Hurricane Gustav is making us nervous down here in the Gulf states. I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach as I go around making preparations: buying ice, filling bottles with water, filling my car with gas, etc. It feels so much like three years ago. I rustled up an emergency preparedness guide that my kids brought home from school last year and have begun to cross items off of the various lists. I hope Gustav will weaken.
I will be presenting a workshop titled “Taking Pictures that Sell” at the fall conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)-Southern Breeze region. The conference, officially titled Writing and Illustrating for Kids (or WIK), will be held in Hoover, Ala., (a suburb of Birmingham) on October 18. You can find out more here.
I am asking that all participants who sign up for my workshop send me a photograph ahead of time for critique. I want photographers to send me one photograph taken to illustrate a story for the children’s market (either book or magazine) via email or snail mail. My website has a contact feature that photographers can use to get in touch if they have questions. Specific instructions will go out to registered particpants. I’ve asked that the photographs be in .jpg format and have a resolution of at least 300 dpi at 4 x 6.
I will incorporate some general critiques into my session — based on what people send. I sent some handouts to the conference organizers this week so they can be duplicated and ready for my participants.
Richard recently scanned about 300 slides for his mother. They were taken mostly by his father from the middle 60s through the 80s. Richard spent tons of time cropping and “fixing” these photographs (primarily using Adobe Lightroom and sometimes using Adobe Photoshop).
The boys (and I) loved seeing the photographs of Richard as a kid. I am searching out some of the boys that look almost exactly like photos of Richard.
When I saw this photograph of Richard’s younger sister (taken in Grand Island, New York, around 1970), it reminded me of a photograph I had taken a few years ago of his sister’s daughter. In my memory of my photograph, the pose is exactly the same.
Well, as you can see below, it is not.
We approached this latest WordPress update with a little fear and trepidation because last time we updated, we lost all previous posts and I had to manually re-enter them. This update went much more smoothly — though there was about an hour in there where I thought we would be down for an undetermined length of time. Richard persevered and prevailed!
Once again, I invite you to visit our new and improved website. Since I last blogged about it, we’ve posted reviews for Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and filled in the page about my work helping students create their own books. Find the “Creating With Children” page under the About Sarah tab.
Richard and I have been putting some time into updating my website. You can now listen to my Creature Comforts radio appearance through my website — either in streaming audio or as a podcast. Click on the Books and Stories tab and then click on the line below the book’s cover that offers more.
We’ve also added the educational materials I’ve developed in the last few months as I’ve taken Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator around to bookstores, libraries, and schools. You can find these in the About Sarah section. We’ll be adding more in the next few weeks so stop by from time to time to see the new features.
Writers from across the state gathered Saturday in Vicksburg for the second annual Mississippi Writers Guild Conference. We attended lectures and workshops on the art and business of writing. Featured speakers included: Howard Bahr, novelist; Gary Heidt, agent; Rebecca Jernigan, playwright and actress; Tom Sawyer, screenwriter and novelist; Cheryl Sloan, magazine writer; and Sue Brennan Walker, poet.
Gary Heidt encouraged writers to become more engaged readers by regularly writing reviews of books they’re reading. He suggests trying to get these reviews published — in local publications or on websites. He believes writers should help create the marketing buzz for great books — especially for literary fiction. Having some published reviews will also impress a prospective publisher.
Sue Brennan Walker led groups of about 10 at a time in mini-writing workshops. After each volunteer read, Walker pointed out nuggets of strong writing. She showed us how we could identify stronger beginnings and suggested we write several different beginning for our stories: trying out dialogue, action, setting, etc. Besides writing her own work, Walker runs a small publishing company called Negative Capability Press. She suggested we check out poetry exercises on Amy King’s blog so here’s a link.
Our friends at Lorelei Books sold titles written by the conference faculty, conference attendees, and other books of interest to writers. Several people bought copies of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and I signed the leftover stock for Laura to sell from the store. My hat is off to all the organizers of the conference: Richelle Putnam, Anne McKee, Ralph Gordon, Daniel Lee, Sarah Mutziger, Robert Ray, Frankie Germany, Teresa Lynn, et al.
Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator is included with three other books that encourage kids to get outside and do some exploring: Wild Tracks by Jim Arnosky, Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre, and Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino. The Notes newsletter is a great way to get a quick look at some recently reviewed books, hear from writers and others in the business of children’s books, and connect with other online content. (If you go here and subscribe, it’ll be delivered to your in box.) The “more online” feature for Wolfsnail is a slide show from Florida State University that includes a video of a wolfsnail attacking a prey snail.
I am getting a little more work done on the writing stuff these days because my constant summer companions have returned to school. We had a bunch of fun this summer — especially going to the swimming pool, visiting the beach, and reading. Here they are in their traditional first day of school photograph. The oldest is so relieved to have done enough growing this summer to be taller than the middle one.
The youngest just had a birthday and scored a big batch of books from his new favorite series, Hank Zipzer. This series is terrific — the closest comparison I can make is to Judy Blume’s Fudge books. Douglas, who is 10 and starting the fifth grade, loves both having them read to him and reading them himself. I purchased the first five at an SCBWI conference and I picked one up a few weeks ago, hoping it would make a good match. Oh, yea! His grandparents came through with a bunch more.
The Midwest Book Review liked Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, calling it “an excellent introduction to the wonders of natural life that can be found in an ordinary backyard.” I’m thrilled that Wolfsnail continues to get noticed by reviewers. It is also popping up on the new acquisitions lists of libraries across the country. I love thinking of the kids who will discover it on the shelf.
You can read the full review here. Scroll down to The Pets/Wildlife Shelf. Reviews from The Midwest Book Review are posted on Amazon. It appears as a five-star review.