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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Art for the Day...

My friend Eileen created this snappy new Facebook cover picture. She used Photoshop.
Someone commented that it was like a Junk Poker treasure box. And we all love treasure boxes, right?

For those of you contemplating making your own collage, another clever friend recommends this site:

Super easy! I have that right from the source.

Let me know how much fun it is. Next time, I may do my own.
Though it sure is nice to have all these talented friends. Thanks, all!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quote of the Day

Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way all over again.

Eudora Welty

And speaking of Miss Eudora.

Here's a link to an early draft of the powerful story she wrote on the day she read Medgar Evers had been shot.

If it's an Eudora Welty kind of day where you are, there are many more of her quotes on this blog. Just type her name into the search box.

Here's one I love:

OR you can click over to Brainy Quotes.

I think I'll revisit a few of her short stories, again this summer.

My writing inspiration for the day! How about you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Road Tripping

Thank you, Mr. Schu, for taking time from your busy schedule (American Library Association! Chicago! Envious.) to blog about GLORY BE.

You can read his blogpost right here:

Fellow writers, teachers, librarians: If you don't follow him on Twitter, Facebook, his blog, etc, and you want to know the latest, greatest kids' books or ways to engage young readers, you are missing out.

Plus he takes some fun, book-related trips.

Last year Mr. Schu's annual road trip itinerary included Mississippi, and other points south. 
He read GLORY BE in some of my favorite places. Lemuria Books, the Eudora Welty Library, the old Capitol, the University of Southern Mississippi.

Here he is, hanging out at the Welty Library in Jackson. 

I'll be following along to see where he ends up this summer. Maybe someplace cooler than his Southern Swing last summer. 
Have a fun trip, Mr. Schu!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ARCs: a Quick Story in Pictures

This morning I'm thinking about ARCs.
No, not the character or the plot kind, though goodness knows I've been worrying over those lately. Fine-tooth combing the heck out of a few wandering Plot Arcs.
But that's a story for another blogpost.

These are the ARCs I'm talking about.

For those of you who get these Advanced Reading Copies of forthcoming books, you know what I mean. This is a TINY stack that happened to be within rolling distance of my desk chair this morning.

Many are unrequested, sent via mail or UPS by publishers, agents and authors.
Some are picked up at ALA, BEA, or any of those other initial shows you may be so lucky to get sent to.

To learn how a professional chooses from her much taller stack than mine,
check out what the fabulous Professor Nana says HERE .
Great list of ways to pick your next book, BTW!

Click to read what Wikipedia has to say on the topic of
 ARCs, AREs (Advanced Readers/ Reading Editions) or even galleys.

(What I think of as a galley doesn't look much like a book and somehow seems not as much fun to read. See below, the big one in the middle...)

(I took this picture on my deck early this morning and titled it Arcs On Deck, for identification. Then it occured to me. Yes, three of them are On Deck, next up, ready to be reviewed!)

They are not meant to be sold. I try to pass mine along to new readers if I don't want to save forever.
Most publishers- all publishers?- make it very clear that they are NOT FOR SALE...

(An aside. Although the ones I've read have been amazingly kind and positive, I try to stay away from Goodreads/ Amazon, etc. reviews of my own book. But last night someone sent me a pretty funny review of Glory Be via Amazon. The reviewer, who actually is a person I knew as a child, mistakenly bought an ARC and gave the book a "1."
My only Amazon #1, which is not good. 4 and 5 are good...
She was disappointed that it wasn't a "REAL book." Though she loved the words inside.
About three people commented and set her straight. Thank you, whoever you are, nice people who commented.)

My most recent review for the Christian Science Monitor was a collection of YA Summer Reads and I got to include a book whose cover made me open it the day the mail came! Love, love, love the cover of Michael Northrop's new book, Rotten, not to mention the words inside.

Next up, one of the most delightful books I've read in a while. That fabulous mouse tale from Richard Peck.  Newly arrived, with publicity info from the publisher. Also cracked open upon arrival. And read in one sitting.

Now you know a bit about ARCs. Hopefully enough so that you won't buy one by mistake, anywhere. But if you do- hey, you never know!  They could eventually be valuable.
Hang on to them if you love them!

 Now. Back to those pesky plot arcs...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What Fun!

After a year and a half of talking to kids about writing Glory Be, I've learned a lot. One thing I'm sure of: If your publisher offers you what they claim is a Great Opportunity, take it.

The George Washington Carver School in Newark was just that. The kids were great. Their teachers were great. I loved this school.

Yes, it's June. It was warm in New Jersey. Carver School was celebrating Multi-Cultural Day with a big assembly. And some of the kids left early for a field trip to the Intrepid. A lot happens in this school. And yet the teachers had managed to share the book in class and teach their kids a lot about the 1960s. Every one of the 125 5th and 6th graders were beautifully prepared, well-read, and brilliant. I'm sure of it.

Here are the pictures to prove it.

The poster. Sigh.

Some of the messages:
Thanks for coming. 
We love your book.
I love your work. (I adore this remark!)
Thanks for being an author.

The kids, having fun! 
Posing with the poster.

(They were the best behaved listeners and questioners in the world.)

Scholastic Bookfairs, NJAfter3, and My Very Own Library teamed up to sponsor my visit. Scholastic donated books for every single 5th and 6th grade student at George Washington Carver and Bruce Street School for the Deaf.
(Way to go, Scholastic!)

Scholastic even sent me a ton of bookplates to sign, in case any of the kids forgot their books. Very few forgot. And those had printed a pic of the cover of Glory Be for me to sign.

(I have a lot of bookplates left. If anybody needs one, email or comment or Facebook message me, and I'll send it your way!) 


 These girls were part of the multi-cultural assembly. 
Dancers from the Dominican Republic!

 Here I am with the fabulous teachers. 
I loved chatting with them after my presentation. 
One had worked in a Freedom School and told me all about it. 
They'd all done an amazing job of preparing the kids. 
Thank you, ladies!

One teacher says her kids want to write a sequel: 
Whatever Happened To Robbie?

Now you know I love that...

(And a special shoutout to the Tech Guy, not pictured: Thank you for your help!)

What a way to end my school year, traveling with Glory Be!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reading and Writing and Eudora Welty

On the occasion of my last two school visits of the year, I'll share one question I get asked first and maybe most: Why did you become a writer? What inspired you?

And this is pretty much my answer, too.

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
― Eudora Welty, On Writing

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Esthers...

The wisdom acquired with the passage of time is a useless gift unless you share it.
Esther Williams

When I named the synchronized swimmers at the Community Pool for the most famous swimming movie star of the 1950s, I was certain young readers of my novel GLORY BE wouldn't really get why I'd called those friends of Mrs. Simpson's THE ESTHERS.

(Of course, I wasn't too sure they'd understand who Elvis Presley was either. Shows what I know.)

Check out the swimming suit and high heels. What passed for swim attire in the 1950s...

In an early draft I went on and on, describing the water ballet, having Glory and Frankie watch and comment. On and on and on. 


When revising, I used a word or two of description, mentioned green hair from the swimming pool, and moved on. But I knew I'd named those ladies for Esther Williams. I knew what synchronized swimmers did. And although a few really careful readers do ask about The Esthers, all that cutting wasn't missed.

I love all the layers a story offers. You get what you get, take what you can and skim over what doesn't connect to you as a reader. Note to young readers: only if it's a minor detail like synchronized swimming. Don't skip over the important stuff, please!

Since Esther Williams died today at the age of 90, I'm sharing this treat, clips from her movies.

Click HERE to watch her swimming. And water skiing!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Florida in my Rear View Mirror

Although I'm happy to be back in New Jersey for the summer, there are so many things I'll miss about Florida. Especially my Critique Group friends.

At my final meeting, we stayed for lunch. And we chose a new, more-appropriate-to-our-group name: Skyway Writers, reflecting our trips to and fro, all around Tampa Bay. Plus, I like the image. Can't you picture floating in a cloud with your ideas?

Our fearless leader Teddie Aggeles gave us gifts (she made the adorable blue bags for each member). Colorful paper clips, tiny writing pad, candy-- I thought I'd looked carefully at the treats inside. But I'd missed one. See that tiny eraser?

I don't know if each eraser holds a different message. 
But I know mine is most appropriate.

Yep, that's what I had all these years. 
It may not happen overnight- the faith in your own writing. But eventually we have to believe that the writing skills will develop, the critique group will be downright perfect, and the book will get published

Know what I mean?