{waiting wednesdays: book birthday countdown…!}

HAPPY DECEMBER!

It’s hard to believe that in just one month, Henri Weldon will be out in the world! This is a book that I feel so good about… that I sat down and read it cover to cover last weekend in one sitting. (No joke; you can do that with your own books sometimes because it takes a while for them to come to publication, and you can actually kind of forget what they’re about. It’s a little weird to laugh at your own jokes, though… which I did. Anyway.) If you’d like a sneak peak copy of the book, stay tuned Wednesdays this month for a giveaway. I’ll be giving away an ARC each week, and we’ll also be talking about middle grade math, sisters, frenemies and school survival strategies. It’ll be fun!

Genuinely nice things people are saying about Figure It Out, Henri Weldon:

“Skillfully realized, this is an affirming and inspiring tale for readers who are only ever told what they can’t accomplish. Uplifting and amusing, this book will leave readers with valuable lessons.” – Kirkus Reviews

“An involving middle-grade narrative with a very likable protagonist.” – Booklist

“…a complex character who is not singularly defined by her personal challenges. In this hopeful, well-paced volume, Davis (Partly Cloudy) centers accommodation, community, and understanding.” – Publishers’ Weekly

“Davis successfully drives home the importance of finding one’s own path and accepting the journeys of others.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

{pf: poetry peeps definito… definitively}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of October! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing a Dansa! Its opening quintrain (5 lines) is followed by quatrains (4 lines), with a quintrain rhyme scheme of AbbaA and the quatrain bbaA. You’ll note that A repeats because the opening line of the first stanza is the final line of every stanza, including the first. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on October 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Definition poems are nothing new, but I like this Mordhorst Definito, because it’s not just defining a word, it’s playing with words, which is a singular joy. The rules are pretty simple, and while it’s supposed to be free verse, I felt, um, free to rhyme a tiny bit. Others of the Poetry Peeps felt free to do other, smarter things. Check out Sara’s poem here, and find Laura’s poem here, and Tricia’s is here, while Liz’s poem is here. Kelly’s poem is here, and Mary Lee’s is here. A delightful number of folx joined in the fun today, and all hail, Queen Heidi’s Mordhorst Definito is here! Molly’s definito is here, while Rose’s definito is here. The Lindas are in the house, with Linda M.’s nebulous definito here, and Linda B’s definito here. We welcome Carmela to the Peeps roundup with her definito. Margaret’s definito is here, and Carol V’s is here. Even more Peeps will check-in throughout the course of the weekend, so stay tuned for the roundup.


We joked in my critique group this month that it’s just the months that end in -ber that cause us so many scheduling problems… and it’s truer this year than many. With everyone jumping aboard the Obligation Bus, one has to be deliberate about making time for things, including poetry. Since I missed my scheduled hour this weekend, I was already behind in finding my words, and I wanted to do something less complicated than my brain usually chooses for me. I told it that no, I wasn’t going to try to define perspicacious or itinerary in poetic form. I even, regretfully, passed on panache, although I adore that word. I decided to go small. Really small…

Minus even a mite
Not a dab nor a dram
The next thing to nothing,
A nip’s all I am.
Not meal: morsel. Not cookie: crumb.
A last speck of bacon,
A wee shred of plum.
Think of a particle
Left in the fridge:
Place it on a plate…
Now you have a SMIDGE.

(I mostly amused myself with that one, especially because speck is also a ham derivative of some sort.)

I have to admit that somewhere out there someone may still not quite count “smidge” or “smidgen” as a word, so I went for something a bit more traditional which doesn’t speak its definition quite so onomatopoetically:

Picture
some
water, or perhaps
a lake:
Pure flowing,
Pristine, cool,
& free to take.
People come, parched
& piqued, peeling, sun-baked:
Find them a fountain! Then
their thirst
will slake.


Aaaand, that’s not technically a definito, because it’s not really defining the word either. I feel like I need to play with Definitos a lot more before I’m doing them right. My first attempts were basically regurgitating the thesaurus, and I still feel like there’s a bit of that going on, in my first one especially. Being more playful is difficult for those of us who are always looking at the rules and ONLY the rules; however, there are few enough rules here for this form to be something fun for students to attempt. I will have to try again…

There’s more poetry abroad this autumn-touched morning (friends: it is chilly. Since it was SO HOT in this state just weeks ago, this is still deeply delightful) at Tab’s place, The Opposite of Indifference. Take joy in warming up in layers of words this weekend.

{pinned post: new book cover! coming 1/23}

The HarperCollins Children’s Books winter catalog goes live next weekend, so ahead of the rush, I get to show off my next cover! Brittany Jackson is the artist, and Kathy Lam is the designer, and I feel like together they’ve created a cover that’s just — *chef’s kiss* — perfect.

I think I like best the sense of uncertainty in Henri’s eyes. So much of what she wants – to conquer math, to make friends, to get her sister to see her as something other than a total nuisance – seems out of reach. What does it take to make things happen like you want them to? Like everyone else, she’s got to figure it out…

I can’t wait for you to enjoy this book.

{psst! poetry peeps!}


Happy January, Poetry Peeps!

How’s the listening in and overhearing going? Don’t forget your “eavesdropped” conversation doesn’t have to be hearing Actual People (TM) since many of us are avoiding them just now – hearing a radio DJ in someone else’s car, taking the words from a billboard or a sign in front of a building where you’re not going – those all count, too. You’ve got time left to craft your creation(s) in any form, then share your offering with the rest of us on January 28 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. See you then!

{pinned post: book events in september}

Thanks for your interest in my book events!
(This post will be continuously updated.)


Essay • “Checking the Weather” Teen Librarian Toolbox Blog @SLJ

Interview • “Writer Q&A” @NerdDaily

Interview • “Author Q&A” @Confessions of a YA Reader

Interview • Author Q&A @ at Karen B. McCoy’s

Interview • Conversation @ Edie’s Cotton Quilts

BOOK GIVEAWAY • from September 16th – 21st: CLOSED Recipients have been contacted on Twitter and Instagram. If you were contacted, please use the drop down the menu on the left “About This Site” and leave your address in the contact form. Thanks!


ICYMI: View the Crowdcast of my book launch with Janae Marks here.


View the Shelf Stuff conversation with Saadia Fauqi and Shanthi Sekaran, and educator, Dr. Dawn Bolton at Brave & Kind Books here.


View the Princeton Children’s Book Festival’s Book Jam with Damian Alexander, Kathryn Erskine, Lee Durfey-Lavoie and Veronica Agarwal here.


{merriam-webster’s word matters}

I’m such a fan of “the beautiful nightmare” that is the English language (and occasionally it is a nightmare. I overheard Himself discussing comma splices with one of his coworkers for whom English is her third language, and she said, “Oh, NO! that’s a THING!?” Yes, dear. We all feel that way) that I’m also a fan of Word Matters, a podcast put out by Merriam-Webster. This week they take on the etymology of “introvert” and you can bet I’m deeply interested in THAT!

Happy Monday.

{pf: the poetry peeps, zentangled}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy – or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We’re talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they’re two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real or imagined, civilized v. savage, winter v. summer, function v. dysfunction. Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


A Recounting of the Trials of Zentangling, Or, Artistic Poetry Wherein I Screwed Up: Okay, so the thing is, I am a CHAMPION doodler. I excel at mindless scribble that we could stretch ourselves and define as patterns. It’s not relaxing so much as… something I do when I’m not paying attention. You’d THINK I would be all over the Zentagle poetry form! Reader, I was not.

The process for a Zentangle poem is really enjoyable. I had a good time paging through catalogs in the mail, electronics manuals, and old grad school texts for likely words from which to craft poetry. I scanned pages which looked promising, and fiddled with them, using the computer to create squares and lines to show the correct flow of the words. I honestly found that part fairly simple, though there often wasn’t just the right word – or in the right form – to create the meaning I wanted, but that was mostly manageable. The poems tended toward the enigmatic – I felt like I was writing Poetry By Yoda, after a bit, but that was fine, too – from the Zentangle I’ve read, they do tend to be short, pithy and …sound more like quotations than poems, to my mind. (And yes: we had the whole What Is A Zentangle Poem, And Is This One Because I Say So” discussion amongst my Poetry Sisters. We decided YES, there are rules, but fewer than you’d think, but your mileage may vary.)

Where it fell apart for me was the artwork. At first, I used a highlighter and the first one I picked up was… horrifying pink. This was a mistake. I tried to fix it with yellow. Also a mistake. ::sigh::

The poem reads:

the system may reduce failure

if you adjust
the adjustable
you
alter
the
present

It’s not terrible, but I wish I’d gone an artistic direction other than…pink. ((Shudder))

On my second try, I decided to mingle color AND black and white. I tried doing the outline of an image FIRST, and tried to let the flow of the words suggest an image to me. It… kind of worked? A bit?

The poem reads:

the
Universal
exists
in pieces.
lived through history
simply,
focused using
forgetfulness
to connect,
we share
remembrance
as
indelible.

Finally I thought I had a clue – just use black and white. That’s what the Zentangle artists do, who don’t try and use words but just make patterns. However, somehow my black and white was …too thick of lines? Too uncertain of pen-strokes? Or something. In the end, mine looked more like it intended to be blackout poetry, and also like it needed a watercolor wash, which I didn’t dare try adding because a.) I don’t know how to watercolor and b.) it was busy enough. I like the poem better, though.

The poem reads:

Consider
acknowledging:
you have sometimes
hesitated
holding
back
love.
Over and over
the
loss,
while small has
a
weight.
it speaks,
volumes.

Whenever I whined – oh, so frequently – about this project, I remembered that Tricia’s stated purpose was to “push us beyond our comfort zones.” BOY, HOWDY did she succeed, so thank you, dear Tricia, I would never have attempted these on my own (and may never again. Perhaps. When the sting of defeat dies down a bit). I’m so excited to see what the rest of us came up with. Here’s Tricia’s zentangle, while Sara’s zentangle-ISH is here. We welcome Andi right here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s zentangle is here. Of course, artist Michelle zentangled with us, and Linda B’s zentangle is here. Carol V’s is summering here, Jone’s here, and here’s Margaret and Chicken Spaghetti’s blogger Susan! Welcome to the Poetry Peeps joining us for the first time! It’s been an intense month, and we’re all in different spaces with it, but as always, various Poetry Peeps will be added throughout the day, so stay tuned. Poetry Friday is capably hosted today by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. I hope your weekend is as randomly artistic and creative as you can make it. As Miss Frizzle says, “Where the road ends, adventure begins!” Here’s to pushing way beyond the boundaries of creativity (and good sense) this weekend.

{pf poetry peeps challenge: tangled up in Zen}

If you, like me, had never before heard of the zentangle art phenomenon, it began way back in 2003. People drew tiny doodles and …relaxed, I guess? (YMMV) With the recent resurgence of adult coloring books, zentangle picked up speed and gained a new form – found word poetry, which is more familiar ground. If you don’t feel you’re an artist, and the idea of defacing a book feels you with fear, use a copier, keep it short and simple, and let yourself try. Nothing to lose there, right? Above all else, Peeps, remember: this is supposed to be FUN.