Thursday, February 19, 2015

And the winner is....

Thanks to everyone who entered the World's First Humongous Middle Grade Teacher-Love Book Giveaway!

The winner is Leigh Anne Eck, a 6th grade teacher from Indiana.

We hope to make this an annual event.

Teachers, thanks for all you do.

Monday, February 16, 2015

One Witch at a Time

I absolutely loved The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser.

Click HERE for proof.

And NOW.....

here's One Witch at a Time

Man, that Stacy can tell a tale!

While The Brixen Witch was a clever spin on the Pied Piper story, One Witch at a Time is a clever twist on Jack and the Beanstalk.

Such a fresh idea.

Masterfully written.

To quote the jacket flap:

 Magic and mayhem make for a funny, fast-paced adventure in this twisty tale of witchery times two!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Valentine's Day Gift for Teachers

Middle Grade Authors Love Teachers.


Because we know that....

So to thank you for all you do to help spread the love of reading to young people, a group of middle grade authors wants to give you a Valentine's Day present:


Yes, this is the world's first super duper giant #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers book giveaway.


Just leave your name and email address in the comments here...


Share or RT this post on Twitter with the hashtag #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers

That's it!

You'll be entered in the drawing.

But hurry.

The drawing will end at 11:59 p.m. on February 18. 

(School librarians eligible, too, btw.)

Oh, and one more thing:

Here are the books, donated and signed by the authors (who love teachers):

The Gossip File by Anna Staniszewski

The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's by Me (Barbara O'Connor)

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Hot to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson; Illustrated by Sean Quails

Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse by Leslie Bulion; Illustrated by Mike Lowery

Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It by Loree Griffin Burns; Photographed by Ellen Harasimowicz

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin

Why'd They Wear That: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee

One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

AND guess what??

YA Authors Love Teachers, Too!

They're having a huge giveaway, too!

Go HERE to enter.

A very special THANK YOU to author Lynda Mullaly Hunt for organizing this wonderful Valentine's Day Teacher Book Giveaway. 

P.S. Books will be mailed separately by each author. Winners will be announced on Feb. 19 on Lynda's blog. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Memory Lane

Ever since I sold my first book a million trillion years ago (okay, okay...1991), I've kept scrapbooks of book-related stuff.

I call them my Ego Books because during those times when I'm feeling insecure and inadequate, like a has-been and a loser (You know you've been there, right?), I can whip one out and thumb through it and I sometimes feel better about myself. (Saves me a ton of money on therapy.)

I read the nice letters folks wrote and see how blessed I am to have lovely, supportive friends and to have achieved some wonderful goals, I'm back in my groove.

So I recently decided to look through them.

Here are some of the highlights from the first one, which is 1991 to 2000.

This is my very first acceptance letter. It was for a biography of Maria Montessori. I remember that day so well. I was over the moon excited:

 This is a letter from David Freaking Small, y'all!! He did the cover art for my first novel, Beethoven in Paradise. I wrote him a note thanking him, and he wrote me back. I love that he told me how lucky I was to have "that great lady, Frances Foster" as my editor and FSG as my publisher.

This is my very first review of my very first novel (Beethoven in Paradise). It's a little hard to read because it was faxed to me. (Remember fax machines?) It's a Kirkus POINTERED review, which back in the day, was their version of a starred review. (Anybody remember those pointered reviews?):

This is a note from my son telling me I did a good job. Awwww. Better than a starred review!

This is a letter from Cynthia Freaking Rylant, y'all!!! We corresponded after I sent her a copy of my second book, Me and Rupert Goody:

This is Cynthia Freaking Rylant telling me that my novel "was lovely." Swoon. (I cropped out her signature cause I don't like to post that on the internet, but trust me, it's her. In fact, she signed it CYNDI RYLANT.

And this is from School Library Journal. Me and Rupert Goody was named a Best Book of 1999. I was beyond thrilled for that!

So, those were good years and I am blessed.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Old Dog New Tricks

I've written ten novels and I've approached revision the same for all of them.

After feedback from my editor, I just dove in head first.

Sometimes working in chronological order.

Sometimes skipping around.

Usually fixing the easy stuff first.

Saving the harder stuff for last.

But for my latest work in progress, I'm taking a new approach and I think I like it!

First, I read through my "to do" list of revisions about a gazillion times, so that I had most of it firmly committed to memory.

Then, instead of diving in head first, I took a deep breath and very slowly, methodically read through the entire manuscript.

As I read along, I used Post-It notes to mark the parts I wanted to change or where I wanted to add something.

When I was done.....eureka!

I had a forehead-thwacking DUH moment!

This was a much better approach to revision.

Here's why:

First and foremost, I got a very clear BIG PICTURE of the story as a whole......not just in bits and pieces.
I was left with a pretty clear idea of just how much work I was facing.

I could work in chronological order of the story, which helps me keep the flow going in the right direction vs. a more choppy approach of working out of order. 

I could move those Post-It notes around a bit, changing where I wanted to add new material, if necessary.

I also printed out a calendar to use to mark the days of the story....for my timeline. 

Never did that before.

But I like it!

So there ya go!

Old dog....

new tricks.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Things I Love Thursday

I'm often asked by students which of my books is my favorite.

I used to say I don't have a favorite.

I love them all.

Well, I DO love them all.

But then I decided to 'fess up.

I DO have a favorite.

This one:

Greetings from Nowhere

So that's why I LOVE this news:

It will be published in paperback by Square Fish/Macmillan Books.

Official on-sale date: 8/25/15.

So excited, y'all. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stay, Clementine, stay!!!

Now I have to do it again.

And guess what?

This is the LAST one in the series.

Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla Frazee


But this one delivers everything I've grown to love about this series.

Super funny, OF COURSE.

But I love how Clementine has matured through the series yet still remains her childish, lovable self.

I love how her relationship with Margaret has evolved.

I adore her parents and how they're present but not overly so.

I love Clementine's relationship with her teachers.

In this one, Clementine struggles to stay mad at her father for eating meat, laments having to say goodbye to her beloved third-grade teacher, and spends some hilarious time at a fancy hotel with her friend, Margaret.

This last installment is definitely, Completely Clementine.

You can read more at Pennypacker's website HERE.

(Coming from Disney/Hyperion March 2015)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to Steal a Dog Movie Premiere

So, the movie premiere is TONIGHT in South Korea
and I'm still trying to decide what to wear.

And just in case you need to watch the trailer just one more time:

And in case you don't know how excited I am:

Monday, December 15, 2014

A great Skype visit

I had a great Skype visit with 4th-grade students at Fort Worth Academy.

This is what greeted me when I first logged on:

Love that!

They had great questions and one student showed me her amazing artwork:

Their teacher, Ms. Bonin, sent me these cool pictures of her students reading on the playground.

Thank you, Fort Worth Academy!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A New Book!

So excited to share this news (from Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf):

Janine O'Malley of Farrar, Straus & Giroux has acquired world rights for Wish, a novel by Barbara O'Connor. Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has made the same wish since fourth grade, hoping that someday it will come true. When her irresponsible parents cause her to be sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains to live with family members she doesn't know, she needs that wish to come true more than ever. Publication is planned for fall 2016; Barbara Markowitz of Barbara Markowitz Literary Agency did the deal.

Monday, December 8, 2014

El Deafo

I loved this little gem.

I've worn one of those special microphones while in classrooms many, many times.

I usually don't know which kid needs it.

Now, having read this charming memoir, I feel like I have much more understanding of the experience of hearing-impaired students.

This book is honest and sweet and funny and surely gives every reader a whole lot more empathy.

A gem.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I love these students from Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove, Illinois!

Y'all rock!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to Steal a Dog Movie Trailer!

Here it is, y'all!

The trailer for the Korean film of How to Steal a Dog.

Two Things on Tuesday

Thing One:

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
                                                            --Anne Lamott

Thing Two:

Writing for children is murder. A chapter has to be boiled down to a paragraph. Every word has to count.
                                                                 --Dr. Seuss