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

Monday, January 30, 2017


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)

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.