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

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Still Visiting

Another really tremendous day on my MD/ VA tour.

Here I am! Junk Poker box in tow.

Amazing kids with great questions! And their teacher's introduction bowled me over. (I've invited her to go along on all school visits if she promises to say the exact same thing about the time period, the book, the comparison to school kids today. Awesome.)

My great friend Beverly connected me with Hunters Woods School in Reston, VA. Her grandkids are super students there. Can you tell Paige and Beverly are connected?

Check out Paige's teeshirt. Love the message.

Thanks to all the super students and teachers at Hunters Woods.

Next stop, Baltimore!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Traveling with Glory!

First stop in Maryland?
St. John's Episcopal School, Olney.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I turned into the parking lot. I love old churches, especially Episcopal Churches built over 100 years ago.

And there's always something interesting to see in churchyards, including beautiful flowers in bloom everywhere.

Then I stepped inside the school. Wow, what a nice welcome. Sweet tea, cookies, and tons of GLORY BE books on display and in the hands of readers.

Great kids. Terrific questions. A librarian connection!

(Loved this. I know what this student's favorite book is.)

 Thank you, St. John's School! More pictures soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My bags are packed!

Heading north for a few days. Three schools, two in Maryland, one in Virginia. 
Plus lots of fun friends and family along the way.

Yes, my Junk Poker box is secure in its waterproof bag...

And I'm never without my GLORY BE wristlet!

HERE'S the website, should you need one of these adorables. Every time I hold mine up in the midst of writers, they want one.

(Mine's looking a little well-loved these days...)

Be back soon!

Possibly related posts:
Wristlet, a thing I love!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beautiful Bookstores

 In honor of WORLD BOOK NIGHT, which so many amazing bookstores supported this year...

(This one might be my favorite.)

But all bookstores are beautiful in their own way, right?

Next year I hope to get dibs in early on a box of books to share. This year, it's fun following my friends on Facebook, passing around Book Love.

Click here if somehow you've missed this slide show elsewhere.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

If ever you're in Houston...

And don't have uber-guide Bobby Moon and his wife Jeannie?

(pictured, on our brief walking tour, standing in front of the beautiful Chase Bank window)

Here are a few eating tips from the Food Guru of downtown (AKA Bobby J. Moon, my Cleveland High School buddy). Makes me want to hurry back.

1. Hubcap Grill, 1111 Prairie at HB in town! It's the sourdough type custom bun and never been frozen beef.

2. Treebeard's (How did I not know this was the word for Spanish moss)  at Market Square, in Christchurch Cathedral on Texas across from Hubcap Grill. Red beans, rice and smoked sausage... ALL things Cajun and more...Italian Cream Cake...go crazy here!

3. Supreme Sandwiches, Rusk and Milam, next to Subway... handmade sandwich, chips and soda....ask for free lettuce and tomatoes

Eating lunch with Bobby and sharing his Delta Daze yearbook.
Pretty funny pictures in that book...

Bobby brought friends and family to the reading at the fabulous Blue Willow Bookstore.

My Kent Place and Chatham friend, Patti Kiley also made the trek to Blue Willow. Thanks, Patti!

That's my Scholastic/ NJ  friend David Levithan checking out the autographed walls behind us.
I got to put my name way up high on those walls. So exciting to be in these amazing independent bookstores! Love them.

All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.
John Ruskin

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And the Winner is!

Lots of entries in my MAY B. giveaway!

A completely unbiased hand drew out the winning slip.


(the very last person who entered. And a new blog reader. It's always good to try new things!)

Jen Gennari, please send me an email with your mailing address. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered the giveaway.

(PS to the post. Jen graciously offered her prize to the runner-up since she'd already read MAY B.
Shannon Hitchcock was the winner, a perfect writer to share
a new historical with. Congrats, Shannon.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

I love Texas!

If anybody ever invites you to the Texas Library Association's annual conference, go.

And if you ever hear of a breakfast sponsored by Scholastic, don't miss that either.
Writers get to act! A lot of writers are true hams.

The amazing team from Scholastic created Readers Theater scripts from our books. We read them, with feeling, while 200 librarians enjoyed a fabulous breakfast and got free books. What could be better?

Glory's team rocked! Elizabeth Eulberg was a sassy Jesslyn. She flounced with the best of them. Maggie Stiefvater's Glory = perfect! Of course, she had an advantage, being from Virginia.
And Michael Northrop killed with his lines, "Now, girls..." (Or rather noaw girrrlllsss.) and "Lemme think on it."

With very little practice, they perfected their drawls. Way to go, Yankees (and Maggie)!

We all have books just out or coming out, with Scholastic. Check them out!

And for those of you who may be contemplating casting a play that requires a bit of South Speak.
Resources here:

USA Deep South

And how about this?

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Poetry

I so love the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye.

Another way to celebrate April! Listen to her read and tell us about her writing.

Or just enjoy this one!

Always Bring a Pencil
By Naomi Shihab Nye

There will not be a test.
It does not have to be
a Number 2 pencil.

But there will be certain things—
the quiet flush of waves,
ripe scent of fish,
smooth ripple of the wind’s second name—
that prefer to be written about
in pencil.

It gives them more room
to move around.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Caroline Starr Rose-- and a Giveaway!

    Caroline Starr Rose's MAY B. has been compared to the Little House books. As a young reader, she was a big fan, and it will appeal to readers of Laura's adventures. But May B.'s appeal, I believe, is going to reach into the upper age bracket of middle grade. May's is a survival story, told in starkly beautiful words.

    The book's gotten some terrific reviews, including a star from Kirkus. Which is saying something. And now I get to chat with Caroline.

     Pull up a chair. Caroline has something to share. 
                           (unintentionally poetic!)

Augusta:  Can you give us your quick definition of a novel-in-verse, for those who may not be familiar with the genre?

A novel-in-verse is a story told through poetry. I use free verse (no rhyme -- or at least not much -- and no consistent meter), though there are other authors who use specific types of poems (sonnets, for example) to forward the story.

Augusta: Was writing in this style completely new to you? How did you prepare to write? Do you sit at your desk and wait for the muse? Journal? Write a detailed outline? Read similar books? Read a lot of poetry?

Writing May B. felt like delving into uncharted territory. Though I’d published two children’s poems previously, I was by no means any sort of expert. Add to this the fact I’d only read two verse novels before beginning May, and I truly was out there on my own.

Because I was teaching at the time (and was creatively spent by the end of the day), most of my drafting took place during holidays. I made myself sit with the story, trusting that the time spent playing with May’s character and creating a loose story arc would get me through. While drafting, I imagined a quilt with each poem standing in for a different square of fabric. As I moved from poem to poem, I trusted certain themes and story strands would unfold, just as patterns form on a quilt. It was a very organic way to write, one that involved a lot of faith in the process of experimenting with words and structure.

I absolutely avoided verse novels while drafting and even convinced myself I wasn’t really writing poetry (which, in my mind, was a lofty, intimidating thing I wasn’t yet ready to claim). My fear was reading a verse novel would reveal how flawed my own writing was.

Augusta: What a terrific image, the quilt!
Tell us a little about your process for creating May B.

May B. didn’t start as verse. What I first wrote very much frustrated me, as it felt so distant from what I’d imagined. I set my writing aside and returned to my research. In reading first-hand accounts of midwestern women in the late 1800s, I picked up on the similarities their journals and letters contained -- terse language stripped of emotion and verbose description. I returned to my drafting, trying to mirror the style of these women. This was the key in discovering May’s voice and most honestly telling her story.

Augusta: Research is crucial, of course. But I love how it took you from the original sources, right to your own writing.
Where do you do your best writing and musing about writing? Different spots? A quiet and orderly writing cottage? Walking the dog?

I have an office I love, though I’m not good at a desk for long. I prefer my couch, with my laptop on my knees and my dog at my feet. Believe it or not, I also enjoy writing in my car. Oftentimes I’ll take the hour before school lets out and sit in the library parking lot with some research or some writing.

Walking the dog is a great way to let my brain both wander and create without the pressure my official writing time sometimes brings. When I get stuck, Boo and I head out the door. My editor once joked that Random House should get an office dog: he’d get lots of exercise, and a lot of out-of-the-box thinking would happen.

Augusta: Well, I just love that! I also write in my car, parked of course. And what a visual- All those NYC dog-walkers? They could be editors, thinking outside the box!

  Do you think certain subjects lend themselves more to novels-in-verse than others?

I do. For me, the form lends itself to historicals (at least in my writing life). I can’t imagine writing a contemporary this way (though life has taught me to never say never). I have two other historical verse novels on my mind -- one I’m drafting now and one I hope to get to sometime in the future. I also have a book in me about a Gitana, a Spanish Gypsy girl. I’m not sure yet when it will take place, and I don’t even have a story line, but I know the color and movement and rhythm of the culture for me, at least, must be told through verse.

Augusta: I know you also write picture books. Did your writing style or thoughts about writing picture books change after you finished May B.?

I’m not sure my thoughts and style have changed much, but I’m more fully aware of how verse and picture books compliment each other. Brevity is king in both genres. I’ve learned the importance of making every word count.

Augusta: Make Every Word Count. We should all needlepoint that on a pillow.

When I was a school librarian, during the entire month of April, we encouraged our students to "Keep a Poem in your Pocket" and share them with others.

Since it's April and Poetry Month, would you share a favorite poem with us?

This is a poem I absolutely adore. I memorized it and recited it one year during my classroom’s end-of-our-poetry-unit Coffee House celebration:

If I Were a Poem
~Sara Holbrook

If I were a poem,
I would grab you by the ankles
and rustle you up to your every leaf.
I would gather your branches
in the power of my winds and pull you skyward,
if I were a poem.

If I were a poem,
I would walk you down beside the rushing stream,
swollen with spring, put thunder in your heart,
then lay you down, a new lamb, to sing you to softly sleep,
if I were a poem.

If I were a poem,
I wouldn’t just talk to you of politics, society and change,
I would be a raging bonfire to strip you of your outer wrap,
and then I would reach within and with one touch
ignite the song in your own soul.

If I were a poem,
I would hold my lips one breath away from yours
and inflate you with such desire as can exist
only just out of reach, and then I would move
the breadth of one bee closer, not to sting
but to brush you with my wings as I retreat
to leave you holding nothing but a hungry, solitary sigh,
if I were a poem.

If I were a poem,
my thoughts would finally be put to words
through your own poetry, I would push you that far,
if I were a poem.

Thanks for this opportunity, Augusta!

Augusta: Inspirational- both you and the poem. We loved having you! 

Now, it's one reader's lucky day. I'm sharing my copy, sent to me by the publisher. Leave me a comment, please. The GIVEAWAY will last a week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

TEXAS, here I come!

I'm really getting excited about next week's TEXAS LIBRARY ASSOCIATION  conference.

I'll be on a panel, sign books at the Scholastic booth ( #1518 from 3 to 4 on Wednesday) and have a special opportunity to fire up my acting skills, long since retired (stay tuned for pictures and details, unless I fall on my face).

If you're near Houston and like bookstores, or just want to say hello, please pop into our Wednesday night bookstore event. We'll each do a short intro and then have lots of time to Meet and Greet.

See you there, Houstonians!

7:00, Wednesday, April 18th

14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
(281) 497-8675

Authors Participating:
Jennifer A. Nielson (The False Prince)
Sarah Mlynowski (Whatever After)
Chris D’Lacey (Fire World & The Fire Ascending)
Augusta Scattergood (Glory Be)
Michael Northrop (Plunked)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

And the Winner Is!!!

Today at our Critique Group meeting, outside in the sunshine at Panera, Teddie draws a name out of a baseball cap.

Who will it be? Who gets to read


Email/ FB/ Comment your address, Joyce Hostetter!

It's your lucky day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

More about me? And Elvis...

Specifically, about writing Glory Be.

 Here's a link to Holly Schindler's fab blog. ☜☜☜

With a cute picture of my little Elvis statue, now appearing in a Junk Poker box near you.

(How do these remarkable bloggers think of such great questions?)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Love that Dog!

One of my favorite books, ever.

Anita Silvey spotlighted Sharon Creech's novel-in-verse this week in her Book-a-Day Almanac.
And she shared one of my absolutely cherished parts of the book:

I just "liked" their Facebook page. Here's the link, again: Book-a-Day. Check it out!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Southern Independent Booksellers

Yes, I know I already shared the link on Facebook and shouted the news everywhere. But I can't resist adding the actual screen --via a screenshot of my own computer, cropped-- showing GLORY BE at #10 on the SIBA bestseller list a couple of weeks ago. Go Glory!

(You've got to love an organization that names its favorite books Okra Picks!)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Welcome to April

Let's start National Poetry Month off right. I always love this month, for many reasons. When I lived in the frozen climes, it meant the possibility of a jonquil sighting (even though I learned to call them daffodils, jonquil always pops up first in my brain). When I was a school librarian, it meant the annual Poetry Assembly. Now that I sit in front of my computer and write all the time, I think it must mean I need to think POETICALLY.

And here are some excellent tips for writers and readers of poetry. For kids and grownups. For reviewers of books. (Hint: I plan to review MAY B., Caroline Starr Rose's new book, a novel in verse, and interview the author, very soon. Stay tuned!)

CLICK here for those excellent tips I mentioned.

Here's the first one.

1. Don’t be chained to rhyme. Rhymes drastically reduce word choices and can send poems in nonsensical directions. Think about what you really want to say in your poem and if you can’t say it with rhymes, ditch them.

I seem to have written a lot about poetry, in past Aprils.
For a few other posts, many with poems, type Poetry Month in my search box.
Or click here, for just one.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Smack Dab in the Middle

Love this blog! So honored to be interviewed here:

SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE   (☜☜☜click there!)
And by Irene Latham, no less, whose book about the quilters at Gee's Bend I absolutely adored.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Baseball: Plunked

Okay. Maybe I just lost some of my usual followers.
Baseball? Plunked? What tangent is she off on this time? But stick with me here. This is a book. A very funny one.

Our publisher, Scholastic, sent me an Advanced Readers Copy of Michael Northrop's new book, PLUNKED. I don't know Michael but we are going to meet at the fabulous (so I'm told) TEXAS LIBRARY ASSOCIATION Meeting in just two weeks. Can't wait. More on that later.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't love baseball. I lived shouting distance from the old Memorial Stadium, home of the Orioles. Sigh.

So I get the Cal Ripkin references. Now I cheer loud and long, even in person on occasion, for my new home team. Go Rays!

But I don't often pick up a book I assume is so obviously going to appeal to middle-school boys, or at least sports fans. One so obviously about baseball. I thought I'd page through the book quickly. Just to be able to say, "Hey, Michael, nice to meet you. I liked your book" when we're sharing in Texas.

By page 35, chapter 6, I was laughing my head off. There's more to this book than baseball.

Don't take my word for it. Check out these funny passages.

Narrator Jack's parents are off to an Awesome Eighties concert.  

The show features not one, not two, but three bands I know nothing about. The funniest thing about it is seeing my parents getting all dressed up...Mom emerges from the bathroom with a hair cliff above her forehead and a faded T-shirt that says "The Go-Go's" on it. Her sneakers could not be any pinker.

And what does she say to her son?  

"I've got the beat!"

Yes, I know. Mortification. (And really, these parents are very nice, not that weird. Quite well portrayed if you're a parent reading and wondering.)

Jackson's dad's dressed in a polo shirt the color of pistachio ice cream. Can't you just see a kid wincing over these parents? Truly, this Northrup guy is really funny.

I also love the beginning of Chapter 12.
A kid's view of Friday night:

There are all of those songs and stuff about Friday night, but there's not much to it when you're twelve. I guess the big thing is that there's no school for two days, so you don't have to do any homework... No homework is good, but I don't' think anyone has ever written a song about it."

I totally enjoyed this book. In the words of Jack, Yeah. He aced it. And I haven't even touched on the baseball stuff, which I also loved.

And I somehow miraculously received TWO copies of PLUNKED, and it's your lucky day.
I'm sharing.

Kids who love sports--girls and boys, readers who like to laugh, teachers and librarians, check it out!
Leave me a comment on the blog or on this FACEBOOK post, and I'll enter your name for the ARC of Plunked.

I leave for Texas on April 17th, so let's give this Freebie a week to play out. Contest ends April 10th.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Her blog's history! (in a good way)

What do you call a friend you've never actually met? Those connections/ friends/ cyber buddies I've never sat next to in a Starbucks, but I think I know a whole lot about them.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter likes historical fiction as much as I do. She's a fantastic writer. She lives in one of my favorite states. But we've never actually said two words to each other, in person.

Yet I've loved reviewing books on her blog. Now she's reviewed mine.

☞CLICK RIGHT HERE for a trip over to see what she says about Glory Be.☜

Thank you, Joyce!