Sunday, June 22, 2014

Crazy weather and summer writing!

Hi all!

I'm so sorry I've been neglecting my blog, but there are good reasons. I'm writing up a storm! I've been working on a new WIP and writing anywhere from 1000 to 4000 words a day, and having so much fun.

But that kind of wordage means I'm not nearly on Twitter/FB/Tumblr or blogging as I used to. But that's okay. Sometimes you just have to let things swing in a creative direction once in a while.

I'd been doing a lot of promo lately, with school visits and events (this weekend I'm teaching a writing workshop for the Teen Advisory Board at the La Vista Library in Nebraska, and in July I'm doing the Might Mississippi Book Blast tour and going to Comic Con for a diversity panel and signing books).

BUT I'm also finding that the best promo you can really do for yourself is to write more books and just get them out there if you can. So I'm writing and loving it!

I hope you all are doing well. Sooner or later, I'll get those photos of RT up here but for now, I'm following my bliss.

Also. The summer storms in Nebraska have been crazy! We've gotten hail and bad wind storms, and you may have heard of the twin twisters that hit Pilger, Nebraska. My family and house are doing fine, so thank you for those who have been worried! If you'd like to help those in need, please check out the Red Cross website to help Pilger residents.

So. How is your summer going?

(Also, meet our new pet lemon tree, Lemmy Lou. (Thanks to my hubs for the picture!)
She barely survived the hail. Here is one of her first blooms. It smelled like the sweetest perfume!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

PB Release of THIS OLD BAND by Tamera Will Wissinger!

Hello all! Today I'm celebrating a PB book release of This Old Band from Tamera Will Wissinger, whose debut book in verse, Gone Fishing, is a favorite at our house!

Hi Tamera! So glad to have you on my blog. Since this book takes place in the wild west, I have on my virtual cowboy boots just for today. :) So...when did you get the inspiration for this book? Can you tell us a little bit about the process?

Hi Lydia! Thanks for celebrating the release of This Old Band with me here at The Word is my Oyster! I have on my cowboy boots today, too. With our boots we can play scoot scoot with number six!

Inspiration for this book…that has been gathering in me since I was young. I grew up in Iowa and was lucky enough to take a couple of trips west with my family when I was a child. Once to the black hills and Mount Rushmore, and once with my grandparents all the way to Washington state. With my grandparents I got to ride a horse for the first time, hike in the Montana mountains, and pan for gold. Then as an adult I had several opportunities to travel west to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California, Nevada. Each trip offered unique and wonderful glimpses of ranch and cowboy life, the contrast of color and terrain between mountains, valleys, mesas, desert, and wildlife that I had heard of but had never seen before. It was on a trip to Jackson, Wyoming with my husband a few years ago when I realized I wanted to write a book that featured details of this part of the United States.

I just went to the Black Hills and Mt Rushmore a few weeks ago! It was pretty awesome. Do you also enjoy American history as well? Any favorite books to share on the topic?

Oh, that’s such an interesting part of the country and the carving is a real wonder. Did you also see the Crazy Horse Memorial? What a breathtaking sculpture!

I do enjoy American history; three of my favorite genres to read are historical nonfiction/historical biography and historical fiction. For true American history/biography, I enjoy books written by Elizabeth Partridge, Claire Rudolph Murphy, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Jim Murphy, and Russell Freedman (among others). For American historical fiction I’ve enjoyed reading The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Carver by Marilyn Nelson, Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff, Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munos Ryan, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck. And more recently May B. by Caroline Starr Rose and A Voice for Kanzas by Debra McArthur. I could go on…

We could only do a quick drive-by of Crazy Horse, but even from a distance, it was so impressive! So for this book, did you have to research anything fun or unusual?

The travel itself was a great deal of fun and helped inform my setting quite a bit, although I didn’t travel explicitly to conduct research for the book. I did research the specific flora and fauna that I mention in the book to ensure that I hadn’t made mistakes about their authenticity to this part of the country.

I think I just saw a tumbleweed roll by! So...did you have any kids beta read your book? If so, what kind of reactions did you get?

Whoosh! There goes another one! I might need to grab my harmonica and play a tune.

Years ago I would periodically read my poetry and stories to children and we always had a wonderful time and they always loved my stories. This made me very happy, of course, but then I realized that they were reacting as dear readers, not as writers. These days I refine my stories as much as possible and then ask trusted author friends to provide me with constructive and positive feedback to help strengthen it even more. That’s what I did with This Old Band.

This is your first PB, right? What was the hardest part of the creative process?

Yes, this is my first picture book. The first thing that comes to mind with a picture book, especially a rhyming concept picture book, is that there are many constraints – a limited number of pages (normally 32), limited word count (in the case of This Old Band less than 400), limited word choices to fit the rhyme and rhythm pattern that I had established. All of these restrictions balanced against a desire to convey this large outdoor western world and these boisterous cowboys and cowgirl who are having fun, kicking up dust, counting down from ten to one and playing and singing their music. In the end, it became a process of boiling down everything into the most essential elements, letting the rest go, and trusting that the illustrator would fill in any gaps, which Matt Loveridge did beautifully.

Thanks Tamera, and congratulations!

Well, I have to say, this book makes it irresistible NOT to sing it while you read, and my six year-old was both mesmerized and laughing while I did. She loved it. If that can't sell a book, then I don't know what else can!

Visit Tamera on her website / Twitter / Facebook
And keep an eye on her website, where she'll be hosting
 a book release "party" and offering prizes!