Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Counting down the days until I leave for Vermont College: 11 more days.

Number of readings completed: 2

Things lost that I know I'll need to pack: 1 pair of heavy gloves.
Things lost that I don't know I've lost: ???

Things to do before I go: (an uncountable number)
Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's a ... BookTree!

The minute I saw this BookTree at Betsy Bird's Blog, I knew I had to borrow it.
A lot of libraries are getting rid of their reference books and going for databases. Now I know what they're doing with their old, no longer used, reference books.

Question --
Can you Identify any of these books?
I'd swear that I know what that green series is, but the name doesn't popup in my mind.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Hope your day was happy, healthy and stress-free.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

counting the days

One more day = tomorrow is Christmas Eve. (Do we have enough little treasures to stuff stockings?)
Two more days = Christmas Day. Ummmmm, Roast Beast, etc.

Eight more days = New year's Eve
Ka-Pow = The year 2011 begins.

Seventeen more days = I fly to Vermont College and the Residency begins.
A little over two weeks. (I thought it was three weeks, but NO.)
I still have all that assigned reading to do beforehand.
And the workshop booklet.
Double yikes! All 186 pages of it.

I think I know what I'll be doing New Year's Eve -- reading.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


You'll never guess what happened today with my name.

Sometimes I need to move money from the Credit Union to our household checking account.
So, I go to the Credit union and make a withdrawal. My husband's name is the first name on the account, so I have to put his name and then me as co-owner of the account on the Withdrawal slip.

"Would you like that check in Your name?" the cashier asks.
"yes." sez me.
After a few minutes she hands me a check.
The check is made out to my husband's name.

I hand it back. "That's my husband's name. You asked if I wanted my name on it."
So she deposits the amount of that check back into our savings and cuts a new check, to -- you guessed it -- Wendy Old.
By this time I'm a little ticked off with her.
I hand it back. "That's not my name, either."
I show her my driver's license, Wendie Old.

She cuts a new check, and hands me back a balance receipt with double the amount subtracted from our account.
She had forgotten to deposit the amount of the check back into our account and had simply cut another check from the account.

Several more calculations later, I walk out of the Credit Union with the correct check and the correct amount deducted from our savings.
(at least I hope everything is correct.)

At times I hate my parents for giving me such a strange spelling of this name.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Light and Darkness 2

So, here we are.
December 21st -- the shortest day of the year.
(the longest night of the year)

The full eclipse of the moon happened early this morning on the east coast, around 2 am. Did anybody see it? Not me. I was sound asleep. But the full moon was very, very bright in the early evening.
Large and bright.
Which means, when it was eclipsed, darkness took over for a few moments.
Light and Dark.
The theme of these Solstice days.

I don't know about you, but I'm READY for the days to get longer.
And beginning tomorrow, they will.
(I'm also ready for days to get warmer, but that's not gonna happen for a while.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Light and darkness

Soon we'll have the darkest, the shortest day of the year.
December 21st.
This is the time of the year when light and the promise of more light to come becomes very important to our lives.

We huddle around our fires.
or woodstoves.
or electric heaters.
Fully aware that winter won't be over when the days begin getting longer. It will be just beginning. But we'll have hope, because we'll have more LIGHT.

Once Darkness falls, we turn on artificial light to keep us going.
This light doesn't just shine down on us.
It's a globe light.
It also shines up into space.

But lights from space also shine down upon us in wintertime.
The Northern Lights!
(Which we can't see here in Maryland, but we certainly do enjoy seeing pictures of them shining in Alaska.)

Yes, the shortest, darkest day is coming, but fear not -- Light will come back.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hanukkah fun fact

Hanukkah is over.

So, there I was, putting away the Hanukkah books at my library, when I discovered this Fun Fact in the book Eight Lights for Eight Nights, a Hanukkah story and Activity Book by Debbie Herman and Ann Koffsky:

In 1997, astronaut David Wolf celebrated Hanukkah in outer space. His dreidel spun and spun for an hour and a half! It could have been even longer, but it got lost. They finally found it -- caught in an air filter!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nonfiction Monday

Friday the 13th came on a Monday this month and I didn't find any easy reading nonfiction goodies on our new book shelf at the library.
But you can get your fresh baked Nonfiction Monday blog posts right here at the Books Together blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Call your local helpful librarian

So -- How many of you were yelling at your television sets during The Amazing Race final, "Find a Los Angeles Library. Go to the library. THEY have computers with internet. Librarians know how to find the answers to those clues. And they do it for free!"

None of the groups even thought of calling the library for help. Sad.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Santa Brunch

Today the Woman's Club of Joppatowne held their Brunch with Santa at our library.
It's a joint project. We handle the publicity, the registration and the tickets.
They supply the 'brunch' and the Santa. And the presents for the kids who attend.

I do a short Seasonal storytime complete with some activity that the kids 'help.'
This time they helped me sing Jingle Bells, while they shook wristbands of jingle bells and I showed a pop-up version of the song.

My theme this year was "The Night Before Christmas."
I read What Santa Can't Do, and one up-to-date Night Before Christmas. (The illustrator had put Santa into aviator goggles.) Showed a few other versions, including the Robert Sabuda papercut version.
A favorite part of this program is a visit from Maynard Moose who tells the story of The Night Before KissMoose. (Actually Willy Claflin's voice on a tape in a tape player at my feet.) The Moose puppet (2 and a half feet long) does this about every third year.

One of these days, I'm going to have to go to the link above and buy the CD of Willy Claflin and Friends so that I can play this piece on our CD player.

For the past few years, a REAL Santa's helper has come to be the Santa at this program -- real beard and all.

I've been doing this for 11 years now. To get a peek at the various themes I tend to use, follow this link to my 2009 post, and then follow the links there to previous years.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Wright Brothers Fly again

Mary Ann Dames is featuring my book, To Fly, The Story of the Wright Brothers, on her blog, Reading, Writing, and Recipes, this week.

Nice job, Mary Ann.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Two celebrations in early December

Two celebrations this weekend:

1 -- The 10 year old has turned 11.

2 -- Jane Yolen celebrates the publication of her 300th book. (announced on NPR radio, for heavens sake!)
Just click on the link. Unfortunately, the link will probably only be live for a couple of days.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Choose a Winner

The Newbery has been announced.
The Caldecott has been announced.
In fact, every ALA award winner can be found in this list of 100 Magnificent Children's Books on Betsy Bird's blog today.

The only problem?

You have to figure out which one of these wonderful books will be the award winners. (to be announced in January)
Your choice.
I'm sure that one of these WILL be the winners, or at least one of the honor books.

However, if you don't agree -- or have other titles to suggest, well then, just click on over to her blog and add your favorite in the comments.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carnival of Children's Literature

The November Carnival of Children's Literature is up. Go check out Wendy Wax's blog and enjoy the links.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Animals and Me

Animals and Me, We're more alike than you might think! by Marie Greenwood. DK Publishing, 2010. Available now.

This DK book is not only multi-cultural, it's multi-species!
Each double-page spread in this 48 page book concentrates on one aspect of life, comparing the way people (usually kids) do it to animals'.

Introduction -- We are all animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and Invertebrates. (hmmm. That last word will need some explaining to 1st graders.)
Ah, the two sentence paragraph under THIS word does explain it -- they don't have backbones and most are insects. (WARNING -- this book contains spiders!)

First, the page examines YOU, then goes on to examine other animals.
Shaping Up = skeletons. (bird/ cat/ fish/ outer shell of insects)
Cover up = your skin v. fur/ feathers/ tortoise shell.
Feet First = all sorts of feet.
and so on.

Readers will be fascinated with the many ways animals are the same and different from people.

More Nonfiction Monday reviews can be found at the Playing by the Book blog. Click away.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Which manuscript should I send?

I've had two manuscripts sitting in my Vermont College file, both ready to send as my workshop submission. But which one to send? Which one?
I couldn't decide.

I really want to work on one of them with a college advisor. But do I want to workshop it, too?
The other one was workshopped last March at the novel writing workshop, and has been revised since then.
Should I send that one to get fresh eyes on the revised version?


Well, I finally took the plunge and sent my dog story off to be added to the workshop booklet.
They said we'd get our group's workshop booklet two weeks before the semester begins. Which will probably be after Christmas.
I can't wait to see what the other writers submit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

Gotta get up and fix the turkey.
5 am?
6 am?
7 am?
Alarm went off at 7:30.
Up at 7:40.

Eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.
Make the stuffing. (chop celery and onions/ cook in turkey fat and butter and water/ mix with stuffing mix and let set)
Clean the turkey.

Well, this was supposed to be a 10 - 12 pound fresh turkey, so I had bought a throw-away aluminum roasting pan supposedly large enough for a 15 pounder.
As usual, the fresh turkeys grew larger than planned and we ended up with a 14 pounder.
Still should fit, you say?
The darn thing has the longest legs of any 14 pounder I've ever seen. Legs extend over the pan. Body fits snugly into the pan, leaving no room for turkey juices (for gravy) to gather.

Make trip to grocery store to buy larger pan.
Toss first pan.
Insert stuffed and buttered turkey into second pan.
Insert into oven.

And go back to sleep.

(I had wanted ham, but was overruled, again, by my family's pathetic cries of, "No Turkey? It's not Thanksgiving without Turkey!")

Now the family, plus my husband's brother, are sitting around the woodstove, waiting for the turkey to be done.
how was YOUR Turkey day?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- A Walrus' World

Caroline Arnold's Animals -- A Walrus' World. Picture Window Books, a Capstone imprint, 2010. Available now.

I was digging through the box of books that Capstone had sent me, looking for a book to review when I found one by my favorite easy reader nonfiction author, Caroline Arnold. When my own children were just learning to read and wanted information about animals, I always knew that Caroline Arnold would have something to interest them.

This series, however, isn't the photographic illustrated book I normally expect from her. This time around, she is illustrating the books herself with cut paper, instead. Which means, of course, that the double page scenes seem to be up close and personal.
Because she uses lines of paint as well as the cut paper, the walruses seem very real. (and very wrinkled, like they should be)

As the book progresses, a baby walrus grows up. During the summer, he and his mother joins a herd of female walruses, but in the winter several thousand male and female walrus join forces for protection and warmth. This is told in story format with yellow rectangles sprinkled on the pages offering more factual information about the beasts.

The book is square -- 11 inches on each size -- and could cause a problem in a library with tight shelving. As it is, it's just barely going to fit in my library with the 12 inch spacing between shelves.
For first and second grade readers.
(preschoolers would enjoy it being read to them because of the nice large pictures.)

Other books in this series --
A Bald Eagle's World
A Moose's World
A Polar Bear's World
A Kangaroo's World
A Koala's World
A Platypus' World
A Wombat's World
A Killer Whale's World
A Panda's World
A Penguin's World
A Zebra's World

More Nonfiction Monday reviews can be found at Diane Chen's SLJ blog, Practically Paradise.
Enjoy -wendieO

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - Little Kids First Big Book of Animals

National Geographic Little Kids First BIG Book of Animals by Catherine Hughes. 2010. Available now.

From the beginning photograph of the giraffe's head sticking out his purple tongue to the zebra at the end, staring at you as if asking if he can go home with you, this book is set up to fascinate youngsters and their older caretakers alike.

Thirty different animals are covered under chapters such as: Grassland, ocean, Desert, Forest, and Polar.

Don't let the 128 page thickness of the book put you off. This book is made for preschoolers and early readers. The wonderful National Geographic closeup photographs showing the animals in action or calmly watching the reader make you feel they are right in the room with you. And the large type, easy reading sentences simply invite early readers to come in and explore.

Despite the large size and thickness of the book, our material selectors have placed this book right where its readers can find it -- in the Easy Reading Nonfiction section of our libraries. (We have 10 branches in our library system.)

More Nonfiction Monday book reviews can be found at In Need of Chocolate blog.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Funnies -- Crazy Squirrels

We have bird feeders all with squirrel protectors on top.
A lotta good that does. Our squirrels learned long ago (and have passed it down to all their children) how to leap off the tree limb, slide around the squirrel proctors, skoot down the bird feeder head-first, to enjoy the feast there.

Even the square cage of suet isn't exempt. They just slide down the wires holding it.

But the topper was when I caught some squirrels 'flying' over to the bird feeders.
They paced back and forth on the tree limb. Scooted part-way down the tree trunk, then with a mighty leap they managed to reach the bird feeder before falling to the ground. Unfortunate things happened to any poor squirrel who was already on the bird feeder when one of them did this leap-flying trick.
Crash into the feeder!
The surprised current occupant fell to the ground, still clutching the sunflower seed he had been chewing on.

Last week my husband bought special squirrel food for them and scattered it on the grass about 10 feet from the bird feeders.
Oh my. What a fuss they made over that.
(Looky -- whole peanuts in the shell.)
One squirrel raced to the pile of food, grabbed one peanut and raced off with it. Then another. and another and another. What a fight, with nasty squirrel chittering, if two of them grabbed the same peanut shell! A tug of war settled the matter.

Have you managed to figure out how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- What in the Wild?

What in the Wild? Mysteries of Nature Concealed... and Revealed by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy. Eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn. Tricycle Press, 2010. Available now.

Here you will find mysteries in nature.
What are they?
What animal made them?

Intro -- a poem riddle about the photograph on the opposite page. Can you guess what it is? Then lift the photograph to see another photograph under it with the answer, plus informaton about what you have found.

The riddle poems are easy reading. sorta. "We're long and lithe, we wriggle and writhe." is probably a bit difficult for the first reader to understand.

However, it's a good book for an adult to share with a child from age 3 to 8, with surprises on every page. And soon the child will be repeating the silly rhymes, "skittery, scattery, gathery, chattery..." (doesn't that just sound like a squirrel?)

More nonfiction monday links can be found on Shelf Employed's Blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TO FLY is featured on Anita Silvey's blog

A lovely surprise for today, November 7th. Anita Silvey is featuring my book, To Fly, the Story of the Wright Brothers on her new blog, Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac.

(I can't figure you how to create a permalink that will always take you to her blog post about To Fly, so if some other book shows up when you click her link, just work your way backwards until you reach November 7th and POOF, there it will be.)

Wow, she does a beautiful job describing books, doesn't she? I've always loved her books about writers and illustrators and am thrilled she included one of my books on her blog today.
-wendie Old

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In the mail

Mailed two more manuscripts out.
Crossing fingers and toes.

Do you remember last year's discussion of the number of pumpkin pies I have to make in November?
Well, that is now a picture book and I've been mailing it out. Someday it might even land on that certain wonderful editor's desk who loves pies and might even like the story.
Crossing fingers and toes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Signs of an Election

Okay guys.
The election is over and you lost.
Now, please tell your people to remove the multiple signs shouting your name, which they placed every 10 feet for a couple of hundred feet at almost every road crossing on many of the roads I travel to work.
(and probably all over Maryland)

They were annoying before the election and still are annoying.

I hope everyone voted on Tuesday.
I know that I did.
There is no way that I could NOT vote. My grandmother marched with the Suffragettes to earn the vote for women and I wouldn't shame her efforts by not using that privilege.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today is Halloween.
(History, fun facts, and plans for a Halloween party can be found in this book.)
But I degress.

You wouldn't know Halloween had finally arrived if you had been watching the 10-year-old the past few weeks. She's been wearing her costume to various Halloween events for some time now.
A Girl Scout troop Halloween party.
A Halloween party at our UU Meeting House.
Halloween parade at school.
Halloween parade (and fun events) at her friend's community party last evening.
And NOW -- the big event -- going Trick-or-Treating with friends.

What costume did she choose?
She created her own SITH costume. (not Jedi. nope. She's going as young Darth Vader.)

She found her mother's dress riding boots, (those that go up to the knees and have lacing at the ankle)
Her legs either are covered with brown tights or dark jeans, depending on the event. (indoor or out)
Her chest has three layers.
The part that shows is a white longish garment with full sleeves, covered by a brown (her mother's old Air Force) tshirt.
Her face only has a little of the red Sith stripes -- it is, after all, the younger Darth Vader of early Star Wars 3.
And her hair? covered with her red Arial wig.
Why red?
Beats me.

Today she's going to Trick-or-Treat with boys. Every one of them is a geek and will be dressed as some sort of computer game warrior, so she fits right in with them. (yes, several parents will be going along with them.)

What are you -- or your kids -- going to do for Halloween?

Friday, October 29, 2010

School adopts iPad

We all knew that someday in the future kids would be learning via computer. But did you know that the future is now?

I don't know how long this article in Forbes Magazine (online) will be up, but click on the link to learn about schools in Scotland and the US of A which are giving every child an iPad to use in school.

Benefit -- the iPad is flat which helps teacher see what each child is doing, whereas students can hide behind computers.

Do you think this is a good idea? or not?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Party at the Library

Tuesday, we held our annual Halloween party at the Joppa Library from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. By five minutes of six, there were already costumed people in the library gathered around the craft tables and massing at the door to the meeting room.

Exactly at 6:00 pm I placed the final supplies on the three craft tables in the Children's room and let the familes dig in. Another librarian sat at a fourth table helping children decorate paper bags.

The meeting room doors opened showing various snack food, a few more crafts, plus a large pumpkin shape and a pile of beanbags. The object of this game was to try to toss your beanbag through the eyes or mouth.

Each child checking in with me got a jack-o-lantern hand stamp.
We had planned to have the costume parade about 7:00, but since everyone had pretty much hit every activity earlier, we formed the parade about 6:45. It wound its way around the adult department, stopping for "Trick or Treat" at the Information Desk, then approached me at the Children's Information Desk.

"Trick or Treat!"
"Do you have candy?"
No, I didn't have candy.
I had PRETZELS! (In little bags)

(I also discovered that this was a good way to get an accurate count of the number of children attending -- I knew how many bags were in the pretzel jar and could subtract what was left.)

Including moms and dads, big sisters and brothers, and babies, we had way over 100 people milling around the library Tuesday. (and they all fit!)
Probably a record attendance for any program here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog

Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog of the Mining Camps by Susan Lendroth. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Tricycle Press, 2010. Available now.

Did you know that Tricycle Press is now owned by Random House?
Me neither.

In the 1880s Dorsey, a border Collie, lived with Al, the storekeeper of the mining town of Bismark. Every week Al and Dorsey went to the town of Calico to pick up store supplies -- and the mail.

One week, Al decided it was too dang hot to make the trip over the mountain trail. (But Dorsey went anyway, to visit his Calico friends.) In fact, Dorsey visited more often than Al, every week.

Soon the men were attaching notes to Dorsey, back and forth, and eventually attached mailbags to his back. True story. A note in the back tells about the real Calico and even has a photograph of him.

This picture book biography of a Mail Dog should appeal to first and second grade readers as well as preschool listeners.

Links to more Nonfiction Monday blogs are listed at Write about Now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What does Moondust smell like?

I saw this headline and was fascinated. I didn't know it smelled like anything strange. I had to go read the article.
Think about what you think it smells like, then go read the NASA article here.

Then come back here and tell us (in the comments) what you thought.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is the picture book dead?

Here's an interview with an editor who doesn't believe the picture book format(in this case, the picture book biography)as a physical format is dead. Check out this interview with Clarion's Lynn Polvino on Tina Nichols Coury's blog, Tales from a Rushmore Kid.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Visited the Academy of Notre Dame today

Lovely visit today with the librarians, Victoria Abens, and Mary Buxton, and the Middle School students at the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, PA.

Beautiful day for a drive north to the Philadelphia area.
Enthusiastic students and teachers, great question and answer session.
I feel inspired to keep writing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Orangutans are ticklish

Orangutans are Ticklish, fun facts from an animal photographer by Steve Grubman with Jill Davis. NY: Schwartz & Wade, 2010.

Don't plan to use this book for assignments. But it might serve as a kick-off to get children interested in wild animals.

Steve Grubman, a wild animal photographer, presents photographs he took of various animals, along with a few interesting facts about the animals, plus side comments about the photo shoot. "This chimp and I took turns making funny faces at each other. Monkey see, monkey do!"

First and second graders will enjoy the animal facts -- set in larger type than expected. Adults will be interested in his two page preface describing how he posed the animals. With advice about always having an escape route if things get out of hand. (like when the tiger attacked him)

Want more facts? A few more about each animal are inserted on the last pages.

I probably would have written the section about the Aardvark a bit differently than Jill Davis did, not using the word "nocturnal." Nowhere does she explain what that means. On the other hand, I never knew that Aardvarks are only active at night (nocturnal) until I read it here. (I wonder how that information affects our view of Marc Brown's Arthur books? He's supposed to be an Aardvark.)

This is more equivalent to an adult Coffe Table book than an informational book about animals.

But it's about what you should expect from a man who photographed the ad for a Samsonite luggage campaign. He was asked to produce a photograph of an elephant standing on a piece of luggage, so Steve found an African elephant, got it into his studio, and took its picture. (I remember that one! Don't you?)

Do you like those t-shirts that have the design facing you on the front of the shirt, but shows the back of those object on the back of the shirt? Me too. Then you'll like the cover of this book. An Orangutang faces you on the front cover, but his backside is pictured on the back of the book.

More Nonfiction Monday links can be found at Mother Reader's blog, today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You can't force a good grade with Art

(heard after church last Sunday, at the dedication of the refurbished children's playground at the back of the church property)

A high schooler decided, after finishing a test, that he probably didn't do very well on it. So, at the bottom of the page, he drew a duck.
Then a gun pointed at the duck.
With the words, "If you don't give me a good grade, the duck gets it."

The teacher graded the test, and as expected, the grade was a low one.
When the boy got his paper back, he noticed an addition to his drawing:

The teacher had written, "I don't negotiate with terrorists!"
and had drawn a bullet coming from the gun and through the duck's head.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Elephant and Piggie love to party

Why do I have this picture of Elephant and Piggie here?
No reason -- I just LOVE it. Don't you?
(created by Mo Willems, found on Betsy Bird's Fyse #8 blog)

For those of you who don't have a young reader in the house, may I introduce you to the series of easy readers created by Mo Willems about two friends -- Elephant and Piggie. Winner of the ALA Geisel Award plus several honor book awards.
(You've gotta read -- There is a Bird on your Head.
This picture comes from -- I am Invited to a Party)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Into the Mail it goes

I'm putting a submission together.
Do I have all the pieces?

Cover letter? Check
List of publications and awards? Check
Synopsis? Check
manuscript? Check
Chapter Notes and sources? Check
A sample of the man's writing? Check
Timeline? check
Bibliography of sources used? Check
Suggested reading? Check

Deep Breath....
Address Envelope.
ooops, Enclose #10 envelope for S.A.S.E. (Love those Forever Stamps)

Go to bed and mail this thing in the morning.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Tornadoes

Tornadoes by Mari Schuh. a part of the Earth in Action series from Capstone Press, 2010. Available now. (copy donated by the publisher)

As is the usual with Pebble books from Capstone, large page or page and a third photographs on the right are paired with two or three short sentences on the left. A glossary at the back of the book defines some of the more difficult words. The concise wording gives the early reader an overview of what causes tornadoes and how to remain safe, while the final photographs show the devastation a tornado can do, ending with people helping people straighten up the mess.

Capstone hopes the readers will come away with a better understanding of what causes these weather events and how to stay safe should a dangerous situation arise.

Other books in the Earth in Action series are --
Avalanches, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. Enough violence to satisfy a bloodthirsty preshooler or to tantalize a first grader into wanting to know more.

Be sure to click on over to Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day blog and follow the links to more Nonfiction Monday blogs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wimpy Kid comes to the library

The fifth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Ugly Truth (a purple book) by Jeff Kinney comes out in November -- November 9th to be exact. Reserve your copy at a local bookstore or at the library, today.

To celebrate this, a lot of libraries are having Wimpy Kid parties. (just Google Wimpy Kid party and you'll see them)
In our library system, four or five branches are holding them.
My branch held theirs this Saturday.

Although both boys and girls love to read these books, mostly boys showed up for this program. One Girl. (I was able to convince a parent not to bring her Kindergartener by pointing out that one of the requirements for the programs was that you had to have READ the books -- we were going to have a discussion of them.)

And that is what we did.
Everyone filled out an application for the New York City Macy's Parade sweepstakes, then we settled down to talk about each book -- including the Wimpy Kid Movie book.
For some reason, nobody noticed the cheese on the floor in front of the TV set.
We did some fun quizzes, including a Personality Test. (Each child read a quote and everyone else had to figure out who in the book said it. They were good and got most of them.)

Using the sweepstakes forms, I drew for prizes. The publisher had sent me Wimpy Kid buttons, bookmarks, and window clings. Yes, everyone got prizes.

Finally, I began showing the DVD of Jon Scieszka interviewing Jeff Kinney.
Mayhem erupted! They discovered the cheese. Suddenly everyone was running around, trying to pass the cheese touch to someone else. "Quick! Cross your fingers. It's the only defense."

They settled down when I gave everyone a piece of cheese. (from a posta-note pack made to look like swiss cheese.)
Although they could eat snacks, create a Wimpy Kid Haunted House on paper, or learn how to draw Greg while the DVD was running, most everyone focused on the 20 minute interview. By this time their parents had also wandered into the room and were enjoying the snacks and the DVD.

A good Wimpy time was had by all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wear a Kilt to Class?

There I was, eating lunch in a college cafeteria, when I noticed that most of the guys there were wearing Kilts.

Why was I there? I was attending a one-day conference and, although the Student Center was about a quarter mile away, I decided the walk and a powerhouse sandwich would be better for me than eating at the nearby Mickey-D's.

Why were the guys wearing kilts?
Some were actual pre-sewn kilts.
Some were folded and gathered and belted old-fashioned kilts. Probably from material in mom's sewing closet.
And some had different plaids for the kilt and the shoulder scarf. (whatever that part is called)

One girl asked why they were doing it.
A boy replied, "It's National Wear a Kilt to Class Day." (I might not have heard it correctly.)

National Wear a Kilt to Class Day?
I Googled it and found nothing about it.
Hmmmm. Just a college joke?
I wonder.

What do you think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nonfiction Monday Links

Busy, Busy this week. But still there are lots of Nonfiction blogs out there.
For my own Nonfiction enjoyment, I often visit Marc Aronson's blog Nonfiction Matters or the group blog, I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

Where's your favorite blog?

The Nonfiction Roundup for this Monday had been gathered at: Madigan Reads. Click on over and enjoy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why Professional Writers won't come to your school for free

You'd love to have an author come to your school to talk about research and writing. So you take the next step and write to a few of them, inviting them to come.

Why then does it surprise you that your chosen ones won't come for free? Shouldn't they do it as a gift for the children? (After all, they write children's books, don't they?)

Nikki Grimes has written an excellent blog post
listing some of the many reasons that authors and illustrators charge for speaking to schools and groups.

I agree with all of it.
Writing is our business.
Income from writing and speaking goes toward feeding and clothing our children/ paying our bills/ etc.
Would YOU take an unpaid day off from work, get up at 5 am to drive several hours to another school, give four presentations, plus socialization with the organizers, then drive back home again through rush hour traffic -- for free? Not to mention the preparation time and the recovery time from being exhausted. Writers lose several working days doing this.

Oh, you say, but so-and-so will come for free. They've self-published their book and only require us to sell X-many copies of it to the children.
My response is -- have you read this book? Is it even up to the writing quality that you require of your students? Compare it to the literary quality of books produced by real publishers -- publishers who pay the authors/ illustrators and spend a year helping the author make this book the best it can be.
(You do know that self-published authors pay someone to print their book and it gets very little editing, don't you?)

Which book would you rather your students read to encourage them to enjoy reading and to learn good writing skills?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nonfiction Monday is Here

Today is Monday and that means the bloggers are reviewing children's nonfiction books today. Here's a sampling. Click on the links and enjoy. And keep checking back because I'll be adding more links every few hours:

Jeanlittlelibrary has a review of Bug Zoo by Nick Baker.

Mary Ann Scheuer's blog at Great Kids Books this morning is a bit different from the usual. Instead of recommending a great book for kids, she is sharing a most useful resource for parents: Getting to Calm: Cool-headed strategies for parenting tweens and teens, by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt. She says, "It's been a great resource to me as I've entered the water of parenting a moody, temperamental tween!" Since I also have a tween in the house, I'd better check it out, myself.

Over at NCTEACHERSTUFF, Jeff Barger has reviewed Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light written by Tim Tingle; illustrated by Karen Clarkson.

Charlotte from Charlotte's Library is in with What Goes On In My Head? How your brain works and why you do what you do, by Robert Winston.

There's a real treat over at Shelf Employed -- an interactive interview with Janice Weaver, author of Hudson, a biography of Henry Hudson. Join in the interview and ask your own questions!

Sarah at In Need of Chocolate says she has reviewed two books on Egypt: Pharaoh's Boat and The Great Pyramid.

Anastasia Suen is enjoying Into the Deep: The Life of Naturalist and Explorer William Beebe by David Sheldon at Picture Book of the Day.

Angela Craft at Bookish Blather has a review of Russell Freedman's stunning The War to End All Wars.

Over at Playing by the Book, is a review of Where Does The Poo Go? by Caren Trafford, illustrated by Jade Oakley.

There's a review of Insects: Biggest! Littlest! written by Sandra Markle at the Wild About Nature blog.

Shirley at SimplyScience today discusses the classification of Protists by Steve Parker. What are Protists? You'll have to check out her blog to find out.

This is Banned Book Week and MsMac over at MacLibrary talks about her experience with book banning.

Margo at the Fourth Musketeer reviews a new edition of the picture book, Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot, by Patrick Young.

The Allen County Public Library (in Indiana)will be holding their Mock Sibert discussion and Election on December 11. All sorts of great books are on the discussion list. Mandy invites all of you to please click here to add your voice to the discussion in the comment section of the ACPL Mock Sibert blog.

Carol Hinz points out that today at the Lerner books blog, she is kicking off a week focused on Rebecca L. Johnson's new book Journey into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures.

Wow, Becky has reviewed two books at two different blogs:
At Becky's Book Reviews, she has Liberty or Death by Margaret Whitman Blair.
And at Young Readers she reviews Lost Boy by Jane Yolen.

Lynne Marie on My Word Playground features a a spark of inspiration for nonfiction writers. It's a writing prompt from nonfiction author, Lori Mortensen, whose nonfiction book, COME SEE THE EARTH TURN: The Story of Foucault's Pendulum, just came out. The interview also features another of her non-fiction books,In the Trees, Honey Bees!

Tammy Flanders at Apples with Many Seeds looks at the book Kakapo Rescue: saving the world’ strangest parrot by Sy Montgomery.

At The Cat & The Fiddle, Michelle Markel explores the many possibilities of picture book biographies.

Middle-school librarian, Cindy Dobrez at the Booklist blog, "Bookends," is reviewing Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas this week.

Jennie at Biblio File analyzed a book for adults who work with children's literature, From the Beast to the Blonde: on Fairy Tales and their Tellers by Marina Warner.

Janet Squires at All about the Books with Janet Squires selected I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait.

Tina Nichols Coury ­ at Tales From the Rushmore Kid interviews author Vicki Oransky Wittenstein, where she describes what
inspired her to write about astronomer Geoff Macy. The title of her book is Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths.

And, there's even a PODcast.

Children's NF author Mary Kay Carson talked about her new Scientists in the Field book, The Bat Scientists, on a local NPR radio show over the weekend called Field Notes with Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo.
Click here for The Bat Scientists author, Mary Kay Carson's interview. (I hope these links work.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why invite an author to your school or group?

With the much tighter school budgets these days, parents and teachers sometimes wonder if their slim programming money would be better spent on an entertainer who might have a 'message' to convey to their students (Don't do drugs, etc.) or on bringing an author to the school. Which one will help the students more? (Which one can they justify best to the administration?)

Why spend the money on a published author, when there are self-published authors who will do the job for free. (provided, of course, that you allow them to sell their self-published book to the kids. How could you lose? You get a free speaker. What a deal?)

Members of CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) have created a list of Frequently Asked Questions that address that very conundrum.

Use it the next time a school asks, "why they should invite YOU/ what's in it for the students?"
Also be sure to use the information you gather on Alexis O'Neill's blog, school visits which offers you even more ideas about doing school visits.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spider in the car -- found

I found that invisible spider that had been living in my car.
in the dark
After work.

I was sitting at a stoplight when a brown/grey spider with very skinny legs crawled into my sight on the car windshield. It's like it didn't know I was there.
I grabbed my iPhone and squashed that spider. (with the back of the iPhone, natch.)
I had time to clean my iPhone and partially clean the window before the light turned green.

Crossing fingers and toes that there are no more 'visitors' planning to live in my car this fall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nonfiction Monday

To satisfy your Nonfiction needs for today, click on over to the wrapped in foil blog.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Newbery/ Caldecott 2011 predictions (so far)

Time to think about the big awards.
What? (you say)
But the fall books haven't come out yet.

So true.
And how many times have we been sideswiped by winners that we haven't even read yet, because they came out late in the fall and only the committee knew about them.

But still...
There's a great discussion going on over at Fuse #8's blog. Betsy Bird (the Fuse #8, herself) has laid out her predictions for these awards on her blog for all to see, discuss, and object to if they wish.
She's waving the flag for some of my favorite books of the year.

What are your favorites?

Friday, September 17, 2010

September is Spider Month

I seem to remember having said this before.
Yup. I said it here. And here. And here.

I'm convinced I have a spider in my car.
How do I know?
Well, every day I get into my car, I break through a spider traveling line. Not a whole web, thank heavens, just the line. Then, while I'm driving, the sun makes more spider lines glisten across the front windshield. I flap my hand at them and they break.

No, I've never seen the spider. And since I don't think it can get any food and water, I don't expect it to last long. But it's been about three days now with me discovering spider travel lines in the morning. IN MY CAR!

I'll have to admit, an invisible spider is less scary than the one I found last year.
I was driving up I-95, going to work. To move into the right hand lane I check my windshield mirror, then the side mirror, then I turn my head to the check the view out of the side and then the back passenger window.
Your friendly neighborhood spider had made a huge web back there -- and was sitting right in the middle of it.
I'm lucky I didn't cause an accident right there with my reaction.

You can believe that I pulled off at the next exit (my exit, actually), stopped the car and whapped that spider good.

It's probably not cold enough yet for the spiders to come out in droves and invade home and library.
I can't wait for October, when they do.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dialogue advice from a literary agent

Every so often literary agent, Nathan Bransford, posts advice on his blog that is just what you needed in your writing life. Last week he wrote about dialogue. In fact, that blog entry is called, Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue.
Click on the link and take notes. This stuff is good.

Every Friday he posts current news from the publishing world. If you only have time to read one of his blog entries, Friday is the one you should pick. It may take several hours to follow all the links.
Have fun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Weird Ocean

Weird Ocean, Pop-ups, pull tabs, flaps, and flip books by Kathryn Smith. Illustrated by Robin Boutell. Kingfisher Books, 2010.

An easy reading pop-up book for the nonfiction section.
The flip books inside the book work fine and so do the pop-ups.
(It's discouraging when pop-ups won't close down smoothly -- Mo Willems, I'm talking about your Big Frog Can't Fit In. (It just won't fold neatly back into the book.)

But the pull-tabs are a bit difficult to use, showing only on one side of the page and thus being difficult to pick up and pull.

Since Kingfisher and DK Eyewitness books specialize in short blurbs of information combined with good picture representations of the topic under discussion, this is typical of that type of book.

Each doublepage spread contains many similar beasts -- travelers, predator and prey, etc., and discusses in a few sentences how they interact or what makes them part of this group. First and second graders should be able to read and enjoy the action on these pages.

You can explore other Nonfiction Monday posts at Rasco from RIF.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Author, Lisa Yee, asked the question on Facebook:
Where were you on 9-11?
You don't even have to give the whole date -- everyone knows what you are talking about.

(except possibly small children. I wonder where the cut-off age is for this? I suppose I'm among a small number of people who also remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot. But I digress...)

I responded that --
I was watching the TODAY show. Slowly getting ready for work. Taking my time because I didn't have to be at work this day until noon. Good, I said. I have time to watch the Today show.

Close to the end of the show, close to 9 am Eastern time, Matt Lauer said, "Something's happened."
In complete silence they replayed the crash of the first plane into one of the Twin Towers in NYC.
Then you heard him say, "Oh... My... G*d!"
And the camera showed the second plane hitting the second tower.
The TV station never went on to the next scheduled show -- It was the Today show for the rest of the day.

We were glued to the TV after that.
I e-mailed my editor, suggesting she leave her office. (her office was somewhat close to the event.) But she had already left.
I e-mailed NYC writer friends. Over the next few hours and days, various NYC writers e-mailed all their internet friends assuring them that they were okay.

We kept the TV on all day at the library in the public area.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
As another and then one more attack plane was discovered.

I still wait for the other shoe to drop.
Because of that day, for many years afterwards, I was a news addict.
How about you?

Friday nite concert fun at Pier 6

Friday evening, the 10-year-old and I had a great time at the Prairie Home Companion Summer of Love concert at Pier 6 on the Baltimore Inner Harbour. (sitting under a huge tent/ watching the sun set behind Orioles Park at Camden Station/ surrounded by water on three sides/ Great seats 14 rows from the stage)

And today they posted pictures and comments about Baltimore on the Prairie Home Companion blog. I was going to try to capture some of the pictures to decorate this blog entry, but you'd probably rather explore their complete scrapbook, so Click and enjoy their photo album from all the cities they visited over the past month.

Our favorite person on that show is the Sound Effects guy -- Fred Newman. He and Garrison had several skits together, much to the enjoyment of the 10-year-old. (and me) (and the rest of the audience)

If you muck around that website, you'll also find a wonderful recorded interview of Garrison keillor on MPR Day at the Minnasota State Fair. But you don't have to search for it. Just click on the link in the previous sentence.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - Parrots

Parrots by Margaret Fetty. Part of the Smart Animals series published by Bearport. Available now.

Do you have a parrot? If so, you already know that these animals are very smart.

Many parrots can learn words and repeat them back to people. But some parrots actually use human words in sentences that have meaning. Also, scientists are discovering that parrots are also smart enough to make simple choices.

Brilliant color photographs accompany the information.
Back matter includes: Facts about parrots, glossary, a short bibliography, more to read, an online places to learn more about parrots, plus an Index.

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found at the Miss Rumphius Effect blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

They should have a test for Parenthood

At the State Fair this weekend, we saw another example of why, if it's important to take a driver's test to drive a car, they should have a parent's test before people have babies.

We took granddaughter and friend to the State Fair and bought 'Ride All Day' wristbands for them. While they were on the rides, we would find bench seats near the ride to sit and relax. At their favorite thing -- the tall, tall slide-- we sat near a woman jabbering on a telephone who was ignoring her two or three year old little girl. Our kids slid down the slide on burlap bags, got back in line, and slid down again-- over and over.

The two year old wandered over to the slide ride, pushed open the Exit gate and walked into the end of the slide area. The woman jabbered on, ignoring her. The child sat down and took off her sneakers. The woman kept talking into the cell phone. At this time a group of kids were beginning the long slide. The woman continued to talk in a foreign language. The child got up and wandered to the side of the slide, tripped over the edge and fell to the side, just as that group of children reached the end of the slide.

The woman -- seemed to still not notice. Grandchild and friend, not seeing anyone at the end of the slide, began their descent. The crying two year old wandered directly into their path. There was no way they could stop sliding.

Mom on the telephone? She finally noticed what was happening, rushed over, grabbed child, jerked her out of the path of the swiftly sliding children, ALL WHILE STILL ON THE PHONE! Dragged the child and shoes over to the bench and attempted to replace the shoes While Still On The Phone.

Poor Parenting?
Cell phone Addiction?
You tell me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

How do you use your Library Card?

Over at Teaching Authors, JoAnn Early Macken is talking about libraries. Libraries are a writers' best friend. But they do much more than help writers. You can find anything you need to know at libraries -- more than you can on the web. And if the library doesn't have the information, they know where to find it. (even if it means searching the web and finding what you couldn't find there)

And do follow her link to the ALA website for the article -- 52 Ways to Use Your Library Card.

Good Question.
How DO you use your library card?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It seems to be Tuesday.
It seems to be the last day of August.
It seems to be the last day my husband will go to work,
Tomorrow, September 1st, he is Retired!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- How to clean a Hippopotamus

How to Clean a Hippopotamus -- a look at unusual animal partnerships by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. Available now.

How DOES a turtle keep a hippopotamus clean?
or for that matter -- what are those birds doing with those animals?
Oxpecker and Giraffe?
Plover and Crocodile?
Cattle egret and waterbuck?
Coyote and badger?
All of them are either cleaning one another, or are hunting together. Most every partnership has been formed to help each other get food or for protection.

The Honeyguide can't get into the bee's nest, so it finds a honey badger, leads it to the nest and waits until the badger has torn it apart. Neither could get the delicious honey without the other.

This great book about Symbiosis for first or second graders is illustrated by Steve Jenkins's collage. But this time, instead of stark cut-paper, the cut-paper serves to give the animal a three dimensional look while shading and stippling on the animal gives them texture.

Ah, the HM website has this neat tidbit about the co-authors:
"Robin Page lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and collaborator, Steve Jenkins, and their three children. Along with writing and illustrating children's books, Steve and Robin run a graphic design studio." Check it out. They're much younger than I had imagined, considering the number of books they've produced over the years.

More Nonfiction Monday reviews can be found at The Booknosher's blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Celebration of Children's Literature

The blog page with all the links to the Celebration of Children's Literature is up.
Go to Australia by clicking on this to the Stories Are Light blog.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's Writing Report

My friend (Internet friend-- we've only met in person once), Patricia Wrede, says:
"Editors don't make house calls. You gotta send it out."

In honor of her words, today was spent researching possible editors/ publishers to send manuscripts to.
(not so easy these days with so many publishers closed to non-agented writers -- no matter how many awards you've won.)

I now have one longer manuscript in the mail, plus 5 picture books ready for envelopes. With any luck I'll get them stuffed in their envelopes and to the Post Office on Monday. Where they will join the huge pile of manuscripts wending their way to publishers, sent by teachers who spent their summer writing and now have to go back to school. (Me -- I do all this writing stuff on my days off.)

Tomorrow is the very last day children can turn in their Summer Reading lists at the library and claim their prizes. Yes, I work on Saturday this week. On Monday they go back to school, and I get out the ladder and tear down all the Summer Reading decorations.
Off with the ocean and beach scenes!
Up with Fall colors and displays!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MAC into mailbox

I just got a new computer.
More memory!
Another MAC, naturally.

Soooooooo --
What should I do with the old one?
How about this?

A Mailbox?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Not

Busy today.
(and no new books have arrived at the library this week that fit my review Criteria.)

The library has the staff working online with something called "SkillSoft" which offers a variety of training at your work desk.
I began it last week, but....
After doing the first section and getting 81% on the test, I discovered that my online progress report was empty when I came back to it.

So, today I spent several hours redoing the first part plus completing the second part.
This time there's a record of my test scores. (whew!)
AND -- when I re-did the first part -- I got 100%.
Hey, I'll take that score, thank you.
More testing tomorrow and I'll be done.

Meanwhile, to satisfy your Nonfiction Monday needs, you have a choice of clicking over to I.N.K (the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids blog), or take this link to this Monday's Nonfiction Monday site, at Playing by the Book.
-wendie old

Friday, August 20, 2010

What is a Hero?

Are there traditional heroes in children's books?

Or is the 'Hero's Journey' more of an adult novel sort of thing?

Betsy Bird and her husband discuss this with all sorts of comparisons and examples from Children's Literature.
Join the conversation over at A Fuse #8 Production.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to get School Visits

If you're an author looking for ways to Capitalize on your fame (slight as it may be) as a writer or illustrator of children's books, one of those ways is to do School Visits. Schools will pay to bring in entertainers who may have only a slight educational value. Why not convince them that inviting an author or illustrator, a person who actually USES those skills that schools teach, would be extremely educational for their students?

Fear not.
A website/ blog has been established by the School Visit Queen of them all -- Alexis O'Neill. (You've already been reading her column about school visits in the SCBWI Bulletin, haven't you?)

Her website and blog, aptly called School Visit Experts dot com, discusses the many ways you can improve your presentation and convince schools that YOU are exactly the author/ illustrator they want to invite.

(and pay. Don't forget Payment. Some authors/ illustrators earn more from school visits than they get in royalties from their books.)

Click on over and then bookmark this site!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument by Kristin Nelson, Lerner Publications Company, 2011, but available now.

(Oh, why did they make this book copyright 2011 when it's actually summer of 2010? I'll never understand it.)

Since I live near Washington, DC and see this monument quite often, and since I learned a lot about it while writing my biography of George Washington, naturally I scooped it off the New Books shelf as soon as it arrived in the library branch.

Let's see. How did Kristin do with her Washington Monument facts?
It's the tallest building around? Check.

The capitol city of the United States is named for George Washington? Check.

He was a military hero and the first president of the United States? (hmmm. not exactly, but when you are writing a book with one sentence per page, I guess you have to condense things. No time to discuss that there was a president of the confederation of states that existed before the United States was formed.)

They stopped building the monument about one third done because the money ran out? Check. (Nice photo of the completed monument showing the line that marks the end of one type of marble and the beginning of another type of marble.)

Nice photo view of the Smithsonian mall all the way over to the Capitol building, taken from the tippy top of the monument. Check.

Easy reading. Nice map of the National Mall. Fun Facts. (did you know it sways in the wind? slightly.) Glossary and Further Reading. Index.

This is part of a series called Famous Places which is part of Lightning Bolt Books.
Another book that arrived in our library at the same time by Kristin Nelson in this series is -- The Lincoln Memorial.
Many more are available or coming out soon.
Hmmm. Interesting. Also available in paperback.

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found today at Apples with Many Seeds.
Click on over and enjoy. -wendieO

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Surviving the Editorial Letter

I'm a firm believer that we children's book writers have a lot in common with writers of Romance Novels. So much so that I belong to the local Maryland chapter and usually attend the Romance Writer's of America convention whenever it is held here in the Washington, DC area. Their workshops have so much information for mid-list writers of all genres.

I also follow the blogs of several Romance Writers' agents. (for the same reason)
For example, Rachelle Gardner has a guest post on her blog from one of her writers, Camille Eide, talking about the Editoral Letter and how writers react to it.
I've gone through all of the stages she mentions whenever I get one, myself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th?

I just noticed that today is Friday, the 13th.

Is this an unlucky day for you?
Or do you turn it around and consider it a lucky day?

Or just another day?
(things to ponder)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A first dinner

The 10-year-old just 'cooked' her first dinner for herself and my husband, Wednesday evening.
She microwaved leftovers, sliced an apple (we have an apple slicer/ corer), added small raw carrots, put the whole thing, with ice water, onto a tray and served it in the living room. She and my husband then watched the evening news while they enjoyed their dinner.

(Me? I was working the evening shift at the library.)

I'll have to say that, when my husband e-mailed me to say that he had been banned to the living room while all these preparations were going on, my first thought was the memory of the first time she prepared breakfast for us.
Breakfast in Bed.

When the 10-year-old was 4 or 5 years old, we woke up to a paper plate being handed to us.
"Wake up! Wake up! Here's your breakfast."
(in those days, she was disgustingly cheerful in the early mornings -- not like the grumpy morning teenager she's turned into.)

We opened our eyes to see -- Sugar Sandwiches on a plate.
That's right. Two pieces of bread with lots of sugar in the middle.
(Yes, I had to wash the bed sheets that day to get all the sugar off the bed.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Link to Writing Interviews

As a writer of nonfiction (and a bit of fiction), I belong to several online nonfiction lists.
Recently, I've discovered a valuable new blog: Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

Every so often, she interviews editors, agents, writers and posts a video of them giving her readers a Writer's Tip of the Day.
Here's her description of a recent one:
"Former children¹s editor and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, Harold Underdown is on the blog today giving us a couple of tips about agents & promotion. He had interesting things to say about non-fiction authors."

Go explore and enjoy. -wendieO

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Colonial Hats

The girls had wanted to rent colonial costumes for a day while we were at the Historical Colonial Williamsburg. But mean old grandma insisted that heavy clothing like that wouldn't be a good idea in 101 degrees.
So I agreed to purchase hats, instead.

The girls chose hats for themselves and hats for their dolls.
As you can see.
The doll on the left is Lancie. (Which my youngest grandchild insists is a girl dog -- therefore the hat.)
The doll on the right is Elizabeth, who seemed happy to be back at her home in Williamsburg.
(Fans of the American Girls will know what I'm talking about.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday at Williamsburg

We were sad to leave the Woodlands hotel today in Williamsburg. We packed the car with our stuff, then spent time at the Williamsburg Visitor Center which is also on the hotel property. Since we had missed some of the Revolutionary City reenactments in the Colonial area, I wanted the kids to see the movie at the Center which shows one man coming to the decision to side with the Rebels. (I had forgotten how clunky it was, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.)

Then, on to Jamestown. We went to the re-created Settlement area. (Several years ago, the 10-year-old and I went to Jamestown Park and visited the actual Jamestown site, while I studied the possibility of writing something for the 400th Anniversary of the first English settlement here.)

The girls loved the Powhatan Village. They ground corn meal, scraped hair off a stretched hide, and twisted long grass to make rope. The 10-year-old is now wearing her rope as an ankle bracelet. Then they clambered all over two of the three ships which carried the Jamestown settlers (invaders?) to the area. They didn't find the reconstructed fort area as interesting.

Arrived home by 10 pm.
Nite all.
Very tired. -wendieO

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday at Williamsburg

Well, I failed to keep with the vacation theme.

The girls took off with a Williamsburg day camp this morning -- heavy with crafts and apprentice work, giving me a morning off. It just so happened that I brought research material for my ongoing writing project.
Yes, I spent time writing -- on my vacation.
Does it count if I say I'm writing about someone who lived near Colonial Williamsburg?

Suddenly, it was noon, time to find the bus into the colonial area of town.
A quick stop at Market Square for lunch.
Hmmm, a problem. The storm last night had knocked off all the electricity for that half of the town. No restaurants could serve hot meals. No problem. I got a yummy ham sandwich, again.

Then it was a race to get to Chowning's Tavern garden to meet the girls.
First they wanted to see the Blacksmith.
Then, on our way to the Governor's palace, we stopped at the Booth Theatre to see several plays. Comedy, of course.
A quick trip through the maze behind the palace and then back to the hotel and the POOL. (yes, another hot day)

I"m hoping to finally get everyone to bed early.
Jamestown tomorrow. -WendieO

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday at Williamsburg

My workplace is in shock. For the past 15 years, most of my 'vacation' time has been taken up with writing projects. But this trip to Williamsburg is strictly a Grandmother/ grandkid adventure.

I'm not sure if the temperature made it over 100 degrees today here in Williamsburg, but it was hot. The morning was lovely -- warm with a nice breeze. The three of us explored the Colonial Williamsburg historical area.
The afternoon?
Spent in the pool. and later at the miniature golf behind the hotel. (see picture of two girls wearing Colonial hats, playing golf)
The evening ghost walk? Torrential rain. So we didn't walk; we listened to ghost tales under cover, dodging sheets of rain.
And now to bed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You don't have to be in LA

Did you attend the huge, HUGE Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend? (okay it was a 4-day weekend)

Then click on over to the Official SCBWI Conference Blog and read the notes from every workshop and event, done by a team of tireless (and now very tired) bloggers.

Unfortunately, since this is a blog, you'll be reading the events backwards --
Monday, August 2,
then Sunday, August 1,
and so on, until you reach the opening and pre-opening events.

enjoy -wendieO

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Lots of Spots

Lots of Spots by Lois Ehlert. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2010. Available now.

Ehlert's usual fluorescent colors are muted in this book. This time she works hard to duplicate the actual coloring of the animals she depicts, using cut-paper collage.

Publisher's Weekly says: The layers of handmade paper--brightly colored and often richly textured--that form each critter, crisply arranged on a white background, lend a sense of up-close immediacy...Budding naturalists and animal lovers of a broad range will surely be amused."

There is a four-line poem for each animal, which manages to convey a great deal of factual information in addition to bits of whimsy. Some of the rythm doesn't quite scan, but it's all in fun.

More Nonfiction Monday posts can be found at Three Turtles and their Pet Librarian.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Williamsburg or Bust

I'm taking the two grandgirls to Williamsburg, Virginia this Wednesday. We'll be there Thursday and Friday, coming home Saturday.

I need some suggestions. What do you think are the MUST SEE things there?
(Keeping in mind that they don't seem to have the Felicity tour anymore, darn it.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do you have to Blog?

The answer is, maybe.

If you are unpublished -- maybe.
If you are a picture book writer -- maybe.

What about developing platform? That's mostly for nonfiction writers.

Along with the information we gave at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI conference recently, here's more blogging info from agent Mary Kole, at who is holding a conversation about this very thing.

There are many good ideas in the comments, pro and con.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waking up in the Middle of the Night

Don't you hate it when you wake up, can't go back to sleep, have to get up and go to --
To write down that book idea/ paragraph/ chapter that came to you while you were supposed to be sleeping?

(and me with a morning program at the library today plus working the evening shift, which means I'll be working 9 am to 8 pm.)
Maybe I can get another 10 to 20 minutes of sleep, now, before I have to really wake up and get going.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- The Little Brainwaves investigate Animals

The Little Brainwaves investigate... Animals by Caroline Bingham. London: DK (Dorling Kindersley, Ltd), 2010

This is evidently one of a series of "The Little Brainwaves investigate..." books in production by DK.

The Little Brainwaves are little cartoon people with big ideas. The book contains photographs of various animals, the usual DK short paragraphs of information (this time confined in rounded white rectangles), plus these cartoon people crawling, climbing, jumping, etc. all over the pages. It reminds me of the National Geographic Magazine for Kids or parts of Cricket Magazine.

The reason it's on my Nonfiction Review Page?
Because the reading level is much lower than the average DK Eyewitness book, making it easy for a first or second grader.

Does it seem like your usual DK book? Yes.
There is no in depth information, just the usual DK tidbits. Each type of animal is covered in ONE double page spread. Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects (and spiders -- eeeuuu). If your young reader wants to read more about them, a good children's librarian can help him or her find other books on the subject.

The Brainwaves were created by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar and are an original cartoon property owned by their company, Last Lemon Productions, which originates, produces, and licenses cartoon properties which convey the vibrancy and humour that is at the heart of all their work. (Their description of their company.)

Some other Brainwaves book was given the 2009 Parents' Choice Award Winner for The Most Explosive Science Book in the Universe. This blurb on the back cover carefully does not say which one of the Brainwaves books won this award. Unwary book buyers may think that whatever book of the series they hold in their hands is the award winner.
or not fair advertising?
You tell me.

Other Nonfiction Monday posts can be found at the blog, Shelf-Employed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Branding yourself -- good or bad?

Greg Pincus (the bloggers' expert on Social Media) over at the Happy Accident is talking about writers and Branding.
No, not putting a hot iron to a cow or horse's skin to burn off the hair. Not THAT kind of brand.

Branding as applied in the business world -- and should writers try to Brand themselves?

Go read the post and then follow the link to the Twitter discussion.
What do you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nonfiction Monday -- Alligators and Crocodiles

Alligators and Crocodiles by Gail Gibbons. NY: Holiday House, 2010. Available now.

Gail Gibbons is well known for her beautifully illustrated nonfiction books for preschoolers and the early elementary grades, and this is no exception.

With her usual detailed pen and ink plus watercolor illustrations, she shows the many things about Alligators and crocodiles are the same, AND the many ways that they are different.

I had always thought that Alligators lived in the Americas and Crocodiles were Europe/ Africa, but that is no longer true. There now are Crocks in the southern United States! Two maps show their habitats.

Additional factoids and a Web site suggestion for further research complete the package.

More Nonfiction Monday reports can be found at In Need of Chocolate. Enjoy.