Friday, February 26, 2010

Cool things I learned from this week's PW Children's Bookshelf

- Publishers introduce a high-tech way to share storytime (with a super-cute name)--now that's a smart way for old media to embrace new media without compromise.

- John Grisham is writing a middle-grade series. My dad and I (cautiously) squeal! (Though it would have been even better news had the 13-year-old legal-whiz protagonist been named Theodora.)

- And I didn't even know they'd replicated that famous cookie test with marshmallows recently, but I'm glad to see it confirmed that one's childhood lack of self-control involving sweets has nothing to do with one's long-term self-control on more important things. I mean, I was a good kid who followed instructions, but I have never been able to turn down a cookie or a marshallow--and I think I've done okay in life. So stop maligning us sweet-tooth types!

- L'Editrice

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Think (and re-think, and say out loud) before you write

I don't mean to make fun of what I'm sure are fine establishments, but I've now seen one too many Universal Technical Institute commercials and I have to say something: Did no one realize that their acronym (which they definitely go by) is also shared with urinary tract infection?

It reminds me of a store I passed when I was home last month: its name was PooLife, which I was hoping was some sort of ayurvedic vitamin store with an unfortunate transliteration, but no, it is a pool-cleaning store.

Listen, when one of your needed words has "poo" in it, you can't make a cutesey compound name. Just call it "Pool Life." Because "poo" is one thing you don't want in a pool--unless they are advertising their ability to help you get rid of it.

Scatalogically yours,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An epiphany (of sorts)

I often tell authors of picture books to leave room in their manuscript for the illustrator to tell an equal part of the story (and perhaps even add more), and in turn, I tell illustrators to not just illustrate exactly what's happening in the text. Out of the blue today, a great example of this came to me (and perhaps it's really obvious, but it felt genius to me): commercials, epecially pharmaceutical commercials.

You know how they tell this amazing story of running through fields and being in side-to-side bathtubs with your partner and being attractive but not intimidatingly so, and you are captivated by it and start to get convinced that that drug would give you that kind of life, even though you don't even need that drug and even though you're very aware that the announcer is telling all these horrible side effects at the same time? Talk about successful synergy. That's kind of like what a picture book should be like--the illustrations should add to the story, and make it even fuller, and it's not up to the text to tell the whole story, because then it's not as moving.

Now, I'm not saying you should have a horrible, depressing text or that your picture book should be used to manipulate people (no offense to anyone in the advertising and/or pharm industries), but I still like my example. And yes, maybe it could work with any commercial or even a movie, but I just think those sneaky pharm ads are so darn smart in achieving their goals. What do you think?

- L'Editrice

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't throw in the TOWEL

I regret not being able to make it to this panel, but I still learned a lot from its write-up--and think you might, too.

I thought this was interesting, since I often advise authors to write what works best for their voice, rather than what they think will sell: "But aside from coming to their careers as if by accident, the four panelists seemed to have something else in common—something that may be a sort of secret weapon for staying the game for as long as they have. Over the course of their careers, they have been willing and able to write many types of book, from picture book to YA, and on many different subjects. "

Hmm, so, yes, write different genres if you can and want to--but I think the important thing is to stay true to your voice in every format. Otherwise I think your writing will be forced, and thus not good. Also, Marilyn Singer's advice is so great: "She sums up a successful career with the acronym TOWEL, which she said stands for talent, optimism, widespread interests, endurance, and luck. 'This is a marathon, not a sprint,' she said. 'Don’t throw in the towel, use it.'"

With those words to inspire you, I hope you all have a great Valentine's weekend, and if you're looking for a last-minute V-Day gift for someone you care about (including yourself!), check out author-illustrator Julie Gissler's super-cool jewelry line.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All the Scholar Ladies

If you haven't already seen this in the PW Shelftalker blog, here's a remake of one of my fave Beyonce songs, made even cooler--and more age-appopriate to its stars. (Though I could do without the mention of lipgloss and the hip-smacking. But I'm a fuddy-duddy like that.)

- L'Editrice

Monday, February 1, 2010

Make my Valentine

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am obsessed with greeting cards and stationery-type things. I have this dream of one day working as a writer at a greeting-card company (no matter what Joseph Gordon-Levitt said about the job at the end of "500 Days of Summer") and/or owning a stationery-shop-and-bakery with my best friend. I would also love to design cards, but I can't illustrate at all, so they'd all have to be collage-y and basic, like my homemade cards already are.

For those of you who share my obsession (calling all author-illustrators!), check out this super-cool contest from Kate's Paperie. (True, you may go broke buying the supplies--since they have to be from Kate's--but wouldn't seeing your creation in the store window be worth it?)