Saturday, August 22, 2009


So where has the dubber been the last couple weeks? Passed out under a bench, on a top-secret-kid-book-paparazzi mission for Betsy Bird, or planning which children's book author/illustrator will be the next to be Punked (we try to spell correctly around here for fear of the Grammarian Gestapo)?

No. None of these things.

The Dubber was actually working as an indentured writer servant to the great Martha Brockenbrough.

But having cast those chains off, I am back and ready to dub! A hint: Above is my writer's digest shelf of writing books.

This week a certain Cocoa-flavored nom de plume has nominated someone to be thoroughly dubbed. Not just any someone, but a huge SOMEONE in our field. Nothing like aiming high. Here goes...

Alice Pope is a pillar in the children's book field. But it was not always so...

"When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I spent countless hours jumping around on my bed singing into my hairbrush along with my favorite Journey album."
- A.P. from 2006 CWIM

For those of you who haven't yet seen the Writers Digest Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, especially the brand-spanking new one, then drop whatever you're doing and go get one. NOW. Seriously. It's like a ten pound snickers bar, packed with all kinds of great information about publishers and agents, interviews with the best authors and illustrators, and tons of great articles on all kinds of topics. Contests, awards, grants, you name it, Alice Pope has it COVERED.

"Believe. Keep working and sending out your work. Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market is here to give serendipity a hand." A.P. from 2005 CWIM

She was also the guiding light of the SCBWI TEAM BLOG for the annual SCBWI LA conference.

So without further ado, it's business time. I, BJW, officially and with a little bit of rust after a two week hiatus, abiding all informal rites and regulations and with due pomp and circumstance, with zero humility and mass ego, by the powers in-the-vest-on me, with full admiration and plenty of anticipation of the next CWIM,

Do Dub Thee...

The Beacon. As in The Beacon that shineth its light into the seemingly impassable and treacherous waters of Children's Book Publishing. Just imagine the legions of kid's book stories that you have kept off the shoals and out of Davy Jones' Locker and the writers and illustrators you have saved from publishing purgatory. Maybe I should have dubbed you The Pope, or Her Holiness, but no. The Beacon it is, you are.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kirby's girl/boy book panel

Kirby Larson, the incredible northwest author of the Newberry Honor book Hattie Big Sky, has asked me to join a blog panel "discussion" about the boy book/girl book issue.

Other panel members are librarians Jerene Battisti and Nancy Pearl (yeah) and writers Erin Blakemore, Dave Patneaude, Rodman Philbrick, Jon Sciezka, Joni Sensel (WWA SCBWI!), Terry Trueman, and Tyler Larson (NYU film school grad, associate producer at HBO and Kirby's son!).

And me. Talk about out of my league! Whew. There's some pretty talented folks including the Ambassador of Young People's Literature himself, not to mention founder of Guys Read.

Quite an honor to be included in this discussion which should be posted on Kirby's blog in the next week or so. I will certainly link to it when it arrives, but stay tuned.

Hover boards and time-turners

Hey bloggeristas.

Long time no talk. I mean write.

I've been swimming through a couple of deadlines. But I'm back.

I feel like Marty in Back to the Future II, "I know you sent me into the future but I'm back!" Which, I would argue, is one of the worst WRITTEN sequels to one of the BEST trilogies.

Yeah I said it! The writing SUCKS. Oh Robert Zemeckis, why did you make Doc Brown frantically "TELL" us every silly scrap of information to US through Marty. All the fun relationship that happened in the first movie, the smooth flow of information through character and normal dialogue was shanghaied because you were lazy and wanted to concentrate on your hover boards (which are sweet) and Max Headroom Coke diners.

Did I still enjoy it? Yes! But less and less each viewing and cringe at the over-telling. Not to mention the time-trap writers fall into. You know, the don't-F-with-time one. It's like the writer just planted a mine field blindfolded and now has to walk back through it. In Back To the Future PART DEUX, Biff steals the Delorian and goes back and gives the almanac to young Biff. At that moment, time has changed.

But not in the movie. Not until Doc and Marty go back to find it changed. So if Robbie Z followed his own rules this is what would have happened. Instantly, there would be no time machine because in his alternate reality he has Doc Brown committed BEFORE he made a time machine, before he and Marty could be friends and before they could take the Delorian back in time. Or ahead to where Biff steals it. Confused? Me too. But we're just getting started. The future Biff would return to be the Biff who is a casino pimp, EXCEPT he wouldn't be able to because the Delorian would disappear like Marty started to (and his siblings in the photo) in the first movie as they were ceasing to exist.

Whew! Do you see some of the complications of dealing with time travel as a writer? Yet, it calls us like a big fat white whale. J.K. Rowlings couldn't resist the urge and what happened? Soon after they appeared she had the time turners destroyed in book five. I loved The Prisoner of Azkaban and all things Harry Potter, but I could've done without time-turners. Because as my clever nephew Clay said, "So why doesn't Harry go back and take care of Voldemort or why doesn't Voldemort go after the NUMEROUS time-turners instead of wasting his time with the prophecy which was MORE inaccessible in the Department of Mysteries. Why couldn't a lot of things happen like Harry saving or warning his parents before they were killed or God knows what else.

But, despite the implications that she was opening up, she did a first-rate job on her plunge into time travel. Then promptly abandoned it. So did Back to the Future I and the third.

What do you think? When has time travel been used well and when should it never have been attempted?