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1. Make homemade Peeps.

2. Eat homemade Peeps until I'm sick.

3. Rest.

4. Repeat.

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2. Painting on the iPad

Today's warm-up done with #procreateapp on the iPad. The view out my window, snow and all! I'm not too smooth painting with the iPad yet, but I hope I'll get used to it eventually.

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3. Is understanding the equine mind just a new approach to training?

Can understanding the equine mind help you in all your relationships?

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4. 30 Days: "Jonny Forget Your Gun" by Randall McNair

By Randall McNair

Jonny loved his staple gun.


He bought it at a yard sale from the old lady next door.


Where a little cripple boy sold lemonade from his wheelchair.


Jonny named his new gun Buckshot.


Every time he added a new bass to his collection.


Buckshot got another notch.


It didn't take long


before Jonny had almost every kind of bass in the world


pinned to the wall


of his barn.


and his collection was world famous.

            People the world over would come to Rustburg and shovel a nickel from their pocket to be allowed past the giant red barn doors. Inside it was dark as tar except for a hundred pin pricks of light coming through the slats and nail holes in the ceiling.

            When the barn was full, Jonny would collect his jar spilling over with nickels, and close the big doors.

            It took a few moments, with only the soft slits of sunlight falling down like a thousand stars. Then, one by one, each observer would gasp as his or her eyes adjusted, revealing the monument of fish stapled before them.

            Filled with wonder and amazement the crowds would whistle, holler and stamp their feet.

            "Bravo! Incredible! Encore!" would ring inevitable exclamations. Their excitement drifting for miles across gold and green hills. Scarcely could Jonny bow, or open the doors before he was swept up on the shoulders of the passionate crowd.

            It didn't take long before every person on the planet, it seemed, had come and come again to see Jonny's extravaganza of bass and come away a better person for it.

            Every person on the planet that is, except Jimmy. The little boy who lived next door.

            Jimmy was too weak to leave his small little bed up in the attic room of his grandmother's farm home. Although she would have liked to very much, Jimmy's grandmother was too old and frail to carry her grandson the scanty yards from where he lay, over to Jonny's bass barn.

            So every day Jimmy watched.

            Week after month he watched Jonny carry bass into the barn, would catch glint of the sun reflecting from Jonny's staple gun, and if the wind blew just right, he might hear a distant but resolute:


            Day after day he cheered and waved at Jonny as the ecstatic masses burst from the red barn doors; but Jonny, caught up in glory, never saw the frail little ghost of a boy, smiling at him from the window.

           He never saw how day after month after year, that smile never faded, even as the little waving arm grew weaker and weaker.

             Then one day, just one, nobody knows how or why, no one came to see Jonny's barn.

            No one dropped a nickel in Jonny's jar or came to lift Jonny on their shoulders. Everything was so still: so quiet, that one could almost hear the sound of the peanuts growing in their fields.

            As he sat on his milk stool in front of his barn; as Jonny looked out over the empty horizon, he saw the farmhouse next door, where a yard sale sign had once stood years before.
He noticed a little attic window again for the first time, and in that window a smiling little face.

            Slowly he walked across the yard, then through the back porch into the old woman's home, up the stairs, and without knocking, softly turned the knob of the boys attic room. Jonny looked down and smiled at the boy he'd not seen since the year he'd brought home his first bass.     Where had each of those days gone?

            Taking Buckshot from its holster, Jonny handed it to Jimmy. Then carefully he picked up the frail, broken body and without a word carried Jimmy down the stairs, and out to his barn.

            Reaching into his own pocket Jonny picked out one of his own nickels and dropped it in the jar.

            His whole soul alive with wonder Jimmy was layed in the fresh new straw, clutching buckshot in his lap, While Jonny closed the doors.

            Pin-pricks of light poured down all around filling the barn with heavenly light.


as Jimmy's eyes adjusted to the darkness

each fish,

one by one

turned their head towards the light,

and began to sing.

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5. Wednesday Writing Workout: Book Spine Poems!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'll be posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. For today's workout, why not try a book spine poem?

Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books project has inspired numerous book spine poems. Also check out Travis Jonker's 2014 Book Spine Poem Gallery. You can even send in your own if you're so inspired!

I tried a few and could hardly stop myself. Good thing my bookshelves are somewhat limited! Do not set me loose in a library!


Poetry Is

Note to Self

For the Next Generation

Remember to enter to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! Details are here. 

On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays, including giveaways of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken

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6. Multiple Novels Coming to Completion Simultaneously

Hi I've so enjoyed using your resources for a series of novels I've been working on. Although I know you always advise to focus on writing and selling

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7. Interview with Sallie Haws, Author of Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse

sallie haws

As the great-granddaughter of the inventor of the drinking fountain and founder of Haws Corporation, Sallie Haws put her UC Santa Barbara bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology to work to make a positive impact on her family’s business. Sallie held numerous jobs in the company over her 26-year tenure from file clerk to President and CEO.

At a young age, Sallie’s passion for writing was fed by taking creative writing classes in high school and college. It was nursed along throughout her adult years by a voracious reading habit of paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy novels.

After selling the family business in 2011, Sallie finally had the time and inspiration to write.

“Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” (August 2013, Fedd Books) is the culmination of years of personal and professional life experience combined with the
desire to empower, entertain and inspire adults and teenagers.

Sallie lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband, son, daughter and black kitty named Chubs.

Visit Sallie online at www.quantumspiritbooks.com 


Salena Hawthorne, the teen heroine in “Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse,” is incredibly smart, strong and courageous. What do you want readers to learn from her?

I would love for them to learn how to tap into their own innate power and abilities. After being a business leader and mentor for many years, I decided to take what I’ve learned and share that with eager and open-minded young women through an entertaining and non-threatening medium.

My personal reading genre of choice is paranormal urban fantasy. However, I didn’t want to write a book about vampires or were-creatures. There are some awesome authors out there who do that extremely well, and I didn’t think it needed to be done again. I also wanted to write a book with a positive outlook for humanity’s future. I’m a little tired of the dystopian genre. I wanted to create a state of wonder with my audience. Our world is so full of fear and discord; it’s time to imagine a world full of love and connectedness.

On the surface, “Quantum Spirit” is a fun, easy read about a young girl who has some amazing abilities and some fantastic adventures. But the deeper you get into the book, the more profound the story becomes. Can you expand on that?

For many, the quick surface read will be enough. For those with a little more curiosity, dropping down one level, the premise of the book is how deadly fear can be, and how love, gratitude and forgiveness is the antidote. The third level introduces some metaphysical and spiritual concepts that are currently being practiced and taught all over the world. In that regard, “Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” could almost be considered realistic fiction.sallie

How did you come up with the idea of giving Salena all of these different gifts – clairvoyance, seeing auras and traveling between dimensions?

I actually had a dream about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational resonance that allowed her to disappear in the Third Dimension and travel to the Fifth Dimension. So that gift was the first one I came up with, but then I needed to provide reasonable cause as to why she might develop such a talent. Being an exceptionally strong clairvoyant at a young age I felt would lead credence to the development of more advanced abilities at the onset of puberty. Being able to see auras just seemed to make the package complete.

If you could have any the abilities that Salena has in your book, which would you pick and why?

I think my first choice would definitely be the ability to transcend dimensions. Being able to teleport anywhere in the world would seriously cut down on my travel expenses! Not to mention the money I would save on new clothes and accessories that I could instantly manifest while in the Fifth Dimension. As distracting as I’m sure it would be, the ability to see auras would be my second choice.

Crystals play an important role in “Quantum Spirit.” Can you tell us a little about them?

The two main types of crystals that play a role in the book are Selenite and Quartz. The use of Selenite came about by pure synchronicity. It was completely coincidental that the majestic crystal caves in Niaca, Mexico where I chose to put the Akashic Records were made of selenite. Selenite was named after the Greek word for moon, and Selene is the name for the Greek Goddess of the Moon. (I had named my heroine Salena way before I discovered the crystal caves and what type of crystals were in them.) After researching all of the physical and metaphysical properties of selenite, I knew that if the Akashic Records were ever going to be located in a single place, they would definitely be stored in those crystal caves.

I chose quartz for the healing ceremony because that is the first choice for metaphysical practitioners who use crystals to augment their healing practice. Quartz crystals are able to structure, store, amplify, focus, transmit and transform energy, which includes matter, thought, emotion and other forms of information. They were the best tool I could give Salena to allow her to trap the negative energy of the Blue Flu.

Did you do a lot of research while writing “Quantum Spirit?”

Yes. While the story is fiction, all of the metaphysical, spiritual and scientific concepts in the book are based on theories and research done by many different people. I read and/or referenced at least 13 different books and I don’t know how many dozens of websites on the various different concepts that I weaved into my story. Links to the books are all listed on my website.

Do you believe in the paranormal?

Absolutely. In fact, I believe in every one of the metaphysical concepts I put into Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse, even the existence of the Fifth Dimension. That doesn’t mean I have the ability to do any of the “paranormal” things that Salena can do, but I do believe they are possible.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write a novel my whole life. My first attempt was in seventh grade, and there were a couple of other ones after that. After selling the family business in 2011, I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to finally write, but I didn’t have what I felt was a compelling enough story. In June of 2011, while on a houseboat vacation on Lake Shasta, I dreamed about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational level and travel back and forth from the third dimension to the fifth dimension. Upon awakening, I walked out to the living room where my husband, son and his friends were eating breakfast and announced to the group, “I have my story.”

Without any spoilers, can you give us a hint of what to expect in your next book, “Quantum Spirit: Redemption?”

Salena has a lot of work ahead of her. On top of staying one step ahead of the nefarious goons who are trying to kidnap her, she must also continue to find a solution to help the millions of souls who are still trapped in stasis. Keeping track of Jace and trying to find a way to save him will also keep her rather busy, and she still has to pass eighth grade algebra.

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8. App of the Week: FridgePoems by Color Monkey

Title: FridgePoems by Color Monkey
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free (for basic vocabulary set)

It’s National Poetry Month, and there’s no easier way to promote the creation of verse poetry than setting up a public access tablet with this fun app.


When you launch the app, you get a “working” space with a handful of words, but you can zoom out to see more. Dragging the word boxes with your fingertips allows you to reorder things to create your verse.

Writers are not strictly limited to the words on screen. You can draw for new words or invest in themed WordPacks ($1 each for hipster tragic, redneck, hip hop, etc. or $3 for all of them). The provision of verb endings and plurals can add some variety as well.

You can save your poem to your camera roll, which inserts the App’s watermark, or share it using integrated social settings.
photo (6)

My students have been enjoying that special thrill that comes from creating something meaningful from a limited set of words and word endings. They only thing that could be better? Book- and technology-themed wordpacks!

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

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9. This is How I Find Her -- Sara Polsky

This is how i find herSixteen-year-old Sophie is used to her mother's ups and downs. When she's up, she's vibrant and giddy. She's spontaneous, loves ice cream for breakfast, works tirelessly on her art, throws her cares to the wind.

When she's down, she barely speaks. She barely has the energy to move, let alone get out of bed. 

Sophie has been taking care of things since she was eleven years old. Making sure her mother takes her meds, that she eats regularly, that the bills get paid, that her mother's social worker doesn't see any red flags.

One day, she comes home to find that her mother has attempted suicide. She calls 911, her mother is rushed to the hospital, and Sophie goes to live with her extended family for the duration.

Her ESTRANGED extended family.


  • Everything. I'm not being lazy! I really loved it, full stop. It's a sensitive, empathetic look at how bipolar disorder can affect a family; about the realities of living with depression; about how sometimes people cause more damage by trying to protect one another than by just being honest. It's about how a lack of communication and a difficulty in asking for help can make a hard situation that much harder; about misunderstandings, isolation, and about that moment of catharsis that comes when feelings that have been hidden for far too long are finally verbalized. It's about abandonment, and about how abandonment by a friend can just as painful as abandonment by family. It's about how you can intellectually understand why a person acts the way she does, but still get frustrated and angry, and about the guilt that comes out of that.


  • I've got nothing. It's a solid read across the board.


It made me cry, but in a good way. If you like contemporaries that deal with meaty issues without being trite, didactic, or manipulative, here you go. I've added Sara Polsky to my list of Must Read Authors.


Source: ILLed through my library.



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10. Words with Wings, by Nikki Grimes -- powerful novel in verse (ages 9-12)

Kaiyah C., a fourth grader at Emerson, came to me last week asking to write a review of Nikki Grimes' Words With Wings. You have to know that it takes something special for a kid to ASK to write a review. This book is truly special, and it has found a home in Kaiyah's heart.
Words with Wings
by Nikki Grimes
WordSong, 2013
2014 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award
your local library
ages 9-12
Review of Word with Wings
by: Kaiyah C.

I just read Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes and I really liked this book because I related to Gabby (Gabriella). We both daydream to keep our lives/minds magical so we can throw all our ideas out and put it on paper.

Gabby especially daydreams when her parents are fighting. This helps her forget. Gabby and her mom are very different. Gabby’s favorite word is pretend and her mom’s is practical . Gabby is just like her dad. Sometimes Gabby’s mom stops her from daydreaming because she does not want her to be just like her dad. In the end Gabby becomes an author and her mom starts daydreaming too.

I enjoyed reading this book because of the way it was written in poetry. I think you would especially like it if you daydream. It would be awesome if we could have 15 minutes of daydreaming, just like Gabby’s teacher told her to do. But I don’t think that will really happen for us. This was a really heartwarming book.

This was the best book I’ve ever read.
I think Kaiyah will be interested in reading Ms. Grimes' reflections on her own childhood and the importance of daydreaming to her personally, over at the Teaching Books blog. Ms. Grimes writes:
Daydreaming becomes a strong muscle if you exercise it often enough. By the time I was ten, I could lasso a daydream and ride the wind. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
There were no lassos where I grew up in the inner city, of course, but there were daydreams to be had, if you knew where to look. That’s the secret I shared with Gabriella, the main character in Words with Wings (Wordsong, 2013). Like Gabby, I was a girl who lived inside her head.
- See more at: Teaching Books blog
Thank you, Nikki Grimes, for writing such wonderfully powerful stories that speak to my students. Thank you, Kaiyah, for such a heartfelt response to Words With Wings.

The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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11. Michael Sokolove, Avery Rome, Kelly Writers House, Students: what a day we had

Someday I will find a way to express the (what is the word?) (joy?) that I experienced yesterday as Michael Sokolove, the phenomenally gifted author of Drama High, among other books, and the equally gifted editor, Avery Rome, joined my class and Avery's class at Kelly Writers House on the Penn campus.

Michael read, we talked, we learned, we appreciated.

My students wrote and asked and listened.

It may have been raining like the world was ending yesterday.

But inside our room, we were all just getting a good, fresh start.

Thank you.

In a week or so, a video tape of our conversation and mini workshop will be available. I'll post that link when I have it. Then, at last, you can see for yourself how lucky I am to adjunct at Penn, to work with editors like Avery, and to invite a big-hearted, super writer like Michael into the midst.

Wait until you see.

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12. Tropical Rain Forest Sky Ponds — Margarita Engle

Here’s a poem by Margarita Engle from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science.

engle tropical jpg

Looking for more ways to connect science and poetry? Here’s a great place to start.

The post Tropical Rain Forest Sky Ponds — Margarita Engle appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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13. Underwear Isn’t Supposed to Hurt, and Other Things Mindy Kaling and I Probably Agree On

First of all, have you watched this yet? If not, do. Then we’ll talk:

Now here’s what I have to add to the topic of weight and body image and all that:

When I was quite a bit heavier than I am now, I went through Weight Watchers. And I’ll never forget what the instructor told us at one of the meetings: “Underwear isn’t supposed to hurt.” Changed my life, that statement. But maybe not for reasons the instructor would have expected.

She was trying to inspire us to reach our goal weights, and that was fine, as far as it went. But what it really said–to me, at least–was that we might not even realize we’re being mean to ourselves by wearing clothes that don’t fit us well. Maybe we’re so caught up in the idea of “these are the pants I’ll wear when I get down to X pounds,” we forget that we’re allowed to feel comfortable NOW, even before or while we work on losing weight.

Maybe some of you are like me, and you’re very good at being stern with yourselves. Being the drill sergeant, the disciplinarian, the one who makes up all the rules and then tries to come up with proper consequences when you violate them. So if you eat this cupcake, you’d better work out twice as hard tomorrow. Or my favorite at one time, the “bland days” that would follow a few days of unbridled eating. Then it was nothing but rice and vegetables or dry toast for me. Fun, huh? Really enjoying my life.

But I don’t do any of that anymore. Because I realized there’s no one making me be mean to myself but me. I’m a full-grown adult now, and I’m allowed to treat myself the way I would treat someone I love. I can’t imagine saying to my niece or to my best friend, “You ate half a bag of tortilla chips and a whole container of salsa this afternoon? Bad! You’re horrible! You’d better eat nothing but salads for the next five days!” Instead I’m sure I’d laugh it off, tell them I’ve done the same and more in times of stress (you have no idea how many cookies I sometimes need to get myself through the writing of some chapter that’s giving me fits), and then we’d go on talking about something far more important than whether her pants would be too tight tomorrow. Yes, they probably will. So what? Life goes on.

What I always found destructive in those times of self-criticism was the attitude of, “Oh, well, I’ve ruined it already. Might as well just keep eating everything in the world.” Uh, no. Might as well go do something sweet for myself instead, like take a hot bath or read a great book or pop in some rom-com DVD. Any of those take the place of chips or cookies–pure indulgence, meant only for me. Which means I’m also not allowed to criticize myself for goofing off. That’s right, I’m doing this right now. Because I’m allowed to be nice to myself.

I mentioned last week that I’m currently on a green smoothie kick, but let me be clear: It’s not a punishment of some kind. I’m doing it because I finally experienced what a proper green smoothie tastes like, I enjoyed it, I liked how it felt in my body, and so as a kindness to myself I’m going to drink some more. But if at any point I decide I don’t like the taste anymore or I don’t like that full feeling from having gobs and gobs of fruits and nuts and vegetables in what seems like a simple chocolate milkshake (by the way, I’ve been working on that recipe and have made it even better), then that’s it. No more. I’ll only do it if it feels nice.

That’s one of the pleasures of being an adult. A pleasure I wish I had learned back when I was a chubby teenager wearing clothing that hurt me every day, thinking it would motivate me to be skinnier. It didn’t. It just made me feel bad.

So I hope next time you pull on a pair of underwear with a waistband that cuts into your skin, you stop yourself and think, “Underwear isn’t supposed to hurt.” And that you take the next step by going to Target or wherever and buying yourself a package of underwear one size up. Or two sizes up, if you need to. Because that one simple thing might mean the difference between you feeling happy and comfortable in your body today, and you feeling miserable and guilty and unworthy. Such a simple fix. And believe me, you deserve it.

And the next time you go crazy eating something you’re sure you’re not supposed to eat, shrug it off. Do better tomorrow. Or do better starting a minute from now–the right path is always there waiting for you, whenever you feel like stepping back onto it. No worries, no punishment, no “bland days” or drill sergeant. The time to be sweet to yourself starts now.

It’s the kind of thing you can get used to.

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Here's some good advice about bad advice in writing that is sometimes good and sometimes bad---depending. And that could be all I have to say on the matter because it does, in a way, say it all. OK--not really but sort of. Your way has to be your way. A lot of the bad advice that you'll see in the "ten worst pieces of writing advice" is good for some, especially inexperienced writers. BUT people repeat it as gospel to others who it is harmful to. My advice is to listen to everything you hear about writing, read everything you can about writing,   experience everything you can, but first and foremost write. Write every day. Write different things. Push yourself. Find what you do well and not so well. Learn from doing. You'll find your way.


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15. Can the antagonist be a character from a daydream?

I am just beginning to consider writing a story where the protagonist has a disorder that involves excessive daydreaming. In the story,she spends much

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16. Practice Query #2

Dear Evil One,

Apologies for the small handwriting but I am seeking representation for my 80,000 word thriller THE LEPRECHAUN CONNECTION and I'm not the tallest guy in the world.

See that last d? And the period? Took me half an hour to paint those. Ma said it'd be quicker to use a yard broom but that feels disrespectful given your credentials. So I'm sticking with a regular paintbrush. Horse bristles.


So. Anyway. My thriller.

I figure a hard-boiled private eye will play well in the current socio-political climate. Vampires and werewolves are so yesterday. And thanks to the British royal family, interest in princesses has blossomed worldwide, so (genre bust ahoy!) my thriller combines the two.


Back hurts a little. Will return tomorrow. I suppose I should have written 'tom' there and kept things simple to demonstrate my understanding of conciseness and editing etc but I left it in because industriousness and tenacity are bigger hitters in my book, especially when it comes to other people's books. Take Grisham. The guy's a sticker, a worker, a winner.


Apols. In hosp.


Eye rescues princesc
godam yard broom

If U want more, doc says I'm gtg for visits after 5pm.

Thx 4 tm & cons.

Rafferty O Flafferty O Lafferty


This dbls as follow-up 4 in 3 months.


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17. Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

underwood here comes the easter cat Review of Here Comes the Easter CatHere Comes the Easter Cat
by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool    Dial    80 pp.
1/14    978-0-8037-3939-0    $16.99    g

Cat discovers an advertisement for the Easter Bunny’s arrival on the front endpapers of this witty offering, and from the very first page he is unhappy about it. The text addresses Cat directly throughout the book, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language to convey his emotions to great effect. When asked what’s wrong, Cat explains that he doesn’t understand why everyone loves the Easter Bunny. To assuage Cat’s jealousy, the text suggests that he become the Easter Cat and “bring the children something nice too.” Intrigued, Cat plans his gift idea (chocolate bunnies with no heads), transportation method (a motorcycle faster than that hopping bunny), and a sparkly outfit (complete with top hat). But multiple naps are an important part of Cat’s daily routine. When he discovers that the Easter Bunny doesn’t take any naps while delivering all his eggs, a forlorn Cat devises an unselfish way he can instead assist the hard-working rabbit. Rueda expertly uses white space, movement, and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. The combination of Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining, well-paced tale for interactive story hours. And if he isn’t going to usurp the Easter Bunny, then clever Cat will just have to take over another ho-ho-holiday.

share save 171 16 Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

The post Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat appeared first on The Horn Book.

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18. Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival Wrap-up

Last week I finally got to experience the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi - slightly outside of my typical roaming area. I was especially excited to meet Ellen Ruffin of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, where some of my work is archived. She headed up the event and boy can she throw a party!
      My mission was two-fold. I was there to represent the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators as we (Southern Breeze region members) transition representation to the newly formed Louisiana/Mississippi region and host a get-together one night. (Mississippi used to be part of our region.)
     For those interested in volunteering - it's not just about SCBWI, events like these are also a great opportunity to showcase your own work. I was able to proudly feature A BIRD ON WATER STREET as well as the MFA in Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University where I teach each summer.

     Heather, Jo, and Laurel Snyder gave a talk on "The Book in You." I also gave a talk on "Saving the Earth, One Book at a Time." I'm still new to talking about ABOWS so I was a wee bit nervous. But I got great comments from everybody. (That was followed by a book signing which was prepared so nicely!)

      I also got to meet the fantastic Regional Advisors in charge of Louisiana/Mississippi. Here's our gang: Heather Montgomery (our ARA), Pat Hefler, Cheryl Mathis, Jo Kittinger (our RAE), and me. (And Virginia Howard - not shown.)

     The keynotes were folks I've rarely if ever had the chance to hear: Christopher Paul Curtis (such a nice guy), Kathy Appelt (so gracious), and M.T. (Tobin) Anderson. I had to get a book signed by him! (And of course, I forgot to bring all the books I already own by all these wonderful people - gads.) I had to leave Friday morning so sadly missed Leda Schubert (love her!) and David Small and Sarah Stewart. (We're trying to get David and his wife to come speak to our region - cross your fingers it works out!)
     Sarah Frances Hardy (below, left) and Katie Anderson (below, right) are dear friends who I've gotten to see rise up in the biz with fantastic book deals of their own. I couldn't be a bigger cheerleader for them both and was thrilled to attend their talk, "From Brain to Book: The Publishing Process in Ten Easy Steps." They did such a great job and we hope to have them speak at our WIK conference soon!

     Of course, that meant I had to miss Sarah C. Campbell's talk on "Finding Fractals/Making Fractals" - she was just on my blog too. But Heather and I tried to divide and conquer since they were speaking at the same time. Pah!
      It was also amazing to be able to help celebrate the winners and honor winners of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and Illustrator Awards. (I've been invited for years but finally got to attend the official party!) I got to congratulate fellow EMLA author (we're represented by the same agency - the Erin Murphy Literary Agency) Pat Zietlow Miller in person for SOPHIE'S SQUASH (Honor Winner) - I featured her on my blog recently. What a well-deserving book!
I also got to meet the awesome Linda Davich (I LOVE YOU, NOSE, I LOVE YOU, TOES!), Amy Dyckman (TEA PARTY RULES), and Christian Robinson (RAIN!) - who was way younger than I expected for his amazing and mature artwork. (I featured his book, JOSEPHINE, recently and I think he's going to be around for a while!) Here I am with Pat, Linda, one of the committee heads (sorry!), and Christian at their awards banquet in the lovely train depot downtown.

     I hate that I didn't get a photo with Ellen. But all said, it was an excellent affair, and I was surrounded by friends (which is really why I love to go to conferences and festivals above all else). Ellen and all the organizers did a bang-up job - truly. THANK YOU's to all! If you ever get the chance to go, I can highly recommend the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival!

0 Comments on Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival Wrap-up as of 4/16/2014 9:33:00 AM
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19. Five Questions for Cynthia Leitich Smith from The Horn Book

Compiled By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

What fun it was to chat with The Horn Book about creepy cuisine, werecats and the kind of shape-shifter I'd most like to be!

Pop over to check it out and join in the conversation!

See also a review of my latest novel, Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) from The Horn Book. Peek:

"Debut character Kayla — level-headed, religious, but also quietly proud of her shifter nature — holds her own, nicely complementing Yoshi’s swagger, Wild Card shifter Clyde’s newfound confidence, and human Aimee’s resourcefulness. Witty banter peppered with pop-culture references keeps the tone light even as the stakes ramp up."

Cynsational Notes 

Reminder: E-volt is having a sale on Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) for $1.99 and Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith, $2.99--discount prices will hold through April! Listen to an audio sample of Feral Nights and read a sample of Eternal

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20. Combining Blogs?

I'm seriously thinking of combing the British Golden Age Comics blogs with CBO for the reason that there seems very little interest in British GA comics unless they are the Beano, Dandy or an Associated Press title.

Nothing definite just yet but "under serious consideration"!

With the way Yahoo has totally screwed up its groups now the British Archives group has become such a pain to use that, despite all the info and pages of albums, I've just left it as it is.

The link is on the blog roll.

Now, off to rest my weary body!

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21. “Publishing Agnosticism”—What It Is, Why It’s Important, and What It Means for Authors

Eve Bridburg

BY EVE BRIDBURG, Executive Director of GrubStreet

The first time I heard the term “publishing agnostic” was in November of 2011 at the Park Plaza hotel in Boston.   Barry Eisler used it during a talk he gave to the GrubStreet community as part of our NEA-funded Publish it Forward series.   He had shocked the publishing world by turning down a very lucrative book contract from St. Martins arguing that he could do better on his own.  But by November he had decided to publish with Amazon instead.

Some fellow writers and pundits criticized this move to Amazon.   “What gives? “ They asked.  “We thought you had defected to the self-publishing club.”   It was by way of explaining his move from St. Martins to self-publishing to Amazon that Barry described himself as agnostic.

As one definition goes, an agnostic is someone who holds neither of two opposing positions.   I think that’s how Barry was using the term.  He was making the point that his decision to self-publish in the first place wasn’t about his endorsement or love of self-publishing, but rather about choosing the best way to reach his goals.   When a new pathway emerged which better served those goals, he felt no conflict about changing tactics.

But Barry, whether he realized it or not, in using a term with deeply religious connotations, was also asking us – a room full of believers – to be doubters.  He was asking us to question our blind faith in what almost every serious writer we’d worked with up until that point had ever wanted:  a book deal with a traditional publisher.  The bigger the publishing house, the better.

And it wasn’t just our writers.  It was us, the teachers at and leaders of a major independent writing center.  Having existed in the margins in our early years, we were understandably hungry for a track record, for evidence that our work mattered.   And so we celebrated hugely when one of our flock got a story in the Atlantic Monthly or a book deal with Simon and Schuster.   In 2003, we launched our first Muse and Marketplace Conference and soon began inviting literary agents and publishers to Boston to meet our writers.  Many book deals followed.

After Barry’s talk, I started to wonder what being publishing agnostic might mean to us as an organization, and to writers everywhere.   When the world is changing fast under your feet, you need to find your footing before you can decide where to go.   We therefore started articulating our values and principles.

Here’s where we landed:

  1. Writing excellence is paramount because it is “good” writing that transforms lives and the world and entertains at the highest level.  We can debate what “good” means, but for us it’s about the search for truth, hard work, and dedication to the craft no matter the genre.
  2. We are grown-ups. It’s up to each of us as writers and as the professionals supporting writers to understand and own the entire publishing process. It’s incumbent  on each of us to engage in honest self-assessment to determine goals and objectives, strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Community is the glue.  Writing is a lonely, difficult pursuit.  Finding your people and being as generous as possible with them is key.
  4. Success in this space isn’t just measured monetarily.  Money is nice of course when it means book sales for authors and the ability of a place like GrubStreet to provide more jobs, scholarships and free programming, but it’s not the only or most important measure.
  5. Choice is good, especially choice which respects the central role of writers and places control and financial equity in their hands.

These are the things we think about now when evaluating what kinds of programs to offer or who to invite to our Muse and Marketplace conference. This year, we’ll be welcoming A-list literary agents, editors from Random House and Penguin, along side e-publishers like Vook and Amazon.  We’ll have an editor from Ploughshares and another from Electric Literature.   As we always do, we’ll have a bookseller on hand selling the books of our visiting authors, but we’ll also be running an independent author shop for any participant or small press attending the conference.   In short, we’ll be hosting a hybrid conference, inclusive of the many choices and pathways available to authors today.

Most of our writers seem to want the traditional path and that’s great, but it’s our responsibility as a professional development organization for writers to educate them about all pathways, especially since the industry is changing before our eyes.  In our own work and what we bring to writers we now preach agnosticism and save our blind faith for the power and necessity of words.


Eve Bridburg is the founder and Executive Director of GrubStreet, one the country’s leading creative writing centers.  A former literary agent, Eve developed, edited and sold a wide variety of books to major publishers before returning four years ago to GrubStreet to oversee an expansion in programming designed to better equip writers to thrive in the digital age.  She has presented widely about publishing at conferences and writes a monthly blog post called Publish it Forward which can be found at Grubdaily.org


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22. Have We Got a Job for You!

Hey, come work with us!! We have a fabuloso-fulltime job opening here at La Crosse Public Library on our crack Youth Services team. Here's the ad. Now brush up that resume and throw your hat - or helmet - in the ring! But don't blink, it closes fast (we are eager to be back to full staffing)

Amaze us! If you’re hungry for challenge, and welcome the opportunity to network within the community to create amazing results, love collaboration and trying out new ideas, and are fearless in your approach to great service using tech and non-tech means, you may be who we are looking for!  We seek a motivated, dynamic ideas person to join our children’s services team in beautiful La Crosse, Wisconsin - someone who loves to work with kids and families; has outstanding customer service skills; is outgoing with a great sense of humor and has the ability to sell the library and literacy to everyone in our community.  Strong skills in programming, outreach and services for preschool through teen, excellent collection development skills - and a finger on the pulse of innovative youth services - are key as well as ability to create reality from blue-sky visioning.  Bonus consideration to those who can bend steel with bare hands! The successful candidate for this full-time position will have an MLS and two years experience working in public library youth services or the equivalent in education and experience.  In return, you will have the opportunity to work with a star team of professionals, be coached by the 2010 Wisconsin Librarian of the Year, receive an excellent benefit package, be in a strong professional development environment and transform traditional library services.  Salary negotiable from $46,000. For further information and necessary qualifications, please visit us at: www.lacrosselibrary.org. Electronic submissions only; interested applicants can submit a resume with references and cover letter to Youth Services Coordinator Marge Loch-Wouters.Applications accepted until May 2, 2014.

La Crosse is famous for its exceptional natural beauty. The city (metropolitan population 126,838 based on the 2010 census) is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River below towering bluffs. Abundant water and woodlands provide year-round recreation sites for hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities. La Crosse is also home to two universities, a technical college, a symphony orchestra, excellent theatrical and cultural events, and superb health care facilities. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a major flyway for migratory birds and boasts the longest river refuge in the continental United States.

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23. Sharing Ideas with Julia Jarman

Generally speaking, authors and illustrators don't get together to chat through new book projects. I get the text from the publisher, not the author and, as I work on my illustrations, I talk with the art director and designer, not the author, sending my ideas, roughs and eventually my artwork to the publisher, never once having had any contact with the author. It surprises people, but that's quite normal.

It's a bit different though with Julia Jarman. When an author and illustrator team up for several books, they can become friends and often start to work more closely, certainly at the start of a project. Julia and I have done 5 books together now and are a good match - we think alike and we laugh at the same things. Which is why we work so easily together and why we get on so well too.

Julia often emails me stories she is working on and would like me to illustrate, asking for my input. Julia's writing is very visual: as I read one of her texts, I can immediately see illustrations in my head. This gives me a slightly different perspective to Julia and my take on things can help her to fine-tune the wording, before she sends it to the publisher. 

We were working on a new story last week and several drafts of it went back and forth between us by email. I'm not actually drawing anything at this stage, but Julia knows my work so well, it only takes a few words for me to paint a picture for her of what's in my head. 

I can't tell you anything specific, but I think it's going to be a good one and am really crossing my fingers that the publisher takes it. 

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24. Henry Bradley on spelling reform

By Anatoly Liberman

Last week I wrote about Henry Bradley’s role in making the OED what it is: a mine of information, an incomparable authority on the English language, and a source of inspiration to lexicographers all over the world. New words appear by the hundred, new methods of research develop, and many attitudes have changed in the realm of etymology since the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, but nothing said in the great dictionary has become useless, even though numerous conjectures and formulations have to be revised.

Unfortunately, the world knows little about those who did all the work. It will probably not be an exaggeration to say that before Katharine Maud Elisabeth Murray wrote a book on her grandfather (1977) and gave it the wonderful title Caught in the Web of Words, few people outside the profession had any notion of who James A. H. Murray, the OED’s senior editor, was. Samuel Johnson’s definition of a lexicographer as a harmless drudge has been trodden to death by authors who live on borrowed wit. Alas, very often the only way to honor a distinguished “drudge” is to publish a short obituary, usually forgotten on the same day. As I mentioned last time, Bradley had better luck: a posthumous volume of his collected works appeared in 1928. I was happy to see his archival picture in my post. Many eminent scholars of that epoch were photographed in the same position, so that they look like venerable old twins, writing desk, glasses, beard and all. Yet this picture is different from the one reproduced in the 1928 book.

How harmless lexicographers are I cannot tell. It seems that, with regard to character, this profession, like any other, is, to use the most popular word of our time, diverse. In any case, lexicographers do not only shuffle index cards and sit at computers, trying to disentangle themselves from the web of words: they have opinions about many things, not related directly to the art of dictionary making. For example, both Bradley and Skeat had non-trivial ideas about spelling reform. Today I will summarize Bradley’s views. Skeat’s turn will come round next Wednesday. To begin with, Bradley, who made his thoughts public in 1913, was an opponent of Simplified Spelling, but he addressed only one side of the reform, namely the proposal that phonetic spelling should be adopted. In making his position clear, he advanced several perfectly valid arguments but overlooked perhaps the most important aspect of the problem.


In one respect, Bradley was decades ahead of his time. He insisted that the written form of Modern English and of any language using letters, far from being a mechanical transcript of oral speech, has a life of its own. This is perfectly true. Much later, the members of the Prague Linguistic Circle, a great school of European structuralism, made the same point. Bradley wrote: “Among peoples in which many persons write and read much more than they speak and hear, the written language tends to develop more or less independently of the spoken language.”  He referred with admiration to the epoch of ideographic writing, when characters were pictures. Even today, he stated, we never read letter by letter, but grasp whole words. So we do, and for this reason we tend to overlook typos. Bradley did not object to many English words being ideograms, or images that have to be memorized and remain independent of the sounds of which they consist. Many scholarly words are familiar to us only from books; they are hardly ever pronounced, so may they preserve their familiar form, he said.

Bradley made his attitude clear: English spelling is an heir to an age-long tradition and should be reformed with care. Sounds, he added, change, and, “when change of pronunciation had made a spoken word ambiguous, the retention of the old unequivocal written form is a great practical convenience. It makes the written language, so far, a better instrument of expression than the spoken language.” Sometimes he was forcing open doors, but in his days there was no theory of orthography, and his point is well taken. Indeed, modern spelling has several (though hardly equally important) functions. For example, it may connect related words, in violation of the phonetic principle. Thus, k- in know ~ knowledge is a nuisance (I was almost tempted to write knuisance), but it should probably be retained by reformers because k- is pronounced in acknowledge (however, I am afraid that aknowledge would be quite enough).

It may be convenient that in some situations we bow to the ideographic principle and have write, wright ~ Wright, and rite. The recent invention of phishing is characteristic: it designates fishing for customers in muddy waters, fishing with an evil flourish (phlourish?). Bradley did not cite rite and its kin, but referred to hole and whole, son and sun, night and knight among numerous other homophones, which are not homographs. (Homophones sound alike; homographs are spelled alike.) He quoted the line Nor burnt the grange, no buss’d the milking-maid (buss means “kiss”) and remarked that Tennyson would not have agreed to write bust for bus’t; hence the virtue of the apostrophe.  When words are spelled differently, we are apt to ascribe different meanings to them. This is again correct. Bradley recalled the case of grey versus gray (see my post on this word): many people, especially artists, when asked about their thoughts on those adjectives, replied that they associate gray and grey with different colors.

Bradley agreed that the spelling of some words should be changed. He admitted that it may be useful to teach children some variant of phonetic spelling before introducing them to letters, for this would make them aware of the sounds they pronounce. But phonetic spelling as the aim of a sweeping reform was unacceptable to him. I am all for simplifying English spelling, but I think Bradley was right—not so much for theoretical as for practical reasons.  The English speaking world will never agree to a revolution, and promoting a hopeless cause is a waste of time. But the most interesting aspect of Bradley’s attack on the reform is his general attitude. He addressed only the needs of those who had already mastered the intricacies of English spelling. Obviously, to someone who learned that choir is quire and a playwright is not a playwrite, even though this person writes plays, any change will be an irritation. But the advocates of the reform have the uneducated in mind. They and Bradley speak at cross-purposes.

Strangely, only one aspect of English spelling worried Bradley: the existence of many words like bow as in make a low bow and bow in bow and arrow. This situation, he thought, had to be changed, even though he could not offer any advice. In his opinion, words that sounded differently had to be spelled differently. “The task of rectifying these anomalies, and of making the many readjustments with their correction will render necessary, will require great ingenuity and thought.” Consequently, homophones may be spelled differently (right, write, wright, Wright, rite), but homographs should be homophones (for this reason, bow1 and bow2, read and its past read, etc. need different visual representations).

The rest of Bradley’s argumentation against the reformers is traditional (English speakers pronounce words differently: for example, lord and laud are not homophones with 90% of English speakers, and so forth) and need not be discussed here, but we will return to it in connection with Skeat’s passionate defense of the reform.

Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of blog@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via email or RSS.

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Image credit: Theodore Roosevelt cartoon via Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt.

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25. My tweets

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