Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Many Books?

I was deciding how many copies of my books I should take to the group book signings I'll soon be participating in when I thought of a question. How many books - not those I've written myself - do I own?

I started to count the ones in the nearest bookcase, but realized it would take me all day to count every book in the house. And the books vary greatly in thickness from picture books to huge volumes, so I couldn't just figure out how many feet of shelf space they took up. 

 There are 62 shelves of books in my house and the shelf sizes also vary. Trying to estimate the total was overwhelming but I figured there must be at least 2000 books in my house. Most of them I've read at least a few times.

And that doesn't even take into account the ones on my e-readers. (I haven't read most of those anyway, because I prefer the real, hard copies.)

Then there are the library books. I get and read some of those almost every week.

Obviously I'm a bookaholic and I have no intention of ever getting into recovery.

How many books do you have in your house?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Signings

I love to do book signings.

Everything I've heard and read says authors who aren't famous rarely sell many books at events like that, and many people think they're a waste of time. And, to be honest, I've never sold a lot of books at signings.

But I keep doing them because I think they're fun.

The group signings are the best, because we not only get to meet and chat with people who come to meet us and look at our books, we also get to spend time hanging out with other authors.

As my bumper sticker says, "Bookaholics Unite!" and book signings are great places for that to happen.

And, even if we don't sell hundreds of books, the events are good publicity and may lead to future sales.

I've got two group signings scheduled in May, and can hardly wait for them.

On May 10th Sierra Writers will hold one at the Nevada City Winery in Nevada City, CA from noon until 6:00 p.m.

And on May 17th  the Gold Country Book Festival will be at the Garden at the Auburn Library in Auburn, CA from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m.

If anyone reading this post will be in either of those areas on the day of the signing I'd love to see you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Ordinary Owl

No Ordinary Owl by Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright is part of a series about the S.A.V.E. Squad. That's a group of girls whose names start with the initials, S, A, V and E. They try to rescue and help animals.

I was surprised to see that Lauraine Snelling was a co-author of this book. While Snelling has written other books for kids, they're all about horses and only one book in this series is about that kind of animal. I have a feeling Ms Wright will go on to write more books on her own.

When I got No Ordinary Owl I didn't realize it was part of a series and it can certainly stand alone. It's about the girls in the S.A.V.E. Squad trying to help injured baby owls become able to be released.

But there's much more to the plot than that. This book is a mystery with lots of adventure included. And there's some conflict between the girls, too.

Someone is trying to stop the girls from helping the baby owls. Maybe even several people are trying to block their way and the girls must find out who is responsible for the problems and find a way to save the owls while maintaining their friendship.

I don't want to reveal too much, so I won't go into details about those things.

Girls who care about animals and/or enjoy mysteries and adventures will consider this book a good one.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Adventures of Pearley Monroe

Since I live in California I've read lots of books for kids about the history of the state. But The Adventures of Pearley Monroe is different from all the others.

In the first place, the main character is an African American boy. And, in the second place, the story takes place in the 1880s and is not just about the Gold Rush.

The author Marci Seither based the book on true events that happened to a real family and did an excellent job of portraying the world in which Pearley lived. Since I grew up hearing stories from my grandfather about that same time period I can vouch for the accuracy of a lot of it, although my grandfather lived in San Francisco instead of Gold Country.

And the life of Pearley, like the lives of many people in his world, truly was full of adventure. Even his discovery of the reason for his name is dramatic.

This book is a good one just to read for fun, but kids studying California history in school will find it educational, too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writers Conferences

In case you wonder why there's no apostrophe in that title it's because the word is both plural and possessive. There are lots of writers at the conferences, which belong to the writers.

I love writers conferences!

Writing is a solitary job, but writers are communicators so when we get together we communicate with each other - a lot.

I've gone to lots of those conferences and spoken at some of them, but I must say my favorite is the one I just attended. It was the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. I could go on for pages listing all the great things about it including the beauty of the location, professional information and contacts, new and old friendships, inspiration, and publishing possibilities.

But there's one downside: I'm exhausted!

After the intensive information overload, steep paths between buildings, long days and a long drive home I slept for ten hours last night! But this is a bit personal for a blog post and you don't need to know about that.

However, if you're a writer you do need to know that writers conferences are certainly worth attending.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Books, Etc.

I've blogged many times about reading. And I've reviewed dozens of books for kids here and elsewhere. I've even written and had books published.

But why do I care about reading so much?

In the first place I think it's one of the most important skills people can have. Reading informs us, helps to shape our personalities, entertains us, stretches our minds, helps us understand people different from ourselves, and provides respite from our problems.

I'm pleased to live in a community where people often line up waiting for the library doors to open.

A while back I had a bumper sticker made that says "Bookaholics Unite" and some other people have asked me where to get a sticker like that. (Maybe I should have more printed and sell them. Ya think?)

Lately bookstores and chains have been closing, newspapers and magazines have gone out of business, publishers have merged, and the internet is full of discussions about the future of books.

Zillions of self published books are competing with traditionally published ones and e-books are spreading like wildfire. (Please pardon the cliche.)

One problem with the proliferation of e-books is that the technology becomes outdated so books people buy today may not be readable in the future, but most often books are only read once anyway.

Personally, I still prefer hard copies and have lots of things on my e-readers I've never bothered to read. But, in the long run,  I don't think it matters whether people read hard copies, e-books, or handwritten scrolls just so we continue to read.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blue Ribbon

I'm wearing a pin with the shape of a ribbon in bright blue.

No, it doesn't mean I've won a prize. It's the symbol of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and that's something I certainly care about.

I don't know why they chose the blue ribbon to represent fighting that reprehensible  problem. Maybe the blue represents bruises? Or maybe they chose it because all the other colors have already been used for symbolic ribbons. (You can see my previous post about the ribbons here: )

But, regardless of the color, I hope everyone who reads this post joins me in hoping to stop child abuse.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

There's A Lion In The House

Mary Esparza-Vela is the author of the picture book, There's A Lion In The House.

It's a cute one, and the illustrations by Jack Foster capture the feeling of the text perfectly.

The story is about Robby, a rabbit who likes to tease - and maybe scare - his brothers. But he learns about something really scary - A Lion!

That night he hears a lion roaring right inside his house. What can Robby do?

He tries to wake his brothers, but they're no help. Finally he goes to his parents' bedroom and discovers the roar he thought was a lion is really the sound of his father snoring. Having spent years with a snoring husband, I can certainly identify. ;-)

I don't usually give away the ending of books I review, but this book is for kids who are much too young to read this post. It would make a great bedtime story for them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nursery Raps

Hundreds of years ago there was no such thing as freedom of speech in England. People who spoke out against the king or others in power were likely to be imprisoned and tortured in the stocks or killed.

But sometimes underground movements managed to communicate and spread their protesting ideas to others without getting caught by using a sort of code. Lots of them couldn't read and write and written things could be discovered and used against them. Of course telephones hadn't been invented yet so those people would wander through the street markets calling out messages only others on their side could decipher.

Years ago I read a book called The Real Personages of Mother Goose by Katherine Elwes Thomas. That book, which was published back in 1930, suggests many nursery rhymes were originally hidden political statements. For example Humpty Dumpty and Rock-a-Bye Baby might have been about overthrowing kings.

Common people often sang in the streets for the purpose of collecting coins for their music, but not everyone could sing or had an attractive voice. For that reason I wouldn't be surprised if some of those political rhymes were actually performed there like modern rap music. 

Even if my guess isn't correct, it's fun to try rapping out some of those rhymes.

A more recent book, Pop Goes the Weasel; The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes by Albert Jack, disagrees with Ms Thomas about the history of some specific rhymes, but agrees with her basic premise that some were originally political statements.

And, since I have a creative imagination, I enjoy thinking about rappers on the streets of England sharing news about their causes.