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Life on the Deckle Edge

Springmingling!

In SCBWI Southern Breeze, we love us some Kirby Larson!
Our 20th Anniversary SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta was a blast this past weekend! I'm still playing catch up. We enjoyed hosting editor Kristin Daly Rens (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), editor and art director Greg Ferguson (Egmont), agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary) and our wonderful keynote speaker, Kirby Larson, who not only inspired us through the weekend but who kicked things off with an all-day novel-writing intensive on Friday. Also, Andy Runton was our special guest Saturday for a workshop on comics and sequential art.

Whew! My writer's toolbox was much heavier when I left on Sunday than when I arrived Thursday night. We had a magical mix of great advice and warm camaraderie the entire weekend. Thanks to all the volunteers, some I didn't even get to thank personally, for all your hard work. Special thanks to our conference bookstore, FoxTale Book Shoppe, led by some of the foxiest bookstore ladies around, and to the wonderful staff at the Century Center Marriott.

Now, onto planning 2013... ! :0)  Read More 
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Breezes - Southern and Otherwise

As the winds whip outside the Century Center Marriott in Atlanta, we are looking forward to a great weekend for our 20th Anniversary SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle, coordinated by yours truly. I won't have time to visit all the great Poetry Friday blogs until after Sunday, but I wanted to share a little good news Gisele pointed me to this week.

I was thrilled when MODERN HAIKU accepted a submission of mine for the current, hot-off-the-press issue. I was even more thrilled to learn that my haiku was selected for the online sample pages featuring some of the haiku and senryu in the current print edition. (Mine is the first on the page; sometimes it's nice having a last name starting with "B".) My haiku was written as winter knocked on fall's door. Now the breezes are are blowing again as winter hangs on in the face of spring, right around the corner.

Click here to read it and several other poems from the current issue.

Then head on over to visit Jone at Check it Out for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. Read More 
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Write2Ignite Conference

I'm in the home stretch of all the crazy details going into planning our upcoming SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference (Feb. 24-26 in Atlanta), and I'm happy to shine the light on another conference that might interest those who write for young people - the Write2Ignite Conference in South Carolina, March 16-17, 2012. I haven't attended this conference, but I always hear a postive buzz about it. (One of the featured speakers this year is someone whose historical fiction books I've read and admired - Joyce Hostetter, award-winning author of BLUE, COMFORT, and other titles.)

I asked the lovely Jean Matthew Hall, writer and conference organizer, to tell us about the weekend. Take it away, Jean!

Our mission at Write2Ignite! is to equip, encourage and inspire people who write for children and young adults from a Christian worldview whether they seek publication in the general market or Christian market.

I’m thrilled this year that we can present outstanding and generous speakers and workshop leaders. Carol Baldwin, Kristi Butler and Mitzi Smith will inspire us with Keynote speeches. I’m thrilled that familiar names like Carol Crane and Joyce Hostetter are part of our line-up. Our Write2Ignite! Team is excited that several editors and agents who represent children’s writers are joining us, and making themselves available for individual consultations. And we have ten scholarships available for registrees. I could go on and on!

One of our distinctives is that we offer a special Teen Track all day Saturday for middle school and high school students who write. Vonda Skelton is leading that track.

We are looking forward to Write2Ignite! 2012, as a great opportunity to Bring Hope to children’s writers and, by extension, to their readers.


Thanks, Jean!

For more information and to register, see www.write2ignite.com or contact Jean at write2ignite@jeanmatthewhall.com. Read More 
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Poetry Friday: The Big Bad Wolf has his Say

I’m always curious about how animals are depicted in stories, myths, folktales and art. As well as in the media – I haven’t yet seen it, but this week’s TIME has an intriguing cover story about a scientific examination of friendships between animals.
One of my favorite spreads in my WOLVES book is a brief look at “The Mythical Wolf.” For the illustration, I suggested a human in wolf clothing on one side (an indigenous person wearing a wolf pelt as a sign of admiration), and a wolf in human clothing (think of our Western “big bad wolf”) on the other. Colin Howard produced brilliant artwork.

I recently ran across this poem, “The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ ” by Agha Shahid Ali (1949 – 2001, credited with introducing the classical form of the ghazal to American readers). In the poem below, I fell in love with the speaker’s dry, sophisticated voice. See if you don’t agree it’s dark and delicious (and rather sad, too):

The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
(excerpt)

by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle? …



Click here for the rest of the poem.

And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Laura this week at Writing the World for Kids.
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Women Wielding Pens in North Georgia

Thanks to THE TIMES for Sunday's article by Brandee A. Thomas in the Life section about women writers in our corner of Georgia. I'm honored to be included, along with Gloria Stargel, Mildred Greear, Lynda Holmes and André Cheek.

Click here for the story.
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Poetry Friday: Dragony Delights

SIR MIKE, Scholastic, illustrations © David Murphy; dragon print ©Robyn Hood Black
SIR MIKE, my rhyming Rookie Reader from Scholastic (2005) features a boy preparing to fight what he’s sure is a dragon in his back yard, rustling in the bushes.
It begins:

I am Sir Mike.
I am a knight.

If I see a dragon,
I might have to fight.


(By the way, a friend called to tell me there’s a new Nickelodeon show launching TODAY called MIKE THE KNIGHT, and she’s sure I should have gotten some royalties or something. The characters even favor each other! I only wish….)

Anyway, last night Kilough Elementary School here in Georgia invited me to come for an Author’s Night with a SIR MIKE and dragon theme. I spoke to students and families about writing, and then we all settled in for a viewing of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. An awesome evening! Great kids (some in PJs), gracious faculty and volunteers, and fun families.

All of this dragon-speak put me in the mind to share a dragon poem or two.
The first is a short, wonderful poem by X. J. Kennedy,

My Dragon
by X. J. Kennedy
(excerpt)

I have a purple dragon with
A long brass tail that clangs,
And anyone not nice to me
Soon feels his fiery fangs. …


Please read the rest here.

For a longer dragony frolic, enjoy Ogden Nash’s unlikely and cowardly hero, Custard - originally published in 1936.

THE TALE OF CUSTARD THE DRAGON
By Ogden Nash
Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt
(excerpt)

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage. …


You can read the rest of this first adventure here or in one of the book editions.


For more adventures in poetry, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Karissa at
The Iris Chronicles.
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