Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Billy-Troll Affair

Hey, folks, look! Jeff Crosby transforms the famous recalcitrant brothers into 1950's beboppers. 

The trouble is that darn troll. Is he ever squaresville. He hates rowdy rockin', and he says the kids can't cross his bridge— no way, no how! 

But the Billys have a gig to play at the Shimmy Shack. They gotta cross that bridge to get there.  What a predicament! 

Jeff Crosby's The Rockabilly Goats Gruff grabs ahold of you and won't let go! From page one straight through to the triumphant conclusion, this thrill-ride will have you on the edge of your seat. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

You write. We judge.

Contest ends Feb 28 at midnight
Remember, the best entry in our TWEET INBETWEEN contest/game (see Feb 7 post) wins an oh, so valuable private phone convo. The winner gets to ask about children's publishing anything— editorial, career, contract, editor, agent, market. Rule: write a story in 140 characters. The winner will be announced Mar 1.
Who Wants an Appointment?

A Silly Song!

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   Where have you been?

                   To London town
                   To visit the queen.

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   What did you do?

                   Ate fish and chips
                   And said tootle-oo.

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   What did she say?

                   Lemon juice or vinegar,
                   Try them either way.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bad School, Table of Contents

Since you asked, to our delight, here is an unordered list of the verses that constitute our DANG CLEVER ms. Those in red were posted here over the past year.

  • Math
  • Lesson Plan
  • English
  • Science
  • Teacher's Pet(tish)
  • Terse Nurse
  • Cafeteria Siberia
  • The Library Area
  • Parents Night
  • Chorus
  • Odd Man Out
  • Substitute
  • The Cure
  • Homework
  • Show and Scold
  • Auditorium Uproarium

Those Damn Kindles!

They break and break and break. Sure, sure, Amazon sends a replacement (new or refurbished; same model) quickly, even next day.

No jubilation here.

First, the phone call is forty minutes, then you have to 1) repackage faulty product; 2) take it to the post office; 3) register new Kindle; and 4) re-load the quantities of mss Amazon cannot transfer, Kindle-to-Kindle for you— and you have to re-pay fees for the file conversions, too.

We are on to Amazon's game.

Amazon's customer service is better than most company's. So look at it this way: Amazon calculated it is cheaper to replace a Kindle than to make a better product. (Not very green.) We can hear the executive, clutching focus group test results, We'll give them luxury personal service; we will even get props for appearing to be a responsible/caring corporation.

The truth: Amazon saves money and gets a gold star as a customer-minded corporation. Consumers, however, lose one or two days of reading and additionally lose the time needed to secure the replacement.

This is not advantageous to Amazon's Kindle users. It is, however, a clever cost-savings for Amazon.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ing news•••EZRA JACK KEATS AWARD•••breaking

Ame Dyckman Wins!


Who got the EZRA JACK KEATS 2014 New Illustrator Award? Who got the honor awards?
click here for the fancy press release.

See that, TWO Award stickers? That's because Keith Campbell won an Ezra Jack Keats Iluustration Honor. TEA PARTY RULES is one decorated book! Order it! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From BAD SCHOOL, a collection

"Teacher's Pet(tish)"

When Suzy was plant monitor
She planned to get in good.
Teacher said, "Now, water well."
The girl misunderstood.
The fern turned dry as paper.
The ficus just went brown.
When Suzy stood for line leader
Teacher said, "Sit down!"

Monday, February 10, 2014

SCBWI's Mid-winter Meeting Ground

Attention: All yee bemoaning STNY's shuttered unsolicited chute 

We promised to be available when attending venues like SCBWI's Mid-winter Conference. We are not presenting this year and so will be hanging around. Now's your chance!


We are attending Friday night's V.I.P. party (look for the midnight blue velvet blazer) and shuffling about by the check-in tables Saturday. Find us! See what you've been missing!

We are open to meeting worthy attendees and discussing work, careers, contracts, whatever. If you do show us work, be prepared to hear the truth. We are constitutionally unable to talk otherwise. Not to worry. We are 100% on your side, aways; our premise, our belief is we are all friends, working to create books for kids and teens. We want to help improve your work. We want you to succeed. Talk to people who have met or know us, they can explain our style. It is a good deal more direct that the cagey comments often offered as critiques. But we like people and are friendly: don't worry.

STNY looks for original, focused, disciplined, talented (!) creators. We crave talent, like an addiction.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Contest! A Game!


Are we wasting time keeping this blog?

Our posts are read by dozens and not hundreds, fair enough, but what is with the zero interaction? Never a question or comment? That sounds to us like Who Cares?

TWEET INBETWEEN will help determine our blog's future. Here is how to play.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON reading this now must write something Twitter length, not over140 characters, which includes spaces. Of course a story would be the most fun to read, but you decide. 

PRIZE!! We will judge these (and maybe offer individual comments!) and choose a winner who will get.... get ready for it...  a phone convo! Use it how you like, to pitch a ms or ask a thorny question in confidence or solicit career advice, whatever.

Now remember, this is a game for you but a test for us. Is STNY's bloggery worth continuing?

UPDATE 2-19-14 

Dozens and dozens of you read this and ONLY ONE entered the contest? People! We understand blogs are not places for interactivity. But 140 characters? Here we are, asking pre-published authors to show us their writing; and only one entry? HUH? Imagine this recalcitrance in the context of unsolicited mss. Imagine an agent asking to see your writing and then not sending it. That simply does not happen. So........

What's the prob?


Who likes our different look? No one?! 

Okay, we admit, we do not know templates— but we know everything else!  We enjoy keeping items light-weight, a passing record of the vicissitudes of publishing, publishers, editors, authors, books, and of course we love putting up our rhymes.

What do you want? Do you want info or stories or opinions or just booksbookbooks?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


"Terse Nurse"

Her door decor a bright red cross;
Her name, Ms. Nurse: First Aid Boss.
The tidy station draws no mob,
Not since Ms. Nurse got the job.
Say you enter coughing, wheezing—
"Stop!" she snaps. "I take no teasing."
But it's true, I skinned both knees—
Her eyeballs roll around, "Puh-leez".
Don't try— oh, my—sneezing! sneezing!
Or Ms. Nurse gets worse displeasing.
Try a cough—
"Knock it off."
If you pout—
"Cut it out."
And don't let OUCH!
Be what you say.
She'll sigh "Good Night" then bark "Good Day!"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014


People (most of them) think children's verse is Dr. Seuss, full stop. Pre-pub'd and pub'd authors would submit (when we took unsolicited submissions, namely always until a few months back) Dr. Seuss-style silly verses at a rate of, let's say, a dozen a week. Every week. All year long. We bet most of these writers do not know where they got their sense of rhythm and rhyme and do not know that they are mimicking. They may even think the singsongy galloping quality in their verse is simply the universal sound of kids' rhymes.

It is.

But do not try it.

Why? You will not best Dr. Seuss. And that is how we see these manuscripts, as ill-advised competition. Dr. Seuss was original and a grand mater. And he illustrated his books, so his vision of silliness exists as a thorough integration of word and pictures. His oeuvre is large, and Random House keeps his book line bright and fresh. One Dr. Seuss is plenty.

The second stanza of THE CAT IN THE HAT, the last two lines, display the ubiquitous quintessential Dr. Seuss sound

I sat there with Sally.
We sat there, we two.
And I said, "How I wish
We had something to do!"

The meter is ANAPAEST, two short or unaccented syllables followed by a long or stressed syllable. Anapaest makes a lively platform for humorous verse— LIMERICKS are written in Anapest—and its structure presents rhyme well.

An "adult poem" might be easier to hear. Listen to the anapest in Tennyson, whose poem nearly sings.

There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life my fate;
The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;
And the white rose weeps, "She is late";
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear";
And the lilly whispers, "I wait."

We do not recommend writing in a single meter. You lose the textured sound and meaning possible when you mix in some IAMBIC (one un-stressed, then one stressed syllable) or a potent little SPONDEE (two stressed syllables: never is a Spondee). His rhythms, rhymes, and cadences make Dr. Seuss's verse compelling. The fact that he is copied unknowingly testifies to that.

Much more can said on this topic, but we will venture only this advice on word choice. Eschew tired words and tired rhymes! No excitement results from rhyming play with day or sun with fun. These are deadweight hackneyed rhymes: they suck energy from your verse and dull your readers' engagement.These couplings are too, too familiar: they do not emit f-u-n. Part of the work of a poet is to make fresh rhymes. Look at Jack Perlutsky and Shel Silverstein—both, just like Dr. Seuss, make up rhyme words all the time. The goal is lively rhymes.

Now, of course Rhyme is a bigger topic than this little lesson. And we are not experts, either, just perceptive, we hope, readers and writers who learn as we go.

Next time, maybe we will write about the trials of the COUPLET, to writer and reader.

Questions? Comments?

p.s. Think Reader is a slogan to tape to your keyboard.

from BAD SCHOOL, a collection


Johnny was in chorus,
Though for talent he had none.
When he practiced vocalizing
Friends would wince in unison.
And they whispered to each other
Can't the Chorus teacher hear?
To which the Spring Assembly
Answered sadly loud and clear.

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