Monday, February 8, 2016

My history on the Internet

I have belonged to an e-list group of writers since 1995 on the internet where we converse and support and cheer each other on. It's limited to 100 members and we can nominate people to join because people do drop out. Not everyone converses, tho. A lot just lurk. It's been active the whole time whereas other groups have become silent or have changed their purpose.
On FB I"m active with several closed writers groups (and some secret ones), all with graduates of Vermont College of Fine Arts. These are the groups I talk writing-talk with. But we also support and cheer each other on.
Working backwards, what I loved about being on GEnie was - the focus of each separate group there. I belonged to a Moody Blues group, a Children's book writers group, and a Science Fiction (and fantasy) writer's group, and lurked in a Romance writer's group.
What I hated was the word-processing. You couldn't revise your sentences. Once you hit return and began the next line, you could not go back.
But it wasn't my first online writer's group. My husband was computer crazy since before 1989 (He became the first IT person and helped convert our library system). He discovered FIDOnet.   FIDOnet was not the internet as you know it. FIDOnet consisted of packets of messages sent around the world from computer to computer. It was the first time that people everywhere in the world could talk to each other. You downloaded your selected packets, created your own messages to respond, then uploaded your messages to be folded into the next packet.
He talked to MG-T type car people plus computer people, and he found a writer's group which had some children's book writers on it and got those packets sent to me. It also had some crazy people on it but we all got along.

The funny thing is - because I had a computer at home, I was nominated to be the IT person in my library branch. (I worked for a different county library than my husband did.) Which meant that I kept communicating with my husband whenever a problem arose at our branch that I couldn't handle.

By the year 2002, I gave up this position and let a younger person, one with more computer savvy than me, take it over.

What was your first experience online?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Things my parents did

I've been thinking about my parents this morning.
They're long gone, physically, but they're still in my memory.
How many of you had parents like these?

When dad came home from work - we ate dinner.  6:00.  Every day.
Other kids had to eat dinner at 4:30 or 5:00. All of us had to adjust to our father's work schedule because he came home hungry.

Speaking of hungry, my father would later sit in the living room watching TV and eating what he called 'Moo and Quackers.'  (milk and saltine crackers)

And then he would doze in front of the TV until after the news at a 11 pm. If we would notice and go to turn off the TV --
"Don't turn off that TV," he'd yell. "I'm watching it."
He'd been sitting there, eyes closed, snoring.  Snoring!

And where was mom?  She went to bed at 10 pm so that she could be up at 6 am to make his breakfast.  Dad was up then, too, because he had to drive so far to work. We lived north of the city and his job at Marbon was south of the city.

In those days, a family could be supported by one working parent with the wife usually staying at home raising the children.  Schools had an hour for lunch because the children walked home to have lunch. We felt sorry for those of our friends who had to stay at school and eat a bag lunch there.

Families (at least our family) all ate dinner together and each child had a job to do.  If you set the table, someone else cleared it (or else we all did it together). And if you cooked (actually helped mom cook) someone else had to wash the dishes.

Of course, all of this changed when we children went to college and mom took a job as a middle school science teacher to help pay college bills.  (she eventually became head of the department.)
How did a housewife get this job?
 She had met dad at college - Drexel in Philadelphia. Her major was Home Economics and in the 1930s she had to take tons of science classes for that degree. All she needed to teach science in a school was to take education courses during the summer to complete a teaching degree.

Nowadays, it often takes two working parents to help pay the bills.
What do you remember about your family?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2nd - Groundhog Day

Well, we are having storms here in Southern California, but no groundhogs.
Do you have a groundhog in your area?
I tried to mention all the groundhogs that predict weather in my book The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun.  Did I mention yours?

Since Groundhog Day comes at the midpoint between the official beginning of Winter and the official beginning of Spring, it's very probable that we have six more weeks of winter to go before Spring finally comes. (except for the southern states where spring does come early.)

Funny thing - people here are already talking about spring and we have a couple more El Nino winter rainstorms to go here.  The one yesterday was a doozy.  Downpours of rain and winds from 30 to 80 miles per hour. (That's hurricane strength, ya know.)  Trees down all over.  Several in nearby neighborhoods, but none by our house.  Just a lot of twigs and limbs down and every single brown needle on the Torrey Pines came down.  (those needles are 8 to 10 inches long)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Looking at why Newbery Award books are great

Editor Patricia Lee Gauch has penned an interesting Horn Book article examining those book who have won Newbery Awards and Honors trying to discover why these books were considered the most distinguished children's books of the year.  (actually the award is given the year after publication, so you can bet if a book won the 2016 Newbery award, it was published in 2015.
And no, I never want to be on that committee - they have to read and re-read and discuss and re-read and discuss and sometimes are still discussing and voting on them into the wee hours of the day that they have to call the winners. And they have to make these calls before the 8 am announcement session at the Winter American Library Association.
See, the thing is, I need my sleep.

However, she concludes that it's the Character. The character that sticks in your mind and makes us think about the book even after we have closed the covers.
"Not just a character who carries the weight of story, but a character original in voice, in spirit, in ideas, perhaps even in looks! Certainly original in imagination."
Then she continues to enumerate other aspects of these tales that make them the best of the best.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The day she found out she wasn't white

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day (soooo many people forget that he was a Junior. That his father was Martin Luther King) I am reminded of this article by my college friend and much-loved author, Lisa Papademetriu, The Day my Daughter Realized She Isn't White, published in the Washington Post November 3, 2015.

Now, to me anyone who doesn't have a dark brown skin color is White.  But that's just me. To the rest of the world, anyone who has skin color even slightly different from them is "other."
(I read somewhere that Asians consider themselves white and think of us as pink.)

So, as you celebrate this day off from school (or day off from work that some people have) think about how children learn about discrimination, and about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message.

Lisa Papademetriu's latest book is A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why was your favorite book Not Chosen

Yesterday we all cheered for the books receiving one of the American Library Association's highest awards - Newbery/ Caldecott/ Sibert/ Corretta Scott King/ etc.

Today you might be wondering why your favorite book didn't get one of these coveted award seals. To answer this question, I suggest you go visit Monica Edinger's excellent blog post at the Nerdy Book Club blog.

But more awards are coming.  I suggest you also follow the Cybils Award website.

Monday, January 11, 2016

ALA Award Day

What were the best books for children and Young Adults in 2015? Check out the awards given out this morning at the American Library Association annual conference:

Just a small brag here - a good percentage of them were won by people from my grad school at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program - faculty and students.

And some of them were predicted right here in this blog right here. (she said, blowing on her fingers and casually brushing them off on her shoulder.)