Thursday, May 28, 2020

More May Childlit Book Releases

Here comes the last of my collection of May children's literature book releases. Combine these with the books I posted about last week and...Well, my goodness. What a lot of children's books were published this month.
As always, these are just the titles I've come upon. You're welcome to add more May publications in the comments.

May 12 A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, Gail Carson LevineHarper Collins

May 16 A Boy Called Preacher, Cheryl Schuermann, Intense Publications

May 19 Two Dogs on a Trike, Gabi SnyderRobin Rosenthal illustrator, Abrams

May 19 The Next Great Jane, K.L. Going, Penguin Random House

May 19 How Women Won the VoteSusan Campbell Bartoletti, Ziyue Chen illustrator, HarperCollins

May 26  The Paper Girl of Paris, Jordyn Taylor, HarperCollins

May 26 Piglette Katelyn Aronson, Eva Byrne illustrator, Penguin Random House

May 26 Witches of Willow Cove, Josh Roberts,  Owl Hollow Press 

May 26 Every Missing Piece, Melanie Conklin, Little Brown

May 26 Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures, Tricia Springstubb, Elaheh Taherian illustrator,  Penguin Random House

May 26 Orphan Eleven, Gennifer Choldenko, Penguin Random House

May 26 When the Storm Comes, Linda Ashman, Taeeun Yoo, illustrator, Penguin Random House

May (no specific date) Takoza: Walks With the Blue Moon Girl, Tara Perron, Alicia Schwab Illustrator,  Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Reading "Boundless Creativity" Part 2

Last week I began writing about my read of  Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Workbook for Overcoming Self-doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks by Martha Alderson. I explained about how her workbook encouraged me to create an inner, spiritual goal--"finish something"-- that I have found helpful the past couple of weeks.

Early on, the workbook asks readers to create an outer creativity goal in addition to the inner spiritual goal. Alderson describes creativity goals as "desires with a plan of action." The one I finally settled on was "Completing a book blueprint for 143 Canterbury Road by mid-June." (A blueprint is sort of an alternative outline for those of us who struggle with outlines.)

What To Do With Your Outer Creativity Goal

Alderson suggests breaking down your outer creativity goal into what we'd call here objectives. (She writes about long-term and short-term goals rather than goals and objectives.) So that's pretty standard. What is different, I think, is that she gives readers a way to assign those objectives/short-term goals a time frame. And there's also something objective-related that is tangible--as in something you can hold in your hand--and manipulate as you work or complete your tasks.

While using this system, I am making progress on what had been a very stalled blueprint/outline.

I will have more on Boundless Creativity in future weeks.

FTC Disclosure:  I received my copy of Boundless Creativity from a publicist marketing it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

2020 Tassy Walden Awards

Connecticut’s 2020 Tassy Walden Awards winners and finalists have been announced. This is a significant award in this state, because so many winners and finalists were later published.

The Winners Are

  • Picture Book Text--Natasha Garnett for Daniela Makes Her Way   
  • Illustrated Picture Book Writer/Illustrator--Gabriella Svenningsen for What Is A Memory?
  • Middle Grade Novel--Paula Kay McLaughlin for Renala: Sydney Parks & the Bayab Tree
  • Young Adult Novel--Katie Tietjen for In a Nutshell: The Case of the Lady in the Bathtub 
  • Illustrator Portfolio Finalist--Tessa Griffin

A virtual awards reception will be held on May 27 at 7 PM

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Reading "Boundless Creativity"

You will be delighted, I'm sure, to hear that I am reading a book for us. I’m halfway through Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Workbook for Overcoming Self-doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks by Martha Alderson. I was interested in the book because Alderson wrote The Plot Whisperer, which has the best explanation of organic writing I’ve ever seen.

I think Boundless Creativity will be particularly helpful for new writers (or creatives of any type) trying to get started with their work. As in people who are struggling to find time to do personal creative work versus the day job or family work. For instance, so far Alderson is talking a lot about using goal setting to work out a plan for what you're going to do over a specific period of time. You all know how I love goals.

The book has, though, given this more established writer a little jump start for her spring work.

An Inner Spiritual Goal--Finish Something

I have to say that I’m struggling with the spiritual aspects of this book. I sometimes find them distracting. However, there is a section early on about inner spiritual goals that I jumped on.

Alderson describes spiritual goals as "inner goals you decide to address to live your best creative life." Over the course of doing the workbook sections, it came out that spiritually I feel overwhelmed with tasks and that it has a negative impact on my ability to stay focused on any one particular task. I give in to the overwhelm. Yes, that's something I've been talking about here for...ah...probably years.

I was instructed to combine a flaw I'd written about along with a personal strength to create a mantra. Mantras are a spiritual thing that I actually kind of understand. It's a word or saying that's supposed to aid meditation or maybe just in life. The mantra I came up with was "When I am exhausted and overwhelmed from too many tasks, I choose one to complete. One that can be completed."

Or, to put it in a less unwieldy manner, "Finish something."

I tried to deal with the finishing issue a couple of years ago, but, quite honestly, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of time management and productivity material I've picked up since I started this time management feature here at the blog. But now I have this mantra, "Finish something," and that seems to be helping. For the last few days, anyway.

Now by "finish something," I don't necessarily mean writing the next book. Finishing cleaning a counter, the next entry in a trail album, taking care of the clothes piled on a chair, or cooking the eggplant before it goes bad works just fine. Because what I want this mantra to do for me is make me feel less overwhelmed by the multitude of things that go on in life. When I'm not feeling overwhelmed, I can concentrate on work a whole lot better.

Oh, one of the things I finished last week was setting up a private workstation for myself on the main floor of the house. I won't go into the long story of why I needed to do that, but it had been at the back of my mind for a few weeks, if not longer.


So for someone who doesn't totally get the spiritual aspects of this book, the spiritual aspects of this book have helped my creativity this past week.

I will have more on Boundless Creativity in future weeks.

FTC Disclosure:  I received my copy of Boundless Creativity from a publicist marketing it.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

May 5 Childlit Book Releases

I've heard about a lot of May children's book releases. Here are just the May 5th releases that have come to my attention.

Do you know of more May 5th books? Feel free to add the titles in the comments. I'll do another May release post later in the month.

 May 5 Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence, Scholastic

May 5 Any Day With You by Mae Respicio, Penguin Random House 

May 5 Ocean! Waves for All by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by David Litchfield, Macmillan

May 5 The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate, Harper Collins

 May 5 Throwback: The Chaos Loop by Peter Lerangis, Harper Collins 

May 5  Frog Meets Dog by Janee Trasler, Scholastic 

May 5  Goat in a Boat by Janee Trasler, Scholastic

May 5 Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Bloomsbury

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A New Publication For Me--And Another Writing Analogy.

Today's Coronavirus Walk
I have done snowshoeing/book writing analogies here. I have done a taekwondo/writing analogy. I have done a biking/time management analogy. Now I am going to do a walking/writing analogy.


Given that my husband and I have been biking somewhere around 20 years, you'd think we'd be a whole lot faster than we are. Given how long I've been walking, in one form or another, you'd think I'd be faster than I am.

I accept that we are, and, particularly, I am, slow. You just cannot have as many people pass you as I've had pass me and not accept reality. It doesn't matter whether I am on a bike or on foot, it doesn't matter how old or young the people behind me are, I am going to be passed.

Today's Overlook
But, you know, you're out there on the trail to be out there on the trail. So I have accepted that I am never going to win any awards for my speed. I just want to be out on the trail.

Biking And Walking Are Not The Only Things I Do Slowly

I have also had to accept that I am a slow writer. I'm even slower with getting published. A case in point? My adult short story, When I Have Fears That We May Cease To Be. was published yesterday at The Blue Nib Literary Magazine website.

I wrote this short story a while ago. A long while ago. I won't mention any dates, but I've been submitting--and revising--this story so long that there are copies of it in my filing cabinet that are clearly typed on a typewriter, not a word processor.

We're Not Just Talking Perseverance Here

I could say that this is an inspirational story about perseverance, that I kept the faith and kept submitting and that is why this short story was published. But I think there's something else going on when writing is published after a long period of time has passed. And what is going on is...time.

It's very possible that a piece of fiction needs to wait for publication until a pair of eyes falls upon it that gets it, that understands what the writer is doing. My first novel, for instance, was accepted for publication by an editor who was about fifteen years younger than I was. I was submitting work while she was, literally, still growing up. I had to wait for the right time for us to connect.

It's also possible that a piece of fiction doesn't fit in with the time it was written. It fits in with another time that's still coming up. I have no examples of that. I don't know if that's what happened with When I Have Fears That We May Cease To Be. But it's a big part of the reason that I keep submitting completed and rejected work. The time may not have been right for it when it was written, but it could be right now. Or next month. Or next year.

You Just Want To Be Out On The Trail

Today's Lunch View
Writers can't let the whole it-hasn't-been-published thing become a big issue for them. Writing is like walking or biking. You just have to want to write the way you want to be out on the trail.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

May Book Releases From Two Author/Illustrators

Last Tuesday Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo was published by Penguin Random House.  The book is the story of how Hedgehog comes to meet a number of characters while searching for a lost friend.

Lauren Castillo has written and illustrated a number of books and won a Caldecott Honor for Nana in the City.

Today Fuzzy Baseball Vol. 3: R.B.I Robots by John Steven Gurney will be published  by Papercutz. In this outing the Fuzzy Baseball players take on a team of robots.
Among the books John Steven Gurney has illustrated are the A to Z Mysteries and the Bailey School Kids.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Prince and the Dressmaker

The Prince and the Dressmaker, a graphic novel by Jen Wang, is a Cinderella-type story with a major and marvelous twist. The wife-seeking prince is a cross-dresser, and the Cinderalla figure is an ambitious and talented dressmaker.

Prince Sebastian seeks out Frances not as a potential spouse but to provide him with the kinds of women's clothes he wants. The two of them become a fashion team.

This story is unique for two other reasons. Sebastian, a character with a secret, is not a cliched, tortured YA male. (Though he's tortured some.) He receives support. And this romance involves two far more equal characters than you usually see in fairy tale-type stories. Frances's skill and drive make her much closer to Sebastian's level. He really has nothing going for him other than the accident of his birth into a royal family.

This is a fun and thoughtful read.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: May Has Thirty-one Days

Remember The What-the-Hell Effect?

It's two o'clock in the afternoon. I haven't done any writing. What-the-hell, the day is shot. I might as well quit until tomorrow. Yeah, you've heard about this before.

The What-the-Hell Effect relates to self-discipline and self-discipline, or lack thereof, has a big impact on managing time. Dealing with the What-the-Hell Effect involves being mindful and always keeping in mind that there's no reason to quit until tomorrow when you have a couple of hours of light left! Metaphorically speaking.

Time is gone. You can still do something with the time you have left.

We've Been Down The What-the-Hell Effect Road Before

I wrote about the What-the-Hell Effect seven years ago in relation to the May Days project I often take part in. And damned if I'm not going to write about it again in relation to this year's May Days.

Seven years ago, I missed chunks of my May Day work time because I was sick. This year we had a modest family health emergency that involved us hauling out of here at five the afternoon of April 30 and spending Friday May 1st helping out with some young relatives. Everything has resolved itself well. But, you know, it was the first day of this new May Day initiative, and I knew I had some other family things coming up I wanted to do and it just seemed like, well, what-the-hell? That's over.

Except that May has thirty-one days. I repeat, thirty-one. I lost two days last week, one of which was a Saturday and, let's face it, I probably wouldn't have worked then, anyway. And, yes, I may lose three to five more work days to family. Out of thirty-one.

Okay, I also have more pandemic work to do, since I need to make some more masks in odd times, and there's always vegetables to cook and freeze before they go bad, because it's going to be a while before I get more food in.

Still, May has thirty-one days.

I worked multiple hours yesterday and for maybe an hour this morning. I might be tied up Friday, but I should be able to get some hours of work in tomorrow and Thursday.

After that, there's three more weeks left to May.

The What-the-Hell Effect isn't so much about the time you've already lost, often for legitimate reasons. It's about the time you still have and could lose.

Work some of it. Any of it. That's all you've got to do.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

#ShortStorySunday: "A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy"

A couple of weeks ago, I read about something on Twitter called #shortstorysunday, a hashtag people use to share short stories they've read. I thought Yes! I can use this to read a short story on Sundays! That would be great! I would love to do that! 

Though all those thoughts definitely were followed my exclamation marks in my mind, and I was really excited about this whole thing, by the next weekend, I'd forgotten about it.

But I remembered today and read A Mindreader's Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy by Jenn Reese who wrote A Game of Fox and Squirrels, which released last month. This short story appeared at Uncanny.

Back fifteen years ago, when I was trying to define "story" for myself, I read Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hill. He said that a story is about something happening to somebody. It's the only definition of story I've ever found. If something doesn't happen, there's no story.

In a short story, it can be easier to understand in simple terms what the story is, because the story is short. And in A Mindreader's Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy, you can see that. It's not a slam-bam flashy event, but something very specifically happens.

I liked this story, and I think it has a lot of YA appeal.

I'll be reading more of Jenn Reese's stories on Sundays. Unless, of course, I forget.