Friday, August 29, 2008

Spreading Cheery-Cheeries!

Some very wonderful news!

I'll post the link to the New York Times page once it's up. (Currently they're running the 8/31/8 lists. Mr. Fish is on the upcoming 9/7 list.)

UPDATE: Here's the link!

Poetry Friday

Parallax

First it was the grocery store clerks,
all of a sudden unexpectedly impossibly young.
"Loosened up the work study requirements, did they?"

Then the professional baseball players on TV.
"Childhood prodigies, must be."

Of late, doctors.
Doctors!
"Dang! It's like Doogie Howser!"


How strange that the world is growing younger
before my very eyes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hawks, hawks, and other hawks

For much of August, the soundtrack of our backyard was the "keeeeer, keeeeer, keeeeer" sound of hawks.

Two adults and their two young were a noisy bunch, especially when they got around to flight and hunting lessons.

I snapped a few photos, and while they're not great shots, I'd thought I'd share two of them.



Indoors are a pair of hawks of an entirely different sort:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michigander Monday: Charity Nebbe

I'm pleased to welcome Charity Nebbe for our latest Michigander Monday profile. Let's get to know her!

Debbie: Tell us about your new book, and a little about yourself.

Charity: "Our Walk in the Woods" tells the story of Abby and her dog Kirby. They get up every Saturday morning to go for a walk in the woods. They love to explore the hills above the river, but they don't always see things the same way. Abby likes to smell the flowers, Kirby likes to roll and make himself smell. Abby picks up garbage she finds on the ground to throw it in the trash, Kirby picks it up and tries to eat it. Abby sits in the sun on the riverbank, feeling the wind on her face. Kirby paddles in the water, chasing the ducks and geese. They may not always agree, but they will go again tomorrow. The book is illustrated by the very talented Jeffrey Ebbeler and you can see some of his pictures and hear an audio version of the book at charitynebbe.com.

This is my first book for kids. My day job is as the local All Things Considered host at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. I've been living in Michigan since early 2000. I'm originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa and I went to school and worked in Ames, Iowa for several years. While I was in Iowa I created a nationally syndicated public radio program for kids and kids at heart called "Chinwag Theater." My co-host was children's author Daniel Pinkwater. I came to Michigan to be a senior producer for The Todd Mundt Show, which was distributed by NPR. I missed being on the air and I've been the All Things Considered Host for six years now. I've been working part time since my daughter was born three years ago, so the most important part of my day is spent at home with Audrey (3) and Carter (10 months). I've always lived with dogs, cats and all kinds of other creatures. Even before we had kids my husband and I had a family of three dogs and seven cats, all rescue animals. Since adding children we've lost one dog and added another. I am donating ten percent of all author proceeds from "Our Walk in the Woods" to animal rescue groups.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Charity: I hope this is the first of many children's books, but I don't have anything to announce yet. I will say that I believe my next book will be of a feline nature.

Debbie: And upcoming appearances?


Charity: After a busy summer of appearances I only have one on the calendar right now. My fluffy white dog Sara and I will be at a birthday party for Cascades Humane Society in Jackson on Saturday September 13th from 2-5.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Charity: I have many favorite Michigan places, but it is easy to pick a favorite. Isle Royale in Lake Superior. My husband and I spent a week on the Island backpacking and camping a few years ago. It is the most beautiful place I've ever been. We didn't see or hear any wolves, but we did see moose and a lot of other wildlife.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Charity: I have never been to the Heikki Lunta Winterfest in Negaunee, but I really want to go someday. Heikki Lunta is the Yooper Snow God. You should google him... there's a lot of entertaining stuff out there.

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Charity: It's part of my job to interview interesting people in Michigan, so I have an endless list of fascinating people I've talked to over the years. One favorite is Keith Taylor. He is a poet and instructor at the University of Michigan. He put out a wonderful poetry collection called "Guilty at the Rapture" a couple of years ago.

Joe Mockbee is a very talented artist who lives in Kalamazoo. He suffers from Schizophrenia and has used his art as a form of therapy and now he's helping other people cope with mental illness through art. His works in ink and watercolor and his work has kind of a comic book look to it. I really love his stuff and recently bought a picture.

If you're looking for travel ideas in Michigan travel writer Jim Dufresne always has great ideas. He is an entertaining writer and endlessly enthusiastic. "Backpacking in Michigan" is his most recent book and he put out a new edition of "Michigan Off the Beaten Path" not long ago.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Charity: I constantly find myself telling people who don't live here how beautiful it is here. I would recommend a visit to the UP to anyone who loves the outdoors. Sure Northern Lower Michigan is beautiful too, but the UP is wild, beautiful, and not nearly as crowded.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Charity: I've actually given this a great deal of thought. Michigander was originally an insult hurled on the floor of Congress. Many people have embraced it and its origin is mostly forgotten, but some people find it to be insulting still. I use Michiganian on the air, but personally I think Michigander is fun and clever. So my vote is for Michigander.

Debbie: Thank you, Charity, for being this week's Michigander Monday guest!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Out Of The Darkness

I tend to keep a light tone to my postings here on Jumping The Candlestick. But if you don't mind, I would like to turn serious for a moment, and encourage those of you whose lives have been touched in any way by suicide -- directly or indirectly -- to consider finding a Community Walk to participate in. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors a number of Community Walks. There's probably one in your area, and participating in a Community Walk can be a small but important step on the path of healing, for you or for your loved ones.

My family and I will be walking in the September 7 Lansing Area walk. Should you be interested, you can support our team and make a donation to AFSP here.

New Horizons

There are any number of ways to end the sentence, "This morning when I woke up, I was..."

Here's one possible ending: "... in a tent on a baseball field."

Does it sound fanciful? Well, it's true. Long-time readers will recall that this past spring I spent the night on a docked submarine with my Cub Scout son -- a great experience, if short on sleep. Last night's Cub Scout overnight excursion (a full family affair, as all four of us went) was similarly wonderful and disorienting, though this outing involved slightly more sleep and (yay!) running water. Along with a bunch of other Scouts, we watched a Lugnuts game and then spent the night in the stadium, camped out in the outfield.

It's funny: when you start out as a parent, you really have no idea the places you'll go.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Poetry Friday


At The Beach

No doubt there's a term for it,
for when the crest of a wave
breaks from its own momentum --

when the tips,
once curved toward the inevitable shore,
shoot sideways in a traveling spray.

Such a spectacle. Sudden and showy.
The lit end of a fuse line
sparkling splendidly
and horrifically
toward explosion.

But I do not have the word for it.
Do not know the terminology
of roiling waters.

Today, all I know,
is that on shore
where the waves bathe the sand
and the sun dries the sand
and the waves bathe the sand
and the sun dries the sand

is a place where anyone,
anyone at all,
can sit for a spell
and watch the wild water
carry on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Worst Storyline Ever?

I can never resist a write-badly-on-purpose contest.

60 words only, and you've got till the end of the month. Click on the link for more details, then fire up those pencils!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Public Service Announcement

If you have comcast.net email, and if you use a mail reader on your hard drive to read your mail (that is, if you download your email to something like Windows Mail, rather than viewing your mail through a Web browser) then I thought I'd pass along a little info. (All others ignore this post.)

I have several email accounts, and I manage them all by using my computer's mail reader, Windows Mail. Starting yesterday evening and through today, I found that though my mail reader was checking my comcast.net email account (that is, going through the finding/authorizing/connecting process), I wasn't receiving any email. At first I didn't think anything of it, as I got a nice "No new messages" statement. But then it seemed weird that there was no mail at all. So I logged in to my email account via the comcast.net page, and discovered that I had a dozen plus messages.

I was glad to have found them -- but I prefer reading my mail through my mail reader, so I knew I wanted to fix whatever glitch was keeping us apart.

I contacted the Comcast Help Desk via email and was told that due to a change to something called "Smart Zone," I needed to change my incoming POP3 server setting to sz-pop.mail.comcast.net. No other changes were needed. I did this, but still no email on my reader. I then called the help desk. I spoke to a very pleasant person who, unfortunately, had never even heard of Smart Zone. (I get the feeling there are some communication gaps at Comcast....) So I gave up, figured I'd call back in a few weeks and see if there was a solution. But, ever the optimist (ha!), I tried downloading via Windows Mail again with the s-z port -- and it worked! Cross fingers, looks like I'm all set now.

But I wanted to pass on word to fellow comcast.net email folks, because you might find yourself in a similar situation and not realize it. That is, you might get a "No new messages" message and think you have no mail -- when in fact, you have mail, you just don't know it. It's waiting for you over in the "Smart Zone" (!). If that's the case, it's now my understanding that you will need to change your incoming mail server, circle around your desk chair three times counterclockwise, throw pixie dust in the air, and then, Voila!, your mail will arrive.

Ah, the marvels of technology.

Michigander Monday

Monday is the busiest traffic day on my blog, so I hate to disappoint -- but for this week, the "Michigander Monday" feature is going on a brief hiatus. I have two major writing projects I'm working diligently on, with hopes of finishing both within the next month or so. So I've got my blinders on, shoulder to the grindstone, etc. etc. With any luck, I'll be able to surface shortly and resume the profiles next week.

So do check back: there are so many talented Michiganders still to profile! I'm looking forward to it and I hope you are, too.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beach Sounds

On Thursday, I had a pleasant bookstore visit to the Holland Barnes & Noble, for a story time. Afterwards, my family and I spent the afternoon at one of Holland's many beach parks. We went to Tunnel Park, which is right along Lake Michigan. I'm not generally gaga about beaches (they're nice, but I'm not what you'd call a Beach Person; I'm not big on swimming or sunning or water sports; I just like to sit and stare at the water), but when I came up over the dune and got my first look at the beach and lake from above, my heart did a little jump-jump. Beautiful! "Picture perfect" is really the only way to describe it. The sky was bright blue, the lake wavy but not intensely so, the sand deep and sparkly. The beach was full but not crowded, and dotted with brightly colored beach umbrellas. Lovely.

I experienced an interesting auditory phenomenon while I was on the beach. For a while, I was up maybe fifteen feet away from the shoreline, helping my younger son explore in the sand. At that spot on the beach, the sound of the waves became very muted; but the sound of voices up and down the beach -- fifty feet away or more in either direction -- carried crystal clear. Every single conversation on the beach seemed as if it was taking place right next to me, while the water seemed miles away. Very odd. I don't know if it was the wind direction, or the impact of the tall grassy dune at the back of the beach holding in the sound. But whatever it was, it was interesting.

I'll leave it to smarter minds than mine to explain the phenomenon. For now I'll assume it was "beach magic."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Poetry Friday

Reckoning

Finding writing's place in life is harder than it seems.
It causes one to clutch at pens and purchase paper reams.
It tends to blur the line between reality and dreams.
The work is unrelenting and it's rarely done in teams.

Finding writing's place in life is better than it seems.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

National Creamsicle Day

I'm not sure who proclaimed it thus, but today, August 14th, is National Creamsicle Day. I didn't know this prior to this year -- oh, all those missed opportunities -- but my younger son has been reminding me of the fact for the last three months; so at our house today, yes, there was a Brief Celebration. It involved, as you might guess, the consumption of some creamsicles.


But as frequently happens at celebrations, there arose a dispute. Is a creamsicle only an orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream concoction? Or is a similarly formatted sherbet/ice cream treat in a flavor other than orange also a creamsicle? This has yet to be resolved. If you have definitive information on the topic, please weigh in in the Comments section.


And as to the corollary question, "Does this have anything to do with writing? Why are you contemplating frozen desserts on what is supposed to be (though rarely is) a writing blog?"


Well, the answer is obvious: A writer's gotta eat!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Notice How The Words In This Title Streel Across The Page?

I ran across a word today that was new to me: streel.

Over at Merriam-Webster Online, there are two entries for the word. The verb form means to saunter idly, or, to trail like a streamer. The noun [unfortunately I can't give you a direct link; use the previous link and then click on Entry 2] means, if I may paraphrase, a slob.

Both forms are chiefly Irish (which is maybe why I didn't find the word in my home dictionary), but the word has a pleasing sound to it and streels along nicely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Humor Diversion

I should not be posting a blog entry right now, what with Lori's Olympic Writing Challenge to us and the gold medal fact that I have not yet met today's writing quota. (It's not stated in the rules, but it's a given that blogging does not count as Writing.) But we Olympians all have our warm-ups, surely; and if mine involves a bit of looksee at several (hundred) blogs before I get down to work, well, who's to fault me that, as long as I do eventually make it to the pencil push-ups, right? Er, right?

Which is how, over at Boni Ashburn's blog, I happened to learn about Carrie Jones' Literary Terms glossary over on Through the Tollbooth. If you're a writer -- and probably even if you aren't -- you'll likely get a kick out of her definitions. The listings are split over a number of posts, but I, as designated kind soul of the day (and procrastinator extraordinaire) have compiled the links here for your blog-reading pleasure:

Pout-Pout Links

A few recent Pout-Pout links to pass along....

  • Earlier this summer Speech and Language Pathologist Sherry Y. Artemenko, M.A., C.C.C., included The Pout-Pout Fish in an article she wrote entitled "Cool Picks for Hot Summer Reading." The article is available on her site as well as at the Parents' Choice site. The article includes great tips on how to use picture books to encourage literacy skills. I also got a mention in her blog, in the context of how to encourage your child as an author. Sherry's site, blog, and articles are informative and useful. You should take a look!
  • I was extremely honored to have The Pout-Pout Fish reviewed in July by Dr. Sue Ann Martin of WCMU's The Dean's List. In conjunction with the review, I was also profiled on air by Susan McTaggart-Dennis, which was a great experience. The text of Dr. Martin's review is available at the The Dean's List site. There are also some great discussion questions for using The Pout-Pout Fish in a story time, classroom, or home setting. Head on over and take a look, as there are plenty of great book reviews and materials. You can even tune in via the Internet to listen to WCMU live.
  • Over at The Children's Book Review, Bianca Schulze has posted a review of The Pout-Pout Fish. Her site is chock full of reviews, so if you aren't a regular reader of it, you should head on over. She has also posted an interview with me, which was a lot of fun to do.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Michigander Monday: Mark Crilley

For this week's Michigander Monday, it's my pleasure to introduce you to: Mark Crilley!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Mark: I was raised in Detroit and went to Michigan schools from first to last, last being Kalamazoo College from 1984 to 1988. It was there that I was lucky enough to be among David Small's last students before he became a full-time author/illustrator. I spent five years or so teaching English in Taiwan and Japan before getting my first comic book story published as a series ("Akiko") in 1996. That led to Random House inviting me to develop it as a chapter book series in 2000. I've had two more titles published since then: Billy Clikk, a pair of chapter books, and Miki Falls, a series of four graphic novels.

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book!

Mark: Miki Falls is the tale of a high school girl in Japan, Miki, who finds that the new boy in town, Hiro, is secretly a cupid-like being who controls the distribution of love among human beings, transferring it from those who are falling out of love to those who have not yet fallen in love. When the two of them fall for each other, they are soon on the run since such pairings are strictly forbidden. I had fun teaching myself to draw in a manga style for this project, and was very honored that Susan Rich, Lemony Snicket's editor, wanted to personally oversee the whole series.

Debbie: Other books and and projects on the horizon?
Mark: I've got a couple of proposals out there at the moment. I think the one that may have the best chance of seeing publication is a graphic novel series about an ordinary boy who finds himself in a world populated entirely by paranormal beings: vampires, zombies, and the like. The tone is actually fairly comic, with just enough real scariness to give young readers a good chill now and then!

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Mark: I've been invited to speak at the Target Children's Book Festival in Detroit on August 23rd. After that an appearance at the Brandon Township Public Library in Ortonville on September 13th.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?
Mark: I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be in Michigan than strolling around Ann Arbor on a sunny summer day. Or any time of year, really. A close second is Cranbrook.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?
Mark: I am very fond of cider season, though I confess the nostalgic image of it in my mind is rarely matched by the overcrowded -- and bee-infested -- reality!

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Mark: I've got to assume everyone already knows the illustration work of my old college mentor David Small. But if you're one of those people who has only seen Imogene's Antlers and So You Want to Be President, by all means seek out the lesser known books like Fenwick's Suit and Paper John.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?
Mark: Southeast Michigan has one of the most vibrant Japanese communities of any region in the country other than California and NYC. As a result there are excellent Japanese restaurants, grocery stores, and even a Japanese-style bakery.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Mark: My mom always taught us to say Michiganders, and she ought to know: She's from Texas!

Debbie: Thanks, Mark, for being this week's Michigander Monday!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Travels and WhatNot

My posts to this blog have been less than regular lately; but 'tis the season. I've been on the road and/or vacationing for several stretches of this past month, and then I've been scrambling around catching up on work (and laundry!) when I'm back home; so my blog posts have suffered as a consequence. Watch for continued sporadic postings through the end of the summer, then more regular posts once the school year resumes.

In the meantime, thanks for keeping the faith by periodically checking on this blog. I hope at some point I'll say something worth reading. ;)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Poetry Friday


The Power of Sound

In the young years of my mind,
I was sure

that the signature sound
of late summer --

the droning hum,
the long-drawn rasp --

came from the power lines:

that the noise I heard
was the strain of electricity
traversing gracelessly through the wires
in the dog-day sun.


Years passed years
and overtook
other years

before I was finally

set straight

by the cicadas.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Yes, It's True: I'm Grateful For Blogs

By my count, there are currently fifty-two zillion five hundred and twelve blogs in existence. The ubiquity of blogs brings them in for a certain amount of (often deserved) criticism: i.e. that the writing of blogs can be an exercise in self-indulgence, and that the reading of blogs can become a pointless time-sink.

But though I acknowledge both of those blog dangers, I for one have come to love blogs, especially those with active comment sections. I'm not a frequent commenter myself (though I do pipe up every once in a while); but I love to see how the comments and connections made by the original poster and the commenters can cause an idea and discussion to branch. One blog entry leads to another, and another, and all of a sudden a bunch of people, many of whom have never met in person, others of whom might just walk past one another if they passed on the street, are engaged in a lively discussion.

Which is all by way of segue into mentioning that yesterday in my blog travels, I bumped into an interesting discussion about ways that writers can build community with other writers. (I started at an entry at Jeff Vande Zande's blog; his entry refers to comments by Matt Bell, Blake Butler, and Dan Wicket -- I'm not actually sure who all these people are ((I'm not as well-read as I'd like to be)) but I did enjoy wandering through the pathway of ideas.) Anyway, it's food for thought (and action) for all of us.

But the conversation was interesting to me not only for the suggestions about ways writers can be "open nodes." It also caused me to reflect on my own experience as part of a writing community. I don't know much about what writers are like outside of the children's writing community, but I know this about writers and illustrators of kids' books: you'll never find a more supportive or nurturing bunch.

I've encountered this at every layer -- from within my own writing group, to the writers I've met in my geographic community, to the writers I've not yet met other than virtually. Everyone is kind; everyone is encouraging; everyone wants all of us to do our best, to honor our talents, and to create for the joy of sharing with children and their grown-ups. It's a wonderfully creative and non-competitive community.

I feel honored and privileged to be a part of it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Now That's My Kind of Mall!

While indulging in a bit of googling earlier today (looking for the origin of the phrase "holy mackerel"), I happened across a fun and informative word blog: Michael Sheehan's Wordmall. It's described as a blog about the English language, and it's based on Michael Sheehan's weekly radio show, called "Words to the Wise."

Oh, and in case you're now wondering, here's his entry on "holy mackerel."

Monday, August 4, 2008

You Can't Beat A Retreat

Over the weekend, my critique group headed off to the Hankerd Inn for a writing retreat. It was fabulous. I got a lot of work done, and I also had more fun than a human should be allowed. The seven others in my critique group are collectively and individually the smartest and funniest people I know.

I'll post more details and some photos later this week (or possibly next week); but if you'd like to catch a glimpse of the retreat in the meantime, Ann has a retreat group photo up at her blog, and Lori has some shots of the place we stayed.

I'm already counting the days until next summer's retreat!

Michigander Monday: Shutta Crum

Our guest this week for Michigander Monday is... Shutta Crum. Welcome, Shutta!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Shutta: I come from a long line of “big-talkers.” My favorite memories are of listening to my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins tell tall tales. I would hide behind the grown-ups and listen, amazed, at these wild tales from my southern kin. Soon I started making up stories that I told to my siblings and friends.

When I learned to read, I loved it so much that I would hide books I read for fun inside my school textbooks.

In the sixth grade I discovered poetry—and I adored writing it! When I grew up, my poems were published in literary journals. I taught creative writing as a high school English teacher, as a community college instructor, and as a poetry instructor at elementary schools through an arts grant.

But I also love other forms of writing, especially children’s books. So I was happy when I became a children’s librarian, because I could work with children’s books, and with kids. Best of all, I could tell stories at storytime!

One day I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could write books that children would want to read? Maybe my books could be in libraries, or used at storytimes? And so I wrote a book that retold a tale I used in storytimes—but I told it my way, with characters I made up. That was my first book: WHO TOOK MY HAIRY TOE? Since then I’ve written several books for kids of all ages.

Little did I know how important it was for me to stand barefoot and big-eyed and hear the people I love laughing, talking, and telling stories. That passion for a good story told is a treasure I share with others when I write.

Debbie: We'd love to hear about your latest book!

Shutta: My latest book is A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM, Clarion, 2007. Some books are more autobiographical than others. This book is based upon the three years my husband and I spent looking for our place in the country. Our friendly real estate agent, Steve Eusades, was VERY patient. Every few weeks he would telephone to tell us about yet another house or farm that was available. At the time, we were living in downtown Ann Arbor and wanted more property. Finally, we found it!

In A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM a young couple is shown a series of homes that are a bit outlandish. (We were never shown a lighthouse!). There is also a parallel story of a raccoon Realtor ® who finds just the perfect home for a variety of animals—all at Old Mill Farm, a rundown heap of a place. Of course, this is also the perfect home for the young couple, as our home as proved to be.

Our farm was a run-down place that needed a great deal of repair! The barn doors were all broken or off their runners, drainage pipes were broken, the lawn had not been mowed in at least three years, there were dead trees that needed to be felled, and the house—a rental property—needed a lot of maintenance and renovation. However, at almost 13 acres and just minutes from downtown where we both worked . . . it was perfect! As the Realtor in the story says: “It just needs some paint . . . a roof . . . a board or two.” And did it!
Debbie: We'd also love to hear about your other books and projects!

Shutta: I have eight other books that are out, seven are picture books and one is a novel. Of these six are currently available, and two are out of print. (That hurts!) Each, in some way, has reflected my home, my career, my upbringing, or my family and friends. And I can truly say each has been a work of love. There are specifics on each title on my webpage at: www.shutta.com .

As far as new projects go . . . I currently have four more books under contract including a new fantasy chapter book with Knopf. That was really fun to write, and very different for me! We are just starting the editing process, and I am so looking forward to it.

In addition I will have a new picture book out with Clarion next year. It’s titled, THUNDER-BOOMER. That was a lot of fun, also. I love mid-western thunderstorms and enjoyed working with all the sounds in the text. It’s about a thunderstorm, a girl, a kitten, a dog, a chicken, a farm family and a pair of dad’s underwear. (Hah! The favorite word of four year olds!)

In the meantime, I write in spurts—feast or famine. Right now, my agent has four new picture book manuscripts she is submitting for me. And I’m working on a follow-up fantasy to the first one for Knopf.

Debbie: Any upcoming appearances?
Shutta: I am looking forward to doing a storytime for the Bay Yacht Club on the beach in August. This will be complete with s’mores! The rest of my schedule can be found on my website.

Basically, I try to keep school appearances down to about a dozen a year. I love them . . . and what comes out of the mouths of babes . . . but I would have no time for my family, or to write, if I did much more than that.

I usually do bookstores only when a new book appears. And I am doing more conferences around the country. I enjoy speaking to teachers and librarians.

Debbie: What are your favorite Michigan places?

Shutta: The Keweenaw Peninsula, Hartwick Pines, and my backyard.

Debbie: And your favorite Michigan event?

Shutta: I LOVE the Art Fairs in Ann Arbor every summer. I get so rejuvenated when I see all the wonderful art. When I think about creating something that never existed until an artist “sees” it in his/her mind and then creates it . . . Wow! It’s powerful.

Debbie: Some fun Michigan people we should all know?
Shutta: The Michigan Chapter of SCBWI! I don’t think I’d be where I am today without them. And talk about fun . . .

Debbie: Something you’d like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Shutta: We got the U.P. in a “war” with Ohio over Toledo. That’s why there’s a funny notch in the southern border. Ohio got the port city of Toledo. We got the U.P., the better prize. The funny thing is that there was only one injury in the so-called border “war.” A Ohio sheriff named Stickney had two sons. He’d named them One Stickney and Two Stickney. One of the two was slightly injured. But the interesting story is, of course, about a man who would name his sons One and Two. Interesting, the tidbits you find out as a librarian. Now . . . ask me how much a leopard eats.

Debbie: So, which do you prefer as the label for Michigan residents: Michigander or Michiganian?

Shutta: I usually use Michigander. However, since I was born in Kentucky I usually refer to myself as a Kentuckian. (I’ve lived here 55+ years. But, no matter how long you are away from Kentucky, Kentucky is still “home.”)
Debbie: Thanks, Shutta, for being this week's Michigander Monday guest -- and yes, don't keep us hanging, we do want to know how much a leopard eats!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Poetry Friday


Fern

The point of the simple intricacies,
of the green symmetry of arms, palms, and fingertips,
is unspoken in the fervent stretch
of a fern's cells.

But say it anyway:

Here I am.
Shine upon me.