Would You Read It Wednesday #152 – Hubert’s Dreadful Allergies (PB)

Good morning, merry sunshines ūüôā

I don’t know about you guys, but I love this writing life.

I feel so lucky that it’s what I get to do.

I get up at 5:20, when the world is dark and peaceful.

I get to take my dogs for a run on this quiet, pretty road as soon as it’s light enough to see.

Sometimes I see these guys (though of course they’re older now :))

Hopefully, I don’t meet this guy

but as you know from Friday’s post, I do run into him occasionally ūüôā

I get to drive my daughter to school – a little time we get to chat each morning – and then go feed the horses, turn them out, and do the barn (and what could be better than hanging around with horses?) ūüôā

Then I come home, ignore my office ūüôā and work at my sunny kitchen table (of which I apparently do not have a picture :))

I set my own schedule, which allows me to be there for my family all the time.

And I am lucky enough to work at something that, though challenging and prone to making me tear my hair out from time to time ūüôā doesn’t really feel like work. ¬†I invent characters, and imagine settings and play with language. ¬†As I tell kids on school visits, I get to make up stories all day long – as jobs go, pretty awesome.

So when I have days like yesterday – days when the rejections come in an avalanche – literally! (some mischievous aligning of the stars that makes every editor respond negatively on the same day!) – days when I question whether I really have any right to be doing this at all, whether I have any ability for this career that I’ve chosen, whether somehow I have wandered onto a path that isn’t mine to travel – I try to remember all the things I love about this writing life so I don’t lose my perspective entirely.

It’s so easy to feel discouraged.

But if you can find the courage to dust yourself off, go for a morning run, and sit yourself right back down at that kitchen table, it’s also easier than you’d think to try again.

So for anyone else who had that kind of day yesterday – or any day ūüôā – here’s to optimism and inspiration and trying again. ¬†Who knows? ¬†This could be the day we get our best idea yet ūüôā

And of course, around here, we raise our glasses with Something Chocolate ūüôā

Recipe for this gorgeous creation HERE

Dig in ūüôā ¬†(Remember, a healthy breakfast is essential to a productive day – and what could be healthier than cocoa beans (vegetables!) and milk (protein and calcium!)?)

How do you cope with the hard days? ¬†Because let’s face it – in this business, we all have them! ¬†That’s one of the things that makes them bearable – knowing that we’re in good company ūüôā

Now then!  Onward to a good day and Would You Read It!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Heather. ¬†Several years ago, Heather Kinser was a Silicon Valley proofreader/editor. Now she‚Äôs the mother of two amazing girls, a charter school volunteer, a breast cancer survivor, a long-term writer‚Äôs group member‚ÄĒand a wanna-be children‚Äôs book author. She keeps her head in the clouds and sand in her shoes. She lives with her husband and children in beautiful Redwood City, California (‚ÄúClimate Best by Government Test‚ÄĚ).

If you’d like, you can go show her some love on her brand new blog!¬†http://troubadourmoon.weebly.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hubert’s Dreadful Allergies
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Aunt Lottie’s fancy luncheon party is in full swing when her highly allergic dog, Hubert, walks in and sniffs the flowers. What happens next is a riot of mishaps that eventually sends the proper party guests on a crazy chase, with Hubert leading the way.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Heather improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks! ¬†For rules and where to submit, click on this link¬†Would You Read It¬†or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above. ¬†There are openings in January so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Heather is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! ¬†I am looking forward to a new idea. ¬†I don’t know what it will be. ¬†I don’t know when it will come. ¬†But I’m going to get busy so the idea doesn’t think I’m just waiting around for it. ¬†When it ventures near, I’ll be careful not to look at it or acknowledge it in any way. ¬†(Ideas are shy and easily scared.) ¬†After a while, it will get a little annoyed that I’m not paying it any mind, and it will come right over and nudge me to get my attention. ¬†And then I’ll have it right where I want it ūüôā

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! ūüôā

Would You Read It Wednesday – The 22nd Pitch

I love Wednesdays because they bring Would You Read It, and Would You Read It means chocolate for breakfast ūüôā ¬†(In case you’re new here, Something Chocolate is the official snack for Would You Read It. ¬†Pretty much anything qualifies – chocolate chip muffins, chocolate donuts, chocolate croissants, chocolate cereal, hot chocolate or, for the purists, just a good old-fashioned chocolate bar :)) ¬†Right now, I’m thinking brownies, although some would say they are not technically breakfast food. ¬†Still, they do have eggs in them… ūüôā

In case you missed it, yesterday was National Clean Off Your Desk Day.

(google images)

I didn’t end up observing it… (see above)… which is why I’m still working at the kitchen table… ¬†I have a small problem keeping my desk visible clean. ¬†I think it has something to do with creative chaos… ¬†That’s the story I’m going with, anyway ūüôā

But enough about chocolate and chaos!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Jane, a 75 years young pastoral care worker from Ontario who taught for 28 years, 5 of them in Malaysia. ¬†She has written 10 books, mainly for children, which you can see on her website. ¬†She blogs at Life Story Writing and has written 15 life stories, some for Hospice patients. ¬†Welcome, Jane!

And here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Nana, I Miss You
Age/Genre:  Picture Book
The Pitch:  Jamie, who wants to spend time with his nana, is upset because she becomes seriously ill.  But her thoughtful gift, when she finally goes into a hospice, reveals her love and gives him a new interest.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?
If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jane improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  Pitches are currently queued through March 7, but there are lots of openings after that, so send your pitch for a chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Jane is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!

And don’t forget to join us Friday for Perfect Picture Books and a special celebration!

Skype Author Visits?

It’s August 15, which means here in New York school hasn’t started yet but it will soon.

With the start of the new school year comes a new opportunity for school visits, one of my favorite parts of being a children’s author.

Thus far, I have always visited in person. ¬†I get to meet the kids face-to-face, hear their laughter and excited comments, let them pat Phyllis ūüôā

But school budgets, as always, are being cut further and further.  Fewer and fewer schools have the resources to pay authors to visit Рespecially lesser known authors like me.  And this means fewer kids get the chance to meet authors and illustrators and see that these are paths that are open to them in their lives.

But before you get too depressed over the state of affairs, there’s a new solution – Skype!

It’s free. ¬†Anyone can download and use it. ¬†And many authors and schools are now doing visits by Skype.

I am terrified eager to give it a try!  (Because as you all know, I am so gifted with technology!)

As I see it, here are the pros:
1. Skype is free.  Any library or classroom with a computer can access it.
2. An author can visit any school or library regardless of distance – no travel fees, no overnights away from home, etc.
3. Most authors will do a 15 minute visit for free provided the school gives the student participants the chance to buy the author’s books and encourages them to do so. ¬†A longer visit may cost up to $300, but that’s still significantly less than an actual visit.
4. The author can do the visit right from home.

…and here are the cons:
1. It’s harder to visit a large number of children at once because you’re limited by the computer screen. ¬†But this might actually be a pro in disguise because smaller groups mean more interaction per child.
2. The author (and the teacher/librarian on the other end) has to be technologically savvy enough to make Skype work ūüôā ¬†(And there’s the chance, in bad weather, that you might lose your internet connection.)
3. There’s a bit of juggling involved to get the viewing angles right – the author shouldn’t look as though she’s talking to the floor ūüôā ¬†This may require skill in architecture or engineering (or at least balancing things) to get your computer in the right position relative to you.
4. Some background shows up, which means the author has to find a clean uncluttered space in her house that looks as though she has in fact vacuumed the dog hair in the last millennium ūüôā

One thing I don’t know, since I haven’t done this yet, is whether the interaction still feels the same. ¬†Do the kids get as much out of a virtual visit as they do from an actual one, or do they end up feeling like they’re watching TV? ¬†What do you think?

Teachers and other writers, I am very interested in your thoughts on Skype visits!  Have you done them?  How have they worked?  What do you see as pros and cons?  Please share!

How To Write A Novel

There are millions of great books out there that will tell you how to write a novel.

Witness exhibits A…

¬†…B…

…and C…. (and these are just randomly selected drops in the bucket!)

But I’m going to tell you the real way, the way that doesn’t get told in those books. ¬†Pay close attention now because this is worth millions of dollars and I’m giving it to you for FREE. ¬†Because I like to share ūüôā

Ready?

Turn on your computer.

While it’s booting up and sorting itself out (shaking off the cobwebs as it were,) make a pot of coffee.

While the coffee’s brewing do not do anything so constructive as think about your novel. ¬†Instead, play with the dogs, organize your daughters’ nail polish alphabetically or by color (without devoting too much energy to what it’s doing on the kitchen counter,) or watch Ellen Degeneres on YouTube in her cameo Harry Potter 7 role. ¬†(Actually, you should do that last one no matter what!)

When the coffee is ready, bring a cup to the kitchen table your office and sit down in front of your computer.

Check your email.

Open the word document with your story in it, but don’t look at it yet!¬†¬†It’s not ready to be looked at yet. ¬†It just woke up. ¬†It has sleep in its eyes and bed head. ¬†It needs a minute, if you please!

Read and comment on a couple of your favorite blogs.

Sip your coffee.

Decide the coffee is too cold, take it to the microwave for a warm-up, come back and sit down in front of your computer again.

Think about how your chair is really uncomfortable – an obstacle to the creative process, truth be told – and fantasize about the ergonomically designed Chair Of Awesomeness you will buy when you sell your novel and get a $50,000 advance.

It’s important to think realistically.

Check your email to see if anyone commented on your blog yet.

Now.

Deep breath.

Look at your NIP (Novel-In-Progress for the uninitiated) but don’t look it straight in the eye. ¬†Keep your head slightly averted lest it think you’re issuing a challenge.

Read the very last sentence you wrote yesterday and get ready to type onward full speed ahead the way you’re supposed to.

But decide you’re not quite sure where to go. ¬†So go back and read the last paragraph.

Wow.  You wrote that pretty darn well!  Maybe you should read a little more of your awesome prose, just to get in the mood.  You know.  Get the old juices flowing.

Read all of the chapter you’re currently writing. ¬†And maybe the one before that. ¬†Maybe even start from the beginning so you can really get into it. ¬†Change a few words. ¬†Cut out a sentence and add another.

Sip your coffee.

Check your email in case anything that really demands your attention has come in since you last checked, perhaps an email from your agent telling you that there is a dog-eat-dog bidding war going on for your current ms on sub.

Did I mention it’s important to think realistically?

Look at your computer clock.

Gracious! ¬†You’ve been working for a whole hour already. ¬†What a disciplined worker you are! ¬†But you have read that people who work at desks for a living are Some-Giant-Percent more likely to die of a heart attack, so you’d really better get up and stretch and take the dogs for a short walk before you get back to work. ¬†For your health.

Walk the dogs.

Return to your computer like the disciplined worker you are.

Look at you NIP.

Place your fingers on the keyboard… (music swells in the background as the audience realizes that you are, at last, about to Really Start Typing!!!)

… and realize you’re STARVING! ¬†In your zeal to get to work you have entirely neglected breakfast, the most important meal of the day. ¬†Your brain needs fuel to be creative! ¬†Really, how could you short-change yourself so?

Go find something sweet and breakfasty, preferably with something healthy, like fruit, involved.  Mmmm!  Raspberry Danish!  Perfect!

Okay.  Seriously.

Fingers on the keyboard.

Here you go.

Type.

Type type type.

Type type type type type.

Phew! ¬†You’re working now! ¬†The words are really flying! ¬†You’ve written a whole paragraph in under 4 hours! ¬†Stephen King, look out!

But darn! ¬†Look at the time! ¬†You’ve still got to get to the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the post office and the bank, put gas in the car, vacuum dog hair off the surface of your entire house, and be ready to meet the school bus by 3. ¬†Not to mention what the heck are we having for dinner tonight?

Good thing you got so much done so fast!

Check you email one more time in case an editor has written to tell you she sold world-wide rights in every known language for your last book and, when you see she hasn’t – yet! – close your computer.

Repeat every day for as long as it takes to get to the end of your novel!

Wasn’t that helpful? ūüôā

Please share your tips for how to work productively and how to write a novel (or a picture book or early chapter book or poetry or whatever you write!) ¬†Alternatively, tell us how to get dog hair out of the car upholstery in 1 easy step because that would be VERY helpful too! ūüôā

You Can Call Me Granny :)

Today is full of fun!

First:

It’s true, it’s true! ¬†I have reached granny status ūüôā ¬†Just goes to show, you can be a grandma at 29 ūüôā ¬†Our first grandchild, Annabelle, arrived yesterday afternoon, 7 lbs. 7 oz., and perfect in every way! ¬†Mother and baby are doing well. ¬†Here she is:

Second:

I have been featured in the August Author Spotlight on What’s Up Sippy Cup (good timing, no?) ¬†Please pop over and enjoy their site, full of all kinds of great information for expectant parents as well as parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers (including such helpful nuggets as DON’T feed them chocolate pudding and cream before their first birthday! – OK, not really, but that could be there…) ¬†To read the author spotlight interview, go here and scroll about halfway down the page.

Third:

It is apparently National Book Week (who knew?) and Face Book has a game that I’m borrowing and altering slightly because it’s fun. ¬†Here are the rules:

Pick up the book you are currently reading. ¬†Go to page 56. ¬†Copy the 5th sentence on that page in your comment below just for fun. ¬†Do not mention the title or author (but if anyone has guesses, by all means guess!) ¬†Here’s mine:

“We listen to Dr. Dre and Tupac, and then we blast “Baby Got Back” and all sing along.”

I have to say, that is by far the shortest, least informative sentence on that page!  The 4 before it are so long that that one is half way down!

So, share your sentence, check out What’s Up Sippy Cup, and feel free to leave comments on cute baby picture! ¬†Have a great Monday!

Spinal Tap First, Puppet Show Last

Ah, the life of a traveling lesser-known children’s author…

Have I mentioned that I am a huge fan of This Is¬†Spinal Tap?¬†¬†It is one of my all-time favorite movies. ¬†If you haven’t seen it, get thee to your netflix queue and remedy the situation ASAP ūüôā

The reason I mention it is because I felt like Spinal Tap on Friday.

I was supposed to do a library visit.  (Yes, I realize I just gave away the ending.)

Now, please know that most of the school and library visits I do are wonderful. ¬†People work hard to organize and publicize them and they are usually well-attended. ¬†I am very grateful. ¬†But there are always the odd few that just don’t work out so well.

Here’s what happened…

I set out in a blinding downpour. ¬†(Remember a while back when I noted that an awful lot of my recent visits have involved heavy rain? ¬†The trend, apparently, continues…)

Anyhoo, through the downpour I made my way in the trusty Dog Mobile (who, it must be confessed, had yet to be properly vacuumed since the Nantucket trip and was sporting a rather horrifying carpet of dog hair and sand, along with the unmistakeable aroma of eau de dead sea creature but was pressed into service anyway because, let’s face it, it was too far to walk.)

Driving rain was not challenge enough on this outing, however.

I was journeying toward a little town in The Back of Beyond where, apparently, the prevailing sentiment was that road signs of any kind should not be used under any circumstances. ¬†I was supposed to be on Route 44/55, but was I? ¬†It was anyone’s guess, and the Dog Mobile wasn’t volunteering an opinion, so I was on my own. ¬†I could have asked, but given the extremely rural area and savage weather conditions the roadsides weren’t exactly packed with helpful bystanders.

So I kept driving around. ¬†(And for any Spinal Tap fans, this is like the part where they’re ready for the show and they wander around in a maze of tunnels from the dressing room and can’t find the entrance to the stage!)

Meanwhile, the minutes were ticking by, and I was beginning to get nervous about my arrival time.  I do not like to be late!

AT LAST, more by luck than good navigation, I miraculously found the well-concealed library. ¬†The attendant Farmer’s Market which was supposed to be part of the evening’s festivities, was not set up indoors as I had been told it would be if it was raining. ¬†Instead, about 6 little tents were set up in the parking lot down the hill from the library. ¬†A few hardy vendors were huddled underneath in their rain ponchos, hoping against hope that someone would venture out in this weather and make their suffering worthwhile. ¬†The prospects were not looking good.

They were not looking good for me, either. ¬†I hadn’t seen a single notice of any kind to let people know I would be coming this evening – no email notices, no mention in the local paper, no flyers or posters, nada. ¬†I felt a prickling of disquietude a la Puppet Show and Spinal Tap except I was worse than an afterthought. ¬†I was not a thought at all.

I drove up the hill, parked outside the front door at 5:35, well in time for my 6 PM reading, and entered the silent library.  And when I say silent, I mean silent.

I had assumed I’d be met by the librarian who was organizing the event, but no. ¬†The place appeared deserted.

After wandering around for a few minutes, I discovered a woman.

“Hi!” I said, relieved to have found someone. ¬†“I’m looking for Anna.*”
(*Name changed so I don’t get in trouble :))

“I’m Anna,” she said.

“Nice to meet you,” I said, extending my hand. ¬†“I’m Susanna Hill.”

“Oh,” she said vaguely.

Hmm.  Inauspicious beginning.

Alas, things did not get significantly better during the ensuing conversation:

ME (brightly): So where shall I set up?

HER (vaguely):  The library closes at 6.

ME (patiently): ¬†But I’m supposed to read at 6.

HER (vaguely):  I know.

ME (giving her every opportunity to show me she had a back-up plan): ¬†Sooooo….?

HER (vaguely): ¬†I guess you’ll have to do it outside.

ME (observantly): ¬†It’s pouring.

HER (vaguely):  Yes.

ME (informatively): ¬†I didn’t come equipped for heavy rain since you said we’d be indoors if it was raining.

HER (vaguely):  Usually we are.

ME (still patiently):  So what would you like me to do?

HER (vaguely):  Maybe someone would let you squeeze under their tent?

ME (intelligently): ¬†That’s a big imposition, and besides, the tents are teeny. ¬†There’s no room for an extra table, and nowhere to read to kids.

HER (vaguely): ¬†There’s no one here anyway. ¬†I don’t think anyone will bring their kids out in this weather.

(At this point, I was sorely tempted to ask if she’d ever heard of a little device called a telephone. ¬†We could so easily have rescheduled. ¬†But I didn’t want to be rude or seem unpleasant. ¬†SO…)

ME (still patiently):  So what would you like me to do?

HER (vaguely): ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I doubt anyone will come. ¬†It’s raining.

ME (problem-solvingly and looking pointedly at the completely empty parking lot): ¬†Perhaps we should skip it for today then. ¬†There doesn’t seem much point in waiting around if we have nowhere to read and no one is coming.

HER (vaguely):  Yeah.

ME (uncertainly): ¬†Okay, then. ¬†I guess I’ll head out?

HER (vaguely): ¬†Maybe you’d like to come in the fall when the Farmer’s Market is always inside.

ME:  Sure, let me know.  (But thinking when h-e-double hockey sticks freezes over!)

So I got back in the Dog Mobile without ever taking out a single book and drove back through the driving rain to the family I had abandoned on a Friday evening for absolutely no reason.

Two hours of time, 80 miles on the Dog Mobile (and, let’s be honest, she’s not getting any younger and she doesn’t need the extra miles!), probably a good $15 in gas, and a missed evening with my family all for nothing.

Next time it better say Spinal Tap first and Puppet Show last!

Have you ever been an afterthought or worse?

Being Transformed

Our first grandchild is due tomorrow (well, I guess if you want to get technical about it I should confess that it’s my step-grandchild – there are those (me) who would say I shouldn’t be old enough to have a genetic grandchild :)) ¬†Anyway, it’s got me thinking about what it was like becoming a parent.

Parenthood is a transformation.  Once you have a child, you never look at the world quite the same way again.  You do the basics Рfeed, clothe, shelter, and care for your child Рbut it goes way beyond that.

You find out what delights them so you can hear them laugh again and again. ¬†You sit with their little freshly-bathed pajamaed selves in your lap, breathing in the sweet scent of Johnson’s baby shampoo and sleepy child while you read them bedtime stories. ¬†You kiss boo-boos better, hand them pieces of bread to feed the ducklings, build block towers for them to destroy, listen to their thoughts, answer their questions, encourage their exploration of the world, sit up with them at night when they don’t feel well, share their wonder as they discover new things about themselves and the world around them, chase away their bad dreams, comfort them when they’re sad, bake cookies on rainy afternoons, hold onto them so they feel safe while the ocean licks at their feet,¬†carry them when they’re tired even if you are too, run¬†beside the bike until they’re ready for you to let go… – well, you know.

You do what makes them happy.

Case in point:  Last week, I took my kids to see Transformers.


And

(yes, there’s more!)

I sat through the whole thing!

I’m pretty sure that qualifies as parental devotion.

Have you seen this film? ¬†I don’t know know how they took themselves seriously. ¬†The drama of Optimus Prime (I did not make that up – that’s one of their names!) and the other autobots (I think that’s what they called the good transformers but I confess the decibel level beat me into a stupor) marching toward their exile was supposed to be so intense, and all I could think was, they’re trucks that turn into robots – where’s the emotional pull in that? ¬†I guess I just don’t get it.

Oh, darn.

Transformers is not a movie I would have chosen to see Рever Рbut my kids and their cousins wanted to go, so my sister and I did what parents do: we allowed our eardrums to be assaulted for, like, 2 1/2 hours (it was r e a l l y long Рwell, maybe not, but it seemed endless!) while we feigned interest in the robot drama so that our kids could have a good time.  Which they totally did.

But that’s what I’m talking about. ¬†Being Transformed ūüôā

What have you done with or for your kids recently that you never would have done without them?

(And feel free to place bets on the actual arrival date and gender of our grandbaby – we’ve got a bracket going that rivals March Madness!)

Three Tidbits of Interest

Today’s post is a bit of a smorgasbord – a few rather unrelated items but all (to my mind :)) worth mentioning.

First, for any of you who read last week’s post The Wonderful World of Kid Lit, here is a very articulate, thoughtful rebuttal of the Wall Street Journal article mentioned therein which you might find interesting:¬†Deeper Understanding: The Dark Is Rising, from Shelf Awareness, Enlightenment for the Book Trade. ¬†Let me know what you think of Jennifer Brown’s article!

Second, I had a great visit at Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY to celebrate Not Yet, Rose winning the Mom’s Choice Award. ¬†Two large groups from three local preschools came to hear the story (about 100 children all together!) ¬†They were a terrific audience.

Phyllis is trying to convince
the kids that Not Yet, Rose
is about her – because she
looks EXACTLY like Rose!

Unbeknownst to me, one of the adults in the back was videoing with her phone.  Quel horreur!!!  Although watching and listening to myself give a presentation was quite horrifying and made me want to go hide in the closet with a burlap sack over my head, I have been told I should edit the video and put it on my website so that interested teachers/schools can see a sample of a presentation.  What do you think?  Should I do it?

Finally, when I went to shut my computer down Friday night, I discovered a google alert in my inbox for Can’t Sleep Without Sheep. ¬†Following the link, I was amazed and honored to see that Can’t Sleep has been nominated for the Alabama Camellia Children’s Choice Award (the state children’s choice for Alabama!!! click on the 2011-2012 NEW list to see.) ¬†It’s up against some much better known books, so I don’t know if it has a chance of winning, but it was SO nice to be nominated! ¬†Thank you to every child in Alabama who voted for Can’t Sleep!!! ¬†Ava and Woolliam and I appreciate it ūüôā

The Wonderful World of Kid Lit

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the world of children’s literature is being unfairly tackled lately.

First, the New York Times published an article in October, entitled “Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children,” (apologies – this link sometimes opens with an ad you have to skip) in which they suggested that picture books would soon be dead due to the high cost per unit and the fact that they’re too easy and parents are pushing their children to read chapter books sooner.

Those of us who write picture books (and lots of other sensible people) understand that their value is inestimable, both in terms of what children can learn from them on so many levels, and in terms of quality of time spent reading them for parent and child. ¬†But it took letters to the editor and a retaliatory article in Publisher’s Weekly in December to refute the claims of the NYTimes article, and the general public’s perception of the worth of picture books was affected in the meantime.

This weekend, it was YA literature which took a hit. ¬†The Wall Street Journal published an article called “Darkness Too Visible” which stated that “contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence, and depravity” and wonders “why this is considered a good idea?”

Really?

That’s all they see in YA literature?

Sure, there are books that have vampire, werewolf and zombie characters (some might call this story-telling and entertainment), and sure, there are books that deal with difficult topics. ¬†But isn’t that the point of literature? ¬†Isn’t it important to have books that speak to all kinds of readers? ¬†Don’t we want our teenagers reading?

I think we’re lucky to live in an age when there is such a broad range of writing. ¬†Some of the best writing there is has been done for YA. ¬†How can people look at the scope of YA literature and conclude that it’s all too dark?

What about Sarah Dessen? ¬†Joan Bauer? ¬†The many other authors who write with humor and understanding about coming of age and the experience of being a teenager in today’s world?

And why is literature taking the hit?  What about computer/video games, TV shows, movies, and the internet?

One can always find examples of something if one is looking.  But to claim that all YA lit is dark and depraved seems to me a gross oversimplification.

I would argue that for many teens who are struggling with the darker issues, YA literature is a place they can find solace and understanding, feel that they are not alone in their struggles, see how characters overcome their problems and how these issues may be resolved.  If YA writers reach and help teens, how can that be a bad thing?

Forgive me if I sound a little steamed, but I think both picture books and YA lit are being unfairly presented.

What do you think?  Are picture books useless/dead?  Is YA literature an abyss of darkness?  What do you think of these articles?  Are they presenting an objective view?  Is this really how people perceive picture books and YA?  Should we, as writers, change what we write and how we write it?

Hole In One

I have two important announcements.

Number 1:  The talented E.J. Wesley, whose blog (The Open Vein) is both entertaining and inspirational and you should visit it, has given me this awesome award!!!

What an honor! ¬†Wasn’t that nice of him?

Number 2:  Today Is National Donut Day!

Can you believe it?  A (w)hole day devoted to that (w)holesome (NOT) confectionary delight, the donut.

Let us admire:

The traditional plain donut…

…the jelly donut…

…the glazed donut…
…the frosted donut…
… and the cider donut…
my personal favorite!

Not to be confused with the cruller…

…the turnover…

or the cinnamon bun!

I hope you are all drooling, and planning an immediate trip to your local donut shop in honor of the day.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with writing?

Well, I’ll tell you.

1.  Donuts make an excellent writing snack, especially with coffee.
2.  As writers, we often find our stories have a hole in the middle.
3. ¬†Given the amount of butt in chair time, our butts may begin to resemble the round shape of a donut if we do not get off them from time to time and take the dogs for a run ūüôā

And you thought donuts had nothing to do with writing!

Please feel free to tell us all which is your favorite kind of donut (mine is the cider donut!) so we can see which is most popular! ¬†(And by “favorite” of course I mean which type of donut helps your writing most, and by “popular” of course I’m referring to how much it helps your writing so we can all benefit by trying it :))

Have a wonderful, donut-filled weekend everyone!