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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thank you, Third Graders

My novel GLORY BE is used in a third-grade historical fiction curriculum (HERE'S the link) and this time of year I get A LOT of letters from those readers. 
I try to answer them all. 
Sadly, sometimes they reach me too late to answer.

Their questions are often thoughtful, sometimes wacky, occasionally critical, frequently helpful. 
Just this week, a third grade girl (Hi, Lydia!) advised me to continue to "put the little seeds you put in the beginning that make that problem big later in the book.
I predict Lydia will be a smart editor or a writer herself someday. Or both.

Here's what one enterprising teacher came up with. And I love it.

Thank you, Ms. Neurer's Fabulous Third Graders, way up there in Minnesota! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

School's Out! (well almost)

A few photos from my almost-summer school connections. 

When author Kirby Larson suggested to her many friends and fans that we make a connection to be kinder, take notice of our world, and to all-out celebrate the late author Amy Krouse Rosenthal via her #MoreforAKR campaign, my first thought was one of my favorite nearby schools, Wauchula Elementary. I emailed the librarian, Mary Idsardi, and invited myself for a visit. She accepted my invitation and made a party of the day. I brought books. She had the yellow umbrella. I know Amy would have enjoyed the yellow, the red velvet cake and the ice tea. I sure did.

Here's a post about my previous visit to Wauchula Elementary to celebrate my own book, THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY. Mary also outdid herself with that. She's one of those special librarians who not only loves books, she loves her kids.

I love to SKYPE also. Especially with such well-prepared students. Here I am Skyping with Kellee Moye's Book Club, down the road a piece in Orlando.

(Perhaps the best student question relating to MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG in a while. Maybe ever. At least from a writer's perspective. I hope I remember it right. Juan: "Did you intentionally give Azalea all those exclamations like Holy Moly Mashed Potatoes? Were they part of her personality as you saw her?" Yes, I did. She may have been a quiet kid, but inside her head, she was exclaiming.)

I had two more fun local school visits that I don't have many photos of.  But here I am talking about creating characters from real people. That's my brother-in-law, inspiration and advisor for Robbie in GLORY BE, on the left. And a picture of Ruth Hart's dance class on the right. The students at Countryside Christian School asked great questions and were so much fun to talk to.

Then off to my old stompin' grounds. I know. Some of you don't equate me and New Jersey, but this is The Kent Place School, the actual school where I worked for over ten years. They invited me back. The library felt like home. Especially when I saw these books smiling at me. 

And the librarian, my friend Deborah Afir, makes me so proud! 

The girls were excited, well-read, and full of great questions.

I'm still smiling about a comment from my friend who teaches science and took the photos. Becky Van Ry, quoting her daughter: "She put down the date-due stamp and picked up a pen."

Yes, I did. But it still feels nice to be back in a school media center.

Afterwards, I moseyed from Summit to Madison, NJ, stopping for a treat at this place. Anybody recognize the Magic Fountain? I almost didn't!

Downtown Madison now has a lovely little independent bookstore, Short Stories. Here I am with two of my former teachers, my good friends Pat Casey and Edee Zabriskie. A few years ago, Pat's students brainstormed ideas for THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY when I was stuck. It's always good to talk about ideas with kids who love to read.  :)


Another school visit the next day back in my old neighborhood. St. Patrick's School, Chatham, was a place I often strolled by with my sweet dogs. I was happy to visit and talk about my books but somehow nobody took any photos!

What a treat to be back in New York/ New Jersey, to see old friends and old places and make new ones. 

I especially enjoyed pulling out a few sweaters. 
The weather was gorgeous. I'd wandered all over the city for the weekend, 

before heading to New Jersey to share thoughts on writing and books. 

Thank you to all the teachers and librarians who've invited me to your schools, who've Skyped, who've prepared your students and sold my books and let me share just a bit of my story with you. 

Have a great summer!

Sunday, May 14, 2017


I am thrilled to know that THE WAY TO STAY IN DESTINY has been nominated to the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award's new list.  

Here's a link to all the books.
(Wow, my book is in great company!)

By last count, that makes four kids' book lists for my second book. 

Whenever I speak to kids, they invariably ask, "Which of your books is your favorite?"
I usually give them the stock answer: I love them all equally, just like parents love all their children the same.
But then, sometimes, I confess that one makes me happy one day, another a different day.

So if you ask me that question this week, DESTINY it is!

Thank you, Tennessee librarians. Having lived the first part of my life 111 miles south of Memphis on the Blues Highway, I am truly honored.