Book Give-Away, Gail Jarrow, High Five Magazine, Highlights Founders Workshops, Highlights Magazine, Liar and Spy, Rebecca Stead, Sacramento Book Review, Suzanne Bloom, Writer's Digest, Writing

Writer’s Retreat, Book Review, Giveaway, and More

Thought for the day:  The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” ~Philip Roth~
A gift for my writer friends. I have a few links I think are really worth checking out. I’ve been so busy I haven’t been blogging very regularly – summer hours, you know – so I have more than my usual two to offer.
First, there is a famous saying in writing about how you have to learn to kill your darlings. I’ve been working on revisions, and it is very, very tough to kill my darlings. Here is a link with a pretty good article on that process.
Writer’s Digest has some good articles. I’m always interested in grammar (What can I say? I’m an old English teacher!) and this one had some things in it I thought were pretty interesting.

I found a new site/blog/kind of thing that has some amazing stuff on it. After you read The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Already Do, click where it says Timothy McSweeney at the top, and it will take you to the main page with links to plenty of other interesting articles.

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-ultimate-guide-to-writing-better-than-you-normally-do

Last, but far from least and absolutely the most fun, is Shannon Messenger’s blog post about a fabulous time waster. This could explain one of the reasons I haven’t blogged in a while! It is WAY too much fun.

For my fabulous, albeit late again, giveaway from last post, the winner is Debi Summers! Congratulations to you, Debi. I will be sending you a copy of Just Write, Here’s How! It’s a useful book and I think you and some others in your family will love it. I have another giveaway for today, so stay tuned.

Suzanne Bloom (left) and Nicole Groeneweg

Now, one of the reasons I’ve been tardy on blogging is that I’ve been out of town. First, I went to Virginia, near Washington D.C., to be hosted by the lovely and generous Nicole Groeneweg, soon-to-be-published picture book author, who showed me the best time in her very historical part of the country. Since she and I both love American History, she took me to the homes of three founding fathers – George Mason, George Washington, and James Madison. They were all great, but the highlight was the re-enactor at the home of James Madison. He was fantastic! After three great days of touring and with a short stop in Gettysburg to brunch with my great friend Sara Rohr, Nicole and I drove to northeastern Pennsylvania. What a fantastic trip. Thanks, Nicole!! 

We went to a Highlights Foundation week-long retreat in Boyds Mills, PA with über-editor Carolyn Yoder. I worked hard on a non-fiction manuscript that Carolyn says is now ready to send out. WooHoo!! (Okay. One more polish first.) We had visits from several of the editors at Highlights Magazine, High Five Magazine, and Boyds Mills Press. We also had visits from Suzanne Bloom and Gail Jarrow, both terrific authors. Suzanne read us her latest Bear and Goose story, Oh! What a Surprise!, (one of the sweetest and funniest picture books I’ve ever read) then gave autographed copies to each of us. Gail also autographed copies of our choice of two of her books: I got a copy of Lincoln’s FlyingSpies: Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps and some received The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician, a book I already own. Both are simply wonderful books and, although kids will love them, adults will as well. I highly recommend them both.

I have lots of new ideas for writing projects from the travels, the editor and author visits, as well as from the other wonderful attendees during our many unbelievable meals, critique sessions, and casual meetings. We have such a great group that comes together there in August. This is our third year and it is amazing. As long as the Highlights Foundation continues to offer this retreat, I will be going. I really recommend if there is any way you can get to one of the Highlights Foundation workshops or retreats, you should try to do it. It’s a magical place.
Another reason I’ve been so tardy with my writing is a new teaching assignment I’ve taken on. I will be working one-on-one with two students who, due to illness, can’t attend school. One is a 7thgrader, the other an 11th grader. The time it takes to prepare to teach each of them the full curriculum is daunting, but I just love the opportunity to work with these brave kids. It looks like it will be a year-long assignment, so I might just blog a little less often, but it’s for a good cause. I will try to be more regular with my blog posts though.
Rebecca Stead
I do want to share a review of a middle-grade novel I read and reviewed recently for the Sacramento Book Review. It’s called Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. This is simply one of the best middle-grade novels I’ve read in awhile. It’s a story about a boy who is going through what a lot of young people today are facing – moving out of their life-long home due to the economic downturn and a parent losing a job. Georges, named for Seurat and suffering from having what most middle-schoolers would call a lame name, has to deal with many changes in his young life. When he and his dad go to the laundry room in the basement of the apartment building they’ve moved to, they see a sign on a storage room for a spy club. Georges’s dad puts a note on the door that asks what time the meeting is and later they find an answer. Georges decides to go to that meeting and this begins a journey of mystery, learning, tolerance, and friendship that is clever, smart, and authentic to the life of a middle grade boy. I described it in my review as being nearly a thriller, and it is. I loved this book. Rebecca Stead won the Newbery medal for her book WhenYou Reach Me, and I can’t wait to read that one. In the mean time, one of you can have my very own ARC of Liar & Spy if you are the lucky winner. Leave a comment below, and I will put your name in a hat. If you spread the word about this post by putting a link to it in your blog or on your Facebook page or some such social media, let me know, and I’ll put your name in a second time.
On the book giveaway, this is for U.S. only. Sorry, but it would be too expensive for me to send books out of the country. But please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.

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