Crystal Kite voting is open! #SCBWI

SCBWI members it’s that time :)

Just click the pic and follow directions.

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And if you have an entry…

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Sooo…what’s going on here, anyway?

I’ve been avoiding this question for quite a while, but in a nutshell: SoundCloud has changed a lot since I started this blog, and it’s grown increasingly difficult and time consuming to post other people’s music here, although that’s why I originally created Sirenstories.com.

As a new mom and aspiring novelist, I was missing my first love: music. So I started this blog to inspire myself to seek out new independent artists. And I think I did a pretty good job. There’s a LOT of great music posted on this site. My goal was to accept every song uploaded to the Sirenstories SoundCloud, find something I loved about it, and share.

The blog was a delightful diversion for me, as well as a way to give back. A way to discover new independent artists, amazing songs, and gorgeous composed music.

But now, because of the changes on SoundCloud, and in my own life, I’m officially moving on from the original Sirenstories.com format. From here, I’m not sure how the blog will evolve—but I don’t want to just let it go.

So hopefully sometime soon, I’ll start updating links, and continuing to connect with musicians and authors whose work I admire. But for today, here’s some work of my own. My first book trailer. Please click on the pic below to watch, and if you have a sec, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoy this small peek into Cate and David’s world…

And until we meet again, I hope you take good care of each other, and work for what you want. You know what I’m talking about.

Love,

Mimi

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More Music for Film and, Film.

Book trailers are a relatively new art form and the best ones take advantage of both video and audio.

In this trailer for Edie Meidav‘s new novel, Lola California, not only does the video tell a story, but the music does as well. I find both beautiful and haunting.

I also found Edie Meidav‘s articulate description of her book eerie and intriguing. After seeing this trailer, I have to read this book. Do you feel the same way? Is there a book you’ve been compelled to read because of the trailer?

Kevin Salem composed the music for the book trailer, and he wrote additional songs for Lola California as well. Kevin says, “What you find here is the result of three years of procrastination and a couple weeks of cramming which, really, is how music is supposed to be. The music is part soundtrack for the reader, part songs inspired by the text (though I would be loathe to be too ‘on the nose’ about it as Edie’s words speak so eloquently for themselves) and part music inspired by the cultural identity of the novel. That is, we hope that they work together not literally, but like distant cousins who bear a resemblance you can’t quite put your finger on.”

If you click on Kevin Salem‘s picture you’ll be able to hear more gorgeous music for Lola California and read about Kevin’s relationship with Edie Meidav and her novel.

Breasts. There. Was that really so hard to say?

I’m posting this essay by Charlotte Agell in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and because I love her book The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister as well as many of her other books. I hope you enjoy the piece as much as I did!

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are awash in a sea of pink solidarity, of ribbons showing our support, of fund-raising efforts. We worry, we pray, we drive our friends to chemo, we bake them pies – and not just in October. So why, oh why, is it so hard to talk about … breasts?

A review of my latest book for children states, “the sketch of the plaster breast that hangs on the family’s living-room wall may provoke more than giggles.” Apparently, the reviewer was right. The breast has elsewhere in library circles been called offensive, which I in turn find shocking. The sculpture is a tribute to bravery equal to a belly cast of a pregnant woman. In the book, it’s there on the wall to honor the one India’s artist mom lost to cancer. It’s based, in fact, on a friend’s true story.  Even India’s fourth grade buddy Colby understands. It’s art. It’s supposed to make you think! India knows that some people stare a bit too long at it. The plumber for example. And India wonders why breasts make people act funny. What if mom put a plaster cast of her nose or her foot on the wall? Would it be different?

The answer, it seems, is yes. We are uncomfortable, as a society, talking about a part of our body that everyone has – men, women, and children.  (Well, almost everyone has breasts – some have suffered their surgical removal, and elect to remain without.) Like noses and most other things, breasts come in all different shapes and sizes. As another survivor friend points out, pretty much the first thing any of us sees is our mother’s breast. But after that, where do breasts go? Undercover, under wraps? Plastically jutting out of Barbies, displayed on primetime TV, revealed cartoonishly at halftime during the Super Bowl? The mixed message unsettles.

For an early picture book of mine, the publisher asked that I change the (very discrete) nursing picture to one of a bottle-fed baby. This astonished me, a Swede by birth. Nursing is risqué? Well, the editor explained, they’d otherwise not be able to sell the book in the South. I grumbled but redrew the picture. I’m not categorically against bottles – one of my children had one, one didn’t. And it turns out, this was savvy thinking – at least financially. That book went on to be featured in the kindergarten curriculum in Alabama and Georgia, places not ready, perhaps, to encounter breasts in children’s literature … even breasts only hinted at behind a paisley shawl.

Here in Maine, it didn’t seem to be much of an issue. I published a series of small books about the seasons. The spring one featured a new baby brother, nursing, laundry, mud. Nobody said anything. It wasn’t that I was crusading for the La Leche League, but it was my reality, and that of most toddlers I knew. Moms nursed babies. Big sisters played and sulked in the quince bush pretending to be princesses. Breasts were not an issue.

I suppose I should have understood that I really wasn’t in Sweden anymore when strangers passing by the hedge in a small Maine town, saw my toddler daughter frolicking naked in her tiny pool, and loudly proclaimed, “Gross.” Anna didn’t hear them (she was too busy being a dinosaur), but I did, and my heart sank. Poor teenagers … to think a two-year- old’s naked dancing was disgusting. What did they think of their own bodies, I wondered.

Bodies way up in sun-starved Scandinavia are not considered gross, or necessarily sexual. Even breasts! Children in particular are allowed the freedom to feel air on bare skin. A breast out in public isn’t cause for alarm. Skinny-dipping is considered normal (although probably done less flamboyantly than some would imagine – mostly in small family coves and after saunas). Later, I lived in Hong Kong where nudity was not casual at all. I understood: practices were different depending on where you were. Moving to Maine during the end of the hippie era, there was an open feeling. Nylons? Fine. Unshaved legs? Fine. Both at once? (Maybe not so much.) But still I was unprepared for what happened recently. The line drawing of the plaster cast of the breast on the wall elicited the word “offensive” – from a Maine librarian, no less. Librarians are my heroes – defenders of freedom of information, lenders of books, champions of liberties. I’m thinking that this was a ‘rogue’ librarian.

But her comment made me think: why is it okay for our kids to see endless violence, but not breasts? If the breast on the wall in the book were an entire body, would that have been okay with the annoyed librarian? Does the fact that the character’s father is gay play into the supposed offense? Maybe it’s time to rethink what our norms are. Families come in all forms, and, some hero mothers fight breast cancer. India’s mother triumphs, and celebrates. I wish this outcome for each and every woman facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Let’s hear it for breasts!

If you click on the picture, you’ll see the book trailer for Charlotte Agell’s latest book The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister. There’s a lot of arguments for an against book trailers in the publishing industry. This one is a work of art!