In last week’s blog post, during my woe-is-me diatribe, I wrote, and I quote:
“I read lots and lots of books. Most of which are YA and PB, and let me tell you, I’ve run across quite a few stinkers in the bunch. How often have you read a book that really sucks and you wonder how on earth this person ever found someone to publish it? How often have you thought, “My stuff is way better than this?” Those are the times that seem to push me under the furthest. Even my children give me similar sentiments after reading a particularly boring or just plain senseless book. “Mom, why can’t you get published? You’re stuff is way better than this junk!”
Afterwards, I had a reader say to me. “You think a lot of what’s published today is junk?”
My immediate response was, “Of course not!” However, looking back, and reading it over, I can see how my comments may have been construed that way. For the record, let me please say there are a lot of really awesome books out there. But yes, I still think there are some that are not quite so stellar. Like with any type of media out there, some are good, some are great, and some just make you go “hmmm”. Look at it this way, I hear people say all the time that there is a lot of crap on TV. these days. And they’re right. But on the flip side, there are some really awesome shows on the air too. It’s subjective. We all see the world differently and that’s what makes us all unique.
So, to show you all that I don’t think the publishing industry is pumping out a lot of “junk” I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about some books I’ve recently come across that I think are impressive. Some of them are widely popular, and some aren’t. But either way, these are the books I’ve read lately and thought, “Yes, outstanding!” These are the books that, in my opinion, captured not just the eye of an editor, but their heart and soul too.
I AIN’T GONNA PAINT NO MORE! Written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow is an amazingly brilliant and fun book. With just enough naughtiness to keep your little one giggling this very cute picture book is one you and your kids will want to read again and again!
ALLEY LOO, Written by C.E. Walz and illustrated by Pamela Wedel is a spooky swamp story told in verse. This colorful story has just enough intrigue to keep your little ones on the edge of their seat and just when you think it might be safe to come out in the swamp again, this author and illustrator have you running for cover!
I’M NOT AFRAID OF THIS HAUNTED HOUSE, written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Teresa Murfin. This scary tale of one boy’s journey into a haunted house is written in bloodcurdling verse. Take cute, fun and creepy and roll it all into one and you’ve summed up this delightfully chilling story. The twist at the end lightens the mood quickly and will earn a good hearty chuckle from all.
GONE by Michael Grant takes a good hard look at how life might be if kids ran the world. When every adult over the age of fifteen disappears, chaos reigns. As the children realize their world has shrunk down to a perimeter inside a weird dome-like enclosure they wonder if there is still life outside the FAYZ. Food is running in short supply and there is nobody to take care of the little ones. But the biggest question of all is what will happen when they turn fifteen? (HUNGER is the sequel and is available now.)
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins is a post apocalyptic thriller which takes reality TV. to a whole new level. When Katniss Everdeen’s sister is chosen to participate in the deadly Hunger Games, Kat quickly volunteers to take her place. But how can someone from the poor twelfth district expect to survive? (CATCHING FIRE, the sequel is due out in Sept. 2009.)
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher is a powerfully moving story you won’t be able to put down. When Clay Jensen receives a strange package from his dead classmate, Hanna Baker, who committed suicide, he can’t help but be drawn in as Hannah’s voice explains the thirteen reasons why she killed herself and the part Clay and twelve other classmates played in her demise.
FLYGIRL by Sherri L. Smith is a realistic look at the life of a colored girl who dreams of getting her pilot’s license. As the war looms upon the United States, Ida Mae Jones answers Uncle Sam’s call and risks her own identity to become one of the elite few who make it into the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program. This historically accurate tale will leave you cheering for the underdog and reveling in her victory.
NATURE’S LULLABY, written by Niki Schoenfeldt and illustrated by Tray Summerall is a sweet story about a boy and his grandfather sharing a warm summer eve. From the familiar chirp of the cricket to the soulful note of the barn owl, the night come alive with song and the soothing melody puts both to sleep. But is there something sinister lurking nearby? (A little shameless self-promotion.)
I could go on and on, but I won’t. However, I have decided to run a regular feature on this blog mentioning great reads from time to time as I run across them. Again, realize “great read” is simply my own interpretation of these works. In the meantime, Kudos goes out to those writers, illustrators, editors, agents and publishers, who work tirelessly to get the AWESOME stuff out there so we readers can voraciously scoop them up. Keep the good “junk” coming!
-Niki Masse Schoenfeldt
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We’ve all heard it said, from the writer’s point of view, that this is “A Bunny Eat Bunny World,” and you know it’s true. This is not an easy profession we’ve entered into and only a few select authors can manage to support themselves with a full-time gig. I am not one of them. In fact, one day last week, I woke with the horrible conviction that it was time for me to throw in the towel. Why I felt that way, and why the feeling was so strong, I don’t know. Although there have been times in the past where the struggle toward publication felt like an uphill battle, I never reached the point where I was ready to quit; until last week. What changed? Nothing. Is my career hopeless? Maybe.
My track record is better than some and worse than others. I’ve a handful of magazine articles to my name, my first picture book (NATURE’S LULLABY) released last fall and as of today, I have three others being held for consideration at major houses. There is not a day that goes by I don’t do some form of work toward getting my manuscripts and name out there. My husband and family are very supportive and I belong to many great groups who share my passion. I also pray real hard that success will come my way. And let it be known I’m not greedy. I don’t need to be responsible for the next Harry Potter, or Twilight series. I just want my work to reach the children. I know that sounds corny, but it is truly how I feel. I read lots and lots of books. Most of which are YA and PB, and let me tell you, I’ve run across quite a few stinkers in the bunch. How often have you read a book that really sucks and you wonder how on earth this person ever found someone to publish it? How often have you thought, “My stuff is way better than this?” Those are the times that seem to push me under the furthest. Even my children give me similar sentiments after reading a particularly boring or just plain senseless book.
“Mom, why can’t you get published? You’re stuff is way better than this junk!”
Although I know they mean it as a good thing, that simple comment does major damage to my writing psyche. I mean, why IS this crap making it to print while mine sits dejectedly on an editor’s desk? When will my ship come in? Of course, the economy doesn’t help and the major slump in picture book sales doesn’t do much for my career either. But none of it explains my sudden urge to give up my writing career and my quest for publication. As the day progressed, my mood did not lighten. In fact, if anything, a dark pallor settled upon me and I shied away from the computer and books and any of the things connected with the industry. Bunny eat bunny, indeed. I felt like I had been chewed up and spit out by Peter and Benjamin Bunny both.
When my work time rolled around,(daughter’s nap time)I realized it was time to take a good hard look at myself and my work. Admittedly, some of my manuscripts could use another revision, but some of them are spot on. As I sat amidst the gloom of my shaded bedroom ignoring all media outlets, I thought about those manuscripts that don’t need more work. The ones I truly believe are ready. These works of mine were composed of passion and a burning need to create. I realized I couldn’t stop writing if I tried. And why bother writing if it is not for the world to see? No, I am NOT ready to give up. Perseverance is key. With a little luck, a lot of persistence and the talent I know I possess, I will get more bites, I will see my work in print and I will not be quitting anytime soon! So, bunny eat bunny, or dog eat dog, I am the alpha and I refuse to lose.
So now, with new conviction, I have forced my doubts aside. I will keep moving forward against a tide which keeps pushing me back. Because I know my stuff is worthy and one day I will find that editor or agent who believes it too.
Now, my only hope is that the day comes while I’m still living and breathing. It would be just my luck that my writing finally comes to fruition posthumously in an Emily Dickenson sort of way. I guess I am still holding on to a few teensy weensy doubts. But hey, I’m still writing; are you?
Monday, June 8, 2009
We literary bloggers must stick together. Fellow blogger, A wandering Heart, is sponsoring a contest on her blog. You can win an advance reader copy of Suzanne Collins CATCHING FIRE!
CATCHING FIRE is the much talked about sequel to THE HUNGER GAMES. If you haven't yet read THE HUNGER GAMES,you're really missing out and I suggest you get yourself a copy soon. For those of you who have, remember, unless you get your hands on an ARC, you've got to wait until September 1, 2009 to find out what's next for Katniss Everdeen.
Which brings me back to my original point. For a chance to win an ARC and be among the chosen few who learn Kat's fate before the official release, go to this link:
and enter. I'd love to wish you luck, but I don't want to jinx the win for myself. After all, I'm hooked and I'm not really sure I can wait three months before immersing myself in a really exceptional read. Every man/woman for him/herself!