Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If You're Ever In Ludington... should definitely eat here. Absolutely delicious!

Great Kids

So far I've had two stops on my Michigan Reads tour: Benzonia and Holland. I've met hundreds of wonderful kids! -- along with great librarians, terrific teachers, and spectacular parents. I'm having a blast.

Amongst the wonderful kids I've met in my travels are three remarkable kids, and their dad, with whom I had the privilege of spending some time yesterday. They have their own blog -- if you haven't visited it already, you definitely should.

Now, off to Ludington!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Everafter

Congratulations to my friend and critique group partner Amy Huntley on the debut today of her young adult novel The Everafter!

Go buy it! Go check it out! Go read it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Lazy Update On The Lazy Person's Reading Group

It's been four months since I launched The Lazy Person's Reading Group, summer edition. (For those of you not familiar with it, LPRG is a choose-your-own-adventure style book group, with no membership requirements and no reading list. Find more info here; it's never too late to join.)

In those four months, I have read some, though not all, of my ten LPRG selections. (I've been reading plenty of other things over the last four months, but just haven't made it to all the reading group selections yet.)

I'm too lazy to give you a full update on all of the ones I have read so far, but I figure I should probably touch base about Book Option #7, "A book you figure you probably should read, even though you don't really want to."

As many of you know, I ran a poll in my sidebar to determine if my "don't-wanna-but-should" book would be Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The poll question was: "Should I, Debbie Diesen, who has never cracked the spine of nor even read a dust jacket of a Harry Potter novel, add Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to my summer "To Be Read" pile?" The votes were as follows:
  • 26 Yes. The Harry Potter novels are great, and you really should read at least one of them:
  • 12 Yes. Even if you don't end up enjoying the books, they have enough significance to our popular culture, you need a passing familiarity with them.
  • 6 Yes. I don't have some fancy-schmancy reason, but definitely Yes! Read the book!
  • 8 No. If the book is not screaming to you, "Read me!", there are plenty of other options you'd probably prefer.
  • 1 No. Stand firm! Anything that popular can't be good!
  • 6 No. Do I have to have a reason? Just No!

Adding up the yeses and the noes, that came to 44 Yes and 15 No. And even though I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more votes in the category "No - Anything that popular can't be good!" (I think mine was the only one), I accepted the results and this week got down to work reading the first of the Harry Potter books.

And did I like it?

At first, yes. I enjoyed the beginning of the book, as we got to know Harry and his pre-Hogwarts life. Not knowing anything about the novel's plot (having done my best over the years to ignore the whole Harry Potter phenomenon), I found myself pulled in by the characters and the plot development. As I rode the train to Hogwarts with Harry and his newfound friends, I began to think, "Perhaps I've been wrong to avoid these books! And, furthermore, based on having been so wrong, I am now forced to examine all my other irrational dislikes of the popular, including, but not limited to, Ben Franklin, Michael Pollan, and Power Point presentations!"

But then, after we got to Hogwarts, my interest level took a dive. I think it was just a matter of the boarding school setting. When I was a kid, the idea of a boarding school was fascinating. I would have eaten that aspect of the story line up. As a 42-year old? Not so much.

Then came Quidditch, descriptions of which I found to be capital-t Tedious. My interest level flatlined.

But I stuck with the book, and read it to the end. Having done so, my honest assessment is that it's an absorbing and well-written book -- but it's just not for me. I don't regret having read it, if only for the fact that I now know what a Muggle is and what Hogwarts is, etc., but I probably won't read any of the others.

That chore now out of the way, I will periodically post updates on some of my other Lazy Person's Book Group selections . And eventually I'll have a second round list (maybe the winter edition of the Book Group.)

(But rest assured, it won't include this, this, or these!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Go Away!

I'm not here! Go here instead!

There you'll find an interview with me, on the blog of the wonderful and marvelous Shutta Crum.

And after you read the interview, please go read all of Shutta's books. She's one of my most admired people in the world of children's lit. She's talented, energetic, creative, generous, and fun. So go enjoy her books!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrating Semicolons et al

Don your party caps: It's National Puncuation Day!

I adore punctuation; without it, I'd lose the will to write. But I wonder... Can I manage to include all the [known to me] punctuation marks into one short punctuation-a-rama blog post? If I put my mind to it -- actually, if I just try hard enough (never mind the thinking), I'm quite sure the answer will be "Yes"!

But I'm not making the meat loaf.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We have a winner!

I've now carried out the hat drawing for the Aaron Zenz The Hiccupotamus book give-away.

I did slips of paper - one for regular comments; two for comments that started with an A and ended with a word-with-a-Z; and five for twenty-six word A to Z comments. I was delighted by the creativity of the comments -- what fun!

I tossed them in the hat and had my younger son do the actual drawing. And the winner is... Meg Kuta!

Meg, just send me your mailing address, and I'll send it along to Aaron. You can email me at deborah [at] deborahdiesen [dot] com

Thanks, everyone, for all your terrific blog comments!

P.S. I was going to do this blog post in an A-to-Z format, but lost steam: "All blog comments," Debbie exclaimed, "featured great humor, intelligence, j... something something something...."

Here's My Hat - What's My Hurry?

I have the hat...

(it's from my Rhyming Dictionary costume)

...and I've just put the slips of paper in.

But I won't be doing the drawing for the Hiccupotamus book (see below) until this afternoon, as I'm going to let one of my sons do the ceremonial pick-one-from-the-hat selection.

I'll let you know who wins as soon as I know.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Michigander Monday: Aaron Zenz

This week's Michigander Monday is Aaron Zenz, here as part of the Hiccupotamus blog tour! Read on for a great Q&A session, with a book giveaway at the end.

Debbie: Welcome! Tell us a little about yourself.

Aaron: So far my life has been spent hopping around this great state. I spent my entire childhood in Jackson Michigan, went to college in Hillsdale Michigan, and have since been living and working in West Michigan.
My wife and I have five kids at last count. I've been working as a freelance illustrator from home for the last several years, and my wife homeschools the young'uns... So we're ALL home, ALL the time. Makes for a fun noisy house! My kids and I chatter about our favorite books on our blog "Bookie Woogie" -- there we have fun reading and drawing together, and we've become friends with all sorts of neat cyber-people.

Most of my working life has been spent making stuff for kids -- picture books, educational computer games, baby toys, stickers, card games, coloring books, and I teach art classes. But I've also pulled stints as varied as designing safety training manuals providing graphic recording services for a hospital mowing neighborhood lawns. I like it when my little ones can eat.

Debbie: Aaron, please tell us about your latest book.

Aaron: I've got two books hitting shelves in September '09. One is The Hiccupotamus which I both wrote and illustrated. As one might guess, it's about a hippo with hiccups. But you see, this hippo falls on his bottom when he's got'em. And being a rather large creature, his malady causes some major trouble for any critters unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. The book is bright and colorful and loaded with crazy nonsense words.

And about as different from that as can be, the other book out this month is called Nugget on the Flightdeck and is a realistic look at life aboard an aircraft carrier. We follow a new recruit on his tour of the carrier, ride along as he's launched into the air, and join in on his practice dogfight. The story is written by Patricia Newman, and it's full of facts and fun jargon.

Debbie: Other books, and projects on the horizon?

Aaron: Lots of stories in development... any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Aaron: With the new school year underway, I've got Author Visits starting to line up, which I LOVE. I knew when I started making books that the potential for School Visits existed. But I never anticipated how MUCH I would love them. They are as (or more!) fun as making the books themselves. We write poems, draw pictures, meet a puppet friend. They're a blast! Any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: (Takers, visit Aaron's site for contact info!) Aaron, your favorite place in Michigan?

Aaron: I love the West Michigan shoreline. Wonderful dunes and beaches. We live 5 minutes from Lake Michigan and are spoiled by it. I also have a great fondness for the U.P. Growing up, we often vacationed up north... wonderful memories of multiple visits to Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls, Muskallonge Lake, Fort Michilimackinac...

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Aaron: I love Indian Summers in Michigan. Can you still say that? Is that PC? Indian Summer? "Native American" Summer? "That-last-warm-fling-after-autumn-starts-getting-cold" Summer? Sitting in an apple tree at the time makes it even better.

Debbie: Whatever you call it, it's a beautiful time of year! A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Aaron: Winsor McCay was a Michigan native. He was one of the greatest American cartoonists (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and the pioneer of animated film (Gertie the Dinosaur). He grew up in Spring Lake Mi, and I've trekked over there many times in the last few years to help re-introduce folks to their most famous forgotten native son. (

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

Aaron: When I was a kid, I saw a lady selling goose-shaped Michi-Gander crafts at an art show and have loved the term ever since. So I guess this Michigander and his Michigoslings make up a happy little Michigaggle.

Michigaggle! Oooo... I feel another children's book coming on... Any takers? Hello, hello?

Debbie: I for one would love to see a Michigaggle children's book! Terrific idea. Aaron, thank you for being here today.

And now, blog readers, the details on that giveaway!

Aaron has mostly kindly offered to send, to one lucky reader of this blog, two copies of The Hiccupotamus (one for the winner and one for a friend). [For shipping purposes, the giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.]
  • How can you enter the giveaway? It's as easy as a blog comment! One week from today, I'll pick, from a hat, one of the names of the folks who comment on this blog post.
  • Want to increase your odds? Since it's up to me how I choose the winner... In celebration of the cool A-to-Z aspect of Aaron Zenz's name, if your blog post comment begins with an A and ends with a word containing a Z, I'll put your name in the hat twice.
  • Want to really increase your odds? If your comment is twenty-six A-to-Z words long, in alphabetic order, I'll put your name in the hat five times. So have fun, and maybe you will be the lucky winner!
Thanks again, Aaron, for stopping by Jumping the Candlestick on your blog tour. And congratulations on Hiccupotamus, Nugget on the Flight Deck, and all the other great books of yours that are available!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hippopotamus + Hiccups

I usually hold onto the element of surprise and don't reveal my Michigander Monday profiles ahead of time, but I'm pleased to let you know that this coming Monday's Q&A will be with Aaron Zenz. JTC-MM is one of the stops on a The Hiccupotamus Re-Release Blog Tour. (I've never been part of a blog tour before. Cool.) Here are the other tour stops -- go check them out.

M Sept 7: Bookie Woogie
T Sept 8: Fuse #8
W Sept 9: 5 Minutes for Books
Th Sept 10: Mother Reader
F Sept 11: Reading to Know
S Sept 12: Book Scoops
Sn Sept 13: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
M Sept 14: Jumping the Candlestick
T Sept 15: Thing 1 and Thing 2

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Adopt A Word

Just saw this over on the wonderful blog Bookstore People: there's a site called "Save The Words" that features words in danger of being dropped from current dictionaries due to disuse. If you find one you'd like to help sustain, you adopt it by pledging to use the word in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible, to the very best of your ability.

Though I'm not yet ready to adopt (it's a big commitment!), I've been considering nubivagant, sparsile, and pigritude. But there are so many others to choose from! Pity we can't save them all.

Or can we?

Word lovers, go love a word!