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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What I'm reading now...

My SCBWI bulletin (excellent article about writing query and cover letters), Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo, and a great mid-grade novel. I do love books for kids this age.

Not hot off the press exactly, but so worth reading, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. If there’s a truer voice than Emma-Jean’s occasionally clueless, always well-intentioned, kind and smart—in a good way—seventh grade persona, I say let it speak. Otherwise Emma-Jean should rule the day. This first novel by Lauren Tarshis is a gem. Named for the woman who wrote the words on the Statue of Liberty, Emma-Jean doesn’t have much in common with her Middle School classmates. But that doesn’t stop her from coming to the rescue when she finds Colleen sniffling in the girls’ room. Colleen’s problem is a bratty mean girl whom most kids will recognize. Emma-Jean decides to take the challenge and help Colleen, and that’s when the problems begin.

I'm also reading my friend Janet's work-in-progress, my new critique group buddy G. Neri's hot-off-the-press, terrific book, Chess Rumble, and a stack of magazines and newspapers stacked high by my chair, gathering dust, big time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Media Bistro Day

My friend Lee has been taking MediaBistro classes since we became writing buddies and hey, she's been published in none other than the New York Times. So what did I have to lose? I signed up for an afternoon workshop, Children's Book and Young Adult Novel Writing, with Joy Peskin. A terrific way to spend a post snow day downtown in the city. Joy is an editor with Penguin and a really good workshop leader. There were 13 of us gathered around the table in that 4th floor walk-up, small room. I sat next to the heater and was warm and toasty. Others shivered near the windows, wrapped in sweaters.

Each of us brought something to read and Joy offered great comments. She was both honest and encouraging, and those two don't always go hand in hand! One comment sounded especially true and I will go right to my manuscript and check this out. She suggested to one writer that her male voice would ring truer if she wrote in short sentences. Makes sense to me. Some of the boys I know, young and old, frequently speak in sentences so short I wonder why they bother to answer me at all...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Begin at the Beginning

OK, so how hard can this be. Write a little about what I read. Discuss the pros and cons of (mostly free) book reviewing I do. Pull my hair out online about how hard it is to write, how under appreciated writing is as a job choice. Post pictures of me with new very short haircut, my dog going for a run (ha, ok an amble) on the beach, my latest failure in the kitchen. Let the games begin!

For starters, I'm reading The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood. I just heard her read a chapter at the Writers in Paradise conference and bought the book on the spot. I'm a big fan. My knitting experience ended with the blanket my grandmother taught me to knit when I was nine years old, but the way Hood tells the stories of the women who gather to share and knit and care for each other is remarkable. I'd saved the book to read on my flight from Tampa to Newark yesterday but I can't stop reading it and worry that there will be no book to read on the trip back to Florida. I can't face a plane trip without a book.

OK, blogging is fun. Just like writing the long emails to my friends and family that they pretend to read but really skim and often ignore. Except for Leslie and Kate, who always read and always answer quickly. Thanks, guys!