Friday, February 26, 2010

Coming soon to a blog near you

I've got a few pics of my trip to Texas and will get them posted as soon as I get home.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: TEXAS IS BIG!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 NCTE Children's Notable Books in the Language Arts

I'm delighted to announce that The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis has been named a 2010 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts by the Children's Literature Assembly, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Five schools in two days and getting a big HOWDY Texas welcome!

Thanks, y'all

Poster by Sendera Ranch School

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Off to Texas, y'all

I'm off to Fort Worth for a week of school visits.

Blog posts may be a little thin this week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Delta, Delta, How I Hate You

My son took this at the airport recently.

Delta Airlines brings out the evil in me.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Donations inspired by How to Steal a Dog

I was so touched to see that Shutesbury Elementary School in Shutesbury, MA is gathering donations for the Amherst Survival Center as an activity to honor How to Steal a Dog on the Massachusetts Children's Book Award list for 2010.

Great job, guys!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fifth grade? Really?

From a biography written by a fifth grade boy:

In Denver, Colorado, 1938, the city was speaking. The city was honking car horns. The city was people shouting. The city was blinking its traffic lights. Who would have thought that somewhere in the middle of the noise, Susan P was being born?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yoohoo Chocolate Drink Recipe

It's amazing the things you discover through Google Alerts:

Yoohoo Chocolate Drink Recipe

3/4 cup nonfat dry milk
3 T chocolate Nesquik drink mix
1 1/2 cups cold water

Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid.
Shake until dry milk is dissolved.
Drink immediately or chill in fridge

(Note: The only problem is that if you make your own, you don't have that cute little carton to make a boat with.)

Thanks to for the recipe.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Repeat after me

I often joke about how irritating good copyeditors are.

Of course, I jest.

Good copyeditors are the saviors of the book world. It takes an editor to see the forest, but the copyeditors see the trees.

I am grateful for them.

Below is a sampling of the latest irritating, um, I mean, brilliant comments from my copyeditor, the savior (from The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester).

Notice how many of the queries address the problem of repetitious words.

My bad, as they say....

And notice the comment about page 124. I was so fascinated by this one because I use that expression "A lightbulb went off" all the time. OFF? *forehead thwack* What the heck is wrong with me? Of course, the lightbulb went ON. Duh...

p.5, 2nd paragraph: “The very idea of that poor sick old man up there in the bed not able to do a thing but sleep and eat applesauce and you down here thinking up ways to make my life miserable.” Rep of “up” OK?

p.11: ‘ “Besides,” Viola said. “Frogs only eat bugs…” ‘ OK to change to: ‘ “Besides,” Viola said, “frogs only eat bugs…” ‘ (to show she’s continuing her sentence)?

p.22, 3rd para: ‘ “I know y’all are up there.” That irritating voice slithered up the ladder…’ Rep of “up” OK?

p.22, middle of page: “What’re ya’ll building?” This should be “y’all,” as throughout, so we’re fixing.

p.22, 2nd line from bottom: “…he looked at Owen in a what-now? kind of way.” C says this should be: “…he looked at Owen in a What now? kind of way.” (italicized, cap on “What,” no hyphen)

p.24, middle of page: “First of all, he said it all the time.” Rep of “all” OK?

p.26, middle of page: ‘More than anything, he wanted to say, “Where?” ’ There shouldn’t be a comma after “say” here, so we’re deleting it (‘More than anything, he wanted to say “Where?” ’). Same goes for the sentence below it, which will now read: ‘But he knew that Viola wanted him to say “Where?” ’

p.28: “And they found an old metal thing with a rusty bolt sticking out of it.” And next line: “But none of those things seemed like something…” Rep of “thing’/”things” OK?

p.29, line 6: ‘ “I mean, maybe it was farther up that way.” Travis nodded up the tracks.’ And just below: “Owen looked up the tracks.” Reps of “up” OK?

p.30, middle of page: “…the boys made a pact to go farther up the tracks the next day, if they could ditch that nosy Viola.” C says: “But they don’t go farther up the tracks the next day. Instead, they plan and start building a cage for Tooley. Breaking a pact is a serious thing for boys? Change here to something like “…the boys made a pact to go farther up the tracks as soon as they could.” Or change something later?”

p.32, middle of page: “Clatter. Clatter. Clatter.” Change here to “Clatter, clatter, clatter.” (with commas, lower case), to match usage on p.10? Or change p.10 to match here?

p.33, line 1: “It would be big enough for swimming and jumping.” And a little farther down: “…with room for Tooley to swim in big, big circles…” Rep of “big” OK?

p.35, middle of page: “Earlene’s face turned red as fire as she jammed the duct tape back into the junk drawer.” And next line: “…Earlene stood stiffly beside him, her fists jammed into her waist…” Rep of “jammed” OK?

p.35, 7 lines from bottom: “hoard” should be spelled “horde,” so we’re fixing it.

p.37, just before line break: “Let’s hide this stuff in the bushes and go over to Stumpy’s and make a plan.” And next line: “While Joleen Berkus glared over at them…” Rep of “over” OK?

p.44, middle of page: “Viola stood up and brushed dirt off her shorts.” And 3 lines from bottom: “Viola brushed past the boys and skipped toward the hedge.” Rep of “brushed” OK?

p.45, middle of page: “And then, the sky turned dark, lightning flashed, and the rain poured down…” C asks if we would like to delete the comma after “then” (“And then the sky turned dark…”). Since they’re asking your/our opinion, I’m assuming either way is grammatically fine. Up to you.

p.50, 2nd line from bottom: “You think you know everything but you don’t.” C says: “There would be a pause after ‘everything,’ so OK to add comma?” (“You think you know everything, but you don’t.” Change or stet?

p.52, 3rd para: “…and raced up the path…” And two lines down: “…blinking up at the summer sky.” Rep of “up” OK?

p.52, middle of page: “The back door opened…” Next line: “Her eyes darted from him to Tooley to Travis to Stumpy and back to him.” And next line: “You’re not going back yonder to those train tracks, are you?” Reps of “back” OK?

p.75, 4 lines from bottom: ‘He let out a satisfied “Aaah.” ‘ C says this should be spelled “Ahhh,” so we’re changing it.

p.79, middle of page: “But his voice didn’t sound nearly as sure of himself as he wanted it to.” C says this line doesn’t entirely make sense, in that “his voice” is not “himself.” She suggests changing the line to something like: “But his voice didn’t sound nearly as convincing as he wanted it to.” What do you think?

p.81, middle of page: Currently it all looks like this:

And then . . .
. . . another frog joined in at the same time . . . and then another . . .
Until there seemed to be a whole chorus of bullfrogs.

C would like to break it up a little differently, to read:

And then . . .
. . . another frog joined in at the same time . . .
and then another . . .
. . . until there seemed to be a whole chorus of bullfrogs.

(Although now that I’m looking at it, it seems to me that if we’re going to do that, we should really add ellipses before the “and then another,” too, so that all the middle lines begin and end with ellipses… Anyway, what do you think? Any strong opinions??)

p.82, 2nd para: “A sprinkler chug, chug, chugged in circles…” C says we should italicize the “chug”s here (“A sprinkler chug, chug, chugged in circles…”)

p.85, 6 lines from bottom: “Owen and Travis high-fived Stumpy and they hurried out of the hayloft…” OK to change to: “Owen and Travis high-fived Stumpy, and they all hurried out of the hayloft…” (adding a comma after “Stumpy” and “all” after “they”)? Otherwise, it sounds as if only Owen and Travis hurry out of the hayloft, leaving Stumpy behind.

p.87, 1st line: “Travis let a string of cusswords fly and Stumpy broke off a branch…” C says there should be a comma after “fly” (“Travis let a string of cusswords fly, and Stumpy broke off a branch…”), so we’re adding one.

p.91, line 5: ‘ “I’m allergic to pine,” she said. “And ragweed and pigweed and . . .” ‘ With the ellipses here it means that Viola is merely trailing off in her thoughts, rather than being interrupted by Travis’s next line (“Then you better go home before you die.” (P.S. This is probably my favorite line in the whole book. :) ). If that’s the case, OK to stet. If she IS being interrupted here, we should replace the ellipses with an em-dash (“And ragweed and pigweed and—“). Stet or change?

p.93, line 3: “First, they had searched inside the submarine for some kind of instructions for how to run it.” Rep of “for” OK here? (Perhaps change the second one to “on” or “about”?)

p.95, line 4: “Owen looked down into the cage. Tooley floated in the dirty water, nestled up against the side of the cage…” Rep of “the cage” OK?

p.95, middle of page: “It had been so much fun, trying to figure out if the frog he spotted was his frog. The one with the heart-shaped red spot between his eyes.” Rep of “spotted”/”spot” OK?

p.102, middle of page: “Ah, heck.” C says this should be: “Aw, heck.” So we’re changing it.

p.103, 3 lines from bottom: ‘ “Besides,” he added. “I know Viola better than anybody.” ’ OK to change the period after “added” to a comma (‘ “Besides,” he added, “I know Viola...” ’)?

p.105, line 2: “I decided to come help y’all, after all.” And p.106, last line: “Maybe inviting Viola to help had been a good idea, after all.” Rep of “after all” OK?

p.115, after line break: “While Mrs. Suttles put a smiley face sticker on his Bible passage work sheet…” C says “smiley face” should have a hyphen here (“smiley-face sticker”), as should “Bible passage” (“Bible-passage work sheet”), so we’re fixing them. We’ll also be changing “smiley-face stickers” on this same page, last line, to match.

p.118, 1st line: “Good-bye, Tooley.” C says this should be: “Goodbye” (no hyphen), so we’re changing.

p.120, 3 lines from bottom: ‘…then said, “Uh, see ya,” before heading off up the path after Travis.’ And next line: “Owen picked up the biggest rock…” Rep of “up” OK?

p.124, middle of page: “A lightbulb went off.” Ce asks if this would make more sense as “A lightbulb went on.” (See also p.125: “A lightbulb went off again.”)

p.128, middle of page: “The sound of the submarine falling off of the train.” C says we should delete the “of” after “off” here (“The sound of the submarine falling off the train.”), so we are.

p.136, 2nd para: ‘ “Before launching your Water Wonder 4000,” she read, “there are a few simple tests to perform first.” ’ OK to delete “first” here, since it is redundant in conjunction with “before”? The line would read: “Before launching your Water Wonder 4000 . . . there are a few simple tests to perform.” OK?

p.146, 7 lines from bottom: ‘ “Besides,” Owen said. “That Frog Town idea was dumb.” ’ OK to change the period after “said” to a comma (‘ “Besides,” Owen said, “that Frog Town idea was dumb.” ’)?

p.151, 2nd para: “She flipped to the page with the heading: READY, SET, GO: Starting Your Water Wonder 4000” C says there shouldn’t be a colon after “heading,” so with it all on the separate lines it will now look like:

She flipped to the page with the heading

Starting Your Water Wonder 4000

p.153, 1st line: “Owen had to admit that when they first sank down below the surface of the pond…” OK to delete “down” (“Owen had to admit that when they first sank below the surface of the pond…”)? C says “sank down below” is redundant, and deleting it here will also avoid the rep of “down” in the next paragraph (“…his somersaulting stomach settled down…”) OK to delete?

p.159, middle of page: “Earlene marched down the hallway, her heavy shoes making a clomp, clomp noise on the wooden floor…” C says the “clomp”s should be italicized here (“…her heavy shoes making a clomp, clomp noise…”), so we’re changing.

p.164, just before line break: “…they were all going over to the railroad freight yard…” And just after the break: “…and hurried over to the bed.” Rep of “over” OK?

Friday, February 5, 2010

A blog about nothing

Note: I know I should credit someone for this but I don't know where it came from. So....sorry.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Well, it's better than nothing

The Destroyers of Cafe Francais sent me a check for $5.

They were very sorry to hear that my purchase did not meet my expectations.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hey, that looks familiar!

My son was noodling around online and came across this. That's my office!

Time after time

Twice I have had the misfortune of having an annoyingly alert copyeditor discover that the timeline of a book wasn't right after it had been typeset.

[Note: Please know that I use the word "annoyingly" with nothing but awe, respect, appreciation and gratitude. Seriously, dude.]

After much hair pulling and Oreo eating, I managed to fix things, which is very tricky because at this stage of the book process, you want as few pages as possible have to be changed. (Note: I think I need a copyeditor for that sentence.)

Here is my most recent timeline annoyance (from The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, to be published Fall 2010):

P.1: The copyeditor has decided this is Saturday, based on the later chronology.

p.11: This is day two. C thinks it’s Sunday, although there is no mention of church (church on Sunday is mentioned in later chapters), but because they meet in the afternoon (p.17), that’s not really an issue.

p.21: This is day three. C says it’s Monday.

p.34: This is day four. C says it’s Tuesday.

p.41: C says: “Is this still the same day as at end of Ch.6 (Day 4, Tuesday)? Add something to clarify? It should be the same day if later chronology is to work.

p.68, middle of page: “Owen hated Wednesday nights. On Wednesday nights…” So this is Wednesday (day five)

p.73: This is day six, so Thursday.

p.80, after line break: “That night…” C says this is Thursday night.

p.82: This is day seven, so Friday.

**p.83, bottom of page: “The boys huddled together up in the hayloft of the barn all afternoon, planning how they would get the Water Wonder 4000 down to the pond.” C says this has to still be Friday morning (not afternoon), or the time sequence doesn’t work from here to p.109, which is definitely Sunday morning. OK to change the line to something like: “The boys huddled together up in the hayloft of the barn the rest of the morning…” ?

p.87: C thinks this should still be day seven (Friday). Midday?

p.94, before line break: “The boys bumped their fists together while agreeing to meet in the barn later that day.” C says “later that day” should be Friday, early evening.

p.97: C says “Is it now Saturday morning? Day 8? Add something to indicate the day here?” Note the line “By the time the noon-day sun was high overhead…” at the bottom of the page. (Barbara, just for the record, I don’t think you need to tell us explicitly what day it is all the time, as long as the timeline works out.)

**p.98, line 7: “We can work on it some more in the morning, when it’s cooler.” C says: “Change this line to: ‘We can work on it some more in the evening, when it’s cooler.’? It’s now Saturday, and Ch.19 (p.109) begins on Sunday, so they have to come back later this same day for the chronology to add up.”

**p.105, 1st line: “…He and Travis and Stumpy had gotten to the clearing early that morning, when the dew was still clinging to the wildflowers and ferns.” See query p.98. If Ch.19 begins on Sunday, this here can’t be another new morning, but later Saturday evening. Rework?

p.107, after line break: “That night, after dinner…” C says this is Saturday night.

p.109, 1st line: “Owen had begged and pleaded and begged and pleaded to stay home from church.” This is day nine, and obviously Sunday.

p.119: C says this is day ten, Monday. From here on out, the time line works perfectly (yay!).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Macmillan Newsletter

The latest edition of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group's newsletter.

A fifth grader? Seriously?

Written by a fifth grader (first draft):

His hands felt numb as he strummed the strings harder and harder until he got the right tune, a soft hum to match the best of the music that flowed from the shiny black stereo next to him.

He looked at the notes on the fading piece of paper and began the song, his friend, Kevin, stomping to the beat and clapping for him. Ever since Tom C was born on September 9, 1962, he had loved to play the guitar.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To Diddy

Oh, yoohoo....Ruby.....

So, I got home from a school the other day and when I walked in the door, I saw this:

I went up to my office and saw this:

I went into my bedroom and saw this: