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

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.