Thursday, December 27, 2007

When I won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award

Susan Kusel, over at her blog,, is going to host the January Carnival of Children's Literature and asked us to write about Children's Book Awards. I picked this to write about:

For authors, illustrators, editors and publishers:
If you've had the experience of winning an award,
what was it like?
What awards have your books won that have meant
the most to you?
What award would you most like to win?

The time I won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award was the most fun ever. Okay, I didn't WIN it -- my book, TO FLY, THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, published by Clarion, was one of the Non-fiction Honor books in 2003.

It won other awards that year, too. (I have to say awards, because it didn't win any prizes -- prizes actually give you money.) Most of the other awards were just citations or inclusion in a list here and there. Some of them actually gave you a paper saying you had won. But the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award (for the honor book) gives you an engraved plate. Nice.

Oh the excitement! What should I wear? Consulting with my online writer friends. Should I wear a glittering outfit like Linda Sue Park did when she accepted the Newbery award? (Heck, I wanted to BE Linda Sue Park.) But I couldn't find one. The award ceremony was early October, so shopping for glitter is futile in August. The stores only have it closer to Christmas.

I ended up finding a black dress in Talbots. I hesitated to wear it, but my writer friends insisted that nothing beats the power of the "little black dress." (Well, it was a long dress and I'm a largish person, so I wasn't sure how it qualified as a "little black dress." But anywho...)

Clarion booked rooms at the Parker House in Boston! Wow! The place where Parker House rolls were invented. (okay -- my husband didn't get the connection, either. I guess you have to like to cook to get excited about this.)

The whole evening is a blur. I was excited about finally meeting my book's illustrator. (Robert Andrew Parker) But he was ill and could not come. Which meant that I collected TWO engraved plates, but had to give one up later to Clarion's wonderful Marketing Manager, Marjorie Naughton.

Many people had nice things to say to me, but the best was from the school librarian on the award committee. (whose name escapes me right now) She asked me if I worked with children. When I admitted I have been a Children's Librarian for 35 years, she said, "I knew it!" She told me that she had read every book about the Wright Brothers this year and that most of the others seemed to be written from an adult's viewpoint -- assuming the reader already knew a lot about the subject. But that mine was the only one that both adults and children could read AND understand.

Wow! Now that was high praise, indeed. And probably the high point of the evening.

On the other hand, maybe the high point of the evening was when Roger Sutton, the editor of Horn Book Magazine, gave me the two engraved plates and I made my speech holding both of them. And then having dinner with him after the award ceremony.

The next morning, I squeezed in a tour of Boston before I had to run and catch my plane back home. Because it was pouring rain, I didn't get out of the bus to see the McCloskey ducks in the park. (remember Make Way for Ducklings?)

What award would I most like to win? The Caldecott medal -- if only it were given for Writing the Words in addition to being given to the illustrator for creating wonderful art. The Golden Kite award would be nice, too. It's an award from fellow writers.

-Wendie Old

BUSY FINGERS, Charlesbridge, 2003
(many awards)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merrie Christmas

Well, was it a Merrie Christmas for you?   It was for us.
This was the year to have a red and gold, Angel tree.  (last year the trim was all silver)  We put up the tree on Sunday and much to my surprise, the 8-year old took the remaining decorations and "decorated" the house.  I only hope she can find everything she put up when we take it all down on Three Kings Day.  I'm finding pine cones and bells and angels everywhere.

Yesterday, I bought new lampshades for the living room (ones that light will shine through) to replace the old ones which were  opaque.  Amazing.  The rooms I had thought were too dark to use are now brightly lit and welcoming. 

Everyone received something for Christmas that was totally a surprise.   Nick and Chip got remote-controlled helicopters.  and immediately had them buzzing around the living room.  The 8-year old got the locket she had always (always?) wanted.  And my sister sent me a shawl she had knit herself, along with an old-fashioned wooden stick topped with a painted bead to keep it closed.  It's cozy to wear in the evenings when I sit at the computer.  Like wearing a warm hug.

Today for dinner, we had ham -- Silver Label Ham -- for the first time in years.  yum!   Usually we have roast beast and yorkshire pudding.

And now everyone is out in the back yard playing wiffle ball.  The 8-year old is getting pretty good at hitting it.  If only she wouldn't attempt to hit every ball that passes her -- high/ low/ and inbetween.  Oh well, it's exercise -- for her if not for us.

On the writing side -- I got an invitation from an agent to send a full manuscript to her.  (and the Lance, the Fire Dog story got rejected.  Gotta get that one back out in the mail.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last minute shopping

Some people plan ahead.
They shop for Christmas presents in July, have them wrapped by October and mailed by the end of November.
Not me.
Not my family.
My husband is still trying to think what to get.
My daughters say our presents are "in the mail" but may arrive after Christmas.
I have bought some family presents -- but didn't get them wrapped and mailed until this week.

This evening I got most all the presents for the people in town out from their various hiding places and counted them.  In so doing, I discovered another present I should have mailed.  And -- that I had probably overbought for the 8-year old (but nowhere near the amount she would have liked to get)  and had underbought for everyone else.
I had thought I was done shopping -- but now I have to hit the stores this weekend with a new list of things that would be perfect for this or that person.  Crossing fingers and toes that they are still on the store shelves.

Are YOU done with your shopping and wrapping and mailing and decorating the house and....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm It

I've been tagged by Mary BK to tell 5 obscure things about me that you probably don't know.  (Thank heavens these things have changed -- it used to be we had to write 10 things.)

1)  Well, first I have to tell you about Mary BK.  You might not know that Mary and I and another friend wrote two books together.  We decided to have them published under a pen name because putting all three of our names would be too long for the spine of the book.  (Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Wendie Old, Claudine Wirths -- can you just picture it?)
          We combined the names and shortened Mary's last name and came up with this pen name -- C.W. Bowie.  Eventually I'll get the covers of these picture books up along the right hand side of this blog.

2)  My husband and I have adopted the most wonderful (and smartest) grandchild in the world.  (no favoritism here)  This now makes me a "mom" to three girls and makes our grandchild a sister to her aunt and her mommy.  She thinks it's funny.

3)  This "smart" grandchild decorated a four-foot Christmas tree with her best friend yesterday.  It only took us a little more than an hour to find and pick up all the tinsel that had, strangely enough, scattered all over the room.   Did you know that four packs of tinsel can almost fill a trash can?   (I know, I know -- it only takes one pack to trim a tree.  It's just that THEY didn't know.)

4)  I love taking trips.  Driving? Flying? makes no matter to me.  So taking trips to research things for my books is a pleasurable vacation for me.   Luckily the 8-year-old likes to travel with me, so I am assured of having a companion.  

5)  Finally,  I live in a stone farmhouse built in 1740 -- which is heated by a woodstove.  Okay, yes, we do use electric baseboard heat for part of the house.   I just think it's funny that it's the computer room (living room) that has the old-fashioned heat source.  And boy does it keep us warm.  The walls are 23 inches of stone, which radiates cold when it's freezing and below outside, so the radiant heat from the woodstove is the only thing that can combat it successfully.

-wendieO  (hmmm, looking for someone else to tag)

Friday, December 14, 2007


One thing I need to do better -- is to learn to love revising my writing.
Darcy Pattison, who writes marvelous books and teaches novel workshops, posted this writing advice recently that I think may help:


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Brunch with Santa

Saturday, the Joppa Branch of our library system held their annual "Brunch with Santa."  The actual work of setting up the table settings and serving the brunch (sticks of french toast and syrup) is done by the Joppatowne Woman's Club.

When I first came to the branch X-many years ago, the previous librarian told me that I didn't have to do anything -- the Woman's Club did everything.  Well, that was only a partial truth.  Gradually I learned that:   I planned the publicity, I reserved the room, I did the registration and gave out the tickets, and I was responsible for doing a program before Santa arrived.

(Originally it was called Breakfast with Santa  with a seating at 10 am and another one at noon -- but people objected to the idea of having 'breakfast' at noon.  So several years ago we changed it to 'brunch.')

I've developed three (or more ) programs that I alternate.
1)  The Night before Christmoose  -- using a relative of the famous moose and a tape of him telling the story.   Along with the guest moose speaker, I use an illustrated version of the traditional Night before Christmas poem along with Robert Sabuda's wonderful cut-paper version.

2)  The 12 Days of Christmas -- using a serious version of the song, then a silly version, then Robert Sabuda's cut-paper one.   I also pass out card-stock with the 12 numbers on them and ask the children to wave them when their number comes up.   This year I used the Southwestern version of a pinata on a pinion tree.  And had the kids say the numbers in Spanish.

3)  Miscellaneous Christmas tales -- featuring my flannel board version of The Tree that Stayed up All Year and a variety of other new and well-loved stories.   Plus, of course, a Robert Sabuda cut-paper something.  (Christmas Alphabet, or Christmas Pop-up, or Cookie Count.)

Earlier -- near the beginning of December, our branch holds a Holiday Open-house where we play Dreidels, make holiday cards and crafts, and eat festive foods.

What do you do at your Holiday programs?
-wendie O

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snowflakes for sale

This is the last chance to bid on snowflakes made by artists for Robert's Snow. The third group is now available.   
Bidding ends on Friday, December 7th at 5:00 Eastern time.  
Bids start at $150 and can only be raised by adding $25.   
Good Luck!

Monday, December 3, 2007

December at last

Wow, it's December.
The 7-year-old is now 8-years-old.
Everyone seemed to like the paint-your-own-pottery birthday party and some want to go again.  (ME! Me!   I saw a butterfly that I really, really want to own.)

Editors seem to be clearing off their desks.  I've received several rejections in the past few days -- some for manuscripts I sent out last January and one for a manuscript I mailed out two weeks ago.

But I won't lose heart.  I've been kick-started into sending out manuscripts and will continue to do so.  I have two things almost ready to go which will probably go out Tuesday or Wednesday.

  Plus I think I've done as much as I can with my task of cutting Francis Scott Key in half.
Hmmm.  That does need some explanation, doesn't it.

I've been sending out a 4800 word picture book biography of Francis Scott Key, based on the design of TO FLY.  (see cover over there to the right?  The one that won all those awards?)

  One editor tried to gently tell me she wanted shorter. (We only do 32 page...)  I was determined to sell another 48 page book.  But it didn't happen.  So, when the critiquer at SCBWI-LA told me flat out that nobody was publishing 48 page books and that I needed to make it either longer or shorter, I decided that they were really trying to give me good advice.

Ever since then, I've been slashing and burning.  And now F.S. Key is almost half the size of what it once was -- and I can't figure out what more to take out.  So I'm going to bite the bullet and send it out.  Sometime this week.   Really.  Truly.

A friend once said that a work of art was never finished -- just abandoned.  And that's how I feel about this manuscript.  I think it is now the best I can do at this time, and I should stop fiddling with it and simply float it out there into publishing land.

If you are an artist (writer or something) and happen to be reading this blog -- do you feel this way when you send something out to be considered for publication?


Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of November

The Mother's Day proposal is in the mail.

Manuscript count for the whole of November = 9 sent out.
Although most of them won't be heard from for months (please not years -- but that has happened before), I did get a response about the electronically submitted one that I did last week.  
           A rejection.
Oh well.   8 more to hope for.  crossing fingers and toes.

Counting down to the 7-year-old's birthday.  
Party Saturday. 
 Sleepover with her best friend Saturday night.  (They'd better not stay up for all hours -- or else.)  
Then her real birthday on Sunday.  (not until 5:00 pm, mom, right?)


Thursday, November 29, 2007

How often is often enough?

If anyone out there is reading this blog, and wondering how regularly I leave messages, I actually try to leave a note in this journal at least once a week. If I have some spare time, I may post more often. But at least once a week is my goal.

Right now I'm in the midst of planning an 8-year-old birthday party for Saturday. Luckily, we planned to have it at Amazing Glaze -- a pottery painting place where you paint greenware and then they get it fired and you have finished pottery. I say luckily because our dog is sick and is making messes around the house. ('nuff said about that.) And I'm very, very, very glad we weren't planning to have the party at home.

The very best part of this party is the ice cream part. After the kids paint, we'll all go next door to what must be the best Ice Cream shop in Baltimore where everyone can make their own Sundaes. Since it will be about 5:30 by then, it'll really kill their appetite for any dinner. Their parents probably won't be happy about this, but hey -- if they're there, they can make their own sundaes.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

(just a few days late.)

Well, we survived Turkey day. And it was a great day, too -- so they tell me. I was inside doing the preparations while others enjoyed the 60 degree weather. Then it crashed down to freezing and we had frost last night. Good-by nice weather. Hello normal late fall.

Friday we braved Black Friday sales. Nothing we bought was on sale. There's something wrong with this picture. Oh well. That's what I get for simply following the Christmas lists from my children.

Saturday the 7 (almost 8) year old spent the day with her best friend, so I rushed around doing errands and picking up a few gifts for her. Plus, I had some quiet time in my office, so I sent off three more manuscripts and two queries to agents.
Total manuscripts worked on and sent out is now up to 8. Worked on the Mother's Day book a little bit more. I wonder if I'll get it done in time to include it in the November count, or will it be a December submission? Time will tell.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nonfiction Matters

It was quite a shock to realize that Thanksgiving is Thursday. Yikes! Thursday of THIS WEEK.
The month disappears quickly when you take a week off from the day job.

I sent another manuscript out this evening.
This publisher wanted submission by e-mail. My first time doing this. I hope it works.

Total November submissions is now 5.
One of my online writer's groups used to have a theory that we needed to have at least 10 manuscripts out there before one of them will get bought. I'm halfway there. Crossing fingers and toes. (It's kinda hard to write that way)

If you are an avid fan of nonfiction for children, like me, you'll love Marc Aronson's blog at SLJ. In his day job, he's an editor of YA books. But in his other life he writes great nonfiction for upper elementary readers and up. In fact, one of his books won the very first Sibert Award given by the American Library Association. And now that he also blogs for School Library Journal, all of us can peek into his mind. His blog is not just a rehash of his SLJ monthly column. He posts messages about nonfiction on his blog every few days.

Good Heavens! The auction for Robert's Snow Snowflakes begins tomorrow! Bid for the one you love. As for me, I love too many of them.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I am amazed

Why am I amazed?

When I first began taking a whole week off to write, in the 1990s, I gained 5 pounds each time. Until I learned to put myself on, what I call, a "writer's diet." That is -- salad for lunch and fruit for snack and lots of water.
But this past week I forgot to do this -- and I didn't gain any weight.

Perhaps it's because I wasn't writing all day long. ("Butt in chair" until the daily words are done -- the writer's mantra.)
This time I wrote in the morning, cleaned house in the afternoon, and did things for and with my family in the evening. Just as if I would do if I were retired from my day job and could work full time as a writer. (Don't I wish!)


Monday, November 12, 2007

Vacation, Day eight

Really? Eight days off?
Where did the time go?
What did I do today?
My workplace was closed today, but the 7-year-old had to go to school and my husband had to go to work. I tried not to act too smug.

1) I worked on straightening up another room.
2) Spent more time researching and adding to the Mother's Day proposal. With any luck, it'll be ready to go out in a week or two.
3) Dinner was pork chops, fried potatoes and (choice of veggies = carrots/ spinach/ leftover squash)
4) Bought a piano-like keyboard for the 7-year-old's piano lessons. She's really enthusiastic about beginning lessons. It's much bigger than I expected.

Back to work at the library tomorrow.
And right off I'll be doing a program featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. I loaded my car trunk this afternoon full of boxes of track and trains for the kids at the program to play with.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Robert's snowflakes

Only one more week left to admire these snowflakes before they go up for auction. YOU could own art from wonderful illustrators. Support Robert's Snow.

For fun, you can read interviews with these wonderful authors at many different blogs. It's called "Blogging for the Cure."

-wendie O

Vacation, Day Seven

Actually, a normal Sunday -- but with two grandchildren.

For some reason, my body must have known that I'd be with the grandchildren all day, so it woke up at 4am with ideas for the Mother's Day book proposal. I worked on it for an hour or more, then went back to bed. Poor granddad had to do the morning chores of letting the dog out and helping the grandchildren get breakfast, letting me sleep in. Yea!

After church, we had lunch, then on to the park playground for more scooter riding before taking the 5-year-old back to her family in Westminster.

Her family raises dogs. Besides expecting more baby rottweilers this December, they now also have a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Such a cute thing. And its fur is so soft. Both the 7-year-old and I want one! We have to talk granddad into it, tho. He prefers large dogs.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vacation, Day six

Okay, This isn't vacation time -- this is normal weekend time. With the complication of having two grandchildren with me instead of just one.

What did I do today?
1) While the 7-year-old was at gymnastics, I worked on a proposal for a Leap Year book and added some things to the Turtle story. When she finished gymnastics, she insisted on reading the Turtle story, so I rebooted the laptop and brought it up. She read it while I drove, then said, with disappointment dripping from her tone of voice, "It's not finished!" I agreed -- it's not finished. "So, what would you do next?" I asked. She couldn't come up with anything.

2) Picked up my second grandchild, a 5-year-old and proud kindergartner. We then drove to Whole Foods to get granddad's favorite tuna salad. I have little hope for the math ability of the younger generation working there. I asked for a quarter pound of sliced roast beef. When I questioned the pile of meat she gave me, she assured me that she had done that. When I got home, I saw she had given me .5 of a pound. If it weren't so far to drive back, I would have liked to go back and give her a lesson in basic math.

3) We also "tested" the ice cream at the ice cream shop near Whole Foods where the 7-year-old is going to have a Make-your-own-Sundae birthday party in a couple of weeks. yum.

4) After stopping at a few more shops, I let them out at the empty parking lot near our house so that both girls could show each other (and me) how well they could travel on their new scooters.

5) Dinner was chicken with rice, creamed corn, fruit salad of oranges and bananas, and Whole Foods cupcakes for dessert.

6) After dinner I worked on research for a proposal for a Mother's Day book while the kids held a stuffed animal ball, then settled down to print out coloring sheets from and color them.

Good night girls. You can stop talking now girls. GIRLS ! Be quiet! It's time for sleep.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vacation, day five

What did I do today?

1) Spent the morning writing. Went over the Halloween story and two others, printed them out and mailed them. (four mailed out this week)
2) The afternoon was spent going down the list I made yesterday. Completed most of the things oon it.
3) Dinner -- centered around baked yellow squash with bacon on top.
4) In the evening I joined other Pine Grove Elementary School parents in the school Cafetorium being chaperones for the school dance. An elementary school dance? You gotta see it to believe it. Large group dances -- Electric slide, Hoky Poky, the chicken dance and more.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vacation, Day four

What did I do today?

1) reallyo, truelyo finished cleaning and straightening the dining room. Got the 7-year-old to take her box upstairs. Did not convince her to toss anything. Did convince her to put a too small, too young toy back in the give-a-way box. Next, to attack the living room. And then the hall. And then -- who knows?

2) reallyo, truelyo finished with the Dog story -- and MAILED it to the editor who had requested more of my stuff. wahoo!
Okay, stories and artwork are never finished, just abandoned, but after the last pass-thru, I was convinced it was as ready as it could be. (I tightened up one place. Made another part clearer. (more clear?) And discovered a section in present tense that had not been noticed during the last 20 pass-thrus. yikes! )

3) Made plans for tomorrow. Created a long list of stuff I need from Cosco. Received an official e-mail permission from my daughter. With this in hand, I can now go back to her college and get them to release her transcript to me. Naturally with all these outdoor chores, the weather is supposed to be -- Rain.

4) Gave a practice spelling test to 7-year-old and her best friend.

5) Dinner? Steak and mushrooms, mashed potatoes, green beans and ice cream for desert.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vacation, Day three

What did I do today:
1) answered e-mail (bad choice because it cut down on my writing time)
Part of it was workplace e-mail, tho. Things that had to be decided today.
2) Finished most of the cleaning of the dining room. Moved the small TV from the kitchen to the dining room.
3) Cooked split-pea soup with a ham hock. (The 7-year old didn't like it, so she had more chicken noodle soup.)
4) supervised the 7-year-old while she learned how to ride a scooter after school, before it got too cold to ride.

I discovered that my sister Marion's organized cleaning system really works.
She said to begin in one spot and work my way around the room. To use four boxes. (I used canvas bags for large stuff and build-a-bear boxes for kids stuff)

She recommended a box for things to get rid of -- me, I simply threw that sort of thing into the trash, instead.

I used these bags/ boxes --
1) move to another room
2) give away
3) not sure what to do with
4) take this stuff to work for crafts or programs
(however, since my workstaff is trying to get me to cut down on the "stuff" I have at work for programs, they might object to me bringing more stuff there. oh dear.)

I have washed shelves, reorganized the contents of chests of drawers, etc. The dining room looks like a different room, now. But it's taking soooo much longer than I had planned. I need to take a couple of more weeks off to do the whole house this way.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vacation, day two

What did I do today?

1) worked on the dining room. It's half done.
2) tweaked the dog story
3) 3 more loads of wash
4) made stew and biscuits for us, and chicken noodle soup for 2 seven-year-olds.
They were still hungry. So they ate ice cream cones. They were still hungry. So they raided the halloween candy. They were still hungry, so they put jam on more biscuits. I bet they are in a growing stage.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Vacation, Day One

What did I do today?

The first day of vacation is always a day of planning, but not actually doing anything much. A winding down, so to speak, from the usual day-to-day stuff. (can't count the weekend as a vacation because there is so much that needs to be packed into those two days -- every week.)

So I --
1) Put the 7-year-old's hair into a Freaky Hair style for Freaky Hair Day at school. It's interesting that the school scheduled their "Spirit Week" during my vacation time. So that I'll have time to do the time-consuming chores (for the parent) in order to get the 7-year-old attired properly. (Where we're going to get the cowboy stuff for Friday, I'm not sure. The Halloween stores are closed, and besides, there weren't cowboy/ cowgirl outfits on sale there anyway.) She'll probably go as a Native American.

2) Went to the local collage to pay for my older daughter's transcripts to be sent to her. That was a waste of time. It seems that parents can't do that any more. I needed a permission slip from my daughter saying I could do it. My, how times have changed. (How many times did I sign permission slips for her adventures?)

3) Did 5 more loads of wash.

4) Tweaked the Dog story a bit. Sent a draft to my oldest daughter -- since it's her dog I'm writing about.

5) Bought the 7-year-old a Razzor Scooter and made her ride it for an hour. Okay, that sounds more like fun than a chore. But it's to help her learn to balance. We figure that once she learns to balance on the scooter's two wheels, she'll then have more courage to learn to ride her bike. (confession time -- no, she can't ride a bike, yet. I can't figure out why, either. She does okay on the balance beam in gymnastics - why can't she balance on a bike?)

6) Cooked a pot roast -- something you can't do when you are working full time. It's even a chore to do it in the slo-cooker when you are working. I'm planning to have home-cooked meals the whole week long. My family will be so surprised.

7) Housekeeping? no, not yet. But I'm making plans.

Be sure to check the Blue Rose Girls' blog to see which illustrators of Robert's Snow snowflakes are being featured this week on other blogs:


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Do it all in a week?

Beginning Monday I have a whole week off.
To write?
To houseclean?
To get Christmas presents bought and mailed?
To contemplate my navel?

Probably all of the above.

Sooooo, I'm going to try to post regularly here to report on my progress -- if any. Just like the people doing NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo ?
Go to for more info, but basically it’s a nationwide project where crazy writers pledge to write an entire novel in exactly one month! (first draft, naturally. No way will it be finished enough to send to publishers. But still -- one month! )

I hope to report-- How many words I wrote. What rooms are straightened enough to be in House Beautiful. (or at least decent enough to hold a birthday sleepover in without embarrassing us or the other children's parents.)

In one week I magically turn back into a Children's Librarian in a Public library -- with a Thomas the Tank Engine program to give the day I get back. I'm hoping that keeping a tally here on the blog will insure that things actually get done.

-wendieO (who urges you to buy Robert's Snow Snowflakes when they come up for auction mid-November)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween fun

This year we fell into some pumpkin deals and ended up with 5 or six pumpkins.

I put two by the mailbox by the street -- so they could decorate the mailbox area for Fall for several months.

My husband carved (with help from the 7-year old) the largest. "Granddad makes the best jack-o-lanterns," I was informed as I was shooed away from helping. The 7-year old painted the other three. Made a cat, a clown and a "scary Mary."

We put them all out for Halloween.

What did I see this morning? The two by the mailbox had been smashed (by teens) (the same teens who emptied our candy bowl?)

But the others were closer to the house and are okay. So I guess I get to put Clowny, the cat, and Scary Mary out by the mailbox for my fall display. The carved one will allowed to rot and make compost for the flower bed beside the porch.

The 7-year old refused to be a princess this year. She found an angel costume in a second hand store and went as an angel. Definately NOT typecasting. But she loved the feather wings I added to it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stories come in their own time, not yours

Don't you just hate it when you wake in the middle of the night with a story idea -- And you hafta get up and write it down?

One struck again last Friday morning. At 4:56, to be exact. By the time my husband woke up, at his normal time of 6:30, I was deep into getting it all down into a computer file. Naturally, it wasn't one of my Friday's off -- I had to go to work. Fridays we are short-staffed in the library. Since there are only two of us, I was on the desk all day.

I haven't posted all week because I've been too worried about my daughter out in San Diego. I kept logging onto CNN, watching the fires out there get closer and closer to her home. When the Santa Ana Winds finally died down and she was finally allowed to return to her home, she sent e-mails describing her family's evacuation adventures. We had worried about her asthma. The smoke really affected her lungs. But she was lucky in two ways:
1) Since she is a pharmacist, she had a good supply of medical masks. and
2) She was able to stay with friends at their beach house where the air was cleaner.

She went back to work (11 hour shifts, serving people escaping from the fires), while her husband and dog helped the ASPCA rescue horses and other animals from the fire area and take them to the Del Mar fairgrounds. He also helped out at the stadium where he and Lance (the golden retriever) met Governor Schwartzenager. (He swears he has pictures to prove it! )

Soooo, what was my story about -- that had to get written down early Friday morning?
You've probably guessed -- A California Fire story.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Today, the Maryland Association of School Librarians held their annual convention in Ocean City, Maryland. Although I had attended the Maryland Author Luncheon and had signed books at this convention many times, this was the first time I was invited to be a speaker.

The seven-year old (almost eight year old, can you believe it?) and her best friend helped me stay awake for the drive to OC Thursday evening after work. Since we didn't get settled down into our hotel room until late, I assumed the kids would sleep in. Nope. I woke up at 7:30 am and they were out of bed by the time I finished my shower.

The girls were great, today. They looked over the hotel's children's menu and both decided to order Mac and Cheese and applesauce for lunch. So, after I gave my talk (about research and writing nonfiction and "Bringing Dead Guys to Life"), and before the book signing, I brought lunch up to the room to them. I finally rescued them from their cable TV orgy after the Maryland Author Luncheon.

We then hit the beach. It was warm -- mid-70s, but cloudy/ overcast. Evidently it had poured while the girls were in the room, but not a drop of rain fell while we were outside. The girls raced waves (getting caught several times because the tide was coming in) and dug holes. Best friend's mom had offered huge plastic shovels. Boy were they great!

But, it started getting foggier, so we went back into the hotel. Now they're having fun in the hotel pool and I"m surfing the internet poolside. (I feel absolutely decadent.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Yesterday Paige and I (That's us in the picture to the right) signed HALLOWEEN DAY BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN at the NAIBA. (New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association)
The bookseller group met in Baltimore this year -- very convenient. And they invited local authors to join the nationally famous authors -- the ones whose publishers paid for them to attend -- as guests. Paige and I were scheduled to display our books at the Children's book author luncheon. (a box lunch) and then to sign books afterwards.

Since the event was being held downtown at the Sheraton Hotel, I didn't even look at the address of the hotel. After all, I knew right where the Sheraton was. Down by the Inner Harbour tourist area -- near the football and baseball parks. Luckily I planned to be there early, because I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

It turned out that the convention was being held at the hotel next to the old Civic Center. (now called First Marina Center) Sheraton Hotels had bought out the old hotel owners. Luckily I knew that old hotel well, because I had attended many Science Fiction conventions there. It was no problem to zip up the hill from the harbor area. And I still arrived on time for the "luncheon."

Met many nice bookstore owners and was amazed at how many of them already knew our books and were looking forward to the new one. (I still say that it's difficult to look professional and attractive while you are eating -- which is why I wasn't able to eat very much of the sandwich, but did manage to scarf down the fruit cup in between talking to booksellers.)

Afterwards we browsed the exhibit area while waiting for our turn to sign books.

I checked out the group signing before us.
Hmmm. James Gurney is signing his new Dinotopia book and an artist demonstrating block printing. I knew Paige would be interested in that, so I dragged her away from the exhibits. She had no idea that all these books were being given out free. (and the artist was giving out signed copies of her block printing.) So she quickly got in line to get a Dinotopia for her son and a print for herself.

When it came to our turn to sign, we didn't expect anybody much. But there was a line of people wanting copies of our book. (It's a two-fer. Both writer and illustrator are signing!) We were busy the whole time we were scheduled to be there and signed most of the books that the publisher sent.

The thrill of MY day was meeting Debbie Dadey in person and talking about writing while working a day job and being able to retire to write -- my dream and her reality.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Balloon festival


This week is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

My brother is part of a balloon crew and he keeps inviting us to come visit him during the festival. But so far we haven't made it. I think his balloon is a regular balloon shape, but I thought this bee balloon looked cute.

I keep telling him that I'd come if he could get a school to invite me to do an author visit and pay my way. However, I hear that schools there think that authors should do programs for free. There are enough self-published authors in the area who are willing to do this that they think this is the norm. It's not.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Robert's snow

Want to own some original art? The snowflakes that many talented children’s book illustrators have created for Robert’s Snow 2007 are now available for viewing online at the Robert’s Snow website. You can view them by clicking here.

There will be three separate Robert’s Snow 2007 auctions. They will be held --
Auction 1: November 19-23
Auction 2: November 26-30
Auction 3: December 3-7

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Baltimore Book Festival report

For various family reasons -- mainly events the seven year old wanted to attend, like gymnastics class and the Greek Festival (Greek pastries and lamb -- yumm!), we missed most of the Baltimore Book Festival. I simply drove down on Sunday afternoon for my presentation.

The Children's Bookstore Tent was packed. The crowd laughed and had a great time.
And then the speaker (Kevin O'Malley) stopped talking and moved to a table at the side to sign books. And the whole crowd got up and lined up there.

When I came to the front of the tent to speak -- the seats were empty.
"Just begin talking," the bookstore owner ordered -- so I did.
I ended up with eight people -- four kids and four adults. But still, we had a great conversation about non-fiction, about book publishing, and about illustrators and illustrations.

I quized them about Halloween and other stuff, giving out Halloween Book of Facts and Fun pencils as rewards for correct answers. (and ended up giving pencils to all of them for being such a good audience.)

I signed a few books for people, and then I signed stock for the Children's Bookstore. They said that TO FLY had sold 20 copies before I came to talk. And that they'll be bringing my Halloween book to various book fairs during October. nice.

Went home to enjoy more Greek pastries. There's nothing like a sugar buzz from too much honey.

(waving "hi" to my sister, who finally found my blog)

Here a Link; There a Link

I was going to insert a link here
such as one to AOL

Okay, it made a link, but it's not a tiny URL.
hmm I guess I'd better read the Blogger Instruction book to get that, I suppose.

I want to learn how to write the word "here" (or something) and have that word be a link -- like the major Bloggers do.

p.s. I found a spellcheck button.
Is that new? or has it been there all the time and I didn't see it?


Monday, October 1, 2007

Night of the Howling Dog

Graham Salisbury's newest adventure story is even more exciting because it is based on an event that really happened.

Book Summary: DYLAN'S SCOUT TROOP goes camping in Halape, a remote spot below the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The only thing wrong with the weekend on a beautiful, peaceful beach is Louie, a tough older boy. Louie and Dylan just can't get along.

That night an earthquake rocks the camp, and then a wave rushes in, sweeping everyone and everything before it. Dylan and Louie must team up on a dangerous rescue mission. The next hours are an amazing story of survival and the true meaning of leadership.

This might be the one that gets him noticed by the Newbery Committee.

I picked this up off the New Books shelf because --
1) I had met him at SCBWI-LA several years ago and had attended his talk about writing.
2) When I read the blurb, I discovered it involved a volcano in Hawaii -- and I'm a volcano fan from way back.
3) It's a boy scout troop adventure story.

We have a copy of the book cover in this post!
First time this worked for me.
hmmm, I think I'll go back and see if I can put a bookcover in the Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf post.
crossing fingers and toes.

Double Wahoo -- That one worked, too.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Two packages came within days of each other.

One contained my author's copies of THE HALLOWEEN BOOK OF FACTS AND FUN. The other came from a novelty shop -- pencils. Orange pencils with Jack-o-Lanterns on them, inscribed with the title of my new book.

Great! Now I'm all set for the various places I'm scheduled to do an author presentation this year.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talk like a pirate

Well, it's almost over, but today was Talk like a pirate day.
No, I'm wrong -- it's INTERNATIONAL Talk Like a Pirate day. So, of course our library branch had a Pirate Party.
(See for ideas for your own event next year)

The Fall library Friends' book sale was going on, so we couldn't use the meeting room. We held it out in the Children's room -- thus eliminating food. (Goldfish crackers and Swedish fish were all I could think of serving, so maybe it was better so.)

What's a Pirate day without a Treasure map -- that really leads to treasure? So that's what everyone had to do, first. Find the YA section. Find the Children's nonfiction. Find the Joppa Room. Find the Adult Information desk and GET SOME TREASURE. (choice of 2 necklaces out of a whole pile of them) Find the Circulation desk and get gold coins. And at the Children's Information desk, they could put their hands into a Feelie Box and pull out Jewels. Or a pencil. Or bubbles. Or something. They finished with a map of the library they could keep and use.

Then on to the crafts and handouts. (I probably should have handed out the Pirate vocabulary list first and insisted that everyone talk "Pirate" during their Treasure hunt.)

Although some children came in costume, the hit of the evening were the ladies who came in full (female) pirate dress! I also wore velvet and brocade, but had to remove my leather jerkin because it was too warm for it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

early in the morning

Two things.

1) I'm not learning enough about How-to-BLOG from the 23 things we librarians have to do, so I've put several blogging instruction books on hold. They should be on my desk by Tuesday and then maybe I'll figure this stuff out.

2) I've begun a strange habit for my writing. I sleep for 4 hours or so -- then wake up and can't get back to sleep -- so I fire up my computer and work on writing. My project this week has been to slash and burn a 4600 word manuscript -- cut it in half. or more. I originally had intended it to be another 48 page picture book biography, like TO FLY. (see the bookcover at the right over there? that one.) But it keeps being rejected. One editor was kind enough to tell me that they only do 32 page books, not 48 pages.

Wondering if it was being rejected because something was wrong with the writing, I got it critiqued by an editor at a SCBWI conference. She was very nice about it. Said the writing was well-written. (yea!) But, even if TO FLY was 48 pages, she didn't think anyone was doing books that length anymore. Her advice was either to lengthen it and illustrate it with photographs and documents -- or shorten it to better fit the picture book length.

I assured her that I had already done the photo research for this and there was very little out there -- it really needed to be illustrated by an artist.

Therefore -- on the advice of two good editors -- I'm slashing and burning.

3) This writing in the wee hours of the night means that I'm a teeny tiny bit tired for my day job. (yes I do go back to bed and get a few more hours of sleep.) So far, bottled tea has kept me going.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RSS feeds

Okay, now I know how to add other people's blogs to my Bloglines' account. But nowhere can I find out how to add that little red RSS button to my blog so that people CAN add my blog to their RSS.

Back to learning more of the 23 things librarians have to know.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pictures into blogs

I'm trying to learn how to insert pictures of bookcovers into an older blog post.

So far I've figured out that Blogger won't work with Safari and I'm assuming that if I do try to insert the bookcover, I won't be able to insert it into the message that I had already done. Oh well. I'll try to remember to be on Explorer the next time I do a book review. Uploading pictures seem to work with that. (but it still seems to have to be a brand new post.)

So, it looks as if I'll not be able to put the cover of Jennifer Holm's new book into that message.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Summer is officially over

Yesterday was Labor Day.
A day of vacation from our day jobs and an extra day off for us to do all those little chores that you never can get done on the regular two-day weekend.

Yesterday was the last day our community pool was open. Luckily the weather was warm, even though the water had cooled down to 76 degrees. (I usually won't get into the pool until July, when the water warms up to at least 80 degrees.) Even so, I braved the chilly water and took one last dip.

The seven year old and her swim team friends had great fun that afternoon in and out of the pool. But many tears were shed when it was time to go home.

Now, it's back to school. Back to work. Back to normal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Fall Speaking Schedule

1) I've been invited to do a presentation and sign books at the Children's bookstore tent at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday, September 30. I hope they'll get copies of Halloween book of facts and fun in time. Its publication date is that same day.

2) I've been invited to the Children’s Author/Illustrator – Bookseller Networking event at lunchtime on Monday, October 15, 2007 during the NAIBA Fall Conference here in Baltimore, Maryland.

3 I've been invited to speak at the Maryland School Librarian's Association ( MASL ) fall conference in Ocean City, Maryland on Friday, October 19.

4) I haven't decided whether or not to accept the invitation to the Southern KY Book Fest in April.
I spoke at this event a few years ago and sold out my Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun that day. (which they tell me is a GOOD THING.) I wonder, do you think it helped the sales of the Groundhog Day book to do this? It has sold like hotcakes for several years now. And would it help the sales of the Halloween Day book if I went this year? Decisions. Decisions.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Middle School is worse than Meatloaf

There's something about Jennifer Holm. No, I don't mean her two Newbery Honors. Nor her two beautiful children. Nor the fact that she lives in Maryland. Just that special something that makes you know, the minute you pick up one of her books, that you are in for a good read.

You could say -- Take Babymouse and cross it with Penny from Heaven -- and you just might end up with this book.

The first thing you notice is the cover. You want to pick up that pencil and get it out of the dinner plate. Hey, the peas are all over -- pick up those peas young lady. What the heck does this all mean?

The second thing you notice is that someone has written notes all over this book. Read a little further: Hey, wait a minute -- that's part of the book. it's told in notes and drawings and Refrigerator magnets. (does she ever eat enough pizza to earn that free pizza?)

What can a girl do with two brothers? One a Juvenile delinquent and the other simply young. And with a new, mostly great, step dad who forgot to pick her up to take her to Nutcracker ballet tryouts -- making her lose the part of the Sugarplum fairy?

Will she eve get that yummy yellow sweater?

And so the school year progresses -- told through all the notes and calendars and bank statements and even computer instant messages. Wanna know what happens next? yes!

It's a real page turner. Read it and enjoy. (I already have made a note to order more copies for my library branch because this is one I am going to be handing out right and left.)


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Elizabeth Moon I hate you (just kidding)

Elizabeth Moon, one of my favorite writers of adult books, has done it again. She's written another book that kept me up late last night -- reading, that kept me from doing anything useful this weekend -- but to read her book.

Her latest book, Command Decision, continues the saga of the Vatta family. It follows Stella, the once airhead who becomes CEO of the company, and Ky Vatta, who was kicked out of space academy several books ago and is now commanding a fleet of space privateers. With side trips to chapters about Rafe and his adventures rescuing his family from kidnappers.

Talk about exciting! Making the reader want to know what happens next. And when she throws a clash between the space pirates, a mercenary group, her own fleet, and then adds in the ISC fleet who charge in thinking KY is the enemy and the pirates are the victims, well.... No time for sleep this weekend.

I'm going to try to post blog messages at least once a week from now on. And I'll be aiming for the beginning of the week -- Sunday or Monday. Crossing fingers and toes that I'll be able to do it.

(and now back to studying Flicker -- the next assignment in my 23 things class.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

23 things and Library 2.0

There will be a bit of jumping around and experimenting as I take the "23 Things" "Library 2.0" course, which most all librarians in Maryland are taking, for the next few months. With any luck, what I learn will only improve my ability to post neat things here. I can't wait to learn how to upload pictures and link to things.

For one thing, I'd like to learn how to find where the statistics are hidden as to how many people actually read this blog. People say there's a place to find this information, but so far I haven't found it.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogging HP as you read

isn't the BLOGging world an amazing place? Fuse #8 posted a link to two friends who blogged about reading Harry Pottter -- as they read it!

So, if you need more Harry Potter, just hike over there and enjoy. Warning -- block out a lot of time to do this, because they create loooooong posts every few hours as they read. It's kinda fun to see the conclusions and predictions they come to and compare them to your own reactions.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Discuss Harry Potter

I've finished reading the last Harry Potter book. Have you?
If you have, then an interesting discussion of the book is happening over at Cheryl Klein's Blog.

She was the continunity editor of the book and discusses the parts of the book she loves.
Right now there are two Harry Potter posts. Look for these titles:
Back to Harry
Some thoughts on Deathly Hallows

Mark her blog to go back to later if you haven't finished the book yet. Major spoilers that are true. Great stuff.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Day -- Hurrah!

I arrived at my library branch today to discover that I would have the honor of helping to unpack and count the HP books. They came complete with really neat lables from Tech Services claiming that the books came from Hogwarts to be delivered to the ____ library.

About 370 were ordered for our 11 branch system and every one of them was caught by a hold. Every person with a hold could come get their book(s) or recording(s) at 10 am on Saturday. More people put holds on the title during the day. (expecting to just walk in and get one off the shelves. HA!)

Several times the other librarian and I had to go help the circ people handle the checkout lines.

Fun, fun.
I put lightning bolts on kid's foreheads and they could cut out Slytheran snakes to take home. or the word find. or other stuff.

I have a fold-out Hogwarts that drew lots of attention.

Our Owls were perched on top of the Harry Potter bag I got from Scholastic at ALA -- as if they had just delivered the books.

as I said, fun.

What did YOU do on Harry Potter Day?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Waiting for Harry Potter

As we wait for Harry Potter 7, some of us are racing to read the whole set. I'm up to book 6. Where are you?

I've seen some predictions and, since almost nobody reads this BLOG, I'm going to predict one possible outcome for book 7.
In Book 6, Harry finds a potions recipe book that has an inscription that says: This is the property of the Half-Blood Prince. He comes to think that this refers to him, only to discover that the book had belonged to He-who-must-not-be-named. (I use this title mostly because I can't spell Volm.....)
Correction -- I've finished the book now and have discovered that the book actually belongs to Snape (Yes, Professor Snape.) His mother's maiden name was Prince!)

In Book 5, there's a prediction about He-Who- etc. and possibly Harry Potter, but it could mean someone else entirely. The prediction says that "neither can live while the other survives."

I predict that it won't be Harry Potter who is instrumental in defeating He-who- etc.
It's Neville !

Neville was born the same month/ year as Harry and his parents were also destroyed (mentally, they're not dead) by He-who-etc. By making He-who-etc. focus on Harry P., he ignores poor clumsy Neville, which will be his undoing.

Next weekend I hope to get book 7 and find out if I'm right.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday the 13th

Well, something straaaage did happen on Friday the 13th.

I posted an article on my blog about writing -- and it did not show on my BLOG. It only showed if you clicked on the Archive for July, but when I looked at my blog directly from my bookmarks -- the last entry was July 6. weird.

This is a test. Will putting this message up (on July 14 -- Bastille Day -- force the July 13 message to show? or will both of them hide in the archives? hmmmm?


Ah, now both messages (this one and the last one, show up. weird.

Friday, July 13, 2007

To put it online -- or not

It's Friday the 13th and so far no disasters have happened. so far.

I found this bit of useful writing advice on the Children's business of Writing group:

From the Guide to Literary Agents:

"Perhaps your goal is to put samples of your writing/or illustrations online in the hopes that someone such as an agent or editor will come across the site and contact you. Unfortunately, the odds of this are very, very low.

If you really are looking to get your work noticed by agents without going through the traditional submission process, my best advice is to get short stories published in prominent journals, or get your nonfiction articles published in prominent magazines."

On the other hand, there has been much discussion lately about the fact that, when you submit material to agents or publishers, they often will do a search online to see if you have a website or a BLOG, just to get a better feel for you and your writing/ illustrating.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Harry Potter 4

Well, I just completed Harry Potter, Book 4.
It looks like I'm going to finish too soon -- waaaay before the last HP comes out mid-July.

My 7- year old (going into 2nd grade) is wizzing through the Felicity -- American Girls' series. To our amazement.
Of course, now she want the doll, too.

She's been wanting to read Harry Potter since she was four -- but I wouldn't read them to her. Actually, I did read selected pages to her, skiping the ones I considered too dark for her to understand. I also won't let her watch the DVDs, even tho we own them all.
However, I bet she'll be diving into the Harry Potter books by this time next summer. And, if she stops having nightmares this school year (she tends to have nightmares), I'll even let her watch the movies.

How far are YOU with your re-reading of the HP series?


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

no fireworks

Interesting fourth of July.

The grandkid and I finally made it to the Towson Fourth of July parade this year. It's a nice 'local' parade with two homemade floats and lots of bands -- and politicians. Even the governor of the state was there.

In the afternoon we tried going to the party at the pool, but it was called off because of thunder. (no rain, just clouds and lots of thunder.)
So, we headed out to the usual fireworks place at 8:00pm to get a good place. And got pounded with rain. After a while, people came around to say it had been cancelled.

Finally got the kid to bed after "just one more chapter of Felicity, pleeeeeeease?"

It's after 11 pm and I'm putting off going to bed because various neighbors seem to have to fire off all of their firecrackers before midnight. It sounds like a war zone, sorta.

And how was your Fourth?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter movie comes out next week and the last book of the series, book 7, comes out on July 21st. The excitement is building. We have a count-down calendar near the Children's Information Desk and I try to remember to tear off a page a day. When I forget, Jan or one of the other staff members remembers to do it.

I'm hearing Harry Potter tales from staff and patrons.

Some of us are in a race, trying to re-read all of the books this month before Book 7 comes out. I"m on book 3 myself. Which book are YOU on?

A Girl Scout leader was telling me about the International Girl Scout Encampment her troop was going to attend. Since it's being held over Harry Potter weekend, a nearby bookstore is delivering thousands of books to the girls camped there -- and they intend to hold a read-a-thon the minute they get the books in their hands.

Tell me what's going on in your neck of the woods to celebrate Harry Potter day and I'll list them on this BLOG.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

ALA, Monday

Ah, Monday. The last day of ALA. Boy was I moving slowly that morning. Tired. It was a lovely hotel room and a soft bed, but I'd been walking more this weekend than I've walked for a long time. (since the last ALA?)
This day was spent trying to wiz through the rest of the exhibits in between meetings.

10:30 am -- At last. The Sibert Award for best nonfiction of the year was to be awarded. The printed program was beautifully done with a semi-transparent view of masses of men in the NASA control room overlaid on a bright view of part of the moon with the Earth hanging above it. When it came to the award for best short film, we learned that Mo Willems and his daughter had recorded the father and daughter's voices in "Knuffle Bunny : a cautionary tale." He brought his daughter up with him to help accept the award. cute.

Ah, the awards program ended at 11:30. I had just enough time to rush back to the Exhibits floor to stand in line, a very looong line, to get a Harry Potter bag from the Scholastic booth. I'd been seeing the bags during the convention and had recently discovered they'd be handing out the last ones at noon on Monday.

Hot dog on the exhibits floor for lunch.
Then more exhibit walking until it was time for me to sign my own books at the Albert Whitman booth.

This was the first time I'd be signing with any of my illustrators. In fact, this is the ONLY illustrator of any of my books that I've even met -- Paige Billin-Frye. She's not only done a wonderful job on my books, but also had close to 10 books she had illustrated on display at the booth. We spent our time at the booth telling passersby how wonderful the other person's books were. (and inviting them to pet the Groundhog -- a Folkmanis puppet)

Maurice, our Technical Trainer at HCPL, happened to catch Paige and me at this signing and snapped some pictures. Yes, that is the groundhog sitting between us. The best picture is posted on his BLOG at:

Doesn't Paige do wonderful work? I just love the covers she did for my books, don't you?
(Halloween will be available in September -- if you bought one and had it signed at ALA, you have a special copy just for you.)

Of course, then he e-mailed me the picture and I"m under orders to post it in this BLOG.
Just as soon as I get to that part of the 2.0 course.
(a technology course that all librarians and most of the other people who work in Maryland's public Libraries are required to take this summer.)

Soon afterwards I had to go back to the hotel to pack and make my way back up I-95 to Baltimore. Got home just in time to see my 7-year old win a ribbon at her swim meet. In backstroke, her most difficult stroke.

Nice end to a busy, busy weekend.

ALA, Sunday

Sunday I attended several strictly "librarian" meetings, beginning with "Communicating Up and Down: the Yo-Yo Effect. One of the speakers was Beverly Izzi, Children's Coordinator from Calvert Library here in Maryland. Several tidbits:
1) Don't dig a hole and jump in. -- This was explained that, when you are in a meeting and you see that nobody agrees with you, STOP arguring. Attack the problem with private discussions with other members of the meeting so that when you next bring it up, you will have supporters.
2) You may have supporters you never expect -- People in the general public may hear you speak about a problem/ solution and then might then contact the Director of your library system, or other people in the administration voicing their support of your proposal. Without you even knowing about this groundswell of support.
3) There was more, but these are the ones that stood out.

This ended early, so I slid into the Random House Fall preview of books. Despite Betsy Bird's reports on her BLOG of the yummie food at publisher's book Previews, there was no sign of eatables. :-( However, there was a great goodie bag of Reader's Copies of books and bookmarks and freebies (like a flip-flop key chain) and the news that StarGirl has a sequel -- book enclosed in the bag. (In fact the bag itself had art from the book on it.) Nobody gets to read it until I finish it. Then I'll pass it around the branch.

Ooops, DAvid Lubar was signing his books at TOR right afterwards -- so I rushed down to the exhibits to get TWO freebie copies of his books and to talk to him a bit.

Back to the hotel to drop off the piles of goodies I had gathered and to quickly eat a salad. Then back to the convention center where --

The afternoon meetings. I wanted to attend two of them. At the same time. How to do that?
First I went to Snips and Snails -- Every Boy Ready to Read. It actually sounded as if it were going to be boring. A psycologist talking and talking and talking. But it wasn't. boring that is. How neat to discover that boys learn differently than girls. And -- whereas in previous centuries girls were considered stupid because they couldn't learn with boys -- these days women teachers are teaching to girl's style and the boys are considered unteachable.

One amazing fact was that girls learn best in a warm room, sitting still. (sound familiar) Whereas boys learn best ON THEIR FEET in a room 5 to 10 degrees colder. Ah Ha! That's why boys wiggle and tap and make noises and general are what we consider disruptive. IT'S THE WAY THEY CAN CONCENTRATE AND LEARN. Talk about fastinating! How many of you have husbands that pace when they're thinking things out? boys/ men do that. It's why private boys schools are so successful. They have cold rooms with few chairs. (some boys do need to sit and think, but most would rather walk around.

This person was advocating single sex schools and he made a good case for it. I have to agree that one of my daughters was much more successful in her girl's high school than she had been in public high school.

Then I jumped next door to the other program I wanted to attend --
Search and Research: How Three nonfiction Writers Navigate Information Overload. Sneed Collard with his editor Judy O'Malley (Charlesbridge) Sy Mntgomery with his editor Kate O'Sullivan (Houghton Mifflin) and Elizabeth Partridge and her editor Regina Hayes (Viking) Along with Julie Corsaro who discussed the Sibert Committee and how they chose the best Non-fiction of the year. I gathered up a bunch of handouts from this one to send to the HCPL children's librarians.

Next, I jumped on the Metro to attend the Author Reception at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library sponsored by Capitol Choices. Completely missed the Book Cart Drill Team back at the convention center , which was narrated (is that the right term) by Mo Willems. I do hope that it shows up on U-Tube and that Betsy Bird will post them on her site one of her Video Sundays. I saw some of the costumed teams leaving just as I re-entered the convention center.

And then on the the Newbery/ Caldecott/ Wilder banquet. (all right, yes I did change my dress -- into a red one in honor of the Newbery winner, The Higher Power of Lucky.) The banquet floor was sprinkled with red dresses -- along with a few men in red shirts. The speeches were entertaining. Susan Paton and her expressive eyebrows kept us laughing, even when she discussed the uproar that one word in her book caused.

And I got back to the hotel at a semi-decent hour.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


More ALA postings soon.
I was busy trying to catch up on clean wash and sorting the goodies I brought back with me today.
Presently they're spread out on the librarian's office floor, trying to get sorted into piles.
As Susan Patron said at the Newbery/ Caldecott/ Wilder banquet on Sunday, "Librarians do this."

Will post more ALA news, soon. -w

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Saturday, ALA

The first thing I did at ALA was to run to the Scholastic Booth to see what they'd be handing out for Harry Potter this time. hmmm. nothing. However, they did promise me they'd be serving Butter Beer in the afternoon. (Not a big draw for this non-beer drinking person, however.) They did give me copies of Mike Thaler's Teacher from the Black Lagoon series -- signing to be held that afternoon. I can give these to the grandchildren and use the extra copies for prizes for programs at the library.

And so I visited a few other publisher's booths before checking out the Albert Whitman booth. Not only do they have some bound copies of my new book, The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun, but they're featuring it on the backdrop with a large poster. Yea!

And then on to the program -- Spreading the word with a Children's Poetry Jam. Amazing to hear Jack Prelutsky, Betsy Franco, Marlyn Singer and others read their own poems. I'm sure it was planned before hand, but they jumped from poems about food to animals, from longer poems to "who can show off the shortest poem." fun. Then they talked about using poetry with children to encourage them to appreciate playing with words.

I missed getting cake at Baker and Taylor's celebration of their new children's imprint, Paw Prints. (Isn't that cute?) But they promise more on Sunday.

Did I see Judy Blume? yes. Did I get a book signed by her? no. As I approached the end of the line, a booth staff member stood there telling everyone that the line was closed.

Then on to Trit Trot to Washington, the whys and hows of using rhymes, songs, books, and games in early literacy programs for babies and toddlers. The handouts included the songs they were using. Since there were leftovers after the program, I picked up some for every library branch. Some of the speakers go out to public health Clinics and other places where mothers gather, to reach those moms who have no idea that libraries would have books and programs that could help them cope with motherhood. Learned more uses of music in storytime and discovered that the Two Little Dickybirds fingerplay can also be used with LOUD and soft & fast and sloooooow. neat! Also scarfed up Betsy Diamant-Cohen's Mother Goose on the Loose CD that is just the songs. (the CDs I already have include the instructions for using the songs, but does not have just plain songs that I could actually use in my baby storytime.)

After the program, a group of us gathered around the speakers and demonstrated fingerplays and action games we have found sucessful in our own programs. Can't wait to use the popcorn one.

After more book signings and booth browsing, I had a wonderful idea. The Scholastic bash was to be at another hotel. Why not simply take the free bus now to that hotel, have dinner, and then I'll already be there for the concert.

The evening concert this year (to support scholarships to library school) was actually two performances. The first one by Mark Russel and the second one was the Capitol Steps. A great evening of political satire, perfect for this ALA in Wasington, DC. I'll share the CDs I bought of the Capitol Steps with everyone in my library branch. (after my husband gets them first to put on his I-Pod.)

Got back to the room before midnight -- yawn.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday, Washington DC

Well, I made it. Here we are in beautiful Washington, DC. How can I tell? Well, just out my window, beyond those buildings there, is the top third of the Washington Monument. Red light flashing on top to warn all those presidential hellicopters away.

When I pulled up in front of this de-leux hotel, I saw four valet men talking among themselves. And an empty rolling cart. After standing by my car for a couple of minutes, I shrugged my shoulders and unloaded the car, myself, onto the cart. Then I stood there waving my car keys until a valet finally decided to notice me. Suddenly it was apologies all over the place and "did you unload the car your self?" and sorry, sorry, sorry. Suddenly I was being escorted into the hotel by two men and another man tried to help me do "self-check-In" with a kiosk. Was he embarrassed when it said there was no room available for me. I whipped out my confirmation. He escorted me over to the registration desk and I was immediately processed. hmmmmmm.

I had requested two double beds but when we arrived at the TOP FLOOR, I saw that they had given me a king and had upgraded me to Regency Club grade. All without telling me.

wahoo. (wahoo only if it doesn't mean an extra charge on my bill.) It's an okay room, but it comes with a free breakfast and fruit during the day. ( And me with breakfast food in my suitcase -- bananas and oatmeal cookies. And dark chocolate M&Ns. oh well.) There's an 8 feet tall x 4 feet wide mirror on the wall. Cosy (men's size) overstuffed chair with an ottoman and table with lamp for computing.

I finally have the internet working. Had to talk with this nice boy in TEXAS before we could get my computer to talk to T-mobile. Funny, I've had no problems at other hotels, but this hotel's T-Mobil just wouldn't work. I've either purchased 3 or 6 or 9 days of T-mobile service. I can't tell. because I had to go through the purchase point several times before they decided their server would work.

Gotta go plan my day for tomorrow. Meetings to go to. Exhibits to see. Fun to be had at ALA.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hoppie Bird Day 2 Me

Wednesday was my birthday.
Several nice things happened that day.
I got lots of hugs and love from my family.
My youngest daughter got first place in freestyle at her swim meet. (Yea!)

And I got cards, dark chocolate, and a cononut cake at work today from my co-workers. YUMMY!
I also asked that they sing the Beatles' song,
"Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty - four!"

but they wouldn't. :-)