Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Book Fair Is A FAIR

Selling apple crumble.
This morning I spent four hours at a local fair working at our church's food booth. Since today is Sunday, it was like religious observance, but different.

Evidently the church does well selling apple crumble at this event and even expected to sell out before the end of the day. Nonetheless, our shift started at nine in the morning, and there were long periods when we discussed favorite bike trails and current events. All three of us took turns going to the pig race. We saw a lot of bored looking vendors. The pierogi people across from us, for instance, didn't break a sweat all the time we were there.

People walking by.
After about three hours, I suddenly started recalling other fairs I've been to. We're not talking PTSD here. Like the pierogi people, I wasn't sweating. No heart palpitations. But I did experience a flashback to fairs and festivals where I'd been selling something, but not food. I was selling books. Mine.

Selling books.
When authors are at fairs and festivals, they've got a spot with their books, just like the vendors at traditional fairs. There can be a lot of them there. They're just sittin', by themselves, watching people walk by. Killing time. You've got your people like Tomie dePaolo who are the blooming onions of the book fair world. The rest of us are apple crumbles and pierogies.

My apple crumble buddies were great at selling the crumble, while I just handled the money. They engaged people passing by. They touted the apple crumble's good qualities. ("Home made!") We had this terrific guy with us who at one point said to someone going by, "Good stuff! I just had some!" I imagined him with me at a literary event calling out, "Good book! I just read it!"

It was around that point that I thought, Eww. This is just like selling books. I don't do this well. The realization took the joy out of the incredibly beautiful autumn fair day, let me tell you.

At least I knew my professional future wasn't dependent upon apple crumble sales. That was a relief. It was more like my immortal soul was at risk, because, as I may have mentioned earlier, I was working at a church booth.

C'etait bon.
I also knew that at the end of my shift I was going over to the French Social Club's booth for some poutine, which has never, ever been available at any book fair/festival I've worked. That would make the book selling ordeal so much more tolerable.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Two More Days To Apply To Be A Cybils Judge

The title of this post pretty much says it all. Children's lit bloggers have until Monday to apply to be a Cybils judge for this year's award. They need judges for Round 1 and Round 2.

Those of us who aren't involved in judging can nominate books when nominations open. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: Take Advantage Of September For New Starts

No, I'm not back to work. But I saw a tweet yesterday that reminded me of a TMT post I did last year at this time, when I wasn't working, either, though I was on vacation then. Of course, I couldn't resist bringing it up again. Republishing the whole thing, in fact.

I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to be blogging until next month. However, I actually read those newspapers hotels provide gratis, and I read something last week that will not keep. It is time sensitive.

First off, I'm sure you all recall that I've written here about the significance of beginnings and endings of units of time.  January, the beginning of a major unit of time, the year, is a big moment here at OC with the creation of goals and objectives.


Last week The Wall Street Journal carried an article about the end of one unit of time and the beginning of another and how that beginning has become very important. In Now Is the Real New Year, the WSJ reports that September is now "the start of the real new year." It lists masses of ways that September is now outpacing January for people making changes in their lives. And there's a couple of statements that suggest that September works better than January for doing this. "In January, postholiday exhaustion can make New Year's weight-loss resolutions feel even tougher, nutritionists say..." and 69% of respondents in a British survey "believe small improvements in September are easier to achieve than New Year's resolutions."

There's not a lot in this article explaining why this is happening. There's talk of shifting back to routines after the summer and the Jewish New Year coming in the fall. But what is going on that is so big that it blows January, the stereotypical time for changing our behavior and getting started on new projects, out of the water?

My own wild theory is that, at least here in the U.S., we have generations of being enslaved to the school year and its calendar. We're tied to it as students, ourselves, and then those of us who have children are tied to it again when they are students. Teachers are tied to it. Children's writers who do school presentations are tied to it. The school year, which begins in September, has become more meaningful than the calendar year because something truly happens when it begins. January, not so much.

So can we use this sense of a new beginning and a time to get started fresh in our work?

I can't, obviously. I'm on vacation. But maybe you can.

Friday, September 01, 2017

An Opportunity To Help Out In Texas Through Kidlit Cares

The children's literature community is conducting an online talent auction to benefit the Red Cross and Global Giving hurricane relief efforts in Texas. Author Kate Messner has done what looks like an enormous amount of work organizing this event, known as Kidlit Cares.

There are just over 200 items, such as author visits and agent and editor critiques, to bid on at the Kidlit Cares site. You can also make a donation of at least $10 to the Red Cross or Global Giving from the Kidlit Cares site before September 4th and be entered into a drawing to win a class set of Messer's new book and a thirty-minute Skype visit with her this fall.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

September Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

We have writer appearances this month at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, one of the more unique venues we've seen.

Sun., Sept. 3, Suzanne Cordatos, Connecticut Renaissance Faire, Lebanon 1:00 to 3:00 PM

Mon., Sept. 4, Carrie Firestone, Barnes & Noble, Farmington 12:00 PM

Sat., Sept. 9, Lori Sanchez, Bookclub Bookstore & More, South Windsor 10:30 AM

Sun., Sept. 10, Jessica Bayliss, Connecticut Romance Writers of America Fiction Fest 2017, Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, Norwalk 11:30 AM Check to see if registration is still open.

Tues., Sept. 12, Mike Lupica, Barnes & Noble, Westport 7:00 PM

Wed., Sept. 13, Marie Lu, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 6:30 PM          

Thurs., Sept. 14, Samantha Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5:00 PM Ticketed event.

Fri., Sept. 15, Sally Pla, Fairfield University Bookstore, Fairfield 7:00 PM

Tues., Sept. 19, E. Lockhart, Julie Buxbaum, Jennifer Smith, Kara Thomas, Ann Brashares, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 7:00 PM

 Sat., Sept. 30, Deborah Ann Davis, Connecticut Renaissance Faire, Lebanon 1:00 to 3:00 PM

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Chaos Wins, At Least For The Rest Of The Summer

My true-blue followers are aware that we have family issues this summer with elder care and a relative in the physical therapy stage of recovering from surgery. To deal with the extra work load, I pretty much dumped some of my goals for the year. Mainly generating new work, supporting and promoting diverse literature, and most of community building/general marketing/branding. The marketing effort for Saving the Planet & Stuff was already shot. I was down to just submitting work.

Well, I can't manage even that. I can't take any more of this frustration. I am not pleasant when I'm frustrated. I can't take any more being unpleasant.

So after making some submissions tomorrow morning, submissions I've been working on the three or four hours a week I've had for work the last month, I'm throwing in the towel for the rest of the summer. By "rest of the summer" I mean end of September. Additionally, except for the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, I won't be posting here until I'm back at work.

Unless something really exciting happens that I just can't pass up.

I had to take four and a half months off from work seven years ago for another elder care issue. I came back from that, so I can come back this time, too. Yes, I can!

What I should have for you when we're together again:

  • Focus training. Seriously, I found something on this. I'll try it out for you over the next couple of months.
  • A baby shower with a picture book theme. Seriously, I'm involved with giving one. I'm bringing spaghetti sliders. I'll explain in September.
  • Nanowrimo prep. Seriously, I think I'm doing Nanowrimo this year. Hahahaha. 
  • Adventures with my iPad. Seriously, I got one. I'm going to go do something with it right now.


Friday, July 28, 2017

August Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

This summer the Avon Free Public Library is again running its author panels. Additionally, the South Windsor Farmers' Market is providing a unique venue for writers.

Sat., Aug. 5, Victoria Kann, Barnes & Noble, Westport 11:00 AM 

Thurs., Aug. 10, Sarah Prager, Book Club Bookstore and More, South Windsor 6:00 PM

 Fri., Aug. 11, Carrie Firestone, Barnes & Noble, Canton 7:00 PM

Sat., Aug. 12, Maria Carvalho, Liz Delton, Donna Marie Merritt, South Windsor Farmers' Market, South Windsor 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Thurs., Aug. 17, Stacy Mozer, Gaetano J. Amato, Shawn Elizabeth George, Juliana Spink Mills, Liz Delton, and Steven Parlato, Children's and Teen Author Panel, Avon Free Public Library, Avon  6:30 PM

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: Working In Chaos

As a general rule, I find that material disorder--the kind where your stuff piles up around you, the kind where you lose your cell phone under some unopened mail on the kitchen counter, the kind where you find clothes you'd forgotten you had in the ironing or maybe that's the mending--saps my chi. It distracts me. As I've said before, "I do not deal well with mental and physical disruptions and confusion." I never suggest that homemaking has little value and that writers or anyone else can just laugh it off in order to make time for art. That kind of thinking is sure to come back to take a big old chunk out of your butt. Really. Somebody did a study that showed that very thing.


...I've been working in the bedroom for a month or two now, because my desk in the office is a mess, and who has time to deal with that? A couple of weeks ago, I had twenty or thirty minutes to work. That was it for the day. Probably that was it for the next couple of days. A couple of hours earlier, I had stripped my bed. Disorder! When I used to have a yoga sanctuary in that room, I couldn't roll out my mat if the bed wasn't made. Work? Ha!

But, remember, I had no more than 30 minutes to work. How much of it did I want to spend looking for sheets and making up a bed with them. Wouldn't I be better off, I thought, if I had such incredible concentration that I could work no matter what kind of surroundings I found myself in?

Well, you might describe my concentration as "incredible"depending on how you define the word. I can assure you that we're not talking the kind of incredible that allows you to get much done unless the stars are lined up just right. Nonetheless, I sat down at my desk, with my back to the bed, and worked.

Improving Concentration

I've been interested in improving my concentration for a long time. Self-discipline. Impulse control. Fortunately, I'm the kind of person who enjoys the journey, because I'm sure not getting to the destination.

But this summer is different. It's one thing to let your mind wander where it will when you have three or four hours a day to work. It's another when you have three or four hours a week, if you're lucky. I'm feeling a little more motivated to get some kind of power brain thing going.

So next week, and maybe the week after, I'll be focusing on focusing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

So Mrs. Bennet Has Her Fans

Years ago I read an article about Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice in which the author made the point that while Mrs. B. may be foolish, she is also correct. Her daughters will be in dire straits without husbands to provide support.

I think this is why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies works as well as it does. Finding husbands is a life-and-death proposition for the Bennet daughters. Bringing in zombies is just a higher degree of risk. Little Women and Werewolves, on the other hand, wasn't as good a mash-up. The March daughters' response to the werewolves in the story doesn't make sense in the context of Little Women world.

I'm going on about this, because there was a discussion on my Facebook wall today about an article at The Literary Hub called Jane Austen's Most Widely Mocked Character Is Also Her Most Subversive by Rachel Dunphy. It's very intriguing, putting a feminist spin on Mrs. Bennet.

I like it, but I suspect Jane Austen wouldn't have a clue what Dunphy's talking about.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Thrill Me

In Boy X by Dan Smith, young Ash wakes up in a strange place with no idea how he got there. (Yes, this is middle grade fiction, not a twenty-something documentary.) By "strange place," I mean "strange medical place." He appears to be alone there. No mother! No one else, either. He stumbles outside where he finds a girl whose father works in the facility he just left. She informs him that he is on an island in Costa Rica. And he's been there for two days. The last he knew, he was in New Jersey. So, man, what's happening?)

Within minutes an alarm goes off! Men are running! Oh, gunshots! A helicopter is shot down! And Ash can feel himself changing.

The two kids end up having to save their parents (because Ash's mom is there, after all) and pretty much the world. What makes this believable is that changing Ash is doing. Sure it's far fetched in our world, but it's what makes what's happening in the world of the book work.

A real kid thriller.