Books -- reading and writing.
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And whatever connections I can make between them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Writers Love Readers

One question I often get from kids involves "favorites."

Which character do you like most?
Which chapter was your favorite to write?

And now, which is your favorite book?

Of course, authors always compare it to having a favorite child, or student, or pet.
Taking the easy way out of that question!

But I truly don't have a favorite. I have favorite scenes, yes. Okay, you can call them chapters. And maybe I like a character a lot. But favorites? That's harder.

And just because a new book comes out, we're not forsaking our firstborns.

That's what tickled me so much when my writer friend SHANA BURG sent this video to share her young neighbor's enthusiasm for GLORY BE.

Thanks, ladies. This tickles me to no end.

video

(Her name is Jocelyn. I wrote her a note and told her I thought of giving my character Jesslyn that name. And okay, Jesslyn might just be near the top of my favorite character list.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

So proud! Thank you, International Reading Association.


I can't resist sharing a tiny line or two.

(I love how well they actually understood what I was trying to say. Wow.)


"While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny." 

Here's the link to read the rest, as well as their reviews of several other brand new 2015 books. 
http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses 

Made my day. Happy weekend, everybody! 

While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf
While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf

While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf



While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf


Friday, January 23, 2015

Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg has a new novel, coming this spring! 
Have you ever read her book about writing, ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN: THE ART OF WRITING TRUE?

Here's a quote to mull over this morning.

"Sound can fine-tune the description of a place. Consider what you might hear at 7:30 in the evening in these three places, all of them restaurants: a four-star hotel dining room, a truck stop, a Dairy Queen on a hot summer night." 

Don't miss this- writing tips, advice, her thoughts:

https://medium.com/@penguinrandomus/what-it-takes-to-be-a-writer-courtesy-of-elizabeth-berg-5d52ad1f5009


For an extensive interview, check out this from Writer's Digest:
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/elizabeth-berg

Also, you can read all about her new novel and the book tour on her Facebook Author page. (I borrowed this image from that page.)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome, Sandra Markle!

Sandra Markle joined my wonderful SCBWI Critique group when she returned to the U.S. from New Zealand. What a coup for our group! She's added life and fun and her own brand of smart editing.

And now I get to introduce her to all my blog-reading friends.

She's just taken the daring step of taking her work into her own capable hands, so to speak.

But I'll let SANDRA MARKLE tell you all about this journey.

You can read a little more about this new e-book venture HERE.

But first, let's pour a glass of sweet tea (Sandra and I both lived in the South, after all), and meet this prolific writer.


Augusta:    For those who don't know your books, tell us a little about them. How many have you written? Do you have favorites?


Sandra: I’ve written around 200 books but that’s over about thirty years. Many were hands-on activity books while others share the real life adventures of people and animals around the world.


My answer to any question about a favorite book is usually “My current book.” 
The truth is the one that will forever stand out in my heart is PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. I took all of the photos in this book and wrote it as a result of my two summers in Antarctica with the National Science Foundation’s Artists and Writers Program. During those trips, I camped out with 60,000+ Adelie Penguins as they hatched and raised their chicks. Experiencing the earth’s wildest remaining frontier and wildlife up close was life-changing.



Plus, I met my husband at McMurdo Station when I stayed to experience Antarctica’s nine-month long winter. 

Augusta: What an adventurer you are! You have so much to write about. Can you tell us what  marks a Sandra Markle book as something you’re proud to publish and read? 

Sandra: My goal is to make a “Sandra Markle” book so much fun to read that the learning experience I slip into each one just happens naturally--what I call stealth learning. And I strive to make each of my storytelling books perfect for reading aloud to children. I love to paint stories with words.

Augusta:  When you’re not writing, where will we find you?
 
Sandra: I love sketching and painting so you could find me working on those hobbies.

But I’m also a story-collector. I am always tracking down people, especially researchers and scientists to learn about their work firsthand. Thanks to satellites, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk on the phone to a scientist who was in a jungle studying army ants, another in a remote part of Panama rescuing golden frogs, yet another who was in the Amazon observing pink river dolphins and lots more. I also eagerly go wherever I can to discover and learn from the experts so I was on board an icebreaker for 30 days and watched over a surgeon’s shoulder as he performed a heart valve replacement. I’ve watched moon rocks being analyzed and tiles being replaced on the space shuttle and lots, lots more. To paraphrase that old saying, “So many things to investigate, so little time.” So it’s hard to say where you’ll find me but you can count on it being on the trail of a story I’m hot to learn more about.

Augusta: You certainly are not an armchair traveler! What’s next for your writing world?
Sandra: Next, I’m excited to be bringing some of my Out-Of-Print books back to life, starting with PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. And thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing I’m able to enrich these books with popups containing info about my experiences researching and writing the books. I’m also able to include activities for young readers—ones to help them look for content, think about POV, and launch into their own original writing. But, most of all, my goal is to have the popups make reading my books even more interactive fun.

Augusta: What a gift you've given your readers! Do you have a favorite thing about writing?

Sandra: I love that writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle where I first get to create all the pieces and then put them together.  I’m a very visual person so as I work on an idea there’s a point where I “see” the book. Then I work to bring that vision to life. And, when the book is completely done, it is an absolutely GREAT feeling.

Augusta: One last question. You seem to know and love animals- of all kinds! Here's one I'll bet your young fans would like to know: Do you have a pet?

Sandra: I certainly do have a pet—couldn’t be without one.
My current pet is a Maine Coon cat named Beau.




He accepts me unconditionally and reminds me—usually by climbing onto my laptop—that there is more to life than writing, like petting the cat.

Augusta: That's the truth! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your books with us. 

I know everybody will want to download PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. 

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/PENGUINS-Growing-Wild-Sandra-Markle-ebook/dp/B00R9RH93S

Find out even more about Sandra, her school visits and Skype chats, by visiting her here:




Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blue Birds

True confessions. I was a childhood biography fanatic. And even more mortifying to admit, my go-to reading matter was those orange, then blue, now paperback CHILDHOOD OF FAMOUS AMERICANS fake biographies.

In my own elementary school, they were kept in our one-room library close to the desk where the "librarian" sat. I use the term loosely. From each incoming 5th grade, the principal chose a student to be the librarian. One of my fondest memories is the power I wielded sitting at that desk. Stamping those date-due slips. Reading the newest books before my classmates.

Every single Childhood of Famous Americans book lined up on that shelf was read - more than once- by me.

(Also, Nancy Drew. But that's a different post.)

One of my favorites?


Fast forward to American History class, a few years later. A picture of the Dare Stones fascinated me. My little Mystery Girl! From the library! Proof she actually lived.



Well, not so fast. Maybe it's all a hoax. 

Still, Virginia Dare and Virginia's Lost Colony continued to fascinate me. But like a lot of childhood things, I forgot the story. And I hadn't remembered it until the publisher sent me an Advance Readers Copy of a terrific new novel, written by Caroline Starr Rose.  


Which I love.



Is that not an absolutely gorgeous cover? It says so much!

Caroline and I became Author Buddies when our debut novels launched at almost the same time, with similar titles. Hers was MAY B. Mine, Glory Be. Two feisty historical heroines.

You can read my interview with Caroline HERE
(Lots of terrific tips about writing verse novels.)

Well, she's done it again. BLUE BIRDS, also a novel-in-verse, is not really about Virginia Dare. But it is about the Lost Colony, part of my childhood obsession. It's about two very different girls who become friends. It's a gem of a book about caring so much for someone that you're willing to change your life in ways you never expected. 



And as if the actual book were not enough, if you pre-order soon, Caroline has a gift for her readers. 

See below for details.



Here's a link to Caroline's post about the quote and what it means to her. And check out her website, HERE.

Good luck, Caroline, as you usher your beautiful book into young readers' hands!




This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, IndieBound, or Powell's, then email a copy of your receipt to caroline@carolinestarrrose.com by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Leo Lionni and Frances Foster

Thank you to Barbara O'Connor, who had the honor and pleasure of working with the great Frances Foster, for sharing this interview with me.
Sort of a behind-the-scenes look at how the business once worked.

 CLICK HERE to read it.

And proof that the story I heard many years ago in a children's lit class at Simmons College, about Little Blue and Little Yellow, was indeed true:


 

"Leo did Little Blue and Little Yellow — originally, just to amuse his grandchildren during a train ride"







(This post was inspired by my earlier post about Things We Save.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Destiny Week

Sorry about your snow up there, people who don't live in Florida. 
But what a great season to bring a book into the world.

All those poor teachers and librarians freezing, delayed openings, snow/ cold days. Nothing better to do (well, nothing they'd rather do) than sit home with a warm cup of tea and one of Miss Sister's brownies. 



And read a book.
Maybe even MY book!

Thank you for all the sightings of THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY around the country, in young readers' hands, on tabletops and bookshelves.

Some things I loved about my book's week?

1. "Seeing" it for the very first time in a bookstore. 
Via Twitter, Facebook and email. Of course.




(This happens to be the wonderful ANDERSON'S Bookstore in Naperville- Thanks, Terry Shay- where I'll be on Sunday, February 1st. More to come on that, but so excited!)











2. Fun Tweets:
Especially the new hashtag.

Andrea Davis Pinkney ‏@AndreaDavisPink  Jan 6
Happy Book Birthday to #TheWaytoStayinDestiny by @ARScattergood, just named an Amazon "Best of the Month" pick! http://ow.ly/i/89Ll6  


(Of course, that hashtag could seriously cut into your 140 characters. But go ahead and use it. I love it.)

3. And most of all, already hearing from teachers, and even their students, that they like the new book.

Happy Book Birthday, indeed!









Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Book Birthday! THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY





A few days before Christmas, I got to actually hold the book in my hot little hands.
My fabulous, fantastic editor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, sent a few early copies, and such a sweet note.



 The best part about seeing the Real Deal? Besides the gorgeous cover, designed by Elizabeth Parisi and Sara Wood?

The great quote from Kirby Larson on the back. Wow, I'm swooning down here!




I think I'll spend the day appreciating all the amazing things that have happened to me since my brilliant agent, Linda Pratt, said let's do this! It's not often that we slow down and enjoy the moment, is it?

So happy Book Birthday to me and my book. I think I'll eat some cake.

But first, a HUGE thank-you to all my Scholastic team, my Twitter friends, Facebook buddies, and fellow Nerdy Book people who've embraced this book since it sneaked onto a few shelves over the weekend. And even before. It's scary birthing a book.
I can't thank you enough. (But I'm happy to share the cake.)


I think it was you, T.J. Shay, who got the first glance. And sent me scurrying off to my local Barnes & Noble to check it out.

(Okay, yes. My book is near the bottom. But they're alphabetical! And no way is a librarian going to mess with the ABCs of bookshelf arrangement.)

They had already sold a few, according to the nice guy who let me sign what was left.





There were others who caught a glimpse before today.

And shared on Twitter.

 John Scovill @Johnlit360  ·  Dec 31
Here it is @ARScattergood : ) 




Tweets! Too many to mention! 

Like:
Jan 4
Last holiday was an amazing one The Way to Stay in Destiny. All kinds of awesome!!


Such fun seeing your book baby in amazing company, no? 
2015 is going to be a big reading year for me!

@CarrieGelson  Jan 3
My #mustreadin2015 list is great! http://bit.ly/1rQpD7k  @LieslShurtliff @ARScattergood @marburyjack @nielsenwriter






@MrSchuReads  Dec 31
. @ARScattergood You're hanging out next to @sharonmdraper

Hey, I love hanging out with Sharon Draper. 



He saw it at one of my favorite Indies: Anderson's! 

Another big thank-you to my fellow book bloggers who've said lovely things about this novel. 

And to Amazon for choosing it as a best January release for middle-grade readers.

I guess you could say THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY has been celebrating all week.
And I'm good with that.

Off to find cake.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things We Save

I've been thinking about Christmas wrapping paper. And ribbon. And tape.

My husband's aunt saved her ribbon, ironed and reused it. Her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews were fascinated and in awe when they received gifts with NO TAPE! Not a piece of it. Gifts were beautifully wrapped using that ironed ribbon.

She was a Quaker lady who'd lived through the Depression and managed just fine and dandy.




I always save ribbon.
And sometimes get made fun of.

I also save boxes from year to year.

(The challenge is making sure the tags have the right names on them when I "wrap" and reuse those Christmas boxes.)





Stick with me. This is going to be about writing, soon.

This week I had a chance to re-read FREDERICK by Leo Lionni. Several times.

"...I am gathering words. For the winter days are long and many, and we'll run out of things to say."

I adore that sentence.

Even if there's not much to winter in Florida, writers always need to think about choosing the right words for our stories and our characters. It's hard work! We can't run out of things to say!

Here are a few helpful writing links, some about words, for the new year.

The Emotion Thesaurus creator, on character flaws.

Excellent example of explaining to kids why we can cut the adverbs and adjectives!

Speaking of words, I've been reading poetry lately. Two novels-in-verse. A quick poem here, another there. I like this post about writing and sharing poetry with young readers. 

And if you're still reading, a very special treat.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Slow Writing.

Is it like Slow Cooking? 

Is it something we've given up on in our hurry to get things on paper?

CLICK HERE for a very interesting blogpost from Kristi Holl.

I'm also following Linda Urban's blog and her posts on writing every day. 
For a few minutes. 

I got a late start, so I'll go a little beyond the allotted time. But today was Linda's last day of writing for just 15 minutes.  

I highly recommend this if you're busy or have no clue what to write about.
So much to do, writing-wise, when you're not actually writing. If you know what I mean. 

On to a new year! Lots to do in January. But 15 minutes, early in the morning, really isn't that difficult. We can do this, people.

 

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Thing or Two I Love

This is the time to make vows for next year, to write thank-you notes, to appreciate so much in our rich lives.

Inspired by an excellent piece on "how to support an author's new book," it occurred to me that having a book appear around the hectic holidays has both challenges and advantages. 

So I want to send a special thank you to the teachers who've had time not only to read THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY during your busy, busy holiday break, but also to share that you've read it and even to beautifully and thoughtfully recommend it to others.

Like Holly:
"This is a story of family, home, and identity - all of which the characters need to define for themselves. Glory Be was a big hit in my classroom, and The Way to Stay in Destiny is destined to be, also, in 2015!"

And Terry:
"...the way that music plays a role has this musician singing its praises."

Enjoy the rest of your break, teacher and librarian friends. Here's hoping it's filled with good books, long walks, warm fires, and true friends. 

(Oh, and if you happen to sneak over to Goodreads this week, Scholastic is giving away Advanced Reader Copies of my book. Drawing ends on December 31st. )

And if you live in Florida or other warm climes, here's that fire to warm you as you read your favorite book!
Enjoy!




Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Post was Inspired by Letters

Or, truthfully, by my friend and fellow debutante (our first novels came out the same year) Caroline Starr Rose's BLOG POST: Do You Write Fan Mail?

I haven't written many letters to authors lately. In the era of Facebook and email, most of the authors I know receive cyber greetings from their fans.

But today is a letter-writing kind of day and I'm actually writing a couple to those who've been steady rocks by my side as I've navigated the past few years of publishing.


 
(I certainly have enough note cards to write everybody I've ever known!)






I'll write my very own editor, also an author, whose book THE RED PENCIL I'm reading right now. She hears from me a lot. But I've never written to her about one of her own books. And I love this one.

Ann Martin's RAIN REIGN is going under a special someone's Christmas tree. I'd love her to know how much this book will mean when that young reader and I talk about it.

I'm going to quote from Caroline's blog, linked in the first sentence, because she says it so well:

“I am a part of everything I’ve read” Theodore Roosevelt said. It’s true. And I am so very grateful to the authors who have made my life richer, fuller, deeper through the books they’ve created.


You might also like this about Flannery O'Connor's letters.

Or perhaps
http://ascattergood.blogspot.com/2009/04/ps-write-soon.html

And just for fun: Typing Skills!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Always Quotable

Katherine Paterson:

"I think you tell your story and then the reader gets to decide what he or she will learn from your story. And if they don't want to learn anything from it, that's their choice."

- Katherine Paterson
from an interview with NPR

(via Jan Fields' interesting newsletter this week)

I often post quotes from Katherine Paterson. CLICK HERE for a link to one I particularly like. Or type her name into my search box for even more inspiration.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dunedin Public Library

More to come, closer to the date.

But I must share my cool new button!


(Thanks, Eileen. You are the best.)

My very first "Destiny" event will be on January 22, Thursday, at 4:00,
 at the delightful DUNEDIN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Games! Refreshments! Maybe even music. Bring the family.
Barnes and Noble will have books for sale- hot off the press!

I hope to see some of my Tampa Bay friends and family there to celebrate my next book. Thank you to the amazing librarians for agreeing to host.

(Such a neat little town. Plus, my favorite ice cream store in the universe. Can't wait.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

And the winner is...

CRAIG
Who left a comment on the blog.
(Craig, please send your mailing address ASAP via my website or Facebook or leave it in a comment, if you're so inclined.)


PS If I get more ARCs, I'll be happy to share with more of you who commented.

In January THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY will be available as an actual book.
You can pre-order now, via the usual suspects.

Or tell your wonderful independent bookstore to order it.

Or, if you are a teacher or a librarian, check the Scholastic Teacher Store.

And rumor has it, the new book will be in your wonderful Scholastic Book Fair this spring! Yay. So excited.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Books to Share

Just for fun.
And in the spirit of holiday giving.


Who'd like a signed Advanced Reader Copy of THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY? 

And as a little bonus (And because the Scholastic Store had such a great sale and I needed one extra to get free shipping that I ordered my own book), I'm throwing in an autographed hardback of GLORY BE. 


(The paperback as well as the audio will be available in January, but I still love hardback books for gifts.)

So this is my gift to one commenter/ replier. 
Here or on Facebook or Twitter.

This will be a quick one. 

Comment before 9 AM tomorrow (December 12) when I hope to make my last pilgrimage to the p.o.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Shopping



 It's that time of year again. 

May I suggest the perfect holiday gift for all the kids on your list? 
A book signed by the author.






My very first signed book came from Frances Parkinson Keyes, given to me when my parents returned from a trip to New Orleans where she was signing Once On Esplanade.
(Whoa. Worth $75? I'd better dig that one off the bookshelf!)


Some clever writers even put a special note in their signatures.




I found a book by fellow Tampa Bay writer, Fred Koehler at Inkwood Books and he added a personal note. 


Authors love to sign at their book events. In fact, if you know where an author lives, give a nearby bookstore a call. They might just have them already signed, waiting for you.

Check this list from Square Books in Oxford
It could make a book collector out of you!


Since I LOVE Greg Neri's new Johnny Cash biography, I bought a couple. 
For gifts, of course.





These won't be going anywhere but my own bookshelves. But I'm sure that if you buy a book by either Caroline Starr Rose or Nancy Cavanaugh and email them via their contact info on their website that you'd like a bookmark signed or a bookplate, they'd be happy to send it.

I do it all the time for my own book! 
And I bet lots of other writers would love to make your gift very personal.




For holiday giving or if there's a new baby gift you need, my friend Aimee Reid has offered to send you a signed bookplate for her new picture book, Mama's Day With Little Gray. Check out the link to request a bookplate here:  http://www.aimeereidbooks.com/free-personalized-bookplates/

So make that gift special this year. There's still time if you hurry on over to the authors' websites, Facebook pages, etc.  Happy Shopping to All!


(A few words about autographed books in general can be found HERE.  Kind of reminds me of the 4th grade boy at a school I visited last year who told me all he wanted was my signature. Not his name. He planned to sell it on Ebay soon... Wonder how that worked out for him.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Writers are such Generous Beings!

I love this idea so much.

If I were any good at critiquing, I'd keep it going and do the same thing LYNDA MULLALY HUNT is doing.

CLICK RIGHT HERE for her offer of a free critique. 
  I know it will be amazing!

I really loved her first book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS.


I cannot wait to read FISH IN A TREE.

And I totally could have written every single word she says about finding an agent and being pushed along by our Tribes!

Way to go, Lynda. And thanks in advance for such a generous offer.
Somebody is really going to be happy about this.

(Hurry up and enter! Drawing is December 10th. )

Friday, December 5, 2014

Narrative Voice

Did you miss the recent dust-up about First Person Present?

My favorite response came from Kate Messner. No surprises there. She always manages to say the right thing in a way that's easily understood.

Click over to her blog where you'll find her very measured reply to why First Person Present often is the right choice.

http://www.katemessner.com/many-ways-to-tell-a-story-how-authors-choose-a-narrative-voice/

Perhaps I'm not the best person to respond to the criticism. Although I naturally lean toward past-tense-whatever-person, I think first person present works just fine if the story calls for it. As does whatever tense and voice fits our stories and our characters.

My new book is written in first person present, just because that seemed to work best for telling the story. 

Speaking from recent experience, I've written an entire draft of a manuscript in one tense, found it didn't work and changed it.

That's called Revision with a capital R, people! Whatever works, whatever sounds right, whatever fits. There is no rule when it comes to what is best for a particular writer or a certain character.

If you really want to get your dander up, read the original post, with all its comments, HERE. 

Although I don't really <LOVE> present tense, to each his own. 
Whatever works. Go for it.



“I love you present tense. It's okay, Gus. It's okay. It is. It's okay, you hear me? Okay, okay.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

 
Three Times Lucky was a fun read, a Newbery Honor book in fact, full of great characters.

The sequel-- or perhaps companion is a better fit--THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, features the same folks.




 Moses LoBeau is a champion of one-liners.
Like this:

"Few people know it, but waitressing is like deep cover--with tips."

Describing a character, upon his entrance:
"From a distance, I didn't like him. Up close, I liked him less."

And strong verbs, like these:

We slipped into the living room, Queen Elizabeth ticking along behind, and settled on Miss Lana's old curlicue settee.

Also in the good verb list: blasted off and shoved.
Queen Elizabeth's the dog. That's another thing to love about this middle-grade novel. The character names.

And how's this for showing a lot about someone without telling much:
"I crossed to my Salvation Army desk and opened my top drawer. It sticks."

Writers could learn a lot from Sheila Turnage. Check out her website. She might even tell you where you can buy a signed copy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

NCTE- wow...

I'm just back from my very first National Council of Teachers of English conference.

Speechless at all the amazing book love floating through that convention center.

I shared a panel with the fabulous, famous, funny

NERDY BOOK People.

Here's a link to all of our PowerPoint presentations:

http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/the-nerdy-book-club-shaping-reading-identity-through-community-story-and-choice/

(See the little arrows on the bottom left? Just click through to see all the slides. They may not make a lot of sense without the fabulous presenters standing in front of you, but you'll get a sense of what we shared.)



Here we are! Scary Book Nerds!



I also got to talk about my Book-To-Be, THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, at Scholastic's amazing brunch. Sharing the stage with Jennifer Nielsen and Christopher Paul Curtis, while we acted our pants off.


More to come as I wade through the weekend. 

Truly, it was an honor to meet so many remarkable, hard-working, smart teachers with such brilliant ideas. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kate Atkinson

I'm a fan.
As you can see from my EARLIER POSTS HERE and HERE.

But I didn't love the recent Life After Life.

A friend who reads a lot described it as an Adult Choose-Your-Own-Adventure tale. 
Remember those? Read to a certain page, answer a question, choose to go to one page or another.

That was kind of how we both felt about LIFE AFTER LIFE.

Now guess what. Her next book is to be a "companion" to that one.

"In A God in Ruins, Kate will focus on Teddy, would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father, as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

Kate's publisher said, 'A God in Ruins is a masterful companion to Life After Life, and will prove once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.'" 


The image on the right is the U.S. cover.




Read all about it HERE,  pre-order, tell your bookstores it's coming.

I will read it and hope it's more <Brodie> than Choosing and Jumping Around
Or maybe I'll wait till she returns to the mysteries I loved.

Even loved the Masterpiece Mystery adaptation of her Jackson Brodie series.
(Though not as much as the books. Naturally.)

If you've missed this author, how about this for a strong recommendation?

Here's what another favorite crime writer, Harlan Coban, has to say:
Kate Atkinson is an absolute must-read. I love everything she writes.







Sunday, November 16, 2014

And the WINNER is...

So I thought it would be fun to let Rocky the Rockstar choose a winner for my book's ARC (Advanced Reader Copy).





He seemed less than interested at first.







With a little encouragement, he finally put his paw on a winner!



I think BRENDA of ProseandKahn was the first entry. Or one of the earliest. 
So congrats to you and thanks for reading.

I'm saving the names, however. I <think> I may be getting more than one "extra" ARC. If so, I'll send a few more out. Stay tuned!

I do love sharing.
Thanks so much for your interest in THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thank you, Scholastic!

I totally love my editor, my publisher, and all the amazing people who are bringing this book into the world.

Check out Scholastic's new online preview HERE

Editor Andrea Pinkney introducing THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY, mid-way through, melted my heart. She and my book are in the Middle Grade section, along with a lot of other brand new books I can't wait to read.

(Confession: Had to fast-forward through the part about THE HONEST TRUTH. A debut novel I'm just beginning and can't put down.)

Here's the link right to the Middle Grade New Books section:
http://bcove.me/jiwngnae


Thursday, November 13, 2014

More ARCs!


The lovely people at Scholastic just told me they are sending me a few more ARCs. (Advance Reader Copies/ Uncorrected Proofs/ Galleys- many names but basically it's my second book! Yay!)

I would love to share.

If you'd like one, leave me a comment on the blog.
Or on Facebook. 
Or Retweet this link.





I'll pick somebody by Sunday. 
Or maybe a couple of somebodies.





(I bet Rocky the Rockstar bassett will help me choose.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Miss This Blog

Are you following Dorian Cirrone's blog?

If not, you should be. 
Amazing writing craft tips.

Great recent post, especially the paragraph about NAMES. (see link below)

I love finding the perfect name for a troublesome character. It's crucial that we nail our characters' names, don't you think? 

 
A few currently under consideration for my latest effort.

 (One of these days, I WILL find a use for Taxi Jones.)




Check out what Dorian says about the names and what they say about their characters in Liar & Spy.  
I was always intrigued by "Georges." I mean, who uses that for a kid's name in a book? A terrifically talented writer, that's who. 

Here's the link:
http://doriancirrone.com/welcome/raffle-winner-and-kicking-writers-block/




Sunday, November 9, 2014

More on Characters

As a rule, I'm not a fan of those character study things. But I am a fan of having at least a vague idea of what you're going to be writing before you start writing. 

Note, I said VAGUE
My characters seem to develop as I write.
Other writers may know it all before they put pen to paper. I say, whatever works.

Thoughts?

My Highlights buddy Rosi Hollinbeck has a really good blog. She finds super stuff to share. And she just shared THIS, via Kathy Temean, a kind of fun way to look at/for a new character.

There are 90 questions. 
I figure if I dream up ten of them, I'm good...




  1. Any negative forces around your character?
  2. Does your character have anyone to confide in?
  3. Is your character afraid of anyone? Or anything?
  4. What is his/ her biggest fear?
  5. Would you say your character is selfish?
  6. What annoys him?
  7. Is she a bully?
  8. What makes him laugh?
  9. How old is your character?
  10. What does your character look like?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nerdy Books: Top Ten

Do you follow the folks at the Nerdy Book Club?
They welcome bloggers, teachers, writers, librarians.
Their posts are about everything and anything bookish.

I'm especially drawn to their Top Ten lists.

Top Ten Reasons to Marry a Nerdy Book Club Member.
Top Ten Book Characters Who Would Be Awesome Friends
Top Ten Ways to Research.

See what I mean?

Here's one I just read:
TOP TEN OR SO QUOTES ABOUT READING.

This is my favorite:

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler. I’d rather discuss one book with a student for twenty minutes than listen to a student rattle off a list of all the books they’ve read.

I'll be sharing the room with a whole bunch of Nerdy Book People at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in a couple of weeks. Can't wait.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I'm having a Johnny Cash kind of a day...

Yesterday's Tampa Bay SCBWI event was great fun. But I've been thinking about Johnny Cash since I left that library where Shannon Hitchcock and I presented our workshop.

On the way home? Three Cash songs on the radio.

At the meeting? I shared this terrific inspiration, via Walk the Line:
http://www.elawreads.com/blog/2014/10/4/the-most-important-advice-youll-ever-get
Just go on over there and read it.
It's that good.

I can't wait to buy GREG NERI'S brand new picture book
He and Madeleine Kuderick are presenting at Inkwood Books on November 18.
But I've read the galleys. I loved it. 




(Shh. Don't tell. But for sure, a few people will be getting copies from me.
Check out my niece's dogs, dressed for a fancy dog walk. 
Guess what their names are? June and Cash.)




My personal connection to Johnny Cash was hearing him play in Starkville, MS, the night he was arrested, as it turned out.  

Check it out.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Even More from Mississippi

Mississippi appreciates its writers, big time.

Of course, there's Miss Eudora Welty.

On this trip, I visited her garden and a new, temporary exhibit inside her house.
The special exhibit featured her high school and colleges, one of which we share.

The flowers are still blooming. Beautiful.
We also said hello to her Night-Blooming Cereus, on the front porch. Not blooming.





I read this in her garden, a favorite quote, always has been:



But this time, my friend Ivy and I also popped into 
the new-to-me WILLIE MORRIS LIBRARY.

Check out the chairs! I love the way the shade and the sun play against these benches.



 Here's my own Willie Morris story.

I was a librarian-in-training at Simmons College in Boston. My first adventure outside the South. It snowed on November 19, hard, and again on Easter Sunday, not so deep. I loved Boston. I loved Simmons. I did not love the weather, but the people were fascinating and I loved living there.
I was always running into Yankees who knew little about my homeland.






While studying at Simmons, I worked a couple of days a week at the Harvard Medical School Library. The director was smart and well-read. And completely puzzled by me.
One day he called me into his office and held up a book. "I'm reading a good story," he said. "Willie Morris wrote it. It's about a fictional town called Yazoo."

Well, of course, as most of us know, it's Yazoo City. 
It's real. 
And it's still there.









While I'm remembering Mississippi and its writers, I can't resist re-sharing this. 
Ivy's table decorations way back when Glory Be was new.



And soon I'll have another book, The Way to Stay in Destiny, to add to her table. 
Some days it feels like a miracle.