Monday, March 31, 2008

"A great nation is a reading nation"

That quote launches the Children's Book Council's Web pages detailing the history of Children's Book Week (May 12-18 this year). Since 1919, kids, families, classrooms, libraries, and booksellers have been celebrating Children's Book Week by participating in author events, in-home reading parties, read-a-thons . . . and really just about any type of reading-themed activity you can conjure.

Since 1974, the CBC has teamed with the International Reading Association to sponsor the Children's Choices program, in which thousands of children select their favorite current books. This year — for the first time ever — the voting process is open to all kids. Voting categories include Favorite Book for Grades K–2, Favorite Book for Grades 3–4, Favorite Book for Grades 5–6, Favorite Author, and Favorite Illustrator. Each category winner will receive a Children's Choice Book Award.

Visit this year's Children's Book Week Online for all the details, including a list of nominees, fun activities to try at home or in class, and an online kids' voting form that teachers, librarians, and booksellers can submit.

Remember, this vote is for KIDS ONLY!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

That Killed 3 Good Hours

Just spent 3 hours almost downloading and installing a spiffy new template for the blog. Chickened out, though. I get the distinct feeling it won't go terribly smoothly.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Website Redesign Inching Forward

It's probably more precise to say that it's milimetering forward. But forward the redesign is moving. I just finished dispensing with my old theme. It was looking bad on many post-2003 browser versions, so I changed it to something a bit more spare. The host providing the themed templates told me a while back that my original theme was particularly buggy. That was in late 2004, which is also when the host started working on updated sitebuilding templates to be unveiled in 2005, then 2006 (I did some beta testing) . . . it's well into 2008, and whatever problems preventing the actual launch of the new sitebuilder must still be present.

No matter, though. I already decided to go another way, so their plans don't affect me. Too bad mine do! It's tough to find the time to do what I want to do. But I'm getting there. Next steps will be to merge my site and the blog.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny didn't leave a note, but I'm pretty sure that only one of those bunnies is meant for me.

Good enough! It will come in handy this week as I race to another writing finish line. I sometimes forget to stop and eat during the day, so I'll be sure to put it next to the computer, right where I can SEE IT.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The ABCDs of It All

When a client starts completely ignoring your calls and emails, they're either (A) having serious money/personnel problems; (B) thinking/hoping you will forget that they clearly owe you money for work contracted, executed, and approved; (C) planning to not publish what you've written; or (D) some combination of all.

This kind of thing doesn't often happen. But when it does, I always wonder why people don't just buck up and say what's going on. The results will be the same in the end — why not be professional? Why not use common courtesy?

I think it's SO much easier to communicate. But some days, apparently, that is just me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Luck o' the Irish to You

Growing up, I observed St. Patrick's Day like everyone else around me: I made construction-paper 4-leaf clovers. Maybe ate a cupcake with green frosting. And I always, always wore something green. Had to, otherwise you got pinched.

I don't celebrate the holiday in any formal way now, but maybe someday I will. Turns out, I'm part Irish. While researching the 2006 book Coming to Ellis Island, I found out that the Owens side of my family came from Ireland — not Wales, as we'd previously believed

My writing career has brought a number of wonderful things to my life and experience, and a peek at my heritage is one of them. I think that's pretty lucky.

Here's hoping that everyone doing some writing today (or thinking about it) is touched by a little luck o' the Irish. Think about your "pot of gold" writing goals, then make like a leprechaun and go after 'em.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Night Surfing

Thought you might enjoy an Onion piece called "Novelist Strike Fails to Affect Nation Whatsoever."

Here's an excerpt:

"So far, sources say, no one has attempted to cross the picket lines, most of which are located in private homes. . . . While the strike has been joined by an estimated 250,000 novelists — 225,000 of whom have reportedly stopped in the middle of their first novel — it has done no damage to any measurable sector of the economy, including bookstore chains, newspapers, magazines, all major media, overseas markets, independent film studios, major film studios, actors, editors, animators, carpenters, those in finance or banking, the day-to-day lives of average Americans, or anything else anyone can think of as of press time."

You can read the whole thing here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seattle's All for Kids Bookstore to Close

All for Kids, Seattle's premier independent children's bookstore, will close at the end of June. Owner Chauni Haslet has been a strong presence on the Seattle literary scene—not to mention a perpetual champion of the book, the author, and the young reader—for 25 years.

Haslet told Publishers Weekly and the Seattle P-I that it is simply time for her to move on, citing as decsion-making factors the need to step away from her extreme workload and the constant stress of keeping the store afloat. Theoretically, a buyer could come forward and keep the store open. But that scenario does not sound at all likely.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Missed My Own Blogoversary

How sad! I added a countdown banner on the left side of the main page about 30 days before the first anniversary of officially kicking off this blog. I noticed today that I have 355 days to go till my second blogoversary. I meant to observe the first with some sort of post, I really did. Sorry, blog. You know I love ya!

I'll have more time to regularly post once my current project wraps up. As completely happy as I am to be working on it, I am really, really, really looking forward to a change of pace. I'm especially excited to start my April Children's Writing Workshop. Interacting with other writers — and talking specifically about the children's writing biz — is always fun, and it always inspires me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ah, the Glamorous Life of the Work-a-Day Writer

I know it's cliche to moan about how fast the year is going, but I'm doing it anyway. I almost really-truly-seriously-literally (sorry, I'll stop) can't believe it's almost spring. Why, I still have a holiday gift to return.

Despite a New Year's cleanup, my desk is littered with end-of-'07 business and all the junk I've worked with so far this year. Glad I poked around just now; I see that my car tabs are expiring yesterday. I've got files for the high school textbook I'm cowriting (I'm on my seventh 6,000-or-so-word chapter of the year right now); children's books I've reviewed/will review for my column; materials I need for my upcoming workshop; research for a nonfiction book I'll write in April; tax files for tax time; info for three multisession lesson plans I need to write by June; and notebooks related to the always-ongoing pet book project I wish I could concentrate on to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.

I'm not complaining. I really do like my work. Most days I even love it. I'm just marveling at how much you can write and write and write, and then look away from the monitor to notice it's 3 months later than it is in your head (not to mention your heart). But you know there's no time to process that because it's time to write some more and keep moving right along through the spring. The creative side of your writer's brain wishes you could slow it down. But the part of your brain that has helped you turn writing into a full-time job knows it will be best if summer turns out to be a similar blur, and then fall, and then winter.