Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Sweet Deal On the Write Hope Auction For Japan

Hi everyone! Cross-posting with Will Write For Cake today to direct everyone to the Write Hope blog for a way to help out Japan and get a critique from all of us in the Will Write For Cake bunch!

A group of writers for children and young adults has set up the Write Hope auction to benefit Japanese relief efforts through the organization Save the Children. You can bid on the donated items like signed books, critiques, marketing consultations, and more, including a critique from the members of Will Write For Cake. We'll critique a full picture book manuscript or the first twenty pages of your midgrade or YA manuscript. And we have authors published at all those levels-- PB, MG, and YA, and in both fiction and nonfiction.

I know from experience that this group gives fantastic critiques, so you'll get great feedback! The auction offers lots of great items, so if bidding on a critique isn't for you right now, scroll through the listings to find something more to your liking, or click on their "Donate" tab in the sidebar for another way to give.

Thanks, and good luck with the bidding!

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Children's Books From The Celebrity Apprentice

If The Celebrity Apprentice saw a jump in ratings this week, they probably have the children's literature community to thank. Writers, book lovers, and publishing professionals tuned in, knowing it would be somewhat painful, but we had to watch, even if we'd have to do so while peeking through our fingers like we were watching a horror movie.

The challenge for each team this week was to write a children's book and perform the story in front of a group of real, live children. (And you know someone on staff had the task of checking cast members' probation requirements to make sure that was okay.)

Here's where it gets more interesting--the book had to be about someone on the team. A children's book. About one of the Celebrity Apprentice cast members. Have you seen the participants? The only way it could get train-wreckier is if they threw in the love child of Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson.

Editor Margery Cuyler of Marshall Cavendish advised the teams, not knowing that she should tell them to do the opposite of what she really wanted them to do. She told the men's team not to write a rhyming story. John Rich (of Big & Rich) interpreted that to mean he should take on the challenge of writing a rhyming book.

No, John, she wasn't daring you to try it. She really meant it. Don't.

But, the men do have two songwriters on the team--John Rich and Lil Jon, so maybe it wouldn't be too bad. The team chose John Rich to write the text of the book, probably because they couldn't decide whether Lil Jon's "Can't Stop Pimpin'" or "Move Bitch" would make a better picture book. Lil Jon did end up being the main character, though, as a boy who was teased at school because he was, well, lil. Of course the teasing intensified because the schoolchildren reasoned, naturally, that his shortness precluded him from learning the alphabet and counting. But Jon showed them at the end, via rap, that he did indeed know his ABCs and 123s. Then he promptly bust a cap in their kindergarten asses.

The women's team, after two hours of screaming arguments and insults, settled on a book about LaToya the Lion, who couldn't roar. (Spoiler alert--she was able to roar at the end!).

I know there's so much we miss because of editing, so I can't help but imagine some of the discussions that ended up on the cutting room floor. Here are some titles I would like to have seen come out of those conversations:

Gary Busey: "I got it. Let's write about a pigeon named Gary and make a book kinda like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. We'll call it Seriously, Do Not Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. For the Love of God and the Safely of All, Do Not Let Him Drive the Bus. Or The Snowy Day would work too. Am I wearing pants?"

Richard Hatch: "No, kids like Dr. Seuss. We should write something like a Dr. Seuss Book, like Oh The Places You'll Go. Federal Prison, For Example.

Jose Canseco: "We're not doing Dr. Seuss!"

Meat Loaf: "Put the chair down, Jose, or I will beat you with my sequined jacket."

Jose: "We should do something more classic, like a fable. Kind of like Jack and the Beanstalk, but it's Jose and the Beanstalk. And instead of planting the magic beans, he eats them, and he gets big and strong. Then he kills the giant with his bare hands..."

Gary Busey: "How's he gonna get to the giant, Jose? You have to climb the beanstalk to get to the giant! You can't climb the beanstalk if you don't plant the beans! Everyone knows that! He's gotta plant the beans, man!"

On the women's team, I liked Marlee Matlin's idea to have a deaf character in the book be the one to teach LaToya the Lion how to roar. Fun twist at the end of the story. But no, Dionne Warwick said that would be too much of a downer, since the children would just feel sorry for the deaf character, of course. And children aren't ready for that kind of diversity. (So shouldn't they have made all the characters in the book the same kind of animal? They had a dog in there! And the lion was friends with a chicken! That's the kind of diversity NO ONE is ready for.)

Marlee Matlin: "If we're not going to have a deaf character, let's do a sign language ABC book. I'm thinking R Is For Roundhouse Kick to Dionne Warwick's Face."

Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk: "How about a new version of Pat the Bunny? It'll be a lift-the-flap book--"

Lisa Rinna: "No, I've got it--you know what would be fun? A sing-along story, like The Wheels On The Bus. You know, like THE BUS YOU ALL F-ING THREW ME UNDER!!!"

Certainly this is just a partial list; there's so much potential in this cast. What other children's book titles do you wish came out of the Celebrity Apprentice teams?