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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013


 I'm reviewing a book for DELTA MAGAZINE right now. (More later on that.)

It's only available on Kindle, and the magazine mostly reviews traditional books. But because it's written by a local (local to the Delta), we are spotlighting it. 

This is the bargain of the year. 
Dorothy Shawhan's GOING TO GRACELAND. 
Click on that title link up there, please.

Only $8.00 for your Kindle. 
(Free to borrow if you have a Prime Account. Though I hate to share that because I'd love to think the author got a tiny bit of amazon's $$$ if we read this book...)

When I read the New York Times obituary of Delta bluesman, T. Model Ford, this week, it reminded me of the stories Dorothy Shawhan's travelers tell in her book. She's a Delta State University literature literature professor, mostly retired, who now teaches creative writing. 
So the writing is flawless. 
And then there are the stories her characters share. 

Which brings me to T. Model Ford's obituary.
Which you must read. Just for the stories.

Here it is:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reading the Story/ AKA Readers Theater

Teachers- do you do Readers Theater in your classrooms? Are you gearing up for next year?
How about you camp counselors out there? Drama camp?

If so, here's a terrific resource from one of my favorite blogs.

 Reader’s Theater puts the kid INTO the story, inhabiting his favorite hero, villain or sidekick. Words on a page literally come to life when real kids stand up to act out a scene.

That's from Tami Lewis Brown over at FROM THE MIXED UP FILES, a blog every writer/ reader/teacher of Middle Grade novels should bookmark right now.

Here's the link to Brown's post about Readers Theater:

And I posted a page with the Readers Theater script from GLORY BE.
Here it is, ready for your reading/ acting/ dramatic pleasure.

CLICK THIS  for a short description of the Readers Theater a funny, hammy, dramatic group of writers did together at the Texas Library Association.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Backseat Books

What a great idea! A book discussion, on the radio, for kids who are trapped in the backseat with nothing but- Alas and Hallelujah! - a REAL BOOK.

Michelle Norris's NPR Backseat Book Club has chosen some fun books, some serious ones, some award-winning novels for kids ages 9-12-ish.

And this month, July 2013, guess what they read?


When my buddies at Scholastic got the word, they were as excited as I was.
Such an honor. Such a thrill. Such an unexpected surprise!

That's my fabulous publicist from Scholastic, Emma Brockway, on the right.
With Brooke her summer intern- from Georgia!-who went with me to the taping.
Thanks, guys!

We traveled to the NPR studios in NYC.
 (Little known fact: A Tomato Plant Grows in the Window)

And a bunch of my kid readers in Como, Mississippi, got to be the Little Interrogators, as my friend Carl named them (Yes, he's an attorney. Surprise!).

Well, those interrogators were fabulous. The Como Public Library is truly remarkable.
When the show aired last week, their amazing librarian, Alice Pierotti, scheduled a listening party.
About 50 people listened in from the library. Wow.

Here are a few of the questions they asked:
 - Did you write the book to tell what your life was life?  Were you around in 1964? - Jy'kerria Barnett
 - Why did you decide not to illustrate the book? - Sylvester Bowden Jr.
 - Where did you start writing stories? Kelmisha Jackson
 - How was Glory so brave even if the grown ups around her were not? Cofield Collins
 - When you wrote the book, did you keep having to write it over and over? - Owen Collins

More pictures, from the big recording day!

Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Sandra Knispel records one of Kelmisha Jackson's questions.
From left are Knispel, Owen Collins, Cofield Collins, Jy'kerria Barnett, Jackson and Sylvester Bowden, Jr.

One of my very favorite pictures!

Of course, it being radio and the run time being SEVEN minutes instead of the HOUR they taped me, not all of those questions made it to the air.

But they were terrific questions, as were the others sent in by young listeners.

Here's the link to listen to the show. 

(I think the very well-spoken young lady reading Glory's part has a serious future in radio.)

For even more pictures, check out the Facebook page of the fabulous Como Library:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Words of Wisdom From Books of Wonder

 BOOKS OF WONDER.    (the link)

Yesterday's Middle Grade event was The Best!
Check out the fabulous authors.
Christ Grabenstein
Dan Krokos
M.E. Castle
Lee Bacon

True confessions. I was there to hear two in particular.

Wendy Mass and Richard Peck.
(I stole Wendy's Facebook post for the picture. She won't mind, I'm sure.) 

Both have new books hot off the press.
I'm reviewing Peck's THE MOUSE WITH THE QUESTION MARK TAIL right now. I absolutely love it. Ages 10 and up, according to Dial Books (thank you for the ARC, publicists!). But really, I think good readers as young as 8 will totally get it.

Wendy's newest, PI IN THE SKY, is waiting. I've known Wendy since she popped into the Chatham Library where I worked a few years ago. She's smart, funny and full of great ideas.   
One of my very favorite books by Wendy is Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. Oh, wait, I also adore Every Soul a Star.

I could go on and on.

Both Wendy and Richard answered the terrific questions with such humor. But I didn't dig out my notebook to scribble down quotes until the end so I won't quote the other authors, though much of their wisdom was worth remembering.

Richard Peck was the last to speak...

"Our readers don't read reviews."

"When I get a page exactly the way I want it, I take out 20 words."

"Focus on your first scene. Because if the reader doesn't like that, he won't read the rest."

"When you get your first line, the whole thing unfolds for you."
(on the perfect First Line, which his new book totally has!)

"Your characters must sound like real people. Not like the author."
(on why he reads everything aloud)

All of the above are pretty much verbatim from Mr. Peck.
Glad I found that notebook.

Authors in the audience     ☞

Michael Northrop. Love his new book, ROTTEN.

Florida Friends!  New and old.

Sue Laneve was one of my very first Florida writer connections.
I just met Leslie Zampetti, former Tampa resident, now in NYC. 

You just never know who you'll run into at BOOKS OF WONDER, do you?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Repeat after me: S-S-S-S-S.

Well, I've done it. 
I've just knowingly typed an "ly" adverb after a dialog tag. It couldn't be helped.

"Shut the door. Leave me alone," I say, pitifully.

I honestly tried to use another verb, but I'd already used it two paragraphs later. 
And you know how much editors hate that "echo" thing.

The pitifully just worked. For the rhythm, the tone, the situation. So I'm leaving it.

But I do it knowing that it worked for that dialog tag. And I hope all of you writers out there are doing the same. Making choices that work, that sound right when read aloud. And that don't echo themselves throughout your chapters.

Now, get ready for my Personal Peeve.

I'm reading a very good book. Well-plotted, an unusual place, time, heroine.
Twists and turns. In fact, close to a page-turner.

And no, I'm not telling you the title.
Because these little dialog tags are irritating the heck out of me.

"Quiet," he hissed.

A few pages later:
"We aren't supposed to be talking," he hissed.

"Don't say anything," I hissed in his ear.

"..., then walk away," I hissed.

Not to pick on that author, because plenty of writers use dialog tags that don't seem to work. IMHO. (Then again, everything on this blog is just my opinion.)

But this HISSING thing is
-->giving me a hissy fit.  really bothersome.

Others agree.

Though if you read the comments to this blogpost, you'll see that not everybody agrees. 

It's worth clicking over to that link, above, just to see the hilarious cartoon, which I'd love to use but think is copyrighted. Oh well. Just go. I'll wait.

Okay, thanks for coming back to this very intellectual rant about HISSING your dialog. 

Check out what the folks at Absolute Water Cooler say.
A few there contend that it's okay to HISS, even if there's not an S in sight.

If I've now confused you about dialog tags, check out some basic facts:
NJ SCBWI guru, Kathy Temean has a simple explanation of dialog tags on her blog.  

And I almost hate to lead you here, but remember the storm I kicked up a while back when I posted my SAID IS DEAD post? 
Yep. That's what some teachers seem to want kids to learn.  

And before I stir up another can of hissing snakes, yes, I write for kids.  
(aside: That book mentioned above, full of hissed un-hissable sentences was a Young Adult novel, historical fiction.) 

So maybe the rules are different for other genres. 
If you write well, you can bend, crack, stretch the rules.

But I still can't see HISSING quiet sentences with no ssssssss sounds.
At least not more than once in a while. 

If you're still reading, I'll leave you with one last link.

End of rant. Back to work now.

Feel free to comment. Stir up that pot, please. Hiss away.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Riddle of the Day

Brought to you by Cleaning Off My Bookshelves and Finding All Sorts of Odds and Ends...

Is there a word in the English language that contains all of the vowels?


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quote for the Day

What a nice surprise. 
A quote that fits my July aspirations perfectly. 

If you're embarking on a new, different, better, worse, happy, scary, or unknown summer adventure, reflect on what Holly Mueller wrote in her recent blogpost.

Here's the quote I'm stealing!


(And it's a rubber stamp, available on ETSY.) 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Another Year, Another Parade

If you need inspiration for writing a parade scene, look no further than Chatham NJ.

In fact, that's what I did when writing GLORY BE. Okay, honestly, the homecoming queen in a scratchy dress came from all those Friday afternoon parades before CHS Wildcat football games in Cleveland, MS.
But the rest? All from Chatham.

Here's a quick glimpse of today's parade, in pictures. 


 I'm a huge fan of bagpipers. Love the newest addition. Check him out, the kid on your far left.

 Another new addition. A truck supporting our governor.

All the swim clubs decorate floats.

Statue of Liberty. Wouldn't be a parade without her!

And for all of you who've been to the parade in Chatham. Yep, the crazy firemen ended today with two little burning houses, hoses, buckets of sparking confetti. Same as always. 

It's good that some things never change, right?

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Gloriana June Hemphill.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pinterest Party

Three of us from my old New Jersey critique group gathered to master Pinterest. We all had Pinterest accounts but weren't sure how best to use them. Book stuff? House stuff? Recipes?

We looked to the experts. But our Shout Out via Facetime didn't connect. We were on our own. Fortunately the HELP menu on Pinterest is helpful.

Here we are.
Working away, with our computers glued to Pinterest.

Fortunately, Lee Hilton was one of the group.  
(She's a food blogger!)
And a really good cook. We ate well, rewarding our hard work.
Kale chips, fresh guacamole, sour cherries from the Summit Farmer's Market.

Check out our Pinterest boards.
Leslie Davis Guccione
Lee Stokes Hilton
Augusta Scattergood

(Tip: Search our names, then click on PINNERS to find our boards.)

We're all there now.
We went nuts pinning and repinning. No pin left unturned!