Friday, April 27, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
This isn't my day to post but I've been bad, very bad, and I, Kitty Griffin, need to confess.
I've ignored an old friend for far too long.
I have two Kindles.
And I've been flicking and clicking and scrolling and rolling.
But today Sparrow needed to play.
She's just turned one and it was a morning where she was tired of me, tired of her Mom, annoyed with her Pap, and the rain outside came down cold and gray. Look at this face! She needed to romp.
I remembered the playroom at the library.
So off we went. Vroom. Vroom.
Wonderful! There were two little boys for her to watch. She shrieked with joy and crawled off to rumble and tumble and roar.
With her Mom watching her I started looking at books.
And I got tingles.
Because I've missed the library. I just didn't realize how much.
There was a picture book on display with the wackiest title I've ever seen. "The Obstinate Pen by Frank W. Dormer. Here's an illustration from it.
What a silly, charming, strange little story.
It's all about a pen. This pen wants to do what this pen wants to do. You'll have to read it to find out what happens.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Several years ago I gave a lecture about creativity to a group of teachers. I started my talk by telling them about the time I met with the super-successful mystery writer Sue Grafton (“A” is for Alibi, “B” is for Burglar, etc. etc.) I had gone to our local bookstore to have her autograph my copy of her latest book. I waited in line and when my turn came I asked her a question about the schedule she keeps and the discipline she must have to write so many books. She graciously answered my questions and then she asked me if I was also a writer. At that time my first book THE LITTLE HANDS ART BOOK (Williamson Publishing Co.) had just been released.
I told her about my book and how proud my husband and four children were of my accomplishment. “Well, isn’t it wonderful to be known as a writer and to have an identity separate from being a mom,” she responded. A short time after my meeting with Sue Grafton our local newspaper called me and asked to do an interview about my book. I gladly accepted the opportunity to get the word out. When the newspaper arrived several days later I anxiously turned to the section where the article was to appear.
It began as follows: A Mount Lebanon mother of four has published a book…. Here’s a quick and easy craft to enjoy with your kids!
Playful Puppy Puppet
Here’s what you need: Child safety scissors Construction paper Paper lunch bag (white or brown) Wiggly eyes (caution: supervise with very young children) Pom-pom Marker Here’s what you do: 1. Cut out the puppy’s ears, paws, and tail from the construction paper. Fold under the corners of the flap of the bag. Glue the paws onto the front of the bag. Glue the tail onto the back of the bag. 2. Glue on the puppy’s wiggly eyes and pom-pom nose. Use the marker to draw the puppy’s spots.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
We have the greatest admiration for Robbins, who is reputed to be a painstaking craftsman—he can spend an entire day perfecting a single sentence—and who published his debut novel in his 30's. But on this point we disagree. For we believe that in literature, as in other arts, prodigies do occasionally appear. Consider Christopher Paolini. Consider this tween writer:
Monday, April 16, 2012
The Beekeepers are "the boys in the hood"...
"We're keeping the bees.
We fret and we fuss.
We're keeping the bees.
Or do they keep us?"
Bee-coming teaches us...
"From egg I hatch in just three days,
Bee-ginning my new larval phase.
I dwell in a six-sided cell.
My cozy home bee-fits me well..."
And my favorite Summer Hummer plays with words delightfully...
"I'm the hummer of summer,
So busy with buzz.
All covered with fuzz..."
Florian takes us from bee anatomy through drones, queens and workers, to swarms, hives, honey, and pollen. He even includes a scary poem about the all too real phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder. At the end of the collection is a BEEbliography as well for further reading. Perhaps the most notable detail about the book 'beesides' the outstanding rhyme is the inclusion on each page of a snippet of information that provides just a wee bit more for bee fans. We learn that all worker bees are 'sisters', that queen bees are fed royal jelly and that there are 20,000 known species of bees but fewer than ten known species of honeybees. Food for thought! I highly recommend this honey of a book.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I was just trying to write a scene of a competition taking place in my novel. I started with the transition from the last scene because the reader needs that, right? It was so painful…every…word…was…like…a…tooth…extraction. And that’s just what it felt like writing it. I imagine reading it wouldn’t be as bad, because the reader would simply stop reading. Problem solved.
So I imagined that this scene was the opening chapter of a sequel with high-stakes tension. I had to engage the reader, suck them in with minimal description. Presto! The writing was flowing along, much more interesting than before. I can always add in VERY short bits of description or “transition” later during editing.
Find the stuff you like to write. Then just write that stuff.
Back to transitions and turning points. What’s the difference between them? You could define them both as: when something changes. The difference is tension and importance. A turning point has tension and something important is happening. If all you have is a transition, it better not be more than a few words, especially if you’re writing for kids. Why would they read for very long when there’s no tension and nothing important is happening?
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
Over the weekend I took my kids to a giant Easter egg hunt where a helicopter flew over a field and dropped thousands of Easter eggs. Sounds fun, right? That's what I thought until the rules were announced that parents weren't allowed on the field with the kids. I stood on the sidelines for about 40 seconds, until panic took over because I could no longer see my kids amongst the thousands of overly eager egg-hunting children.
My older son wearing bright red, I found immediately. I had lost sight of my younger son in navy blue for ten agonizing minutes until he found us.
Over the weekend I also read about another fear of mine - pitching an agent. I don't fear this as much as losing one of my children in a crowd, but pitching still makes me pretty nervous. I regularly read Kathy Temean's blog which is full of helpful and inspiring advice for writers and illustrators. Her April 1st post had some egg-cellent advice on pitches.
Below were some of her tips for a five minute pitch: