Thursday, June 28, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

I have some news that I must share. The bad news is that Bananabeth is taking the month of July off from the Banana Peelin' series to recharge some batteries and write some middle grade before graduate school starts again and she has no time to flip off a light switch! (Panicking! Quick! Ten CCs of  emergency chocolate, STAT!)  The series will be up and running again in August with some talent that excites her so much, it has transformed her voice to a high pitched squeal that only whales and dolphins are able to interpret.  Eeek! Click. Click. (Dolphin langauge for "I wasn't joking.")

The good news is, the series is going out with a bang with this week's featured author. Today's post will make you LAUGH OUT LOUD. I promise. Please welcome today's Banana Peelin' author, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen!


I always say that since I write fiction for a living, I never let the truth get in the way of a good story. But when it comes to a “banana peel” moment in my writing career, there are so many genuinely horrific things that have happened (or that I’ve done!) that I could not make them up if I tried.


For example, I could tell you about that time I was doing a school visit and I fell off the stage…but as embarrassing as that was, it’s a fairly tame story. There was the time I went to a school and overheard some boys saying things like, “She’s so HOT!” – and then realizing they were talking about my DAUGHTER. Again, awkward and uncomfortable, but not really about my writing journey (and let’s be honest – that is not a memory I want to dwell on. I’d rather re-live the falling off the stage thing!). And then there was the time I wrote a whole YA novel and did not realize that it was AWFUL until I’d spent 6 months on it – but that’s a really sad story and I don’t like to talk about it.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think of a good, entertaining banana peel moment to share with you…and I keep coming back to something that happened to me at an educator’s conference. I don’t want to give away any incriminating details, but I believe enough time has elapsed that if I leave out some specifics (to protect the innocent), you guys can get the humor without hurting any feelings…So here goes:

At this educator’s conference, I was asked to stay for the author dinner. Normally, that’s a nice ego boost, people treating you like you are special. (I never turn those down.)

Now, at this particular dinner, the organizers warned me that they were going to ask each of the authors to speak a little bit on how he or she got on the track he/she is on. I figured this was going to be very casual, low stress.

Oh, no. No no no no no.

Each author was asked to speak for 5 to 7 minutes. Not a minute or two. For 300 to 420 seconds. And we would start AFTER dinner.

And there were 15 of us. That’s 75 to 105 minutes of “a few words.”

The cherry on top of this banana split? I was number 14 on the list.

Does that sound bad? Don’t you worry. It gets worse.The first guy is routinely on the NYT Bestseller list. And used to walk a celebrity’s dog while he lived in the YMCA. (Imagine how that feels: he’s on the NYT Bestseller list, and I, you know, published something.)

The next woman has won like 712 awards. The next woman felt honored to be a children’s book author since she didn’t learn to read until she was like 9.

I haven’t won very many awards and I learned to read at a normal time.

Then a guy comes up and has his wife sing the national anthem to the country he created in his novel (she wrote the national anthem).

Then a guy plays the flute and gives us a Native American blessing.

By this point, I was incredibly resentful of being number 14 on the list.



Then a guy gets up and raps his picture book. Which I TOTALLY would’ve done had he not beat me to it. Really.

Then a woman gets up and tells a joke. And I think, Great! I’ll tell a joke! Except then I realize that the only joke I know has a hooker and a crocodile in it. This was not the right audience.

I don’t even remember what else happened, but trust me when I say that it just got worse and worse.


But as with all things in life, there are lessons to be learned. The most important actually ties into what we do as authors and storytellers. The thing is, all the stories we would tell are already out there. As authors, we can’t find new stories – we can only find new ways to tell them, ways that leverage our own personal narratives to create our fictional narratives. In a room full of authors who have been asked to talk about how each got on the path to success, the story is really the same – hard work, perseverance, and the overcoming of many embarrassing, difficult, banana peel moments. But the way each of us told his or her story was unique. And even though I was scheduled toward the end and spent a great deal of time mentally railing against the injustice of being forced to think up a new story every time someone else “took” my idea first, by the time I got up there, I’d found my unique voice. I talked about my non-traditional path to writing and the ways that I used my life to inspire my art. I talked about how writing was both a career and a calling for me, and how difficult it was for me to accept that the more successful I got, the harder it was to follow the calling and not the career. And I talked about how I write for many of the same reasons that others do – to inspire, to create, to be heard – but that I also write for a reason that no one else had mentioned yet: I write for Visa. I write because I’ve got bills to pay.



And, in case you’re wondering, the other lesson learned – the one that might be more important – was this: insist you must leave early so that you are scheduled near the beginning and not second from last. Because it is so much harder to think of something interesting to say after 13 other people have talked.

Silver lining: it could’ve been worse — I could’ve been number 15.


BIO:

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is the award-winning author of many, many books for children, including picture books, nonfiction for young readers, and a forthcoming chapter book series called THE SPECTACLES OF DESTINY (due out in 2014). Her picture book QUACKENSTEIN HATCHES A FAMILY was selected for the California Readers 2011 Book Collections for School Libraries. BALLOTS FOR BELVA was named to the 2009 Amelia Bloomer List and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award in 2008 and FLYING EAGLE was a National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Book selection for Students K–12 in 2010. Her science book, NATURE SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS, was named a finalist for the 2011 AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books. And her books CHICKS RUN WILD (named one of Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year in 2012) and HAMPIRE! (nominated for a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award) are her personal favorites, and just fabulous.


 

Sudipta speaks at conferences, educator events, and schools across the country, teaching the craft of writing to children and adults. She lives outside Philadelphia with her three children and an imaginary pony named Penny. Learn more about her and her books at www.sudipta.com.

 

Monday, June 25, 2012

More Killer Advice from Stephen King

Today I come bearing two bits of wisdom, or killer pieces of advice that I just cannot seem to shake, from the second half of Stephen King's, On Writing.

The first has to do with having passion for what you do.

When reflecting on his son's saxophone lessons, he recalled how "as soon as his practice was over, it was back into the case with the horn, and there was no practice-time." He continued to say that, "What this suggested to me was that when it came to the sax and my son, there was never going to be any real play-time; it was all going to be rehearsal. That's no good. If there is no joy in it, it's just no good. It's best to go on to some other area, where the deposits of talent may be richer and the fun quotient higher."

I have an endless list of "saxophone lesson" experiences, and thankfully, writing for children is not one of them. I don't think I could stop if I tried.

The second piece of advice is a Gem, with a capital G.  (Please do not confuse this with Jem, with a capital J, my favorite childhood TV character who had spunky pink hair and some fancy earrings.) 


But I digress...

Faster than you can say REDRUM REDRUM, this passage literally transformed the way I choose to write.

On a normal day, in my normal house, I noramlly write a sentence and then ask my husband or my mom..."Soooooo, whatchya think?" Which OF COURSE normally results in me feeling nothing less than complete and utter doom and me more than likely giving up on the manuscript and me definitely binging on a gigantic bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Well, not anymore! Move over normal! Stephen King is in the house! Well, hopefully not. That would be freaky. Actually, seeing these two little ladies would be freakier. They gave me nightmares for about eight years and I still fear them as I walk down any long hallway alone. Ack!

Back to business.  King states: "This first draft- the All Story Draft- should be written with no help (or interference) from anyone else. There may be come a point when you want to show what you're doing to a close friend... either because you're proud of what you're doing or because you're doubtful about it. My best advice is to resist this impulse. Keep the pressure on; don't lower it by exposing what you've written to the doubt, the praise, or even the well-meaning questions of someone from the Outside World. Let the hope of success (and your fear of failure) carry you on, difficult as that can be."

Kablam!  Are you transformed too? Ohhh, how I loved this book.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Meg Medina

Sometimes, I just can't believe my lucky bloggin' stars. I am a Sucker for Latin American history. (Please note that it is Sucker with a capital S.) Some of my favorite books are those that take place in Latin America or contain Latin American characters. So naturally, when I heard about The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, with it's beautiful title, whose content might include a dash of magic realism, I knew I would love it.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to finally sit down and read this beautiful book and I was suddenly transformed into "The Girl Who Needed to Silence Her Children So She Could Finish the Book". Besides being a page turner and sooooo beautifully written, this young adult novel touches your heart. That is why with butterflies in my stomach, I introduce this week's featured author, the talented, Meg Medina.  (Warning: What you are about to read will change and inspire you.)

Banana Peeling with Meg Medina

 For me book signings are potentially the most damaging banana peels of all. Slip on one of these unpredictable babies, and you’re liable to end up nursing your tattered ego at the Infirmary for Soul-Sucked Authors.

A couple of years ago, I was invited to an event in Pennsylvania that was designed to raise money for public libraries. The idea was simple and elegant:  YA authors would gather to do signings and sell books.  A portion of the proceeds would go to the library fund. I agreed to come without a second thought. One of my daughters was looking at colleges at the time, and we could stop by as part of our six-hour road trip north. How flattering to be invited, and how exciting to be giving time to help libraries.

Caption: Most asked questions. Where’s the bathroom? How much is The Hunger Games in paperback? ($8.99, by the way)
To this day, I want to kick myself. It didn’t occur to me to ask a single question, not of the teen organizer and not of myself. 

I arrived to find the event well attended by teens that flocked to the YA author sitting next to me. “Oh my God,” they squealed. “Your book changed my life!” Her line was very, very long; she was getting hand cramps. I, on the other hand, sat listening to the sound of crickets. My stack of well-reviewed  – and untouched -- middle grade novels sat untouched. What self-respecting 17-year-old reads a novel about someone who is 12? 

My daughter, a sweet kid by nature, watched from nearby with pity in her eyes. “It’s okay Mom,” she said when we got back in the car for the long ride home. I started laughing, but soon enough the chortles turned to tears.  I hadn’t sold or signed a single book in three hours, and I was ashamed. It’s awful to feel like a failure; even worse, when you get to feel that way in front of your kid.

Since then, I’ve learned that book signings can be deadly to even well known authors with a national fan base. So, in the interest of keeping my dignity, I’ve changed gears. Instead of planning a signing, I ask myself hard questions.  Why does this book in particular matter to me?  How can it impact kids?  What can I offer my own community through this work -- beyond a chance to spend money for my signature on the title page?

For me, the answer has become a path into community work.  When The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind published in March, I did a small launch with friends at my favorite indie bookstore. But I was also working on The Hope Tree Project, where 600 high school kids from our city’s high schools created aluminum representations of a hope or dream they had for themselves. Youth and hope are major themes in that novel, and I decided that the best way to honor my work as an author was to send it into the world in a way that reflects those themes. It took a lot of planning and collaboration, but in the end, the gorgeous “milagros” or hope charms are displayed at The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia until July 4. After that, pieces of the exhibit will travel to Richmond City Hall for Hispanic Heritage Month in September. 

I have absolutely no evidence that this project sold me more books than a traditional signing. So what did I gain? I got good media coverage, new relationships, strong interest, and above all, some dignity. I sent the book out into the world in a way that reflected what mattered most to me: Latino kids, good books, and hope.

It could be that one day I’ll have a long line snaking out the door at one of my events.  But that’s not what I think about any more. Now, it’s about writing and life meaning – and that beautiful point where the two come together.

 *************************************************************
WOW. Don't you want to be just like her? Thankin' my lucky bloggin' stars I get to learn from authors like Meg Medina!

P.S.
Check out Meg’s newest summer reading project for girls – with fellow Candlewick author, Gigi Amateau. www.girlsofsummerlist.wordpress.com




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Writing: Some Shining Bits of Advice

Right now I am seated on my billowy, purple couch reading On Writing, by Stephen King, courtesy of my newly re-floored,  public library. (I had to squeeze in the comment about the new floors in the library because:


a) the previous red carpet was killin' me!
b) I really don't have a life outside of my kids, Target and the library.;))

I thought I would take a break to share my two favorite excerpts from the reading so far.

On where ideas come from, King says:

 "There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."

And on  the overuse of passive voice, which according to the King is due to the timidity of the writer:

"Two pages of the passive voice- just about any business document ever written, in other words, not to mention reams of bad fiction- make me want to scream. It's weak, it's circuitous, and it's frequently tortuous, as well. How about this: My first kiss will always be recalled by me as how my romance with Shayna was begun.  Oh, man- who farted, right?"

Now don't you just feel enlightened? :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Cynthia Levinson

Howdy folks! Before we begin today's awesome Banana Peel Therapy Thursday, I would like to announce the winner of the giveaway from the George Shannon feature last week. DRUM ROLL.... CYMBAL!

Stacy S. Jensen!

Congrats Stacy. I will have my people call your people.=) And for those of you who are interested, Book Giveaway World Record Holder (facts are iffy), the awesome Penny Klostermann was only one off from the winning number, which goes to show how some people are just born plain lucky. =)

And now, may I just say how interesting it has been to follow today's author's journey to publication? Through different online resources, I have read about this author's amazing experiences in conducting the research for her newly released book, We've Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March. Super impressive.

Now, if you know me, you  know that I was probably a Mexican Revolutionary in a past life. I know, I was VERY cool.  But to think, that there were KIDS out there, marching as part of the Civil Rights Movement here in the U.S.?  You don't get much cooler than that! Well, unless your name is Cynthia Levinson and you dedicated a good portion of your life writing a book to celebrate these remarkable individuals.

Please welcome this week's author, the outstanding Cynthia Levinson!

**********************************************************

My road to publication must have been paved by a troop of careless, banana-eating chimpanzees who live in the icy Arctic.

My first landing-hard-on-my-bottom slip occurred when I alienated a famous-editor-with-her-own-imprint. How did I manage to do that? I failed to heed the STOP sign, always a danger on slick roads.

She liked a picture book manuscript that I’d submitted, over the transom, enough to send me a request for revisions. I was just barely savvy enough to know that this was a good sign. I was also na├»ve enough to assume that she wanted the revisions asap. After all, since she liked the story, wouldn’t she want to publish it, like, next week?

So, instead of stopping to, say, ponder her questions and suggestions, confer with seasoned picture book writers, or study picture books or even books about them, I sat right down and dashed off a new version. It was equally as wordy as the first submission; it still lacked a crisis near the end; and that ending was not only equally unlikely to occur but it also failed to tie to the beginning. So, I hadn’t really fixed the problems. I’d just changed a bunch of words.

Astoundingly, she continued to work with me. And, I continued to throw revisions at her—revisions that continued to switch the deck chairs without plugging the fatal leak in that ice-bound banana boat. (I realize I’m also switching metaphors as fast as I replaced the chairs. What’s a boat doing on the Trans-continental Highway?!) Dare I admit that I even—at her invitation, I hasten to add—showed up at her house on an Arctic-like blizzardy day? And, we sat at her cozy dining room table—with me assuming that all writers with a fetching first draft get line-by-line edits from a famous-editor-with-her-own-imprint—while she patiently tried to teach me how to structure a picture book. Until she, understandably, threw me overboard. Although a colleague of hers expressed interest in the story the following year, he didn’t “love it enough,” and that manuscript still lies at the bottom of the ocean.

Then, there’s the time I nearly alienated my now-agent by telling her I wasn’t good enough for her. Thanks to the ever-generous Chris Barton, who read and liked my proposal for a nonfiction middle-grade manuscript well enough to send it to his agent, she called me. Here’s how our conversation started:

Erin: “I understand you’re looking for an agent.”

Cynthia: “Actually, I wasn’t. I didn’t think I could get one.”

Ouch! If she were calling for a Saturday-night date, surely she’d have hung up. Wouldn’t you, if someone blurted, in effect, “I’d love to go out but you’re out of my league”?

Fortunately, my blunder did not sink that relationship. Nor, fortunately, did all the bloopers I made during the writing and revising of the book that resulted from that early proposal.

  • I stalked a possible source for a year—I even staked a librarian-friend outside a room where she was giving a talk to accost her—to no avail. (I probably alienated her.)
  • One of my four main sources died between the time I interviewed her once, for an hour, and the time the book sold. “How could I confirm her role in one of the Civil Rights Movement’s greatest efforts? Check my facts? (Thank goodness her sister generously answered every question.)”
  • My editor at Peachtree Publishers kept asking me questions about events I didn’t fully understand. I kept wondering—and cursing—how she knew what I didn’t know, such as why two people were called “Mayor” in April and May 1963 in Birmingham. The reason, I discovered, once I actually did the research, related to why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his now-famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A lot of slick banana peels felled me before I worked that out.

In my family, we have a code. If someone makes a mistake while on a trip, everyone else in the family will be spared making the same mistake as long as the person who made it shares it. So, thanks to my daughter, who discovered at the London airport on her way to northern Greece for a friend’s wedding that she’d left her passport on her dresser, none of us has forgotten our passports. And, thanks to me, no one else has gotten an exorbitant speeding ticket in a rural speed trap (and almost had to show up in court three days later and 1500 miles out of the way). So, I hope that my slip-ups protect you, too!





In the last five years, Cynthia Levinson has written nearly two-dozen nonfiction articles for kids on everything from tattoo ink made from desiccated worms to zoonoses (look it up!). Before that, she worked in education as a teacher, researcher,  and bureaucrat (which was rarely as dreary as it sounds). Her first book, We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March (Peachtree Publishers) was published in February and will be released as an audio book next month.

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March (Peachtree Publishers, February 2012)
* Starred review in
Kirkus* Starred review in Publishers Weekly* Starred review in Booklist* Starred review in School Library JournalJunior Library Guild Selection
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice: “...riveting, significant work of nonfiction.”
Available in audio from Random House/Listening Library in Summer 2012

Website:
http://www.cynthialevinson.com/Blog: Emu’s Debuts @ http://emusdebuts.wordpress.com/Represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency: http://www.emliterary.com/index.php

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Me in My Books

I got myself a son... a two-year old son to be exact.  Why is his age so important you might ask? This just happens to be his own, personal cave man peak. He cries and screams, "No, never!" when offered ice cream. (Ice cream people! I have often wondered if he is really my son.)  He hits his chest and yells, "MINE!" at least four times an hour. While I know that much of this is developmentally appropriate, the intensity of these recent bouts of the "terrific twos" has really got me thinkin'.






Disclaimer: Participant above is a child actor. Real tantrums were too dangerous to be captured on camera. Picture was taken by a professional. Do NOT try this at home.


While I have always dreamed that I would be the parent that would combat gender stereotypes with my progressive parenting ideals, I can't help but wonder if it is a lost cause. From the five month anatomical ultrasound, monster trucks and dinos, trains and baseballs seemed to pour into our lives just as quickly as the squeals and yelps for joy echoed in from the speakerphone as we called our loved ones on the car ride home from the appointment on that fateful day.


We were having a boy. Preserving the family name. Rough and tumble sports. Hanging from the rafters....We were surely in for it, right?

Not if I could help it.


I was convinced that my son would be gentle and sweet. That those weren't necessarily in-utero kicks. I mean, they could have just as easily been jazz hands, right?!  Hey, my son was going to be whoever he was, not who he was pressured to be.  No assumptions allowed. No way.


Right....


Well folks, laugh as you will. As I sat yesterday morning playing "doll house" with my son, watching him wipe out the entire colony of freaky dolls with his garbage truck and half-chewed, plastic dino, I thought, why fight it? Let's look at his record over the past six months: Black eyes, questionable broken nose, stitches. Yeesh!

My son is....a boy.

So, I hereby give up. I won't fight it anymore, BUT I will question it. I will also subtly encourage other families to question it too through what else, but my picture books!


Last week, I was BLOWN AWAY that my pitch won the Would You Read It? contest on Susanna Leonard Hill's wonderful blog. (One of the bestest resources for picture book authors out there.) Up against some pretty stiff competition, my pitch was sent to editor Erin Molta for critique. Yay! Inspired by the need to define the nuts and bolts of the storyline for the pitch, I have really started to analyze my other manuscripts.
  
While my contest pitch was about synchronized swimming elephant calves turned ballerinas, (VERY intense), my other two finished manuscripts are intended to be boy books. A  Facebook post I read yesterday, The 22 Rules of Storytelling, According to Pixar,  inspired me to analyze a little deeper, to look at why I read what read  and why I write what I write. More specifically:

 "Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it." 


 (Isn't that AWESOME?! I am seriously considering getting some kind of semi-permanent tattoo of this.)


So immediately I thought of my manuscripts and my favorite picture books and realized that for me personally, what I like in them, what is me, is feeling that life is all about doing whatever your little heart wants to do, no matter what gender you have been assigned, how much you weigh, or how smart your high school algebra teacher thinks you're not. Whether you are an elephant who wants to wear a tutu or a tough cowboy who loves to cuddle, this is the common thread that connects the themes of the stories I like to write.


My stories are me fighting those battles that in real life, seem a little more difficult to win.



So I ask you this: Look at your work. What are your stories about? What part of you do you see in your favorite books or manuscripts? I bet you'll find it interesting. =)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Banana Peelin' with George Shannon


As someone who is just starting out in this world of kid lit, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy my sheltered existence. I have not yet knocked the socks of an agent. I have not yet jumped for joy and wept sweet tears of success at the sale of one of my manuscripts to a publishing house. Nor have I experienced the elation of Disney branding my book's characters, creating a summer animated blockbuster hit based on the aforementioned book, where I as the author attend red carpeted movie premieres in Cannes and meet the Sundance Kid in Utah. Oh wait, excuse me...I think I got carried away a bit.. Eh hem... let me see. Oh yes. As much I would love for my work to be in the hands of little ones and their adults, I much appreciate being green for I know that someday (do you HEAR THAT Universe?!), I will experience the struggles even the most experienced and talented writers face, such as those so honestly described here by this week's amazingly prolific author, George Shannon.


Banana Peels or Yellow Brick Road?

George Shannon


In the 33 years since my first children's book was accepted I've experienced a variety of banana peels. There's nothing like having everything rejected for nearly three years to make you think it's over. And there's always the book your editor loves, marketing loves, and yet it dies a quick death upon publication. There's also the orphan book. The book accepted by one editor, and passed on to another when the acquiring editor leaves by choice or eviction. Perhaps the most bitter of banana peel experiences is the editorial letter stating something like "beautifully written, great characters, but out of style".  Those are the moments that bring out my inner curmudgeon. "What? So you'd like it if I added a flatulent fairy whose best friend is an imaginary vampire?"

My most personal banana peel moments have been with my writing group of the last twelve years. Those sessions where I arrive totally infatuated with my newest project. Feel certain it's my best yet. Can't help fantasize how it will rock award committees. Then I share it with my group, and a deathly silence fills the room as they struggle to put a gentle spin on their thoughts that clearly range from  "I don't get it." to "Dead on Arrival."

These moments certainly feel cold and disheartening, but I've learned that how I react makes all the difference. When my mother was learning how to walk again after a major stroke the therapists advised, "If you start to fall don't fight it. Don't get tense. Just relax and melt to the floor." The same advise works well for writing groups.

When I'm able to relax and not get defensive I give myself an opportunity to listen and learn. Truth is, when we writers get defensive about our work it's really our egos we're trying to protect not our creation. I may still believe in my manuscript, but having people I respect "not get it" tells me the best thing I can do for my story is relax and put it aside for a while. Like a romance, I may have been so smitten I couldn't see the train wreck waiting to happen. It often turns out to have been the failed experiment I needed to do in order to explore a different direction that leads to a gold.

There will always be banana peels. But how we fall can make the difference between bruises and broken spirits and Dorothy's yellow brick road to Oz and home.


Biography

George Shannon began his professional work with children in 1973.  After experience as a children’s librarian and professional storyteller, his first children’s book, LIZARD’S SONG, was accepted by Greenwillow in 1979. Since then he has had 40 books published including 30 picture books (among them DANCE AWAY, CLIMBING KANSAS MOUNTAINS, WHITE IS FOR BLUEBERRY, THE SECRET CHICKEKN CLUB and BUSY IN THE GARDEN).  TIPPY-TOE CHICK, GO! was selected as a Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book for picture book writing in 2003.  2008 brought both the Washington State Book Award and the Worzalla/Burr Award for RABBIT'S GIFT, and the "Life time Achievement Award" from PNWA.

His forthcoming books include WHO PUT THE COOKIES IN THE COOKIE JAR illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Holt) and TURKEY TOT illustrated by Jennifer Mann (Holiday). He has also published essays on various aspects of children’s literature, and continues to work with children around the world on their own creative writing.  Conferences, workshops, and author visits have taken him to schools from the Arctic Circle to Jakarta, and Kuwait to Japan.  

*********************************************************
As if his honesty was not enough, George has offered to generously give away two of his wonderful books, Wise Acres AND The Secret Chicken Club! To enter to win, please leave a comment below and mention you are interested in the giveaway. The winner of the two lovely books will be chosen at random, by none other than Random.org. (Imagine that!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June Banana Peels

Happy June!



Just wanted to send out a quick heads-up as to what amazing authors you will see here on the blog this month.

Tomorrow, we begin with the wise words of George Shannon! He offers great insight into the reality of publishing children's books, even after being such a prolific author such as himself. He also has a couple of books to GIVEAWAY! Make sure you tune in for details!

In the following weeks, our luck continues with the revelations of Cynthia Levinson, Meg Medina and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

Thanks so much to all of these wonderful authors and their generosity and thank YOU for reading!



Monday, June 4, 2012

Books, Books, Books...Movies?

My little neighbor always talks about Skylanders. I have no idea what these Skylanders are, but apparently you can collect them. I am guessing the way he talks about them that they are toys that each have their own identities, powers, etc. Basically, our conversations revolve around them and sound something like this: "Hey, Elizabeth, I got four new Skylanders yesterday," or "Do you know how many Skylanders I have? I have like fifty-seven, well, fifty-eight, but I lost one under my bed."

A couple of days ago, my kids and I hopped next door to see if he and his little sister could play. Little sister said she was sick, so she couldn't. Her big brother, Skylander Kid, said, "I'm not sick, I just talk about Skylanders too much."

It cracked me up!

I am like Skylander Kid. In fact, I told him so. I said I love books like he loves Skylander. I told him that I love books so much, that if I wasn't already married to my husband, I would marry books. Being a five year old, he liked that.  I said, "Thankyouverymuch...I'll be here all afternoon." =)

So, when I am not writing manuscripts that I hope someday will be books, or when I am not reading books, or blogging about books, or reading blogs about books, I like to watch movies about creative people...who just so happen to sometimes write books. =)

This last week, we finally got around to watching, Being Elmo. Kevin Clash surely is an inspiration to all creative people. He was hooked on puppetry from a very young age. I was hooked on pretending I was a mermaid at a very young age, but nothing I did would come close to his obsession.(Although I am still living the dream vicariously through my daughter who also dreams of becoming a mermaid.) Needless to say, I am completely inspired by Kevin's perseverance and creativity. 

I am on an all things creative binge. Before I set out to read Jonah Lehrer's, Imagine in my annual, two-member summer book club (which consists of me and my hubby), I plan on making a list of all movies/documentaries devoted to creative people. I would love to keep an inspirational list here on the blog. Can you help me? What are your favorite movies about creative writers, film makers, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.? Enlighten me! =) Whatchya got?

Here are a few to start:

1.  Being Elmo
2.  A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (about Philip Glass)
3. The Pixar Story
4. Midnight in Paris
5.