Friday, June 29, 2007

more party pics!

This is my friend Julia and her wonderful cake pre-party! Julia, you rock!

This is what the whole party looked like to me--one big red blur. From left to right--Grace, Rebecca (my agent), and... Anna? Is that you Anna?

This is a good one of Grace!

oh geez!

This is mine for my Fireside Chat:


2 -

Oh dear, I'm a BAD author. BAD, BAD, BAD.


this is fitting

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Us being a children's book blog and all...


Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. I was introduced to her poetry more than twenty years ago when I attended a Writers’ Conference at Salem State College. Oliver, one of the conference speakers, read from American Primitive, her collection of poems that won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. I have been an admirer of her work ever since then. I love American Primitive and House of Light. One of Oliver’s poems that I read again and again is The Summer Day. It can be found in House of Light and at the Poetry 180 website.

From The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

You’ve got to read the end of this poem. Just click here.


Today at Wild Rose Reader I review two pictures books about the sea.


I didn't have time to come home and make a brilliant post and this is because my S&S editor took me out for a wonderful dinner. I just love being wined and dined! Now I'm off to RI to see my father in the hospital... well, later in the day anyway.

Yes, it's nothing but busy stuff for me lately!

Perhaps I'll post something before I go since it is only 5am at the moment. I do want to do a topic on handy things to keep in the home office/studio if time permits. I would also like to show you all the new painting I'm working on. It has lots of wires in it!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

party pics part one

Hello all,

I've got to run but I promise to post tonight! It will be something exciting... maybe... maybe not. That's the fun thing about me--boring or exciting. You decide.

anyhow, here are a few party pics to tide you over!

Thank you!

It's not my turn to post today, but as Meghan says -- it has been quiet lately. So here is a thank you to everyone who reads this blog, especially those of you who comment: I wish I could send everyone REAL flowers (these are the ones I planted in my garden with the landlords' kids as described in one of the Real Children posts). Emily, your comment and post about your views on Mr.Darcy and Mr.Rochester when you were ten made me laugh out loud.

When *I* was ten, I thought that Rhett Butler was completely terrifying, especially in the scene where he tells Scarlett that he could squash her head like a walnut. I thought she should have married one of the Tarleton twins -- and not just because it would have been fun to go galloping around the countryside with them and their dogs.

Ten year olds may have the right idea: how much fun would those brooding romantic types really be to live with, anyway?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A memoir

Wow it's been quiet! I must say I've been busy myself... lots of book stuff to do!

Anyhow, because I'm ADD, I've decided to write a memoir about my childhood... or rather a particular individual in my childhood and the dramatic incident that happened involving her. Yes, dear friends, this will be a story about abuse. I was not the one abused (and no one in my family was) so I think this will be a fresh take on things, don't you think? Then I got another idea--to get my sister and mother to write parts as well... the stuff they remembered.

Okay, so here's what I"ve got so far (I have NO idea why I'm sharing other than the blog is silent and I don't feel like posting photos of the party just yet or talking about what I'm working on).


I’m obsessed with stories about child molesters. I came to this realization last week when I wanted something to watch. I bought Deliver Us From Evil. It’s a documentary about a Catholic priest, who for twenty years molested children. The other priests knew and did nothing. The man got away with it. All of it. And there he was, on film, going on about it like he was reminiscing about what he ate for breakfast.

One of my friends asked, “Why would you want to watch a movie about THAT?”

“Uh…I don’t know,” I said.

I really didn’t.

Then, I thought about it…and I knew.

This brings me to my memoir. OUR memoir. I’ve tried for years to write about it, but only spurts came out. My sister, who is also a writer, wrote about the same thing. Why were we both so obsessed? Why did we both write short stories about the same incident? Then the idea came to me. Why don’t we write the story TOGETHER.


At Dinner
“Vicky stopped by a few weeks ago,” my father said.
Vicky…Vicky Adams Vicky?” I asked.
My father paused to stick some more shrimp and pasta onto his fork.
“She uh—“
“I thought she was in jail,” Bridget said.
“Obviously WAS,” I said. “What did she say?”
“She was real polite… how are you doin’ Mr. McCarthy…she shook my hand…”
“She was always polite,” my mother added. “They ALL were.”
My father swallowed his shrimp, took a swig of beer and continued. “She said she’s in the army…doing really well. She said one of the other boys is married with two kids…still living in Reedsville.”
“Yeah RIGHT,” Bridget said. “I’m SURE she’s in the army.”
“I think both boys were in the army. She probably stole the story from one of them. I wouldn’t believe a thing she says.” My mom added.
“Yeah, something wasn’t right with her. Everyone in the neighborhood tried to shoo her away. No one wanted her in their yard.”
“That’s right, I remember that,” mom said.
“Everyone but YOU,” dad said to mom. “You felt bad…wanted to take her in…pooooor little Vicky.”
“Well. Michael. She was so little when she first showed up at our doorstep. Only four. The kids were locked out of the house all winter long in the cold!”
“Whatever happened to that man…Mr. What’s-his-name? Mr. White…”
“Committed suicide,” my mom said.
“No WAY!” Bridget’s fork dropped onto the floor.” I didn’t know that.”
“Well,” Mom said, “all those accusations of abuse…”
“Yeah, I remember,” Bridget said. “Vicky would go into that man’s house to get candy and wouldn’t come out for hours!”
“What abuse? What man?” asked my little sister Kaila. She had been silent the whole time, quietly picking at her meat. I’d almost forgotten that she didn’t know. We all opened our eyes wide and gave each other The Look. The DON’T SAY ANYTHING look. How could we tell her now? After all this time…

My Town
My mom said they moved to Reedsville for the tranquility…the wholesomeness… Reedsvlle was nature overload––glistening ponds, fluttering butterflies, trees quietly rustling in the wind. Most of the houses were antique, with white picket fences and window-boxes and dogs nuzzling their owners on porch steps. But looks can be deceiving. At night there were shotguns and motorcycles and beer bottles crashing into cracked roadways.

Before I Was Born
I was born a year after my parents moved in. They’d bought a fixer-uper. My mom said the kitchen had wood paneling and linoleum covered the floors. The bathroom used to be where the study is. My dad ripped out the toilet and installed a new one where the birthing room used to be. Yes, the birthing room. The house is two hundred years old and that’s what my parents were drawn to––the history of it. But old houses need help. Lots of it. A nice white ceiling will start to show small yellow circular spots. The spots will grow and grow until it’s clear that there’s a leak coming from some pipe that’s been neglected for longer than Lincoln was president. The house wasn’t the only thing that needed help. So did the town. The pretty little houses with their white fences held secrets. Secrets passed on from generation to generation.

so that's all I have. I have to go paint now! I hope I don't have paint poisoning. All of you painters need to be careful of that!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Keene State Owl

Today a short "whats on my desk" kind of post...

As some of you might have read in this post, Keene State College is collecting owls from children's book illustrators for their 100 year anniversary.

Here is my contribution, just shipped off:

Since it is going to be 96 degrees in Boston today, thought I'd post a little snow!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lizzie or Jane?

Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre are still in the children's section of most bookstores I've visited lately...Who would you rather be, Elizabeth Bennet

or Jane Eyre?

For me the answer would have been a complete no-brainer if I hadn't seen the new (and to me, definitive, far better than the book) Jane Eyre on TV. But that started a whole new train of thought about this character and how really revolutionary she was, in her passion and insistence on her own equality. I even went back and reread big chunks of the book....and in the introduction it said that when Jane Eyre was first published, one reviewer suggested that it not be left lying around where young girls could find and read it.

So now I'm not sure (especially since Jane gets Mr.Rochester as played by Toby Stevens). I think she'd also probably be quite a bit better at supporting herself than Elizabeth, too. But I know which character I would rather have created: Lizzie. What about you? And why do you think these books are in the children's section?

Friday, June 22, 2007


Yes, yesterday was my day to post and yes, I did not do so. I was busy cutting my foot and going to my publisher and being sick on the subway and then going to the gym.

I have my camera back so I'll be posting some more party pictures soon! I have some other things to share, which I'll do so shortly.

Now, I must ask, is this idea crazy? I want to do a graphic novel on "the dark side" of thomas edison. It would be for teens. I think. For example, did you know that Thomas Edison tortured animals? Yes, I know, this is some serious stuff... and I'll be crushing the little notions that Edison was a hero. But I still want to do it! Weak-stomached people be damned! I want to take history writing to a new level here folks. True, my idea will probably never see the light of day. Sob.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

off to ALA

I'm off to ALA--I'll be working at the Little, Brown booth on Saturday and Monday from 1-5, so stop by and say hi! At other times I'll be around, attending various lunches and dinners (including the Newbery-Caldecott dinner, which I'm really excited about...but what should I wear?!) and having barely an ounce of free time. I get back late late Monday, and Tuesday is our Focus meeting at work. Joy joy. I doubt I'll have a chance to post on Monday, but I promise to have an ALA wrap-up soon thereafter. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

spoke too soon

Ooops, looks like I'm not going to ALA after all. Darn. Well, have a good time all!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The photo of Erin didn't work. Perhaps Alvina can put it up.

In the meantime, let's guess which one Erin is:

Sorry Erin, I did indeed put your name into google image search.

p.s - that photo of me below wasn't supposed to be that big. I'm not that full of myself!

p.p.s- I just heard a new word on TV! Incentivation!

party correction!

Alvina did a great job with the photos and the posting. Thanks Alvina! I thought I was photo obsessed... but ... I think she wins.

Anyhow, I need to make one little correction. Alex, seen below, is my editor for Pale Male (coming this fall!) not Strong Man.

THIS is my editor for Strong Man (with husband attached)
Yeah, it's blurry... but so is my memory of the party!

My friend Jay absconded with my camera with the party photos on it but as soon as I get it back I'll post my own drunken photos!

Note to the viewer, I think I look not so great in the below photos. This is why I'm putting a better picture of moi below. My editors are welcome to sub better photos of themselves and I’ll do the same. Better yet, I can make a little bio of each editor with photo. Yeah, that's a super idea. It's time the tables are turned ladies! I want your bios!

(see, I wasn't drunk in this one. MUCH better)


Eight facts

So last week I got tagged for the 8 facts game (see below), so here we go... hope this isen't too off topic for a children's book blog!

btw I think I will skip the tagging 8 other people part as Jen, who tagged me, suggested, since I don't know who's done it already...

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I eat pancakes for breakfast more often than not.

2. I am addicted to looking at For example, something like this makes my day:

3. My favorite thing to do when I get to hang out with cats is to put my finger between their toes.

4. I love the smell of old books with yellow pages.

5. I love nicely designed containers. I just started collecting Goya guava juice cans.

6. When I have a question, I like to open up books randomly and read a line that catches my eye.

7. I have gradually come to dislike answering the phone.

8. I love the heat. Can't get enough. I like it when its so hot you can't think straight.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Blog Tour!

I'd also like to direct everyone's attention to the Summer Blog Tour that was kicked off yesterday at Finding Wonderland with an interview of Gene Yang. For the full schedule, go here, and be sure to catch HipWriterMama's interview with Justina Chen Headley here. (I work with Justina, which is why I'm calling her interview out specifically, but of course read all of the great interviews!)

Strong Man party pics

Sorry, another abbreviated post. It's late. Meghan and I went to the Lily Allen concert tonight at the Warsaw in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was great show, but now I need to get to bed.

So, since Meghan still doesn't have her camera back from her friend to post pics from her Strong Man party, here are a few to tide you over. It was a totally fun bash at a loft in Williamsburg. Hip, huh?

Me, Grace, and Ki-Ki doing the first Strong Man poses of the night:

Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House flanked by two of her BRG clients:
Meghan and her sisters:

Rebecca and Strong Man--correction, Pale Male editor Alexandra Penfold:
Heather Scott (soon to be of HBGUSA) and Julie Romeis of Bloomsbury
The spread! (I was happy to snag a free book)
The cake, courtesy of Meghan's friend Julia. Delicious, I must say:
The Blue Rose Girls in attendance: Anna, Meghan, Grace, and me (I'm trying to look tough):

And keep the votes coming for my poll regarding my submissions policy. As of now, I think I may keep the status quo, so vote now or forever hold your peace!

Friday, June 15, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: Poetry of the Everglades

Last week, I posted two poems about fathers in memory of my dad who passed away more than twenty years ago. I wasn’t sure I was going to have time to post at Blue Rose Girls this week because I have been making preparations for a trip up to Vermont with family. That means lots of shopping and food preparation because my husband and I really like to eat well…wherever we are. There have also been other matters that have needed my attention.

Recently, I did some googling of Anne McCrary Sullivan. Sullivan, a teacher at National-Louis University in Tampa, Florida, wrote an article for the Harvard Educational Review (Volume Seventy/Number Two/Summer 2000) that I love to read…over and over again. The article, Notes from a Marine Biologist’s Daughter: On the Art and Science of Attention, is one of the best that I have ever read in an educational journal. In the article, Sullivan includes her own autobiography of attention in the form of nine poems that touch on the influence that her marine biologist mother had on Sullivan and the way she observes everything in her life. It also speaks to teachers and children and educational research and to the essence of what “paying attention” really means. I highly recommend the reading of the article to teachers, parents, poets, and nature lovers.

Here are subheadings from her article:
I. An Autobiography of Attention (Part 1)
II. Poems in the Academy (Part 1)
III. Aesthetic Vision: A Complex Attention
IV. An Autobiography of Attention (Part 2)
V. Poems in the Academy (Part 2)
VI. Teaching Attention
VII. On Attention, Education, and Art

Here are some excerpts from her poems:

From Notes from a Marine Biologist’s Daughter

My mother loves the salty mud of estuaries,
has no need of charts to know what time
low tide will come. She lives
by an arithmetic of moon,
calculates emergences of mud

waits for all that crawls there, lays eggs,
buries itself in the shallow edges
of streamlets and pools…

From Learning Blue

My mother taught me blue—
water under the boat,
shadow in the marsh,

blue flashing
at the sides of fish…

blue speck at the clam’s inner hinge,
just beside
where the soft body lies…

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the full text of the poems included in Sullivan’s article available on the Internet—but I did find Bringing Art to the Endangered Everglades, an article written by Donna Marxer for Land Views. The article includes two poems about the Everglades written by Anne McCrary Sullivan. Here is the partial text of one of the poems:

From Rangers of The Everglades
by Anne McCrary Sullivan

These are people who love the green,
watery, actual world teeming
with fishes and birds and furry things,

things rooted and reaching toward sky,
blossoming and seeding, needling
and coning. They love the dirt. The mud.

They walk us along sloughs, naming:
great blue heron, little blue heron, egret,
ibis, red shouldered hawk. They tell us
how alligators love and how the anhinga
feed their young…

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Those of you interested in reading children’s poetry about the Everglades may want to look for the following book:
Poems by Frank Asch
Photographs by Ted Levin
Harcourt Brace, 1996

In addition to poems about the animal and plant life that inhabit the Everglades, the book includes Levin’s wonderful nature photographs of this Florida wetland. At the back of the book, there are notes and captions about the book’s photographs.

Today at Wild Rose Reader, I have an interview with children’s poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Simple and the Ordinary today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Libby had a great post a couple of weeks ago, What Makes you Pull a Book of the Shelf? which was very apropos for me. I'm knee deep in a new novel but I can't think of a good title. That annoys me and I find myself easily sidetracked, unable to concentrate on the "meat" of my writing because I can't think of a wrapping.

Because for me, my best books usually have titles that come easily-- like The Year of the Dog. They match perfectly and come to me effortlessly. Other books, however, are named by default-- in the end given titles that are just simply adequate because I couldn't think of anything better; and those books have somehow always fallen flat. In general, title difficulty = bookselling difficulty.

So, with this experience in mind, I am a bit worried about my new book. I'm trying really hard not to let it have a "default" title-- I'm so desperate that I've taken to testing all the candidates at the titlescorer. I haven't yet hit one that has more than a 41.4% chance of being a bestseller. I think I'm going to need better odds than that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

handwriting vs clickety clack

So I've been spending a lot of time revising a book dummy I've been working on and I started to remember how I used to work pre-computer... each new version of a story I'd write out on a new notebook page, crossing things out and making notes, sometimes doodling.

Now I do almost everything on the computer (except drawing) and I really think my writing process is different. Sometimes I just need to print everything out and start editing by hand (as above), crossed out words spark new ideas and sometimes I can work those deleted passages in elsewhere.

Entering in the changes to my computer file gives me another chance to move things around, but when I delete something from my computer screen it is gone, not in peripheral view suggesting new ideas. Lately when I'm editing on the computer, I've started keeping copies of deleted text in boxes around the pages in my layout, so I can refer to them but its not quite the same. Writing it all out by hand lets me think while I'm writing in a different way... especially when I can doodle and draw, sort of gives you a chance to pull out a new thought that doesn't have words yet.

This might seem all too abstract, but I think its interesting how ideas are formulated, what techniques people use. I am by no means nostalgic about the days before my computer, I LOVE my mac and use it for everything. But I think I'm going to work in more journaling time into my day, to give my thoughts the chance to reach a pen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Panels galore...and a poll

I've been on three panels in two weeks. I think I'm panelled out right now. I don't know what I was thinking, scheduling these things all smack dab in the middle of IRA, BEA, and ALA, but I got through it! Now, even if you don't read this post (it's another "wrap-up" post, which I realize isn't necessarily that interesting for everyone), please scroll down to the bottom to participate in a poll on submissions policy. Thanks!

Panel 1:
I was on a Children's Book Publishing panel on May 31st for the Women's in Children's Media organization. My fellow panelists were Nancy Mercado of Dial, Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House, and Michele Beno of Curtis Brown. My colleague Jennifer Hunt was the moderator. We answered questions about our favorite books as children (The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott for me), what we look for in a manuscript, the author/editor/agent relationship, and so on. It was a lot of fun because I'm friendly with all of the panelists, and it was an interesting crowd, different from the type of people I normally talk to. Basically, the audience was all women who work in children's media, whether it be television, magazines, movies, etc. (although the event was open to the public, so there were some non-members in attendance) I had dinner afterwards with some of the leaders in the organization, and they were all really nice and interesting. I'm considering joining, partially because I realize that I do very little networking outside of the children's book field, and partially because I just love being inspired by great women.

Panel 2:
Then last Tuesday I participated in the Meet the Editors Day in Doylestown, PA along with Cheryl Klein of Scholastic and Karen Chaplin of Puffin. Cheryl and I took the bus over and arrived in time to join everyone for a lovely lunch (I had a delicious pear and walnut salad with roasted duck. Yum.). I saw a few familiar faces from Kindling Words, the Rutgers One-on-One conference, and the Poconos conference from a few years ago, which was nice. The three of us just talked about our respective houses, the kinds of books we work on, our submissions policy, and then we read through ten first-pages and each gave our thoughts. One thing that I found interesting was that the three of us tended to agree on the first pages. Usually when I do a first-page critique, there are at least a few that someone has a completely different opinion about. Not sure if that means that the three of us just have similar tastes, or what.

Panel 3:
And finally, this past weekend I went up to Poughkeepsie for the Eastern-NY SCBWI Conference. My colleague, Art Director Patti Ann Harris and I drove up together, and it was fun getting to know her even better. Ellen Yeomans, the lovely author of Rubber Houses which came out this past January, is the former regional advisor, although she stepped down and relinquished her role at the beginning of this year. But it was wonderful to be able to spend time with her at the conference. It was also nice to be able to talk more with Laurie Halse Anderson, who I first met a few weeks earlier at IRA in Toronto. She told me how much she loved the new Sherman Alexie galley of The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian that I had given her at our booth.

Dinner conversation Friday evening with some of the organizers was lively, and ranged from farm animals (Ellen works on a farm)--castrating bulls, flipping bunnies--to a dive-bombing bird with a nest under a mailbox, to soft-shell crab, running, and books, of course.

Laurie's keynote the next morning was fantastic. Conversational but focused, inspiring but funny. She talked about how to find time to write (make it a habit, stop watching American Idol), how to nurture your creativity (be active, expose yourself to other art), and more.

Then I was up. I felt much less prepared for this talk than any other I'd done, because I hadn't had a chance to write my speech until the day before--but it was a hodgepodge of other speeches I'd done before, so I felt pretty comfortable. I also never know what the right balance to strike between giving a lot of nuts and bolts information for beginners, and yet something different for more experienced writers. So, I'd really love some honest feedback--feel free to post anonymously, even! Basically, I spoke about acquisitions process at my publisher, telling the acquisitions story of three specific books I'd acquired and edited: Hippo! No, Rhino; Blow out the Moon; and Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies). I gave a few tips on getting out of the slush pile, and also gave some advice on what to do before submitting.

Then I did a six one-on-one critiques, and the day ended with a panel of all the faculty (you can see a complete list of faculty here). One question posed to all of us was: if we could have edited/written/illustrated one book that we haven't, what would it be. I said Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. Some of the other answers were Harold and the Purple Crayon (Patti Ann Harris), City of Ember (Kathy Dawson), Holes (Laurie Halse Anderson), Wizard of Oz (Steve Petruccio), the Winnie the Pooh series (I think Kelly Going said that), etc.

And that was it. Patti Ann and I skedaddled back to NY right afterwards so that I could attend Meghan's Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas book party, which was a complete blast. I scored myself a free copy of the book, which looks fantastic, and ate, drank, and was merry. Anna and Grace made it down from Boston, so there were four BRGs in attendance. I'll have pictures to share later on.

I'm glad I don't have another conference lined up until November, although I did manage to get involved in another panel discussion in LA on July 7 with the Taiwanese United Fund (TUF). I don't really know much about TUF (the organization contacted me through my father), but I'm always eager to encourage other Taiwanese Americans to be involved in creative fields. Charles Yu, author of Third-Class Super Hero will also be on the panel.

One thing (of many) I started thinking about more while doing all of these panels is different submissions policies, and their pros and cons. I've been thinking about adjusting my own submissions policy a bit, so here's the question. For all of you authors out there, what is more important--a closed house with a somewhat personalized rejection letter, or a more open submissions policy, but either only a response if the editor is interested, or only a form letter if you're rejected? Specifics: 1) Dial has an open submissions policy, but you only get a response if an editor is interested. 2) Cheryl Klein also has an open submissions policy, but she only sends back form letters. Whereas 3) I have a more closed policy, but I tend to try to write personalized rejection letters for almost every submission. Which would be more valuable to you, 1, 2, or 3? Vote by posting in the comments section. Thanks in advance!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Poetry Friday: Two Poems for My Father

With Memorial Day in the recent past and Father’s Day on the horizon, my thoughts turned recently to memories of my father, a veteran of World War II who passed away in 1984. Born in Poland in 1912, my father was about eighteen months old when his parents left their homeland to come to the United States. My grandparents left my father behind with his grandmother. He did not arrive in America and see his parents again until he was eight years old.

I have selected two poems by Li-Young Lee, one of my favorite poets, to post today in memory of my father—who was known to his family and friends as Ziggy.

by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

The first and last stanzas of LITTLE FATHER
by Li-Young Lee

I buried my father
in the sky.
Since then, the birds
clean and comb him every morning
and pull the blanket up to his chin
every night…

I buried my father in my heart.
Now he grows in me, my strange son,
my little root who won’t drink milk,
little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night,
little clock spring newly wet
in the fire, little grape, parent to the future
wine, a son the fruit of his own son,
little father I ransom with my life.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader today get into summer poetry with Poetry Friday: Summersaults and Lemonade Sun.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I think it's my day to post. The problem is, I'm a little busy being A.DD and all over the place. I'm painting... and answering emails... and thinking about the party... and washing dishes... and worrying about my swollen ankles (medication problem).

This is awful, but I have my expensive laptop on top of a bunch of open paint tubes so that I can paint and do email stuff at the same time. Example:

Also, I keep looking at my shelves. How the heck did I fill them so fast? Where will I put new books that I acquire? Perhaps in the hallway.

Here's a piece that's almost finished.

Now, to the party. First of all, almost all of the BRG will be in attendance! Yay! Linda is busy doing some great stuff of her own so she can't come. I wish she could though! She will be missed.

Second, smore making will commence at the end of the night. If you want smores you have to stay past 2am. I know, I know, it'll be rough... but that's a requirement.

Third, I'm going to figure out how to lug a very large wooden cut-out of a strongman to the party (the kind you put your face in for photos) and I will hopefully have a few cameras for you to take pics!

Fourth, I am now asking for music requests. Name a song and maybe I'll play it. After all, songs are only a 1.99 on ITunes. Speak now!

Speaking of music, in case you’re curious, right now I’m listening to La Mans—very calming and wonderful! Previously I was listening to Komeda—very peppy and Stereolab like.


Real children # 3

Visiting a class as a substitute teacher and as an author are really different! I have now done both – and after my first whole with a 4th-grade class, I don’t know whether I’m more admiring of public school teachers or appalled at the textbooks and workbooks they have to use ….I thought those dreary social studies books were a thing of the past, but one of the items on the lesson plan the teacher had left was a chapter from a book called The Connecticut Adventure.

I remembered substitute time as party time (that hadn’t changed, either). I had brought my digital camera, and whenever everyone behaved for 10 minutes straight, someone got to take a picture. When chaos broke out, the clock started over again. The girls ALL took pictures of each other—either the whole group or their best friends. The boys all took pictures of objects. I especially loved this:

It was taken by a boy who seemed smart and super-bored by school and I can’t say that I blame him. It was sad: all that money spent on the school – 18 kids per class, a teacher who is obviously great ( not me, their regular teacher!), special ed teachers and aides and computer labs…..and so much of what they were learning was so boring! But at least every school day includes 45 minutes of independent reading and they all love that, and they can all read.

I took that picture (and yes, those are BRGs books they are reading -- I brought in a big stack of them -- and they were all well-loved: somewhat to my surprise, one boy read Anna's Three Little Kittens out loud to all his frieds, giggling -- and wrote down her name very carefully so he could order the book! Not surprisingly (4th grade is the age I'd expect for this one), another boy wrote Meghan a fan letter and drew an alien.....the book the girl has spread open on her desk is Linda's Magic Hoofbeats.

They were such great kids!

It's too bad that they don't get more intellectual stimulation at school. If *I* ran the circus I'd let the teachers choose their own materials (you KNOW by looking at those text books that a commitee picked them out!) and have people come in and visit a lot: not just artists and writers but scientists and mathematicians and historians -- people who are passionately interested in what they do and can pass that on to kids.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


So I've been kind of distracted so I thought for my (late) post today I would just (re)share some of my good news. My first early reader--think along the lines of Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia, has been acquired!

A couple of years ago, I went through this phase where all of my ideas were homages to all the books I loved as a child. For example, Year of the Dog was an homage to the Betsy books. At that time I also had this idea, which is an homage to the Flicka, Dicka and Ricka books. However, now I am going to have to stop with the homages because people are going to think all I do is regurgitate all the books I read as a child.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Random things

I was going to make several short posts today since I seem to have a little to say about a lot of things... but instead I will put it all in one long rambling post!

First off, this past Sunday was the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy's 10th anniversary celebration at the Boston Public Library (in the old, fancy part of the library- we were in a room just outside the fountain below!).

Linda and I were 2 of the 10 guest authors who gave brief presentations to kids and grown-ups in attendance, here is me talking to the kids:

But the coolest part was watching what the other authors did with their presentations, as I'm always interested in how different authors present themselves, and engage an audience. Below is Linda doing a drawing exercise which the kids LOVED. The best part of her presentation though was when she showed us a book that she had disassembled and turned into a puppet! Linda is a very accomplished puppeteer and performer... so it was the perfect mixing of talents. Wish I got a good shot of it!

On a completely different note (remember I said this was going to be rambling)...

I just discovered that Miranda July (performance artist extraordinaire) has just come out with a book of short stories! I haven't read it yet, but she made the coolest web site ever for her book:

The site is simple and funny and unassuming, just like her persona (she starred in her own move ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW a couple years ago). I especially love her suggestion that you wear the color of her book when you read it. Genius! And a great example of how book promotion does not have to be boring or cheesy or feel like "selling out."

Gives me some great ideas for ways to spruce up my own site. A wise artist recently told me 'don't be afraid to copy, because you never really can. Things always come out differently at your own hand. When something inspires you run with it...'

crazy Meghan has done it again

The good ol' chat has been updated.

Perhaps you have missed it. Perhaps you have no idea what I'm talking about. Well, I"m talking about my personal blog. It was forgotten... but now it's not. If you read it, you may conclude I am truly nutty. It is 4:30 and I'm back to my old ways of staying up until 5 or 6 or so. I blame the magnesium. (no, I do not care to explain... I'm too busy making my party music mix... which is brilliant, by the way!)

So, on to REAL news.

If I am not mistaken, I will be giving books away at the Strong Man party. Yay! That's right folks! Now you can really bring your party hats! Woo-hoo! Hip hip horaay! Jump up and down! It's a celebration! Rock on! Do the chicken dance!

Okay, it really is late. I do need sleep at some point.

Anyway, at the strong man party there will also be a giant wooden cut-out of a strong man that you can put your face in... for photo opportunities. So bring your cameras!

Yeah. No more exclamation points for me. I'm going to go paint and hope I don't color everything odd colors.

(no, I do not know those people... but they're my type of folks. Yeah, they really are...)


Sunday, June 03, 2007

BEA wrap-up

I didn't have any official BEA responsibilities this year, but I did attend the children's "breakfast" on Friday morning (at the much-too-early hour of 8 am), and walked the show in the afternoon before the Kidlit Drinks gathering at 5 pm.

I put "breakfast" in quotations because it consisted of a basket of bagels and muffins, both quite small in size. But the coffee and juice was plentiful, and besides, it wasn't the food we were there for. Libba Bray was a very funny and perky as the emcee, and the speakers Mo Willems, Jacqueline Wilson, and Daniel Pinkwater all eloquent and interesting. And it was surreal hearing a voice I've only heard on NPR come out of a flesh and blood man in the latter.

I met up in the afternoon with my friend Donna Freitas--we got signed copies of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (gorgeous cover), and No Talking by Andrew Clements. As Andrew Clements signed the book to me, he told me that the only other person he knew with my name was an old drama teacher he knew, who taught students such as Charleton Heston. Except that she pronounced her name "Al-vine-a"--of course. Curious, I've since looked her up online--Alvina Krause, sometimes nicknamed "Maker of Stars."

Then we ran into Jarrett Krososzka and his agent Rebecca Sherman at the Little, Brown booth and we walked the floor together a bit before Jarrett had to leave at 4. We saw the Lissy dolls on display at the MerryMakers booth:

And then Jarrett and I took a silly pic at the Penguin booth:
Then Donna and I were off to the Kidlit Drinks night at Landmark Tavern. I was exhausted from a busy day and week by then (and I must admit a bit tipsy from free champagne and wine at various BEA booths), so please excuse me if we talked and I seemed a bit out of it. But there was a great turnout and as usual at these gatherings, it was great meeting some new friends and seeing familiar faces.

Next up is ALA in DC at the end of the month. Hope to see you there!

Greetings from Miss Rumphius in China!

I posted the following piece at Wild Rose Reader on Tuesday. I thought I'd post it again at Blue Rose Girls in case some of you didn't read it and are wondering why Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect hasn't been blogging lately. She'll be home soon--and I'm sure we'll hear lots more about her grand adventure.

From Wild Rose Reader

Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect wrote me to ask if I would help her out. She has not been able make any kind of posts about her trip recently. She asked if I would inform folks as to her whereabouts with a short note lest people think she has disappeared or given up writing about her travels.

Tricia arrived yesterday in Kunming after a very brief touchdown in Shangri La. She has a full day today, a visit to a University tomorrow morning, and then an afternoon flight to Shanghai. She will see if things improve by then. If you don't see any more posts, however, she wants you to know why.

She says that she is still having a terrific time, despite breaking her camera on the trip to Yamdrok Lake. She is now relying on the kindness of her colleagues to supply her with pictures.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Makes You Pull a Book Off the Shelf?

When you haven’t heard of it – when only the spine is showing – what makes you pull a book off the shelf? I can see my grade school classroom bookshelves, and year after year certain titles that I hated and never picked: Little House in the Big Woods was one. It sounded babyish, boring, too serious (I know, I was wrong: years later I heard my mother reading it to my younger siblings and then read, and loved, the whole series).

Now I still see some patterns in titles I like – they’re intriguing and make me wonder. They make me want to read the book and then they deliver what they promise: The Hobbit, Homecoming, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Return of the Twelves.

Lots of current YA titles seem to be trying WAY too hard to get attention. They sound fake. Maybe I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You is a great book; but I’ll never read it. I like titles (and books) that seem natural. Astronauts Handbookthe title combined with Meghan’s art: intriguing and natural.When my mother heard the title of my book that's out now, she said "Hmmmmm...." in a tone her daughters know all too well -- some of my artist sisters never show her ANYTHING for that reason!

Good titles also seem inevitable, even though I know lots aren’t: Gone With the Wind was first called Tomorrow Is Another Day; The Great Gatsby something like The High-Bouncing Lover. Come to think of it I like that better! What’s a NEW title that seems inevitable? Stargirl? Firegirl? Or am I just prejudiced because I love their covers?

This one is harder to define, but good titles also have a kind of ring to them….though not a FORCED ring (like all those double alliteration titles – I bet most slush piles are full of titles like Debbie the Dust Bunny). Estelle and Lucy, Olvina Flies, The Pig of the Pig, ….these all just SOUND (I’m talking about the sounds of the words) good -- good but not forced, and they fit. If, say, I saw Olvina Flies and pulled it off the shelf, I’d be surprised that Olvina was a chicken; but the name fits her, too. Perfect.

But maybe I’m just prejudiced – after all I’d heard of that one. What kinds of titles (or is it not the title, but something like the color?) do you actually pull off the shelf?
PS I know I already posted today, but that was more of a PSA--and I missed a lot of Saturdays while I was finishing my book! I had so much fun taking pictures (if you click this one you can read all the titles)that next week I'll post just pictures: what's on the shelves at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT.... would it be interesting to pick a letter and all take pictures of that shelf at our local bookstore?

Friday, June 01, 2007

"New retail customers"

“Can’t love ‘em if you don’t have ‘em” – books, that is. That’s what the Marketplace commentator said when he was talking about kids -- or "new retail customers" as he put it -- reading books. This was in a story about First Book, a group that gives books to preschools and daycare centers and after-school programs and kids who can’t afford to buy them.

First Books gets the books from private donations and publishers like Candlewick, who, as one editor explained, can actually save money by giving some books away ("publishers face logistical problems")….and they don't give old books that didn’t sell. When Candlewick published a new edition of the Judy Moody series, they gave old copies to First Book -- warehouse space is expensive, First Book gets warehousing for free. Sounds like a win-win to me!

They love working with small local groups like Sister Power in East Harlem, which has a drop-in reading center. THey interviewed a child there who said, "I'll probably love books when I grow up because I love them now." (Hence the "new retail customers")

First Book doesn't just collect books: they get them to people who will read and share them with the kids who needs them, and they're always open to new ideas. You can go to their Web site or blog or, if you’re at BEA this weekend in New York, their booth, to find out more.

(And if this is old news to everyone else, sorry! I just heard about it on one of my favorite radio shows, Marketplace.)