Wednesday, August 31, 2016

September Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

We have a nice combination of bookstore, library, museum, and conference events this month.

Sun., Sept. 18, Christine Pakkala, Barnes & Noble, Westport 5:00 PM

Fri., Sept. 23, Leslie Bulion, Durham Fair, Durham  10 AM to 11 AM

Fri., Sept. 23, Hollis Seamon, Ridgefield Writers' Conference,  Ridgefield Registration required

Sat., Sept. 24, Danielle Paige, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 6:00 PM 

Sat., Sept. 24, Pegi Deitz Shea, The Mark Twain House & Museum Writers' Weekend, Hartford 9:30 to 10:45 AM Writing for Children Workshop Registration required and fee 

Mon., Sept. 26, Jane Sutcliffe, UConn Bookstore at Storrs Center, Storrs  6:00 PM

Wed., Sept. 28, Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 4:30

Thurs., Sept. 29, Sarah Darer Littman, Cos Cob Library, Cos Cob 7:00 PM Book launch

Thurs., Sept. 29, Betsy Devany, Bank Square Books, Mystic 5:00 to 7:00 PM Book launch

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Read Less To Read More, Part 2. Goals.

Okay, lads and lasses, last week we discussed some of the types of reading we (meaning I) could cut back on in order to make more time

So once we've cut back on listicles, articles with numbers in the title, clickbait that ends with some variation of "you won't believe what happened next," random marketing and writing process Internet articles/blog posts, and news articles that are really just entertainment, what are we going to read? You know what we ought to do? We ought to set some goals.

By Goals, I Mean What We're Going To Read, Not How Much

It's not unusual to see litbloggers writing about their reading goals, by which they mean how much they plan to read this year. I believe Goodreads members can set up annual reading goals there and keep track of how they're doing over the course of the year. But for writers who are trying to make the best use of time, what we're reading is more important than how much. We want our reading to do something for our work or our writing lives, to support it, so we can't rely on random reading. Otherwise, we could stick to reading listicles.

Could you elaborate on that, Gail? you ask. Oh, come on. When can I not elaborate on something?

Some Possible Reading Goals

Reading in our genres.Writers should read in the genre they're interested in writing in order to understand how  children's books, romances, mysteries, etc., work. That's not to say that we should study the field and then write like everyone else does. But we should know that when we do something different, we are doing something different and why. For instance, someone writing for children will learn from their reading in that genre that children's books are rarely written from an adult point-of-view. Mystery writers will know from their reading that there are an enormous number of tortured detective protagonists out there. They may want to follow that genre standard. They may want to do something different. But they should know what's being done with the protagonists in children's and mystery books in the first place.

Reading within our genre is particularly important for children's writers. Occasionally you'll hear of  pre-published children's authors who want to write books like the ones they enjoyed when they were young back in the '60s, '70s, '80s. Will a book like that find an audience among 21st century child readers? There may be a limit on how many Pals in Peril and Penderwicks books the contemporary child market can support.

Then there is the "comparable thing." You know. That thing where authors pitch their manuscripts to agents and editors as being like some best selling book. Maybe being like a mash-up of a couple of them. I heard at the spring NESCBWI conference that agents like to hear comparables not just because it takes care of doing some of their selling for them or because they can only understand a new story in relation to one they already know about. No, they like to hear the comparable thing from writers because it's an indication that the writers know their genre and are thus serious about it. They haven't just knocked off a sweet tale and will never do another piece of work.

So reading in your genre is an excellent use of new found reading time.

Reading Literary Journals. Writers who are interested in writing short stories, and publishing them (that's me again), may want to spend some of their new writing time keeping up with reading literary journals. In The Ultimate Guide To Getting Published In A Literary Magazine, Lincoln Michel says that the best literary journals are the ones that actually publish work we like. "It’s much more satisfying to appear in a journal you read and love, next to authors you read and love, than it is to be in a slightly more prestigious journal among writers that make your skin slough off in boredom."  Finding some literary journals we actually like reading (I'm leaning toward Carve right now) and spending time reading them should help us determine if we share some kind of world view with the editorial staff. Could publications we like become a home for us and our writing? Exploring literary journals and reading some of them regularly is truly a reading shift for many writers.

Now that I've cleaned all the marketing and writing process articles out of my bookmarks, I'm filling them with links to litjournals I want to either try out or to read regularly.

Targeted Process Reading. I made a point last week of writing about cutting back on reading random writing process articles. I've found them repetitious and sometimes superficial. But a targeted process article or even book is something different.

With targeted process reading we are reading about something specific. We may be aware of a problem in our writing, and we're seeking out help. We're also going to want to go deeper into this kind of reading then we would with the process articles we stumble across on-line or sometimes even in some established writing magazines.

I Could Go On And On. Then there's research for books we haven't even started or for workshops we haven't even created yet. And pleasure reading, of course.

Oh. Wait. Is anyone else getting overwhelmed with reading again?

Keep Changing Reading Goals

Another thing we can do to help control or at least organize our reading and make better use of time is to keep changing our goals. January we're going to do a certain type of reading. We can then switch to something else in February. Taking part in National Novel Writing Month? We could plan to do any research reading over the summer leading up to our November writing binge.

The whole reading burden seems smaller and more manageable, if we've broken up the reading we want to do and assigned it to specific time periods. What we're going to do, when we're going to do it.

And What About Adding Objectives To Our Reading Goals?

Again, adding objectives to our goals will help make the volume of reading we want to do within the time we have seem more manageable by precisely telling us what we're going to do.

For instance:

Reading Goal 1. Read Within My Genre
Objective 1: A specific book
Objective 2: Another specific book
Objective 3: Still another specific book.

Reading Goal 2. Read Literary Jouranls
Objecive 1: Read Erika Dreifus's Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers to find new (to me) journals
Objective 2: Subscribe to Carve (Or, in my case, ask for a subscription for my birthday)
Objective 3: Check on-line journal 1 once a month
Objective 4: Check journal 2's website once a month for new material

Can You Summarize This Gail?

Of course, I can.

1. Eliminate unnecessary reading to create time
2. Create reading goals and objectives to make the best use of that new time.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Search For The Perfect Podcast.

So today's cooking was a little bit more binge-like, though I was baking for a family member recovering from surgery and others who were coming to visit (me, not him), which is also like purposeful cooking. What you'll care about is what I was listening to, of course.

 Before getting started, I read Fiction Podcasts Are Finally a Thing! Thank You, Sci-Fi and Horror at Wired. The author points out that nonfiction has monopolized podcasts. But "The past year has seen the rise of fiction podcasts, many of which follow a found-footage horror or sci-fi format." I listened to two podcasts mentioned in the article.

Welcome to Night Vale. I listened to Episode 1, which had an old-time radio broadcast vibe. What it didn't have was enough narrative for me. It was a news broadcast of the weird daily events in a town. However, my attention was divided, what with having to oil a shortbread mold and all. So I listened to Episode 2, as well. I still didn't warm to it.

Within the Wires. I admire the premise of this podcast series created by the people behind Welcome to Night Vale. What we're listening to is a directed meditation from hell. At the end of Episode 1, it becomes clear that it was created for a patient at a hospital. Again, though, I didn't feel I was hearing a real story. Supposedly, "As listeners move through the relaxation curriculum a deeper and more personal story unravels." But I didn't move on.

After that I spent a few moments trying to find a French language YouTube series I stumbled upon several evenings ago and haven't been able to find since. After that, I gave up and listened to music.

I'm taking part in Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. And you can catch up on all my Podcasts in the Kitchen posts through Pinterest.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Favorite Childlit Historical Fiction Collected On A Pinterest Board

Karen Yingling has written at her blog, Ms. Yingling Reads, that historical fiction isn't particularly popular with the students who use her library. I, on the other hand, was fond of the genre when I was all over libraries like Ms. Yingling's. (I was a library aid for a year or two, by the way. Haven't heard of those in a long time.)

Anyway, recalling my days reading fictionalized accounts of long dead kings and queens, as well as stacks of stories of young early nineteenth century women marrying wealthy aristocrats, and those long, long multi-generational stories that cover a century...or two...inspired me to create a Pinterest board on my favorite childlit historical fiction covered here at Original Content.

Pinterest is so easy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Do Child Readers Need To Understand Cool Cats To Enjoy Pete the Cat?

I read a couple more Pete the Cat books. Though I found them a little more instructive than I did the first one ("being different is really very cool" in Pete the Cat and the New Guy), I was struck by something about them. Pete the Cat, he's cool.

He's a cool cat in a beatnik cool way. Will the preschool through early
grade schoolers who will probably read these books get the beatnik references? I don't see how they can. If they don't get the cool cat beatnik joke, why do they like these books?

Because anyone can see that Pete the Cat isn't a regular cat. Even by the standards of picture book cats, there's something about this one that makes him unusual. In the world of today's children, cool isn't being different. It's meeting some standard of attractiveness. It's usually about adhering to a group in some way.

But Pete is a totally different kind of cool. He's the kind of cool that's too cool to care. He shouldn't exist in the world. That makes for incongruity.

And incongruity, my friends, is funny. That's why kids don't need to get the beatnik joke.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Read Less To Read More, Part 1

The numbers on annual book publication vary just a bit. I've seen claims that  300,000 books, more or less, are published each year. I've also seen the 1,000,000 figure used. I suppose that after a certain point, it doesn't matter how many books are generated each year. More are published than you or I can read.

Then there are magazines, newspapers, and professional and literary journals. The Internet is groaning under the burden of blog material being generated. There's more of that coming out than you or I can read, too.

But many of us want to read. We want to read lots and lots of things. How to find time for all the reading we want to do?

My theory is that if we read less of some things, we'll be able to read more of others. But what should we choose to ditch? Well, of course, I have some ideas to share.

Reading I'm Cutting Back On

Listicles. Listicles are articles written in the form of a list. We're not talking bulleted material broken out of a section of an essay in order to make effective use of white space and highlight information for readers. No, the hardcore listicles really are just lists of related or semi-related facts. Sometimes they're clever and witty, but there's rarely any development of thought. I gave up reading these a few years ago.

Interesting point about listicles: Some on-line publications indicate in their submission guidelines that they're interested in publishing listicles. Yeah, I'm not going to speculate about what that means.

Articles With Numbers In The Title. Seventeen Agents Give Us Their Biggest Turnoffs In Submissions. Our Six Best Procrastination Tips. These articles are more sophisticated listicles. But not much. The quality of the listed items varies a lot. Depending on the number of items in the overall article, you might find a couple that are useful. And those you'll wish had been developed into essays by themselves.

As a general rule, there are only so many facts about any subject, so there's often a lot of repetition both within these number articles and among different ones. If you're reading a number article on a subject that you're at all knowledgeable about, you're probably going to see things you already know.  I cannot tell you how many numbered time management articles I've read that included suggestions to eat properly and get a good night's sleep and plenty of exercise as three of their items.

I have cut way back on the number articles. I try to limit myself to ones with small numbers in the title.  And even then, I skim them.

Clickbait That Ends With Some Variation Of "You Won't Believe What Happened Next." If I won't believe it, why bother reading it? Also, if you've been suckered into reading some of these things, as I obviously have, you are aware that the unbelievable portion of the article isn't that unbelievable. It's usually cute (if it involves animals) or heart warming (if it involves people). I have had enough cuteness and warmth to last a lifetime. I can avoid these and read something else.

Random Marketing and Writing Process Internet Articles/Blog Posts. If you're a new writer, reading all kinds of info on writing and marketing is probably going to benefit you. But if you've been doing it for decades, it's like the Articles With Numbers In The Title thing above. There's a lot of repetition. Lots of marketing/writing process items are written by writers who have been advised to start a blog and then told, heck, write about writing process and marketing. You know what I'm talking about because you've read that kind of thing here. Once again, there are only so many things to say about writing and marketing just as there are only so many things to say about everything. Over the last year, I've picked up a few good things about marketing and read a terrific process book that I heard about at the NESCBWI Conference. But that's a small figure compared to the enormous number of articles I've read.

I've finally cleared out my bookmarks. My plan now: If I see something that's good enough to read, it's good enough to read right away. I'm staying away from the bookmark section of my toolbar.

Are We Reading News Or Are We Reading Entertainment? In The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone says, "Neil Postman once observed that back when we had only newspapers, "news"was information we could use and act on locally. Postman says the moment we could get instant news from everywhere--news not directly relevant to us--that's when news became entertainment." She then goes on to argue that we are in a different era now and news from everywhere these days is relevant. It is "news that affects us all."

But is it? How many of the articles at news sites or in traditional newspapers about events far from you involve news you can use? Instead, how often are we reading pieces about murders and deaths in other parts of the country or the world, personal tragedies that are hugely important to the people involved and their communities but with no relevance to us at all? They will never impact our lives other than providing us with a few minutes of distraction while we're reading about them. Sometimes we're spending more than a few minutes reading about a specific tragedy because new details turn up, but the basic story doesn't change. A child far from us died under horrific circumstances. A child we didn't know, whose family we feel for but have never met, a crime that will not impact anything in our town.

Why do we keep reading those things? Is it for...entertainment?

Now when I see articles about children killed by their parents or how couples planned murders, I feel like a dirty voyeur. Yes, that does help me to trim my reading of "news."

So You're Going To Just Read More With This Time You've Saved By Reading Less, Gail?

I'll have some thoughts about that next week.

In the meantime, what kind of reading can you cut back on in order to make more time for reading other things?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Another "Lottery"

I'm not sure how I found The Lottery by Beth Goobie since it's a fourteen-year-old book. It was one of those situations where I bring home a book from the library, leave it on my library pile for weeks, and when I find it go, "Why, whatever could this be?"

Okay, time to remind everyone about my Shirley Jackson obsession. No doubt The Lottery title was the initial draw for me. There definitely is a conection between this Lottery and Jackson's. The basic premise of Goobie's book is that a secret club, the Shadow Council, exists at Saskatoon Collegiate High School. Each year the members, which change as students graduate and move on, select a victim for the year. The victim serves the Council by running errands that primarily involve delivering notes instructing students to do their unsavory bidding. Oh, and the victim is shunned by the rest of the student body for the school year. Then a new victim is selected, and things go back to normal for the old one. In a manner of speaking.

Yeah, it sounds pretty far-fetched when I put it that way. But I totally bought into it, just as I, and so many other readers, bought into Jackson's Lottery. One of the fascinating things about both stories--all the townspeople/students had to do was say, "No." All the characters bought in, just as the readers do. They gave the lotteries their power.

A little drawback to the Goobie book: It's a problem book, which is fine. Main character Sal is dealing with a significant and interesting problem. But it's not the only problem. Sal has a troubled backstory. There's a character in a wheelchair and another who's autistic. It's a little bit of a pile on.

But otherwise this was a good world/reading experience.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In The Kitchen With Gail

This was another weekend of cooking during which I didn't feel that I was binging. It was more a matter of "We need dessert." "I'm out of bread." "I want to eat pears in a way that I have never eaten pears before." Then I dragged myself around the kitchen and made this stuff. A binge is a little more ecstatic and less needy.

I continued my attempt to find podcasts of people reading a piece of writing instead of people talking about writing. What did I listen to?

Zahna by Dorothy Bouzouma at Slice Magazine. This is an essay that Slice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The author married a man from Mauritania, and her essay is about his family's effort to turn her into a Mauritanian woman during a visit there. The author sounded somewhat down reading Zahna, and I have to say I found myself feeling distressed listening to it. It seemed as if Bouzouma was being taken over, losing herself, to this culture that wasn't her own. I found myself thinking, Is any man worth this? It's a pretty successful essay in that it drew such a strong response from this listener.

Then I found No Extra Words, a flash fiction podcast. Over the past two years, I have worked steadily completing and revising a couple of novels. But the only truly new works I've written are two pieces of flash, one fiction and one an essay. I listened to a few pieces at No Extra Words and found them well done. But nothing moved me the way Zahna did. I'll go back to this site and explore some more.

Finally, I went back to The Memory Palace, where I listened to Family Snapshot. Now The Memory Palace is a storytelling podcast about the past. I think the stories could be described as creative nonfiction. While listening to Family Snapshot, I thought about all the writing
process advice about the necessity for conflict in fiction and sometimes even the need for an antagonist. But in true life stories is that always the case? Can "something happen to somebody and
so what" (my definition of story) without traditional conflict?

Once again, I'm taking part in the Weekend Cooking meme at Beth Fish Reads.
You can also check out all my Podcasts in the Kitchen posts at Pinterest.


Friday, August 19, 2016

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? Aug. 15 Edition

Hmm. I need some kind of image to accompany these "Done" posts.  A goal for next week.

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives.  Am focusing on Goals 2 and 6 until the middle of September. And I'd like to make a couple more submissions.

Goal 2. Prepare Mummy Hunters for Submission. Making progress. Seriously.

Goal 3. Generate New Short Work/Programs. Submitted a short work.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

Work Pays Off blog post. Promoted to Google+ and Twitter.

Agents/Editors/Writers Conference blog post. Promoted`to Facebook and Facebook group. Google+, a Google+ community, and Twitter.

Diva and Flea blog post. Promoted to Facebook community, Google+, and Twitter.

Started a Time Management Tuesday post.

Began CCLC for September and October.

Posted  Nameless City  to Goodreads

Posted  Winter to Goodreads.

Posted  Diva and Flea  to Goodreads.

Posted Bread Loaf Pinterest post to Goodreads blog.

Goal 6. Generate New Work: Worked on the NaNoWriMo project.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Diva Could Be Renee's Dog

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems with illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi is about a French dog with a home and not much sense of adventure and a French cat, Flea, who lives on the street and is very into adventure. And they become friends and have a positive impact on each other, and that's all very meaningful and nice.

Here's the reason I'm taken with this book. Diva belongs to a gardienne, Eva, who takes care of a building. Towards the end of the book, we see Eva's feet as she sweeps a floor. I thought, Sacre Bleu! That could be the concierge in The Elegance of the Hedgehog!!!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery was an odd (the in the best sense of the word) 
international bestseller from France around eight years ago. It had two main characters, a twelve-year-old girl who lived in an upscale building and Renee, the upscale building's concierge. Renee is quite fantastic, a nobody building maintenance worker who is also a French intellectual. Though no one knows it. Like Diva, she becomes friendly with someone quite different from herself. Or is he?

I must say, The Elegance of the Hedgehog includes an event that left some readers shaken. (I'm looking at you Sally Allen.) Still The Story of Diva and Flea and The Elegance of the Hedgehog could be companion books. Young readers could read Diva and Flea preparing themselves for the philosophy and shock of Hedgehog.

Yes, I recall that Renee was a cat person. But look at the cover of Diva and Flea. Diva is one of those fluffy little dogs that could pass for a cat.

My Goodreads post about Hedgehog from 2012.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An Agents/Editors/Writers' Day Next Month In Maine

Maine Lakes Resource Center
As of this morning, five spaces were left in the one-day Agents/Editors/Writers' Conference on Saturday, September 10 at the Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. While this is not a SCBWI sponsored event, SCBWI member Cathy McKelway organized it. She has recruited agents you may recognize from SCBWI functions this past year and editors from two New England publishers. Most of the spots she still has open are for YA critiques. However, one is for picture books.

Agents Attending:

Kaylee Davis, Dee Mura Literary
Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary
Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary
Rebecca Podos, Rees Agency

Editors Attending:

Melissa Kim, Islandport Press
Audrey Maynard, Tilbury House Publishers

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Work Pays Off With A Book Sale

My writers' group colleague, Nancy Tandon, has just sold her first book. From Publisher's Marketplace:

"Nancy Tandon's SAY MY NAME, in which two speech-therapy 'rejects' draw strength from heavy metal music and Muhammad Ali as they search for their true voices, to Rana DiOrio launching Big Dill Stories, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2017 (World)."

Nancy is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, has attended its programs, and is the moderator for our writers' group, which is sponsored by the New England SCBWI. In addition, she's  been a finalist for the Tassy Walden Award. In fact, I believe she's been involved with that award more than once.

My point being, she has been training as a writer for a while now. This sale didn't just happen, didn't just drop in her lap. She worked for it.

That's how it's done.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

An End To "The Lunar Chronicles"

I enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer so much that I bought several of the books for my niece. I even liked Fairest: Levana's Story. And nobody likes Levana.

The last book in the series, Winter, is not my favorite. That would be Cinder, followed by Cress. Winter reminded me of Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor. Both books were the finales of fantasy war romances. Or war romance fantasies. Or... you get my drift. Both of those final books ended up dwelling on getting those romances resolved. And in Winter there were a number of romances to resolve. There was lots about whether A has told B he loves her. Will C get back together with D. You get my drift. All that will be a treat for big F fans. I am a little f fan. I'm not that keen on stopping to talk about feelings.  (Yikes. I sound like a family member who used to complain that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the "feelings Star Trek." "More battles! More explosions!")

Oh, my gosh! We're not really done with The Lunar Chronicles! Stars Above is a collection of short story prequels to the Lunar Chronicle books. If you are what's known in book collecting and reading circles as a completist, you will probably have trouble resisting that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Collecting Some More Material On Pinterest--The Bread Loaf Board

This year's Bread Loaf Writers' Conference starts today. Don't worry. I'm not going to bore you with another story about the great time I had working in the Bread Loaf kitchen back in the day. No, I'm going to link you to a Pinterest board collection of all my stories about the great time I had working in the Bread Loaf kitchen back in the day, as well as some never before published pictures.

You're not going to see photos like these anywhere else. Anywhere.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: A Little Schadenfreude And A Little App

I went to writers' group last night. It was a particularly good session pour moi, but it took place during my blog-writing time. Since I haven't worked out how to be in too places at once, and, what's more, do two tasks at once, I don't have much of a TMT post this week.

What I can tell you is:
  • Writers' groups are good for schadenfreude, that distastefully satisfying feeling you get when you hear that every writer you know is suffering from monkey mind this summer. 
  • I am experimenting with a time tracking app! Yeah, man. Bet you've been wondering why I've never gotten around to discussing those. Well, you can look forward to hearing about one soon.

Monday, August 08, 2016

My Latest Faith Erin Hicks Read

I am a fan of Faith Erin Hicks' graphic novels. I love her distinctive artwork. Whether she's working by herself or with others, I'm attracted to her work.

The Nameless City is her latest book, and my favorite to date. It's a historical fantasy about two young people, one a child of the conquerors and the other of the conquered. I love the powerful women in this story. I love that the name of the city--"The Nameless City"--is an attempt to give some power to the subjugated.

I read this book over a month ago, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to write about it sooner. I would have had much more to say. I can tell you that this first volume of a trilogy reads well as a stand alone, but definitely leaves me glad there will be more.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Where Has Gail Been All These Years?

Last year, someone suggested I do something with images from my work appearances. As it turns out, I do have some. But, unfortunately, not for everything.

So what did I do with the images I did have? I made a Pinterest board, of course.

Friday, August 05, 2016

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? August 1 Edition

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives. much as I can when you consider I'm suffering from monkey mind.  Additionally, I finally figured out how to use the time tracking app I got a month or so ago. Will it help the monkey mind problem and encourage adhering to goals and objectives? You know I'll be telling you about that at some point.

Goal 2. Prepare Mummy Hunters for Submission. This was going to be the just one thing I was going to work on this week. I believe I worked on it once.

Goal 3. Generate New Short Work/Programs. I had a nice little nearly finished flash essay on my hard drive that I just needed an ending for so I could submit it to a contest. That became the just one thing I worked on this week. It's been written over and over. Still no ending.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

5 blog posts since Sunday with promotion
Goodreads blog post
5 Goodreads reviews

 Goal 6. Generate New Work: Submitted the picture book to another editor. Began working on my story/essay idea a day project again.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

A Few Picture Books From Last Winter's Reading

I read these three titles before I started my humorous picture book research. What I had in mind while I was reading these was the 3-year-old family member I often read picture books with. My experience reading with him twists my perception of these kinds of stories now. I'm always thinking in terms of what would he like, what would he be able to take in and appreciate?

The Red Hat by David Teague with illustrations by Antoinette Portis. This has striking illustrations in red, white, black, and lots of blue. The story has a little magical realism thing going. The wind keeps two children apart, making one of them work so they can meet. It's a good story, but is it a really young children's story?

Check out Elizabeth Bird on spot gloss, something I'd never heard of, and its use in this book. Now that I know about the spot gloss in these illustrations, that might be the catch for my young reader, if we were reading this together. I don't know if the story of two kids struggling to meet would grab him on its own.

Troto and the Trucks by Uri Shulevitz would be a hit with my picture book reader, simply because of the trucks. And while the story doesn't make a lot of sense to me, the little car overcoming all those trucks might work very well with him.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena with illustrations by Christian Robinson. This one I picked up because I read an article about de la Pena that interested me. This is a story about a boy going somewhere with his grandmother after church and not feeling very enthusiastic about it. The elegance of the writing may be over my little reader's head. Though I have read that this book is for grade school age children, not three-year-olds. It's not meant for my guy, who likes looking at pictures of trucks. Though he prefers trains, to be honest.

Picture books cover such an array of age groups. Someone must be writing about that, right?

Last Stop on Market Street was this year's Newbery winner, by the way. I told you it was elegant.

Also, Market Street's illustrator, Christian Robinson, also illustrated Gaston and Josephine.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Reading "Poets & Writers" & "The Horn Book"

During Monkey Mind Summer, I am managing to keep up better with professional reading than I usually do. No, I don't know what that's about.

What to read in the July/August Poets & Writers

The four articles on literary agents. They make clear the value of agents and the array of things they can do. While I've known writers who didn't have these kinds of experiences with agents, this cover story describes the writer agent dream. Forget princes. "Some day my agent will come..."

How to Pitch Yourself to Bookstores: What Booksellers Want From An Author by Lynn Rosen. Oh, my gosh.

Superpowered Storytelling: What I've Learned From Writing Comics by Benjamin Percy. Favorite bits: Treating outlines like rehearsals  (Remember that, Gail) and "Every story is about the thing and the other thing."

Look What The July/August Horn Book Included!

On Sunday, a family member and I were talking about how there are a lot of childlit bullying books out there. It will be hard for a self-published bullying book, or even one from a small publisher, to get much attention.

"You know what I want to see?" I asked. "I want to see a bullying book from a bully's point of view. Do these people know they are bullies? Do they care?"

Well, the July/August Horn Book carries a review for Patrice Kindl's Don't You Trust Me? that doesn't make it sound like an actual bully book. But the reviewer does say it involves a protagonist who can "lie, cheat, and steal without sparing a thought for the impact on anyone else." The book is described as "a fast-moving tale of unapologetic self-interest." The word "amoral" is tossed in.

While Don't You Trust Me? may not be the bully book I was hoping for, it sounds absolutely refreshing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Once Again...Sprint!

Monkey Summer Continues

We still have more birthdays, a family member's move, an out-of-state trip, and a surgery in the family coming up. And that's assuming nothing uninspected comes up.This kind of
thing always leads to a nice case of monkey mind for me.

Sprinting...working in a short spurt...has helped me in the past during high family times. So I've been working sprints recently. I plan to squeeze in twenty minutes here and there.

The beauty of sprinting is that it usually leads to a little bit of flow and the next thing you know, you've worked a half an hour, thirty minutes, or more. You've made a submission, found another new publication to follow, rewritten those first few pages...again.

Sprinting keeps me in the game when the rest of my life is in danger of overwhelming the game.

Yeah, I know. Enough with the game analogy. Go do a sprint, Gail.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Everything I Wanted To Know About Barbie

Let's get this out of the way. I am not a Barbie fan. I didn't have a Barbie when I was a child and don't remember caring. I don't even remember hearing about Barbie until my youngest sister got one. I do recall making her doll a red jumpsuit. That was back in the day when I sewed a lot of clothing, compared to now, anyway. But sewing for Barbie was a b-- ...ah... was difficult. Sewing those little tiny seams was hard! By the time I had children, I found Barbie kind of slutty. Yeah, I slut-shamed Barbie. When my younger son was invited to a little girl's birthday party, he instructed me to get her something for Barbie. "She likes Barbie." I walked up and down the aisle of the toy department in some store and kept saying to myself, "I can't buy any of this stuff." I finally got her some kind of a Barbie careers board game. That was the best I could do without feeling dirty.

So why did I read The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone? Well, the book looked like a popular history of a pop culture...thing. I like a little history, and I definitely believe popular culture has significance. It deals with how we actually live. Additionally, Tanya Lee Stone is a pretty well-known New England children's writer whose work I hadn't read before. One, two, three reasons to read this book.

Fascinating Bookie Bits


  • The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie begins with very interesting material about Ruth Handler, Barbie creator. Ruth comes up again at the end of the book. Nice bookending. Love when that happens.
  • The Ruth Handler section is classic historical research. Then comes some original research. Stone reports on material she collected from former and sometimes present Barbie owners. I've no idea how, say, sociologists would feel about how this was done but it was very readable.
  • My neighbor, Joan, did have a Barbie. Her big memory (fondest memory?) of playing Barbies with her friends is a word...dismembering...the dollies. According to Stone, that's a thing.

A Great Model For Student Writers

When my kids were in elementary school, I noticed that they rarely were assigned to read the kinds of things they were expected to write. They read novels, but they were expected to write short stories and, more importantly, nonfiction. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie would be a great model for student writers and student historians.

A Little Added Doll Attraction

This weekend while trying to find podcasts to listen to (I told you about that yesterday), I did find this nice little essay, You Play With Dolls, by Bess Winter at Black Warrior Review.  It seems appropriate to share it here.