Archive for January, 2011

Children’s Book Awards Get Snookied

The children’s book world is abuzz for good reason. In what should have been a banner week — the American Librarian Association announced the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery medals, the kidlit equivalent of the Oscars — Snooki from Jersey Shore bumped the winners off their traditional Today show appearance.

The Snooks pretends to have written a book (come on, who would she be foolin’), so she poofed into that book slot for the week, I guess. And the producer tried to claim that the show was booked in advance (but I guarantee everyone who can Google “American Library Association” would be able to find the date of the NEXT awards announcement pretty darn soon).

I was delighted that a fellow Kansan, Clare Vanderpool (below right) of Wichita, won the Newbery for Moon Over Manifest (Delacorte). And Erin Stead of Ann Arbor won the Caldecott Medal honoring outstanding illustration for A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Roaring Brook), which was written by her husband, Philip Stead.

I just don’t understand the Today show. First off, Snooki does NOT need any publicity — I mean, isn’t her 15 minutes LOOOONG over?! Second, isn’t Today the No. 1 morning show? Why on earth would they be worried about viewers switching to GMA or whatever that CBS show is these days.

Author Eric A. Kimmel had a thoughtful post about the brouhaha, pointing out that even within the publishing industry itself, the awards don’t necessarily ensure long-term success or even a next book contract.(Thanks to Roxie Munro for linking to that one on Facebook!).

This is just one more sign of the cult of celebrity driving the book world these days. Why should two really good books that can reach probably the most critical audience — our children — be booted in favor of Snooki?!

Author Jodi Picoult summed it up best on Twitter: “Valid questions: Who rushes out to buy the Snooki book? Why does Snooki think she can write a book? You don’t see me acting on Jersey Shore.”



Constitution Crisis

Let me get this straight: During today’s first-ever reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives, the following happened:

  • There was preliminary squabbling over which version of the Constitution to read — the Rs insisted on the politically corrected version (otherwise known as “amended” version), which basically ignores  some of those  unpleasant items from the early days — like the 18th Amendment, which kicked off Prohibition.
  • New Speakeasy, I mean, Speaker John Boner, I mean, Boehner kicked off the long-awaited festivities by reading the Preamble, then sneaked out shortly thereafter for a frackin’ PRESS CONFERENCE?!?!? Guess we know what’s most important.
  • Testosterone Moment: the reading of the much-coveted Second Amendment by Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, the lucky bastard.
  • Mike Fitzpatrick, one of the two reps who still hadn’t been officially sworn in, participated in the reading, raising the question of whether his reading might be stricken from the official record.
  • By the time the reading was completed, not only was the chamber nearly empty, but someone realized that pages had been stuck together, so some of articles IV and V had to be read after the fact!

For entertaining reading on the reading, check out this summary from David Weigel at Slate.

Of course, that was all after Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick (the aforementioned non-sworninees) had missed their swearing in because they were at a fundraiser/party celebrating Fitzpatrick’s swearing in. Then they tried to rectify their gaffe the way Americans usually do, by raising their hands and talking to the TV!

All I can say is that Nancy Pelosi must be licking her chops. You go, girl!

15 Minutes of Fab!

My friend Sheila sent me a post that’s perfectly timed to coincide with a new year: “15 Magic Minutes Toward Kick-Starting Your Writing,” by Daphne Gray-Grant.

I’ve been obsessing about writing since November, when I did my first NaNoWriMo, and the idea of grabbing quarter-hour chunks of time to do something/anything on my novel makes perfect sense.

But then it occurred to me: What if I applied that concept to other areas of my life –– say, my finances (I’m perpetually behind on entering ATMs in my QuickBooks file, for instance)? The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Besides, that’s rather how I operate at the office; everything I do there seems to be in 15-minutes segments, something an organizational consultant once chided me for (“If you’re doing more than five or six things a day, it’s no WONDER you feel overwhelmed!”). But that’s the way work goes.

So here’s my plan for 2011: I’m devoting 15 minutes a day to four key areas:

  • Spirit
  • Finances
  • Creativity (especially that first draft of my novel!)
  • Health and wellbeing

For years in my spiritual practice, those four areas have been front and center on my lists. I figure if I spend one hour a day addressing four tasks in each of those areas, I’ll have a lot to show by the end of the year.

I’ll also add the random wildcard occasionally, such as house stuff, like taking down Christmas lights or whacking shrubs in the yard.

So here’s what I did yesterday, my first day:

  • Spirit:  oh man, what DID I do on that front yesterday?!
  • Finances: I went to my bank to transfer some money
  • Creativity: I revised three pages of Chapter 17 (and somehow that 15 minutes stretched into an hour and a half!)
  • Health and wellbeing: I did steps while watching The Biggest Loser!

Here’s to 15 Minutes of Fab! Tune in for updates –– and if you want to join in, share your stories!

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