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.)