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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crafty Blogs

Make that crafty WRITING blogs, of course.

When I first started to write, I followed my friend Barbara O'Connor's WRITING TIP TUESDAY posts like a child with Christmas candy. Now I love seeing the Writing Links shared by Caroline Starr Rose.
I learn a lot from fellow writers. 
Thanks, Dorian Cirrone, and so many others.  
What fun, unwrapping each one and tasting it. Putting it back if it isn't right. Saving a tip for later. Does it work for me? Can I apply this to what I need right this minute in my novel?

I've shared Writing Tips here on this blog, and here's another:

Does the story suffer from too much reality?  Sol Stein said a reader is “primarily seeking an experience different from and greater than his or her everyday experience in life.”  Erica Jong said a novel “must make my so-called real world seem flimsy.”  And here is Kurt Vonnegut: “I don’t praise plots as accurate representations of life, but as ways to keep readers reading.’’
A novel is an amplification of real life.  It is more exciting, more fun, more romantic, more glamorous, and more dangerous.  It is wittier, braver, courser, faster and bigger.  A novel has more smell, more taste, and more sound.  Friendships are closer, and enemies are crueler.  Children are more mature, and old people more profound.  Dogs don’t just lie around, and cats have a purpose.  Everything is more.
We all live real lives, and so we don’t want to read about real lives as our entertainment.  Ramp up the story.

You can read the entire, excellent article HERE.

Off to ramp up a story. Or dream up a story.
The New Year will be here soon. Are you writing something new to celebrate?

(Lots of great images HERE!)

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Monday

What am I reading?

Be still my heart.

First of all, the horse.

And this boy, Joseph. A boy and a horse, how can I not love this book?

And his friend, a Chinese boy. And the setting, the West, Washington state, the late 1800s.

Okay, I'm only halfway through the ARC of this middle-grade novel, but already I'm thinking of the kids who are in for such a treat. 

A page-turning adventure, a friendship story. It's also a "western"- in the old-fashioned sense. So there's a gun and fights and the occasional swear word. But they all fit perfectly with the story. And Joseph has such a big heart and strong moral values.

Coming January 2016.  (Thanks, Scholastic, for the review copy.)

Hey, teachers and librarians- It must be holiday break time- Book Time!
What are you reading this Monday?
A Monday bonus. 
Click HERE for an interview with librarian/ author Dan Gemeinhart.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thank you, Wauchula Elementary School!

I had so many great school visits this year. Thank you to all the librarians and teachers who invited me, who read my books aloud, who inspired such great discussions and projects.

My last school visit of 2015 was memorable. It was the first time I'd spoken to so many students who'd all read THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY.

From the drive across the state through Florida's strawberry and citrus fields, I made my way to the little town with a lot of enthusiastic readers, Wauchula, Florida. Enthusiastic readers, great teachers, and one really fantastic librarian.

Here's my day, in pictures.

Even before I arrived, the kids had been reading, thinking, imagining and dreaming.

I loved these giant keyboards that filled the walls!

Each student wrote a dream on a key.
Dreaming big, just like Theo.

In the run-up to my visit, not only had the students and their teachers read my book, Mary Idsardi, super librarian, produced a piano recital!

Check out "Theo's" baseball bat.

Doesn't he look just like the Book Fair/ club edition's fabulous cover?

Now this was no ordinary recital.

The program.

The playlist. Be still my heart.

A Vietnam veteran spoke to the classes. 
And they raised money for the Wounded Warriors.

Truly a special day. Thanks, Wauchula Elementary!

 (The bookshelves, right next to me.)

(I love that t-shirt.)

All the way home, I thought about those kids, 
my home state, Theo and Miss Sister. 
About how difficult and challenging it is to move to a new place.
(My car's GPS, guiding me all the way, 
so I could think about something other than what road to take...)

Writers appreciate how hard it is to organize a school visit so well. 
And how important it is. 

We really and truly appreciate all the work that goes into making these days special for your students. 

Have a great holiday break, librarian and teacher friends!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gifts for Writers

Taking a lead from my food blogger friend who just shared Gifts for Cooks, I'm offering ideas for gifts writers might appreciate.

How about offering to address the Christmas cards? Or even stand in line to mail them. Now that's what I call the Gift of Time!

Office supplies might be very personal. I mean it! We have certain pens, notebooks, desk goodies we love. A gift  certificate to The Container Store is high on my own list. 
 Or check out THIS cool, colorful spot. POPPIN has all sorts of desk supplies, notebooks, you name it.

(I own two of these, just in case)

Speaking of the gift of time, consider a gift to a writing retreat! Wrapped up under the tree, this could make the writer in your circle really really happy. I'm partial to HIGHLIGHTS but there are so many. Brand new workshops are listed on that site, linked.

If your writer friend isn't a traveler or a mixer, find a nice little B&B nearby and send her off for a weekend.

If you're feeling very generous and your budget is unlimited, check with your writer friend or family to see if they'd like a consultation from a freelance editor. There are many and their services vary. Don't do this without asking! Some writers prefer going it on their own. But here are a few friends have used and recommend.

Joyce Sweeney
Leslie Guccione
Elizabeth Law
Carolyn Coman
Lorin Oberweger
Lisa Maxwell

Perhaps some of you reading this could add a name or two?
Prices vary. Abilities and interests and genres and experience vary also. Check the websites and ask around. But this might be something worth requesting. After all, this is the season for gift-giving, right? 

Last, but certainly not least. Give books. Give books in your favorite writers' names to schools and other charities.  (I listed a few HERE, but everybody knows somebody or someplace that deserves a few good books.) 

Buy your friend's book and donate it. Gift wrap it for your favorite person! Your author friends will thank you.

(Thanks, Eileen!)

Happy holidays, one and all. May you be surrounded by good friends, happy family, and most excellent words.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Very Own Library

"My Very Own Library and Scholastic Book Fairs give 250,000 books to children in need..."
(Scholastic blogpost)

There are so many ways to get books into the hands of young readers. Readers who may not have their own books.
My friend Donna Gephart supports a great charity, Bess the Book.
I'm proud to have been a part of My Very Own Library, visiting schools in Newark NJ.

You can read about the schools who hosted me, HERE and HERE.

One of my all-time favorite photos, illustrating my respect for busy urban librarians with limited funds but great enthusiasm. 

(The entrance to the auditorium where I was speaking.)

Thanks, Scholastic and My Very Own Library, for the amazing ways you get books into kids' hands.  And if you're wondering whether books really make a difference, read all about it, HERE.