Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Here

Liz B. recently mentioned Jon & Kate (What do you mean, Jon & Kate Who?) at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, which reminded me of something I was thinking about that show recently.

I've seen many bits and pieces of J&K episodes while channel surfing or ironing clothes because it's often on all the time. (Or it used to be.) I actually know who Aunt Jodi is. I read somewhere that what originally attracted viewers to this show was that Jon and Kate were just regular people, but they seemed very sitcom like--the all-knowing wife with the bumbling husband. We enjoyed seeing reality made unreal.

Over the last couple of months the whole Jon & Kate blow-up has made me think of some of the fifties and sixties science fiction I've read at times during my checkered past. I've always felt that some of the scifi writers of that era were a little freaked out by the concept of TV. (Or maybe they just held it in contempt.) Isn't there a character at the beginning of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? who spends all her time holding some device that provides her with TV-like images? I mean all her time?

The "all Jon & Kate all the time" thing seems to me as if it could have been torn out of one of those books. You've got these two young(ish) people who have been selected out of all America to come into our living rooms. They've become more and more physically beautiful over the the course of the show. They've been "groomed" to make them more attractive to their viewing public. They've moved into a bigger and better house, which is what we all want to do, isn't it? (I must admit, I missed most of that season, only seeing a few moments while Kate was cleaning the refrigerator in her new kitchen.) They go to the places we want to go and do the things we want to do. Jon snow boards and skis. Kate writes books and gets pedicures.

Then, just as it does in scifi books, things started to go bad. The boundary between J&K and their viewing public became blurred. When are they being watched? When are they "on?" Where are the cameras? What are J&K doing? What should they do?

The cameras are everywhere. J&K should do whatever we want them to. Or, better yet, they should do whatever we don't want them to because what we really want is to hate them.

They are being chased now so that the cameras can catch one of them yelling at one of their kids or kissing a college girl or maybe kicking one of those dogs. Seriously, doesn't this sound like a book plot?

A couple of weeks ago, I thought, Gee, this is The Hunger Games. Collins isn't writing about a dystopian future. She's writing about now.

Evolution? Right In Front Of Me?

I've got to get an agent before they evolve into something else.

Link came by way of the NESCBWI listserv.

Monday, June 29, 2009

And It's Coming To A Museum Near Me!

As I was reading Picture Perfect: Why Golden Books Are Golden, which is about the artists who created the artwork for the original Golden Books, I was thinking that I hadn't reached the point in Leonard Marcus's Minders of Make-Believe at which he might talk about that subject. Then I read that not only has Marcus written a book on Golden Books (which I'd heard before, though it never really registered), he's also the co-curator of a traveling exhibit of original Golden Book artwork. So I started poking around and found that the exhibit is coming to the Eric Carle Museum this winter. I still haven't been there. According to MapQuest, it's only an hour and twenty minutes away from me. One of my biggest Christmas memories is finding an array of Golden Books spread out under the Christmas tree. They weren't wrapped, they were arranged in an artistic arch. I was somewhere between three and seven years old.

So Long As I Get Paid...

If this is the future for bookstores, I can live with it so long as there's a way to determine royalties for authors. As a reader, I like the idea of being able to walk into a bookstore and truly be able to buy what I'm looking for.

Though I would miss being able to look through the book to make sure it's what I'm looking for. Once you've received a custom-printed book, I don't imagine the store will be eager to accept a return.

I was aware that Northshire Books was doing this, but hadn't heard much about how it was working out. Maybe next January on my trek north for retreat week, I can stop in Manchester to check the Espresso Book Machine out.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


While trying to catch up on some back listserv reading, I came upon a number of juicy bits.

I really don't know what to make of James Frey Collaborating on a Novel for Young Adults, First in a Series. I've never read any of Frey's books and didn't get all that emotionally involved in his past troubles. This article just seems odd to me for other reasons. The novel is being submitted anonymously, yet The New York Times is doing an article about it?If I understand this correctly, the film rights have been sold before the book has found a publisher. If it doesn't find a publisher, can the people who have the film rights simply arrange for a screen play and forget about the book stage?

I started shouting, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and pounding my desk at the end of Buffy vs. Edward.

I think the actor playing Kyle in the film adaptation of Beastly looks too old for the part.

Julius Lester is also a photographer.

I've always wondered if I would have liked Catcher in the Rye more if I'd read it when I was a teenager instead of when I was thirty-something. Given when I was a teenager, maybe I would have. But I certainly have great sympathy with those teen readers today whose attitude is Get a Life, Holden Caulfield. Does this mean that we'll be seeing fewer Catcher in the Rye wannabes being published? Please?

I'm nowhere near done with my listserv reading, but it's time to call it a day. As with most activities in my life, I'll just have to accept that I'll never get to it all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Lost Week

Because I'm incredibly insensitive, I spent a little time working at home on Monday while a family member was going under the knife. (Come on. It wasn't brain surgery, and one of our nicer relatives was at the hospital with her.) Otherwise, I've been sharing post-surgical elder care this past week, including an overnight last night. I didn't get any other work done, but during those moments when I wasn't becoming incredibly friendly with a large number of residents of a senior housing complex, I did manage to do a little reading.

Among the books I completed was this year's Siebert Medal winner, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, which was written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The images are eye-poppingly beautiful, and the unnamed first-person narrator who sounds like a player from the era makes this historical work very readable. And the book uses endnotes! I can never say enough about how much I love nonfiction that includes citations.

I am not a fan of baseball. Reading about it is one hundred percent better, as far as I'm concerned, when there is a historical element.

This book is deserving of every good thing that's been written about it. I do wonder, though, as I always wonder when I read these beautiful nonfiction books published in a picture-book format, who will read them? The text is way too sophisticated and lengthy for traditional picture book readers. We Are The Ship's publisher is marketing it to ages 8 and up, but will, say, intermediate and middle school teachers accept their students reading and reporting on it? Will the adults who might be very taken with it find it in the kids' section of libraries and bookstores?

Do books like this find their readers?

A exhibit of the original art work for We Are The Ship will arrive at the Eric Carle Museum in 2012. I hope I remember.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh. So That's What I've Been Doing Wrong

You know, if I'm doing a book signing, I figure if I put on make-up and earrings and made sure I've got a good pen, I've gone over the top for preparation. Crowe's Nest has a post up about Grace Lin baking and decorating 80 cupcakes, putting them in boxes and then putting the boxes in goody bags with some homemade paper flowers, a poster, and an activity sheet all to give out at a signing...where she also did a slide show.

Don't those paper flowers look like the things we all made out of tissues and bobby pins when we were in grade school? Because I think I could do that. Though it wouldn't relate in any way to anything I've ever written.

Someone Else's Thoughts About My Old Enemy

I liked this Revision Checklist from Nathan Bransford because some of the items deal with revising plot, the bane of my existence.

Also, Nathan has created what looks like a table of contents for his blog. That must have been so much work.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Little Cosmetic Work

My computer guy, who is much faster and more efficient than I could ever dream of being, has finished some cosmetic work on my website. The content is the same, we just wanted a cleaner, crisper look.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Don't Have To Go Off World To Find A SciFi City

Shared Worlds lists the Top Five Real Fantasy/SF Cities. Reykavik, Iceland made the list, which is probably a good call. They've got elves there, after all.

Link from Blog of a Bookslut.

It Was Not Meant To Be

Well, I finally got back to the library today, where I spent time I couldn't spare going through the leftovers from Saturday's book sale looking for that Helen Dunmore adult novel I decided I wanted a day too late. I did pick up Paula Fox's memoir Borrowed Finery, though, which got a lot of attention when it was published in 2001 or thereabouts.

Take a look at this backflap author bio from Borrowed Finery: "Paula Fox is the author of the novels Poor George, Desperate Characters, The Western Coast, The Widow's Children, A Servant's Tale, and The God of Nightmares. She is also a Newbery Award-winning children's book author. She lives in Brooklyn, New York."

Wow. That children's book writing she's done sure sounds like a professional embarrassment, doesn't it? Yet at the front of the book, where the publisher lists her other writings, we learn that at that point she'd written nearly four times as many children's books as she had "novels."

I don't know when I'll get to reading this thing. It will go into that basket or onto one of those shelves I keep for books I've bought to read someday. I do take comfort in the knowledge that if civilization falls, I have a stash of books to read by firelight.

Training Report: Running errands all day, and tomorrow will be more of the same. I have decided to change the name of the street in the 365 Story Project, though. And I believe I have a little bit of a structure in mind now. I will be sticking to the 365 Story format, since I now have follower urging me on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yeah, That's Going To Happen

Read Roger has a discussion going about blogs helping to create book buzz. In years past, I used to talk about blogs letting the traditional review journals do their traditional work of reviewing new books. Blogs, I insisted, could create a new reason for existence for themselves and fill a need by focusing on older books. (Which, these days, can mean last winter's.) Blogs could do something different and unique by reminding readers of books they'd missed, books that had value, books that were overlooked. Instead of trying to do what review journals do, this different medium could try to do something different.

Read the situation that inspired Roger's post and the comments he received. Does it sound to anyone else as if the blogosphere has been sucked right into the "big opening" that the publishing industry seems committed to right now? That the decision is made, a large portion of the blogosphere is supporting the status quo and will chat up the new until a new new comes along?

You may tell me if I'm being jaded and harsh.

Not Everyone Loved Him

A piece of The Hartford Courant floated around my living room for nearly a month, which is the kind of thing that happens at Chez Gauthier all too often. I wasn't even saving it for Why Saving Twain's House Was A Tough Sell, but for something else entirely. But when I finally noticed and read the article about early attempts to save Twain's Hartford home, I was well rewarded with quotes like the following from an early twentieth century city resident commenting on the lack of enthusiasm for the project: "A considerable percentage of the persons who might contribute neither particularly liked Mr. Clemens, nor approved certain of his books."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Am Loving This Book

That's not something you hear me say very often, is it? I am loving Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature by Leonard S. Marcus. (I heard him speak last fall. That was good, too.) I'm not whipping through the book because I'm reading two other nonfiction books right now and shifting among them. But Minders of Make-Believe is my favorite. So many facts! So well organized! I loved the nineteenth century chapters because the first one covered the Puritans (and, coincidentally, I also love the P. People) and the second contained some of the same material I read about in The Last Dickens. Marcus even talks about the Boston publishers who appeared in The Last Dickens. The number of women writers who held editorial positions with children's magazines post Civil War was interesting, too. Last night I read about how the Newbery got started. Soooo interesting. It's been a while since I've read a straight history book this good. Training Report: Sigh. Another day spent doing good works, if you can believe it. Well, mostly. As I was driving from place to place this morning, I realized that the older brother in the 365 Story Project has acne. And a couple of details for the very first day came to me. And I wondered if the 365 Story Project could turn into a traditional novel. Should it? Should it be like a traditonal novel but different?

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Bad Marketing Karma

Just two months ago I spent several days starting another blog over at Amazon. I found it rather time consuming, but I did it, and the new little blog appeared at four of my book pages.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice from Amazon saying that it had some new author page service that would house blogs. Go sign up. So I did and moved the new blog over there. Which is where it sits--on my new author page where no one sees it. It no longer appears on my book pages.

This is the story of my marketing life.

Training Report: I believe I've finished the essay I've been working on. I haven't been moving ahead with the 365 Story Project because I realized last week, after doing maybe 120 story segments that I needed story arcs for each of the characters. Or many of them, anyway. I did get started on that today, though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looks As If I Missed An Opportunity

I am interested in writers who write for both children and adults. For instance, at some point I'd like to try reading one of Rick Riordan's adult novels.

So, yesterday, I'm at the library book sale. I'm feeling very fussy because one of my family members has been raising questions about why I keep taking out more books from the library when I already own a basket and two shelves full of unread books. I'm feeling a little wary about shopping for more books I know I might not read for years.

I'm also having a rather good time doing some meeting and greeting.

I stumble upon a lovely looking little book by someone named Helen Dunmore. I think, Hmmm. Is that the Helen Dunmore who wrote The Tide Knot? Because if it is, I might like to read it.

But I don't know. Spending two dollars on the thing and looking up the author afterward would not have broken the bank at Chez Gauthier. But I'd just finished reading a book from my book basket, and if I bought another right away, I wouldn't be any further ahead, would I? And to not be any further ahead and then find out that the author wasn't the Helen Dunmore I was thinking of would have been annoying to say the least. So I walk away and leave the book there.

Sure, enough, the Helen Dumore who wrote The Tide Knot, does write adult fiction. The book I passed on sounded like Your Blue-Eyed Boy, though I don't remember that cover.

The library will probably have bins of unsold books out for days to come, so I might still find it. Yeah, I should take time off from work tomorrow to go look for a two-dollar used book.

I'll let you know if I find it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm Probably Too Witchy For This

So I continue to mull over the possibility of looking for an agent. I've even started doing a little research. I keep running into all kinds of stumbling blocks, though. For instance, yesterday I decided I couldn't approach a particular agency because I didn't like its website. Then I read about an agent who, while working for a publisher, had edited two books I didn't like. I've read that one good way to hunt for agents is to select books you like and see if you can find out who represented the author. I couldn't think of any books I've liked.

I started wondering if maybe I'm not nice enough to have an agent. It really seems to me that in order to find and keep one I'll have to be a lot nicer than I'm accustomed to being and for much longer periods of time.

Finding Inspiration

In Sampling: Getting Started with a New Writing Form, Becky Levine describes a method she uses for researching a new form of writing. This was the process she developed for herself when she was a new technical writer and had to write about a product she knew little about.

One of the things I particularly like about this post is that it describes finding inspiration in a form of nonliterary writing. I love when people are able to make those sorts of connections.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Book Reviewer Raises Some Interesting Questions

Last month I mentioned that The Hartford Courant, which very rarely reviewed children's books when it had a book editor, has been doing children's book columns maybe once a month now that it doesn't. I'd been seeing columns by Nicholas Brisbane, but last week, The Courant ran a column by Mary Harris Russell, who writes For Young Readers for The Chicago Tribune. (Which has only part of last weekend's column up at its site.) The Courant and The Tribune are both owned by the Tribune Company.

I've raised the point before that the few newspaper reviewers left are going to become incredibly important if their reviews are being shopped around to more than one paper. (Presumably that's cheaper than hiring a lot of individual reviewers.) Aren't publicists and publishers going to be desperate to get their books reviewed by a columnist whose review will be carried in several papers across the country? To say nothing of authors? Is anyone else seeing a movie here about a reviewer being wined and dined and played up to? Oh! Oh! With Owen Wilson or maybe Will Ferrell! There can be some really moving bit at the end about critical integrity. And a wedding. And a dog.

But until then, let's talk about Mary Harris Russell, who probably uses "Harris" so she won't be confused with Mary Russell. In When Mary Meets Harry, an article from 2003 in an Indiana University publication, Russell, an English professor at Indiana University Northwest, has some very interesting things to say about the crossing over that's going on now between children's and adult literature. When that starts happening, does it change the definition of "children's literature?"

"That’s been a big part of the critical discussion in the past 10 or 15 years," Russell says. "Adults write the books, adults buy them—so how do you decide what’s children’s literature? Is it a matter of thematic questions? Formal questions?"

This popped out at me because I've wondered if we won't see children's literature changing as adult readers become fans. Who will children's literature be written for?

"How does the dual audience work?" Russell asks. "Does anyone write just for children anymore, or are they all working to pitch laughs at that second level?"


A good article, even if it is a few years old.

Training Report: Really spent a lot of time in my chair today, doing research and nearly finishing that essay I keep talking about. Yesterday, the essay was dreadful. Today it's not so bad.

Another Reason To Love The Internet

I swear, I was doing legitmate research when I found Literary Rejections on Display. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I should add this to my list of favorites.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Connecticut News

By way of Book Tour, I've learned that Tony Abbott (Firegirl and The Postcard) will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble in Milford, Connecticut next Tuesday at 7:00 PM. Eric Berlin, who did a blog tour and contest in April for The Potato Chip Puzzles (my computer guy entered almost every single day and won nada), will be at the same store on Monday, June 22, at 7:30 PM.

I've also recently heard (well, the publisher sent me an e-mail) about a publication here in Connecticut called The New Haven Review. According to its website, "It was founded to resuscitate the art of the book review and draw attention to Greater New Haven-area writers." We're all for book reviews and Greater New Haven-area writers here at Original Content. (I am not a Greater New Haven-area writer, though I did eat at Pepe's last year.)

At its website, The New Haven Review has what appears to be a blog maintained by a number of writers. On June 5, Alison Moncrief wrote about the New Yorker article Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing Be Taught? Alison ends her post with with some interesting questions. She says:

"Would the New Yorker publish, “Sight and Vision: Should Painting be Taught?” or “Stories upon Stories: Should Architecture be Taught?” or even “Eat Your Cake too: Should the Culinary Arts be taught?” I don’t think so. How and why is writing held to a different standard? Is it that ultimately we don’t as a nation really consider writing to be an art form? That we can’t understand that painting, buildings, and poems can all narrate humanity-just through different media?"

Personally, I think it's more likely that we as a nation consider writing to be way too arty. People see it as being too mystical to even explain, let alone teach.

"Stories upon Stories: Should Architecture be Taught"--I thought that was very clever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Catching Up With Picture Book Biographies

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in over a month when I didn't have family duties. Since in the preceding forty-eight hours I'd decided to get started on three new projects, while continuing with two I was already working on, I was most excited about having a few extra hours for work. So what did I do? I locked myself out of my house. After depositing some perishable groceries with a family member twenty minutes away, I hunkered down at the library for an hour, hoping I could do something there.

What I did was read four picture books. Two of them just happened to be picture book biographies, one of which I found far more successful than the other.

Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman with illustrations by Ross MacDonald tells the story of how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman during the Depression. It ends with Superman becoming successful. Information at the end of the book tells how Siegel and Shuster lost the rights to Superman and struggled to make a living, but the actual picture book story is one of teen misfits who create something different ("The other heroes Jerry and Joe read about were regular humans in strange places. This hero would be a stranger in a regular place.") and lasting. Siegel and Shuster actually do something.

That doesn't seem to be the case in What To Do About Alice?, a picture book biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth by Barbara Kerley (who also wrote The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins), with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham. The book covers Longworth's youth, when she was still just Alice Roosevelt (Teddy's oldest girl), and she comes off sounding like the Paris Hilton of her day. There is an over-the-top character here, but not a lot of story because from everything I've ever heard about Roosevelt Longworth, she didn't actually do anything, the way Siegel and Shuster did. In What To Do About Alice? she's much more of a celebrity, someone who's famous for being famous.

A celebrity tale just doesn't have the natural narrative arc you find in stories about real achievers.

What To Do About Alice? was named a Siebert Honor Book this year.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The End For My Old Stomping Ground

I was trying to recall the name of an author I knew through the on-line readers' community Readerville, so I thought I'd go over there to find her in one of the forums. Lo' and behold, I found that this very month Readerville is closing up shop.

I never see any references to Readerville at the blogs I frequent these days, but it was my big entree into Internet communities back at the turn of the century. I went there looking for a reading community, which I did find, but I also found writers. It was the only place where I knew any writers, and I learned a huge amount from wandering among them, or rather, their posts.

It was at Readerville that I learned about listservs and blogs. I learned a great deal there about writers and marketing, probably more than I wanted to know. Readerville was my favorite time waster back in the day. Whenever I became the least bit distracted with work, I went over to see what was happening at Readerville.

At the time I was part of Readerville, there weren't a lot of children's or YA writers there. So after I started spending a lot of time blogging and, more particularly, after a kidlit blogging community started to develop, I left Readerville to focus my attention on my own work. (Yeah, like that ever happened.)

Oddly enough, over the years I've seen a number of names from my Readerville days on YA and children's novels.

was a big help to me years ago. I'm definitely sorry to see it go, even if I was no longer part of the community. I liked knowing it was there.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Where's The Dancing Candlestick?

Last week, we were talking about fairy tales (or I was, anyway), which was far more appropriate than any of you knew because last week I also read Beastly by Alex Finn. Beastly is a modern take on Beauty and the Beast with the beast starting out as a stereotypical, handsome teen s.o.b. who is turned into a beast as punishment for being a stereotypical, handsome teen s.o.b..

Beastly is a very interesting book because it's filled with stereotypical characters, and, as I said, it's Beauty and the Beast. If you know the story--and presumably readers are expected to, since the book includes "Ever wonder what it was like for the Beast?" on the cover--you know what's going to happen. And, yet, it's an engaging read. If nothing else, you can have fun trying to figure out the fairy tale references. And while poor old Kyle, prebeast, is a stereotypically awful teen stud, he does end up getting more sympathetic treatment here than his type usually does in YA novels. Or anywhere else, for that matter. (Dairy Queen and its sequel also provides us with a more rounded teen heartbreaker.)

Someone at one of my listservs brought to our attention that Beastly is going to be a movie. Mary-Kate Olsen has joined the cast (as the witch, I've heard), as has Neil Patrick Harris (as the tutor, according to my source). Hey, we hear everything first on the kidlit listservs!

If you like these modern interpretations of fairy tales, you can check out a whole page of modern versions of Beauty and the Beast.

Training Report: Two segments! Essay work! E-mails! Research!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

While We're On The Subject Of Reviews

In the past, some of the main review journals directed their reviews toward professionals--librarians, for the most part, who were looking for information on books they might want to add to their collections. That's why some reviews included what most of us would consider spoilers. The reviews didn't spoil the books for the librarians, who couldn't possibly read all the books they needed to know about, anyway, but did give them information that helped them make purchasing decisions.

Library Journal has announced a change in its review policy. "The librarian-centric focus no longer makes sense in an electronic environment where our reviews appear in online catalogs and other resources that patrons use to find titles, place holds or make purchases, or even add their own comments. In the last few issues of LJ, we've begun to direct our assessment mainly toward the reader."

They've also introduced "a self-contained "Verdict" at the end of the review that sends the reader right to the reviewer's opinion." This "Verdict" aspect of the reviews, the Library Journal review editors believe, will make reviews more '"twitterable."' (To quote their quotation mark-emphasized word.)

So...how long has Twitter been around? Is it really so well established in our culture that it's time to be designing other media around it?

Link from the child_lit listserv.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The End of "Negative" And "Positive"

I was nearly bowled over by an idea this morning while I was in the shower. Unfortunately, it wasn't related to my writing. It was related to a discussion Melissa Wiley and I had at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. We sort of highjacked one of Liz's posts to talk about book reviews, book recommendations, book analysis, and other related topics.

At one point I mentioned that I disliked using the terms "negative" and "positive" to describe reviews. I don't believe a thoughtful discussion of a book's pros and cons is "negative." My only complaint about the use of the words "positive review" is that I think it suggests that there are also negative ones out there lurking about.

What happened this morning was that I came up with something to replace them with--analytical response and recommendation. That's it. That's all I'm going to be saying here.

Notice I'm even avoiding using the word "review." For one thing, I think it's very loaded right now. People feel too emotional about it. For another, I always worry that reviews are some special kind of writing (which I think is the case with true criticism) that I know next to nothing about. I'm much more comfortable with "response."

What A Neat Idea

Here in the United States, we wonder if teenagers will be able to read Octavian Nothing. In England, a "shadow panel" of teenagers read the Orange prize longlist and came up with its own short list and winner.

"The "shadow" panel of teenage judges was set up to help a younger audience engage with the prize."

A great idea--encouraging young people to get involved with contemporary adult literature.

This Makes Fairy Tales A Little More Interesting

Gauthiers are not fairy tale people. I can recall reading a fairy tale or two in my basal readers when I was a kid and actually liking them, and I have some twisted knowledge of Disney's versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty from the Little Golden Books I found under the Christmas tree when I was in first or second grade. But we were farmers and millworkers, Jim! We didn't do that fairy stuff.

As an adult, I can take fairy tales or leave them. What I do enjoy is hearing about obscure battles in isolated fields of study. So two articles discussing a book denying the oral tradition of fairy tales were of interest to me. You, too, may find Scholar Denies Oral Roots of Fairy Tales and From 'Once Upon a Time' to 'Happily Ever After' of interest.

The second article uses the term panto, as in "Audiences of both genders, all ages, and all classes enjoyed panto..."

I thought, Hmmm. Where have I heard that word? Then I remembered--one of the episodes from the first season of Clatterford involved the townfolks putting on a panto.

Which just goes to show, my little lads and lasses, that television is broadening, n'est-ce pas?

Training Report: Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Worked on that essay you may never see. Did one segment for the 365 Story Project, started two more, and planned a third. Plus I have another blog at Amazon, and I had to do some work over there because they've done some kind of renovation. And, finally, family matters having shifted a bit for the weekend, I have a prayer...a prayer...of being able to do a little work on Saturday or Sunday. I'm feeling as if flow is hovering very, very nearby.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some Horn Book Highlights

The kidlitosphere is full of reports on trips to BEA. I didn't go to BEA. I read the new issue of The Horn Book.

THB carried a big feature by Linda Sue Park called Still Hot: Great Food Moments in Children's Literature. There were a number of short pieces by other authors on reading and food. My favorite was the one by Peter Sis in which he talks about eating in a park with friends while reading The Three Musketeers out loud. I was taken with it because it was so totally alien to my own teenage experience. It's only a modest exaggeration to say that most of the people I knew when I was a teenager thought The Three Musketeers was a candy bar. (One I used to really like.) So reading Sis's food memoir was like reading about something that happened in a foreign country. Wait! It was something that happened in a foreign country!

Debby Dahl Edwardson's article Reading Under the Midnight Sun: Implications of Worldview had nothing to do with food, but was terrific nonetheless.

Okay, reviews. There were a number that caught my eye.

Jacqueline Davies' book Tricking the Tallyman is set in Tunbridge, Vermont in 1790. I've never been to Tunbridge, but when I was a young'un the place was famous for its World's Fair, which had a reputation for being a lot of fun. Tricking the Tallyman isn't about the fair, but I did notice it. And now you won't forget it, either, will you?

I've never read anything by Caroline B. Cooney, but her If the Witness Lied sounds interesting. Could it have a little Jon and Kate thing going?

I don't think of Norwegians as being particularly funny (not like those Danes!), but Klaus Hagerup's Markus and the Girls could be entertaining.

Brian James's The Heights is supposed to be a reworking of Wuthering Heights.

Starclimber! Kenneth Oppel!

Tamora Pierce has another Beka Cooper book out.

I still haven't read Kate Thompson's The New Policeman, and now I see she has a new book out, Creature of the Night, which THB reviewer calls a "gritty crime thriller." Gritty. I like gritty.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Graduate School Stuff

No, I'm not thinking about trying to get a graduate school to accept me any longer. If I don't think I can tolerate a week-long writers' conference, how could I even consider a graduate program? Come on, they last much, much longer than a week, right? Nobody offers a degree after three hours, which is my time limit for just about everything.

What I am doing is directing you to a Finding Wonderland post on the subject of graduate writing programs, which was inspired by Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing Be Taught? in The New Yorker.

I really did read the whole thing last night. It took a long time, but not three hours, so that's okay.

Not A Bad Sequel, But Still...

I am a big fan of Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen. I wasn't that excited when I heard there was going to be a sequel, though. Dairy Queen seemed so complete. What more was there to say?

The Off Season still has D.J. Schwenk's marvelous voice. But the story seems a lot less focused this time around. D.J. just seems to be going from thing to thing here. While an argument can be made that that's life, I missed the narrative drive of the first novel.

This isn't a bad book, by any means. D.J.'s fans will still enjoy it. It's just not Dairy Queen.

According to the author's website, a third D.J. book is in the works.

Training Report: Not my worst day. Worked on an essay and did two 365 Story Project segments. I felt as if I was beginning to get into a flow-like thing, but it will be shot tomorrow when I am back to doing good works.

I'm not very good at doing good works. It's a struggle, let me tell you.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I found this post on Revision thanks to the Kidlitosphere listserv. It looks so meaty that I plan to go through it when I can give it an hour.

In fact, the blog it comes from, the SCBWI Tri-Regions of Southern California Schmooze, looks extremely interesting. It reports on the activities of a number of children's writer and illustrator groups in Southern California.

Training Report: Glad things went so well yesterday, because today ended up being all about spreading cheer and good will. Well, that and getting my butt whipped by a pre-teen girl who is seven ranks lower than I am. She's faster than I am and has more endurance than I do. But I outweigh her. I've got that going for me, anyway.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Coming Up This Week

Oz and Ends is beginning a week of posts on publishing. J.L. Bell begins with POD Overtakes Regular Printing.

Training Report: I was just beginning to get into some kind of flow last Friday after what was for me a very long Memorial Day Weekend. In spite of another weekend off, today went pretty well. I revised two segments for the 365 Story Project and came up with two new ones. And I looked over the two essays I'm working on. Can't complain. Well, I can always complain. But I won't.

For those of you who like a little feedback with your training reports, Anastasia Suen is starting an accountability/mentoring group.