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Monthly Archives: April 2008

On Radio

I’ll be on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Creature Comforts show tomorrow at 9 a.m. C.S.T. If you miss the show, you can visit the MPB website and listen whenever you’d like.

Column in Local Newspaper

Sherry Lucas, a feature writer and columnist for The Clarion-Ledger, had a column in today’s paper about Wolfsnail. She did a terrific job of capturing the sense of excitement and wonder we had around our house when Nathan discovered the snails in our backyard. To read the column, click here.

I’m getting very excited about the signing on Saturday at Lemuria. Some friends from church found a wolfsnail in their backyard this weekend. They brought it over to me and now I’ll have a snail with me for the book signing and my school visits later this month.

Trip to Chicago

I went to Chicago this weekend to visit my college roommate, Sarita, her husband, Rich, and their daughter, Alexandra. This was my first time meeting Alexandra, who was born on my oldest son’s 12th birthday. Here are some photos I took while I was there. We hung around the house in our sweats and had a very relaxed time.

Here is Alexandra playing in the den.

She will be a year old in a few weeks.

Rich is Alexandra’s favorite toy — he tosses her and tickles her and is greeted by wild grunts of excitement every time he comes into the room.

Though Alexandra seems to have inherited her father’s tamer hair, Sarita loves to giggle with Alexandra when her hair is mussed up after a bath.

Artist Roster Panel

I wrote a post earlier in the year about applying to be on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Artist Roster. One part of the process is a review of applications by an expert panel. All artists are invited to sit in on their panel’s discussion. I did that last week and it was interesting. Two of the four panelists were in the room; one was participating via telephone from New York. They were: an English professor at a state college, a state government employee who writes novels on the side, and a New York-based writer for a major national magazine who freelances in other major national magazines. A final panelist was ill so did not participate.

There were only two applicants to join the Artist Roster in the Literary Arts this year. We were allowed to submit three writing samples; they had to be in manuscript form (which meant no pictures to go along with Wolfsnail). We also submitted our marketing and promotional material, including a promotional photograph and short blurb for the commission’s website (should we be asked to join the roster).

I was pleased to hear the panelists praise my writing; one said he was glad to see that I didn’t write down to children; another said that Wolfsnail appealed to him as an adult, too. One suggested he wished I would write about a wider variety of topics (since two of my published pieces in the children’s market are about snails, I included both of them).

Once again, I am pleased that I entered this process. I had to put the work in on my promotional materials anyway and the roster application process made me do it sooner than I might have; I also succeeded in getting my work in front of the panelists and the arts commission staff. If I make the roster, I will get my name and my book’s name out into one of the places librarians and teachers look when they are considering inviting speakers to their schools.

Final Faces Workshop

Teachers gathered in the library for the final Faces of Chastain quilting workshop. Each learned to make a string block for the borders of the final Faces of Chastain panel quilt.

I also took photographs of the teachers. I will print them on fabric so the teachers’ faces will be included in the final panel quilt, too. It was an interesting afternoon as teachers who are usually isolated by geography or department were able to get to know each other.

Some teachers worked by hand; others used the two sewing machines.

We’re doing another book!

I got word yesterday from my editor that I’ll be working on a new book with Boyds Mills. I am very excited about this new project. I’ll share some more details, soon, but the book will feature color, macro photographs of natural subjects and the curriculum tie-in this time is math.

Press Release

Today I emailed the marketing director at Boyds Mills to discuss the press release I was preparing for the launch of Wolfsnail. I prepared a draft of the press release. She re-worked it and added the advance praise we’ve gotten. She also assigned me someone in the marketing department to work with to get it out this week. I researched the appropriate news outlets, contact names, and addresses (snail mail and email). I appreciate Boyds Mills’ willingness to collaborate with me on the marketing efforts. It is nice to have the website already up with downloadable images of me and of the book’s cover. (Thank you, Richard!)

I am getting my labels ready for a postcard mailing, too. I am going to get some friends together to help me label and stamp the postcards announcing the book launch at Lemuria on May 3 at 11 a.m. I am definitely deep into this other side of being a children’s book author.

More Reviews

My uncle called last night to tell me he saw a blurb about Wolfsnail in Science News. He read it to me and promised to send it in the mail. I never expected the book to get reviewed much. My editor called a week or so back and said that Kirkus Reviews had given us a positive review and I just saw on the Boyds Mills‘ website that Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman liked it, too. Wow! I am very excited.

Richard is updating the website to include excerpts from the reviews.

Festival Ends and Tornadoes Tear Through Jackson

We began Friday with an inspiring address by Vicki Cobb, who writes about science in lots of compelling ways.

Cobb urged us to help children discover science with hands-on experiments and projects. She’s holding her newest book, We Dare You!, which looks like a winner. Visit her website to learn about her project to collect home-made videos of children doing hands-on science.

After Cobb’s talk, we went back to Barnes & Noble for one last signing. I met a young man named Will as he was walking through with his mom. I asked if he liked snails and worms. He nodded. I took my book off the nearby shelf and sat down on the floor to read it to him. I read the first line and he chimed in with me and read the rest of the book — entirely by himself. In so many ways, he reminded me of my sons when we first found the snails and began learning about them.

Just after lunch on Friday we learned that tornadoes had ripped through Jackson — right through our neighborhood. Richard called to let me know that we had lost power and had a very large limb down in the front yard.

Another great part of the conference was that I was able to spend some time with the two librarians who were my school librarians from 4th grade through 9th grade. Mrs. Gloria Liggans and Mrs. Geraldine Evans attend the Children’s Book Festival each year and we sat together during the luncheon. It was fun to catch up on their families. I sometimes babysat Mrs. Liggans’ daughter (she’s now an engineer and just had her first child) and Coach Harold Liggans coached my basketball and track teams. Mrs. Evans’ daughters are a lawyer and a school administrator training to be a principal.

More From the Road

I am back at the hotel after my second day at the Children’s Book Festival. We heard inspiring (and funny) talks from James Ransome, Loris Lesynski, and Pat Mora. Once again, these writers shared their passion for children, for creating, and for literacy.

The slow-moving lines in the Barnes & Noble during the two-and-a-half hour signing were a testimony to the time and individual attention these writers took with each of us.

I was lucky enough to be positioned next to Coleen Salley. She entertained all her admirers, posing for photographs and writing personal dedications — even to unborn grandchildren. Salley had kind words for Wolfsnail. James Ransome asked to see it after he had signed books for me and he had kind words as well. It is very nice to be encouraged by writers and illustrators with so much more experience.

Here is Salley with Lesynski. On day 3 of signings, Lesynski joined us at the front of the store near the windows. She is holding her hilarious rhyming Boy Soup.