Friday, August 19, 2011

Poetry Friday is Here!

I'm not a true collector. At least not like my husband, whose collection of old bottles (milk bottles, soda bottles, medicine bottle), signed Yankees paraphernalia, and antique toys provide an endless source of conversation with clients in his office. Notice I said "in his office." Right, they don't come home.

I do like teapots and have about four or five of them. This is one of my favorites. It's hand-sculpted porcelain by Franz, Johnny Ho, Designer.

But I don't want many pieces or lots of other teapots. Just a little, a touch, a hint, so that I can appreciate the craftsmanship and savor the beauty.

The only thing I have more than a few of are books. I like old books, especially collections of poetry. Again, I don't have many and they aren't rare books, but they do have character. By that I mean they have tale-tell signs of a former reader/owner's presence. I like to find a book with the corners of pages turned down, with notes written in the margins, with highlighted sections and underlined phrases. I want to know how much someone else once loved these words.

This copy of Federico Garcia Lorca's Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter still has the faded dust jacket covering the blood red cloth cover. Inside, printed in red pen, the owner wrote her name, the date--October 21, 1954--and Paris, France. She also left her promotional post card in the pages. She could be contacted through the Actor's Equity Association.

Pressed between the pages of this 1971 edition of Anne Sexton's Transformations, I found a Bazooka Bubblegum cartoon.

The fortunereads: You will accumulate much knowledge by keeping an open mind.

This owner has character. Maybe he or she should be a character!

This library copy of How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi is a favorite. Published in 1959 and bound by New Method Book Bindery, it reminds me of today's Bound to Stay Bound Books that will last forever, but don't have much pizzazz, at least on the outside.

The highlighted line says: A good poem is always better than one could have expected. Even on re-reading, and even on many re-readings, the truly achieved poem stays richer than one's best memory of it.

Thanks for joining me on this Poetry Friday. May your memories of these poems stay full, rich, collectible. Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Side of Shel

I may be the only person out there who didn't know that Shel Silverstein was a musician as well as a poet. I picked up the entertainment section of the New York Times this week while in Starbucks and read about a concert tribute held in New York City, called "Shelebration!"

My mother and daddy were Johnny Cash fans. I remember listening, and laughing, with them over his hit song, "A Boy Named Sue." It was recorded live at San Quentin State Prison. And who wrote it? Shel Silverstein. Of course. It's his signature rollicking rhythm and quirky humor. I should have known.

And this one, first recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary is a favorite. Here's "Boa Constrictor" performed by Johnny Cash.

More Poetry Friday here with Karen Edmisten.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Signing

My book signing for Sing, Dance, Shout! 30 Days of Praise was Saturday at the Sanctuary, the local Christian bookstore. My thanks to Rodney Redmond and the staff. It was such fun day.Good friend Karen Johnson set the event up for me and handled publicity. Something I probably wouldn't have done without her. One could not have a better publicist.

We had a steady stream of people all afternoon, in spite of the badly needed downpour. Rodney sold every copy of the book he ordered!

Special thanks to my wonderful writing partner, Ashley Parsons, who read the first draft and helped me stay on track.

Now back to real life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Meadow Mouse

I've been working on a museum project, writing the text for the panels beside the exhibits. My client wants a conversational tone to the information and an emphasis on habitat.

Here's the text for the White-footed Mouse:

The White-footed Mouse lives in warm, dry forests and brushy areas near the edge of woods. These mice usually come out at night. They are good climbers and good swimmers. They drum their forepaws on hollow reeds to produce a musical, buzzing sound. Scientists have no explanation for this behavior. The mouse uses its keen eyesight and sharp senses of hearing, touch, and smell to locate food and avoid predators. Nuts, seeds, fruit and berries, small insects, and fungi make up the mouse’s diet. These mice nest in underground tunnels, brush piles, or rocky crevices.
Conversational, but a bit dry.
Then last night I was reading through Theodore Roethke's The Far Field and found this. It's why I love poetry.
The Meadow Mouse
In a shoe box stuffed in an old nylon stocking
Sleeps the baby mouse I found in the meadow,
Where he trembled and shook beneath a stick
Till I caught him up by the tail and brought him in,
Cradled in my hand,
A little quaker, the whole body of him trembling,
His absure whiskers sticking out like a cartoon-mouse,
His feet like small leaves,
Little lizard-feet,
Whitish and spread wide when he tried to struggle away,
Wriggling like a minuscule puppy.

Now he's eaten his three kinds of cheese and drunk from his bottle-cap watering-trough--

So much he just lies in one corner,
His tail curled under him, his belly big
As his head; his bat-like ears
Twitching, tilting toward the least sound.

Do I imagine he no longer trembles
When I come close to him
He seems no longer to tremble.

Read part 2 here.

Stop in at Libby Franke's blog, A Year of Literacy Coaching, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Publishing Trends in the Educational Market

I spent a week in San Diego in July listening to some of the best educational publishers in the marketplace showing off their new books for fall. Usually there is a trend, some topic area that nearly all the publishers are trying to hit. Last year it was Going Green and lots of books on economics. This year it's a little harder to spot a specific trend. With the Olympics in London next year, there are plenty of new books on that subject. And the Titanic is having an anniversary. But the buzz word that keeps popping up, no matter who's talking, is common core. As states across the country adopt the new Common Core Standards, publishers are striving to make sure their new lists give educators the tools to meet the new guidelines.

If you want to cheek out these standards, visit these two websites.

Common Core Standards Initiative - The official site.

Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project - Is a Gates Foundation project that wrote curriculum maps for (English Language Arts (ELA) core standards. They are intended to be a road map for teachers to implement the CCSS standards in ELA curriculum. This link will take you directly to the grade level maps.

There are lots of new science books, both in the traditional library bound format, and in paperback for classroom use. In Georgia, and other states may soon follow suit, science is now the second indicator for CRCT testing (state testing). In then past, a school attained adequate

yearly progress based on the math and reading scores of students, with a secondary indicator of attendance. That is changing, and as a result schools are going to be looking for new ways to build science content into math classes and English language arts.

Writer alert! This trend probably isn't going to change any time soon, so if you are considering new ideas to propose to a publisher, look for creative ways to combine these subjects.

Lerner Publishing is introducing something they call Lerner Publisher Services. It's books from a

group of four small presses that Lerner with be carrying in their line. I was delighted to find that Gecko Press, an award-winning New Zealand based house is one of the presses, and Lerner will be publishing one book a year from author Joy Cowley. Love her books. Love her. Writers, if you've been to the Highlights Chautauqua conference, you'll recognize her name.

And by the way, I received a very complimentary rejection from Lerner editor, Andrew Karre, on my middle grades novel. I knew they were focusing on their new YA line right now, but it was worth a try.

We're working with a new publisher this year, called Weigl, who have come out with a very cool concept for pairing library bound books with book specific technology, for the price of the library book. They call them AV2 books. This is a good product for both libraries and classroom. You can pull up the videos, info, and games on a whiteboard in the classroom.

And of course, ebooks are still a big deal. More publishers are getting on the bandwagon and getting their act together a little better than last year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sing Dance Shout! A New Book

At last, my new Christian devotional book for middle graders is available! Sing, Dance, Shout! 30 Days of Praise provides 30 devotional lessons on praising God.

The book is divided into four sections. Section one is an explanation of what praise is and what happens when we praise God. Section two introduces the many Hebrew words for praise and additional words, dance, clap and shout, that are often associated with praise. Each chapter defines the word and correlates it to a scripture from the Psalms. Section three focuses on eight reasons the Bible gives for praising God. Section four concludes the book with four lessons on joining with all creation to proclaim the wonder of God.

I began talking with my editor at Christian Focus Publishing two years ago, in late June of 2009. They are a small publishing house in Scotland and I'm delighted to be part of their writing team. Publishing a book is an amazing journey. The second paragraph of this blog post came directly from my proposal. I sent three chapters along with it. When she requested the full book, I sat down and wrote the rest. Then the waiting began.

And as a writer, I move on to the next project all the while hoping this one moves through the process. The acceptance and contract came through in October of 2010. I saw the cover design early this year, proofed the galleys this spring, and finally had my six author copies by late June. But there was still a waiting period. The books weren't available for purchase until mid-July.

Finally, I'm so pleased to be able to say, "You can purchase it at your local Christian bookstore (please support those lovely people) or on Barnes and Noble or Amazon."

If you're local to the Columbus, Georgia area, I'll be signing copies at the Sanctuary, on Airport Thruway near Applebees, on Saturday from 12 to 3 pm. Stop by. I'd love to sign a copy for you.