Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Weekend Writer: Have You Done This Yet?

When I started the Weekend Writer feature, what...two years and ten months ago?...I was concerned for a friend who was getting a hard sell from a self-publishing company she'd contacted about a story she'd written. I went on for quite some time about what people wanting to write needed to know. One of the things I wrote was, "I don't think a lot of people outside the writing world realize that you ought to actually know something and go out and learn it before you even try to publish whatever it is you think you've written."

Roger Sutton said something similar in an editorial in the September/October issue of The Horn Book. He's talking specifically about writing children's literature, and he has a specific recommendation for those wanting to get started in the field. Also, he's more comfortable with harshing his readers' buzz than I am, so he's much better about laying his cards on the table.

"Don’t even think about publishing until you’ve actually started writing, and don’t even think about writing until you’ve done a whole lot of reading...Deal with it and dig out your library card."

Yes, there's a lot to do.

Friday, October 30, 2015

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? Oct. 30th Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. I whipped through the Chapter 4 revision in just one day. Then I invested time in prepping for another goal and angsting over new flooring. I did a little hacking away at the mummy book this afternoon.

Goal 5. Community Building. The November Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar is posted and the newsletter edition has gone out.

View From School Parking Lot
Goal 7. General Marketing. I prepped for the Preparing for National Novel Writing Month presentations that I did today for four fourth-grade classes. They went very well. The kids were close to brilliant. I kind of wish I was doing NaNoWriMo now. Maybe I can get pumped up for a November revising orgie. I have to come up with a better name for it, though.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

November Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

November is probably THE big month for child lit appearances in Connecticut. The Connecticut Children's Book Fair is the big noise, but it's also school fundraiser season. All of this activity is probably tied in with shopping for various holidays. 

Sun., Nov. 1, Martha Seif Simpson, Temple Beth Sholom Vendor Fair, Hamden 9 AM to 4 PM

Wed., Nov. 4, Tommy Greenwald and Alan Katz, Barnes & Noble, Westport 7 PM

Fri., Nov. 6, Doreen Tango Hampton, The Silly Sprout, Litchfield  5 to 8 PM

 Sun., Nov. 8, Tracy Newman, Stacy Barnett Mozer, Book Fair, Carmel Academy, Greenwich 11 to 11:30 AM

Tues., Nov. 10, Ellen Hopkins, Barnes & Noble, Glastonbury 5 PM

Sat., Nov. 14 and Sun., Nov. 15, Aaron Becker, Jeanne Birdsall, Pierre Collet-Derby, Tommy Greenwald, Cynthia Lord, P.J. Lynch, Ross MacDonald, Emily Arnold McCully, Florence Minor, Wendell Minor, Anne Rockwell, Lizzy Rockwell, Richard (Huck) Scarry, Jr., Pamela Zagarenski, Sophie Blackall, Elisha Cooper, Brian Floca, Sandra Horning, Alan Katz, Barbara McClintock, Spencer Quinn, Sergio Ruzzier, Stephen Savage,  and Jane Sutcliffe,
Connecticut Children's Book Fair, Storrs 10 AM to 5 PM each day. 

Mon., Nov. 16, Gina Ciocca, Bank Square Books, Mystic 5 to 7 PM

Fri., Nov. 20 Martha Seif Simpson, Stratford Library Children's Department Fundraiser, Barnes & Noble, Milford Fundraiser from 6 to 8 PM Reading at 6:45

Sat., Nov. 21, Susan Hood, Green Farms Academy Book Fair at Barnes & Noble, Westport 10:30 AM

Sun., Nov. 22, Gregory Maguire, Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield 2 PM One of Maguire's YA book and three adult titles will be available. Registration requested.

Sat., Nov. 28, Doreen Tango Hampton, Gunn Memorial Library, Washington 1:00 PM

Sat., Nov. 28, Jan Brett, Fairfield University, Fairfield 5 PM

Sat. Nov., 28, Jane Sutcliffe, Jack and Allie's Bookstore, Vernon 1 to 3 PM Small Business Saturday Event

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: How This Year's Purge Is Different From Last Year's

As you can see, we've started pulling out the big stuff now. My cellar TV room is beginning to look as if we're getting ready for a tag sale. I'm talking about the October Purge at Chez Gauthier, in case someone just surfing by is wondering what this picture is about.

During last year's purge I started focusing on one spot or another in the house.

"I realized that just getting rid of thirty random items out of an entire house wasn't going to do much to help me organize my environment, improve my impulse control, and manage my time. But focusing on specific areas, like that kitchen counter, could. Thus I got rid of table cloths from the china cabinet in the dining room so that I won't have to spend time on my knees in front of it looking for linens when I'm expecting guests. I worked on the pantry so I, well, could walk through it, to be honest.

I got rid of some random things, too. But, really, the way to get a usable result from a possession purge is to apply a little logic, do a little planning. I may do an annual purge."

Weeeeellll, that's not how things have been going this year. I definitely have just been scooping things up, and I think that's what my husband has been doing as well. Me, I've been picking up what I'm going to call "floaters"--things that were just lying around here and there through the house. If I was in the attic putting away suitcases, I would see something that hadn't been used in years and didn't work very well, anyway. An item that had been moved into the pantry months (a year?) ago to get it out of the way is now on the purge table. It's really going to be out of my way soon. Picking up one item to get out of here sometimes led to finding more.

It's been more random than last year. This probably says something about the state of my house and my mind recently.

Next week: The 2015 Purge Finale with a complete set of pictures.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Kids Here, Happy Kids There

A few years back, G. P. Putnam's Sons published my book, Happy Kid!, about a boy who is reading a book called Happy Kid!: A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-Filled Life! I'm sure you've all read and enjoyed it.

Last night I learned that PenguinRandom House has published The Happy Kid Handbook: How To Raise Joyful Children In A Stressful World.

The only connection is in my mind.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Weekend Writer: What Do You Write?

I'm a big believer in writers knowing what they're doing. Early on, you really need to decide what you're writing. It's fine to "transcend" genres, break out of a genre, mash-up a couple of genres, or doing any number of things with a genre. But you need to know your genre in order to do any of those things.

Try to find what you're doing for work at Is It a Genre That Starts With F? Breaking Down Genres at Janice Hardy's Fiction University.

Friday, October 23, 2015

What Have You Been Doing This Week, Gail? Oct. 23rd Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. Okay. The first three chapters have been revised...again. I've even started Chapter Four. I'm hopeful that I have a new spin for the two main characters that will make the going faster now. Yeah. We'll see about that next Friday.

Goal 5. Community Building. I created a hashtag, #CTchildlit, and promoted it. And I got started on next month's Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Goal 5/7. Community Building/General Marketing. I spent 2 hours prepping just to do some preliminary "administrative" type work for a program I'm taking part in next month. I also worked on some light revising of my NaNoWriMo program, which I'll be presenting next Friday at an elementary school. On Monday I did some Twitter and Google+ responses.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#CTchildlit--Using Community To Promote

As part of my continuing community building obses--commitment, I have created and started using a hashtag--#CTchildlit. #CTchildlit is for discussing children's and YA author/illustrator appearances in Connecticut and publishing news for Connecticut children's and YA authors and illustrators.

Authors, illustrators, booksellers, librarians, bloggers, readers, and other people I haven't thought of can use this hashtag to help promote Connecticut children's/YA authors.

#CTchildlit could also make it possible for people in the Connecticut Children's literature community to become more aware of one another or even to get to know one another.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Prepping For National Novel Writing Month When You Write All Year Long

I took part in National Novel Writing Month back in, I believe, 2004. I had an exciting time and began an adult book that I think about and make notes for now and then. But then I thought, Hey, Gail. You are a so-called pro fessional writer, published and all that. You should be writing like this all the time, not just in November. So I didn't do it again.

Not that pro fessional, published writers can't take part in NaNoWriMo. A couple of well known children's lit writers of my acquaintance have announced on Facebook that they're taking part this year. And NaNoWriMo has such a pull. All the other kids are doing it. And a rough draft in 30 days!

But it isn't always convenient to do a traditional NaNoWriMo project, if you've been writing all year. I know, myself, I just finished a rough draft in August. That's not an ordeal I want to repeat so soon, when I have a second draft to do and a November event I'm attending that I need to psyche myself up for.

What if you're like me, but you feel bad about not being able to partake of the National Novel Writing Month fun?

Writer Jennifer Derrick can offer you options. In her blog post NaNoWriMo for Professional Writers she describes ways to turn National Novel Writing Month "into an event that benefits your writing career." They all involve using November for what I call a "set aside time" to do some kind of intense task.

It turns out, there are many things writers can do in a month-long binge that don't involve writing a book-length rough draft.

The October Purge

If you have been following the October Purge Chez Gauthier, here is your visual on where we stand as of today. We've got about a week and a half to go.

Monday, October 19, 2015

If You HAVE To Read A Truck Book

We recently had a weekend guest, one who is very fond of truck books. Trucks are not my favorite subject to read about. That's mainly because the truck books I've seen are usually about trucks as a subject. "Here's this kind of truck, that kind of truck. Oh, and look at the big tire!"

A trip to the library provided us with a couple of truck books more to my taste.

Five Trucks by Brian Floca involves, yeah, five trucks. "The first truck is large and heavy." There's your sentence for the first two-page spread. "The second truck is small and quick" is on the second. This appears to be a traditional truck book that just lists things about...trucks. However, all these trucks can be found at the same place--airports. The point, and the book does have one, is that all these trucks are necessary to support airplanes. The text doesn't come right out and tell us that, though. We have to work it out. That makes a truck book a lot less mind-nu--I mean, a lot more interesting.

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis with illustrations by Daniel Kirk is a rhyming tale of a dog driver whose truck does, indeed, get stuck. He gets plenty of help from various other vehicles and their drivers. Nothing seems to work.

The beauty of this story is that it is a story in which a truck driver (even though he is a dog) has a goal and an experience. Before I got to the end, I was wondering, How will he get his truck unstuck?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Weekend Writer: Why You Should Consider Writing Short Stories

How often do you hear people talk about wanting to write books? How often do you hear people talk about wanting to write short stories?  Suzannah Windsor Freeman explains why writers should be thinking about working in that shorter form in How to Get Your Short Stories Published in Lit Mags at Writer Unboxed.  The big point to consider: published short stories help to establish you as a writer.

A Few Added Thoughts About Writing Short Stories

  • Don't think of short stories as short novels. They are a specific form of writing. Do yourself a favor and do some research.

  • Don't expect short stories to be easier to write than novels. They are faster to write because they're shorter, but not easier.

  • Don't 't expect short stories to be easy to sell.


Renewed Interest In Short Stories?

Now that I've covered the Debbie Downer stuff, here's something a little more promising: Short stories are supposed to be experiencing a resurgence. In the eighties and nineties we were seeing fewer of them being published in mainstream, nonliterary magazines, which meant fewer markets. That's probably still the case. However, there are enormous numbers of on-line publications now, some of them quite well-regarded, that are easily accessible to readers. Some of them even pay writers for their work. (Not all on-line publications do.) Additionally, I've read that readership for short stories is growing, possibly because readers feel pressed for time. Short stories are what they have time for.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What Did You Do Last Week, Gail? Oct. 16 Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. Why, I spent the week revising the first three pages of Chapter One, which I'd also revised last week. Thank you for asking. Yeah, you're right. I've got to get this one under control.

Goal 5. Community Building. I visited Sandra Horning at a public appearance. I also met with my writers' group this week. Some very good feedback led to the work I mentioned for Goal 1.

Goal 5/Goal 6. Community Building/General Marketing. That's what we'll call this. I do a read through for the NaNoWriMo presentations I'm doing at the end of the month. I want to do some tinkering with the text and replace one slide.

A Vacation Zombie Story

I had a little trouble sticking to A Girl of the Limberlost while I was on vacation, because I was also reading Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry. It's the second book in his Rot & Ruin series. I liked the first book, Rot & Ruin, for its western genre overtones and because it's one of the few apocalyptic novels I've read in which a second generation is fed up with the status quo and wants to move on.

While Rot & Ruin was a Wild West story with a lone lawman character, Dust & Decay is more of a lost in the Badlands tale. And, once again, the zombies are not the worst things main character Benny and his crowd have to contend with.

Thoughts on structure: Lots of point-of-view switches. As I've said before, I'm often bothered by point-of-view switches. They slow down narrative drive for me. That was not the case here. I noticed that many chapters were short, only a scene. I thought, Gee. Is this something I should try?

I got so into this book that while we were walking across the desert-like terrain of Dune National Lakeshore in Michigan, I kept wondering how the ol' zoms would fare there. Would that be a relatively safe place for humans? If the humans could stand it?

I was quite unhappy with how things turned out for one particular character who shall remain nameless. Yet, as a writer, a writer of books for young people, I think it was a very wise thing to have done.

So that was some good vacation reading. Good enough that when I got home, I picked up Flesh & Bone, Book 3. Now, Flesh & Bone would probably be considered a journey story, except that Benny and his guys are stopped dead in their tracks by post-apocalyptic religious creepies who are fighting among themselves. Our heroes are facing one disaster after another, all in the course of a day.

Interesting points: Fascinating thing the author did with that situation I was unhappy about in Book 2. Plus, Mayberry does a very good job with creating characters who are different from one another. Lilah and Riot, for instance. They could easily have ended up being mirror images. I realized while reading that Chong is truly different from Benny. All this is probably important to me because I just read a recent adult novel with a lot of buzz in which the three narrators sounded so much alike that I thought I was going to find out that they were all the same person.

Rot & Ruin is an excellent series for older, sophisticated teen readers. I say that not just because the books are grim, though they are, and I mean that in a positive way. They also don't deal with black-and-white situations. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the zombies are often not the worst things that have to be dealt with in this world. They're deadly, but in a benign way. The relationships between male and female characters aren't your traditional teen boy meets teen girl romances, either. These are people who are badly scarred by their experiences and have life-and-death issues they care about beyond who is going to end up with whom.

There appears to be only one more book in this series. I will, of course, be reading it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Book Award For Young People: Longlist And Finalists For 2015

I'm not a big fan of book awards. While journalists and bloggers are rushing to pay attention to one winner, thousands of books go undiscovered. Oh, what I could have read, if I'd only known about it.

Well, while I was on vacation, the National Book Award longlist was announced. A longlist for each category, including Young People's Literature. The longlists were made of ten books. Yes. Ten. And here they all are, because we should be exposed to all of them, not just the eventual winner. 
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson 
  • The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin 
  • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson 
  • This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs by Gary Paulsen 
  •  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby 
  • X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon 
  • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin 
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Some of these books I hadn't heard of. The NBA (yeah, that's National Book Award) longlist has brought them to my attention. Well done.

As it turns out, yesterday the finalists were announced. The list of ten was cut down to five. 
  • The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjami
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm psyched for Nimona. It was reviewed in the July/August Horn Book. I've heard about it a number of times now. Whether it wins or not, I want to read it.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Okay. Let's Go Over This Purge Business Again

We're on Day 13 of this year's October purge. As you can see, we're not quite halfway through the month, and the dreck we don't need is piling up.

What Does Stripping Your Environment Of Unnecessary Material Items Have To Do With Managing Time?

Last year I wrote about the Environmental Disorder Leads to Self-Regulatory Failure study. I found the following quote related to it: " ...people who sat by a messy desk that was scattered with papers felt more frustrated and weary and took nearly 10% longer to answer questions in a color-and-word-matching task, in comparison with those who were seated by a neatly arranged desk."

Okay, you may say. That's a good reason to purge my desk. But why the whole house?

Because many writers work in our homes. Many writers also have day jobs or families or both. We don't have all the time in the world to write to begin with. If our extended environment is causing frustration and weariness, impairing self-regulation, that's going to impact how effectively we can use our time.

There are all kinds of of nonwork-related reasons for getting rid of material things you don't use. But we only deal with time here, so I'll pass on that.

I have fifteen more days of stuff to get out of this place. We haven't gotten to the big stuff yet.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Getting Books Out Into The World

Today author Sandra Horning made the first of three unique appearances she has scheduled for this month. She wasn't at a bookstore or a literary festival. She wasn't at a professional conference.

She was at Pumpkintown, USA in East Hampton, Connecticut. Next Sunday, she'll be at Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury from 10 to 12 and at Lapsley's Orchard in Pomfret Center from 2 to 4.

Her recent book, The Biggest Pumpkin, is about a big fruit. Fruit...orchards, farms, can see the logic here, right?

With traditional bookstore appearances, writers are relying on readers coming to them. Readers don't always show up. Believe me. I've been there. With appearances at places like Pumpkintown, however,  writers are going to readers. Writers are the ones who show up.

Now, one could argue that people who do turn up at traditional author events are more likely to be committed readers and more likely to buy books. However, there are a finite number of them, whereas the number of books out there seems to go on and on and on. When authors appear at an orchard, farm, or pumpkintown, they're putting themselves out in front of all kinds of people. Some of them may be committed readers, some of them may not. Some of them may be readers who just don't go to book fairs or book festivals. Some of them may have a big interest in, say, pumpkins, but haven't heard of your pumpkin book. And now they have. Authors going out to potential readers in this way gives those potential readers opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have.

At some of these nontraditional (at least for writers) events, you may see much larger crowds than you will at a bookstore. That was certainly the case today. These pictures don't do justice to the number of people who were at Pumpkintown at lunchtime. In the background of the picture to the left, you can see cars parked on a hill. No, the garden center where this is held doesn't normally need the parking across the road. It doesn't normally need to hire a police officer to stop traffic for pedestrians the way it does on its six Pumpkintown weekends. The more people, the greater the potential for sales. The more people, the greater the potential for readers discovering a book, whether they buy it that day or not.

But someone has to bring the book to them.

Authors Janet Lawler and Leslie Bulion have also made appearances at orchards or fairs to support books with links to those types of places.

You may find authors anywhere.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Weekend Writer: Writers' Associations

Wow. Two months since I've done a Weekend Writer. Well, I've had a few Weekend Writer-worthy bits tucked away for a while now. Today, my lads and lasses, we will discuss one of them, writers' associations. I've been thinking about them lately, because I've been talking for the last couple of months with a very new writer.

What Are Writers' Associations?

What I'm referring to here are associations organized to support writers and provide them with professional services. Of course, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators comes immediately to mind. So does the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and  Romance Writers of America. These groups could be said to be developed around genre. Others, like Pen America, are more general.

The website Writers and Editors maintains a list of major writers' organizations, as well as a list of local and regional organizations.

What Are The Benefits Of Joining A Writers' Association?

Training. Some of these organizations offer conferences and workshops covering process, marketing, and the publishing business. Expect some offerings to be better than others, by which I mean you may not find every workshop you attend at a particular conference to be stellar. You have to glean, hunting for the usable info among the not-so-usable. Some writers' associations also act as "clearing houses" for writers' groups, directing members to groups in their geographical area or on-line. An association sponsored writers' group may have members with more writing experience or training than one that has formed in other ways.

Specific Services. Some of these organizations can connect members with assistance in dealing with contracts or making connections with professionals such as editors or web designers.

Community/networking/finding your tribe. If you've connected with an association that runs programs, attending them will give you opportunities to meet other writers. Meeting authors who are both at your career point and beyond it is important. You can get both support and information from these types of people. Some associations may sponsor listservs and Facebook pages for members where information can be shared and you can "meet" other writers.

A personal community isn't built over night. You have to expect this to take some time.

When Should You Join A Writers' Association?

It depends on what you're looking for and probably on the writers' association. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, for instance, is well-known for working with new, unpublished writers. Someone interested in children's writing might gain a lot from joining right away. (I didn't join until after I'd published a couple of books. If I'd known more about the organization, I might have joined earlier.) Other associations may be better at working with more established writers.

Think about the following: 

  • Do you want training right away?
  • Do you want to have completed some writing before you look for other writers?
  • Are you comfortable with identifying as a writer to strangers at this point, whether you have published anything or not?
  • Will training and meeting other writers help make you feel like a writer, feel as if you're part of that world? Do you want that now?
  • Do you feel comfortable spending money on a writers' association membership fee at this point? If you can't afford conferences and workshops now, do you feel you'll be gaining enough from what the association offers its members to justify the basic membership expense?

Even if you aren't interested in joining a writers' association now, or ever, it could be a good idea to do some research on some. Just their informational material may be useful.

Friday, October 09, 2015

What Did You Do Last Week, Gail? October 9 Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. Why look at my original goal for this from back in January--It was "Complete a draft of the so-called mummy book," which I've done. This week I worked on a revision of the first three chapters.

Goal 2. Short work. I read an essay on writing character-driven flash fiction, which gave me an idea for revising one of my flashes. Which is kind of like working on short fiction.

Goal 4. Make Submissions. I signed up for a networking program with agents and editors. That's sort of getting ready to make submissions.

Goal 7. General Marketing/Branding. I finalized arrangements to do a Preparing for NaNoWriMo program at an elementary school later this month. I also went back to doing some weekly Twitter maintenance, welcoming new followers and thanking others for retweets and favorites. And, finally, I'm trying to get into a Monday habit for planning how I can use the blog over the course of the week, which upcoming posts can be shared and where.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Vacation Amish Vampire Story

I bought  Chosen, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy, Book 1 by Barbara Ellen Brink some time ago. It was either on sale or free. (The Kindle edition is free now.) I was intrigued by the idea of a vampire/Amish mash-up. And, as I said,  the book was either on sale or free. How could I pass it up?

 It sat in my Kindle until we were in the Amishland of Indiana while on our midwest tour last month. After a couple of days of being surrounded by buggies, I remembered that I could be reading about Amish vampires. 

Chosen is a very traditional teen paranormal story about a girl who is unaware that her parents escaped with her from their Minnesota Amish community. But they didn't leave because they were hoping for a life with Internet access and a clothes dryer. No, they hauled out of there because vampires had taken over and their daughter was the one chosen to fight them. Jael is trained by her father and uncle in martial arts, though she doesn't know why. A hot Native American guy at her high school has a connection to the whole thing. And a cute friend with a car needs to be saved.

I wish there had been a lot more Amish and Amish culture to compare/contrast/clash with the standard high-school-student-finds-out-she's-special story line. Jael's family doesn't live in an Amish community but in rural Nevada. There's talk about the Amish once her parents 'fess up about what's going on. But we don't see any for quite a while. And then they're just bad guys in funny clothes. They also drive a truck and use a cell phone, which isn't what I was expecting from a book with "Amish" in the title. Of course, if you can accept that they're vampires, trucks and phones shouldn't be such a stretch. Additionally, though, I kept wondering where the father and uncle, having been brought up in an Amish world, got their knowledge of fighting, since the Amish are said to follow a policy of non-resistance to conflict.

The Amish world-building was on the weak side for me.

The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy has been completed, for those who like to binge read. In fact, the whole trilogy is available in a Kindle edition as well as in individual paper-and-ink books.

A little something I learned as a result of reading this book--I kept wondering why the author located the Amish community involved in the story in Minnesota. I knew there were significant Amish communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana,  so why not place her Amish in one of those states? Honestly, I thought she was making the Minnesota thing up.

Not at all. There are Amish communities in Minnesota, and what is particularly interesting about them is that they were founded in the 1970s. I was surprised to see that happening so recently. However, Amish communities keep growing each generation, and since they are primarily farmers, they have to keep spreading out to find more land.

Or maybe they have to keep moving because there are vampires among them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: So I Guess The Purge Is Going To Be An Annual Thing

I am sure you all remember last year's October Purge chez moi. It did not involve ridding myself of people who didn't agree with me. Nope. Can't help you with that. What the October Purge was about was imposing order, working on the theory that maintaining  order in your physical surroundings helps to maintain order of other kinds--self-regulation, self-discipline, willpower.

Quite honestly, I hadn't given a lot of thought to doing this again this year. But someone else who lives here was psyched to do it. And now the fire has been lit under me.

The October Purge was inspired by an essay about Joshua Fields Millburn, who got rid of one possession a day for a month. We're doing a variation this year, because two of us are getting rid of one item a day. And, for novelty, by which I mean, fun, we're making a heap of this stuff to get a nice visual of what two items a day for thirty days looks like.

Here is the difference between Day One and Day Five.

Purge 2015 Day One
Purge 2015 Day Five

Check back to see how we do with this. You know I will keep you informed.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Vacation Little Women Story

I'll have been home from vacation for a whole week tomorrow, yet I still have so many things to say about it.

Okay, sometime during the first week we were away, we were biking at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan. Halfway through that sixteen-mile trip, we stop for lunch at this great town. So while we're waiting for our order, we take a little peek at our cellies, and I check out the blog, since I'm working on the Blogging the Limberlost feature. I see a comment from Jeannine Atkins, which I respond to. That's sort of like talking to her, while not being like that at all, of course.

                                                      So after we eat, we take a walk up the lovely street we're on and stop at The Cottage Book Shop. This is quite an impressive place because it appears so small from the street but goes on and on once you're inside.  It's an independent bookstore with very nice offerings.

But here is the amazing part of this story: As we were headed out of the store, what do I see but Jeannine Atkins' new book Little Woman in Blue! I had just been commenting with her! What were the odds? I was seeing things about that book all over the place just then, and there was the book, itself, in front of me, at this very nice bookstore.

I had eight miles left of my bike trip, some of which I expected to be very difficult. I didn't want to be carrying any extra weight. So I took this picture instead of buying the book.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Who Am I To Judge? Well...

I'm a Cybils judge, that's who I am. This year I am a Round 2 Judge in the Middle Grade Fiction category. Among the people I'll be working with is my old blogging buddy Alex Waugh. (Old as in we've "known" each other a while, in that blogging buddy way.)

Nominations opened today and will remain open until October 15.  Anyone can nominate, and here is this year's nomination form.

The nominations have already started coming in. You can keep checking back to watch the lists grow.

That is one of the beauty's of this award, in my humble opinion. Many book awards are a mystery, the books considered kept secret. With the Cybils, readers can see which books readers liked enough to nominate, and sometimes they can even read reviews from judges. It opens up a lot more options for readers.

Go forth and enjoy this year's Cybil season.