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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two Things I Love

Once upon a time. Okay it was Christmas before last to be specific. My sister-in-law sent us an amaryllis bulb from White Flower Farm. I tucked it into the pot and it grew to be quite beautiful. Inside my house in Florida. I even love the name: Dancing Queen.

Did I say I now live in Florida? I know nothing about growing tropical plants. But the bulb seemed healthy so I hid it behind a shady palm, near a fence, and promptly forgot about it. Till about a month ago. It was well on its way to having six blooms. I admired it often.

Then a Superhero spied it.

He karate-chopped the flower off. And gave it to me. Amazingly, it survived in a vase.

And continued to open its blooms for me to enjoy.
(Next to another Thing I love.)

I left the bulb, flowerless and sad, in its pot outside. Guess what happened?

Another blossom! And the flowers are still opening!
I hope it will survive another season.

I intend to put it in the ground, away from the fearless arm of Superhero.

So the two things I love today? Dancing Queen and Superhero.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Good Company, again.

I'm really thrilled and delighted to be included on this list of books about girls with "scrappy courage"!

Check out all three new books, recommended by a reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor whose writing I've admired for quite a while.

CLICK HERE for the link.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


What a surprise and honor to turn on my computer this morning and see Glory Be featured on one of my favorite blogs.

Check out what Wordswimmer's Bruce Black says about the book, and of course, the words.

I love the description of his blog. Who can resist following Bruce?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Battle Continues

I can't believe how intrigued I am with this Battle of the Books thing. In a million years, why should I read about one book vs another when I often haven't even read both books?

Because the judges are so hilarious and so bright and so very articulate, that's why.

Okay for Now vs. Wonderstruck?

I've actually read both those books and would have guessed Okay for Now. But like my beloved basketball team and their bracket, you just never know.

So check it out. Here's the School Library Journal website:

Plus, they have these really cool graphics:

And I love how they link all the blog posts, tweets, etc., others have written. Now THAT can lead to some serious time wasting- chugging along following those links.
But it's not wasting time when you learn something new about books.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Related posts: Okay for Now
Battle of the Books

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Word of the Day

Just feel like sharing...

Word of the Day for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

conniption \kuh-NIP-shuhn\, noun:
A fit of hysterical excitement or anger.

"Wah!" says Stella-Rondo. I knew she'd cry. She had a conniption fit right there in the kitchen.
-- Eudora Welty, "Why I Live at the P.O." The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty

When they came home, everybody was having a conniption about a big giant fight in the village over who got whose share of their horrid meat.
-- Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

A day or two later I was going about my business when a voice from above bellowed, ALL HAPPY FAMILIES RESEMBLE ONE ANOTHER, nearly giving me a conniption.
-- Nicole Krauss, The History of Love: A Novel

Conniption is actually an invented word. It first appeared in America in 1833 and may be related to the word corruption which was used in the sense of "anger" in the early 1800s.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two "sisters" just chatting away our day...

Writers love connections. Connecting places, characters, sentences, paragraphs, themes-- you name it! But when I met fellow middle-grade novelist Kimberley Griffiths Little online, via a mutual writer friend, I never dreamed what a treat I was in for. 

If I had a question about publishing that was just too silly/ clueless/ embarrassing to ask aloud (although now I've learned there's no such thing), Kimberley showed me the ropes.

She's always at the other end of a panicked email question. Oh, and I really enjoy her books. They're set in Louisiana and truly, I challenge a native Louisianian to write more authentically about the region than Kimberley does. And she's from New Mexico of all places.

Today we're blogging together. 
She asks the greatest questions!

Click on over and read our interview. It's short and sweet and comes with an opportunity to win a copy of GLORY BE. 

What have you got to lose?

Here it is!

And here's the new paperback cover for her book.
Don't you love it?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Battle

My March Madness runs more to the basketball kind. Quite honestly, I didn't really get the whole Battle of the Books thing. The last school I librarianed in once did a Battle of the Books with 4th grade kid readers. Book trivia. Kids against kids.

It was nothing like the School Library Journal sponsored brackets and competition going on now.

So I didn't think I'd bother.

Then I realized Dead End in Norvelt, the reigning Newbery book, was in contention. I tuned in.

True confessions. I'm not a huge Jack Gantos fan. Never really loved his books, though I totally get the appeal. But this one was fun to read and kept me turning pages.  

I was going to write a post about his whole Said is Dead thing because almost every single dialog tag featured a word other than said. Or an adverb modifier. I think it's a style thing with him?

From just two, randomly chosen pages, 78 and 79: 
he continued, I asked, he explained, he cautioned, I replied, he said, he whispered, I whispered back, he reminded me...

But instead of writing about Dead End in Norvelt, I got hooked on the SLJ Battle-- BOB, as it's known (Battle of the Books, get it?).

I loved how one judge justified her choice of   
Now I can't wait to read that book. And to follow the competition to the bitter end.

Click here to read Judge Sara Zarr's explanation of her winner in that bracket.

And today, Barbara O'Connor's up. I've read neither, but feel as if I know her two books quite well after this post today. 
Plus, I'm a fan of both of her assigned books' authors.
Click on over there and see what Barbara picked.

So yes, I'm hooked.
Besides, it doesn't interfere with my basketball games. And what's a few more books added to my To Be Read list? March Madness, indeed.

Related posts: SAID IS NOT DEAD 
Dialog Tips, Said is dead

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Glorious Mississippi Trip

When I arrived at my sister's in Batesville, look what greeted me.

I'm ready for touring. She supplied the flowers and the framed GLORY BE cover.
I added my Junk Poker box, Scholastic book bag, and Leslie's waterproof tote. Not that I needed it. Weather was fantastic.

After a stop in Oxford (see previous posts!), it was on to my hometown of Cleveland, MS. Home of Delta State University. More on that later.

I spoke at my local library. The same place I've checked out a zillion books, met a girl who inspired the character of Laura, researched swimming pool closings, and was inspired by some pretty great librarians.

Here's the poster my friend Nan designed for the event. They were all over the place!

I signed books for friends' moms, my pre-school teacher, my former librarian, my Latin teacher. I could go on and on. It was an amazing afternoon. I still can't quite believe it.

(So far, this is the best I can do, photo-wise. More to come I hope.)

Here I am speaking to the terrific kids at Bell Academy in Boyle, MS, just outside Cleveland.
It looks like a couple of them wish I'd been handed the Stop Talking card. But really, they were very attentive and had great questions.

I signed the books they'd bought at Scholastic's Book Fair. Cute kids. Such fun.

Then it was off to Jackson.
 Three schools! One great evening at Lemuria Books! And a gathering for my old college friends and my family at my very oldest friend's house. Here's Ivy's table.

Remember the picture of us from a while ago?

Here we are last week, a few birthday parties later, post Book Tour. Still smiling.

Goodbye to family and friends. Great time "Back Home." Thanks to all, especially my sister the Tour Guide and her twin brother, for all their support. Love you all!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A funny thing happened while talking...

Last Thursday I was at one of the South's premier bookstores, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi. I love these independent bookstores that bring in authors, sponsor book discussions, know a lot about what they sell. Surrounded by a whole lot of friends and family, I talked about GLORY BE.

I approached the podium with Emily, a Lemuria bookseller, and she pointed out the microphone (didn't need it) and the water (needed it).

I glanced at my audience of GLORY BE supporters, then down at the podium.
Here's what I saw:

A small, cardstock, calling card-ish message.
Emily assured me it was from the previous author. Turns out, Unnamed Author tends to go on a little too long and his partner/ co-author slips him one of these cards when it's time to STOP TALKING. He has a whole box of them.

I don't think I needed it. I didn't talk that long.
Here I am in the "dotcom" building at Lemuria. Neat place. I heard there was beer. I saw there were lots of First Editions lining the walls.

(I promise I had more than two people in the audience.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Thing I Love: Thanks, Leslie

Made of shells collected when she visited us in Florida and tiny bits of sea glass from her own beach. And of course, packed in a box that's hand-lettered with one of my favorite GLORY BE chapter titles.

Possibly related posts:  
Beautiful Bookmarks

Friday, March 9, 2012

Checking in from the road

This will be a quick post. I hope to share more later when I have the tons of pictures I've been promised!

But what a great week this has been. Can you even imagine going back to your hometown library and talking about a book that is set in a similar place? It gets better! Four of my former teachers were in the audience: my high school Latin teacher, two librarians, and my pre-school teacher. Also, many classmates and friends and family. People I don't know who'd heard about the book. Folks in the audience with memories of my daddy. It just doesn't get much better.

The weekend started with a night spent on the Mississippi River at a friend's new house. The drive over the levee took me back to driving our old Jeep to our fishing cabin.

This is the view from my window. Yes, it was that fantastic.

My sister/ companion/ tour guide and I took a few pictures of scenes from GLORY BE.
This is the new mural painted near the ball field at Fireman's Park. Not there when I was a kid, but we sure spent many hours making lanyards, swinging, even wading in the Park Pee Pool.

On the way out of town, headed toward Jackson, I visited a very innovative, interesting school, Bell Academy in Boyle, Mississippi. They'd just had a Scholastic Book Fair. I signed their books. I discussed my brief career as my school's spelling bee champ with a precious boy who'd just won the district spelling bee and was headed for Washington DC. He easily spelled the word I'd missed in 4th grade and have never forgotten:   nickle Nickel.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


 I'm on the road. Three Mississippi towns. 4 schools and counting. Having a ball- but blogging isn't too easy.

Who needs to create a blogpost when you have friends doing it for you?
Here's a link to Leslie's blog about my adventures.  
CLICK HERE to go there!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Home Grown Writers

When I was in high school in Cleveland, Mississippi, I was a member of the library club. Or whatever we were called. I can find out because my sister has her high school yearbooks carefully lined up on a bookshelf. But you know what I mean. We checked out books with the little rubber date stamps. Shelved carts full of books, read all the new ones.

There was an entire section of bookshelves devoted to Mississippi writers. I devoured them. And I still do. And now, since I'm back home, it seems only natural to be reading local authors.

I just started Julie Cantrell's new book on my Kindle, which I can't live without while traveling. So far, really enjoying Into the Free. And it's making quite a splash on the booksellers' lists. Check it out.

I bet you could even get it autographed if you order it via Square Books (where you can also get a whole bunch of autographed copies of Glory Be ☺).

CLICK HERE for a link to Square Books in Oxford, MS.

Another Oxford writer I can't wait to dig into? Ace Atkins.
I met him last week in Charlotte, NC, at the amazingly terrific (I'm running out of superlatives for this trip!) evening dinner sponsored by my long-time friends at Baker and Taylor. (all I ever knew for many years of ordering books as a librarian. What an honor to be invited) There were about 10 authors there and his table was right next to mine. Hey, I bet Square Books has a few of his novels you could get your hands on!

 On this morning's Lemuria blog, a bookstore I adore in Jackson, I read about this new book. Love Jonathan O'Dell's guest blogpost.
This will be on my To Be Read list for sure. I may just have to buy it when I'm there on Thursday.

Where next Thursday afternoon, I hope to see a lot of my Jackson area friends and family! And my college friends driving from Atlanta, Louisiana, and all over the place. Gives a whole new feeling and meaning to Old Home Week.

Next stop, Bolivar County Library, Cleveland, MS. 
Monday, March 5 at 4 PM.
Books will be available at the library, thanks to Cotton Row Books.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Home Again

Who says you can't go home again.  Not me.

Yesterday's visit to Oxford, MS, was filled with smart kids, book lovers, old and new friends, and some delish things to eat.

Thank you to librarian Ruth Thompson and her great teachers and students at Della Davidson Elementary School. Pictures to come. I met a (smart, funny, really enthusiastic) teacher who had already shared GLORY BE with her students. I love hearing such thoughtful questions from young readers.

And what can be said about the amazing SQUARE BOOKS Jr.? Of course, my sister had drummed up her hometown friends, and my nieces had lured in a whole bunch of Oxford and Batesville moms and kids.

My family alone would have filled up half the space! Including a delightful and unexpected visit from two Scattergood/ Zook cousins I didn't even realize lived in Oxford.

One of my favorite Florida writers, former critique group member Lenore Ventura, made the drive from Memphis where she now lives. Now that's a special friend.

Tons of books signed and sold. More Glory- word spreading. Hurray for readers everywhere!

And what's Oxford without food? Chicken salad for lunch at yummy Newt's (thanks, Amy and Ellie!). Drinks and appetizers upstairs at Boure while we watched the crowd gather on the Square. (Here comes that thing we Southerners do- describing somebody with at least three degrees of relationship.) Thanks for that supper to my sister's husband's brother Chris. Yum!)

What a great way to come home!

In honor of my homecoming and my next stop in the Delta town where I was born, Cleveland, Mississippi, I'm sharing this picture of me and Ivy, my best friend since before birth. Not only have we been friends that long, her mama and my daddy were childhood friends, AND our grandparents were friends. Now that's what I love about Coming Home.