Friday, March 27, 2009

Poetry Friday: An "Earworm," or a Writer's Potentially Empowering Refrain?

It's Poetry Friday in the KidLitosphere! Kind of late in the day (it's three-thirty-ish at my house) to slap together a participating post, but I just this minute decided to join the fray. About an hour ago, I languished on hold FOREVER waiting to talk to a colleague, and the song I heard — "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" — has not yet left my brain:

If you love me, let me know / If you don't, then let me go . . . ./ If you love me, let it be / If you don't, then set me free / Take the chains away / That keep me loving you.

Really, what's a writer girl to do with a rhyming lyric like that if not take to her blog with Poetry Friday–pertinent thoughts. I'm hoping the sharing will release me from the song's earwormy grips . . .

So, as I got back to business at my desk, the song's refrain having super-glued itself to my auditory cortex, I started noting the many opportunities we writers have to feel said refrain as we deal with all types of feedback loops on our various paths to publication. Examples flow from absolutely everything I'm working on right now.

(1) In my sights from writers wanting me to show their work some love, preferably ASAP: a pile of 20 manuscripts I need to critique for a literary contest that connects winners with potential agents and editors; an email from an aspiring author asking me to evaluate a piece of writing; and a manuscript I'm editing for a publisher client.

(2) Writing work of my own that I hope will lead to more yays (!) than nays (!), and sooner rather than later: new writing for an upcoming first-pages clinic; the detailed outline I just this morning emailed an editor for an already-contracted book (is it too soon to check in for a reaction?); the two (count 'em!) draft manuscripts I want to revise this year and pitch to an agent; the Grades 6–8 lesson plan I'm currently revising to satisfy a reviewer's wishes; and a broad synopsis/basic storyline chronology I submitted earlier this week to a new publisher I'm probably (though no contract yet exists) going to write for.

Hmm. You can see which list is longer. And why, perhaps, the song tapped in to my professional psyche instead of my personal one (which tends to know where it stands). My writer's head pulled a Babblefish on the hooky lyrics and heard: "If you aren't interested in . . . or you don't like . . . the writing I've sent on spec or under contract (ETC.), then please just let me know so I can move ahead/on (by either trashing, fixing, or rehoming) in a dignified way."

It's all par for the course in a writer's day, and so often produces some of the crazy-hazy dynamics of courtship. Don't you think?

Now, for your listening/viewing/poetry-sussing pleasure, enjoy this clip of Olivia Newton-John performing the song live.

The radio version I heard on the phone was a bit slower and felt kind of "lovesick" to me. But this sassier version makes the person delivering the message seem secure, in control, and ready to face the situation with confidence, regardless of what the other person thinks or does. And that's the attitude I try to embrace as a writer. If a professional relationship or partnership (or, heck, just a piece of writing) doesn't work out, ONWARD AND UPWARD is the only way to go!

For today's complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to The Drift Record.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Free, Vicarious Pass to the Bologna Children's Book Fair

I have always wanted to attend the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the world's leading event dedicated to children's book/product publishing, rights, and licensing.

A few of my titles have made publisher-booth appearances, but, sadly, nobody has ever been interested in having me (read paying for me to) tag along to do author signings or provide complimentary valet services for harried exhibit staff. Not even after I've explained that I'd studied Italian film in college (so I know several Italian words!) and thought my professor, who lives just a short high-speed train trip away in Milan, would surely make good on his 20-year-old invitation to drop in — with whomever I might be traveling — for a spot of vino and a wealth of insider tourist tips. Harrumph.

This year's Fair is in its second full day, and I'm enjoying Craig Virden's PW-sponsored blog Bologna By Day and Night. On it, Craig serves up candid impressions of the atmosphere and goings-on. Take a peek for yourself — and I'll see you at the Fair!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Celebrating 40 Years of a Classic: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is celebrating 40 years of publishing success! Can you believe it?

Google is honoring the event (today only!) with a special tribute logo. You can read about the book's history in this interesting piece.

And, here's a short video of Mr. Carle sharing a bit about the book and its message of hope — perfect for the first day of spring, or any day at all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Operation Teen Book Drop 2009 Coming Soon!

Operation Teen Book Drop is back for a second go-round this spring after a terrifically successful launch last year. An event created to encourage reading as a go-to leisure activity and help get great books into kids' hands, Operation TBD is sponsored by readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, and YALSA.

What exactly IS a TBD, you ask? It's a fun, ceremonial dropping off of books, in which 18 book publishers first donate and deliver 8,000 YA novels, graphic novels, and audiobooks to teen patients in various U.S. pediatric hospitals. Then, on April 16, all teen readers and YA authors are invited to leave a favorite YA book in a public place where a teen might find and pick it up . . . in other words, to drop a book into the hands of a young reader and, thus, spread the gift of a great read and reinforce — or spark — a great reading habit.

If you'd like to help "rock the drop" this year, click here to download a special bookplate you can paste into the book(s) you plan to donate. Your recipient(s) will be thrilled!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hosting Nonfiction Monday on a Nonfiction Monday

It's Nonfiction Monday in the KidLitosphere, and I've volunteered to host today's weekly roundup of themed blog posts.

This little blog party dovetails nicely with my actual duties today, as I'm now knee-deep (make that neck-deep) in research for a new Abraham Lincoln biography I'm about to start writing. I wrote a chapter book about good ole Abe a decade ago and had a great time with it. He's such an enduringly fascinating figure, and from the looks of things, the reading public is far from getting over their thirst for knowledge about his young life, character, family, presidency, and death. The book I'm working on this spring will be for the YA set and written in a graphic novel format. I can't wait to dig in!

If you'd like to participate in today's edition of Nonfiction Monday, just leave a comment below with a link to your post about a nonfiction book, nonfiction author, nonfiction writing — or any other topic related to nonfiction for kids that I'm not thinking of — and I will update the roundup throughout the day. Please include your post title/topic with the link. This post is set to go live at 3:00 a.m. Pacific (in case any Eastern early birds want to submit first thing), and I'll start checking in to move links to the main list sometime (well) after that!

Breakfast Batch

The Wild About Writing Trio
reviews Scott Cohn's One Wolf Howls.

Jennifer takes a look at Traces by Paula Fox.

Just One More Book Podcast chats about Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock and Carolyn Conahan.

SimplyScience blogs about It's Electric — Wired by Anastasia Suen.

Abby (the) Librarian presents "Books for Women's History Month."

Lori Calabrese Writes! offers food for thought in the post "The United Tweets of America."

StoryForce reviews the picture book Listen to the Wind (based on Three Cups of Tea) by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth.

MotherReader checks out The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino.

A Wrung Sponge reviews After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O'Brien and Perry Edmond O'Brien.

Jen Robinson highlights two new nonfiction series from Bearport Publishing: Defining Moments — Super Athletes and Little Dogs Rock!

Lunch Bunch

Fuse #8 at SLJ reviews Duke Ellington: His Life in Jazz (with 21 Activities) by Stephanie Stein Crease.

Check It Out checks out the biography Amelia Earhart: The Legends of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka.

Kids Lit uncovers Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman.

Biblio File conjures a post about Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli. discusses National Geographic's Every Human Has Rights: A Photographic Declaration for Kids.

Snack Bites

Valerie peeks at a few books about the moon.

A Patchwork of Books blogs about the Earth in Danger series.

BookMoot serves up a duo of culinary finds: Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead and Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan.

Suppertime Bounty

Charlotte's Library explores What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World by Rosalyn Schanzer.

Picture Book of the Day discusses voice using Bubble Homes and Fish Farts.

Kid Lit Kit recommends No Girls Allowed by Susan Hughes.

Blog from the Windowsill
describes Gone Fishing by David McLimans.

Tuesday Post-Luncheon Tag-Along Treat

Wendy's Wanderings reviews Clouds by Anne Rockwell.

I think that does it. Thanks to all who shared and/or followed the posts!

Friday, March 13, 2009

"You Don't Want to Be Flapping Your Arms Like a Crazy Madman"

Just back from vacation, catching up on everything unrelated to doing nothing.

A friend sent me a link to this video and I had to share — it's young author Alec Greven giving snippets of advice from his newish book How to Talk to Girls. Tried and true tips, straight from the mouth of a young babe magnet:

Alec gives a few solid nuggets here, don't you think? No madman-esque arm flapping. Cut down on the sugar. And, for heaven's sake, MOVE ON when a relationship (or anything, for that matter) goes south.

Disclaimer: Haven't read the book! But I did just read the reviews on Amazon. Seems people either love it or take it waaayyyyy too seriously and, thus, hate it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ultrashort Writing Challenge

Hey, readers and writers — here's a fun exercise making the social-networking rounds. The instructions are simple: Write your six-word memoir. (Ever see Hemingway's famous six-word story, which he dubbed the best work of his career?* This is like that, only you're supposed to stick to memoir.)

Many folks have offered up a word list, but a memoir is a story, dang it, and that's how I played. Here's mine:

I've succeeded in all my failures.

Share YOUR memoir in the comment section. Come on, wordsmiths! You know you want to!

*"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Blogoversary, Take Two

This blog is two years old today. It's a toddler!

Perhaps, to honor the milestone, I should have it throw a screaming tantrum or 10 right out in the middle of the blogosphere. :)