Monday, November 30, 2009

Advice for Writers from Carrie Ryan

Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH grabbed me from the first line and didn’t let go until the end. Her workshop at the SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference was equally engaging.

Don’t let her bubbly personality fool you. Ms. Ryan does bad things to her characters and challenges others to do the same. Her advice? Take readers to the point where they believe the situation can’t possibly get worse, then, make it worse. Keep raising the stakes. Pull away your main character’s support system. Don’t shy away from situations where reaching the external goal would mean not reaching the internal goal. And by the way, there doesn’t have to be a happy ending.

Carrie Ryan also discussed her theory of credibility points. She believes readers give writers about 100 credibility points. If a writer asks the reader to believe something big (like in the existence of zombies), that will take lots of points. This means the writer should add details to make the smaller leaps of faith more believable.

So, how about you? Do you let your main character struggle or are you too quick to race to the rescue? Please leave a comment and share.

Monday, October 19, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Robin Constantine is the winner of my First Pages Blog Contest. She will be receiving the Mad Libs American Idol edition, where she may use adverbs as freely as she pleases.

I appreciate those of you who shared what you've learned. You rock!

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Pages: An American Idol for Writers

First Pages create lots of buzz at SCBWI conferences. Writers can choose to turn in a first page of a manuscript. If the page is picked, it will be read in front of a panel of experts (usually editors and agents) and an audience of conference participants. These sessions are a bit like an American Idol for writers. You hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everyone wants to watch, but only the brave participate. Sometimes the feedback is brutal. At least names are left off the manuscripts, so a bad “audition” won’t cost you your dignity. Every now and then, a piece will shine.

I’ve watched American Idol since the first season. I pride myself in my ability to predict what the different judges will say after a performance. This is the beauty of attending a First Pages session. As the panel responds to the pages, those listening get a better understanding of what editors and agents want to see and what turns them off. Although I’ve never had a piece read during one, I can still apply the feedback.

For example, during the last SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference, an editor pointed out that it was not a good idea to use brand names in a manuscript, because it can make your work seem dated in later years. This was new to me, and I was able to change the brand names in my work in progress to generic ones before sending it out again.

So what have you learned from a First Pages session? Leave a comment and follow my blog. On Monday, one sharer will be randomly picked to receive the AMERICAN IDOL MAD LIBS edition. Remember, I must be able to contact you to send you a prize, so make sure you leave me your twitter name or email address if I can’t find it through your blog account. I will only mail the prize to a U.S. address. Good luck, and thanks for sharing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

David Macinnis Gill's YA Workshop

YA stands for young adult, and according to SOUL ENCHILADA author David Macinnis Gill, YA is a marketing category, not a genre. At the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference, he explained what YA is and how it distinguishes itself from middle grade and adult books.

Generally, YA books span ages 12 to 18+. But not all YA is appropriate for 12-year-olds. As YA reaches out for college students, the themes become darker and more complex. The language and content of YA books often keep them off the shelves of libraries.

So how do you know if a book is a YA? Gill listed four characteristics:
*a teen main character
*an inherently teenage story problem
*written for a teen audience
*told in the here-and-now, rather than from adult retrospection.

Middle grade and young adult books can share similar characteristics and have an overlapping audience. The main difference between the two is intensity. In a middle grade book, romance might involve hand holding or some kissing. Young adult takes it further. In middle grade books, a bully might hit or push. In a young adult story, a bully might kill or cause serious injuries. In a middle grade book, a teacher might be mean. In a young adult book, the teacher might be a predator.

Writers should have a good idea who their audience is when pitching manuscripts, but the final decision is often out of their hands. Editors, sales and marketing, and agents help decide a book’s category.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Packing for a SCBWI Conference

Are you packed yet? With at least two SCBWI Fall Conferences this weekend, I’m betting many of us are wondering what to stuff in our suitcases. Below is a list to get us started. Please add any suggestions to it in the comment section. After all, I’m packing too and would hate to forget something.

Notebook and pens (to write down important info, ideas, and doodles)
Business Casual Outfit for Critique (Looking professional never hurts)
Breakfast bar or crackers (In case you oversleep)
Business Cards for networking (Staples can usually make these same day)
A Copy or two of some manuscripts/illustrations (to share as needed)
Chocolate (You’ll want an energy boost during afternoon sessions)
Laptop (For researching leads)
First Page entry (We won’t try to spot the embarrassed soul who wrote it)
Something to share at Open Mic (We promise to clap)
A willingness to learn (If you listen instead of just focusing on being heard, you will get much more out of conferences)

I’m looking forward to the SCBWI Carolinas Conference this weekend. For those of you on Twitter, we’ll be tweeting what we learn at #cfc09. I’ll also share nuggets of wisdom on my blog next week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

Why would someone with a blog about writing write a 9/11 post? Because that day interrupted everything.

On September 11, 2001 I was a fourth grade teacher at Walkertown Elementary. Before my students arrived, I stopped to talk to my friend Lisa about the previous night’s Bible study. We had discussed Revelations, and how, because we lived in a country that wasn’t under attack, we had trouble seeing it as others might.

Later that morning, with my students in the room, Lisa stuck her head in the door. “Remember what we talked about this morning?” she asked. “Get ready.”

I didn’t get to ask her what was going on, but I felt a heaviness.

A little while later, a parent volunteer came by with a brief note from the office. It was a newsflash, followed by orders not to watch or discuss it with our children.

There was noise. I taught from my lesson plans, got a few students to the office when worried parents checked them out early, and made sure we made it to the cafeteria on time for lunch.

When our students were in specials, we gathered in rooms. We stared up at the horror, and we worried, and we wondered. Then we picked up our class and went back to teaching.

It was right not to tell the kids what was going on, but I know they felt the silence. Children know when something is being kept from them. But for a few more hours, we guarded their innocence and gave them some stability. I will not forget that day or the pressing silence.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Carolina Tweeps Who Write And/Or Illustrate

Last week on Twitter, Bonnie Adamson decided to recommend writers and illustrators from North and South Carolina as people to follow. Some of us were having a tough time keeping up, so she graciously shared her list. I've added to it, and it's a whopper. There are kidlit writers, freelancers, romance tweeps, science fiction creators, bloggers, etc. If you know of any other North or South Carolina writers that would like to be added, please leave their Twitter name and actual name in the comment section.

@Koppelmom (Donna Koppelman)
@johnclaudebemis (John Claude Bemis)
@GrannyGretchen (Gretchen Griffith)
@nikiofware (Niki Schoenfeldt)
@mdiffee (Marie Wright)
@quirkywriter (Laura Renegar)
@stephenmesser (Stephen Messer)
@bethrevis (Beth Revis)
@katiehines (Katie Hines)
@moyergirl (Joyce Hostetter)
@carrieryan (Carrie Ryan)
@Constaur (Constance Lombardo)
@NCWriterMom (Maggie Moe)
@catesfolly (Florence Gardner)
@Alan_Gratz (Alan Gratz)
@claycarmichael (Clay Carmichael)
@Georgia_McBride (Georgia McBride)
@CREvers (Christy Evers)
@marybrebner (Mary Brebner)
@kate_reilly (Kate Reilly)
@ncwriterchick (Bernie Hearne)--protects her tweets
@LaurieJEdwards (Laurie Edwards)
@bonniedoerr (Bonnie Doerr)
@ashleymc1477 (Ashley McCollum)
@BonnieAdamson (Bonnie Adamson)
@alijwalker (Alicia Walker)
@katmagendie (Kathryn Magendie)
@AmyClipston (Amy Clipston)
@MollyFyde (Hugh Howey)
@joliehale (Jolie Hale)
@annieteich (Annie Teich)
@shellyyarbrough (Shelly Yarbrough)--protects her tweets
@ElizabethSCraig (Elizabeth S. Craig)
@BergersBookRev (Alice Berger)
@LydiaBreakfast (Lydia Dishman)
@ncyankee719 (Robin Constantine)
@louisehawes (Louise Hawes)
@thunderchikin (David Macinnis Gill)
@ItsDorothy (Dorothy Ray)
@LadyLoriSC (Lori Norman)
@authorann (Ann Eisenstein)
@acfeagan (Alice Feagan)--raised & educated in NC, though currently elsewhere
@authorswrite (Robyn Campbell)
@tadhgceitinn (Tim Keeton)
@chewchewpoopee (Susan LaBarre)

Friday, September 4, 2009

And the winner is...

Janet was picked from the hat and is the winner of the Sweet Repeats Contest. Congratulations!

A big thanks goes out to everyone who participated. I was blown away by the awesome response. Some fabulous books were mentioned. Happy reading!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sweet Repeats Contest

A good book is a good book, no matter how many times you read it. It isn’t just words. It’s an experience. During my teaching years, ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHIN always brought me to tears. SPOILER ALERT (If you haven’t read the book, skip to the next paragraph). Scott O’Dell’s story made me feel like I was the girl left on the island. When I read “oh Rontu!” after feeling the last heartbeats of my dog, my heart broke too.

So here’s where this post takes a turn for the happy. I want to know one kids' book you love and have read many times. Tell about it in the comment section. On Friday, September 4, we will put the names in the hat and pick one winner. The winner will receive a $5 gift card to Barnes & Noble to help purchase another book to be read and reread.

Please make sure I have a way to contact you (email address, twitter name, Bat Signal). If I can’t get up with you, I’ll have to pick another winner. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Responding to Rejections

The other day, a friend of a friend tweeted in response to receiving a submission rejection letter. A few of his followers copied his message, added encouraging words, and sent it back into the twitter universe. Now people who have never met this writer know two things about him.

1. Somebody just rejected his writing.
2. He is sulking about it.

Neither of these occurrences is uncommon for writers. Almost everyone actively pursuing publication collects form rejections. And they sting. You send your “babies” out with high hopes and big dreams. Let yourself mourn, for a minute or two, and then get back to work. But be careful who you invite to your pity party. Do you really want an agent or editor who might be checking out your work with hesitation to see your announcement that others are quickly dismissing it? You can whine, but do it offline and to someone who loves you more than your virtual friends.

Posting your writer rejections on the internet is like drunk dialing after a breakup. It might seem harmless at the time, but when you look at the after effects, it ain’t pretty.

And followers: send your kind thoughts, but don’t spread the word about someone else’s rejection. Respond without repeating it. Otherwise, you are the buddy who watches your friend in his moment of weakness and takes his picture.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to School and Submission Stress

It’s that time again. Before August even arrives, back to school ads fill the newspapers. We wonder why we haven’t received a supply list from our kids’ new teachers (who probably haven’t even received their rosters). Unable to risk missing out on six glue sticks for a dollar, we go to the school website and print off the generic grade level list. The one that says you need a 64 pack of Crayolas with a sharpener, when the real teacher will insist on 16 Twistables. The list frenzy walks hand in hand with the jitters. The same sort of jitters I get when submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the two have a lot in common. So here they are (in no particular order): The parallel stressful questions we face when sending a kid or submission out into the unknown.

1. What if she’s not ready?
What if it needs more revisions, but I blow my one chance by sending it now?

2. What if she doesn’t have the right materials?
What if I leave out some detail of the guidelines inspiring an evil “Bwa
Ha Ha!” followed by a quick delete from the agent or editor?

3. What if she doesn’t make friends?
What if the agent or editor I love doesn’t love my writing?

4. What if people pick on her?
What if hints of my submission show up on twitter’s #queryfail,slush
realizations or as a #pubtip turn-off?

5. What if she gets a mean teacher?
What if I end up signing a contract to work with someone and we don’t get along?

6. What if she buddies up with a trouble maker?
What if I end up signing with someone who isn’t legit or respected?

7. What if she comes home and decides she never wants to go back?
What if a form rejection snuffs out my dream, and I never get up the nerve to
send out another submission?

The questions swirl through our minds as we pack backpacks and SASEs. Still, we let go. We must, because we’ve done our best, and it’s time. Good luck everybody. Here’s to taking chances. Who wants to go first?

Monday, July 20, 2009

How to Interact with Agents at Conferences or How Not to Get on Writers Gone Wild

Ginger Clark is a literary agent from Curtis Brown LTD. Today she shared on Twitter many tips on how to interact with agents at writers’ conferences. She graciously gave me permission to use her tips on my blog, so in case you missed her tweets today, here they are (sparsely edited).

View your pitch session as a business meeting. You want to get into business with an agent. Behave accordingly.

That means: dress neatly. Make eye contact. Have a firm handshake. Don’t shake with anxiety. Know all major facts about MS. No crying.

There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no crying in business.

Know the word count and page count of book; what other books is it similar to, and different from; what’s the market; if it’s a kids’ book…

Is it YA? MG? Know the differences. If you don’t know an answer to a question, say “I don’t know.”

Do not pitch a book that has not yet been written and revised thoroughly to an agent. (There are non-fiction exceptions to this).

Pay attention to body language when you consider pitching agents in non-pitch session settings. Are they at the bar and seem approachable?

Or are they sitting with an editor, deep in conversation? Are they at a party, standing alone? Or are they mid conversation with someone?

Here are times not to pitch an agent: Swimming or working out; wheeling their suitcase or luggage somewhere; while they are in the bathroom.

I know that last one is obvious to all of you, but it still happens.

Dress appropriately. Guys, I do not need to see that much chest hair.

Oh, I’m not anti-chest hair! I just don’t want to see that much in a meeting with someone I don’t know.

To reiterate: Don’t be so nervous you are shaking. Because it makes me get nervous, too, and then our meeting becomes all tense and stuff.

Please don’t ask me if I remember getting your query—I’m afraid I probably don’t.

Wait until the “Q&A” time to ask a question. Don’t interrupt people when they are on panels, or giving a talk.

Don’t begin a question by doing the following, “I think you’re really young, so maybe you don’t get what older people want.”

Because, I admit, this is something I find frustrating. I know what the market wants, and I don’t have to be your age to know it.

Authors, if I am wearing sweatpants, DO NOT APPROACH.

Authors, don’t stalk me. I will notice you doing so, eventually. Also, don’t call my room or leave anything on my pillow.

Yes. Everything I have listed as a “Don’t” has happened to me, or someone I know. These are all true examples.

Authors: Don’t broadcast arrogance. Don’t declare you intend to make a lot of money publishing, or that you will be a bestseller in a year.

Publicly take the attitude of “I’m here to learn.” I am there to learn, too. I learn things from other agents and editors often.

I go to conferences to meet potential new clients—and meet editors and agents I normally would not. I’m learning too!

So if you hear things you find frustrating, or you are angry—don’t take it out on the messengers.

Get together with your friends and vent privately. It’s really awkward when an author gets mad during a panel, or pitch session.

Authors, if you don’t know exactly what genre/age group your book falls in, start off by saying that and asking for agent’s advice.

Authors: don’t badmouth other writers to an agent. They might represent those authors.

But if you have read a book by one of my clients, and you liked it, feel free to tell me. Don’t pretend if you have not.

*For more of Ginger Clark's tweets, follow her on twitter (@Ginger_Clark).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Confessions of an Exclamation Mark Abuser

Hi. I’m Laura. I have a punctuation problem. A month ago, I didn’t even know the danger in its overuse. Now, I’m taking steps to work through my addiction.

I’m not sure when my love of the exclamation mark began. School House Rock might have lit the spark. Who could resist the catchy interjections video? I am a proud owner of the Grammar Rock video. The warning on the back says nothing about the overuse of exclamation points.

If Grammar Rock was where it began, I’m sure middle school fueled it. Heaven help me if my 7th grade boyfriend should ever decide to go public with the book of love notes and poems I gave him. I can only imagine the number of exclamation marks included in that collection.

Last month on Twitter, someone I follow and respect started tweeting about their hate for the exclamation point. I gasped. Then I saw it retweeted over and over again by agents and editors. It began to sink in. Exclamation marks don’t make writing exciting. Vivid verbs and powerful word choice do.

How bad of an offender was I? My search found 116 exclamation marks in the first draft of the chapter book I’d written. Yikes. Almost all of them are gone now. There are a few times when no other mark will do.

I believe, and I think Oprah would back me on this one, that we can use the ugliness from our past to help others. So check your writing, folks. Don’t let an addiction to the exclamation mark get in the way of a beautiful writing career.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Scholastic Memories Contest Winner

Congratulations to Corey Schwartz! She just won $10 to spend at the Scholastic Store by entering the Scholastic Memories contest on My Side of the Rainbow. Keep watching my blog for more contests, and thanks for all the great comments!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How To Feel Like A Kid Again

Have you spent any time unleashing your inner-child? Those who write for children almost always write from a child’s perspective, but how often do we let ourselves practice feeling young? Below are 25 activities to bring out the kid in you this summer. Try them out. Set a goal. I’m going for at least one a week. Please add additional ideas in the comment section. And remember, have fun!

catch lightening bugs
blow bubbles
hula hoop
play tag (You could play book tag instead of tv tag)
throw water balloons
invite friends over for a slumber party
decorate the pavement with chalk art
play Charlie’s Angels with water guns
run in a sprinkler
play hide and seek or sardines
jump rope
camp out
make s’mores
sing hairbrush karaoke
play monkey in the middle
go roller skating
go parking (for the YA crowd)
play in the ocean
build a sandcastle
climb a tree
wear a temporary tattoo
chase the ice cream truck
build a pillow fort
go fishing

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scholastic Memories Contest

On May 13, 2009 Scholastic Book Clubs announced they had sold more than 6 billion books. I’m not surprised. It may have been my daughter’s order that pushed them over the mark. Who can resist Scholastic book orders?

My Scholastic addiction goes back to my own elementary days. The excitement of tucking a new slick-covered book into my backpack was awesome. I remember the book fairs too. How I loved those cute little animal posters!

So what do you remember about your book order days? Leave me a memory in this comment section and follow my blog. On June 5th, one name will be randomly picked to win a $10 Scholastic gift certificate. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

*For fun facts about 6 billion books, check out .

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Writers Should Join Twitter

The stage is black. One spotlight glows on me. No longer a frazzled mom hungering for time to write, I dazzle you with my aqua eyes and sequined dress. My voice is not scratchy from yelling. No. Instead, in Barbara Streisand’s pitch perfect tone you hear…

People who tweet tweople,
Are the luckiest people in the world.

Have you been resisting the urge to sign up for Twitter? Here is my top ten list of reasons writers should give tweeting a try.

10. It will help you build your internet presence.

9. Sometimes you can win free things (I just won copy of Ian Rankin’s book EXIT MUSIC from Little, Brown).

8. You can watch and participate in events like Query Day where novices and experts ask and answer questions about the writing process and industry.

7. You can search for other groupies of shows you love and discuss the episode that left you breathless or made you sniffle.

6. Networking can be fun!

5. It is a nice ego boost when publishers and other gurus follow you back.

4. Twitter is a quick way to promote your blog, website, or books.

3. Writing can be lonely. It’s nice to connect with other people who share your passion.

2. Twitter can lead you to great articles and blogs you might otherwise miss (Make sure you follow Bookgal).

And last but not least…

1. It is the best way to follow editors, agents, and publishers without fear of a restraining order. :^)

So if you haven’t given twitter a try, go for it. My twitter name is quirkywriter. I love to have tweople follow me and almost always follow back. Check out the folks I follow, and it will help you get started.

Now, back to that spotlight…

Friday, May 8, 2009

Editors' Thoughts on Rhyme

Are you wondering if your rhymes are good enough to be published? According to the editors at the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference it may not be worth the risk. Editor Maggie Lehrman told attendees that because poetry is tough is today's market, Abrams usually sticks to already established poets.

If you do decide to give it a try, make sure the language is natural. Many novice writers try to manipulate sentence structure to make rhymes work. For example:

I want my poem to be seen in print
so to an editor this verse I have sent.

Obviously, "to an editor this verse I have sent" does not sound natural. If a kid wouldn't say it the way it is written, it's not working.

When it comes to picture books, writers are urged to make every word count. Try not to repeat words, and remember that near rhyme is not close enough. Be sure to check your meter, and unless your poetry is perfect, you might want to avoid it altogether.

Monday, May 4, 2009

No No's and Uh Oh's

The following is a list of dislikes and warnings I noted from panel discussions with Maggie Lehrman, Noa Wheeler, and Jill Dembowski at the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference this weekend.

1. No scatological humor
2. No mentioning rave reviews from kids who have heard your story
3. Do not handwrite your story or send it from one of your characters.
4. No didactic stories
5. No queries (instead, a brief cover letter and your picture book)
6. No comparing your book to Harry Potter
7. The parents who buy your picture book will hate you if it has 2,000 words (keep it closer to 500).
8. Don't discuss marketing in your letter.
9. Don't introduce too many characters at once.
10. Don't use the word child (It's an angry adult word).
11. Unless you're an illustrator, try not to include illustrator notes.
12. They are tired of grandparent stories written for grandparents.
13. If you dare to send a barnyard story, a story about a princess who wants to do something else, or a when I grow up I want to be... book it had better be fresh and great to stand out. These topics are overused.
14. No funky fonts (Times New Roman is preferred)
15. No cold calls

SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference

This weekend I attended the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference in Beaufort, SC. One of the many highlights was hearing a panel of editors tell what they are looking for and what they would rather not see. The editors attending were Maggie Lehrman (an Editor at Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books), Noa Wheeler (an Associate Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), and Jill Dembowski (an Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). I will be blogging this week to share some of the tips and warnings given by these three.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


If I was stranded on a deserted island with only ten books, I would want one of those to be Anita Silvey’s 100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN. I bought this treasure after hearing her speak at the SCBWI Carolina’s 2008 Fall Conference and have yet to put it away.

100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN is a delight. Silvey organizes her picks by age categories, making it especially parent-friendly. Each of the great reads is summarized. The awesomeness, however, comes as this children's literature insider shares stories about the authors and how their works came to life.

For example, did you know that Curious George was originally named Fifi and was modeled after H.A. Rey’s wife Margaret?

Did you know that Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE would have been “Where the Wild Horses Are” except he couldn’t draw horses very well. Instead, he took memories of his relatives and combined them with images of King Kong, and the rest is history!

From stories for toddlers to books for twelve year olds, Silvey shines the spotlight on both classics and newer finds. I recommend 100 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN for parents, teachers, and anyone who loves children’s books.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Krispy Kreme Dream Comes True

I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts. When the Hot and Now neon sign is on, I know the pale doughy life preservers are bobbling along the river of hot oil, ready to travel under the falls of sugary glaze. MMMMMM! Close your eyes with me and sniff; the sweetness is so thick that the air almost has texture. Of all the writing topics I’ve had to research, this one never gets old.

A couple weeks ago, I received an emailed invitation to a “Friends and Family” event to celebrate the future opening of an additional Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem. I have been working on a children’s nonfiction book about doughnuts, so I grabbed my business cards and camera, hoping to come back home with a few connections and an assorted dozen. Little did I know, I was about to join the dream team.

The Saturday event was not an official opening, but more like a sneak peak, reserved for friends and families of employees and internet glazed groupies, like me. Just the same, the event was big enough to warrant the police directing traffic. I’m betting they didn’t have to do too much arm twisting to get them there.

The inside of this Krispy Kreme held a few surprises. One of the biggies was the Kool Kreme counter. Instead of just visiting for “hot doughnuts now,” customers can now choose from soft serve ice cream treats, icy fruity drinks, or even doughnut sundaes. Did I mention there were toppings? Indeed!

I did not sample the ice cream. Instead, I headed for the great glass window to watch the doughnuts. Within minutes, an employee asked if I would like to dip my own doughnut. Surely that was a rhetorical question. If there had been room, I would have skipped to the dunking station. Instead, I wiggled my way through the crowds to the booth. A friendly employee gave me the go ahead and, with my fingers gripping the sticky edges, I dipped my glazed doughnut into a bowl of swirling, melted chocolate. MMMMM! Then, I plunged my doughnut into the pastel sprinkles. It was a work of art. I was a natural.

After photographing my doughnut, picking out my assorted dozen, and putting them in the car, I reentered the shop. I wanted to soak up every bit of the Krispy Kreme experience. So I found a spot just inside the store to sniff and watch and wonder. That’s when it happened.

A nice man asked me to help him hand out paper hats! I suppose the doughnut diva within was giving off such a strong vibe that I appeared to be a Krispy Kreme employee. I smiled, took a stack of them, and joined the Krispy Kreme team. The lady on my left offered hats to children. I decided to offer mine to the adults. Many took and wore them proudly as I explained that they too could dip a doughnut. I greeted customers and corporate folks, answering questions and enjoying my secret identity.

I did eventually confess that I was a children’s book writer and not a “real” Krispy Kreme employee. Thankfully, they did not banish me, but allowed to continue to help and even introduced me to Jim Morgan, the President and CEO of Krispy Kreme. All in all it was a sweet experience.