Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winter. Blah...

Two weeks ago I was complaining about the fact that it was 60 degrees in the Nati in January. Today I take it back! It's cold. And it's snowy. And it's giving me bad static-y hair. Yeah, I don't really have to be out in it much. My car always sleeps in the garage. I drive a mile and a half to my office and I usually get rock star parking. I admit it--I'm a whiner. I'm a winter whiner. I just want to stay in bed and have someone fetch me hot chocolate and soup and bad magazines.

But, alas, I have a job and a 2-year-old, neither of which allow me to sleep in. So I decided I better start embracing the snow. And what better way than through books for young readers. I pulled out two of my favorites from the Alice and Murray book collection. (Some are mine; some are his; some I agree to share).

One Murray likes to hear over and over is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I love the illustrations in this book. I love the pages with the snow angels and the footprints. I love that Murray still can't quite figure out what happens to the snowball in the little boy's pocket when he goes inside. I love reliving that feeling of excitement in my tummy when I would wake up to see the ground blanketed in white (and hoped that school would be called off).
My favorite snow-themed picture book is Snow by Uri Shulevitz. His subtle illustrations capture the atmospheric quality of snow and evoke that feeling of calm that a gentle snow can bring. Like when you're skiing and you stop high up on the mountain and no one is around and it's just so very quiet. Or a day when you can sit on the sofa by the front window and sip tea and watch the fluffy flakes fall on the lawn and it's white and clean and beautiful. That's how this book makes me feel.

Hmmm. Suddenly I'm a lot happier about winter.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

ALA Notable Books...

Here's the link to this year's list in case you haven't seen it. Sigh. That nightstand stack just won't stop growing.

The Acquisitions Process...

It's eerily quiet in my office today. An occasional conversation, an occasional phone ringing. Otherwise quiet quiet quiet. A number of my co-workers are attending the first day of a three-day off-site meeting, something about revamping our process for acquiring books. I'm not quite sure what they're doing for three whole days through breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do know they're having a Reverse Pub Board meeting. Everyone's been buzzing about Reverse Pub Board for weeks. At this meeting, the Editors pretend they are in Sales and the Sales people pretend they are Editors. The Sales team will present books they think we should publish (along with lengthy proposals they've prepared). The Editors will (I'm predicting) shoot a lot of them down.

Acquiring books is a not big part of my job. I do it only occasionally, when we do a book that is children's publishing-related. I really like doing it occasionally, but I'm happy I don't have to do it all the time. It's a great deal of work. I didn't become an editor because I love doing reports. I don't imagine many editors enter the field so they can spend their days crafting proposals and profit & loss reports. (I didn't know about all that going in--no one mentioned it in college.)

So here's the thing: An editor must really really dig your book to take it through the acquisitions process. They must love it enough to devote lots of time to it before it's under contract with the possibility that a group of Sales & Marketing folks or higher-ups will say No. And of course they love it enough to want to spend time with it through the editorial process. So when an editor calls you and says those seven magic words, "We'd like to offer you a contract," feel the love! Feel the love!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Breaking News: 2007 ALA Awards...

I just caught part of the ALA Awards webcast (the children's publishing Oscars if you will). The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan, won the Newbery Award. The Caldecott went to David Wiesner for Flotsom. I'm working on parsing together the list of honor winners from my notes--there was a lot of applause and it was kind or hard to hear some of the names and titles. However, the ALA website said they will post a press release at 1 p.m. e.s.t.
It was really exciting to watch the announcements along with everyone at the meeting in Seattle. (Would have been more fun to be there myself, of course!)

Here's the link to all the winners as reported by Publishers Weekly.

My favorite moment as I watched the webcast: hearing Cynthia Lord's name called as a Newbery honor winner for her wonderful book Rules. Cindy is featured in the 2007 CWIM's "First Books" article. Yay!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Lemony Snicket on Etiquette Books in NY Times...

If you haven't seen yesterday's New York Times Book Review, check out Daniel Handler's piece on several new children's books about good manners and etiquette. My favorite lines: "Whoopi Goldberg’s philosophical principles are sounder. (It’s so nice to write a sentence one suspects has never been written before.)" Then check out David Greenberg's Don't Forget Your Etiquette! The Essential Guide to Misbehavior, which sounds like tons of irreverent fun.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Things I Dig Lately (that may or may not have anything to do with writing & books)...

  • The Class of 2K7's YouTube video. The images go by so fast you must watch it over and over and over.
  • Vintage clutch purses, my latest favorite thing to buy on eBay. (Please fellow eBayer--you know who you are--stop bidding on that vintage '80s purple leather number because I'm sure you don't want it as much as I do.)
  • Author research. I've been doing a lot of it lately as I prepare interview questions for 2008 CWIM articles. It's wonderful to get lost in websites and blogs and hear authors read their work with the click of my mouse. Immersing myself in all things Author is pretty much my favorite part of my job. And it makes reading books feel so much more intimate, like I'm reading the work of a friend. I admire authors not only putting their work out there, but putting themselves out there.
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts. I munched down a big pile of them while I read my email this morning. They are pretty gross when they're boiled. But oven roasted Brussels sprouts are like little tiny cabbage candies.
  • Freelancers meeting deadlines. My 2008 CWIM articles are pouring in and I'm reading them and they are good good good. I've been very smiley at my desk this week.
  • Staying up way past my bedtime to finish a really good debut novel because I love the characters then finding out the author has written a sequel that's under contract.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2007 CWIM Update: First Second Books...

If you're interested in submitting material to Roaring Brook's cool graphic novel imprint First Second Books, grab a pen, turn to page 137 of the 2007 CWIM and make a couple of corrections/clarifications. First, although CWIM states that First Second "considers all categories," note that First Second only publishes graphic novels, so don't send them other stuff. Also note that they no longer want electronic submissions.

Teens & Online Social Networking...

If you're the parent of a teen, or, like me, employ teenage babysitters, you know they spend a great deal of time IM-ing their friends or haunting social networking sites. (Yes, I've been known to investigate what my babysitters are doing online when Murray's sleeping.) Here's a link to an article stating that more than half of teens in the U.S. use MySpace and FaceBook.

I also heard an interesting piece on Day to Day on NPR recently, for which the reporter talked to a group of college students about privacy issues in the Internet age. If you have time, click the link and listen. I was kind of shocked at how little they care or worry about their privacy.

What did teenagers do before they all had MySpace profiles and cell phones? I remember leaving notes in a friend's desk every day. Notes written on paper. With pens. Complete with punctuation. (But, hey, I also went to the library to work on research papers and listened to albums.)

Teenagers are strange and interesting creatures. And all you YA writers out there have to pay attention to what they're doing. I guess that's easier than ever. They're strange and interesting, but not quite so mysterious thanks to the Internet.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007: My Ups and Downs So Far...

It's only a few days into the new year, and at this point I'd have to say 2007 has not been all that great. But I've decided (resolved?) to be positive this year, so I've been thinking about the good side of the things that have thus far annoyed me during the first few days of January:

  • DOWN: The new version of Blogger wiped out my visitor counter and I can't get it to work. UP: I can pretend thousands and thousands of people are reading my blog!
  • DOWN: The O.C. got cancelled just when it was getting good again. UP: One more hour of reading time each week!
  • DOWN: I got the highly unpleasant stomach flu, that, according to the local news, is "sweeping the tri-state." UP# 1: I finished a great novel while I was laid up on the sofa with my barf bowl! UP #2: My skinny pants fit this week!
  • DOWN: Global warming. UP: It's in the 60s in the Nati in January!
  • DOWN: I have pink eye and not in the eye that my hair is generally flopping over. UP: There really is no up side to conjunctivitis except that the Internet says it will go away in 3 to 5 days and I'm on day 2!
Sometimes it's tough to look on the bright side of things (even with the blatant overuse of exclamation points!). If you're a writer who's gotten material rejected or an illustrator who is not getting response to your marketing efforts, this can be particularly true. I hope in this new year you can finds some UPs when the publishing world is getting you DOWN.

Happy new year!