You Think it Can’t Happen? How My Two Picture Books Were Stolen by a Major Publisher

Open Mind

When I was in eighth grade I wrote two short stories for our English teacher, Mr. Mortem, a malevolent-looking man with a low brow and small beady eyes. We joked that he moonlighted as an axe murderer. But he was even scarier as an English teacher. He snapped girls’ bras in the hallway and terrorized us with menacing-sounding exams called “evaluations,” which turned out to be ordinary multiple-choice tests. When we turned in our stories, Mr. Mortem said he didn’t believe I’d written mine. How would he know? All he’d ever seen of my writing were checkmarks on his “evaluations.”  He also didn’t know how disenchanted I was in school, or how passionate I was about writing. “I’m going to keep this story so you won’t try to use it again in high school,” he said. My stories, according to Mr. Mortem, were too good for me to have written.Inside, I was seething.Just wait. Someday I’ll be a real writer. … Read on

My Perfect Writing Fantasy!

peaceful nature scene

Recently I was taking a woodland walk, while indulging in an unbelievable fantasy. It’s the same fantasy I’ve had, with variations, since I was a little girl. I’m a children’s book author who works at home while her wonderful husband is away at work and her wonderful child is off at school. So, what’s my real life like? Well, I’m a children’s book author. I work at home while my family is away at work or off at school and they are wonderful-most of the time. And yet my fantasy couldn’t be further from reality. As I walked through the spring woods, I pondered why. To begin with, my children’s author fantasy is set sometime in the 1940s. I write quietly at home; I don’t have to market or promote my books. I’ve had the same editor for twenty years; she buys everything I write, and all my books stay in print forever. If I need a little extra money … Read on

The Most Powerful Union in the World!

Some of the things toddlers do just don’t make sense. Unless you understand about the Baby Union. When my eighteen-month old daughter, Annelise, sees her snack coming, she lets out a protest, even though she knows she’s just about to get it. Why? Because of the Baby Union. Sometimes she hurls her spoon on the floor while sitting in her high chair, then howls because she doesn’t have it. I try to explain about the laws of gravity but she isn’t listening. Why not? The Baby Union! The Baby Union demands that all babies, everywhere, stand – or crawl – united. The Baby Union Manifesto 1. Never let Mom or Dad get smug about how well things are going. Keep them off-guard and slightly disoriented. Sleep deprivation is especially effective. 2. Protest a minimum of twelve times a day. If there is nothing to object to, make something up. They’ll never know the difference. 3. Always insist on the genuine … Read on

I’m Not Panicking – This is Just My Writing Process!

Little Elfie One by Pamela Jane

Years ago I took a weekend seminar with renowned screenwriting teacher, Bob McKee.  The large auditorium was packed.  Screenwriters, novelists, children’s authors, and editors of all genres had come to hear McKee talk about the art of writing and storytelling.  I could hardly wait for the seminar to start. McKee walked out on stage and stood for a moment, looking out at the audience.  Everyone was silent, waiting for him to begin. “Writing,” he said finally, his intense gaze scanning the audience, “is not about the words.” Yes! I thought, someone finally said it!  I had always felt that words were merely messengers of a deeper truth concealed behind or beneath them. Writing, McKee went on to say, is about characters, meaning, and emotional impact.  Recently I rediscovered the truth of McKee’s statement when I sat down to write Little Elfie One, a Christmas sequel to my rhyming Halloween book Little Goblins Ten, which had been published the year before.  … Read on

I Just Want to Write About Halloween; I Don’t Want to Answer the Door!


I don’t like holidays; I just like writing about them. Carving pumpkins and making gingerbread men (or, heaven help us, gingerbread houses) have no appeal for me. I dread the thought of holiday preparations – the shopping, the anticipation, the work – that’s it – the work! I don’t want to do it, I just want to write about it. As a children’s author of many holiday books, including five Halloween stories, you’d think I’d look forward to the actual holiday. But I can’t stand it. What I love is writing stories, playing with words, playing with kids (the idea for one of my Halloween books came from a tickling game I used to play with my daughter). But what does any of that have to do with people ringing the doorbell every two minutes? “Just turn off your lights and don’t answer the door,” one friend advised. But we live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other. It would … Read on

Am I Good at Anything Else?


Children’s book authors get asked all kinds of questions at school visits. “How much money do you make?” “How old are you?” “Does your hand get tired when you color?” (This last was asked by a kindergartner and I consider it one of the great existential questions of all time. Often, when I’m in a philosophical mood, I reflect on it.) The most unnerving question I’ve ever been asked was “Are you good at anything besides writing?” As I stood in front of the school auditorium with 500 curious faces peering up at me, my mind went blank. The embarrassing truth is, I don’t do anything but write. I don’t even have a hobby. I’d like to act in a daytime drama and play the piano and write lyrics for Broadway but I don’t have time. Then suddenly, as I stood staring out at the young, expectant faces, I remembered something. “I’m good at laundry!” I said. The kids weren’t … Read on

How I Broke Into Publishing – Literally!

broken china

Years ago, when I was struggling to write my first children’s book, a noted writing teacher and expert in the field of children’s literature, offered some advice. “If you want to get published,” she said, “don’t write fantasy, don’t write seasonal material and for heaven’s sake, don’t write about dolls!” She suggested instead that I wrote about “real life”-my own authentic childhood experience. This was sound advice, as far as it went. The trouble was, my idea for a Christmas story about an ambitious ballerina doll was my authentic childhood experience. As a little girl, I had been deeply impressed by the seeming dedication and discipline of a lovely ballerina doll sent by a favorite aunt. When I explained this, my teacher shook her head, “It’ll never sell.” I went home and told my husband about what happened. To my surprise, my usually kind and supportive spouse said something so infuriating and outrageous that I hurled a china vase against … Read on

Books for Halloween

“On Halloween for trick or treat, two monsters mixed a stew to eat. They mixed it in a garbage can and laughed about their clever plan for making monster stew…” I’m pleased to announce that MONSTER MISCHIEF is back in print, by demand.  Print-on-demand, that is!  To order call Simon and Schuster at 1-800-223-2348.  The ISBN number for this edition is 1481425358 (paper). “Written in bouncy rhyme with glowing watercolors, this tale will capture the hearts of all who love the magic and mystery of Halloween.” Children’s Literature And, of course, LITTLE GOBLINS TEN is still available, and will soon be followed by a Christmas sequel, LITTLE ELFIE ONE (Harper 2015) also illustrated by Jane Manning. So come on and get spooky! “…trust the team of Jane and Manning to conjure up an impressive new vision in time for Halloween.” starred, Kirkus Reviews … Read on

The Power of Picture Books

Not long ago, The New York Times published a front-page article* about the declining sales and possible death of the picture book.  Increasingly, parents and teachers are bypassing picture books for chapter books in the hopes of accelerating their reading skills and boosting their standardized test scores. But there is nothing standard or predictable about the imagination or how it is developed and nurtured. As an author of thirty children’s books, including many picture books, I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if not for the pictures in the books I loved and poured over long before I could read. I’m not an illustrator, but the images in the books I loved as a child made a deep and lasting impression.  My parents used to read to me from a book of nursery rhymes filled with pictures of old-fashioned children in knickers and lace pantaloons skipping through meadows in a faraway land called Long Ago. Up in … Read on

No Holiday Kitties Until 2015!

Little Goblins Ten, co-author Pamela Jane’s Halloween book for children, has been receiving rave reviews  but there are no kitties in this spooky retelling of the classic rhyme Over in the Meadow.  But, kitty-lovers take heart!  The Christmas sequel, Little Elfie One will be out from Harper in 2015 – and there will be kitties in it – ten to be exact!  Like Goblins,  Elfie will be illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning.  In the meantime, enjoy Goblins!                                                   Reviews “Numerous titles interpreting “Over in the Meadow” have been published, but trust the team of Jane and Manning to conjure up an impressive new vision in time for Halloween…Even though this is essentially a counting rhyme, the author elevates the reading and listening experience with interactive rhyming text that is rich with alliteration and strong action words: The monster … Read on