Friday, January 30, 2009

LOW-TECH MARVEL-original poem for Poetry Friday

LOW-TECH MARVEL
I do not flash undignified
Blinking for attention
Require fifteen META tags

Prodding your direction.

No need to power-up for me.
I’m cookie, bug and virus-free.
My editor checked snopes for me.
So you can trust me worry-free.

I am your book
Come dive inside.
Release yourself
Let’s take a ride.

© Jill Corcoran 2009

Poetry Roundup is at Adventures in Daily Living.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HOW DOES THAT WORD FEEL?

I often spend hours, days and sometimes months searching for the perfect word.

When you write poetry and picture books, every word counts. And the quest for the perfect word becomes a roller coaster of ups and downs, twists and spills until one word socks you in the stomach, simultaneously exhilarates and scares as you're jerked into the final turn and giddily exit the page . You read and reread, out loud, the sentence, paragraph, page, manuscript until you know in your writer's heart that you can move your reader to feel, see, touch, smell, taste, experience, live and recreate your story in their imagination.

Once you write something down and give it to your reader, the words are no longer yours but a shared experience of your black and white and their color. You can't sit on their shoulder and explain the feelings they're suppose to experience or cue a laugh track, so picking the perfect words, the words that evoke the images you want to create in their minds, is how you make your words feel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TWITTER

I started blogging in August 2008 after the wonderful friends I met at SCBWI Nationals in LA invited me into the blogging world. Thanks, RockSugarBeets:)

Today, after many people told me to start 'tweeting', I joined Twitter. I have no idea what to do with it but I seem to be attracting followers so I better figure it out soon.

If anyone wants to find me on Twitter I am here: http://twitter.com/JillCorcoran

Oh, and if anyone wants to educate not only me but also my blog readers about Twitter, please leave a comment. Plus, if you are on Twitter, leave your link.

Happy Tweeting!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BOOK PROMOTION ADVICE FROM SYLVAN DELL'S SARA DOBIE

My friend, author/illustrator Stephanie Ruble, interviewed Sylvan Dell's Public Relations Coordinator Sara Dobie last week. Stephanie opened the questions up to fellow blueboarders, which resulted in a wonderfully informative and useful exchange. Don't miss it.

BOOK PUBLICITY: AN INTERVIEW WITH PR COORDINATOR SARA DOBIE

Friday, January 23, 2009

RIDDLE POEMS


Just a few years ago, I was a riddle poem virgin. I had heard of riddles. I wrote poems. But I had never heard of riddle poems. Now, thanks to my UCLA children's poetry teacher, Madeleine Comora, I LOVE RIDDLE POEMS.

I remember getting to class early. I had completed all of my homework that week except the riddle poem. For some reason I had a writer's block that was holding me back from poetically riddling. I had three little kids at the time and I was officially sleep-deprived. As I lay my head down on the blank, college-ruled paper my eyes fixed on something in the distance. I immediately jerked my head up, grabbed my pencil and the following spilled on to the page:

WHAT AM I?
I have two eyes
and one round nose
for putting plugs
to make things go.
Don't stick your finger in my eye
for if you do -zip zap- you fry.

© Jill Corcoran 2009

Since that first riddle poem I have found I have a knack for poetically riddling. I have written a number of collections ranging from Rollicking Rowdy Riddles to Halloween Riddles to Sports Riddles to School Riddles and more.

I have found that kids LOVE riddles. When I teach mask poems in the classroom, riddles are the perfect form of poetry for distracted students and reluctant readers. Reading my riddle poems to the class is a joy because every kid is vying for me to call on them so they can proudly shout the answer. When teaching riddle poems, follow my mask poem lesson but make sure to tell students to include concrete clues in their poems so readers can figure out the riddle. To me, a perfect riddle is challenging but solvable.

For fellow riddle poem lovers, be on the lookout for J. Patrick Lewis and Lynn Munsinger's SPOT THE PLOT! A RIDDLE BOOK OF BOOK RIDDLES, Chronicle Books, 2009.

Happy Riddling:)

Monday, January 19, 2009

A LIBRARIAN'S TAKE ON A MULTI-PUBLISHER ROAD SHOW

I love that SOME publishers know to not only 'sell their wares' to B&N, Borders, Walmart and Target, but understand the necessity of presenting their lists to the rainmakers of our business, librarians. Thank you Elizabeth Bird, blogging librarian extraordinaire and official kidlit blogger for School Library Journal, for attending the "Day of Publisher Presentations" on your day off, and for sharing your experience on your blog A Fuse #8 Production.

REPORTING: A DAY OF PUBLISHERS PRESENTATIONS (NOW WITH MORE LIBRARIANS)

Also, thank you to the following publishers for marketing their authors and illustrators to librarians at this event:
ABDO Group, , Candlewick Press, Consortium, Feiwel and Friends, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lerner, Little Brown, National Geographic, Peachtree, Rosen, and Sterling.

Friday, January 16, 2009

PERSPECTIVE

The following two poems have not only impacted the way I think about life, but the way my kids' think about it too. Thank you, Kristin O'Connell George and Alice Shertle.

THE BLUE BETWEEN
by KRISTIN O'CONNELL GEORGE
Everyone watches clouds,
naming creatures they've see.
I see sky differently,
I see the blue between--

The blue woman tugging
her stubborn cloud across the sky.
The blue giraffe stretching
to nibble a cloud floating by.
A pod of dancing dolphin,
cloud oceans, cargo ships,
a boy twirling his cloud
around a thin blue fingertip.

In those smooth wide places,
I see a different scene.
In those cloudless spaces,
I see the blue between.

A FROG IN THE WELL EXPLAINS THE WORLD
by ALICE SCHERTLE

The world is round
and deep
and cool.
The bottom of the world's
a pool
with just enough room
for a frog alone.
The walls of the world
are of stone on stone.
At the top of the world,
when I look up high,
I can see a star
in a little round sky.

Karen Edmisten is hosting today's Poetry Friday Roundup.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SCHOOL VISITS--WHAT THE HECK DO I SAY?!?

In yesterday's post, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publicist Jennifer Taber's Marketing and Promotions Advice for Launching Your Next Book, Taber emphasizes the importance of authors and illustrators to not depend on their publisher for all their publicity needs but to get out and market their books themselves. One avenue Taber mentions is school visits. Now we all know authors who make more money in school visits than on their books, but how do they do it? How do they keep those little eyeballs in their audience from glazing over?

I say, play to your strengths. For me, my strength is helping kids tap into their creativity as well as showing them that they have it in them to write better. My school visits are hands-on writing activities and working with kids to show each and every one of them that they are amazing writers. Often, the students surprise not only me by what lays dormant within them, but themselves.

Here are some examples of my favorite programs:

Poetry in the Classroom: Music-Art-Poetry

Poetry in the Classroom: Mask Poems

Poetry in the Classroom: Haiku I & Haiku II

Poetry in the Classroom: Acrostic Poems

Poetry in the Classroom: Father's Day/Mother's Day/etc Poems

I have a lot more that I have not yet blogged so stay tuned:)

How do you conduct school visits?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ATTITUDE MATTERS

Agent Jessica Faust of Bookends is one of my daily go-to sites. Click on the link below to see why. Thanks Jessica:)

BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency: Attitude Matters

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT PUBLICIST JENNIFER TABER'S MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS ADVICE FOR LAUNCHING YOUR NEXT BOOK

If you haven't discovered Robin LaFevers and Mary Hershey's Shrinking Violet Promotions Blog, you are missing out on a totally loaded ice cream sundae's worth of book marketing and promotions information. Yesterday, Robin added the cherry on top. Follow the link below and learn the do's and don'ts before your next book launch.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

AGENTS AND EDITORS: A Q& A WITH....

Poets & Writers Magazine is gifting all of us with an amazingly informative series, AGENTS AND EDITORS: A Q&A WITH... 
These are must reads for anyone in the book biz.

AGENTS AND EDITORS: A Q&A WITH....

      Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Daniel Lazar and Renee Zuckerbrot

Nov/Dec 2oo8 ... EDITOR CHUCK ADAMS

Sept/Oct 2008 ...AGENT MOLLY FRIEDRICH

May/June 2008 ...AGENT NAT SOBEL

July/Aug 2008 ...EDITOR JANET SILVER

March/April 2008 ...EDITOR PAT STRACHAN

Jan/Feb 2008 ...AGENT LYNN NESBIT

Thursday, January 8, 2009

BRANDING FOR WRITERS, REVISITED

I was reading Cynthia Leitich Smith's fabulous interview with Big-Time-Editor-Turned-Agent Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary yesterday. When Leitich asked Davies, "Do you expect your writers to develop a market brand?, Davies' no nonsense "Why would you not?" ignited my marketing soul.

In the interview Davies says, "When an author is starting out, I think it's helpful to aim at a particular area of the market--so if your first novel is a paranormal romance it's a good idea to follow up with something targeting those same readers.

Why would you not? You are trying to establish your name, and your name is your brand. This enables your publisher to position you on their list, and makes it far easier for them to justify the costs of marketing and promotion.

Further down the tracks, when you're more established, I'd certainly be supportive if an author felt a strong pull to write something very different. I represent authors not books, so I'll look after my authors whatever they write (if I think I can sell it)."


If you all were with me back in November you may remember my first branding' post in response to Agent Chip MacGregor's wonderful and necessary advice, Branding for Writers. I wrote: Many writers are multi-talented and can write in a variety of genres. Yet, there is a strong school of thought that advises writers to BRAND themselves, to establish a writing persona. In short, writers provide readers with 'expected' material, and in turn, readers keep coming back for more. Conclusion: Branding leads to loyal readers which leads to stronger sales.

Last summer at the SCBWI Annual Conference held in LA, I was amazed at how many writers resented Agent Michael Bourret advice to write at least three books in one genre with a goal of becoming a brand. In an interview with CWIM Alice Pope, Bourret recapped his thoughts: "The key, I think, is to establish yourself as a writer of something. I think it’s tough to establish a brand when you’re jumping from one category to another or from one genre to another. You want to give readers what they expect while still satisfying your own muse. It’s a balancing act, but being an author and having a career as an author are two different things."

All of this advice is near and dear to my heart. I write both humorous picture books and poetry as well as heart-wrenching YA novels-in-poems. I have spent years on both and one day the light went on for me......I had to choose one path or the other to establish my career. I had to decide what I wanted the brand JILL CORCORAN to elicit in the minds of readers. For now, I have left the sad corners of my soul I frequented to write my YA novel and am concentrating on laughter.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

KEEP WRITING! KEEP CREATING! KEEP DREAMING!

Sometimes words are like a warm hug that pick us up, fill our hearts and set us back on a path from which we may be faltering. Yesterday, I received an email from The Highlights Foundation announcing yet another amazing addition to their Chautauqua 25th Anniversary Writing Retreat, Little Brown Senior Editor Alvina Ling. In the generous tradition of Chautauqua, faculty include a writing tip in their announcement email. Alvina Ling, thanks for the hug:)

"Some people have a ton of natural talent, and some not as much. But I honestly believe in the power of hard work and drive. I've certainly read my share of manuscripts that I felt were so far from publishable that I was tempted to tell the writer to give up. But I will never, ever, ever do that, partially because I just don't have the right to do that—this is such a subjective business—and writing that I might think is bad, another editor might really love. But also, I'll never ever tell anyone to give up because I've seen writers improve so dramatically through hard work, research, and honing their craft. We all have to start somewhere. Each thing you write is a stepping stone—a step closer to the finish line.

"As Julie Andrews said, 'Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth.' We've all heard the stories before. Dr. Seuss's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was said to have been rejected by 28 editors before finding a home at Random House. According to Internet sources, anywhere from 'several' to eight or twelve U.K. publishers turned down Harry Potter before Bloomsbury offered a contract. And Kate DiCamillo suffered through 470 rejection letters before Because of Winn-Dixie was published. What if any of these authors had stopped trying? If your goal is to be published, think of everything you do now as a step closer to your goal. If you write one book that doesn't seem to be working, move on to your next book—not every book you write will or should be published. Life is a journey, and so is your path to publication. Enjoy yourself along the way."   .....Alvina Ling

P.S. Alvina's words have been added to KEEP WRITING!

Monday, January 5, 2009

HAIKU HAPPENS


Well it does. For those of us poetically minded, haiku just happens. It happens in the shower. It happens in the car. It happens on the beach. When you think in poems, sometimes the world comes at you in 17-syllable snippets. Especially when you are either teaching haiku or writing a haiku book.

Can you guess what I was doing when these haiku happened?

Bees tethered to a
Coke can strain to break free of
its sweet, sticky spell.
© Jill Corcoran 2009

Willow dances with
the wind in her hair. Autumn
arrives tomorrow.© Jill Corcoran 2009

Spider lost in spinning
snags absentminded cricket.
Crunchy lunch surprise.© Jill Corcoran 2009

Several years ago, my child's third grade class went on a nature walk and learned about native plants. They learned California poppies close at night and open every morning in a blaze of orange bright. They learned the ways of the wild west, of cowboys rubbing California sagebrush on their skin to camouflage the stink of their hard earned sweat. They ate mustard plants and they washed their hands in the foam of California lilacs.

When we came back from that hike, I taught the students how to write haiku. How to recreate their experience with nature in the minds' of their readers. Here are two haikus I wrote and shared with my students:

Rise and shine poppy,
flood this thirsty hillside in
deep waves of orange.© Jill Corcoran 2009


Sagebrush cologne can't
rub off the stench of stampedes,
carousing cowboys.© Jill Corcoran 2009

And just as haiku happens, sometimes, well sometimes it stalls. After I showed J. Patrick Lewis my newest haiku, he sent me what could have been my motto while writing the manuscript:

Writing a haiku
in seventeen syllables
is very diffi-
Anonymous

Does haiku happen to you?

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