Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gift

I grew up in a fun, loving, and fun loving family. Our Sunday night gatherings often included a meal with 15 or more seated around the table, most of us laughing so hard we were crying. Those meals, however, always began with us holding hands - including the little chubby ones of whatever small child was sitting in the old high chair - and singing our Moravian blessing. Be present at out table Lord, be here and everywhere adored. From Thine all bounteous hands this food, may we receive with gratitude. I don't know where that blessing came from, but I know where it's going.

Over the years , though the family is scattered from Minnesota to Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Maine, the blessing is always sung when any of us get together. So we, of course, continued to sing it in our family as our children grew up. Last year we were gathered at my daughter's house for a meal. Both daughters were there with their sons, Connor and Tucker. The boys were barely three years old and had been present at all our family meals. But this time would be different. We all held hands, bowed our heads, and began to sing. Now, if you have grandchildren, you know you keep one eye slit open to watch their faces during times like these. The boys were just watching and listening. We finished singing, dropped hands and then heard Tucker's little voice, "Again, sing it again." Through tears and smiles, we did just that.

There were double singings of the blessing for most of the family meals during the year. And Connor and Tucker were soon singing the words, despite not knowing what they meant. But through the singing, they were learning what family meant. Last Sunday the boys came with their moms to decorate a gingerbread train - perhaps a new tradition in the making? Before beginning we had a quick lunch. The boys were seated with their bowls of mac and cheese when Tucker said, "Mama, let's sing the Lord be present song." We held hands, we sang, and He was present in the gift of those two little boys.

May you, too, have a blessed holiday with your gift of family and friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Egads - eBooks!

I receive daily updates from Publisher's Weekly and lately they are full of the rise of ebook sales and the demise of traditional books. Now, I'm not a techno phobe - I use computers daily, have a cell phone and manage to navigate my way around these gadgets. But I'm not a techno enthusiast to the point of having the newest of everything whether it is needed or not. However as an author, this is one technological development I can't ignore.

I can see the advantage if you travel frequently of carrying one tablet size device rather than three books. I suppose if you lived in a space without bookshelf space, it might make sense, also. But, of course there is also the library, where they will shelve your "collection" of favorites. As I deal mainly in children's books, I didn't pay too much attention to the ebooks until I received an addendum to my contract for ebook publication. Apparently teachers can download an ebook to their computer and then project it on a SmartBoard and write over the text/illustration to instruct students in a certain concept. Most contracts from the traditional publishers now contain a paragraph refering to e rights.

But what about the thrill of opening the cover of a brand new book, smelling the new ink smell and feeling the texture of the paper? At first I thought maybe I felt this way because I love children's books. But no, I don't want to relax in my big comfy chair, with my hot cocoa and a view of the birdfeeder and turn on my e reader.
I want to open my book to where my tattered bookmark has saved the next part of my reading adventure. I want to balance the book in one hand as I sip my cocoa and not worry that a spill will do anything more than darken a corner of a page. I want my book.

This afternoon I am "attending" a web seminar on children's publishing and e books. Will it change my mind? I hope not. But it may help me figure out as an author where I fit into this new publishing sphere and how I can still hold on to my book.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Much to do!

I have received great feedback from my student editors. I collated all the comments and then categorized them into similar responses. From this process, I was able to determine the major weaknesses of the manuscript and make a plan for revision. Now I have so much research and revision to do, I don't know where to begin! During my last visit to the 7th grade class, I ran my revision ideas past them. I knew I was on the right track when their eyes lit up and they started nodding. Putting a piece out there and allowing students to be open and free with their comments - not having to worry about being tested,etc. - resulted in authentic feedback from an unbiased audience. Although it was scary, I would (and will) do it again. There is a chance a fifth grade class will still get to take a look at it also, as it was written for this grade level. Don't hold your breath to see this one - it will be a while, if ever:)

Don't forget, A Isn't for Fox and Zero, Zilch, Nada:Counting to None are great holiday gifts for a special child or teacher. School Visit brochures and Birthday Visit brochures are available by sending me an email request. The first surprise birthday visit was a great success!