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Look, I’m back. I can stick with it, I can!
The truth is, the one time I put a water bottle in my computer bag- it leaked. My computer spent some time in a box of rice over the heater (per instructions my husband found on the internet) and then it went to a guru. Everybody kept saying it would be fine as long as I took the battery out- but the new Macbook Pros have nonremovable batteries. Gah! We got it back tonight, and it has a couple of permanent water spots on the screen and needs a new airport card- but everything else is superduper. Yeehah! I will never bag a beverage again.
The Onion examines an authors exploitation of innocent, interspecific friendship.
The Longstockings are calling for a new manuscript to critique.
If you just ventured out from your cave, there were some book awards this week. I did pretty well with predictions. How about you?
Congratulations all around! Great Kid Books has the list broken down by reading level.
The BBC has produced a video about the real toy story of what happens when a teddy bear is home alone. Some people might not appreciate the audio at the end, but I am a different sort of people. Thanks to Minor Details for the link.
If you’re going to New York next week for the SCBWI Winter Conference (or if you’re there already), there are a few extra events happening around town you might be interested in.
Once again Betsy Bird is throwing a Kidlit Drink Night to go along with the conference. I went last year and had tons of fun. Her partner in revelry, Cheryl Klein, will sadly be out of town. But, we’ll live it up in her honor on Friday.
And then back at Books of Wonder on Saturday from 12-2 you can catch the opening of illustrator John Rocco‘s exhibition of Percy Jackson art. His editor will be there as well talking about the process of developing the art for the series.
Closer to home- SCBWI WWA’s 19th Annual Conference registration is OPEN! I’m so excited! Peter Brown! Jay Asher! Laini Taylor! Mitali Perkins! and LOADS of other great people. Look! I’m even on there. Under “Distinguished Faculty.” Ha! I’m giving a talk on the very basics of social media for writers and illustrators. People come to the conference from all over, so don’t be shy if you’re not local. Registration is already almost half full- so don’t delay.
Did you register yet??
I had an unplanned blog hiatus there for a while. I don’t know how it is for you, but if I haven’t blogged for a few days I feel like I should post something big, and so I wait for an idea/news/etc. A few more days pass and then it’s been even longer and I get out of the habit. Throw in the holidays, visitors, kittens, flu season- and a month goes by. I’m a girl in a bubble. Or a jello mold. Yes, I’m a pineapple tidbit encased in lime jello.
So, that’s where I’ve been. I’m still overwhelmed and I STILL don’t have anything too important to say, but I want to get back into the habit.
I’m reading the Cybils finalists. So many great stories! I’m a judge for the middle grade fiction category, but I’ve been reading books from the other lists as well. So many awesome stories to be read- like Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest! I just read the ARC for the sequel, The Timekeeper’s Moon. Great stuff!
Congratulations to all the finalists for middle grade fiction:
Even though he’s smart and capable, Newt is the neglected younger brother of a high school football star, mostly content with sliding through the cracks of life. Then a couple of events–his older brother ends up in a coma the night of the Big Game and Newt is forced to improvise a Halloween costume–coincide to spur the creation of a new superhero: Captain Nobody. Newt finds that he feels different when in his costume: stronger, more outgoing, more able to handle…well, everything (within reason, of course) that’s thrown his way. Hilarious, fun, and completely charming, this is one superhero that the world can’t do without.
Anderson has taken the historical facts of the American Revolution and given us a new perspective. Chains is told through the eyes of Isabel, a slave girl. Sold after her master dies, Isabel is thrust into the middle of the war where both sides claim they want what is best for her. She passes along messages to the Loyalists only to learn that the only one she can trust to help her gain her freedom is herself. Anderson has presented a story that with the proper foundation can be read, enjoyed and understood by the youngest to the oldest middle-grade student. War is always a tough topic but the details were intricately woven into Isabel’s life. It can be read as a stand-alone book and yet Anderson has left it open enough for a sequel.
–Sandra Stiles, Musings of a Book Addict
There is much to love in Nora Raleigh Baskin’s Anything But Typical. The writing–in particular the narrative voice–feels so genuine: vulnerable and heartfelt; simple yet beautiful. Almost poetic. The book stars Jason Blake, an autistic hero, who loves to write stories and participate in online forums. When his parents surprise him with a trip to the Storyboard writing convention, you might think he’d be happy instead of terrified. But for Jason the thought of meeting his online friend, PhoenixBird, in real life causes nothing but anxiety. Everyone has moments of insecurity and doubt, and to see these reflected so honestly in Jason feels more than right.
Twelve-year-old Ignatius Alderman discovers the “heart of a shepherd” as he helps his grandparents take care of the family ranch when his father is deployed to Iraq. Nicknamed “Brother,” Ignatius is the youngest of five brothers, named for St. Ignatius, and searching for his own gifts, talents and career path. He’s not sure that ranching or military service, the two traditions that dominate his family, are truly his gifts. And although he learns to live up to his responsibilities, it will take a major crisis for Brother to find his own right road to maturity.
The book is rather quiet, the pacing slow and deliberate, like Brother himself. Even when the crisis comes, it sneaks up on the reader rather than announcing itself with trumpets. In addition to its coming-of-age theme, Heart of a Shepherd also has lots of little details about ranching life and rural Oregon and the life of a soldier in Iraq and even about chess. These will capture the young reader who’s interested in any of those subjects and make him pay attention to the larger themes in the book. This debut novel by author Roseanne Parry is a treat to be savored.
Matt Pin is haunted by his memories of Vietnam. He was born a bui doi, the dust of life — son of an American GI and Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War. He was airlifted out of Vietnam at ten years old, leaving behind his mother and brother. Through the course of this verse novel, Matt is forced to come to terms with his with his horrifying past and his American present.
The spare, poetic format of the story allows the reader to feel like they have entered Matt’s head and heart. All the Broken Piecesis a gorgeous novel that captures the emotional and physical rubble left in the aftermath of a war. The free verse is incredibly well-written and not a single word is used when it isn’t necessary. This powerful novel will satisfy even the most anti-poetry readers but many of the verses will remain in the heart and mind of the reader for days afterward.
Operation Yes is a story that revolves around cousins Bo and Gari. Bo’s father is in charge of a military base in the south and Gariâ’s mother is deployed to Afghanistan; so Gari must relocate from Seattle to live with her cousin. They are both in the same sixth grade class and their teacher teaches in a box about the importance of life outside the box. What makes this story a standout is how kids can overcome tough times and show adults what they are capable of when they work together.
Popeye is dreading the boring summer that stretches out before him…until Elvis arrives in a broken-down motor home and the two boys start exploring the back woods, investigating the mysterious Yoo-Hoo boats that come floating down the creek. Barbara O’Connor’s book manages to be laugh-out-loud funny and still deal with more serious subject matter without veering into Depressing. This is a rather quiet book for anyone who’s been bored and dreams of having small adventures.
Speaking of great middle grade fiction- do you remember a few months ago when Fuse #8 accumulated that massive list of everyone’s favorite picture books? She’s doing it again- with chapter books! Send her your votes for the best chapter books. I had fun making my favorite picture books list, so I’m going to have to give this some thought.
We are a week away from launching registration for SCBWI Western Washington‘s conference on April 10-11. We just got the poster from the printer yesterday, so I’ll share it with you in a few days, along with more details. It’s going to be a very cool conference.
Did you make any resolutions? I’ve been chewing a few around, but they’re not set in stone yet. Who says you have to start on the 1st? I’m resolving to blog more regularly, and have my primary focus be on middle grade books with author interviews and such. I’m going to give morning writing another shot. I prefer to write at night when I can just go until I’m sleepy, but then I start the next day tired. Maybe if I can get into the groove, it will make me more efficient knowing that I need to wrap things up before the kids need to get ready for their days.
I’m getting excited about the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York at the end of the month. Yay!
Last but not least, my sweet husband bought me an iPhone for Christmas. Great googily moogily, I love this thing. Any apps you recommend? Lemme know!
Happy 2010! Bring it on!
It’s time to nominate your favorite books for the Cybils!
Then, go pick up a copy of Laini Taylor and Jim DiBartolo‘s Lips Touch Three Times, available today. Why should you pick it up? Because I read the ARC, and it’s wonderful. Because their editor, Arthur Levine, spontaneously cheered when reading an excerpt at the YA Buzz panel at BEA. Because Laini and Jim are made out of awesome. I’ll post a little interview with Laini in the next few days.
If you’re in Seattle, mark your calendar for October 24-25 for the newly resurrected Bookfest. I’ll be on the Secret Garden KidsStage hosting some crazy MadLibs on Saturday and Sunday, because Penguin is celebrating 50 years of filling in the blanks with silliness. So, stop by- but leave the rotten tomatoes at home. I hear Martha Brockenbrough is hosting a Grammar Bee as well. Fun stuff!
I have a little bet going with that very same Martha B. to finish my rough draft by the end of the month, so I’ll be going now.
I just got home from the conference.
Sure, I could have been back on a plane weeks ago. That would have been the easy way to do it, but I took the road less traveled. Directly after the conference I met my family for 2 days at Disneyland, a day visiting family in East L.A., 2 days in Sedona, a day in New Mexico, and a few days in Colorado visiting a large portion of my immediate family.
Then we drove home to Seattle.
We logged over 3000 miles.
Did I mention that in addition to my sweet husband and me we also had our 2 year old, our 6 year old, and 2 dogs?
Our backseat looked like this, but with one more dog and a humongous pile of luggage/books/toys. And a big box of green chile. And noise.
The picture doesn’t capture the noise:
Two words. Violet Beauregarde. Blueberry infused vodka with lemonade and muddled mint. Blissfully refreshing.
The trip was great. I’ve lived in various areas of the mountains and desert most of my life. I love Seattle, but I appreciate the contrast. It was good to get back.
Here’s a little something from the trip: There are no books at Disneyland. After I noticed that the first gift shop was free of reading material, it became a quest. Not even a sparkly, electronic board book to be found anywhere. Really, Disney?
So- the conference….Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you to the readers who came to say hi! It’s so nice to know who reads my silly ramblings. My guilt is appeased at not posting knowing you had the official SCBWI Team blog available. I didn’t take any pictures, but I had lots of fun and met many fine folks.
Inspirational keynotes. Sherman Alexie and Richard Peck each made me misty.
And the best thing about the conference for me was…
I’m off to write, but here are a few things to check out-
Kirby Larson’s first installment of a very impressive blog panel discussing gender and books.
The Cybils are coming! Nominations start in October, but they’re currently looking for judges and panelists.
Mitali Perkins offers easy steps for getting started on Twitter.
And Jody Feldman is offering a fun contest to celebrate the paperback release of The Gollywhopper Games.
I’m in L.A. for the SCBWI summer conference! I’ve spent the day napping a nasty bugger of a headache away, but it’s mostly gone now and there is fun to be had.
I’ll try blogging while I’m here, but I learned last year that things are pretty busy. I might not get much blogging done. I’ll definitely post a few tweets, and you can follow everybody’s conference tweets here.
That’s not enough for you, though, is it? Of course not. So here’s the official SCBWI team blog. I have no doubt that Alice, Jolie, Jaime, Lee, Paula, and Suzanne will bring you the goods. They already are. Look at those zombie interviews!
If you’re here at the conference, say hi!
Carrie wins! Congrats, Carrie! Send me your address and I’ll get those lovely cards out to you Monday.
Here’s a short video of Maurice Sendak on Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, shown at ComicCon.
I finally read The Hunger Games this week. Am I the last one in the world to read it? It feels like it. I’m not generally crazy about futuristic, dystopian settings, so I kept resisting the recommendations. Silly me. I couldn’t put it down. She lost me a little bit with the mutts, but otherwise I was totally engaged in the story.
My writing weekend went very well. My goals were a little lofty, so I didn’t actually finish the draft, but I’m much farther along and the rest is pretty much planned out. What a fantastic gift to have such a big block of time just to focus. It was wonderful. My goal this week is 10,000 rewritten words, and I think I’m getting pretty close.
Publisher’s Weekly has their Fall Children’s Books on stands now.
Sometimes I like to write with a different font in my working draft, just to mix things up and tweak my perspective a little bit. I’ve been playing with the free fonts at Font Squirrel lately.
If you’re marketing some kid kit this year you should probably pick up the 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market guide. Even if you don’t need it for marketing, look at the list of fabulous features and articles.
Justine Larbalestier addresses the controversial cover choice for her new novel that has everyone upset. Grrr. Whiskey tango foxtrot, Bloomsbury?!?
The Horn Book gets the blue ribbon for speedy printing. I received my copy in the mail on July 20th, complete with acceptance speech transcripts from ALA on July 12. Well done!
I’m going to bed now, so I can kayak tomorrow with both eyes open.
Are there any rules about blogging in a thunderstorm? I kind of like it.
Holy noodles, that conference wore me out. I haven’t blogged for two weeks because I was wading through conference prep. I’ve barely written a thing. It’s taken two days to get my brain back. My feet are still sore, but I’m kind of excited about all the newfound free time.
I have something to show you from the conference, but someone who had to miss it has to see it first- so you have to wait. I’ll post it around the end of the week, after I’ve heard this person has seen it. Is that vague enough?
Let’s see… I think people who saw/met me at the conference who don’t know me might think I’m a little crazy. I was sooo busy, and I didn’t have time to eat much, and I was drinking A LOT of coffee to keep myself going. I might have looked a little wild eyed and been a little wound up. Ok, I know I did. Try me again on a regular day and I promise to be more serene.
It started with the kid lit drink night, which was a blast. So much fun, in fact, that I stayed much later than I should have for a girl that had to wake up at 4 am the next day. Ouch.
I loved meeting so many new people, and seeing friends. I only caught bits and pieces of the breakout sessions, but the ones I saw were all aces. I did see most of the keynotes by Adam Rex, Grace Lin, Ellen Hopkins, and Jon Scieszka, and they were each unique and inspirational.
We raffled off a free registration for next year’s conference (won by Nuria Coe) to benefit Bridget Zinn, who couldn’t make it this year. We kept it kind of secret, because I wasn’t sure how it would go- but our lovely attendees raised $1560! Thank you, lovely attendees! The online auction is growing as well. Jone added my bag a couple of weeks ago. There are tons of other items available to bid on like a basket of middle grade books or a FULL manuscript consultation from the blunt (but still charming) Jody Feldman. Go bid on a fabulous prize, and support a writer to boot.
Ok, I have some revisions to get back to- so this is what you get.
See you in a couple of days!
Do you know how I like to blog? I like to share things. I like to pass things on that I find interesting, that you too might enjoy. In order to do that, I need time to peruse the internet. I haven’t had so much of that lately, and all signs point to the next six weeks being even busier. I’ll try to blog when I can, but I’m warning you now that it will probably be sporadic.
You know where I would really enjoy blogging? Marrakech. I would blog the heck out of Marrakech. Especially if I had a lovely office like this. I covet.
A “friend” sent me this “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks and it gave me the “giggles.”
Lee & Low is holding a contest for unpublished writers of color with a picture book manuscript. Details here.
Delacorte is holding their annual contests for a first middle-grade or YA novel. Details here.
Fairy Godsisters Ink are a few collaborating writers full of goodwill offering a scholarship to someone interested in going to the SCBWI International Summer Conference in L.A. The deadline is next week, so giddy up!
I have to tend to our newest pets now. When I get really busy, I tend to pile even more on. I seek out more responsibility. It’s what I do. I’m neurotic. So, in typical maladjusted fashion, I became intrigued with urban homesteading. I’ve added to our population. Do you know that it is chick season? I did not. Right now there is a makeshift brooder on the other side of the room. Three downy little occupants are peeping away. I suspect they found the bottom of the box under the shavings again, and that is the MOST EXCITING THING EVER. They do, in fact, have bird brains. As do I, apparently.
I’ll post a picture soon and then you will see how I was unable to resist. Stop judging!