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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Slow Writing.

Is it like Slow Cooking? 

Is it something we've given up on in our hurry to get things on paper?

CLICK HERE for a very interesting blogpost from Kristi Holl.

I'm also following Linda Urban's blog and her posts on writing every day. 
For a few minutes. 

I got a late start, so I'll go a little beyond the allotted time. But today was Linda's last day of writing for just 15 minutes.  

I highly recommend this if you're busy or have no clue what to write about.
So much to do, writing-wise, when you're not actually writing. If you know what I mean. 

On to a new year! Lots to do in January. But 15 minutes, early in the morning, really isn't that difficult. We can do this, people.


Friday, December 26, 2014

A Thing or Two I Love

This is the time to make vows for next year, to write thank-you notes, to appreciate so much in our rich lives.

Inspired by an excellent piece on "how to support an author's new book," it occurred to me that having a book appear around the hectic holidays has both challenges and advantages. 

So I want to send a special thank you to the teachers who've had time not only to read THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY during your busy, busy holiday break, but also to share that you've read it and even to beautifully and thoughtfully recommend it to others.

Like Holly:
"This is a story of family, home, and identity - all of which the characters need to define for themselves. Glory Be was a big hit in my classroom, and The Way to Stay in Destiny is destined to be, also, in 2015!"

And Terry:
"...the way that music plays a role has this musician singing its praises."

Enjoy the rest of your break, teacher and librarian friends. Here's hoping it's filled with good books, long walks, warm fires, and true friends. 

(Oh, and if you happen to sneak over to Goodreads this week, Scholastic is giving away Advanced Reader Copies of my book. Drawing ends on December 31st. )

And if you live in Florida or other warm climes, here's that fire to warm you as you read your favorite book!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Post was Inspired by Letters

Or, truthfully, by my friend and fellow debutante (our first novels came out the same year) Caroline Starr Rose's BLOG POST: Do You Write Fan Mail?

I haven't written many letters to authors lately. In the era of Facebook and email, most of the authors I know receive cyber greetings from their fans.

But today is a letter-writing kind of day and I'm actually writing a couple to those who've been steady rocks by my side as I've navigated the past few years of publishing.

(I certainly have enough note cards to write everybody I've ever known!)

I'll write my very own editor, also an author, whose book THE RED PENCIL I'm reading right now. She hears from me a lot. But I've never written to her about one of her own books. And I love this one.

Ann Martin's RAIN REIGN is going under a special someone's Christmas tree. I'd love her to know how much this book will mean when that young reader and I talk about it.

I'm going to quote from Caroline's blog, linked in the first sentence, because she says it so well:

“I am a part of everything I’ve read” Theodore Roosevelt said. It’s true. And I am so very grateful to the authors who have made my life richer, fuller, deeper through the books they’ve created.

You might also like this about Flannery O'Connor's letters.

Or perhaps

And just for fun: Typing Skills!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Always Quotable

Katherine Paterson:

"I think you tell your story and then the reader gets to decide what he or she will learn from your story. And if they don't want to learn anything from it, that's their choice."

- Katherine Paterson
from an interview with NPR

(via Jan Fields' interesting newsletter this week)

I often post quotes from Katherine Paterson. CLICK HERE for a link to one I particularly like. Or type her name into my search box for even more inspiration.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dunedin Public Library

More to come, closer to the date.

But I must share my cool new button!

(Thanks, Eileen. You are the best.)

My very first "Destiny" event will be on January 22, Thursday, at 4:00,
 at the delightful DUNEDIN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Games! Refreshments! Maybe even music. Bring the family.
Barnes and Noble will have books for sale- hot off the press!

I hope to see some of my Tampa Bay friends and family there to celebrate my next book. Thank you to the amazing librarians for agreeing to host.

(Such a neat little town. Plus, my favorite ice cream store in the universe. Can't wait.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

And the winner is...

Who left a comment on the blog.
(Craig, please send your mailing address ASAP via my website or Facebook or leave it in a comment, if you're so inclined.)

PS If I get more ARCs, I'll be happy to share with more of you who commented.

In January THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY will be available as an actual book.
You can pre-order now, via the usual suspects.

Or tell your wonderful independent bookstore to order it.

Or, if you are a teacher or a librarian, check the Scholastic Teacher Store.

And rumor has it, the new book will be in your wonderful Scholastic Book Fair this spring! Yay. So excited.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Books to Share

Just for fun.
And in the spirit of holiday giving.

Who'd like a signed Advanced Reader Copy of THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY? 

And as a little bonus (And because the Scholastic Store had such a great sale and I needed one extra to get free shipping that I ordered my own book), I'm throwing in an autographed hardback of GLORY BE. 

(The paperback as well as the audio will be available in January, but I still love hardback books for gifts.)

So this is my gift to one commenter/ replier. 
Here or on Facebook or Twitter.

This will be a quick one. 

Comment before 9 AM tomorrow (December 12) when I hope to make my last pilgrimage to the p.o.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Shopping

 It's that time of year again. 

May I suggest the perfect holiday gift for all the kids on your list? 
A book signed by the author.

My very first signed book came from Frances Parkinson Keyes, given to me when my parents returned from a trip to New Orleans where she was signing Once On Esplanade.
(Whoa. Worth $75? I'd better dig that one off the bookshelf!)

Some clever writers even put a special note in their signatures.

I found a book by fellow Tampa Bay writer, Fred Koehler at Inkwood Books and he added a personal note. 

Authors love to sign at their book events. In fact, if you know where an author lives, give a nearby bookstore a call. They might just have them already signed, waiting for you.

Check this list from Square Books in Oxford
It could make a book collector out of you!

Since I LOVE Greg Neri's new Johnny Cash biography, I bought a couple. 
For gifts, of course.

These won't be going anywhere but my own bookshelves. But I'm sure that if you buy a book by either Caroline Starr Rose or Nancy Cavanaugh and email them via their contact info on their website that you'd like a bookmark signed or a bookplate, they'd be happy to send it.

I do it all the time for my own book! 
And I bet lots of other writers would love to make your gift very personal.

For holiday giving or if there's a new baby gift you need, my friend Aimee Reid has offered to send you a signed bookplate for her new picture book, Mama's Day With Little Gray. Check out the link to request a bookplate here:

So make that gift special this year. There's still time if you hurry on over to the authors' websites, Facebook pages, etc.  Happy Shopping to All!

(A few words about autographed books in general can be found HERE.  Kind of reminds me of the 4th grade boy at a school I visited last year who told me all he wanted was my signature. Not his name. He planned to sell it on Ebay soon... Wonder how that worked out for him.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Writers are such Generous Beings!

I love this idea so much.

If I were any good at critiquing, I'd keep it going and do the same thing LYNDA MULLALY HUNT is doing.

CLICK RIGHT HERE for her offer of a free critique. 
  I know it will be amazing!

I really loved her first book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS.

I cannot wait to read FISH IN A TREE.

And I totally could have written every single word she says about finding an agent and being pushed along by our Tribes!

Way to go, Lynda. And thanks in advance for such a generous offer.
Somebody is really going to be happy about this.

(Hurry up and enter! Drawing is December 10th. )

Friday, December 5, 2014

Narrative Voice

Did you miss the recent dust-up about First Person Present?

My favorite response came from Kate Messner. No surprises there. She always manages to say the right thing in a way that's easily understood.

Click over to her blog where you'll find her very measured reply to why First Person Present often is the right choice.

Perhaps I'm not the best person to respond to the criticism. Although I naturally lean toward past-tense-whatever-person, I think first person present works just fine if the story calls for it. As does whatever tense and voice fits our stories and our characters.

My new book is written in first person present, just because that seemed to work best for telling the story. 

Speaking from recent experience, I've written an entire draft of a manuscript in one tense, found it didn't work and changed it.

That's called Revision with a capital R, people! Whatever works, whatever sounds right, whatever fits. There is no rule when it comes to what is best for a particular writer or a certain character.

If you really want to get your dander up, read the original post, with all its comments, HERE. 

Although I don't really <LOVE> present tense, to each his own. 
Whatever works. Go for it.

“I love you present tense. It's okay, Gus. It's okay. It is. It's okay, you hear me? Okay, okay.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

Three Times Lucky was a fun read, a Newbery Honor book in fact, full of great characters.

The sequel-- or perhaps companion is a better fit--THE GHOSTS OF TUPELO LANDING, features the same folks.

 Moses LoBeau is a champion of one-liners.
Like this:

"Few people know it, but waitressing is like deep cover--with tips."

Describing a character, upon his entrance:
"From a distance, I didn't like him. Up close, I liked him less."

And strong verbs, like these:

We slipped into the living room, Queen Elizabeth ticking along behind, and settled on Miss Lana's old curlicue settee.

Also in the good verb list: blasted off and shoved.
Queen Elizabeth's the dog. That's another thing to love about this middle-grade novel. The character names.

And how's this for showing a lot about someone without telling much:
"I crossed to my Salvation Army desk and opened my top drawer. It sticks."

Writers could learn a lot from Sheila Turnage. Check out her website. She might even tell you where you can buy a signed copy!