Monday, January 26, 2009

ALA Awards 2009

Yay! Yay! Yahoo! Yee-haw!! Congratulations to all the winners!!!

It is a testament to the upstanding character of the kidlit community that we can experience a peaceful transition of award-winning power one Monday morning every January. Where else in the world does that happen?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama Was Here!: An Inaugural Interlude at Book, Booker, Bookest

Well, he wasn't actually here at Book, Booker, Bookest, but President-elect Barack Obama and I share an alma mater-- Occidental College in Los Angeles (Eagle Rock), California.

Although he transferred from Oxy at the end of his sophomore year in 1981, Obama has indelibly left his mark on the College. All of these photos were taken at Oxy by yours truly after the November 4th, 2008, election.

Here's the Coons Administration building. According to PBS's Huell Howser of California's Gold, it's the likely location of Obama's first-ever political speech on divesting in apartheid South Africa. Click on the link for further information about the episode.

These are the steps in front of Coons.

Finally, here is the walkway in front of Johnson Hall. Obama encourages us to think differently about the world, including utility hole covers.
Yesterday, the nation was linked in at the Lincoln Memorial for the "We Are One" Obama Inaugural Celebration. Now, on the eve of Inauguration Day, also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, many eagerly anticipate the end of an abomination, or "a bombin' nation," and the beginning of an Obama Nation.
Whatever your political perspective, it's hard to deny that Obama has inspired the imagination to imagine a nation anew.
A political life that began at 1600 Campus Road will soon arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From Eagle Rock, now to where the eagle rocks, rock on, Barack Obama!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Has Anyone Seen My Mouse?

It was plugged in this morning. Drats! That's the third one this week.

On a totally unrelated note, since I already have your attention, can anyone recommend a good weight management food for my cat? He's been really packing the pounds lately.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Cause of Writer's Block

Disclaimer: This post is targeted at Luddite writers, or those who may occasionally use a writing implement for the sheer novelty of it.

We've talked about a physiological cause of writer's block in this previous post. What I'm concerned with today is an external and often overlooked cause, an overworked pen or pencil.

Have a look for yourself in the photo above. This was my poor pencil after spending 5 months revising an 800-word picture book. No, I don't need your sympathies, but you could sure as heck direct them to my poor pencil. Despite 10,000 mg of penicillin, this pencil's still illin'.

But I'm not giving up without trying alternative therapies. I'm exploring Thai massage, and if I have to take a second mortgage on the house, I might just send my pointed, little friend to a chichi sanatorium in the Swiss Alps.

I must act fast, though, as his lead grows more limp by the minute. If any of you have folk remedies or special cures, please comment away. Until then, I'll just be using my trusty ol' cassowary quill (please don't tell my pencil, he has a bit of an inferiority complex). Thanks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Book Wrote Itself!

Sudo Nimm's all excited because he took the above photo of our computer while I stepped away to reorganize my stamp collection. He's been seeking hard evidence against the demeaning notion of "artificial" intelligence for years now.

It all started with a crush he had on a one Miss Commodore 64K back in the day. But I promised not to bring that up again. [Excellent, but entirely too suggestive, pun removed to protect the innocent. Email me if you must know.] Anyway...

This photo has made me a nervous wreck. What if my agent, editor, and publisher learn the improbable, but still embarrassing truth, that my books "write themselves?"

Of course, they don't actually write themselves. It's really a precocious, if somewhat uppity, HP Pavilion VF17 monitor. She's nothing fancy, but boy can she turn an interesting tale or two. She's says if I'm good, she might split royalties with me 80/20.

Who writes your books?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Which of These Two Are Branded?

Answer: Both.

Mr. Bo Vine writes edgy, paranormal fractured fairy tales (or is that dairy tails?) and Mr. Wesley Wiccup writes quirky fantasy, anthropomorphic tween novels (that oddly enough feature lots of cows).

Okay, so Bo is doubly branded if you count that epidermal mutilation thingy, which he asks you kindly not to refer to as a "rump roast." But, we digress.

Yesterday, writer and teacher Dianne White was cool enough to share her branding tips in the Writer2Writer program at the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse. Organized monthly by Children's Books Manager Catherine Linka, the Writer2Writer program features fun and informative topics for kidlit writers.

Armed with a yummilicious mango smoothie, I spent an hour refining my understanding of the concept of branding for authors. Dianne provided a useful hand-out to help organize the process of whittling from a foundation of core values to a "succinct tagline."

Not as easy as it sounds, folks. I don't count whittling among my talents. Dhittling, yes. Fhittling, yes. Whittling, no. But that's part of the process. There's a mountain of thought behind a single word or concept.

In pondering all this branding stuff, I've gotten a strange urge to go out and get a tattoo. Yet, somehow, I don't think that was the point.

In any case, only time will tell if I'm able to figure out all the subtleties of branding. Either I'll be covered in tattoos by the end of it, or the very sound of my name will conjure a distinct commercial jingle in the minds of all sentient beings.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Book Bully

The Book Bully. You've met him. That all-looming, impossible book to wrap your head around.

For whatever reason, the content, characters, voice, or story just aren't getting through. Diligent reader that you are, you push forward anyway, but not without incurring a few book-borne bruises along the way.

Will you ever escape its pages? Will you ever reach the back cover, or will you be sucked into the vortex of its gutter forever?

Of course, I'm talking about any picture books you may have picked up lately, nothing like Finnegans Wake, or anything.

Who are your book bullies?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Superheroes Z, X, Q, and V

Never have the stories of so many depended on the letters of so few. Where would science fiction be without "Z," "X," "Q," and "V?"

Zoltron wouldn't be able to fire his quasar beam at Voltron from the planet Xenon. In other words, sci-fi would be bland and lifeless.

I think it's high time for these letters to receive the recognition they deserve for working overtime for their genre. Can we say special holiday, people? Commemorative stamps, even?

Don't be surprised if these letters just up and walk out of the alphabet someday. They can only suffer the indignity of disregard for so long. And could we really blame them? Which words would you miss? Please write your Congressperson today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So You Won't Be Up All Night (Again)

[A photo of sour milk (removed by blog master Sudo Nimm in kind consideration of the lactose intolerant among you).]

I know you've been racking your brain on this one, so I can't allow you another sleepless night as I've had. This is the real reason we get writer's block.

Something literally stands between the bridge of two synapses in the brain, blocking the flow of electrical impulses. That something in this case is a relatively obscure process in search of a name.

Without further ado, may I present bonnyclabber: milk that is curdled by natural souring.

You've gotta love the Irish.