Thursday, September 30, 2021

Environmental Book Club

Copy provided by NetGalley

Publication Oct. 12, 2021?

According to NetGalley, Busy Spring, Nature Wakes Up by Sean Taylor and Alex Morss with illustrations by Cinyee Chiu publishes the week after next. However, looking around on-line, including at the publisher's website, it appears to have come out this past March. That makes a great deal more sense, a spring book publishing in the spring, not in the fall.

Whenever it became available, Busy Spring is an excellent selection for our Environmental Book Club. It's a beautifully illustrated story about a boy and girl who go out to work in the garden with their father, just because it is spring. They ramble about, doing a number of things in the yard, while Dad explains various things in a nonscientific way. "The spring sunlight is nature's alarm clock. Life's waking up. Plants are racing to get more light." A better than adequate explanation for young readers of what's happening in springtime.

The illustrations and layout of this book reminded me of The Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall with Caldecott Medal winning illustrations by Barbara Cooney.  Both books also deal with nature, by way of the changing seasons. Ox-cart Man is about what the ox-cart man does over the course of the year, while Busy Spring is about what a family does in spring time.

Busy Spring has several pages of back matter, including a lengthier poetic explanation of spring and then a section on what is going on with plants and animals at that time. But, really, the main text about the family working together is enough. 

Taylor, Morss, and Chiu have an earlier book, Winter Sleep, A Hibernation Story.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: The Third Quarter

It's the end of the third quarter, people. Time to check in on those goals and objectives you created at the beginning of the year. You did do that, right? Right?

At the end of the first and second quarters, I discussed what I'd done for these goals and objectives and what I planned to do. The same thing's going to happen with this post.

Goal 1. Finish a draft of a YA, possibly adult, thriller, now called  143 Canterbury Road   

 Objectives worked on this quarter

  1. Read YA thrillers. I've done some of that, and will be posting about one of the books soon. 
  2. Read history, since that's a significant factor for a character and maybe in other ways. I am still working on Jill Lepore's These Truths and Susan Strasser's Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash. These are excellent books. I just get distracted by fiction reading. 
  3. At the end of the second quarter, my plan for the third quarter was to get this draft done, so I could spend the rest of the year on short-form work. Though I didn't think that was going to happen. I was right! I got distracted by a Goal 3, see below, and a couple of minor surgeries in the family. (Not me.)

 Plan for next quarter:

  • My May Days group is getting together in October, and I'm committing to working on 143 Canterbury Road. Then I'm going to continue in November, as if I were working on a National Novel Writing Month project.

Goal 2. Concentrate on submissions and increasing the number of submissions I make.  I've made 56  submissions so far this year, up from 35 at the end of June. August submissions resulted in publication on two Medium publications, which I will be discussing below. Also, I received an excellent rejection from a publication with an invitation to submit more work.

Plans for next quarter:

  • I won't be pushing for submissions until December, because I'm focusing on Goal 1.

Goal 3. Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories. I ended up throwing aside my YA thriller work in August in order to meet a deadline for submitting two essays to a Medium challenge. I also took a humor writing workshop at the end of this quarter through the Thurber House, which I plan to write about later. 

Plan for next quarter:

  • Make this a focus during the month of December/

Goal 4. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

My plan for this goal for the third quarter was "Keep struggling along." Ah...what? What was I thinking with that?


Plans for next quarter for Original Content: 

  • Here at Original Content shift my focus from monthly book releases to other types of blogging: More regular TMTs, more book posts, more variety. Continue with the virtual author appearance posts. Focus on supporting new releases through.

While I am psyched for the next three months, I wish I'd been able to do more these last few weeks to get ready for them. I have little things piling up around me. But, hey, I am chaos, right? I can manage that.


Monday, September 27, 2021

Sunday In The Park With Linda: An In-Person Author Appearance

Yesterday I attended an in-person book launch for Linda Zajac's very attractive and intriguing picture book, Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals.  It was the first in-person author appearance I've attended since, I believe, December 2019

I see a lot of book people on Facebook chomping at the bit to get back to in-person book events after a year-and-a-half of pandemic living. I've always found it difficult to feel all that enthusiastic about being with strangers in confined places, even before masks. Also, the last couple of years before Covid I was aware of how much of my time was going to running around doing...stuff. One positive thing the pandemic has done is give me some control over that. I've loved eliminating prep- and drive-time to attend literary on-line events. (I'm going to a workshop sponsored by an organization in Cincinnati this very evening!)

I also loved Linda's book launch, even though I had to iron a shirt to wear to it and drive fifteen minutes to get there. The site was in a pavilion in a charming town park, an outdoor, safer setting with some strolling possibilities on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It wasn't a dead-end event, like going to the grocery store or the doctor or a bookstore, where you've made an effort to go for one thing and then go home.

At this book launch, you could chat and purchase a book and head off for an easy mile walk.

Sad to say, Linda has raised the bar for book launches for me. And not just because of the walk across an extensive lawn to this tower and the impressive view beyond it.

She served cake.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: What To Do? What To Do? Decision-making.

Over the years, I've done a couple of posts on decision-making, because decision-making takes time. In 2012, it was about making decisions related to concrete things you can hold in  your hand, so we can try to keep ourselves from becoming overwhelmed with...ah...concrete things. Overwhelm takes up time, too.  In 2015, I discussed making decisions about what tasks we're going to do

This second kind of decision making is particularly important. What we spend our time on involves risk. Just because we're doing something doesn't mean we're going to be successful with it. Say we can't do both Task A and Task B, so we choose to do A. But we don't get the result we were hoping for from it. What would have happened if we'd chosen Task B?

This topic is coming up for me again, because I've had to make some work decisions.

Real Life Work Decision 1

As I said in a post on Sunday, I am giving up the monthly childlit book release posts I've been doing for nearly a year and a half. I got more action at my blog as a result of doing those posts and an increase in Twitter followers, almost entirely because I've promoted those blog posts on Twitter. But I haven't been able to do other kinds of blog writing, because the book release posts--and promoting them--is so time consuming. And my fiction and essay writing has suffered, too.

Decision Made! After a couple of months on the fence, I finally decided to let the monthly book release posts go, so I can spend more time on other things. This is a feel good decision. I'm already working on a Time Management Tuesday post (yes, this one) for the first time in many months.

Real Life Work Decision 2

I was planning to spend October and November working on the YA mystery I've been talking about here for, what? Years? Then December I was going to take part in a flash writing program I did last year. All was good. I was looking forward to this.

Then I learned last week that Medium, where I have been publishing humor and essays this past year, will be changing its partnership program at the end of 2021. I presently have 41 followers on Medium. If I can't bump the figure up to 100 by December 31, I'll be dropped from said partnership program. One way to increase my followers would be to spend time writing and publishing more material on Medium and promoting it. The wider you spread your net, the more people see you and become interested.

Now, being dropped from the partnership program is not a major loss. All the partnership program does is allow writers to get paid a small amount when dues-paying Medium members read their work there. I have never made more than $5 a month through Medium, and usually much less. If I'm dropped from the partnership program, I can continue to publish on Medium, I'll just have no potential for payment. However, if I continue publishing there, without payment, and bring my followers up to 100, I can then reapply for the partnership program and presumably get back in and get paid for future work.  One of my initial goals for publishing at Medium was to develop a reputation/following as a short form writer. I don't need the tiny partnership program income to do that.

There is a bit of an ego bruising involved with getting dropped from anything, though.

So I could spend the next three months hustling to try to, maybe, collect enough followers to stay with a program where I'm making very little money, anyway. Or I can stick with my plan to get closer to finishing a book that I can then revise and submit to a multitude of agents who have rejected my other work. Yeah, six of one, half a dozen of another.

Struggling With A Decision. In the 2015 decision-making blog post I mentioned earlier, I refer to a group that advised determining which of the tasks you have to choose among will give you the biggest payoff. I felt that goals and objectives could help with working that out. 

This year, I have two goals that apply here:

  • Finish a draft of YA thriller that could become an adult thriller. It has a name this year, 143 Canterbury Road
  • Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories.   

Decision Made! I didn't find that helpful, at first. Then I realized, something is missing from that short-form writing goal. And that's publishing at Medium. That was never a goal for this year.

I've got over a week before the beginning of October. I've got another piece just about ready to publish at Medium, myself, not through one of the publications there. I'll take care of that before the end of the month. Then I'll lean hard on the YA manuscript in October and November, as I planned. December I'm doing flash, as I planned. I may be able to work some of those pieces, or some of the pieces from last year, into a Medium essay or humor submission to use before the end of the year.

If some kind of surge of interest in my work occurs on Medium this year, good for Gail. If not, meeting the new criteria for the Medium partnership program will become a goal for next year. 

I just want to say that writing this blog post was hugely helpful in making this decision. 

And, also, yes, that is a new Time Management Tuesday logo we're experimenting with.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

September Childlit Book Releases

This is it folks, my last monthly children's book release post. Enjoy it!

I began doing these at the beginning of the pandemic to support authors publishing books in an environment in which they couldn't do traditional in-person promotion. Now we have a robust virtual author appearance system, and on-site author appearances are slowly coming back. While these book round-ups have been good for my blog in terms of bringing visitors here, and I've gained new Twitter followers while doing them, creating them is hugely time consuming. And then there's promoting the post on Twitter afterwards. All of this has kept me from doing other types of blogging and even cut into my overall writing time.

So, the situation has changed, thus it's time for me to change what I'm doing.

Oh, and for the last time--these are just the September book releases I stumbled upon on social media. Many more books were published this month.

Sept. 7 The Midnight Brigade, Adam Borba  






Sept. 7, Born Behind Bars, Padma Venkatraman






Sept. 7 When Langston Dances, Kaija Lanley, Keith Mallett illustrations






Sept. 7 Fairy Tale Science, Sarah Albee, Bill Robinson illustrations 






Sept. 7 Willodeen, Katherine Applegate 







Sept. 7 Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals, Linda Zajac






Sept. 7 Norman Didn't Do It! (Yes he did), Ryan T. Higgins 







Sept. 7 A Touch of Ruckus, Ash Van Otterloo






Sept. 7 Lights Day and Night: The Science of How Light Works, Susan Hughes, Ellen Rooney






Sept. 7 Animal Architects, Amy Cherrix, Chris Sasaki illustrations





Sept. 7 Defending Champ, Mike Lupica 






Sept. 14 Niki Nakayama, A Chef's Tale In 13 Bites, Debbi Michiko Florence and Jamie MichalakYuko Jones illustrations 




Sept. 14 The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA, Rajani LaRocca, Steven Salerno illustrations 







Sept. 14 How to Win a Slime War, Mae Respicio






Sept. 14 A Soft Place to Land, Janae Marks 






Sept. 14 The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race, Max Brallier 






Sept. 14 As Babies Dream, Leslea Newman, Taia Morley illustrations 






Sept. 15 We Want Snow, Jamie A. Swenson, Emilie Boon illustrations






Sept. 21 For Every Little Thing, June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, editors, Helen Cann illustrations






Sept. 21 Battle Dragons: City of Thieves, Alex London






Sept. 21 Cuba in my Pocket, Adrianna Cuevas 







Sept. 21 The Wolf's Curse, Jessica Vitalis






Sept. 21 The Samosa Rebellion, Shanthi Sekaran 






Sept. 28 Pony, R. J. Palacio






Sept. 28 Barb the Last Berserker, Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson







Sept. 28 Beasts of Prey, Ayana Gray






Sept. 28 It's OK, Slow Lizard, Yeorim YoonJian Kim illustrations, Chi-Young Kim translator

Friday, September 17, 2021

National Book Awards Longlist For Young People's Literature

The National Book Foundation has announced the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The finalists will be announced on October 5.

I like longlists. They provide an opportunity to call attention to a number of books.

Safia Elhillo, Home Is Not a Country

Shing Yin Khor, The Legend of Auntie Po

Darcie Little Badger, A Snake Falls to Earth

Malinda Lo, Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright to See

Kekla Magoon, Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People

Amber McBride, Me (Moth)

Anna-Marie McLemore, The Mirror Season

Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrations by Floyd Cooper, Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Paula Yoo, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trail that Galvanized the Asian American Movement

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

In-person Author Appearances Coming Back To Connecticut

In-person childlit author appearances are slowly coming back in a number of places. Here are a couple of interesting ones here in Connecticut, because they're outdoors.

Sept. 10 and 11 Children's writers are among the authors featured at the River Bend Bookshop Author Stage, Glastonbury. 

Part of the Arts on the Green Art and Craft Show.  





Sept. 26 Linda Zajac, Hartmann's Pavillion, Henry Park, Vernon 2-5

I think I heard there's going to be cake at this one, but I'm not sure.

Linda Zajac is another one of my writers' group colleagues who has done well.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Some Virtual Opportunities For September

Well, I thought I was going to see a decline in virtual author events at this point in time, but that is not the case. Check out, for instance, the large number of events sponsored by Books of Wonder in New York City, Brave + Kind Bookshop in Decatur, Georgia, and Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts this month. I didn't find out about those hot spots, or at least how extensive their programming is, until after posting when I had limited time to make additions to this post. 

As usual, the following list may be changing over the next few weeks. I tweet about each event on Twitter, so you can follow me there, if you'd like to keep up with any changes.

Sept. 7 Katherine Applegate and John Schu, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Massachusetts 6:00 PM ET

Sept. 7 Sarah Albee, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 6:30 PM ET

Sept. 8 Michael Ian Black and Debbie Redpath Ohi, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, Massachusetts 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 9 Ryan T. Higgins, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Massachusetts 5:00 PM ET 

Sept. 9 Ash Van Otterloo,  Kim Ventrella, Lorien Lawrence, Adrianna Cuevas, and Josh Allen, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, Massachusetts 7:00 PM ET 

Sept. 9 Kara Thomas, Courtney Summers, & Jessica Goodman, Brave +  Kind Bookshop, Decatur, Georgia 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 9 Yuyi Morales, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 6:00 PM ET

Sept. 10 Kaija Langley and Jacqueline Woodson, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 11 Rajani LaRocca and Melissa Stewart, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts 4:00 PM ET

Sept. 14 Janae Marks and Lisa Moore Ramae, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 7:00 PM ET 

Sept. 14 Max Brallier, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas  5:00 PM CT

Sept. 14 Amy Cherrix & Stacy McAnulty, Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, North Carolina 6:00 PM ET

Sept. 19 Tanita Davis & Janae Marks, Books of Wonder, New York, New York 1:00 PM ET

Sept. 21 Jessica Vitalis & Erin Entrada Kelly, Talking Leaves...Books, Buffalo, New York 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 21 Shelli R. Johannes & Maddie Frost, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 5:00 PM ET 

Sept. 21 Alex London, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas 5:00 PM CT

Sept. 21 Tanita Davis, Shanthi Sekaran, Saadia Faruqui, Brave +  Kind Bookshop, Decatur, Georgia 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 22 J. Albert Mann, Emma Kress, Crystal Maldonado, and Pamela N. Harris, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 7:00 PM ET

Sept 26 Kaija Langley, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Massachusetts 10:30 AM ET

Sept. 28 Dan Abdo & Jason Patterson, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, Massachusetts 7:00 PM ET 

Sept. 28 Nancy Tupper Ling and Janet Costa Bates, Blue Bunny Bookstore, Dedham, Massachusetts  7:00 PM ET

Sept. 28 Schele Williams and Tonya Engel, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 28 Brian Selznick, River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Connecticut 7:00 PM ET

Sept. 30 Amy Timberlake & Adam Rex, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 6:30 PM ET

Sept. 30 R. J. Palacio & Josh Radnor, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 8:00 PM ET

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Where Are The Blustering Dads In Childlit?

I recently finished reading Priestdaddy, Patricia Lockwood's memoir about her experience growing up with a father who is a Catholic priest. If you want to find out how that happened, read the book, which
is very good. Lockwood is a poet with a sense of humor. It makes a great combination. Plus, she grew up in an unusual situation, so she provides us with something unique to read about.

I discovered this book while checking out the Thurber Prize winners. I think there is something Thurberesque about it in a My Life and Hard Times sort of way. Though Lockwood is Thurberesque in her own way. Does anyone even know what Thurberesque means, anymore?

Lockwood's father is complex in the sense that the father at home is extremely over-the-top, shall we say, and dramatically different from what one expects a Catholic Father at work to be. As a family man, he comes across as somewhat self-involved. Since this book is very much about his daughter's experience with him, we don't see that much of him at work in church.

I'm Looking For A Childlit Connection

Well into the book, Lockwood writes about bluster in relation to her father.

"I recognize this as bluster, because my father is a blusterer. If you have a blusterer in your house, you must treat him as the weather, capable of gathering himself in a second and storming...This is more a feature of fathers, I have found."

Early on while reading Priestdaddy I was reminded of Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern, another memoirish story of an over-the-top dad who works in the kind of job (medicine) where one expects something else. Then I recalled what might be the granddaddy of blustering dad books, Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. This book revolves around Frank and Lillian Gilbreth who had twelve children in the early twentieth century while both worked as management consultants/industrial engineers. The book features another over-the-top father, so much so that few readers realize that Lillian, his wife and the mother of his many, many children, is far more significant historically as a pioneering professional woman in management and engineering. In both Sh*t My Dad Says and Cheaper by the Dozen the blustering fathers are portrayed in a more obviously positive way than in Priestdaddy.

So I'm thinking the blustering dad is a thing, at least in adult memoir.

But Do Blustering Dads Exist In Children's Books?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any blustering dad stories in children's books. Of course, you don't get a lot of memoir in children's literature, and that's where I recall seeing this kind of father portrayed in adult books.

But why not use this character in fiction?

One reason may be that children's fiction is very problem oriented and not situation oriented, which is something that is more common in adult memoir. Therefore, fathers are often absent in contemporary children's fiction in order to create a problem for child characters to deal with. Or there is something dangerous or tragic about father characters, again to create a problem for child characters to overcome. Examples would be two middle grade novels I read recently, 365 Days to Alaska, in which the father is irresponsible and absent, and All You Knead is Love, in which the dangerous father never even appears. 

A second reason may be that with adult memoir with blustering fathers authors have grown up and away from their childhood and now recognize the blusterer in their lives as a blusterer rather than something else. With children's fiction, the main characters are children who probably shouldn't have the maturity (because they are supposed to be children) to recognize a benign or even loving blusterer versus someone who is loud and demanding or negative in some way.

Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see a children's book with a blustering dad. Or how about a blustering mom? Now that I think of it, I have an unsold middle grade manuscript with a blustering older brother.