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

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Cool Thank You Photo

Here are students from Samuel Wagner Middle School in Winterport, Maine, showing the books won by Betsy Murphy in my drawing.

Thanks for sending this, y'all!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Love My Job

I get a lot of letters from readers.

I read and love each and every one of them.

And every once in a while, I get a special letter.... that reminds me that what I do is important and appreciated and might make a difference to someone.

Recently, I received one of those letters.

With the permission of the sender, I'm printing it here in its entirety.

I love my job.

Dear Barbara O’Connor,
Growing up I noticed that I had trouble reading. I was born dyslexic and so I had trouble understanding how to comprehend the words that I was reading, so not long after the second grade I decided I was not going to read unless I really needed to.

It didn’t take long after I made the decision to not read unless I found a good enough reason that of course I found one. My older brother had a dog named Roscoe. He was my brother’s best friend they did everything together, but one night Roscoe went outside without my brother and he got hit by a car passing down our street very fast. My brother stayed up for days so sad and he refused to go to school. Soon after, my mother asked me if I knew anything that could help him cheer up, and after thinking about it for a while I couldn’t really think of anything until I went on a class trip to the library and my librarian asked me what kind of books I was interested in and I immediately thought of my brother and I told my librarian that I wanted to LOOK at books about dogs so maybe I could show him cool pictures of dogs that looked like Roscoe to cheer him up. 

My librarian looked up the key word Dog and the only book that she found in what was supposed to be my reading level was your book How to steal a dog. Without even opening it I came up with the perfect idea to cheer up my brother.

I figured that your book would teach me how to get or steal a dog for my brother so he would not be sad anymore (I want to remind you that I was only nine years old and didn’t fully think through what I was planning on doing.) So I found the perfect reason to read my very first big girl book as I called them (with chapters). I figured that if I skimmed through it I could figure out fairly quickly what I wanted to know. 

So I started flipping through the pages and I couldn’t find a list of ways to get a dog, so I figured I would sort of start reading the book to find out where in the book it gave me the steps that I was looking for. Of course I could not find them so then I thought I should just try to actually read it and maybe I could figure out what I wanted to know.

After I started reading the book I became fascinated with Georgina and her family. I guess I could say that I sort of felt connected to Georgina and I became interested in her and her family. So I started reading the book because I was interested in it instead of my original meaning.

After I finished the book I was so proud of myself for actually reading a book that didn’t have just pictures in it. I bragged to my family and friends and even teachers. I was so interested in your book that I wanted to read more of it, I was sad that the book was over and that I would never get to know what had happened to Georgina and her family after the book ended. I tried to Google books that had similarities with your book and I couldn’t find anything that seemed fascinating to me. So I never really read another chapter book again after your book.

I enjoyed your book very much. When I was in my English class at school I was telling a story to my friend about how I would like to become an author when I got older but I thought that I would be a hypocrite if I wrote books but did not read them because of my difficulties with words. 

While I was telling my story my instructor, Ms. White overheard me and asked what I was talking about. After I explained everything that I was saying before, I told her that I have only read one real book my whole life and that I loved it. When I told her that the book was How to steal a dog she immediately knew what book I was talking about and remembered that her mentor was your best friend and told me she was going to try to get a hold of her mentor through Facebook and tell her about my story and she was hoping to get in contact with you.
Despite my challenges with reading I am actually very good with writing and grammar. I just have trouble while reading words because the letters mix match and change up and the words seem to look different. 

I’m not really sure why I let it defy me so much. I guess it could be because it seems like a good excuse to not try hard enough or to be lazy. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that since I thought of those assumptions that maybe they could be true, maybe.

I am so enthusiastic about writing you this letter. I really hope you find my liking of your book interesting. I hope you can find time to write me back with everything you have going on.
Thank you for your time,