Sunday, May 29, 2022

Some Virtual Opportunities For June

As the Covid positivity rate went up and up across the country, I came across fewer and fewer virtual appearances for children's writers. That explains why I didn't do a Virtual Appearances For May post. I'm seeing more again for next month. 

I will add to this post over the month of June, if I come across more material

June 1 Nora Raleigh Baskin, Debbie Reed Fischer, Debra Green, Jonathan Rosen, Melissa Roske, Books & Books and Miami Book Fair, Miami, Florida 7:00 PM ET

June 8 Dan Abdo and Jason Paterson, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 5:30 PM ET

June 10 and 11, Various Writers, nErDcampCTJr,, CT  Association of School Librarians, Colchester, CT Various sessions between 9:00 AM and 2:45 PM ET Open to K-12 students and their families.

June 14 Livia Blackburne and Alexandra Monir, Once Upon a Time Bookstore, Montrose, California 4:30 PM PT, 7:30 PM ET

June 15 Lynette Noni and Alexandra Bracken, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut 7:00 PM ET

June 21 Marika McCoola and Aatmya Pandya, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Massachusetts 7:00 PM ET

Friday, May 27, 2022

Connecticut's Nutmeg Award Winners For 2022

Connecticut's readers' choice award, the Nutmeg Award, has announced its winners for this year.

Elementary: InvestiGATORS by John Patrick Green 

Intermediate: Wink by Rob Harrell  

Middle School: Insignificant Events In The Life Of A Cactus by Dusti Bowling 

High School: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A Boy, A Girl, A Dog--What More Do You Want? Oh, Yeah, Robots

I stumbled upon Cog by Greg Van Eekhout on my first library visit in two years. It was the best book I brought home. 

It's a terrific middle grade outsider novel about a  boy, who isn't really a boy, but has many boy-like qualities. He's navigating the world, as real boys must do. He's at a bit of a disadvantage, because while he is capable of learning from experience (his name is short for "cognitive development") he has to do it in, perhaps we could say, a more literal way than your run-of-the-mill boys do. Because he is a robot. 

There is a cliched big-corporations-are-bad and bad-guy-corporate-employee thing going on here, but it's more palatable because of, you know, robots.

I know someone who's getting a copy of this for his birthday.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Joe Cepeda Has A Book Out This Month. Hey! I Know Him!

I was checking out some book events at the Once Upon A Time Bookstore in Montrose, California, when I saw that Joe Cepeda is making an appearance there next month for his book, Rafa Counts on Papa. I thought, I know that name. It's's from somewhere in my past.  

Indeed it is! Joe Cepeda illustrated my last two books, A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat and A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers.

Check out his incredible studio.

Congratulations on the new publication, which looks and sounds wonderful.

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Personal Essay With A Childlit Connection From Yours Truly

My most recent short form publication is Blackened Pans, published at The Bigger Picture on the Medium platform. This is not humor but a light, memoirish personal essay. To some extent it deals with
food and eating, something I would like to write more about. And it has a connection to some classic children's books.

Over the two years or so that I've been publishing at Medium, I've tried doing different things there. Self-publishing humor directly myself. Writing about Medium, which often goes over well there. Reworking material from this blog's Time Management Tuesday feature. Publishing a review of a time management book I discussed extensively here last year. 

With Blackened Pans what I did differently was add a bio at the end of the essay with a link to Saving the Planet & Stuff.  

I have another piece out for consideration at a Medium humor publication and will be probably submitting to another later today.

And then some work on the never ending YA novel. Because it's not all short form work here all the time. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Weekend Writer: We Need To Constantly Be Educating Ourselves

Earlier this month, Jane Friedman's blog carried a post by Brooke Warner, publisher of SheWritesPress and SparkPress called We All Need To Be Defended Against Predatory Publishing Practices. In it, she describes what to look for in hybrid publishers versus companies that are trying to simply sell what I think of as printing services. Both types of company involve authors putting up some money. But a legitimate hybrid should have standards regarding what they accept for publication and offer distribution/marketing. A company that calls itself a publisher but doesn't do those two thinks is, as I said, pretty much just a printer that hands you back a product that you then wonder what to do with.

I have at least two acquaintances who have published with SheWritesPress. I can't speak about their experiences, but I can tell you I saw one of their books on a display table in a very nice independent bookstore in Michigan a few years ago. Since the author was in Massachusetts, my guess is that that placement was something the publisher had a hand in.

This whole thing reminded me of why I started the Weekend Writer feature of this blog back in 2013. As part of my 20th anniversary observance, I'm going to reprint the original post explaining what upset me enough to start adding material specifically for writers to the blog. Notice that my plan was to do Weekend Writer posts on Saturdays. That was before I realized that I am chaos. I'm happy to get one up anywhere during a 48-hour weekend.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 Introducing The Weekend Writer

I have written about writing process here, but usually I'm whining. I've frequently written about plotting. I've written about publishing and e-publishing. But I've never been one of those writers who actually writes Advice for Writers or maintains that kind of information at her website. For one thing, reading about writing can be boring as Hell, and I wasn't confident that I could do anything about that problem. For another, many writers are already doing that at their websites, and I had no reason to believe I could do it any better. For still another, I've never thought that I have all that much to offer. And, finally, I thought this blog is probably read mostly by other writers, litbloggers, and my computer guy, none of whom are looking for writing advice.

However, earlier this week a friend from long ago contacted me to, indeed, ask for some publishing advice. She had written a story, found a publisher on-line, and contacted it, evidently giving someone there her telephone number. This was a self-publishing company with a "Not Recommended" rating at Preditors & Editors. What sounds like a salesperson called her, offering her a deal if she signed a contract by the end of the week. After that, the price would go up several hundred dollars. She was considering borrowing money to take advantage of the offer.

I am still upset about this.

There are so many people out in the world who want to be writers and have no idea how to even begin. Writing words on a piece of paper is the least of it. There's the whole issue of how to write and what is good writing and how do you know if you're even approaching good? Publishing is a whole other thing that should come long down the road.

Writing is becoming very professionalized. That's not a bad thing. Studying/training in your field in order to learn all the things discussed in the last paragraph--a very, very good thing, in fact. But I don't think a lot of people outside the writing world realize that you ought to actually know something and go out and learn it before you even try to publish whatever it is you think you've written. Some people would argue that a lot of people within the writing world don't know it. But one of the issues with training for a life as a writer is how? Must you go to college and graduate school? Can you get what you need from reading books? Going to conferences?

And a lot of the training is expensive. Going to college and, possibly, getting an MFA, for those who do it, costs some serious change. Conferences, retreats, workshops, professional memberships--not cheap. It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that I come from a rural, poor background. The idea that a writing career could be out of the reach of people like myself because of its cost, just as so many other careers are, is disturbing for me.

I'm not one of those all-dreams-can-come-true types. I'm a use-objectives-to-work-toward-goals type. That requires knowledge. Who can tell what a dream requires?

I still think I probably have limited help to offer and there are probably few inexperienced writers reading this blog. Nonetheless, I'm going to try to become a little more organized with my process and publishing posts, focusing them on Saturdays so that someone interested in just that type of information can stop by here one day of the week to get it. A lot of these posts will involve links to other writers and bloggers who are writing for writers, so that I can, at a minimum, direct readers to help. I may try to get other writers to add information in the comments. I may try to find a way to organize The Weekend Writer posts so that readers  can find them all easily in one spot. I may try to get Computer Guy to make me a The Weekend Writer button.

Yeah. I'd like a button.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Time Management Tuesday: The Postcard Form As A Way Of Thinking About Managing Writing Time

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to take a workshop through the Off Campus Writers' Workshop called The Postcard: An Introduction To Writing Masterfully Short Essays And Fiction. The postcard literary form is a type of flash fiction, often described as being no more than 500 words. However, the workshop leader, Micah Fields, said something I thought could be applied to any kind of writing.

He said writers often think of their writing sessions as being part of something longer, something big. They can be setting themselves up for failure. Not completing whatever big thing they had in mind is...well, at least some form of failure.

But with postcard writing, you're thinking small. Instead of one big success, assuming you get to the end of that big thing I mentioned in the last paragraph, you can have many small successes. And perhaps they can all be pieced together into something big.

Small Units Of Time Vs. Small Pieces Of Work

I've often written here about taking advantage of small 90-minute, 45-minute, and even 20-minute units of time when we just don't have a week, a weekend, or even a full-day to work. 

But I've said less, if anything at all, about breaking big work into small work. Not just chapters and scenes, but really small pieces. Like dialogue and descriptions and transitions. Try making those part of your planning, especially during periods when writing time is hard to come by, and see how much you're able to get done.

Thinking Small

I'm interested in postcard writing and flash for the sake of those forms. But thinking about writing small could mean getting to something big, too.  

Thursday, May 05, 2022

New Humor Writing. You Thinking Of Joining A Church? Let Me Help You With That.

Anna Earl @ Unsplash
I have a new humor piece up at The Haven. Your Guide To Finding The Perfect Church: By a regular church goer will not help you in your search for spiritual guidance, unless you are fond of coffee. Which, by the way, I am not. But I did run the coffee hour at our church for several months during a two-year period. Gail running coffee hour was not a draw.

This is an interesting piece, because it began life twenty years ago as an essay written for the one graduate course I've taken. It was not a humor piece but a wry, David Sedaris-type essay, with very little about coffee. Well, maybe this is interesting if you're a writer. A writer who writes both essays and humor.

If I ever become an accomplished humor writer, I might use this humor piece and the original essay as some kind of model to explain the difference between the two types of writing. I don't expect that to be happening any time soon. But I can wait.