Monday, October 27, 2008

Say my name

I was asked to add my voice to a site that offers "the first-ever online audio collection of illustrators and authors pronouncing their names." I will have to call a number and introduce myself. They record and post it.

I can't imagine that there was a demand for this but I am happy to join the chorus...

11/25/08 addendum: Here it is. You'll hear that they also ask us to include a little story about our name.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

California and Ohio

No, not battleground states...okay, well, one is, but...still no.

From October 26 to November 10, I will be talking...a lot. First I'm appearing at various venues in the San Francisco area, then from Halloween on, I'll be bouncing around Ohio. Please check my list of appearances to the right and if one happens to be near you, come see me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

800 books, 800 volunteers

On October 23, I had the privilege of participating in a special program that shows how nurturing a school district can be. It's called, simply, Read Aloud, and this year's was the 23rd annual. The event takes place in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a city with a significant population of low income families.

A group called School Volunteer Association organizes Read Aloud. Each year, they review dozens of picture books, choose one title for each elementary grade, and buy a copy for every classroom of that grade. This year, they chose Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman for sixth grade, meaning they bought about 70 copies for the about 70 sixth grade classes in the city.

The SVA's generosity doesn't end there and the generosity in general doesn't end with the SVA. With tremendous effort, they recruit a volunteer for every classroom in the city and each volunteer reads a book to a class on the same day. That is 800 volunteers, and yesterday, every single one showed up for duty. I met lawyers, doctors, even a delightful retired commercial airline pilot. Two of the volunteers were the authors of the books they read, and one of those authors was me.

My class at Columbus Elementary was engaged and curious, and I learned afterward that their teacher, Steve Taylor, is up for Teacher of the Year. I am not surprised based on how he welcomed me and interacted with his students. Without knowing the competition, I think he's going to clinch it.

At the lunch that followed, I learned something helpful. The committee members said they chose my book unanimously, which is an honor indeed. However, they also said that it is extremely hard to find a suitable picture book for sixth graders—especially one that appeals to boys. (And yes, that age does still like to be read to.) So though I was the unanimous pick, it doesn't seem I had competition as tough as Mr. Taylor probably does!

This is helpful because I've found the idea of picture books for older readers is still met with mixed reaction from editors, even though it's not a new concept. Hearing that there is a need for books like this is ammo for me as I pitch new projects, many of which are picture books for older readers. I have seen or heard of a section for this category in more than one library, but I suspect there is still some market resistance to it. I believe one solution to that is choosing subjects that appeal to older older readers—adults. I consider Boys of Steel a crossover book and I wrote all my subsequent nonfiction picture book manuscripts with the same intent.

To the 799 other volunteers yesterday, see you next year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A "Boys of Steel" first

In Missouri, a new library recently opened, and the first book donated was Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman:
David Easter had a surprise he had been saving for more than a month.

“I gave them their first new book in the new library,” he said.

Easter, who owns Not Just Comix, gave the library a children’s book, "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman” by Marc Tyler. The book tells how the comic book character was created and includes the latest legal struggle over the character’s ownership.
I just hope they don't "alpha by author" it under "T."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Late-night radio interview

This past Friday night, while you were out partying, I was giving a live, thirty-minute interview about Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman for a New York radio show called Destinies. It didn't start that late, but I sure sound tired...

Click here and scroll down to the book cover.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Impressive, thorough, highly readable"

Earlier this year, the Junior Library Guild chose Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman as one of their titles; now they have reviewed it. They charge to access their reviews online so I hope you'll take my word for it that the following excerpts are from the their October/November print catalog:

", exciting, and carefully researched..."

"...impressive, thorough, and highly readable afterword..."

"This fine book is a must-read..."

Also, a librarian with pink hair wrote that the book got her "all choked up."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Goodbye, Columbus

Thank you to all at the Mid-Ohio Con this past weekend who bought Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, and thank you again to Gary, Jeff, and Lloyd of Laughing Ogre Comics for partnering with me at the last minute to offer it. More copies sold at this show than at the biggest one, Comic-Con International.

Thank you also to James Henry for bringing me in to speak and sign.

A few notes from this first comic book convention I have appeared at:

- Wearing a button-down shirt probably made me look like the stiffest person there. However, I refuse to wear a T-shirt picturing a cartoon character
yes, even Superman.
- I may know a lot about Siegel and Shuster, but (to the disappointment of some) I know comparatively little about other aspects of Superman. (Sorry, but no idea who wrote Action Comics #729 or how many kinds of Kryptonite exist. My research has its limits.)
- An apple is a more energizing afternoon snack than a cookie, and actually less sticky.
- There are people who have not heard of you or won't buy your book yet still want your signature.
Superman home state pride: more than I expected, far, far less than for Ohio State.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How you found me: part 1

Lots of click-throughs to this blog result from straightforward searches including "Jerry Siegel," "Joe Shuster," and "Bill Finger."

Here are some of the more fun (or downright bizarre) search phrases
—all verbatimthat have led people here:
  • superman dog capes
  • superman vs. nazis
  • marc tyler nobelman
  • mark tyler nobleman
  • marc tyler wooster
  • five letter word that means noblemen
  • send multiple noblemen
  • how many people normally live in the nobleman's house
  • what is the correct spelling of superman
  • what is the correct spelling of celebration
  • double S superman tattoo
  • superman emblems for letters other than s
  • why was super man created and why
  • fun biography
  • three biographies by any children's author or any other people
  • picture story book on healthy lifestyle
  • companies that give away free books as promotions
  • book about the people who sell books on 6th avenue nyc
  • all of world war two costumes for boys
  • wife of william ross beachwood ohio
  • broke her foot