Wednesday, December 31, 2008

POETICALLY SPEAKING: JOANIE WAS A HOUSE FIRE

I had one other great loss in my life, my twin sister. Since tomorrow is a day of new beginnings, today I give you one last original poem of farewell. This is the first poem in my YA novel-in-poems, TWIN SISTER: I AM NOT YOU.

JOANIE WAS A HOUSE FIRE

She started out weak. Quiet.

Nobody noticed as her smoke

slowly infiltrated first our shared room,

then my brother’s,

then my parents’,

until each one of us was choking.

When she reached the family room,

her sickening flame

sucked the oxygen out of our house.

We all survived, scarred.

Joanie self-extinguished.

© Jill Corcoran 2009


A number of people emailed, asking about Joanie and my relationship. Unfortunately, I was born healthy while Joanie was born with a myriad of illnesses, both physical and mental. This was before the days of special education inclusion and a general awareness and kindness towards special needs children. Joanie died when we were twenty-six.

WE CAME INTO THIS WORLD TOGETHER

I was perfect. You were broken.

I soared. You sank.

I lived. You died.

I wonder who you could have been I wonder who I could have been

If we had soared

Together.

© Jill Corcoran 2009


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

POETICALLY SPEAKING: DAD

I've been missing my father lately. He passed away 2 days before Christmas 12 years ago, suddenly. Surprisingly suddenly.

A few years ago I was teaching poetry in the classroom just before Father's Day. My hope was to teach these 3rd graders to stretch beyond the list poem of why they think their dad is great. I asked them to remember a specific activity or day they loved sharing with their dad and then tell their dad why that activity or day was special. I wanted the kids to give their fathers insight into their feelings. The students' poems where wonderful, a beautiful Father's Day gift.

As always, with any assignment I create, I wrote one too. What follows is my Father's Day poem told from my middle-grade pov.

Dad

I love when we sit

Just the two of us

Down in the den


TV off

Books down

Sipping tea with

Our day’s events.

Me, replaying scenes from my

Junior-high drama.

And you, offering advice from

Your barrister chair.
You, doling world events,

With answers and more questions.

And me, luring peace with my
Rock-the-World concert.


I love when we sit

Just the two of us

Down in the den.

© Jill Corcoran 2009

Friday, December 26, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS BY LIZ ROSENBERG


In our society of instant gratification, instant messaging and you-tube in your pocket, patience is hard to come by. In this business of writing and revising, critiquing and re-revising, submitting and w-a-i-t-i-n-g, patience is a learned behavior. 

In Liz Rosenberg's wonderful poem CHRISTMAS CACTUS, patience is gloriously rewarded.

THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS by Liz Rosenberg

All during the Christmas rush
I waited for the thing to come alive. 
Eyed it while I gift wrapped scarves,
withered it with scorn as I threw
the green and silver bundles under the tree.
By New Year's
I vowed to be happy
living with just stems.

Then one day in February-
the worst month of the year,
making up in misery what it lacks in length-
the blooms shot out, 
three ragged cerise bells that rang 
their tardy Hallelujahs on the sill.
Late bloomers,
like the girls that shine
and shine at long last 
at the spring dance
from their corner of the gym.

May your holidays be rich with the gift of patience and your 2009 be gloriously rewarding.

Click HERE to learn more about Liz Rosenberg.
Read today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS



Merry Christmas Everyone!


LA TIMES: E-BOOKS CATCH ON WITH CHILDREN

I knew adult and YA e-books were selling well but Dr. Suess? The computer reading picture books to my kids? Hmmm, cozy.

From today's LA Times:  "...the children's book market is especially ripe for the wonders of the digital world. 

Today's kids, after all, have grown up around technology and don't think twice about learning from computers and sleeping with their iPods. In some cases, watching a book on a computer might even make them enjoy reading more, publishers say.

Businesses are starting to focus on the children's market. Kidthing, a Los Angeles firm, makes the digital player that lets Skye read "Horton." Speakaboos, a New York company, offers children's classics that are read by actors as pages are displayed on the screen. Now publishers are rushing to put content online and create games, and in some cases, whole virtual worlds, about different books. 

For many, it's a way to generate revenue and shift to a format that in the long run isn't as expensive as print to produce. But it's also a recognition that children live in their own wired world, and that digital releases can goose print sales.....

...There's a huge opportunity for publishers to use the growth of mobile devices to encourage young customers," said Carolyn Pittis, senior vice president of global marketing strategy and operations at HarperCollins Publishers. Already, Random House offers books such as "Curious George" and "The Way We Work" on the iPhone.

The digital format adds something to tactile books, said Mary Ann Sabia, vice president and associate publisher of Charlesbridge Publishing Inc. It's more interactive and gives children different insights into the story and characters, she said. Charlesbridge now has digital books that sing rhymes to kids and books accompanied by digital learning games."

Monday, December 22, 2008

FACEBOOK-PLEASE COME ON OVER AND 'FRIEND' ME

I've joined Facebook. What a fun way to connect with old friends and make new friends. Please come on by and 'friend me' HERE.

My pupper picture on the left is my Facebook pic. I guess I'm suppose to use my mug but the pups are sooo much cuter, sitting there drooling for xmas gifts. World, meet Copper (the red fox lab) and Toby (the yellow lab).

Friday, December 19, 2008

HOLD FAST TO DREAMS


In these tough economic times coupled with frigid cold weather, I give you hope and warmth in poetry.....the great Langston Hughes.

DREAMS

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen in snow.

Learn more about Langston Hughes here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

WRITING DIALOGUE, REVISITED

Late last summer I wrote a post on Dialogue. I had just started my blog earlier that month, so when I asked the question: HOW DO YOU WRITE DIALOGUE? I received a handful of wonderful comments.

This is how I answered the question:
When writing dialogue, be the character. Don't edit as you write dialogue (plenty of time for that later), rather meditate yourself into the character's soul and let him/her talk. Don't judge what he/she is saying or if it 'fits the character, rather let your character ramble until you nail their way of talking, reacting, thinking. Your characters will write the dialogue for you. A couple days later you can edit, refine, make sure it fits what and who your characters are. Three or four revisions later, your dialogue will be as natural as if your characters were sitting next to you.
And this is how GOOD ENOUGH author Paula Yoo  answered: 
One thought on dialogue from my screenwriting experience that I use in novels - have the characters talk about anything other than what they REALLY want to talk about. That can lead to some great moments of subtext versus text - two sisters can be arguing over who does the dishes more and how it's not fair, and then in the fight, one of them drops the dish and it breaks... of course this conversation happens after dinner when their parents announce they're getting a divorce. That's just an obvious example, but that's something I hope to get people over their fear of dialogue - dialogue can be FUN! 
 THE NEW GIRL....AND ME author Jacqui Robbins wrote: 
I "get into character" like i did in my theater days. I put on character-appropriate music, find an appropriate place/chair, etc. Then I dive in. Sometimes I even speak aloud while I write (they love me at the library...).
In late October, fantasy and romance novelist C.E. Murphy taught a class on Dialog at the South Carolina Writers Workshop and shared her notes on Magical Words. Muphy's notes are a must read for all writers!

Today with a much larger readership, I ask once again... 

HOW DO YOU WRITE DIALOGUE?

Friday, December 12, 2008

SPEAKING OF POETS


Today I'm changing up my usual Poetry Friday: Poetry to Read Aloud to share the gift of other poets' thoughts on writing poetry for children and young adults.

In the fall of 1991, the Editorial Board of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) approved Jeffrey and Vicky Copeland's proposal for "a book that would explore the lives and works of poets writing today for children and young adults." From this proposal, the Coplands wrote two invaluable volumes of SPEAKING OF POETS: INTERVIEWS WITH POETS WHO WRITE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS.

In the first SPEAKING OF POETS (1993), Jeffery Copeland interviews: Arnold Adoff, Lilian Moore, Mel Glenn, Aileen Fisher, Karla Kuskin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Mary Ann Hoberman, Myra Cohn Livingston, Valerie Worth, Lee Bennett Hopkins, X. J. Kennedy, Gary Soto, Eloise Greenfield, Barbara Juster Esbensen, William Cole and Eve Merriam.



In SPEAKING OF POETS 2 (1994), Jeffery and Vicky Copeland interview J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Singer, Cynthia Rylant, Paul Fleichman, Brod Bagert, Lillian Morrison, Ashley Bryan, Jane Yolen, Luis J. Rodriguez, Deborah Chandra, Paul Janeczcko, Michael Spooner, Constance Levy, Nikki Giovanni, Patricia Hubbel, Victor Martinez, Lucille Clifton, Maxine Kumin, Judith Thurman and Nancy White Carlstrom.

Copeland writes: Poets who write for the young comprise a close-knit fraternity. Most were either friends with or at least have had occasion to meet with and share their views with each other. Also, as the interviews were conducted, it became obvious that they find great satisfaction in fostering and promoting each other's careers.

He concludes his 2nd volume's introduction by saying: And finally, after interviewing all the poets, one special message, one overall philosophy, seemed to echo in a chorus of their voices: The world is an exciting place, a place where all possibilities exist for all people It is a world populated by a true "family of humanity." It is a world of magic and joy. It is a world just waiting to be explored, and this exploration can begin right now--through poetry.

These are the books I turn to when I want inspiration, friendship, community. These books are a gift to all of us. Today with so many emerging voices in children's poetry, I hope the Copelands and the NCTE would consider publishing a third volume.

Copeland is right...children's poets are a tight-knit, generous, uplifting group, and I am proud and honored to be part of this loving community.

Both SPEAKING OF POETS volumes are out of print but you can buy them from NCTE, Powells and Amazon.

The poetry roundup is at Wild Rose Reader today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

PUBLISHING PROFESSIONALS' OPINIONS ON HOW TO RESPOND TO THE NEGATIVE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN OUR INDUSTRY

Just letting you all know that I have been updating my Dec. 4th KEEP WRITING post with more publishing professionals' opinions on how to respond to the negative economic situation in our industry. As I find more posts/interviews/etc. I will add them to KEEP WRITING.

I think a positive attitude is the only way to approach dire times. What's the alternative?

We are writers/illustrators/editors/agents. That's who we are and that's who we will continue to be. Right now the timing is, well.....not good. But with time, timing changes:)

And now I am off to write, revise and revise some more.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

PUBLISHERS ARE STILL BUYING BOOKS--I HAVE PROOF!

With all the terrible economic news hitting the publishing industry last week you'd think that publishers are not buying manuscripts, but think again. Publishers Lunch Weekly hit my inbox today with some pleasant news: sales of children's books. Plus, since the sales on Publishers Marketplace are limited to those deals that editors and agents choose to list, it is certain that there were more deals than just those listed below. So let's all savor and applaud the wonderful contracts signed in children's books last week. Please note, I have not included foreign rights sales and have left out the names of agents in case said agents would not appreciate a mid-December query slam:).

These are the children's sales listed on PM for just last week. Enjoy!

Children's: Fantasy
Erin Bow's PLAIN KATE to Arthur Levine at Arthur A. Levine Books, in a six-figure deal, at auction, in a two-book deal.

Alexandra Bracken's BRIGHTLY WOVEN to Regina Griffin at Egmont.

Children's: Middle grade
Gerry Swallow a.k.a. Dr. Kremlin Soup's A WHOLE NOTHER STORY and ANOTHER WHOLE NOTHER STORY, to Michelle Nagler at Bloomsbury.

Jessica Burkhart's CANTERWOOD CREST series books 5-8 to Kate Angelella at Aladdin, in a four-book deal.

Amber Benson's THE NEW NEWBRIDGE ACADEMY to Liesa Abrams at Aladdin Children's.

Children's: Picture book
Winner of the first ever Children's Choice Book Award for Frankie Stein, Lola Schaefer's FRANKIE STEIN STARTS SCHOOL, also illustrated by Kevan Atteberry to Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish.

Children's: Young Adult
Author of MISS MATCH and SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN Wendy Toliver's LIFTED,to Michael del Rosario at Simon Pulse.

Author of A Little Friendly Advice, Siobhan Vivian's PAST PERFECT to David Levithan at Scholastic, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal.

Louise Rennison's new series to Tara Weikum at Harper Children's.

LIFE IS FINE author Allison Whittenberg's TUTORED to Stephanie Elliott at Delacorte.

TWO-WAY STREET author Lauren Barnholdt's ACE'S UP: AND OTHER PERKS OF A FAKE ID  to Stephanie Elliott at Delacorte.

Terri Clark writing under the name Tess Clark's HOLLYWEIRD to Brian Farrey at Flux.

Swati Avasthi's GRAVEDIGGERS to Nancy Siscoe at Knopf, in a very nice deal, at auction, in a two-book deal.

Pearl North's LIBYRINTH to James Frenkel at Tor, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal.

Lee Nichols's DEATH KISSED MY FACE to Caroline Abbey at Bloomsbury Children's, in a very nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in spring 2010.

UK Children's
Rob Reger and co-writter Jessica Gruner's teen novels based on the cult character, Emily the Strange, to Lindsey Kelk at Harper UK Children's, in a four-book deal, for publication beginning in June 2009.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

KEEP WRITING!

Publishing, like all spectrums of the economy, is going through a painful transition. Yesterday's NY Times article made many of us aware of what might only be the beginning of this publishing shakeout.

While I would never stick my head in the sand and pollyanna my way through life, I believe that the economy is cyclical and some day, hopefully sooner than later, the economy will be on the upswing. In the meantime, if we all keep writing, drawing, painting, and creating we will have a wonderful arsenal of work that children will cherish.


12/3/08 Thank you Agent Colleen Lindsay for giving us a little history and telling us, "Don't Panic".

12/3/08 Thank you Author/Illustrator/Poet Douglas Florian for your wise words in yesterday's comments:

The demographics are down for the picture book crowd, and the publishers are tightening their belts, so I think authors and illustrators have to put in extra time and energy to create something truly original.

12/04/08 Thank you Agent Janet Reid for assuring us that The Sky Isn't Falling.

12/4/08 Thank you Agent Kristin Nelson for Let There Be Light and What's Hot.

12/4/08 Thank you to The Rejecter for telling us not to hold off on submissions if your work is polished and ready for publication.

12/5/08 Thank you Agent Jennifer Jackson for telling us Not to Slack Off Now.

Thank you Agent Rachelle Gardner for Responding to the Difficult Economy and offering not only your own opinion but asking 5 other wonderful agents their opinions on 12/8/08 and for More Wise Words from Agents. 12/11/08


12/11/08 Thank you Agent Holly Root for Sky Unfallen.

12/12/08 Thank you Agent Sarah Davies for Yes We Can.

12/15/08 Thank you Agent Assistant Tracy Marchini for Just Keep Swinging.

12/16/08 Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News tells us that library use is skyrocketing and the public expresses their need for libraries in this video clip.

12/20/08 Thank you Kristin Nelson for your positive outlook for 2009.
In her newsletter linked above, Kristin's says:
...Still, despite all the news, I just concluded a new deal for one of my authors just this week. I just sold a film option for a client whose book has been out for more than a year. I’m still excited to read sample pages–looking for a new author whose career I can launch.

Many editors have told me they are happy to receive submissions from me–in all the genres we represent. Books will still sell. It might take more time. It might be for less money. It might be after an editor-directed revision. But they will still sell.

24/7 Thank you Verla Kay for giving writers, illustrators, editors and agents a place to gather, share, commiserate and celebrate.

12/22/08 Thank you S&S CEO Caroly Reidy for her annual letter to her employees where she notes that S&S PUBLISHING IS FUNDAMENTALLY STRONG. As noted on PW, despite the difficult economy the company’s “publishing programs are fundamentally strong, [and] our operations run efficiently.” She pointed to a record number of bestsellers in the year, a number of award-winning titles and breakout years for several authors including Brad Thor and Kathy Reichs. Reidy also said S&S was successful in ramping up its digital efforts, noting that e-book sales nearly “quadrupled” in 2008 with its e-book library now at about 10,000 titles. The company also opened its digital studio in the year which will help feed new features to the S&S Web site, which will be relaunched in January. The site, Reidy said, will offer “visitors a multitude of new and exciting ways to find out about our books, stay connected to their favorite authors, share their enthusiasm with fellow readers, and remain engaged with our content before, during, and after reading our books.”

The development of the site is in keeping with S&S’s highest priority Reidy noted--finding ways to serve authors, reach readers and create new revenue streams. She said the uncertainty in the business and economy provides a chance to “take chances and embrace risk,” in order to drive S&S forward.

12/20/08 Thank you GalleyCat for keeping us writers in the know and reporting that S&S and Random House have quadrupled their digital sales of books. Sell books, sell!

12/31/08 Thank you Editor Alan Rinzler for your post, ARE PUBLISHERS STILL ACQUIRING BOOKS? THE ANSWER IS YES.

1/3/09 Thank you Anita Elberse for your Wall Street Journal article BLOCKBUSTER OR BUST: WHY STRUGGLING PUBLISHERS WILL KEEP PLACING OUTRAGEOUS BIDS ON NEW BOOKS.

1/6/09 Thank you Agent Rachelle Gardner for encouraging us, even in these tough economic times, in her post DON'T GIVE UP YOUR DREAM.

1/7/09 Thank you Little Brown Editor Alvina Ling for your glorious words of encouragement sent via the Highlights Foundation's Chautauqua 25th Anniversary Writer's Workshop Faculty Update. If this doesn't KEEP YOU WRITING, nothing will. Alvina writes:

"Some people have a ton of natural talent, and some not as much. But I honestly believe in the power of hard work and drive. I've certainly read my share of manuscripts that I felt were so far from publishable that I was tempted to tell the writer to give up. But I will never, ever, ever do that, partially because I just don't have the right to do that—this is such a subjective business—and writing that I might think is bad, another editor might really love. But also, I'll never ever tell anyone to give up because I've seen writers improve so dramatically through hard work, research, and honing their craft. We all have to start somewhere. Each thing you write is a stepping stone—a step closer to the finish line.

"As Julie Andrews said, 'Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth.' We've all heard the stories before. Dr. Seuss's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was said to have been rejected by 28 editors before finding a home at Random House. According to Internet sources, anywhere from 'several' to eight or twelve U.K. publishers turned down Harry Potter before Bloomsbury offered a contract. And Kate DiCamillo suffered through 470 rejection letters before Because of Winn-Dixie was published. What if any of these authors had stopped trying? If your goal is to be published, think of everything you do now as a step closer to your goal. If you write one book that doesn't seem to be working, move on to your next book—not every book you write will or should be published. Life is a journey, and so is your path to publication. Enjoy yourself along the way."

1/12/09 Thank you Publishers Weekly for reporting that Children's books proved to be one of the most recession-resistant segments of the book biz.

1/13/09 Thank you Harold Underdown for providing historic perspective and a review of current economic conditions in the publishing industry, and for your words "From turmoil comes opportunity" in your blog post Working in Children's Books and the Recession of 2008-2009.

1/23/09 Thank you Kristin Nelson for sharing what Hyperion is looking for right now--GIRLS MG!

2/11/09 Thank you FinePrint Literary Management Agent Colleen Lindsay for your positive words in these confusing times. The Swivet: Publishing and the Art of Patience.

Keep Writing! Keep Creating! Keep Dreaming!


*Modified to add*

I will be updating this post as I find more posts/interviews/etc.

Please see Editor Moonrat's November 6th post C[r]ash Flow (or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing) to understand what triggered the recent avalanche of bad news in our industry. Thank you Moonrat for assuring us that that this is not the "death of publishing" and for inspiring us to BUY BOOKS NOW!

As for me, I believe a positive attitude is the only way to approach dire times. What's the alternative?

We are writers/illustrators/editors/agents. That's who we are and that's who we will continue to be. Right now the timing is, well.....not good. But with time, timing changes:)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MORE TIPS FOR WRITING PICTURE BOOKS

Today I wanted to bring together 4 wonderful posts for Picture Book Writers and Illustrators:





The children's book biz may be facing a slow down but the generosity of chidren's book editors, agents, writers, and illustrators seems to know no bounds. 

FOR MORE FANTASTIC WRITING TIPS CLICK HERE.

Also, please see the comments for picture book writer extraordinaire Tammi Sauer's writing tips titled: Want the KEY to Publising Picture Books in Today's Tough Market?

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