The Pencil – Still Working Hard in Schools

IMG_7240My 12-year-old son was recently working on the first draft of a writing assignment he had started in school. He was armed with a cedar stick with a graphite core and small synthetic rubber block. Any edits required him to erase and rewrite, erase and rewrite. By the time he was finished, it was a complete mess.

During class, they will be rewriting (in pencil) the entire paper for the final draft. By today’s standards, this whole process is archaic. However, this old writing method is how it’s done in many schools from elementary to middle grades. Much beyond that, these kids will not be using a pencil for anything more than a paragraph in length.

Obviously, public schools can’t afford to provide computers for all students — yet. On occasion, students can go to a computer lab to type up some of their assignments. But, I can imagine a day when everyone will have a simple devise, the size of piece of paper, that will allow them to write and print anywhere.

In fact, I wonder if my grandchildren will be amazed when I tell them that we use to write with a wooden stick called a pencil, and you had to hand crank a sharpening devise in order for the stick to write properly.

Hold onto those cedar sticks — they could be worth something one day.


2015 Writing Resolution – Write when there’s little time to write.

I have several goals for 2015, but I must confess toimages one that’s on the top of my list – write when there’s little time to write. That is, not wait until I have a two hour block of time to sit down and write. Oh, how I love those times, but they are too few and far between.

If I want to reach my writing goals I have to write and write more often! In my line of work (stay-home mom) my schedule is neither consistent or predictable. Too often, I settle down with a cup of coffee, notes, writing tools, laptop and plans of writing for hours, then whamo, my dream is completely shattered.

When I have shorter periods of time, I have been using them to accomplish other writing related tasks such as, social media, blogging, researching or reading. If I added up all those minutes, they might amount to something and my writing would be further along.

It’s a new year and now my resolution is in writing — so there — I have to stick to it. Hopefully, I’ll report back at the end of the year with some great results!

#happywriting 2015!


What Percentage of Children Are Reading Ebooks?

It’s no surprise that the sale of ebooks continues to increase. In a 2014 Pew Research study, 69% of adults read an ebook in the past year. But what percentage of children are reading ebooks vs. traditional books?

IMG_0759The number is actually higher than I expected. Given that most schools still have traditional libraries, the scholastic flyers come home monthly, and the book fairs are a big hit with kids, I would have thought that the number would still be quite low. Not to mention the accessibility of e-readers and other electronic devices for reading books.

In a 2013, Scholastic Study, the number of children reading ebooks has nearly doubled since 2010. Here are the highlights from the study. You can find the complete study here: Scholastic Study.

  • The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%).
  • Among children who have read an ebook, one in five says he/she is reading more books for fun; boys are more likely to agree than girls (26% vs. 16%).
  • Half of children age 9–17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks – a 50% increase since 2010.
  • Seventy-five percent of kids who have read an ebook are reading ebooks at home, with about one in four reading them at school.
  • Seventy-two percent of parents are interested in having their child read ebooks.
  • Eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print.
  • Kids say that ebooks are better than print books when they do not want their friends to know what they are reading, and when they are out and about/traveling; print is better for sharing with friends and reading at bedtime.
  • Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9–17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available – a slight decrease from 2010 (66%).

One significant statistic is that 80% of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print. Imagine that, print books are fun.

In another study by The Telegraph, “Parents are buying ebooks for their children in growing numbers as experts say a new generation may become more used to reading from an iPad or Kindle screen than from a traditional book.” You can find the complete study here: The Telegraph

The article also stated another study showing that children aged 10 and under tend to read e-books on laptops rather than handheld devices, however once they turn 11 they embrace e-readers like the Kindle.

Jo Henry, a director of Bowker Market Research, which carried out the study, said: “The e-book market is developing rapidly in all age groups. Children are big consumers of books and it is essential to plot their take up of this format.”

Although the statistics are a couple of years old, the article predicts that sales will continue to increase. Joan Brady, the Whitbread-prize winning author, thinks the sale of ebooks will never replace paper books completely. She states, “My feeling is that this will peak. It has not peaked yet but it will and then it will then go down.”

Some feel that the accessibility of e-readers and other handheld devices are encouraging children to read more. I can agree about the convenience factor, however, I strongly feel that it’s great stories that will keep kids reading.

For authors who you want to get their books into the hands of young consumers, publishing ebooks alone is still going to have limited reach — for now. But, as much as our kids embrace technology, you have to wonder if they will eventually be reading everything electronically.

Next to be obsolete . . . the pencil?


Doodle Day Draws Artists From Around the World #doodleday

Author/Illustrator, Alison Hertz @AlisonHertz, launched Doodle Day a little over a year ago and it attracted people from all over the world. Now, this online community enjoys sharing their doodles with each other every day. I asked Alison a little bit about her doodling phenomenon.Doodle Day Logo w White Background png

In a nutshell, what is Doodle Day?

Doodle Day is a daily doodling challenge for artists, writers, teachers, parents, children of all ages, friends, and friends of friends. I post a drawing prompt each day but doodlers don’t have to use it. The prompts are there for challenge and inspiration. There are many people who stare at a blank page and have a panic attack so a prompt gives that spark. I tell people to just put their pencil to the paper and see where their arm goes. It’s a stress free doodle zone.

When was the official launch of Doodle Day on Facebook?

Doodle Day launched on May 1st in 2013.

What are the current stats for the group?

As of today, Doodle Day has been creating daily doodles for 16 months. We have 375 members in the Doodle Day Facebook Group and participants have posted more than 5,000 doodles. We also have many doodlers who follow my blog, doodle along with us, and email me to let me know how they are doing.

What sparked the idea for Doodle Day?

When I created the illustrations for FLAP, my debut picture book, I was given only 10 weeks by the publisher and my drawing arm was in rehabilitation from an injury. The painful experience of illustrating for many hours a day left me unable to doodle. After final submission of the illustrations, I worked to condition my arm by drawing for short periods of time several days a week. In November of 2012, FLAP, released and my arm had become strong enough to doodle every day with little pain. I participated in Linda Silvestri’s SkADaMo (Sketch a Day) Challenge and loved it, so I continued to create daily doodles through 2012 and into 2013. On April 30th of 2013, while taking my daughter to preschool, she told me that she wanted to doodle with me every day in May and that we should doodle the same things. It is important to tell you that my daughter was already carrying her little pink sketchbook to preschool and drawing in it when the other children were napping. Erin suggested that we call it “Doodle Day May” and before walking into her class, she told me to “blog about it and invite our friends to doodle with us.”  I went home and did just that. I posted a blog about Erin’s idea and went on with my day. You can see that post here: http://www.alisonhertz.blogspot.com/2013/04/new-challenge-doodle-day-may.htm

The next morning, we had 60 people from around the world signed up to doodle with us. Doodle Day was meant to last one month, but the doodlers didn’t want to stop so it never did.

How do you come up with doodle ideas?

For the first couple months, Erin and I created lists of objects, characters, animals, plants, and foods and in August, we changed it to monthly themes. Erin and I come up with theme ideas and share them with the participants. We go with each theme based on feedback from the group.

Have you considered expanding to different platforms?

I tweet most of my doodles with the hashtag #doodleday and have had many other doodlers posting there, too.

How does an aspiring doodler join the group?

You can look us up on Facebook at “Doodle Day” or just click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DoodleDay/

Thank you, Alison, for encouraging people to practice their craft every day! Visit Alison at www.AlisonHertz.blogspot.com or my website at www.AlisonHertz.com


If Used as an Adjective, is “Funner” a Word?

My six-year-old daughter recently used the word “funner” and my Mom brain told me that I should correct her. “No Sweetie, funner is not a word, we say ‘more fun’.” But then I thought, clearly she thinks “soccer is funner than basketball.” What’s wrong with that?

I did a little research and found some very passionate debates on the topic. Some people think it should be a word and others think it’s a stupid, lazy way to say, “more fun”.

The best explanation I found was by Mignon Fogarty Grammar Girl, Is “Funnest” a Word?. Simply put, the word “fun” originally was used only as a noun. For example, “We had fun.” However, over time, the word “fun” started to be used as an adjective, “That was a really fun party.” The words funner and funnest just never evolved along with it.

So, will these two forbidden words ever be accepted in general conversation and perhaps even entered into the dictionary? That’s a long shot.

Around our house, I’ll allow them to be used as playful adjectives, but I draw the line at “gooder”.


10 Ways NOT to Get Published.

There is a ton of great information out there about getting published. After attending some conferences and studying the craft, I’ve learned a few ways that are certain NOT to get you published. Here is my top ten:
#10. Write a story about a witch and wizard school.
#9. After several drinks at a conference mixer, find all the agents and editors and give them your story pitch like you’re speed dating.
#8. Don’t thank the publisher for their very insightful and helpful rejection letter, but respond that you will find someone else who appreciates your work.
#7. Immediately follow-up with the manuscript shuffle by sending another story, even if they haven’t asked for it.
#6. Don’t listen to the input of critique groups because it’s subjective and maybe they just don’t get it.
#5. Have no presence in social media because “your writing will sell itself”.
#4. Don’t follow the submissions guidelines on a publisher’s website – just send a form letter, they won’t notice.
#3. Send a query to an agent who says they are closed to new clients. They may just be open for you.
#2. Tell the potential publisher that you have just written the next Harry Potter (refer back to number ten).
#1. Don’t spend time writing and don’t submit your work.
What else do writers need to avoid? Please feel free to add some helpful advice.