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

Monday, March 28, 2016

WISH by Barbara O'Connor

 In the interest of full disclosure:  
I read a very early kind of/sort of draft of this novel when Barbara first shared it at our fabulous writing retreat with Kirby Larson and Susan Hill Long,
over a year ago.

It was a few chapters, heartfelt characters, and a dog. I loved it.
We all loved it.

Here we are, working hard on four manuscripts that all will appear- or already have- in 2016.
That's Winston the Wonder Dog, ready to host the first ever Pet Book Group.
(See below.)

Truthfully, I've been a fan of Barbara's since our mutual friend Leslie Guccione asked her to read my very first manuscript, many years ago, and she offered some sage advice that helped turn that into my first novel, GLORY BE.
(Okay, it took about a zillion more drafts, but Barbara's encouragement was crucial.)

Her blog advice about writing craft ("Writing Tip Tuesdays") is invaluable to newly-minted writers. 
Click on that link to see what I mean.

But I vowed a long time ago never to review a book I couldn't say nice things about.
Even if a friend writes it. ESPECIALLY if a friend writes it.
Of if I know the author. And by "know" I include social media.
Knowing an author has become very easy.

I have nothing but great things to say about WISH.

First, the characters will tug at your heart. Oh that redheaded boy with the up-down walk, Howard Odom. Big time, heart tug! A Backpack Buddy who shakes hands when he first meets Charlie on the bus. Tiny details say so much. That's the way Barbara writes her novels.

And poor Charlie. You will love this girl whose real name is Charlemagne. So unlikable and yet- well, I don't want to say too much. I want everybody to read this book when it finally appears, 11/1/16.

The entire time I was reading my Advance Reader Copy of WISH, I kept hearing it in my head.
A read-aloud kids won't forget. Ever.

I would love to share my copy, especially if you're a teacher or a librarian or someone who would continue to share.

Leave me a comment or a Facebook message or a Twitter reply, and I'll choose a winner early Thursday morning, just before I have to make a trip to the post office!

Oh! And there's a Doggie/ Kitty/ Bunny Book Group forming.
Post a picture of your pet reading the book on Twitter or Facebook.
Join the fun and celebrate another perfect Barbara O'Connor middle-grade novel.

Remember! Leave a comment before March 31st at 10 AM EDT and I'll pick a lucky winner.
You don't have to own a pet to be a fan. Or a winner.
In fact, you don't even have to love dogs to love this book.

We have a winner! Erin Preder, via Facebook.
But I drew two extra names, because I may have extra ARCs. Stay tuned! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What I'm Reading Now

THE BEST AMERICAN SPORTS WRITING 2015, edited by Wright Thompson.

The book fell open to "Precious Memories."

Although I'd read Tommy Tomlinson's beautiful tribute to Coach Dean Smith when it was first published and shared from the ESPN magazine, reading it today caught me off guard. 

"Here is the special cruelty of it: the connector has become disconnected. The man who held the family together has broken off and drifted away. He is a ghost in clothes, dimmed by a disease that has no cure."

I also love what Thompson says in his introduction to this year's volume, about writing.
Writers can't hear this enough.

I'm often wondering if I'll write a good story again, or wondering how I've written some good ones in the past, and over and over I find my way out of the darkness by reading a story I love, one that inspires me to be better and makes me afraid that I'll fail.

This book is full of not only good sports essays. 
These pieces are just plain good. 

Monday, March 7, 2016


My book-to-be has a title and a cover and even a blogpost on Mr. Schu's WATCH CONNECT READ.

You can see them all by clicking HERE.
(Find a bit about the story, about the books I'm reading, and about my writing buddies there.) 

I'm so excited about the cover. There's even more on the back cover! I'll share it soon. 

The book's coming in August. Which will be here before I know it.
I think you can already pre-order it on all the usual places. 
It must be really happening!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Things That Inspire Us

I've spent the past few days submerged in writing and learning new things about books for kids. If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest about this time next year, do not miss the 14th Annual Children's Literature Conference at Western Washington University. 

Not only did I hear some fabulous writing wisdom, I met some fabulous teachers, writers, librarians- lots of librarians! 
I made new friends and hung out with old. 

One new friend, Adam Shaffer, just posted the most amazing Nerdy Bookclub post about historical fiction, specifically about Kirby Larson's awesome book, DASH.

I'm putting the entire link here so you won't overlook it. Teachers, be inspired. Writers, take a lesson from a master and read Kirby's book.

Adam has a lot of excellent ideas about historical fiction and using it in the classroom. I could quote the entire post, but I'll begin and end here: 

"There is enormous value in reading these books. We
 are more knowledgeable, more compassionate, more understanding people when we read historical fiction."