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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Como Mississippi Library Friday, Feb 7, at 4:30

How Writers Choose Their Characters or More Precisely How Characters Choose Their Writers, Authors talk and booksigning with Augusta Scattergood

I'm totally excited about this event. These are the great kids and their equally great librarian who jumped into action when the NPR BackSeat Book Club people called.

Here's a little from librarian Alice Pierotti's press release about Como Reads:

Inspiring our community to pick up a good book . . . attend a program, talk about the book with a

neighbor, create a community of readers! 

Como, Miss., Jan. 24, 2014- Emily J. Pointer Public Library, a branch of the 5 county, 13-branch First Regional Library, announces its second annual community read! This year’s book selection is Glory Be, by Mississippi native Augusta Scattergood. 2014 Como Reads will culminate in a week’s worth (Feb 1-7, 2014) of programming exploring the book and a main theme of the book civil rights in smalltown Mississippi, circa 1964. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sharing the Fun

Last week I visited two great schools, full of enthusiastic readers. Both local, which is my favorite thing to do this wintry season.

Do you know what a charming little place DUNEDIN, Florida is?  

(I've spent days wandering around Dunedin, visualizing a different, fictitious place for my next book. Hint: Dunedin and Destiny are a bit alike!)
When the librarian at Curtis Fundamental School in Dunedin contacted me way last summer inviting me to visit, her email was the very first I received after GLORY BE was selected for the Sunshine Readers list. 

Who could resist an invitation with sentences like these:
Thank you for providing us with your historically accurate, beautifully written narrative about family and community support systems, and a very timely teaching tool! I know our students at Curtis would gain valuable knowledge and insight about the historical fiction writing process.

Of course I said yes. And now I have a new friend of my very favorite sort. Librarians who love books.

 Her school has won the Battle of the Books trophy! Two years running!

I came home with flowers, Bridge Mix, and neat bookmarks, and I signed a big stack of books.

(Jennifer, a teacher with a whole bunch of stickies in her copy of Glory Be. Actually, many of the teachers, volunteers and especially librarian Jan Hager had read and prepared the students so well. Thank you Curtis Fundamental School!)

An Aside:Dunedin has a whole lot of Little Free Libraries. 
I need to go back to see them. 
Here's the link. 

There's also a beautiful public library. Some of the Dunedin librarians came to visit and gave me this eye-catching necklace- It's a bookshelf!
Can't wait to wear it on my next school visit.

Earlier in the week I got to spend a little time with another Pinellas County school. Sutherland Elementary in Palm Harbor. Librarian Jackie Keller invited the special kids who'd read all the Battle of the Books books to a pizza party. 
Wow. Impressive!

I shared my GLORY BE stickers. 
These two turned theirs into a tiny book. 
I loved hanging out with these clever kids!
(and the Godiva chocolate was nice, too...)


Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Dali Lama's Quote for the Day

January has buzzed by so quickly I haven't really looked at my Quaker Motto Calendar.
One of this month's quotes seems just what I need for today:

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. 
Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.
(Dali Lama XIV, 1935- )

 Reading this today, when I was given a jar of homemade fig preserves, reminds me of my funniest story ever. About figs and sort of about the Dali Lama. Sort of.

If you have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, here's the link:

Thursday, January 23, 2014


"A story is movement from stability to instability to new stability." 
Les Edgerton, HOOKED.

 Did I mention "More to Come" from our fabulous Miami SCBWI event?

(While you're thinking about SCBWI, check out Fred Koehler's ILLUSTRATED wrap-up, HERE.)

One of my favorite, helpful, fabulous moments was the workshop with Sara Pennypacker. On her website, she lists her favorite writing books:

I happen to own one of the three she shared with us last Sunday in Miami: Scene & Structure, a Writer's Digest Book by Jack M. Bickham.

And my friend Teddie was willing to lend me another:  
HOOKED by Les Edgerton.

So guess what I did yesterday? 
Borrowed and reread that one.

A bit from an earlier post on that book:

1. An overview about opening scenes and what's important included this reminder-
"Take time to craft not only the first sentence, but the rest of the opening...For gosh sakes, don't pair adjectives in an attempt to make the description more powerful. The rule of thumb with adjectives is that with each additional one, the power is halved, not doubled..."

2.The chapter on characters suggests "beginning with an out-of-the-ordinary character... can instantly pique the reader's interest."
(My question- is this a good plan for kids' novels? Or should we soundly establish the point-of-view character first?)

3. "A great first line buys you a lot of points" with editors and agents.
But we all know that, don't we...

Enough reading about writing. Now, let's get to it!

Monday, January 20, 2014

What a weekend! Quote of the Day

There are so many things swirling around in my head this morning. 

For now, here's the George Eliot stickie note (Thanks, Sandra Markle!), mentioned while standing next to my great editor, Andrea Pinkney. 

More to come on a great Miami SCBWI conference weekend.
I hope everybody is as inspired as I am- Now let's get to work!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Love these kids!

What a fun day at Mabry Elementary School in Tampa.

I love having GLORY BE on the Sunshine Readers List.
Such an honor to have all these smart Florida readers excited about our books!

The first thing I saw when I walked into this bright, happy space? Clifford! On that very cool stool.

One of the teachers made this Wordle about GLORY BE.

 I found a whole wall of notes! Here are two. Thanks, kids.

Here I am at the end of the day. 
(Not looking quite as spiffy as my picture...)

I signed a ton of books. 
Thanks, Barnes and Noble and especially Beth Gaffney, for bringing all these books for the students at Mabry. Thanks to super librarian, Joan McClelland, for terrific planning, a beautiful library, smart kids and teachers (and a yummy lunch). What a great day!

Monday, January 13, 2014

And The Winner Is...

So many readers!

Everybody's excited about Elizabeth Eulberg's new book.

I put all the names in a hat-

Found an impartial party enjoying his coffee and made him pick!

Congratulations to a fellow blogger and librarian!

Please send your mailing address, leave it on this blog or Facebook message me!
(gsgood2 AT gmail)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Elizabeth Eulberg's new book.

I'm sharing my ARC (Advance Reading Copy)!

The book will be out in February, so you certainly can pre-order it or tell your bookstore you are waiting.
But I haven't given away a book lately, so let's do this.
(If you don't mind a few notes scribbled on the pages. Sorry about this.)

What I love about BETTER OFF FRIENDS.
1. It's a romance for Girls and Boys! Young teens, pre-teens. There's not much to keep even middle-graders away, though the topic is boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. In the best way.
There's football, done perfectly. And cooking that's not girlie-girl. Such an appealing story for all.

2. The BOOK DESIGN. I adore the way the two characters each have their own different typeset. Font. Whatever those clever book people call it.
I love the cover. Yes, this one will appeal to a huge range of readers. Like Sarah Dessen's wildly popular novels, the cover doesn't give away the faces. Great concept- let readers sharpen those imaginations!

3. The twists and turns. In real life, and real love, there's no easy answer. My favorite theme of this novel? Boys and girls can be friends. And that can be a perfect start to true romance.

The pre-teen me would have been all over this story.
I predict the book will be snapped up by fans of Elizabeth's other novels and new readers who love and share this one.

Just leave me a comment, on this blog or on Facebook. And I'll pick a name in three days!
(January 13th, to be exact)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bye, bye, Character...

I've done it often. Said goodbye to a character who wasn't carrying his weight. Given the ax to someone who was the same as somebody else.

I could read every word Laurie Halse Anderson writes about writing (not to mention quite a few of her fiction words).

Click for her thoughts on the subject:

Here's a bit of what she advises:

1. List all the characters. 
2. Define – using only a few words – that character’s relationship to the main character. Examples: comic foil, trusted friend, villain, complication, love interest. 
3. If (like me) you have two or more characters that serve the same purpose, get out a magnifying glass and sharpen your scythe. Is it possible to have one of the characters take over scenes from the others? 

In my past book lives, I've said goodbye to a boy named Zach and an aunt named June (or maybe it was May. My critique group laughingly called her Aunt May June because we never could remember. That right there tells you something about how interestingly she was written).

Possibly a lot of my characters have left the building. And have long been forgotten.

Have you had the nerve to chop a character right out of your story? Scary, no?
But totally worth it in the end!

Write Revise on!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Teaching Guide!

I'm delighted to share my brand new teaching guide for GLORY BE.

CLICK HERE to go to my website where you'll find it under the BOOK tab.

(Big thanks to Tracie Zimmer who wrote it with such care and understanding.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking Ahead

In the spirit of BEGINNINGS (novels, revisions, years), I'm vowing to read more grownup stuff in 2014. I'm embarrassed to say, when friends bring up great new books (and even newish ones), I mostly haven't read them. Yes, I've heard of them, but I read so many middle-grade and even a few Young Adult novels, that my adult reading has gone by the wayside.

So, here's what's up on my Kindle. 
Donna Tartt's new book, The Goldfinch.
(I don't read everything via an ebook, but this one's so huge, I couldn't see toting it around, hardcover.)

I'm also going to read Sue Monk Kidd's new book, The Invention of Wings because I received an ARC from NetGalley. And because I loved Secret Life of Bees AND she's coming to Tampa soon! Inkwood Books is sponsoring her talk.

This morning, I found --totally haphazardly-- a new blog to peruse. 
And as so many blog writers are doing, he lists the books read in 2013. 
(I had a good plan to keep a list of mine, which failed miserably.)

I love the guest post on working with an editor. 
And Flannery O'Connor. 

His "Bookstore of the Month" posts are fun, too.  Long, but fun.

If I'd just stop reading blogs, avoid Facebook, etc., maybe I'd find more time to read.

There's a resolution to consider for 2014...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Thing I Love, Not for Thursday

For a while I copied <someone> who is wildly successful with her Things I Love Thursday blogposts.

Then I kind of forgot about it. 
Until today. And it's not Thursday. 
But I had to take a picture quick, before the Thing I Love was gone forever.

Two words:


Here's why I love it. When I was a little girl, maybe 8 or 9, my grandmother taught me to play Canasta. I must have been pretty good because if she and her usual players were desperate for a fourth, they'd let me sit in. 

There was always a bowl of Bridge Mix on the card table.
I'd pick all the chocolate-covered nuts.

So when I saw this Bridge Mix recently, and it was ALL chocolate-covered nuts, I grabbed it. I'm almost through the bag.

I also love the little bowl. I bought it in Paris for my first granddaughter.
Great memories.
Now back to munching...


If you're still reading, here's another thought on Bridge Mix.

I once (2009, which seems like eons ago) wrote about those card games in an essay in Mississippi Magazine on Front Porch Gliders.
Here's a little of what I said:

As their frequent substitute during my pre-teen summers, I sat in on their weekly games. My seat was the low-slung porch glider.

Most often I played on the front porch of our neighbor, Miss Rubye. Her card table was cooled by a slow-turning ceiling fan and lit by a standing lamp that hovered over the table like a judge. Grandmother Keith sat next to me. No relation, but she was my friend’s grandmother and I was invited to share her, which I did, lovingly. On my left was Miss Rubye or another of the regular players if we convened on a different front porch. And across the table sat my partner, my grandmother.

The ladies held three-deck Samba hands in round holders which made it easier to grasp fifteen cards while smoking their nonstop cigarettes. They shuffled with a fascinating gizmo whose handle turned to spit out perfect decks. And they loved to talk.

They didn’t talk much about cards. They didn’t need to. These women could play with their eyes closed. They talked about our little town, the people in it, trips to the Big Star grocery, and what went on at church. They talked peripherally about cooking, although my grandmother’s idea of cooking was limited to spreading cream cheese onto Boston Brown Bread rounds or to the delicious watermelon pickle she created for her Canasta group.

I didn’t talk much at those card games. I was there to listen. That was the thing about front porches and gliders. Something was always happening, even “just” sitting and listening.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Very Special Editors: WITH THE MIGHT OF ANGELS

True confessions- I don't listen to books. Well, not too often. I can count on one hand the books I've actually heard.

My problem?
1. I'm not in a car long enough to listen there.
2. I keep wanting to take notes, go back and forth, underline. Doesn't work for an audio book, does it?
3. I haven't taken the time to figure out how, except on the CDs from the library, and my new computer doesn't have a disc drive.

So I'm not an expert on audiobooks. But when my friend Kate Swanson told me I HAD to listen to this one, I did.
And now, I'm telling you the same.

WITH THE MIGHT OF ANGELS, by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
(Click on that link and you can hear a sample from

Yes, she's my editor. And one could not have a more amazing mentor to guide her through the ups and downs of writing a book.

Guess what? Andrea Pinkney will be at Miami SCBWI.  Soon. January 17-19, 2014, to be exact.
There's still time to sign up, people!

And if you listen to this remarkable book, read by Channie Waites (I know nothing about audiobook readers, but she's got to be a star), you'll know Andrea a little better. The author material at the end, shared by none other than the author herself, made me feel like Andrea was riding in the car with me.

Reading it on a seven-hour drive from NJ to VA, where the book just happens to take place, was an unexpected and wonderful surprise.

Another confession, I'm not a total fan of the Dear America books. For no particular reason, I just haven't read enough of them to find one that really grabbed me. But this one did. No matter who had written it, I would have appreciated Dawnie Rae's story.

If you can't get your hands on the audio version of With The Might of Angels, with Andrea's author interview, and want to get to know her a little better, try this:

or her fabulous speech:

Andrea's Coretta Scott King Acceptance Speech

Seriously, don't miss this tribute by her son, husband, and brother:

One of my favorite photos, with two of her authors at the Library of Congress's Book Festival this fall.

I suspect Kathryn Erskine feels the same way I do about Andrea's remarkable editing skills and her ability to help us turn our books into the best they can be. And isn't that what the very best editors do?
The part about being funny and nice and smart is just icing on the cake.