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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

“The first essential in any book is that it have something significant  to say --a book that leaves the reader with bigger ideas than when hbegan reading - that stimulates his  thinking, stretches his mind, deepens his feelings. A good book sticks  to your ribs.”  

Rebecca Caudill (for whom the Illinois Young Reader's  Book Award is named)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Looking Back

My blog has a birthday! February 22, 2008 was my very first entry. 

I reviewed books, talked about writing, shared links. Blogs were fairly new and not quite as ubiquitous back then. 

A lot of my early entries talked about memories. And people I knew. 

Yesterday I walked at my favorite park in St. Petersburg, listening to a great podcast. I highly recommend the NCTE's WHY I WRITE podcasts. Not only does it make walking fun, I learn something. THIS ONE by Sharon Draper was yesterday's listen. 
She talked about how she came to write STELLA BY STARLIGHT, her grandmother's journal, her summers in the south. And although the book was inspired by her grandmother, it wasn't about her grandmother.

I love it when kids ask questions about my stories' truths and whether my characters are real people, people I know. 
Because characters often are based on real people, and they certainly begin with the truth.

In the spirit of those early blog entries, and in my newly revived effort to review more books where it counts (Amazon and GoodReads, places that mean a lot to books), here's a book about real people and life stories turning into book characters.

Fans of Lois Lowry- this one's for you.
And for a lot of readers who appreciate how authors come to their stories.
And for authors who struggle to find stories and then discover they are right in their own backyard. Or at least the inspiration for a story is!

From the chapter titled BOOK WRITING.

     "The Mystery of the Girl Who Lived in a Tower," Anastasia write dreamily.
      Then she looked at that title. Good grief. It sounded like a Nancy Drew title. Probably on the library shelf of thelve thousand Nancy Drew books, there was already one called "The Mystery of the Tower Room" or something.
     She tore that page out of her notebook and threw it away. It was much harder to write a book than she had ever realized...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dead Matter

We all have it.
That detritus of STUFF that you save after a book has long since seen the light of day.

Whether you have a stack a mile high, or to be more exact- a shelf wide. Or one book, or three. Authors have copyedits. They have notes. They have editors who give them notes and letters and copyedits.
(For example, you can't really see eye-to-eye when you're walking side-by-side. Or at least that's what one copyeditor noted. And while I'm at it, is it copy editor or copyeditor? AND is funnybook really TWO words? As in Little Lulu?)

I am inspired by my friend Barbara O'Connor's post on things her editors taught her. So to speak. 
Truthfully, I suspect she taught them a thing or two! Don't even get me started about barbeque.

HERE'S HER POST. Click over there and read it. Such fun!

For example:

Lunch box is two words but tailpipe is one word.

Hot dog is two words but bottlecap is one word.

Popsicle is capitalized.

(I'm proud to say that my manuscripts and all my editing notes are stored in the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. I'm hoping to visit them when I'm there at the Kaigler Festival in April. Can't wait!)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Friends, Friday and Otherwise

Do you keep up with Kirby Larson's FRIEND FRIDAY blogposts?

You should.
You meet the most interesting folks over there.

Recently, Kirby hosted a friend of mine. Linda Jackson grew up right near me, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Until I heard about her novel, our paths never crossed.
But I met her at a book event last year. Her middle-grade novel, historical fiction set in Mississippi, was coming soon.
I already had the Advanced Reader Copy. Lucky me!

Now everyone can read it.

And I get to see Linda again this spring, at the fabulous Kaigler Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi, where we'll both be presenting.


Bottom line? Never give up. If your book is revised and you know it's worthy and you care deeply about it, that book will find a home!

(It only took Linda six years. It took me almost ten. Did I say Never Give Up?)