Thursday, December 07, 2017

Environmental Book Club

Another book on the seasons? Or a season? Aren't there a lot of those? Indeed there are. But In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes with illustrations by Laura Dronzek is an example of why more keep being published.

First off, I wish I knew more about art so I could explain why I find these simple, intensely colored illustrations so striking. Originally I was planning to say that this book is all about the art.

Then I read it again.

In the Middle of Fall is two sentences long. Those two sentences are filled with beautiful clauses, each one illustrated with an also beautiful a two-page spread. "...and the apples are like ornaments," is my favorite.

But that's not what makes this book so terrific. Pretty words, pretty pictures. That's not enough. No, what makes this book terrific is the second sentence, the one that foretells what's coming up at the end of the season.

Seriously, I dreamed about this book. I can't remember it now, but I definitely dreamed about it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: Managing Time With The NaNoWriMo Model

In case you don't recall, for National Novel Writing Month this year I worked on a project I'd already started. It wasn't a true or traditional NaNoWriMo experience. I wasn't signed up at the NaNoWriMo site. What I was doing was using the month as a set-aside time for binge writing. My goals for the month were:
  • Write two-thirds of a book.
  • Come up with a plan for the last third of the book.
  • Work on focus training


NaNo Results

  • I wrote 14,705 words, which amounted to 55 pages and 4 chapters. Since I'd already completed 2 chapters earlier, I now have 6. That's not two-thirds of this book.
  • I don't have a complete plan for the last third, though I do have the beginning of a plan, notes for many of the next chapters, and an ending.
  • I stayed pretty focused, though it meant clinging to the work with my psyche's fingernails, while the rest of my life was weaving back and forth around me. Distractions came from November's holiday and the biggie coming up in December, along with just general family needs. By mid-month I wasn't meditating, exercising, and putting in any extra tai chi practice outside of class, so I could stay on task with the manuscript. I also didn't learn anything about how to focus that I could apply to other work situations or life in general. I've been expecting that to happen for going on fifteen years now.


My NaNoWriMo Was Good


 In spite of those somewhat downer results, I feel this year's National Novel Writing experience for three reasons:
  1. I created a model for generating first drafts. I spent weeks before starting work planning chapters, characters, and settings. That's what I should be doing.
  2. I got into using placeholders.
  3. I was generating a chapter a week, roughly. Very roughly. Back in the day when I was between parenting young 'uns and caring for old ones and had the most control of my time that I've ever had, I was producing a week of new material a week. (Hey, don't judge me.) Last month I didn't have as much time as I did in the good 'ol days, but by prepping beforehand and letting the rest of my life go to hell, I was able to write as much as I did when things were going better.  

Next Time


I would use the NaNoWriMo model again, absolutely. But never again in November or any month with a major holiday. Or in a month preceding a month with a major holiday, in fact. The pressure it creates is unnecessary and doesn't do anything to help with the work.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Picture Walks

Oh, my gosh! Picture walks! What a brilliant idea for picture book authors doing a reading in front of groups of  young children. Or librarians or or booksellers doing story time. Or picture book authors. Or parents reading with young children. Or picture book authors.

What Are Picture Walks, You Ask?

Okay, a picture walk is an introduction to a new picture book, using the pictures only. The person leading the walk can ask listeners about what they think is going on in the pictures, who the characters may be, and what they think might happen. Since illustrations are supposed to carry a plot line, this approach should give nonreaders a good idea of what the story is.

When you're done with the pictures, you can get to the text and listeners can have the pleasure of determining if that matches up with what they thought was going to happen as a result of looking at the pictures.

For authors reading to a largish group, I can imagine PowerPoint coming into play.

Thank You, Facebook

I learned about picture walks last night in a Facebook group I belong to. Don't let anyone try to tell you the Internet isn't wonderful.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend Reading

I had a fun reading experience over Thanksgiving. It was picture book weekend with a young family member.

Hide and Seek by Ill Sung Na. Because my guy really likes to play hide and seek.

Ready, Set, Build! by Meg Fleming with illustrations by Jarvis.
This was my reading buddy's favorite. We read it twice. Possibly because the main character is blue.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli with illustrations by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. I haven't found many good Thanksgiving books over the years. I don't know what the issue is. This one about Thanksgiving dinner going awry I liked.

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson with illustrations by Stephen Savage. I picked this for the illustrations. Lots of blue. Seriously. The other reader likes blue. A lot.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh This is a lovely combo of story, art, and even a basic color lesson that you hardly feel is a lesson at all.

Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight. I snatched this one up because our reader loves to hunt for images in pictures. And he is good at it. Where's Wallace has quite a bit of text for a search book, but the great thing about it is that when we were stuck for time, I could edit it down and get us right to the illustrations, which is what we were interested in.

I was looking forward to my Thanksgiving reading, and these picture books delivered.