January 28, 2011
But the next novel isn't going to write itself. Right? (I'm trying to spend less time with online distractions. Ha!)
2. There was an article about me in the Palm Beach Post this week. And, whoosh, local school visit requests have been rolling in. I'm so glad. Spending time with enthusiastic young readers is always inspiring and energizing. And fun!
3. Loyal blog readers (This means YOU!), super exciting 6-1/2 lists are coming your way here at Wild About Words. Authors, agents, illustrators -- Oh, my! -- with excellent advice to help you reach your goals for 2011 and beyond.
And book giveaways. Oh, there will be signed book giveaways!
Stay tuned . . .
4. Whatcha Reading?
I'm reading . . .
ROOM by Emma Donahue. Great storytelling. Great story . . . told from a five-year-old boy. Gripping and innovative. Master of the sparse setting and well-rendered scene. Dare you to put this gem down to attend to mundane things like, oh, the children.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS: ONE GRUMP'S SEARCH FOR THE HAPPIEST PLACES IN THE WORLD by Eric Weiner. So funny and interesting. Reminds me of Bill Bryson's wit and wisdom, which I adore.
5. It's been a challenging week here. Puppy decided that both the remote control and the telephone were chew toys. But that was small potatoes compared to . . .
When two big dogs were walking past our house, Puppy decided that busting through the screen and meeting them up close and personal would be a fine idea. Puppy didn't count on the truck. (His brain is very small.) THANK GOD the truck driver was able to slam on the brakes a centimeter before hitting our incredibly sweet (and stupid) pooch.
Did Benji (aka Butthead) even notice he was nearly Road Ragu?
Just met a couple new four-legged friends and, like any toddler, refused to leave the party. So I had to CARRY his 40-pound butt back into the house, while oldest son kept our other pooch from charging out the window to follow. And our other pooch is not nearly as sweet and friendly.
I'm not even going into the lightning strike that blew a transformer next to our house with a mighty explosion that knocked out our electricity and scared the baked beans out of me. Eh, it was God's way of telling me it was time to go to bed. What I didn't count on was the power coming back at two in the morning -- lights blaring, dogs barking -- you get the idea.
For now, though, all is well in the Land of Lunacy. Power's back on. Puppies are safe. People are safe. And as a wise friend, Yoda, once said: "Write, I will!"
Now, here's your Moment of Dog . . .
Have the best weekend ever. Okay?
January 20, 2011
Today, Mrs. B. made my day. She posted her review of How to Survive Middle School at GoodReads.
The last line of her review was the real kicker.
May you have a Mrs. B. brighten your day!
"I definitely expect this to appear on the Rebecca Caudill list in the next 2-3 years. This is a great book for grades 5th-7th. David struggles with all of the things that hit in middle school, shifting friendships, hormones, bullies, and a family split that occurred two years earlier. Throw in his web show to accentuate the difference between your "real" life and your "online" life, and I would say this is just the type of coming of age story you will find on lots of recommended reading lists. I read it because a 6th grade girl brought it back in and said it was the best book she ever read." -- Mrs. B., GoodReads
January 17, 2011
I went to that same conference nearly every January in Miami ever since.
The price has gone up a wee bit, but the conference still provides words of wisdom on craft and marketing, good food and the opportunity to make and reconnect with friends and industry professionals.
I had the great pleasure of being on the faculty of the 10th annual Florida SCBWI Conference in Miami this year. Linda Bernfeld is the mastermind behind this amazing conference. A lot of incredibly dedicated people help create the magic every year. A big thank you to each of them!
Here's Linda, surrounded by her family (and her fairy wings) at the Saturday evening ball:
There was a bevy of exceptional speakers -- authors, editors, agents, etc. You can read the faculty list here.
Here's a fun photo of Bruce Hale, dancing. (During his keynote, he was also singing.)
There was so much fun, friendship, information, inspiration and joy throughout the weekend. It's always terrific to reconnect with my tribe of lovely folks, who are dedicated to creating high quality books for children.
I loved giving my Quirky Characters workshop Sunday morning. Here are some of the fine folks who were kind enough to laugh at my bad jokes . . .
I was delighted to meet Audrey Vernick and her agent, Erin Murphy. Audrey has some great books out, like this one and this one and this one, too. And FIVE more books in the pipeline (so far).
Stay tuned, loyal blog reader, because I will be giving away an autographed copy of this book soon . . .
Here's a photo of Audrey and I holding each other's books:
I can't say enough good things about this conference. It was an honor to be part of the magic.
As much as I enjoyed the conference, it was nice to get home to my guys, both tall and furry. (Even the dog gave me a hug. And oldest son actually came out and dragged my suitcase into the house.)
Then reality set in as the washing machine overflowed. But the teens saved the day by unplugging the thing, moving furniture and grabbing armloads of towels to sop up the mess until I could fix the blasted thing.
Now? It's back to work with renewed vim and vigor!
January 14, 2011
Follow the orange marks on the trees a mile or so and you'll come to a tiny waterfall where canoe and kayak riders must pull their boats up, over a wooden ramp.
Hello canoe riders . . .
Uh-oh! Watch out . . .
I've canoed and kayaked WITH ALLIGATORS (and incidentally, with my children, who are significantly more dangerous). Mostly, you don't bother gators and they don't bother you.
What you really need to watch out for is those pesky writer types . . .
This park is my favorite place to relax, walk among nature, observe interesting creatures and chill with good friends.
Here's one now. "Hi, Holly!"
Every time I walk in this park, I discover something new. I've seen a family of deer an arm's length away. Baby Sandhill Cranes. I've heard peacocks shriek -- scared the tail feathers out of me. And discovered a pond full of wood storks and herons.
This time, Holly and I spied armadillos waddling into the brush. Couldn't get my camera out fast enough to capture their images, but I did get this . . .
ARMADILLO POOP! This, of course, ended up in my new novel, OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN. Don't ask!
So glad you could walk with me in my favorite park.
I'll be back soon with fun photos from the 10th annual Florida SCBWI conference. I attended the first conference and almost every one since, and I'm so excited to reunite with old friends and make new ones this weekend.
Have a lovely weekend; maybe take a walk . . . in YOUR favorite park!
January 11, 2011
I love these kids. (Oh, and the guy in the tutu.) I don't know which is better -- the video or the bloopers and outtakes at the end?
All I can say is I'd LOVE to do an author visit at Dowell Middle School in McKinney, TX.
Maybe these creative, fun kids would like to meet Hammy . . .
I mean, How to Survive Middle School is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List. I think a school visit with these book-lovin', video-makin' kids would be an awesome idea.
Okay. Okay! The truth: I've just got to meet that guy in the tutu!
January 10, 2011
THE BOY WHO COULDN’T SLEEP AND DIDN’T HAVE TO
GIRL IN TRANSLATION
THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW
THE LOCK ARTIST
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE
THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS
THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN
SCHNEIDER FAMILY BOOK AWARDS
Picture Book: THE PIRATE OF KINDERGARTEN
Middle Grade: AFTER EVER AFTER
Young Adult: FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB
STONEWALL BOOK AWARD
Award: ALMOST PERFECT
Honor: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON
Honor: LOVE DRUGGED
Honor: FREAKS AND REVELATIONS
Honor: THE BOY IN THE DRESS
CORETTA SCOTT KING AWARDS
Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement: DR. HENRIETTA MAYS SMITH
John Steptoe New Talent: VICTORIA BOND AND T.R. SMITH (ZORA AND ME), SONIA LYNN SADLER (SEEDS OF CHANGE)
Illustrator: DAVE THE POTTER
Honor: JIMI SOUNDS LIKE A RAINBOW
Author: ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Honor: NINTH WARD
Award: THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY
Honor: ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN
Honor: THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO
Honor: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON
FREAK THE OBSERVER
YALSA NONFICTION AWARD
Award: SHIP BREAKER
Honor: PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ
Illustrator: GRANDMA’S GIFT
Honor: FIESTA BABIES
Honor: ME, FRIDA
Honor: DEAR PRIMO
Author: THE DREAMER
Honor: OLE FLAMENCO
Honor: THE FIREFLY LETTERS
Honor: 90 MILES TO HAVANA
Award: A TIME OF MIRACLES
Honor: DEPARTURE TIME
Medal: KAKAPO RESCUE
Honor: BALLET FOR MARTHA
Honor: LAFAYETTE AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
THE CURIOUS GARDEN
Award: BINK & GOLLIE
Honor: LING & TING
Honor: WE ARE IN A BOOK!
Medal: A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE
Honor: DAVE THE POTTER
Honor: INTERRUPTING CHICKEN
Medal: MOON OVER MANIFEST
Honor: DARK EMPEROR
Honor: HEART OF A SAMURAI
Honor: ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Honor: TURTLE IN PARADISE
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!!!
January 3, 2011
TOP 6-1/2 LIST: FINDING A PUBLISHER IS A LOT LIKE DATING By LISA BULLARD AND LAURA PURDIE SALAS
Lisa has written more books than I've probably read! And she teaches, too.
A member of my critique group took her online course and GUSHED about how much time, energy and practical advice Lisa offers.
Here's what a student had to say about the online course: “This class has been incredible—challenging, inspiring, chock full of so much information.” —Ellen
Lisa teamed up with Laura Purdie Salas to team-teach two terrific on-line courses. (Details at the end.)
They've taken the time to share a fun/practical 6-1/2 list with us today.
Without further ado, here are Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas and their fab 6-1/2 list . . .
TOP 6-1/2 LIST: FINDING A PUBLISHER IS A LOT LIKE DATING By LISA BULLARD AND LAURA PURDIE SALAS
- Learn to truly know yourself before you go looking for a partner. The more you understand about your manuscript and how it fits into the publishing landscape, the better job you’ll do of matching it with the right editor or agent. One of the best ways to understand where you fit is to read as many other writers’ current kid’s books as you can—and take note of who published them.
- Screening your dates ahead of time can help you avoid heartache. Learn everything you can about an editor or agent before you submit your work to them. Examine their catalog and/or website—it’s like looking through the yearbook or Facebook page of a potential date. You can see where they’re going, their history, and the kinds of authors they’ve “dated” before. Equally important, you can find out if they’re looking for somebody who’s your type, or if they’re likely to reject you sight unseen.
- Don’t give up after one failed relationship. Giving up after being rejected by just one editor or agent—however much you thought they were your perfect match—would be like giving up on marriage after you break up with your middle school crush. Allow some time for wallowing, and then figure out what you’ve learned from the rejection and move on.
- The more connections you have, the easier it is to get set up with the right person. Go to writer’s conferences, join a critique group, read blogs, post in chat rooms, attend author readings. The wider your personal circle of fellow children’s book lovers, the more likely you’ll find somebody who is willing to help you make a connection with the right editor or agent. And once you’ve been set up, editors and agents will be delighted to find out you’re already a part of the children’s book world, and not just a wallflower who sits home alone on Saturday nights.
- Avoid earning a bad reputation. All the publishing professionals seem to know each other one way or another, and gossip travels fast in the “small town” of publishing. Never burn bridges—always remain professional and cordial, no matter how frustrating the process becomes.
- Be cautious about playing the field. Many editors and agents ask authors for an “exclusive” look at a manuscript, at least for the period of time they say is their manuscript evaluation period. So if a certain “monogamous” partner is high on your hopeful list, you may want to avoid playing the field rather than risk a damaged relationship.
6-1/2. Trying to place your manuscript is a lot like first love. There are the same huge hopes, the same butterflies-in-the-belly moments, the same sense of crushing defeat when you’ve been rejected. But when you finally make that first publishing match, there’s nothing else quite like it—it’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas are children’s books writers who team-teach online classes on a regular basis, including two popular offerings that focus on how to find the right publisher for your manuscript: Matchmaking Your Manuscript: Finding the Children’s Book Publisher that Is Right for You and Love at First Sight: How to Write a Cover Letter that Makes Editors “Swoon.” Registration for the next round of classes ends January 10, 2011, so check out this link soon! http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/events/workshops/matchmaking.php.
Lisa Bullard is the author of more than fifty books for young readers, including the award-winning Trick-or-Treat on Milton Street and You Can Write a Story! A Story-Writing Recipe for Kids. Lisa regularly teaches children’s book writing at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and online. Her background includes sixteen years working as a publishing professional. You can learn more about Lisa by visiting her website at http://www.lisabullard.com, where you can also access her “Writing Road Trip” blog that features tips for teaching writing to kids.
Laura Purdie Salas started out writing for adults, but she soon discovered that kids were her favorite audience. Her books include Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School and Bookspeak: Poems About Books (forthcoming), both with Clarion. Laura teaches writing for children through the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and online and is a former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. You can learn more about Laura at her website http://www.laurasalas.com and her blog http://laurasalas.livejournal.com.
January 1, 2011
I love reading books, writing books and reading about writing books.
To extract me from a library or bookstore usually requires the Jaws of Life and a really cute E.M.T. I have a stack of "to-be-read" books beside my bed that, in the event of an earthquake, would topple over and crush my skull. And I wouldn't even mind. That's how much of a book junkie I am.
This past year, I read/listened to 73 books. As always, there are way too many good books and no one to read them for me. What's with that?
Are you a bookaholic? Does a day or two without a book in hand make you twitchy? How do you prefer your books -- traditional, CD, Nook, Kindle, shaken, stirred? What's your absolutely favorite book from 2010? Or from 2011? C'mon, you've had enough time to read a book or two, right?
Rodman Philbrick was my happy discovery this year. (Thank you, Paul May!) You'll notice I read a lot of books by him.
I also loved, loved, loved listening to The Underneath, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Counting on Grace on CD this year. Excellent books, each.
Other books were fabulous discoveries, too, like April Henry's Girl Stolen -- a nail-biter and Jane Kelley's Nature Girl -- felt like I was on the Appalachian Trail, like with Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.
Donna Jo Napoli's books never disappoint. She's a true pro; loved Alligator Bayou. David Lubar's Punished was a whole lot of fun with the wordplay.
Dave Egger's Zeitoun was an incredible story. Read it. And Malcolm Gladwell's books always fascinate and inspire me. This year, I enjoyed Outliers and Tipping Point. His books help me think differently about, um, thinking.
I also had the great pleasure of reading a couple friend's books before they were released. Thank you Alan Silberberg for sending me Milo and Maria Padian for sending Jersey Tomatoes are the Best.
It's been an awesome reading year.
(Adult books are noted by an asterisk.)
Without further ado, here's the BIG BOOK BLOG-O-RAMA list from 2010:
1. * Girl, Interrupted -- Susanna Kaysen
2. * House of Cards (Love, Faith and Other Social Expressions) -- David Ellis Dickerson
3. * Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir -- Mary Higgins Clark
4. * Fight for Your Money (How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune) -- David Bach
5. * My Stroke of Insight (A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey) -- Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
6. * The Wordy Shipmates (CD) -- Sarah Vowell
7. Jumping Off Swings -- Jo Knowles
8. Love, Stargirl -- Jerry Spinelli
9. * The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant -- An Adoption Story -- Dan Savage
10. * The Quiet Room -- Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett
11. Tales from Outer Suburbia -- Shaun Tan
12. Paper Towns (CD) -- John Green
13. Wishworks, Inc. -- Stephanie S. Tolan
14. The Old African -- Julius Lester & Jerry Pinkney
15. The Chocolate War (CD) -- Robert Cormier
16. Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist -- The Frandidate -- Jim Benton
17. Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist -- Attack of the 50-Foot Cupid -- Jim Benton
18. Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist -- Frantastic Voyage -- Jim Benton
19. Dear Dumb Diary, Let's Pretend This Never Happened -- Jim Benton
20. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (CD) -- Paula Danziger
21. Freak the Mighty (CD) -- Rodman Philbrick
22. After Ever After -- Jordan Sonnenblick
23. * The Wisdom of the Wilderness (Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature) -- Gerald G. May
24. * The Jeopardy! Book -- The Answers, the Questions, the Facts, and the Stories of the Greatest Game Show in History -- Alex Trebek and Peter Barsocchini
25. The Young Man and the Sea -- Rodman Philbrick
26. * 84, Charing Cross Road -- Helen Hanff
27. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks (CD) -- E. Lockhart
28. Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have -- Allen Zadoff
29. Bronx Masquerade -- Nikki Grimes
30. The Last Book in the Universe -- Rodman Philbrick
31. The Underneath (CD, read by Gabra Zackman) -- Kathi Appelt
32. * Lucky -- Alice Sebold
33. * House rules -- Jodi Picoult
34. The Birthday Ball -- Lois Lowry (This read was great fun!)
35. * Sh*t My Dad Says -- Justin Halpern (This ultra-successful book began as Twitter postings.)
36. * The Marriage Epidemic -- June Portnoy (A good friend of mine from high school)
37. Notes from the Dog -- Gary Paulsen
38. * Prisoner of Trebekistan (A Decade in Jeopardy!) -- Bob Harris
39. Nature Girl -- Jane Kelley
40. * Outliers (CD) -- Malcolm Gladwell
41. Max the Mighty -- Rodman Philbrick
42. * Lift (CD) -- Kelly Corrigan
43. Out of My Mind -- Sharon Draper
44. Stinky -- Eleanor Davis
45. Alligator Bayou -- Donna Jo Napoli
46. * Taming Bipolar Disorder (Psychology Today) -- Lori Oliwenstein
47. The Frog Scientist -- Pamela S. Turner
48. Remembering Raquel -- Vivian Vande Velde
49. * Zeitoun -- Dave Eggers
50. Milo (Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze) -- Alan Silberberg
51. * Flowers for Algernon -- Daniel Keyes (I've read this gem several times.)
52. Love that Dog (CD) -- Sharon Creech
53. Hate that Cat (CD) -- Sharon Creech
54. * Citrus County - John Brandon
55. * Just After Sunset (CD) -- stories by Stephen King
56. Walk Two Moons -- Sharon Creech
57. * The Night Bookmobile -- Audrey Niffeneger
58. The Westing Game -- Ellen Raskin
59. Counting on Grace (CD) -- Elizabeth Winthrop
60. Jerry Spinelli (Biography) -- David Seidman
61. Big Nate in a Class by Himself -- Lincoln Peirce (Great new series!)
62. Schooled (CD) -- Gordon Korman
63. Girl, Stolen -- April Henry
64. Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz -- Beverly Gherman (Excellent biography; thanks Elizabeth Bird.)
65. * War Dances -- Sherman Alexie
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (CD) -- Mildred D. Taylor
67. Acceleration -- Graham McNamee
68. The Van Gogh Cafe -- Cynthia Rylant
69. Punished -- David Lubar
70. The Tipping Point (CD) -- Malcolm Gladwell
71. Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best -- Maria Padian
72. Blank Confession -- Pete Hautman
73. A Christmas Carol -- Charles Dickens