Monday, May 24, 2010

Michigander Monday: Deb Pilutti

I'm very pleased this week to welcome Deb Pilutti to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Deb, please tell us a little about yourself.

Deb:  I grew up in Indiana, but for many summers, my parents would load the seven of us in our station wagon, tow a fishing boat packed with an enormous canvas tent and provisions for the week and head up north to Michigan. I have fond memories of summer vacations spent running up and down the sand dunes near Ludington with my brothers & sister, playing in the surf of Lake Michigan, fishing with my dad in some of the many inland lakes and exploring the campgrounds of the Upper Peninsula.

After stints in St. Louis and Chicago, my husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 1987 so that he could attend grad school and we never left. We live there with our two children and two dogs. I've worked as a pool cleaner, house painter, janitor, graphic designer, web designer and now as a children's book writer and illustrator.

Debbie:  Please tell us about your books!

DebThe City Kid and the Suburb Kid , my first book as an author, was in published by Sterling in 2008 and illustrated by Linda Bleck. It's a twist on the Aesop's fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

My first picture book as an illustrator is The Twelve Days of Christmas in Michigan, written by Susan Collins Thoms, and will be available in October 2010. Based on the traditional Christmas song, it's a fun romp through the state for cousins Will & Katie. Will gives Katie some unusual gifts that could only come from the Great Lakes State: 12 cherry sundaes, 11 dutch girls dancing - you get the picture. Sue did a tremendous job of packing oodles of Michigan fun facts and places into the story - I learned a lot while illustrating it!

Debbie:  Both books sound terrific!  Other books and projects on the horizon?

Deb:  I am trying to refine a couple of picture book ideas.

Debbie:  Your favorite place in Michigan?

Deb:  Any stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, where I can walk for awhile and occasionally stick my toes in the water or pick up a Petoskey stone or a piece of lake glass.

Debbie:  Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Deb:  Spring - when the trillium and trout lilies and jack-in-the-pulpit are in bloom in the woods near my home. Among my favorite organized events are Top of the Park in Ann Arbor, an outdoor festival with three weeks of live music, free movies and good food and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

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

Deb:  I have met many talented authors and illustrators through the Michigan chapter of SCBWI. It is an unbelievably supportive group of people, willing to share knowledge, resources and inspirations to aspiring writers and illustrators. I also have been inspired over the years by some wonderful artists in the area, like Chris Roberts-Antieau and Tracy Gallup.

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

Deb:  Shhh - don't tell the rest of the country about the 3,288 miles of coastline, old-growth pine forests and acres of natural beauty or they might flock to our favorite vacations spots! Seriously, I feel like Michigan is a hidden gem, and absolutely love living in this state.

Debbie:  I agree with you on that!  Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Deb:  Definitely a Michigander.

Debbie:  Deb, thank you for joining us today!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kerrytown BookFest

Yours truly will be at the Kerrytown BookFest on September 12 in Ann Arbor; but it's really the rest of the line-up you're going to want to show up for.  The day is shaping up as follows:

Main Tent

11 a.m. Community Book Award presentation to Loren D. Estleman.  Mr. Estleman will be interviewed by Doug Allyn.  The day will be kicked off by honorary chairs Joe & Karen O’Neal

Noon:  Northern Noir.  Moderator and author Craig McDonald leads a discussion with mystery writers Steve Hamilton, William Kent Krueger & Bryan Gruley.

1 p.m. Thomas Lynch interviewed by Keith Taylor

2 p.m. Paranormal Fiction & Poetry: Werewolves, Vampires & Ghosts:  Moderator and author Colleen Gleason leads a discussion with Toby Barlow, Jennifer Armintrout & Amy Huntley

3 p.m. Caldecott Award winner David Small interviewed by Nicola Rooney

4 p.m. Illuminating Imaginations: writing & illustrating for children.  Moderator Jackie LaRose leads a discussion with Susan Kathleen Hartung, Mark Crilley, Debbie Taylor & Michael and Colleen Monroe


Kerrytown Concert House

11 a.m. Presentation of the winners of the 3rd annual Book Cover Design Contest

Noon:   Michigan Lit.  Moderator Eric Olsen leads a discussion with Bonnie Jo Campbell, Michael Zadoorian, Kristina Riggle & Wendy Webb.

1 p.m. Remembering & Forgetting: the Art of the Memoir.  Moderator Steve Lehto leads a conversation with Steve Luxenberg & Lev Raphael

2 p.m. Children’s author Sarah Stewart: Why Save the Picture Book

3 p.m. Historical Fiction.  Moderator William Whitbeck leads a discussion with John Smolens, Steve Amick, Donald Lystra & Sharon Pomerantz

4 p.m. Michigan Murders: True Crime.  Moderator Ellen McCarthy leads a discussion with true crime writers Mardi Link & Gail Griffin


Hollander’s Kitchen
1 p.m. author Ann Pearlman


Children’s Tent
2 p.m. Deborah Diesen: Readings & Songs for younger children
3 p.m. Ruth McNally Barshaw: Drawing Workshop

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Features Back On The Horizon

Boy, I've really let my features go lately, haven't I?  It's been a fairly busy spring, full of both expected and unexpected events; and that's not left a lot of time for care and feeding of my blog.  But things do seem to be leveling off lately, and I will soon return to more regular Michigander Monday entries, Wednesday Workout Reviews, and Poetry Friday, along with the occasional update on my own writing projects thrown in for good measure.

To my regular blog readers as well as to those of you just joining me, thanks for checking back periodically to see what I'm up to lately!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Club In The Comments?

So I had this nice, relaxing weekend, wherein I did a lot of reading, including the funny, satirical novel How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely.  It's a novel that did something few novels I read do:  it made me wish I was in an actual book club - that is, the meet-in-person kind.  (As most of you know, I only belong only to The Lazy Person's Reading Group, which, incidentally, is due for another installment, though that's a topic for another post.)

Anyway.  The reason I wish I were in a group for this particular book is that I have a question about the novel's ending.  So, if you've read it, pop into the Comments section.

Spoiler Alert!
***If you haven't read the book, stay out of the Comments section, because I completely give away the ending.***

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stolen Children's Books

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I occasionally highlight libraries that have been hit by an unexpected disaster and might benefit from a donation to help with their recovery.  Generally the cause is a natural disaster, but today I'm featuring a library hit by an unfortunate man-made disaster:  theft.

1,348 children's picture books have been stolen from the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library in recent months.  An investigation is underway, but in the meantime, the library is trying to rebuild its collection.

If you're interested in helping, a monetary donation is actually better than a book donation, as it prevents duplicates.  According to their web site:
There are several ways you can make a donation to help replace the children's books that were stolen from the Port Orchard Library. Gifts of any size are appreciated.

If you are mailing a check, please add "PO books" in the memo line.

  • Credit Card - Secure online donation!
  • Phone - Call us at 360-475-9039.
  • Mail - Download and print the donation form and send it with your check or credit card information to:  The Kitsap Regional Library Foundation, 1301 Sylvan Way, Bremerton, WA 98310
  • Fax - Download and print the donation form and fax it to 360-405-9156
  • Stock - To make gifts of stock, please contact the Foundation at 360-475-9039.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guys Read

As mentioned previously, I'm currently suffering through the actute stage of NMBFGAIACBSPVL Syndrome (though I'm hoping for a full recovery relatively soon).

In keeping with that, here's another fun YouTube video link.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great Quote

Lifted straight out of today's Shelf Awareness, a few thoughts from author and publisher Siobhán Parkinson, who has been named Ireland's first children's laureate:


"I believe that children's literature lays the foundations of the imaginative life of a people, and that every child deserves to have access to a reading haven.... Literature plays a unique role in helping us to interrogate who we are as a society; it has the power to make us understand what it means to be human, and it offers us that most subversive of things--pleasure."

Full article in the Guardian (where the quote comes from) here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Do the Write Thing

You've probably seen this already, because it's been cross-posted to many blogs; but in case not:  "Do the Write Thing For Nashville" is an online fund-raising effort that is auctioning off signed books, critiques, and other literary goodies to raise money for Nashville flood relief.

New items are listed daily.  If you're a reader or a writer, you'll probably find several things of interest.  You bid by simply posting your bid in the comments.

Disclosure:  One of the upcoming lots is donated by yours truly.  (But Mom and Dad, don't bid on it!  :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Constructing a Home for Poems

Lately, I've been Neglecting My Blog, Feeling Guilty About It, And Compensating By Sporadically Posting Video Links.  This chronic condition is known by its catchy initialism, NMBFGAIACBSPVL Syndrome.

I'm hoping for a remission soon, and a return to better blogging habits and some new Michigander Monday profiles.  But in the meantime, even if it weren't for NMBFGAIACBSPVL Syndrome, I'd probably post this link, of Bill Murray reading poetry to the construction workers who built the new Poets House facility.

(As a side note, Bill Murray is one of the few celebrities I'd gladly include in my "If you could invite 6 famous people, alive or dead, to dinner" guest list.  He seems like a really interesting guy.  And he'd definitely keep us all laughing.  Even Emily Dickinson!)

Anyway, go watch the video.  Then check out the Poets House web site, too.

(After you're done with all that, then you can make your own 6-famous-people list.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Babies on the Big Screen

As you know, I've got a soft-spot for bad-tempered babies.  So the two adorably bad-tempered babies at the beginning of the trailer for the forthcoming movie Babies captured me immediately.  And the rest of the trailer makes me really want to see the film!

The film is a wordless (music only) documentary directed by Thomas Balmès.  Described as a "wildlife film of human babies," it follows the life of four babies in four different countries, from birth to about 18 months.

Opens May 7 at theaters nationwide.  Count me amongst those who will be going to see it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Many Reasons Why I Enjoyed Today's Conference

I attended the SCBWI-Michigan spring conference today. It was a great experience! Glad I went.

The first speaker of the day was Jay Asher. I was totally not expecting to like Jay Asher’s talk. To explain that rather odd statement, I need to admit to a major character defect of mine: namely, that I have a knee-jerk aversion to things that are popular. And given that Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 1,848,327 consecutive weeks (give or take a few), it would certainly stand to reason (here invoking a strange combination of irrationality and the transitive principle) that Jay Asher himself would be at best overrated and at worst, well, worse than overrated.

Instead? He was great! He was funny, smart, informative, and inspiring! I enjoyed his opening talk very much. I also enjoyed, and learned much from, the breakout session of his that I attended later in the day. All in all, it was such a positive experience that I now plan to read his novel. Even if it is a bestseller.

The other sessions were thoroughly enjoyable as well. Loved hearing Dave Coverly and Jim Tobin discuss their collaboration on Sue MacDonald Had A Book (and I can’t wait for their next project, which they gave us a sneak preview of). Learned a lot about from Lisa Yoskowitz’s (of Dutton) talk on “Slow and Steady Wins The Race,” which covered the nuts and bolts of the timeline and process of publication. Was inspired by Ruta Rimas’s (Balzer + Bray) talk about “What Makes A Book Great”; and heard some cautionary tales and good advice from agent Beth Fleisher (Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency) on “How NOT To Get Published.” Another talk from the knowledgeable Lisa Yoskotwitz on “Standing Out in the Slush Pile” was followed by a Q&A session with the full roster of speakers. And though I missed both of author Donna Gephart’s sessions, I heard good things about them. All in all, a busy but useful and inspiring day.

And best of all of course was the opportunity to reconnect to writing friends old and new!

For more information about SCBWI-Michigan, head over to the web site. Next SCBWI-Michigan conference will be a weekend conference in October. Not sure if I’ll go to that one, but those of you considering it, I highly recommend it. SCBWI-Michigan has great conferences!