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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Introducing Your Book to the World

The best time to launch a book set in sunny Florida? Why, January of course! Who knew?

But is there a better time to think about bourgainvillia, baseball spring training, and best friends hanging out at the beach? Especially if you're digging out from a foot of snow. (Sorry, friends up there freezing and shoveling.)

I loved having my Book Launch Party at the wonderful Dunedin Public Library. Thank you to the terrific librarians. Thanks also to the fabulous librarian at the Curtis Fundamental School in Dunedin for supporting the event.

Jan Hager's students at Curtis Fundamental (who hadn't even read the book because- hey- it wasn't a book yet) made super posters for her contest.

The judges chose five winners: Alexandra, Anna, Ava, Mckenzie, and Alaya and Sara.  



Here they are!


Poor Theo! What a dilemma! You can see it on his face.



Anabel and Theo= friends forever.




Wow! Look at the cool colors. Great bat. 


 The choices we make along the way to our destiny...



A peace symbol, lots of musical notes, fabulous piano. 



Here I am, yacking away, signing a few books.
Thanks, Barnes & Noble for bringing and selling so many!



One of my original Florida SCBWI critique group members lives in Dunedin. Denis always supports our Tampa Bay gang. My writer friends Sue and Teddie were also there, along with lots of new friends and so many kids with their families. What a great afternoon!

Note the library camera guy in the background and my basket of goodies on the table. 
Lots going on. Lots of fun. 



I truly appreciate everybody who came, all of you who've bought  
and especially those who've shared your nice thoughts about the book. 





I guess it's real.





If you're still scrolling, thank you.
If you have a few minutes and haven't had enough of me, the wonderful Dunedin librarian just emailed the video from my presentation. Be warned- it's not short.
:)





Monday, January 26, 2015

Writers Love Readers

One question I often get from kids involves "favorites."

Which character do you like most?
Which chapter was your favorite to write?

And now, which is your favorite book?

Of course, authors always compare it to having a favorite child, or student, or pet.
Taking the easy way out of that question!

But I truly don't have a favorite. I have favorite scenes, yes. Okay, you can call them chapters. And maybe I like a character a lot. But favorites? That's harder.

And just because a new book comes out, we're not forsaking our firstborns.

That's what tickled me so much when my writer friend SHANA BURG sent this video to share her young neighbor's enthusiasm for GLORY BE.

Thanks, ladies. This tickles me to no end.

video

(Her name is Jocelyn. I wrote her a note and told her I thought of giving my character Jesslyn that name. And okay, Jesslyn might just be near the top of my favorite character list.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

So proud! Thank you, International Reading Association.


I can't resist sharing a tiny line or two.

(I love how well they actually understood what I was trying to say. Wow.)


"While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny." 

Here's the link to read the rest, as well as their reviews of several other brand new 2015 books. 
http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses 

Made my day. Happy weekend, everybody! 

While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf
While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf

While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf



While Theo and his baseball-loving friend, Anabel, might seem to have separate journeys, they are linked by their need to find their own destiny rather than doing what others want. As they both come to realize, sometimes our destiny simply finds us, even in a remote town in the South called Destiny. - See more at: http://www.reading.org/reading-today/literature/post/books/2015/01/12/book-reviews-hot-off-the-presses#sthash.mbzxSpf7.dpuf


Friday, January 23, 2015

Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg has a new novel, coming this spring! 
Have you ever read her book about writing, ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN: THE ART OF WRITING TRUE?

Here's a quote to mull over this morning.

"Sound can fine-tune the description of a place. Consider what you might hear at 7:30 in the evening in these three places, all of them restaurants: a four-star hotel dining room, a truck stop, a Dairy Queen on a hot summer night." 

Don't miss this- writing tips, advice, her thoughts:

https://medium.com/@penguinrandomus/what-it-takes-to-be-a-writer-courtesy-of-elizabeth-berg-5d52ad1f5009


For an extensive interview, check out this from Writer's Digest:
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/elizabeth-berg

Also, you can read all about her new novel and the book tour on her Facebook Author page. (I borrowed this image from that page.)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome, Sandra Markle!

Sandra Markle joined my wonderful SCBWI Critique group when she returned to the U.S. from New Zealand. What a coup for our group! She's added life and fun and her own brand of smart editing.

And now I get to introduce her to all my blog-reading friends.

She's just taken the daring step of taking her work into her own capable hands, so to speak.

But I'll let SANDRA MARKLE tell you all about this journey.

You can read a little more about this new e-book venture HERE.

But first, let's pour a glass of sweet tea (Sandra and I both lived in the South, after all), and meet this prolific writer.


Augusta:    For those who don't know your books, tell us a little about them. How many have you written? Do you have favorites?


Sandra: I’ve written around 200 books but that’s over about thirty years. Many were hands-on activity books while others share the real life adventures of people and animals around the world.


My answer to any question about a favorite book is usually “My current book.” 
The truth is the one that will forever stand out in my heart is PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. I took all of the photos in this book and wrote it as a result of my two summers in Antarctica with the National Science Foundation’s Artists and Writers Program. During those trips, I camped out with 60,000+ Adelie Penguins as they hatched and raised their chicks. Experiencing the earth’s wildest remaining frontier and wildlife up close was life-changing.



Plus, I met my husband at McMurdo Station when I stayed to experience Antarctica’s nine-month long winter. 

Augusta: What an adventurer you are! You have so much to write about. Can you tell us what  marks a Sandra Markle book as something you’re proud to publish and read? 

Sandra: My goal is to make a “Sandra Markle” book so much fun to read that the learning experience I slip into each one just happens naturally--what I call stealth learning. And I strive to make each of my storytelling books perfect for reading aloud to children. I love to paint stories with words.

Augusta:  When you’re not writing, where will we find you?
 
Sandra: I love sketching and painting so you could find me working on those hobbies.

But I’m also a story-collector. I am always tracking down people, especially researchers and scientists to learn about their work firsthand. Thanks to satellites, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk on the phone to a scientist who was in a jungle studying army ants, another in a remote part of Panama rescuing golden frogs, yet another who was in the Amazon observing pink river dolphins and lots more. I also eagerly go wherever I can to discover and learn from the experts so I was on board an icebreaker for 30 days and watched over a surgeon’s shoulder as he performed a heart valve replacement. I’ve watched moon rocks being analyzed and tiles being replaced on the space shuttle and lots, lots more. To paraphrase that old saying, “So many things to investigate, so little time.” So it’s hard to say where you’ll find me but you can count on it being on the trail of a story I’m hot to learn more about.

Augusta: You certainly are not an armchair traveler! What’s next for your writing world?
Sandra: Next, I’m excited to be bringing some of my Out-Of-Print books back to life, starting with PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. And thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing I’m able to enrich these books with popups containing info about my experiences researching and writing the books. I’m also able to include activities for young readers—ones to help them look for content, think about POV, and launch into their own original writing. But, most of all, my goal is to have the popups make reading my books even more interactive fun.

Augusta: What a gift you've given your readers! Do you have a favorite thing about writing?

Sandra: I love that writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle where I first get to create all the pieces and then put them together.  I’m a very visual person so as I work on an idea there’s a point where I “see” the book. Then I work to bring that vision to life. And, when the book is completely done, it is an absolutely GREAT feeling.

Augusta: One last question. You seem to know and love animals- of all kinds! Here's one I'll bet your young fans would like to know: Do you have a pet?

Sandra: I certainly do have a pet—couldn’t be without one.
My current pet is a Maine Coon cat named Beau.




He accepts me unconditionally and reminds me—usually by climbing onto my laptop—that there is more to life than writing, like petting the cat.

Augusta: That's the truth! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your books with us. 

I know everybody will want to download PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD. 

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/PENGUINS-Growing-Wild-Sandra-Markle-ebook/dp/B00R9RH93S

Find out even more about Sandra, her school visits and Skype chats, by visiting her here:




Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blue Birds

True confessions. I was a childhood biography fanatic. And even more mortifying to admit, my go-to reading matter was those orange, then blue, now paperback CHILDHOOD OF FAMOUS AMERICANS fake biographies.

In my own elementary school, they were kept in our one-room library close to the desk where the "librarian" sat. I use the term loosely. From each incoming 5th grade, the principal chose a student to be the librarian. One of my fondest memories is the power I wielded sitting at that desk. Stamping those date-due slips. Reading the newest books before my classmates.

Every single Childhood of Famous Americans book lined up on that shelf was read - more than once- by me.

(Also, Nancy Drew. But that's a different post.)

One of my favorites?


Fast forward to American History class, a few years later. A picture of the Dare Stones fascinated me. My little Mystery Girl! From the library! Proof she actually lived.



Well, not so fast. Maybe it's all a hoax. 

Still, Virginia Dare and Virginia's Lost Colony continued to fascinate me. But like a lot of childhood things, I forgot the story. And I hadn't remembered it until the publisher sent me an Advance Readers Copy of a terrific new novel, written by Caroline Starr Rose.  


Which I love.



Is that not an absolutely gorgeous cover? It says so much!

Caroline and I became Author Buddies when our debut novels launched at almost the same time, with similar titles. Hers was MAY B. Mine, Glory Be. Two feisty historical heroines.

You can read my interview with Caroline HERE
(Lots of terrific tips about writing verse novels.)

Well, she's done it again. BLUE BIRDS, also a novel-in-verse, is not really about Virginia Dare. But it is about the Lost Colony, part of my childhood obsession. It's about two very different girls who become friends. It's a gem of a book about caring so much for someone that you're willing to change your life in ways you never expected. 



And as if the actual book were not enough, if you pre-order soon, Caroline has a gift for her readers. 

See below for details.



Here's a link to Caroline's post about the quote and what it means to her. And check out her website, HERE.

Good luck, Caroline, as you usher your beautiful book into young readers' hands!




This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, IndieBound, or Powell's, then email a copy of your receipt to caroline@carolinestarrrose.com by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Leo Lionni and Frances Foster

Thank you to Barbara O'Connor, who had the honor and pleasure of working with the great Frances Foster, for sharing this interview with me.
Sort of a behind-the-scenes look at how the business once worked.

 CLICK HERE to read it.

And proof that the story I heard many years ago in a children's lit class at Simmons College, about Little Blue and Little Yellow, was indeed true:


 

"Leo did Little Blue and Little Yellow — originally, just to amuse his grandchildren during a train ride"







(This post was inspired by my earlier post about Things We Save.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Destiny Week

Sorry about your snow up there, people who don't live in Florida. 
But what a great season to bring a book into the world.

All those poor teachers and librarians freezing, delayed openings, snow/ cold days. Nothing better to do (well, nothing they'd rather do) than sit home with a warm cup of tea and one of Miss Sister's brownies. 



And read a book.
Maybe even MY book!

Thank you for all the sightings of THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY around the country, in young readers' hands, on tabletops and bookshelves.

Some things I loved about my book's week?

1. "Seeing" it for the very first time in a bookstore. 
Via Twitter, Facebook and email. Of course.




(This happens to be the wonderful ANDERSON'S Bookstore in Naperville- Thanks, Terry Shay- where I'll be on Sunday, February 1st. More to come on that, but so excited!)











2. Fun Tweets:
Especially the new hashtag.

Andrea Davis Pinkney ‏@AndreaDavisPink  Jan 6
Happy Book Birthday to #TheWaytoStayinDestiny by @ARScattergood, just named an Amazon "Best of the Month" pick! http://ow.ly/i/89Ll6  


(Of course, that hashtag could seriously cut into your 140 characters. But go ahead and use it. I love it.)

3. And most of all, already hearing from teachers, and even their students, that they like the new book.

Happy Book Birthday, indeed!









Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Book Birthday! THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY





A few days before Christmas, I got to actually hold the book in my hot little hands.
My fabulous, fantastic editor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, sent a few early copies, and such a sweet note.



 The best part about seeing the Real Deal? Besides the gorgeous cover, designed by Elizabeth Parisi and Sara Wood?

The great quote from Kirby Larson on the back. Wow, I'm swooning down here!




I think I'll spend the day appreciating all the amazing things that have happened to me since my brilliant agent, Linda Pratt, said let's do this! It's not often that we slow down and enjoy the moment, is it?

So happy Book Birthday to me and my book. I think I'll eat some cake.

But first, a HUGE thank-you to all my Scholastic team, my Twitter friends, Facebook buddies, and fellow Nerdy Book people who've embraced this book since it sneaked onto a few shelves over the weekend. And even before. It's scary birthing a book.
I can't thank you enough. (But I'm happy to share the cake.)


I think it was you, T.J. Shay, who got the first glance. And sent me scurrying off to my local Barnes & Noble to check it out.

(Okay, yes. My book is near the bottom. But they're alphabetical! And no way is a librarian going to mess with the ABCs of bookshelf arrangement.)

They had already sold a few, according to the nice guy who let me sign what was left.





There were others who caught a glimpse before today.

And shared on Twitter.

 John Scovill @Johnlit360  ·  Dec 31
Here it is @ARScattergood : ) 




Tweets! Too many to mention! 

Like:
Jan 4
Last holiday was an amazing one The Way to Stay in Destiny. All kinds of awesome!!


Such fun seeing your book baby in amazing company, no? 
2015 is going to be a big reading year for me!

@CarrieGelson  Jan 3
My #mustreadin2015 list is great! http://bit.ly/1rQpD7k  @LieslShurtliff @ARScattergood @marburyjack @nielsenwriter






@MrSchuReads  Dec 31
. @ARScattergood You're hanging out next to @sharonmdraper

Hey, I love hanging out with Sharon Draper. 



He saw it at one of my favorite Indies: Anderson's! 

Another big thank-you to my fellow book bloggers who've said lovely things about this novel. 

And to Amazon for choosing it as a best January release for middle-grade readers.

I guess you could say THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY has been celebrating all week.
And I'm good with that.

Off to find cake.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things We Save

I've been thinking about Christmas wrapping paper. And ribbon. And tape.

My husband's aunt saved her ribbon, ironed and reused it. Her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews were fascinated and in awe when they received gifts with NO TAPE! Not a piece of it. Gifts were beautifully wrapped using that ironed ribbon.

She was a Quaker lady who'd lived through the Depression and managed just fine and dandy.




I always save ribbon.
And sometimes get made fun of.

I also save boxes from year to year.

(The challenge is making sure the tags have the right names on them when I "wrap" and reuse those Christmas boxes.)





Stick with me. This is going to be about writing, soon.

This week I had a chance to re-read FREDERICK by Leo Lionni. Several times.

"...I am gathering words. For the winter days are long and many, and we'll run out of things to say."

I adore that sentence.

Even if there's not much to winter in Florida, writers always need to think about choosing the right words for our stories and our characters. It's hard work! We can't run out of things to say!

Here are a few helpful writing links, some about words, for the new year.

The Emotion Thesaurus creator, on character flaws.

Excellent example of explaining to kids why we can cut the adverbs and adjectives!

Speaking of words, I've been reading poetry lately. Two novels-in-verse. A quick poem here, another there. I like this post about writing and sharing poetry with young readers. 

And if you're still reading, a very special treat.