Sunday, August 30, 2009

Marvelous Marketing

2002 and 2003 were busy years for me.
My book, TO FLY, THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, came out from Clarion and suddenly I was in the hands of their marvelous marketing department. Marjorie Naughton is the wonderful head of the department. I still visit with her every year at Clarion booth when I attend ALA. Elena Murphy made most of the arrangements for school visits and other events for me. (She changed her name to Elena Melendy halfway through our time together.) And her lovely assistant was Molly O'Neill.

Now, Molly has gone on to be an editor!
First with the short-lived Bowen Press and now she is an assistant editor at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books.

A week or so ago, another blogger interviewed her.
Not about editing.
But about her views on Marketing!
If you click here you'll learn lots about the marketing side of publishing. Having been one of the authors 'handled' by this marvelous marketing team I can attest to her expertise.
-wendie old

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Panda Kindergarten

Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder, photographs by Dr. Katherine Feng. Collins, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. Available now.

Pandas are so cute -- until you discover how large they are. So, what could be cuter than a whole kindergarten of baby Giant Pandas? I counted at least nine in one picture, and sixteen in another. Playing and growing up together should help them learn panda social skills that will be useful when they are released in the wild.

Joanne Ryder's lyrical, easy reading words are the perfect accompaniment to these luscious photographs. I especially like the faint imprints of Chinese flower and leaf designs in the blank areas of the pages. Very unintrusive -- you'll hardly notice them -- yet they give a very Chinese flavor to the book.

These photographs of baby pandas playing through their day were taken at the Wolong Nature Reserve, the largest unit of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.

A good book for a preschool or early elementary introduction to the Giant Panda. If you must have facts about Pandas for a report, there are a few at the end of the book.

Other Nonfiction Monday posts are on Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day Blog.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Countdown to school

It's Back-to-school time.
Some schools around here start next week.
The 9-year-old's school begins the week after.

I didn't get around to doing back-to-school shopping before she left for California, but now that she's back, she's anxious to get on with it. Before she left, she chose a backpack from LL Bean. I should have ordered it that minute, because when I actually did try to order it, it was out of stock. So, instead of a blue backpack, she now has a purple and blue one. It arrived while she was gone and was she excited to see it last night after I picked her up from the airport!

I hear that Office Depo has a huge back-to-school sale going on. (or beginning on Sunday, I forget which) And some other stores are, too. We'll hit the sales later this weekend.

Have YOU bought all your back-to- school items?
Have your kids chosen the outfit they'll wear on the first day of school?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

First draft done -- time to celebrate!

I'm so excited!
I just finished getting the first draft of the Summertime Lance story onto my computer. It took me over a year to figure out how to put tension into it, but I think I've got it, now. Plus it lays down the beginnings of the relationship of the dog to his 'people' and will reflect something that happens in the Wintertime Lance story in the snow.


Time to go downstairs and eat a tomato sandwich and celebrate! Maybe it's even time for something more drastic -- like Ice Cream? With dark chocolate and marshmallow and....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

School visits to remember

Since it's almost time for the kids to go back to school, I was reminded of some of the school visits I've made over the years. (In fact, I've mentioned a couple on my blog.)

I love visiting schools.
Every spring I visit the local schools wearing my librarian hat and representing the public library to tell the students (and teachers) about this year's Summer Reading Program. I also bring along a selection of neat books that I think the kids would enjoy reading for fun. I fully believe that summer reading should be FUN!

Do I ever talk about my own books at these school visits? Hardly ever. Wellllll, if I have a new book out I might show it to one of the classes if I think they'd enjoy it. But these are library visits, not me-me-me-the-author.

And then there are school visits that I make with my author hat on.
I love doing these, too. (I've come to the conclusion that I'm a ham. I'm basically shy, but when I do have something to talk about, I'm a ham.)
It so much fun to arrive at a school and find it is all decked out with student's interpretations of my books. One school a few years ago had adopted the slogan -- Fly High with Books -- and had plastered the school with it. They had no idea that that's what I put into every copy of TO FLY, THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS when I sign them. Wow! Great minds with but a single thought. I was blown away.

And then there are the disasters.
Most memorable was year I took 3 to 4 hours driving through a blinding white-out snowstorm to travel to a school near Washington, DC -- a trip that should have taken an hour and a half at the most. When I realized that traffic on I-95 was stopped dead because no one could see, I began calling the school -- and nobody answered. For an hour, as traffic crept along, nobody answered. When they finally realized someone was trying to call them, I got the distinct impression that they didn't believe me. After all, the snowstorm had left their area, only leaving a dusting of snow.

From then on, whenever a school near DC asks me to come, I make sure I get the school secretary's phone number and I state over and over again that I really, really will try to get there on time, but you know how the traffic on the DC beltway often is a traffic jam....

Anywho, all this is leading up to Marc Tyler Nobleman recent blog entries where he has posted about his 10 most memorable school visit moments. Only a few are disasters. The rest are typical of some of the wonderful interactions we all get with students and teachers when we are the 'author' visiting their school.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday the 13th -- What's been happening?

Friday the 13th came on a Thursday this month -- and nothing unlucky happened.
Well, maybe one -- if you count the fact that I set up the library computers before opening time and was working in my office on a Summer Reading Program report when the branch manager came in and asked why I hadn't set up the computers yet?

I did. I know I did.
So I trotted back out onto the library floor and discovered the reference computers had nothing set up on them. Nothing. Just a message that the 'update' was done. I set them up again and tried to figure out what had happened. Just before we opened, the other librarian and I figured out that we had seen the computer people doing various things around the branch. They must have activated some updates to the computer -- which meant they took all the other programs down to do it. (The catalog, the meeting room schedule, SAM which overlooks the usage of the public computers, and everything.)
Mystery solved.

What else has been happening?
I'm beginning to send queries out to agents, again.

Which is really poor timing because the end of August is when all those school teachers and school librarians begin sending out the writing projects they've worked on all summer. Plus, the National Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 4 day conference just ended on Monday, which means that the thousand people who attended it are all fired up and will also be sending out things. My stuff will be lost in the flood of slush.

I'm also expanding my stories about Lance, the Golden Retriever. It's either going to be a three book picture book set -- or a short novel, covering three different time periods beginning in the summertime and culminating in the snowy wintertime. We-shall-see. I'm hoping to have it ready to go by next Spring, in time to take it to the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults' novel workshop.

I'm trying to arrange time off from work. (we have very little money for substitutes this year.) Time off to take the 9-year old down to the Smithsonian. And time off for me to write. Three days in a row (without a child around) would be lovely.

Added a few minutes later:
Click your way over to Nathan Bransford's blog and read the entry for Thursday the 13th of August. He has collected a long list of literary terms which he is calling a Book Publishing Glossary. It's everything you need to know when talking to people in the publishing world.

Monday, August 10, 2009

MotherReader: Nonfiction Monday: Round-Up & Pandas

MotherReader: Nonfiction Monday: Round-Up & Pandas

Nonfiction Monday -- Rainforest Romp

Rainforest Romp by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Ant Parker. New York: Kingfisher, 2009. Amazing Animals series. Available now.

I was of two minds about this book. Is it a nonfiction book? Very little information here. But it has no story line, so I guess that's why it's not in the picture book area and has been catalogued in Nonfiction. Three animals, dressed in explorer clothing (not my favorite thing to do with animals) wander through a tropical rainforest, commenting (in poetry) about various animals. The explorers seem to be a dog, a mouse (equally as large as the dog), and a smaller, but fat, bird. (at least they don't try to put shorts or trousers on the bird.)

Each double-page spread features the discovery of a different animal: "The tapir is a mammal. It's hoofed and rather stout. It sniffs for tasty plant life with its clever, stretchy snout." The featured animal on the page is cartoony, but fairly accurately presented. However, the proportions to the rest of the animals/ plants/ explorers in the picture are definitely off.

The fun part of this book comes at the end. Other animals are hiding in the illustrations. Duplicate drawings on the last page encourage the child to leaf back through the book to find them.

Other books in the Amazing Animals series are coming out. One other title is available now: Amazing Animals: Super Safari.

These books would be good for preschoolers or a Pre-K class as introduction to a few unusual animals.

Other Nonfiction Monday posts are located at MotherReader's blog today. Click on the link on top of this post to get there. (It's different, but it works.)
-wendie old

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SCBWI-LA live! On your Computer

Don't cha wish you were in LA right now?
At the SCBWI Summer conference?
(Los Angeles, CA -- Century City. Near Hollywood for you out-of-towners.)

What's that, you ask?
Oh -- it's an intense 4-day conference for Children's book writers/ agents/ editors/ etc.

Well, now you can sneak a peak at what's happening and discover the most important thoughts of the speakers. Just click here and go the the SCBWI-LA blog. A bunch of reporters are blogging everything. Not only that, but many, many more are Tweeting, etc.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Harry Potter entices again

I've done a baaaad thing.
After hearing other parents talk about their second and third graders reading the Harry Potter books, it occurred to me that maybe it was time to introduce my 9-year-old to them. After all, she's going into the fourth grade in September. And she's seen all the movies so far.

So, this evening I did the same as many teachers have done to hook kids into reading something. The two of us sat down and I began reading the first chapter of Harry Potter. (HP and the Sorcerer's Stone) When Granddad peeked into the room to see what we were doing, the 9-year-old bragged that Grandmom was going to read the whole Harry Potter book to her. "Shouldn't you be reading it?" he asked. "No, Grandmom will do it."

Since it was getting late, I stopped at the end of the first chapter. (Intending to read a chapter a night for a while, until she got the urge to read it, herself.)

"No, no! Don't stop!"
She grabbed the book.
SHE intends to keep on reading it. The heck with waiting for Grandmom to read it.

When Granddad stopped by her room to say Good-night, she went on and on about how there were many more things happening in the book than in the movie!

Another reader is hooked.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Videos from ALA

(Funny how we still call these things 'videos' when the video tape format is long gone. What do we call it on the internet? Streaming video?)

The School Library Journal blog, Neverendingsearch, is featuring videos of two speeches by the Newbery and Wilder winners. A taste of Neil Gaiman about writing and a bit of Ashley Bryan as he got the crowd excited about poetry and sharing his first experience with bookmaking.

Just click here and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- 14 Cows for America

(heavy sigh)
Nonfiction Monday came on a Tuesday again.
Not my fault. The library was closed yesterday because they finally installed all of our the RFID readers and self-checkouts. And we had to get trained. etc., etc., etc.

Anywho --
On our new book shelf today, I found 14 Cows for America written by Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 2009.

When I saw it, I imediately was reminded that my friend Mary Bowman-Kruhm is also writing a book about the Maasai, in collaboration with another Maasai named Jackson Minteeng Liaram. You can read more about that on her blog.

In 14 Cows for America, Kimeli, who has been in Medical School in New York City (USA), returns to his village in Kenya. That evening, his contribution to the storytelling was the tale of 9-11. He saw the smoke and the falling buildings.

Kimeli knows his people. "They are fierce when provoked, but easily moved to kindness when they hear of suffering or injustice." "To the Maasai, the cow is life."

A great ceremony is held where an American diplomat accepts 14 cows donated from this village to the American people. Beautiful double-page spreads show the dancing, the music, the celebration. Lyrical writing tells the story.

Even more interesting to adults is the endnote -- Where Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah explains the background behind this story.

And what happened to those special cows?
They are still in Kenya being cared for by Maasai.
A special flag, commemorating this gift of sacred cows, flies at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and will be placed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City when it opens.

For more Nonfiction Monday posts, click here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Carnival of Children's Literature

The Summer Carnival of Children's Literature has been posted!

What's a Carnival of Children's Literature?
Will there be cotton candy and carnival rides?
No, no cotton candy or carnival rides, but a huge gathering of blog links that range from Books and Bloggers, to Authors and Writing, to Fun Stuff.

Hmmm, actually some are sweet as cotton candy and others give you the breathless excitement of carnival rides. So go take a look-see by clicking right here.