Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving - a Thanksgiving poem

The Day After Thanksgiving
Gregory K.

Yesterday my grandpa pinched my cheek and said I’d grown.
I heard my uncle’s lousy jokes and held back every moan.
I had to watch the football games instead of what I like.
I had to watch my cousins all take turns on my new bike.
I had to take a taste of Auntie’s tofu bean sprout "stuff."
I didn’t get the apple crisp – Mom didn’t make enough!
The table got so messy that I had to clear it twice.
I couldn’t wear my comfy clothes since Dad said, "Please dress nice."
All day I heard my grandma say how crazy my dog drove her.
Today I’m thankful we’re alone ‘cause I’ve got zilch left over.

I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a happy day. I did (the above is actually not autobiographical in any way, I'm pleased to say)... and am looking forward to the weekend ahead.

A big thanks to all the folks who have hosted the Poetry Friday roundup, including this week's host Jone! (You can find the roundup here.)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a Fibonacci Kinda Day! (Or... Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who Would Have Guessed?)

It's 11/23 (or 1-1-2-3) and therefore a great day to be talking Fibonacci. OK, sure, 11/23/58 woulda been an even better day, but I'll take four numbers in sequence anytime.

And how to celebrate such a superbly sequential day? What about a guest post from author Kate Messner who, it just so happens, features Fibonacci in her upcoming novel Sugar and Ice (a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Winter 2011 Kids IndieNext pick)? Yes!

Because the truth is, I just had to find out how Fibonacci and figure skating ended up in the same place... and luckily for me, Kate was willing to explain.

Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who would have guessed?

The great thing about writing a novel is the mental playground that opens up during that process. Writing a book is an invitation to explore places you love, places you’ve always wanted to go.  It’s a chance to meet people long dead and invent people out of thin air.  And it’s a chance to play around with all of your favorite ideas.

Like a maple farm at sugaring time.  A figure skating rink with high stakes competition. And why not throw in a little cool math, too?  Though they might seem like unlikely companions, all of those threads play a role in SUGAR AND ICE, my latest novel for young readers, due out from Walker/Bloomsbury December 7th.   

Small-town figure skater Claire Boucher has always been content to skate in her local Maple Show and help out at the community rink, but when a charismatic Russian skating coach shows up in town with a scholarship offer, she finds herself transported to the uber-competitive world of Lake Placid’s Olympic Center, where ice time takes priority and Claire finds herself struggling to meet her school obligations – even the math project on Fibonacci numbers she was so excited about.

Why is Claire fascinated by Fibonacci?  Mostly because the number patterns he wrote about really do appear in some amazing places in nature and elsewhere (maybe even in skating!)  And it doesn’t hurt that the cute, friendly guy at skating is a math geek, too.  Here’s an excerpt from one of Claire and Luke’s Fibonacci conversations in SUGAR AND ICE:

“You still working on that Fibonacci project?” Luke asked. “I could give you a hand if you want. I like that stuff.”

“Actually, I’m doing pretty well. I’m making a slide show, so I’ve been taking pictures around the farm now that the flowers are out. I’m trying to find more examples of the numbers in places other than nature and art.”

“Don’t forget music.” Luke held up the iPod. “You can listen to that Bartók on here later if you want.”

“I found that on iTunes when you talked about it before. But I was thinking about Fibonacci in figure skating. Those numbers are everywhere. They must be in skating, too, don’t you think?”  Claire leaned forward in her seat. “Any idea whether or not the rink is a golden rectangle?”

“Hmm…it might be a little long. We could check.  But what about the lead in to our spins?”  Luke traced a spiral in the air with his finger.

“Oh my gosh!” Claire bounced a little in her seat. “I bet you’re right! I bet it’ll be a golden spiral. That would be perfect!”

Luke’s eyes lit up. “We can test it out later. I’ll do a scratch spin right after the Zamboni comes out, and we’ll check the tracing on the ice.”

Abby sighed a dramatic sigh.  “Luke, this is the saddest attempt to impress a girl in the history of the world. You are getting geekier by the minute.”

Luke leaned back and punched her lightly on the arm. “You’re just jealous that you don’t share my mathematical awesomeness.”

“You mean your Fibo-nerdiness.”

Claire laughed. “Aw, go easy on him, Abby. I’ll take all the help I can get. If I can manage to get this project done with my skating schedule, it’ll be a Fibo-miracle.”

Sweeeeet! Thanks for stopping by, Kate, and all I really need to say is "Fibo-nerdiness!" Yes!

For more on SUGAR AND ICE,  you can visit Kate’s website. And if you live in the Northern NY area, you’re invited to join Kate for a book launch at The Bookstore Plus on Main Street in Lake Placid from 3-5pm on Saturday, December 11th.  

If you can’t make it but would like a personalized, signed copy, call The Bookstore Plus at (518) 523-2950 by December 10th, and they’ll send it out after the event on the 11th. Pretty cool.

For even more Fibonacci fun, I've got a guest post up over at Kate's blog today, too, telling a little about my own fascination with Fibonacci... and the sequence that led to my own book deal. 

Do you have any big Fibonacci plans today (or anytime, really)? We'd love to hear about it if you do. Regardless, enjoy the day, and Fib on!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A #kidlitchat pot-luck, and...

Tomorrow night's #kidlitchat should be a lot of fun - it's gonna be a pot-luck! Bonnie and I are inviting everyone to bring topics to the table, and we'll chat about 'em all. I imagine some topics will lead to full chats later, others will involve giving thanks, and no doubt a few will revolve around food. But what else will happen?

#kidlitchat happens on Twitter every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern. If you're new to Twitter chats or want to learn more about 'em, I highly recommend Debbie Ridpath Ohi's incredibly helpful article about them. I hope we see you there!

I'm also excited about tomorrow as I'm featuring a guest post here by Kate Messner. And guess what? It involves two of my favorite topics: children's books and Fibonacci! So, I also hope I'll see you here tomorrow. Good times, indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Publishing, Whirled

I don't often talk about the world of publishing here at GottaBook, though it's not for lack of interest. And as things continue changing so rapidly, I find that I think about the business side of things more and more.

So it was with great interest that I watched, yakked in, and read tonight's #kidlitchat, all about the questions, really, of what it means to try and make money in this nutty business... and of whether the goal is to be published at any cost, to be well published, or to combine what we must do to make a living.

As usual in areas like this, there are no definitive answers. But as big publishing consolidates and publishing options expand, these choices are gonna be more and more prevalent. I think they're worth thinking about now, at least for those hoping to make a career out of writing. And if you're not, well, I'd still love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Guilt of the TBR Pile

I have a big to-be-read pile (well, more of a mound plus a shelf, but that's just semantics)... and it makes me feel guilty. Not cuz I haven't read all the books in it, but because I've realized that some books simply slide down the imaginary list of the TBR pile. A new book comes along and suddenly I'm reading that instead of a 9 month old denizen of the mound.

So I review the books to see if I can get rid of those older ones... but no. I want to read them. Really. 

I can't be the only one who goes through this cycle, can I? Don't you find some books that never quite make it to the top of the list, even if you can't determine why? Yet I also know that sometimes I read those same books and curse myself for waiting so long. That, I suspect, is the cause of what I'm calling "guilt."

If you've got solutions, I'd love to hear. An extra couple hours a day or days in a month would be really helpful, if you happen to have any to spare!

Monday, November 08, 2010

This week on #kidlitchat - what's working for you online?

I spend a fair amount of time online - I tweet, Facebook, blog, email, am on listservs, and hang a couple places, too. Sometimes I hang out for fun, but sometimes I have more of a business focus. We chat co-hosts, that Bonnie Adamson and me, know that EVERYONE who participates in #kidlitchat hangs online, too, so we have a bunch of questions for this week's chat:

What's working for you? Do you mix professional and personal... and is that only on certain networks? Do you find anything particularly effective for marketing? For friendship? For connecting?

In other words... how do you spend your time, and what's working for you?

I hope you can join us for #kidlitchat on Tuesday at 9 PM Eastern/6 Pacific. For information on how to join in Twitter chats, check out Debbie Ridpath Ohi's incredibly helpful article. And if you can't join us, please feel free to weigh in here!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Too Much, Too Soon - a holiday poem

Gregory K.

I’ve looked in every book I own...
I still can’t find a reason.
So tell me why’s November first the start of Christmas season?

I see the trees and hear the songs.
Big ads are everywhere.
I even saw a pumpkin wearing Santa’s beard and hair.

It’s not that Christmas isn’t swell,
But can’t we wait a tad?
Besides I got a frantic call -- Thanksgiving Day is mad!

This poem's been kicking around these parts for a long time. It's never seemed done to me, and maybe it still isn't. But every year, it seems more and more relevant, so... voila! And hey, if you want to check out other poems and poetry related posts that might be more finished, head on over to Teaching Authors and check out the Poetry Friday roundup. You'll be glad you did.

If you want to get all my new poems (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Books, Audio Books, and More

Over at the Happy Accident, I have an interview up with Holly Cupala - YA author, Readergirlz diva, and verrrrrry creative when it comes to using social media and other tools the help create opportunities for herself and her debut novel, Tell Me a Secret.

If you're interested in the story of someone who turned down a deal for an audio book and did it on her own... who used blog tours and blogging along with traditional tools... and who, oh, just go on over and check it out :-?