Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: E-Mail Box As To-Do List

Last month The Guardian ran an article called Why Time Management Is Ruining Our Lives by Oliver Burkeman. It's part of something called The Long Read, and, indeed, it is. Burkeman has a lot of fascinating things to say. (I mentioned this was a long read, right?) There's some stuff on the history of time management, for instance. Some material at the end that I'll ruminate upon another time.

What got my attention first came early on. Burkeman describes an e-mail managing system called Inbox Zero that he says became popular about ten years ago. For the most part, it sounds like standard advice commonly discussed now--deleting e-mails, unsubscribing from mailing lists, etc. Oddly enough, it aroused some hostility, because...ah...I don't know. Because all in-boxes have to be the same? Something like that? Burkeman says the "fervour" over Inbox Zero "seems extreme" because  "email had become far more than a technical problem. It functioned as a kind of infinite to-do list, to which anyone on the planet could add anything at will"

A To-do List? That Anyone Can Add To?

Well, that's a totally different way of thinking about e-mail, isn't it?

  • A To-do List: Anyone else leave e-mail in their in-box to help remind them to do something? The e-mails re. a monthly calendar you maintain, for instance? Comments from an editor that you haven't acted upon yet? Requests for book donations you haven't gotten around to dealing with? If you do, your e-mail is, indeed, a to-do list.
  • That Anyone Can Add To?: Yeah, those to-do list items I described above came from someone else. Sometimes these things can come unexpectedly, too. Say, inquiries about school appearances, for instance.

A To-do List That Anyone Can Add To...How Depressing Is That?

Well, actually, being the Pollyanish person that I am, I read "It functioned as a kind of infinite to-do list, to which anyone on the planet could add anything at will" and thought, Hot damn. What can I do about that?

My thought is that I can:

  • Try Treating My In-Baskets Like To-do Lists: What do you do with to-do lists? You delete things from them.  Being careful to delete e-mails I've dealt with, finally, is obvious, but some items on to-do lists become unnecessary before they're completed. For one reason or another, they no longer need to be done. Being careful  to get rid of those e-mails will help, too. A lot.
  • Protect My In-Baskets From Anyone On The Planet Adding Anything At Will To Them:  All those terrific things I signed up to receive...booklists...writing process materials...and never have time to look at? Unsubscribe. I should be realistic and not subscribe to things in the first place, too. This is like precycling, when you don't buy something so you don't have to recycle it later. And I should also be vigilant about companies routinely sending me their marketing. As much as I dislike these people forcing themselves into my life, I've become so accustomed to seeing their #!%% in my in-boxes that I just delete it without thinking. I'm making a bigger effort to unsubscribe now that I'm thinking in terms of these people adding reading to my to-do list, or, if I can't unsubscribe for some reason, mark this unwanted material as junk so it's at least routed away from my main in-baskets. 
Note that I wrote "my in-baskets" above. I have two, one for my personal e-mail address and one for my professional one. That's actually helpful when thinking of in-baskets as to-do lists, because it keeps the e-mails on my family to-do list separate from the e-mails on my professional to-do list.
These are all things I should have been doing, anyway, and was doing, anyway. Sometimes. In a not very consistent way. But thinking about my in-boxes as to-do lists is making me feel a lot more enthusiastic about taking care of these tasks now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

February Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

The weather hasn't been very bad in Connecticut so far this year. It looks as if organizations feel comfortable scheduling a few more events.

Sat., Feb. 4, Betsy Devany, West Hartford Public Library, Noah Webster Library Meeting Room, West Hartford 10:30 AM to 11:15 AM Take Your Child to the Library Day event. Registration required.

Mon., Feb. 6, Pegi Deitz SheaBarnes & Noble UCONN, Storrs Center, Storrs 7PM This event will showcase the author's adult work along with that of two other writers.

Fri., Feb. 10,  Ann Bausum and Michael H Cottman, Barnes & Noble  UCONN Storrs Center 4:00 to 6:00 PM

Sat., Feb. 11, Timothy Basil Ering, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison  10:30 AM

Sat., Feb. 11, Jenn Arata, Fairfield University Bookstore, Fairfield Storytime RSVP

Thurs., Feb. 16, Matthew Van Fleet, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison  4:30 PM

Sat., Feb. 25, Gigi Priebe, Byrd's Books, Bethel  3:00 PM

Friday, January 27, 2017

Multicultural Children's Book Day--Today

Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day, which I thought I had mentioned earlier, but, yikes!, it appears I did not. A great many bloggers are taking part in this with reviews of multicultural books. There are also publishers and authors involved.

If  you're late to this party, you can still follow the Multicultural Children's Book Day official hashtag, #ReadYourWorld. I set up a Tweetdeck column for it last night. That's how I found Chronicle Books' blog post Celebrating Diversity in Children's Books with Lovely Illustrations, which includes Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

And speaking of parties, as I was earlier--There will be a Multicultural Children's Book Day 2017 Twitter Party this evening from 9 to 10 PM EST.

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? Jan. 23 Edition

Okay. I'm finally getting back to work. No more whining!

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives.  Hittin' all three of the objectives on this one. You'll be hearing about the timekeeping app I'm working with.

Goal 2. Generate New Work Through End of April--Adult Novels. A final revision is going well so far, once I rewrote the first chapter. The voice is changing as a result, which is exciting.

Goal 6. Support and Promote Diverse Literature As A Means Of Helping To Maintain A Civil Culture 

Goal 7. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding
  • Chinese New Year/"Nian Monster" post See Goal 6 Multiplier: Promoted to Google+, Google+ community, Facebook, 3 Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter
  • Time Management Tuesday post: Promoted to Google+, Google+ community, and Twitter
  • Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns post See Goal 6 Multiplier: Promoted to Google+, Google+ community, two Facebook communities, Goodreads, and Twitter. 
  • Finished the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar for February
  • Continuing with Cybils reading and communicating with other judges.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

One More Day To Comment For A Chance At "The Nian Monster"

The title of this post pretty much says it all. Head over to the Nian Monster giveaway post before 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time tomorrow and comment for a chance to win The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang. (And Alina Chau, illustrator.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Book Of Colors For People Like Me

When my children were little, I really, really didn't enjoy those books with just a word here or there. Those Richard Scarry books with pictures of thing, thing, thing, for instance. By the time I'd point to "table," "chair," "cupboard" and read the words under them, I was done. And then there were books of shape, shape, shape. And, of course, books of color, color, color. When my oldest son was in kindergarten and his brother was in preschool, I started reading them novels, because I was that close to losing my mind.

How much I would have enjoyed reading them Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Kahn with illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini.  "Blue is the hijab/Mom likes to wear./It's a scarf she uses to cover her hair." Real sentences! A beautiful two-page spread with something happening in it instead of a blue circle or square. Oh, my gosh. And eleven more colors are covered, including...get this...silver. Seriously, when do you see silver in a kids' book about colors?

I know picture books are for children, but adults have to read them, too. And that's why a beautiful book like Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is such a treat. The biggest draw here is described in the book's subtitle, A Muslim Book of Colors. For nonMuslim readers like myself, the content of this book is unique. "Purple is an Eid gift/just for me./I open it up/and love what I see." I'd never heard of Eid before. It involves presents!

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is an example of why diverse books can be a pleasure. Sometimes it's just such a relief to read something new.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: Getting Up Off The Mat...Again

Enjoying Ill Health On Retreat
I am sure you all missed my usual summary of my week last Friday, which I cannot link to because it doesn't exist. Yes. That is why you didn't see it. It's not that I didn't do anything last week, it's that I didn't do as much as I'd planned to with all those wonderful 2017 goals and objectives I was talking about a few weeks ago. It wasn't just that I was back from Retreat Week, and it's hard to get back into work mode after retreating. No, what happened is that I got sick on Retreat Week. And while I wasn't all that sick, when I got home, I didn't get better. By Monday I was coughing all day, and while I was able to make a tour of some town libraries to pick up Cybils books Tuesday morning, by that evening I was miserable with a headache, and the next afternoon I was on the couch all afternoon with a fever, and the fever came back Thursday night, and Friday I was told I had bronchitis.

So there has been no consistent sticking  to goals in a time efficient and productive way. And while I'm feeling better this evening, I'm afraid it won't last, even though I've been chowing down antibiotics for three days, haven't had a fever since Saturday, and am hardly coughing at all. And if it does last, I need to step up my elder care work to relieve the family member who has been covering for me these last two weeks and then there's a follow-up appointment I haven't even made yet to a doctor to make sure my chest has quieted down.

All of which will take time. Time when I won't be working.

Stop Whining, Gail


Fortunately, I had something similar happen--in January, again, as a matter of fact--three years ago. Actually, that was much worse, because it involved surgery. I got over that and went back to work. What's a little bronchitis?

Let's go over the lessons I learned then.

First Off, Get Zenny

Last week is over. It's time to give up regret over it not turning out the way I expected it to. The work I need to do for family is in the future. Dwelling on it will only cause anxiety. Stay focused on the present and what I can be doing right now. If I'm in this house right now, I can be working.

Rely On Small Units Of Time

When you're sick, or recovering from being sick, thinking about working in week-long or day-long or sometimes even afternoon-long units of time can be a big mistake. When it can't happen, you get discouraged. You risk succumbing to the dread What-the-Hell Effect. When you're sick, or recovering from being sick, you may have a much better chance of hanging in for forty-five minutes. Or thirty minutes. Or even twenty minutes.

You can get something done with a number of small units of time. Which beats getting nothing done at all.

I kept the blog up last week, for instance. Blog posts are great for small units of time between fever spikes. I got my Chinese New Year post done and up, which actually supported a goal for this year. I finished revising a chapter. Okay, it was a three-page introductory chapter, but it was an important piece of another goal. I've got a good start on next month's Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar, and while a few times this past week I was too uncomfortable to read, I have only one and maybe three-quarters books of Cybil reading left to do.

It is not what I imagined doing last week. But if I can put away what I imagined I was going to achieve, I can recognize that last week wasn't a waste. Without the unit system, it would have been.

Speaking of my Chinese New Year post, as I just did: I'm offering a chance to win a copy of Andrea Wang's marvelous The Nian Monster. Check it out and leave a comment.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prepping For Chinese New Year With A Book Giveaway

Cai Shen & Shifu Malee Khow

Chinese New Year is this Saturday, January 28. It's a holiday I became familiar with a few years ago when I started studying tai chi at a tai chi/kung fu school. The school celebrates Chinese New Year (though not on the official holiday the last couple of years) with performances and entertainment. Cai Shen visits to distribute red envelopes.

The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang with illustrations by Alina Chau is a beautiful book about this very holiday. In Chinese culture, the story of the Nian Monster is a sort of creation story, explaining how the color red, music, and fireworks became associated with the New Year celebration. In Wang's The Nian Monster, the monster is no longer frightened by the old tricks from a thousand years ago and has returned to devour modern Shanghai. Unfortunately for him, the first human he encounters is a young girl named Xingling. She is not at all intimidated and puts him off three times with treats of food that overwhelm him, meaning Shanghai is safe for another twenty-four hours until he recovers. She vanquishes him finally. Will he be back next year? Xingling has a plan to deal with that.

Among the marvelous things about this book:

  • Alina Chau's illustrations.
  • The great interaction between Chau's illustrations and Wang's text. We know this is a contemporary story from those illutrations. 
  • Xingling enlists the help of adults with each of her schemes to control and overcome the Nian Monster. But she is in control. The grown-ups merely carry out her plans. A lot of what they do is carried in those illustrations I've been talking about.
  • This is an adventure story, not an instructive one. Yet it's difficult to believe a reader will forget the significance of the Nian Monster for Chinese New Year and Chinese culture.
  •  While this is a  holiday book, the story is so strong and interesting it should be a good read all year long. 

Want A Copy Of  "The Nian Monster?"

Doesn't this book sound great? Don't you wish you had a copy?  Well, I do have one, and I'm going to give it away.

You have all this week to leave a comment below. Something like "I'd like that" or "Count me in." If you're familiar with how shopping for LuLaRoe works, I'm talking something like that. The winner will be announced Friday afternoon after my computer guy uses a program to select a random winner.

FTC Disclosure: While I am acquainted with Andrea Wang through Facebook, I purchased my copy of The Nian Monster.

Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Edgar Award Nominations For Juvenile And YA Books

Best Juvenile

Summerlost by Ally Condie (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton BFYR)
OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere by (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Best Young Adult

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger (Simon & Schuster – Simon Pulse)
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (Macmillan Children's Publishing Group – Henry Holt BFYR)
Girl in the Blue Coat
by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Press – Soho Teen)
Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor (Penguin Random House – Penguin Young Readers – Dial Books)

These awards are named for Edgar Allan Poe (I've got a post coming up on him some day) and given by the Mystery Writers of America.

Check out the other categories.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is coming up on Saturday, January 28th. Sometime next week, I'll be doing a Chinese New Year post that will include a giveaway of Andrea Wang's The Nian Monster.

In the meantime, you can go over to Mia Wenjen's Pragmatic Mom blog for a New Year craft and an opportunity to win more Chinese New Year picture books.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: The Snowshoe Model

Anyone who has spent years here with me is well aware that I'm a bit obsessed with my annual January Retreat Week, an event which goes back to at least 2007. If you are a Facebook friend, you may have seen my Retreat Week albums for 2016...2015...2014...2013...2012. (I'll be putting up one for this year soon.) And you are probably aware that among my greatest Retreat Week obsessions is the snowshoe trip to the Slayton Pasture Cabin. That is one rough haul that started becoming easier last year because my personal Sherpa, who has some obsessions of his own, changed how we approach the summit.

What he did was break the 3.1 mile climb into segments, which he timed. Each segment has a waypoint that we are heading toward. When we reach one waypoint, we can then determine how long it will take us to get to the next one. The whole trip up to the cabin takes us nearly two hours. But the longest segment is only fifteen minutes.

Psychologically, that makes a huge difference.

It's also a time management technique suggested by people like Alan Lakein back in the 1970s. Complex or difficult tasks often get put off because they're just too overwhelming. Climbing that "knoll" or...writing a book...are good examples. Breaking the job into smaller tasks makes the work involved seem doable.

How Are You Going To Make This Analogy Work, Gail?

Fox Track Connector
First Waypoint. Most of our snowshoe waypoints were spots where the snowshoe trail crossed a cross-country ski trail. The first waypoint, for instance, was the Fox Track connector. What is comparable with books?

Well, some writers like to begin with a disturbance to the main character's world, something that initiates action. Getting that introduced could be a waypoint, a chunk of work a writer concentrates on instead of focusing on, Oh, my gosh! I have to write a whole book.

Starting a book is actually more difficult than starting this snowshoe climb. The first few waypoints come before the climb. Whereas starting a book is much more of a trail. There's no material there. Find a writing waypoint. That can lead you to the next one.

Sign For Parizo Trail
A Waypoint At The End Of A Difficult Portion Of The Trail. One of our later waypoints is the trail sign to the Parizo Trail. This is good waypoint not just because there's a sign, but because after a steep climb, one of the worst of the trip, the trail turns and we start walking along the side of the knoll instead of up it. There's a definite change in the climb.

This happens with writing books, too. Some sections are more difficult to come up with material for than others. You may realize you're wandering too much, you haven't been careful about planning a specific goal for a scene, there are too many characters. Finally getting that section done to your satisfaction, at least for now, is a definite waypoint. It's like making a turn after a difficult climb.

Owl's Howl Trail
The Mid-Waypoint. Can't say enough about how great it is to know you've made it to the halfway point on a difficult trail. I mean, yeah, sure, you still have half the trip to go. But if you have any positive feelings toward life at all, you're halfway done.

Having a mid-point in mind for a manuscript can be hugely helpful. Some writing process people suggest that a novel's mid-point should be where something specific happens with protagonists. They may make a decision. They may change their behavior for some reason. They may experience a revelation that means they're going to do something. If while you're working on the first half of the book, you can come up with a mid-waypoint, when you get there and you have any positive feelings toward life at all, you're halfway done.
Barbed Wire

A Dramatic Waypoint. One of our waypoints in the second half of our snowshoe trip involves an area with remnants of a barbed wire fence. When I was little, I ran into a barbed wire with my sled. Yeah, that was a dramatic moment. You can be sure I'm going to notice barbed wire out of the woods.

In the second half of a book, there's going to be at least one dramatic moment of some type. A climax at the very least. That's a writing waypoint.

End Of The Trail
The End Waypoint. Seeing that last waypoint up ahead is a great moment, both when you're snowshoeing and writing a book. Here's a weird thing that happens, though. It seems as if you have to walk forever across that meadow to get to the cabin.

And, in my experience, that's what happens when writing a book. There's the ending waypoint, you're all excited, and then you realize, "Shoot. I need another chapter." You get that done and, damn, if you don't need another.

You Finally Meet All Your Waypoints. Whether you're snowshoeing or writing a novel, dividing the job into pieces with waypoints helps makes the job less overwhelming.

What Snowshoeing And Writing Does To You
Oh, and by the way? Hitting all your waypoints, either snowshoeing or writing, takes a lot out of you. You'll be soaked in sweat. You'll have no idea that your hair is sticking straight up. Nor will you care. You won't even know what you're wearing, for that matter. That thermal underwear I've got on in the picture to the right? I looked down and saw one sleeve had a stain. Because I'd worn it while staining woodwork. Presumably in cold weather. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Picture Books For Retreat Reading

My Reading Done Pile
While I was on retreat last week, I did a lot of reading. Cybils spec fiction. A Poets & Writers.  Some Yoga Journals. A couple of Vermont Lifes. The most recent issue of 7 Days. Half a Carve Magazine. Got started on The Man in the High Castle, which I got at my retreat week indie bookstore.

But today's post is about a couple of picture books I brought with me, primarily because we had a four-year-old family member with us. I have a long history of "shopping" for books for family members. Over the years, I've registered a lot of hits. I'm thinking all those YA humor books for one YA. The adult mystery series for another. The hip books of essays for a daughter-in-law.

So what about the books I brought on retreat last week for a family member?

The Little Snowplow by Lora Koehler with illustrations by Jake Parker. I picked this book because our four-year-old is into things like trucks, race cars, and trains. This isn't the first truck book I've latched on to these last few years, which I want credit for. I may have mentioned here before that I don't get the truck, race car, and train thing. Dinosaurs, I get. Curious George, I get.

This is not a gender issue, by the way. I don't get princesses, either. Princesses actually annoy me. At least trucks, race cars, and trains are not annoying. They're just mystifying.

The little snowplow, of course, isn't a truck. It's a little snowplow in a world of big trucks. The Little Snowplow is a classic story of a little guy who trains and prepares and comes through in a pinch, in large part because he is little. Lovely story with a Beep, Beep for little ones to...beep.

I picked up Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole because I'd heard that our picture book reader is into those "hunt for things in pictures" books. Yeah, that's another thing I don't really understand. In fact, after looking at the first few pages of this thing, I thought, I hope he can spot the cat from this point on, because I sure can't.

Well, he could. Pretty soon, so could I. In large because this isn't a random Where's Waldo type of book. There is a narrative here that's told totally in pictures. A boy's cat goes out the window, has adventures while the boy looks for him, and eventually comes back home.

"Found That Cat."
We developed a "Found that cat!" sing-song as we thumbed through this, and before long our guy was "reading" the book by himself, including the wordless story about the cat's boy. One morning I stayed in bed and could hear him in the living room, going "Found that cat! Found that cat! Boy sad. Boy makes signs. Found that cat. Cat comes home." 

When it comes to picking out books for others, I've still got it. Not that I'm bragging or anything.

Well, of course, I am.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Rerun: The Snowshoeing/Book Writing Analogy

I'm back from Retreat Week where, once again, I made the snowshoe trek to the Slayton Pasture Cabin. Though I am what I'd call an exercise hobbyist, perhaps dilettante, I always find this six-mile round trip trying. I actually worry about it for months and start training in October with some climbs on a small hill behind my house. While I was out on the snowshoe trail last Wednesday, my mind began to wander away from how much I was suffering to how much what I was doing was like writing. I could do a blog post about this, I thought. And then I thought, this sounds very familiar.

That was because I had already had the same idea while making the same trip in 2015 and had, indeed, done a blog post about it. So, people, for your enjoyment, here it is again.

A Snowshoeing/Book Writing Analogy.

Many people who have not written a book may wonder what it would be like to just knock one off. I think if you took a  journey up a mountain on snowshoes, you'd get a pretty good idea of what it feels like to write a book.

Okay, say you're going to head up a trail, and just to make this piece of writing specific, let's say it's the trail to the Slayton Pasture Cabin in Stowe, Vermont. You've been up to the cabin a few times before, and you know it's one of the tougher outdoor activities you take part in. You feel some anxiety about this whole thing. But then you figure, What the Hell? I've done this before.

So you start out and things are pretty easy at first, and you're thinking, What was I worried about? Yes. I have done this before. I've done it successfully. People have liked what I've done in the past. Of course, I can do this.

Then you hit that Hellacious, straight up climb, the part of the job you'd really feared. It is horrendous. You think it will never end. You'll never get through it. You think, I cannot do this again. This has got to be the last time. Is that my heart I feel thumping away in my chest? Have I ever felt that before? Is it going to explode? Is there any cellphone service here?

Then you take that turn and things get better. Since you've done this before, you know some landmarks. You know that nothing will be as bad as that part of the job you just did. You know that the snowshoe trail crosses a ski trail at the X minute point, so you can think of this job as a series of short tasks instead of Oh my God I'm, going to be on this trail for two hours. And that's just one way!

You actually experience one of those break through the wall things that you've heard about with marathoners. You might actually be okay.

And, then...And then, you see the cabin. A chorus of angels begins to sing Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. They all sound just like K.D. Lang. You're going to make it!

Except...you still have to get through the pasture. Sure, this part is easy. But you're exhausted. You still have a ways to go. There's a fire in the cabin. There's food. Can you do it?  "Maybe there is a God," as Lenny Cohen says, because you can!!! You stagger up onto the cabin porch.

And that is what it's like to write a book.

But what about when you're in the cabin? Well, once you're in the cabin, you find that all the other writers, I mean, showshoers aren't wearing old thermal undershirts that are kind of too big for the shirt they're wearing over them. Nor do they wear hats their sons refused to wear. And they're talking about all the great places they've snowshoed and how long it took them to get to the cabin and how awesome it was, and it's always less time than it took you, and it's always far, far more awesome.

And that is what it's like to have published a book.

You come down off the mountain and feel pretty damn fine because it's always way better to have snowshoed than it is to snowshoe.

Just as it is always better to have written a book than it is to write it.

Friday, January 06, 2017

"Original Content" Is Going On Retreat

Yes, people, it is January. That means it's time for my annual retreat into the snowy north where I will do some snowshoeing and a lot of
reading and maybe some thinking, which is like working but different. No serious, organized writing, no cooking, no eldercare. Minimal social media, and no blogging.

See you in a week or so.

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? Jan. 2 Ed.

My first week working with new goals and objectives. Yikes.

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives. I experimented with the timekeeping app. More to say about that another time. I will just add that a done list is involved.

Goal 2. Generate New Work Through End Of April--Adult Novels. Worked on the second chapter of Seeking God.

Goal 3. Generate New Work, May Through August--Short Stories & Essays. While I'm  not actually working on this goal at this point in the year, I am trying to spend some time on short work ideas. Also, I read a great essay on culinary memoirs, a term I'd never heard before. I am now considering making all my essay writing this year about food.

Goal 6. Support And Promote Diverse Literature As A Means Of Helping To Maintain A Civil Culture. Picked up a great looking picture book at the library that supports this goal and ordered a picture book for Chinese New Year. Also started collecting some info for a couple of things I want to do related to this goal.

Goal 7. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding 

Cybils announcement post; Promoted to Facebook, Google+, Google+ child lit community, Twitter
Cybils announcement post became Goodreads blog post
TMT Goals and Objectives post; Promoted to Facebook, Google+, Twitter
Masterminds post; Promoted to Kidlitosphere Facebook community, Google+, Google+ community, Twitter, Goodreads
Set up We Need Diverse Books Twitter column
Connecticut Book Award post; Promoted to Facebook, two Facebook communities, Google+, and Twitter

That seems as if I did a lot, doesn't it?

I also spent an hour cleaning my desk/in-baskets, which I have no goal for. At one point, I thought I was just making things worse.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Connecticut Book Awards Are Back

The Connecticut Center for the Book, a CT Humanities Program,  is bringing back the Connecticut Book Awards, which were last heard from in 2011 when the Connecticut Center for the Book was managed by Hartford Library. There will be four categories, including Books for Young Readers. That will include "Juvenile, Young Adult, Teen." (I am not at all sure what the difference is between YA and Teen. In fact, I really have no idea.) This category includes both authors and illustrators.

Take a look at the submission guidelines.

Saving the Planet & Stuff was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award Young Readers division back in 2004. Pegi Deitz Shea (seated far left) won that year.

The hardcover edition of STP&S is out-of-print now, but I still have that outfit. And wear it. It seems as if that should have some meaningful significance, but for the life of me I can't think what it would be.

A Middle Grade Thriller

I think of Gordon Korman as being a writer of realistic middle grade fiction, with humor. His Masterminds is different. It’s a thriller. Think Wayward Pines without the creepy devolved beings and the futuristic setting. And the violence. And the adult point of view. Well, okay, it’s only like Wayward Pines in that it takes place in a community cut off from the rest of the world to such an extent that residents, or in this case the child residents, don’t know what’s out there.

The kids believe they’re living in a perfect place. Eventually, readers realize that indeed they are. They’re living in a perfect place that’s been created for them. The question then becomes why?

While I was reading Masterminds, I wondered why utopias always seem to have something about them that’s not so utopian.  

This book is written from differing points of view, switching among a number of the kids. This is something I don’t usually care for. In fact, I had just finished reading an adult book written with point of view switches. Masterminds worked better.

This thriller keeps a reader coming back for more. My major complaint is that it’s the first in a serial. The ending was better than it could have been. But, still, I would have loved to see a complete story.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: 2017 Goals And Objectives

What do we do at the beginning of a new year? Why, we plan how we're going to use our time over the next twelve months, of course. The very best kind of plan, in my humble opinion, is a detailed set of goals and objectives. Once again, goals are what one hopes to achieve, objectives are the tasks necessary to achieve them. What you're going to do, and how you're going to do it. Without objectives, goals are a lot like New Year's resolutions. And, you know, ninety-two percent of people who make those things are supposed to fail with them. Let's not go that way.

Goal 1. Adhere to Goals and Objectives 


  • Set time frames now for at least some of this year's goals.
  • Continue weekly checks of goals
  • Experiment with using timekeeping app to stay on task 

Goal 2. Generate New Work Through End Of April--Adult Novels


  • Complete final draft for Becoming Greg and Emma.
  • Finish a first draft of Seeking God.
    • Blueprint new chapters. 
    • I have a beta reader lined up for this manuscript
  • Assign number of hours per week for each project, using timekeeping app to stay on task


Goal 3. Generate New Work, May Through August--Short Stories & Essays


  • Food essays!
  • External support for willpower essay
  • Essays developed from workshop proposals
  • Research markets all year
  • Make essay and short story reading a priority
    • Beginning with the first issue of my Carve subscription, which I've had for a couple of months


Goal 4. Make More Than 33 (last year's number) Submissions Of  Completed Work Throughout The Year


  • Trouble at Wee Play World to list of publishers 
  • Essay to P&W 
  • Research deals at Publishers Marketplace
  • Research regional publisher for The Fletcher Farm Body 
  • Consider including brief market analysis with book submissions. 


Goal 5. Marketing Effort For Saving the Planet & Stuff EBook For April, Earth Day Month, Targeting Specific Markets


  • Create new slide show related to SP&S setting
    • Take pictures this month
    • Look into adding sound/narrative
    •  Research ways to promote the slide show
  •  Article on the recycling crafts in SP&S
    • Research markets for it
      • This objective would also support Goals 3 and 4, so...multiplier!


Goal 6. Support And Promote Diverse Literature As A Means Of Helping To Maintain A Civil Culture


  • Blog Posts Related To But Not Limited To:
    • Chinese New Year
    • Black History Month
    • Women's History Month
    • Earth Day
    • Canada Day
    • Labor Day
    • Native Reads
    • Readukkah
  • Provide social media support for other bloggers/writers generating diversity material


Goal 7. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

One of my most successful goals last year, in terms of accomplishing the objectives.


  • Continue with writers' group
  • Continue with Original Content
  • January--Cybils judging
  • Check out NESCBWI spring conference, with possibility of attending
  • Check out NESCBWI-PAL offerings this year, with possibility of attending
  • Attend other authors' appearances
  • Continue with promoting Original Content at Google+, Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter
  • Continue reviewing environmental books at Amazon
  • Research markets (Supports Goals 3 and 4. Multiplier!)
  • Supports Goal 7, so another multiplier.