Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Other Nonfiction Monday Blogs for your enjoyment

31 bloggers participated in Nonfiction Monday this week.
And the list is grows longer every week.

What did they say? Click here.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Choosing what to write about

How do you choose a subject to write about? There's just so many things we are interested in. How do we pick just one?

I work in a public library. Many times I have students come up to me at the Information desk and ask me to help them choose a topic for a paper.

I have to tell them that nobody can choose a topic for them -- they have to choose it.
Then I start quizzing them.
What’s the subject they are studying?
What part of it interests them?
You can almost see that cartoon light bulb flash over their head as they come up with an idea -- and off they go to research it.

You write best if YOU are intensely interested in the subject.
Soooo, what interests you?
Go find more about it -- and write.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

strange orange moon

I went outside tonight about 10:30 Eastern time, to let the dog out, and something in the sky caught my eye.
There was this round orange thing blinking through the waving bare limbs of the winter trees. With two very bright lights on either side of it.

I wondered if it could be that satellite that the Navy was supposed to shoot down and I was seeing the expanding explosion?
So, I came back inside (letting the dog come too) and cranked up my computer and looked on the CNN website -- my trusty source of news which shows things as they happen.

Nope, the Navy still hasn't fired a shot.
(correction. As of 11:15, they fired. Note to self-- check CNN on Thursday to see what happened.)

The orange thing was an total lunar eclipse. Amazing. I haven't seen one of those for years.
It's more amazing than you know -- because a few hours ago we were in the middle of a snowstorm.
And yet, right now the sky is clear and there's the eclipse.

If only I had a telescope. One of those sparks of light beside the moon is supposed to be the planet Saturn -- sitting there the closest it has been or will be for a while. I wonder if my binocs will be strong enough to see Saturn's rings.
(late report -- I went out into the below freezing weather and tried, but never could get a clear view of Saturn, darn it.)

Did you get a good look tonight?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

President's Day

In a amazing coincidence, I completed my proposal for another holiday book yesterday -- this one about Presidents' Day -- and I did it on (ta-dah) President's Day.
I'll get it into the mail today. (Tuesday)

To Do List:
-- Now to go check my submissions record to see which manuscripts have been out on editor's desks (desks/ chairs/ floor/ fallen behind the cabinets/ wherever they pile their tons of submissions) for over four months. Make note to now send to other publishers.
--Plus, send a response to a request to speak at the local community college.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- a wonderful BLOG

Today is Nonfiction Monday.
I had all these plans about grabbing some great nonfiction books from my library and talking about them -- only to remember that libraries are closed today. Soooo, I have lots of time to create a post and no books at home to talk about.

I want to tell you about this wonderful nonfiction blog.
It's called I.N.K. which stands for Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

I was amazed to learn that some of my favorite wonderful nonfiction writers are each posting messages here. Plus there are links to their websites where you can find more about them and their books. Wow -- to have all these people in one place. It's a feast!

Who are they?
* Don Brown
* Bob Raczka
* Jennifer Armstrong
* Kathleen Krull
* Padma Venkatraman
* Linda Salzman
* April Pulley Sayre
* Sue Macy
* Loreen Leedy
* Kelly Fineman
* Vicki Cobb
* Sneed B. Collard III
* Anna M. Lewis
* Steve Jenkins

They describe their blog this way:
"Here we will meet the writers whose words are presenting nonfiction in a whole new way. Discover books that show how nonfiction writers are some of the best storytellers around. Learn how these writers practice their craft: research techniques, fact gathering and detective work. Check out how they find unusual tidbits, make the facts interesting and write something kids will love to read. Explore how photos and illustrations are integrated with the text to explain an artists vision of the world. Consider what subjects are flooding the market and what still needs a voice. Rethink nonfiction for kids."

Go now
and enjoy what they have to say.

And then check out the other blogs who are featuring nonfiction on Mondays here. Scroll down to get the list, complete with links to connect you to these places.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

School visit pictures

Here are a few pictures of me in full throttle, doing a school visit as an author at Arnold Elementary School in Arnold Maryland in 2007. With any luck, this link should take you to a web page that shows more of this visit.

Thanks to Jan Smith, the Library Media Specialist, for creating this web page. (and for taking me to lunch at a great riverside restaurant.)

(If anyone can tell me how to put pictures into the middle of these messages, instead of them all piling up at the top , I'd appreciate it.) -wendieO

Books as Weapons

Jackie Parker, whose Blog is right here, put this message at the end of her e-mail -- and it's so good that I had to quote it.

"You want weapons?
We're in a library!
Books! The best weapons in the world!
This room's the greatest arsenal we could have - arm yourselves!"

--The Doctor (#10) in Dr. Who "Tooth and Claw"

Friday, February 8, 2008

Basket Accounting

I've been asked to explain what the term "basket accounting" means, in a writer's contract with a publisher.

This was one of those publishing terms that was new to me too, when I first began lurking in writer's forums on GEnie. (anybody remember that?) I have to give credit to Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville and the rest of the experienced writers who spend time helping newbees like I was then.

(Jane Yolen calls it "paying ahead." She says she can never pay back those writers who helped her, so she spends time helping future writers. I love that term and try to do it, myself.)

Basically basket accounting means --
You have a book published. It's trudging along but hasn't repaid its advance yet.
You get another book published by the same company. It sells much faster. You look to get royalties from it because the statement says that the income from it has covered the advance. But no check comes. The next statement -- no check.

Because the publisher is applying the royalties from your second book to pay off the advance of the first book.

It gets much worse if you are writing a series of books for a publisher, because they can take the royalties from all your books and apply them to the advances not paid off yet.

Great from the publisher's standpoint -- it covers their expenses.
Not great from a writer's viewpoint.

If you see any paragraph in your book contract that even hints about doing something like that -- immediately call your editor and discuss how you can change it. Sometimes just crossing it out and initialing it (like you do with other changes) will be sufficient. Publishers hope you won't notice it in their 'basic" contract they send out to unagented writers.

This is why it's a good idea either to use a good book about contracts at your side when you look over your contract or have a contract lawyer look over it. A lawyer who knows publishing law, not your general run of the mill business contract lawyer -- because lots of things that are established rules in publishing are not used in the business world and vice versa.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's Official = Six more Weeks of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken -- He saw his shadow and there will be Six more weeks of Winter. You can check it out on the Official webside of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

On the other hand, if you live in the South the Georgia groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, did not see his shadow -- so you-all down there will have an early Spring.

Time to write

People ask me -- How do you find time to write?

--What with your working full time as a Children's Librarian in a public library system. (with all the paperwork and meetings and planning and producing programs that entails)
--What with having a husband to coddle. And an 8-year old child at home -- and all those years when she was younger. The school and athletic events she's involved with.
--What with keeping up with the housework in a 1640 stone house. (12 rooms/ woodstove/ fireplaces/ laundry room much too far away from the bedrooms)
--Two cats and a dog.
--2 acres of lawn, woods, and garden.

hmmm. Once I write all that down, I kinda wonder, myself.

Well, for one thing, I do have a husband, so he takes care of some of this. And we share the care and upkeep of the 8-year old's school, athletic, and scout activities. (I was just reminded that she has a Brownie Court of Awards today.)

Secondly, we don't have cable TV. So I don't waste much time watching TV. Just a few special shows like Numbers and CSI and, of course, The Amazing Race. (8-year old and I are addicted to The Amazing Race. If I wasn't too old and she wasn't too young, we'd both try to become a team on that show.)

Thirdly, I've taken a leaf from other writers and have begun taking my laptop computer to her gymnastic classes and have worked on manuscripts and proposals while she is having fun there. I can't do that at the soccer games, because I know too many of the soccer moms and we sit and talk.

Fourthly, I have a liberal leave at my workplace -- five weeks. So I can take a day here or a week there to either do research, write, or give talks to kids and adults about writing and books. (This isl where I wear both my librarian and writer hats)

Fifthly -- My co-author of the "Busy" books, Mary B-K, (See the Busy books to the right side of my blog, under our pen name C.W. Bowie), urged me to get a cleaning service to help with the housework. And that has helped tremendously. I had thought that cleaning services were only for rich writers like Danielle Steel, but she convinced me that she had used one for years and that it was necessary for our sanity, if we were going to be able to both work and write.
So, once TO FLY was selling strong and I had finally come out from under all my bills, I began with a cleaning service. And she was right! Spiders are now banned from the house. (a big deal with me) Plus, it forces all of us to keep the place neat -- so they can actually find the floor to clean.

Also, since I consider my research trips and my trips to conventions to be "vacations," I do manage to enjoy a well-rounded life while continuing with my writing.

My next scheduled vacation? ALA in June. Will I see you there?
How do the rest of you manage to include writing in your busy, busy lives?