Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Day

Happy Halloween!
I don't know if you can see anything in this picture -- but that's my oldest daughter and her husband dressed for a Halloween party last year. They went as a Day of the Dead couple.

Run over to the Three Silly Chicks and enter their contest.
It's easy.
To enter, just tell them what Halloween candy you get dibs on.
They're going to give away a copy of Carolyn's book WHERE'S MY MUMMY? to the winner of a random drawing.

I am a little disappointed that the three chicks (the silly ones with glasses at the top of the blog) aren't in Halloween costume this year. The 8-year old enjoyed seeing how funny they looked last year.

I have it easy -- I only buy candy that my family likes. Then we get to eat the leftovers. And since we live in a 17th century stone farmhouse between two developments, it takes a really brave bunch of kids to creep onto our back porch and grab candy from the candy bowl I leave out there. (They've changed the road over the centuries. Now no one can actually get at our front porch any more.)

Unfortunately, when the 8-year old comes back from Trick or Treating tonight, we'll have more candy than we know what to do with. What do you do with your masses of candy?
We put it into three piles.
1- a pile of candy the 8-year old likes
2 - a pile of candy the adults like
3 - a pile of candy that no one likes and will be taken into my library workplace to be given to the teen volunteers there.

Piles one and two will have some overlap, so there may be a bit of tussling over some candy.

If piles one and two are still around in a couple of weeks -- out it goes. None of this saving the candy until Easter, like my parents did -- and then finding it stored on top of the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What will you be for Halloween?

Last night, I was kept up late because I discovered a new (to me) blog -- Beyond the Tollbooth.
It's a group blog and all of their October messages focus on Halloween-type stuff.
How to write suspense and horror novels and the difference between them.
TV and movie scary stuff. Vampires. etc.
Go check it out.
Most of the participants have their own blogs too. Here's one by Tami Brown.

It's the day before Halloween and the 8-year old is almost ready for tomorrow. (Grandmom -- I really need red make-up to go with my costume. I want a red face.)

Why? Because, although she has been a princess and Ariel the mermaid and last year was an angel -- this year she'll be a Devil. Oh-Kay. She certainly is more devilish this year.

For years, I've managed to be busy the night of Halloween and my husband has had to escort her and her friends around the neighborhood. This year Halloween comes on a Friday. Libraries are closed Friday nights and I have no excuse not to go.
(Wish me luck.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Keep on writing

I went to a Vermont College gathering, yesterday at Tami Brown's house in Washington, DC.
(Vermont College Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults)
Current students, graduated students and prospective students dropped in. Great conversation.

I'm still thinking about something Tami said yesterday:
She said that the Vermont College students who were successful writers, did not relax after they graduate. They kept the good writing habits they learned here and continued to focus on their writing. I'm going to remember that.

When I got home, I looked carefully and the Vermont College literature that Tami had collected and handed out at the SCBWI writing conference the day before. (and gave the leftovers to us) What a thrill to see Ann Cardinal's name here and there. She is a member of my Picture Book Certificate program at Vermont College -- and she also works for the college. She created many of those great postcards and pamphlets.

Today I head back to Washington, DC, for another writing event.
Here's crossing fingers and toes that my poor car will survive another trip down I-95.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who is Dracula?

Here is the next Halloween quiz question. The correct answer gets a copy of The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun.--

- Is Dracula alive, today?
Does he like Blood?
(extra points for those who know his name and what he does.)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Lewis Carroll forgery

Here's a first -- I'm actually going to post a poem on Poetry Friday.
Basically, it's an assignment for my Vermont College Writing class. We all have to do Lewis Carroll forgeries.
Here's mine:

Ode to my husband

Chip Whip Tall and wide
Biggest heart lies inside
Encompasses the whole wide world -- and me
Fuzzy, furry, growley bear
Fuzzy wuzzy had no hair
I know you'd say it's quite a sight -- to see


Friday, October 17, 2008

Book signings and Sleepovers

Today was the annual meeting of MASL. Maryland Association of School Librarians.
Almost every year I'm invited to their Maryland Author's Luncheon, to sign books and then have lunch with a table of school librarians. (This year there were 23 authors, so many tables had authors.)

The luncheon speaker was the wonderful author, Joseph Bruchac. He began his talk playing his Native American flute. Then he explained that the tune was from a song about young evergreens being sheltered and helped to grow by the older, taller trees -- like parents, teachers, and librarians do. In true Native American fashion, he conveyed his message (how most of his books, even the ones about war, are actually about peace and getting along) by telling us stories. If you ever need a wonderful speaker for a meeting or convention, do ask Joseph Bruchac to speak.

I always have fun at MASL. I got to see many of the school librarians who had invited me to do author visits at their schools. You can see me talking away at Arnold Elementary School in an earlier post. (I highly recommend that school to other authors. They really treat you right.)

Before the luncheon, I signed books people had bought. After the luncheon, I offered free copies of the Halloween Book of Facts and Fun to the wonderful librarians who sat at my table.

Was it just last year that I was a speaker at this event? yup. I still remember driving to Ocean City, Maryland, with two seven-year olds in the back seat, praying that my old car would make the trip. And now it's a year later and I still have the same car taking me places. It's almost 10 years old. I guess old Saturns never die. Luckily, the meeting this year was back to being just outside Baltimore.

Speaking of those seven-year olds -- they're now eight and are presently making nests in our living room tonight for a sleepover. They've spent the evening playing on the website == Club Penguin. Actually THREE eight-year olds were playing together on Club Penguin. Their other friend was on the phone with them and when I went downstairs a few minutes ago -- my eight-year old and the girl on the telephone were having their penguins have a snowball fight on the computer. That's amazing. Over the whole internet, two penguins being controlled by kids in two different houses were interacting. And the two girls were interacting over the telephone.

It's a good thing that most of our friends know our cell-phone numbers, because nobody was getting through on the house phone for about an hour tonight.

Well, I guess I'd better go downstairs to see how close to going to bed they are.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ooops, it's Tuesday

ooops, it's Tuesday, isn't it?
Sorry about there being no Nonfiction Monday this week.

hmmm, actually, there seems to have been quite a dearth (hey, finally spelled it right) of posts this past week. That will happen when I have a week full of library stuff plus working hard on my Vermont college packet (due today) plus meetings.

You could always go over and visit Fuse #8. She's a librarian, too, but somehow she always manages to do at least one blog post a day -- sometimes more. Check out her Video Sunday messages. I normally keep the sound turned off on my computer. (so I can use the computer in the middle of the night without waking my husband when a story idea nags me to death and I have to get up and type it out before it will let me sleep.) But I'll turn the sound back on just to watch/ listen to the videos she has found.

As a writer I was fasinated by the "Manuscrip with sparklies" video.
And as a librarian, the "Libraries are Communist plots" gave me a chuckle.

Go visit her. I'll get a real post up later this week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween Quiz #2

It's time for my next Halloween question.
The correct answer gets a copy of The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun.

What was the first Jack-o-Lantern?
(extra points for mentioning a little bit about the original story.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Colors

Colors, by, hmmm I can't seem to find an author for this book. Play Bac Publishing, 2007. Available now.

The cover says

Amazon says the author is a group of people:
"The Play Bac Edu-Team is the original creator of the very popular BrainQuest Series. They work with a team including teachers, writers, parents,educational experts, graphic designers, illustrators, and even kids, to create fun age-appropriate learning series."

This seems to be a series of books that use photographs to help present concepts. There's an alphabet one and this book talks about colors. I'll be looking for others to drift into the library branch, soon.

And, WOW, what COLORS they are, too. Nature's many colors.
Take a closer look and you will find a thousand shades, because in nature, no color is the same.

The first color is yellow -- with yellow shades along the bottom. The text is poetry (sort-of) on each double page spread. For example:
"The toucan's beak is golden-yellow,
Corn and bananas are more mellow;
They are a lighter yellow!"

Turn the page and the book jumps to Red
But several pages later a series of apples, ranging from red to green granny smith leads us, with a page turn, into the green section. (Neat!)

The red apple is identified as a Red Chief apple, which I have never heard of. And I know most of the apples in the Eastern United States. Oh -- Google says that some Red Chief apples come from France. oh.

Leaves shading from green, yellow, orange, brown lead to a (page turn) section about brown things.
It jumps to blue, but photographs of the sky take us from blue to orange (sunset)
Orange flips to purple/ pink/ gray, black, white
and finally to multicolor.

The dedication inside these books thanks "all the teachers, mothers, and children who have helped develop the eyelike (trademark) series."

Since the series was such a group effort, I wonder which one is to blame for the wrong identification in the alphabet book of this series? (Letters the alphabet in the natural world) Under "H" we find a photograph labeled -- hamster. But it's a photograph of a guinea pig.

Anastasia Suen has the Nonfiction Monday Round-up at Picture Book of the Day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Michael Phelps WOWS Tweens

Saturday was a busy day.

The 8 and a half year old had her soccer game in the morning. (They have a perfect season -- all losses.)
Her Brownie re-dedication in the afternoon. (New Brownies are invested, the older ones re-dedicated)

And right afterwards, I had to rush her and her best friend to the Parade of Olympic Stars.
The parade had begun at 3:00, so we raced to the location of the parade's end, hoping the Maryland Olympic champions had not passed that point, yet.

We were in luck. The two, still dressed in their Brownie vests, found great spots on a street corner near the parade's ending point. Marching bands, politicians, and then the Maryland Olympic participants. All 15 of them. Maryland is a small state, but we certainly showed big in the Olympics this year.

You should have seen them violently waving their American flags and have heard the teen/ tween shrieks when the Olympians went by -- especially for Katie Hoff and, winding up the parade, Michael Phelps standing tall in an armored Humvee tank-like thing. (pictured above, credit goes to the Baltimore Sun photographer)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Making a Picture Book Cookie

Here I am, researching stuff for my 10 page essay for the Vermont College program, when I run across one of my favorite articles about How To Write A Picture Book. Not just any picture book -- but a good one. One that is publishable and will be read and enjoyed by both adults and children.

It's the Making a Picture Book Cookie speech/ article by Cheryl Klein, editor at Scholastic Books. (would it blow your mind if I told you she helped with the editing of the last few Harry Potter books?)

Cheryl also writes a blog and you can read it here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just for fun -- Calvinball!

Just for fun -- make your way over to Dawn Metcalf's blog.
She has decided that getting published is a lot like -- CALVINBALL!!

If you don't know Calvinball, get thee to a library and check out the Calvin and Hobbs comic books.
Ooops, Graphic Novels.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spider at the Library -- part 2

Today -- Wednesday, another spider -- same type as the last one -- fell on the Children's Information Desk. I looked up and discovered that one bar of the array of lights in the Children's Place stretched over my chair at the Info Desk.

That's enough of that! So, I pushed and pushed at the desk, to get it out from under those lights. Ooops, that was the plug for the computer that just popped out of the floor, right? Hmmm. Let's wiggle the desk back this-a-way and push it some more that-a-way.

Everything is now plugged back in. The computer works. And the desk is out from under those lights.
Here's crossing fingers and toes that the next few spiders that drop will land on the floor and run away -- far away. Because if I were to see them, they would live only as long as it took me to find a book to drop on them.


Cybils Award Nominations Needed

(Guest Blogger)
Spread the word -- the annual Bloggers Children's Book Award is underway.
In an effort to highlight great books that children like to read (that may be missed by the various literary award committees), the Cybils award was created. Publishers, librarians, and bookstores are beginning to take notice of this award.

Cybils Nominations Open October 1st: How Can You Participate?

Nominations for the third annual Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (the Cybils) will be open Wednesday, October 1st through Wednesday, October 15th. The goal of the Cybils team (some 100 bloggers) is to highlight books that are high in both literary quality and kid appeal. The Cybils were founded by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold.

This year, awards will be given in nine categories (Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels). Anyone can nominate books in these categories (one nomination per person per category). (Yes, you can nominate your own book.) Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English).

To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog between October 1st and 15th. A separate post will be available for each category - simply nominate by commenting on those individual posts. If you are not sure which category to choose for a particular book, a questions thread will also be available.

Between October 16th and January 1st, Cybils panelists (children’s and young adult bloggers) will winnow the nominations down to a 5-7 book short list for each category. A second set of panelists will then select the winning titles for the different categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

The Cybils lists, from long lists to short lists to the lists of winners, offer a wonderful resource to anyone looking for high-quality, kid-friendly books. The Cybils team has worked hard to balance democracy (anyone can nominate titles) with quality control (two rounds of panel judging by people who focus on children’s books every day). We do this work because we consider it vital to get great books into the hands of children and young adults.

How Can You Participate?

We think that the Cybils nominations will be of interest to parents, teachers, librarians, writers, and teens. If you have a blog or an email list or belong to a newsgroup that serves one of these populations, and you feel that your readers would be interested, please consider distributing this announcement (you are welcome to copy it). The Cybils team would very much appreciate your help in spreading the word. And if you, or the children that you know, have any titles to suggest, we would love to see your nominations at the Cybils blog, starting on Wednesday. Thanks for your help, and stay tuned for further news!

Jen Robinson
Literacy Evangelist for the 2008 Cybils

Spider at the Library

Talk about Eeeeek! Yuck!

There I was last night (on Tuesday, September 30th), sitting there at the Children's Information Desk in the library, when I felt something hard hit my neck. I swiped at it and one of those hard black spiders landed on my arm. I screamed and swiped at it again and it disappeared. Three kids and I searched for it on the ground, but couldn't find it.

A half hour later, I saw movement on my desk near where I was working and EEEEK, there it was. I took one of the books I was considering for weeding (I was thinning out the ratty books from my Magic Tree House series at the time), and SMASH/ Crash, I got him. The circulation department people were surprised by all the smashing and crashing, but when I explained that it was a spider....

Did I tell you how much I hate Spider month?