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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nerd for the Day!

One of my favorite things to do is nerd out about books.

I'm always proud to be featured on the NerdyBookClub blog. 

CLICK HERE for my most recent post about choosing names for your characters and places.

I constantly borrow names. In fact, tomorrow I'm driving to Wachula Elementary School down a road named Moccasin Hollow Road.

(Whoa! I'll be on the lookout for critters on that trip. )

School visits are a great place to discover interesting character names. 
Can't you just imagine this girl in a story?




What are some of your favorite borrowed names?


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Thanks!

Two lovely things happened this week.

My buddy and book sibling (Glory Be and May B.), Caroline Starr Rose, shared that Glory was listed as one of the Top Ten Historical Fiction Favorites for Tweens. You can find the list HERE.

Caroline is also writing about SUCCESS on her own blog, what it means to writers. I'm following with interest. You might want to also.

And this blogger gave MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG a truly lovely review.  
There's also a giveaway going on at that blog. I'm not sure how long it will last but hurry on over and throw your name in the hat for a signed copy of my book.

The last paragraph of the review really made my day.

"The characters are complex, palpably real, and easy to like and relate to. The setting gives a real taste of small-town America in the 1950s. The story is rich and the writing is simply lovely. This is a book that deserves readership far beyond its intended middle-grade audience. I loved it. Honestly, I think this one just might be my favorite of Augusta's books."

Wow. See what I mean?


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kaigler Festival

My friend Shannon Hitchcock and I had such fun presenting together at OUR second University of Southern Mississippi's Kaigler Children's Book Festival. 
It's the Festival's 50th anniversary. Wow!

As promised, here are a few links from our workshop:

WRITING BRAVELY: Tackling Tough Topics With Books

Our info:


Shannon Hitchcock




Augusta Scattergood



Fellow writers' links we shared for learning more:

Middle Grade Books on TOUGH TOPICS



Kate Messner’s blog:



Nerdy Book Club blogs:


And finally, not to make light of this topic, but sharing- from my smart, funny educator friend Patty, prettied up by my artist friend Eileen- this thought.






And that's pretty much the truth, isn't it?





Thursday, March 30, 2017

Making Friends With Billy Wong

 
Thank you to a new (to me) book blogger for this excellent review. She listened to the audio of my newest book, and I agree that the audio is "excellent, with two perfect narrators."


Here's just one of the paragraphs that made me swoon with delight. Truly, when you work as hard as we do to get a story from our heads to the finished book, a review like this makes you believe it was worth that effort!



"As always in her immersive novels, Scattergood tells a warm story of childhood while also addressing important issues of race, poverty, and justice. I think this novel will be eye-opening for many modern children, whose classrooms today include plenty of Asian-American kids, to find out about this particular form of racism that was prevalent so recently. That is, of course, just one thread of this engaging story about friendship and family, as Azalea not only makes a new friend but also gets closer to her grandmother and learns her family history."


 

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY

I'm having a Destiny Day.

First, my wonderful agent and editor shared the news that my book was nominated -> for this nice award.  
The other books on the list make me swoon. I'm very proud!

And then the mail came.

Really, there isn't much better to reward writers for all the hard work than getting a note from a reader who really connected with your book. 
I answered it right away. But I'm still smiling.
Since he, like Theo, is a baseball fan and a music lover, I used one of my Elvis stamps.

My favorite line:
"It made me cry when Uncle Raymond had the talk with Theo. I'm glad that I have caring parents that love me."








Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Batter Up

SOAR!
My exclamation point, not Joan Bauer's.
I love this book a lot.
Such great characters. So funny, yet poignant and serious. 
So much subtext. I think SOAR will provoke great discussions.

There are so many quotes I could share. I like this one:

Uncle Jack, who was very good at cards, always told me, "It's not the hand you're dealt that matters--it's the way you play it."


 





And since we're big into spring training here in Florida, you may need to read these baseball books on my Pinterest board.

If you're still craving more baseball book connections, CLICK HERE for a fun interview Wendy Shang and I did about our own baseball books, The Way to Stay in Destiny and The Way Home Looks Now.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

“The first essential in any book is that it have something significant  to say --a book that leaves the reader with bigger ideas than when hbegan reading - that stimulates his  thinking, stretches his mind, deepens his feelings. A good book sticks  to your ribs.”  

Rebecca Caudill (for whom the Illinois Young Reader's  Book Award is named)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Looking Back

My blog has a birthday! February 22, 2008 was my very first entry. 



I reviewed books, talked about writing, shared links. Blogs were fairly new and not quite as ubiquitous back then. 

A lot of my early entries talked about memories. And people I knew. 







Yesterday I walked at my favorite park in St. Petersburg, listening to a great podcast. I highly recommend the NCTE's WHY I WRITE podcasts. Not only does it make walking fun, I learn something. THIS ONE by Sharon Draper was yesterday's listen. 
She talked about how she came to write STELLA BY STARLIGHT, her grandmother's journal, her summers in the south. And although the book was inspired by her grandmother, it wasn't about her grandmother.

I love it when kids ask questions about my stories' truths and whether my characters are real people, people I know. 
Because characters often are based on real people, and they certainly begin with the truth.

In the spirit of those early blog entries, and in my newly revived effort to review more books where it counts (Amazon and GoodReads, places that mean a lot to books), here's a book about real people and life stories turning into book characters.



Fans of Lois Lowry- this one's for you.
And for a lot of readers who appreciate how authors come to their stories.
And for authors who struggle to find stories and then discover they are right in their own backyard. Or at least the inspiration for a story is!

From the chapter titled BOOK WRITING.

     "The Mystery of the Girl Who Lived in a Tower," Anastasia write dreamily.
      Then she looked at that title. Good grief. It sounded like a Nancy Drew title. Probably on the library shelf of thelve thousand Nancy Drew books, there was already one called "The Mystery of the Tower Room" or something.
     She tore that page out of her notebook and threw it away. It was much harder to write a book than she had ever realized...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dead Matter

We all have it.
That detritus of STUFF that you save after a book has long since seen the light of day.

Whether you have a stack a mile high, or to be more exact- a shelf wide. Or one book, or three. Authors have copyedits. They have notes. They have editors who give them notes and letters and copyedits.
(For example, you can't really see eye-to-eye when you're walking side-by-side. Or at least that's what one copyeditor noted. And while I'm at it, is it copy editor or copyeditor? AND is funnybook really TWO words? As in Little Lulu?)


I am inspired by my friend Barbara O'Connor's post on things her editors taught her. So to speak. 
Truthfully, I suspect she taught them a thing or two! Don't even get me started about barbeque.

HERE'S HER POST. Click over there and read it. Such fun!

For example:

Lunch box is two words but tailpipe is one word.

Hot dog is two words but bottlecap is one word.

Popsicle is capitalized.





(I'm proud to say that my manuscripts and all my editing notes are stored in the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. I'm hoping to visit them when I'm there at the Kaigler Festival in April. Can't wait!)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Friends, Friday and Otherwise

Do you keep up with Kirby Larson's FRIEND FRIDAY blogposts?

You should.
You meet the most interesting folks over there.

Recently, Kirby hosted a friend of mine. Linda Jackson grew up right near me, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Until I heard about her novel, our paths never crossed.
But I met her at a book event last year. Her middle-grade novel, historical fiction set in Mississippi, was coming soon.
I already had the Advanced Reader Copy. Lucky me!


Now everyone can read it.

And I get to see Linda again this spring, at the fabulous Kaigler Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi, where we'll both be presenting.

HERE'S KIRBY'S FRIEND FRIDAY POST WITH LINDA.

Bottom line? Never give up. If your book is revised and you know it's worthy and you care deeply about it, that book will find a home!

(It only took Linda six years. It took me almost ten. Did I say Never Give Up?)



Monday, January 30, 2017

MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG: Discussion Guide

I'm so excited to share the DISCUSSION GUIDE and some fun Extension Activities for my newest book, MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG.

It's on my website as well as this blog (under the For Teachers drop-down button)

I had fun creating the "Extension Activities" on the guide. Here's a little sample:


1.     Azalea Morgan worries that the helpers who come to her grandmother’s garden might make fun of her being named for a flowering bush. (p. 39)
Does your own name have a meaning? Try to research the reason you were named that? Can you discover the meaning and origin of your names?








There's also a fun question about Glory and Azalea. 
Hint: Do you think they would be friends?




A HUGE thank-you goes out to former colleague and fabulous teacher, my friend, Melissa Wood. 

If any of my writer buddies are considering creating a Discussion Guide and need a little help, Melissa's the one! I'm happy to share her with you.

(Also, that's not an actual photo of the discussion guide up there. It's the 3-D cover image that I was gifted and love and use every chance I get.)

:) 




 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Sandra Markle and GASPARILLA'S GOLD

My friend Sandra Markle can write!

I love this It's Monday! What Are You Reading? meme, and it's a perfect reason to share this book today.

In fact, I'm actually, literally sharing. 
My signed copy of GASPARILLA'S GOLD!



It's Sandra's first middle-grade novel (You heard it here first: more will surely come!). 

I'll mail the book to a teacher or a librarian. I'll also send Sandra's Discovery Guide of activities for GASPARILLA'S GOLD-- and a class set of bookmarks. How cool is that?

Leave me a comment here or on Facebook, by Tuesday night (January 24), and I'll have Sandra pick a name at our critique group meeting.

(Did I mention how lucky I am to have Sandra in my SCBWI critique group?)

CLICK HERE FOR an interview I did with her soon after I met her. 

The novel is perfect for reluctant readers and science nerds, animal activists and fans of exciting adventures.

Gasparilla’s Gold

It’s an action-packed heart-tug with a good sprinkle of humor as twelve-year-old Gus, whose struggle to cope with his older brother’s death has left him fearful, is drawn into hunting for pirate treasure with a feisty girl and a zany movie prop creator.

But, on the Florida island where Gus is spending the summer, there’s something even more valuable than gold—a wild panther cub. The National Wildlife Federation reports less than 100 Florida panthers remain living wild and free. Will Gus regain his courage in time to save the cub from poachers? And will Gus and his band of treasure hunters solve the mystery of the pirate’s map he discovered to dig up Gasparilla’s buried gold?

There’s a lot at stake and only a summer to make it happen.

Don't forget to leave a comment, here or on FACEBOOK. 
(Maybe I'll even tweet this giveaway though, sadly, the last time I did that, I got a lot of fake teachers and librarians, scammers looking to re-sell books should they win...)

And check out the other It's Monday! What are You Reading? postings,  
HERE, for example.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Laughter is the Best Medicine

“No matter what happens,
somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.”
— Dave Barry


Kids like funny books. Or at least they like a little humor mixed with their wizards or mysterious strangers or mean grannies. Or even their humpbacked whales in a non-fiction picture book.

Today I read this excellent post from Joanne Levy, via the Nerdy Book Club people. If you hurry on over and read it yourself, there's still time to enter the giveaway. (Deadline, January 15)
https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/writing-not-so-serious-books-by-joanne-levy/

Google "writing humor" and you'll find some excellent tips. 
I particularly like THIS ONE which involves all five senses.

I've written about HUMOR before.  
Most recently, THIS POST, with pictures. And tips!

My all-time favorite advice, however, might just be this post from Sarah Albee.
In a Teachers Write post, she shares some of her favorite things to read while she's trying to write something to make her own readers laugh. Or at least smile.

"One of my favorite humor writers, PG Wodehouse, is the master of extended metaphors. Whenever I want to write “funny,” I read Wodehouse. Here are a few of my favorites:
She looked at me like someone who has just solved the crossword puzzle with a shrewd “Emu” in the top right hand corner.
Jeeves lugged my purple socks out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad.
Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons.
Try it with your work-in-progress. Check the sentences that don’t yet zing. Is there a comparison you can make that’s unexpected? Can you swap in a more surprising verb?"
 

Thanks, Sarah! I'm off to give it a try! 
How about you? Any secret tips for writing funny?


Saturday, January 7, 2017

AScattergood: Listen Up!

(The oddest thing happened this week. I posted a blog about my audiobook and it disappeared from my blog. I'm reposting. With apologies to those of you who may see it twice. I hope this one stays up...)

Listen Up!
I'm excited to announce that the audiobook for MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG is now available. You can download it on Audible, HERE.

The fabulous folks at Scholastic Audiobooks, especially Paul Gagne, worked very hard to get Billy's voice right. Although it was hard to describe what I thought a Chinese American boy in the south sounded like in the 1950s, I think we nailed it. I say "we" very loosely. Though I did get to read the Author Note and the Acknowledgements, I wisely left the rest to the experts. 

From the first time I heard her reading, I knew Kate Simses was Azalea. She's such a pro.

It's strange hearing your words read by someone else.  
But it's lovely when they're so beautifully said. 




Friday, January 6, 2017

Quote of the Day

 Something we should all ponder for the New Year?

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” 

T.S. Eliot

Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday Reading: Historical Fiction

I've been reading a lot of historical fiction lately. It's my go-to genre. Both middle-grade and grownup books.

I finally had the chance to finish Joyce Moyer Hostetter's AIM, which I'd begun last summer when I received the ARC (thank you, lovely people at Calkins Creek). I'm embarrassed to say the book got misplaced as we traveled from friend to friend this summer. As soon as my local library ordered it, I was first in line.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters, the setting, the time, and  the humor- not laugh-out-loud all the time, but sweet and smile-out-loud for sure. This is part of a trilogy of linked books, a prequel to BLUE and COMFORT.

As I read, I thought about historical fiction and who's reading it these days.
For more on this topic, check out the thoughtful post by Kirby Larson, HERE.

Although the cover with that great blue pickup truck caught my eye, AIM could be the kind of book that might take a teacher's or a librarian's prodding, or rather encouragement, to pick up. It would be a great book club discussion.

At NCTE, I learned about Literature Lunches, though for the life of me I can't remember who said it or what the real name is. Susannah Richards, was that you? The idea is to put a placard on a table with a book title on it. The students who've read that book gather at lunch to chat about it. Can you imagine anything better?

One thing I love about AIM is that the characters really feel things in a way that young readers will get. For example, Junior Bledsoe says of his slightly-poor-influence friend Dudley, "Dudley wanted to get away from his old man and I just wanted mine back."

A simple sentence that expresses so much of what the book is about, even if it took a while for Junior to realize what he really wanted.