Monday, November 28, 2011

S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y Afternoon! And Evening!

Hey, my LA friends (or those coming through town). This Saturday, the 3rd, we're having another LA Kid Lit Drink Night, this time at the Wellesbourne in West Los Angeles. If you're involved in children's literature (author, illustrator, librarian, teacher, bookseller, etc), come on by... and bring cookies! (And, if you could, bring a new or gently used book to donate, too, as we're trying to help out a couple places as we go).

The event starts, officially, at 5PM, but I think a fair number of us will be arriving at 6 or a bit after, as Carol Tanzman, an LA author, is having her book launch for Dancergirl at Curve Line Space in Eagle Rock in the afternoon. (Click here to see details and follow her blog tour.)

It's a busy, LA kinda Saturday, and I hope to see you out and about!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Too Much Dinner - a food poem

Too Much Dinner
Greg Pincus

I ate too much dinner.
I think that I'll burst!
Good thing I was clever and had dessert first.

Heidi is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at My Juicy Little Universe. For those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I hope you stay in

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hugo (the movie version of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, that is)

I was lucky enough to get to a screening of Hugo, the Martin Scorsese directed 3-D version of Brian Selznick's Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. For any of you who are fans of the book, I think you'll be amazed at how extraordinarily the movie captures the world Brian created: the look, the feel, the tone. It might be the best such translation I've ever seen.

The movie also treats the themes, subtexts, and contexts of the book faithfully and effectively even as it has to simplify it a tad to make it fit. This is not your typical, fast-paced, rollicking movie for kids any more than the book was typical. The movie lingers intentionally and gives everything and everyone a moment or two to just be. While young kids who don't know the book might get fidgety, anyone of any age willing to invest in watching a movie, rather than passively sitting back and being assaulted by one, so to speak, will really appreciate the space, I think.

Did I mention how amazing the movie looks? Ya. Also, it's in 3D. Personally, I don't love 3D. In Hugo, there was some great use of the technology (the shots of various clock workings, for example), and it was never used as a gimmick. That said, I'd've been just as happy watching in 2D, though, but that's a personal thang, I suspect.

Anyway, it was a relief and a thrill to see the care given to taking this book to the screen. I can't wait til you all see it (and you should) so we can compare notes!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poetry Re-Issue: An Ode to Air Travel

An Ode to Air Travel (Upon Flying Cross-Country in Seat 31A)
Gregory K.

My seat belt is fastened – it’s snug and secure.
Been sitting here hours... and feels it for sure.
I finished my books during airport delays.
It turns out my iPod’s been uncharged for days.
I’ve studied the plane wing: I’ve counted the rivets.
I’ve noted my seat cushion’s deepening divots.
I spilled all my water (my pants are still drying).
I hear one babe cooing... and 17 crying.
The man right behind me drones stories so boring,
I think I’m preferring my seat-mate’s wheezed snoring.
My back aches in tense, upright, locked tight position.
It’s clear 30A has a stomach condition.
Yet just when I think I can’t take anymore,
And I’m wishing my window would turn to a door,
I hear these great words (over 30B’s cough),
“This is your captain… we’re cleared to take off!”

(This poem originally appeared here at GottaBook on October 12, 2007)

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is up over at Tabatha Yeatts: The Oppostive of Indifference. Go on over and check out the links AND the blog....

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

See you in Spokane? Or...?

I'm quite excited to be heading up to Spokane this weekend, thanks to the SCBWI Inland Northwest chapter ( with special thanks to Mary Cronk Farrell!) . I'm leading an all day workshop called Unleashing the Power of Social Media. The workshop is designed for writers and illustrators, with a specific "children's lit" bent to it in this case.

I love doing these workshops, I must say. Really getting in depth enables folks to leave with a great understanding of what to do on their own, how to do it, and how to do it efficiently. Good times.

I'm looking forward to more such workshops in 2012 and beyond. Feel free to email me if you want to bring me out your way... and if you're ever near where I'm yakking, I do hope you'll stop by and say "hi!"

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Tried to Write a Poem - a writing poem

I Tried to Write a Poem
Greg Pincus

I tried to write a poem.
The words just didn’t flow.
I’d write a few
Then scratch them through
And in the trash they’d go

I gave myself a deadline…
I guess this one I’ll miss.
Time’s come and gone,
Now I’ll move on…
Since all I’ve got is this.

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Teaching Authors today. Do go check it out (and poke around over there, too).

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The List of Lists

It's that time of year when "best of" and "top books" and awards galore are handed out. How's a reader supposed to keep up with all this news in children's publishing? Us mere mortals can't, but luckily for us, Susan over at Chicken Spaghetti keeps a list of all the lists and awards - updated frequently, at that.

It's one of my favorite resources for finding books to read, determining good gifts, and simply seeing what's out there in a whole slew of different children's literature related categories. I hope y'all like it, too (and thanks, Susan!).

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina

Back in the 2010 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand shared Dancing Fingers with us. The poem came from her then upcoming biography of Alicia Alonso, a Cuban ballerina, though it stood wonderfully on its own.

Well, flash forward 18 months, and that biography is now out. Check out this review by Betsy Bird (Fuse #8). Sweet!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Leslie Muir, the Little Bitty Bakery, and a Rhyming Interview (Yes. Really!)

I’m really thrilled that I can say that Leslie Muir is here today. We’re friends, you see, from long ago (as you will read way down below).

Her newest book is out right now, with art by Betsy Lewin (wow!). So when she said “I’m on a tour. Can I stop by?” I said “Well, sure! There’s only one small hitch for you – I want a rhyming interview.”

Leslie didn’t blink. Now I’m hoping you’ll enjoy our rhyme.

As authors we don’t get to choose
Our artists, so we wait for news.

Can you recall what you were doin'
When you heard "It's Betsy Lewin"?

The phone had rung, the light was blinkin’,
Can’t recall what I was thinkin’.

The ID name sure caught my eye,
said: D-I-S-N-E and Y!

But why would Walt give me a call?
Especially since he’s dead and all?

I held the phone up to my ear,
a distant voice said loud and clear:

“I love your tale, it’s right on track,
I’ve got great news, so please call back.”

I fainted—SLAM!—and cracked a bone,
then rang my agent on the phone!

She said: “Hold on. I’ll get the scoop!”
I dared let go a tiny “Whoop!”

She called right back: “We’ve got a deal!”
My tiny whoop became a SQUEEEEAL!!!

“And guess who’s going to illustrate?”
my agent screamed, “She’s really great!”

I must admit I was boo-hooin’,
When I heard: “It’s Betsy Lewin!”

Did your title ever change?
Did you ever re-arrange
Your plot? Your words? The cast? The tone?
Or did you shout "Leave this alone!"?

I’ve rearranged, I will confide,
so many times my brains are fried.
I must admit this story’s been
around the bend and back again.

The title changed. Oh yes, and how!*
I very nearly had a cow
and held my breath till I turned blue—
I loved my title, it was true.

But sales and others made their case,
so grudgingly I did erase,
and in the end I don’t feel glum—
behold the power of Valium!**

*Explanation: My original title for the story was The Wee Patisserie. The sales and marketing team at my publishing house felt that my Frenchy title might not jump out to buyers, especially those unfamiliar with the word patisserie. In the end, I deferred to their expertise. I’m usually open to changes during the revision process, but I was very attached to the original title and hated to lose it. It’s all good though.

**And for the record: I took poetic license with the Valium line!

I wonder if you could take time
To talk about meter and rhyme
Since I know that it
can be so hard to fit
Any story into picture book form at all as you need to keep the story front and center without letting people even think about the writing, and you do it so effectively without forcing word choice or story points or... uh... uh... using slime.

Yes, a moment I can spare,
hear my creed if you so dare:
First the story, then the rhyme,
or you’ll waste a ton of time.
Keep your meter smooth as cream,
a bump in rhythm is like a blood curdling, really distracting SCREAM. See? I told you.
Dang, I’m tired, exhausted, yuck,
rhyming interviews really…
well, actually, it might be the pound of Halloween candy I just ate…put me in a mammoth sugar coma…yeah, that’s it…it wasn’t this interview at all…really!*,**

*Explanation to above terrible poem: Before you jump into a rhyming tale, have the story figured out from beginning to end so you’re not developing the rhyme with no real direction. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to delete a batch of hard-earned stanzas because the story wasn’t well thought out from the get-go. And watch your meter! Keep it consistent and smooth. And by all means, let others read your work aloud. It’s a sure-fire method for weeding out tiny glitches in rhythm that you: a.) completely missed b.) ignored on purpose or c.) are in denial about. (Greg nods his head in vigorous agreement.)

**I really did eat a pound of Halloween candy.

Now, sadly we must say adieu...
So quickly, please... what's next for you?

C. R. MUDGEON is out real soon!
In 2012, but not in June,
actually it’s March....

Thanks for having me, Mr. Pincus,
You smell nice, you seldom... stinkus.

Leslie Muir's newest book, The Little Bitty Bakery (Disney/Hyperion), is a sweet, sweet story with fabulous illustrations by Betsy Lewin. It's a treat to read aloud, and it's a filling confection any time of day. But my excitement with having her here goes deeper than that. You see, Leslie and I were in the same online, rhyme only critique group (an exceedingly talented bunch, I must add) back before either of us had sold anything at all. 

Leslie always blew me away with her poems, picture book manuscripts, and her notes on others' work, too. Our critique group broke up years ago, but flash forward to 2011 and Leslie has THREE picture books out (Barry B. Wary and Gibbus Moony Wants to Bite You being the others) with C.R. Mudgeon coming next year. The success is no surprise to me, and if you'd seen her work back when I first saw it, it'd be no surprise to you, either.

I'm only stop two on Leslie Muir and Betsy Lewin's blog tour, so there's more good reading out there. In fact, yesterday, Jules had a fabulous post (full o' art and more) over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Tomorrow, the tour moves to Jama Kim Rattigan's always appetizing Jama's Alphabet Soup. And Friday, the crew stops over at the ever-entertaining Elizabeth Dulemba's blog. I hope you'll check 'em all out.

And my thanks again to Leslie for being here and not even blinking when I said "wacky idea - let's do a Q&A in rhyme." That's friendship (and bravery!).

(THE LITTLE BITTY BAKERY. Copyright © 2011 by Leslie Muir. Illustrations © 2011 by Betsy Lewin. Published by Hyperion Books, New York. Images used with permission of the publisher. Photo of Leslie Muir and Betsy Lewin used with permission of Leslie Muir.)