Hey, Kids! Try Some Candy Tobacco!

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco began selling Camel Orbs, Camel Sticks and Camel Strips earlier this year. “The Orbs look like Tic Tacs, the Sticks look like toothpicks and the Strips look like breath strips,” said Susan Westof, tobacco prevention specialist, with the Jefferson County Public Health Department. … “The products are packaged in a way that makes…

How to Write a Book

Since I’m an English professor and this advice derives from my experience, the following will be more pertinent to writers of non-fiction than it will to writers of fiction.  For good advice on fiction (and on writing in general), please read Elmore Leonard’s “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.” 1. There is no one foolproof way…

Crockett Johnson & Ruth Krauss: biography outtakes, Part 6

If the Drying-Paint Watchers’ Association has a website, they’re about to face some competition! I’m publishing more cuts from the biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (due out from UP Mississippi next year).  Today, we’ll look at some of the notes I’ve omitted.  I’ve also been making cuts to the body of the manuscript,…

Rapture Party Mix

If you’re like me, when you heard that the world would be ending this Saturday, your first thought was: but what music would be appropriate for the occasion?  And, if I were to throw a party, what sort of songs might be on the playlist?  Well, your musical worries are over.  (Do feel free keep…

Powerhouse

The hectic pace of this time of year (grading finals! grading papers! etc!) always makes me think of the music of Raymond Scott (1908-1994), but especially his “Powerhouse” (1937).  If you’ve ever watched any Warner Bros. cartoons, you’ll recognize this as the machinery-out-of-control theme.  Carl Stalling (1891-1972), who created the scores for those cartoons, made…

Bow-Wow!

A dog.  A bug.  A walk around the block.  From this simple premise comes one of the great picture contemporary picture books — and, while we’re on the subject, great picture books, period.  With a spare, clean design and plenty of humor, Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash’s Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug (2007) is a pleasure…

Biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: News, Thanks, and Apologies

A Crockett Johnson–Ruth Krauss biography update with good news, thanks, and apologies.  Let’s do the apologies first. Apologies.  It was unprofessional of me to air this disagreement publicly.  It’s one thing to blog about the editing process, and another to air one’s editorial differences in a public forum.  I’ve already apologized to my editor (who…

Biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: Update, Featuring First 5 Paragraphs of the Book!

I haven’t blogged about the biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss for a while because I’ve been waiting.  I sent in the latest version of the manuscript back on the first of the year; my editor finally read it in late March, and sent it out to a reader.  I received the reader’s report…