monday musings


Why hello.

Come join me on the couch (I straightened everything up just for you). ☺

It’s mid-November and our wild turkeys are nowhere to be seen. Every year, right after Halloween, they sense the coming of mashed potatoes and gravy via wattle radar, and hightail it out of the country. Can’t say I blame them.

The holidays are upon us! Let us not count the days till Christmas. No, let us not. Let us instead focus on the here and now. My hairdresser called me "Dahling" the other day. Yes, I like Linda a lot. We have a running joke about how everyone always mispronounces my first name. Vivian, the receptionist, calls me, "Jamma-lamma-ding-dong." Linda tries hard to remember, but sometimes lapses into, "Jaw-mah." I told her not to worry one little bit. "Your Highness" is perfectly acceptable. So, I was beyond pleased when she came up with "Dahling" all by herself. And she did a great job cutting my hair.


Fifteen days in, and I’ve come up with 23 picture book ideas! Half are food-related (big surprise). Some want to be nonfiction picture books, which would require researching the history of a particular food (LOVE doing that), while others feature human or animal characters — two chefs, a squirrel with a penchant for apples, a Japanese grocery truck man, a girl whose parents own a restaurant, a very unusual recipe.

The guest posts over at Tara Lazar’s blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), have been very helpful and inspiring. I like the idea of "Embracing Your Weirdness,"  "Going on a Road Trip," and "Being a Rule-Breaking Outlaw." I’ve always struggled with plotting, and have been banged over the head for years with "beginning-middle-end-story-arc" proselytizing. I love a good narrative thread or storyline with a strong emotional core as much as the next person, but I also enjoy concept books, poetry, and essay-like treatments that don’t have traditional plots. Picture books lacking any semblance of conflict seem to get published all the time, but I feel as though I’ve never been "allowed" to write them. It’s important to re-examine structural options, to let an idea breathe and find its own form by breaking the rules once in awhile.


♥ Northern Virginia author and writer-friend Maha Addasi will be signing her new picture book, Time to Pray (Boyds Mills Press, 2010) at the Fair Lakes Promenade Barnes & Noble on Sunday, November 21, 2-4 p.m. Hope to see you there! (My review of this title is here.)

Grace Lin has just opened a new Etsy shop. She’s offering inkjet prints of her illustrations as well as the occasional original painting. Check it out!

             Dragon Gate print from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

♥ New blog in town: The Pencil Tips Writing Workshop, hosted by six D.C. area authors and illustrators who have published in a variety of genres: "This blog provides practical tips and observations on the art of writing, particularly in the classroom. We also offer it as a forum for teachers, students, parents, and others who love children’s literature and writing as much as we do. All of us do school visits and teach writing workshops. We believe in the power of mentoring other writers."

Click through to see what Jacqueline Jules, Pamela Ehrenberg, Laura Krauss Melmed, Mary Quattlebaum, Pam Smallcomb and Joan Waites are serving up!


♥ You know how I love food poetry. Well, Elaine at Wild Rose Reader recently posted two poems she wrote in honor of Poetry Man, Lee Bennett Hopkins: "Eating Poetry," and "Eating Poetry, Number Two." Feast on all the tasty metaphors and crunchy wordplay. :9

♥ Don’t miss this recent Cynsations post, where Cynthia Leitich Smith celebrates ten years of being a children’s/YA author by answering questions submitted by her readers. She offers valuable advice and insights about writing, publishing trends, promoting/branding, multicultural literature, and the future of picture books.

♥ In the mood for some homemade apple pie? In this heartwarming essay, Becky Ramsey is convinced it’s just what her family needed. Mmmmmm!


Two chances to win an ARC of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, January 25, 2011):

♥ Giveaway right here at alphabet soup (deadline: November 21).

♥ Giveaway at Book Reviews and More (deadline: December 1).

Enter both giveaways to double your chances of winning!


The wonderful image at the top of this post is by UK artist Andrea Joseph. I don’t know much about her, just that I stumbled upon her work on flickr several months ago, and love love love her stuff. The precision and level of detail in her sketches is amazing. I am tempted to purchase one of her little Molezines. You can find her Etsy shop here, and browse her flickr photostream here. How do you like this shoe?



And since I know you’re working hard this month, whether doing NaNoWriMo, PiBoIdMo or something else, you may help yourself to a piece of chocolate cake,

M.Sheldrake/flickr (Recipe is here.)

or some chocolate candy. Let’s see, I have 23 picture book ideas, so I get 23 pieces of candy. ☺


Happy Writing, Happy Week!

                            "The Nerve Center" by andrea joseph/flickr.        

♥ This post is brought to you by FABULOUS!           

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.