Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book recommendation

I read so many children's books that I often don't have time to squeeze in adult books. So when I do, I'm very selective.

One of my favorite adult books EVER is Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.

It's a fascinating memoir of her childhood in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

I just finished her new follow-up book to that memoir, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.

Loved loved loved

Things I Love Thursday

This hummingbird print that was my grandmother's. (I have two of them.)

In my grandmother's house, with my sister and cousins.
I'm the cute baby on the right.

I'm the cute one in my mother's arms.
Notice the chicken on the table.

I love that, too.

It's a candy dish.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making a big world smaller

Tonight I am Skyping with the International School in Bangkok, Thailand.

Isn't it amazing to be talking to students in another part of the world while sitting at home in my jammies? (Okay, I might not have my jammies on.)

Here is the librarian's blog.

And this is what the teacher wrote to me:

Here is some background info about our class and our reading of Greetings From Nowhere:

Our class of 21 fifth graders represents 8 nationalities. Eight children are new to our school this year in Bangkok. I chose to read Greetings From Nowhere aloud to the class as it is such a great lead-in to our reading unit on "Characters", where we ask the question, "How can the people in stories be like me?"

We are discovering that characters, like real people, are complex and can change. As readers, we are talking about how we develop empathy for and connections to the characters in the story.

The class LOVED the story, start to finish, and they were quite disappointed to find out that it was NOT part of a series!
I am continually amazed at how my groups of internationally diverse students relate to the small world of the Sleepy Time Motel.

I think they have discovered big life lessons in that small world. One boy said last week, "I can make a connection with Aggie, because I know that it is painful to leave a home that is familiar."

I love that!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Details, details

I'm in the midst of reviewing the copyedited manuscript of On the Road to Mr. Mineo's.

This part of the book creation process can be frustrating but eye-opening.

I'm always surprised at the mistakes I make consistently and the things I learn.

For instance, every time I used the following, I wrote them as two words instead of one:

flowerpots (but flower boxes is two words)

I always write lawn mower as one word instead of two.

I forget that the following are hyphenated:

gol-dern (to prevent confusion for kids who don't know the term and might think it should be "golden" ??)
barn-owl (although a copyeditor missed it in one spot, where I had two words. HA!)

I gave up on trying to use the expression "pure T". Copyeditor thought I meant "purty."

Those guys don't miss a thing.

On p 2 I wrote "empty doghouse in the yard"
On p 73 I wrote "empty doghouse in the front yard"

On p 2 I wrote "stamped her foot"
On p 42 I wrote "stomped her foot"

I wrote "screened door."
Was changed to "screen door. " (hmmm)

On p 17 I wrote "dern fool bird"
On p 118 I wrote "dang fool bird"

I had written: "greasy car parts and paint cans"
Was changed to "Paint cans and greasy car parts" since the paint cans aren't greasy.

And then, there is the constant inner battle between "diddly squat" and "doodly squat."

Writing is such hard work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cider Mill School

Last week I spent time at Cider Mill School in Wilton, CT.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students had all read The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis for their summer reading.

They've spent the first weeks of school discussing the book, making projects, playing Jeopardy and getting ready for my visit.

It was wonderful. I was greeted by lovely displays around the school.

I got to wear Starletta's butterfly wings.

I loved seeing all the projects the students had worked on.

The amazing Ellen Tuckner (aka Starletta) masterminded one of the best school visits of all time.

I signed a LOT of books.

They were well-used. I love that.

The students were enthusiastic, smart, friendly, polite and welcoming.

And check out this painting of Barbra Streisand drinking Yoohoo done by one of the teachers (Ms. talented).

Thank you Mrs. Tuckner, Cider Mill students and Cider Mill PTA.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I've been a little slack... blogging recently.

Reason #1: An amazing visit to Cider Mill School in Wilton, CT (photos to follow)

Reason #2: Editing a manuscript

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

This little footstool made by my grandfather.

I keep it under my desk and use it every time I write.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy anniversary, Westwinds Bookshop

My local bookstore, Westwinds Bookshop, celebrated its 65th anniversary last weekend!.

Author/illustrator, Brian Lies set up the Batmobile.

They had nice displays.

And my favorite part of the day was seeing my buddies, Maeve (left) and Audrey (right).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lessons from Blondie's University of Experience

Lesson #653:

Do not learn how to drive a motorcycle going downhill with parked cars in front of you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I love kids

From a student's school report:

Barbara's inspiration was that she has always loved children and she loved to write so she put them together and BAM! Out came children's books.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pearl is a gem

Pearl by Jo Knowles

Jo Knowles has an amazing gift for writing emotionally raw, true characters. I adored Pearl, aka Bean. I adored Henry. I adored Sally. I adored Gus.

This book wowed me on so many levels. I loved the attention to detail that put me right there in that kitchen, on that sofa, under that bed, in that boat, drinking that vodka.

A gem of a book. (My favorite of Jo's, and I love them all!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

This little charm from my father's high school football days.

Harding High School (Charlotte, NC) 1942

(I had it put onto a necklace.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sadly, whodathunk it?

I wrote How to Steal a Dog in 2003.

There were homeless families in 2003.

There were little girls in schools who lived in their cars.

But I never would have imagined that 8 years later, the situation would be so much worse. (Sorry about the darned ad at start of video.)

And I definitely never could have imagined this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Something Kinda Cool

I received an email recently from a gentleman who lives in Ukraine.

He writes screenplays and is currently working on one involving a mini-submarine.

While researching submarines, he came across my website because of the little sub in The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester.

His email was just a nice hello and "isn't it a small world", etc.

He ended by saying:

Our stories are very different indeed, but the ideas cross - so it's wonderful, how two persons came to this idea living in different places of the world.

As we say in Ukraine "ideas fly in the air."

I love that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fond memories of Kezi Matthews

I recently learned that children's author, Kezi Matthews, passed away back in 2010.

Kezi wrote a number of wonderful books, including Flying Lessons and John Riley's Daughter.

But what is particularly special to me about Kezi is that she was once on a writers' message board that I participated in. Once, during a lively discussion that was getting out of hand, she commented that her grandfather used to say:

Sometimes, the more you stir it the worse it stinks.

For those of you familiar with my book, How to Steal a Dog, you might recognize that as an important motto used in the story and quoted by the character of Mookie.

I loved that motto so much. I had written to Kezi and asked permission to use it, which she granted me, of course.

I sent her a copy of the book as a thank you.

Thanks, Kezi.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I love kids

From a reader:

I really love writing but my hand gets tired really easy so I love to type more.