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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Just received the art Jeremy Tankard made for the PIGGY BUNNY giveaway and wow, I am not sure I can do it! Can I really give this away???

When my husband was little and went to a friend's birthday party, he very proudly brought the beautifully wrapped gift (my MIL is a master wrapper) -- but then absolutely refused to hand it over to the birthday child. Had a massive fit and was finally taken home with the probably by then quite mangled gift still clutched in his sweaty little hands.

I'm not saying something similar is happening to me with this gorgeous original art. But maybe.

can you blame me?

Just a few days left -- enter to win it and maybe you'll get it.

All you have to do is post what you're hoping for this spring. 
Here or on facebook or twitter (with #piggybunny) -- and tag me.

But first: I just turned in a revision of my new book.
Can't decide if I should walk in the spring air or collapse on the couch.

Rachel Vail

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hooray for JUSTIN! And Spring! Spring? Hello?

Hooray for JUSTIN!

Just saw that JUSTIN CASE: Shells, Smells, and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom is on the 2013 edition of "Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults" from the Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education!

Also: in honor holy moley despite the snow that's about to fall it actually is spring and almost time for the Easter Bunny, I am going to give away a signed copy of PIGGY BUNNY! 

All you have to do to enter is link here on facebook or twitter with #piggybunny (and tag me so I know to enter you).

BUT (as they used to say on those commercials for ginzo knives and accordian plastic bowls) BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE: 

brilliant illustrator Jeremy Tankard drew this original art for the winner:

and there is a chance that if you are the lucky winner, I will part with this bit of perfection and send it to you along with the book.

But there is a chance I won't because, yeah. I love that picture. 

I will try.

If you don't enter, maybe I could just keep it with a clear conscience... hmmm...

Well, do your thing.

I had surgery on my leg 10 days ago and I'm better each day but starting to get a little punchy under near house arrest so, yk, no promises.

But much love,
Rachel Vail

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weird rules

I've been thinking about the weird rules my family has made.


Don't be weird in somebody else's face.

Plums are not one-bite food.

Don't ask for poster board after 7 PM.

No screaming unless you are actually on fire.

Don't comment on other people's food choices.


No dessert before dinner except sometimes.

What are your family's weirdest (or most important) rules?

My cousin Meredith uses, Yogurt is not finger food. Other good ones I've gotten from friends on facebook include: teeth are not tools; no farting on Mommy's lap; No Barney; no more licking your shoes.

All excellent suggestions I am planning to implement before it's too late.

There is an excellent piece of art, part of a collection you might want to look into if you're into such things, at Meredith's blog. Also a hilarious video series.

Oh, I should add around here we also have: no mixed metaphors. And one space after a period, and YES, the Oxford comma. Obviously. Also, You are not allowed to begin a sentence with Mommy how do you spell... (because I CAN'T SPELL. There, the truth is out.)

And: wouldn't this make a fun picture book? What would be the title?

Prizes for good suggestions on both counts...

Rachel Vail

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Good from bad

I once heard Helen Hayes say that money is like fertilizer -- it's just ...* unless you 

spread it around to help things grow. 

Well done, David Bar Katz.

Have at it, playwrights. Get going; money's on the line now and we need your best 



Rachel Vail

PS Helen Hayes used the appropriate curse word when she said it. 

She was in her late 80s at the time I heard this speech. 

She spoke without notes or hesitation but with an abundance of 

charm. She was completely awesome. But I've been asked not to 

curse here, so schools can come freely. I'm doing my best.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Valentine for My Brother, plus snow and Maggie Smith

Hanging out in the middle of a big storm, feeling very very done with winter.

Here's a valentine I wrote for my brother.

And here's a picture from my street:

And here is how I feel about the weather at this point:

How are you doing?

Rachel Vail

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Two Favorite Words

I don't let myself type "the end" until my manuscript really feels done. Since I tend to write about 50-100 words for every one that ends up in the eventual "FIRST DRAFT" I send to my editor, that means those 2 words don't show up for a very long time.

And then when I work on revising the draft I take "the end" off -- just delete them -- because, well, they're no longer true. I do huuuuge revisions. I love revising. I'm not making stuff up out of nothing anymore; I'm working on something that exists, characters that feel real to me -- making the story stronger, better, tighter, making the characters feel more real.

It wipes me out.

I closed a cabinet door on my head toward the end of the process and gave myself a big forehead bruise. I just kind of lost track of where my head was. Literally.

Not the first time I've done that, during revisions. One time it was the bathroom stall door in the ladies' room, when my husband and I were out to dinner with another couple, and I gave myself a black eye. I considered lying and saying somebody attacked me in the bathroom, to save myself the embarrassment -- but that seemed like it could lead down a bad path and also, I have promised myself the only lie I will tell is that one I admitted to above.


Hahahahahahaha. As if.

So I admitted last week and that time at the restaurant to having slammed my own face with doors. I am a hazard at this point in the process.

Still, despite the bruises, it's one of my favorites.

Here's another favorite: getting foreign versions of my books in the mail. This came the day I sent in my newest. It's the Chinese version of IF WE KISS:

It's very cool to be reminded there are others out there involved with these books. Hoping they aren't slamming their heads with anything.

So now I'm chilling. (Literally. So much weather.) I am good and used up.

More about lots soon.

Rachel Vail

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Writing confetti

Sometimes writing my book feels like walking on a thin wire way up high, and it takes all my concentration.

Other times it feels impossible and I may as well just eat some cake or go take a nap or hide.
And then there are the moments when the book feels like confetti: like lots of fun bits, but not one cohesive thing, and kind of a mess all over the floor. And some doubt in my mind that this was a good idea. 

Some days, like today for example, are a quick-swirling rotation of all these.

And so it goes.

Pretty fun.

More soon...

Rachel Vail