teen changemakers!

Europa Park Roller Coaster Up
Although we recently spent a week in Disneyland, last week was definitely the bigger roller coaster ride for me: I had surgery on Tuesday, then my second book deal was announced on Thursday! There’s nothing like good publishing news to cheer up a writer who is feeling down, and nothing like a book selling on proposal–with a short deadline–to make her want to recover as quickly as possible.
Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Laurie Thompson’s CHANGEMAKERS, a teen handbook for social activism and how to effect change, with tips, instruction, and practical case studies, to Nicole Geiger at Simon Pulse, by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (World English).

And here’s the fabulous write-up my amazing agent put up on the agency website:

Quick show of hands: Who here has ever dreamed of changing the world? Okay, now one more: Who’s actually sat down and put together a specific plan for changing the world, complete with guidelines, practical tips, and hands-on experience from those who have gone before and actually done it?
Let me introduce you to Laurie Thompson. Last year, Laurie’s first picture book was signed on by Schwartz & Wade. This week, Laurie has accepted a publication offer for her newest book, a non-fiction manual for teens and preteens, tentatively titled CHANGEMAKERS. Focusing on the experiences of teens and young people who have made a concrete difference in their own neighborhoods, countries, and across the world, CHANGEMAKERS will be the definitive guide for kids who want to make a difference but don’t know how to get started. And I have a feeling the rest of us non-kids will enjoy it too!
This book was enthusiastically signed on by Nicole Geiger at Beyond Words Publishing/Simon Pulse, and is slated for publication in Fall 2014. Huge congratulations, Laurie!

Even though this is my second book deal, it looks like it will actually be my publishing debut. My first book, a picture book, isn’t scheduled to launch until spring 2015, but this one is scheduled to come out in fall 2014. Since this one sold on proposal, however, I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time if that is going to happen. So, please forgive me if I’m even quieter than usual for the next few months.  As soon as I am recovered enough, I’ll be back on my treadmill pounding out words!

It's time to get busy

Cybils 2012 logo

I’ve been working like crazy lately on a revision for the editor of my first book. I’m simultaneously blown by away by how much work she’s asking me to do AND by how much better it’s going to make the book. Most of her comments feel so utterly, obviously right–AFTER I’ve read them–that I’m left wondering why I didn’t think of them myself. ¬†(I’m also left wondering why she ever bought the book in the first place, but in that way lies madness, so let’s not go there, okay?) I thought I had given everything I had to this book, thought there was nothing more I could do, but now I realize how lazy I’d actually been.¬†A few days ago, Mitali Perkins wrote about being grateful for traditional editors. I couldn’t agree more. The process is not only making a better book, but making a better writer. That’s not to say there hasn’t been some gnashing of teeth, banging of head on desk, and wine and chocolate binges, of course. And I’ll be over-the-moon happy when I think I’m finally done. But it’s getting there. I think I can see what it might one day be, and it sure feels good.
Cybils 2012 logo
As soon as I wrap up the big revision I’m looking forward to fully jumping into two more exciting activities! First, I’m thrilled to be judging the Non-Fiction Picture Books category of the Cybils again this year. We have just over 100 nominations to read. I’ve had a slow start given the revision, but hope to be picking up steam soon. I’m maxing out my check-out limit at the library and building huge stacks of beautiful books to indulge in. What could be better?

And, I’m also attempting to do agency-sister¬†Tara Lazar‘s Picture Book Idea Month (or PiBoIdMo). The goal is 30 picture-book ideas in the 30 days of November. I had a great big bunch of them right before the challenge officially started, and today, on the first official day, I had two more (and I even fully drafted out one of them–WOOT!). This is a fun challenge with a ton of support and camaraderie for all levels, and I can’t wait to see what else comes out of it.

The Call

In case you missed it, I made my debut post over on the Emu’s Debuts blog earlier this week! Emu’s Debuts is a group blog maintained by debut authors represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency (get it? E. Mu.?) We blog about that nebulous, murky area between an author’s first book offer to the publication of that debut book: Contracts! Revisions! Reviews! Oh my! It may seem like it’s easy once you’ve signed on the dotted line, but it’s a whole new set of problems, anxieties, and rewards.
Anyway, it’s tradition on Emu’s Debuts for the introduction post to be about “the Call.” So, please click here to read¬†how my first book deal came to be.
Have you gotten “the Call” yet? If so, what was it like for you? If not, what do you imagine it will be like when it finally happens? Let me know in the comments!

Book launch for Kim Baker's PICKLE!

table full of food

Every book launch party I’ve ever been to has been a ton of fun. If that’s not enough reason to go to as many as you can, how about just just supporting our local authors and illustrators? You want them to come out and support you on your big day, don’t you? If you didn’t make it to Kim Baker’s PICKLE launch party at Secret Garden Books¬†last week, here’s just a taste of what you missed:
There was food!

table full of food
Can you spot all of the pranks here?

There were friends!
crowded bookstore
How many faces of SCBWI do you recognize here?

There were prizes!
Kim holding prizes
I believe those are the broken-glass stickers and the trick pencils. Later, I won an exploding can of snakes!

There were books!
Kim even read a scene from PICKLE to us.
(I think I snorted out loud.)

There were even pickles!
Wait a minute, I don’t think those are really pickles.

But don’t worry, if you didn’t make it to this book launch, there will be another one coming soon to a bookstore near you. Make sure you get out there and see what all the fun is about! And if you still need to pick up a PICKLE, you can always click here:

 Shop Indie Bookstores

Signed, sealed, delivered… S&W, I'm yours!

signing the contract

A few days ago I signed ¬†(with my super-fancy pen–thanks¬†Joni Sensel!)¬†the official contract for my first book, to be published by Schwartz & Wade at Random House,¬†and dropped it in the mailbox. Woohoo! What a fantastic feeling.
signing the contract
Armed with the Authors Guild’s¬†Model Trade Book Contract & Guide, I sat down to pick my way through the legalese if only to know that I had done my due diligence. Thanks to my super-awesome agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and the equally awesome Erin Murphy, there really wasn’t anything left for me to negotiate, although Joan did read and reply to a rather long list of probably mostly stupid questions from me. The reasons why I’m absolutely thrilled and relieved to have these wonderful people on my side just keep mounting.
There was only minor sticking point: what to call MYSELF!¬†I know, that doesn’t sound very hard, does it? Well, it was for me. There are just¬†too many of us Laurie Thompsons in the world. How could I stand out and be unique, without confusing the issue one way or the other? Well, after running in circles for a few days, we (yes, I even made poor Joan weigh in on this one) went for adding my middle name, Ann, to the mix. Laurie Ann Thompson. Exciting, huh? I know, it really shouldn’t have been that hard. Oy.

My first studio recording

Laurie giving thumbs up at the studio recording

My lovely and talented friend Tina Hoggatt recently put out a call for participants for an art projects she is working on called Story Chairs. Basically, there are these super cool-looking chairs that she helped design that have speakers in the wings and automatically play stories when you sit in them. I submitted one of my own stories, Invasive Species, and she took it! So, last week I had the experience of reading it and being recorded and edited on-the-spot at Jack Straw Productions. Wow! How cool is that?

Laurie giving thumbs up at the studio recording
Here I am giving a thumbs up that we’re ready to go. The amazing Mo is at the controls.

I also has the great honor of reading a deeply moving true story by another friend and agency sister, Audrey Vernick. I’d just met Audrey for the first time a few weeks earlier at the EMLA client retreat in Port Ludlow, so it was especially poignant for me to read her beautiful, heartfelt work. I hope I did it justice!
Here’s me reading inside the studio.

Thank you Tina and Audrey for one fun and very memorable day!

My treadmill desk office setup

TrekDesk straight-ahead view

I’ve been singing the praises of my new treadmill desk setup on Twitter recently. My first full week in action, I noticed:

  • I logged 23 miles, without even thinking about it. Wow!
  • I noticed greatly improved focus and concentration.
  • I felt much more energetic, both while on the treadmill and off. No more afternoon energy slump!
  • My aching shoulder and numb left arm (due to a bulging disk and pinched nerve in my neck) virtually stopped their hurting and tingling. Pain relief was an unexpected, but much appreciated, bonus.
  • Last but not least, walk-dancing to a great song on Pandora is much more fun (and better exercise) than chair-dancing! (I’m thankful I work at home, though, as this could be majorly humiliating in a more public space.)

Coincidentally (or not? maybe it was prompted by my enthusiastic Tweets), a friend posted a link to Arthur Slade’s hilarious and inspiring post about his treadmill desk setup. Who knew there’s a whole movement out there? Thanks for uniting the Tread Heads, Arthur!
Anyway, a few of you have asked what my setup is. Not being as handy, patient, or thrifty as Arthur and others are, I splurged for the instant-up store-bought solution made by the good people at TrekDesk¬†and¬†put it on top of a Pro-Form 505 CST Treadmill. It was super easy to assemble and set up. Here’s a look at the result:
TrekDesk straight-ahead view
The TrekDesk comes with a sturdy metal document holder, which serves as a laptop holder in my setup (above, on right). Then, I added a Plugable USB 2.0 Docking Client¬†and an extra monitor, rotated to portrait mode so I can see a whole manuscript page at once, or a whole web page, or whatever. I can’t image working without a dual-monitor setup, and the docking client also allows me to grab my laptop and go and come back again without dealing with tons of plugs, cables, and cords first.
TrekDesk treadmill desk side view
This all takes up quite bit of space, unfortunately, so I had to move out of my tiny guest-room/office and into the family room, which means headphones are a must now that the kids are out of school for the summer. And it means we need a new, smaller couch as the ancient behemoth no longer fits. Darn.
So, I still have a few adjustments to make to the room, but I am loving the desk itself and the new working experience that comes from it.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with or questions about treadmill desks. Does it, or would it, work for you? Why or why not?

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah on Oprah's OWN

I just found this short video that Oprah recently did on Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, the subject of my manuscript ONE IS ENOUGH. I’ve been working on this story, in some form, since I first heard about it in 2005, and I still find it inspiring. I hope you will, too.

An Update on Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Three years after Emmanuel’s Gift was released, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah shares an update on how his life has changed since that time. Find out about Emmanuel’s sports academy, his passion for soccer, his family and how he’s changed the lives of millions of people in Ghana.

If you’d like to read more about Emmanuel and his mission or find out how you can help, please visit his foundation’s web page here.
You can also read about him:

in this book

or this documentary.