Michele Regenold, Writing for Kids from the Boondocks

A blog about writing for children and the quest for publication.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dust is getting thick around here

Every Saturday when I was a kid Mom made a list of chores for my three younger sisters and me to do. She'd assign specific tasks to us individually as well as things we were all supposed to do. "Michele, clean bathroom. Tracey, vacuum living room and dining room. Stephanie, sweep kitchen and bathroom. Rachel, dust furniture. Girls, pick up living room."

With all that training on Saturday cleaning plus the weird cleaning I did in the Army (dusting the plumbing under the bathroom sink), you might think I'd be prepared to just get it done on some kind of regular basis. Ha, no.

I'm not saying you'd get food poisoning from eating at my house, but dusting and sweeping and vacuuming are all tasks that get done on an as needed basis. And since I conveniently don't see a need more than every couple of months, the only other time I clean is before guests come over. Sometimes I have a party just so I have an excuse to clean.

This has all gotten much worse since starting the Vermont College program. It's nearly the end of March, and I don't think I've dusted since before Christmas. Dusting is such a hassle when I have so many books and notebooks and pads and pens lying around. One benefit of having library books covering the surface of every table in the living room is that the table can't get dusty.

I don't feel guilty, however. In fact, I feel more justified than ever in spending my time not cleaning. I have homework to do. That's way more important than housework.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What to read

I took a look at the American Library Association's 2006 list of notable books, which includes most of the major award winners. I recognized the names of two people I've met: April Pullye Sayre is a Vermont College grad who spoke at the January residency and Stephanie Greene is a current student with many novels already under belt. Tobin Anderson, whom I haven't met but who has been a faculty member at VC, also had a book on the list.

I figured this list would be an excellent source of material for some of the 100 books I'm supposed to read this semester. I haven't read any of the notable books yet. Since I'm working on a YA mystery and reading so many mysteries, I wanted to check the list for notable mysteries.

I counted 99 books on the list. Based on the brief descriptions accompanying each title, I'm guessing there are two, possibly three mysteries on the list. I'll probably start with them, then the fantasy novels, then the other novels.

I'll skip the poetry. One course in literary analysis in college made me nervous around it.

The award winners have gotten quite a bit of discussion on the CCBC listserv, so I'll be sure to at least read a few chapters. But when a book gets described as "postmodern" the way this year's Newbery winner Criss Cross has been, I get a little nervous. As one may deduce from my preference for mystery and fantasy, I like traditional narrative. Nevertheless, I'll try to keep an open mind.

Building your own writing community

Whether you join SCBWI, take a writing class, or visit writer sites on the web, there are many opportunities for developing your own writing community.

One new online community is specifically for children's writers in the middle of the United States. Take a peek.