Thursday, May 29, 2014

Take a look, it's in a book...

...a Reading Rainbow!

Like most American kids growing up in the 80s, my family had a TV in our house that was on most evenings after school. In my house however, there was no cable. Ever. My parents were very diligent about monitoring what we watched and, this may come as a shock to some of you, but that meant no PeeWee’s Playhouse and no Simpsons - oh the horror! 

What it did mean however was a lot of PBS. 
There was Sesame Street, there was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood… do you remember Square One?  By far one of my favorites.

And then there was Reading Rainbow.

I knew every episode by heart. I could have taken LeVar Burton’s job with an instant’s notice – assuming I would only be reenacting existing episodes. As a kid I spent hours a week in the library, but my world of books and reading was only magnified by Reading Rainbow.  I cannot imagine what life changing effect it had on kids who weren't as lucky as I was to have such a magical library just a short bike ride away.

Over the course of my childhood I'm sure I checked out every single book that was available for ages 0-14...twice. When my dad and I discovered that there were huge holes in the Nancy Drew offerings, we decided that our only option was to buy the missing books, read them cover to cover several times and then donate them so no other kid in my hometown would ever have to go through the nightmare of not having a full collection of Nancy Drew at their fingertips.

Here's a fun bit of history. Reading Rainbow started on my first birthday – June 6th 1983 – and ran until November of 2006 (23 years! Wow!) And although it is no longer on PBS, Reading Rainbow continues on through an app created by LeVar Burton. And in the future we can expect a web-based library of Reading Rainbow books and videos organized as a KickStarter Project by your friend and mine, LeVar Burton. Although the average Joe will have to pay for a subscription, the plan is that many underprivileged class rooms will have the option of a cost-free subscription. Once again, helping the kids who need it most.  Read more about it here:

During this May's Children's Book Week celebrations, LeVar Burton was honored by the Children's Book Council with the Impact Award for children's literature. 
"We are honored to present this year’s award to LeVar Burton in recognition of his longstanding commitment to connecting children and books and for promoting the joy of reading through the Reading Rainbow television series and the Reading Rainbow app". Much deserved, Congratulations Mr. Burton!

In one interview Burton says, "There is no system that can imprison you or dominate you with darkness or ignorance if you have the capacity to read..."   That's so true, the more you know, the more questions you are able to ask and the more answers you are able to comprehend. Think back to the days pre-internet. What did you do when you had a question about something? Your options were Encyclopedia Britannica or the Library.  Now you can Google anything from almost anywhere! I know I am a lot smarter now that I have Google in my back pocket all the time. There's so many crazy little facts that I never would have learned without Google. Did you know that a giraffe does not have a voice box? 

Old McDonald Had a Farm E-I-E-I-O. and on that farm he had a giraffe with a .... and a.... here a.... there a.... everywhere a.... Silence.  Complete silence. 

Am I a better person because I have random fun facts in my head about giraffes? Probably not. But now let's relate the same idea to, well, anything else. Politics, health care, the legal system. The world would be such a better place if we could all read and more importantly, comprehend what we are reading. We could all argue and debate intelligently. We could make better informed decisions we could question authority with some intelligence. It's a REVOLUTION!!!

I'm getting a bit long winded, I'll wrap this up. 
Congratulations to one of my role models, LeVar Burton. Your successes are much deserved. 
Here's hoping another generation can be exposed to a new era of Reading Rainbow.

And now, here’s an episode of Mathnet for all of you fellow PBS watchers from the 80s.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Now What?

I sent in my book manuscript to a couple of agents who had requested it. 

Revised, polished, good enough.          

                                                                                        So now I'm waiting. 

I may hear back in two weeks, 
I may hear back in 5 months, 29 days and 23 hours. 
I may not hear back at all!

                                But for now, I'm waiting.

Maybe I'll pick up a new hobby while I wait.

How long does it take to become a train engineer? underwater basket weaver?

I've never been on a long fishing weekend...

...but then again I don't really like fish. 

None of those are any good, and here's why. 
In six months when I get an agent (insert dream sequence music here) and start revising my manuscript and then six months later I'll get a book deal and become a published author, I'll have spent all of this money on a hobby that I'll never do again because I'll be far too busy with the first hobby that I actually enjoy. Writing children's books.
Some might say that I should start writing another book. That's not a bad idea but perhaps I should see if someone else in the world is willing to validate my current efforts.  And not just any someone (hi Mom) but a certain someone who has some knowledge of the industry (hello future agent). Otherwise what am I left with... a possible misdirected self analysis.

I hear you yelling little-league-moms of the world. Just because the world doesn't think you're good at something should you stop doing it? Maybe not...  but then again, maybe so. 

If we'd all find something were good at and focus on that, then we could stop giving away so many participation trophies for successfully dressing yourself this morning.  
But that's a rant for another day.

The better idea here is to: Read a book

What a great idea. Brush up on the competition. Analyze other's success stories of today. 
(get it? it's funny because the success stories are actual stories.)

Here are a couple that I am reading now.

The Passage - although a great read, it's only about a million pages and therefor not conducive to a mom with kids. I'm guessing I'll wrap that one up in about 2 years. 

Then there's one of the most touching children's books I've read in a long time:
Sit Still!  Is a story about Patrick who cannot sit still. And although his mom pursues medical reason (never called out as ADHD, but one can assume) that is not confirmed by his doctor.  This is the point where Mom and Dad decide that they can step up as parents and help Patrick direct his constant energy in useful ways. They start walking with Patrick to school every day. Patrick gets a hobby or two. His teachers start asking him to help in the classroom so he can be up and moving around.  It's a wonderful way to present an often overlooked solution to kids who just can't sit still.  We all know plenty of adults who just can't sit still, and the world deals with them just fine. So thank you Nancy for bringing such a refreshing perspective to parenting!

You can also add another constantly rotating pile of 8-12 children's books from the library to this list. 

And last but not least, there are the various magazines that keep showing up at my house. 
  • Country Living - why can't my house be all classy and earth friendly and full of refurbished, re-purposed items?)
  • Rachael Ray - yes your 30 minute meals are awesome, but who keeps three kinds of fish oil and seven kinds of red wine vinegar in the house all the time? 

So, until my million dollar book deal works it's way thorough legal, I'll keep reading and I suggest you do to.  

See you're already off to a good start - you just read my blog!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Indie Publishing - again...

I know, talking about this is verging on beating a dead horse... what a horrible expression that is.  I appologize.  Try 2: Talking about this is verging on being redundant and loosing the couple of loyal readers I have. (Hi husband, hi Mom!)

      (Note to self: look up origin of horrible expressions such as the horse thing and include in a future blog.)

Indie vs Traditional Publishing

Here’s a link to another view on traditional vs indie publishing.  This is a hot topic right now, and I think it's definitely worthwhile to read another perspective on it.

Dear Nathan Bransford, thank you once again for supplying a great blog post that I can pass on to my loyal readers. 
Hello loyal readers! (i.e. my husband and mother).

The conference I recently attended this was a topic that dominated the break-out sessions. The masses tended to lean towards self-publishing and for reasons mentioned in a previous post, I’m a little surprised. see post here

I fully understand that there are thousands of great writers out there who have little to no luck getting their books published, and to that I say, great! You now have an alternative – I’m so glad there is a way to get your art out there and share it with the world. You are the exception to the rule.

I maintain that traditional publishing has great advantages over indie. Especially for you first and second time writers who are very very green to the business (just like me)

Whether you agree with me or not, I suggest reading the article. Who knows, you may learn something.