Saturday, November 29, 2008

Life is Good; I Want My Junior Mints

Last Wednesday night I went to a hockey game with my husband. I’m not exactly a sports fanatic, but it was pretty fun. I really enjoyed watching the goalies do their thing. They come out onto the ice and do this weird chopping action with their legs to rough-up the ice around them. Then they keep their eye on the puck at all times—moving a bit like transformer robots. They’re very focused. The other players seem to shimmy on and off the ice in a dance, some leaving the rink and others replacing them in a constant ebb and flow. Our team was the Grizzlies, and they were playing—get this—the Salmon Kings. So every time we scored, there was a live action shot of an enormous grizzly shaking a wiggling salmon in his teeth. That, and the loud blast of a train horn. Cool.

Now let me back up just a bit. In order to park at the stadium we needed to pay a five dollar parking fee, and I almost never carry cash on me. So we turned around and lost our place in line, driving through town to find an ATM. After going quite a distance from the stadium, we found a seven-eleven. I withdrew a twenty dollar bill, then bought a king-size box of Junior Mints in order to get change. I put them in my purse.

We parked at the stadium, entered the area, went up the stairs, and were met by a twenty-something lady who said, “Can I check your bags?” Now silly me, I thought we might get delayed because of my husband’s gun. He’s a police officer, and ever since the shooting at Trolley Square he has vowed to never go anywhere unarmed. But were they concerned about his gun? Not a bit. “The Junior Mints can’t go into the stadium,” she said.

“Bu…but…I only bought these Junior Mints so I could have change to park,” I said pleadingly.

“Sorry. The Junior Mints can’t go.”

“So…I’m supposed to just throw this huge box of Junior Mints in the trash?”

“They can’t come into the arena.”

Well, you’ve gotta be sheep-dipping me. I can carry a loaded weapon into a hockey arena, but not a box of Junior Mints?

“Here,” she said, “Just put them right by the turnstile, and hopefully they’ll be there when the game is over.”

Yeah, right.

Now, this is one of those moments in life I wish I could re-live. If I could go back in time I would have opened the box, dumped as many junior mints as would fit in my mouth, and poured all the rest into my husband’s mouth, then drooled chocolate down my chin as I went through the turnstile, smiling. Instead I left the box there and climbed the stairs without my precious box of 79-cent mints. Ahhhh, the sting of regret.

Later I learned why the JMs weren’t allowed. A menu in our booth showed Junior Mints for sale…for TWELVE dollars a box. Twelve bucks! That means the moment I left, that twenty-something chick was doing a hoola dance and auctioned off my Junior Mints to the highest bidder. Either that, or she casually ate them up as she inspected other people’s bags. That lady has a great job. Go to the stadium, search people’s bags, stockpile candy, auction them off for cold hard cash, and disappear into the catacombs.

BTW--I had a lovely Thanksgiving with nearly 30 people in my home. The turkey was delicious, the d├ęcor and company were fab. Life is good.

And I want my Junior Mints.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Fun Surprise...

My editor just forwarded me four color sketches by David Catrow for our upcoming book, THE MIDDLE CHILD BLUES. I am ecstatic. I laughed out loud at almost every picture; the humor he creates is terrific. Middle-kid Lee's got the blues and it really shows. Wish I could show you here, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to. When (if) I get a thumbs-up, I'll give you a sneak peek.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

SCBWI Inside Children's Publishing Conference

Today I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators "Inside Children's Publishing" Conference. I and three other new authors talked about our paths to getting published and the marketing strategies we are currently using.

Last night I attended a dessert reception at the Patrick Moore Gallery in Salt Lake City. A bunch of us SCBWI members shmoozed, talked, and generally got aquainted with each other. The atmosphere reminded me a bit of my former life in New York City...being surrounded by art and creative-thinkers on a dark night, with jazz playing soulfully in the background, accompanied by the ambient sounds of city traffic. I met some hopeful writers and illustrators, and it was a pleasure to talk to them.

I will be doing a story-time and book signing at the Layton Barnes and Noble next Saturday, November 22nd. I would love to see you there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Okay, for my 99th post, I decided to impart some wisdom. This is vital, urgent, life-and-death information. Well, not really, but it's still good stuff. Anyway, it seems like every year we have a fruit fly invasion, and finally, this year, I figured out an effective way to get rid of them. I'd heard all about fruit traps in a mason jar, leaving the windows open, vinegar and soap in a bowl, and yadda yadda. Nothing did the trick before. But I've got a better way.

What you need:

1. Something fruity to attact the flies to the same area.

2. A shop vac.

Heh heh. Yes, just use one of those high-powered super-suction shop vacs. Once the flies are concentrated around the fruit, stir them up so they start to swarm, and begin sucking away. The suction power is just too strong and they all disappear right out of the air. It took me about two minutes to eliminate them all--and I haven't seen once since.

Don't you just love the randomness of my blog?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Vote for Heat Miser

Well, now that winter is nearly upon us, I thought I'd share a classic song from my childhood. It was so catchy and fun that it stuck with me. I think songs like this one influenced my picture book writing a whole bunch.

All the best to you,

Kristyn Crow, President
Snow Haters Club of America

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ten Reasons to Have an Author Visit Your Child's School

Having an author come to visit your child’s school is a wonderful thing. Here are ten reasons why:

1. When the school shows enthusiasm for an upcoming author visit, the students take the cue that books must be important. A buzz of excitement is created. Kids are then motivated to read that author's books in preparation for the visit.

2. When they meet an author, children discover that he/she is a real person, not just a name on a book cover. They then feel a more personal, human connection with books.

3. With advance notice, most authors in their presentations can address particular topics that highlight a school's individual literacy curriculum or program. For example, the "The Six Traits of Writing," or a literacy theme. This unites the teachers with the author in a common message.

4. The author visit is a break from the routine, a "surprise," a "celebration," a "special guest," and FUN associated with reading, rather than work.

5. The author's books can be sold, in many cases, at greatly reduced prices if a school purchases them in bulk for a visit. (Not required.) Or parents can order books in advance at deeply discounted rates. Then the students can go home with a lasting souvenir of the event, and even have it signed by the author they met. A further reading incentive!

6. Authors can provide teachers with additional activities or lesson plans that the children can use in class to build on the experience in the weeks after the visit is over.

7. Reluctant or at-risk readers can be motivated to read a book when they’ve met the author.

8. An author visit is an excellent way to kick off a literacy event, such as a book fair, a junior author's fair, a literacy night/week, or to reward students who have achieved reading goals.

9. Authors who spend time at schools can teach children many things, like how to brainstorm ideas, get a creative stream flowing, and improve their reading/writing skills.

10. Authors can act as mentors to children by modeling goal-setting, hard work, and determination.

To learn about how to have an author visit your school, click here.

To book Kristyn Crow for a school visit, click here.

Read about one of my special school visits by clicking here.

My reason for this post--I went to an elementary school yesterday to do an author presentation. When I arrived at the school, the literacy facilitator warned me that there was a mother who was upset about my visit. She didn't know me at all, but just heard an author was coming to the school. She called the office and asked what the reason was for author visits. She felt that authors don't give a hoot about the students but only want to make a buck selling their books. She didn't think it was right for us to "peddle our wares" to the kids. I was told this angry mom planned to attend my assembly and might even "heckle" me.


Well, I felt very sad about this. I'm sad there are people out there that misunderstand the purpose of an author visit. I spent more than a year on my presentation and had purchased some cool rhythm instruments to teach the children rhythm in language, which studies have shown can improve reading skills. My assemblies are a lot of fun for the kids, and other than read my books to them I do nothing to "peddle" my books. School visits rarely make an author lots of money in books sales. The experience is all about getting children excited about reading.

Fortunately, the assembly was a success and the kids had a lot of fun!! I don't know what happened to the disgruntled mom, but I think I may know why she's unhappy. There are some authors who are traveling around blitzing schools in a particular areas (free visits) where the emphasis is solely on advertising the books. I fear that these "free" visits might do some damage to other authors who aren't merely pushing book sales and could really use some compensation for their time and effort to prepare an educational presentation. I'll write more about the problem with "free" author visits later.