Bloomsbury Buys Walker; New At The Purple Crayon

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc of the UK, the adult, children’s, and reference book publisher, announced today that it has acquired Walker Publishing Company, Inc of the USA. Walker is a 45 year old New York based publisher of adult nonfiction and children’s books. The business operations of Walker and Bloomsbury USA will be combined although the book imprints of both companies will remain as separate divisions within the US company. Completion of the sale is expected to take place on Dec. 31.

Also some neat new features at The Purple Crayon, including:

The Purple Crayon Blog: Questions about Children’s Publishing Answered by a Children’s Book Editor, and Current Children’s Publishing Links;

Children’s Writers: Who Mentors Them Today? “Musings” for December 2004 by Margot Finke (part one of three). Check back in January for Finding The Perfect Critique Group and in February for Starting Your Own Critique Group.

Devon A. Mihesuah

Heard today from Devon A. Mihesuah at American Indian Quarterly who was interested in my writing an article.

Her novel, Grand Canyon Rescue: A Tuli Black Wolf Adventure, won the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Award for Best Young Adult novel; see the Book Locker to read an excerpt and purchase your copy. Also keep an eye out for her spring 2005 release, So You Want to Write About American Indians? A Guide for Scholars, Writers and Students.

Some promising picks from the spring/summer 2005 Harcourt catalog: Kitten’s Big Adventure by Mie Araki; Hide & Seek by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine; Starry Safari by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Jeff Mack; The Hubbub Above by Arthur Howard; Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis; Searching For Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (companion to The Journey Of Oliver K. Woodman, which I highly recommend); Hotel Deep by Kurt Cyrus; Please Bury Me In The Library by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Kyle M. Stone; Fold Me A Poem by Kristine O’Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer; The Librarian Of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter; Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles; The Spoon In the Bathroom Wall by Tony Johnston; Help Wanted by Gary Soto; Pinned by Alfred C. Martino; Funny Little Monkey by Andrew Auseon; among others!

Link of interest:

Advice on Voice from HarperCollins editor Antonia Markiet by Kelly Milner Halls.

My Penguin Osbert

Received the world’s cutest cared from Candlewick Press, which featured illustrations from My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis (2004) and the Harcourt catalog as well as Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester (my most searing intellectual crush), illustrated by Karen Barbour (Harper/Amistad, 2005).

In other news: editor Michael Stearns is leaving Harcourt for Harper; Random House is selling its own books (much to the annoyance of B&N); and Louis Sachar has left Frances Foster to do his Holes sequel at Delacorte.

Ick thought of the day: The mid list is disappearing faster than the middle class.

Why I Write

Writers are eternally fascinated with just about everything—hence, our role as observers, commentators, and storytellers. Perhaps then it’s no surprise we spend a fair amount of time pondering—for better and worse—ourselves.

One reoccurring question on writing lists is why one writes. It seems to me that people write for the same reasons they read: to learn, to imagine, and to escape.

It’s not uncommon to hear a published author say they’re not writing for the money—though women tend to say so far more than men and I strongly urge all of them to keep such altruistic thoughts far from their contract negotiations.

That said, I write to lose myself in story, to find myself in story, to better understand the world. I write because writing is my shelter, my guiding light, that which beckons to my strengths and demands they become stronger.

I write because, like life, writing is filled with uncertainty—both in terms of the process and the product. Writing makes me more alive. When I ache or soar in the midst of crafting a story, it is in every way like being in love.

I submit my writing for publication because the best thing to do with love is to share it.

Ararat, Lamont, Singer, and Stone

Dined at Ararat Middle East Restaurant for the first time last night, belly dancers and all. Will definitely be back.

On the much-discussed Lamont article, I suppose I’m more of an optimist. The truth is that I have become published, it did make my life better, and I am a happier person because of it. I’ve been moving steadily toward making a good living, and I’m certainly intend to make a great one because if that’s not part of the goal, odds are, it won’t happen. Dream it, achieve it. Bill Gates started out with a dream and a garage. I at least get to write on the daybed. I know there are folks who need a good kick to get them going down the craft road. And it is about craft first, last, and always. But I also know there are those who’re just dreamers, and I’m not sure what’s so wrong with that. Just by showing up at a conference, they’re flirting more with their dream than most people do. Most set them aside or say “someday.” Dreams can be scary. So, if they’re dancing along the edge of a more self-revealing reality, who am I to judge? I hope they enjoy the dance and gather the courage to cross the line. It’s worth it.

Links of interest:

What Makes A Good Young Picture Book? from author Marilyn Singer.

Calling All Teachers!/Peace Project from author Tanya Lee Stone.

Writers, Wannabes, and Booksellers

A couple of sites of interest:

Anne Lamont’s article on Salon.com takes a hard look at those conference-going writers who’re perhaps “playing writer” more than putting words down on the page and maybe for the wrong reasons. Cranky or insightful? What do you think?

The Association of Booksellers for Children offers a membership to authors and illustrators, which was news to me today. Thrilled, I signed myself and my honey up. Take a look at some children’s book creators who already belong.

The Moon Came Down On Milk Street

The Moon Came Down On Milk Street by Jean Gralley (Henry Holt, 2004). The moon has come down softly, and who will put it up again? Who will make things right? The fire chief, the rescue workers, the people. This brilliantly simple book speaks to our universal need for comfort, for heroes, for hope. It’s perhaps the best “crisis” book ever published, as resonate and necessary for young readers as their grandparents. A must-buy for every school, household, and library. Ages 3-up. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

Holidays, Friends, and (Of Course) Books

Quite a bustling December week. Toni Buzzeo was kind enough to send me some votives, reindeer ornament hooks, and wine swirly decorations. Talked to Katie Davis on the phone about her work in progress. Ran into Brian Yansky today at Suzi’s Chinese Kitchen, out with his mom. Received a gorgeous e-card from Jennifer Ward. It’s so delightful. I keep watching it again and again. Also received a card from debut illustrator Joy Hein, whose Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers (written by Kathi Appelt) is a stunner–gorgeous paintings, fascinating integration of art and learning.

By the way, Brian and I are on a husband-wife authors panel being hosted by the Writers’ League of Texas next month. It’s called “To Death Do Write & Publish.” Really! Fairly hysterical title, I thought.

Hana In The Time Of The Tulips

Hana In The Time Of The Tulips by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick Press, 2004). Hana and Papa used to pretend in the garden that he was ill and she could cure him with a kiss or a race or a rose. But suddenly, Papa seems ill for real, struck by greed, and it separates him from simple pleasures, those he loves, Hana. This intensely personal look at Tulip Mania (“the first documented case of market mania”), which took place in Holland from 1634-1637, brings young readers to a family caught up in its midst. Most remarkable are the evocative narrative voice, the deft integration of the artist Rembrandt, and original illustrations that seem to have been lifted from museum walls. In the flap copy, Ibatoulline remarks that, in preparation to illustrate this book, he studied Dutch and Flemish paintings. Broad appeal from young reader to adult; as welcome in first grade as in master’s classes in fine art and literature. Ages 6-up. See also Nancy Keane’s booktalk.

Mayra L. Dole

It was a thrill today to hear from Mayra L. Dole, the Cuban-born author of the new multicultural bilingual books, Drum, Chavi, Drum!/Toca, Chavi, Toca! and Birthday in the Barrio/Cumpleanos en el Barrio (Children’s Book Press).

Do surf over to her Web site to read the article on Writing Children’s Latino Books (also helpful for writing any children’s books), Dole’s bio, her interviews (very interesting). Also be sure to check out her Cuban recipes, Cuban stories, and Cuban culture page.