Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Okay, We Know What To Do During The Holidays

Every year I struggle with time during the holidays. It's a situational thing. One of my very first Time Management Tuesday posts was on the December Time Suck. For the record, according to the Christmas spark book I mention in that post, we need new lights for the tree this year. That's good to know.

Holiday Time Management Strategies 

No one has time to waste reinventing the wheel between the third week in November and the first week in January, so these holiday time plans come from the Time Management Tuesday archives.

So Here's My Plan For The Rest Of This Week

I'm going to use short units of time to sprint, then use routine to get over it when I'm disappointed in what I get done.

And, yes, I did sprint this morning. A real writing sprint, not a real posting a blog post sprint.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm Still Reading About Those Incorrigible Children

I've been committed to the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Mary Rose Wood since book one, The Howling. Though I've been frustrated because it's a hardcore serial, I enjoy the historical and literary references and its Jane Eyrish nature. Maybe a kind of parody Jane.

There's a lot of sly humor in these books, but it does involve understanding some of the literary works and ideas being parodied. I  sometimes wonder if child readers appreciate all the little bits and pieces I like. For instance, I was taken with the flamboyant Russian family in The Unmapped Sea. Are they over-the-top enough that kids will find them funny even if they've never seen or read a heavy Russian drama?

I found this particular volume a little slower going than the others. That may not have been the case, if I'd been able to binge read these books. I'd pretty much forgotten what had happened in the last book, and this is, as I said earlier, a serial. There are story threads, as well as a mystery, that run from book to book.

The Incorrigible Children would have made such a wonderful binge. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much I enjoyed binge reading when I was getting started reading them or that this was going to be a serial.

Nonetheless I must continue reading, because at the end of The Unmapped Sea our intrepid heroine...  Well, let's just say I think I'll remember that when the next book comes out.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Alan Katz At The Connecticut Children's Book Fair

I saved my Alan Katz post for last, even though he was the third of the presenters I saw at the book fair last Sunday, because I had a particularly interesting experience at his event.

I had never heard of Alan until last month when I was working on the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar. He made another appearance in this state early in November. So when I saw that he'd written a middle grade book called The Day the Mustache Took Over that looked like humor, I thought, Oh, I'll do a nice thing for this author and go to his presentation and maybe write about him because I'm so incredibly nice and I can feel so good about my niceness.

Well. This guy does not need niceness from me.

He's written several books of poetry for children. His work in one of them, Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking, has been compared to Jack Prelutsky's. He has a fascinating background. He describes himself as a "print and television writer," and he's written for Rosie O'Donnell's show (parody songs and humor), animated series, awards shows, game shows, The New York Times, comic books... He sounds very comfortable moving among different types of writing.

Oh, my goodness. Six Emmy award nominations. And a Poetry Foundation bio.

Like Brian Floca, Alan showed us some of his juvenilia. In his case, it was a short story he wrote in third or fourth grade. I was mortified. That thing was good.

Alan did a very engaging presentation with fun for the kids and content for the adults. There was singing. I kid you not. And I didn't mind singing.

So I didn't know anything about this author. I went to his presentation, anyway. Had a good time. Was impressed. I'm going to look for new-to-me writers again when I'm at a book fair.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brian Floca At The Connecticut Children's Book Fair

Brian Floca is a Caldecott winning illustrator, but I'm a fan because of his nonmedal winning book, Five Trucks. Which, by the way, he mentioned in his Connecticut Book Fair talk last Sunday.

He began his presentation with a slide of his juvenelia. You know, things he'd drawn when he was a kid? I like to think that as a toddler I could have drawn ovalish figures like he did when he was that age. My guess is that our paths diverged probably around second or third grade.

Brian said that as a child, he liked to draw pictures that told stories. Just an hour or so earlier, Jane Sutcliffe talked about seeing a story in the face of Michelangelo's statue David. In both cases, we're talking about a way of looking at art. Which is pretty much all I do with art, if you didn't already pick up on that in the last paragraph.

Sandra Horning also talked about story in her presentation.  In her case, it was the inside story on her books. Brian's inside story on Five Trucks? He was early for a plane and sketched trucks while he was waiting at the airport. He quoted Jack London as saying that part of an artist's job is to go out and look for ideas. But I think some people barely have to look for them. They just see them, which I think the inspiration for Five Trucks illustrates.

Brian also talked about the importance of research for artists. Part of his research for Locomotive involved driving the route of the Transcontinental Railroad. My immediate thought was, what writing project could I get started on that would involve research like that?

Neal Shusterman Takes The Prize

This year I paid a little more attention to what was going on with the National Book Award than I usually do, posting the longlist and finalists for young people's literature.  Last night Neal Shusterman won in that category for Challenger Deep.

The news broke on Twitter as it was happening.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sandra Horning At The Connecticut Children's Book Fair

Sandra Horning, whose unique author appearances I covered last month, also presented at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair on Sunday. This was a chance to see her doing a traditional author talk, so I took it.

Sandra did what she called an "inside story" on each of her three books. Here's what was fascinating about them: The same process that goes into adult work went into her work for very young readers.

You know how the classic advice for writers is "write what you know?" Yeah, Sandra did that. With a Step Into Reading book. Not a lot of words there, folks, but knowledge of one of her interests went into it. The personal inspiration for her first picture book, The Giant Hug, is something you'd expect to hear for a novel.

I was particularly impressed with Sandra's material on her Step Into Reading book, Chicks. The page of editorial comments illustrated that these manuscripts are treated as seriously as future National Book Award contenders.

Sandra made me want to try writing one. But what about?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jane Sutcliffe At The Connecticut Children's Book Fair

Jane Sutcliffe was my original reason for attending this year's Connecticut Children's Book Fair. Jane's a member of my writing group, and I've been acquainted with her for several years through the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. As things turned out, she was a morning presenter, and hers was the first author talk I attended.

Jane talked about the original inspiration for her book Stone Giant: Michelangelo's David and How He Came to Be and how researching it led to another book, Leonardo's Monster. What was particularly interesting about Jane's presentation was her description of seeing the actual David statue in Venice and seeing in the face not just beauty, but a story.

I thought Jane was not just talking about David or her books. She was also talking about how to look at art. Her description of what was going on in David's face and how it related to David's story was amazing and will have an impact on my thinking when I'm looking at art in the future.

Speaking of David's story--I was certainly familiar with Michelangelos's statue, David. And I definitely know much of David's story...David and Goliath, King David, etc. I taught Sunday school for close to a decade and David is sort of the superhero of the Old Testament. I am embarrassed to say that I had not made the connection between the statue David and the Biblical David.

Or if I had, it never hit me the way it did when Jane showed a close up of the statue's face and described what she saw in it and how it related to the story of David and Goliath.

Jane Sutcliffe's Connecticut Children's Book Fair presentation would make a great offering at art museums with children's programs. I wonder if it couldn't be extended into an art history talk for schools, too. 

Time Management Tuesday: Got LEGOs? Seriously.

How To Use LEGOs To Manage Your Time Better describes a method for...uh...using LEGOs to manage time. Notice the author uses LEGOs with the Pomodoro Technique, meaning each of his LEGOs represents 20 minutes. But you could break your day into any units of time and assign each one a LEGO.

Will this just clutter your desk? Maybe. But maybe not. Familiar with the three learning styles, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic? Kinesthetic involves liking handling things, movement, etc., etc.? Could kinesthetic learners prefer to "handle" their time?

Many people have thousands of loose LEGOs floating around their homes. It wouldn't cost them anything to give a LEGO time management system a try.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How Great Was This Year's Connecticut Children's Book Fair?

This year's Connecticut Children's Book Fair was particularly terrific. The four author/illustrator presentations I attended yesterday were so great that I'm going to be giving them each their own blog post this week. I described the fair on Facebook as being like a writers' conference but better because it was free and the author talks only lasted thirty minutes. Also, usually at a conference there's a lot of inconsistency in the offerings. Some are much better than others. But, as I said, I saw four presenters, and they were all excellent.

A Photo Album Today

I got to the fair a little early to check out Elisha Cooper's book, Train. And, yes, that's him over to the right, signing the copy I'm giving to a family member for Christmas.

I stopped to say hello to Barbara McClintock because a couple of years ago, I heard her speak on a panel regarding women in publishing. And, of course, she's a #CTwomanwriter.

You all remember that I am an Ivy + Bean fan, right? I thought that was a good reason to say hello to that series' illustrator, Sophie Blackall.

I always see kids at this book fair, but I don't recall if they turned out for the actual author talks in the past. They certainly did this year.

More on the Connecticut Book Fair will be coming later this week.