Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Parents Against Bad Books in Schools

If you haven't seen the Parents Against Bad Books in Schools website (http://www.pabbis.com/) you have to check it out.

Their criteria for judging a book, according to their website:

"Age appropriateness
Good taste
What are educational goals/objectives and does book achieve them?
Is book relevant to curriculum, standards of learning, program of instruction?
Is this particular book necessary? Are other books without bad content equal or better in doing the job? Which ones were considered?"

They acknowledge that "bad" is what you determine for your children. But, if you look at their website, you'll be hard pressed to find a well-known middle grade or YA novel that doesn't have some sort of objectionable content. And their reasons for including them are often vague, confusing, or erroniously drawn from innocent passages.

Some of their "bad" books include:
I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
Keesha's House by Helen Frost
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

(By the way, I have read all of the books above and I wouldn't have any problem with my child reading them, at an appropriate age of course.)

While I respect parents' rights to choose what is appropriate for their children, I have a hard time with this group suggesting that the books should be removed from schools, therefore taking them out of the hands of all children at that school.

I think this issue is too big for just one blog entry.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Auntie Flamingo

Auntie Flamingo, a children's poet, is looking for your kids' flamingo pictures to display on her blog! Crayon, marker, or computer drawn, it doesn't matter!

Visit Auntie Flamingo at http://auntieflamingo.blogspot.com/ to read more about her and see how you can submit your flamingo pictures.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

You set my heart a-Twittering

I joined Twitter a few months ago because "all the cool kids are doing it." I admit, I still don't get the point. I only really Twitter when I want to plug my book or post a link to my blog or something like that. Otherwise, who cares what I ate for breakfast?

The part that amazes me is that I get at least one follower a week, usually more, and I have no idea who any of these people are! How do these people find me? Why do they care about my life?

I can only hope that if they see a link about my book they'll buy it. ;-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Duck Soup has a Website!

And a potential new member! Things are moving over here at Duck Soup!

Are you in the Pittsburgh Area? Check out http://ducksouppitt.wordpress.com/

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Duck Soup!

We're fixing some Duck Soup!

What does it mean?

Where does it come from?

Duck Soup is a new writing group for children's books in the Pittsburgh area.

I like to think of "Duck Soup" as a fun mantra meaning "We can do it!" Writing great books is going to be our Duck Soup.

Besides, it's just fun running around saying "Duck Soup"!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Genre Talk: Povel

What on earth is a povel?

According to Wikipedia, a "povel," also known as a verse novel or novel in poetry is "a type of narrative poetry in which a novel-length narrative is told through the medium of poetry rather than prose." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel_in_verse)

Povels are most commonly associated with Young Adult novels, but there are some verse novels for adults as well. Most povels are written in free-verse poetry, but some include poetry in forms as well.

The challenges of writing a povel:

There are many challenges when one decides to write a povel. First of all, the author must be comfortable enough with both poetry and fiction writing. The povel must use them both effectively, without sacrificing their functions. The poems tend to be short and precise, both telling a story and using poetic techniques. Some povels alternate poems between two or more points of view, so the author needs to be able to get inside the minds of many characters. A good organization system is key, so that the author knows whose poems should be placed where within the manuscript.

Some popular povels include:

Out of the Dust by Karen Hess
What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sonyes
Keesha's House by Helen Frost
Autobiography of Red by Ann Carson
Frenchtown Summer by Robert Cormier
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Genre Talk: Concept Books

What is a concept book?

According to http://www.bookjobs.com/ a concept book is "A picture book for preschool children that attempts to teach a basic concept. Many concept books display illustrations or other art and contain only a few words per page. Concept books frequently focus on introducing children to subjects such as the alphabet, or colors, shapes, and sizes. "

The challenges of writing a concept book:

Don't assume that concept books are the easiest kind of picture books to write! There are already a gazillion books out there that teach the ABC's. What sets your book apart from the others? You must come up with a creative idea in order to sell your book.

These days, many editors are looking for concept books with storylines. "A is for Apple, B is for Ball" doesn't cut it. Also, if you can teach two concepts in one book, that's even better! Have a picture book that goes through the days of the week and colors of the rainbow at the same time? Chances are, there aren't too many books like that out there already.

Some good concept books:

The Watering Hole by Graeme Base (counting, animals, rain cycle)

Toes, Ears, & Nose! A Lift-the-Flap Book by Marion Dane Bauer and Karen Katz (parts of the body, for toddlers)

One Child, One Seed: A South African Counting Book by Kathryn Cave and Gisele Wulfsohn (multi-cultural, counting)

Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel and Henry Cole (Alphabet book)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Interview with Nancy Famolari.

Nancy Famolari lives with her husband, five horses, two dogs and five white cats on a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her stories and poems have appeared in Long Story Short, Flash Shot, Fiction Flyer, Lyrica, Alienskin Magazine Clockwise Cat, and Matters of the Heart from the Museitup Press. She received an award from Fiction Flyer for one of her flash fiction stories. Her novel, Summer's Story, will be available from Red Rose Press in the fall 2008. Her mystery, Murder in Montbleu, will be available from Red Rose Publishing in 2009.

1. What do you most enjoy about writing?
- What I love most about writing is feeling the characters come alive. When I write a novel, I know where I want to end up, but I let the characters take me there by talking to each other. Their actions move the story forward. It's such a rush to be able to interact with your characters. They become friends. I actually miss them when I've finished the novel. It's better than reading because you get to know new people in an in-depth way.

2. How do you advertise your books?
- Since my two book are ebooks, I advertise primarily on the web. Being part of a virtual book tour, like this one, is a good way to tell prospective readers about my book and to let them get to know me. I also have been on blog talk radio. That was great fun. If my book comes out in paper eventually, I will have several opportunities. The library wants to feature me at a local author's luncheon and the local Barnes and Noble wants to invite me to a local authors day. I have business cards with my book cover and information on where to purchase it. Since the book isn't available yet, I will be looking to see what avenues work best for sales.

3. What is the best tip you can give someone who wants to write?
- The best tip I can think of is apply your seat to the chair and write. Courses are great, so are critique groups, but the sad fact is that you have to put in the hours developing your voice and learning to use all the things you've discovered in courses. Critique groups are a double edged sword. You can get valuable information, but you have to have enough self-confidence to decide what to accept and what to reject. It is, after all, your work. It has to please you.

4. Do you have an agent?
-At the present time, I don't have an agent. I was lucky enough to attract the interest of an excellent editor and got the contract for Summer's Story that way. I took a seminar with Jonathan Mayberry. He gives a very good seminar on publishing and advertising your book. He is primarily interested in print books and for those you really need an agent. I asked him the question whether ebook authors needed an agent. He said, you don't need an agent at the current state of the industry. Most agents aren't interested unless it's possible to get an advance and few ebook publishers give them. However, when advances are generally available that will undoubtedly change.

5. Do you have a favorite author?
- Dorothy Sayers is still my favorite author with Elizabeth George not far behind. I'm afraid I'm addicted to British style mysteries. I'm looking forward to reading Caroline Graham. Her novels have been adapted for television as the Midsomer Murders. So far I'm loving the series. Now I have to try the books.

Monday, February 2, 2009

About Summer's Story by Nancy Famolari

Summer Langston's father, a famous racehorse trainer dies leaving her with nothing but Meadow, a potentially great trotter. Summer and her father have been living and training at Golden Oaks, the farm owned by Ned Granger. Summer blames Ned and herself for not doing enough to keep her father from drinking himself to death. Although Ned offers her a home at the farm, she decides to strike out on her own and train Meadow. Her plan is complicated by Max, a wealthy owner, who covets the mare for his stable. He has a bad reputation for drugging his horses and fixing races, which makes Summer determined to keep Meadow for herself.

Davis, a famous race driver, offers to help Summer by giving her money to stable the horse at a good training farm. After Davis wins a claiming race (A race in which a horse can be claimed by a new owner before the race.) with one of her horses, Summer falls in love with him and agrees to share his townhouse. She doesn't realize that Davis is being paid by Max to help him get Meadow. Although unplanned, Davis falls in love with Summer and fails to give Max the help he wants.

Summer insists on driving in Meadow's first race. Davis knows there will be trouble and volunteers to drive instead, but she refuses. Max's driver causes an accident. Summer is badly hurt and Meadow suffers a torn tendon.

Davis blames himself for the accident. Unable to watch Summer's slow recovery and to avoid Max, he goes to California. Summer recovers, but is lame. Mike, an old friend of her father's, offers her a job as second trainer at Showplace Farms. She agrees provided she can continue to train Meadow. Summer feels that because of her lameness she has to do more then everyone else in the stable. She offers to truck yearlings to the Harrisburg sale and gets lost. Ned sees her as he's coming out of a restaurant and helps her get to the sale. He offers her a business proposition. They will be partners to train Meadow for the Hambletonian Oaks, the world's most famous trotting race for three-year-old-fillies. After her racing career, she will become a broodmare at Golden Oaks.

After Jeremy, Summer's groom, is attacked at Showplace by a man hired to put Meadow out of contention, Summer agrees to move back to Golden Oaks. It has a private track and she doesn't have to worry about sabotage from Max. The close relationship established by training the horse leads to a love affair between Ned and Summer. He wants to marry her, but they agree to put decisions on hold until after the Hambletonian.

Max contacts Davis in California and reminds him of his promise to come back to drive Meadow in the Hambletonian Oaks and throw the race. Guilt and the pressure of racing have driven Davis into the drug scene and he is feeling very bad. He still loves Summer and wants to see her so he contacts her and tells her that he wants to drive Meadow. Ned and Summer are unsure, but are forced to agree when Davis shows up in New Jersey.

Davis drives Meadow in the Hambletonian Oaks. After placing second in the prelim, to satisfy Max, he refuses to throw the final and wins. Max is furious and tells him that somebody's going to pay. Davis doesn't believe him. He goes to Golden Oaks to claim his reward from Summer. As he approaches the farm, he sees the stable on fire. He and Ned get the horses out, but the guard is still inside. Davis rescues him, but in the process his hands are badly burned.

Because of his injury, Davis can no longer drive. Summer feels responsible and agrees to train horses with him. Ned reluctantly steps aside. Davis is too impatient to be a good trainer.. Summer finds him beating a filly, steps between him and the horse and is struck instead.

Davis realizes that he is completely out of control. He has to blame someone and focuses on Max. High on drugs, he steals a gun from Ned and goes after Max. He finds him at Freehold Raceway, shoots him and gets away by forcing a driver outside the track to help him get away. The police stop him. He realizes he can't get away and kills himself.

Summer and Ned find it difficult to get back together after the tragedy. Finally, Ned tells her that he loves her, but he can't wait forever. While they're watching Meadow's foal scampering in the paddock, she agrees to marry him.

Summer's Story is available from Red Rose Publishing.

Learn more about Nancy at:

Website: http://sites.google.com/site/nancyfamolari/

My Space: http://www.myspace.com/nancyfamolari/

Facebook: http://www.new.facebook.com/friends/

Blogs: http://nancygfamolari.blogspot.com/