Thursday, December 27, 2012

Things I Love Thursday


I love teachers!

Especially teachers who share the joy of reading with students with such infectious energy and fun as third grade teacher, Mrs. Maiese.

And how in the world could I NOT love her for writing me the following letter:

Hello there from Titus Elementary School in Warrington, PA!

My class and I have just finished reading Popeye and Elvis (which is a ritual for my classroom each year).  The kids have named your book their favorite book of. all. time.  Any time I picked up your book to read, you could absolutely hear a pin drop… if it weren’t for the slurping sounds of them drinking Yoo-Hoo J

In appreciation for you and your book, we would like to send you something via snail mail.  Is it possible to get a mailing address to which we can send you something?

Thank you so much for inspiring a love for reading, writing, suspense, and Yoo-Hoo!

We appreciate your time.  You are a celebrity to us all.

Happiest of holidays to you,

Mrs. Jillian Maiese
Third Grade

And then, as if I didn't love her enough, she added this to a follow-up email:

My former students loved your book so much they still talk about it.  Whenever I have to leave any former student a note of some kind, I always attach a box of Yoo-Hoo to it.  It’s just created so many fun and meaningful ways to communicate with my kids. 

Thank you, Mrs. Maiese, for encouraging readers like these:

Mrs. Maiese's third grade readers

I love teachers.

I love kids.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

This ratty old thing I'm wearing is called a blanket cardigan.
I got it from Eddie Bauer a million trillion years ago.

I really do love it.
It's sort of like a cross between, um, a blanket and a cardigan.
It's warm and cozy.
(Don't worry, I never wear it out of the house.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writing Tip Tuesday

The ending of your story is critical.


But what I mean by "the ending" doesn't mean just the end of the storyline.

I mean the feeling the ending leaves the reader with.

That feeling is critical.



How do you want your reader to feel after reading the final page of your book?

One thing that contributes to the feeling left by the ending is whether or not the reader is left with a memory of how the story evolved.

That is often accomplished by providing a connection to the beginning of the story, even at the end.

Does that make sense?

I'm going to offer up a personal example that may seem rather trite, but to me, it is a good example of reconnecting the reader to earlier parts of the story at the end and, thus, producing a satisfied feeling that encapsulates the story as a whole.

In my novel (The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis), the two main characters discover boats made from Yoohoo cartons floating down a creek. Inside the boats are notes written on strips of paper and folded.

The boys excitedly open the notes:

Three times.

This is repeated several times in the story (for the first few notes).

At the end of the book, one of the boys is sending a boat and a note down the creek.

My brilliant editor suggested that he fold it:

Three times.

(She refers to that as a "refrain." I love that!)

Well, DUH!

Of course that's what I needed to do.

That simple addition took the reader back to the beginning of the story in a wonderful, satisfying circle.

That addition left the reader with a memory of the early part of the story and, thus, an "aura" of the story as a whole, not just the end.

So I suggest that you might consider if there is any way to "bookend" an element of your story - to bring back at the end something important from the beginning - to give the reader a reminder of the evolution of your story - to connect the beginning and the end to leave the reader "full".

Just a thought....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Show, Don't Tell

I do a lot of school visits. I love to look at the signs, posters, art, etc., on the classroom walls. Naturally, I'm particularly interested in anything connected to writing. 
I was recently in a classroom that had these posters on the wall.

Do you think those students were good writers? (Answer: YOU BET!)


Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear Barbara O'Connor

Dear Barbara O'Connor

    Hi, my name is Sonia. I live in Montana and I love to read. I am 12 years old and love your books.  I read your book "Fame and Glory" and I loved it! It was a great book.  How did you get the idea for the cover? I'm wondering because the girl looks a lot like me

Well, guess what?

The girl on the cover DOES look like Sonia! Check it out:

 Thank you, Sonia, for sending your pictures! Bird would be delighted.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

I love my brilliant editor, Frances Foster.

18 years

10 books

Am I lucky or what?

Frances Foster (left) and me

You can read about 
The Fantastic Partnership of Barbara and Frances

You can read more about Frances

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writing Tip Tuesday

Author Wally Lamb says:

In writing, as in life, voice is crucial. Your voice has been honed by your family, your ethnic heritage, your neighborhood, and your education. It is the music of what you mean in the world.
Imitate no one.

Your uniqueness - your authenticity - is your strength.

Can I hear an AMEN, BROTHER?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear Barbara O'Connor

Dear Barbara O'Connor:

I liked when Georgina told Toby to shut up. I liked when Carmela cried her lungs out.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012