Students' eyes open to perils of publishing
© St. Petersburg Times
UNIVERSITY NORTH -- Far from the FCAT, miles from the dodgeball court they sat, eyes glued to a slide show.
They laughed, they shrieked. The New York artist clicked the button to reveal image after image of his photographed head atop cartoon figures.
Here's Javaka Steptoe as a baby. Here's Javaka Steptoe playing scientist. Here he is, bundling his sketches into a portfolio and trying to get a job.
"It's a cold, cold world out there," he told the children as he clicked to a cartoon image of his rejected, dejected self.
So it goes in the publishing world, kids learned at last week's Suncoast Young Authors Celebration at the University of South Florida.
Children from around Hillsborough County, from the poorest neighborhoods to the fanciest private schools, spent the morning sharing their works and hearing how difficult it can be to be a professional writer.
Judith Caseley, whose titles include Mr. Green Peas and Dear Annie, described the years she spent as a dermatologist's assistant before she became a writer and illustrator.
Steptoe, whose father, John Steptoe, wrote Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale, worked as an assistant kindergarten teacher.
That's where he learned the art form that now supports him -- illustrative collages.
"I like collage because you can use crayons and you can use a sneaker," said Steptoe, who also pens his own children's poems. "I even have bugs in some of my collages. My rule is, if it stinks, I won't use it and also if it doesn't dry. Because I don't want to track stuff all over the place."
While most schools sent small groups to USF, Independent Day School had 25 children at the program, many with their works pasted into bound volumes with hard covers.
Self-publication is emphasized at the Carrollwood-based private school, said fifth-grade teacher Linda Wenzel, director of studies. "Every student at IDS does a publication by the end of the year," she said. "We also have our own young author's conference in May."
The topics kids chose were as varied as their backgrounds -- everything from a fantasy meeting with N'Sync to an enchanted mirror in an English castle.
They also learned that competition is brutal, even in the kiddie book world. Caseley revealed that she super-imposed one of her daughter's medals on the cover of Field Day Friday, so that people would buy the book, thinking it had won a prize.
"It didn't work," she confessed.
If you live in Lutz, you may have noticed that election season is upon us. Up and down Livingston Avenue, Lutz independent Rod Gaudin and Cross Creek Republican Ken Hagan are campaigning aggressively for the District 2 seat on the County Commission.
Not so much in Carrollwood, and maybe that's because the Northwest only has two so far, low-key candidates in the seven-way race: Democrat Ron Dyser and Republican Will Craig. Jim Davison, another Republican in the running, lives near Hagan in Hunter's Green.
All together now: Denise Lasher. Denise "Dee" Layne. Two candidates, both from Lutz.
And no, "Dee" is not a party affiliation. They're both Republican.
MEADOW POINTE -- It's not a store, it's a day trip.
That's this shopper's assessment of the SuperTarget store that opened last month on Bruce B Downs Boulevard, just north of the Pasco County line.
It's not hard to understand why Pasco's anti-sign people are in a lather. I could see it all the way from Wharton High School, and I'm not that tall.
Now, anyone who has hacked into my credit report knows I'm a big Target customer. You walk in for trash bags, you come out with bath linens and a microwave.
Impulsive shoppers have even more to worry about in this place. It has its own bakery, an endless toy selection, even its own Starbucks.
If only they had more people to take your money. Only three of 32 checkout lines were open during my visit.
You can get service like that at Wal-Mart.
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