Wednesday, September 30, 2009

descriptions come to life

Coming from a picturebook background, I struggle with writing description. I often tell students how after sending in my first draft of The Year of the Dog my editor(Alvina!) sent it back to me with the note, "You need to add at least 2-4 descriptions on each page." This was because I hadn't written ANY. In picturebooks, there are always illustrations so I never had to write description before. Now, I had to learn.

And one of authors I studied was, of course, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Even if you don't like the Anne books, you should have the deepest respect for her ability to create beautiful images from words. And, while visiting PEI (see all about my travels on my blog!) my admiration for her only increased. So much of what she had written was exactly like the land around me.

From the red earth,
to the placid animals,
(Squatchie & I dubbed this the "oreo cow")

to the mirroring water,the sapphire blue gulfs,
and the silver and gold light:
"The sun had set some time since, but the landscape was still clear in the mellow afterlight. To the west a dark church spire rose up against a marigold sky. Below was a little valley and beyond a long, gently-rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it."
-LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Desmond jacket painting

Thanks again everyone for your input on the back jacket sketch in last week's post. Here is the version we decided on, and the front cover too. In the end we thought it made sense for Gloria to be on the opposite side of the fence as Desmond, as though she is tiptoeing up to the fence looking for him...

Banned Books Week

In case you didn't know, September 26 to October 3 is Banned Books Week!

Check out the First Amendment First Aid Kit at Random House here. It includes a list of banned books (including Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret for which Judy Blume was called a communist and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among others- crazy), information on how to discuss banned books with kids, and strategies for booksellers, librarians, and teachers to support free speech.

From the site:

"We should never take for granted our freedom to read. Case in point: four library board members in West Bend, Wisconsin, lost their jobs this year when they tried to keep young adult books on the YA shelves where they belong, rather than on the adult shelves, with warning labels affixed. Read more here on CNN."

PS. Pass it on! Random House will send a free banned or challenged book (while supplies last) to anyone who posts the graphic or blogs about Banned Books Week. Tell them about it at

Yay for free speech and free books too!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Observations about mainstream publishing

Last week I read this insightful, sobering insider look at publishing here by Daniel Menaker, former Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House. His experience is with adult publishing, and I do view children's book publishing as a happier world, but his is still an authentic view of publishing in general. Especially true is how negative a culture it can be. For example:

You're more likely to be "right" if you express doubts about a proposal's or a manuscript's prospects than if you support it with enthusiasm.

I'm often disappointed that our acquisitions team doesn't get more excited about projects. Sometimes it seems that the best praise we can get is "I liked it fine" or "I would be okay if we published it." Hardly glowing endorsements. True, when those rare moments come along where everyone gets excited about a project, it's wonderful, but people seem to be more critical than ever. It's a tough business.

More negativity:

And this is only the beginning of the negativities that editors must face. Barnes & Noble doesn't like the title. Borders doesn't like the jacket. The author's uncle Joe doesn't like the jacket. The writer doesn't like the page layout and design. Your boss tells you the flap copy for a book about a serial killer is too "down." The hardcover didn't sell well enough for the company to put out a paperback. The book has to wait a list or two to be published. Kirkus hates the book. Another writer gets angry at you for even asking for a quote. The Times isn't going to review the book. And so on.

*Sigh.* So true. And the following observation is something I particularly agree with:

It's my strong impression that most of the really profitable books for most publishers still come from the mid-list -- "surprise" big hits with small or medium advances, such as that memoir by a self-described racial "mutt" of a junior senator from Chicago. Somehow, by luck or word of mouth, these books navigate around the rocks and reefs upon which most of their fleet -- even sturdy vessels -- founder.

Anyway, read the column. It's fascinating. And I'm glad I'm not as jaded so far in my career--I still see many more pros than cons. But it's good to recognize the challenges in the hopes that maybe aspects of the business can change.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Money (not what you think)

One of my early memories is of staying home from school sick, counting my money. I took it out of its container -- a round pink suitcase that was perhaps a doll's vanity case -- and arranged it into little piles on my bed, counting the coins with great satisfaction. The shiney round nickels were especially solid and satisfying.

I hadn't thought of this in years, until yesterday when I was counting my babysitting money. I remembered the clicking sound of those nickels and the feeling of miserly pleasure the stacks gave me. It's a feeling I hadn't had since then.

For soon after I had counted my money, my mother opened a savings account for me: $14 and something cents. I felt a pang of vivid LOSS -- to me, that money was gone. I had a blue savings book, with little stamped numbers like library due-date stamps whenever I put money into it --but it didn't ever seem like real money. Those stacks of coins did. (I learned just the opposite of what my mother, a careful saver herself, was trying to teach me!)

Maybe one reason I'm saving now (after I counted my babysitting money I walked to the bank to deposit almost all of it, with a GREAT feeling of satisfaction and pride!) is that I get paid in cash. When I spend or save cash, it's very obvious that I'm spending or saving -- when I used credit cards, especially when clicking online, it wasn't.

For most of my life, I've been irresponsible with money, spending it freely when I had it and even (until I stopped having credit cards) when I didn't. There is such a feeling of relief and solid satisfaction in living within my means that I want to write something about it. I'm not sure what -- maybe this blog post is enough! But I'm also thinking about writing a picture book about money, showing what it is (more complicated than it seems: it doesn't exist unless a lot of people believe in it) and trying to make it real for kids -- and I guess myself. When you think about it, what IS money? I think it's unreal to a lot of people besides me: and when it stops seeming real to people who control large sums, we all get into a big mess. But the financial meltdown won't be in the kids' book -- except maybe in a silly, exaggerated way.

In the meantime, I'll keep counting those strange green pieces of paper and putting them into the bank, thinking about this book, too....and Grace-of-Green-Gables, I know you will say "Finish Cassy first!" and I will (I'm up to page 103!) but I can write this pretty quickly, I think, once I decide what I want to say.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ciao Bella Chocolate Sorbet by Elaine Equi

A couple of weeks ago, Grace Lin and I had breakfast at Henrietta’s Table in Harvard Square. After we ate, we headed over to Curious George & Friends. After browsing through the new picture books on display at the front of the store, I checked out the poetry section—where I found a wonderful anthology, Poem in Your Pocket. The book includes an introduction by U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. How had I missed the publication of the book earlier this year?????
From the book’s description at the website of The Academy of American Poets: Published in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets, Poem in Your Pocket enables you to select a poem you love, neatly tear it out from the book, and then carry it with you all day to read, be inspired by, and share with coworkers, family, and friends. This innovative format features 200 poems from Shakespeare to Sexton, cleverly organized by theme.
In the introduction, Ryan talks about having money in your pocket, looking at all the things you could buy with it, eventually purchasing something, and feeling a sense of dissatisfaction—of wanting to trade more money for more goods—because “the new goes off the new…”

Quoting from Ryan’s introduction: A poem in your pocket is different. The whole way it works is different. In a way, you can’t spend a poem even if you want to. As opposed to money—which seems intent upon getting out of your pocket as though it were a feral animal—a poem settles in. When I say “pocket” here, I mean “mind.” A poem settles into your mind.

I haven’t read all of the poems in Poem in Your Pocket yet. Today, I’m sharing a poem by Elaine Equi that I found in the book--a poem that settled into MY mind...maybe because I LOVE chocolate so much.

Ciao Bella Chocolate Sorbet

has a dense

water to chocolate

as if a whole
devil’s food cake

were dissolved
in each scoop.

Delivers Elvis-like

for only 120 calories.

You can read the rest of the poem here. You’ll have to scroll down—it’s the third poem on the page.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have A Poem for Banned Books Week. It’s a revised version of Book Talk 2007, a poem I wrote more than two years ago.

At Political Verses, I have Dirty Dancing with the Stars: A Poem about Tom DeLay.

Susan Taylor Brown is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Every since I was 12 years old, I've loved the Anne of Green Gables books. Since then, I've dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island, home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the said books. Of course,in the past, whenever I offered PEI as a vacation destination most looked at me with blank stares. Why go to PEI when there were choices like Vegas, Cape Cod, Paris or China? It looked like my dream to go to PEI would go unfulfilled.

Until now! Today I am off for my first (and probably only, as I don't think I will ever be able to cajole anyone to go with me again) PEI vacation. Grace of Green Gables, here I come!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lots of Glorias

So the front cover for Disappearing Desmond came pretty quickly, the below sketch was your favorite version, Knopf's favorite, and mine too!

But for some reason it took me awhile to nail down the back jacket. Desmond's new friend in the story, Gloria, is peering over the fence at Desmond... here are some of my zillion different attempts to get her pose and gestures right:

Which one do you like the best?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Come say hi!

Take a break!

As I mentioned in a past post, it's been a particularly hectic summer, and as a reward for/respite from the stress, the editorial group took off a few hours early last Friday for an outing. And where did we go? I'll give you five clues:

Perhaps you've guessed it? We went to the High Line! Faithful readers of this blog, and fans of Peter Brown's The Curious Garden, will recognize this amazing public space. This was only my second trip to the High Line--my first was at night, and it was just as lovely, and a much different feel:

If you're in the New York area, be sure to check it out.

After our stroll on the High Line, we made our way to the roof deck of the bar Brass Monkey for drinks and work gossip. And now it's back to the grind. But no matter how busy one is, a break is always necessary and can do wonders to the spirits. I was talking to an author friend at brunch yesterday about what we do to relax--she records a ton of TV shows and takes a chunk of time to watch them all at once. I love reading my Entertainment Weekly and watching reality television. How do you all veg out when you're stressed and need a break?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Facts and fiction

I once read a historical fiction series that concluded abruptly at the end of the third book (6 had been advertised and planned). The author explained in a brief note:

"Having been compelled by history to kill off my favorite character," he said (I've always loved that line!), he couldn't go on with the series.

This is kind of happening to me-- I'm writing a novel about a niece of Jane Austen's. Her mother dies, and I just don't want to go on and on about that. It (like early death in real life!) is a shock and completely interrupts the story, that's unavoidable in both cases.....but I don't want it to take over the story, either.

In books that are all fiction, people just leave out these kinds of things--which is probably why, although ALL of Jane Austen's brothers lost their first wives to death, this never happens in any of her books (lots of things happen in my book, though, that she would never include --we go to places she didn't). Just as most novels of the period never include children dieing and they did, often -- the only one I can think of that includes it is BARRY LYNDON; and I never read it, just saw the movie....anyway I want this book to be true, but I want it to be a novel with form and shape and A GOOD STORY, too.

So what I've done is let the mother die, have the child react, then skip ahead in time, to when it's just sort of underneath everything but not dominating Cassy's consciousness. What do you think? Can you do that in a kid's book?

Well, I HAVE done it, and what I should do is just give myself permission--but it would help to know what other people think about that choice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

crappy sketches

I'm sure you've seen other sketches by the group members for their books... but I don't think you've ever seen mine. Well here's one for you:

Pretty crappy, eh? I do as little as possible--that's my admission. The reason is 1) I don't want to waste time 2) I want to stay inspired for the finish and 3) I like to surprise myself while painting. If I do a sketch that's too polished I"ll lose all of that. I also sometimes see artist's sketches and think they're better than the finishes! That's a scary thing.


multicultural minute

Yes, that's me on the Multicultural Minute!

Language Lessons by Alexandra Teague

I’m happy that contemporary poetry is available online at a number of different websites. Here are some of my favorite sites where you’ll find quality poetry on the Internet: The Poetry Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, Favorite Poem Project, Poetry 180, American Life in Poetry.

Today, I have a poem from American Life in Poetry, an initiative of Ted Kooser, the 2004-2006 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

Language Lessons
by Alexandra Teague

The carpet in the kindergarten room
was alphabet blocks; all of us fidgeting
on bright, primary letters. On the shelf
sat that week's inflatable sound. The th
was shaped like a tooth. We sang
about brushing up and down, practiced
exhaling while touching our tongues
to our teeth.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have some personal poetry news—and I talk about posting original poems at my blog in Blogging My Poetry.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chat with me!

I'm offering Skype talks! It is September which means school is in, so I thought as part of my book's birthday (it's three months old! I remember when it was just a small ARC. sigh!) that (as well as the download-able activity book and event kit) I would offer free, virtual visits!

If your group ends up collectively purchasing 10 or more copies of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, I would be happy to schedule a free 15 minute question and answer Skype call with your readers. Perfect for after school book groups and mother-daughter book clubs! Contact:

Anna also offers Skype visits as well! (I didn't join the Skype Author network because I'm not sure if I want to offer Skype visits indefinitely. But it's a great roster there!) We BRGs are sooo cutting edge.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Brooklyn Book Festival

This weekend, Grace and I attended the wedding of our former roommate, Jon. Grace, Jon, and I lived together for three years in Somerville, MA--in fact, this was where I was living ten years ago when I got my start in Publishing. Jon and his now-wife Loretta had their wedding ceremony on a train. A moving train, in fact! They made their grand entrance on the front of the train:
And then there was a lunch reception on a lovely, scenic (if at times a bit shaky), old-timey train ride:
Long-time readers of my personal blog may remember the creative way Jon and Loretta got engaged last year, which I posted about here. So adorable. They are the bestest couple.

And then yesterday Grace and I booked it (pun intended) down from Boston to New York for the Brooklyn Book Festival. I was moderating a panel titled "Love and Longing." The official description: How far will you go for love and how far will love go for you? Ned Vizzini (Be More Chill), Aimee Friedman (Sea Change) and Anna Godbersen (The Luxe) reveal very different approaches to succeeding in love as they read and discuss their books.
I thought it was a pretty fun panel, and loved the insights and perspectives of the three authors, who answered questions such as, "How do you think the dynamics of teen relationships have changed since your teen years, if at all?" (Ned: they haven't changed; Aimee and Anna: except for social networking!) and "Who are your favorite literary couples?" Ned: Edward and Bella!; Aimee: Romeo and Juliet; Anna: Elizabeth and Darcy). They discussed how their first loves and past relationships creep into their writing, and talked about the theme of forbidden love and why it's so popular with teens. And of course they all said so much more which I'm too exhausted to record here.

The panel ended on a bit of an odd note, with the last question from the audience asking them to define love. "What is love?" I wanted to break out in song but resisted. What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more...

They signed books after the talk:

At 3:30 Grace was at the Target Children's area reading both The Ugly Vegetables, and then an excerpt from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
Despite all of the distractions going on during the fair, the kids were actually very attentive to both, and even asked extremely smart questions that showed that they had actually been listening! Impressive.

All in all, it was a beautiful day, lovely weather, and I saw a lot of familiar and friendly faces and made new friends. It was my first time there, and I think I'll have to make it an annual event. Hope to see you all there next year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Creationists Work to Keep a Movie about Darwin from Being Screened in the US

Here's a post at Wild Rose Reader that you might find interesting: Creationists Work to Keep a Movie about Darwin from Being Screened in the US. The post includes a video trailer of Creation, the movie about Darwin, and links to an article in the Telegraph (UK) and a post at Jonathan Turley's blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What a writer -- or THIS writer -- needs

I made a list once of what to avoid in a boyfriend. When I showed it to a friend, she burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?"
"That anyone would have to write this down as a reminder."
The things in this post may be equally obvious to some people.

To write novels, I need stability: to live in the same place, to have a steady income, to be able to take care of myself in the world. Boyfriends who call when you're in the middle of putting away the week's groceries to say things like, "I'm in London and my meetings just got cancelled, can you come over?" are not really helpful, either (well, that could be good for writing, especially if they paid for the plane ticket and didn't do other unexpected things that lacked the fun component, but that wasn't my situation).

I've been freelancing for the last 8 years, and until this summer, was worried -- anxious, maybe, is a better word-- about money all the time. Mixed with the anxiety was optimism: SOMEDAY (when I sold a book) things would be very different. So -- with my economic future depending on it, of course I felt like everything I wrote HAD TO sell (and when it did spent the money really stupidly). Needless to say this isn't helpful when actually writing; at least, to me it wasn't. The pressure from a deadline -- a publisher expecting a ms. when a contract has been signed and money has changed hands -- does make me write faster and I think, better. Constant anxiety does not.

So at the beginning of the summer, I decided (at Grace's urging, thank you, Grace!) to try and get a job as a nanny. I did and as our regular readers know, loved it. I loved being around Jake and I also loved the steady income. This fall, I have enough nanny work (if everyone keeps their promises) -- with kids I really like -- to pay my rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries: all the necessities. THIS is good for writing.

It has in fact been enormously freeing! I can write what I want and enjoy it and if no one else enjoys does, still pay the rent etc. The stability also allows for the kind of quiet concentration -- almost a state of steady meditation if that's not too pretentious a word -- I need to write something long like a novel. The novel is always on my mind, not always consciously, but often.

For me, playing with children doesn't interrupt this process at all...I think maybe because when I play, my mind is just kind of open to everything, alert and relaxed at the same time, the way I need it to be to write. But maybe this is just me -- or what THIS book needs, now.

And it's always dangerous to predict the future. Maybe in a few months I'll be posting about how I just had to move to the Shetland Islands and help repopulate them by starting an Internet sweater-selling site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Poems in Memory of Lindsey

It’s been a year filled with sad news for me. On Wednesday, when I was attending funeral services for the mother of one of my oldest friends, I spoke with the parents of one of my former students. They told me that another of my former students—a girl named Lindsey who was just thirty years old—had died unexpectedly. Lindsey was the older sister one of my daughter’s best friends in elementary and middle school. It is always a shock to me when I hear of the death of a child that I had taught in second or third grade.

Lindsey was beautiful and bright and very sweet. Her mother was warm and loving. Her brother and two sisters were great kids. I’m dedicating the following two poems to the memory of Lindsey.

Little Elegy
for a child who skipped rope
by X. J. Kennedy
Here lies resting, out of breath,
Out of turns, Elizabeth
Whose quicksilver toes not quite
Cleared the whirring edge of night.

You can read the rest of the poem here. You’ll have to scroll down the page to find Little Elegy.

Child of a Day
by Walter Savage Landor

Child of a day, thou knowest not
The tears that overflow thy urn,
The gushing eyes that read thy lot,
Nor, if thou knewest, couldst return!

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original poem that I wrote in remembrance of Karla Kuskin, the award-winning children’s poet who passed away in August.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Wild Rose Reader this week!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hear me Roar, I mean, Read! has added me onto their illustrious list of authors' audio clips. Not only can you learn how to pronounce my name correctly (not that it is tricky), you can listen to me introduce and read a short part of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON.

If you liked that, you can hear a longer excerpt reading, which I offered at my booklaunch.

Maybe next time, I'll let you hear me sing.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Survey and buttons- comment and get one for free!

Happy first day of school! This week I am taking a short break from painting Disappearing Desmond to focus on Abigail Spells, since it is a book I hope will appear in many classrooms this fall.

To that end I am very curious to know where you expert educators out there look for resources to fill out the curriculum in your classes. We authors are always trying to find ways to make our work useful to classrooms and a creative jumping off point for teachers. I'd love to know what your favorite sites are, so that I might be inspired in creating my own curriculum.

SO. I posted this short survey on my blog last week, but thought I might post it here as well to appeal to teachers and educators of all kinds to share your back to school planning.

*If you are a teacher or educator who works with kids, where do you go to research your lesson plans (can include books, web sites, magazines, articles, etc)?

*Are there any sites or other materials that have helped you develop spelling lessons in particular, and teach them effectively?

*Any great online resources that you use to find activities for your kids?

Thanks in advance for the help, I really appreciate it!

In case you're curious, here are some responses I've gotten so far:
Carl's Corner
Reading A-Z
Enchanted Learning
Pro teacher
Super teacher worksheets

On another note, I am making some little buttons of Abigail for giveaway... which design do you like the best? Place a vote or answer the survey above and I will send you a button when they're done*! Make sure your email address is in the comment, or you can email me at

*Giveaway ends 9/15. Only for folks in the US, sorry!

Saturday, September 05, 2009


The almost-three year old I babysit for used to be a cautious, gentle child. Lately he's taken to games that always involve a bad guy (usually a leaf) getting stomped on by Batman and Catwoman (two dolls that feature the duo at around 8). The other morning, when he was the most boisterous I'd ever seen him, I said, surprised,
"What's gotten into you?"
"ENERGY to play and hit!" he shouted.

I have to admit that there is a part of me that loves this kind of energy (am I a Bad Influence?), though I don't allow hitting. I bet most children's book authors tap into it -- who knows, maybe that's why we write for the age groups we do.

Jake's new favorite book is DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! -- for those who haven't read this, at the beginning of the book the bus-driver asks the young reader to do him a favor: "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus." When he's gone, the pigeon asks (at first)

wheedles, pleads, bargains--and, eventually, has a total temper tantrum, represented by screaming capital letters, flying feathers, and popping eyes. Reviews say that children love to shout NO! YOU CAN'T DRIVE THE BUS! to each request. Jake's eyes light up at the question. At first, when the pigeon asks, Jake is tempted, but doubtful:
When the pigeon really starts pleading, he says,
And finally -- more and more confidently as the book goes on:
"Yes, you can drive the bus."

We've read most of the sequels now, too, and Jake enjoys quoting all of them, even when he doesn't quite understand the words:
"I've got dreams, you know."
"For Pete's sake!" (he loves that expression)
"I'M NOT SLEEPY!" (this is from DON'T LET THE PIGEON STAY UP LATE -- and Jake at nap time always insists that he's not tired until a few seconds before he falls asleep, just like the pigeon.)

Jake's mother says he's going through a "testosterone surge." She'd read about them; her friends had warned her they would come. But she never believed that her own gentle child who didn't like anything rough and sang the song in FREE TO BE YOU AND ME -- especially the line "It's okay to cry" so often that his father finally said,
"Yes, but it's not required!" and cried when other people were hurt would turn into this high-energy, strong-willed, rock-throwing (not at people, only into the water at the beach -- over and over -- heaving huge boulders) BOY.

I bet girls go through this too -- I'm pretty sure that at almost-three I also would have loved the pigeon and wanted him to drive the bus. But now, although I know that the pigeon absolutely should not be driving the bus, and when I am in charge I don't let Jake do what he shouldn't, there is a part of me that loves the energy that wants to try, so brilliantly captured by this book.

Friday, September 04, 2009

POETRY FRIDAY: A Poem by W. H. Auden

I came upon a post by John Nichols, Auden’s Love Poem for Humanity, while I was doing some reading at the website of The Nation. It got me to thinking.

I taught a children’s literature course at Boston University for several years. One of the books on my list of required reading was Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, a historical novel about World War II that is set in Denmark. One semester, I remember asking the students in my class if they could tell me what event precipitated the beginning of WW II. No one could. I thought that was sad. It made me think about how little our students learn about the history of the 20th century in school.

For you today, I have September 1, 1939—a poem written by W. H. Auden after he learned about the German invasion of Poland seventy years ago. I highly recommend the reading of Auden’s poem and the comment by Nichols.

From September 1, 1939
By W. H. Auden

The first stanza:

I sit in one of the dives

On Fifty-second Street

Uncertain and afraid

As the clever hopes expire

Of a low dishonest decade:

Waves of anger and fear

Circulate over the bright

And darkened lands of the earth,

Obsessing our private lives;

The unmentionable odour of death

Offends the September night.

The final two stanzas:

All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have a review of Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School.

I have two posts over at Political Verses this week—Political Pop Singers: Four Couplets and MARIA: A Song Parody about Maria Bartiromo.

Kelly Herold has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Crossover this week.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

get some good karma!

Usually, I try to avoid goodreads like the plague. For authors, visiting book discussion sites & reading amazon reviews are exercises in masochism. Yet, strangely, we are constantly drawn to them in spite of this. Why? Are we all secret gluttons for punishment?

I confess I go because of that secret, small hope to see something nice written about my book. Because when that happens, it is amazing. During my last fearful and furtive goodreads look at Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I saw that a lovely Laura wrote "The author uses Chinese folktales to tell the story of how Minli find the secret of happiness. If I could write a book, this is the kind of book I would like to write," and suddenly I felt as if the sun was shining on me. Nothing makes an author feel more like life is worth living when they realize that their work has connected in the way they wished.

So, if you are looking for a way to get some good karma, take 5 minutes and write a review of your favorite book. It will make someone's day, I promise.

visiting the darien library

I was given the great honor of being "the prize" for summer readers at the Darien Library, a gorgeous new library in CT that shelves its picture books by subject matter, not author (which is actually brilliant when you think about how parents look for picture books). Kids who participated in the summer reading program (which Year of the Dog was a part of) came to the end of the summer celebration where I spoke.

I told them what was true and what was not true in Year of the Dog.

I taught them how to draw a dog. (We all drew it together! A doggy-draw-along!)

And I read them a selection from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Afterwards, there was a candy reception (the chopsticks did not slow the kids down at all).

Where all the kids got autographed books:

I had an incredibly sweet time. Thank you so much, Darien Librarians!