Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Congratulations to one of our #TrueFriends

Teachers, Parents, Librarians of readers fifth grade and up. Or thereabouts.
Are you still searching for that perfect book for holiday giving?

If she loves a great heroine, if he's read every single Harry Potter book, if they're fans of magical settings and a hint of romance, look no farther than this terrific tale.







Here's what her publisher's website has to say.
(I love the twisty-turny part!  There are many twists and turns and all sorts of side trips, near misses, dangers-  and of course fun- for Maggie along the way.)

About The Magic Mirror 

The twisty-turny journey of a girl searching for her heart’s desire—glimpsed in a magic mirror. Perfect for fans of Rump or Catherine, Called Birdy




And everybody knows what smart book pickers those folks at the Texas Library Association are, right? They just named THE MAGIC MIRROR to their Long Star Reading list. You can find the link to the books for grades 6-8 right HERE.

Congrats, Susan Hill Long. Those Texas librarians are right!
Such a good book! 




Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Monday again

And what are YOU reading?
I hope you've taken a big bite out of your TBR file, along with that turkey sandwich.

This is my stack. I'll never get through it! It's toppling over!



But over the Thanksgiving weekend, I finished at least two of them, and they were so good.

1. Be Light Like a Bird, by Monika Schroder. Lovely story for young readers who like their action with heart. I read this as an ARC when it first came out but now our library had a copy sitting on the new book shelf and I just had to check it out. The words seem the same but it was delightful to savor them this time around. (True confessions- I don't love reading books as rich as this one on my Kindle. I'm sure I missed something. )




2. Liberty by Kirby Larson.

I'm only peeking into this, gently, because I bought it as a gift and am trying to keep it gift-like (is that a word?). 
I loved the other two in this series and so far, this one may be the best yet! World War II. New Orleans. That dog!

I'm also reading a few ARCs, courtesy of the publishers and NetGalley, which you may have noticed in my tottering To Be Read stack. I'll save those to share when I have more time to think about them. 

Happy Reading, and I hope you all had a restful, thankful-for-your-blessings weekend.






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Traveling and Musing

It was a funny time to be traveling around, talking about books. I think Ann Patchett said it best in her recent blogpost, which you can read HERE.

And talking about books like mine seemed like a relatively important way to help kids figure out their worlds. Just before my visit to SQUARE BOOKS JR. in Oxford, MS, the fabulous folks there tweeted this about my visit:



So I think I'll share a few photos from my week going "home" to Mississippi and let them speak for themselves.


The event at Square Books Jr. The table that greeted me!




My friend Frieda Quon stirred up the Chinese community and they came! 
And my family, they came!
We had some really great conversation afterwards at Boure on the Square in Oxford.
Thank you, Frieda. Thank you, Jane and George.




My sister donated a copy of MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG to the Batesville library, where I met the very smart and enthusiastic new librarian, a recent transplant from New Jersey!




And of course, we ate.



The obligatory stop for fried chicken, turnip greens and the like, 
and boiled peanuts- at the local gas station.

Lunch with family after my event at the Friends of the Bolivar County library event.
(where nobody took a single photo?)
Thank you to all the people who came and asked great questions.
And to my friend Lonnye Sue for inviting me!

Airport grocery for barbecue. My past life is on the walls...


If you are ever in Cleveland, Mississippi, home of all sorts of attractions like a GRAMMY MUSEUM, be sure to stop in at the Train Museum (HERE's the link). 
My brother, sister and I donated our dad's "train doctor" certificate, and they have it on display!







The opening line in my new book, MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG, mentions a 3-cent stamp.
I had to take this photo!










A beautiful drive to Memphis, through the Mississippi Delta. And all good things must end. 
Thank you to all the friends and family who hosted me, showed up for my signings, 
and helped with everything!



PS: Cotton used to be baled like this.


 I guess these are mostly decorative these days.
As a wise southerner once said, (I paraphrase and I think it was either Willie Morris or Dave Barry) Someday Soon all we ever knew about the South will be inside a big book on a coffee table in a Brooklyn brownstone...



If you haven't had enough of my trips home, CLICK HERE for a previous post, with photos.
And a little more about the train that once came through my hometown. You may have heard of it? (The City of New Orleans)  :)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thank you, Mighty Girl

One of the best places to find great books, if I do say so myself, is the Mighty Girl website.
 And I have nothing to do with the MIGHTY GIRL folks, but I love their book selection.

Imagine my surprise and delight to see they've said lovely things and included MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG on their list of books about friendship.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LONG, INCLUSIVE LIST.
( Including new novels by my friends Donna Gephart and Shannon Hitchcock.)


Here's what they said about my book:


One good friendship can help a Mighty Girl blossom. It's 1952, and Azalea is dreading a summer helping her Grandmother Clark — she struggles to make friends at the best of times, and now she'll spend months in an unfamiliar town. When Billy Wong, a local Chinese-American boy, shows up to help in her grandmother's garden, Azalea is startled that her grandmother encourages her to talk to him. Not only does it turn out that Billy is easy to befriend — a surprise given their different backgrounds and experiences — but Azalea also discovers that making friends with others isn't as hard as she thought it was after all.

Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

I love these #IMWAYR posts. 
They're all over the blogosphere!
Occasionally, I join in the fun, too.

So this is my Monday book, and it's a good one. 
No, it's a GREAT one.



I met Karen Cushman for the first time last weekend in Houston at the fabulously fun event, TWEENS READ.
But from my librarian days, I've been a fan. I didn't buy her book there because my suitcase would hardly close as it was. (I pack small.)

Imagine my delight when I realized I actually already own a copy, buried on my To Be Read shelf. Sent by her publisher. 
Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt books!

CLICK HERE to see what the folks at Kirkus say, besides that it's star-worthy!

Here are some things I love about this book:

The language, oh the language!
"Grayling felt her face sag like an empty feed sack."
That image will be with me a while.

One secondary character, Desdemona Cork really cracks me up.
 
             Desdemona Cork twitched her shawl, and Phinaeus Moon blushed.
             Grayling rolled her eyes. "Can you not leave it for a moment?" she hissed to Desdemona Cork. "Must you enchant everyone?"
             Desdemona Cork pulled her shawls tightly around her. "'Tis not something I do, but something I am."

Yes, the book takes place a while ago, in the days of magic and spells and mice who change into goats. But that Desdemona totally reminds me of somebody I know.

I'll leave you with some words of wisdom, advice the travelers learned on their journey, your thought for the day:

Do no magic you cannot undo.
Perfectly apt for a Halloween Monday, no?

Now rush right out and buy the book, request it from your library, fire up the Kindle, however you prefer to read. You'll totally love this one!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The History We Don't Always Know

  

While researching my own novel, MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG, at Delta State University's Chinese Heritage collection, I heard a lot about this story. 

This new book is just out today!



Here's a bit from the publisher's description:

A generation before Brown v. Board of Education struck down America’s “separate but equal” doctrine, one Chinese family and an eccentric Mississippi lawyer fought for desegregation in one of the greatest legal battles never told.

On September 15, 1924, Martha Lum and her older sister Berda were barred from attending middle school in Rosedale, Mississippi. The girls were Chinese American and considered by the school to be “colored”; the school was for whites. This event would lead to the first US Supreme Court case to challenge the constitutionality of racial segregation in Southern public schools, an astonishing thirty years before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.


The Kirkus review is HERE.

An AMAZON link is HERE.

It's a really fascinating story that happened in Bolivar County, Mississippi. 






Monday, October 10, 2016

Carnegie Libraries

"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.  It is a never failing spring in the desert."
                                                               Andrew Carnegie


I love the stories about Carnegie libraries across the country.

You can CLICK HERE to read a bit of the history.

Or HERE FOR A FASCINATING STORY about the secret apartments at the New York Public Library's branches, funded by Andrew Carnegie. 

I grew up near Clarksdale, MS, where a Carnegie Library is still used as a library.


There's a beautiful Carnegie Library in downtown St. Petersburg, a library I frequent occasionally.



If you'd like to visit some of these libraries, there's a state-by-state list HERE.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Do you follow the It's Monday What Are You Reading blogs?

If not, here's the story. 
I'm going to quote Alyson Beecher here because she says it perfectly:




It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys.  Jen Vincent ofTeach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

I wish I were better at keeping up with my own reading. I usually have at least two kids' books and one something-else going at the same time. Because I've been traveling, I've also read a couple of airplane books, sadly not worth mentioning. 

Also, I have a library book due tomorrow, which inspired this post. I was going to zip through it this afternoon and blog about it. But I'm not going to talk about that book, which seems to have garnered excellent reviews but fell apart for me 3/4 of the way through.

What I finished last night and LOVED SO MUCH. Sorry, can't help hollering. 






I happened to be at a Highlights UNWorkshop with Meg last month where she received a very special honor and a scholarship in her name. What a treat to sit around the breakfast table (lunch, dinner- Hey, it was Highlights! We eat a lot!) and talk about how she came to write this story.

The good people at Highlights gave everybody a copy of Meg's new book. Honestly, I thought I'd send it to a lovely friend, a teacher in her first job, in New York. Perfect match. I'll still pass along my autographed copy. But I'm so glad I read it first. 

What a book. Mine is now filled with stickie notes! 
Things that will make me think hard about my own writing. 
I adore how she weaves in historical details in. Son of Sam- I'd almost forgotten that. And the great NYC Black-out. The way she makes readers feel their characters' worries and fears- brilliant.

The music, food, lingo. All those fabulous things that don't really matter if you don't get them. It might not even matter if Meg had chosen to leave them out. But they so enrich this book!

I'm delighted to know that BURN BABY BURN has just been long-listed for the National Book Awards. Well deserved. 

I turned the last page of the book this morning, reading the interesting Author's Note. What a truly inspiring read for a writer. As I'm sure it will be for its intended Young and New Adult audiences.

Here's hoping your weekend reading was every bit as good as this book.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thank you!

Thank you to those of you who've taken the time to post a review of my new book to Amazon, Goodreads, your blogs, etc. 
Authors REALLY appreciate this. 

I was truly delighted to read this thoughtful Amazon review.
Thank you, Jeu Foon:

September 9, 2016
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just finished reading "Making Friends with Billy Wong".
My opinion ... Outstanding! Five out of five stars! Here's why ...
(1) Augusta Scattergood got many details of the 50's just right, even down to the then used term "funny books",
(2) her depiction of Chinese life in grocery stores was accurately expressed through Billy's prose (a very nice change of pace writing-wise!),
(3) I wouldn't mind reading even more about the same summer from each boys' individual perspective (two very interesting characters!), 
(4) I really like that the author used Arkansas as the setting, instead of Mississippi. Mississippi Chinese were and still are a very close-knit group, from having attended Chinese-only schools together, and are well-documented. But the many more scattered and more-isolated Chinese kids in Arkansas (like me) had to attend white schools alone and navigate a difficult daily life between and within both black and white societies (as the author so perfectly describes through Billy Wong’s own writings),
(5) Bottom line: this is a very well-told and unique story about the bonds of friendship grown through shared experiences, both good and bad. I truly enjoyed reading this story of Azalea's summer and I expect others will too. 
Thank you, Augusta Scattergood, for writing it. Outstanding! - Jeu Foon (Forrest City, Arkansas 1949 – 1967)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Writing Advice from #TrueFriends, Part 3

You might wonder what on earth would four writers do for four days together.

Do they actually write? Or do they have a gabfest, long walks, fabulous meals and the occasional glass of wine? 

In my limited but excellent experience, all of those things are part of a writing retreat. When Kirby Larson invited us to be a part of her writing world, Barbara O'Connor and I flew in from the East Coast. Susan Hill Long met us at the airport. And off we went to our own cocoon where we worked very hard.

At some previously scheduled point in our writing days, we gathered and talked about our manuscripts. We were at different places in our writing. Kirby and Barbara had a ton of books under their author belts. Sue had quite a few herself as well as experience working in publishing. True confessions, I suspect I had the most to learn. And I soaked in every single word of advice.

On our first retreat, we sent chapters around in advance for critiquing. So Sue put her sharp editor's pen to work. I can't speak for the others, but in my case, I suspect she had to work hard.  Many red marks= super suggestions.

Susan Hill Long, finally, perfectly made me understand what a scene is. 
And how important it is to write in scenes. Okay, I knew that part already. And instinctively, I think many writers do. We probably see our stories in scenes, even if we don't realize it. 
But making it happen is hard work!

Here are her words, verbatim, from her helpful Advice from a True Friend.  Thanks, Sue!

This is important: in a scene, something happens.  
Yes, sometimes we need to set up a quick bridge to get from one thing that happens, one event, to another. And sometimes we need to make time pass. For one reason or another, sometimes the story calls for summary in order to keep moving forward. 

But when we want the reader to notice, to slow down and experience the event with the character, we write a scene. 

From Sandra Scofield's excellent and highly recommended resource THE SCENE BOOK: A Primer for the Fiction Writer, I learned that each scene should have a sort of pivot that I can put my finger on, a point where something changes. The story moves forward, or the reader's understanding of the character deepens, or the plot twists. Especially once I have a down-and-dirty draft in hand, I can look at each scene and ask, How does this scene matter to my story?


 There must have been magic in that ocean air.  
Four books appeared this year. 
We organized a Second Annual Writing Retreat. 
And now we're excited to be a part of NCTE in Atlanta in November, where we'll be on a panel together and talk about how this could work in your world.


 (To read advice from Kirby and Barbara, click back through my previous #TrueFriends blogpost.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

True Friends

Have you been following along with all the #TrueFriends fun?

You can CLICK HERE to get to a google doc with everything in one place!
(All four of us talking about friends in our books, for example.)

FYI- Hurry and enter! The Giveaway of lots of books and a Skype session ends in November.

There's even a FRIEND CATCHER.
(Much better than any of those other "catchers" you may remember!)

You know the definition of a True (writer) Friend?

Someone who takes the time during her book launch party to buy your book and post the photo on Facebook and Twitter.

Barbara O'Connor's holding up my new book at her own Malaprops Bookstore party.



Barbara has given me so many writing tips, it's hard to know which to choose.
I have an entire legal pad scribbled with advice she gave me when she first read GLORY BE.
Now, that's a True Friend.

If you don't already follow her blog, you may want to CLICK OVER THERE and read all her Writing Tip Tuesday past posts.

HERE is one of my favorite things she shared (and there are many).

"... pay attention to the extraordinary in the ordinary - to notice the small things around us that the average observer might not notice or note to memory.

And when you notice those small things, WRITE THEM DOWN."






Read Kirby Larson's writing advice from last week right here.
Susan Hill Long's advice will be next.

I hope you all have #TrueFriends to encourage you on your journeys!
 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Advice from a True Friend

If you've been hanging around social media lately, maybe you noticed our #TRUEFRIENDS posts.

There are four of us connected writers, who are not only friends, but also writing-advice-givers-sharers-and-takers.

 Here we are at our first annual Writing Retreat, where we became fast, #TrueFriends.



Wisdom from writer friends goes deep into my heart (and if I'm lucky, possibly my brain).

This from Kirby Larson is something I'll take with me to think about as I hide at a Highlights UNWorkshop this week. She said it when we worked together at a Whole Novel Workshop there a couple of years ago.

"Facts are as beautiful as flowers but they need a garden in which to grow... But if a fact doesn't serve a useful purpose, it doesn't belong."

She went on to cite Catherine Called Birdy as a strong example of this.
And she told us that authors must know their characters, know what they'd think, like, do before we can decide where- or if!- those facts belong.

I love weaving tidbits into novels. I love reading fabulous facts. But they shouldn't intrude on good writing. Which Kirby Larson's books have, in spades.

If you're planning to be at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in November in Atlanta, you can hear more about our books, our friendship, our writing styles, and how we connected. As we make our way toward NCTE in November, I'll share more writing wisdom from my other #TrueFriends, Barbara O'Connor and Susan Hill Long.

For now, here's the link to our really great giveaway.







Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My True Friends

Today was a big day. 
My third historical fiction middle-grade novel launched out into the world. Okay, the fanfare was mostly via tweets and posts, but I did sign a bunch of books that are easily available from the great LEMURIA BOOKS in Jackson, Mississippi.



Oh and I ate cake.
(Well, sorta.)



So, you can now order MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG from your usual sources. 
Or request it from your public library. Or BUY it for your school libraries.

All of that by itself would be swell.

But another fun way I get to share this book news is telling you about my #TrueFriends.

Kirby Larson, Barbara O'Connor, and Susan Hill Long
writers extraordinaire! 

The four of us gathered to write and critique and re-gathered to do more of the same at Kirby's wonderful writing retreat. Now we talk to each other nonstop via email and texts and even- gasp!- the occasional phone call or Skype/ Facetime chat.

See, we really are the truest of TRUE FRIENDS.

And guess what! We're giving away our books! Lots of books! And a Skype visit!  

CHECK OUT THE GIVEAWAY RIGHT HERE.

If you'd like to see us, live and in person, talking about books on youtube and hear fun writing prompts for your students, check out our video.

Click here to subscribe and get to know all four of us.
(not to mention, see our picture along with Winston the Wonder Dog. Go ahead, you know you want to.)

And here I am, chatting away about my friends, my book, and writing.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's It All About?

 When you're tagged in a post titled "NOT AS EXPECTED," you fear the worst.

Then you read the first few sentences and swoon. Or blush. Or smile for the rest of the day, maybe all three.

If I need to think about the true meaning of my new book, I'll refer back to this fabulous blogpost about it.

Does it get any better than a highly-regarded, fabulously well-read librarian saying this about your books?

"Books written by Augusta Scattergood make us feel like we've come home, regardless of our age. Her characters could be our neighbors, best friends or family members. Their joys and concerns become our joys and concerns not only during the story but resonating long after the final word is read."  


(image from my newly-designed website, HERE)





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Counting Down the Days

It's such fun to share a new book with the world.

It's even more fun when I have special writer friends to spread the news.

(left to right, Kirby Larson, Winston the Wonder Dog, Sue Long, me, Barbara O'Connor)


AND it's tons of fun when the four who started this journey together all have books appearing in the same year. 

Two of us, my friend Barbara O'Connor and I have books appearing on the VERY SAME DAY.

(Although, rumor has it-- sorry, Barbara-- that there may be some early copies for sale at the fabulous MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL, a Literary Lawn Party, next weekend!)

Click HERE for Barbara's excellent post about how we four friends connected.




Friday, August 12, 2016

Middle Grade Gets Real

Everybody knows that middle-grade readers deal with all sorts of drama. Some true, some imagined, but all very real to them.

These four fabulous authors have teamed together to talk about their books, using the hashtag
#MGGetsReal.

Here they are and here are their books.


·      Shannon Wiersbitzky—WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER (Alzheimer’s)
·      Kathleen Burkinshaw – THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, (Hiroshima)
·      Joyce Moyer Hostetter—COMFORT, (War Trauma)
·      Kerry O’Malley Cerra—JUST A DROP OF WATER, (9/11)


I've read three of these books and look forward to reading the others.

Give them a look, buy them for your library, reach out to the authors.

They created this excellent bibliography filled with books on every topic middle-grade readers care about. The real stuff.

It's posted here on the Pragmatic Mom blog, and shared lots of places.






And check out the NCTE blog next week. 
Rumor has it, there's a super BOOK giveaway!

(#MGGetsReal giveaway (open to educators) will be kicked off on August 16 at the NCTE blog.  Please do enter for a set of five books on tough topics.)


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

All Rise for the Honorable


No doubt those of us who read a lot of books have our favorites. This is one of mine.

I read middle-grade novels like they're going out of style, fast and furiously most of the time. And true confessions, sometimes I forget them just as quickly, even the ones I liked a lot.

Not so ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK.




I loved this book. It's funny. It's smart. It's complicated. 
It's so very kid-friendly.

(I also loved Leslie Connor's previous book, WAITING FOR NORMAL. I listened to that one, something I don't do often enough, and didn't want my car trips or my walks to end.)

When I read THIS ARTICLE in last week's Washington Post, it reminded me of Perry and his mom.

Yes, Leslie Connor created her story. It's fiction. But she did a lot of reading about incarcerated moms.
Kimberly Hricko's newspaper piece last week made me think about how little we truly know about what really happens. 
The backstories behind the news. 
The layers of stories in people's lives.

Also making me think how hard it is to write multi-layered characters. 
And Leslie Connor sure nailed it with ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK. I am in awe. I am about to read the book again to see if I can figure out how she does it.


Don't take my word for it. Check out what everybody else said.
 
“With complex, memorable characters, a situation that demands sympathy, and a story that’s shown, not just told, this is fresh and affecting. Well-crafted, warm, and wonderful.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Rich characterizations give the novel its big heart: Jessica, Big Ed, and the other Blue River inmates are nuanced, vivid characters whose stories of perseverance after tragedy embody the novel’s themes of redemption, hope, and community. This beautifully written work will send readers’ spirits soaring.” (School Library Journal (starred review)


Every so often, a novel comes along to remind us of that what we hope is true, is true: that understanding is stronger than what seems to be justice, that kindness is deeper and fuller than anger, and that goodness can heal brokenness. This is one of those novels.” (Newbery Honor-winning author Gary D. Schmidt)
 



Friday, August 5, 2016

Thank you, Goodreads

While I'm not sure I ever thought I'd type those words, today I'm feeling very appreciative of the lovely people at GOODREADS.

When there's a lot of hate thrown at your book, or at least extreme dislike (my grandmother taught me not to use that word hate but I was allowed to say I disliked something extremely), it's hard to appreciate the good words on Goodreads.

But when your book isn't out yet and you're wondering what people will think about it, believe me, teachers and librarians like the ones who've posted reviews there now really make my day.

You can click RIGHT HERE to read a few. 
While you're there, there's a giveaway running for at least a few more days!

I'll share some of the nicest things they've said. I'm blushing with delight.

From Holly:
I love summer stories, stories of days gone by, and stories of childhood filled with ordinary problems against a back drop of history - Scattergood is an expert at all these elements, and this book has them all. 

And Emily:
I absolutely loved this book! The heart of the story is friends come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Give people who are different than you a chance, and you might have more in common than you think!  

And Scott:
Azalea learns about being careful about jumping to conclusions. She also learns that everyone in a family is different and every family is different. 

Okay, I'll stop before my head gets too big. 

Yes, every book isn't for every reader and I know there will be some who don't love MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG. That's okay. I get that. 
But I can't thank those of you enough who moseyed over to Goodreads or wrote on your blogs or will write on Amazon. It means a lot.

 (Here's another post I wrote (kind of) about GOODREADS.)

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mary Ward Brown

One thing I love about a rainy day and a screened porch in an old house is finding old magazines-SMITHSONIAN, July-August 2014 (hey, that's not so old!). 
Here's the link to the piece I'm reading in the rain:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/soul-south-180951861/

Mary Ward Brown died a few years ago, well into her 90s.
She didn't begin to write until she was past 60.
Or at least she didn't publish her stories until then.  
Click here to read her obituary.

I was introduced to this amazing writer years ago when my friend Ivy gifted me with Mary Ward Brown's short stories. I've read them many times.

In the Smithsonian article, "Soul of the South,"  Paul Theroux mentions her memoir,
FANNING THE SPARK.

Which I've never read but think I'll order right now.

For the next rainy Sunday afternoon in my life.



Sunday, July 17, 2016

MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG. Many, many versions...

In case anyone thinks a book springs fully-formed from an author's head, let me say that's not my experience. Most of my writer friends go through many drafts, many versions, and tons of edits before an editor ever sees a word of what they've written.

While writing/ revising/ editing, I use a terrific software program called SCRIVENER.
Read a few of my thoughts on Scrivener here.

Today, while pulling together a few things for my soon-to-be updated website,
I found this page. 
One of my early drafts of my soon-to-be-published book, MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG. 
(Coming in just over a month!)

First of all, I almost fell off my chair reading the date.
And then I almost fell off again.

What on earth could I possibly have been thinking? UFO's?

You know that writing advice that says "What's the worst thing that could happen to your character? Write that!"

Well, a lot of things could have happened. And, thankfully, didn't. 
Aren't you glad I didn't have Azalea and Billy chasing after a UFO?

 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Quaker Motto Calendar

Okay, folks. It's that time of year.

These lovely, inspirational little calendars can now be ordered for 2017.

Here's an order form:







CLICK HERE for a bit about the history of the calendars, from a previous blogpost.

Please note the email address if you have questions. Or you can contact me via this blog and I'll forward the email to my sister-in-law, Marion Ballard, calendar maker extraordinaire. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thought for the Day

(Totally copied from my friend KIRBY LARSON's wonderful blog, because I'm carrying a lot of books around with me and thinking about gardens and proverbs. Funny how things connect, isn't it?)

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket."

Chinese proverb

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Have a Super Summer!

I am in awe of two teachers who pulled off one of my best ever Skype Q&A sessions on their LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.
(Okay, officially it was Facetime, not Skype, but it worked equally well, if not better than Skype...)

Their students were literally out the door! I mean, who would even attempt this? Two super teachers from Syracuse, that's who.

These same teachers from Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School were the first Skype visit I ever had, way back in spring, 2012. They've shared GLORY BE with their sixth graders and we've Skyped ever since. What a treat.

Today the questions were serious, funny, thoughtful, and challenging. I'm still thinking about the boy who asked if I could change places with one of my characters, what would I do differently. 
Or whether I saw the "times" as the antagonist/ villain. 
And how about that age-old question, asked by every writer: How do you know when your book is finished?  

(See below for more of the questions, just emailed to me.)

I suspect these kids are great readers and I hope they (and their fabulous teachers) and ALL you amazing teachers and librarians out there have a summer filled with books, friends, and maybe even time to write.

(When they asked what I would recommend for their summer reading, I just happened to have these books on the table right next to my computer!)



SUPER QUESTIONS:

After reading Glory Be, I felt that Emma kind of replaced the mom role to Glory.  Did you mean to do that?
What gave you the idea to make JT so mean? 
What made you decide to bring fact and history into your book instead of having it all fiction?
Have you written any other books?
How did Frankie's back story come to life or Who inspired Frankie's back story?
How do you know when your story is the way you want it? 
In the process of making your book how did you give (develop) Glory's personality?
Why did you choose July 4th as Glory's birthday?
How do you organize yourself for your book?
Were you a big fan, like Glory, of the Beatles, Elvis and Nancy Drew?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Margaret and Me

You know when you meet somebody and have an instant connection? That's how I felt when I met Margaret Simon. Yes, we're both Mississippians and writers, two things that drew us together. And we have a bunch of "do-you-know" friends, as do all Southerners. 

But she's also a great reader and an amazing teacher. So when she asked if I'd answer a few questions about writing my new book, I jumped at the chance. 

HERE WE ARE, chatting away! 
(Click that link to read the interview.)

 

MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG (Coming August, 2016)