Category Archives: Anna Boll

Anna Boll: F.A.R.T’s and Palm Reading

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.com/2012/10/17/f-a-r-ts-and-palm-reading/
October 17, 2012 at 03:24PM

Writers and artists often struggle in isolation. They face self-doubt and fear at their easels and desks. Sometimes the celebrations can be lonely too. That’s why friends who make art, and write must stick together. If you need a reminder of this fact, simply consider the acronym F.A.R.T.

Friends
Art
wRite
Together

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, just like the noxious fumes that emanate from one’s tuchas, true writing and art friends are hard to get away from. Sometimes they announce themselves loudly with a knock on the door, sometimes it is just the gentle “bing” of the Google chat notification. Even if they seem to disappear for a while, they come back stinkier stronger than ever. They release tension, bring humor, and when your insides are twisted in knots over your current WIP– they make your tummy feel better.

Today I met with the incredibly energetic and optimistic Julie Kingsley. (the very same person who nominated me for the Lovely Blog award.) Julie and I share many talents: we both write, we both teach, we both parent. But the one thing that Julie can do that I can’t–  she can read palms. Perhaps it was her past life as a gypsy wanderer, or a paranormal gift with which she was born but the woman can tell the future.

Okay. Maybe she can tell the future and maybe she can’t.

What a friend can do is look in your eyes and tell you the truth. She can see the positive when your rose colored glasses are foggy. She can wipe the glasses off for you, point you in the right direction and give you a swift kick in the tuchas.

Hopefully, when she does, you don’t fart.

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Anna Boll: Attention “Minority” Authors and Illustrators: Approaching Deadlines for Awards/Grants

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.com/2012/10/12/attention-minority-authors-and-illustrators-approaching-deadlines-for-awardsgrants/
October 12, 2012 at 11:27AM

Two big deadlines are coming up for kidlit authors and illustrators of color.

One, the New Visions Writer’s Award from Lee & Low Publishing.

The NEW VISIONS AWARD will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500.

Submissions are due October 31st. Click for details. 

The second, is the new SCBWI On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award.

The grant was created to foster the emergence of diverse voices in children’s books. The grant will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America.

Two writers or writer/illustrators will each receive an all-expenses paid trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York to meet with editors and agents, a press release to publishers, a year of free membership to SCBWI, and an SCBWI mentor for a year.

Submissions are due November 15th.  Click for details.

Please share freely and encourage those who are eligible to submit!

Anna Boll: SCBWI NYC Registration Oct. 19th

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.com/2012/10/11/scbwi-nyc-registration-oct-19th/
October 11, 2012 at 02:42PM

Registration for the SCBWI New York winter conference opens October 19 at 10am PDT. It is an amazing line up of keynotes, breakout faculty of editors and art directors and intensives. Get a sneak peek at www.scbwi.org.

Anna Boll: Five on Friday: Happy 5773 Edition

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.com/2012/10/05/five-on-friday-happy-5773-edition/
October 05, 2012 at 12:16PM

If you missed it, last Wednesday marked the Jewish New Year. Civil, religious, or cultural, the new year gives us a chance to right our wrongs, wipe the slate clean, set goals, and get to work. Some of us need that more than others and therefore, I invite everyone to participate and take advantage of all new year celebrations.

For me, the holiday is not about sin but about what I can do to move the world (or my little piece of it) towards peace, good health, and prosperity through good-work and kindness. I see it as sort of a sliding continuum with goodness at one side and discord at the other. At the end of the day I can look back and see what things made the sliding marker move towards one end of the continuum or the other. I can make an effort to live in a way that skews towards goodness and helpfulness.

1. I’ve found this year to be especially challenging. As of this writing my husband has been away from home for a year. We expect him back from his Navy deployment in February. This week, a single-parent friend of mine told me, “What you’re doing feels hard because it is hard.” It is. I yell at my kids when they are not to blame. The house is often a wreck even though I feel that I should be able to manage it. Long distance relationships are wicked hard. Take everything that is difficult in your own marriage or relationship and then add 6,000 miles to it. Yeah. Not easy. Still, positive thinking– skewing towards goodness– is a good goal.

2. The summer found me submitting my YA manuscript to five agents. I was pleased to get notes from each of them with helpful feedback. I wish the notes had been “Yes, and…” notes instead of “No, but…” notes, but there are still some open doors there and many more waiting for me to knock. I am using the feedback in another round of revisions and hope to have the manuscript back out and about by November 1. (Public announcement of goal. *check*) This paragraph makes me sound like robot writer– get notes, make revisions, send it out again. However, the late summer and fall were emotional and filled with self-doubt. Of course, my current life situation was a factor. (see #1) I sat down a couple of times to write a big post about self-doubt and fear in art but just couldn’t do it–couldn’t bare my soul.

3. Because of #1 and #2, I found myself looking for “real jobs” again. I applied to a couple right away, got interviews and didn’t make the final cut. I subscribe to the everything-happens-for-a-reason theory and believe that right now writing and taking care of my family need to come first. I’m still looking (searching “Event Planning, Teaching, Writing, Public Relations” in all possible job search engines) but hope to find something that starts more towards January of next year.

4. I am not idle. On Saturday, the 2nd annual Children’s Book Illustration Symposium took place at New Hampshire Institute of Art. As the main event organizer, I’ve been knee deep in those preparations for a good six-eight months. The event was a huge success. We had about 60 participants, wonderful presenters, and new this year– portfolio reviews. Evals are still coming in but generally, the symposium faculty and attendants were all pleased.

5. Friends and family have been so important recently. I’ve found amazing support from friends in my town who have taken my kiddos for overnights, or invited us to dinner. My bookclub and writer’s groups have been irreplaceable. Mom and sister know that they might have to initiate the contact but that I’m so grateful to get the call.

For those of you who enjoy a capella, here is a parting song.



Anna Boll: That’s One Lovely Blog You’ve Got There!

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/thats-one-lovely-blog-youve-got-there/
October 02, 2012 at 03:45PM

A huge thank you to Julie Kingsley for the “One Lovely Blog” award. The award is sort of the equivalent of the old chain letter (add a few names and send it on) but better because there is no envelope licking involved, and it’s a wee bit of recognition.

Yes, I do take time from my writing, children, and domestic goddess (not) duties to share a bit of myself, my reading, my writing life, and industry news with the rest of the world. I throw my writing into cyberspace and listen to the deafening silence. So I’m happy to pay it forward and possibly introduce you to some other bloggers who post a good blog.

First, according to the rules, I need to tell you seven random facts about me.

1. I love dancing, although I don’t do it much these days. I took dance for years, and was in an Afro-Caribbean dance troupe in college. I’m also often the first one on the dance floor.
2. I was in musicals throughout my teen life both in summer camp and in Junior High School and still sing “Tomorrow” loudly from time to time, if only to embarrass my own adolescent children.
3. I’m sort of evangelical about voting. There are people who died for my right to vote and folks all over the world who don’t get that right. Every American should honor those people by casting a ballot.
4. I row in boats that look like this:

(Top: I think that’s me in bow seat. Bottom: I’m coxing.)

and I’m learning to row in a boat like this:

(My coach sculling.)

and I love the beauty and strength and insanity of the sport. My current WIP is about a high school crew.

5. I’ve been dealing with Patella Tendonosis for the last 12 or so weeks which means that I’ve done no running, or biking, and only recently started rowing again (just as the water is turning cold) and that bums me out. Still, I have my eye on the weather prophets who say that  we might get a snowy winter. So if I can heal, I could xcountry ski and that would make me happy.

6. My guilty TV pleasure is Project Runway. I think the design and crafting skills required to participate makes it one notch better than most reality shows.

7. If I had one wish, I would read faster and retain more of what I read. (Is that two?)

And for the second half of the One Lovely Blog award requirements, I am happy to tell you about some of the blogs that suck away my writing time keep me in the know.

(Pub)lishing Crawl: Great place for craft discussion, writer’s life and industry info.

Writing With A Broken Tusk: Blog of Uma Krishnaswami, faculty member of VCFA Writing for Children and Young Adults Program, kind and peaceful soul, and massively intelligent person.

Mitali’s Fire Escape: Mitali Perkins writes about Children’s Book, diversity issues, the industry, and goings-on around Boston.

KidLit.com: Ah… Mary Kole. This agent and fun loving industry professional does not mince words. Amazing archive of information for those new to the children’s publishing industry and those not so new.

The Brown Bookshelf: I firmly believe that all children should be able to see themselves in the books we publish. This site brings “the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers” to our attention.

PhotoBoto.com: This site posts photographs that are great for story starters, illustration reference, or just to be amazed.

Write at Your Own Risk: Shop talk with the faculty of the VERMONT COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Yes, I’m ridiculously loyal to VCFA.

Thanks again to Julie Kingsley. Now all of you, get off the internet and do some work!

 

Anna Boll: Book Review Wednesday: Talk Like A Pirate Day

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/book-review-wednesday-talk-like-a-pirate-day/
September 19, 2012 at 10:17AM

Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day. Don’t ask me why ye’ landlubbers, but I’m right excited like there be a jellyfish in my gut, or like I’ve tapped a few too many casks of rum. So I’m floating out this message in a bottle about some fine books that I’ve been eyein’ for me next journey on the high seas.

There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fish, Jennifer Ward, Ill. Steve Gray

Fish swallowing pirates be a regular happening– but in this book, the bloke does some other inspired eating. If yer anklebiters like to caterwaul about old women eatin’ flies, they’ll probably put their mark on this book too. Launches today!

There was an old pirate . . . who swallowed a fish, a bird, a map, some gold, and even a whole pirate ship! Will the Old Pirate sink to the bottom of the deep, dark sea? Yo ho ho! Watch his belly grow! Jennifer Ward’s take on the ?Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly? song is perfectly matched with Steve Gray’s zany digital illustrations

.

The High Sky Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, Penned entirely by the hand of Scott Nash

The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay The Pirate is an illustrated novel that sets sail on Sept 29th. Capn’ Scott Nash will launch the adventure at Longfellow Books in me favorite city of ships Portland, Maine on October 5th at 7pm. Even a scallywag like me knows not to grab illustrations without asking (unless it’s a bonafide cover) so I’ll send you over to Capn’ Nash’s amazing website to look at the ships, weapons and characters of the adventure.

The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay The Pirate, is the first book ever written about one of the most notorious and admired characters in Avian (bird) history. Blue Jay was, on one wing, the most famous and infamous in the land and skies, terrorizing merchant ships that sailed the tradewinds across the Colonies. He and his crew plucked incalculable amounts of goods and treasure out of the sky and, as you will learn from this book, from below ground. On the other wing, through his actions Blue Jay unwittingly became the spiritual leader of a revolution that changed the course of history.

At it’s core, the story of Blue Jay is one of intrigue, mystery and adventure, a seafaring yarn turned on it’ head by tossing a flock of winged sailors in the air, where they swoop and soar in search of treasure and adventure.

Aye’ there be one more pirate tale that sets my toes to itching like they do when I’ve just come back from a long journey at sea and no washin’. That book is Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson. Aye. It’s still in the dry docks but a beauty she is my friends, a beauty she is. She launches in 2013. Keep yer knickers on for now and and ye better be watching this space for more. Until then, Capn’ Caroline and a friend o’mine’ll be teachin’ ye the art of making hardtack for yer next journey on the high seas.

Shiver me timbers it’s time to shove off.

Anna Boll: Member Monday: NESCBWI Fall Events!

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/member-monday-nescbwi-fall-events/
September 04, 2012 at 12:59PM

The RA’s in New England have not been idle during the summer months. No… after the spring conference we all hunker down and keep planning events for you. Three events are on the docket in the next few months!

2nd Annual Children’s Book Illustration Symposium

The Illustration Symposium takes place on Saturday, September 29th from 9:30 to 4:30 and includes a snack and lunch. The event is a presentation of SCBWI in Northern New England (contact Northern RA, Anna Boll) and New Hampshire Institute of Art. Last year this event was “Illustrator Day,” but with its fancy title comes some extra bells and whistles. In addition to a keynote speech by Melissa Sweet, and an encore presentation of highly evaluated illustration workshops from our spring conference (from Anne Sibley O’Brien and Brian Lies), we’ve added in an exciting panel discussion about book production of Melissa Sweet’s ALA Sibert winning book Balloons Over Broadway. A designer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the Art Director from Candlewick Press are also available for portfolio critiques. Book sale by Toadstool Books. Sign up today!

Overcoming Challenges: A Program for Writers and Illustrators

On Saturday, October 6, 2012, from 10:00 to 3:30, at the Eric Carle Museum in Western Massachusetts (contact PAL Coordinator, Melissa Stewart) four authors and author-illustrators will participate in a two-part program that addresses the challenges we all face as writers and illustrators of children’s book. A book sale and signing will round out the day.

Encore! 2012

On Saturday October 20, SCBWI in Southern New England (contact Southern RA, Sally Riley) will host ENCORE! 2012, a day with four writing workshops by faculty who received high evaluations at our spring conference. For this event, NE-SCBWI teams with the Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature (ASTAL) at Rhode Island College in Providence. The registration fee of $50 includes a continental breakfast and hot buffet lunch.

Whether you are a writer or illustrator living in northern or southern New England or in between, please take advantage of the amazing professional development opportunities provided by NESCBWI.

Anna Boll: Children’s Book Illustration Symposium Poster!

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/childrens-book-illustration-symposium-poster/
August 31, 2012 at 10:31AM

Click through for registration, workshop description, portfolio critique information, schedule, and faculty bios!

A huge thank you to the design department at NHIA for this beautiful poster. Special thanks to Melissa Sweet for the images, Jim Burke, Illustration Department Chair, Ryan O’Rourke, and Lara McCormick.

Feel free to spread the word and the image. Tweet away!

Anna Boll: Registration opens today for NESCBWI/NHIA Children’s Book Illustration Symposium

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/registration-opens-today-for-nescbwinhia-childrens-book-illustration-symposium/
August 27, 2012 at 10:06AM

Note: This event used to be called “Illustrator Day.” SCBWI members you have dibs on registration for this event for a week. Also, this is my first time working with PayPal on a Google form so if anyone chooses those links for payment, could you leave me a comment telling me that it worked and sent you back to the form or (eek) didn’t.

NESCBWI and NHIA present
Melissa Sweet in
The 2nd annual Children’s Book Illustration Symposium

When: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Time: 9:30-4:30
Where: Emma Blood French Auditorium (The French Building) on the New Hampshire Institute of Art campus in Manchester, NH.

Keynote speaker: Melissa Sweet

The workshops:

“The Process, Challenges, and Rewards of Teamwork.”
Melissa Sweet, Author/Illustrator, Rachel Newborn, HMH Designer, Crystal Paquette, HMH Print Production Coordinator will discuss the teamwork required to publish the ALA Sibert Winning book Balloons Over Broadway. The panel will focus on the processes, challenges, and rewards of working with/and integrating two and three dimensional art.

“Color Your World”
As poet Lucille Clifton said, “The literature of America should reflect the children of America.” But in the 21st century, the children’s book field is not nearly as racially diverse as our society – neither in those who select, create and produce the books, nor in the books themselves. We’ll review some of the reasons for this reality, including some good news: research demonstrating that exposure to diverse children’s books can actually reduce prejudice. For the bulk of the workshop, Anne Sibley O’Brein will focus on what illustrators can do now, including exploring your own experience of race, creating characters from races different from your own, drawing racial differences (we’ll do some quick drawing exercises), supporting writers and illustrators of color, and choosing diverse books. Together we’ll imagine possibilities for creating books in which all of our nation’s children can see themselves reflected.

“How to Sell Your Book Without Selling Your Soul”
Brian Lies has had his books read on NPR, his Batmobile spotted at book signings across America, and his artwork used for public library summer reading programs. In this workshop, Brian will give you concrete marketing tools to become the best advocate for your book.

Portfolio Critiques:

We are introducing a limited number portfolio critiques at this year’s event. Critiquers (starred in the presenter list below) will be randomly assigned by the conference staff. Critiquers will use the SCBWI Illustration “gold form” to give feedback. Since the critiquer will not have the work before the symposium, we have asked them to give their first impressions regarding the areas on the “gold form” in a way they might if they were at the office, got a postcard that interested them, and took a first look at your online portfolio. The critique fee of $45 is not included in the symposium fee.

Registration Fees/Dates:

SCBWI Members, $70
Portfolio Critique, $45
SCBWI Registration opens Monday, August 27th. There are limited spaces available for portfolio critiques. Please register/pay early.
Payments may be made by check or online.

If you choose to pay by check, your registration is not confirmed until we receive your check. Checks should be made payable to: NESCBWI Checks should be sent to:

Denise Ortakales, Illustrator Coordinator
711 Shore Drive, Laconia, NH 03246
Those who choose to pay online will incur a $5 processing fee.

Click here for registration and payment, speaker bios, and a schedule of events.

Anna Boll: Member Monday: Old news or news to you?

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/member-monday-old-news/
August 20, 2012 at 07:28AM

I’m just back from a two-week research/family trip to Italy where I visited Florence and small red-roofed, hill topped towns in Tuscany. I’ll be posting more about that later this week, but first I’m passing on some of the news, blogs and articles that I missed while I was away. Perhaps these are just old news, but perhaps you missed some of these too. Hope they are helpful.

Most important on my list is this announcement from SCBWI. The On-the-verge Emerging Voices Award. I’ve been sitting on this since before my trip, itching to tell you all about this news and then they go and announce it at the LA SCBWI National Conference. Follow the link above for the full press release but here is a quick snippet.

The annual award, established by SCBWI and funded by Martin and Sue Schmitt, will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children. The purpose of the grant is to inspire and further the emergence of diverse writers and illustrators of children’s books.

Here is the link for the grant eligibility, process, and deadline. 

This issue is close to my heart. I hope that writing programs across the country, most notably VCFA, my alma mater,  and Hamlin College– and publishing programs, NYU and others will stand up and take notice. Action can be taken to increase diversity in publishing. Here are some thoughts from the CBC Diversty blog from those in the industry.

Here is a wonderful post from Laurie Halse Anderson that discusses the lack of diversity on the recently released NPR YA list.  Happy & Sad about the NPR Top 100 YA List In her post she also posts the following links which are important enough for me to list them again here:

On NPR’s Very White Best Young Adult Books List, by Shaker Laurie.
Reading in Color’s Booklists

And… one of my favorite sites The Brown Bookshelf.

(The link for the NPR Top 100 YA List is here if you haven’t seen it.)

In other old news:

Women On The Rise Among The World’s Top-Earning Authors This is an interesting article on celebrity authors but I’m not exactly sure what it says for the rest of us. The article celebrates that there are now six women on the list at all. Perhaps I’m a glass half empty person, (No, I’m not.) but what I see here is a continuation of women earning 78% of what men earn. Even if you go from the Stephen King’s $39 million (instead of James Patterson’s $94 million) 78% of that is about $30 mill. That- and below- is where we find the women.Of course, once you get into the millions of dollars, this may matter less but it is still true. For more on gender and writing see my post here or take a look at VIDA- Women in the Literary Art’s annual count for 2012. 

Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing Okay. I need a while to both read and process something like this but if you are interested in the economics of the publishing industry and are concerned/interested in the changes in traditional vs. digital, this is the article for you.

That’s it for today, friends. Read, write, draw and do at least one of those outside. Two weeks and counting until kids go back to school in the home of Creative Chaos.

Anna Boll: Fantastic Friday!

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/fantastic-friday/
August 03, 2012 at 10:29AM

Arrivederci!

I’m off to Italy. Creative Chaos will return in late August. In honor of the Olympics, a poem from the Poetry Foundation archives.

BY VICKI HEARNE

The sudden thuck of landing
The arrow made in the mark
Of the center lifted and
Loosened his skin. And so he
Stood, hearing it like many
Thrusting breaths driven to ground.
He abandoned the long light
Flight of arrows and the slow
Parabolas bows dream of
For the swifter song beyond
Flesh. Song of moments. The earth
Turned its molten balance.
He stood hearing it again:
The precise shudder the arrow
Sought and returned to, flaming.

Vicki Hearne, “The Archer” from Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2007 by Vicki Hearne.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems (The University of Chicago Press, 2007)

Anna Boll: Member Monday: Getting the most from Social Media

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/member-monday-getting-the-most-from-twitter/
July 30, 2012 at 10:56PM

This weekend I had lunch with some wonderful, experienced NESCBWI writers and illustrators who are, like many in the industry, a little overwhelmed and perplexed by social media. They wonder if they have to do everything– Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Goodreads… They want to know how they are supposed to have time to still do their work if they are busy posting status updates and being cyber-social with everyone on their list. They want to know what their ROI (Return on Investment) will be once they take the time to learn and then use social media platforms.

I’m not a social media expert but here’s what I’ve gleaned from listening to editors, agents, and other writers/illustrators about the subject:

  1. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
    Social media is at its cyber-heart– social. Whatever platform you adopt should be one that you enjoy and that you will do regularly. If you don’t want to put the time into blogging– don’t blog.  If you don’t enjoy perusing Facebook updates or following others on Twitter, your friends and followers will know. Take some time to be familiar with the various sites out there and make an informed decision. This is one of my favorite explanations:

    Social Media Explained From Geek.com

  2. Once you decide on a social media site, take the time to learn about it. Watch a few tutorial videos, read a few blogs so that you can maximize the time you waste put into it in the future. Most of these sites have ways to make groups so that you can view your close friends, your writer/illustrator friends, and industry professionals separately. Learn how to search for keywords that are important to what you do. There are a bunch of “Third-Party Applications” that you can use to follow more than one social media site at a time. I’m currently using one called Tweetdeck but I hear that Hootsuite is good too. I’ve included a few links here to other blogs that review/discuss these and more. This one has an interesting graph that shows the variety of apps out there: THIRD-PARTY TWITTER APPS STILL THRIVING This one is a review post: 8 of the Best Third-Party Twitter Apps for iOS [App List]
  3. What goes around, comes around. Even if you are doing this to expand your marketing platform, no one will follow/friend you if all you do is toot your own horn. Pass on industry info, help launch other people– in general, be a good neighbor in the kidlitosphere. No one really knows what the ROI is. Does social media really sell books? Maybe not. One thing marketing professionals agree on is that word of mouth is very powerful. I can tell you that if I follow a link to your book and I’m interested, it goes on my Goodreads list which I pull up on my phone every time I go to the library or  bookstore. That’s social media in action.
  4. Set some limits for yourself. You can set time limits. (ex: I will look at Twitter for 15 minutes three times a day.) Or day limits. (ex: I will make Monday and Friday mornings my marketing time.) Or carrot limits. (ex: If I write 1500 words today/ finish the color study on this spread, I will go online.) If you don’t have this kind of self-control, there are productivity programs that you can set to block your own internet. Freedom. Or you can literally unplug your router. Remember, if you don’t DO THE WORK: write, read, draw, paint, focus on craft– there will be nothing to market.
  5. The party goes on without you. I distinctly remember when my parents would have parties (I was about five years old) and I wouldn’t really want to go to bed. I’d sit on the stairs and watch them talk until I got so tired I’d fall asleep on the landing. At some point, Dad would take me up to my bed, but the party went on. In the social media party, you will always miss something. Make your peace with it. Look at whatever is on your screen at the time, set your limits and then move on with your life. Cyber space is vast. Don’t fall into a black hole.


Anna Boll: Poetry Friday: Keep surfing, no poetry here folks..

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/poetry-friday-keep-surfing-no-poetry-here-folks/
July 27, 2012 at 03:30PM

I’ve mentioned
my YA manuscript.
It’s out
and about:
lunching with agents,
riding beside them
on the train.
There has been one decline.

The kindest,
most gracious letter
I’ve ever seen.
It even has a posticom.
Casing, jamb and hinges
constructed from
letters
words
sentences.
A secret reentry door.
A FASTPASS™ at Disney World.
For free!
But nothing is free.
To open the door
I’ll need to find my re-vision glasses
checking all the places
I’ve already looked
bed-side
by the tv
under the papers by the computer
until I realize they have been
perched atop my head
from the very beginning.

I hope
the other wonderful women
(agents all)
are enjoying their summer
and their children
(fur or otherwise).
They should be flying kites
dipping their toes in cool mountain lakes,
getting sand in their swimsuits
after chilling in salty seas.

Truly.

It is summer.

I am busy too.
Packing for Italy
where I will research a book.
An idea that floats
and anchors
and floats again
in the grey matter
behind my eyes.

In Florence
there will be art
and architecture.
In Tuscany
bikes rides,
and wine with my husband
(In the flesh.
First time
since January).

In September
sunny summer days
fade fast.
We gear up for school
syllabi,
and supplies,
and deadlines,
and then,
maybe then

The agents will
breathe deep
open overflowing files
and read.

All in good time.
Click for the Poetry Friday Round-up

Anna Boll: Book Review Wednesday: Middle Grade Reading Round-up

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/book-review-wednesday-middle-grade-reading-round-up/
July 25, 2012 at 09:00AM

It is very possible that these books will not be new to you. Many of them were published last year or before and have already been nominated and listed. Still, these wonderful books finally made it out of my to-be-read pile and are officially read and returned to the library (and other trusting book-loving souls out there.) I found it interesting that each had a bully character. If you’ve read the books, I’d love to discuss how authors portray bullies and how we can make them multi-faceted. I think that the omniscient narrator in TRUE was especially effective for this.


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Jeremy has a problem. A big problem. An I-messed-up-my-dad’s-beloved-boat problem. He’s ready to make it right but is going to need a bunch of cash to do the job. Enter– the Windjammer Whirl. A contest to build and race a model boat with $500 to the winner.  New problem? Only Cupcake Cadets (similar to Girl scouts) can enter the race. Jeremy and his good friend Slatter don their skirted uniforms and wigs and hilarity ensues.  Eric Luper does a great job making the book light and readable but injects enough heart and growth for the characters so that the story comes off as more than fluff. If your kiddo liked the Fudge books by Judy Blume, they’ll love this novel. This book is a Maine State Student Book Award nominee.


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Ella and her best friend Z share a fantasy world of knights, princesses and chivalry. Thing is, Ella knows it’s just pretend, but Z seems to want to stay there all the time. Ella understands this. A fantasy world is often easier than the one that Z inhabits. Ella protects Z at the same time she deals with her own difficulties: the death of her father, being biracial in an all-white school, and a skin condition that leaves her with patches of dark and light skin.  When a new kid, another Black kid, comes to school he widens her world. Ella grows through the decisions she makes about friendship, popularity, and responsibility. Kekla Magoon writes beautiful, honest characters. This book is a Maine State Book Award Nominee.


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Katherine Hannigan has a knack for pairing wonderful, plucky heroines with quiet small town worlds to end up with more adventure than you may have originally guessed. I don’t want to give too much away with this one. Delly, the main character has been bad, bad, bad news for as long as anyone can remember. With the help of her little brother, and a new friend, Delly turns around the bad so that everyone (not just the reader) can see her inner goodness. Delly is just the kind of friend we all hope to have. The engaging narrative pulled me along, with threads woven from three or four different subplots. I didn’t want to leave the book at the end. While the ending was realistic, it may come across to some readers as didactic. However, there are some problems that kids just can’t solve on their own.


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I’m not sure how one book can have so much humor and pain in the same story but Gary D. Schmidt managed it in OKAY FOR NOW. When agents and editors say that they are looking for a unique and honest character voice, this is what they are talking about. With the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Doug moves to a new town with everything working against him and he manages to rise above his circumstances. I know. I haven’t told you much but I don’t want to print any spoilers. For a better synopsis, an excerpt and a reading by the author (don’t listen if you don’t want a spoiler) check out this page: National Book Award Finalist.  I did have issues with the father’s and Lil’s plot lines, but who am I to criticize Gary D. Schmidt? I’d recommend this for kids 13 an up, but I feel very strongly that kids will self-select material with which they feel comfortable and put down books for which they aren’t ready.

Next week– angsty YA audiobooks…

Anna Boll: Member Monday: The importance of the nap…

From: annajboll
http://annajboll.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/member-monday-the-importance-of-the-nap/
July 23, 2012 at 10:58AM

Sleep. Many Americans get too little of it and use sugar and caffeine to keep going during the day. Just look at the proliferation of caffeinated products including gels, liquid shots, pumped-up water, and on the horizon- caffeine you can inhale.

Sadly, what people really need is just more sleep. The deep stage of NREM2 sleep allows your brain waves to slow, NREM3 allows your endocrine system to release growth hormones, deeper REM sleep consolidates memories and ingrains skills, and solves problems that you were exposed to before sleep.

I’m a huge fan of the nap. When my husband is around, I feel guilty about napping (he has a work ethic that won’t quit). On my own, I’ve found that I really need naps to handle the daily grind and to increase my creativity. If I’ve hit a problem in my manuscript, or I’m incubating on an issue in revision, I will often wake with a new insight or at least renewed energy to see the problem differently and reengage. Twenty minutes is good for a power nap but it is the 90 min to 120 min nap that allows us to visit those deeper REM stages of sleep. Napping also can give you more energy to exercise which in turn produces neurochemicals that affect mood.

Happy napping!

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