NCTE schedule

Hi everyone,

Sandy Asher would like for you know about an event coming up that might be of interest to you. Here’s the scoop. https://epa.scbwi.org/events/poetry-day-in-lancaster-pa . I know Sandy (and who doesn’t) so we know this will be a great event or she wouldn’t be involved in it. If you have questions, contact Lindsay Bandy lkbandy84@yahoo.com

On other matters, my schedule is now in place for NCTE this fall in St. Louis. On Friday, November 17, Mary Jo Fresch and I will make a one hour fifteen minute presentation about how to prepare students to research their subject before writing about it. Immediately following, we’ll sign our new Scholastic book, which will be out just in time for the conference, 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS. Here’s a look at the cover.
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On Saturday I’ll sign copies of NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T at the Charlesbridge booth from 11:00 – 12:00 then go to the Authors’ Luncheon from 12:30 – 2:15. I’m not speaking at that event but I’ll be at a sponsored table (Thanks Charlesbridge!) with free books for ticketed guests who join me for lunch. NOW YOU SEE THEM is one of NCTE’s picks this year for Notable Books of Poetry for Children. My next title with Charlesbridge, A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, won’t be out yet but promotional pieces will be available. The pub date is January 6.

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Writers at Work

Hi everyone,

Sandy Asher poses outside her Lancaster City Home. Photo:Shahan

Sandy Asher and I haven’t done anything together lately but you never know when something new will crop up and we’ll be off and running again. Over the years Sandy and I have worked on numerous projects ranging from programs to plays to books. I’m not the playwright; she is. But one of her plays, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, was inspired by my poems. And we wrote an unpublished book in verse together called JESSE AND GRACE that Sandy turned into a prize winning play. We co-edited a book for Dutton for boys 8-12 called DUDE, which was inspired by her own book for girls, ON HER WAY, GROWING UP GIRL. We’ve done TV together in a program designed to introduce good books to kids and more recently a series here on my blog called WRITERS AT WORK, and that’s what made me think of Sandy this morning.

We’re all writers at work. We have the same questions, worries, frustrations, uncertainties. It was Sandy’s idea some years ago to create a series of short essays about the nuts and bolts of writing. Nothing fancy. Just a way to connect with one another about those topics we share in common. If you’re lately come to this party and find the idea interesting, you can go to my categories list and find sixteen months of past episodes of WRITERS AT WORK. We haven’t done a new one lately but that doesn’t mean we won’t. You can also go to our blog site, http://usawrites4kids.blogspot.com , and see the entire collection where Sandy has collected it for anyone who’s interested.

There is much more to know about my friend. Play writing is hardly her only talent. She has a long list of successful books ranging from delightful picture books to YA novels and books about writing. You can start learning more about her here: http://sandyasher.com . She is one of our country’s most published and recognized authors of children’s plays but also works in adult theater with a long list of accolades. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Fenichel_Asher

Good way to end a week

BULLETIN: Happy Easter to those who celebrate this day. Happy Sunday to those who do not.

Hi everyone,

Sandy Asher poses outside her Lancaster City Home. Photo:Shahan


I heard from Sandy Asher yesterday with not one but two nice pieces of news. First, Sandy’s wonderful picture book, CHICKEN STORY TIME, has been nominated for the Kansas Reading Association’s 2018 Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award! Way to go Sandy! If you haven’t picked up a copy of her book, you need to pronto.

The second piece of good news is that SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, the play that Sandy wrote based on poems from my collected works (at the time), is about to be performed again, this time at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA on May 19. I’ve seen it performed more than once and love it each time. It opened with its world premier here in Springfield at the Vandevort Theatre in 2004. I don’t know how many times it has been performed. Maybe Sandy will remember. I believe it was also performed in Europe on one occasion. If I’m wrong about that, it makes a good story.

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!
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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.