Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The sewer of stinky ideas

I was cleaning up my computer the other day, discarding old stuff, etc., when I came across a note I had been keeping when I was in that glimmer-of-an-idea stage of my next novel (due out in 2010)

Now, keep in mind, this was REALLY a glimmer. Maybe not even a glimmer. Maybe just half a glimmer. Quarter of a glimmer?

I had sorta-kinda-hazy ideas that didn't really mean anything or even relate to each other in any meaningful way.

They were just random ideas. (And I mean Random with a capital R.)

Some of them are potential titles (and I often have a title before a story - so a title is pretty much meaningless at this early stage.)

Some of them are potential character names.

Some of them are concepts for potential first lines.

And some of them are just random things.

Most of them were not used.

Some of them were used in my next novel.

Some of them were used in my most recent novel: The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

I have no idea what many of them even mean anymore.

Sometimes these random glimmers grow and grow and become a book.

And sometimes they go right down the old literary toilet, thru the pipes, and into the sewer of bad, stupid and worthless ideas (that stink a lot).

Here they are, exactly as I wrote them:

Short But Happy Life

Porkchop Dreams

The Short Sad Life of Tooley Graham

Owen Jester's Guidebook to Love, Life and the Waffle House

Owen Jester's Guidebook to ___

First Left After the Waffle House

Turn Left at the Waffle House

Seven Reasons to Tell a Lie

Thirteen Reasons to ....
[note: these notes were written BEFORE Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why. I swear!]

superman lives at the waffle house

Viola's dad was the Peanut Man.

Omens: Knock knock appearing on web page; kid named Owen being reprimanded in Trader Joe's about saying something inappropriate, etc.
[These were things that happened to me that I saw as signs that I should use those ideas. Sheesh.]

Knock Knock

The Knock Knock Club

Knucklehead Blues


It had never snowed in Carter, Georgia. Not once.

helicopter kit

Tooley Graham

dumb as a bucket of rocks

The interstate ran above it.
Route 14 ran around it. And the Georgia Northeastern Railroad ran right through it.

OWEN Jester



[I was actually in the Waffle House in South Carolina and there were two grown men in there named Catfish and Squirrel. I couldn't make this stuff up.]



[I ended up using him in Popeye and Elvis]

Foster child

Chopstick Cafe


Itchy and Scratchy [I now know these are the dogs on The Simpsons. I guess I thought I made them up. Ha!]
Stumpy [Used him in Popeye and Elvis]



Joleen Berkus
[Used her in Popeye and Elvis]
Tooley Graham

Tapped on the wall. 3 short. 2 long.

Beach Bum Blvd

tiki torches

a mountain to north, an ocean to south, in the middle was a one-whistle town (train)

Mom still wore the same flowing skirts she'd had as a teenager - and perfectly good sneakers from the thrift store. everything from the thrift store was perfectly good

parrot who says shut up

Live over dry cleaners

Owen Jester tiptoed across the gleaming linoleum floor and slipped the frog into the soup.
[Note: See! This is that first line that I told you about.] It swam gracefully under the potatoes, pushing its froggy back legs through the pale yellow broth. It circled the carrots and bumped into the celery and finally settled beside a parsnip, its bulging eyes staring unblinkingly up at Owen. Then he hunkered down in the floor of the pantry, down among the sacks of potatoes and jars of pickled okra, and waited for _____.

Tyrone Wilbanks - big belly hugging laugh
3 strikes: fat; glasses; nice; eats baby carrots; wipes her nose with palm of her hand - pushing upward; her name was Viola
knock knock - eye rolls;
disgusting looks like smelling something bad

finds crate of novelty items

"I have a wagon"...then a knock knock joke

2 brothers one sister moved in with Mimaw: got it made until got sick and Essie came and used up all the money

Monday, September 28, 2009

I've contributed

Have you?

Check it out: The National Gallery of Writing, sponsored by NCTE.

Then, you, too, can have this nifty badge for your web site, blog, Facebook, etc.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

High crime area

An excerpt from the police log in my local newspaper:

12:18 p.m. Caller reports 20 plastic forks stuck in her front yard.

12:37 p.m. Missing property reported on South Street.

3:00 p.m. Tree limb smoking near wires on Bianca Road. NStar notified.

3:40 p.m. Dead raccoon in road on Bay Road. Animal control notified.

(Don't you just hate it when someone puts those plastic forks in your front yard?)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My third starred review!

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review: The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis Barbara O'Connor. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-374-37055-8

With humor and authenticity, this beguiling tale of summer friendship mines the small, jewellike adventures of a rural childhood. Popeye (so named after a fateful BB gun accident) is utterly bored in rainy Fayette, S.C. But when a passing motor home gets stuck in the mud, he befriends one of its unruly inhabitants, a devil-may-care boy named Elvis. In the creek, the boys discover boats made from Yoo-hoo cartons that carry cryptic messages––a mystery that launches the “small adventure” of tracking down the boats' creator as well as Popeye's struggle between obeying his overprotective grandmother, Velma, and venturing out with his new friend.

O'Connor's (How to Steal a Dog) easygoing, Southern storytelling crafts an endearing protagonist and irresistibly quirky cast.
Velma recites the names of English monarchy to avoid “cracking up” and teaches Popeye new vocabulary words, which surface comically in his observations (“Velma's appearance at the edge of the cemetery, arms crossed, face red, was definitely not serendipity. It was much closer to vicissitude”). Undercurrents of poverty and dysfunction are handled with gentle humor as Popeye discovers the magic of a little adventure. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

I take it back. No, wait, I don't take it back.

A while back I was hatin' on Gwyneth Paltrow. (And if you watch this, you'll understand. I dare you to put on your purple animal print workout pants, pulled waaaay down low, and do this routine in your living room.)

And then, I saw this and took it back. (I mean, the woman can cut a chicken with scissors, so, well, that's a talent I don't have - and she looks so cute and all, standing there in the kitchen.)

And then, I saw this, and....oh come on, Gwynnie.... room temperature lemon water?

Coconut water?

Super Greens Juice made with "one cup tightly packed kale"?

Hasn't she ever heard of GOLDFISH CRACKERS, for criminey's sake?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My office assistant

So, my assistant was helping me in the office today.

She's really digging my work-in-progress.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jama rocks!

My new book couldn't have a better birthday party than this from the amazing Jama Rattigan.

She made soup in a Yoohoo carton!

And cookies for Ruby and Boo.

And gave me some goldfish crackers on a paperplate with my name (which anyone who has read the book will understand)

Thanks so much, Jama!

For teachers

For any teachers or librarians using How to Steal a Dog in the classroom/library, this is terrific.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Uh oh

So...I'm writing away...scribble, scribble, scribble...

Suddenly realize it's very quiet.

Where is Ruby?

Uh oh....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ole Eagle Eyes

Thanks to the Eagle Eyes of Geek Girl, Extraordinaire (that would be Sarah Miller):

Can YOU spot my book in these pics?

(Sorry. You don't win a prize or anything. But I'll be impressed.)

National Gallery of Writing

Just spreading the word about the National Gallery of Writing sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I love kids!

Excerpt from a recent letter from a fan:

Hello, my name is ___ and I am 10 years old. I'm not so tall, or short, I'm just a regular boy..... Anyways I have a few questions to ask you.

1. When and where were you born?

2. Have you ever tried to steal something like Georgina?

3. Do you have kids?

4. Is Georgina spelled correctly?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I've been cursed

Newbery-Honor author Kirby Larson wrote the most lovely review of The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

She is a brilliant writer.

I LOVE that line "a Pied Piper of a child."


Thanks, Kirby! (I've never been cursed so nicely before.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009


So, Ruby found this long icky dead thing on the beach.

I think it was a sand shark.

I had to chase her all over the beach to get it away from her.

I literally had to pry her mouth open to get the dang thing.


Growing up

Look how big Ruby is getting!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Down in the dumps

It was bound to happen sooner or later.... of my books at the book exchange at the local dump. But, hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing, right? I mean, they didn't throw it away....just recycled it for some other lucky kid.

It was a copy of Moonpie and Ivy.

I had inscribed it:

To Melissa - Who may not like Moonpies - but might! 2003

Kind of a strange inscription, huh?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beer in the rear

I realized summer was slip sliding away and we hadn't cooked a beer-in-the-rear chicken yet.

So, that's what we did.

I pour off half the beer and then add barbecue sauce to the can. (Note from experience: a Heinekin can does not fit into this contraption.)

Waiting patiently.
Ah, the last sweet evenings of summer...

Done! Perfection!

But, um, be sure and remember to take the meat thermometer out of the pan before you cook the chicken. Heh...