Beth Ferry Talks About Spring Weeding

It’s Spring.
Time for flowers and bunnies.
Time for gardening.
Time for my library’s book sale.
I wait in line, ready to dive into the piles, hoping to find some treasure.
I head directly to the picture book section.
Jackpot!
I am bouncing with glee at my good fortune!
My pile is sincerely impressive.          DSC_0254

The titles are awesome.
Authors I know and love.
Artists I admire.
Books I’ve coveted, in pristine condition, published just last year.
Wait.
What??
I look at the publication dates again.
2014. 2014. 2014.
My joy turns to concern.
How is this possible?
These are not books donated by patrons from their home libraries.
These are beautifully bound library books.
Why is the library selling books that were published a little over a year ago?

I am no longer quite as jubilant.
As an author, alarm bells are ringing in my head.
How can the shelf life of a book be shorter than its journey to publication?
This is not a bookstore.
That I could understand.
The turnover at a bookstore is mind-boggling.
Every week new books appear face-out on the shelves and last week’s titles are squeezed, spine-out, among the hundreds of other new, but not quite-as-new, titles.
But a library is different, right?
A library is the place where books go to LIVE!
Where they can safely wait for just the right hands and eyes and hearts to find them.
How can a child discover these books if they are no longer on the shelf?

In dismay, I check online to see the availability of many of these books.
Ok, phew.
These titles are still available and plentiful. 12 copies of some, 11 of others.
Just not in my branch.
Why?
I email my librarian.
My awesome children’s librarian who gets back to me right away.
It seems that a weeding list is generated for the librarian of each branch based on calculated circulation statistics and last recorded date of checkout. Depending on the constraints of each particular library, books that haven’t circulated in two or four or five years may be weeded out. Sometimes they are purged simply because they are doubles.
It all makes sense.
Limited shelf space.
Oodles of new titles.
Availability in other branches.

I look around my library. It is beautiful, but not enormous.
With each new crop of books being published, weeding must be done.
It is just part of the process.
It is essential to a healthy, growing garden.
Even if that garden is my own local library.
So although the joy at my new pile of books is diminished a little, I am resolved to treat these books well, like the bounty that they are. I will respect them, love them and share them with my Kindergarten and first grade reading buddies. Although they are no longer blossoming in my library’s garden, they are definitely beautiful, bright, wonderful additions to mine.     Beth_Ferry_photo

Beth Ferry is the author of the New York Times Bestselling picture book Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.. She is also the author of Land Shark  (Chronicle Books)

Pirate’s Perfect Pet will set sail in the Fall of 2016.

PPP_HJ_US

Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at www.bethferry.com.

My Path to Publishing by Beth Ferry + PB Give-away!

I am especially excited today to bring a post by my friend and fellow children’s book author BETH FERRY.  Her debut PB, STICK & STONE (hmh.com) is being released this month to starred reviews.  “Stick” around, because one lucky reader will have a chance to win a signed copy of this endearing story of friendship.  Here’s Beth with how it all came about:

I’ve always loved reading.
I read while brushing my teeth.
I read while eating breakfast.
I read while walking to the bus stop with my older sister steering me clear of rocks and trees and fast moving vehicles.
I read anything and everything – cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, recipes, and of course, books, books, books!
I became an English major in college because I loved to read.
But I never actually thought of becoming a writer.
I scribbled stories now and again.
I once wrote a story about a “rich, extra body” appearing to a girl who was washing her hair.
That’s what you get when you read shampoo bottles.
But it wasn’t until my kids were well on their way to becoming teens that I decided to commit my time to writing.
I joined SCBWI in 2008 and began writing long, rhyming stories about pirates and pumpkins.
Who knows why?
Then I began learning.
Attending conferences.
Receiving rejections.
Writing and re-writing.
It was a long road.
Full of queries and questions.
Disappointments and disasters.
Until finally I wrote Stick and Stone.
I had challenged myself to write a story under 200 words.
Yikes!
What would it be about?
Something universal and timeless.
Friendship.
At first I decided not to write it in rhyme.
But that was painful.
And no fun.
So I did it anyway.
I wrote Stick and Stone in April 2011.    2014-01-30 07.32.40
135 words.
Rhyming.
I brought it to the June NJSCBWI conference.
Got positive feedback.
Thank you, Steve Meltzer!
Sent it to Pippin Properties in August.
Received an offer of representation in September.
Thank you, Elena!
And sold the story to HMH in December.
Thank you, Kate!
Stick and Stone will be released on April 7, 2015.
It is illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.
Thank you, Tom!
It has been a long journey.                                   beth Ferry
An interesting one.
An exciting one.
A beautifully illustrated one.
And one paved by Stick and Stone.

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, available April 7, 2015. She is also the author of Land Shark, coming August 4, 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet setting sail in the Fall of 2016. Her latest picture book, Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more about Beth and order her books at: www.bethferry.com.

If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of STICK & STONE (HMH Books April 2015), please post a comment below. If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, tweet about this post on Twitter, share it on Facebook, and reblog it. For each additional “shout out,” another entry will be added with your name on it. Just let me know what you did so I can add the correct number of names. Deadline for this great give-away is April 13, 2015.


My Euphoria at Discovering Anaphora: by Beth Ferry

The Use of Literary Devices in Picture Books: Part 1        Beth_Ferry_photo
by Beth Ferry

As parents, we are constantly teaching our children about the world: rules, facts and essential life truths such as: Be kind. Be patient. Bees sting. Eat your vegetables. Don’t eat the sand. Say please and thank you. Don’t step on that ant. As they grow older, teaching can morph into school related lessons: spelling tools, vocabulary words, and math tricks such as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. As they grow even older, teaching becomes somehow more life affirming: Don’t drive and text. Be kind. Be true to yourself. Do your best. Hold your head up high. High school only lasts for four years.

In return, our children teach us how to be patient and forgiving. How to be creative and inventive. How to be happy. Watching them grow and learn has taught me a lot about myself, and I am a better person because I am a parent. But it is a rare event that I learn something academically new from my children. There are plenty of instances where I’ll encounter something I absolutely once knew, but have lost on the journey to adulthood, like, you know, the sum of interior alternate angles or how to balance a chemical equation. My college major was English after all. So imagine my surprise when, while reading aloud my new work-in-progress, my teenage son says “That’s anaphora.”

Stop the merry-go-round. What is he saying? Is it Latin? Text-talk? A new girl in his class? He explains it is a literary device he is learning about in AP English concerning rhetoric. What? He shows me his list of literary terms and I suddenly morph into a kid in a candy shop, marveling over this plethora of devices that I am unconsciously using and about which I have heard nary a whisper. I scurry off to devour this list, to taste each device and explore my own skill in using such lofty literary language without even knowing it.

There are reasons that these literary devices exist. It is because they work. The use of these devices makes writing stronger, more lyrical, more beautiful. Without even knowing it, I bet you will find your work peppered with polysyndeton, anadiplosis and euphony. Here are some of my favorites:

Alliteration. This one you will know as it is very common in picture books. I love alliteration and I’m sure you are familiar with the repetition of similar sounds in the beginning of successive words. I use them a lot in titles such as Stick and Stone or Pirate’s Perfect Pet.

Anadiplosis. This is the repetition of the last word of the preceding clause in the beginning of the next sentence. So it is almost like a word-segue between sentences. It’s hard to do, but very effective. The most recent and perfect example I can think of comes from the lyrics to the song “Glad You Came” by The Wanted:
Turn the lights out now
Now I’ll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink
Drink it if you can

Anaphora. This device is like alliteration but involving words instead of sounds. It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause or sentence. The opening of A Tale of Two Cities is the perfect example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . It was the epitome of anaphora.

Anastrophe. Using this device allows the order of the noun and adjective to be reversed – think Yoda. It is also knows as hyperbaton, from the Greek meaning ‘transposition’. Poe uses this device to great effect, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing.”

Assonance. Like alliteration, assonance repeats sounds, but the sounds produced by the vowels only, such as “purple curtain”. In the same vein, consonance is the repetitive use of the consonant sounds, usually at the end – stuck, streak, luck. You probably use both of these without even knowing it.

Beth will return with MORE LITERARY DEVICES next month.  Rest assured…there are LOTS more!

Beth Ferry lives and writes near the beach. Her debut book, Stick and Stone, will be released on April 7, 2015 by HMH. Land Shark (Chronicle) will be released in Fall 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick) follows in Fall 2016.  stick and stone cover