Tuesday, February 05, 2019

And We're Going Down Again

You know that joke about how when God hears you have plans, He laughs? Yeah. That's not funny.

We're fighting more eldercare fires here at Chez Gauthier, this time for two 90-somethings at once. Because we are efficient. For the sake of sanity and because I can accept reality, I'm going to ease up on blogging (and my writing group, which I was just about to start attending again after last year's elder fire) for probably a couple of weeks, maybe more. Actually, I'm probably ditching most of the objectives for this year's Goal 5  for the same amount of time.

The Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar will be up at the end of the month.

I am aware that Google+ is on its way out and that we may need to remove some buttons from this blog. We'll get to it, when we get to it.

I tried to look for some arty firefighting image to use in this post, but it was taking too long. I have some...you know...eldercare stuff to do.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

So What's Been Happening This Month, Gail?

The first month of 2019 is over. If you made goals and objectives for the year, now would be a good to check in and make sure you've been spending time working on them instead of doing something else entirely. One twelfth of the year is gone, after all. On top of that, you can make changes now if, like me, you've got something new you've started working on.

For the sake of controlling my obsessiveness, I'm only mentioning the objectives I've worked on. The others have not been dropped, they're just being saved for another month.

Goal 1. Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories. 

Objectives:
  • Have nearly finished revising His Times Or Mine essay.
  • Have read an essay or short story every day of the month.
  • Finish reading A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf I feel accomplished and smart.

Goal 2. Concentrate on submitting completed book-length projects as well as short form work. Made 7 submissions this month. Okay, 5 were part of a Twitter pitch day

Objectives:
  • Have been binge researching agents.

Goal 3. Work on the YA thriller just enough so I'll have material to take to my SCBWI writers' group.

Objectives:
  • Revised one scene to take to the group next month
  • Am reading a very good YA thriller

Goal 4. Complete a second draft of Good Women by September. Took the month of January off to let the the smoke settle, though I have continued to make a few notes.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding


Objectives:

New Goal 6. Research and create notes for a happy apocalyptic story. 

I lost a week of serious work time this past month because of retreat week. This next month is going to be shaky because we have an ill elder and a family member coming from out of state. But we're going to think in terms of working in units, not days. Yeah. That's the ticket. 

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

February Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Another slow month, but, as you can see, I did find one Valentine's Day related appearance.

Sat., Feb. 2, Mark & Sheri Dursin, River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury 3:00 PM

Sat., Feb. 9, Andrew Zimmern, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 2:00 PM

Sat., Feb. 9, Janet Lawler, R.J. Julia Wesleyan, Middletown 10:30 AM

Sat., Feb. 23, Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 2:00 PM







Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hill House...Book And Series

"cup of stars"
I have just finished watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix...for the second time. I watched it once last fall, and then asked for the book for Christmas. I finished reading it  (rereading, actually, since I'd read it in high school) the second week of January and watched the series again, looking for connections between the book and film. I'm not big on watching "reruns," certainly not so soon after watching something the first time. But Shirley Jackson wrote The Haunting of Hill House.

You all know how I feel about Shirley Jackson.

Shirley Jackson has a  horror writer reputation. Because of that, she doesn't get credit for things like the incredible elegance of her writing in The Haunting of Hill House. You can hear some of it in the TV series. Some of Steven's voice overs from his book are Jackson's actual words. While the series is very different from the book as far as action and characters are concerned, in terms of mood, it's very true to the original.

The series also picks up a multitude of bits and pieces from Jackson's book, working them into the weekly episodes that move back and forth through time, often from different characters points of view. Jackson fans like myself can have a glorious time looking for the connections.

Overlap Between Hill House The Book And Hill House The TV Series

  • The Dudleys are the only characters who appear, as is, in both the book and the series, though they have a very different story arc in each. Mr. Dudley, in particular, is quite different in terms of behavior.
  • The names of three of the major characters, Luke, Theo, and Eleanor/Nell come from the book. In the series, Eleanor's married name is Eleanor Vance, which is her name in the book. Though they are adults and unrelated in the book, they are described as beginning to feel like family. In the series, Luke, Theo, and Nell are siblings and appear as both children and adults.
  • Theo is sexually ambiguous in the book. She's a lesbian in the series.
  • Hugh Crain is the original builder of Hill House in the book. In the series, he is a major character, the father of Luke, Theo, and Nell. He is also some sort of contractor who has bought Hill House and is planning to flip it, giving him another connection to the builder Hugh Crain of the book.
  • In the series Luke, Theo, and Nell have a sister named Shirley, which is an obvious tribute to our Shirley Jackson. She is very much a caretaker in the book, the way an author is.
  • I have no idea where the name Steven, the last sibling in the series, comes from. 
  • Rooms are referred to by colors in both the book and the series.
  • In the book, Theo and Nell are in a bedroom at night screaming because of the pounding around them. The child Theo and Shirley in the series have a similar scene. As adults they're together in Shirley's funeral parlor when more pounding occurs.
  • In the series there is a scene where Theo wakes up having been holding someone's hand, but she doesn't know whose. A similar thing happened to either Theo or Nell in the book.
  • A cup of stars is referred to in both the series and the book.
  • In the book, Nell runs up a spiral staircase where someone in the past had killed herself. In the TV show, Nell hangs herself near a spiral staircase. That spiral staircase shows up a lot in the last episode.
  • A statue of a father and child appears in the book. There are statues turning up all the time in the series.
  • Eleanor dances in both the book and series.
  • There's a cold spot in both book and series.
  • A mystery dog runs through the house in both the book and series.
  • In the book, Nell experiences a rain of stones when she was young, which is why she is invited to Hill House. She has experienced a supernatural event. In the series, the mother Olivia experienced it when she was young. It's made clear throughout the series that she has some kind of supernatural thing going on, something the house evidently can plug into.
  • "Journeys end in lovers meeting" Liv says to Hugh in the last episode of the series. She's quoting Shakespeare. The line appears often in the book.
  • "I am home. I am home." Yup. Appears both places.
  • The series ends with Steven reading a line from his book, which also happens to be the last line from Shirley Jackson's book. But not quite. Jackson's line ends "and whatever walked there, walked alone." Steven's line ends "and whatever walked there, walked together."  Kind of significant, all things considered.
I am sure this is not an exhaustive list. I only watched the series twice, after all.

 About That Cup Of Stars


No, I am not so obsessed with Jackson and Hill House that I made star-shaped cookies so I could make a cup of stars, because a cup of stars appears in the book and the TV series. Come on! The cup of stars was a cup with stars painted in it. It wasn't a cup of cookies!

No, what happened was I made these little toddler star cookies, then thought, Hey, I could make a cup of stars! That's a totally different thing and makes all the sense in the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter Party

Tomorrow is Multicultural Children's Book Day, co-founded by Valerie Budayr of Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen of Pragmatic Mom. The program's mission is "to raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity" and "to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries."

As part of the event there will be a Twitter party tomorrow night from 9 PM to 10 PM EST, which you can follow using the hashtag #ReadYourWorld. You can register to win prizes.

You can also follow Multicultural Children's Book Day all day on Twitter using the hashtag #MCBD2019. For that matter, you can start following it today. There's already some activity.

Hint: If you use Tweetdeck, you can set up columns for hashtags you want to follow just for a day or two, like #ReadYourWorld and #MCBD2019. You can always delete them later. I already have my columns set up for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: Keeping Research...Or Not

Trust Me, There Was Craft Research Here
Last fall while working on an office purge, I cleared out a second binder full of general writing craft research I had done years ago. I did the other one last spring. These were nicely organized binders with section labels like "Character," "P.O.V.," and "Voice." I had both print-outs I'd made of Internet material I once liked and many pages of notes I'd made from books and magazines that didn't belong to me.

Why Discard Craft Research?


You've Forgotten You Had It. That was the case with me. The two binders were taking up prime shelf space, but I never opened them or thought about them. Some of this material had been printed and was time stamped. It went back to 2007. You know that advice you hear about throwing out clothes  you haven't worn in X amount of time? Yeah, well, 11 years is too long to keep craft research you haven't looked at.

It's Not From A Reliable Source. Some of these things came from blogs I know nothing about. In looking it over again, I question whether it was good information or just somebody's random thoughts on writing or literature. I can think randomly about writing and literature, myself. I don't have to have someone else do it for me.

It Looks Like Old Wine In A New Flask. Some of this stuff was just variations on standard information. Some different terminology, but nothing life changing.

It's Made Up Stuff For A Workshop Or Journal Article. Some of what I had was obviously workshop instructors' write-up of their workshop content. I've been to a few workshops. I've taught one and submitted proposals for others. What we're often talking here is the old wine in a new flask I just mentioned or something new for the sake of being a new workshop you can teach and get paid for. I would give you an example of a new-for-the-sake-of-new workshop proposal I submitted and then tried to sell as an article, but I'm not going to in case I'm able to use it some day.

You've Saved Notes From Craft Books You Remember You Didn't Like. I included the book title on some of these. Craft books written by academics, in particular, don't work for me. Why do I need to keep notes made on those?

It Relates To A Type Of Writing You No Longer Do.  You've moved on, so move on.

I Don't Mean To Go All Marie Kondo On You, But...

 

A disordered work environment drains your impulse control!!! No impulse control, no staying on task!

You can impose order by getting rid of some of those things of yours that are disordered. That includes craft research that doesn't help you anymore. Assuming it ever did.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Happy Birthday, Ethan Allen

Happy 271st birthday to Ethan Allen, rogue historical figure and hero of Ticonderoga. The Hero of Ticonderoga, a twentieth century Franco American girl's take on "one of the wickedest men that ever walked this guilty globe" is no longer available in print. I own the rights but haven't done anything about an e-book, so you can't read it that way, either.

However, the print book is available at many libraries.

And to celebrate E's big day, you can still see my Ethan Allen talk given at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington, Vermont.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

An Author Does Story Hour At A New Bookstore

Human children and animal babies all go to sleep. That's the entry point that makes Snuggle Down Deep by Diane Ohanesian with illustrations by Emily Bornoff work. Each section involves both some light factual material with the "snuggle down deep" repetition. The book combines nature, poetry, and...sleeping. It's a lovely book with an ecological thread.

The Event


Cookies A Work Of Art
This morning Diane Ohanesian did what could be called a master class in how to do an author story hour in a bookstore. She had an audience of close to a dozen kids from around two-years-old to maybe six or seven. Yes, she brought cookies, which made a much nicer impression than I would have expected.

Making The Story Interactive
What was really impressive, though, was the way she got control of her group with the first words she spoke. In a whisper, she asked her audience to do something and they did it.  She kept control with a terrific board kids could interact with as she was reading. She finished up with a simple art project that went over extremely well, probably because of the great box of supplies she brought with her. She had brand new packages of paper!
Treasure!

Watching Diane illustrated why new writers should take advantage of opportunities to see writers experienced with speaking and dealing with the public.

 

 

 

The Venue



Diane read at the new River Bend Bookshop in Glastonbury, Connecticut. It's a nook and cranny independent bookstore, the kind where browsers can get a sense of the intellect curating the offerings. I "have a bookstore" in Stowe, Vermont I go into once a year and walk around until something jumps off the shelf and tells me to take it home. River Bend
Children's Nook
could be that kind of place.

Of course, today I bought Snuggle Down Deep.

River Bend is hosting writers and other literary events

Thursday, January 17, 2019

An Italian Thriller For Child Readers

Time to start blogging about some of the reading I've been doing. Because otherwise I'm just talking about reading, not showing that I've read.

Okay, I found Run for Your Life by Silvana Gandolfi, translated by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, in my mail sometime last year. No idea how that happened. I don't know that it ever has before.

Silvana Gandolfi is an Italian children's writer whose work has been widely translated. According to the publisher of this translation,  Run for Your Life won the Prix Sorcieres in 2012. (I say "according to the publisher," because I can't even begin to read Italian.)

Run for Your Life deals with a child whose family is involved with the Mafia in Palermo, Sicily.  The first half of the book is an interesting back and forth between chapters involving Santino, whose father crosses his Mafia bosses and is murdered along with Santino's grandfather, and Lucio who lives with his mother and younger sister in another place. I figured out what was going on just before the big reveal, which is always satisfying. The rest of the book is a more traditional thriller.

Far more interesting is the world of the book, illustrating the intense history Palermo has had with the Mafia. This will be a unique read for American child readers being exposed to different cultures with literature.

Run for Your Life was published by Restless Books' Yonder Imprint, "devoted to bringing the wealth of great stories from around the globe to English-reading children, middle graders, and young adults." These people have published a book from the Icelandic! This could be your home for foreign books in translation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: Time To Set Up Those Bullet Journals

This month my Facebook page has been humming with people talking about setting up their bullet journals for the new year, so I thought I'd rerun a post from just last October in which I discussed my attempt to keep a bullet journal. I am still keeping a bullet-like journal with major concentration on planning by week and day, a little work with planning over the course of the year, and none at all by the month.

New page layout
Last fall I found I found a new page format to use that is far more organized, though, of course, more labor intensive. But, then, that's bullet journals for you.

Do other people suffer from bullet journal anxiety? On the last day of my reading retreat, I found myself becoming anxious because I was going home to a bullet journal page for this week that hadn't been filled out. I didn't get much reading done that day.

Oct. 16, 2018 I Break Down And Try A Bullet Journal 

I finally tried a bullet journal more than a year ago, but I've never had time to write up how things went with it.

That's not true. Of course, I had time. I chose to use my Time Management Tuesday writing time writing about other things. A family member asked about bullet journals a couple of weeks ago, which motivated me to use some time to write about the bullet journal experience now.

The first thing you have to understand about bullet journals is that they are to-do lists kept in a formal journal with items preceded by coded symbols like bullets. Thus the name. (I wanted to get that out of the way.) The to-do lists are pretty elaborate, so much so that some people supposedly keep keys of their coding system. But they're to-do lists, nonetheless. That is not to denigrate them. I am a big fan of to-do lists. But when I first heard about bullet journals, I got the impression they were some kind of magical cure-all. I found them more hard work than magical. (Remember that key for the code.) Some of the work I found hard I never did. (The table of contents and the codes, to name two.) Others I've continued to use after the trial ended.


How Bullet Journals Work


It seems to me that the most basic thing about bullet journals is that they allow you to break down your time so you can identify what you have to do and when you can find time to do it.
The Year--I still do this.

The Year. You'll start by breaking down the year. You divide a few pages in to 12 blocks, one for each month. Ten you enter what you have to do each month. You'll be updating this as time passes. I do, anyway. I don't know everything that's going to happen in September and October a the beginning of the year.

This aspect of bullet journals seems like a good idea. If you have a day job and/or family responsibilities that are going to be heavier some months than others, it's helpful to know that ahead of time. This will give you an idea of when during the year you've got your best shot at writing time. If you're a full-time writer and do things like teach at certain points of the year, you want to know that's coming up. You can block out time for revision, for working with an editor on books that are coming out, on marketing. You can commit time to new projects. You want to do NaNoWriMo? Put it in the bullet journal, and keep in mind that you'd better not plan for a lot of other things in November.

I've continued to do this kind of year-ahead planning.

The Month--I don't do this.
The Month. The next division of time is one month. You'll write out a number for each day of the upcoming month and then briefly note what you expect to be going on in your life that day.

This aspect of bullet journals also seems like a good idea, especially for part-time writers who have to contend with other kinds of work. You'll see when you have free days or at least free-ish days to work.  However, I found it to be a lot of work and gave it up after a couple of months.

Other Things You Can Do. According to this BuzzFeed article on bullet journals (language warning, in case you care about that), you can dedicate pages to things you want to keep track of. In which case, you probably would want that table of contents that I didn't bother with. I often keep track of when I exercise or how long, for instance, and I could have made a couple of pages for that. I didn't because that would be making things more complicated, and I am a simple sort.

The Day--Meh.
The Day. My understanding is that the next unit of time you'll work with in bullet journals is the day. If you're into coding, this would be a time to use that. There are codes you can use to indicate you've finished something or want to shift it to another day.

I wasn't crazy about this breakdown. The coding for one thing. All I need to know is that I have something to do, not whether the thing I have to do is an "event" or is some kind of "note" or is "scheduled." If it's on my list, I expect to have to do it, whatever it is. And once I do it, I'd rather just cross it out than have a code for "completed."

More importantly, though, I was used to breaking my day down still more. I separate my professional work that I do in forty-five minute segments, from home/life maintenance work that I try to knock off in the fifteen minute breaks between those forty-five minute segments. (You know...the unit system.)  And I don't like to pin myself down to doing a lot of things on a specific day, because if I don't get to many of them, well, how much does that stink? I think in terms of a week. Then if I don't get Monday's work done until Wednesday or Thursday, I'm still good.

I have found sites on-line that offer weekly plans for bullet journals. But they still seem to deal with a week of days.

My Weekly Yellow Pad System
The Week. I've been working with a week for years, as you can see to your right. All on one page. My work life. My personal life. Yoga. Walking and biking. After two months of trying a formal bullet journal with a monthly list and day notes, I went back to my weekly planning, but just put it in that nice black book I'd bought instead of using yellow legal pads. That's mainly because I'm cheap and had paid for thing and was out of legal pads.

So Am I Keeping A Bullet Journal Now?  

 

My first thought is no, I'm not. I can't bring myself to stick to the bullet journal format, so I'm not keeping a bullet journal.

However, in snooping around the Internet, I found some interesting sites relating to bullet journals.

My point is, there are people out there messing with the bullet journal system, making it work for them. Maybe this thing has escaped out into the wild and is mutating, mutating in any number of ways to meet any number of needs.

So maybe I am keeping a bullet journal. And maybe if you try one, you'll end up keeping one, too.