nErDcamp rEcap

Brace yourself: this post is gonna be long. If you’re like me, you might want to just look at the pictures.

I spent last Monday and Tuesday at nErDcamp in Michigan. What is nErDcamp? It’s a conference for educators focused on reading and literacy founded by members of the Nerdy Book Club (if you don’t know what that is, stop reading this and go here now). Over 900 educators from all over the U.S. and Canada attended the two day conference.

So let me tell you what happened with pictures.

Sunday morning I flew from Boston to Detroit.

Boarding Flight from Boston to Detroit
Early Morning jetBlue flight

After chilling at the airport for a bit, I hitched a ride with educators Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi (author/illustrator of Where Are My Books?, illustrator of I’m Bored and Naked – two separate books). We stopped at Bob’s Big Boy for a snack on the way from Detroit to the Hampton Inn in Jackson.

Josh Funk at Bob's Big Boy
Jason, Big Boy, Lesley, & me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

Debbie did one of her found art doodles (see more of her found art doodles here).

debbie ridpath ohi's found art doodle of josh funk on the way to nerdcamp
Red Pepper Boat to #nErDcamp

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

After checking in at the hotel, we met up with my good friend Jess Keating (author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied, How to Outswim a Shark without a Snorkel, this October’s How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue, and next February’s Pink Is for Blobfish, AND member of #TeamKrush) and her husband who shall henceforth be referred to as #NerdyPhotographer. Along with Debbie, we headed over to the high school where nErDcamp would take place starting the next day. We stopped by the rock for this photo:

nErDcamp Rock with Josh Funk
Debbie, me, & Jess

Then we headed into the school

Welcome to nErDcamp 2015
the steps into the school

where I dropped off some swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits

and a little more swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks

and offered (Jess and Debie) to help.

Jess Keating and Debbie Ohi breaking down boxes
Jess and Debbie breaking down boxes

We met nErDcamp co-creators/founders/planners/chairs Colby Sharp, his wife Alaina Sharp, and Suzanne Gibbs.

Jess Keating, Debbie Ohi, Colby Sharp and Josh Funk meet
Jess, Debbie, Colby, and me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

We met other conference volunteers (also twitter friends) including Jen Vincent, Niki Ohs Barnes, & Ryan Hanna, before heading to the infamous Olive Garden for dinner to meet up with even more educators (also also twitter friends) Kacie Rodgers, Kurt Stroh, Sara RalphMichele Knott, Kathy Burnette, Amy RalphMichelle Simpson, Melissa GuerretteCarrie Davies, Ann King DiBella, and more!

Josh Funk at nErDcamp pre-dinner at the Olive Garden
Mingling after my eggplant parm.

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

While hanging out in the Hampton Inn ‘bar’ for the evening, I shared Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast with several new friends who hadn’t seen it before. I also took the opportunity to share Dear Dragon and Pirasaurs! sketches, and it was a blast to see these readers’ reactions. And then I went to bed…

only to be woken up at 6:30 by the fire alarm which quickly shut off. When it came back on for the second time three minutes later, I headed to the lobby to check it out and it (apparently it was a malfunction), but I stayed to eat breakfast, only to receive this at 7:17:

Followed by the #joshdidit hashtag starting to trend (for the record, I didn’t do it). While the alarms continued to blare on and off (until about 8:30), I split a waffle with Debbie,

Sharing a waffle with Debbie Ohi
Sharing a waffle with Debbie

and I had a nice chat with debut author Cassie Beasley (Circus Mirandus).

Cassie Beasley eating breakfast and drawing an elephant's butt
Cassie Beasley drawing an elephant’s butt

We arrived at nErDcamp and headed to the ‘Green Room’ for presenters where everyone had a fantastic gift bag filled with homemade boutonnieres that Mrs. Sharp made out of an old Robinson Crusoe text, along with a bunch of other great stuff. I met several awesome authors over the next few hours including authors Edith Cohn (Spirit’s Key), Kristen Kittscher (The Wig in the Window), Tracy Holzer (The Secret Hum of a Daisy), Erin Soderberg (The QuirksPuppy Pirates), Aaron Zenz (Chuckling Ducklings), Ruth McNally Barshaw (Ellie McDoodle Diaries), Louise Borden (Baseball Is …), Leisl Shurtliff (Rump, Jack), Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut), Tricia Springstubb (Cody and the Fountain of Happiness),  Jerzy Drozd (Warren Commission Report), Lisa Graff (A Tangle of Knots), Lauren Castillo (Nana in the City), Philip C. Stead (Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat), Erin E. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Matthew Cordell (Wish).

Josh Funk, Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell at nErDcamp
me with Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell

[Photo by Lauren Castillo]

Yeah, I managed to sneak into a picture with a few of these all-stars! Nearly 1,000 people filled the auditorium

nerdcamp auditorium
Filled to Capacity

for Nerd Talks by Ruth Ayres, Sue HaneyDonalyn Miller, Lisa Graff,

Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff's Nerd Talk
Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff’s Nerd Talk

and this awesome 8 minutes from Pernille Ripp,

I wasn’t scheduled until session 2, so I grabbed a quick bite to eat in the teacher’s lounge and hung out with Donalyn Miller’s awesome family. And then I led the “Picture Book Panel” featuring NINE Picture Book Pros: Miriam Busch (Lion, Lion), Larry Day (Nanook & Pryce), Matthew Cordell, Philip C. Stead, Erin Stead, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Lauren Castillo, Deb Pilutti (Ten Rules of Being a Superhero), and Matt Faulkner (A Taste of Colored Water).

#nErDcampMI Picture Book Panel
Busch, Day, Cordell, P. Stead, E. Stead, Ohi, Castillo, Pilutti, Faulkner

[Photo by Aliza Werner]
And there I am standing at the edge of Debbie’s view from between the pair of Team Caldecott:

What a thrill it was to lead this panel with such a stellar cast! And it went very well! Everyone got a chance to speak, and we even had a few laughs (I think it was with me, not at me…).

After session 2, I went to see Mr. Schu talk about his favorite books of the year so far. He started with picture books, and had so many on his list, he got as far as … some of the picture books (sorry Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Graphic Novels).

So this post is taking forever to write, and I’ll bet almost nobody is actually reading this far, and it’s Saturday night, and my wife wants to spend some time with me (yay! she loves me!), so I think I’ll just post some pictures with captions for the rest of the way.

Donalyn Miller Mr. Schu John Schumacher
Donalyn Miller & Mr. Schu

Picture by Debbie Ohi
Jess Keating Troublemaker Jess Keating as Lauren Castillo’s Troublemaker

Photo by Debbie Ohi

colby sharp, lauren castillo, mr schu john schumacher, travis jonker, team81
#Team81 (Colby, Lauren, Schu, & Travis Jonker)
Publishing Panel
Publishing Panel Closer Up (I’m drinking water)
Nerd Camp Publishing Panel
Ruth McNally Barshaw’s amazing sketch of everyone on the publishing panel! We got #Barshawed!
Josh Funk Jennifer L. Holm
Jennifer L. Holm, bunny ears, and me

Nerds in a Car Josh Funk Lauren Castillo Debbie Ohi
Nerds in a Car (me, Lauren Castillo, Debbie Ohi, Jason Lewis, Melissa Guerrette, Lesley Burnap)
Melissa Guerrette & Jillian Heise being suspicious
Everyone at Dinner After Day 2

So, all in all, nErDcamp was amazing. I met so many awesome educators and authors and friends.

I’ll end with this tweet (you may recognize one of the images):

See you next summer!

Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast was named in two Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015 lists today (see the posts from Unleashing Readers here and Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook here). I sure hope the fabulous authors of those blogs enjoy the book when it eventually gets released. And I can’t really explain what it feels like to be listed alongside four Newbery Medal Winners (Kate DiCamillo, Jennifer Holm, Katherine Applegate, Rebecca Stead), two Caldecott Medal Winners (Kevin Henkes, Brian Selznick), a whole host of other awesome authors, and a literary legend (Harper Lee).

Since I was on two lists, I thought I would pay it forward by listing my TWENTY Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015 (in order of release date).

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton (June 16th) ben clanton

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Uranium Unicorns From Uranus written by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat (June 30th) ricky ricotta

I’m with Cupid by Anna Staniszewski (July 7th) i'm with cupid

First Grade Dropout written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (July 7th) first grade dropout

Princess Juniper of the Hourglass by Ammi-Joan Paquette (July 21st) princess juniper

Mind Your Monsters written by Catherine Bailey and illustrated by Oriol Vidal (August 4th) mind your monsters

Baba Yaga’s Assistant written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll (August 4th) baba yaga

Double Happiness written by Nancy Tupper Ling and illustrated by Alina Chau (August 4th) double happiness

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson (August 4th) zack

Your Alien written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Goro Fujita (August 4th) your alien

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs written by Rebecca Colby and illustrated by Steven Henry (August 11th) bats and frogs

Boo-La-La Witch Spa written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Isabel Roxas (August 18th) boo la la witch spa

Monster Needs Your Vote written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Wendy Grieb (August 25th) monster needs your vote

What’s Up with This Chicken? written by Jane Sutton and illustrated by Peter J. Welling (September 15th) what's up with this chicken

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York by Geoff Rodkey (September 29th) tapper twins

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue by Jess Keating (October 2nd) outfox

Lenny & Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead (October 6th) lenny lucy

Sunny Sweet Is Not So Scary by Jennifer Ann Mann (October 13th) sunny sweet

Little Red Gliding Hood written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Troy Cummings (October 27th) tara lazar

Bird & Squirrel on the Edge by James Burks (October 27th) bird squirrel

Wow! August is gonna be a busy month for the bookstores (especially the 4th). What’s on your list?

NESCBWI 14 Conference Recaps

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m pretty quiet, reserved, and shy. I don’t really like talking much, especially about myself. You’ll also know I’m pretty sarcastic.

Therefore, rather than talking about my experience at last weekend’s conference (May 2-4), I thought I’d share some of my friends’ recaps. So here they are:

If I missed your blog post, feel free to share it in the comments, or just post your own thoughts on the grand spectacle that was NESCBWI 2014.

Who’s ready for next year?

Think outside your

crayon box








So, You Wrote a Book?

In the past two days, I’ve been referred to twice as a gateway of sorts to the publishing world. Two friends each contacted me regarding friends of theirs who have written a book (or books) for children. These friends of mine asked if I would meet/advise/consult/critique/etc their friends’ work.

I have yet to speak to either of the two writers, just our mutual friends. But I’m relatively confident this is the first time either writer has stepped outside their circle of family and friends regarding their writing.

So what should I tell them? I’ve written posts before about where to begin, but I really don’t want to overwhelm anyone. I want to educate, give a dose of reality, but ultimately inspire them?

What if I could find 5 articles or websites they could go to as that starting place?

$200 is about what you'll get in an advance as a first time author
$200 is about what you’ll get in an advance as a first time author

Here are my five:

  1. Start with Jennifer Laughran’s Word Count Post. It’s not impossible to get a 3,000 word picture book published in today’s market … no, actually it is. Get the disappointment over with first. You’re 15,000 word Young Adult novel just isn’t long enough. Let’s rip off the band-aid and move on.
  2. If you’re still with me and haven’t cried yourself to oblivion (or your word count is actually in line with the genre for which you’re writing), then GREAT! Let’s make sure your craft is as good as possible. There is no single link that will help make this happen, but if you join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, you’ll be able to find workshops, critique groups, conferences, retreats, and more -> and that will help you hone your craft. So the second link is to Join SCBWI.
  3. If you’re confident your manuscript is the best it can possibly be, it’s time to find somewhere to send it! Whether you are sending directly to publishers or looking for an agent, try to find a copy of the most recent Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and SCBWI The Book. These will help you find out about which publishers are looking for what, as well as the agents looking for whom.
  4. But don’t send yet. You still need to write your query. What’s a query, you ask? A query is the professional business letter you send to the agent or editor ‘asking’ if they would like to read your manuscript (oh, I get it? asking=querying). How do you write one? I suggest starting at There are links from there to other sites, which will link to others, which link to an unending list of others – all filled with help writing queries. Querying is hard. But you will survive.
  5. Now that you have some sense of what you’re in for, read Delilah S. Dawson’s 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author. First, it’s hilarious. Second, it gives an exciting account of a success story. Third, it truly goes through every step of the trail to publication – highs, lows, and in-betweens.

I think that’s enough to fill anyone’s brain for a little while. If you had just 5 links to give someone starting out in the writing business, what would they be?

Happy Old Year, 2013!

Before celebrating another year since the birth of the Earth (hey, that rhymes!), I’d like to congratulate 2013 for being pretty awesome to me. Here are some highlights:

I began 2013 with a little over a year’s experience, a single handful of decent manuscripts, very few contacts, and no online presence.

I adopted a pseudonym.

I wrote. I revised. I joined a new critique group and critiqued.

I dipped my toes into the pool of social networking.

Facebook LogoInstagram LogoTwitter LogoPinterest LogoWordpress Logo Google Plus LogoGoodreads LogoMammoth Logo  Tumblr Logo
(did I forget any? Probably…)

I ate lunch with at the same table as a Newbery Honor winner.

I made real and virtual friends with skillful sarcasm.

I attended 4 book launches and purchased more signed books than I can count.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I started another critique group and became a board member.

I queried and submitted with a success rate higher than 0.0%.

Marsal Lyon Literary Agency Logo

I abandoned the pseudonym.

I end the year in the process of waiting.

Waiting for the phone to ring

The lessons of 2013? Don’t use a pseudonym. And get out there. And my wife is always right. Even if I crossed off the last five things from my list, it would still have been a pretty awesome year.

I wish all (both) of you a 2014 as ‘happy’ as my 2013.