WORDS…With a Dash of SABOR

ELECTION WEEK

Across the world, people have died and are dying to have the right to vote. In the United States, many of us take this right for granted and fail to get ourselves to the polls to cast a ballot. While all elections are important, this one is particularly so. Our forefathers (and foremothers) sacrificed much in order to guarantee us this chance to make our voices heard. We’re not a perfect country–in fact, far from it–but Tuesday is your opportunity to have a say in its future, if you haven’t done so already.

 VOTE

 

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

It was a good Saturday, finishing up a manuscript about Hollywood and sending it off to my expert reader. Not to be too demanding, I asked her to get it back to me by Thanksgiving because, you know, if I don’t have time to give thanks why should anybody else? Seriously, though, I have been working all year to meet self-imposed deadlines and have been succeeding. With luck, I’ll meet my December 31 deadline to deliver the manuscript to my editor. Chanuka? Forget about it. Christmas? Not likely. New Year’s Eve? That’s a definite maybe, but only if the manuscript is on its way.

What’s next? The National Council of Teachers of English conference in Atlanta, November 18-19. I’ll be speaking on diversity with a stellar panel (Duncan Tonatiah, Nancy Bo Flood, Christine Taylor-Butler, and Cynthia Levinson) on Friday, November 18, in Room B217 from 2:30 to 3:45. I hope to see some of you there. I’ll be autographing books on Saturday from 9:00 to 10:00 in the Boyds Mills Press booth (#408).

csla

P.S.:

Happy Halloween!

¡Feliz los dias de los muertos!

‘TIS THE HAUNTING SEASON

Halloween isn’t a tradition in Mexico because it occurs at the same time as Los Dias de los Muertos (The Days of the Dead). But in those places where it is celebrated, instead of saying “Trick or treat,” children call “¡Queremos Halloween!”

One Halloween, Old Armadillo paused outside his casita to listen to the rattle-clack of the wooden esqueleto as it danced against his gate in the evening breeze. The crisp scent of pine hung in the air. From the tiny village of Santa Rosa in the valley below rose the sound of children’s laughter as they scampered from door to door calling, “¡Queremos Halloween!” Then, pulling a rusty wagon piled high with jack-o’-lanterns, he shuffled down his walkway, stopping here and there to place a few of them at the edges of the flagstones. –From Trick or Treat, Old Armadillo.

Happy Haunting, Everyone!

haunted

He who enters this

House of Horrors

shall not return.

(Or so sweet Violet told me.)

A THOUSAND WORDS

If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousands words, or at least a poem, what would you say about the following?

leaves

In truth, these are aspen leaves on my gravel driveway after I raked through many to find some roofing screws somebody kindly dropped. I think it looks rather like an abstract painting, but how does it inspire you?

WHOA!

INTIMIDATION! That’s what I would call it. I just received biographical copy to proofread from my nonfiction editor–this for a book that is complete, but won’t be available until Fall 2017–a whole year away (sigh). The book is called Twelve Days in May, but I’ll keep the subtitle a secret for now as it would spoil the surprise. I could also show you the cover, which is stunning, but I’m not going to do that either. (I do like to keep a bit of mystery about me.) But I digress. The biographical copy contains words like “noted” and “award-winning” and “well-researched.” I think using words like these–which make me blush–are my editor’s way of putting the screws to me to keep my nose to the grindstone with the book I’ve been working on for the last year and a half (to be published sometime in 2018, I think). Nose is to the grindstone, dear editor, and it is almost finished.

Twelve Days in May: subtitle, subtitle, subtitle (to be published by Calkins Creek Books, 2017)

HOW CAN IT BE?

OCTOBER? How can it be? It seems like only yesterday it was May and I was packing up my research materials to have with me over the summer. Here, the air has turned nippy and we’ve had our first snow. The trees have gone mostly yellow, and I’m awaiting “the big wind” to strip them bare. There’s the smell of wood smoke in the air and the sound of woodsmen chopping wood, laying in a supply heating fuel for the months ahead. Store displays feature pumpkins (and have been I think since July 4). But my thoughts turn to princesses and mummies and pirates–and friendships. Always friendships.

Trick of Treat, Old Armadillo is a friendship tale set during the Halloween season. Nothing is better than planning to play innocent tricks on an old friend, only to have that old friend conjure up a surprise of his own. Published by Boyds Mills Press, it’s available for order at bookstores nationwide, and online.

TrickorTreat 001Trick or Treat, Old Armadillo (published by Boyds Mills Press)

As much as I hate to jump seasons, it’s companion, Merry Christmas, Old Armadillo, is also available for order, and is celebrating its twenty-first year in print.

Image

Merry Christmas, Old Armadillo (published by Boyds Mills Press)

National Hispanic Heritage Month

I’m getting in on the tail end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, but I wanted to share with you a bit of Latino and Filipino history before it passes by completely. Many assume, because of the widespread influence of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, that the 1965 grape strike began with Mexican American field-hands. In truth, the strike began when Filipino laborers led by Larry Itliong laid down the tools and refused to work until higher wage demands were met. These workers tried to convince Chavez to join their strike, but Chavez didn’t think the timing was right. It was Chavez’s wife and Dolores Huerta who convinced him to put it to a vote of their separate and struggling union. The union members themselves voted unanimously to join with Filipinos and thus began the strike–which lasted five long years. Some wonder why Chavez wanted his own labor union when the Filipino union was already well-organized and supported by the AFL-CIO. It is a good question and you may find answers in STRIKE! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights. There is much more to discover about the farm workers’ fight for dignity and equality here:

imageSTRIKE!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights (Calkins Creek Books)

FROST

Mornings (and days) have turned cooler here at 9, 120-feet elevation, and my thoughts have turned to frost–on windshields, on automobile bonnets, and . . . well, perhaps the couplet below will explain my early-morning, Labor Day adventure. (Darn that “boardwalk” down below in front of the Mercantile!)

Frost

It wasn’t frost on the pumpkin that laid me flat,

But an icy sidewalk where I slipped and sat.

©2016 Larry Dane Brimner, All Rights Reserved

 

THIS

Fifty-three years ago today, THIS: Birmingham, Alabama…the Ku Klux Klan…school desegregation…the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church…FOUR LITTLE GIRLS.

BMP_CC_8613_JT.indd

The rhetoric now is the same as then.

BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY (Calkins Creek Books)

WHAT DO THEY THINK?

As someone who writes nonfiction for young readers, I do a great deal of research. My dives into history have taken me to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Library of Congress, the National Archives (good for research in person, but they have a horrible internet presence), the JFK Library in Boston, and many other points on the map. My internet searches have taken me to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Rifle Association, the FBI, the CIA, the White House, and other interesting destinations, not to mention newspaper sites from across the nation. I have often wondered, should anyone from the government or governments beyond our shores be tracking my online activity, what they think. And because I am usually gathering information for one of my books, I often receive mail from these various locations and organizations. I wonder what goes through the postal clerk’s mind as s/he puts these various envelopes, packages, and boxes into my mailbox–and what stories, if any, circulate about me. Am I a spy? A terrorist? An advisor? Somebody looking for a job?

In the past few months, I have received official looking mail from the FBI, Naval Investigative Services, the CIA, a representative of Congress (no, not a political advertisement), and a former Secretary of State (again, not a political advertisement). Most recently–day before yesterday, as a matter of fact–I received a box large enough and heavy enough for a statuette. The cover of the box was emblazoned with a gold foil replica of Oscar and a return address of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The following conversation ensued:

Post Office (PO): I see that’s from the Oscar people.

Me: Yes. I’ve been expecting it.

PO: Sure is heavy.

Me: It is that.

PO: I suppose you’ll put it on your mantle or some place important? <asked as a question so I would clarify the box’s contents, no doubt>

Me: Probably just my office. (And I zipped out the door.)

One of my dearest friends (HFJ) accuses me of being mysterious. I say a little mystery never hurt anyone. I don’t believe in telling people more than they need to know. And being a bit on the superstitious side, I refrain from discussing a work-in-progress until it’s finished, or nearly so. Besides, it’s great fun to speculate what stories might circulate when you leave people with a thumbnail sketch, rather than the fully executed painting. After I collected my mail that day, I chuckled, wondering what the postal clerk’s story about me might be.