Thursday, December 17, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
*Many thanks to author Lori Calabrese for creation of this article for IndeDebut 2010. Visit her website at http://loricalabrese.com/
Chances are you’ve heard of the Class of 2k10 and its predecessors. The Class of 2K was founded by Greg Fishbone in 2007 under the principal that authors can band together to make the publication journey a pleasant one. However, if you’re an author whose publisher is not listed in Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market, you’re not eligible for online marketing groups like Class of 2K10 or Authors Now! Hence, Amy Allgeyer Cook came up with the wonderful idea of Inde-Debut 2010.
Inde-Debut 2010 is a group of first-time authors who’ve joined together to spread the word about their books that hail from small presses and I’m proud to call myself a member. At a time when the book world continues to struggle economically, like other businesses, there are many small publishers redefining the business and allowing great stories to be shared.
Business Week reports, “Without the marketing muscle or resources of the large houses, small publishers have innovated in order to succesfully bring their authors to market. For one, they have created alliances with like-minded independent bookstores with fiercely loyal customers. Small houses also defray costs by publishing their book catalogs online and publicizing new releases and author events through e-mail blasts and blogs.”
The odds of getting published by a “major” publishing house are dwindling because of a failing economy. However, the odds of attracting a small publisher are improving. Inde-Debut 2010 is aware that not all small presses are created equal, which is why they caution authors to do their homework and sift through publishers to find the one right for them.
Inde-Debut 2010 books are being published by a spectrum of Small Presses across America and range from Picture Books to Middle Grade to Young Adult. Inde-Debut 2010 is proud to support these small presses that are championing new voices, focusing on niche markets, creating whole businesses by reissuing out-of-print classics, and maintaining the tradition of printing literary fiction.
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Happy December, Readers!
Two weeks ago, my fifth-graders finished their read aloud projects. The goal? To practice a favorite picture book out loud until they knew it forward, backward, and upside down. Then, present it to their classmates in their best reader voice with props and questions for the audience--all the things the teacher normally gets to do.
The books of Laura Numeroff, author of such favorites as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Moose a Muffin, of course received several instances of airtime. A student of mine became so inspired, he put together an homage of his own. I should note that this student works with this family on an active dairy farm each day, so you'll clearly see the tie in. With mice in mind as we approach the release of Mice Don't Taste Like Chicken, enjoy this cute tale (or tail?) from a fifth-grade author we'll call A.W.
If You Give A Mouse Some Milk
If you give a mouse some milk,
he will want to know how it was made.
When you tell him that it was made by cows,
he will want to go see some.
When you ask your mom to drive you,
he will want to grab his note pad to take notes.
When you get to the farm,
the farmer will take him to see the cows.
On the way to the cows he will see the chickens
and want to go feed them.
When he is done feeding the chickens,
he will see the barn and run in.
When he sees the cows,
he will want to make his own clay cow.
When he is done making the clay cow,
he will see a sink in the barn.
When he sees the sink,
he will want a drink of milk.
And chances are, when he asks for a drink of milk,
he will want to go to a different farm and see a different cow.
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This year I once again have a talented group of fifth grade writers. During a recent creative writing task, the students were asked to imagine an alternative explanation for why birds sing (rather than a scientific explanation). This one specifically caught my eye. I hope you enjoy it.
Why Birds Sing
I believe birds sing because they are like Martin Luther King, Jr. They have something to say that will change the world.
Seagulls sing to change the deep blue sea from pollution. The doves make a difference by making world peace. Owls sing to warn people on the street at night so people don't get hurt. Sparrows make people happy in the morning by singing a joyful song to wake them up. The eagle waits its whole life to prepare for defending our country from any group trying to take America's independence and inspire people about our country by singing "The Star Spangled Banner." The storks sing softly to babies to lull them to sleep. Penguins sing to protest against too much factory smoke and car fuel. Roadrunners sing enthusiastic songs to encourage running marathons to earn money for good causes.
Do you have a creative explanation for why birds sing? I'd love to hear it.
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I placed a letter in the mail today. A letter for a very special man--the real life Mr. Cross and the inspiration for Mice Don't Taste Like Chicken. I've included the letter below but removed certain names for privacy sake. It felt right to me that my reading audience know just what this book, and more important, this teacher means to me.
August 16, 2009
Dear Mr. *******,
It’s been almost two decades since you’ve seen my face, but I hope you remember me. I was a member of your 6th grade class during the 1991-1992 school year at ********* Elementary School. Maybe you recall “movie snacks”, your flying glasses, or Ted’s dead pets (and two shirts)? This letter has many purposes, but the main one is to communicate how you influenced my life seventeen years ago.
I’ve always enjoyed school but never to the level I did during my year in your classroom. Believe me, it wasn’t just the reptiles. Your passion for reading, your wealth of knowledge, and the range of experiences you offered us changed my perception of learning forever. You unknowingly modeled the teacher I would later strive to become.
I now teach fifth-grade in Central Bucks School District in Doylestown, PA. I also hold a Masters degree in Leadership and Liberal Studies from Duquesne University. To this day, my class’ first read aloud book is Interstellar Pig by William Sleator and I, like you did, strive to offer unique experiences for my students that change their perception of learning forever.
On top of my teaching career, I’ve become a published author with the release of my first novel, O.Y.L., in the fall of 2008. Which brings me to my reason for writing. I attended a writing workshop as a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group in the winter of 2008. The presenter, Ann Russek, titled the workshop “Tator Tots and Technique.” She explored the many ways writers can bring their childhood school experiences to life. A seed for a story arose after multiple writing exercises. That seed, now titled Mice Don’t Taste Like Chicken, will become a published reality in the summer of 2010 through P.M. Moon Publishers.
The story is about you. In fact, it’s about all the characters in our room that year, including our scaly friends. Fiction weaves the story, but the real experience you provided is responsible for the manuscript construction. It’s my dedication to a phenomenal teacher.
I could say so much more, but I’ll keep this letter brief. My hope is that you will permit me to dedicate the book to you and perhaps accept an invitation to Pennsylvania for the book release party when the time comes (FYI…I’m thinking of holding it at the Reptile House of the Philadelphia Zoo J). In the meantime, please feel free to contact me and be on the lookout for www.micedonttastelikechicken.com.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
“This really sucks! Why exactly did Mr. Cross give us this job again?” Jackson said. He leaned against the table next to the mouse’s cage.
“Well, we’re doing this for extra credit. Why do you have to be such a smart aleck?”
“I didn’t want to do this stupid job. I’d rather be in gym class pumping basketballs for the rest of the day.” Jackson dashed to Mr. Cross’ chair and sat down. He swung his head back and swiveled around. “You’re such a teacher’s pet, Drew.”
Drew meandered over to the cage and removed the lid. He picked up a scooper and scooped up a wad of shavings.
Jackson scooted the chair beside Drew. “I can’t believe you’re actually touching that!”
“I’m not touching it!”
Jackson grasped Drew’s wrist and sprinkled the shavings over his head. “Haha! Doodoo head!”
Drew’s eyes squinted, his face reddened and he clenched his fists. Drew flung his arm across the table. Glass shattered. His eyes glistened with tears. The blood trickled down his hand.
Jackson shrieked and sprinted across the room. Mr. Cross appeared in the doorway. Jackson collided with him and fell to the floor.
Kudos to my fantastic crew of Danielle, Isabel, Hirra, Bethany, Veronica, Sarah, Madeleine, Fiona, and Maggie! Bethany, we accomplished your goal of Drew's anger issues :) Isabel...has your face regained its color yet?
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Allow me to introduce Whitney Childers, the woman developing the Mice Don't Taste Like Chicken website and the one you'll all send fan mail to when you see how incredible the site is! I asked Whitney to share her experiences with web development and she obliged. Enjoy!
Tell us about Glee Media.
I started my own one-woman company this year after the demise of a magazine I worked for as an associate editor in Salt Lake City. I do everything from editing, writing, web design, photography, PR/communications work, writing coaching, etc. My goal is to specialize in working with nonprofits, artists, authors, small/local businesses and people like me who don’t have an infinite budget, but need to share their message.
How many years have you developed websites, and what inspired you to begin devoting yourself to the craft?
While working as an editor, part of my job over the years was to integrate the web with content generated by our newspaper. I started out updating web sites and then taught myself how to do them from the ground up — so doing this full time is relatively new. My strength is design and helping clients present a clear message in an accessible form. I wouldn’t ever term myself a “developer.” That stuff is for the real techno geniuses. I continue to learn new things every day and when I don’t know how to do something, I seek out the answer.
What is your process for developing a vision of what a website will look like?
Sitting down at the computer and staring! And, of course, the most important part of the vision is talking with the client, understanding what their vision is, and finding a way to meet those needs and make it look great. I constantly look at other sites, design, and art books to generate ideas. I tend to stay up late and the best ideas always come at about midnight.
What are some websites you admire and use as models? Why?
I admire different sites for different reasons. I love the NY Times because I don’t have to pay for stories, for example. I also regularly visit coolhomepages.com. It’s a great resource to see what other designers are coming up with – from edgy to sweet.
Tell us about your favorite project you designed.
Of course it’s always the one I’m currently working on! I love working on my site – which is ironic because it isn’t live yet because I’m so busy with other work.
What are some highlights of working on the Mice Don’t Taste Like Chicken project?
The fact that animals, particularly reptiles, are so integrated in the story and design is what’s most interesting to me. I’ve spent hours looking at snake, gecko, turtle, and toad photos to find the right fit. Toads do creep me out a bit, but I’m coming around… Plus, it’s way more fun and fulfilling to work on a project that promotes good writing and creativity — especially for kids.
When you’re not creating incredible websites, how do you spend your free time?
Incredible? I need to hire you as my publicist! Ok, well I have a spunky 2 year-old son, a great husband, and dedicated dog. We spend a lot of time in the mountains hiking, biking, camping, and skiing.
Any advice for readers interested in web development?
• Start simple.
• Prepare to always be learning — you never know everything.
• Listen to your clients.
• It always takes longer to do a project than you think it will.
If you have any questions, Whitney is happy to answer them. Feel free to e mail her at
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
I'm still on the HUB path. Feel free to visit hubpages.com/profile/scotthbooks to read some of my articles. Here's what's been published in the past few days.
I: Interview With an Illustrator: Vin Libassi
N: N.P.O. Your Writing: Giving Back
O: One: An Interview With Amy Cook
P: Pterylosis and Other Words We Often Misspell
Q: Q-bert: When Professional Edits Make You Want to Shout "@!#?@!"
S: Student Writing: Voices of Real Fifth-Graders
T: Tator Tots and Technique
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Saturday, May 2, 2009
What can I say about Tinkle Troy? T.T. for short. Troy has what he calls an “overactive bladder.” What it really means is he can’t hold his pee. Every year he flashes his official doctor’s note letting him leave class every twenty minutes or so. I have a feeling the punches to the kidneys he gets at recess from some of Bridgeton’s perpetual grade-schoolers contribute to his control problem. Somehow we end up in the same class every year.
In second grade, Troy peed his pants thirty-two consecutive days in a row, thus his nickname. The pants-peeing doesn’t happen anymore, but “Tinkle Troy” stuck. Since we matured, we shortened it to T.T. Even though Troy and I are classmates each year, I avoided sitting near him—until now. I decided to keep my feet completely under my desk in case he sprung a leak.
Jackson arrived a few minutes, and we skipped the excited reunion seen between other friends in the room. We saw each other all summer. When he passed by, he nuggied my freshly buzzed head. “I see T.T. will be joining us,” he said as he dropped his bag on his desk. “Good thing I brought my umbrella.”
Seats filled quickly after that. Talks of summer trips and sixth-grade hopes began. We all scanned the room, linking the puzzle pieces of students to uncover what the picture of our class would look like. Sasha Barnett and Cindy Cohen, Paris Hilton wannabes, both toted purses big enough to nest a Chihuahua. A couple members of the Two-First-Names Crew, John Michael and Eric Scott. Two newer Bridgeton students I recognized but never met because they spent every spare moment of their lives playing Yu-Gi-Oh together. The forming picture looked more like a Picasso than a Van Gogh.
Jackson strode in with the sound of the morning bell and nuggied Drew’s buzzed head. “I see T.T. will be joining us,” he said as he dropped his bag on the floor. “Feet under desks at all times, in case he springs a leak.”
Drew swung his feet beneath his desk and smiled. “Yeah, remember back in second grade when Troy peed his pants thirty-two days in a row?” he asked.
“The punches in the kidneys all these years on the playground can’t be helping T.T.’s bladder issues,” Jackson said.
Troy stood behind Jackson, an uneasy smile on his face. “No more Tinkle Troy?” he asked.
“What can I say? We’ve matured,” Jackson said.
Troy unpacked in silence while Drew and Jackson continued their conversation. “Did you see Sasha and Cindy are in the class, too?” Drew asked.
“Purse-toting snobs,” Jackson said. He followed them with his eyes. After snapping out of it, he said, “Sitting next to Kim I see,” and motioned to Kim’s empty desk.
“Yeah, but she’s cool. At least she doesn’t rub her popularity in your face like those two,” Drew said.
“Speak of the Devil,” Jackson said watching Kim approach the group.
Drew turned to look. Kim smiled. “Hi, Drew. Hey, Jackson.”
“You’re stuck with us,” Jackson said.
“Hey, Kim.” Drew looked Kim up and down. “Boy, you’re really tan. Your skin’s nearly as dark as your hair,” he said.
Kim glanced down at her bare arm. “Yeah, I just got back from vacation in the Bahamas.”
“Bahamas to Bridgeton. Your dream, huh?” Jackson said.
“Doesn’t bother me.” Kim dropped supplies on her desk and walked to her locker.
John Michael and Eric Scott, a pair from the two-first-names crew walked by Jackson’s desk. “Scott,” Jackson said, nodding.
“I’m John!” John Michael said.
“Michael,” Jackson said, nodding at the other.
“I’m Eric!” Eric Scott said.
Jackson cackled and slapped his desktop. The two walked away in a huff. “Who are those two?” Jackson asked, pointing to the back corner of the room at a pair of boys trading Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
“Don’t know. I’ve seen them around, usually joined at the hip doing what they’re doing now, but never caught their names,” Drew said.
“Cute couple,” Jackson said. “Anyway, can you believe Mr. Cross didn’t split us up?”
And so the editing process continues. But as Lester Laminack says, "Revision is the journey of the writer." I've found it an arduous but irreplaceable exercise. It will all prove worth it when the final product hits the presses.
"Live, Learn, Teach"
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
“This project is a gift to all of those who will read it. Scott Heydt writes with a command born of unobstructed vision and crystalline voice. Cross radiates with clarity. It is my kind of book: many laugh-out-louds, a few tears, and story arcs that ease the young reader beyond the threshold of the concrete into the realm of metaphoric thinking. Drew is an instantly lovable protagonist who learns how to keep his anger from turning in on himself out of a burgeoning, multi-faceted respect: for a beloved teacher, for nature as represented by the classroom’s reptiles, for a sweet first romance, and for the type of buddy bonding we all yearn for. People will remember reading it for years.”
~Mrs. Kathryn Craft, writing-partner.com
Humbling review, huh? Here's the important message. Every piece of writing needs revision. Mine was certainly no different. But Kathryn saw something special in CROSS. Something resonating beyond the page. This is the fuel I use each day to make the appropriate revisions so that readers can share in Drew's journey.
"Live, Learn, Teach"