Friday, May 18, 2012

Poetry Friday! EBook celebration! Rabbits! A Poetry Exercise! And just a few more days to enter our Blogiversary Giveaway!

Howdy Campers!  Happy Poetry Friday!  Happy just-a-few-more-days-'til-our 3rd blogiversary giveaway ends! At the end is today's poem and a Writing Workout (aka Poetry Exercise).

My fellow Teaching Authors have kindly allowed me to post some good news today.

*Gasp!* My one and only child just graduated from college.  And at the exact same time, my books have begun graduating into eBooks.  Coincidence?  I think not.
Wait...wrong photo.
This guy.  He's my kid.
Go, kid, go!
For a bonus point: on what campus is he?
For double bonus points: what is the image on his gold stole?

Actually, that's not the good news they were hoping I'd post.  My fellow TeachingAuthors thought I was going to talk about my new eBook.  So...

Once upon a time...I was nine months pregnant with the guy above when we held the launch of my first picture book, To Rabbittown, at Dutton's Bookstore in Brentwood, CA.
Dutton's was our award-winning neighborhood
independent bookstore extraordinaire, whose doors closed in 2008--sniff, sniff.
To Rabbittown began as a illustrated poem, in 1984, when I was working in the marketing department of A.T. & T. in downtown Los Angeles. Looking back, writing it was my escape.  And it really is an escape story--the child in the book runs away to live with rabbits...and slowly turns into one. How much farther can you run away to hide from the nasty corporate world?

It was one of the few books that has floated down from the clouds directly to my fingers, bypassing my brain, nearly fully formed. 
How does that happen?  And why can't it happen all the time?

1984 manuscript of To Rabbittown, now archived
at the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature
I sent it to Scholastic, it was gloriously illustrated by Robin Spowart and published in the spring of 1989, and you can bet your sweet bippy it felt like the birth of my child (the good parts of giving birth, you understand), who was born a few days later.

It became a blue ribbon best seller for Scholastic (I don't know what that means either), sold over 64,000 copies, and got a starred review in the School Library Journal (I was a newbie author; I thought everybody got a starred review in SLJ...); it was in print for eight years...

...until it wasn't in print.  This being my first Out of Print (OP) book, I was devastated.  It really did feel like a death.  I was mortified. And ashamed.  I thought it was my fault.  I tiptoed around, eyes on the ground without telling anyone. If I had been better, had done more, if I had written the next one faster, if I had picked up more trash off the sidewalk, my book would have been immortal.  I thought books were immortal, and if they weren't, well, then there was something deeply wrong with the author.  

Fast forward to 2012.  I am older.  I understand life a little more.  Not everything is my fault.  And some fabulous things are my fault.  My beamish boy is launched into this woolie, wild and wonderful world... first born book is reborn as an eBook (for 99 cents) (and just £0.77 in the UK)!
First, here's the text of TO RABBITTOWN as my offering for Poetry Friday--but I really hope you have a chance to see the luscious watercolor illustrations by the amazing Robin Spowart on every page.

by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Robin Spowart

I opened her rabbit-y cage
and while she nibbled celery
I asked her:
Where do the rolling hills go?
She said:
Beyond the wheat
to a pine forest
to the edge of it all
to Rabbittown

I snuggled her close
She told me:
Hop there
Ride the green waves
Find the cliffs
past the smell of the sea
There you’ll find
those brown rabbit eyes
And so I went

They sniffed me and I asked:
How long have you been here?
And what do you eat
in Rabbittown?

The woolly one spoke
She said:
Here before the moon
we drink milk from the milk grass
eat pine needle salad
and save water lilies for dessert

They told me:
I sat with them
burrowed with them
played games with their babies
and sliced pine branches
at dusk

I grew ears
I heard butterflies fly
I heard the movement of worms in the soil
I heard clouds coming

I wrinkled my rabbit the rest here 

text and cartoony drawing © 2012 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Writing Workout: Abracadabra--You're an Animal!

To Gazelletown.  To Wormtown. 
To Owltown.  To Sharktown. 
To Horsetown...

What animal would you like to become? Using To Rabbittown as a structure, become that gazelle, spider, eel, elephant or flamingo.  What do you hear, feel, sense, eat?  How do you move through your world?  Who do you long to be with?

Be in that world.  Pull your readers in, too.  Remember to breathe...and to write with joy.

You have only a few days left to enter our TeachingAuthors Third Blogiversary Giveaway for a chance to win one of THREE 30$ gift certificates to, where you can purchase new and used books from independent booksellers around the world, often with free shipping! See ...all the bloody details are here.

Katya is hosting Poetry Friday--thanks Katya!


Katya said...

April, thank you for sharing the text of your book -- it is beautiful. It is so nice that out-of-print books can come back to life as ebooks.

jama said...

Wonderful story. I've always loved loved loved rabbits. I will get the E-book! Congrats on that and to your son on graduating! :)

Linda at teacherdance said...

It is delivered to my IPad, & you're right, the illustrations are beautiful, April! Those subtle changes of the little girl to rabbity look. What a gift to be able to make that transformation. I love the poem, though, the lines like "I heard clouds coming" makes me see what small things we might be missing. But then I wondered about the runaway & how the parents might feel (taking it too seriously maybe), but then you had her return home! I'm glad your book is returning too for us today to enjoy! Congrats to your son. Quite a special time for him, and for your family.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Well, that's the second e-book I've bought this morning after cruising a few Poetry Friday posts. Congratulations, April!

And big congrats to your son and your family as well.

I think I told you we have a section of town here called, "Rabbittown" - here's a link to an article from a few years ago featuring the rabbit statue there:

Doraine Bennett said...

Congratulation, April, on the book and the boy! Thanks so much for sharing the text. What a lovely book.

Tabatha said...

I don't know -- what campus is that? Fill us in :-) Congrats to you both! I love the Rabbittown poem and the story about the new author who gradually learns how the business works...

Rena J. Traxel said...

Oh wow! To Rabbittown is wonderful. The illustrations are beautiful. Now I'm off to write a poem about an animal I would like to be.

Barbara Bietz said...

Mazel - on all your good news!!

Ruth said...

I love your rabbit story -- and I loved the story of your book, with its parallels to your son.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Katya--yes, it's wonderful that our OPs can live once more!

Dear Jama--I fell in love with rabbits AFTER writing this one...

And Linda, I, too, love how Robin Spowart shows us how the child slowly becomes the elegant solution to an illustrator's challenge.

Robyn, Jama,and Linda...thanks for buying the book...and Robyn--thanks for the link to your REAL Rabbittown which includes a short audio of the origin of the area's name. (Love the guy's accent!)

Dorraine--thanks for stopping by!

Tabatha--he's in front of the campanille at UC Berkeley (aka Cal)...and the design on his stole means he was in marching band. :-)

Rena--come back and share your poem!

Dear Barbara blue-eyes--nice to read you here!

And Ruth--thanks for stopping by ~

Mary Lee said...

Congratulations on the graduation and the rebirth! What a sweet story!

Janet Wong said...

Yes, the launching of the "new lives" of these two at the same time is a lovely coincidence. A toast to new beginnings! (And I DO love the way your e-book looks on my iPad. Having this gentle story there to turn to when I have an idle few minutes is very calming.)

violet said...

Congratulations on the reincarnation of your book! I just bought it (always wanted to see how a pic book would work on a standard Kindle... yep, I need a Kindle Fire to see the color. But it will probably display in color on the Kindle app on my ipod).

What a lovely, whimsical poem! (Shades of Where the Wild Things Are.)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Mary Lee, Janet and Violet,
Thank you all! Janet Wong, BTW, was a HUGE part of the success of this eBook launch. Thanks, JW!

And Violet--my Kindle is also B&W...but I love the way Robin's illustrations look, even in shades of grey... :-)

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Lovely the way you pulled us into Rabbittown! Congratulations on going to Ebook and on your son's graduation!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Andromeda ~ Thank you!