Saturday, January 28, 2006

FAQ, Fun Stuff, Depressing Stuff, and Chickens

  • I'm adding a FAQ over on Talking Books with all the questions people commonly ask at writers' conferences regarding submissions, the children's book market, my personal tastes, etc. Questions already on the list include "Why are editors prejudiced against rhyme?", "Why does it take you so long to respond to my manuscript?" (eegh), and the old standby "What are you looking for?", and I'm collecting more. So if there's Anything You've Always Wanted to Know from an Editor (But Were Afraid to Ask), please leave your question in the comments or send it via e-mail to chavela_que at yahoo dot com.
  • I have an avatar! (And yes, that's a bridge behind her):

Created with

  • For Marilyn the Toymaker, pictures of my MetroCard butterflies:

These dragonflies are really my favorite to make: 1. Cut off the black strip at the bottom of the card. 2. Round off the ends and cut curves into its sides to form a thorax. 3. Fold the top part of the card in half and cut out the wings. 4. Roll a piece of tape into a long cylinder, sticky-side out, and press it into the fold. 5. Press the thorax onto the piece of tape. Done! They make lovely package decorations as well.

  • Titles for The Great American Zombie Novel, Part One and Part Two.
  • Ride Space Mountain!
  • Pottercasters, you found me out: I am Hot Cheryl. But you know John really only likes me because my name sounds like Chipotle . . .
  • I'm now reading The Magician's Nephew, which I'm liking quite a lot, thanks to the comedy of Jadis flailing away in London and the stoutness of Digory's heart. And my friend Ted and I just finished a dual read of The Brothers Karamazov and are going on to The Iliad next.
  • NPR just reminded me that today is the anniversary of the Challenger explosion -- the Kennedy assassination moment of my generation, that is, the moment we can all remember where we were when it happened. I was eight years old, missing school because I had the flu, standing next to the receptionist's window in my doctor's office in Belton, Missouri; and my parents were both teachers, so we took Christa McAuliffe's death pretty hard.
  • Fred Phelps, who never ceases to give Kansas and Baptists a bad name, is protesting the funerals of the West Virginia miners according to the ludicrous logic "Phelps preaches God's Word -> he went to West Virginia to protest a gay funeral according to God's Word -> some West Virginians protested his protest -> God hates West Virginia." (This news from Jeremiah.) Thankfully Phelps is insane enough to be irrelevant, but it's still horrifying people can act like this (especially in the name of Christ). For an opposing view, see God Hates Westboro Baptist Church or The Book of Everything.
  • Samuel Alito is, sadly, sane, relevant, and our next Supreme Court justice.
  • To end on an up note: My wall calendar at home this year is Extraordinary Chickens. This month's chicken glares at me every morning, accusing me of lingering too long in bed or not moving quickly enough toward the day; but the moral force of that gimlet eye is undercut by the Warholian feather duster that's exploded atop its head. . . . I love chickens (and dachsunds too) because they maintain such strict and endearing dignity in the face of their utter physical ridiculousness.


  1. I'm from Topeka. The Phelps make their little kids picket churches and businesses in Topeka all of the time. Some of the signs have stick figures having sex. I had to explain to my four year old, who can read, that the "God hates you," sign wasn't true. Another time, when my church was walking to a Palm Sunday service, one of the Phelps sang to my baby, "Poor little baby of the sodomizers, it's not your fault." They've also called my mom a sodomizer when she jogged past them one day. One funny counter-protest had a guy dressed up like a clown, holding a sign saying, "God hates clowns."

  2. Cheryl! Hello!

    Thanks for the butterfly instructions! They are whimsy! Would be all right if I showed them on my blog?

    I'm looking forward to the FAQs. I have a confession to make. I fell in love with AALB last October at the SBCWI Orange County Editor's Day. Rachel Griffiths gave an amazing talk where she showed "the exceptions to the rule" for the same, old questions that seemed to get asked all the time. She showed a really snappy, rhyming alphabet book about spies and read from "The Hickory Chair" showing what a picture book with more than 500 words might look like. I left with a real, warm tummy feeling about how very fine children's books could be. Tell her thank you a hundred times two!

    How did you like "The Brother's Karamazov"? My favorite bit in that is where Liza keeps peaking out from behind the door to tease Alyosha. It's a nice "real" moment of teenager-ness in the middle of peasants, poverty, vodka, the meaning of life and people making really bad choices.

    Make toys! Play more!


  3. Out of all the serious and not-so comments here, I choose to respond to those about chickens. I was amazed last year when my brother showed me the chickens living in his yard. They were enormous! They had big fluffs of feathers on their feet! They had crazy Gonzo feather heads! They glared with serious and menacing eyes! Chickens are truly wondrous strange. Thanks for bringing them up.

  4. Your exposed brick walls are cool.

  5. A question for the FAQs:

    Do editors have to attend writers' conferences? Like, are they pushed into attending by their bosses/publishers? I've attended some conferences where the guest editors seemed bored, bored, bored to tears--I'm talking really bored, like they couldn't wait to hightail it back to NYC.

  6. Hi Cheryl,

    I have another question for the FAQs, if you please. What do you forsee as the future for MG/YA fantasy?