Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bad news, good news

The bad news is that the injection I take every other week for my rheumatoid arthritis appears to have lost its efficacy. (This occasionally happens in RA treatment - for whatever reason, a particular medication or agent stops working.) This means that I am exhausted and fuzzy-brained and in a bit more pain than usual.

The good news is that I managed to score an appointment with my rheumatologist next Tuesday.

The bad news is that (a) that's still the better part of a week away and (b) even if he switches my meds, it will take a while until we figure out whether they're working or not.

The good news is that I don't expect this current condition to last forever. It might feel that way, until things get better, but in the grand scheme of things, it won't be long. Right? Right.

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At the Boardwalk update

In just about a week's time, At the Boardwalk will be officially released and out in the world. (It's official release date is March 1st.)

I am very happy about this, as you might imagine.

I am happy, too, that my promotional postcard mailing appears to be yielding some results, and that some gift shops along the Jersey Shore are requesting copies and information and such.

And I am happy that people on Facebook are letting me know that they've preordered copies (and that they're evidently shipping this week), or are asking me where to buy them, or congratulating me on the excellent review in Kirkus.

What are you happy about today?

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Monday, February 20, 2012

BookSpeak!: Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas

A few weeks ago, I attended the launch for Jenn Hubbard's new book, Try Not to Breathe, at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA. I consider CBW to be my "local" indie, despite being the better part of an hour's drive from my home in New Jersey, since it really is the closest independent children's book store to where I live. But I digress.

While at Jenn's party, I purchased a copy of BookSpeak!: Poems About Books by my good friend Laura Purdie Salas. It was cleverly illustrated using original artwork and collage by Josée Bisaillon.

I bought the book because Laura is a good friend, and I wanted to support her.

Having read it, I can assure you that, based on the quality of the poems and the wonderful illustrations, I'd have bought this book anyway, even if I didn't count the author as a personal friend. It contains 21 poems about books, many written in rhyme (mostly couplets or cross-rhymed quatrains). Some are lyrical ("Skywriting", which compares the writing on a page to "inky black birds/forming the flocks that shift into words"), some are funny (such as the poem for three voices, in which the middle of the book laments being the middle). Some are from the perspective of a book ("Lights Out at the Bookstore" and "The Sky is Falling"), and some from only a part of the book ("Book Plate", "Index", "I've Got This Covered", or "Picture This"). Heck, one of the poems is about the plot element known as conflict, and is (quite appropriately) entitled "Conflicted".

(Two-page spread showing "Written in Snow" and "Book Plate")

One of my favorite poems in the book is "This Is the Book", a poem that describes what various people in the book-making process do (writer, editor, designer, illustrator, publisher, and buyer), but I love it for the ending, which is consumer-oriented. Here are the first and last stanzas:

She is the writer
  with dreams in her head
  who writes them down
  so they can be read.

. . .

And she is the reader
  who browses the shelf
  and looks for new worlds
  but finds herself.
My favorite poem/art pairing in the book might be the last poem, "The End", which features a collage-strip infinity symbol composed of chapter excerpts on which children stand and run, set against a brilliant red background. The illustration perfectly reflects the poem, which is written by "The End" of the book, which concludes:

I am not so much
The End
as I am an
invitation back
to the beginning.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Author copies!

The mailman may be my favorite person today.

Know why?

Because he brought me a BOX.

A box full of author copies of At the Boardwalk, which is going to be available in about two weeks.

There are ten copies of the hardcover, and ten of the paperback.

*Does the dance of joy*

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry Updates

Let's see . . .

As I mentioned before, my poem, "A Place to Share", is going to be in the forthcoming anthology from Kane Miller, Dare to Dream . . . Change the World. It's paired with a poem by my friend Laura Purdie Salas, and keeping company with poems by lots of other children's poets whom I admire, including Bruce Coville. You can see the artwork that will accompany Bruce's poem at Jill Corcoran's blog. (In addition to being one of my fellow poets in the anthology, Jill is its editor as well.)

My poem, "Not iron, nor the Difference Engine", is going to be included in The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificient Ionic Pentatetrameter: A Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology. I am terrifically excited, since the book is going to be available both as an e-book and as a limited run print edition.

I am one of the poets whose work will be used by the site, Say it At Your Wedding. It's not quite live yet, but my, what lovely company I'll be keeping!

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Crouching Tiger by Ying Change Compestine

Many of you are aware that I've been learning tai chi for the past ten months or so, and it's something I enjoy quite a lot, both for its meditative aspects and for its health benefits.

And just recently, it was the lunar new year. In fact, this past Saturday, I attended a Chinese New Year's celebration sponsored by the Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization, which included a traditional Lion dance, a variety of martial arts demonstrations, and a ten-course Chinese banquet. It was a pretty terrific evening.

All this is related to my enthusiasm for today's book, Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene, a review copy of which I received from Candlewick Press. (Thanks, Candlewick!)

You see, Crouching Tiger tells the story of an American boy named Vinson (aka Ming Da) who learns tai chi from his Chinese grandfather. At first, Vinson finds the study of tai chi boring, since he has to start with quiet meditation. At first, he also finds his grandfather to be a bit of an embarrassment. When his grandfather uses his tai chi training to avert a serious injury to a stranger, however, Vinson begins to appreciate both his grandfather and his grandfather's martial arts training a bit more. Vinson practices what his grandfather teaches him for quite some time, and the book culminates with a celebration of Chinese New Year in which Vinson plays an integral role. Compestine manages to include within the text a non-pedantic introduction to some of the customs and traditions related to Chinese New Year (woven into the basic story line) as well as a basic explanation of tai chi. An author's note at the end provides additional information on both.

The entire story is illustrated with wonderful art by Yan Nascimbene, who not only provides illustrations that aid the text, but also includes at the bottom of each page of text a small illustration in which the child character demonstrates various tai chi moves or positions. For instance, at the bottom of the spread below, the child is demonstrating a move called "Single Whip":

In my opinion, this is a must-share book for adults who are involved in the martial arts who want to introduce the idea to their children or grandchildren, as well as being a perfect book for all children to explore Chinese New Year or tai chi, and for families dealing with cultural differences between older and younger generations. I am extremely glad to have it as part of my picture book collection at home!

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Oh right - I have a blog!

Sorry for the interruption in service. I was just getting back in the swing of things, when it came time to go to the Bahamas, where, apparently, I lost my inclination to blog. Or the recollection that I have a blog. Or something.

I'm not going to bore you with all the details about my trip, which was a very brief cruise, by the way, followed by a visit to Kennedy Space Center. I will say, however, that I didn't find it boring in the least, and that I enjoyed every minute of my trip and my time with my travel companion, and looked at least this happy the entire time:

(Why yes, I am actually this happy most of the time these days.)

I am planning on returning to my regularly scheduled program now. (Not that I ever have an actual plan or schedule, of course.) Look for a book review coming soon, though - I've got a tai chi-related picture book to talk about.

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