Monday, March 29, 2010

Something to Do After You Turn In Your Taxes and Sleep For Two Days

It’s difficult to describe James Kennedy’s novel The Order of Odd-Fish. Reading it is a three-dimensional experience. Maybe the best I can do is to say that were I to picture James Kennedy writing it, I see not the mundane tableau of an earnest author hunched over his keyboard. Rather, I see a man with a leaky fountain pen clasped between his toes writing rapidly on the back of an ancient, uncooperative hippopotamus while juggling a flaming Baked Alaska, a razor-sharp cleaver, and a small cardboard box. This is an admittedly weirdly whimsical image, from one not typically given to weird whimsy. But such is the effect of reading The Order of Odd-Fish. I whole-heartedly encourage you to run now to your library and try it out for yourself!  (The reading of the book, that is; not the juggling of cleavers.)

All this is by way of mentioning that if you’re in the Chicago area in mid-April -- April 17, to be exact --James Kennedy has a Odd-Fish Fan Art Showing and Dome of Doom Party scheduled. More details here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Library-Loving Blog Challenge Is Extended By A Few Days

My "To Do" list has gotten so long lately that it currently spans two zip codes.  I've been working my way down it as best I can, but I have not yet:  a) drawn the names for the two bonus winners in the Fake News Contest; nor, b) written my checks for my Library-Loving Blog Challenge that ended yesterday.  And from the looks of my calendar for the week, I think it's unlikely I will accomplish either task until near the end of the week.

As a result, I'm extending the deadline on my Library-Loving Blog Challenge to this Wednesday, March 31.  You may still leave a comment on the Challenge blog entry (click here to go to it) and it will count toward my pledge.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Library-Loving Blog Challenge!

(For Fake Book News contest results, click here.)

The second annual Library-Loving Blog Challenge has begun, and I'm happy to be participating again this year!  For every commenter on this post between now and the end of Saturday, March 27, I will make a donation of 50 cents, up to a total amount of $75

Half of this will go to the Friends of the Delta Township District Library, which is my local library.  The other half will go to a small library established in the Green Meadow Apartment Complex in Danville, IL.  I've never been there, but I read an article earlier this year about a project there called "Weeds to Seeds: Growing a Neighborhood Library and New Library Users," which sounds like a very needed and wonderful effort.

Note that my pledge is “per commenter”—so if a single person leaves 50 comments, that still only counts once!  But please do comment - and I'd be especially happy if you shared a thought or two about your favorite library or library experience.

If you’re moved to make a flat-fee donation to your own library, or to start your own challenge, you are quite welcome, and please leave that information in the comments.

For a complete list of participating bloggers (and to visit other sites where you can help libraries just by leaving a comment!) visit the writerjenn blog at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We have a winner! Actually, several! And more on the way!

Our grand prize winner in the Funny Fake Children's Book News contest, to be rewarded with a signed copy of the brand new Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade, goes to this funny news flash:

Jon J. Muth expands his undergarment collection to include Zen Boxers and Zen Briefs along with his popular shorts.

I'm also awarding a signed copy of the book to our top two runners-up:

Purple crayon drops Harold after TMZ leaks pictures of alleged “blue use.”


FDA announces a recall of 10 million Green Eggs & Ham frozen dinners that could be contaminated with salmonella bacteria.

Funny stuff!

All of the entries were wonderful!  So I'm going to toss the rest in a hat and pick two more winners at random -- but I'm too tired right now to cut up all those little pieces of paper, so that part will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, congratulations to Kris, Lori, and Kelly!  Let me know how you'd like your books signed (I can personalize them to you, personalize them to someone else, or just sign them) and where to send them, and you'll soon have a bad-tempered book of your own!

Thanks, everyone, for participating in the contest!

And special thanks to our celebrity judges:  Abigail Samoun, Alice Pope, and Alyssa Eisner Henkin, plus our tie-breaking judge Boni Ashburn.  Thank you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Last Call For Funny Fake Children's Book News!

Still taking entries.  Click here, and then enter your funny children's book news in the comments section of the contest post.  Celebrity judges Abigail Samoun, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, and Alice Pope will begin judging after the contest closes.  So enter before the end of the day!  Good luck.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Funny fake book news could win you a signed copy of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade!

I’ve done the occasional book giveaway on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a contest. By golly, I’m long overdue. So today I’m announcing my first contest, one that will give you an opportunity to win a free signed copy of my new book, The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade. The book is illustrated by the talented Tracy Dockray and published by Tricycle Press.

My idea for the contest comes about due to a Twitter feed I recently ran across, Janice Harayda’s Fake Book News ( As the name implies, the tweets there are completely made-up news items, but they're quite funny. I thought it might be fun to have a contest for Fake Book News specifically in the realm of children’s literature.

To enter the contest, please leave, in the comments section of this blog post, up to five funny Fake Book News tidbits relevant to the children’s book biz.  Deadline:  March 19

Some examples of children’s lit fake book news tweets:
  • HC announces forthcoming Laura Numeroff anti-bullying pb, If You Give A Mouse A Noogie
  • USPS confirms longstanding rumor: Forever stamp was created to eliminate postage-due rejection letters
  • Texas Bd of Ed about-face: Brown Bear, Brown Bear now required reading for ALL grade levels (btw, if this one makes you say, “huh?”, you might not have seen this article)
  • Coca-Cola announces new soda pop ad campaign slogan:  "Fresca:  Rhymes with Scieszka!"
  • New tool for writers: Google adds “Editor” to languages available at Google Translate page.
Yours will be funnier, but hopefully my examples give you an idea of what I’m looking for. Also, you can head over to the Fake Book News twitter feed to see general examples there.

Entries must meet the Twitter standard of being no more than 140 characters long (that’s approximately 20 words).

As mentioned above, you may enter up to 5 fake news items. I’d prefer that you keep multiple news items in one comment (rather than five separate comments), so you might want to cogitate a few days before you post your entries.

Also, five is not a requirement. You can enter just one, or two, or three, or four. Five is just the max.

And you don’t have to leave your name and contact info in the comments. After announcing the winning entry, I’ll have the winner email me with his or her contact info.

The only other rule is that in going for “funny,” be careful not to go into “offensive” or “inappropriate.” I know that you will use your best judgment. But do remember that this blog is open to all age levels, so don’t post anything in poor taste or that contains bad language.

The contest will run for the next seven days. The comments section of this post will be closed at the end of March 19. Then my celebrity judges will take the next few days to review the entries. Each judge will select three favorite fake book news items.

The top vote-getter will be announced on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 (which just so happens to be the release date for The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade). The winner will receive a free copy of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade, signed by me.
And just who are these celebrity judges? Judging your fake news will be this fabulous line-up!
In the event of a tie, we have an additional celebrity judge waiting in the wings. Author Boni Ashburn (whose book Over At the Castle was just released) is standing by to select the final winner.

 So… Let the fake book news tweets begin!
Click the “Comments” link to add your entry below.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Green Earth Book Award Honor for Margaret Willey's A Summer of Silk Moths!

Congratulations to Margaret Willey, whose book A Summer of Silk Moths received an Honor Award from the Green Earth Book Awards!  These awards go to books that "inspire a child to grow a deeper appreciation, respect and responsibility for his or her natural environment."

Margaret did a Michigander Monday interview with me in October - if you missed it, you can read it here.  And Margaret's site, with further information about her books, is here.

Wednesday Workout Review: Personal Training with Jackie -- Power Circuit Training

Yeah, I know it's not Wednesday today.  But if you do the workout Power Circuit Training with Jackie Warner on a Wednesday, let me guarantee you you'll be feeling it on a Thursday, especially in your abs.

Jackie has a very distinct on-screen persona, which you'll find either encouraging, amusing, or grating, depending on your mood.  But the exercises are very effective, and the pace moves quickly.

The full DVD is 40 minutes.  There's a brief warm-up, then three sections to choose from:  abs, upper body, and lower body.  Within each of the three sections, there are three sets of exercises.  For instance, for abs, there's a set of exercises for your upper abs, a set for your lower abs, and a set for your obliques.  Within each set, there are (you guessed it) three exercises.  After you go through the three specific exercises, you do a quick repeat of the three in a "Power Burn."  Then it's on to the next set.

The DVD closes with a perfunctory stretch segment.

Good variety of reviews over at Collage Video, so you can get a feel for whether this one's right for you:  click here, here, and here for reviews that run the gamut from one star to five.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is It The Checklist Manifesto for the Toddler Set?

I don't actually know the answer to that question, but when I ran across this list of books (yeah, I'm guilty again of self-Googling - but it does take me interesting places..), the title Put It On The List! jumped out at me.

I've never seen this issue addressed in a picture book, but I say it's about time!  The grocery list at our house, an easy-to-use checklist in grocery store aisle order, is woefully underutilized as a "put it on the list before it runs out" tool.

So I'll definitely have to put Kristen Darbyshire's Put It On The List! on my library list to take a look at!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Baby Shower Book Suggestions?

For my web site, I'd like to put together a list of suggested books for baby showers.

Full disclosure:  there's a certain amount of self-interest involved in this, as I plan to include my new book, The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade.  But that said, I do want to put together a list of books that are particularly fun or apt to give as baby shower presents.

Classics that every Mom and Dad should have.  Funny books that hint at the adventure that's yet to come.  Unique books that you might not know about unless someone points them out.  From sweet and sentimental to funny and irreverent, and everything in between!

To that end...  Your suggestions?  Please leave them in the Comments below.  And if you could, give a brief description of the book and/or why you suggest it.  (E.g. is it sweet?  Funny?  Unique?  A childhood favorite?  A contemporary classic?  Etc.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Poetry Friday

Watching Good People

I’ve been humbled of late
By the strength of my friends,
By their down-to-earth grit
As the wheel of life rends.

There is beauty and poise
In their waltz with despair.

But it isn’t inspiring.

It’s simply


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Award Winning Book Trailer

YALSA (ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association) recently held a book trailer contest, asking teens to create book trailers for the 2010 Morris and Nonfiction Award finalists.

The winning book trailer was one created for Amy Huntley's The Everafter!

Emily Fitch of Fort Wayne, Indiana created the winning trailer.  You can view it here.  Congratulations to Emily!  Great to see such creativity.

And congratulations also to Emily's sponsoring librarian, Mari Hardacre, and to Amy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Castles and Mud Fairies

Two new books by Michigan folks are out this week:

Over At The Castle, Boni Ashburn's follow-up to Hush Little Dragon,

and The Mud Fairy, written and illustrated by Amy Young.

Congratulations Boni and Amy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Read Across America

It's Read Across America Day today, an annual national celebration of reading, held on Dr. Seuss's birthday.  The goal of the event is to have every child in every community celebrate reading today.

Around here, we celebrate reading pretty much every day!  But in the spirit of the day, I thought I'd celebrate what we happen to be reading today.

With my kids, our current read-alouds are James Kennedy's The Order of Odd-Fish (it's a long book, so we've been with that one for a while); E.L. Konigsburg's The View From Saturday;  and Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

And for my own reading, I am very absorbed in Louise Penny's A Rule Against Murder.

What are you reading today?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Michigander Monday: Kathe Koja

I'm pleased to welcome Kathe Koja to Michigander Monday!

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

Kathe: I'm a Detroit native and love the city.  I've been writing since I was a child, writing professionally since 1984, and my fourteenth novel is due to be published later this year. I'm a huge supporter of animal rights, a volunteer for the Michigan Humane Society, and the happy companion of two rescued cats and a kitten.  I'm married to Rick Lieder, an artist; our son Aaron lives in Brooklyn Without coffee, I cannot exist.

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

Kathe:  My newest novel is called Under The Poppy, and it's coming out in October from Small Beer Press.  This one's for the adults: It's a love story set in a Victorian brothel during wartime.  I'm also working on a theatrical adaptation of the novel, to be staged in Detroit in 2011.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Kathe: I'm busy with a new YA novel called Planchette, that examines the Dracula story from the perspective of one of the maids in the Westenra household, a girl who finds within herself a disturbing affinity for the darkness.  I first read Dracula when I was ten years old, and loved it ever since, so having the chance to revisit the story has been a real thrill.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Kathe: On March 4, I'll be helping to facilitate a GSA summit meeting at Salem High School in Canton.  March 20-21 I'll be at the Michigan Reading Association's 54th Annual Conference, at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, presenting solo as well as on a panel with Sarah Miller, one of my own favorite Michigan authors, signing books, and attending the Author/Illustrator Breakfast. In early May I head down to Florida, where my novel Buddha Boy is the focus of a "One Book, One School" program in Zephyrhills. In the summer, I'll be part of the Shared Worlds creative writing residency for teens, at Wofford College in South Carolina.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Kathe: Midtown Detroit, facing downtown, on a cool afternoon, the sun hitting just right: no question, my favorite. Throw in a pit stop at Avalon International Breads for a scone and some coffee, a scoot up Woodward to Leopold's Books to pick up a magazine, sit awhile on the steps of the DIA ... Nirvana.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Kathe: The change of seasons: every year a miracle.

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

Kathe: Rick Lieder, artist and illustrator, whose Wild Life photography will show you some of Michigan's smallest, most delightful residents.  The aforementioned author Sarah Miller, natch. Diane Cheklich, award-winning filmmaker, in the vanguard before it was cool to make movies in Michigan. Torya Blanchard, of Good Girls Go to Paris creperie, and Greg Lenhoff, of the aforementioned Leopold's, two awesome Detroit entrepreneurs.

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

Kathe: Its beautiful diversity. There's a lot going on here, town AND country, and we're our own best-kept secret.

And we're shaped like a dog running away with a mitten, I mean, come on!

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

Kathe: Gander, totally.

Debbie: Kathe, it’s been a pleasure having you here today!