Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Picture Book Love

As a follow-up to my recent post about MG and adult novels I've really enjoyed, I thought it was about time to mention some of our fav PBs too. These are some of the most loved books on our shelves, ones that we read hundreds of times when my son was teeny tiny, and the books that taught him to read. 

Penguin Dreams  Cars: Rushing! Honking! Zooming!  Product Details

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening  Bob and Otto  Bats at the Library

Science Verse  Man on the Moon  Bugliest Bug  Beware of the Storybook Wolves

They are, in no particular order, 
Penguin Dreams by Otto Seibold 
Cars by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Megan Halsey & Sean Addy 
Snow by Uri Schulevitz
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers 
Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel, illustrated by Nick Bruel 
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies 
Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith 
Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram 
The Bugliest Bug by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Scott Nash 
Beware of the Storybook Wolves by Lauren Child 

These are some of the books that had the longest shelf life.The first three are in the "incredibly short" category, sometimes just a few words on a page. Great for the smallest kids, and with fantastic illustrations. 
The rest are ones that have hung on even though we've moved into novels and chapter books. A little longer text, more complex words, great for the first steps of independent reading and of course, fantastic art. 

Anyone else want to share some book love? Favorite PBs? MG? Non fiction?? 
We like all books here.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good News Tuesdays - Happy Valentine's Day Edition

I'm not a big picture poster, but in honor of the day, and the two guys in my life, I thought I'd share a couple of pictures.
One of my Valentine, on our 13th Valentine's Day together.

This one is from the weddin' day, 9 years ago. Yes, we've always been a bit goofy. 

And a few Valentine's Days later, with our little sprout. 

Is Valentine's Day really that big a deal? Well, it's certainly a good excuse to buy each other presents, and order a heart shaped pizza, and cuddle on the couch watching St. Elmo's Fire. Even though we like to do that kind of junk every day. Cause I love these guys every day. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Blinking Light

This is not usually how it works for me.


I don't tend to get epic flashes if inspiration so much as little blips and sparks. Like back in the day when there used to be such things as answering machines, and such machines would have a tiny blinking light to tell you there were new messages, that is how it works for me. 
I have figured something out, but I still have to interpret for myself. MmmHmm. 

We've made it to February already. Last month was filled with a flurry of goals. Lots lists of goals for the new year, and because of the company I keep, it was a lot of writing related goal oriented list making. I probably did one myself at some point. 

And then over the last couple of days, I had a little blinking light of a realization about my "goals". They aren't really goals at all. At least as far as writing goes. My lifetime goals might change - do change - from year to year, but with writing, it's always the same: 

Make Books Happen 

That's it. I write all the time. Every free moment I get. I don't need a list of goals to motivate me to write, or keep writing, or finish writing. I don't need deadlines to keep me focused. Deadlines don't even work for me with early drafts, because it's finished when it's finished. How can I say when I start that first draft that I will have every problem and character detail worked out in precisely so-many weeks or months or years? But that is a discussion of process, and I'm talking about something very different today.

What I need is.... priorities. What do I work on first? When do I set a current project aside to work on something else? Which one of my literary babies gets the spot at the front of the line, and most of mommy's attention? How long should I make myself focus on one project, when my interest keeps wandering to another project?

I only have the one kid, so that is pretty simple. I take care of him first. But I have a whole brood of manuscripts. Right now I am working steadily on one, but when I am finished, which will be very soon, which one gets to be next?
I need to Prioritize!
If only there were a way to do that with any certainty. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Whatcha Readin' ?

For a blog about writing and by extension, about reading, I haven't posted anything bookish lately. Bad Zombie!
So today let's talk fun and books. Some things I read recently that I really liked, all of which employ hefty use of descriptive prose -

The Night Circus  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

A collection of odd and beautiful stories.(My favorite things) They even look pretty all lined up, don't they?
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland is just beautiful, from the first word to the last. It has a very episodic story of a girl traveling with no real purpose - at least to begin - but that is easily overlooked by the writing, which is loquaciously descriptive, but in an elegant way. After all, it's Fairyland. The fun is in exploring.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has a much more streamlined approach to descriptive passages. Part of that comes from the teen male narrator, part from the fact that it's set in a recognizable historical era, and part from the fantastic period photographs used to illustrate. I can relate to that kind of inspiration. I have a copy of Wisconsin Death Trip lying around somewhere. I dare you to page through that and not be inspired to start spinning tales.

And The Night Circus was a marvelous read. I admit that all the endless descriptions did get a little tedious in a few spots. The story centers on a pair of magicians, and the explanations of their magic tricks and illusions were quite captivating.  The characters are so big and vibrant, I wanted to watch them do things, instead of sitting through detailed specifications of everyone's outfits and every course of dinner. Aside from the very occasional tangent about fabric and desserts, the tone and the feel of the writing holds true to the very end, and the story finishes strong.

And since I have a seven year old son who is a bit of a history buff, and also not really into the quirky and creepy yet, he and I are reading Gordan Korman's Titanic series.

Unsinkable (Titanic Series #1)   Collision Course (Titanic Series #2)   S.O.S. (Titanic Series #3)

We're right about halfway through. It's the morning of the 14th of April, 1912, which my son knows is the day Titanic hit that iceberg, so he is very keen to see what happens to the four central characters, Sophie, Juliana, Alfie and Paddy. He is also into villains, and has written a few stories featuring the Irish gangsters from these books. His book is called Titanic- Gilhooley's Revenge. My kid is awesome.

And finally, from the world of adult literature (yes, that's a thing too!)

Kraken   American Gods (The Tenth Anniversary Edition)   The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

Now, Kraken was not really what I was expecting, but that was probably my fault. After all, it's China Mieville. He writes whatever he damned well feels like, and you just read and deal with it. Worth it for the Angel of Death/Jar of Bones creature alone.

American Gods goes right ahead and uses The House on the Rock as the setting for a gathering of ancient immortals. That sounds about right. It's totally a real place, and you can't really walk through there without thinking that something must be going on somewhere behind a curtain or hidden door to explain this madness, yet you never get your answer.
Then the story goes ahead and uses Rock City as a setpiece further on down the narrative. I've been there, too, and...yeah.  Odin must be responsible. This book has plenty of macabre and grotesque scenes, and is currently at the top of my favorites pile. I went right ahead and read his short story collection Fragile Things when I was done with this one. That is highly recommended by me as well.

And finally Mr. Bryson. I do love me some nonfiction. And Bryson is about my favorite way to roll in that department. After finishing A Short History of Nearly Everything, A Walk in the Woods, and Shakespeare: The World as a Stage,  all of which I adored, I'm now reading a history of the English language, and enjoying it. Luckily, there are a lot of Bryson books I have left to read!

Of course I have a considerable TBR stack, but just in case I start running low, anything awesome out there I haven't picked up yet? What are you reading?