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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Listen Up!

I'm excited to announce that the audiobook for MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG is now available. You can download it on Audible, HERE.

The fabulous folks at Scholastic Audiobooks, especially Paul Gagne, worked very hard to get Billy's voice right. Although it was hard to describe what I thought a Chinese American boy in the south sounded like in the 1950s, I think we nailed it. I say "we" very loosely. Though I did get to read the Author Note and the Acknowledgements, I wisely left the rest to the experts. 

From the first time I heard her reading, I knew Kate Simses was Azalea. She's such a pro.

It's strange hearing your words read by someone else.  
But it's lovely when they're so beautifully said. 

Thank you!

Thank you to those of you who've taken the time to post a review of my new book to Amazon, Goodreads, your blogs, etc. 
Authors REALLY appreciate this. 

I was truly delighted to read this thoughtful Amazon review.
Thank you, Jeu Foon:

September 9, 2016
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just finished reading "Making Friends with Billy Wong".
My opinion ... Outstanding! Five out of five stars! Here's why ...
(1) Augusta Scattergood got many details of the 50's just right, even down to the then used term "funny books",
(2) her depiction of Chinese life in grocery stores was accurately expressed through Billy's prose (a very nice change of pace writing-wise!),
(3) I wouldn't mind reading even more about the same summer from each boys' individual perspective (two very interesting characters!), 
(4) I really like that the author used Arkansas as the setting, instead of Mississippi. Mississippi Chinese were and still are a very close-knit group, from having attended Chinese-only schools together, and are well-documented. But the many more scattered and more-isolated Chinese kids in Arkansas (like me) had to attend white schools alone and navigate a difficult daily life between and within both black and white societies (as the author so perfectly describes through Billy Wong’s own writings),
(5) Bottom line: this is a very well-told and unique story about the bonds of friendship grown through shared experiences, both good and bad. I truly enjoyed reading this story of Azalea's summer and I expect others will too. 
Thank you, Augusta Scattergood, for writing it. Outstanding! - Jeu Foon (Forrest City, Arkansas 1949 – 1967)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Writing Advice from #TrueFriends, Part 3

You might wonder what on earth would four writers do for four days together.

Do they actually write? Or do they have a gabfest, long walks, fabulous meals and the occasional glass of wine? 

In my limited but excellent experience, all of those things are part of a writing retreat. When Kirby Larson invited us to be a part of her writing world, Barbara O'Connor and I flew in from the East Coast. Susan Hill Long met us at the airport. And off we went to our own cocoon where we worked very hard.

At some previously scheduled point in our writing days, we gathered and talked about our manuscripts. We were at different places in our writing. Kirby and Barbara had a ton of books under their author belts. Sue had quite a few herself as well as experience working in publishing. True confessions, I suspect I had the most to learn. And I soaked in every single word of advice.

On our first retreat, we sent chapters around in advance for critiquing. So Sue put her sharp editor's pen to work. I can't speak for the others, but in my case, I suspect she had to work hard.  Many red marks= super suggestions.

Susan Hill Long, finally, perfectly made me understand what a scene is. 
And how important it is to write in scenes. Okay, I knew that part already. And instinctively, I think many writers do. We probably see our stories in scenes, even if we don't realize it. 
But making it happen is hard work!

Here are her words, verbatim, from her helpful Advice from a True Friend.  Thanks, Sue!

This is important: in a scene, something happens.  
Yes, sometimes we need to set up a quick bridge to get from one thing that happens, one event, to another. And sometimes we need to make time pass. For one reason or another, sometimes the story calls for summary in order to keep moving forward. 

But when we want the reader to notice, to slow down and experience the event with the character, we write a scene. 

From Sandra Scofield's excellent and highly recommended resource THE SCENE BOOK: A Primer for the Fiction Writer, I learned that each scene should have a sort of pivot that I can put my finger on, a point where something changes. The story moves forward, or the reader's understanding of the character deepens, or the plot twists. Especially once I have a down-and-dirty draft in hand, I can look at each scene and ask, How does this scene matter to my story?

 There must have been magic in that ocean air.  
Four books appeared this year. 
We organized a Second Annual Writing Retreat. 
And now we're excited to be a part of NCTE in Atlanta in November, where we'll be on a panel together and talk about how this could work in your world.

 (To read advice from Kirby and Barbara, click back through my previous #TrueFriends blogpost.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

True Friends

Have you been following along with all the #TrueFriends fun?

You can CLICK HERE to get to a google doc with everything in one place!
(All four of us talking about friends in our books, for example.)

FYI- Hurry and enter! The Giveaway of lots of books and a Skype session ends in November.

There's even a FRIEND CATCHER.
(Much better than any of those other "catchers" you may remember!)

You know the definition of a True (writer) Friend?

Someone who takes the time during her book launch party to buy your book and post the photo on Facebook and Twitter.

Barbara O'Connor's holding up my new book at her own Malaprops Bookstore party.

Barbara has given me so many writing tips, it's hard to know which to choose.
I have an entire legal pad scribbled with advice she gave me when she first read GLORY BE.
Now, that's a True Friend.

If you don't already follow her blog, you may want to CLICK OVER THERE and read all her Writing Tip Tuesday past posts.

HERE is one of my favorite things she shared (and there are many).

"... pay attention to the extraordinary in the ordinary - to notice the small things around us that the average observer might not notice or note to memory.

And when you notice those small things, WRITE THEM DOWN."

Read Kirby Larson's writing advice from last week right here.
Susan Hill Long's advice will be next.

I hope you all have #TrueFriends to encourage you on your journeys!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Advice from a True Friend

If you've been hanging around social media lately, maybe you noticed our #TRUEFRIENDS posts.

There are four of us connected writers, who are not only friends, but also writing-advice-givers-sharers-and-takers.

 Here we are at our first annual Writing Retreat, where we became fast, #TrueFriends.

Wisdom from writer friends goes deep into my heart (and if I'm lucky, possibly my brain).

This from Kirby Larson is something I'll take with me to think about as I hide at a Highlights UNWorkshop this week. She said it when we worked together at a Whole Novel Workshop there a couple of years ago.

"Facts are as beautiful as flowers but they need a garden in which to grow... But if a fact doesn't serve a useful purpose, it doesn't belong."

She went on to cite Catherine Called Birdy as a strong example of this.
And she told us that authors must know their characters, know what they'd think, like, do before we can decide where- or if!- those facts belong.

I love weaving tidbits into novels. I love reading fabulous facts. But they shouldn't intrude on good writing. Which Kirby Larson's books have, in spades.

If you're planning to be at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in November in Atlanta, you can hear more about our books, our friendship, our writing styles, and how we connected. As we make our way toward NCTE in November, I'll share more writing wisdom from my other #TrueFriends, Barbara O'Connor and Susan Hill Long.

For now, here's the link to our really great giveaway.