Archive for October 2010

PiBoIdMo- Are You IN??

November is a REALLY busy month around here. I chair our Book Fair (and possibly go a bit overboard for it, I might add...) and have a couple of deadlines (and even declined Tara's request to guest-blog because of them!) and my daughter is in the Christmas Carol production at her dance studio and has a ton of rehearsals and my son has basketball and my other son has a ton of teaching requirements at his karate dojo every November and yes, there are a MILLION excuses for me to NOT write and NOT participate in something as awesome as PiBoIdMo... and that's *exactly* why I've signed up to do it this year!

Writing always seems to come last. Always. And *new* writing comes even after that, because revision and deadlines come first. And even I need motivation sometimes. So I am in, Tara Lazar. I'm getting my Idea Book ready. Bring on the PiBoIdMo... (Oh, my gosh, what have I done?!)


No Comment!

Urgh- I'm being besieged by spam comments! It's been going on for over a week and they've been innocuous so far (no, I don't want to send my readers to your site to buy cheap fake purses!), but now they've started to get, um, inappropriate, and that's not something I can tolerate on a blog that might be visited by children. And I am spending more time blocking and deleting the spammers than I am blogging! Which is *stupid*, and banning and Captcha are not stopping them anyway. It's completely ridiculous. And yes, I'm *really* annoyed!

SO, for the time being, the near-future, the who-knows-how-long-but-until-they-go-away, I've disabled comments on my blog. I'll still be blogging! I have too many opinions to keep to myself- ha! And if you need to tell me something, I'm still readily available on twitter, facebook, goodreads, or e-mail (you probably know where to find me, but check my website if you don't). Believe me, I'm still here and I still want to hear what anyone (any REAL person) has to say- it'll just take an extra click to tell me for now...



Hey, did you know these books are out NOW?! We've been waiting, eagerly waiting, for:

(My daughter has been lost in this last one for the last three days- we hope to see her again soon...)

Good books coming out this fall, yes? Lots of excellent, boy-friendly sequels and new beginnings we've been waiting for-ever for (or at least it seems like it). So get yourself to a bookstore and pick up a good fall read (or just click on the covers above- I even made it easy for you!)


The Article

I can't do it. I can't just stay quiet and say nothing about the New York Times article. I write and read and breathe picture books and that article made me so sad. You can go here or here or here or here to see excellent rebuttals and counterpoints to the article itself. And another one here I just came across.

Personally, I believe in picture books for many, many reasons- and a lot of them are mentioned in those posts, so I won't duplicate here. But I also think picture books are an excellent resource for teaching writing and I don't think I saw that addressed anywhere so I wanted to mention it. When I read picture books to my kids, we talk about the story arc, the plot and the characterizations. We discuss what the text says, and what it doesn't say and leaves for the illustrator to say. We discuss how the story is told, the tone, the setting. We don't necessarily use the terminology because our reading time isn't school and I'm not teaching them writing. But they are absorbing all of the components of writing and how to do it well and they don't even know it. And it will show up in their own writing and they will be better writers for it.

At school visits, I go further. I do use the terminology and talk about the specific traits of writing: foreshadowing, onomatopoeia, rhyme, alliteration, word choice, organization of thoughts, etc, and I show them concrete examples from picture books. When I do it, you can actually see little light bulbs go on over their heads! It is so much easier to see and understand these concepts in the 32 pages of a picture book. Older elementary and middle schoolers connect to picture books- they are actually my favorite audience to read to! By denying older children the chance to read and study picture books, we are doing them a great disservice. So I'm going to continue to do my part- reading and writing and teaching picture books- and I hope you'll do the same.


PiBoIdMo is coming...

This is one of the most practical things you can participate in if you want to write picture books. Seriously.

All the write-a-novel-in-a-month contests (NaNoWriMo and its variants) have, in my mind, drawbacks. The pressure, the quality issue, the fact that agents bemoan the glut of not-yet-ready submissions they receive directly afterward from eager, triumphant writers... In any case, it's not the way the writer within me works (she does *not* like pressure in the drafting stage!), so I'm not sure I'd ever participate in one of them.

But they're for novels anyway. Picture books are different. Obviously you CAN write one in a month- even less time than that, right (Please Note: I am sarcastically winking here)? But ideas? Sometimes months can go by while ideas (good ideas!) elude me. It's during those times that I break out my idea notebooks and troll for inspiration.

And that's what PiBoIdMo is all about! Brainstorm like mad for a brief time and you could possibly end up with a lifetime supply of writing ideas. It's genius, I tell you, genius. So get ready. Go check it out. It's coming....


Fun at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Have you ever been to the Madison Children's Museum?? It just opened a month or so ago and I'll tell you, as someone who's attended her fair share of different children's museums over the last 20-odd years- this is one of the BEST I've ever been to. You must go.

It's amazing! Highly recommended by me AND my kids :)

All of the volunteers from the Book Festival and the staff from the Borders Book Store and the Museum were so nice, but too many names flew at me fast and furiously. Names are truly my Achilles Heel (with taking pictures right behind- why do I not remember??)! Ugh. But THANK YOU everyone who made things go so smoothly!

And then there was this huge Chicken Nugget that showed up, much to the (obvious) delight of my son Jack:

Josh Lewis, author of the Super Chicken Nugget Boy series is a funny guy- a really funny guy!- and my family and I all enjoyed meeting him very much. And if you are one of the people who didn't come to see us speak, then you also don't have one of these (not that I'm bragging):

Super Chicken Nugget Boy Vs. Dr. Ned Grant And His Eggplant Army

As far as I'm concerned, the trip down was worth it just to get my hands on this sequel, which you can't get anywhere yet! Jack and I have already been duking it out to see who gets to read it first. I lost, but hey, it's fair play while he's in school, right...?


Huge Thanks!

Earlier this year, Jen Robinson over at Jen Robinson's Book Page gave Over At The Castle a lovely review that pleased me to no end. She is a tireless supporter of children's books and literacy and her website and newsletter are terrific resources- I was so excited she liked my book!

And now, I owe her a big THANK YOU! (so THANK YOU Jennifer!) for nominating my book for the Cybils fiction picture-book award. I just got back from Wisconsin and haven't even nominated my favorites yet- I better get on that (if they haven't been nominated already!)