Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Living in an historic house

I live in a historic landmark.

Yes, I hear the envy in people's voices when they talk about our house, but they don't have to live here.
We have fireplaces in every room, but the walls are 18 to 23 inches thick stone walls, so we can't have central heat or air. There's no way the ducts for central anything can be put through our walls.  The choice is wood stoves or electric heaters.
 If we didn't use window air conditioners here and there, we'd have mildew everywhere in our hot, humid summer heat. Believe me, I remember the time before air conditioners and cleaning the walls, etc., all summer wasn't fun.

We keep cats to keep the mice population down. And let's not talk about the bug population. Or the cost of restoration -- to transform the building into a comfortable living space.

Don't envy the historic landmark owners.  Enjoy your own modern house.

Monday, May 28, 2012

To Fly, the Story of the Wright Brothers makes the list

Oh my heavens.
For some time I've noticed that some of my books have suddenly become very popular on Amazon.com. Weird.
I had finally decided that Amazon had simply gone wonky because To Fly, the Story of the Wright Brothers had never ever shown sales that high before.

Yesterday I was exploring Marc Aronson's blog, Nonfiction Matters, and began reading some information about the new national Common Core Standards for US schools.
Interesting -- there's a booklist of recommended books to support these standards.
I wonder. ...

(well, you guessed what I wondered -- what any author would wonder -- were any of my books on this list?)

So, there I was, sitting in the back of the room of a fantasy art workshop at BaltiCon, the local science fiction convention,while my granddaughter and her friend drew dragons, exploring the appendix of the Common Core Standards on my iPhone, trying to resist disturbing the workshop with my squeals of glee.  My book is on this list!

Oh my!

For more nonfiction book blogs, click on over to Perogies & Gyoza Monday morning and celebrate Nonfiction Monday with us.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So -- you want to write an alphabet book?

It's easy.  Right?

Eric Pinder discusses the problems with alphabet books in this article on Cynsations which was inspired when he assigned his students to write a children's story -- and ALL OF THEM turned in alphabet books.
Because they thought an alphabet book would be easy.
It's not.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nonfiction Monday -- Creative Nonfiction

In a recent blog entry, Melissa Stewart talks about Creative Nonfiction and all its many forms.  She says that her ideas on this topic are evolving, but that her main point is that there is a lot more creativity going into contemporary nonfiction than just storytelling.  She'd love for you to read her blog post about this over on her Celebrate Science blog, plus do read other posts she's written about it, and please contribute your own ideas on the topic.

If you've gone to many SCBWI events recently and have noticed that more information about writing nonfiction is being offered (especially at National), you have Melissa Stewart to thank. She's the person who convinced the SCBWI board that this is an important area for us writers to know about.

Links to more blog posts about nonfiction are being gathered over at the Miss Yingling Reads blog today.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day books

Happy Mother's Day!

My oldest daughter took the 12-year-old out to buy a Mother's Day present -- and came home with Chocolate Covered Cherries hand made by Wockenfuss, a local candy company.
For me.
The best.
The very best.

For your enjoyment, The Washington Parent online magazine has a collection of children's books (and one adult book) you might enjoy on Mother's day, collected by the famous writer and outstanding writing teacher, Mary Quattlebaum.  (Ya, she's also on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts.)
Click on the name of the magazine to see.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Children's Book Week is here!

It's Children's book week and author/ illustrator (and multi-Caldecott medal winner) David Wiesner has designed a poster that includes many of his favorite children's book characters.  Can you name them all?  Click on over to the Children's Book Week website in order to see this poster larger. (Yes, I found one of his flying frogs. Do you see it too?)   Check out the buildings as well.

I think you can still order the poster for FREE if you want one of your very own.  The instructions for ordering are at this link.

Sylvan Dell Publishing is giving away a free children's ebook all week long. Click on the link and then look on the right hand side of the Sylvan Dell webpage for this deal.

Monday, May 7, 2012

NonFiction Monday -- Picture Games

The latest box of books from Capstone Press arrived on my porch today. It’s always fun to see what they’ve sent me. This time I found two fun books of guessing games, so I thought I’d talk about both of them. Although they are both A+ series books, they aim at two different reading levels.
Alike or Not Alike, a Photo Sorting Game by Kristen MCCury from the Eye Look Picture Games series is an easy reader that kindergarteners and first graders can decipher themselves and also can be used with preschoolers.

The reader first sees four things. The name of each object lies right below its photograph. However, these objects are not in their natural habitat. (for example, the hammer is not on a workbench or in a toolbox.  It is just a cut-out picture of a hammer.) The reader (or storyteller) must turn the page to discover which one of the four things do not belong in the group.  This makes a good setup for a fun quiz with the children and has the advantage of instant satisfaction of finding the answer on the verso. There are very few sentences in the book – just the words Which is not alike? to introduce the set and one or two sentences to describe the object that is different on the verso.

Alike or Not Alike can be used one-on-one as a lap book, by a storyteller with a large group, or read by a first reader. 

Whose Home is This? By Julie Murphy from the Nature Starts series can be enjoyed by first and second graders, as well as introduced to preschoolers.  The sentences are longer and there are more on the page.  As you look at a double page spread, the picture on the left is of an animal or insect’s home. On the right are four photographs of possible inhabitants of this home, pictured in their native habitat. The text introduces each animal with a tidbit of information.

Now guess which animal lives in that home. Is the answer on the next page?  No.  The reader must turn to the back of the book to find the answer. AND, they have to know what page they were on because each photograph answer has that page number below it.

Back matter in both books includes other similar books plus the address of the facthound website, a safe site for elementary students to explore. Whose Home is This? Also includes a glossary.

For more interesting nonfiction for kids, click on over to Nonfiction Monday which is being held at The Swimmer Writer blog today.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If you Love Picture Books, the Highlights Foundation has a workshop for you

I just got this letter from Kent Brown, talking about the Highlights Foundation's fall lineup of workshops:

The New York Times featured an article by Arts Beat columnist, Julie Bosman, entitled "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children," which sparked a national debate as to whether or not the picture book was going the way of the dinosaur. Within hours of print, and continuing for months, experts in the field of children's literature unleashed an assault on the idea of the death of this "institution."

"They [picture books] move from what children already know to what they need to learn." –Anita Silvey, author of Children's Book-a-Day Almanac

"Picture books offer care [givers] a way of slowing down and helping children toward deeper ways of seeing, sensing and feeling. They can be funny, they can be sad; they can be provocative, they can be scary; but what all of the best picture books offer is the opportunity for a particular way of relating: yes, there is the story; but there is also the precious chance for the child to enjoy the adult's attention: to talk about the pictures and how they make him feel; to turn the pages backwards as well as forwards; to get to know the characters through the way they are represented in art as well as the way they are described in words." –Tessa Strickland, Founder of Barefoot Books Publishing

"At their best, nonfiction picture books are bite-sized slices of truth. Their focus is tight. What inspired one record breaking athlete to rise from asthma patient to the gold medal podium at the Olympics? How did one of the most usual species of birds go from filling the skies to almost extinct and how can we fight to save them? Nonfiction picture books ask children these kinds of questions with both words and pictures, inviting a child to piece together their own story. They inspire children not only to find answers but to ask their own questions." –Tami Lewis Brown, author of Soar, Elinor!

". . . what greater gift can we give our children than to open the door to words and pictures? What greater gift than to show them the power and wonder of imagination, which keeps us company in the loneliest and darkest of hours–and is there for all the good times, too. I believe in imagination, and I believe in picture books." –Holly M. McGhee, President of Pippin Properties

The picture book is a beloved classic. It is not only a "staple" for children but also a favorable market for writers. Our 2012 line-up champions the picture-book form as well.

From Prose to Pictures to Published: The Process of Writing a Picture Book
September 6-September 9, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Candace FlemingRebecca Kai Dotlich
Special Guests: Eric RohmannMelanie Hall

The Power of a Picture Book
September 9-September 12, 2012

Workshop Leader: Deborah Underwood
Special Guests: Kate O'SullivanSteve Metzger

Writing for Little Eyes and Little Ears
Read-Alouds for Early Learners
September 9-September 13, 2012

Workshop Leader: Barbara Jean Hicks
Special Guests: Suzanne BloomSteve Metzger

The Brilliant Dummy
Creating a Picture-Book Dummy for Submission
November 8-November 11, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Lindsay Barrett GeorgeJudy Schachner

Other workshops of interest for picture book writers include:

Writing from the Heart
June 17-June 24, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Joy CowleyJillian SullivanChristine French CullyLori Ries
Special Guests: Kathleen HayesAlyssa CapucilliPatricia Lee GauchSuzanne BloomTim GillnerBernette Ford

Fiction Writing for Children and Young Adults
June 24-July 1, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Patricia Lee GauchJillian SullivanDavid RichardsonRobert J. Blake
Special Guests: Joy CowleyPeter P. JacobiAbby McAdenNancy MercadoHolly McGhee

Nonfiction Writing for Children and Young Adults
July 15-July 22, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Peter P. JacobiCandace FlemingLarry Dane BrimnerLionel BenderStephen R. Swinburne
Special Guests: Carolyn P. YoderLaurence Pringle

Advanced Illustrators Workshop
August 30-September 3, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Floyd CooperEric RohmannKelly Ann MurphyRuth Sanderson

Books That Rise Above
A Children's Books Colloquium
October 5-October 7, 2012

Workshop Leaders: Patricia Lee GauchLinda Sue ParkLeonard MarcusDeborah HeiligmanElizabeth Bird

A Crash Course in the Business of Children's Book Publishing
November 2-November 4, 2012

Workshop Leader: Clay Winters
Special Guests: Bobbie CombsKatie DavisHarold UnderdownNeil Waldman

For more information about a workshop or to request an application, please visit our website, or contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192 or Jo.Lloyd@highlightsfoundation.org.

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest, or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501©3 organization. We dedicate our efforts to connecting, nurturing, and inspiring children's book writers and illustrators.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Juliet Low awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Girl Scouts Founder Awarded Highest Honor
The White House announced last week that President Obama is posthumously awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

"Juliette Gordon Low was a visionary, whose legacy lives on in the 59 million American women who have been part of Girl Scouting at some point in their lives," said Anna Maria Ch├ívez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and spiritually, and in founding the Girl Scouts in 1912, she made an indelible and enduring contribution to the lives of girls and to our nation. It is so fitting that on our 100th anniversary, she should be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom."  

Along with Juliette Gordon Low, Madeleine Albright, John Glenn, Toni Morrison, John Paul Stevens, Pat Summitt, Shimon Peres, Bob Dylan, William Foege, Jan Karski, Dolores Huerta, Gordon Hirabayashi and John Doar will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation," said President Obama. "They've challenged us, they've inspired us, and they've made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do your stories continually lead the reader on by listing events -- "and then this happened" "and then that happened" "and then"?  (yes, I did put the question mark outside of the quotes here -- for emphasis.)

Or do you follow the advice of the guys who created South Park.  "This happened and therefore that happened, but later this happened because..."

Click on over to Editor Cheryl Klein's blog where she shows the South Park guys talking about this.  In addition she discusses "desire lines."  What's that?  If you are a writer of fiction and you don't know, you need to know and she has a good explanation.  Enjoy.