Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Spookiness!

I have been a very good girl - I haven't eaten any Halloween candy this week - yet!

Of course, that means *nothing* as I'm sure I'll be inhaling it over the weekend and applying it directly to my thighs and stomach.

Go read this very Spooky Story by
[info]mguibord : The Rustling of Dead Things

Go Watch
[info]lindsey_leavitt's spooky Halloween video about the ghost story she wrote and illustrated when she was only 10! Delivering the Spook I wrote one when I was 10 and made it into a book, but I don't have it, unfortunately, and I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe a spirit spirited it away . . .

Go here to enter a very spooky contest by [info]lisa_schroeder
Trick or Treat!

My own ghostly experience in a cemetery in Natchez Mississippi! Click the link to see the pics and read the caption stories in which I spill all!

If you have a Halloween story please share in the comments with a link so we can all feel deliciously tingly!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not a woman in sight

Publisher's Weekly names their 10 best books for 2009. NOT A SINGLE FEMALE AUTHOR MADE THE LIST! What's up with that?1?

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, by Richard Holmes
Cheever: A Life, by Blake Bailey
A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon, by Neil Sheehan
Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small
Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew Crawford
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, David Grann

Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon
Big Machine, by Victor LaValle
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good reads and Synopsis Dilemma

I joined GoodReads and have friended a bunch of people, but my numbers sure look a lot lonelier than other people's just because I plain don't have the time lately to do all the adding I want to. I really love getting the email updates on what everybody is reading and seeing how y'all rank each book as well as reading the comments/reviews. Kate Messner writes some darn good reviews. I love reading them. Keep up the good work, Kate!

Does anybody besides me have a crazy hard time keeping up with email and all the social online networking and school visit paperwork and research and yet still be able to WRITE. And keeping family and household going all without going nuts? I must be SO disorganized or something. Everything always takes HOURS longer to do than I think it's going to. Whine, whine, whine.

So first I'm here to BEG you all to please, please, pretty please add THE HEALING SPELL to your reading list on Goodreads! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

And second, I need your help!

Back in August my Gorgeous Editor sent the flap copy for THE HEALING SPELL to me and I thought she did a lovely job with it. She said it was probably her most favorite flap copy she'd ever done. Which is totally cool to hear! I had a few questions about why she left out mention of some things (like the mysterious swamp traiteur) and she thought it would be confusing to young readers who will have no clue what/who that is. She also thought that less is more and it was better not to have a majorly long synopsis that makes the eyes glaze over on the jacket flap. Good points.

About this same time I was writing the script for the book trailer (it's going to have an amazing voice-over!) and I came up with my own synopsis. As I look at them both I think that the publisher's flap copy is geared more to younger readers and keeping it shorter and simpler is better for that, but I think the synopsis I wrote is actually more suspenseful. And maybe it's more geared toward adults.

Maybe I'm totally wrong about everything! I can't get far enough away to be unbiased. Opinions appreciated!

Here is the publishers flap copy:

"Eleven-year-old Livie is keeping a secret and it’s crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother’s coma, but she can’t tell anyone. And it’s up to her to find a way to wake her mamma before anyone uncovers the truth of what really happened.

Added to the list of Livie’s problems is being stuck in the middle of three sisters, trying to hide a forbidden pet alligator, and possibly disappointing her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else. Livie feels like an outsider and prefers the solitude of the lush bayou to her ever-crowded home. But she can’t run away from her troubles, and as she struggles to find her place within her family, Livie learns a lot about the powers of faith and redemption. Is her heart big enough to heal her mamma and bring her family back together?

Kimberley Griffiths Little’s beautiful, vivid writing brings Livie’s lush world on the bayou to brilliant life, and depicts Livie’s journey with a sensitivity and wisdom that’s sure to resonate with readers of all ages."

Here is my synopsis from Goodreads:

"Deep in the Louisiana bayou country, Livie Mouton’s mother arrives home from the hospital in a coma. Daddy is determined she will only get better surrounded by the people who love her best, but Livie is terrified of her mother’s lifeless condition and desperately hiding the biggest secret of her life—but some sins are so dangerous they’re better left hidden.

Summoning her courage, Livie travels into the forbidden recesses of the swamp to seek out the mysterious traiteur, hoping that if she buys a healing spell, she can bring her mother back to life.

Making the healing spell will prove to be the hardest thing she’s ever done, but can Livie do it in time, before Mamma never wakes up again?

Then Livie discovers that her mamma is hiding a secret of her own . . ."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waterlogged Wednesday

It started raining yesterday. Then it started HAILING yesterday - and the sound pounded the roof and the yard and the cars in the driveway.

Then the power went out all evening. I was in the middle of posting comments to my entry yesterday and lost everything. Anyway, time to move on. It's a new day!

The rain is still raining. Steadily and hard all night.

Time to curl up with my manuscript and get some words pounded out.

A book would be more cozy. And a cup of hot cocoa.

At least I got my son's college paperwork we were working on finished. Sort of. Still more to do. There is always more to do. :-)

And I printed up the "Letters of Agreement" for the school visits coming up this winter and spring before the computers in the house all went down. We haven't had a power outage in years. I was telling my youngest son that when I brought him home from the hospital as a baby we had no power. I had two toddlers and a newborn and no power, lights, heat, etc. No fun - but we survived!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fridays and Books!

Don't miss out on [info]fabulousfrock ARC Giveaway!!!

Jaclyn Dolamore's is holding a contest giving away an ARC of her upcoming December book MAGIC UNDER GLASS!
I ADORE the cover and I already have teens I know talking about it.

It's easy to enter: go to Jackie's new website and find out what she dressed up as for Halloween when she was fourteen. Easy peasy.

MAGIC UNDER GLASS was chosen for the Junior Library Guild!!! And it's getting great reviews already! A perfect Christmas gift since it will pub on December 22! So pre-order her book after you enter the contest!

Speaking of books . . .

I've recently read ETERNAL by CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH - one of my favorite writer friends.
LOVED IT!!! It's creepy and delicious and the ending was perfect.

A few days ago I read this in one big gulp - Barbara O'Connor is an incredible talent. Her books are small but AMAZING.

Just this minute I finished reading:

LOVE HIM!!! And I can't wait to read his new A SEASON OF GIFTS!

I was probably one of the first people to hear Richard Peck share pieces of this book to a group of live people way back in 1991 when I first met him in Santa Fe, New Mexico at a small and intimate writer's conference.

Enjoy your weekend and take time to read a book. I have stacks waiting for me .
. . Can. Never. Catch. Up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Subject: Our Marketing Plan

"Subject: Our Marketing Plan" written by Ellis Weiner - as he shares a letter from his book publicist.

Ah, there are days when it truly feels like that.

And the mention of "Jason" throughout the article/email is priceless.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Wanderings

I'm sitting here eating a bowl of strawberries, watermelon and grapes and thinking that it's probably the last of the fresh fruit for awhile. At least the yummy summer fruit. It's always sort of sad. I ADORE fresh summer fruit!

I joined JoNoWriMo this year for the first time and in the last three weeks I've written 20,000 words. Yes, you heard right - 20,000 FREAKING WORDS!!! A happy sigh here since it's taken me three months to get going on this novel. This novel that is due in 4-5 months to my Gorgeous Editor whom I love and adore, too. More than my lovely fruit! ;-D I need to draft and revise at least three times before I'll let Gorgeous Editor even take a peek. This book *cannot* take 5 years to figure out how to get it right.

I'm also going Halloween costume shopping this afternoon, although there's a truly *divine* medieval dress I've been drooling over out of a catalog for about three years. Do I just take the plunge and buy it? I'm thinking that with some beautiful elf ears I could go live inside the Lord of the Rings movie along with Arwen and Eowyn and all those other gorgeous girl elfs.

Isn't she lovely?

Too scrumptious!

So where can I get me that crown - and that guy???

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Update on the ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh post!

Last we left our heroine, she was weeping with excitement, jumping up and down around her bedroom "office" when she learned that the Demi-God Author of Children's Literature had asked her gorgeous editor to read her novel for potential endorsement . . . and editor immediately had said novel printed, bound and messengered to the DGA of Children's Lit.

Last week Gorgeous Editor gets a letter from Demi-God Author. He read the book! He loves the book! He's blurbing the book!!! It's true, it's REAL!!!!

Gorgeous Editor starts jumping up and down, calls heroine/writer at dinnertime who thinks it's an anonymous salesperson calling for $ or a survey and ignores the phone and continues stirring her spaghetti sauce and setting the table. Two hours later heroine listens to voice mail . . . and starts crying again. And bouncing off walls.

Gorgeous Editor says that she's been running around showing off the beautiful blurb to all her fellow editors who begin jumping up and down.

She shows it to the publicity dept who begins jumping up and down.

The blurb comes *in the nick of time* to be lovingly placed on the cover on its way out the door to becoming an ARC!!!!

Heroine's novel THE HEALING SPELL is blessed by the Demi-God and Demi-Goddess of Literature.

Heroine is off to make an offering of chocolate to the Gods . . .

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Launch of SPELLBINDERS is today!!!

I'm so excited about the launch of SPELLBINDERS, a newsletter for teachers and librarians and educators and home schoolers and parents - anyone who loves literature, books, and reading and wants to help kids love boit, too.

Carolee Dean and Lois Ruby and I have been working on this for the past six months, planning the layout, the title, our articles, our interviewees, our direction, goals, hopes and dreams. Carolee is also a speech/language patholgist in the school system and Lois is a retired YA librarian and me - I'm just a passionate reader/writer and past home schooler. The three of us are a good combination, eh?

You can go here to read the October Issue at SPELLBINDERSBOOKNEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM. It will run October - May, then break for summers.

Please SUBSCRIBE!!! Click on the "Join Our Mailing List" link and you can automatically receive it in your Inbox every month without having to remember to find it on the blog.

Isn't this pretty? We're thrilled to pieces.

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Spellbinders Logo
October, 2009
Welcome to the first issue of SPELLBINDERS, a monthly newsletter designed to help educators create lifelong readers. We are very honored to have the amazing Jane Yolen with us as our featured author for the first edition of SPELLBINDERS. To find out more about us, connect to our websites in our columns below.
J. YolenFeature Article
An Interview with Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen has written over 300 books for kids of all ages--from the gorgeous picture book Owl Moon to the harrowing YA novel, The Devil's Arithmetic. Her books have been awarded the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, and two Christopher Awards to name a few. To read more about Jane and find out about her books visit
Carolee: Jane, in addition to writing award winning books for kids of all ages, you've also travelled across the country talking to students about books. From these experiences could you share with us suggestions on how educators can encourage reluctant readers, especially boys?
Jane: I wish I could just say: get rid of all those tests and simply read to your students, though I know it's not as simple as that.
Now--I truly believe that all children love Story, though not all love it in the written form. Just as they love poetry, when it comes as street rhymes or hip hop or rhyming ads or pop songs. Have those poems memorized in a moment. So the problem is how to turn that love towards actual books.
I'm not a classroom teacher but I do know that some of the answers are in daily reading aloud (and stopping at exciting places!); getting the children to tell stories the way storytellers do, practicing until it becomes a performance; having them read favorite poems to younger grades; and the graphic novel. It has to do with letting their "bands" make up songs as back drop for books; getting them to draw or paint new covers for favorite books; and making a book trailer to go on YouTube.
In my family of three children, my oldest two were--and are today--great readers. Their houses are simply a-tumble with books. But my youngest never read for pleasure, always for information. Though he loved to HEAR stories, he was a late and even a reluctant reader. Today, he reads children's books to his twin daughters, he reads the poems I write for his astonishing nature photographs, but otherwise he and his beautiful and well-educated and adorable wife have no fiction books in the house for the kind of every day reading I feel essential to my own life. I did everything I could when he was growing up, including reading to him, surrounding him with his own bookcases and books, book-talking, and the like. And while he is in some ways the best adjusted of my children, he is who he is. I say this with great love and with the final realization that as much as I wanted him to be a reader, he never was warmed by the reading fire. It's true in every classroom, as I know you all are painfully aware.

Interview Continued at

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L. RubyWho's Right/Whose Right?
Lois Ruby

Over the coming months we'll look at how to survive book challenges without losing your sanity or your job. The not-so-secret remedy is a clear written policy, both for selecting books and for resolving challenges. But even with a fool-proof policy, you could still tear your hair out before the issue settles. And here's why ...

Everybody has rights, right? And yours come to a crashing halt where mine begin, especially when we're selecting and promoting books, videos, magazines, and Websites. Each may seem perfectly innocent to you, while raising the eyebrow of your principal, library director, or a cautious parent.


Constitutional Privilege - The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech. While there are obvious limitations (treasonous statements, threats against the President, etc.), basically the government can't interfere with what the writer writes or the artist draws, even if we think it's trash.

First Amendment

Academic Freedom - Teachers and librarians have the right to teach and recommend the best materials. These are, of course, subjective decisions, and that's where the trouble flares. I think Pete Hautman's Godless is a brilliant YA novel, but you might think it's sacrilegious.

Community Standards - Neighborhoods differ politically, racially, and economically. What if the school or library board tends to be more conservative or more liberal than the community? Sparks fly when the rights are in conflict. But wait. Some books, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have been roundly challenged from both ends of the political spectrum, though for different reasons.
Huckleberry Finn

School/Library Standards - Schools and libraries have the right to set standards for selection and withdrawal of materials. Sit in on a board meeting during a book challenge, and you'll wonder how civilized people can be so snarky in their disagreement!

Parental Standards - Parents have the right to determine what's suitable for their children to read, but NOT the right to determine what every other child in the class or community may read.

A Student's Freedom to Learn - Each learner has the right to access materials for his/her own edification. This can be sticky if, for example, a young teen needs info on sex, but adults deny access for their own reasons.
Sex Ed

See how complicated it is? Whose right, and who's right? Tune in next month!

Would you like to host an author but you're not sure how to find one, and money's hopelessly scarce? Go to America Writes for Kids,, and click on your state to find an author near you. Most children's writers have Websites with contact info, also. Then check with your state library, school district, PTO/PTA, or local foundation to learn about grants for Artist-in-Residence Programs. More about this subject in future issues. Go for it!
The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Framed
Carolee Dean
In addition to writing books for children and young adults, I also work full-time in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist. I have observed that young children typically have a great love of story; however, after years of failure and frustration, adolescents who struggle with reading and writing often give up trying to understand the structure of stories or create tales of their own. I looked at the way that I taught children to analyze stories as an educator and how that compared to how I, as an author, analyzed and created my own novels. What resulted was a twelve step story method called THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES (SLOS).

The twelve story stages I teach students are as follows: The Old World, The Call, The Refusal, The Crossing, The New World, Plans & Preparations, The Midpoint Challenge, The Escape, The Tunnel of Transformation, The New Person, The Climax, and The Reward. Each of these will be defined and discussed through the next few months. I use SLOS with students of all ages to explore the stages of plot development and when I introduce these concepts I always start by discussing the idea of an Old World and a New World.

Nearly all stories show a main character growing and changing as a result of exposure to a New World. He or she starts out in their everyday world, but either something about that world changes to turn it upside down, or else the hero is propelled on an adventure to an entirely New World. Dorothy starts out on a farm in Kansas but ends up in the colorful world of Oz. Luke Skywalker leaves the dry, dusty planet of Tatooine to join the rebel forces trying to destroy the Death Star. In the movie, Transformers, Sam Witwicky's world is overtaken by cars that transform into monstrous killing machines. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry leaves Privett Drive to journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In Twilight, Bella leaves Arizona to go live with her father in Forks, Washington, only to enter an even more unique world of vampires.

In many stories for children and young adults, a new person who becomes a friend, enemy or a love interest, arrives in the Old World and nothing is ever the same again. In The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Jess Aarons world is forever changed by Leslie Burke, the girl who moves in next door and helps him build a secret world in the woods called Terabithia.

Each of these stories shows a character growing and changing as a result of a setting transformation. Anyone who has undergone a major change in their living situation understands the impact this can have on a person. When I discuss the concept of Old World vs. New World with students, they easily come up with numerous examples of their own from movies and books. Boys who may have struggled with story analysis join in for the first time on discussions about plot, character and setting. It isn't that they don't understand these concepts; it is simply that they haven't had a language to use to describe what they know. My hope is that through THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES all students will grow in their appreciation of story.

For the September Creative Writing Activity please visit the blog on my website at
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K. LittleKimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little

Are you still using Charlotte's Web or Tuck Everlasting for your class's yearly novel reading and discussion? Do you want something new and fresh for reading aloud or to launch a new class project?
My column will bring you juicy gossip about the new books launching into the world. Focus will be on brand new authors, new books by your favorite authors, Newbery and Caldecott "buzz" as well as book reviews in fiction and non-fiction titles. So let's dish about some of the books that are making the Newbery Buzz RIGHT NOW!
Anything But TypicalAnything But Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
Jason, a 12-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer.
All the Broken PiecesAll the Broken Pieces
by Ann E. Burg
Scholastic Press
Two years after being airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975, Matt Pin is haunted by the terrible secret he left behind and, now, in a loving adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events forces him to confront his past.
Wild ThingsWild Things
by Clay Carmichael
Front Street Books
Stubborn, self-reliant 11-year old Zoe, recently orphaned, moves to the country to live with her prickly uncle, a famous sculptor and doctor, and together they learn about trust and the strength of family.
Girl Who Threw ButterfliesGirl Who Threw Butterflies
by Mick Cochrane
Alfred A. Knopf
Eight-grader Molly's ability to throw knuckleballs earns her a spot on the baseball team, which not only helps her feel connected to her recently deceased father, who loved baseball, but helps her in other aspects of her life as well.
Year Swallows Came EarlyThe Year the Swallows Came Early
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
After her father is sent to jail, 11 year old Groovy Robinson must decide if she can forgive the failings of someone she loves.

EvolutionThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
Henry B. Holt
In Central Texas in 1899, 11 year old Callie Vee Tate, is instructed by her mother to be a lady, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.
Mostly True AdventuresMostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
by Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press
12 year old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother who has been sold into service in the Civil War.
When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid", a 12 year old girl New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes sent by an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.
You can find these new titles in your local Independent bookstores, your favorite school distributor, Amazon, B& and national chains.
Now go relax and read a great book!

Note: The Newbery Caldecott Awards (and many other awards in the children's book world) will be announced at the ALA Mid-Winter Conference, January 15 - 19, 2010, in Boston.



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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