Friday, November 30, 2012

POETRY FRIDAY: Autumn Acrostics

I thought is was about time that I got back to posting on Poetry Friday again. Here are some original acrostics that I wrote about the season of autumn some time ago:

Animals get ready for winter--slip
Under stones, hide in hollow logs, bury
Themselves in pond bottoms. The
Underlife of leaves bursts forth in a
Myriad of colors and they dazzle like jewels on a
Necklace of trees.

Must fly south
Into the sun…must
Get going…before Mother Nature
Raises her icy hands
And frosts
This world
In white. Follow me
On the wing to a land that does
Not know the chill of winter

Like baby birds
Eager to test their wings
A scarlet flock takes flight in a silent
Valediction to summer.
Earthbound, they
Settle into autumn, curl up from the cold.

Crimson and gold, pumpkin
Orange, lemon yellow, burnt sienna...
Leaves don their autumn finery in
October to celebrate the season.
Restless breezes set them dancing,
Swirling through air like a rainbow of dervishes

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original animal mask poem about termites.

Amy has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.


Regular readers of the Blue Rose Girls blog probably know that I've been very busy providing day care for my Granddaughter Julia. It is such fun for me to spend so much time with her and to watch her change and grow. This week I took her outside to explore her surroundings. She was wearing her new brown boots. I took the following video of her:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Differences between published and unpublished mss.


Lately I've been coaching people writing fiction, and have noticed some big differences between published and unpublished manuscripts.  The first 4 can all be corrected if the writer wants to take the trouble to correct them; the next 3 three I think depend upon having some talent......

The list helped me fix my OWN writing and I sent it along to one of the people I coach, too. He also found it helpful -- maybe some of you will.

If you disagree with some or can think of others I haven't mentioned, PLEASE comment.

1. Published writers use dialog to move the story along or develop character. Unpublished writers use it to take up space or give the reader information that could be more economically given in some other way.

UPWs almost always let their dialog go on way too long. Conversations in books (unlike conversations in real life!) should end as soon as their dramatic purpose has been achieved.

2. PWs give readers just the right amount of back story/information about the characters and situation -- not too much, not too little. UPWs tend to either give WAY too much -- telling us all much more about the characters' pasts or the present situation than we need to know -- or so little that we are completely confused.

3. Simiarly, UPWs often spend more time describing a scene/setting it up than letting it play out. PWs concentrate their energies and our attention on what happens -- and in every scene, something does.

4. UPWs introduce characters, facts, situations and then abandon them without developing them or bringing them to a conclusion. PWs make sure that if there is a gun lying on the table, it goes off, or fails to go off, or gets confused for the murder weapon or plays some other role in the story. Otherwise, why mention it? Similarly, if they describe a character in Chapter 4, that character has a role in what happens. He doesn't just get introduced in a paragraph of backstory, stroll in to ask about the weather, and then disappear.

5. It is amazing HOW MUCH HAPPENS in a well-constructed novel. Many amateurish attempts simply contain too little -- they're too slight to be interesting.

6. PWs write about people who come to life in the readers' minds -- their characters seem real, we care what happens to them. UPWs' characters are hard to tell apart or remember, or they're unconvincing -- they seem made-up/flat/fake and we don't care what happens to them (and often,  not much does -- see #5). Conveying what a person is like with a few well-chosen details IS an art, but being interested in other people and noticing things about them is a really good start!

I remember an amateur writer -- a doctor -- who was incredibly good at this, even though he had no writing experience. For example, he described a character as dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, and adding the comment that on anyone else, it would have looked silly or affected; but on him, it looked natural and stylish. Later in the scene, when this character replied to something another character had said, the narrator commented that he couldn't tell what he was thinking:
"His was a poker face."
When, later, this same character saved the day with a really brilliant move, it all fit, we believed it -- because the author had chosen the right details to describe him/let us know what he was like.

7. Some writers (both published and unpublished, IMHO) simply have nothing to say -- and these people shouldn't be writing at all, or should wait until they've thought of something.

8. PWs
"Use the right word, not its second cousin." -- Mark Twain

Some UPWs just plain can't write: they misuse words, make grammatical mistakes, are incredibly wordy, use way too many adjectives, always embellish the word "said" or avoid it in favor of words they consider more interesting -- which is like avoiding the word "the".....

This (#8) can be corrected by a little work on the part of the writer: using a dictionary (not a Thesaurus, a dictionary), mastering the concepts in a book like The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, simply paying attention!

Of course, #8 can also be fixed by a good editor, but it's been my experience that those who commit #8 also do so many of the others that I don't think any editor is likely to bother. So the ms. will never get that far.


Lastly, I hope this doesn't sound snobbish: I did begin by admitting that MY writing, especially in the earlier drafts, contains some of these things ...and maybe that brings me to one more:

9. PWs usually rewrite -- many, many times. UPWs seem to think one draft is enough, and when it isn't, they give up.

One of the hardest things about writing is that YOU JUST DON'T KNOW -- maybe those who give up are saving themselves a lot of wasted time and energy (if writing something that never sells is a waste of both). Or maybe they're missing the chance to find out, or get something great out into the world.

There are no guarantees, and until you've done your very, very best work I don't think anyone can tell you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

post-thanksgiving this and that

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!

While I was eating turkey, CNN ran their  Thanksgiving story, "Special Places to Find Gratitude," which features yours truly. When they interviewed me, I had to really think of what places I found most peaceful. In the end, I told the author about my experience of seeing the Big Buddha during my trip to Hong Kong. I'm not sure if that is really my most zen place but looking over my old Hong Kong blog posts did make me a bit wistful for overseas travels and adventure. Maybe when the baby gets a little older!

Also while I was eating turkey, BRG friend and my soon-to-be-neighbor, Jarrett Krosoczka shared this very poignant video of a Tedx talk he gave (he's also running charity auction right now! bid now!):

Hope that helps continue the spirit of gratitude past Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back from NCTE/ALAN


Happy Thanksgiving, all! I'm still technically on vacation until tomorrow, and I must say, I'm still recovering from being in Las Vegas for the NCTE conference and ALAN workshop for almost a week. It was a bit surreal to be in Vegas and working--I'll just say that I hadn't left the MGM Grand where the conference was held the whole time--I tried to venture out for a run, but must have gone out the wrong exit, because I kept running into construction and dead-ends, so turned around and ran back to the fitness center. Indoors. Ah, well.

Despite the surreal nature of Vegas, it was a great conference as usual, mainly because it was a nice opportunity to hang out with authors, teachers, and fellow publishing folk. I didn't take as many pictures as I normally do, but here are some random moments:

Sara Zarr signing

Stacking the booth with giveaways

Most awesome poster ever: NIGHTTIME NINJA by Barbara DaCosta and Ed Young

panel with Cat Patrick (Forgotten, Revived, and the upcoming The Originals)

Awesome pins for Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Our fearless leader, School & Library Marketing Director Victoria Stapleton (who wears sunglasses at night) with author Matthew Quick (Sorta Like a Rock Star; Boy21; and the upcoming Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock)

Books for our ALAN dinner: I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga and ADAPTATION by Malinda Lo

Barry Lyga was a trouper and came to Vegas despite breaking his foot in four places. We rented him this smooth ride.
We hosted at various times authors Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ninth Ward and the upcoming Sugar), Julie Anne Peters (This is Our Prom [now deal with it]), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Gail Carriger (Etiquette & Espionage), Cat Patrick (The Originals), Matthew Quick (Boy21), Sara Zarr (The Lucy Variations), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Malinda Lo (Adaptation), and Sherman Alexie (who was sponsored at the show by his adult publisher, Grove, to promote Blasphemy).

Lots of good food and conversation was had by all.


And just for fun, in case you missed it:

The Dudes of YA: A "Lit-Erotic" Photo Spread by Sean Beaudoin. Pure genius and hilarity.

Sean is brilliant (and yes, I work with him--Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue, You Killed Wesley Payne, and the upcoming Wise Young Fool), and was inspired to put this piece together by a rather innocent blog post by Cat Patrick highlighting (some of the) dudes of YA. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mine at last!


This came today, from a friend on the island:

I don't know if you can see it, but the sign says "SOLD" -- sold to me.

The plot I own is TINY, and behind the tall stone wall. It looks out onto the fields on the right -- and the ocean.

I plan to plant it with meadow grass and wildflowers, and IF I get planning permission, put a shepherd's hut on it. Shepherds' huts were used in the lambing season by shepherds, which is why they have wheels. Mine will look like this one -- but it's a bit bigger (7.5 x 16), dark green outside, a yellowy cream inside; and it will have more windows.

If I don't get planning permission, the builder will ship it here (to America). Either way, it will be the perfect place to write and I'm thankful to have it.
And I am thankful for the land, and for the magical months I've already spent on the island.

And so this has something to do with children's books: Raoul Dahl did all his writing in a real (original) shepherd's hut. His I think was bright yellow but I will have a better chance of getting planning permission with a more conservative color: British racing green will suit the landscape better anyhow.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

beautiful readers!

I actually have a backlog of photos sent to me via e-mail for my Starry River of the Sky Giveaway! Aren't these beautiful readers?

I have more photos to share but keep them coming! You can win a special edition pocket pacy or your portrait painted by me! More details HERE!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A thousand readings

I've been collecting, reading, admiring, and creating children's books for a good long while now. Until recently, I thought it a relatively easy task to pick a picture book up and determine if it will capture the attention of a child and offer them something of value. I'd flip through the pages, take in the illustrations, and read through it quickly to look for flow.

But becoming a mom has turned all that on it's head. I now read Tilly's favorites over and over, day after day, morning, noon, and night. Soon into those kind of repeat readings, the true quality of the writing becomes plain as day, and the book takes on a different feel. Some books that I first found sweet, I've come to dread slogging through. I trip on their clunky turns of phrase, mouthful of syllables, and jarring jumps in plot. I find myself editing them as I read.

Then others just glide off the tongue and virtually read themselves. It's made me realize how important it is for children's book creators to spend a lot of time reading to children, at some point in their career.

Here we are reading Peter Rabbit (best done in a lion suit).

And here are some of our other favorites; Tilly never tires of them and neither do I.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Glad to Be Back!

Sorry that I have been away from Blue Rose Girls for so long. I’ve been busy taking care of my granddaughter Julia and with renovation plans for our new home. (You can see some pictures of our new place it here.)
We plan to have some built-ins installed--a china cabinet in our dining area and bookshelves in our upstairs den/office--before we move in. I really need a place to put the thousands of children’s books that I have acquired over the years. I want to keep them for Julia. She LOVES books! She so enjoys looking through her books, pointing to things in the illustrations, and talking as if she is actually reading them. It is such fun to watch and to listen to her—and to have her sit on my lap when I read her the same books.

Yesterday morning, I walked into her bedroom just after she awoke. She stood up in her crib and pointed to the basket of books in a corner of her room. I knew which book she wanted—Clare Beaton’s Action Rhymes. It's one of her favorites. I fetched it for her. She then sat down in her crib and began “reading” it. Sometimes, she insists that we take the book downstairs with us.

I will definitely miss the library that we built in our basement after I retired in 2004. It took me that entire summer to bring all of my children's books home from school.
Here are pictures of my present library.

At Wild Rose Reader today, I have some poetry and two song videos for Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

more pocket pacy adventures!

This Pocket Pacy is having a fabulous time with the Wu family. They've brought Pocket Pacy south to Grand Mound WA for some water fun at Great Wolf lodge:

Then north to Rice Lake in North Vancouver (BC Canada) on a hike:

Then over the ocean to  Kihei Public Library and found my books in Maui, Hawaii:

And finally, into SPACE via a Star Wars X-Wing, accompanied by R2D2:

Ha! Doesn't that look fun?

Don't forget, you can win your own pocket pacy (as well as a chance to get your portrait painted by me) if you enter your photo in my Starry River giveaway! More details HERE!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Children's Book Art Events in Western MA

If you find yourself in the happy valley of Western Massachusetts anytime soon, there are a couple worthwhile stops to make. Yesterday marked the opening of the yearly celebration of children's book art at the Michelson Gallery. Sadly I wasn't able to make the opening as in past years, but the exhibition is looking fantastic!

Also, the Eric Carle Museum is marking it's 10th anniversary with an exhibition from their permanent collection:

Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting for The Carle November 6, 2012 - March 10, 2013

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, The Carle is mounting an exhibition, Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting for The Carle, which will draw on its permanent collection of more than 10,000 illustrations. Visitors will have a chance to see examples from the extraordinary collection the Museum has been able to build in a relatively short time thanks to the generosity of artists, artists’ families, and collectors who want their artwork preserved and shared. Artists on view will include Leo Lionni, William Steig, Ludwig Bemelmans, Maurice Sendak, Margot Zemach, Petra Mathers, Arnold Lobel, Rosemary Wells, Ashley Bryan, Simms Taback, Jerry Pinkney, and Trina Schart Hyman.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kid-Lit Cares


I'm busy preparing for our Fall/Winter 2013 Focus meeting (where editorial introduces the books on the list to the sales, marketing, publicity, etc. groups for the first time), so I'll keep this brief.

As I mentioned last week, there's a wonderful auction going on to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. There are still many items available from Round One here, and today also starts the Round Two auction, which I will be participating in.

You can see the Round Two auction items here (this will be updated with a full listing of auctions as they are posted).

They’ll also be posting the auctions to their Facebook page:

And the host of Round Two, Joanne Levy, will be tweeting about the auctions, so feel free to follow her on Twitter if you don’t already: @JoanneLevy and use the hashtag: #KidLitCares.

My auction item should be posted tomorrow (November 13).

Thanks to all the bidders!


On Friday, I'm heading off to Las Vegas for the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention, followed by the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) Workshop. I'm looking forward to some stimulating conversations with teachers, authors, and publishing folks. If you'll be there, stop by the Little, Brown booth and say hi! See you in Vegas, baby!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

come to my bookclub

Okay, it's not really my book club. But I'm going to pretend it is. The Foundation of Children's Books is having a special book group party with yours truly! So if you've read the book and want to talk about it, come and join! This event is FREE but space is limited so you must RSVP. Official copy below:

The Foundation for Children’s Books (FCB) invites you to a special event for adults and kids featuring Newbery-Honor winner Grace Lin. We’ll talk about Grace’s wonderful new novel, Starry River of the Sky, with the author herself. That’s pretty amazing! We’ll hear about how the FCB brings authors like Grace Lin into under-served schools in Boston. And we’ll enjoy some awesome refreshments— because all book groups have refreshments!

Who: We hope that adults and kids in grades 3-7 will join us. Adults are welcome without kids, but kids should come with an adult.

When: Sunday, December 2 from 1-3 p.m.

Where: Park School Library, 171 Goddard Ave., Brookline

What’s Next: Buy the book and start reading! You’ll also be able to buy the book (and others) at the event, but it will be more fun if you’ve already read it. Bring your books to have them signed!

 RSVP: Email the Foundation for Children’s Books at or call us 617-469-7222 by Wed, 11/28.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting day

I hope you all stayed safe in the storm last week. We were very lucky out here in Western Massachusetts and had not much more than some heavy rain and wind. My heart goes out to our neighbors in New York and New Jersey who have suffered so much loss.

It is with a strong feeling of community and concern for our collective future that I headed out to the polls this morning. I've been as wrapped up in this election as anyone, even more so after the storm, which reminded me how important it is to have leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility. It felt so good to walk in to our local elementary school, cast a ballot, and collect my sticker.

With Tilly starting day care this week I have more time at my desk than I've had for a long time and there is much to catch up on. But I am far too nervous to write today. So instead I'll fill my work time with small tasks... until tomorrow, when hopefully all the ballots have been counted.