Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Back

Thanksgiving is over. Okay, so you already know that. I mention it only because now I must get back to whatever it is that I do, after spending an entire week doing something that was very foreign to me--spending a week at a resort in Orlando with two lovely ladies and three wonderful energetic children, ages two, four, and six.

I was in the habit of spending five or so hours per day tending to my writing not tending to the desires of small children. Now, don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the little buggers, but I was out of my element.

Now they have all gone back to California and I am back to the computer. The problem is that my habitual routine has been broken and I'm finding it not easy to get back to. This morning, for example, I spent several hours doing things related to the holidays coming up, rather than the habitual writing.

What I am coming to realize is that having good writing habits is important, but other things are important also and sometimes those things will take away from the writing, like spending time with family. Which got me to wondering--do other writers have scheduled times to write and how do they deal with extended time away from writing? 

Maybe time away is a good thing. Getting back into the groove may be difficult, but the experience had in the time away is an important part of being alive and, in the end, adds to our ability to write about the things that really matter.  


Monday, November 15, 2010

Does the Newberry Award Guarantee Popularity?

Today I read a blog from a school librarian stating that the Newberry Award doesn't automatically send children scampering to read it. She mentioned The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is never checked out by children in her school. This came as a big surprise to me because I thought it was a great book.

On the other hand, another Newberry winner Good Masters, Sweet Ladies, a book about Medieval times, is checked out frequently, especially when a play is being produced about that period. Apparently, the children use the book to help them with their play. This is a book that one might think would not have much appeal to children.

It seems that the students are led to read the book on Medieval times, but I remain puzzled as to why they don't show an interest in The Graveyard Book.

What has been your experience? Do you gravitate to Newberry Award winners? Do you think children are more likely to read Newberry books? Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Are Children's Books For?

     I read a blog by an author who wrote a children's book in which two minor characters lived in a happy family with "two mommys." A reviewer did not like this and cited a number of Biblical and religious reasons of why this was immoral. The author of the book gave a wonderfully thoughtful and balanced response to the reviewer.
     This brought to my mind the question, what is the purpose of children's books, other than the logical one of teaching them to read. Certainly to entertain. This is perhaps the main reason we writers write books. However, while it entertains, a book may also stimulate the mind, aid in adjusting, promote courage, etc.    
     What are your thoughts on the purpose of children's books?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homeless in the US of A

When I first had the idea for my novel Address Unknown, I had some notion of the number of homeless in our country. But when I did the research, I was astounded and dismayed. Here are the facts taken from a brochure put out by the school board of Polk County, Florida. 
  • Children and families are the fastest growing subset of the homeless. They make up 40% of the homeless population. 
  • The average age of a homeless person is nine. That's right. It's not a typo. Nine!
  • The average homeless family is a  twenty year old mother with children under the age of six.
  • There are 400,000 families who are homeless and another 25 million who live with family and friends.
Polk County school system has a program, the Hearth Project, which provides assistance for homeless families and helps students have empathy for homeless students as well as giving them ideas for taking action to remedy this national problem.