December 2012 Archives

Patience Required

Publication is a slow process. Even magazine publications can take a long time. Years ago I sold a piece to Highlights and it took three years before it was published. But it appeared in their 50th anniversary addition so that made the wait worthwhile. (Fortunately, they pay on acceptance.)

Work-for-hire is often quicker, but still not immediate. This past week I got two of the three books I wrote for Unibooks (Korea) in late 2011. We finished rewrites in early 2012. Published under the Tuntun label which produces books to teach Korean children English, these books are written by native English speakers. I'm very pleased with how my books, both retellings of Aesop fables, turned out. Each cover has some special effects of shiny texture. (I'm sure there is some correct technical word, but I don't know it.)

BellingTheCat-sm.jpgBELLING THE CAT was illustrated by Kwak Jinyoung. Jinyoung did a great job. The mice crack me up. The cat is nice and wicked (from a mouse's point of view). There are two fold out pages and one fold up page, which was a fun surprise. I also like how she did some lettering as if it was cut out fabric.BellingTheCat-inside-sm.jpg

FoxAndCrane-sm.jpgTHE FOX AND THE CRANE was illustrated by Son Junghyun. Junghyun put in lots of details that mean kids could spend a long time reading and rereading before they notice them all. I especially like the image of Fox pulling a trick on Rabbit. Look at the sidewalk and trees in this image. FoxAndCrane-inside-sm.jpg

I worked with two editors on these books and we did a number of revisions. I worked with a different editor on a third book, MY SHADOW, that is to come out next month.

Some of my friends wrote books for Tuntun also and got their copies recently, too:
Jo S. Kittinger: I JUMP UP, I COME BACK DOWN (about gravity) and THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF. Read about Jo on her website.

Monica Harris: SASHA'S SENSES, SOPHIE & GYURI'S FUN DAY - review 2, SOPHIE & GYURI'S FUN DAY - review 3. Monica lost her webmaster so plans to focus on updating her site in 2013.

Another friend, like me, is waiting for further copies. Genny Heikka will be getting A TRIP TO THE SUPERMARKET soon. On her site you can see she's done a lot of books for this company.

Discipline provides the canvas.

Discipline provides the canvas. Inspiration is the paint. You create the art.
Laurie Halse Anderson

Creating stories is our

Creating stories is our journey and our joy. Go forth laughing and disturb the universe.
Laurie Halse Anderson

Eye-opening Historical - Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

jepp-250.jpgJepp, Who Defied the Stars (Hyperion, 2012) by Katherine Marsh was eye-opening for me. I had no idea that dwarfs were treated so badly.

Jepp, who has always lived with his mother at their inn, has been offered a chance to go to Coudenberg Palace. He takes it and then finds he is to be humiliated to serve as entertainment for the Spanish Infanta and her royal court. He and the other dwarfs are held prisoner and live at the whims of those around them. However, this intelligent young man doesn't resignedly accept his fate.

The story was inspired by real characters in history and the author's mother's interest in astrology. Read more here.

I encourage anyone who starts reading this book and finds the formality of the writing a bit off-putting to push through--soon you'll not notice it at all as you become engrossed in the story.

Amazing Story - Wonder

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

wonder.jpgWonder (Random House, 2012) by R.J. Palacio is a wonder of a book. It's about ten-year-old Auggie Pullman who has a facial deformity, who himself says "Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." Due to all his surgeries he's never gone to school before, but now in fifth grade is going to go. He knows kids will stare. But what he wishes they knew was how ordinary he is inside. Takes one brave kid to face being the new kid in these circumstances.

The story begins with Auggie's viewpoint, but we also hear from his older sister Via and others in his life. The book has rightfully earned a lot of starred reviews and is so appropriate for our times. May all the kids who read it have compassion on those who are different.

I love this comment the author makes about the book in an interview: "... I love that people are responding so well. I love that they're getting that this really isn't just a book about a kid with a facial anomaly: it's a celebration of kindness. The impact of kindness. I think that's why people are so moved by parts of the book. We like to see people doing good, rising beyond our expectations to do something noble. It's not the big heroic gestures but the small moments of kindness that shape the world." Read more here.

I'm a Work-in-Progress

My life has been crazy recently. We bought a new house, painted almost every room, did other repairs, packed, moved out of the rental and into the new house, cleaned the rental, and unpacked. (Not that we're done!) A new house always requires some "editing." That's not in the right place; that doesn't fit well. Sometimes it needs additions: a shelf here, some hooks there. Other items are removed. There are adjustments. It's a Work-in-Progress with still more unpacking, fixing and painting to do.

My writing, of course, is affected by my life. When things get so busy, less writing gets done. Current projects get put on hold. Blogging definitely goes by the wayside. Unfortunately, I get out of the habit of writing. But not like many other habits--flossing my teeth--when things in my life quiet down, something in me starts bugging me: "Write. Write something. What about the work-in-progress? What's that character going to do next? Write something for your blog. Recommend another good book. Write!" And I'm thankful for those nudges.

However, there are benefits to being away from my writing for a while. I get filled up with new experiences. Some experiences I'd rather not have, I'll admit. My most recent one was a broken ankle requiring surgery. It's too soon to know whether that will directly go into a book or story, but I have learned some things that will definitely affect my outlook and my life and, I'm sure at some point, my writing.

I've learned that handicapped access is not always so accessible. Have you ever thought there were "too many" handicapped parking spaces in a parking lot? I have. But not anymore. I haven't been able to walk for 3 weeks now and have another 3 and a half before there's a possibility to walk. I've been fortunate to have a knee walker to use, which is way better than crutches, but it is still exhausting. I have a temporary parking permit to use handicapped spots. I don't go out much, but I'm finding handicapped spots aren't always where they are needed. Or they are filled. And when we do go out and get a parking spot, those little wheels on the knee walker jar or stick at every bump and crack in the asphalt or pavement. Going up a ramp is work. Going down a ramp is scary. (What if I get going too fast and lose control and fall?!) My handicap will be over soon. But many people don't get a "you'll be free of it" time. I hope when I'm back on my two feet, I'll be more empathetic.

I've been on the receiving end of stares. I'm old enough it doesn't really bother me, but I know some people it would. Borrowing a mall wheelchair to do some Christmas shopping, my husband was pushing me through an area and a woman told her little kids, "Don't stare." If she hadn't been whipping by so fast, I would have liked to explain to the kids why I was in a wheelchair. Not for me, but for them and their understanding. I hope she explained more later.

But here again is where writing comes in. I want my words to do more than entertain. I want them to be useful in some way. Maybe readers through my characters' experiences will learn something new, or learn empathy, or be encouraged because others have had similar experiences. And I've just had more experiences to throw into my personal resource file.

So, all that said, I can't complain about a crazy life. Well, I shouldn't complain.

But didn't I say I was a "Work-in-Progress?"

Craft without inspiration leads

Craft without inspiration leads to basket weaving. Inspiration without craft leads to modern art.
Bruce Coville

Choices are important

Choices are important. Each writer must make their own choices. What works for one person, might not work for another.
Joan Hiatt Harlow