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

Friday, August 31, 2012

A way to write

You'll notice I didn't say THE way to write. Everybody has a different take on how to begin a novel. And maybe, perhaps, I think possibly some writers might use a different technique for each book.

I've heard tell about books that seem to fall onto the page. Others that take years to develop.
(Ahem. Let's not get too personal now...)

But if you're new at the game and looking for a way to jumpstart your novel, may I present fellow Jersey girl, writer Wendy Mass. Okay, she's born and bred, I'm a relative newcomer, only having lived in New Jersey 30 years. But she's a generous, fabulous writer, full of ideas.

I blogged about writing, about outlining, and about Wendy here.

If you don't know her books, look here.
My two personal favorites? Jeremy Fink and  
Every Soul a Star. 

And for her technique, check this link and click on the PDF of the essay she wrote about how she writes.

You are in for a real treat. My gift to you this Labor Day weekend.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Writing Tips...

So many of my fellow writers have given me advice via their blogs.
Scroll around a bit and you'll find me sharing the posts of Kirby Larson,
Cynthia Lord, Caroline Starr Rose.

I love Barbara O'Connor's Writing Tip Tuesdays. 
This morning, her questions make me think hard.

So hard, I think I need a walk.

CLICK HERE for some excellent, quick, deadly-sinning advice.

Starting with this: What the heck is my story about?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Characters We Love to Hate

Writing Tip of the Day

It took me a while to learn this. Maybe you're still struggling with the concept. But this by writer Alexandra Finn nails it: BAD-ASS VIEWPOINT CHARACTERS.

Basically, don't make your characters totally unrelatable to your readers. Give your narrator a redeeming quality. A dog, a best friend who's funny, a sympathetic thought or two. And do it pretty close to the beginning.

Although the Story Sleuths have disbanded their blog, luckily for writers, their old posts are still there. I often reread what such favorite kids' writers as Cynthia Lord, Jennifer Holm, Rita Garcia-Williams have to advise us.

Here's their take on PRICKLY CHARACTERS.

And that's my advice for the day, completely pirated from others, but worth following. Now, back to writing and reading, all of us!

Related post: More from the Story Sleuths and Cynthia Lord

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Agent Info

It's not new news that writers need agents, mostly. I know I couldn't LIVE without mine. And it's also not a newsflash that finding an agent can be a difficult process. Very difficult.

I met Linda Pratt at a terrific SCBWI regional conference in Maryland. I've been forever, eternally, grateful to those volunteers on that summer weekend who put the two of us together.

There are plenty of places to find information on agents. 
One of the best is the carefully written and researched blog, 
(I think there must be over 75 Agent Profiles, with great links listed alphabetically on the blog.)

Click right  ⇒ HERE for their profile of Linda.

And that's my gift to you today. Happy writing!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bookmarks Festival

Saturday, September 8- My calendar's marked!

I'm so excited to be one of the authors traveling to Winston-Salem, NC for this free-to-the-public event, the annual BookMarks Festival.

Details to come, but if you're in the area, please stop by to say HELLO.

CLICK HERE for a list of all the amazing authors we'll get to say hello to!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Writing tips via Kirby Larson: 3x5 cards!

Yes, I started out as a librarian in the Dark Ages. The Card Catalog days.
Those 3x5 cards: Subject, Author, Title.
Carefully filed in a big old wooden card catalog. You remember those.

                                                                                                      (photo courtesy of PhotoBucket)

I even remember seeing catalog cards that were beautifully hand-written, in ink.

So when I see the words 3x5 cards, I must read on.

I love this tip from Kirby Larson's blog. Character thoughts into scene-writing!

When you use analogies, examples, similes and/or metaphors, couch them in terms your main character would understand.

Scroll around her blog and you'll find more really great ways to dig deeper.

Since I'm writing a bit away from my computer and my beloved Scrivener software with its built-in 3x5 cards, I'm rushing down to CVS for a packet.

Oh, wait, I bet I have some of those old discarded catalog cards around here someplace.
My public library had STACKS of them sitting out for scratch paper.

How about you?
Now, off to take some notes!
(Thanks for the great writing tips, Kirby. )

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Biggest and Best Yet!

Thanks to everybody who entered. These 4 great books are going to-
(drum roll please)

Amy L. Sonnichsen 

Thanks for entering, Amy. Now if I can find an address, the books are in the mail!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Liar & Spy

I'm a fan of Rebecca Stead's books. If your middle schooler, or young teen, wants a novel that surprises, Liar & Spy, just out this month, is it. CLICK HERE for my review in the Christian Science Monitor.

And while you're here, friendly reminder: ONE more day to enter for a big box of the latest, greatest middle-grade novels. COMMENT right here or just scroll down a few more entires, and be entered in the giveaway. Yay for brand new books!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lucky You!

Greetings from the land of slow internet. Instead of endlessly checking Facebook and email, I've been tidying up shelves and closets.

And guess what I found. My "extra" copy of THE FALSE PRINCE.
So much has been said about this book that I don't think I can add a word. Except somebody's in for a real treat. Lots of action, a surprise, a true adventure story- the first in a series yet-to-come!

And I'm sharing, adding it to my Giveaway.

Leave your comment on this post.
Or HERE, on my previous blog
listing all the new middle-grade novels in the drawing.

Deadline? August 15th. Hurry up and enter.
(Great choice for the new school year.)

I forgot to mention, U.S. addresses only, please. This package just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Elvis Week!

In honor of ELVIS WEEK, I share with you a piece of my childhood.

I almost titled this post Things I Love. 
But truly, I don't love 45s of Elvis all that much anymore. 

I am delighted to re-discover My Platter Box
from the days my sister and I shared a room.
She found it and returned it, but I suspect some of these are hers.

At least one of records is going straight to my Junk Poker box. 

If the kids I share my treasures with don't know what this is...

do you think they'll have a clue what a record is?

Related Posts: Junk Poker
Me as Elvis Impersonator (Now that got your attention, didn't it!) 

And if you're still reading, here's a little something to make your day.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Free Books!

In honor of a certain birthday, I'm going to spread some gifts around.
I have some of the BEST books of the year on my shelves.
Mysteriously, I have more than one copy of a couple of them.
And I'm willing to share.

Since I'm taking a forced break from blogging as I head to the land of pitiful internet where I'll read and reflect and stay off Facebook and blogs for a bit, this giveaway will last a week.

And here are the goodies I'm going to mail to one lucky winner.

1. DOUBLE DOG DARE. If you don't know Lisa Graff's books, this is the perfect back-to-school place to begin. And teachers? It's bound to be one of the most fun read-alouds. I'm particularly fond of the dare involving green hair. But there's a lot of depth to the story, the characters, the writing.

Here's a link to a really good interview with Lisa on Barbara O'Connor's blog.  Complete with pictures and videos.

2. Scholastic sent me two copies of Carole Geithner's IF ONLY.  I'll include one in your winning package. Click here for a link to the author's website, including an excerpt from the book. A serious topic, well-handled.

3. Last but far from least. My Baltimore connection, Natalie Standiford's newest: THE SECRET TREE. The bloggers at Waking Brain Cells called it the "ideal summer read."  I agree.
Check out their review right here.

All that's required of you is a comment. Feel free to share this.
The books will be whisked off anywhere in the USA.
Winners announced on August 15, when I re-enter the world of connectivity.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Next Up

 Laura Lippman's newest. Out in 10 days!
She was one of the instructors the year I did Writers in Paradise.
 She's a gem of a writer and such a great teacher.  

CLICK HERE for a blogpost I wrote after a session with her at that amazing conference. (January in St. Petersburg- what could be better?)

What an excellent review she got in the New York Times.
Read it right here:

("“And When She Was Good,” with its title reminiscent of a spooky, overlooked 1967 gem from the Philip Roth archive... "
Surely Janet Maslin knows about the nursery rhyme --And when she was bad she was horrid?)

Putting it on my To Be Read list right now. Perfect book for the end of Summer.

If you're not convinced, check out this, from her publisher's page:

Her brilliant stand-alone novel, And When She Was Good, only reinforces the fact that she stands tall among today’s bestselling elite—including Kate Atkinson, Tana French, Jodi Picoult, and Harlan Coben (who raves, “I love her books!”). Based on her acclaimed, multi-award-nominated short story Scratch a Woman, And When She Was Good is the powerfully gripping, intensely emotional story of a suburban madam, a convicted murderer whose sentence is about to be overturned, and the child they will both do anything to keep.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cold Curry Soup

A recipe diversion from reading and writing- Perfect for a summer weekend.

Yummy soup I had the nerve to serve to two of my best foodie friends, Ivy and Barbara. I'd enjoyed it at another terrific cook's Annapolis Book Group luncheon for Glory Be this summer. 
So I knew I couldn't miss.

AND then I discover it's featured on my NJ writer friend Lee Hilton's food blog, right here:

 (That's Lee, all done up in her chef outfit, from her blog photo.)

This is what my soup looked like. 
The flamingo is an extra added attraction, courtesy of a Birthday Girl.

FYI. My friend Ivy and I have known each other since before we were born.
Our grandparents were friends. Her mama and my daddy grew up down the street from each other.
Have we always enjoyed sharing and talking about delicious food?

My friend Barbara in my Chatham kitchen one winter eve.
We've spent many an evening cooking and talking here.

Aren't friends the best? And isn't sharing a meal something to be savored and remembered?

Here's the recipe.
(At her Book Group lunch, my friend Nancy served it as a first course, in demitasse cups. Perfect!)

For more tips, click on over to the Kitchen Goddess's website.

One-of-Each Soup
(adapted from Gourmet magazine, December 2001. Nancy got it from her aunt, who wasn't so precise with the measurements and it tasted just fine!)

1 large boiling potato (½  lb), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped (½ c)
1 large apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 firm-ripe banana, coarsely chopped
1 pt chicken broth
1 c cream
1 rounded tsp curry powder, additional curry may be added, as to taste
1 tsp salt, pepper to taste
Chopped fresh chives for garnish

Simmer vegetables and fruits in broth in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender. Stir in cream, curry powder, and salt/ pepper and heat just until hot (do not boil). Refrigerate.

Purée soup in a blender until smooth. Serve sprinkled with chives. Makes 4 to 6 main course servings.