Friday, April 22, 2016

Reading and rhyming

The RhyPiBoMo challenge continues!

I'm reading lots of rhyming picture books and enjoying the daily blog posts by authors, agents, and editors on Angie's site. I think I'm even rhyming in my sleep...

It's inspiring me to go back to a rhyming manuscript I set aside, as well as beginning to imagine a new one...of course the novel is still taking precedence. And the editing, reviewing, and posting about National Poetry Month! I'm not getting much time to breathe.

(Truth be told, my kids are watching wayy too much TV. Sigh.)

So here's a list of rhyming picture books I've been reading (with help from my 6-year-old)

By Day, By Night by Amy Gibson illus. Meilo So
Turntable Timmy by Michael Perry illus. Doug Cunningham
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs illus. Julia Cairns
Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur? by Bonnie Worth illus. Steve Haefele
Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler illus. Barry Gott
Come to the Castle by Linda Ashman illus. S.D. Schindler

More still to come!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Happy National Poetry Month!

We're celebrating at Literary Mama!

Five fresh poems contemplate the writer's life, from creating our own language, watching our children make their mark, to reimagining a poetic (and cultural) icon. 

This group speaks to my heart; I am always partial to writing about writing.

Alphabet for the Stay-at-Home Parent
by Jennifer O'Grady

The body's deepest structure, dancing
by Crystal Ellefsen

by Linda Parsons Marion

by Lesley Jenike

Sylvia Plath's Last Motherly Acts
by Heather Kirn Lanier

For more poetic inspiration, Literary Mama's editors (including me!) recommend books of poetry in April's Essential Reading. Happy Poetry Month!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kidlit a kid

This book review comes from my 10-year-old son, who is an avid reader. Not only was he constantly cracking up while reading it, he took it a little too seriously, laughing diabolically at the dinner table. 

He also recommends this for kids who aren't crazy about reading, but do love a good supervillain.

by Scott Seegert, illus. John Martin

Review by Emery Johnson:

If you aren't going to settle with being a "good little boy or girl" this book is for you. If you dream of bigger, more evil things, this book is for you. If you know you are evil at your core but just don't know how to bring it out, this book is for you. And finally, if you just want to read a good book and maybe conquer the world along the way, this book is for you.

Inside this magnificent guidebook of evil, you'll find how to choose your evil name, costume, and even lair. Once you have decided on all of these you will be taught on how to make clever yet extremely slow acting death traps (a must for any evil mastermind), laugh diabolically, and get a superhero rivalry started.

OFFICIAL JUDGEMENT: A good and funny book you should read.

High praise from my own little evil mastermind. May yours be equally inspired!

Friday, April 8, 2016

RhyPiBoMo 2016


I am participating in the Rhyming Picture Book Month 2016 challenge!

30 days of reading rhyming picture books, and linking with bloggers and writers and readers who share the love.

I had the privilege of attending the RhyPiBoMo Conference in December, where I met Angie and a bunch of other wonderful people who made me feel at home right away. I am looking forward to connecting with them, and all the other fans of rhyming picture books out there!

So here's a list of the first week's batch of books I've read and enjoyed:

Dino-Hockey by Lisa Wheeler (illus. Barry Gott)
Two Sticks by Orel Protopopescu (illus. Anne Wilsdorf)
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber (illus. Kirstie Edmunds)
Outer Space Bedtime Race by Rob Sanders (illus. Brian Won)
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood (illus. Meg Hunt)

Those last two were prizes from the Conference, woo-hoo!

I hope to offer some reviews, maybe from my 6-year-old fan of all things rhyming, too. It's fun to have someone to read the books with me!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Visual artists offer fortitude (and inspiration)

I was in a funk.

I'm banging away at this book, and I love the process, and feel like I'm making progress, but the sense of "what's the point" looms large lately.

Usually, it's just a little whisper in the back of the mind, easily ignored. But it's getting louder. Does it mean I'm closer to something? Or is it the Voice of Truth I'd Rather Not Admit? Don't know.

But a visit to an art gallery has girded my writing loins. So to speak.

Check out artist Andrea Dezso's work, from her exhibit called "Andrea Dezso: I Wonder."

This is actually layers of cut paper, set a few inches in front of one another, with colored lights shining in between. Isn't it amazing? It's called a tunnel book.

Dezso also had ceramic bowls with strange images, pencil sketches, embroidered pieces, and a huge wall hanging of a magical land with bizarre creatures done with matte paint and markers.

She created worlds with all these different media, populated with frolicking creatures, and again, I wondered what sorts of stories she heard when she was creating them. Some referenced the Brothers Grimm, and some were her mother's tall tales, but she worked for hours and hours to bring these stories to viewers.

Her show, as well as Kate Clark's, reminded me of what it feels like to respond to art by wanting to create art (in my case, writing). Sort of an "Oh yeah, I'm a writer" moment.

As well as an appreciation for all the other artists out there building their strange creations based on impulses and a vision--and a hope that someday, other people will see it and be inspired.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Inspiration...when you least expect it

I wasn't looking for a new story idea.

A friend invited my kids and me to a gallery exhibit called "Kate Clark: Mysterious Presence" at Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane after school. (My friend's an artist; she does stuff like take her kids to galleries after school.) My kids were into it, and it was free, so off we went.


Three life-size antelopes greeted us head-on...and they had human heads.


Artist Kate Clark uses traditional taxidermy techniques to create animal sculptures. Then she sculpts a face from a human model, attaches that to the animal bodies, and uses the animal's skin to make the creature look real. It's disconcerting at first, but also weirdly lovely. She humanizes the animals, and animalizes the humans, by creating these magical chimeras.

"She Gets What She Wants"

As I walked among the sculptures, I noticed each face was different, which got me to thinking about their personalities. What would they say? How would they interact with one another? Where do they live? What if someone found the place in the deep forest where these creatures lived?

And boom. Story idea. 

I felt like the story was already written, and I just needed to remember it, or find it. Then I realized, no, I need to write it. 

Now I'm haunted by these magical creatures and what they want to say to me. I'm not ready for their stories just yet--I still have a bunch of others to work on--but then again, who am I to turn away anyone who wants their stories told?