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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Revision Techniques, anyone?

Now this is interesting. In a scary kind of way.
Via Cheryl Klein's very thorough book: SECOND SIGHT.
(p. 295, if you're looking it up)

Paste your entire manuscript into this word counter and see how often you've used a word. Cheryl recommends it as potentially revealing a hidden theme or image to expand on during revision.

I, of course, used it to show how many times I've OVER-used a word.

The Phrase Counter tab was particularly revealing...

74 uses of THE FRONT

60 of NEXT TO

I've got a lot of fronts going on. Steps, porches, sidewalks.
And those were just 2-word phrases.
When I changed it to 3?
I mean, really? Sixteen IN FRONT OFs?

Yikes. Off to revise. Thanks, Cheryl...

Possibly related posts:  
With Help From a Pro

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Launch Party: A friendly reminder


                             One week from tomorrow
                             Thursday, January 5, 6:00. 
                           INKWOOD BOOKS, Tampa
                                 Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Chick Palace Has Arrived!

For all you Nook people. And for those of you with iPad Nook apps, too.
I am about to offer you the best present you will receive during the holidays. Well, certainly the best book present.

Go immediately to the Barnes and Noble store and  

You will love it as much as I do.
Terrific story.
Great characters.
Writing that will make you go Oh Wow.
Over and over again.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

Just when I thought there were no surprises under the tree, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Amazon decided to ship GLORY BE  before Christmas. A week EARLY!

What a joy to hear from friends, family and even strangers, near and far.
Merry Christmas, everybody!

GLORY BE- From your UPS delivery trucks, all the way to...

Atlanta, sipping a glass of chardonnay with Christopher.

Being watched over by a very busy Shelf Elf.

In a stocking- or two!

Under the Tree in New Jersey!

And being "re-read" by some Very Important People...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Glory Be is out there!

Look what turned up early this morning.

Besides saying really nice things that will be forever engraved on the back of my book, now I get front and center on Barbara O'Connor's blog. 

Since she writes some of the most amazing books, well-loved by kids, this is high praise:

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood is Southern through and through.   But so much more:
an important story about race, friendships, small town life, and sisterly love.

Plus a great big picture of the book for all her loyal followers to see. Eternal gratitude!

Monday, December 19, 2011

More holiday humor from a napkin

As we head into a week of celebration, here's one last glimpse at my gift-giving humor. And a possible life lesson.

What often starts out as good intentions:

Might just turn around and surprise you:

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Quote for the Day

"...writing from a place of fear and concern guarantees only one result: mediocrity.”

Alex Gansa, the creator (with Howard Gordon) of “Homeland”

from the New York Times article on the show's season finale

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shopping for Writers

 Sharing my favorite Gifts for Writers today.
 (Keep in mind that this blog is not written by a shopper, a crafter or even much of a cook these days.)

 If that last person on your shopping list falls into a category considered Creative--  Friend or Family-- check this out. 

Starting with one of my favorite things. Previously blogged about as Things I Love So Much.

This wristlet can be made in the image of almost anything. (Maybe not in time for Christmas, but think ahead!)

My friend Leslie also has one for her forthcoming book:

Both are from this website:

Neat, no?

 Or if you are really feeling generous and have something to celebrate, how about a CAKE made from the cover image of your/ your friend's book. Wow, will this ever impress!

(Yes, that's a cake. A delicious cake. Thanks again, Kate.)

How about this tee-shirt? All sorts of neat things in the Signals catalog. Click here for Writerly stuff.

And here I am, wearing mine, after a long morning of critiquing with some of my Writing Buddies at Panera. It was chilly in there. We worked hard. We deserve gifts. (Thanks, Henry and Celia!)

And last, if you really want to get creative. Here's my niece's take on the little red towels I tucked into her Christmas box:

Which is about how I was feeling when I sent off my last box of goodies into Santaland yesterday.

But of course, here's what I really and truly meant:

Happy reading/writing/shopping/ celebrating to all!

(Any other book or writer-related gift ideas? Leave me a message and I'll expand this post.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

True Confessions

I'm feeling more Bah Humbuggish than HoHoHoing.
Still waiting for the Christmas music to kick in.
More interested in reading and writing than shopping and wrapping.

But hats off to the Pottery Barn catalog that arrived in my mail this week.
Page 15, right there with all the ads for picture frames and the Free Shipping note.
Love this:

"A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away."
 Eudora Welty, author

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Food: Pimento Cheese in particular...

Thinking this morning about Food. Especially food in books.
Specifically, my book: GLORY BE.

Since Glory's caretaker, Emma, is a fabulous cook and the two spend a lot of time talking over the kitchen table, food appears frequently in my book. Maybe not as often as it did pre-edits, but it's there. Red Velvet Cake, bacon frying, ditto chicken. So when I think Wine and Cheese for Glory Be's launch party, I'm thinking Wine and (Pimento!) Cheese.

Then I have to worry if I'm spelling it right. A few years ago, a good portion of one of my New Jersey critique group meetings focused on pimento v. pimiento. Two Southerners and one writing about college in the South fought it out. With no satisfactory conclusion.

Now I have it on Good Authority that either is correct.

I'm going with PIMENTO.
My favorite professional foodie told me so. Well, actually he gave me a GREAT book called The New Food Lover's Companion. And did you know that much of the pimento crop is used for Paprika? Or that Pimento is the name of the tree from which ALLSPICE comes.

Chris, my foodie kissing cousin, knew I'd love this book, and I do. His mother, my sister's mother-in-law (are you still with me? I just did that thing we Southerners do: mention three relatives in one sentence) was an all-time great cook. I have longed a jar of Mrs. Carlson's Jerusalem Artichokes for all the years since she stopped making them (picking them from her garden, scrubbing and pickling those little things).

Back to Pimento Cheese. I think I'll make it the way I've always done it. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal calls it Classic Pimento Cheese. They suggest crudite. Not sure about this. White bread was always on my menu. And I doubt I'll roast and seed my own peppers. They do still sell them in the little jars, you know.

(From the Wall Street Journal:)

The Classic
For 25 years, chef Frank Stitt's Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Ala., has served a platter of pimento cheese and crudité to regulars who know to ask for it (it's not the menu).

The recipe: Shred 1 pound sharp yellow cheddar, then blend it with ¼ pound cream cheese, 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, 3 large red bell peppers (roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped), ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sugar, a splash of hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Cholula), several splashes of Worcestershire and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Serve chilled.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mark Your Calendars! Glory Be is having a PARTY!

         Please join me for my Launch Party.

             Thursday, January 5 
             at INKWOOD BOOKS
        216 South Armenia, Tampa.
                      6:00 PM

Wine and (Pimento) Cheese! Cake, Lemonade, Door Prizes!

And hot off the press, Glory Be, the book.

I'll read, talk about writing, and of course autograph as many copies as you need.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Every day's my birthday!

Or at least it seems so. In a good way, like when you were a kid and the packages kept coming. 

This is the latest doorstep treat my friend the UPS guy just left.

Gorgeous bookmarks, designed by my artist friend Eileen Harrell!

And here's the back, with a quote from GLORY BE and a mimosa bloom. Mimosas kept cropping up on my pages. Maybe it was the big mimosa tree we climbed in my childhood side yard. 

I couldn't resist putting Glory and her friend Frankie under that tree a few times.

Thank you, Eileen! 
And if anybody needs some amazingly designed bookmarks, I know just who to ask.

(Not actual size, and photography by moi does not do these justice. I will be happy to send a few to any of you. Just send your mailing address to me via facebook message, or scroll down to the "contact me" button on this blog, found on the right side.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Could this be more fun?

The first hardcover of GLORY BE has arrived!

It took a bit of a detour on its way to St. Petersburg, FL.

First it stopped off in Madison, NJ where my nice neighbor rescued it from potential drowning on my front doorstep.

Then my great friend Al retrieved it and sent it my way. Triple bagged!

Now, here it is. TaDa!


And beautiful back cover, with all my lovely quotes.


Please note I used my extensive librarian skills to open the book properly. No cracking this baby's spine.

Oh wow. Look at that image on the spine. Love.

She's sharing the shelf with some pretty special books. I still can't quite believe this.
Won't be long before Glory's out in the world. Exciting times!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall Books for Kids

I loved having an assignment from the Books Editor at the Christian Science Monitor. She sent me a stack of great new books. She tied them together around the theme of Friendship. I got to write just enough to entice readers to buy or check them out from the library.

I guess I have to confess that my favorite among the group was HOUND DOG TRUE.
 How I love that book! The wisdom, the characters, the writing. So good.

Click here for the list.

All are terrific, for different reasons.

Anybody out there with a great new fall book to recommend?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunshine State Awards

My Florida writing friend, Shannon Hancock, frequently blogs about the winners of our state's Best Books award. Until I met Shannon, I didn't know much about the list. I was a newcomer to Florida. But there are some terrific books, divided by reading levels, on these lists.

This week I stumbled upon THE MAILBOX at our public library. I knew nothing abut it, but it was on the Sunshine shelf so I checked it out.

Wow is about all I can say. The writing is so accomplished, the descriptions so beautiful--I can see it reaching a very large audience. Not just the middle-grade kids, ages 9-14, that it's supposedly aimed at.

A unique story about a boy who somehow manages to survive a horrendous childhood, foster homes, and now is living with his Vietnam Vet, crusty bachelor uncle. But that's just the beginning. Cryptic notes left in his mailbox, a very loyal dog, a caring teacher. Oh, and did I mention topnotch writing?

So much to commend about this terrific book for middle schoolers. I think boys would especially like this one.

Grownups, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011


“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.” —Toni Morrison

When I first submitted my about-to-be-published middle grade novel, GLORY BE, I assured my hoped for agent that it was a book about sisters. I still think the story is about Glory and her sister Jeslyn. Of course, now I know it's about sisters and a whole lot more.  But sisters are complicated. And that's why I love this quote. And that's why I still think my book is about sisters.

Here's a picture of my inspiration for my novel. My sister, Jane, and me. Oh, and my brother somehow squeezed in between us. Since he and my sister are twins, he managed to do that a lot.

But it was Jane I remember playing Junk Poker with. Jane I remember those afternoons at the park. Me tormenting her, mostly. My tomboy sister! 

Happy thanksgiving to all my family, and to yours.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Debut Author Thanhha Lai Nabs National Book Award for YA Lit

Delighted this book was the winner. Although I also liked Okay for Now and Chime, two other finalists for the National Book Award.

I reviewed this one for the Christian Science Monitor earlier this year.

And here's School Library Journal's take:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Elvis and I

I won't go into my elusive career as an 11-year-old Elvis impersonator again. Everything you might want to know, but probably don't, is right here.

Because of my early fascination with The King, I knew I'd love Shelley Pearsall's book: ALL SHOOK UP. Only peripherally is it about Elvis, however. 

Here's the story.
Josh must stay with his divorced dad while his mom takes care of his grandmother. Dad lives in Illinois. Boy resides in Boston. Dad is the disorganized type. Mom super organized. Dad just lost his job. Mom knew nothing about this. Dad is now an Elvis impersonator. Josh is mortified.

That may be the story in a very small nutshell. It says nothing about the funny writing, the terrific voice, emotions, experiences of a 13-year-old boy thrown into complete disarray by something he has no control over. Or the wise, clever Ivory. And her friend Digger, the tree-hugging artist wearing a spiked dog collar. And Gladys. What a fabulous secondary character. Small part, large role.

Some of the things I adored about ALL SHOOK UP.
1. The use of Elvis appropriate tunes/ lyrics, as between-chapter breaks.
2. The tiny Elvises decorating the (bottom) page numbers.
3. The way Josh changes in the book.
4. Funny lines: ex. "As we headed down the hall, I could tell people were noticing that I was walking beside a girl who looked like an unraveling brown carpet..."

Thank you to the Cynsations blog where I first read about ALL SHOOK UP.

How had I missed this book and this writer? Now I'm looking forward to dipping into a few more by Shelley Pearsall. Another great boy voice, in a book with appeal to a wide age span and multiple reading types. Kids who loved Al Capone Does My Shirts, The Absolute Value of Mike, or Okay for Now should be handed this one for sure.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Movie Time

I'm so honored by the support Scholastic has given my book, GLORY BE. These snippets of upcoming books were created for librarians, which makes them even more special to me.

(Click here to go there.)   That's me on the Middle Grade tab, not too far into the clip.

Note the carefully arranged backdrop.  (Except for the view of my kitchen through the open door. Whoops.) The fig my friend Marge gave me. The books I was reviewing at the time.

 And I loved sharing one treasure from my Junk Poker box: wallpaper from Elvis's house. Details shall remain secret but I unearthed the wallpaper from a scrapbook buried deep into an old footlocker. Thank you, sophomore college roommate Lyn Martin, who lived in Tupelo.

Also inside this box is a real skate key- courtesy of Christine and Jane. And postcards and crackerjack prizes from Glory's secret life as a gambler.

Dreaming up things that Glory and her big sister Jesslyn kept in their boxes was a special way of creating their personalities.

What tricks do you have for seeing your characters as real people?
What's in your character's special box?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writers Most Wanted List: Revision Technique

I was sent a copy of REAL REVISION: Authors' Strategies to Share with Student Writers by the publisher.

There are so many things to love about Kate Messner's terrific new book.

Here's just one tiny thing that I must share:

Words (As in Seen on the Post Office Wall: Most Wanted) we should avoid (like the plague- whoops! We should also avoid overused poetic devises and cliches.)

There's an entire section titled CUT! CUT! CUT!  and this is just a small part, but easy to consider.

In the later stages of revision, have you used these a zillion times too many?

Looked like/ seemed like
Began to
As though
In that moment
A bit
I guess

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Thing I Love

This is what I'm looking at on my counter this morning. A gift from a friend's tree. It's still dark outside so the picture doesn't do the grapefruit justice. But I can't resist sharing my morning's writing inspiration. Cute leaves, no?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Day Job

This week it was my turn at A Good Blog is Hard to Find, my group blog filled with a whole bunch of amazing Southern writers. CLICK HERE if you want to go there. The theme was What Would You Be if You Weren't a Writer: Tell us about your day job.

I shared one of my favorite recent Facebook finds. If you have no time/ interest in clicking over there and reading about How I Became a Librarian, enjoy my illustration for the day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A little break to dance.

(Not breakdance.)

“The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.”

“Part of the joy of dancing is conversation. Trouble is, some men can't talk and dance at the same time.”

 Ginger Rogers

Yep, I've been googling. It's research. Dancers. Dog names. Now back to writing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Part 2 on Previous Post, re: BOY BOOKS

If you haven't had an opportunity to read  my previous post and click on the link  about writing books for boys, here's another teaser from David Elzey's interesting take on writing books for boys.

There are readers, many of them boys, who will pick up that book and judge it by its girth, by its font size, by the amount of white on the page. As a former bookseller, if I had a dollar for every boy I ever witnessed fan a book’s pages as a method for deciding whether or not to read it, I’d have enough money today to buy a small publishing house.
Thomas Newkirk in Misreading Masculinity notes that, for many boy readers, “unless you are reading fluently in late elementary school, getting an assignment to read a two-hundred page book will just defeat you.”
Mind you, that’s not two-hundred manuscript pages, that’s two hundred final printed pages. With middle grade boys that means hewing closer to the 20,000 word range as opposed to the 30,000 or 40,000 words that has been typical for middle grade books.

I know writers wring their hands about word count/ page count/ size. 
I like what I've heard writer Greg Neri say more than once: "A book needs to be what it needs to be." Or something close to that. Meaning, you can't force a YA novel into a picture book format. Or a long fantasy into a short adventure? The book will tell you what it wants to be. Eventually. That's a key word. It may take a while. You may have to wait.

But when you start the revision part, whittling down, getting rid of the excess, does that 20,000 word range surprise you? Do you even notice? Or is it all about writing the book that needs to be, not worrying about the size.

(And just a note from somebody--me-- who knows a lot more girl readers, up close and personal, than I do boy readers: I've seen a fair number of girls fan books, check for page numbers, and put them aside.)

Thoughts on size, and whether it matters, anyone?

Off the top of your head, recommendations for short boy books?
Most of the books by Barbara O'Connor?
The Liberation of Gabriel King, by K.L. Going?

What else?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boy Books

Yes, it's long. But anybody interested in creating a boy character, a boy-preferred novel, or in cultivating boy readers needs to read this post. Seriously good stuff.

Originally written as part of his Vermont College thesis, this is David Elzey's expanded version.  
Click this link for his blog.

(This is what happens when I decide to clean out emails, straighten file cabinets, tidy my desktop. I find amazing stuff I might have overlooked. Don't you just love when that happens?)

My rainy Saturday gift to fellow writers. Here's a bit of what he says about boy readers. If this doesn't make you click that link, you may be missing a whole segment of your reading population:

They’ll say they hate books and reading, and the next thing you know they’re driving books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series onto the bestsellers list.

They’ll ask for something exactly like what they just finished reading, a beginning reader series like the Time Warp Trio or Geronimo Stilton, and then quickly lose interest because they’ve discovered and become bored with the formula.

They’ll read a page of grade-level text aloud in a halting stammer, then read the sports section of the newspaper as smoothly as professional television announcers.

The conundrum that is a boy reader is enough to drive any adult mad.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Meet Your Characters: Refrigerator Doors

Remember all those Getting to Know Your Characters exercises. Fact Sheets.
What did he eat for breakfast?
What's her favorite color? Music? Relative?

I mostly hate doing that.

One question I sometimes think about is what's in your character's fridge? Bacon? Organic food? Leftovers from Whole Foods.

But here's another thing I'm pondering: What's on your character's fridge?

(Unless your character has a stainless steel refrigerator. That may just ruin my theory of getting to know people from the interesting things posted on refrigerators.)

My own always had pictures of my kids, my pets, emergency phone numbers, quotes and funny pictures.
What do you think? Can you learn about a character from a refrigerator door?
One I recently visited was filled with emergency numbers, pictures, all the usual. But it also told me another thing or two:

She collects these great Snoopy comics.

For sure, she's dog lover.

And a character begins to take shape.

(Note to friend: Don't worry. You are not becoming a character in my novel.☺)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Thoughts on Book Reviews: The Art of Fielding

It seemed like a perfect book. Baseball, but literary fiction. High praises from every single reviewer. The New York Times review was long, intriguing, and included the phrase: slow, precious and altogether excellent first novel.

A baseball book that really wasn't about baseball.

So last night when I finally finished all my Required Reading (6 YA/Middle grade novels for review, 2 grown-up Southern books), I grabbed my Kindle (at over 500 words, The Art of Fielding seemed like the perfect e-book).

I read two sample chapters and liked it. I was poised to hit the "buy" button, but it was quite late and the book's still $12.99. Buy or wait? I scrolled through the 40+ reader reviews.

Okay. I know I've come close to blasting reader reviews on this very blog. But these were not only mostly articulate, they were signed! And almost all really slammed the pre-pub hype surrounding this novel.

I decided to wait. Maybe give it a try from the library. Anybody else read The Art of Fielding?
And I wonder if a lot of those reader reviews were from disappointed baseball fans. I suspect this book is about a whole lot more than sports.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy birthday, Dr. Jack!

 If ever there were a real character in my life, my daddy was it. I could write a book about him: his colorful language, his love of animals, his musical talents, his amazing medical education and skill.

Recently I re-read a funny story Eudora Welty, a woman of his generation, told about herself. As a young child, she loved to sit in the backseat of the family car, her mother and her mother's friend on each side, for drives around Jackson. "Now talk," she'd say, and of course, she'd listen.

That's the way I felt about Sunday dinners around our family table: "Now talk!"
All I wanted to do was listen.

I still have people I don't even know tell me how much they loved Dr. Jack. Maybe he'd set a broken arm, perhaps he'd delivered them (for a while, he was the only doctor in our little town who delivered babies), stitched up a cut, charmed off a wart (yes, he did). His medical talent was legend. His training was as a chest physician; he considered himself a country doctor.

He married late by today's standards, and sadly, died young. Today would be his100th birthday. In honor of this momentous occasion, I'll share some memories.

Once he brought a pet monkey into our family. Our mother refused to let it into the house. A patient of his took it and raised it, naming it "Jackie." In fact, he frequently claimed to find exotic pets on the side of the road. We had rabbits, parakeets, Dobermans, a chihuahua (supposedly good for my allergies, justification for owning this tiny canine even before they became celebrity pets), a very large long-haired Persian cat. He adored four-legged things so much that once he anesthetized an injured fawn and set her broken leg, in the same office where he treated his human patients.

Besides the colorful language, my dad had a few other questionable traits. He smoked White Owl cigars. This was before the Surgeon General's report came out and physicians collectively chose to oppose smoking. After that, Daddy stopped, and encouraged his patients to follow suit.

The only time I've ever really written about my father was a Christian Science Monitor essay a few years ago. It was mostly about Elvis, but I did write this about my dad:

Music was in my blood. My father had lived in New Orleans before settling into the life of a small town country doctor. With him, I sang along with Louis Armstrong’s “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” on the radio. Before I could walk, I danced on the tops of my father’s polished shoes to the beat of Fats Waller’s band. I thought Blue-Room-of-the-Roosevelt-Hotel, where my dad had worked as a ticket taker to earn college spending money and free admission, was an elaborately exotic word for a place I longed to visit.

In the picture below, that's Dr. Jack, back row, middle, the handsome young man hanging with his college friends, all dressed up for dancing at the Blue Room.

(I wrote this blogpost originally for a different birthday but since I've been thinking a lot about Daddy today, I'm replaying it. Just rereading it makes me smile.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Without even realizing I was on a literary tour, I've visited several of the spots:

Eudora Welty's house in Jackson
Faulkner's in Oxford
And now Flannery O'Connor's last family home in Milledgeville, GA.

Having reread THE HABIT OF BEING last winter, I set my sights on visiting Flannery O'Connor's hometown. Fortunately we have gracious friends who grew up in Milledgeville. Our host had even spent time sitting on the front porch of Andalusia as a young boy fascinated/ freaked by the peacocks a while back. Great tour guides. I hope we get invited back to explore via the trolley and poke around inside the church where the evil General Sherman stabled his horses. (Oh, the horror!)

Call me a southern author groupie if you must, but something about seeing how O'Connor faced her typewriter to the wall so as not to be tempted by the beauty of nature outside her first floor window spoke to me. Though how she plotted to the tune of peacocks remains a mystery.

Eudora Welty's garden and home are must-see spots in Jackson.
Oxford, MS, sports a statue of Faulkner on the Square, though he was not universally loved by his home state.
A great way to travel the south. I plan to check out a few more spots on the Southern Literary Trail.

Who out there's visited some of the many author birthplaces, homes, gardens open to the public?
Inspiration? Voyeurism? An excuse to eat fried okra and turnip greens at your author's favorite cafe?

Here's a post from my reading of The Habit of Being.
And another, here- random thoughts about writing like Flannery.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tales from School, Part 1.

Remember the class I visited last month to present the Glory Be ARC their teacher had won on my blog giveaway?

I now have fan letters.

Which is completely amazing and a little weird. Having been on the other end of Author Visits for my almost twenty years of school librarianing, it's quite eye-opening to sit in the interviewee chair. Since they hadn't read the book, I shared my road to publication, my writing advice, and answered their very inquisitive questions.

I can't resist sharing a couple of the kids' wise comments. More to come, of course.

I think your book is going to be really popular. You helped me when you said you kept trying and didn't give up. Now when I get frustrated I don't rip up the paper. I punch my pillow and keep on trying.

It has been nice to actually meet the woman that Mrs. C. has been going on and on about for the last few weeks. I really wonder if the book Glory Be is as good as you said it was.

and one more for today:

Thank you for coming to the class... I am glad that you are giving our teacher the first copy of Glory Be. Being an author must be great.
Your #1 Fan
PS I like your hair cut.

Out of the mouths of babes and all that.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Great Book Reviewing

Since I kind of trashed reviewers with an ax to grind in this recent post, I'd like to take my hat off to the professional writers and the lovers of reading who know good books and know how to write about them.

Here's one fine example, in my recent UNC alumni publication, ENDEAVORS. Click here for their review of Minrose Gwin's book, Queen of Palmyra.

My favorite line:

"Some stories burn hot, cooking down quick and clean to a tidy, well-timed end. And some, like this one of Gwin's, smolder like a pot forgotten on the back of the stove."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seen on a bumper sticker...

In anticipation of The Drive:

And this one, from a friend in Atlanta:

You don't have to go fast, you just have to go.

Related posts: Bumper stickers

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Periods, Less Conjunctions?

Although this writing coach doesn't specialize in writing fiction, Ann Wylie's advice frequently makes me sit up and take notice. I also love some of the less well-known quotes she digs up. Like this one, from one of the many writing books next to my desk:

“There’s not much to be said about the period, except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.”
William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well

If you write for business, you may already know about her writing newsletter, but this one caught my attention. Click here to read what she says about Shorter Sentences.
(You may need to scroll around a bit, but her site is worth it.)

Now, excuse me while I depart the blog. I believe I have some conjunctions to "search and destroy."

Click here for my older post about Ann Wylie's newsletter, with a link to another website where I just wasted quite a few precious minutes. But totally fun minutes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just another ordinary day...

(I wish!)

Lunch with my editor today, a special treat. I got there early and popped in the Scholastic bookstore downstairs. Kids everywhere! Loving the books!
Now keep in mind, I'm trying to be Cool Author Lady. Not starstruck tourist.

But it does kind of take your breath away.

First stop? I'm drooling over Brian Selznick's new fabulous book, WONDERSTRUCK --smack dab in front. Which by the way I'm totally dying to read.

(Sorry about the photos. As I said above, trying to be C.A.L. and didn't want to be so obvious in my photo-snapping.)

Then I moseyed over to another enticing shelf. All sorts of familiar faces and names on these books.

Yep! There you are Kimberley! Front and center!

And then I had to pinch myself. Will my very own book be in the S section come January?!
Swooned all the way upstairs. Awestruck, starstruck, AND Thunderstruck.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Celebrity Guest

That would be me. At least, if you take the word of Ms. Casey's 4th graders. She was a winner of a GLORY BE Advanced Readers Copy. I popped in yesterday to say hello to her brilliant students.
They don't know me. They didn't know I was going to be there. They have not read the book. But I felt like a celebrity when I presented them with the book.

Here is why I think they are brilliant:

1. I packaged the book with ribbon, stars, and stickers. I showed them the stickers (guitars) and told them the book takes place in 1964. I asked if they had a guess about why I'd given them shiny guitar stickers. About 5 hands shot up, all with the right answer: ELVIS!

2. We talked about the cover art. One bright boy nailed it. "Maybe it's about a swimming pool that wouldn't let black people and white people swim at the same time."

3. They know a lot about history. They can define historical fiction.
4. They asked amazing questions, and not just whether my name was really mine or not. Though we did talk about pseudonyms and they know the word.

Impressive bunch. This is the huge poster right at the front door.  No wonder they are so brilliant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Reviewing, or whatever you want to call it

I love Eudora Welty's short stories. But I know not everybody "gets" her. Just now I was trying to decide which edition to pick as a gift for someone, and I was rambling around the Barnes and Noble and Amazon sites.

This is what bugs me about random commenters, whether it be rating restaurants, TVs or news stories on websites. You don't know whom to trust. Is what you are reading coming from somebody who has a clue as to what they are saying? A reputable voice? A furious customer? Does it matter?

Eudora Welty is arguably one of our most esteemed writers. I could go on forever listing her awards and accolades. Yet, not everyone cares for her stories as much as I. (Though how could anybody resist her famous photographs? This lady looks exactly like my grandmother...)

My point? If you don't know what you are talking about and you really don't "get" something, should you just stay-the-heck off the review sites?

Am I being snarky? Does anybody agree with me? Can any good come from this review? Other than maybe giving us something to chuckle about at our Book Group discussion? True confessions- The 15-word description of a favorite story of mine, Why I Live at the P.O., did make me smile. For about a second.

This is what some random Amazon reviewer person says about the most famous of Welty's stories. At least he adds a disclaimer: "Everyone's taste is different."
I'll say.

What do you think? Helpful or mildly humorous? And what's the point,


Do not read this book unless you like short stories or are required to do so. Each story is like reading the exposition of a novel, which is the most uninteresting part. Here are some of what the stories are about: 1) A woman who lives at the post office and has male relatives who wear dresses 2) A man who's wife said she drowned herself because he came home late, so the man went to look for here body in the river AND 3) Two mentally challenged people who want to get married and one is a xylophone player If these sound interesting to you get the book. They certainly weren't for me. Yet everyone's taste is different.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Great Beginnings

Today I re-read a truly terrific piece of advice from a blog all Middle-grade writers should have on their radar:
FROM THE MIXED UP FILES. Click this link and you'll be taken there in a blink!

In the numerous comments to Sarah Aronson's fun-to-read, helpful post about beginning sentences, one writer quoted Richard Peck:

He claims he always throws away his first chapter when he finishes his first draft and then  
“writes the chapter that goes at the beginning. Because the first chapter is the last chapter in disguise.”

Richard Peck may be onto something. But now that I've re-written a first paragraph, oh maybe FIFTY times, I don't think I'll throw it out just yet.

But you never know.