Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And the new year is….

Coming up -- the year, 2014.

But it turns out that a lot of people don't know what this number means.
Read this article in the Huff Post about some of the strange twitter conversations going on these days.

Some people think that the United States of America is 2014 years old.
sorry guys.  not.
Actually, they think something called America is 2014 years old. Funny thing -- that's not the name of our country -- it's the name of the Continent that our country is a small part of. (There's North America and South America and even Central America -- all connected and all containing multiple countries -- and much older than 2014 years.)

Some think the EARTH is 2014 years old.
sorry guys. not.
It's a tad older than that.

Does anyone know what the year 2014 is counting from?
(It turns out that the beginning of that count is also under dispute. It's possible that a certain baby was born some years later than first calculated.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Popular baby names of 2013

Attention Picture Book writers. When you are thinking of names for the children in your stories, you might consider checking out the various lists of popular baby names because by the time your book is published, those babies will be old enough to enjoy your picture book.

What were the most popular baby names in 2013?
Here is a link to one list in an article on the Huffington Post website created from a place called "Nameberry" which states: "Nameberry’s popularity lists are tabulated by ranking the unique page views each name attracts out of the over 20 million total views of our baby name pages in 2013."

A lot of the names are new and unusual, names that I have never seen before.  New to me as well is the list of names that were given to BOTH boys and girls.
Since this list is based on most popular names searched for on Nameberry's web pages, I don't know how valid it is, because parents search a lot of names before actually choosing the perfect one.

I believe that the official list of baby's names registered with Social Security will come out in January. If I remember, I'll backtrack to this blog post and put the link to it here as well.  (or if someone has found it before I do, feel free to let me know.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just a few more days until Christmas and

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Tree is up. Decorations are all over the place. (storage boxes are all over the place -- gotta stack them back in the garage) 

And temperatures will be cold, for southern California -- in the 50s for the next 4 days. I'm going to have to bundle up when I do my beach walk.

Plus -- there are only 2 more days of school.

Our schedule looks pretty booked up over the next six days.
-- House closing should be today or tomorrow. Which means we'll have to begin shopping for a new washer, dryer, and refrigerator for the new house. 
Measure the house. 
Measure our furniture, 
work out what will go where in the new (smaller) house.
 Begin transferring items from this rental to the house. And more stuff.

-- The 14-year-old (yes, she is now officially a teenager, complete with boyfriend on the phone) has PLANS.  
Fun with friends, 
going to see the Nutcracker, 
a trip of several hours with friends to buy a lizard. (panic not. It's not for us; it's for the friend.), 
Christmas at her friend's house while I join my older daughter and her family at my son-in-law's Christmas dinner. 
Possible trips to the zoo, 
to Seaworld (they have a snow hill to sled on at the penguin house), 
to a lot of places. 
Overnights with friends. 
 Homework. (yes, that has to be done, too) 
Shopping for a high bed with desk underneath for her new room. 

So, what are you doing this Holiday Season?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Anniversary of Wright Brothers' flight

What's important about December 17th?
The Era of Flight began.

110 years ago, two bicycle men from Ohio flew the first controlled heavier-than-air manned flight on the sandy beach of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The very first flight that succeeded.
Many had tried, but they were the first to figure out the Physics of Flight.

They flew four times that December day, and were planning a longer flight to the nearest town of Kitty Hawk four miles away when a gust of wind flipped the plane over and over, landing almost at the edge of the surf. And that was the end of Flyer number 1.  It was boxed up and stored at their home in Dayton, Ohio for years while they worked on other versions of their flying machine.

For more information about the Wright brothers, read my books:

Hmmm.  I thought I had a GIF of my other Wright brothers book published by Enslow, The Wright Brothers, Inventors of the Airplane, but I can't find it on this computer.  You might be able to check it out at your local public library and some school libraries.

You can also read the Wright Brothers' papers (with photographs) on the Library of congress webpage, or explore the original material in the Wright Brothers Packet at  Wright State University collection.  I had a great time exploring this collection when I did my research for these two books.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nonfiction Monday -- Working with the Common Core

The wonderful people over at I.N.K -- Interesting Nonfiction for Kids wrote a lot of helpful blog posts during October 2013 about the new Common Core Standards that have been adopted by many state educational systems.
And recently Melissa Stewart wrote a helpful blog post about how authors can connect to the Common Core Standards. She calls it the Common Core Care Package: 10 Ways Authors can help Educators.
Click on over and check these posts out.

I post these tidbits so that I can find them again.
 Feel free to let me know if you find them helpful to you as well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oh, Christmas Tree

I didn't bring my artificial Christmas tree along when we moved. So, last year we had to buy a real tree. Years ago, I used to always buy, or cut our own, Douglas Fir because of the soft limbs and needles. (Since I'm the one delegated to put the lights on and to undress the tree -- soft needles are nicer to my hands.) However, I think I was allergic to Douglas Fir.

Last year we bought a Noble Fir.  Never heard of that kind of evergreen tree when I lived on the East Coast. The man said it was fairly new -- a cross between the Douglas and something sturdier. It was a beautiful tree, lasted the full 12 Days of Christmas (we always take down the tree on New Year's Day), and the needles are soft. More important, I didn't seem to be allergic to it.

So ---- It's time to put up the tree.  It's close enough to Christmastime to buy the tree. And yes, I'm going to get another Noble Fir.

Just for fun, someday I just might put up another artificial tree -- like this one:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What all Great Leaders have in common

I just watched a fantastic TED talk.

I got pulled into it because of my love for the Wright Brothers (see my books along the side) who are mentioned in this talk, but stayed to listen because of the fantastic ideas.

"Great Leaders lead because of what they believe, not because of what they make or do."
It seems that, we follow, we buy products, these people (the leaders) succeed because our gut feeling also believes.
Learn more by clicking on through.

(and if you wonder why posts here have been a bit scarce lately, I spent the past six month in and intensive writing semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their Writing for Children and Young Adults program.
Boy did I learn a LOT. I'm going to spend the next six months digesting what I learned, then will go back next July for my last semester there.  When I graduate (some year), I will have earned an MFA in writing, but more than that, I will have learned so much about writing.  I've always believed that I wanted to write, and this course is giving me even more tools to enable me to write better.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rules for Writing

Here's a link being passed around on Facebook:
Rules for Writing by the award-winning author, Neil Gaiman,
8 Rules for Writing
A Path to Publishing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Publishing Trends

Check out Sarah's Blog at the Greenhouse Literary site where she talks about publishing trends today.

Just what I predicted.  (and about time, too)
I've been very annoyed at the emphasis on Young Adult with very few good new Middle Grade and Young Middle Grade books being published.
And what she says about Picture Books?
(Digging through my file, checking over which picture book to send to who.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Dr. Who

Happy Dr. Who -- 50 years strong.
Were you one of the millions who watched the WORLD-WIDE showing of the DAY OF THE DOCTOR, to help celebrate that the TV program, Dr. Who, began 50 years ago?

 My granddaughter and I watched -- at home.  We were not one of the millions who watched this on the big screens in movie theatres.  It was shown at 11:50 in San Diego.  What time was it in your part of the world when this simulcast international show came on?
(I'm also wondering if they issued it in the native languages of non-English speaking countries. hmmm?)

I remember when my youngest child insisted we stay up late and watch this amazing new program on PBS about this crazy guy who travels around the universe in a blue box, saving the worlds.  She super impressed her Astronomy teacher in high school because she already knew most of the space terms the teacher was presenting.  (the teacher bragged about this amazing girl during Parent Visitation night and was surprised when we told her that our child had learned all this stuff from watching Dr. Who.)

Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Doctor.  Well, not really, because the person who wrote this never saw the original 7 Doctors, but fun information anyway.

(also, check out GOOGLE today. It features all 11 of the Doctors.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Is it that time of year again?
Oh no!
Time to plan Thanksgiving Dinner.
Let's see…

  I grew tired of turkey long ago.
On the other hand, a nice ham?
easy-peezy. out of fridge, unwrap, peal fell off (that's skin and fat to non farmers) score, cloves, and pop into oven for an hour or two.

The heck with getting up at 5 in the morning to begin the stuffing and prepare the turkey and giblets and getting sick, sick, sick of the smell of turkey as it cooks for 6 hours or more.

and preparing all the vegetables.  2 like succotash, 3 like string beans, a different 3 like creamed onions, most everyone likes mashed potatoes, not enough like sweet potatoes to make it worth while cooking, who the heck liked sauerkraut?  oh yes, he's long dead now -- forget it. How many people like gravy? Nevermind -- I like gravy, so making gravy has to be juggled at the same time as I time the various pots of veggies so that they all are ready at the same moment.

Make the orange cranberry relish or buy? gotta have cranberry sauce without lumps for 3 of them and another tray of sauce with lumpy cranberries Fix the relish tray.

And is it any wonder I buy pies? (except I have to make 4 pumpkin pies and then 4 more for the weekend because we will be OUT of pie.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Look at the DATE


It's   11 / 12 / 13

That'll never happen again.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Diversity, Diversity, Diversity -- everybody's talking about it, but who is doing anything about it.
In the book world?
Agents, that's who.

Check out this conversation between literary agents about this subject on the Lee and Low blog.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Picture Book Month 2

There's even a major website all about Picture Book Month. 
Here  you will find daily posts from major picture book writers and illustrators explaining why he/ she thinks picture books are important.  Keep checking it out all month.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Picture book month

November is Picture Book Month.

Go check out Katie Davis's new video all about wonderful picture books!
6 authors answering the question, "What is a picture book?" 

Friday, November 1, 2013

After Halloween comes -- Christmas Music!

Car battery died last night while I was taking pictures of teen's haunted house characters.
 Got a hot-shot and advice to drive it a while.

 Not wanting the radio on while the car was supposedly charging the battery, I pulled out my iPhone and had Mannheim Steamroller playing while I roared down I-5.

(close down the teen's haunted house / open iTunes to Christmas music.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

It's that time of year.
When masked kids pound on your doors demanding ransom, preferably the candy kind.
Are you ready?

Since we moved to a condo last year, I bought a bag of 100 candies to give out -- expecting a huge amount of trick-and-treaters.  NOBODY showed up.  (we donated the candy to my grandkid's school who sends extra Halloween candy to servicemen oversees.)

This year I wasn't going to buy any candy -- but I broke down yesterday and bought some. (types that I like to eat, naturally.  If there are leftovers, at least I'll enjoy them.)

The grandkid is planning to go out with a bunch of friends -- safety in numbers.

What are your plans?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween is coming

It's getting closer.  That time of year when you can pretend to be somebody/ something else and get rewarded by candy.  And have parties.  (Can't forget the parties.)

(picture courtesy of I am invited to a party!  by Mo Willems)

What will be your costume this year?

Whatever it is -- Have fun!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why did you Weed that book from the Library?

I know many people are confused about library practices -- especially when they find perfectly good books being sold at a library book sale.  Why would the librarian remove that book from the library?
(My usual explanation is that new books are arriving every week and if an older book has out-of-date information or is worn out or nobody has checked it out for a few years, then it needs to be replaced to make room for the wonderful new books.)

Well, here's a great article by a Young Adult librarian at the blog Stacked explaining the Art of Weeding -- What her teens are not reading. And why.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Researching the details

Over at the YA Sisterhood: Fall into Fantasy Blog Tour, Kristin Cashore has written an excellent post about writing fantasy and actually, about questions that most writers ask themselves as they write.

You know that nonfiction writers have to do lots of research to find the facts they write about.
Did you know that even fiction and fantasy writers research the details they put into their books?  They don't just 'make everything up,' they search around to find the most logical way something could happen.

How heavy is carrying enough rope to rescue a person -- and -- can you wrap that much rope around yourself to hide the fact that you are carrying rope?
How do you disguise a boat you want to use to sneak up on people -- to make the boat invisible? Should it involve mirrors?

Just check out how Kristin Cashore solved these problems for her book, Bitterblue.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nonfiction Monday

Just a note reminding you that Nonfiction Monday is over at Shelf-Employed this week, and she starts it off with a time-travel book.
So step into the Way-Back machine and find yourself visiting the American Colonies before the War for Independence:  Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Time to nominate your favorite books for the CYBIL Awards

It's that time of year again! 
The public nomination period for this year's CYBIL Awards (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, now in their 8th year) is now through Oct 15th. You may nominate one book in each of the many categories.

How the Cybils work:

Any children's or YA book published in the U.S. between 10/15/2012 and 10/15/2013 (first U.S. publication only, not reprints) is eligible for nomination. This includes self-published books. Click on this link for the Cybils nomination site to find where to nominate books.

First-round panelists will read ALL nominated books and compile a shortlist in each category. These shortlists are valuable tools for librarians and parents. (You may view past shortlists on the Cybils website.)

In January, second-round panelists will choose one winner from the shortlisted books in each category.

Since all Cybils judges are bloggers, there will be many reviews and social media discussion of nominated books along the way. That's why just being nominated can be a boost to your book: you know a team of bloggers will be reading it!

After the Oct 15 deadline, there will be a small window of time during which authors and publishers may nominate their own books.

What are your favorite 2013 books? (Or late 2012.) 

Don't be shy!
 Let's get those books in front of these smart, experienced readers' eyes!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kelly's Curiosities are LIVE

Oh my, here's a Sunday Treat for you.
Just keep checking out Kelly's Curiosities -- online videos where Kelly Milner Halls talks about amazing, weird subjects.  This time she talks about a Pig that Saves Lives, and calls it, Lulu the Hero Pig.

Her first video is -- Is that a space rock in your gold medal?
Oh my. Did you know that Russia is putting pieces of that meteorite that exploded over their land last year into the 2014 Olympic Medals? Check it out.

There's a new one now, all about Dinosaur Poop.
All of Kelly's videos now can be found on one page -- here.

Evidently MSN knew about her and her books and asked her to do the project.  She compiled a list of 25 possible "weird" subjects and they decided which ten they wanted first. She wrote the scripts and then, in one intense day, they came to her house and filmed them. She was allocated a limited amount of time -- under three minutes -- but was amazed to discover how much you could say in that short time.
And, of course being Kelly, she had lots of fun doing them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Common Core State Standards Explained

Confused about the Common Core?
Having trouble reading the Standards?  Not surprisingly, these were written by educators for educators.

Here's a translation by writer, Barbara Kerley, explaining on the I.N.K blog (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) just what this is all about.
There are ten big standards, The Anchor Standards for Reading.

How nice to discover that we writers are already fulfilling most of these standards in our books.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nonfiction Monday

Check out the I.N.K blog (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids).
Check it out every day this month.
Because this month they are featuring life-changing nonfiction and how it influenced them.
See if they talk about some of YOUR favorite childhood books.

The Nonfiction Monday roundup is being featured today at Stacking Books.
Go check it out, as well.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time Management and Mind Management

Here's a couple of links I found interesting today --

Like Sharon Darrow, I also grew up with the motto -- when you begin a project, you need to complete it before going on to another project.  But her husband's philosophy sounds so much more workable; a much better way to manage your time and energy.  She calls it S.W.E. P.T.

On another note -- Is your memory disappearing?  Has using GOOGLE destroyed people's ability to remember things?  Interesting thoughts over at Slate.com today.

And, just for your laugh of the day, click here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Making a Picture Book

Why are picture books thirty-two pages?  Why not seventeen? or thirty-six?  It's all because of how they are printed.  The Writer's Rumpus blog has an article showing exactly why you have to write short for a picture book.  Click on over and see how it's done.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Single space or Double space? Which are you?

Now, just call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I have to confess something.

Event though I've been told that the new rule is to single-space everything you type (keyboard?), my fingers don't always remember.  I was taught on a typewriter, where the rule was to double-space between sentences and after colons, because it made it easier to read. And now my manuscripts seem to be a combination of both, depending on how fast I'm typing and whether my fingers remember to single space or not.

I also thought that the reason publishers were now requesting single space was because they could save money and print books with less pages that way.

It turns out that the single-space rule isn't that firm -- there still is some discussion about it.
Check out these articles and blog posts:

Why two spaces after a period isn't wrong on a website called Heraclitean River.
The Punctuation Conundrum on Kathryn Gagalione's blog, Hers for the Reading.

and from the MLA rulemakers, themselves :

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday the 13th -- Sting Rays at the Beach

Friday the 13th came on a Friday this year, and I have to say that nothing happened.
Nothing bad, that is.

Since I'm in a break between Packets for college (Packet 2 is in my advisor's hands and I get this breather room before she sends it back and I have to attack revisions, again), I took a group of teens to the beach right after school on Friday.

Since it was high tide, I was worried that there would be little or no beach to set down our stuff. Although the water licked the rocks at the beach entrance, we managed to find our way down to sand further along.  The girls grabbed their boogie boards (short surf boards made of foam, not wood like the expensive ones), and took off while I settled in my chair to read my book -- which wasn't there!  I had forgot to pack it.

So, I walked the beach, instead.
A little while later, while the girls were digging holes and building sand castles (they never outgrow that), the lifeguard jeep came by, warning people about the sting rays.  "Be sure to keep your feet on the bottom at all times - and shuffle your feet to let them know you are coming!"

(And now you know why I walked along the edge of the surf in my bathing suit, instead of going into the water.)

The girls had a grand time -- and nobody on the beach was stung by sting rays, so that's why I can say with confidence that nothing happened.

After the beach, the girls met up with several other girls to have a study party and sleepover.
My teen insists that she has ALL her homework done, now.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Trends from Scholastic

I would inbed this video into my blog, if I only knew how.

Since I don't -- here's a link to the Picture Book Party blog that has a video where the wonderful David Allender talks about the ten most popular trends in books from Scholastic Press this year.  I've read some of the books he mentions, and they are great.

This is the sort of thing that Scholastic offers at the American Library Association is one of my favorite things to attend.  Now, with the invention of YouTube, everyone can see/ hear the publishers book offerings.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Nonfiction Monday

Every Monday, bloggers in the KidLitosphere (yes, that is a word -- not only a word but it's a whole group gathered together on YahooGroups to discuss blogging about children's literature) hold an event called Nonfiction Monday.

ON this day readers of children's nonfiction, parents and teachers and whomever, can read reviews of new children's nonfiction books simply by following the links on the Nonfiction Monday blog post.

Today, Nonfiction Monday is here.
As the day progresses, more and more links will be posted here, so do keep checking back (or come back on Tuesday).

The first link is to NC Teacher Stuff where Jeff Barger has examined Mozart: the Boy who Changed the World with his Music. This book was written by Marcus Weeks and published by National Geographic Kids, 2013.  (It certainly looks like a National Geographic book, what with that yellow border and all.)

Reshama Deshmukh at the Stacking Books blog is featuring What Charlie Heard by Mordicai Gerstein. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers in 2002. She saw it at the library and her children demanded they bring it home -- again.

Razia's Ray of Hope by Elizabeth Suneby, was published by Kids Can Press just a few days ago -- September 1, 2013! And the blog, Perogies & Goyoza has already reviewed it. It's about a girl's struggle to get educated in Afghanistan.

For different ways to look at Albert Einstein, click on over to The Swimmer Writer. The first book considered is On a Beam of Light: A story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, published by Chronicle Books, 2013.  The second is Albert Einstein: Brilliant Scientist by Amanda Tourville, published by Magic Wagon Books, a division of ABDO Publishing, 2013.

Sue Heavenrich over at Sally's Bookshelf wants you to sharpen your observation skills and learn about ecosystems with  Hide-and-Seek Science: Animal Camouflage by Emma Stevenson, published by Holiday House, 2013.

There's a craft book at the Jean Little Library called Fun With Nature by Annalees Lin, published by Windmill books, 2013.

And over at Randomly Reading,  Alex has featured a picture book for older readers about the rescue and rehabilitation of a Chinese Moon Bear named Jasper:   Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson and Mark Bekoff, published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2013.

Anastasia Suen talks about Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scene by Kevin Sylvester, published by Annick Press, at her Booktalking blog.

For those interested in STEM, Roberta looks at Hi-Tech Clothes by Richard Spilsbury, published by Heinemann, 2013 at the Wrapped in Foil blog.

Ha!  Now here's a book that I've had requests for -- over at Check It Out you'll find Electrical Wizard, How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World, by Elizabeth Rusch, published by Candlewick Press, 2013.

There's a bit of excitement over at The Booklist blog, Bookends. Cyndy and Lynn are checking out The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spys and Survivors Captured the World's most Notorious Nazi, by Neil Bascomb, published by Scholastic, 2013. Lynn says it has all the breathless suspense of a best selling spy thriller, and yet it's all true. They even help you make the Common Core connections with this book.

Tammy at the Apples with Many Seeds blog reviews the beautiful handmade book from India, Waterlife by Rambharos Jha, published by Tara Books, 2012.

Zooborns: the Next Generation -- Newer, Cuter, More Exotic Animals from the World's Zoos and Aquariums , by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland, published by Simon & Schuster, 2012 is discussed at SonderBooks blog -- an incredibly cute kid-pleaser.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Why you need to belong to your professional writer's organization

Each serious profession has their own professional organization -- a group that most all serious members of that group belong to in order to be considered seriously dedicated to their job.

Librarians have a professional organization called The American Library Association. And there are local groups at the state level. Both hold conventions to aid in the continuing education of the group.

Chemists have them, engineers have them, teachers have them.

And so do writers.
If you are seriously determined to be a writer, to become a better writer, you join your professional organization.  And the professional organization of Children's Book Writers is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (because both kinds of artist are necessary to create these books), also known as the SCBWI.

Here's one person's ODE to the SCBWI -- 15 reasons why I Love the SCBWI, written by Joanna Marple over on her blog, Miss Marple's Musings.

Follow the connections there if you too are interesting in being considered a professional writer.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another way scammers are taking money from aspiring writers

Check out this new way a so-called publisher is taking advantage of people on the Let's Get Visible blog.

A word to the wise -- a true publisher will NOT charge you to come sign at a book fair or convention.  They might not pay your expenses, but they will offer you a free time to sign.

Considering that renting a table at book fairs is usually $1,000, charging their "authors" almost $4,000 just for the right to sit there for an hour is outrageous.  The author would have done better to have rented the table themselves.

Sometimes writer's organizations will rent a table at these events - or even at national librarian events and will charge their members about $100 to offset the expense of the table.  Now, these events are worth this charge -- a small charge compared to the huge amount that scam "publishers" are making off of their poor, deluded captive writers.

Do the math, people.  There's no way you'll make a profit paying the publisher huge sums of money.
Remember the writer's motto -- Money flows to the writer from the publisher / NOT from the writer to the publisher.

Will I be signing at book fairs and librarian conventions for my next book?  Certainly I will.  AND the only expense I'll be paying will be travel expense.  The publisher will pay my entrance fee as well as theirs ,and will rent the table, and will supply the copies of my books for me to sign.

Do your research and don't get involved with these scam/ so-called-publishers.  They're out to get YOUR money.   (Do read the comments of this article as well.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First day of school

Today was the first day of school for the Middle Schoolers in the San Dieguito School District of San Diego, CA.
Such a change from last year, when my 7th grader was new to California. Now she's beginning 8th grade, her last year in middle school.

-- She not only set her alarm, but SHE GOT UP. (granted, it was after the second alarm -- she sets four alarms -- but she did get up.)
-- She had set out her clothing the night before and, although she couldn't find her favorite cardigan sweater, it was a great outfit. Her hair looked good, too.
-- Ate breakfast and took her vitamins.
-- Yelled at me to get going because she wanted to be there by 7:45.  (Actually, school begins at 8:30, but she was planning to meet friends and pick up their registration materials together and...)
-- So we took off for school.
-- Naturally being this early, the traffic up the school hill flowed nicely and we were able to find a parking place.  I needed to take her inhaler plus permissions to take medicine in school to the nurse, so we got out of the car, together.
-- Which was the last time we did anything together.  Although we could see her group of friends waiting in front of the school, she kissed me good-bye and took off in another direction, reaching the sidewalk in front of the school about 20 feet from her friends so that their heads were turned toward her as she came up and greeted them, and NOT toward me.  Ah.  This independent soul was making sure that there was no way she would be embarrassed by a parent walking her to school. Much squealing and screaming as they hugged and greeted each other. (as if they hadn't seen each other all summer, instead of the actual fact that they'd been together all last week and weekend.)
--They were completely oblivious as I passed behind them and entered the school office.

First Day of School off to a successful start.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Exhibit of Golden Books at Smithsonian

Are you a fan of Golden Books?
Yes, those inexpensive books with the 'golden' spine -- the spine that has NO title listed on it, which makes it difficult for adults to find The Pokey Little Puppy or the Golden Egg Book on the bookshelf when the kids want you to read it to them, again. (and again, and again)

Evidently, there's an exhibit about them at the Smithsonian right now, and you can get a peek at it by clicking on the link.

Seeing all those familiar titles of Golden books made me rush downstairs to see how many of my husband’s collection actually made it to our new home in California.  His parents had bought them for him as a child; we read them to our children; and now our grandchildren are enjoying them.

Ah, Here’s my very favorite Little Golden Book – The Saggy Baggy Elephant.
And my granddaughter’s favorite – Tootle (the train engine who would NOT stay on the tracks.  And Bunny’s New Shoes, and Time for Bed, and Frosty the Snowman. (and many more.)  I have a new copy of The Golden Egg book that I got when Marcus spoke at the American Library Association about Golden’s 50 year celebration.

I remember my husband telling us how thrilled he was when he discovered the bandaids that came with his Dr. Dan the Bandage Man book.

In addition, when I retired from being a children’s librarian in a public library system in Maryland, the Children’s Librarian’s group gave me Leonard Marcus’s book about the history of Golden Books – Golden Legacy, How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way. Leafing through it is like a trip back in time.

So, What's your favorite Golden Book?
Tell us about it in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What is Talent?

If you're a writer or want to be a writer, you've gotta bookmark author and writing instructor, Marion Dane Bauer's blog.

Today she talks about talent -- what is it? Who has it? Who doesn't? And can it be developed if you work at it?

Ah -- Author Janni Simner also talks about talent on her blog, Desert Dispatches, today.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is a small press worth your time?

Interesting article over at r/YA writers about small presses called RANT: It's not a scam...but it's not good, either.
This article is talking about tiny, tiny presses who probably won't do a good job with your book.  So bad that it would have been better to have self-published. (and you know I'm not an advocate of self-publishing.)
Something to ponder as you think about where to submit your book manuscript.

Oh, and on another note -- Here's one person's expense when she self-published, just to give you and idea of the money you have to provide when you take that route. (I don't see her name on this post, sorry.  And I know nothing about this website, so I'm not recommending it, just pointing out these statistics.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Even more letters from an editor

Perhaps I should just call this series of posts -- Ursula Nordstrom 1, and 2, and 3, and etc.

I agree with several comments I've had on Face book -- that we'd love to have had an editor like that. Such letters of encouragement.  Such letters begging the authors and illustrators to work harder/ send her more, more, more.  Even letters asking them to come visit her.

Any editor I've suggested visiting, simply because I'm a visual person and wanted to be able to visualize the building they worked in, quickly told me that they'd be out of town the days I'd be in town. Ooo-Kay.

These days, we get NO answers/ No letters from editors, because editors read our submissions on their eReaders and simply delete and go on to the next one, leaving us hanging, wondering if they ever received our stuff at all.
Wondering if we should give up on Them and go ahead and submit elsewhere.
Just wondering, wondering, wondering.
(Or we get no answers because they were trying to decide/ took it to committee and it was shot down/ or forgot about it while they got excited about someone else's manuscript.)

I wish I had started writing sooner, while she was still alive.
I wish I had had an editor like Ursula Nordstrom.
Don't you?

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Letters from an Editor

So, I continue to read Dear Genius, the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus and I come upon this series of letters:

To Crosby Bonsall     December 14, 1965
Dear Crosby,
Where is the book?

To Crosby Bonsall     December 15, 1965
Dear Crosby,
Ou est le livre?

To Crosby Bonsall     December 16, 1965
Dear Crosby,
Donde esta el libro?

To Crosby Bonsall     December 17, 1965
Dear Crosby,
Wo is der buch?

(Il libro, dov'e?

To Crosby Bonsall     December 21, 1965
Dear Crosby,

(What book does Ursula want from Bonsall?  The Case of the Dumb Bells, an I Can Read book by Crosby Bonsall which was finally published in 1966)

Hmm, this reminds me of a saying I've heard -- "I love deadlines.  I love the sound of them as they wooosh by."

And for those who love nonfiction -- Nonfiction Monday is at Prose and Kahn today. Click on over.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Letters from an editor

So, I'm reading Dear Genius, the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus and mumbling to myself, "Why don't editors write letters like these any more. There she is, practically begging authors to send her stuff."

And the letters of encouragement she sends.  WOW.

And then I hit this letter -- and burst out laughing.

To Hilary Knight,  September 18, 1964.
    I hesitate to worry you, but I thought I should tell you that some enemy of yours is writing me very angry letters, and signing your name to them.
Have a good week.

   ==  ==  ==  ==  ==
The footnote (you gotta read every footnote in this book as well) explains that there had been a series of delays about the publication of a book and tempers were getting a little frayed all around.  Marcus does NOT give us the letter from Hilary Knight that inspired this response but it sounds like it had been a letter we are cautioned to never ever send to editors nowadays for fear of offending them.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New warning from the Writer Beware blog

The Writer Beware blog is required reading for anyone wishing to truly be published.

Here is their warning about new ways the sharks are eating up people who want to be published.

(note, NO legit publishers ask authors to pay for ANY of the publishing process. Money flows TO the author, not away from.) On the other hand, is the self-publishing model where you do the work and you have control.

These are the sharks who wait in the gap between those two publishing models, with their tooth-infested mouth open, waiting to take money from the unwary.

Be warned.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to write -- Advice from Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) had this to say about the writing process when he discussed writing the very first Beginning Reader -- The Cat in the Hat.
I spent half a year working [on this limited word story].

When I came up, I solved my problem by writing "The Cat in the Hat." How I did this is no trade secret. The method I used is the same method you use when you sit down to make apple stroodle without stroodles.

You forget all about time. You go to work with what you have! You take your limited, uninteresting ingredients (in my case 223 words) and day and night, month after month, you mix them up into thousands of different combinations. You bake a batch. You taste it. Then you hurl it out of the window. Until finally one night, when it is darkest just before down, a plausible stroodle-less stroodle begins to take shape before your eyes!

Since "The Cat" I've been trying to invent some easier method.  But I am afraid the above procedure will always be par for the course. At least it will be just as long as the course is laid out on a word list. (New York Times Book Review, November 17, 1957, Quoted in the book by Caroline M. Smith,  Dr. Seuss The Cat Behind the Hat, revised edition. Chicago: Chaseart Companies, 2012.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SCBWI Annual Conference

If you missed the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators annual conference (they now call it the International Conference, recognizing that a lot of writers come from Canada, and other countries), then you can hop on over to the wonderful Lisa Yee's wonderful blog to see pictures. (She calls this entry, Where authors and agents and editors collide.

She also has a link to the official SCBWI conference blog where you can read summaries of ALL of the workshops and events -- almost like you had been there.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

California is different

I've been working on a list of things that are different here in southern California from my old homestead in Maryland.

One of the most outstanding differences is the weather.
Besides the fact that there's no snow here (yea!), oftentimes the hot and cold spots seem to be reversed.

For example.
In Maryland, we go to the mountains (Appalachians -- only 3,000 to 4, 000 feet high) to get cool. When we go to the beach (down to the Ocean), we know it's going to be hot, hot, hot. That we'll have to walk across a good bit of very hot sand in order to reach the warm-ish ocean to swim.  Warm-ish because the Gulf Stream in the ocean sweeps up from the tropics to warm our coast.

In southern California -- it's the opposite.
By the beach, where I live, it's cool.  We've been in the 60s all May, June, and July while the east coast warmed up to the 90s and higher.  Yes, the sun is stronger and we have to wear hats to protect our skin from its rays, but that means it's only warm while the sun shines.  But we have clouds (the marine layer) every morning and evening, so that warmish feeling doesn't stick around very long.

Where can we go to get warm?  To the mountains, of course.
Take yesterday, for example.  Temps here by the beach were in the 60s. Further inland, 70s to 80s.  In the mountains (6,000 - 7,000 feet high) it was in the 90s! And to the east of the mountain is desert where it was 106 degrees.

So, Californians come to the beach for cool weather.  Go Figure.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Writing humor

I love humor.  I love books that are funny.
You too?
Then you've gotta click on over to the El Space blog and read this interview with funny writer, Shelby Rosiak.
The first part is here  and the second part is here.

A word of warning, don't hit yourself over the head with a rubber chicken.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July Carnival of Children's Literature

is up.

Click on over to the Prose and Kahn blog to see what children's books other bloggers talked about this month.  You might find a great book to read.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Discovering feelings to write about

If you clicked on through to Lisa Papademetriou's web page yesterday, you probably discovered it led first to her blog and you've probably already read her entry about driving in a thunderstorm. She was another third semester student who lived in Martin House with me during our residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

This is an all-too-true tale about the feelings that overcome you when hit by an impossible-to-see-through storm while driving.  You can't stop because of the fear that cars behind you can't see you and will crash into you.  You can't even see the side of the road in order to pull over. You just drive, hoping nothing bad happens.  Lisa, being an excellent writer, decides to remember all of her sensations so she can use it in her next story. Do you find yourself thinking this, too?

Side note -- meanwhile, the rest of the class who did not leave directly after graduation but planned to leave the next day from Residency, were at a restaurant in Montpelier.  Half of them walked there and back and there was no sign of rain at all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to college

In case you were wondering where I've been/ why there have been no posts for two weeks, I've gone back to Vermont College of Fine Arts to work on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and was in Vermont at the two week residency there.  This is a low residency course where we attend lectures from 8:30 in the morning to dinnertime and Readings in the evenings.  Then go home to write, write, write for 5 months.

Now, you're probably thinking, Hey. She's retired.  She's a published writer.  Why the heck is she going back to college to learn how to write?

Well, like most of the people taking this course, I want to learn to write better.  At least half of the third semester class -- my current classmates -- are already published, including one of my favorite writers, Lisa Papademetriou.  Look her up on Facebook (link here = Lisa Papademetriou) or her website.  

So, how was my college adventure?
It was a wonderful two week residency. (all the rest of the course is done at home with me in email contact with my Advisor and responsible for turning in 5 packets of work.  The first packet?  A draft of my Critical Thesis.  (yikes!)

Well, the weather wasn't the usual balmy Vermont weather.  It was cold the first week and I found myself wearing practically everything I brought to keep warm in the evenings. (I now live in Southern California.)  Then the weather flip-flopped and it became close to 90 degrees with hazy, hot, and humidity.  Ack!  The same weather we used to have when we lived in the Baltimore, Maryland area.  Hot and sticky.  Yuck.

I stayed in Martin House with a great group of third semester students and was able to participate when they revealed their class name -- Allies in Wonderland -- where we all dressed up representing different children's books.  I was Professor Minerva McGonagall, complete with a feather in my witch's hat.  (wearing my daughter's college graduation gown plus that wonderful Professor McGonagall hat)

One of the lectures so inspired my friend Jean Gralley that she skipped lunch and spent the afternoon in her room above mine, writing, writing, writing.

Being a third semester student (there are four semesters to this course), I spent a lot of time in the thesis room, reading and deciding what to request the administration to send to me to print out at home.

Now I'm home and busy doing research and playing around with the molding of my thesis.  More about that later.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Setting up a story

Looky, Looky!
Writer Barbara O'Conner has done a great two-part post about how to begin your story -- with examples -- on her blog, Greetings From Nowhere.

It was a setup (part 1)
It was a setup (part 2)

Friday, July 5, 2013

75th Anniversary of the Caldecott Award

Here's a link to an article in the Horn Book Magazine about the celebration held last week in Chicago for the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott Award for best illustrated book of the year(s).

I went to something similar -- a celebration of picture book artists -- some years ago at ALA and learned a lot.  This one sounds as if it was even more fantastic.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

I hope you will be able to find fireworks on display somewhere near you.

(added later)
Wonderful fireworks, which we saw for free with no hassles by walking a quarter mile to the edge of High Bluff with 13-year-old granddaughter, two-year old grandson and daughter Jennifer Lawrence and her husband, Michael. 
While we were watching them, the clouds gradually lowered covering the top half of the higher explosions. Weird. 
Our view included not only those fireworks at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, but four other productions on beaches north of us, along with reflections of flashes from a display to our right, further up the San Dieguito valley.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Things you need to know about Agents

Although this blog is written by a group of agents for mostly adult books, it's still chock full of good info about working with agents and what to expect.  Click on over to the Books & Such Literary Agency blog.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The American Library Association Meeting is this weekend!

This weekend publishers and librarians are converging in Chicago to celebrate books and reading.

 There's a huge exhibits area where publishers show off their newest books, where librarians and "normal people" like authors and illustrators can browse this display along with the librarians who will be buying these books for their public. There are meetings and lectures about programming and library buildings and best practices for library administration.

 (Booksellers have their own convention in late May or early June where they hold meetings and browse the publisher's displays. It's called BEA.)

And book discussions. (at the end of the conference a list of the best books of the year will be issued, called Notable Books.)

And book celebrations.
The huge banquet for the Newbery and Caldecott winners where they get awards and give speeches.
The luncheons honoring other authors or celebrating impressive librarians.
And the exhibits.  (can you tell I love the exhibits?)

Here's a write up about this convention by an Harold Underdown written when he was an editor at Charlesbridge, giving the publisher's view of the ALA convention.

Can you tell I wish I was there?
Yup,  I wish I was there.

The 2013 Newbery Medal winners being honored Sunday evening are:

2013 Winner

The One and Only Ivan

written by Katherine Applegate, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers

2013 Honor(s)

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

by Steve Sheinkin and published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press

Splendors and Glooms

by Laura Amy Schlitz and published by Candlewick Press

Three Times Lucky

by Sheila Turnage and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

The 2013 Caldecott Medal winners being honored Sunday evening are:

This Is Not My Hat

illustrated and written by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press

2013 Honor(s)

Creepy Carrots!

illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

Extra Yarn

illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and published by Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press

One Cool Friend

illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Sleep Like a Tiger

illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company