Monday, August 31, 2009

The fog creeps in...

....on little dog feet.

The beach was so foggy yesterday!

On a clearer day (she never did catch that seagull):

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another great how-to book

I received a letter from a 10-year-old about my book, How to Steal a Dog.

She enjoyed it.

But she wanted to point out a mistake in Chapter 12 (9th line) where I wrote, "He like to went crazy."

That line, of course, is Southern dialect and means, "He nearly went crazy."

Children (who don't live in the South) often think that is a mistake.

A great learning opportunity, I think.

But the best part of her letter was that my book had inspired her to write her own book.

Her title?

How to Look Smart Without Being Smart

Now THAT I would read!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't scare me like that

Confession time.

I had two food-related cravings when I was pregnant 22 years ago.

1. Biscuits from Kentucky Fried Chicken

2. General Foods International Instant Coffee - but only Cafe Francais flavor

I still have one of those biscuits every now and then.

But I drink that "coffee" EVERY DAY.

Every. Day.

I know, I know.....

Two of the primary ingredients are dipotassium phosphate and maltodextrin.


I even took a can with me to Europe.

Imagine sitting in a Parisian cafe, ordering hot water, and whipping out your can of Cafe Francais. Ha! (Hey, it says right on the can "inspired by the cafes of France" - so there!)

My family still laughs about the time not that long ago when, for some reason, I was convinced that they were going to discontinue it and I bought a gazillion cans to stock up.

I had another scare yesterday.

They changed the label on the can and made me panic because I thought they had done something drastic.

But they just changed the label. (New label is on the right)


(And notice that now they call it "Coffeehouse Beverage Mix" instead of "Coffee Drink Mix.")

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Popeye and Elvis Mosaic

Librarian extraordinaire, Bill Prosser, created this awesome mosaic of images representing The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

And, a lovely review.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm seeing stars!

My second STARRED REVIEW for The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis!!

From School Library Journal:

*O’CONNOR, Barbara. The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. 160p. CIP. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Sept. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37055-8. LC 2008024145.

Gr 3-6–Popeye thinks life is boring in Fayette, SC, where his grandmother keeps her mind sharp by reciting the kings and queens of England in chronological order and gives her grandson vocabulary words each week to keep his mind exercised. Life changes when a boy named Elvis and his nomadic, quirky family get their Holiday Rambler motor home stuck in red mud near Popeye’s house. They meet and Elvis quickly names Popeye the senior vice president of the Spit and Swear Club. Popeye is impressed and longs for Elvis’s interesting life. He, too, would like a paper plate with his name written on it in crayon and a mother who asks his opinion for rhyming words while writing her newest country-western tune. Elvis suggests they go on an adventure, which begins when they spot boats made from Yoo-hoo chocolate drink boxes floating down the creek carrying mysterious notes and they set off to track down the boat maker and the meaning of the notes.

Like Eben in Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs (S & S, 2005), Elvis and Popeye’s journey reminds readers to look for and enjoy the small treasures in their lives. Save a spot on your shelves for this small adventure with a grand heart.

–Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yakkity yak

I'm annoyingly organized.

I keep files for everything.

I also tend to make notes about all kinds of inane stuff that may or may not prove useful some day.

I was recently cleaning out paperwork and came across a file I have for my cocker spaniel, Matty. (I know, I know...)

Inside was a scrap of paper with information about breeders that I saved from when we were first looking for this dog ten years ago.

Check out the note I wrote about someone I called:


Now, I don't know if that means I tried to call and the line was busy for a long time..

....or if I talked to them and whoever it was actually talked a lot.

Whatever it was, it sure made an impression on me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's rough work...

....but somebody's gotta do it.

A hard day at the office.

The creature under my chair.

And I wrote! I really wrote! Well, only 8 very sketchy, hazy, head-scratchingly vague pages, but still.... And here's a little hint about part of the storyline....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Swan song

The other day I was going to the grocery store.

A police car was parked sideways across the road and cars backed up in both directions.

Because of this!

Monday, August 17, 2009

By the way...

You know how I was feeling kinda superstitious about changing the first line of The Short, Sad Life of Tooley Graham?

Well, thanks to opinions of trusted peers and following my gut instinct, I changed it back to the original.


I feel better.

(And my editor agrees.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Can you hear me now?

When teaching writing workshops to elementary school kids, I emphasize, of course, the five senses.

The sense of hearing is one of my favorites.

I use it a lot in my own writing.

It's an easy sense to forget.

So I was particularly fond of a biography written by a fifth grader in a recent workshop of mine.

This kid is tuned into sounds.

Some excerpts (all by the same student):

  • “Bam Bam.” Another shiny silver nail was being hammered into the rough wood as the fort was getting taller and taller.
  • Just by the sound of the car rumbling over the dirt path, he knew that they had arrived at Rocky Point Amusement Park.
  • “Ripppppp”, was the sound of Richard ripping open an envelope.
  • “Knock knock” was the sound of opportunity knocking at Richard’s door.
Don't you love those!!??

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ready, set, go

Okay, now I can start.

I've had a hazy hazy hazy idea kicking around.

I've got a title.

I've got a first line.

I have my characters.

But I didn't have my trusty notebooks.

I have to get them online.

They were backordered!

But I searched and searched.

And I got one!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer by the sink

I'm sure I'm not alone when I report that I spend a lot of time by my kitchen sink.

So anything to brighten the atmosphere is a bonus.

I love this little flower bottle/vase. I've had it for years and it's so perfect for a quick spruce-up.


The day after I wrote this post, I was standing at the sink and that little cupboard fell off the wall! It crashed into the sink, breaking the faucet and sending a giant fountain of water clear across the kitchen and into the dining room!

I'm tellin' ya....I'm having the worst luck this summer. If you don't want something bad to happen to you, you better stay away from me. Seriously. (By the way, that is a new faucet. Sheesh.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

How can I resist?

A star!!!

A starred review from Kirkus for The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis:

Popeye’s life lacks excitement, living as he does down a gravel road bordering the woods in rural South Carolina with his dog Boo and his Grandmother Velma, who preserves her sanity by incessantly reciting the kings and queens of England. So when a silver motor home packed with the six wild children of the Jewell family gets stuck and stranded in the mud, he couldn’t be happier. During the brief, magical time the motor home remains, he and Elvis, the eldest Jewell, discover in the creek boats fashioned from Yoo-hoo packages, each with an intriguing message. The mystery of their source demands resolution, although it means occasionally disobeying Velma’s edicts. Seeking the source of the boats, their adventures are, as the title indicates, mild, but they perfectly capture the thrills that fill long summer days.

Although O’Connor only briefly describes the characters, each one comes instantly and distinctly to life. Fast-paced, short and easy to read, but spiced up with the challenging vocabulary words that Velma teaches and Popeye adores and abounding with quirky, likable characters, this small gem has the power to keep readers entranced.