Friday, October 31, 2008

Poetry Friday

Glee

Liberated
from the stack of agendas,
the paperclip did a triple flip
and escaped the staff room
laughing

hysterically.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blue Willow Bookshop's Hurricane Ike Library Rebuild Effort

The following information comes from Blue Willow Bookshop, an independent bookstore in Houston, Texas.

Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by December 1. You can help in a number of ways:

  • Come in to the store and purchase books from the schools' wish lists.
  • Stop by or call us with a donation and let us do the shopping for you; or
  • Call us if you have some very gently used current fiction (preferably hardcover) appropriate for grades 5 and up.

To see the wish list for Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center, click here.To see the wish list for Anahuac High School, click here.To see the wish list for Freeport Intermediate School, click here.

If you have any questions, please call the store at (281) 497 8675 or email us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Are We Not Lovers of Chocolate?

Only 4 votes so far in my chocolate grudgematch (see right sidebar). Seeing as it's an election that wraps up in just four days, you'd best vote now.

New Michael Perry Book

Yeah, yeah, I know it's a long ways off, but I'm operating under the assumption that some of you walk around with calendars mapped out for three to five years in advance -- so just a Heads Up that the writer Michael Perry has a new book coming out in May 2009, or thereabouts.

While you're waiting, read his previous ones.

Everybody Reads

Living in the Lansing area, I have the good fortune to have several favorite bookstores. One that you may not have heard of yet, but should definitely get to know, is Everybody Reads. It's a unique bookstore, nestled right on the Eastside of Lansing, and it has a cozy, neighborhood feel to it, along with an eclectic but accessible selection of titles. You can find a story about its origins here.

If you haven't stopped by Everybody Reads already, check it out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Does You Jack-O-Lantern Rate?

My children this year have created a jack-o-lantern rating system. Carve away, and then see how your pumpkin stacks up:
  • NS: Not Scary (teeth not pointed; each eye is a single shape)
  • S: Scary (teeth pointed; each eye a single shape)
  • VS: Very Scary (fangs, single-pointed; eyes segmented)
  • H: Hideous (fangs with multiple points; eyes segmented)
  • TH: Totally Hideous (too gory and gruesome to describe!)
By the looks of it, we'll be home to one NS jack-o-lantern and one H jack-o-lantern this Halloween.

Nonfiction Author Panel at Schuler Books

Just a reminder that the Eastwood location of Schuler Books is sponsoring a series of Author Panels aimed at writers and aspiring writers.

The last in the series is this Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. The Nonfiction Author Panel features a cross-section of nonfiction composition, from journalism and literary blogs to expository writing on modern life: featuring Bill Castanier, books writer for the Lansing City Pulse and author of the Mitten Lit blog; Tom Foster, author of How to Read Novels Like a Professor; and Marybeth Hicks, author of Bringing Up Geeks and family columnist for the Washington Times.

I Don't Have A Tattoo and I Don't Want A Tattoo -- Not Even a Temporary One, But...

... if I did, I suppose I would be glad to know that there are Librarian-themed temporary tattoos available: http://www.shakespearesden.com/librarian-temporary-tattoos-book.html

Snowy Day Postage Stamp

From the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation:

HELP CREATE A COMMEMORATIVE POSTAGE STAMP

The U.S. Postage Stamp Citizenʼs Advisory Committee, the group that decides what subjects are chosen for our countryʼs commemorative postage stamps, is considering celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats. This book is not just an American classic beloved by generations of children and parents around the world; it is also the book that broke the color barrier in mainstream American childrenʼs book publishing.

It takes three years for the subject of a postage stamp to be considered, accepted and developed. The fiftieth anniversary of THE SNOWY DAY is in 2012. Help us gather signatures to send to the Citizenʼs Advisory Committee to let them know how welcome this stamp would be to families and educators across the country. Help us show the world that Ezraʼs character Peter, playing in the snow, a character they recognize and treasure, is as valued here as it is abroad.

To support the creation of THE SNOWY DAY 50th Anniversary Commemorative Stamp visit the website of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation (www.ezra-jack-keats.org) and add your name to the Support the Stamp list. Tell your friends, your students, your teachers and your parents to add their names to our petition. Names will not be used for any other reason than for THE SNOWY DAY Stamp Petition, nor will they be shared or sold to any other entity. Help make 2012 a celebration of American children in all their diversity!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Michigander Monday: Amy Young

This week we welcome Amy Young for our Michigander Monday profile. Let's get to know her!

Debbie: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Amy: I have always loved to draw and make up stories. I also love animals, children and chocolate. I think that covers all of the important stuff.

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

Amy: It is Belinda Begins Ballet, the fourth in the Belinda the Ballerina series. Belinda's teacher, Mrs. Rhino, chooses Belinda to play the clown in a skit for the school talent show. Her feet are perfect for floppy clown shoes. But after seeing an older girl soar big across the stage as a ballerina, Belinda has other plans....

Debbie: And your other books, and any books and projects on the horizon?

Amy: I am working on two stories right now. One is The Mud Fairy, about a fairy who has more fun getting muddy with frogs than being dainty with the other fairies. The other is Alice and Bubba, about a cat whose life is perfect, thank you very much, until a boisterous puppy comes along to ruin everything.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Amy: I have a variety of school talks and video conference programs going on. Open to the public is my appearance at The Kalamazoo Public Library on April 23rd at 7 pm. It should be a lot of fun!

Debbie: Your favorite place or places in Michigan?

Amy: I love where we live, in Spring Lake in Western Michigan -- it is so pretty. But I also love the Leelanau Peninsula and its environs. My husband and I have fun poking around discovering new places and adventures.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Amy: Irish music on Wednesday nights at Fenian's Irish Pub in Conklin (I play Irish whistle).

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

Amy: Margaret Willey, Laurie Keller and Sue Stauffacher are three of my all time favorite Michigan author/illustrators, not to mention my very good friends.

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

Amy: Lake Michigan is really, really big. You can't see across it. (This surprises people, believe me!)

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

Amy: I am totally a "Michigander." Or does that automatically make me a "Michigoose?"

Debbie: Amy, whether Michigander or Michigoose, we're very glad you to have had you here this week! Thank you!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blog Roll

Three posts in one day? Yeah, I know; I should space them out. But instead I'm once again taking the feast/famine approach to blogging, which is probably discussed in the "Ten Worst Blogging Habits" of a cautionary manual somewhere. But anyway, those of you who tend to scroll down will notice that I've added a Blog Roll to my sidebar. It is by no means complete. There are quite a few other blogs I read that I'd like to add and will eventually. This was just a quick first go.

It took me a while to figure out the rhyme-or-reason behind how they're listed in the sidebar. The blogs didn't show up in the order I entered them, and they also didn't show up in alphabetical order. I finally realized that the most recently updated ones appear first. See, I am catching on to technology. (Er, sorta. When it comes right down to it, I'll always be a pre-Twitter kinda gal.)

Emma Weber's Pumpkin Pie

My thanks go out, as they do each year around this time, to someone I've never met: Emma Weber. Some years ago, I ran across her pumpkin pie recipe in a magazine, and I prefer it to any other pumpkin pie recipe I've ever used. The spice combination is perfect, and the pie itself is a creamier consistency than most pumpkin pies. I baked some today, and we had it tonight after dinner. If history repeats itself, we'll eat Emma Weber's pumpkin pie regularly throughout the winter.

You can find the recipe here. I use soy milk instead of cow's, but other than that, I follow the recipe as given. Good spices (I prefer Penzey's - they have such glorious cinnamon) really bring the pie to life.

Yard Sign Update

Quick Follow-Up to my Thursday Post...

A kindly neighbor gave us an extra yard sign to replace our purloined one (full theft story here, in case you missed it). My younger son, who was quite offended by the thievery, made a sign of his own and asked me to put it with our new yard sign:

(He's much more to the point than I am -- he managed to boil my 44 words of polite rant into five. Though I am curious about what he wrote in the now blacked-out part....)

We'll see how long the new sign lasts. As for my son's, I'm saving that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday

Dispute

Autumn thinks of itself
as the season of leaf belief.
"Just look! Isn't it obvious?"

Spring, full of hope and growth,
begs to differ;
and in full green glory,
Summer insists otherwise.

But Winter,
grizzled sage,
argues that leaf belief
comes only
when the limbs are bare
and the ground is cold --

when all that exists
is the empty open space
that waits for what is yet to come.

And who knows
but that he's right.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Nice

Since this is supposedly a blog about being a children's book writer (though I admittedly often end up discussing off-topic things such as candy preferences and disco...), I've tried to keep my political leanings off this blog. It's not that I don't have strong opinions; I just figure this isn't the place for them.

However. I feel compelled to report to my loyal readers that today my yard signs for the Presidential candidate I hope-like-heck will be elected were stolen right out of my yard! In broad daylight! Looks like quite a few neighbors lost theirs as well.

On the voter intimidation scale, that ranks right up there with a three-year-old sticking his/her tongue out at you. But still, it isn't very good citizenship. I hope whoever (whomever?) did it is ashamed.

I hastily scrawled a temporary replacement sign on a corner of foam board leftover from a project. I share it with you here, with the full understanding that if your yard sign supports a different candidate than mine, I thoroughly respect your choice, and I will not steal your sign.

OK. Rant over now. Carry on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inside Out

I don't watch much TV (I know, I know; everyone says that -- but really, it's true). However, once every couple of months or so I turn the set on and troll through the channels. I tell my husband I'm conducting an anthropological survey of modern America, but really what it is is an opportunity to lie on the sofa and eat Cheez-Its right out of the box.

Anyway, this is how I came to learn this evening that there is now an Inside Out version of the classic (and to my mind, not to be improved upon) Junior Mints candy. I am -- let me look for just the right word here, um, oh yeah, here it is: dubious. Here's hoping Santa brings me the regular ones for my stocking this year.

In other totally random news, one of the blogs that I read offered up a YouTube video as a mental health break today, and I got a kick out of it. So I thought I'd share it with all of you. Because really, in a world so topsy-turvy that even Junior Mints get turned inside out, what could be better than a disco dance lesson from Finland? (Instruction for the first couple of minutes, then the floor fills up and lets loose at 2:19...)

I'm trying my hand at embedding the YouTube right here on this very blog. Let's see if it works, shall we?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good News Department

Great news! Dan Hanna and The Pout-Pout Fish have received the 2008 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association award in the children's picture book category!

The award was announced this past weekend at the SCIBA trade show and Author Feast. Publishers Weekly has a nice write-up of the event here.

Yay, Dan!!


Also in the Good News Department (albeit in the minor good news division): I received notice today that a poem of mine, "I Dream In Fluorescent Colors," was awarded an honorable mention in the Writer's Digest 77th Annual Writing Competition, in the Rhyming Poem category. There are a full 100 honorable mentions in each category, but still, it was nice to receive the letter and certificate.

Michigander Monday: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen and Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen

I'm thrilled this week to feature Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen and Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourselves.

Robbyn & Gijsbert: We live on a 40 acre farm that we lovingly changed from a working farm to a wildlife refuge. Because we rehabilitated wildlife for 25 years, we created habitat to release our recovered patients in. Our lives are what we both dreamed about as kids. We both made our hobbies our careers. Me, living in balance with nature, caring for animals and sharing with kids and adults, by way of storytelling, our passion in life. Gijsbert has wanted to illustrate children's books since the age of ten. We are both country folk and love it!


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

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Gijsbert and I are working on our next book together titled Itsy Bitsy and Teeny Weeny. It is the next in the Hazel Ridge series, which are true stories about our farm and the wild animals we raised and released. Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny is about an orphaned lamb fawn that we raised together.


Debbie: Other books, and and projects on the horizon?

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Gijsbert's next book will be S is for Smithsonian, an alphabet book about the Smithsonian.


Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Robbyn & Gijsbert: We are planning our annual Holiday Open House here on the farm December 11- 14. Information is on our web page at http://www.hazelridgefarm.com/


Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Home on the farm, of course.


Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Robbyn & Gijsbert: The Crane migration is always an amazing sight. At Baker Sanctuary in Bellevue, MI, cranes gather nightly during October before they migrate south for the winter. For about 2-3 weeks thousands of cranes can be seen in the evening, as they come in for the evening from outlying grain fields.


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

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Kevin and Stephanie Kammeraad are very phun pholks to watch and listen to.


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

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Our Fall is spectacular.


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

Robbyn & Gijsbert: Michiganders.

Debbie: Thank you, both of you, for being this week's Michigander Monday!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Diesen Endorses...

With just over two weeks until election day, I think it's time that I take a stand.

So. For the record. I've already cast my vote, over at Dum Dum Pops central, for... Orange Cream.

Sadly, Orange Cream is currently in 4th place.

Go cast your vote today -- and make it Orange Cream!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Poetry Friday

Burnt Umber

The days of fall
tumble inevitably
into decay

and we find ourselves standing, helpless,
beneath the colorless sky.

And our souls ache.


Hearts collide
with the chill in the air;

and bones stiffen
in solidarity
with the brittle crackle
of bare branches
and dead leaves.


But then autumn,
in her wretched capriciousness,
flares her other face,

and we stand, powerless and weak-kneed,
under the endless blue sky:

the warm breeze a balm,
and the leaves --
oh, the leaves!

what can they ever be

but the unbelievable palette

of life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Birthday Wishes

This is my Dad, and he's a marvelous guy.

And it just so happens to be his birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you -- and the whole family -- very, very much.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baking

A gray day today, on a number of fronts. I left the office halfway through with plans to work at home for the remainder of the day. After some effort toward this end (take your pick: my efforts were either perfunctory, desultory, or half-hearted), I finally found myself, late afternoon, in the kitchen.

I made a batch of Gingerdoodles, a cookie recipe I ran across recently in the back pages of a mystery book. (Think Snickerdoodles, with the addition of ginger to the exterior sugar mix.) The cookies turned out a bit flat, due perhaps to my perfunctory/desultory/half-hearted adherence to the instruction "beat until fluffy" early in the recipe. And, in my ongoing attempt to win the World's Most Absent-Minded Baker award, I may (or may not) have left out the vanilla. I'm also not convinced the addition of ginger brings that much more to the cookies, and I have to admit that the scent of so much ginger during the baking was almost too much for my olfactory preferences. In the Great Baking Scents category, I really don't think you can improve on cinnamon.

But some days, the act of warming the oven, mixing the ingredients, and having hope in the results can be, if not rudder enough, and if not anchor enough, then at least some rudder, and some anchor, and some of a little something else, small and tender, that slips just past the net of words.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh So Fond of Words?

It's a pleasure to learn a word such as univocalic.

But I have to say, given its definition, wouldn't the word be even more fun if it included an E (and perhaps, sometimes, a Y) to go with its A, I, O and U? Can I unilaterally declare "univocalickey" to be a new word?

If you're feeling univocalickey, please note that AWAD is running a univocalic contest (click the definition page, linked above, and then scroll about halfway down). Pick your favorite vowel and have at it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Missing A Week

Just an early apology: there won't be a Michigander Monday entry tomorrow. I've been juggling a few too many plates the last couple of weeks, and that's one that I managed to drop. But, thankfully, I only juggle shatterproof plates, so I'll have the feature back up as soon as I can. In the meantime, my apologies to my regular readers who come for their weekly dose of interesting Michigan children's book authors and illustrators.

In other news for my regular readers: my voice is back. (Or mostly so. 87% or thereabouts.) Thanks, all, for your good wishes and good advice.

Here's to My Spouse

Today is my wedding anniversary. I have the good fortune to be married to someone who is not only a heck of a handsome guy, but who is also the smartest person I know and who possesses a wry and sometimes unbelievably silly sense of humor. He also has an unwavering sense of justice and decency. Take my word for it: he's a great guy. We've had a dozen years of marriage now, and I look forward to the coming years with enthusiasm.

(As a side note: Today the weather forecast is predicting temps around 80. A couple of years back on our wedding anniversary, same geographic location, it snowed. That, my friends, is Michigan in a nutshell.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poetry Friday

Just Beyond Reach

The Land of Misplaced Thoughts
is a crowded zone,

heavy on grocery list items,
unusual-but-useful vocabulary words,
and pithy, persuasive insights
that were meant to follow the phrase
"And lastly..."

The region also sees periodic influxes
of childhood memories
and Really Important Realizations;

and is frequently overrun
by gangs of "The Reason I Came Into This Room."


Occasionally comes a knock at the door.
Up pops the clerk at the Claims Desk,
and a thought or two is reunited
with its original owner.
These joyful moments
are remembered fondly
by those left behind:

by the can of garbanzo beans,
the word "philtrum,"
the answer "for your glasses,"

and by the last perfect line
of a poem

that hasn't yet

been written.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mum's The Word

Last week I had a mild cold that departed within a few days -- but when it left, it took most of my voice with it! I then operated on reduced voice, including last Friday (when I had to give a presentation), last Saturday (when I attended my husband's high school reunion and made a lot of small talk in a noisy room), and last Sunday (when I had the joy of spending the evening with my critique group -- photo below -- and who could resist talking to these folks?).

Having obviously not heeded the "rest your voice" advice over the weekend, by this week it was still gravelly and strained.

Hot tea has helped. Honey has helped. Hot lemonade has helped. Chocolate has helped. (Hey, it's good for your heart -- why not your voice, too?) But still, I have partial voice at best.

And with a speaking engagement on tap for this Saturday, it's now time to do what must be done: a day of total silence. That's right. Nothing above a whisper.

I'll report back later and let you know if I made it. In the meantime, here's my critique group (less our member in Iowa, whom we missed terribly), photographed last Sunday celebrating Amy's forthcoming novel and Ruth's recent second book:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One of the Fourteen Zillion Photos I Keep Meaning To Post On My Blog

Photos, I've got plenty of 'em.

Here's one that was taken in September at the splendid Foggy Bottom Coffee House in Dexter, Michigan, where I had the pleasure of finally meeting Boni Ashburn in person:


Boni and I did a joint school visit to Bates Elementary right after this photo was taken. We had a fabulous time! The school librarian, Paula, was wonderful, and the kids who attended were an outstanding crowd. Great day!

The school visit was followed by the weekend-long SCBWI-Michigan conference, which I wrote about briefly some time ago. Somewhere around here I have a photo from a panel I participated in during that weekend. But where it is exactly is another matter entirely. I'll save that photo for another post...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

For All You Aspring Writers in the Lansing Area...

The Eastwood location of Schuler Books is sponsoring a series of Author Panels aimed at writers and aspiring writers. If you live in the Lansing area, I hope you'll consider stopping by one or more of them:

News from Schuler Books: Join us for a series of author panels leading up to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Designed to inspire prospective writers, the panels feature published Michigan authors who will talk about their own experiences with writing and the publishing industry.

Wednesday. October 15. 7:30 p.m.
The Children's Author Panel will feature three Lansing-area authors -- Ruth McNally Barshaw, author and illustrator of the popular Ellie McDoodle youth series; Deborah Diesen, author of The Pout Pout Fish, which recently placed on the New York Times picture book best seller list; and Dan Mishkin, author of the illustrated novel series The Forest King and noted comics writer and creator of The Blue Devil and Amythest.

Wednesday. October 22. 7:30 p.m.
The Fiction Author Panel
will feature authors from a variety of fictional genres: Joe Borri (Eight Dogs Named Jack); Colleen Gleason (The Gardella Vampire Chronicles); Jill Gregory, award-winning author of over 30 novels; Jim Hines, (Goblin Hero series); and Karen Tintori (Unto the Daughters, co-author with Gregory of The Book of Names).

Wednesday. October 29. 7:30 p.m.
The Nonfiction Author Panel
features a cross-section of nonfiction composition, from journalism and literary blogs to expository writing on modern life: featuring Bill Castanier, books writer for the Lansing City Pulse and author of the Mitten Lit blog; Tom Foster, author of How to Read Novels Like a Professor; and Marybeth Hicks, author of Bringing Up Geeks and family columnist for the Washington Times.

If You Live In The New York City Area and Love Poetry...

Just passing along some children's poetry event info, for any of my blog readers who happen to live in the New York City area...

Poets House invites children and their grown-ups to explore the wonders of poetry through our collaborative series at the NYPL Mulberry Street Branch and preview festivities in Battery Park City.

A BATTERY PARK CITY POETRY WALK as part of POETS HOUSE IN BATTERY PARK

Saturday, October 11, 11:00am: Your Song Is a Map of the City with Chris Martin

Poets House invites children and adults on an interactive poetry and performance walking tour through Battery Park City. Co-sponsored by the Battery Park City Authority. Meet at the bandshell of Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City (1, 2, 3, A, C to Chambers Street, walk west to River Terrace, cross the street to enter the park & head south to the bandshell). Admission free


SPECIAL SATURDAY EVENTS AT THE NYPL MULBERRY STREET BRANCH

Saturday, October 25, 2:00pm: Monstrology 101 with Johan Olander

Children and adult companions will be invited to create their own monsters with Johan Olander, author and illustrator of A Field Guide to Monsters. NYPL Mulberry Street Branch 10 Jersey Street (bet. Lafayette and Mulberry Streets). Admission free.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Michigander Monday: Nancy Edwards

I'm pleased to welcome Nancy Edwards for this week's Michigander Monday profile!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Nancy: I was born in Port Huron, Michigan and have lived here ever since. From my house, it's a five minute walk to Lake Huron--a little longer to our lighthouse and our twin bridges to Canada. On a sunny day, the water is an amazing blue you won't see anywhere else. During the school year, I teach the deaf and hard-of-hearing. In the summer I concentrate on my writing. I've been writing stories for children's magazines for over ten years. I have written one picture book, Glenna's Seeds, and one mid-grade novel, Mom for Mayor.

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

Nancy: Glenna's Seeds is the story of what happens when Glenna leaves a packet of flower seeds in a neighbors empty flower pot. That one random act of kindness spreads up and down her street. Mom for Mayor is the story of a boy who wants to get his mom elected to the city council so she can save his park. He sets everything in motion except for, ahem, actually telling his mother she's running. Mom for Mayor was recently nominated for the Young Hoosier Book Award.

Debbie: Do you have other books and and projects on the horizon?

Nancy: I have a completed mid-grade novel that is looking for a publisher, and a novel that I'm revising. I also just finished the first draft of a picture book.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Nancy: Because of my teaching schedule, I am appearing, for the most part, in my classroom at Thomas Edison Elementary. I do have a speaking engagement scheduled at Kimball Elementary in Port Huron in November, and at the Michigan Reading Association convention in Grand Rapids in March.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Nancy: My favorite place in Michigan must be Mackinac Island, because that's where we keep going on vacation. My sons are in their twenties, and our family still enjoys going there to hike the trails, to ride bikes, or to just enjoy the view.

Debbie: A favorite Michigan event or happening?

Nancy: Any person living in Port Huron would have to tell you that the best event is the night before the Port Huron to Mackinac Sailboat Race. We call it Boat Night. Everybody (everybody!) walks up and down the banks of Black River supposedly looking at the boats but mostly looking to see who is in the crowd. Every charitable organization in town has a booth selling t-shirts and all sorts of food and drink. It's one big party.

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

Nancy: Ann Tompert is an amazing and fun Michigan person. She has been writing for over 50 years and is a fellow Port Huron author. One of her first books, Little Fox Goes to the End of the World, is still in print. Although she is 90, she is still writing, and has a column in Once Upon a Time. She is my greatest source of encouragement.

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

Nancy: Hidden away in the pines of northern Michigan, Interlochen Center for the Arts is a jewel. Its alumni include Felicity Huffman, Josh Groban, Branford Marsallis, Norah Jones, and Mike Wallace as well as countless composers, conductors, and musicians.

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

Nancy: Michigander, no doubt about it. When I first heard the word as a child, I loved the sound of it, and have used it ever since.

Debbie: Thanks, Nancy, for joining us today!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poetry Friday

Before I get to this week's poem, I'd like to take a moment to say Thank You to those of you who are here to read it. Even though the quality of my poetry is often uneven (some passable, some not-so-great), the act of writing poems is something I always benefit from. Creating poetry feeds a part of my writing self that isn't otherwise nourished; and writing a weekly poem for my blog also ends up encouraging me in other areas of my writing life. Maybe it's simply the effect of having a regular weekly deadline (writers need deadlines!); or maybe it's the comfortable risk-taking of posting a piece of writing for just anybody to read; but something about it feels nice. And so I thank you -- family, friends, and total strangers -- for stopping by, for taking the chance on some word meanderings, for encouraging me to keep at it, and for sharing your comments. It sounds hokey to say, but it means more to me than you know.

So, here goes with this week's poem...


Eight-and-a-Half by Eleven


Words

are tiny, faceted gems,

delightful bon-bons,
earnest spring flowers,
raucous party-goers ,

but they lose their luster

when corralled

heartlessly

into an Agenda


where the only word

that sparkles


is "Adjourn."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Are You Doing Here?

By all means, click and go: the Chicago Manual of Style October Q&A is up. Here's one of my favorite Q&A from this month's list:

Q. My colleagues are divided in their opinions about “storing data in a computer” versus “storing data on a computer.” Which is correct? Thanks.

A. You can do either, but I would store the data in the computer. It used to be easy to store stuff on a computer, but now with flat screens and laptops it tends to slide off.

Also, those of you who've been wondering about 15mph (no space) or 15 mph (with space) and 8mm (no space) or 8 mm (space) can soon sleep easier, with your questions resolved.