Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More from Mississippi: Porches- A thing I love

Because I love screened-in porches and good friends as much as anything.

Here's a post from my great friends' neighbor's terrific blog. Check out the pictures and you'll understand why I love that porch.

They live in Eudora Welty's neighborhood filled with wonderful old houses and tons of front, back, side, screened porches. 



Since I don't want to <steal> one of Marsha's terrific blog pics (click on that link up there and see for yourself), here are my friend and I sitting together at a different table. A few years ago. We've been friends since before we were born.


This week we found a corner of the porch and sat. Talked. Sipped. Worked a crossword puzzle. Read. Talked some more.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Research.

Although I left Mississippi for college a few years ago (hahaha), it's where my family is, where my heart is. Home.

Spending a week here for a reason I'll call research is pretty special.

Even if <research> means sitting on the porch listening and talking.
Riding around places I remember but thought I'd forgotten.
Not writing a single thing down.

This weekend I'll spend time listening to authorities speak about things I'm interested in, and I'll take plenty of notes. 
I'll hang out with a friend of my mama's. 
I'll sit in libraries. 
I may even sit under a tree or two.

Last weekend I took a few pictures. 
I'll share so you can enjoy, too.


Sunset over the Mississippi River. That's Arkansas over there.




 Artifacts unearthed and on display. 
From some deep dark filing cabinet, I assume.


Historic marker unveiled on the campus of Delta State University, the site of my first school. My  memories of nursery school include taking a field trip across campus to see the "Science Museum," which consisted of a two-headed lamb and a tapeworm that had been removed during surgery. A very long tapeworm. I'm sure there was more. That's all I remember.



 
 
I have no idea what I'll do with this thought, but it's percolating. 
Historic Jackson.
 
 


 
Not often that I see this much cotton ready to be picked.
I remember when the fields were full of it though.
Quite beautiful. Even if the stories may not be so beautiful.
 
 
 
 
Know what I mean?






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Writing Notebooks

I still remember Carolyn Coman at one of the earlier HIGHLIGHTS Whole Novel workshops showing us her writing notebook. The one she scribbled ideas in when she was gardening- or doing all sorts of things that didn't seem like writing. 

That was a while ago (okay, it was early fall, 2005). I was just beginning the story that would eventually become THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY (Coming January, 2015. Don't do the math. It takes me a while.)

 

To this day, I've never used just one notebook for my pre-writing scribbles. And that's a problem. I have notes everywhere! 

Including in a Scrivener document. Which is where I always end up. But you can't drag your computer to some of the places where you do your best thinking, right? And you never know when an idea or a thought will need writing down.

It would be helpful if all those brilliant thoughts ended up in the same notebook.



 
So I'll steal some of Linda Urban's excellent ideas.

Have you been following her "notebook" posts about writing? I love how she shares details about what's in those notebooks. Here's a LINK.  There are several. Follow them all!

And just before we departed New Jersey, I popped in on Elizabeth Eulberg et al. and their "YA Romance" panel at the Morristown Festival of the Book. Elizabeth held up a notebook, complete with tabs. That's the look I'm going for!

Aside: Elizabeth has a very good post on her blog about what authors have control over and what they have NO control over. Mostly I agree with her. It's worth reading if you've wondered about things like book jacket art, festivals and promotions, etc. Read it HERE. 

What kind of notebook do you use for your important pre-writing scribbles? Or do you start right up sitting in front of your computer? 
Is it different for each project?
Do you love a certain type of paper, a beautiful notebook, a regular 3-ring binder?
Inspire me with your ideas, please!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quaker Motto Calendar

It's that time of year.  2015 Calendar Ordering Time!

Actually, I kind of missed the suggested order date. But it's not too late and I'm placing my order today for the QUAKER MOTTO CALENDAR.

Here's the 2015 order form.
AND most importantly, the contact info should you need to reach out.

I don't actually sell/ write/ produce these. My sister-in-law Marion Ballard is the one to call/ email. Her contact info is right there.












You may also want to read:
Each year I post about these calendars. Here's one of the first, with a quote from Aunt Margery about the family's connection to them:  http://ascattergood.blogspot.com/2010/09/quaker-motto-calendar.html

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Glory Game!

How much do I love this very cool game?


Eli made it for his outside reading project at Jackson Prep. His mom, who's a teacher at the Mississippi School for the Deaf and uses GLORY BE with her students, shared it.

Some of the stops along the way--

Segregated water fountain, move back two spaces. 
Freedom Riders come to Mississippi, move forward four spaces. 
Glory writes a brave letter to the newspaper, move forward six spaces. 
Swimming pool is closed because of integration, move back four spaces. 

I'm totally impressed. Thanks, Eli and Mom for sharing and for your clever creativity!

Monday, October 6, 2014

FIGS! Oh joy~

Anybody who knows me knows my fig fetish.
I particularly love eating them when someone like my friend Lee, AKA Kitchen Goddess on her fabulous blog, presents them so beautifully.

Like Lee, I had a grandmother who put up fig preserves.
Our big sprawling fig tree was a perfect spot to hide under and pick the figs right off that tree.

Today's blog from Lee has sent me back to those days.
How I wish I were eating them wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with cheese right now (my current adoration).

CLICK HERE to read her recipes and remembrances.

I'm so jealous that she has a tree, complete with figs.

To tempt you even more, here's a picture from today's post.
You know you want to read how to make your food look so beautiful.
Go ahead, click away.

Fig Appetizer




 I've written about figs before, in case you hadn't noticed...
You can type FIGS into the search box of this blog or click the link in the previous sentence.
Or just read Lee's post and enjoy. Big time YUM.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Skink- No Surrender

Carl Hiaasen's first Young Adult novel (He's written middle-grade and of course, all those grownup books) has just been long-listed for the National Book Awards.



Having read three of the nominees, I think I'll attempt to tackle them all.

Skink- No Surrender was a quick read, nothing even your motivated middle-grader couldn't handle if he or she is a fan of Hiaasen's books. This one's an adventure and a mystery, of course. But the kids are truly kid-like, something all writers who crossover from adult novels don't always figure out so well.

Then there's the reclusive ex-governor Skink with that gross fake eye. 
("Skink ignored her and closed his good eye. He looked like a grizzled old iguana." Don't you love how he says so much in so few words?)
Yes, there are plenty of shots fired. And one of the lead players runs away with a faker she's met online.
Hmm. Somehow it didn't seem so scary though. Must be the humor. 

Here's a good writing quote from Hiaasen:

True even for Young Adult fiction, wouldn't you say?

Anybody out there predicting who'll take the National Book Award this year?



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Poetry Sunday

As we pack up to head south, I look forward to my Florida birds.
Thank you to my friend Joan who gave me a book I love dipping into:
Mary Oliver's What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems

 If you click on that link, you can read a selection, from Google books.

From "Summer Poem"

...the white heron
like a dropped cloud,
taking one slow step

then standing while then taking
another, writing

her own soft-footed poem
through still waters.


"S





Sadly, my earliest attempts at poetry share none of her beauty and lyricism.


While packing, I uncovered this in a very old scrapbook. It was published in The Commercial Appeal when I was eleven. I share so no one reading this blog should be afraid to share, no matter how embarrassing your early efforts might be. It's all about revision, which I (obviously) didn't understand at age eleven.

I've learned a lot. Maybe not about poetry. But certainly about revising.


More Mary Oliver?
http://ascattergood.blogspot.com/2013/04/poem-of-day.html

http://ascattergood.blogspot.com/2011/05/writing-inspiration-bit-of-poem.html





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Character Birthdays

How very cool!

CLICK THIS LINK to see what literary characters might share your birthday.
Or to celebrate with them.

I've had letters from school classes commenting on Glory's July 4th birthday. 
An excellent project- to wish a book character a Happy Birthday!




Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sandy Hormell Community Book Celebration

When an invitation came into my email asking if I'd be a part of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of FREEDOM SUMMER in Oxford, Ohio, I didn't have to think about it.
In 1964, Freedom Workers were trained on the campus of Miami University before they left for Mississippi. I was honored to be a part of this.

The SANDY HORMELL COMMUNITY BOOK CELEBRATION is in its 9th year.
Here are a few sentences from the invitation:

The event honors Sandy Hormell, a longtime Talawanda and Miami employee, whose love of books and education made her a beloved teacher and colleague. Although her life was claimed by ALS in 2004, her love of reading lives on in this event. 

Many things I hold dear, in one special celebration.
 
I would speak at an evening meeting, sign books and greet some delightful people, and present my GLORY BE story to middle schoolers. Over 1000 books would be given to readers of all ages.
Wow. What author wouldn't love that.

Of course, I said yes.

(It didn't hurt that my college roommate, whom I really hadn't seen in a very long time, would be my hostess. Or that my daughter was a Miami University grad and I had such fond memories of the college town.)

Off I went!

After a delightful lunch, then an afternoon stroll on campus with my friend Lyn, we headed to the Oxford Community Arts Center.
There I talked to a wonderfully attentive group of readers of every age.

The Community Arts Center is in a neat building.
Former dorm rooms turned artist studios are upstairs.
I coveted one of those studios!


As soon as I walked in, this adorable reader told me she loved my book!




This group had come with their creative and inspiring teacher. She'd driven them from a nearby community. Now that's dedication!


I talked about writing the book, about Freedom Summer in my own town, about my inspiration.

Afterwards, we walked across the street to the Oxford Lane Library.

BOOK FOOD was enjoyed by all!
Red Velvet cupcakes. Emma's Lemon Cookies. Bug Juice.








ELVIS V. THE BEATLES display!



One of the best parts of this weekend went on behind the scenes. Or behind my scenes. 
The 5th grade gifted students from Oxford's three elementary schools had discussed the book with seniors from the Knolls Retirement Community and the Miami University Institute for Learning in Retirement. They'd also had lunch together.  
I heard it was fabulous. I wish I'd been the proverbial fly on the wall.




You'd think it couldn't get much better than that, wouldn't you?


This Bulletin Board greeted me at the TALAWANDA MIDDLE SCHOOL.

First public showing of the new cover art for THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY!

(Awesome media specialist shout-out: Hi, Monica Greene!)




Just a few of the many books I signed!

A really remarkable thing happened.
Sitting in the media center signing books at lunch, I met a teacher who brought this in for me to see.


He'd bought it at an antique shop, a while ago.

He uses it to teach his Civil Rights unit.




The questions were pretty amazing. The students were so well-prepared. I hated to leave.


Such a super committee. So well organized. Lots of fun. Smart, smart people! 
Here we are at our farewell dinner at Kona, a fabulous restaurant in downtown Miami.





Tucked inside a delightful basket of zucchini muffins, fruits and nuts and cheeses 
was a lovely note. I love the card, don't you?




One last stop before saying goodbye Oxford Ohio, to friends, old and new, young and old.



                        (Looking cool like the Elvis fans we were a few years ago...)







Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freedom Summer: 50 Years Later


This week, I've been thinking about the anniversary of FREEDOM SUMMER. My personal journey through the year-long commemoration began last February in Como, Mississippi, where I was part of a remarkable event that brought together former Freedom Workers, many of whom were still residents of Panola County.

There are a lot of fabulous resources out there.

Like this, part of  Miami University's CELEBRATING FREEDOM, year-long commemoration of the summer.


(where I'll be on Thursday! Check out the times and places HERE!)

My fictional character, Laura Lampert, began her journey into GLORY BE with my memory of sitting in the Bolivar County library in Cleveland, MS. My friend and inspiration, LePoint Smith, introduced us. We talked just that one time. And at first, she was a shadow character in my book, there for no discernible reason except to talk to Glory about her love of reading Nancy Drew books.

My critique group and others thought she needed beefing up. 
I'm glad I took that advice.
I believe one of the most powerful scenes in my book is when Glory shows her around the park and the courthouse. All added in later revisions.
 
Now I get a lot of questions about her from kids.
1. What does it mean when you say that she talks like that Walter Cronkite on TV?
2. Why does she dress so differently?
3. Will she and Glory always be friends?

A minor character can add so many layers to a story. Middle-grade and young adult historical fiction, in my very humble opinion, lives or dies on layers.

Do you have a supporting character who needs beefing up? If you're writing historical fiction, can the role she plays be significant to the times?


Sunday, September 14, 2014

brown girl dreaming

What I'm Reading Now.



I read Jacqueline Woodson's new memoir-in-verse because smart people said I would love it.
Then I read it again to write a review, because I did indeed love it.
Then I read it again because I loved it so much I wanted to share a poem to inspire a Writing Workshop.

So believe me, I was delighted to hear the author say she reads slowly.
And sometimes more than once.
When I'm reading for pleasure, I don't always do that. But now I will try harder.
She advises kids to do the same. Even with a book that's easy to speed through- like this one- sometimes you need to slow down, savor the words. Read it again.

Here's the author talking about her path to becoming a writer.




(You can see the link and read Betsy Bird's comments about the book HERE.)

This quote reminds me of someone. Maybe a lot of someones. So I love it (and I paraphrase):
When I was growing up, I told lies all the time. And I had a teacher who told me to write it all down. Because if you write it down, it's no longer a lie. It's fiction.








Friday, September 12, 2014

International Dot Day

This was way more fun than it should be for somebody who is clueless about anything ART-wise.

Next week, September 15, is International DOT DAY.
Have you created your own fun(ny) dot?

(Check out the huge list of illustrators' and authors' dots, HERE.)

Here's my dot!




{With a nod to my friend Eileen the Artist, to Teddie's awesome paperclips, to Lyn's mama's visit to Elvis's house and to all my shell-gathering friends.}




Monday, September 8, 2014

THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY

I'm beyond excited to tell everybody that my next book, coming in January 2015 from Scholastic Press, is now available to pre-order.

Thanks for telling your favorite independent bookstore the news.

Here's the Amazon link:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Stay-Destiny-Augusta-Scattergood/dp/0545538246/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1409860323&sr=8-1

And one for Barnes&Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-way-to-stay-in-destiny-augusta-scattergood/1119689429?ean=9780545538244

AND- TaDa!

The gorgeous cover.




And if you're still reading, you can actually hear me sharing an early passage and talking a bit about how I got started, lo those many years ago.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stewing

Isn't STEW the funniest word?
My mother used it all the time. 

Recently, I realized I'd used WORRY twice in the same paragraph of dialog. 
The character is a woman, a grandmother, who could well have been a contemporary of my mother's. I grabbed my handy Flip Dictionary and looked for another word.

I couldn't believe it. STEW was listed as a synonym for worry. And it wasn't even a southern list of words. It didn't mention how old-fashioned it is.

                                                      http://weheartit.com/weheartit



Today I happened upon this excellent article I'd saved to read "later"- when I had time to savor it. 
So much good writing advice to think about.

Like this, from Stephen King's book ON WRITING:

A book won't stand or fall on the very first line of prose -- the story has got to be there, and that's the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice -- it's the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there's incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.

And lo and behold, there's my word STEW. From Mohsin Hamid, author of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Talking about walking.

My head cleared. My energy soared. My neck pains diminished. Sometimes I texted myself ideas, sentences, entire paragraphs as I walked. Other times I just floated along, arms at my sides, stewing and filtering and looking.

(I know what he means. I often STEW over ideas while driving. Not the smartest of moves if you're in traffic...)

Now I'm sure I'll find it every time I open something. It's a fine word, stew.
And I'm not about to stew over kids today not knowing what it means. When I put my earlier blogpost on Facebook and Twitter, about the irony of finding STEW when I looked up worry, a teacher commented that she loved finding words kids might not know, challenging them to figure them out. I totally agree!
Let's hear it for new/ old words!

Have you run across an old friend in the word department lately? Did you add it to your writing?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oxford, Ohio- See you soon!

To my buddies in Ohio. 
If you are close, I'd love to see you!
Thursday, September 18, 7 PM.
Oxford Community Arts Center.
 
I'm so excited to return to a college town I really love.





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kate DiCamillo

I may be the last person on earth to hear Kate DiCamillo's amazing NEWBERY MEDAL acceptance speech.

I loved FLORA AND ULYSSES. If you don't know the book yet, you can read my review HERE.

Mr. Schu gave me an autographed copy, which I treasure. I blogged about that HERE.
(Sorry, you can't click on that link and hope to win the copy, unautographed, that I gave away. That's over.)

Now I want to read the
 William Maxwell short story that inspired this speech, THE THISTLES IN SWEDEN.

Our local library owns it.  I'm off to check it out!

Here's the text from Kate DiCamillo's lovely speech:
http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newbery-14.pdf

But truly, you need to listen.





Friday, August 29, 2014

UNworkshopping

I'm not even going to attempt to describe what it's like to spend three (or more!) days at a Highlights Foundation UNWorkshop. 

Your very own room to create.
http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/workshops/unworkshop-aug-2014/

Instead, I'll show it in pictures.

 Day One. Arrival. Showing off my cabin. There's a sign in the window with my name on it. And it says Welcome BACK, Augusta. When you're a repeater, you get that Welcome Back thing. 
Sigh.



I thought it was appropriate that this hung in my cabin. I won't show you the top of the calendar. Just know it was a blond who resembles me in no way. But the date is approximately the time I was going to be writing about during my days UNWorkshopping.







The last time I was here, it was November and a light snow fell. This time the flowers were breathtaking.




I love the lavender!
And the sky!

Jo suggested Teddie, Janet and I sit on the porch, or inside the Lodge, if we wanted to talk about what we'd written.
We did.



  

Here are my writing buds, Janet McLaughlin and Teddie Aggeles. They loved it as much as I did.
Whew.









One of my favorite places is the rock garden. Serenity.

Also fun to see what others have to say.






 We walked this long and winding road. Mostly at the end of one of the fabulous meals prepared by Chef Joseph.




Friends have written about their own experiences.

Stacey was also UNWorkshopping with us. She pretty much tells it all HERE.

My friend Joyce has also been to a Highlights UnWorkshop and blogged about it HERE.  She calls it Writer Heaven. I have to agree.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Books! Books! Books!

An abundance of riches.


I can't keep up. I adore middle-grade novels and want to read every single book anybody mentions to me.

One thing I really liked about Lisa Graff's latest book, ABSOLUTELY ALMOST, was the voice of Albie. So true to his stuggling/ average kid/ can't quite get it character.
And the setting, New York City. Yes and wow.
Lisa's love of the city came through with perfection. I was right there with Albie, eating, walking, checking out the museums. Or not.

Ice cream cones at Tasti D-Lite and Mr. Softee, instructions for hailing a cab and pulling the cord to get the bus to stop. Just what a real NYC kid would do.

Here's a little of Albie's voice, with his wonderfully-drawn babysitter, Calista.

"The walk signal came on, and after checking both ways twice, Calista let us cross. At least she didn't make me hold her hand like I was some kind of baby that had never crossed a street before."

If you're interested in reading a long review of the book, click here for Betsy Bird's take on it. 


I also read and reviewed DEATH BY TOILET PAPER by Donna Gephart, another favorite author whose books never ever disappoint. Check out my review, HERE.



And I departed from my usual middle-grade addiction to stay up way too late with Lisa Schroeder's THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU.
If I were my younger self, this would be the book my friends and I would pass around and love.
Even my older self couldn't put it down, obviously.
Having grown up in a Friday Night Lights kind of world (and being a huge fan of the TV show), I totally get this blogger, on the topic.
Since she says it better than I can, I'll quote her and link back to her post:

"The Bridge from Me to You is one you'll want to add to your list if you want to fill that FNL-shaped hole in your heart, remember the stickiness of growing up in a small town or read a book that is good."

I agree on all counts. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Working Space


I do not like a cluttered work space. 
Or a noisy one.
Or one right next to the laundry room.
(But that's another story.)

But sometimes you just have to spread everything out and make a mess.
After today, I'm cleaning up and putting away. But for now, here's a little corner of my desk. 
I'm working hard. ➜➜➜➜➜



I couldn't do it without my absolute favorite book for words.

FLIP DICTIONARY.

Just now I went to look up a synonym for worry.
Guess what was in the list.

STEW. And STEW OVER.

One of my mother's favorite words.
As in, You Don't Need to Stew Over This Revision.

(She'd be wrong about that.)

I'm smiling to think that a Writer's Digest Press book as often-used as the FLIP DICTIONARY recognizes a word I love.

Now I have to decide if I put it into a middle-grade novel, will there be a kid reader in today's world who has ever stewed over anything? 

Here's an earlier post where I'll tell you even more about FLIP DICTIONARY.
Click on over and read about Back-to-School supplies, with a great comment, too. 

Feel free to let me know if you have any other Tools of the Trade you can't live without.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to School

This made me smile today.
Advice for Creative Types as they begin a new school year.
Or a new writing year.
Or any kind of new endeavor.

http://www.susanbanghart.com/blog/create-a-good-school-year 

Here's a favorite: 

5. Find your tribe. They're out there, other creative minds who think and dream like you. If you already have a tribe, keep an eye out for artists wandering the halls alone. We artists spend so much time in our heads, it's sometimes hard to connect to the world. But without doubt, we need to.

Susan is one of the most creative of my creative type friends. And, I'm proud to say, I'm part of her tribe.

I love the art that sometimes accompanies her blogposts. 
Here's a sample, used with Susan's permission.



Does it feel like Back to School time to you? Are ideas percolating in your brain? Happy creating, everybody!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE FIRE HORSE GIRL by Kay Honeyman



 My quick review.

Fabulous cover, no?

Chinese immigrants in America, 1923.
A young-ish YA, historical, a time period and topic that's fascinating. Cleverly plotted love story and mystery/ adventure tale.





Some really glorious writing. For example:
 When Jade Moon/ Fire Horse is trapped at Angel Island-
"The night was long and filled with the sounds of strangers' breath instead of sleep... I thought of our rice terraces, their beauty and promise built over generations, and I tried to remember that dreams, like terraces, are built one stone at a time."

About stories, her friend explains where they come from: "Deep inside of us, where we must bury what we desire most in order to protect it."

 I particularly loved the character of Neal, the Irish immigrant, Fire Horse's protector. 
Super secondary characters, all around. 
Great quote from Neal: "Your name will be on a headstone if Mr. Hon finds out about this." Neil rubbed his hand over his face. "Chinawomen have those little feet. They're quiet. They stay at home."

To this, Jade Moon replies: "Not all of them."






Sunday, August 17, 2014

Eavesdropping

All writers I know love to eavesdrop. I tell kids when they ask What Does it Take to Be A Writer? that they must listen and remember.

Or in my case, listen and write it down.

The best place for eavesdropping is one where you'll blend in. A train ride, for example.
I like to name characters seen on the train and imagine their stories.

Here's an exchange between a boy in a Yankee cap and another kid, possibly his older sister.

I don't think I'll be using this. Go ahead and steal it if you'd like.

BOY (as we pulled into the South Orange stop on the NJ Transit Mid-Town Direct to NYC):
"This looks just like New York!"

GIRL: You've never even been to New York.

BOY: "Well, it looks just like what I've seen on Cash Cab."


What's the best eavesdropping conversation you've heard? 
Or are you really going to tell me you never eavesdrop...

Check this site for even more confessions of writers eavesdropping.
http://teazurs.blogspot.com/2013/01/eavesdropping-its-your-job.html



Friday, August 15, 2014

The Value of Notes

A zillion years ago, I went to one of the very first "whole novel" workshops sponsored by the HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION. Carolyn Coman led the entire thing, with help from her husband Stephen Roxburgh.

The workshop was SEEING INTO YOUR STORY.

I have an entire legal pad filled with notes.
Obviously, my story needed a whole lot of seeing into.

But some of the notes reflect exactly the same things my now editor, Andrea Pinkney, told me when I began revising THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY.

Which, by the way, was what I worked on during that long weekend in Honesdale with Carolyn.
Back when I barely had a rough draft.

The title was SIXTEEN RULES FOR LIVING AT THE REST EASY.
And the main character's name was Shelton. (now Theo)
And his uncle's name was Chester. (now Raymond)

I had no clue what the time period was though I thought it was the present.
Nope.

The baseball player the kids loved was Mickey Mantle. (now Henry Aaron)

Don't even ask.

Some of the advice Carolyn gave me.
1. Make a bigger deal of the piano scenes.
2. Shelton doesn't have to be quite as sad if his parents died a long time ago and he's been living in a happy situation ever since.


Some of the excellent, quick tips I wrote, filling my entire legal pad.

1. If possible, have characters already knowing each other. Introductions are difficult.
2. Re: PACING. Err on the side of brevity. You can always add. But your potential editor or agent may get bogged down.

Some of the exercises we did (the ones I liked. I'm not crazy about all writing exercises...):

Who were the voices that made you laugh in your childhood, or in the present?
What were some of the expressions you grew up with?  * (see below for answers)


I wonder how many of my writer friends have attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop?
Did you learn as much as I did?

Here we are in our class photo. All those years ago.
The beginning of a great journey that thankfully turned into a book.
Coming, January 2015.








Answer to *
1. Hotter than a depot stove.
2. That ole' peckerwood. (My childhood word's meaning is totally not what some of the current slang dictionaries say it means...)
3. If you don't behave, I'm getting a switch off that switch tree.










I wasn't blogging back in those days, but you can read about some of my Highlights writer friends HERE.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Things I Love: Old and New



Can you think of anything better than a Writers Reunion?
My original critique group, sans one important member, happened to be at the same place at the same time yesterday.

So I dusted off (figuratively speaking) two favorite old things, my tomato server and a silver compote. Not to mention a story or two.

They are favorites because they were wedding gifts I've used a lot.
And love a lot.
The tomato server was a gift of my grandmother's lifelong best friend, who shared her "S" initial with me and gave me her engraved server.

The compote came from one of the funniest ladies I've ever known. Annie B. Gipson.
When I was a middle-grader, I worked with her and we laughed all the time.



 Here's the reason we gathered. Our friend Leslie Guccione was in town.
Look at those yummy New Jersey tomatoes!



 Here we all are!
Lee Stokes Hilton, Leslie, and Kay Kaiser.
(Lee's excellent food blog can be found
HERE.)









The GLORY BE M&Ms fall into the realm of new favorite things. Leftover from one of my last school visits.
And the idea came from an amazing Mother Daughter Book Group dinner, a connection made through a teaching colleague many years ago when I worked in Baltimore.
A job I loved.
With people I truly loved (and still do!).

Such good memories.
Now I'll stop strolling down memory lane and get back to the fabulous writing ideas this group generated. 


(You may be interested in this post, about one of my trips back "home" to Baltimore.)