Thursday, December 31, 2009

Six Word Resolutions & Goals! A Book Giveaway! And a New Year's Poem For You!


Before we get to the book giveaway and the poem, I want to share my all-time favorite New Years song with you.  Singing folk songs is one way I learned how to write poetry.  This song is by the wonderful folksinger/songwriter Bruce Phillips, aka Utah Phillips—“The Golden Voice of the Great Southwest—a legend in his own time”.  It’s alternately called Here with You or I Believe if I Lived My Life Again.  One reason I love this tender song is the setting in which we sing it: in a big circle, arms around each other, acappella, exactly at midnight.  My favorite part is the chorus:

I believe if I lived my life again
I'd still be here with you
I believe if I lived my life again
I'd still be here with you

I can’t find an easy download of the music, but the lyrics are here.

Okay…and now, on with our Teaching Authors
New Year contest and book giveaway!

Remember our post (and book giveaway) about setting goals for the new school year?

Remember your own goals?  Well, the six of us at Teaching Authors can’t wait to hear how you’re doing.  And because there are SIX of us, we’d like you to send us a SIX word progress report.   To jog your memory, here's Carmela Martino’s original post about six word memoirs and here is my follow-up post about six word resolutions.

So--how did you do with those fall resolutions?   Who or what hindered you?  Who or what helped you?  Here's the place to 'fess up!  (And remember, we writers also edit—both our writing and our lives.  So if you didn’t quite make that goal, revise it and let us know your new one—in six words or less, of course!)

Here’s my own progress report:
Writing, submitting, teaching—I’m on fire!

What’s yours?  Post it by January 13th and you could win my picture book NEW YEAR AT THE PIER, which Tablet Magazine just named it Best Jewish Picture Book of the Year!  Contest details below.

Wanna Win a Book? Rules:
1) Post one six word progress report on your writing, reading or teaching goal…or your revised goal.
2) Provide your email address or a link to your own blog in your comment so that we can contact you. (U.S. residents only, please.) 
3) Entries must be posted by 11 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2010 (Central Standard Time).
4) The winner will be announced by 11 p.m., Friday, January 15, 2010.
Here are the complete rules (scroll down)--g'luck!

And now for the poem...from me to you. (Please imagine that the first stanza below is four lines and all the rest are three lines...this format doesn't allow lines quite that long!)

by April Halprin Wayland

Because we lost Fred last year, because I had one last kiss from

Aunt Rose, from Aunt Cissy, from Aunt Polly, from Morrie…
because I want to hold on, hold back, hold them,
because I can’t, because you can’t, because we can’t,

because of this slant of sun on bees buzzing from their white boxes,

because of one spoonful of custard apple, because of this persimmon,
because your guitar, all wood and gut, echoes in rings around these things,

this year

let’s not miss present tense, salty pistachio, soft pianissimo,
let’s not miss sage incense, Native flute, one bite of fruit,

and let’s not miss these arms, these generous arms,

these loving arms, wrapping warm around us
this year.

© April Halprin Wayland

Two things in this New Year: remember to breathe and write with joy.

all drawings by April Halprin Wayland--please credit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Becoming an Irrepressible Writer--Our Final Holiday Gift to You

Winter begins today for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. While this is also the season of holidays, it can be an emotionally challenging time. Holiday stress and limited daylight can take their toll on our well-being. So it's fitting that today I share a web site to help writers (and those who nurture them) get through the "dark days."

Today I'd like to introduce you to The Irrepressible Writer, a new blog by my friend and fellow writer, Carol Coven Grannick. In addition to being a writer, Carol is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. As she says on the blog, she "works with writers and non-writers who want to create and maintain more resilient, meaningful lives." Through her blog, Carol shares tips on how to stay optimistic when the trials of writing and publishing get us down. Carol's blog has become my personal secret weapon against my annoying inner critique. When I hear that nagging voice say things like, "What makes you think you're a writer?" or "You should chuck this whole thing and go out and get a real job" or "You'll never get this published", I turn to Carol's blog for insight and inspiration. She's helped me out of a dark mood more than once, bless her! For example, in today's post, Carol provides tips on learning how not to take rejection personally.

One of the things I love best about Carol's blog is that she speaks from personal experience. She knows how it feels to struggle with a writing project, to try to stay focused despite distractions, to get a rejection. Also, like me, she wasn't born an optimist, yet she's managed to learn how to be one. She gives me hope that I can do the same. If you're a writer, or you're a teacher trying to nurture writers, I encourage you to visit Carol's blog. Her welcome post is probably the best place to start on your path to becoming an Irrepressible Writer.

This is the last in our series of posts with links to some of our favorite sites, a little holiday thank-you gift to you, our readers. These and other links to helpful writing/teaching/literature resources are included in the sidebar. I hope you'll check them out.

The TeachingAuthors are taking a break from blogging until January 1, 2010, when April will return to follow-up on our new-school-year resolutions contest. (Hint, that means you'll have another opportunity to win an autographed book!)

We wish all of you a healthy and happy holiday season. May your new year be filled with many wonderful blessings.

Happy writing!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Gift for Readers and Writers

I taught my final class of the semester on Saturday and turned in the last of my grades yesterday. Now I’m eager to pack up textbooks and handouts, clear away clutter, and make room for new ideas. Lucky me! For the month between semesters, I get to work on my own writing—as soon as I catch up on some of the urgent tasks I’ve put on hold while I focused on teaching.

I started planning today’s post by visiting bookmarks I’ve accumulated, making a short list, and thinking I would narrow it down to two or three. Then Esther’s post reminded me of one site that includes links to many sites I often recommend and much, much more. Anyone who is interested in literature for children and young adults should know about Cynthia Leitich Smith’s comprehensive web site and visit it often. I did yesterday—and lost track of time!

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an author and speaker who also teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her site's well organized home page is deceptively simple, with expandable lists leading to information about the author and speaker (including details about her books and her writing life and links to her blogs), the resources, and the site itself.

The massive Children’s & YA Literature Resources section includes interviews, bibliographies, and links to additional valuable resources: information about censorship, diversity, children’s book experts, guides for readers and teachers, state and national awards, recommended books, and writing for children and teenagers.

I often find inspiration in interviews with authors and illustrators. I always want to know more about the history and development of books. In the enormous list of interviews under “Authors and Illustrators,” quotes attached to the links draw me in to read about process and inspiration. I could spend (I have spent!) hours exploring this section of the site.

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s comprehensive web site is an invaluable gift for readers and writers of literature for children and young adults. Let your to-do-list linger a little longer. Give yourself the gift of time to enjoy this site!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One TA's Holiday Gift: A Blog That Keeps On Giving

Hurrah! Hurrah!
Fellow TeachingAuthor Mary Ann Rodman's picture book A Tree for Emmy received a CYBILS nomination in the fiction picture book category!
Congratulations, Mary Ann!

And, Hurrah! Hurrah!
Award-winning Author, Teacher and University of Illinois M.S.L. candidate Esme Codell has gifted our world with yet another Life-changing blog – Hit the Ground Running, the Educating Esme Teacher Blog (for new and high-spirited pedagogues)!

Esme describes herself as a professional readiologist ™, a woman on a mission who believes children’s trade literature is our best hope for equalizing education in America.
Her first blog, The Planet Esme Book-A-Day-Blog, is a Must Read for anyone working with and writing for children today.
Each of Esme’s themed posts is a “Three-fer.” First, she recommends a current trade children’s book title and clearly tells you why. Next, she lists other current titles that might accompany the selection. Finally, she compares and contrasts all choices to relevant titles from the existing body of children’s literature.
The Book-A-Day Blog is a veritable Children’s Literature course in Virtual Space, bringing the Best of the Best to our attention weekly.
The blog also supports her sister site where visitors can find additional reviews, thematic lists, links and “everything you need to become an expert in children’s literature.”

Esme’s newest blog, Hit the Ground Running, shines a much needed (and especially bright) light on Teachers as Writers.
Esme’s posts get - and keep - classroom teachers writing – with their students, for their students, and best of all, for themselves.
In fact, it’s safe to say, the posts get and keep any writer writing.
Like her Children’s Literature posts, each post’s value increases exponentially; her October 14, 2009 post “Write Your Own Teaching Journal” is nothing short of a Five-Fer.

I've always sung praise of Esme’s Book-a-Day Blog to all in my writing classes and teacher workshops.
But now I sing a new song, here, there and everywhere, as I heartily recommend Esme’s Hit the Ground Running.
Esme’s two blogs put the Energizer Bunny to shame.
Both are gifts that keep giving all year long.

Enjoy! Enjoy!

Esther Hershenhorn

Monday, December 14, 2009

Writing by Numbers

My daughter is four and a half.  I remember being four and a half.  Now I know without a doubt that when I make her cry, someday she will recall and truly be scarred for life.  Aagh!

I had always some compunction about letting my children believe in Santa, because Santa confused the heck out of me when I was a kid.  Yes, Santa is real and you never see him.  And God?  The same.  Only God really is real, and my parents were lying about Santa and...  well, am I alone here? 

Tonight I was lying beside Kate as she drifted off to sleep, and she asked, "Mommy, how does God know what we want?"  And I said, "Well, we ask him when we pray.  He can't always give us what we want, but He always tries to do what's best for us because He loves us."  Of course I got the inevitable response: "Why?"  And I said, lamely, "Well, sometimes what we want isn't good for someone else, so God hears our prayers, but He can't answer them the way we want him to."  And Kate chimed in immediately, "Oh!  Like when when we get mad at each other... we both want different things, and we can't both have them."  Now, this coming from a child who thinks she should ALWAYS have what she wants (and is off the charts in such personality traits as intensity, sensitivity, and negative persistence) -- I was just floored that she grasped this concept.

Perhaps I am deluding myself into thinking that Kate has an unusually vivid imagination, but she told me the other day, "Mommy, I love words.  I love to write."  Ah, just what a writer mommy wants to hear!  Like all her friends, she has also recently developed a keen interest in story. 

This week she asked me why the other reindeer didn't want to play with Rudolph.  I said they weren't being very nice because he was different.  She said, "But he was shining his nose on them, and the light probably bothered them."  Hm.  The next day she was asking me about the words to "Frosty, the Snowman" (which for some reason I can never recall).  Specifically, she wanted to know about his "bloody nose."  I said, "Oh, no, honey, it's a BUTTON nose."  She said, "But that doesn't make sense.  Didn't they know about carrot noses?"  She was also very eager to know what we were doing to celebrate Hanukkah.  (I think she was very interested in the gelt.  I almost bought a dreidel but we are, after all, still eating Halloween candy.)  Recently she defined the word "warm" to me as "hottish/coldish."

These glimpses I get into the thought processes of my daughter -- and my son, and their friends -- are fascinating in that they show me:

1) How much most two-year-olds and four-year-olds are alike developmentally.
2) How little most two- and four-year-olds are like temperamentally.

I watch little kids say the same first words, tell the same knock-knock jokes, become entranced with the same catch phrases ("eyeballs" is a favorite fixation of late, among other unmentionables).  The commonality of human nature is awesome.  The difference between a three-year-old and a four-year-old is equally amazing.  Anyone who is writing for children must, at all times, be keenly aware of this dichotomy.

When I met my future husband, he was teaching fourth grade and was deeply involved in the National Writing Project.  As a former psychology major, I wholeheartedly the idea of teacher research and evidence-based methodology, of embracing what works and rejecting what does not.  As a novice teacher, I am also deeply indebted to their website:

If you haven't visited recently, whether you are a teacher or a writer -- or both -- it's a valuable bookmark to add to your collection.

Gingerbread House - Kate & Jim Ford
($10 Wal-Mart Kit; Memories -- priceless)

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa -- and congrats, Esther!!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Giveaway Winner and Kudos to Laura and Esther!

We enjoyed reading all the great entries for our latest book giveaway. Unfortunately, we have only one copy of Laura Crawford's The American Revolution From A to Z to giveaway. And the winner is . . .
Jolanthe E. of Virginia!
Jolanthe plans to add the book to her family's homeschooling library. For those who didn't win, we hope you'll visit us again in the New Year, when we'll have more wonderful books to give away.

Thanks again to Laura Crawford for being our first Student Success Story. Also, congratulations to Laura and to our own Esther Hershenhorn. Laura's The American Revolution From A to Z and Esther's S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet have been nominated to this year's Cybils in the category Nonfiction/Information Picture Books. You can see the whole list here. Good luck to both of you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Gift To You on Poetry Friday!

Below is some Not-Quite-Poetry (or is it?) for
Poetry Friday
...and a Writing Workout/
Writing Prompt / Story Starter / Lesson Plan!

Today's topic: an internet link from each TeachingAuthor...our gift to you for the holidays!

Hmmm...which one shall I wrap up for you?  Okay...I've got it.  My link is one you may already know.  It’s Smith Magazine, famous for Six Word Memoirs. 

In January we will be checking in on how you’re doing with those new-school-year goals you made in the fall, so let’s look at Smiths’ Six-Word Resolutions 

Here's one:

Start finishing first novel's last page.

~ jah 1

Here's my stab at a resolution, addressing the overly critical voice trumpeting in my brain:

Critic on shoulder?  Duct-tape her mouth! 

(Yes, this is cheating, because duct tape doesn't have a hyphen.  Or at least the critic on my shoulder told me it was cheating.)

So...what’s your six-word resolution?


Writing Workout / Writing Prompt / Story Starter / Lesson Plan
Six Word Memoirs:
Jumping Off Points for Your Story

Out of plot ideas? 
Wishing someone would drop a complete story in your lap?  You’re in luck!
There's something wonderful about having limits or sticking to a specific form. 
Not haiku...shorter.  Six-word memoirs.

Go to Smith Magazine to find one that resonates with you (there are lots of different categories, including Momoirs, Brushes with Fame, Love and Heartbreak),
or write your own,
or work with one of the seven from Smith below:

I punched monster, monster punched back.
~ emo122

Make a wish.  Nothing.  Always tomorrow.

~ Mook

A snow day would fix everything.
~ bluebirch114

Black and white life seeks color.

~ jae1390

I didn't walk off a roof.
~ Tobin Levy

How did I wind up here?

~ sisterpoet

And finally...this one just made me laugh:
Editor.  Get it?
~ Kate Hamill

In January, I'll ask you for a six-word essay on how you’re doing on those goals, so be thinking about that!

Meanwhile, write; write with joy. 
Drawings © by April Halprin Wayland

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Giveaway and our First Student Success Story: Laura Crawford

 Today, it is with great pride that I introduce a new feature here on www.TeachingAuthors.comStudent Success Stories!
We hope that by sharing stories of some of the accomplishments of our writing students we will help inspire other teachers and aspiring writers. I am honored to feature one of my former students as our first Student Success Story: Laura Crawford.

Laura was a student in a Continuing Education class I taught on Writing for Children and Young Adults at the College of DuPage back in the summer of 2001. About a week before our first session, the college called to say the class had filled and to ask if I'd be willing to take an extra student. I'm normally fairly strict about the class size to allow enough time for manuscript critiques. After talking to Laura on the phone, I decided she was a serious student, so I made an exception for her. I'm so glad I did! I believe that of all my former students who have gone on to have their work published, Laura has been the most prolific. I was especially thrilled when I found out that a manuscript of Laura's that we had critiqued in class was to be published by Raven Tree Press as Postcards From Washington, D.C. The book became part of a series that also includes Postcards From Chicago, and Postcards From New York City.     

Interestingly, Laura's first published book was one she wrote after Postcards From Chicago. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving From A to Z was published by Pelican Publishing in 2005. Her second book, In Arctic Waters, a cumulative tale about Arctic animals, was published by Sylvan Dell. Her newest book,  The American Revolution From A to Z, is another alphabet book with Pelican Publishing. To celebrate the book's release, we will be giving away an autographed copy. Instructions for how to enter our drawing will be at the end of this post.

Laura is not only a writer, she's also a full-time teacher and reading specialist who works with second- and third-graders at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois. I recently interviewed Laura about her path from teacher to student to published children's author:

Laura, what inspired you to sign up for my class?

When I was getting my Masters Degree at Northern Illinois University, one of my teachers had recently published a book. The idea of being published intrigued me, but I didn't do anything to pursue that dream for about 3 years. During the summer of 2001, I was looking through a catalog for one of the community colleges. I saw your introductory class and signed up. I almost didn't get in because the class was limited to 20 students, but you had pity on me, and let me be number 21. Thank goodness you bent the rules, because the class changed my life.

Do you recall any specific ways the class helped you?

I remember being very nervous and having no idea what to expect from an adult writing class. I had always been a math and science person, so this was new.  In the first session, we did a writing exercise and had to decide what we were going to write about. I had plenty of ideas, but you wanted us to write the book, and bring it the following week. Yikes!  I went home and finished it in one night. And…I was ready to submit it. (Yes, I was quite the ambitious ‘newbie’). I was unbelievably nervous to share my writing--I had never done anything quite like this before. The class critiqued it, and I left that night with a much better book. I appreciated the kind and supportive atmosphere of the group.

You eventually went on to publish the manuscript you worked on in class. Did the manuscript change much by the time it was published?

Yes, that first manuscript was a mess…and now it is Postcards From Washington, D.C. I did over 30 revisions on that book. That was my first indication that I can be very wordy….the current book is about 1,200 words, and the original was about 3,000!

How does being a teacher influence or inspire your writing?

All of my books have stemmed from a need in my second or third grade classroom. I started Postcards From Washington, D.C. after doing a unit in second grade on the nation’s capital. I couldn't find a book that covered the material I needed, so I wrote one, and I had the students illustrate it. They were NOT happy to learn that their pictures were not going to be in the published book!  I did the same with the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving From A to Z and In Arctic Waters. My goal is to present science and social studies curriculum in a fun way.

In addition to teaching and writing, you blog about nature-related books for children at Wild About Nature. How do you balance your full-time job teaching with your writing, marketing, blogging, etc.?

I don’t! I have a very hard time balancing everything, so I do most of my writing on the weekends or during the summer. I wish I could be one of those people who write every day, but I’m not.  I do believe that being a teacher makes me a better writer, and writing has made me a better teacher. 

Have you taken other classes or continued your writing education in other ways?

Yes. I have taken classes with Heidi Roemer, an Illinois author. Another huge component of my writing education has been my SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) writing groups.They provide me with insights, support, and suggestions every month. I have learned so much from my fellow authors, especially those who write nonfiction or are also teachers. I would not be where I am today without my writing groups, Heidi, and you, Carmela.

Thanks so much for sharing your "Student Success Story" with us, Laura. And thanks also for donating a copy of your newest book, The American Revolution From A to Z, for our giveaway.

Readers, I hope you've been inspired by Laura's story. (By the way, if you happen to live in the Chicago area, I will be teaching the College of DuPage class Laura took in January 2010. For details, see my Web site.)

And now, as promised, here's the information about our giveaway. Before entering, be sure to first read our Giveaway Guidelines here.

If you'd like a chance to win an autographed copy of Laura Crawford's The American Revolution From A to Z, post a comment to today's blog post telling us whether you'd like to have the book for yourself, or to give as a gift. You must also provide your email address or a link to your own blog in your comment so that we can contact you. (U.S. residents only, please.)  Entries must be posted by 11 p.m. Saturday, December 12, 2009 (Central Standard Time). The winner will be announced by 11 p.m., Sunday, December 13, 2009.

We look forward to reading your comments. Good luck!
And, as always, happy writing!

Monday, December 7, 2009

More on Organizing Projects, and a Giveaway Sneak Preview

Due to a strange quirk in Google Blogger, JoAnn was initially unable to include images with her post on Friday. However, the issue has been resolved, and you can now see her photographs. If the images on your screen are too small, click on them for a better look.

Also, I posted a follow-up comment this morning with a couple of my own tips. I invite you to join the conversation by commenting on JoAnn's post with one of your favorite techniques for staying organized. Or, if you prefer, share one of your greatest organizing challenges. Maybe one of our readers can provide a solution. I'd love to learn new ways to be more efficient in the new year!

Sneak Preview: we'll be sponsoring another book giveaway on Wednesday. Do stop by to read an extra-special author interview and enter for a chance to win a personally autographed copy of a new picture book.

Happy writing!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ask the Teaching Authors Question: Organizing Projects

Mary Jo C. writes, teaches, and works for a nonprofit young writers’ organization. She asks, “How do you organize all of your projects, both the paper files and the computer files, without things falling through the cracks? How do you keep up with markets you’d like to pursue and the deadlines for submitting?”

Thank you for the questions, Mary Jo! They made me take a close look at my own organization methods. My work, like yours, is made up of a number of segments whose relative importance varies over time:
  • writing
  • teaching
  • freelance/work-for-hire writing projects
  • school visits and conferences
  • miscellaneous (blog posts, marketing, publicity, volunteer work, special projects, etc.)
For each type of work, I try to keep track of my progress and my plans. Some systems work better than others. First, the more successful ones.

My calendar functions as my short-term To-Do List. I update it and refer to it daily. I slip notes about important events such as school visits inside the back cover. I also keep a long-term list on a legal pad. I look at it and update it about once/month, when I transfer urgent items to the calendar.

I have learned (the hard way!) to stuff tax-deductible expense receipts and payment stubs in file folders as soon as I receive and record them. I keep the Income and Expense folders on top of a filing cabinet next to my desk where I can reach them easily. I also keep a small notebook in the car to record mileage—trips to the library or office supply store as well as longer research travel. It all adds up. At tax time, everything is right there.

For my classes, I keep records of attendance and grades in Excel charts and report them online. I keep textbooks, handouts, and all necessary daily records in a separate tote bag for each course and grab that bag on my way to class. Sometimes I walk out the door with a purse and several tote bags, but at least I know I have everything I might need. (I also keep library books in their own tote bag.)

For my submissions, I created a Word table that lists manuscript titles across the top and editor names along the side. When I submit a manuscript, I enter the date in the cell where manuscript and editor meet. If a manuscript is returned, I add an R after the date and submit it elsewhere. If it is accepted, I delete the column from the table. I can easily see which manuscripts are out and which editors have something of mine to consider. I keep a copy of the table clipped to the outside of a file folder that holds printed copies of cover letters and manuscripts.

I rely on e-mail to communicate with everyone: students, department chairs, people requesting information about school visits, writing group members, editors, etc. I create folders in my Inbox for categories such as teaching, writing, and work, and I add subfolders within them for each class, publisher, or project. (Documents on my computer are organized in a similar way.) I recently started using a second e-mail account strictly for teaching. I am always trying to clear out my Inbox. I rarely print an e-mail, but I do mark important dates, phone numbers, and deadlines on my calendar.

* * * * *

My explanation for the less successful methods is that I operate under the principle that I remember what I see.

Work-for-hire projects typically require research that results in many pages of printed or photocopied information. Until a project is completed, these papers tend to pile up, so I group them together in one spot, usually on the floor. What I don’t do religiously enough is sort through these piles as soon as a project is completed and file or recycle all that paper. I usually return library books in time to avoid huge fines.

My own writing in progress is stacked on a file cabinet next to my desk in a teetering pile that includes everything from scraps of paper with a few words scribbled during the night to a ring binder that holds a poetry collection I’ve been working on for ten years and several copies of a nearly finished novel. Periodically (usually after I finish something), I sort through this pile, shake my head, feel guilty for not finishing more, and pile it all up again. Once in a while, I find something that piques my interest, and I pull it out to work on. I have tried keeping track of these unfinished manuscripts, but most of them don’t have titles yet, so I probably wouldn’t even recognize the names on a list. (Aha—a revelation! Why is my most important work the least organized? Any suggestions?)

* * * * *

Now my teaching semester is wrapping up, time is running out, and papers are piling up all over my work area. I hope to use some of the coming break to sort, recycle, and file. Much of what is in my filing cabinets is obsolete. I will clean them out. I will be ruthless. I promise!

My goals for a system of organization:
  • to prioritize
  • to stay on top of everything
  • to not allow something important to slip through the cracks
  • to not handle papers over and over
  • to not spend too much time searching for anything
  • to be conscious of my surroundings, especially when papers start to pile up
When my life becomes hectic (as it is now!), I find myself using my Morning Pages to plan my day, and I find I can focus better on my work if I take this step. What I’d like to work on improving next is following up on information I’ve sent out, especially submissions and potential school visit details.

I hope I’ve answered your questions, Mary Jo. You’ve certainly inspired me to take a closer look at what works for me and what needs more attention. I’m looking forward to my semester break and hoping to get better organized. Wish me luck!

P.S. I originally posted this yesterday, but the photos would not upload. I don't know why, but here they are!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

B is for Book Tour

Since early September
I’ve been out-and-about,

Chicago and its Parks – Lincoln, Hyde and Rogers,
plus Vernon Hills,
Orland Park,
Ann Arbor,
Virginia City
and the Kidlitosphere,

learning centers and auditoriums,
libraries, bookstores,
conference centers and universities,
Veterans halls,
street tents
and blogs,
and a very lovely Bed and Breakfast living room.

I’ve shared S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet
morning, noon and night,

children’s book writers,
students of all ages,
but best of all,
Young Writers and Readers.

“Story is a gift!” I’ve declared non-stop. “And don’t forget: writers are readers!”

My tour’s final stops include this week’s second Teacher Workshop at Chicago’s Seward Communication Arts Academy, Friday evening’s Young Chicago Authors 2009 Holiday Book Bash from 6 to 9 pm at DePaul University’s Egan Urban Center at 1 E. Jackson St., Saturday’s 2 pm book signing at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at 1441 W. Webster to benefit the Louisa May Alcott School Friends of Alcott, December’s Author-to-Author visits with the Alcott School’s young writers and a December 11 "visit" with
Wildwood, New Jersey's Glenvwood Avenue School's third and fifth graders.

Visit my website after December 15 to view Kodak Moments and link to S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet book reviews, author/illustrator interviews, features and events.

It was during my first early September Seward Teacher Workshop that I encouraged the faculty to maximize publishing opportunities for the school’s Young Writers. I treasure the school’s Writing and Literature Magnet Cluster Lead Teacher Cathy Barzen’s email informing me fifth grader Oscar Garcia won the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance-sponsored student essay contest for grades 4 through 6. Oscar was honored at an October Luncheon and featured in the October 22, 2009 edition of the Chicago Sun Times.
“Thanks so much,” Cathy wrote, “for highlighting the importance of entering contests. You never know how far a teacher can touch the life of a child.”

I repeat: whether written or read, story is a gift!

Oh, how S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet continues to gift me, on tour and off.

Happy Gift-giving!
Esther Hershenhorn