Book Reviews, Conferences, Fiction

Red Hot Carolinas!

I recently attended Red Hot Carolinas, the annual conference for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) — long story short, it was a lot of fun and I met so many talented writers and artists. But my favorite part was learning about all the brilliant Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction books out right now.

I trained as a creative writer in an MFA program that focused solely on literature for adults — I hadn’t realized what I’ve been missing out on all these years! I’ve just started reading two Middle Grade books, and I have to say that they are every bit as insightful (maybe more so) and beautifully written as “grown up” fiction.

Orphan Island is hauntingly lovely, reminding me a tiny bit of Lord of the Flies, but much less violent. It tells the story of 9 children who live on a strange but wonderful island, alone. Every few years, the oldest must leave and a new young child appears.y648

Call Me Sunflower takes me back to being the new kid in middle school! The description of the cafeteria — the smell of boiled cabbage, the tables full of kids who already know each other — made my stomach lurch. I’ve been there. The way the snooty kids act when an “outsider” sits at their table without being invited made me tense up. I’ve been there, too. 9781510711792-frontcover

Some more books that are now on my reading (and “to buy”) list:

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Goldie Blox series by Stacy McAnulty

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons

There are many more, but I’ll save those for later reviews!

 

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Book Marketing, Bookstores

Advice from a bookshop owner…

I speak as a bookshop owner. Someone who loves books. Most of us that run bookshops do, so please bear in mind that if you want us to stock your book we theoretically, will lend a receptive ear. But here are a few tips to help make the whole submission process a bit easier. Running…

via Getting Your Book Into A Bookshop — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Fiction, The Rain Catcher

Maps, Scottish glossary essential!

YA novel, The Rain CatcherI’ve just (10 minutes ago!) updated my middle-grade novel The Rain Catcher with a catchy table of contents and have added two maps — one of the British Isles and one of Scotland. I’ve also added a glossary of Scottish slang for those difficult-to-understand words, like “drookit”! These were all additions I had planned earlier, but life intervened, and I am just now getting to it!

If you’re interested in reading a free sample of The Rain Catcher, please go to my Smashwords page, and you can download the text in just about any format you need! I’m also hoping to do a giveaway at some point in the not-too-distant future, so stay posted!

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Piecing it together

Brilliant metaphor for American culture — and home!

studiotempera

blanket-croppedPiecing it together with pins, making a rectangle of 32″ x 38″ Lots of work still ahead – it needs to be shaped, blocked , steamed and stitched

Piecing it together in my head

I had the idea of knitting a security blanket as a metaphor for American culture so I started by knitting – as an example- my own security blanket.

img_1154 detail of stripe

So as I was knitting the different sections, I was puzzled as to why I was using such a different range of colors in this knitting.  Usually I work with pure color, and never use black. And why did I start knitting with size 15 knitting needles when I have very few bulky yarns?  To create the bulky yarns needed for size 15 knitting needles, I  combined different thickness of yarns together, different colors together and different textures together which gave a much more muted palette. Black and browns, deep blues…

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You are powerful!

It’s been a crazy few weeks! Whatever your political leanings, I think we can all agree that the United States is in a state of dramatic change, possibly upheaval. Change can be very scary, even positive changes like getting married or starting a new job. You can probably guess that my personal views on American politics are left-leaning, and so I’m finding the current change very unsettling! Here’s my plan, and maybe it will work for you whenever you are unhappy about something or someone…img_9238

I’ve decided to counter any negative feelings with a positive action. For example, when a certain politician votes for something I disagree with, despite my best efforts (marching, writing letters, phone calls…), I’m going to act in a way that helps people or the environment. I may:

  • pick up litter in a public place and put it in the trash
  • donate food to the local food pantry
  • donate used books to the library book sale
  • say something kind to cheer someone up
  • plant a small tree in my yard

Can you think of any other positive ways to stage your own personal #resistance to what’s bothering you?