Friday, December 29, 2006

A bit of looking forward....

So, among the many things going on in 2007, I wanted to mention a brief period where I won't be cleaning my desk. And maybe you wanna join me? I'll be at the SCBWI-Ventura/Santa Barbara event The Business of Writing and Illustrating for Children: Cyber-Promotion and School Visits.

I'm going for two reasons: not only do I plan to learn a ton, but I'll also be a guest speaker, talking about blogging as a children's book writer/aspiring writer/blogger. Oh, yeah -- I also know it's going to be an absolute blast.

I hope to see some of you there... but in the meantime, I'm going to go watch our street get jackhammered to smithereens to fix a broken (and geysering) water main. Oh joy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

TIck, tick, ticking....

My goodness -- the end of December and therefore the end of the year just keep on getting closer. Next thing ya know, it'll once again be hard to write a check correctly for a month or two.

It's always an interesting time of year to me -- a time where it's really okay to look backwards, as long as you make sure it doesn't keep you from the more important concept of looking forwards. This year in review for me is writ large in this blog. (And now that I've used the phrase "writ large," I believe I have fulfilled all duties in 2006.) Yes, lots of other "life" happened off blog, but the biiiig stuff was right here, and many of you have lived through some rather dramatic moments of 2006 right alongside me. So as we near the new year, I want to thank so many of you for your friendship, support, links, encouragement, and Fibs. 2007 might not be as downright exciting on this blog (though it MIGHT, ya know), but I look forward to hanging out here with all of you no matter what.

Ahh, heck. Out of time. So, I'll look forward another time (and probably this year), but now I gotta book!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the blog before Christmas....

I know, I know -- that title makes you think I'm gonna do some parody/variation on the classic Christmas poem. But not this year, sorry to say. Instead, I wish to share with you an article that a longtime FoG (that's friend of GottaBook) sent my way. Some of you may have seen it already, but for me, it was a great holiday (or ANY day) gift:

Saying Yes to Mess

(if the above link no longer works, try this one here.)

For those too busy to click on the above, I share this excerpt:

Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts.

I don't just say "yes." I say "yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Crawled Out of Bed Today -- a 'feeling sick' poem and a happy vacation poem

Getting a late entry into the Poetry Friday (links collected by Liz B.) arena...

Gregory K.

I crawled out of bed today
And boy, my body aches.
I know I didn’t sleep that well -- I guess I made mistakes.

It feels like I can’t see too straight.
There’s cobwebs in my brain.
Tears are flowing out of me like endless sheets of rain.

I barely have an appetite.
I’m cold, and then I’m hot.
My voice comes croaking out as if my throat’s tied in a knot.

I guess that I don’t have a choice;
I’ll sleep the day away.
But here’s the reason I feel worst...
Vacation starts today.

Wishing all of you happy and healthy vacations!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Searching for seasonal thoughts

Once again, as at many other times of the year, I wish I had the ability to contact folks whose searches lead them to GottaBook. But since I can't, I'd like to share a few seasonal replies right here (for them and for you).

1) No, you're never going to see a grinch in the wild
2) There are no grinches in any zoos in the US
3) Dr. Seuss not Dr. Spock

On a more useful-to-all level, MotherReader cam up with 21 Ways to Give a Book this holiday season (and if you read her blog, you'll find 21 MORE ways, too). Very helpful for those of us not as well equipped in the thinking-of-gifts department.

Thanks to all for the fun suggestions in the post below. If you check the comments of that post and link back to some of the commentors own blogs, you'll see even more suggested gifts. Good stuff, I say with probably a tad of bias....

Monday, December 18, 2006

A list -- gifts you'd get your favorite kidlit characters

All day today, I kept coming up with "fun" ideas for blog contests/lists -- best kidlit posts of the year OR every blogger nominate their own favorite post of the year (that one is easy for me!) OR name the holiday gift you'd get your fellow bloggers OR name who you'd like to see start blogging next year (Mo Willems is not longer a valid choice). In the end, I realized I didn't have the time or energy to do those, and instead would go with a list I've had brewing for awhile, but didn't have time to post earlier: gifts you'd get your favorite kidlit characters. These can be holiday gifts, of course, but there's no reason to limit yourself in any way. Here are a few ideas...

The Pigeon -- a ballpark dog with the works
The Baudelaire children -- a fortunate event
Charlotte -- a thesaurus
Charlie Bucket -- good dental insurance
Harold -- Crayola crayons (a 64 pack, at least)

Now, I've got a lot more, but 'tis the season for y'all (who aren't yet on vacation) to join in. The interesting thing on my list is how many characters I feel like EVERYONE would know, and how many would also need the name of their book(s) spelled out. OK, maybe that's not "interesting" but keep it in mind as you leave your comments. Cheap shots are certainly allowed ("I hope the Hardy Boys get a clue," for example), and heartfelt wishes, too. More later, but for now, I gotta book.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the season...

... for holiday parties, end of school parties, b-day parties, and parties just because there's time to have one last party before the end of the year. Today's task involves making a salad to feed 30. That's a lot of leafy greens....

On the upside of all this seasonal stuff, I've now read How the Grinch Stole Christmas enough this year that I'm officially off book, so if any of you need a reader, let me know. Oh yeah, and we stocked our new shelves at the library and now are thiiiiis close to the room functioning the way it did last year, before the move. Perhaps over the school's vacation, unless I spend all my time reading the Grinch.

Some other recent library readalouds:

Hooway for Wodney Wat -- Helen Lester; illustrated by Lynn M.Munsinger
Froggy Gets Dressed -- Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
The Snowy Day -- Ezra Jack Keats
Wild About Books -- Judy Sierra; illustrated by Marc Brown
Shrek -- William Steig
Everybody Needs a Rock -- Byrd Baylor; illustrated by Peter Parnall

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh, really?

So, like many a blogger, I get some interesting e-mail sent my way. The most recent was also a first for me: a request to review a site on my blog. It's a shopping site, and there was even an offer of a gift certificate to use on the site (yes, before reviewing it and so I could review the entire process). Seems fair enough. No big deal, other than the fact that I don't review sites on this blog. But what makes this blogable to me is the fact that I was sent this email, it says, because the sender noticed my blog entry about The Polar Express. Yes... this is a Holiday shopping site I'm being asked about.

Again, a second time, the email says "Since you mentioned The Polar
Express, would you be interested in reviewing the website on your blog?"

They were nice enough to include a link to my Polar Express entry.

Here it is!

Now I ask you... would YOU want the author of that post reviewing your site????

I'm a big fan of reaching out to the blogosphere, but I gotta say I laughed pretty heartily. And no, I'm not reviewing the site... but I appreciate the smile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's wood! It's wood!

Yes, it's a banner day -- I've once again found the top of my desk. What a relief. In the process, I discovered no unpaid bills and no important documents (well, other than photos. Sorry, Mom!). But I did find a few scraps of paper with ideas jotted down on them. My fellow writers know what I'm talking about here: hidden GOLD!

Yes, on these slips of paper, I had written sheer brilliance as inspiration had come to me at random moments (defined here as "moments where the only thing handy was a slip of paper."). Admittedly, it'd been a long time since I'd last cleaned my desk allll the way, but I think my note "boy wizard in wizard school???" is going to be the one that really puts me on the map.

Looking forward, it's a marathon library week for me as we try and get as much done before vacation as possible, so even though I've got a clean desk, I won't be using it much. But that's okay. It also means there's not time to mess it up, and that's gotta be good for something.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Talking about books...

I know, I know -- twice in one day after my "I'm sooooo busy" thing. Eh, you can't believe what you read online anyway. But the thing is, my December Book Talk column is up at, and I wanted to give it a little shout out. "Hi, column!"

Lotta good stuff up at momready, in general, including a very cool "contest" if you have kids in the LA area. Go thataway and check it out.

To do list

Mine just keeps getting longer, the more I work at trying to check things off of it. I need a name for this phenomenon (other than "life," of course). I will add "find a name for phenomenon" to my to do list. I had thought that I'd be one of those folks who didn't find a December slowdown in blog posting or blog reading or blog linking (and there have been some great links I've failed to be timely about, like the Longstockings' Flappies contest and Mitali Perkins' Blog Crushes), but the reality is that I'm gonna be one of those folks who is mildly slowed. Like a flesh wound.

Or I could just make excuses like these cats do, I suppose.

Anyway, if you stick around, I promise there'll be something here. But for now, I gotta book.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Who Reads Your Manuscript -- a poem for writers (and editors)

I wrote the following poem at a recent SCBWI event. Conversation had turned to editors once again, and it was clear that sometimes writers still view the person on the recieving end of a manuscript as a "faceless foe," so to speak. How silly. Editors have faces! Anyway, I've pieced together some knowledge over the last few years, so I thought I'd share it in an attempt to help get rid of some of the mystery of the kidlit business. I know. I know. What a giver!

Who Reads Your Manuscript
Gregory K.

Editors were born to read:
They chose their jobs for love, not greed.
Editors are short on time,
And truly they don’t ALL hate rhyme.
Editors have pets, get wed.
Sometimes they stay home sick in bed.
Editors eat writers, true...
But otherwise, they’re just like you!

Alan Silberberg drew me this book-toon after being inpired by the poem!

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

(This week's Poetry Friday links are collected right here by Susan)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Heavy library lifting

When I volunteered to head up an elementary school library, I don't think I ever imagined just how many books I'd carry and cart and lug and haul (let alone read!). Our collection has grown to 10,000 books, but if I count the number of times I've moved each of them around... well, you'd think I'd have bigger biceps.

Once again, we've been rejiggering... adding shelves... bringing in new books... moving the dead-weight reference section just ONE more time. Yet finally, for the first time this school year, things are starting to look more like the library of old. And once again, it's thanks to a hearty crew of volunteers who never cease to amaze. Of course at the end of the day, I don't know who's luckier in all this... we parents who volunteer or the kids we volunteer for. But then again, it probably doesn't matter.

Some of what we've been reading in the library:

Not a Box -- Antoinette Portis
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly -- Simms Toback
The Big Brag -- Dr. Seuss
The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven -- Jonah Winter; illus. by Barry Blitt
The Peace Book -- Todd Parr
The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups -- David Wiesniewski (and yes, it's as big a hit this year as last)
The Three Questions -- Jon J. Muth

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And then there's this...

I was going to start in on a more thought-provoking type of post, but then ran across a news headline that simply stopped me in my tracks. No, not the possible discovery of recent water flowing on Mars. Don't be silly. I'm talking really IMPORTANT news. If Hollywood wants hit movies, forget that Snakes on a Plane stuff. Here's an idea that's really cooking with gas:

Flatulence on plane sparks emergency landing

Now aren't you glad you stopped by these parts? Don't panic, though, maturity will return before long, but for now I gotta book.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Frantic shopping

Yes, it's that time of year again -- the time where you suddenly remember yet one more person on your list who you were pretty sure you'd bought for but now that you look again... drat, you haven't. Or maybe that just happens around here?

Regardless, Alan Silberberg offers an excellent suggestion courtesy of his latest book-toon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More, I say. More....

While the Cybils nominating committees keep on reading, other lists and awards for 2006 are coming out. I could link you to all of them, I suppose, but I figger those of you who care enough to see them all probably are way ahead of me. Still, the New York Times list of notable children's books of the year had an interesting overlap with the Horn Book Fanfare List -- Lane Smith's John, Paul, George and Ben. In the Horn Book list it's under non-fiction (unspecified in the NYT). Huh. I admit I hadn't given the categorization much thought, and there certainly are facts sprinkled in... but I am going on record as doubting that Paul Revere every yelled loudly about extra-large underwear.

Elsewhere in linkland, another member of my fab online critique group has joined the blogosphere. Say hi to Brenda! What she doesn't mention on her site is that every penny she gets from her book is going to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. See... these crit friends of mine are fab in many ways.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oddaptation: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Up until now, when I've Oddapted, you'll note that I don't say much about my own thoughts on the book in question, preferring to leave some mystery in the Oddaptation, I suppose. (To check this claim out AND to find out what Oddaptations are, won't you peek at the links collected to the side of the blog under the headline The Oddaptations? Thanks.) However, in this case, I'll say it: I love the book. Still, the Grinch called out to be Oddapted... but in a somewhat different way than my usual rhyming, attitudinal style. What better way to start December AND greet poetry Friday (links collected handily by Kelly)? OK, maybe there are better ways, but you get no choice!

As always, I'd love to hear suggestions for future Oddaptations, other feedback, and winning lottery numbers.

by Dr. Seuss
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

Don’t worry. He didn’t.