I like write days more than work days

Hi everyone,
David from 417 Magazine
Yesterday was a work day. I wrote a poem early in the morning, but mostly I attended to other duties of a writer. As you may know, I don’t have an agent and can’t articulate why other than this is the way I do it.

I found an unfinished manuscript in the files that I hadn’t touched since 2015. It’s a proposal with samples and I still like it. I submitted it to an editor I know but so far haven’t worked with.

Remember that first middle grade novel I said I was going to write, also back in 2015? I finished it and tried two houses. Both editors called it too literary. Since then I’ve had more than half a dozen readers vet it and make excellent suggestions that I’ve incorporated into the story. Yesterday I spent time checking on possible homes and queried three of them about interest in seeing it, including one of the two that turned it down the first time. I also asked an author friend what she thinks about her publisher and hope to make that a fourth possibility. If I don’t place the book during this effort, I’ll start over and make another list. I’m pleased with the story and plan to work until I find a spot somewhere. As a footnote, one of the editors I queried responded in half an hour and I sent her the script.

I sat for a while looking over a collection of poems that I think has some of my better work. The problem is that it has no “hook.” Maybe I’ll coin a new term: “If it’s hookless, it’s bookless.” Many editors these days require a connection, a reason, a tie-in to the land of school and library sales, which means there must be a strong, obvious support for school curriculum such as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I get it but this bias can lead to good stories being left off lists because they’re guilty of only being good literature. Other publishers maintain their philosophy of publishing literature, but of course the marketing opportunities change over time. Thus you might ask me again why I remain agentless. But moving on. In this case I have two houses in mind but they both have submissions from me at the moment so I’ll wait a while longer.

I also happily greeted the news that Polemo Books is bringing out HERE WE GO: A Poetry Friday Power Book, their latest title, and I’m one of twelve poets anchoring it.here-we-go That’s great news and, as always, I’m flattered to be included in anything that Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong publish. https://www.amazon.com/HERE-WE-GO-Poetry-Friday/dp/1937057658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484248684&sr=8-1&keywords=here+we+go+a+poetry+friday+power+book
I used to know how to make those teeny addresses but seem to have forgotten. Soon afterward Janet sent this bulletin along: Good news! HERE WE GO is a Children’s Book Council “Hot Off the Press” selection for January 2017: http://www.cbcbooks.org/cbc_book/here-we-go-a-poetry-friday-power-book/#.WHeip3jAUrR

Next I spent some time making arrangements for an upcoming research trip to help me finish my current middle grade novel. I’ve done the story but want to visit the setting in Arizona once again to make sure I’ve nailed everything accurately. I’ll walk and visit and take pictures, then come home and put on the final shine. If I miss that window, I’m busy until mid-March. While I’m in Phoenix I will visit Burton Barr Main Library to see my poem in the sidewalk and have my picture taken with a group of youngsters who will be there. But to do that means I’ll need to drive four hours that morning after overnighting in Bisbee to meet them at 10:00 a.m. Little details like that can take time.

At 1:45 I took a break for cheese and crackers, dropped off leaves at recycling, and drove to the store for grub and grog in anticipation of the predicted ice storm. When I put away the grub, it looked just fine, but I wasn’t sure I trusted the grog. I took a wee sample to be sure and determined that there were no discernible imperfections. Satisfied, I settled back to work.

Correspondence involved a business matter and something to do with one of my favorite volunteer projects. I exchanged updates with my writing partner, Sandy Asher, on the new venture we’re exploring and sent a note to my editor at Guilford about the poetry chapter I’ve written for the latest edition of CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN THE READING PROGRAM.

I can’t account for where the day went. I still had a lot of friends I wanted to talk to but I was out of time. It was suddenly 4:22. I had only one hour and thirty-eight minutes before 6:00, that fateful moment when my M.O.W. makes me quit playing. I had another wee sample, because of a certain lingering doubt about the first, relaxed for a few minutes enjoying the video provided by my U.K. friend, fellow poet, and frequent visitor to Word of the Month Poetry Challenge, Bryn Strudwick, (https://youtu.be/ePk3bK6oU90), and started writing a poem. Didn’t finish it, but that was yesterday. Today is a new day!
David
P.S. At the last minute I remembered to shave. Close call!

So far so good

Hi everyone,

The new year seems to be off and running. It’s high time. We only have 360 days left!
20161231_151829_resized_1
So far I’ve named my new wagon, with your help (It’s officially BENTLEY. Thank you, Sneed Niederriter), submitted one manuscript, one book proposal, and worked with Mary Jo Fresch to submit a presentation proposal for NCTE in November.mary-jo-fresch2
Today I hope to concentrate on another book idea. I’m working on this project with Sandy Asher and we’re in the very early stage of trading ideas and reactions. Sandy Asher poses outside her Lancaster City Home.  Photo:Shahan
I’ll start by making a list of potential subject matter based on a theme and fiddle with that until some sense of it emerges clearly enough that I can draft a poem or two to share with Sandy. This one might or might not get off the ground but you have to start somewhere and this is usually how it works for me.

I don’t know what the rest of this week (today and Friday) will hold, but so far so good.

WRITERS AT WORK: Loving Libraries, Part 5

Hi everyone,

As Sandy Asher and I have discussed, there being five Tuesdays this month gives us a chance to add a 5th post to the November WRITERS AT WORK series, “Loving Libraries.” We’ve invited blog visitors to pitch in some of their own experiences and we’re delighted to feature them today. With thanks to our contributors, here we go.
veda-boyd-jones
Although my first real job (not counting babysitting) as a teen was working Saturdays at the county library, my big library experience started when I was a mother and took my boys to story hour on Wednesday mornings. Of course, the other mothers were readers or they wouldn’t have corralled their kids and hauled them to story hour. Through three moves to three different towns, I took the boys to story hour. In each library, I met women who became lifelong friends.

Veda Boyd Jones
http://vedaboydjones.com/
New ebooks:
The Ranger’s Christmas Treasure
That Sunday Afternoon
tattle_marydowninghahn_interview
Hey, David and Sandy — here’s my library story:

Back in my days as a children’s librarian, a girl about 12 asked me if the library had a copy of The Jellyfish Season. As I led her to the shelf, I wondered if I should tell her I wrote it. I handed it to her, took a deep breath, and asked her if she knew it was my book. Looking me in the eye, she said, “I thought it was the library’s book.” Already sensing I’d made a mistake, I told her I meant I’d written it. She stared at my library name tag and said, “Your name is Mary Jacob. The writer’s name is Mary Downing Hahn.” She held up the book and pointed to my name on the cover. “Well, yes,” I said, “but I remarried and my last name changed to Jacob.” Giving me a look that clearly said she wasn’t born yesterday, the girl walked away, leaving me to wonder why I felt compelled to tell a 12 year old stranger my marital history. After that, I never told any kids I was the writer of a book they’d chosen. This turned out to be good decision the day a boy asked about Wait Till Helen Comes. When I started to tell him the plot, he said, “Oh, yeah, I read this book, but you’ve got it all wrong.” As I stood there listening to him tell me about my own book, I was very glad my name tag said Mary Jacob.
Mary Downing Hahn
https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Downing-Hahn/e/B000APO5S8

mary-nida-smith
I have been involved with the Baxter County Library (1999-2016), then continued when the new Donald W. Reynolds Library was built in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I was a member of the Friends of the Library (FOL), hostess, and served as a board member. I have helped for several years with the FOL yearly auction, book sales, as a volunteer elsewhere when needed, helped bring authors and illustrators in the children’s library, and sometimes performed as photographer. The library supported my different writers groups and the yearly “Holiday Authors Book Sale.” I have spent a lot of time at this library and if I had my way I would live at it and be one happy camper.

Mary Nida Smith
marynida@suddenlink.net
http://marynidasmith.blogspot.com

debbie
I was visiting a school in Evansville, IN and a little boy was crying outside the library. When I asked the librarian what was wrong she told me he was upset because Eddie, Melody, Liza, and Howie were not visiting. He had been expecting the characters from the Bailey School Kids series-not one of the authors. It really brought home to me how beloved story characters can be and how important our stories can be to children.

Debbie Dadey
Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 162 books, including The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series and Mermaid Tales
http://www.debbiedadey.com/

Our thanks again to today’s contributors to WRITERS AT WORK. Sandy will add your post to our ongoing and growing portfolio so be sure to look for this series and all the previous Writers at Work conversations at http://usawrites4kids.blogpost.com.

All the best,

David

Hooray for today!

Hi everyone,

Good day at hand. This morning I think I can finish going through the first complete draft of the Teacher Resource book I’m doing with Mary Jo Fresch and get it off to our editor at Scholastic.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I’m having lunch with a dear friend and gifted actor, director, and writer, Herman Johansen, who is in town from Los Angeles. He used to live here and has family nearby. The “skirt” is invited, as we refer to Sandy.herman-johansen3 It’s always great to see Herman and catch up on his news. http://hermanjohansen.com . There’s a chance he’ll spend the weekend with us. Years ago Herman created a wonderful video for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) when I was on that board. sandy-asherSandy Asher wrote a moving dramatic reading about kids who are neglected and abused and Herman used it as a springboard to make the video. That’s how we first met.

This afternoon I’ll get back to a new poetry manuscript I started several months ago. The proposal is with an editor but I feel an itch to add more poems. All in all, a day to look forward to.

WRITERS AT WORK: Loving Libraries, Part 1

BULLETIN: November Word of the Month will be announced tomorrow, November 2.

Hi everyone,

Today WRITERS AT WORK introduces a new 5-part set of conversations about the relationship between authors/illustrators and libraries. If you are new to the idea or want a refresher, here’s the link to our collected series. http://usawrites4kids.blogspot.com . Leading off is Sandy Asher. As always, we welcome your comments. Because there are five Tuesdays this month, we’ll save the last one for your own stories about our subject. Please send them to me if you’d like to be included in the wrap-up segment on November 29. Thanks in advance! Here’s Sandy.
Sandy Asher
WRITERS AT WORK
Loving Libraries
November 1, 2016
Part 1 — Sandy

You’d think it would be a natural partnership: local authors and neighborhood libraries. But it’s not. Many libraries don’t reach out to local authors. Why not?

Certainly, librarians are busy people. In addition to everyday services, they organize numerous special events of other kinds. Perhaps authors slip their minds?

Or maybe they’re hesitant to approach authors, figuring they, too, are busy?

Oh, and there’s the money thing. Librarians don’t have massive discretionary funds at their disposal, and authors do prefer to be paid for presentations. They don’t earn salaries, after all, and time at the library means time away from the computer.

Still, there’s the gratitude thing. Hard to imagine an author who doesn’t feel it. There is a debt to be paid.

When I think of the library, I get a feeling that’s close to worshipful. A source of books? Sure. A research center? Absolutely. A fount pouring forth surprise, delight, inspiration, and encouragement? Always. But also a sanctuary, a safe place to think, wonder, dream, be still . . . and just be.

I’ve felt that way since childhood, when I spent hours in the Children’s Reading Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia at Logan Square, deposited there by parents needing an afternoon with adult relatives or friends. Left alone, I was not lonely. The library was my shelter, companion, nanny, teacher, and mentor. Sitting on the floor between stacks, I’d breathe in my favorites: well-worn editions of fairy and folktales of every kind, all dog and horse stories, any book written by Louisa May Alcott or L. Frank Baum. Peter and Wendy. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. A host of friends as near and dear as any of the flesh-and-blood variety.

I dreamed of returning to that children’s reading room as a grown-up and seeing my own books on those same shelves, nestled among my favorites. I’ve lived that dream. And I remain ever grateful.

So how do I love the library? Let me count the ways:

Most recently, I’ve set my latest picture book, CHICKEN STORY TIME, and its stage adaptation, in the Children’s Reading Room of a library. Granted, I all but bury a librarian in chickens, but she prevails, and the love shines through.

Back in Springfield, MO, where I lived for 36 years, and now in Lancaster, PA, I’ve been involved in creating many programs for the library. David, I’m not sure how many years you and I ran MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS and AMERICA WRITES FOR KIDS together, but we certainly shared a lot of happy visits to the TV studio to spotlight our colleagues’ books and invite viewers to “Check it out at the library!”

Then there have been on-site writing workshops and story-hour readings, plus visits to schools to encourage first graders to sign up for library cards, and events that have brought other authors and illustrators in for workshops, book signings, and presentations.

Also, Springfield libraries provided free space for performances of my plays, “Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy” and “In the Garden of the Selfish Giant.” Another script, “Walking Toward America” packed the community room and served as a fundraiser for the system.

Talk about win-win situations! Libraries, patrons, colleagues, and I have all benefitted.

So I encourage reaching out — in both directions. Local authors are available for writing workshops, presentations, readings, signings, fund raisers, special events, and to help create unique programs. Neighborhood libraries are ideal locations. For libraries looking for authors, a Google search will lead to their websites, and many are listed on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators site at http://scbwi.org, which links to regional SCBWI websites as well. For authors looking for libraries, the Public Libraries site provides contact information state-by-state at http://www.publiclibraries.com.

If ever two groups should be on the same page, it’s authors and their libraries! And if ever an author has served his library system well, it’s David L. Harrison. Tell us all about it, David!